Monday, June 1, 2015

Editor's Corner

June 2015

"All the adversity I've had in my life, all my troubles and obstacles, have strengthened me...
You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you."
-- Walt Disney

Adversity comes in all shapes and sizes and elements. Witness the weather beginning in May and continuing into June. Not just in the U.S.A., but around the world. Many have suffered and there is not a lot those of us who hear about these things long distance can do, but we can look closer to home and perhaps help someone nearby.

Nancy Park addresses "The Compassionate Self" in her column, "Mind, Body, & Spirit Connection." Check out her thoughts with your own.Thomas F. O'Neill ("Introspective") speaks of China's attempt to block all international internet resourses, which is more obvious to him after signing up for NetFlix.

Mattie Lennon ("Irish Eyes") shares some macabre practices, "Sleeping in Coffins" with his usual comical tact, then seeks the higher and lighter life for himself by attending Listowel's annual literary event.

John I. Blair's column "Always Looking - People Who Made A Difference XXX" brings Ralph Waldo Emerson into the spotlight disclosing his attributes. Blair found four poems we had not published from 2004 and these are: "Geckos in The Garden Shed," "What Could Be More Antithetical," "Cattle Egrets," and "Reality Checks." Glad to show these and hope he gets in the poetry mood before the July-August combined issue.

Phillip Hennessy's poem "God Only Knows" was set to music, and as such placed Phil with the top song in the month of May on the Clay County Radio, CCR, The home of Independent Country Music Promotions ! His youtube link to the song is shown with the poem and two more of his poems ("Friends" and "The Fool") are included this issue.
Link: clayscounty.com
 
Bud Lemire sent us two poems "Expressions" and "When You Get Old" while Bruce Clifford's single submission is "The Only Thing."

Jeremiah Raber also sent two poems, "Beware" and "Is it to Forget." Mrs. King submitted two also: "Sovereignty" and "Catastrophe That." Be sure to click her byline for her bio.

Rebecca Morris' serial "The Adventures of Ollie Dare" continues with Chapter 3 "Ollie-Dare and The River Boat Pilot" for June. Share this with your reading youngsters.

Mark Crocker adds Chapter Two "Underhanded Deals" of his "Rabbo Book Five."

Thanks again to Mike Craner for his expertise and patience that allows this little ezine to continue its mission of encouraging writers, experienced and beginners, and to promote reading. TV has done a lot to discourage reading as a pastime, but we are holding fast.

We will be combining the July and August submittals in one issue to be released on the first day of August. This should give all the authors time to enjoy summer and still get some writing done for their loyal readers. We certainly are looking forward to a nice summer and wish everyone the best.

Click on author's byline for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.
This issue appears in the ezine at www.pencilstubs.com and also in the blog www.pencilstubs.net with the capability of adding comments at the latter.

Always Looking – People Who Made A Difference XXX

 
 
 
 
 
 

Ralph Waldo Emerson


   A reporter asked a scrubwoman who always attended Emerson’s lectures whether she understood them. "Not a word," she replied, "but I like to go and see him stand up there and look as though he thought everyone was as good as he is."

   Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) began his career as a Unitarian minister but became the preeminent lecturer, essayist and philosopher of 19th century America. He was a key figure in the "New England Renaissance," as an author and through association with the Transcendental Club and other writers—notably Henry David Thoreau and Margaret Fuller—who gathered at his home in Concord, Massachusetts.

   The Transcendentalists opened the liberally religious to science, Eastern religions and naturalistic mysticism. Emerson’s oration at Harvard in 1837, "The American Scholar," challenged listeners to stop imitating Europe and to ground their ideas in American resources, sincerity and realism. It has been called "America's Intellectual Declaration of Independence."

   In his “Divinity School Address” in 1838, he protested a stale, inherited Christianity, calling for fresh religious inspiration. "Cast conformity behind you, and acquaint men at first hand with Deity." Emerson considered his ideas consistent with Jesus’ teachings. He spoke against slavery, urged greater freedom in worship, and championed woman's rights, more freedom and scope in university education, and purer methods in politics and trade.

