Friday, June 27, 2008


Watching the amazing sunset on the Appalachian Trail.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Negative Space

This is what I am doing now;

Yes, I am eating Hershey's milk chocolate Kisses thanks to Tata. When I looked at the bag, it reminded me of a section of a book I am reading. The book is "A Whole New Mind" by Daniel Pink. It is a great book about how the USA has moved from an agricultural to industrial to knowledge and now to a conceptual age. It is fascinating and while explaining the "six senses" that he suggests will be essential in our workplace during the coming decades, he talks about art and how it helps develop "right-brain" thinking. I won't elaborate on all the lessons from the book but one concept he mentions that all artists are aware of (and many who are not artists have difficulty with) is the use of negative space. There is a clever use of negative space on this little bag I scanned (empty, of course). Can you see it? Some of you will see it quickly but most will probably have to look for a while. If you can't see it after a few minutes, I will post the answer in comments.

Before you look at the comments section for the answer, try this one. It is a little more obvious. If you see this one, then go back and look at the Kisses bag. The amazing thing is, after you see it, then it jumps out at you every time. It is an amazing commentary on perception and how our brain works.

Remember, you are looking at the negative space around and inside the obvious logo.

Saturday, June 21, 2008


I had a protein bar for lunch today and my shoulder muscles have felt tight ever since.

May I open that jar for you?

Are We There Yet?

What are your thoughts about this quote?

"If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life he has imagined, he will meet with success unexpected in common hours. He will pass an invisible boundary; new, universal and more liberal laws will begin to establish themselves around and within him; and he will live with the licence of a higher order of beings."

Henry David Thoreau

I feel as if I am pressing on that invisible boundary now. I believe. Lord, help my unbelief.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Signs, Signs, Everywhere.....

Let's see.....I think I will have the Compte Brake Ser and a Complet Tuneup. Do you take cheks?

Monday, June 16, 2008


While we prepare to elect a president to lead our country for the next 4 years, this quote from Abraham Lincoln that was forwarded to me by my mom seems appropriate to ponder;

You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich.
You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.
You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift.
You cannot lift the wage earner up by pulling the wage payer down.
You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred.
You cannot build character and courage by taking away men's initiative and independence.
You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they could and should do for themselves.

---Abraham Lincoln---

Sunday, June 15, 2008


Why do you go on vacation? To get away from it all? To see or do it all? There are lots of possible answers. Mine would vary from time to time. I do like to go places and do/see things, but I find the most rewarding vacations are those that allow me to view my life from a different perspective. As I sat on the cabin deck this past week with my extended family, we would occasionally comment on various birds or chipmunks we would see (or the hornet nest Lindsay discovered under the deck on the last day). Almost every time, somebody would say "I can't see what you are describing." The reason was the vantage point. When looking from different vantage points, we see different things. That is obvious and simple. Why then, do we have so much trouble applying that to larger life issues? Sometimes you can see things in my life that I miss or I may see things in your life you never saw before. I get a taste of that each time that we visit Vogel State Park in the north Georgia mountains. My mom rents two cabins to accommodate my brother's family and my family, including in-laws and potential in-laws. We get to spend time catching up on both mundane and large issues in each others' lives. Because we are family, we tend to question and comment more freely than you would with strangers or casual friends. And we see where other family members have grown. You miss that sometimes when you are together every day. We also get to evaluate our own growth and growth opportunities as we tell our story of "how things have been". I will share some of the beauty of the area in posts over the next few days. But for now, here are a few pictures of one aspect of the past week (plus two days) for me.

