Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Editor's Corner

April 2015

Shall always remember the month of April as one of your editor's best schooltime friends was born the 2d. Phyllis married first and ended up living back in the little town in Missouri she was born in. When the tornado hit there a few years back, she had already succumbed to breast cancer, passing away a couple days from my sister Jacqui's friend, Lois. One thing we are making progress in is finding cancer earlier and offering a few options for handling it. That's the good word today.

To honor cancer survivors, the pic at bottom of this column is from one of my beautiful great granddaughters, Alyssa Wadford.

She explains the pic this way, "Softball pinkout game 2015. Released 2 balloons, one for my Great Grandma Mary Elizabeth Adair and one for Debra Blount. These girls in the pic here are the sisters I have always wantedđź’•"

Nancy Park's "Mind, Body & Spirit Connection" shares a virtual tour of ethereal experiences. Judith Kroll aka Featherwind's column "On Trek" discusses "old scripts/new scripts" and we are the actors.
Thomas F. O'Neill ("Introspective") warns of the addiction of the internet. Mattie Lennon ("Irish Eyes") has a warning too. His concerns "The Unsigned Letter."

John I. Blair's column "Always Looking - People Who Made A Difference XXVIII" is about a brilliant person's short but eventful and memorable life: James Joseph Reeb. Blair's three poems are "Grackle," "Possum," and "Tall."

Phillip Hennessy sent along "It's a Good Day Today" which is rather deep. His other poem is "Compassion's a Cycle." Phil has recently been seeing more of his songs chosen by various groups/bands and recorded. He has several songs on YouTube, and we will try to put a link here for you. If you were reading last holiday season, one of his poems was set to music, sung by a choir, and used as a national fund raiser to help poor children in Great Britain. Here is a link Love Is Here .
Bud Lemire has one poem this month: "The Tree." Heard thru the facebook grapevine that he's been under the weather! Get well soon, Bud!

Bruce Clifford's two poems are "So Tired of You" and "It's Taking Me a Long Time." Mattie Lennon adds a parody (of a 'more severe' poem by a different author) which he wrote for the Literary Festival by the same name, "Doneraile."

On our old server we featured a section for Serials. One of those was written for the nieces and nephews of Rebecca Morris. There are several chapters that did not make the transfer over to the new server and with Rebecca's permission we are presenting them again with the first chapter "The Beginning" of "The Adventures of Ollie-Dare" in this issue. Share these with your little ones.

The current genealogist researcher in our family is my sister Melinda (Carroll) Cohenour. This month she shares her excitement and delight in compiling memories and tales in the article
"Charles “Napa Charley” Hopper - The Ancestor whose Adventures Sparked my Interest in Genealogy."

Again we thank Mike Craner for his expertise and patience that allows this little ezine to present over 400 different authors over the last seventeen years, with their compositions of story, poetry, articles, and ongoing columns.

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

On Trek

Old scripts/New Scripts

         Picture life as a giant Broadway play. From the day each person is born, the play starts. We become stars the minute we are born. And as our life progresses we continue in the play, but we tend to change roles..

         We are understudies until we become adults...

         And once we are adults, how we did as understudies decides what role we will have in the play of life.

         Will we write the script? Will we direct the script? Will we be one of the actors that function by the lines and rules of everyone?

         Or will we be behind the scenes, making props, and fixing lights, and as our role is important, we have no visible part., unless our name appears in the program way down at the bottom someplace, Only noticeable by friends and family.

         It is now time for an audition. Up to this point we were actors, and behind the scenes players, but now its time to audition for the director’s job.

         To be in control of how this play, our life, comes out we would need the director’s job. We would need to make the moves without fear and repercussions. We need to evaluate where we are and what is needed to move forward.

         Many times we are bounded by the rules of others, and therefore are afraid to step one foot outside the boundaries. We are afraid to make a move without permission.., because if we do, and it’s wrong, we will be ridiculed and it will be called to our attention forever more.