   Emerson’s fame came primarily through Chautauqua lectures and two collections of Essays. The great teaching for which he is best remembered is self-reliance—to listen to and heed the still, small voice of God within and to master passion and temper. He regarded the true self as capable of experiencing and knowing the Divine, present in all creation—the God within, not the God of authority and tradition.

   He believed we know God first and mainly through the moral law within. "It is by following other men's opinions that we are misled and depraved." Emerson’s optimism was the fruit of a long, hard personal struggle. His self-reliance is the ability to affirm all creation even while coming to terms with manifest evil.

Adapted from an article by Frank Schulman
Link:Frank Schulman article

   Selected quotations from Emerson:

   “The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”

   “Our chief want is someone who will inspire us to be what we know we could be.”


   “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” 


   “Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year.”

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Mind, Body, & Spirit Connection

Nancy's Mind Ramblings ~ Tuning in to "Synchronicity"~the simultaneous occurrence of events that appear significantly related but have no discernible causal connection


The Compassionate Self


    This month has brought with it stunning losses with the devastating earthquakes in Nepal, the destruction caused by tornados and flooding, disasterous train accident in New York and even the loss, upon our streets, of young people who made poor decisions, as well as those who protect and serve, losing their lives in the course of this duty to us.

    It's enough to make you avoid the news. So many fall innocent victim to Mother Nature and her indescriminent paths. Still others become victims of violence. Regardless of the origin, suffering is the outcome. How then, could these things possibly be of any service to us? By affording us the great blessing of service to others.

    We have seen natural disasters of one kind or another where there is such devastation and loss of life. As the pictures and stories unfold, our hearts go out to those affected and for many of us, we find a silent gratitude within, fortunate we were spared these tragedies. In these instances, there can be great empathy, as, being aware we all of the same family, its not difficult to imagine the affect these disasters would have upon our own lives. Naturally, empathy can often be accompanied by a natural sense of fear, which can feel much like when we assist someone who has lost a loved one, we are very sad, we try to say something healing, do something to help, but deep down, we fear this loss in our own life, and sometimes seek to distance ourselves from that fear. We are unconsciously aware of the delicate balance between we who are fortunate and those who move through overwhelming struggles, but this comes to the forefront when we are barraged with images of destruction, loss of life and the destructive power of Nature, and man.

    As I'm sure many can attest, we have all seen where these cataclysmic events, these times of great need, bring others who would step in to offer whatever they can do. I believe tragedies of any kind, bring about the greatest opportunities for the expansion of our humanity, in the extending of our love and compassion throught prayer, thoughtful intent and action. I would go further to say that these events may well be the glue, the bond to that fabric of who we all really are, a hallmark of our soul.

     Scientists study our origins, whatever belief system you may or may not have, the science points to our earth, even our own moon, as all being from the same "material" structure. Dynamic collisions, this way or that, chipping off here and there, a bit of this planet, a piece of that moon, all that collesque, formed by the circling of a field of gravity, into the planet we inhabit - "the stuff of the stars" - taken in its literal meaning, biblical (as in the formation by "God" of man from the mud of earth, etc.) or scientific "the big bang" - all leads back to the same "element". Everything that exists upon this planet, came into form from the same origins.

    And so it is, that all things, are one thing.

    The best side of people is often hidden. We are offered the opportunity to extend the deepest, most loving part of ourselves, without any reservations, to another, to our fullest and theirs, in these moments of tragedy. We are provided such an overwhelming gift in our capacity to love another through action, in these times. I do not attempt to diminish, in any way, the depth of loss and grief which happens, but rather shine a light on the gift of our being able to bring forth our truest selves at these times, putting another before us. Extending whatever love and compassion we are capable of, in order to facilitate healing the self - the One self. The gift lay not in what happened, but rather how we will respond to it, the action which transmutes it from what it has become, to what it can be. All that is needed, is the extension of the compassionate self towards another. Whether its one on one, or extending healing to the masses.