Why pictures of two guys on bicycles? These pictures represent two brothers who have passed the half-century mark and who refuse to concede anything to the aging process. My mom made the effort to drive ahead of us and take pictures as we pushed ourselves through self-induced physical difficulty on our way to accomplishing a goal. The short-term goal? To ride bikes from our cabin at Vogel State Park up Blood Mountain and back--about a 7 mile round trip. We did this several mornings and endured the long 4-5 mph climb up the mountain in order to experience the thrill of coming back down at speeds topping 35 mph. The long-term goal? I hope we can realize the possibility of being fit regardless of age and refuse to conform to the norm of accepting weight gain, loss of mobility, and declining health as inevitable. Thanks are due to Keith for posing as my conscience and leading the running and cycling activities. I also thank those nameless strangers that I boldly made conversation with who were cycling all the way to Brasstown Bald and climbing to the highest point in Georgia. That is so far beyond my capabilities that it is difficult to comprehend. But now I know that otherwise normal people actually do this. If they can do it.......?

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Want to be heard?

Here is a link to a fun blog that is encouraging comments and sharing great blogs that are submitted. It is interesting to find good communicators and feel as if you are getting to know them through their various posts. If you have time to look around the blog, you will notice a cool t-shirt that reads "Comment Junkie". I may have to have one of those.
Check it out!
Remember, "If you don't comment, the terrorists win!"

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

What Might Have Been....

A couple of weeks ago, I went for a run from our house. I ran through the cemetary that is less than a mile away. There is alternating shade and it is a quiet, reflective place. On this particular run, I went to the end of a road that forms a small cul-de-sac and was surprised to see a sign I had never seen before. I went back today to get this picture;

It is a section of the cemetary with only the graves of infants and children. I do not know its history. Many of the markers indicate that the infants died on the day of birth or within 2 or 3 days. That must be horrible for many reasons, not the least of which is connected to this site. "Are we supposed to have a funeral?" "How do we do that?" Others indicate a range of lifespans ranging from a few months to a few years. Here is just a sampling of the headstones. I hope it is not bad form to post these without knowing the families or the life story of each. Those of you who know me, know that I really want to hear "the rest of the story". And perhaps I will.

This is not the place I expected to see a "BabyLand" sign. BabyLand makes me think of this place;

That picture is from BabyLand General Hospital in Cleveland, Georgia--the birthplace of Cabbage Patch Kids. I can't mention Cabbage Patch Kids without telling this story. When Cabbage Patch was all the rage and the supply could not keep up with demand, classes were formed to teach people (mostly grandmothers) how to make them. My mother signed up to make two Cabbage Patch adopted (knockoffs) kids. She enjoyed the experience except that it was during the weeks leading up to Christmas and she had many demands on her time. She was working full-time and actively involved in church events as well as working on the dolls almost every night. One night a lady at church asked if she was feeling well. My mom replied "Yes, I am just tired from working all day and making babies all night!" Well, who wouldn't be?

Obviously, the BabyLand at the cemetary holds few of the pleasant, happy thoughts and memories that surround its namesake. The parents who visit here must sit and think about all that might have been. I wonder how they feel when they watch a sibling of the deceased child or someone else's child grow and accomplish as expected. Do they wonder "What might have been?" As I have thought of this corner of the cemetary, thoughts of how we sometimes, as parents, communicate dissappointment to our children if they do not make all "A's" or make the All-star team. I hope I don't send that message to my children, especially in front of one of the parents of a "BabyLand" child. Oh, how they must yearn to show acceptance and love to that missing child.

Then I think of the miscarriage we had between Helen and Laura and what might have been. That is not the same, of course, as having a child in your arms and loving them for days, months, or a few years. I also notice that most of the headstones in the BabyLand section of the cemetary have dates from the mid 70's to the mid 80's--the period of time our kids were being born into our family. So here I sit, a few days before all my children and their spouses will join LaWanna and me and my extended family for a week in the north Georgia mountains. And I think, what a blessing that they are alive, all Christians, all doing well in most areas of life AND willing to spend vacation time with the old folks. How can you enjoy that blessing and not realize that, but for the grace of God, I would be visiting a familiar grave at BabyLand and wondering "what might have been". Here are some pictures of, thankfully, what is (in my life);

Thank you, God for not blessing us as we deserve. I am blessed far beyond what I deserve!