         Sometimes we need to get someone else’s thoughts instead of our own because we don’t trust ourselves. We thus come across as indecisive.

         Old programs, from an old play are held in esteem by many. They put them in photograph folders, or keep them in a neat pile inside a desk for safe keeping. They are reminders and they have some good meaning and memories at times, but we also remember the bad that was associated with the old programs.. We say oh well, but we still manage to get hot under the collar and red with embarrassment when we recall our blunders..

         We tend to forget the blunders of the other players, but we cannot seem to let go of the blunders we ourselves made. We can forgive others of their little faults, but oh heavens not our own.

         Remember the time we rolled the car into the garage, and scraped the side of the car? We cursed our self-till we were blue in the face, and we still shake our imaginary fingers at ourselves because that was a costly, stupid, uncalled for mistake…

         When Our neighbor did the same thing, we said, well you know, it is a hard angle to maneuver into, and the sun does shine hard thru that window, and quit being so hard on yourself, it is really ok.. No one was hurt. , etc. etc. etc.

         What happens when we are around someone who won’t let us forgive ourselves, by constantly bringing it up, saying how stupid we are, and not capable of driving at all, and leave the car out in the driveway, they will put it in the garage for us, as we are not ready for such a big responsibility..

         If they can’t forgive us, then certainly we cannot forgive ourselves, because we are never given an opportunity to do so.

         Now if that same person did scrape the car coming into the garage, it is funny how they can laugh it off, and say oh well, and drop the subject, and heaven help you if you say ONE WORD ..Or even dare to call them stupid, and not capable. etc.

         Something wrong with this picture..

         How do we gain our control back? How do we become directors in our own life?

         How many times do we see someone we know who seem to know what they want, what they are doing, and totally in control of their lives, and having a blast living it? We think, wow I wish I was like that, how wonderful!

         Well, the secret is, we know then, what it means to have control.., so who then would be stopping us from becoming our own director, in our own play of life?

         Our mates? We can say that.. Our kids? We can say that. , Friends, relatives? Or, could it be we are stopping ourselves because we allow others to tell us what to do..??

         A good quote I heard once is, ” We teach folks how to treat us.” Think about that for a few.

         Now is the time to write our own scripts.

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Irish Eyes

The Unsigned Letter

Anonymity represents for many people
a liberating even more than a threatening phenomenon.

-- Harvey Cox.

         Not all anonymity is free of threat. Most people have received anonymous communications at some stage. Be it a Valentine card from a shy admirer or a Christmas card that the sender had forgotten to sign. And in more recent times there is the occasional baffling text or email. There is of course the more malicious anonymous letter usually sent by the cowardly and insecure who often tend to be inconsequential people of little importance to the addressee. The senders of such letters usually have a chip on the shoulder. It may be a begrudging colleague whose own life is not satisfying, and they may have recently been disinherited and/or rejected. One source says, “These letters seem to be a cry of the powerless from persons who have lost the ability to speak their mind and have been pushed to the limit of their understanding and patience.”

         One expert in the field wrote,
“From my own observations, these writers are sick individuals. Within their makeup there is a weak streak which is inter linked with dishonesty and anyone who writes anonymously, even though purporting to have the receiver’s welfare at heart, has a problem. “

         According to, ‘Judicial Graphology, by Renna Nezos, “that personality is socially maladjusted and he/she suffers from a feeling of persecution and excessive jealousy.”
The following motivating characteristics of the anonymous letter-writer are put forward by an expert;
  • Jealousy.
  • Envy.
  • Malice and Spite.
  • Revenge.
  • Sexual Frustration.
  • Inner feelings of personal inadequacy, which fuels a desire to cause suffering.
  • The urge to wield influence.

         That anonymous letter you got could be from a shy retiring admirer or a forgetful acquaintance who neglected to put their name to it. It could be from a well-meaning person who wanted to put you wide to some treachery without getting involved. But . . . it could be more sinister. Anybody who has read, “ 10 Strange Mysteries Involving Anonymous Letters” knows that the unsigned missive is very often the hallmark of a psychopath. Jack the Ripper and The Zodiac Killer are just two examples.

