Entries Tagged as 'advice'

adviceterror & war

Call It what you will … but MARK It …..

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IN FLANDERS FIELDS

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved,
and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch, be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep,
though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Lt. Col. John Alexander McCrae, MD – Canadian Expeditionary Force (Died January 28, 1918 at Boulogne France)

Here in the U.S., one doesn’t see the poppies on people’s lapels so much, as we used to when were children ….. One of the most ridiculous victories in America’s ‘war of drugs’ was the declaration by ‘drug czars’ and their staffs that the poppy reminded people of addiction to drugs, rather than appreciation to those who gave the ‘last full measure of their devotion’ in service to their country. Such is not the case in Canada, England, and other countries that once formed the ‘Commonwealth.’ The paper poppies – and the fundraising for veterans’ relief that they represent – have been prominent in photos and video the past couple weeks.

Armistice Day, Remembrance Day, Veterans Day ….. call it what you will ….. but find some way to mark this day. Here, in America, the focus of the day has been expanded to honor all men and women who, throughout history, have answered their country’s call to serve. There have been many in our own family, but – mindful of the origins of this particular holiday – I will tell the boys of their great-grandfather Frederick, a sergeant with the 102nd Balloon Company, U.S. Air Service, American Expeditionary Force, and his service in France during the First World War.

102nd Balloon Company, U.S. Air Service, American Expeditionary Force, in France

102nd Balloon Company, U.S. Air Service, American Expeditionary Force, in France

advicepolitics & government

A prayer for Trump is a prayer for us all

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Looking back over the weeks leading up to Election Day, as the idea circulated that response to election results might include protests, I noticed the focus was almost entirely upon candidate Donald Trump and his supporters. Little or no mention of candidate Hillary Clinton and her supporters … but then, depending upon your news sources – and your personal views – there would be no cause for complaint from that camp, come Wednesday morning.

Which brought us to that Wednesday morning, and a ‘Dewey defeats Truman’ moment for the new century. So, what is the proper response to that moment, for Clinton supporters? Via texts, tweets, blog posts and online chat rooms, I’ve heard from a number of them – their outrage over the results, their fears over what life will be like Trump in charge, their tears and their anger … and from some, a call to hit the streets and share all of that with the general public.

I’d like to propose another response for supporters from BOTH camps … prayer.

Me? I’ll be praying as someone who entered the voting booth less-than-enthusiastic about both of the major party candidates for President, prepared to take a co-worker’s advice to ‘hold your nose, lean in and press one of the buttons.’ I cast my vote … and I wish that more people across the country could say that. But now, it’s time to deal with the results.

I shall pray that President Elect Donald Trump will be a better President than I expected him to be. I pray that he will be open to new experiences and new views, and that he will learn and grow from them. I pray that he will receive good advice and good counsel from those he chooses to be part of his inner circle, and that he will also keep his eyes and his ears, his mind and his heart, open to those outside that circle.

I pray for his success as President of the United States. As current President Barrack Obama said following a meeting with Trump at the White House, “If you succeed, the country succeeds.” I was encouraged by the demeanor of both men following that meeting, and the tone of their comments about one another considering what has passed between them over the preceding years … funny how your view of someone might change once you have ACTUALLY met that someone face-to-face, looked them in the eye and shaken their hand … for all that has passed between them in those preceding years, this was their first ACTUAL meeting.

And so, I pray … and I urge all of you who are open to faith, regardless of your religion or denomination, to do the same. And remember, there will be opportunities for ALL of us to speak and work towards helping our nation succeed.

advicereligion & philosophy

I am PCUSA … and PRO-Fossil Fuel … What does blanket divestment REALLY accomplish

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For my part in the Presbyterian Church USA’s debate over divestment of church funds from fossil fuel producers (and the vote that will be coming up this week in the bi-annual gathering of PC-USA’s General Assembly) I have suggested more than once that a blanket divestment is NOT the answer. I have recommended an alternative … redirected investment of funds into responsible/moral fossil fuels producers.

WITH RESPECT, AND WITH AN OPENNESS TO DISCUSSION, I want to ask proponents of blanket divestment … what does it REALLY accomplish? Sure, it’s easy to do … and when it’s done, you feel good … but couldn’t you have done so much more? Here are some points to consider, on how you could accomplish ‘so much more’ through redirected investment, rather than blanket divestment … [Read more →]

advicereligion & philosophy

I am PCUSA … and PRO-Fossil Fuel … Responsible/Moral Production

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For my part in the Presbyterian Church USA’s debate over divestment of church funds from fossil fuel producers, I have suggested more than once that a blanket divestment is NOT the answer. I have recommended an alternative … redirected investment of funds into responsible/moral fossil fuels producers. Is there such a thing? I think there is, and I would like to suggest some criteria for that … criteria that could be used by PC-USA’s Mission Responsibility Through Investment (MRTI) ministry in deciding – on a case-by-case basis – what to do with the church’s investment funds. [Read more →]