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

One of the Girls

I have intended to have fun posting about my recent trip to Pensacola. The counselors at Pre-Trial Diversion have at least one retreat per year for bonding and personal growth among the good folks that spend so much time helping others. This was the first retreat I have been able to attend and I have really looked forward to it. I was not disappointed. What an amazing group of individuals and what a blessing it is to be allowed a part in what is being accomplished! Thanks to Dr. Guest for planning and executing the trip (and to her daughter in P'cola for delivering the seafood smorgasbord Saturday night). Thanks to Libby, who although she could not attend sent her husband's rolls and world class cheesecake--lots of cheesecake.

What most people found interesting about the trip was that 14 of us attended and I was the only male. I slept on a fold out sofa in the living area which meant I was awake as late as the latest and as early as the earliest. As you might guess, there was not much sleep--5 hours Friday night and 3 Saturday night. That is fine, though. I would have stayed up and talked as long as any of the others wanted to anyway. That was the great part of the trip for me--the great conversation. Everybody there is at least masters level and three have doctorates. The organized education is only a base level for each of these ladies, however. Every person there has become highly involved in the lives of others at a level most people never experience. So the hope and excitement for making life better is pervasive among the group and fun to be part of.

Here is a picture of some of the ladies;

Just kidding. Here is a real picture--we ate well. This is at breakfast with oatmeal, lots of fresh fruit, and strong coffee.

There were lots of shells gathered.

Jeanell was the professional photographer. She worked hard to take lots of pics and made us all a DVD. Her photos are available on and congratulations to her on her recent Ph.D. in Marriage and Family Therapy.

I noticed these two insects uhh, doing what comes naturally in front of Phoebe's book "Passionate Marriage". I wondered if they had been reading parts of it.

I have lots more great pictures, but blogger is taking waaaay too long to upload and I have spent too much time on this already. Here is what I really took away from the weekend; 1) It is a small world and we impact each other more than we realize, 2) The most important ingredient in baking a meaningful relationship is time, 3) Communication is a challenging and the most difficult aspect is the most overlooked and under-developed--listening. Thank you ladies for allowing an old guy to tag along and show off a bit. Thanks for late-night and early-morning conversations--I learned a lot. Thank you Phoebe for sterling conversation as we drove down and back. You are a hero in my eyes. Thank you LaWanna for allowing me to go off with a bunch of females. Thank you Graham for entrusting me with 6 hours of unbroken conversation with your wife. The worship service with your brother was an adventure as well.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Guess Who's Coming to Oregon

This article is from the Corvallis, Oregon Gazette-Times. I think it is funny and could spark copy-cats from different genres. It paints a picture that is difficult to imagine in the south, but one that has an impact on national politics and why different regions of the country see each other in such unfavorable terms.

"The booths at the Saturday Corvallis Farmers’ Market have a wild mix of fresh produce, tasty food, plants and flowers. But this week, a table just outside the bazaar offered something more bizarre — “Meet a Black Guy.” Those who participated in the free service could chat with 21-year-old Corvallis resident Jeff Oliver, and get pictures taken with him. “It’s a statement about diversity in Corvallis. It’s not a very diverse place,” said Oliver, a lifelong Oregonian. He hoped to promote understanding, break stereotypes and perhaps even provide a comedic moment for hundreds of people strolling along the riverfront. The booth drew a mixed reaction, however."

The rest of the article can be read at

This article also leads very naturally to the post below.

To Kill a Mockingbird

After all these years, I finally read (actually listened to on CD) "To Kill a Mockingbird". It is an excellent book and I find myself occasionally processing the thoughts presented, particularly concerning deeply ingrained racism and social class prejudice. That is probably why this video is so funny to me. If you have ever stood around hoping to be picked up on a work crew, you will love this.