         The anonymous letter that arrived in your letterbox may be from an innocent person but it could also be from a coward who, in the words of one psychologist , “ . . . is using a power hold over the selected victim. From the feeling of power comes an inner sense of superiority, as real or imagined developments are anticipated. The correspondence may be planned with care, to hit the target and then retreat into hiding to await the results; or it may be the outcome of supposed slights and resentful feelings that have been festering over a period of time. The reaction is triggered by sending a threatening letter.”

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Always Looking – People Who Made A Difference XXVIII

Rev. James Reeb

         James Joseph Reeb (1927-March 11, 1965) was a minister, social worker, and civil rights activist. His brutal murder by segregationists while participating in the second Selma to Montgomery march made him one of the martyrs of the American civil rights movement of the 1960s. Born in Wichita, Kansas, he grew up in Kansas and Wyoming as his father followed his job working for an oil drilling tool company. Though he was a sickly boy, he was a good student. During high school in Casper, Wyoming, he also developed his social ideals, which recognized the need to improve the lives of the poor and help those denied their full human rights. As a student he enjoyed football and debate. He joined the ROTC and was soon made its commander. Summers he worked in a filling station or as a laborer at a local air base.

         James was a committed Christian. With frequent family moves, he attended churches of various denominations, eventually settling on Presbyterian. “I cannot remember a time,” Reeb wrote, “when I wasn’t in church on Sunday, nor can I remember a time when I haven’t studied the Bible . . . Just before leaving high school I made my decision to enter the ministry.” Reeb joined the Army upon graduation, even though the Second World War was almost over. When he was honorably discharged eighteen months later, in December 1946, his rank was Technical Sergeant, Third Class.

         After the army he went back to school, first at Casper Junior College, then St. Olaf College, a Lutheran evangelical school in Northfield, Minnesota. Taking summer courses, he got his A.B. cum laude in June 1950. Later that summer he married Marie Helen Deason from Casper who he had first met at Casper Junior College. They had four children.

         In autumn of 1950, Reeb entered Princeton Theological Seminary. He received his B.D. in June 1953 and was ordained at the First Presbyterian Church of Casper. Rather than seek a church, Reeb accepted the position of Chaplain to Hospitals for the Philadelphia Presbyter at the Philadelphia General Hospital. This interest in pastoral counseling had developed during his days at the seminary. In 1955 he earned an S.T.M. in the field of Pastoral Counseling. His experience as a chaplain made him more aware, as his biographer Duncan Howlett pointed out, of “the stark realities of life.”

         In high school, Reeb was a traditional Bible-centered Christian; but during college his religious views slowly evolved toward a more liberal understanding of Christianity. He wrote in 1956, “I have clearly progressed in my views until I am much more of a humanist than a deist or theist.” This eventually led him to Unitarianism. A friend had given him Today’s Children and Yesterday’s Heritage by Sophia Fahs. In her book Fahs described the approach she and others followed as they created a modern religious education program for the American Unitarian Association (AUA) during the 1930s and 1940s. Their religious philosophy matched Reeb’s. As a result, after several conferences with Harry Scholefield of the First Unitarian Church of Philadelphia, he resigned his Presbyterian Chaplaincy in March 1957, and contacted the American Unitarian Association about transferring his fellowship from Presbyterian to Unitarian.

         During the five years it took to process this request, Reeb took a job where he could work closely with Philadelphia’s poor. He served as youth director of the West Branch Y.M.C.A., 1957-1959. When the Unitarians gave him preliminary fellowship he accepted an offer from All Souls Church, Unitarian, in Washington, D.C. to assist Duncan Howlett, their minister. His primary responsibility was to manage the church’s youth program. His openness, friendliness, and ability to be a mediator were just the characteristics needed in this position. He also worked directly with young people and engaged in pastoral counseling. He was assistant minister from 1959-63; and associate from 1963-64.