    It’s rare in our everyday lives that we truly contemplate the suffering of strangers.

    Many historic figures have made references to this understanding:
  • "Compassion is the keen awareness of the interdependance of all things."-Thomas Merton
  • "Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive."-The Dalai Lama
  • "Love one another."-Jesus
  • "We are one, after all, you and I, together we suffer, together exist and forever will recreate each other."-Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
  • "Love is the affinity which links and draws together the elements of the world... Love, in fact, is the agent of universal synthesis."-Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

    Healing can take place through many expressions. We've all heard "sending love and light". Not something to be taken lightly. Studies have shown that the power of intention, sometimes through "prayer", which is really holding that soul in your heart and sending mental healing and love towards them, can have an extremely powerful effect. This action done alone, or in the company of others, for example a healing service or prayer group, is but one powerful way in which we can "intend" love and healing for others. Actions, of course, our physical presence, the giving of our time, or our abundance is yet another for those who can.

    Despite the appearance of the opportunities we are afforded by these events, we are provided by their existence, limitless options to express our love and compassion. To exercise our true nature, in the service of another.

    Three rules I live by:
  • The first is be kind.
  • The second is, be kind.
  • The third is, be kind.

    Take a moment to send loving, healing thoughts towards those who are less fortunate than yourselves in any way. Take action if you can, reach down to what it is you yourself would be most grateful for, should it be you upon which this unfolded.
"there but for fortune, go you and I"

    Express your true nature, that of a compassionate soul.
Many blessings~
Nanc

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Irish Eyes

Sleeping in Coffins


      The four penny coffin (also referred to as a coffin house) is a Victorian term that described one of the first homeless shelters to be created for the people of central London. It was operated by the Salvation Army during the late 19th and early 20th centuries to provide comfort and aid to its destitute clients. If you think that attic-flat in Ranelagh or the MRI scanner were claustrophobic or the ‘geki-sema share houses’ in Tokyo, Japan, which are so tiny that they don’t have room for anything excepting for sleeping , think again. Have you ever slept in a coffin?

      Apart from vampire and goths very few people have a desire to sleep in an actual coffin. When George Ryan was doing research for his book Vexed at his Own Funeral he spent a night sleeping in a coffin in a Dublin funeral parlour. The funeral director claimed that he didn’t ask for permission but George assured me that he did. “ . . .I was generously granted permission to lie for an hour and a half in a coffin, in Clonsilla, on my own, and the light off. I spent most of the time wondering who’d be the next to enter that coffin.”

      For the past 23 years, Brazilian Zeli Ferreira Rossi, 61, has been going to sleep, every Friday night, not to his bed, but straight into a real coffin. This unusual exercise is in memory of a friend of his who died.

      One “coffin-sleeper” had this to say, “ . . .if I ever met the right woman, we'd probably construct a two-person coffin shaped bed for ourselves. Complete with a removable lid.”

      I read the following in the Nigerian Tribune (I don’t confine my reading to the Wicklow People.); “Coffins are never intended to be just another items of relaxation like sofas or even beds. But some people do not see them like that. Coffins, to them, are just items of wood and it does not matter at all if the tired takes a nap in them. Whether they are called coffins (their original name) or caskets (originally a box for jewellery), these boxes for the dead, to those who make them, are cool means of livelihood, as well as for rest, while waiting for customers. ”

      There are some provincial temples in Thailand, such as this one at Nakhon Nayok that specialize in the coffin ceremony with Buddhist monks providing the blessings. For a fee of around 200 Baht (a merit-making donation to the temple) participants lay in the coffin holding flowers. The lid is then shut as the monks chant death rites. Just over a minute later as the monks chant about new life, the coffin is opened and the participants are ‘reborn’ leaving behind their bad karma. If, in future years, the participant endures a spell of bad luck or misfortune, they may again opt for the coffin ceremony to bring about a reversal in their luck.