advicereligion & philosophy

Another reason I am PCUSA … and PRO-Fossil Fuel …

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In the Presbyterian Church USA’s debate over divestment of church funds from fossil fuel producers, there are some considerations that are not being presented, especially when it comes to oil and natural gas. Here is one I would like to present. Those who are demanding that we “Keep It in the Ground” may not realize … it’s NOT just oil we’d be keeping in the ground. [Read more →]

adviceBob Sullivan's top ten everything

With summer beginning today, top ten signs your house still needs a spring cleaning

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10. When you finally make your bed, you find that missing shoe

9. You wipe your feet on the mat before stepping outside

8. You mistook the dust on the windowsills for “gray snow”

7. Even Jehovah’s Witnesses won’t enter your house

6. When somebody asks, “What died in here?” you give them a list

5. When you looked at your shower drain, at first you thought Cousin Itt had drowned

4. Your Glade Plugin has given up the fight

3. This morning, you had to eat your cereal with a measuring spoon out of a Bundt pan

2. Even your dog refuses to eat off the floor

1. Something keeps closing your refrigerator door…from the inside!
 

Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears every Monday.

advicereligion & philosophy

PCUSA … and PRO-Fossil Fuel

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Consider how Christians might respond to a call for a blanket divestment from Christianity, inspired by a variety of things that have taken place in the past, or are taking place right now … things that had (or have) nothing whatsoever to do with Jesus Christ and the kingdom He proclaimed, yet were done (or are being done) in His name, and in pursuit of a very worldly and wrongful pursuit of His kingdom.

How might Christians respond to such a call? [Read more →]

adviceBob Sullivan's top ten everything

My top ten new year’s resolutions

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10. I resolve to finally give up trying to lose weight, and instead will just grow six inches taller

9. I resolve to finally find Waldo

8. I resolve to become a doctor, and then change my last name to “Acula”

7. I resolve not to sit at my computer all day (I’m writing this standing up)

6. I resolve to think of another password for my computer besides ‘password’

5. I resolve to buy a t-shirt that says “LIFE” on it, then stand on a street corner and hand out lemons to passersby

4. I resolve to keep my ambitions within reach

3. I resolve to finally bring an end to war

2. I resolve, this year, to keep all my resolutions to myself

1. I resolve to limit my number of resolutions to nine
 

Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears every Monday.

adviceBob Sullivan's top ten everything

Top ten axioms to get your New Year off on the right foot

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10. No need to vaccinate all of your children, only the ones you want to keep.

9. The meaning of life is to find your gift, the purpose of life is to give it away.

8. I may be getting old, but I did get to hear all the cool bands.

7. Politics isn’t left vs. right, it’s top vs. bottom.

6. You are entitled to your own opinion, but not your own facts.

5. When we say “Women and children first,” we’re not talking about budget cuts.

4. Guns don’t kill people, bullets do. Guns just make them go real fast.

3. How many armed psychopaths does it take to change a gun law?

2. All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream.

1. (And Number One for the second year in a row – for anyone in a relationship:)
Would you rather be right, or would you rather be happy?
 

Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears every Monday.

adviceBob Sullivan's top ten everything

Top ten axioms to get your New Year off on the right foot (even if that’s your left foot)

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10. Don’t sweat the petty stuff; just pet the sweaty stuff.

9. It’s never too early to start beefing up your obituary.

8. Two rights don’t make a wrong; they make a U-turn.

7. I may be getting old, but I did get to see all the cool bands!

6. We have enough youth; how about a Fountain of Smart?

5. One nation, under surveillance.

4. The best things in life aren’t things.

3. Quantum mechanics: the dreams stuff is made of.

2. All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream.

1. (And moving up to Number One – for anyone in a relationship:)
Would you rather be right, or would you rather be happy?
 

Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears every Monday.

advicedrugs & alcohol

A Cautionary Tale

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I do not regularly visit Starbucks. Not because I’m a coffee snob; on the contrary, I have yet to meet a cup of coffee I didn’t like. But for me, Starbucks is reserved for those mornings when, due to lack of sleep or an especially early meeting, I know that I’m going to need heavier artillery than what my office’s machine can offer me. This morning was one of those mornings. Eyes barely open, desperately needing caffeine, I entered, expecting nothing out of the ordinary. I was wrong, and I feel the need to warn the masses. So here we go:

If you go into Starbucks and order a cup of coffee, the good people of Starbucks may ask you if you want that cup of coffee “on the Clover.” After you’ve stifled the urge to laugh, just say no. Repeat: Just. Say. NO.