         Jim Reeb’s concerns and activities soon moved to the larger community. He supported various Unitarian Universalist groups, including the College Centers Committee, the Greater Washington, D.C. Federation of Liberal Religious Youth, the Board of the Joseph Priestley District and the Middle Atlantic States Ministers' Association. He was just as engaged with organizations seeking to address the social problems of the Washington, D.C., area such as the Interfaith Ministers Group, the Conference on Community Relations, Parents Without Partners, the Committee on Citizen Housing and especially the University Neighborhoods Council.

         The one thing Reeb did not do as an assistant minister was preach on a regular basis. He decided he wanted a church of his own in a racially mixed inner city neighborhood where he would be responsible for preaching in addition to counseling, community outreach, and program management. When he could not find a suitable congregation, he accepted the directorship of The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) Metropolitan Boston Low Income Housing Program in 1964. The family moved to Boston, Massachusetts and purchased a house in Roxbury, an area of the city where many African Americans lived. His daughter Anne recalled that her father “was adamant that you could not make a difference for African-Americans while living comfortable in a white community.”

         The Reebs joined the Arlington Street Unitarian Universalist Church where Jack Mendelsohn, a social activist, was the minister. Reeb also continued his membership in the Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association and remained in communication with the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) Department of Ministry. In January, 1965, he joined the UUA Commission on Religion and Race. At the AFSC, Reeb and his staff worked to alleviate the housing problems of the poor by getting the city to enforce its housing code. This eventually led to the creation of the Boston Housing Inspection Department. On the state level, they worked with the American Jewish Congress to enact laws to protect the rights of tenants.

         But Reeb's work in Boston was interrupted by national events. On Sunday, March 7, 1965, 500 civil rights marchers in Alabama attempted to walk from Selma to Montgomery and were brutally beaten and gassed by state troopers and local police. On Monday, the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) in Boston received a telegram from Martin Luther King, Jr., calling for ministers and people of all faiths to come to Selma to support the marchers. By the next day, 45 Unitarian Universalist ministers and 15 UU laypersons had answered King's call and journeyed to Selma. Jim Reeb was one of those who answered.

         On Tuesday afternoon he joined 2,500 marchers for the second march from Selma to Montgomery. Once again, the police stopped them and once again the marchers returned to Browns Chapel A.M.E. Church for speeches, singing and prayers. That evening Reeb had supper with two Unitarian Universalist colleagues, Orloff Miller and Clark Olsen, at Walkers Cafe, a local black restaurant. He had planned to return to Boston that night, but changed his mind. He called his wife to say he was staying one more day. Leaving the cafe to return to Browns Chapel, the trio took a wrong turn and strayed from a black neighborhood into a white neighborhood. Outside the Silver Moon CafĂ© four men viciously attacked and beat them. Miller and Olson were wounded while Reeb took a severe blow to his skull from a club. He died two days later.

         A memorial service was held in Selma on Monday, March 15. Over one hundred Unitarian Universalist ministers and another one hundred laypersons, as well as the UUA Board of Trustees attended. At the service Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered the eulogy. King said in part: “He was a witness to the truth that men of different races and classes might live, eat, and work together as brothers.”

         That evening President Lyndon B. Johnson spoke to a joint session of Congress on behalf of his proposed voting rights act. In his speech he stated that at Selma “long-suffering men and women peacefully protested the denial of their right as Americans. Many of them were brutally assaulted. One good man—a man of God— was killed.” He then urged Congress to outlaw all voting practices that denied or abridged “the right of any citizen of the United States to vote on account of race or color.” Despite opposition from some in Congress, and the nation, the landmark act passed and on August 6, 1965, Johnson signed it.

         When Reeb had applied for Unitarian ministerial fellowship he wrote, “I want to participate in the continuous creation of a vision that will inspire our people to noble and courageous living. I want to share actively in the adventure of trying to forge the spiritual ties that will bind mankind together in brotherhood and peace.” That he did.
Adapted and abbreviated by John I. Blair from the Article by Alan Seaburg at James Joseph Reeb
Blair adds this personal note: I usually omit details about a subject’s religious affiliation in these bios, but in this case it’s an important part of the story.