      When Mark Twain was living in London in 1909 his cousin Dr. Jim Clemens , who also lived in London died. The media of the day took it to be Mark Twain and published, what it assumed to be , suitable obituaries. Mark Twain was amused and went to the morgue and declared afterwards, “The moment I saw the corpse I knew it wasn’t me . . .”

      Now, that's enough about coffins, death and dying. I'm at Listowel Writers' Week among such celebs as Ann Enright, Graham Norton, Patsy McDermott and P. J. Kennedy. I'll give you full run-down next month including an account of "The Healing Session." It has been held for the past 22 years In John B. Keanes. (see pic below) It is the biggest open-mike session in Europe (if not in the world.)

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Below: Seen at Listowel Writers' Week

 

Introspective

    I just recently signed up to stream movies online from Netflix but in order to watch the Netflix movies, here in China, I have to us a VPN (virtual proxy network). My VPN connects my computer to a server in the U.S. which enables me to surf the web as if I were in America. I also like to download movies for my students here in Suzhou, China, by using my trusted VPN.
    I learned quickly from speaking with my students that they are huge fans of American films and television programs from the U.S.
    There are many Chinese here excited about the fact that Netflix has its eyes on China. The company sees a huge profit potential in Asia due to a huge demand for online American films.
    Netflix in recent years has been experiencing a slowdown of subscriber growth in the U.S. The firm has announced that they are aggressively intending to expand globally. The company is currently in talks with Chinese online broadcasting firms, the executives of the involved Chinese parties are hoping to work out a deal.
    There is a lot to be worked out though and the negotiations are in its early stages. The deal will most likely face various complications with the Chinese censors. There will most likely be programming content that China feels objectionable for China’s viewership.
    There are many broadcasting companies based in China that would love to partner up with Netflix. They understand the global influence of the American media. However, China has raised concerns over foreign online content. The country has also placed many obstacles and policy restrictions on foreign content, especially, from America.
    China has close to 600 million internet users which Netflix would like to tap into. For instance "House of Cards," a Netflix original top-billed by Kevin Spacey, is already famous in China, with avid viewers including the country's powerful anti-corruption ambassador, Wang Qishan.
    The series' first two seasons have gathered positive and overwhelming viewership results in the Chinese video streaming site operated by Sohu.com, Inc. However, the show's third season has not been aired on the portal yet after new Chinese restrictions were issued. It has been said that the series was placed on China’s chopping block due to China’s over the top censorship of American programming.
    I haven’t watched the series “House of Cards” but millions in China can’t get enough of the series. Many fans have illegally downloaded the third season, making China the top pirated video downloader of the recent "House of Cards" episodes.
    The fact that China is placing so many restrictions on what can and cannot be viewed in its country only reveals the major differences between our two countries. The American broadcasting companies have to deal with censors but nothing to the extent of restrictions you find in China.
    Like I mentioned before my students here in Suzhou, China also enjoy watching American films. But, like me many of them have to use VPN’s which are illegal in China.
    I think the fact that VPN’s are being used illegally here for the simple enjoyment of watching American movies online - is a reflection of China’s irrational fear of America’s influence on the Chinese culture.
    I do hope Netflix is allowed to stream its content in China but I feel they are in for a huge disappointment. I say this because in the end China’s restrictions on American programming will become Netflix’s greatest obstacle and perhaps its greatest disappointment for China’s viewership.
    Always with love from Suzhou, China
    Thomas F O’Neill
    U.S. voice mail: (800) 272-6464
    China Cell: 011-86-15114565945
    Skype: thomas_f_oneill
    Email: introspective7@hotmail.com
    Other articles, short stories, and commentaries by Thomas F. O'Neill can be found on his award winning blog, Link:
    http://thomasfoneill.blogspot.com

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