Sure, sure, they will promise you that the Clover process is like the pour-over method and that it will result in a much bolder, more rounded cup of coffee. Do not listen to them, people! Because, in fact, the Clover is not the pour-over method at all. In fact, the Clover is a machine. IN FACT, the Clover is very much akin to a Keurig machine: They grind the beans in front of you, pour said ground beans into a little hole at the top of the Clover/Keurig, hit a button, and watch the machine spit out your coffee.

(Again, important to note that I’m not a coffee snob. I own a Keurig machine and I rock that baby like a hurricane. I’ve also had several carefully crafted cups of pour-over coffee in my day–I did used to live in Brooklyn, after all–and, while I admit they were tasty, I never really saw the big deal.)

“But Meg,” you may say, “Surely having the beans ground fresh two seconds before the coffee is brewed does, in fact, result in a stronger, tastier cup of coffee.” YOU WOULD THINK THAT, WOULDN’T YOU?? It’s ok, I thought that, too. But no. It results in a cup of coffee that tastes exactly the same as the drip coffee sitting in the urns.

What the Clover does produce is a cup of coffee that takes a shockingly long time to make and costs an entire dollar more, a fact that the good people of Starbucks will not tell you when they try to push the Clover on you like so much crack.

It was not a completely disappointing visit, however. One thing you will gain from the Clover experience is the deep personal connections you will make with the other patrons of Starbucks waiting patiently…patiently…not so patiently…fidgety…very fidgety…”Um, do you have something there for Pam? Cause I’ve been waiting fifteen minutes. For coffee.” There’s a very special connection formed among people who realize at the exact same time that they’ve been bamboozled. We’ll always have that.

adviceBob Sullivan's top ten everything

Top ten signs your house needs a spring cleaning

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10. Your dust bunnies are breeding like rabbits

9. The Health Department has you on speed dial

8. Your Christmas tree is left over from the President Bush years – the first President Bush

7. The “lace curtains” seem to be trapping an unusually large number of flies

6. You wipe your feet on the mat before stepping outside

5. All your rats have moved on to less disgusting environs

4. You’ve lost three pets and a nephew to indoor avalanches

3. Raccoons have gnawed through the hose, making it difficult to hose down the hallway

2. The producers of Hoarders weren’t able to film in your house, because no insurance company was willing to cover them

1. When somebody asks, “What died in here?” you give them a list
 

Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears every Monday.

adviceBob Sullivan's top ten everything

Top ten driving tips

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10. DON’T KEEP SWITCHING LANES. Research has shown that changing lanes rarely gets you there faster in the long run, and so many accidents happen from changing lanes, especially if you’re all the way over to the left and want to move to the right, and there’s some guy to your right like half a car-length back, right in your blind spot.

9. WATCH OUT FOR THE OTHER GUY. if you’re that driver to the right of Driver #1, keep out of his blind spot as much as possible, but if you’re passing (and why are you passing on the left?) and are momentarily in his blind spot, be ready to tap on your brakes, swerve a little to the right, and maybe honk all at the same time!

8. LOOK AT THINGS HOLISTICALLY. If you’re to the right of Driver #2 while he’s passing Driver #1, be aware that he may suddenly swerve a little to the right.

7. CHECK THE WIDTH OF THE ROAD. If you’re to the right of Driver #3, please make sure you’re not driving on the shoulder!

6. KEEP DISTRACTIONS TO A MINIMUM. Hey, Driver #1, Driver #2, Driver #3, and Driver #4, if any of you are reading this Top Ten list while driving, pull over immediately, hitch a ride to the nearest town, turn in your driver’s license, and never drive again.

5. IF YOU DRIVE A SMART CAR, STAY OUT OF SAN FRANCISCO. Teams of vandals have been flipping the cars over onto their backs – so far with nobody still inside.

4. IF YOU DRIVE A MAZDA AND HAVE ARACHNOPHOBIA, WEAR PLENTY OF PADDING. You never know when you suddenly may be jumping out of the car while it’s doing fifty.

3. IF YOU DRIVE A GENERAL MOTORS CAR, BE PREPARED FOR UNSCHEDULED SUDDEN STOPS – IN THE MIDDLE OF THE FREEWAY. Thirteen people have died so far due to a faulty GM ignition switch, though GM doesn’t owe their families a dime because the deaths all occurred before GM emerged from bankruptcy and had its liability slate wiped clean. Corporations aren’t people, they’re better than people; how many people do you know who can kill 13 real people and get away with it scot free?

2. KNOW THE LOCAL POLITICS. To avoid spiteful traffic delays, drive around New Jersey.

1. BE ALERT! We Need More Lerts!
 

Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears every Monday.

adviceBob Sullivan's top ten everything

Top ten axioms to get your new year off on the right foot

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10. Time is the stuff that keeps everything from happening at once.

9. Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.

8. I’ll believe corporations are people when Texas executes one.

7. All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream.

6. Quantum mechanics: the dreams stuff is made of

5. The best things in life aren’t things.

4. It’s never too early to start beefing up your obituary.

3. Don’t sweat the petty stuff. Just pet the sweaty stuff.

2. (for anyone in a relationship) Would you rather be right, or would you rather be happy?

1. Time is an illusion, brought to you by the manufacturers of Space.
 

Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears every Monday.

adviceBob Sullivan's top ten everything

Top ten spring cleaning tips for bachelors

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10. Strap a dust cloth to the dog’s tail, then show him a porterhouse steak

9. If you see a fuzzy ball in the corner, make sure it doesn’t need to be killed before you throw it away

8. You can skip those hard-to-reach places, because nobody looks there anyway

7. Dryer lint can be formed into a lovely snowman ornament and stored away for next Christmas

6. When you take a shower, be sure to wear clothes and carry some dishes, thus killing three birds with one stone

5. If you replace your couch and easy chair with plastic lawn furniture, cleaning them is just a hose away

4. If you remove the actual glass from your windows, they’ll always look crystal clean

3. Leave the attic and the basement as they are – out of sight, out of mind

2. When checking out the wearability of clothes, don’t just use the ‘sniff’ test, but also use the ‘stiff’ test

1. If you scrape up the caked-on toothpaste from the bottom of your sink, it can be formed into lovely after-dinner mints
 

Bob Sullivan’s Top Ten Everything appears every Monday.

advicedamned lies

Final Grades: Or, Jay’s Last Lecture

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It’s the end of the Spring semester, 2013. That means college undergraduates all over the country are freaking out over final grades. It’s odd how these grades become important to them at the end of the semester in a way that they weren’t at any other time during the semester, but I digress. What follows is a final email sent to my students this morning in response to a number of emails I received from them over the weekend: [Read more →]

advicefamily & parenting

Lessons of the heart from a secret policeman

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Iron Felix: a tender soul

When I lived in Moscow I regularly frequented an antique shop on Malaya Nikitskaya Street that had a small selection of English books. A lot of the stuff was awful, but they had a good selection of volumes from “Progress”, the USSR’s foreign language publishing house. Progress specialized in works by soviet authors and bad translations of the Russian classics. My favorite Progress book however (which I found in the shop) was Words from the Wise, a selection of Russian and Soviet quotations.

Some of the words within are wise, others are banal while many are flat-out lies. My favorite quotes however come from Felix Dzerzhinsky, the Polish Bolshevik who founded the Cheka, embraced Lenin’s policy of terror and established Russia’s first concentration camps. A bad man? Certainly. But he knew the human heart.

I discovered this while searching for quotes from Stalin on love. Nothing doing, but Felix, he had a lot to say. For instance:

“Love is the maker of all that is kind, exalted, strong, warm, and bright.” [Read more →]

advicepolitics & government

A common-sense approach to restoring economic prosperity

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People have proposed any number of solutions to our current financial problems, from “the fiscal cliff,” to “increased government spending.” But one problem with these ideas is that they do not take into account a common-sense approach. It’s only by using common sense ideas that we can hope to solve all our problems. To do so with compassion must also be given top priority.

One reason why compassion and common sense ideas are so rarely employed is that so few people actually have those virtues. I am not plagued by such deficiencies. That’s why I often come up with ideas that are compassionate and common-sensible. These ideas seem completely obvious to me, and yet, these ideas have never been implemented before, anywhere, because, if they had been implemented, then they would be unnecessary, because the world would be perfect and wouldn’t need compassionate common sense ideas. [Read more →]

advicesports

Matt Cassel, Eric Winston, and 9/11: a brief guide to maintaining your humanity while watching large mammals collide violently

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On Sunday, Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel was injured on a play. Matt Cassel is a pretty shitty NFL quarterback. According to offensive tackle Eric Winston, while Cassel was down and injured, a decent portion of the crowd was cheering because it meant Matt Cassel would be unable to return to the game and, therefore, would also be unable to continue playing quarterback for the Chiefs, shittily. After the game, Winston described hearing the home fans cheering for an injury as “one hundred percent sickening.”

Bravo, Eric Winston. Gold sticker for that one, bud. If they were cheering the injury, you are one hundred percent right.

[Read more →]

advicefamily & parenting

Kids: for and against

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Yesterday on WNYC’s Brian Lehrer Show, author Jessica Valenti discussed her new book Why Have Kids?. I haven’t read the book, which sounds like a good one (that’s the level to which I’ve sunk as a book critic). But the conversation got me thinking about my own life.         [Read more →]

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