Click on author's byline for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.
Below:Memorial Plaque

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

Ethereal Experiences

'Celestial' - 'Heavenly' - 'Unworldly' - 'Spiritual'

- lacking material substance: immaterial, intangible
- marked by unusual delicacy or refinement
- suggesting the heavens or heaven
- bodiless, immaterial, formless, incorporeal, insubstantial, nonmaterial,
nonphysical, spiritual, unbodied, unsubstantial

         These are various descriptions from Webster’s that relate to that which can be experienced through meditation and can also within dreams where we can access knowledge and understanding on a subconscious level to incorporate into our journey. These experiences are often blissful in nature, encompassed by unsurpassed beauty and always with a sense of how completely we are loved and that we are never on this journey alone. The edges of these experiences are often soft, glittering, without the refinement we are used to in the physical. More muted with softer colors, hence referred to as 'dreamy' as they are so different from the constraints we create here within this illusion.

         For example, you may find yourself wandering perhaps in a beautiful garden, a natural setting of some kind, maybe even a cathedral like setting where you feel an overwhelming sensation of there being so much more than what we experience in the physical sense. I believe these are reflective of what is more our true nature, than that which we think of within 'physicality' as being 'reality'. Perhaps they are meant to answer our deepest questions, often unconscious, particles of the higher self, which instinctively knows there is so much more to our being incarnated, that what is perceived here. Within these experiences we are released from the prison of constructions we create, we more naturally can reach beyond the confines of this world and enter the ethereal or astral reality from which we come, which is home. You are 'mystified', which is the perfect definition of the term.

         The details within these can often be soft, not sharply delineated. They are most often accompanied by a deep and abiding sense of complete love and the presence of what you could call 'spirit'. Sometimes clear, often softly perceived, you may even have the sensation of an entity of some kind, a loved one perhaps, even a deity within your belief system. It is often the case that the communication within these periods is not verbal in the sense that we are spoken to, but rather a communication that softly enters our awareness, imparting understandings we may have asked for, for guidance, or wisdom that is meant to assist us at this point in our journey.

         Perhaps what you see is a path that winds softly upwards, towards what appears to be a hill or mountain top where, upon arrival, you observe in the distance a circular building made of stone. From where you are you can see what appears to be a city, nestled in a valley, glowing within a soft white mist, circular buildings that are completely aglow with a brilliant light.

         Upon looking within the center of this place, you observe the largest building within the center of the other smaller dwelling-like buildings. There are many pillars which hold an enormous rounded roof and from within, it seems to glow and beckon you in a welcoming, loving way. This feels oddly familiar. Something resonates about this place you aren't quite able to place. The light which shines from this building completely surrounds this entire area as if it is lit by a million lights above and below. There is a circular pattern to this community of smaller but alike dwellings, each pathway lit softly by lights. As you approach the building within its center, you see a large doorway and beside the door you see a tall being shimmering with light. You become aware of a light which comes from what appears to be the heart of this being, a tether of warm green energy, surrounded and encompassed by a white light that now reaches warmly out to you, extending the light, connecting with your own heart chakra. You are remarkably calm and accepting of this, completely without fear, as if it is an almost forgotten greeting. This being is without form as we know it, but tall and nearly transparent, and silently invites you to enter. As you approach the being, you are filled with complete love and understanding and without hesitation; you enter the large glass doors. You are deeply aware of a sense of being welcomed home once again.

         You enter a circular rotunda with marble floors and columns which support the large glowing dome. You now see that from the rotunda, there is a circle of many doors each with a being of light standing beside the door. Your guide who entered with you silently lets you know there is knowledge, just for you, beyond whatever door you choose. One door among them seems to glow with colors that attract you towards it. Your guide conveys to you to proceed with whatever your soul is choosing. As you approach the door, you notice the sentinel who guards your door feels very familiar to you and again you feel welcomed home. Again nearly transparent, the sentinel glows with a soft light and what appears to be long, flowing white robes of some kind, radiating once more, a complete sense of unconditional love. Welcomed by this being, the doors are open to you and you enter yet another rotunda, but this rotunda, seemingly as large as the first, is just for you. Upon the walls, which soar to the top of the dome, you see rows and rows of what appear to be rolled scrolls. Cubicles stacked one upon the other, filled with carefully preserved scrolls rise and tower towards the ceiling of the dome. The sentinel guides you to the center of the room where there is a large rectangular island, topped with marble and upon this island, there is a book which lay open, the pages of which seem fragile and thin as if lifetimes are within their delicate pages. You know whatever is there, is something just for you.

         You review now page upon page written for and by you, over your lifetimes. Chronicled are all the parts of your journeys, all the players and choices, your guides and companions in spirit. Images of remembrance appear within your mind as you are now able to recall past experiences, choices made, paths not taken. You feel suddenly flooded with a resonance of who you really are, scene after scene plays out before you, events and circumstances which have shaped your chosen journey. Some seem burdensome, painful, overwhelming, others warm and filled with poignant feelings of gratitude and love, but as you progress with your review, you see the deep value they have held for your chosen experience and you are grateful for each one as you incorporate their lessons consciously into your awareness. A newer appreciation grows within for what you have previously perceived as challenges and overwhelming life experiences. You see where you had chosen them, and for what purpose. You resonate now, with what the higher self seeks for the soul and realize that within these pages you can find what it is you seek and you understand it is there for you whenever you feel drawn to answers on your journey. You review these pages and glean what it is your soul has desired to understand. You remain within your hall without thought of time or reality. It is as if you have found your origin, the place from which you departed so long ago and are reluctant to leave this place of truth and love. Within this hall, these loving beings of light, the sentinels of our experiential existence, are the caretakers of the evolution of the soul.

         Whatever your beliefs, albeit deities, guides, angelic presence etc., (as we so often feel the need to delineate the existence of these here on earth) these beings of light, as are we, are all part of us and lovingly journey with us in what is their chosen path. They stand by stoically, lovingly, completely without judgment over eons of what we consider 'time' and carefully assist in chronicling the soul's experience.

         When you have completed your review of the pages laid out for you, the sentinel guides you again to the door; silently imparting they are always there for you. You turn to review the room once again; the story of your soul's journey, knowing there is openness to your soul's choices and answers whenever you desire, as well as chosen purpose for each portion of your journey. A peace you've never felt now deeply resonates within you.

         You once again enter the outer rotunda and are greeted with great love by the being of light who guards the entrance. Again, wordlessly, conveys to you happiness at feeling your presence, reassuring you of great love and guidance. You are aware you will once again be in this place and communicate silently your gratitude for this visitation.

         You exit and begin down the path again, turning to see the beauty of this ethereal place of bliss and love, with soft edges, filled with the warmth of loving light, complete with infinite possibilities, knowledge and love.

         This 'hall' contains as many rotundas are there are souls -- each one carefully held and cared for regardless of whether the soul chooses to acknowledge and/or experience this place, for each incarnation carries with it, its own specific understanding of what it is we seek to know. For some it may not be of great value to seek for the soul. By design, it is completely the discretion of the soul as to whether or not the journey is 'spiritual' in nature, or if the soul chooses to remain 'asleep'. Regardless, the soul's journey is catalogued and upon return home, the soul can then avail itself, if it so chooses, of the value of the recent life.

         Whatever it is that helps you release this illusion and reconnect to your higher self, to help your mind remain open to infinite possibilities and your soul on a path that enhances your journey, there is so much more available to us than the minute world we see and experience beyond this physical existence, beyond towards the ethereal. Meditation can easily take you there, and with practice, you can also become what is referred to often as a 'lucid' experience, where you are present in that moment, interacting, questioning and finding what it is you seek, by being open to quieting the mind and letting in, what awaits you. Journal your dreams, in time you may also find threads of meaning there. The line between what we see and the ethereal is limited only by our inability to remain open to releasing previously held beliefs and constructs, and mindfully looking within.

         You may or may not resonate with what was actually an ethereal experience for me. So many experiences have come to me upon my journey which open further doors for me, releasing and replacing what we normally think of as what 'reality' is and keeping me on a journey to that hall, that open door and the 'story' that is mine.

         Have a most blessed journey.


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There were times I felt I was spending too much time browsing the internet. The internet, after all, has countless material I can use to make my classes more interesting for my students here in Suzhou, China.
I never used the internet to play online computer games like many do here and elsewhere around the world. In recent months, I learned that there is a growing number of computer addicts in China who are addicted to online computer games.

According to ‘China Youth Association for Network Development’ over 30% of china’s population find their internet use problematic, and more than half of China’s internet users between the age of 35 and under are “obsessed” with online games.
Many of China’s parents are now paying about $3,000 USD total to send kids to Internet Addiction boot camps. On average young adults in China spend 3.2 hours a day online, mainly playing online games and on instant messaging. The Chinese Government in 2014 declared online addiction as the number one health risk for China’s youth.

Online gaming can indeed be dangerous to your health as proven recently. A Chinese video-game addict dropped dead from stress and exhaustion after playing “Legend of Mir II” for 20 hours in an Internet cafe in Chengdu. Two secondary school students in Chongqing were also killed. Exhausted after two days of online gaming they were both killed by a train when they fell asleep on railroad tracks. In Tianjin, a 13-year-old boy after a 36-hour session of World of Warcraft—leaped off the roof of his 24-story building, hoping to “join the heroes of the game.”

My students ask me all the time what video games I enjoy playing? I tell them that I never played a video game online and I never had the interest to play. Some of my students will play games online with total strangers from all over the world. I find that quite intriguing but like I said it was never 'my cup of tea.'

The internet surly makes my life and perhaps billions of other people’s lives throughout the world, much easier. We can buy countless products online and gain information on any topic instantly with just the click of a computer mouse.

I can also call just about anyone throughout the world who has a mobile or land-line phone via Skype. This sort of technology did not exist in my youth filled days and most people, today, especially people my student’s age are clueless as to what the world was like prior to our existing technology.

Our modern internet has also made my teaching much easier. I can now store all of my lesson plans onto a 128 Gig thumb drive. My students can then load my lesson plans onto their thumb drives for review.

When I was the age of most of my students - I never imagined that text books in the future would be digitized. Students can now load all of their text books onto an iPad. Those days of lugging your text books to class are long gone and that to me is certainly a good thing.

Today’s technology is only a shadow of what’s to come and like I said many times before 'I can’t even imagine where technology will be when my students are my age.'

There is now talk of an internet in the very near future that will most likely be artificially intelligent. I think that is the only logical direction the internet can go. Perhaps the internet of the future will become the ultimate tutor for those future struggling students. That is if their parents can get them away from the video games.

Internet addiction is no laughing matter and it's just as debilitating as any other addiction. But internet addiction seems more problematic in Asian countries than in America. Neurol-scientists have been studying the effects internet addiction has on the brain. What they discovered is that video game addiction has similar chemical reactions in the brain as someone who is addicted to sex.

Scientists have also discovered that the chemical reactions in the brain become intoxicating for both the sex addict and the chronic video game user. There are medications now being developed to help the addict overcome their compulsion to play video games for hours on end.

I tell my students quite often that the future of technology will continue to evolve. But the technology in our lives can be good or bad depending on the hands that are using it.

The overall future of technology does look brighter to me but I suppose only time will tell …….
    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
    Other articles, short stories, and commentaries by Thomas F. O'Neill can be found on his award winning blog, Link:

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I come from Kansas
Where oftentimes
A tree might be
The tallest thing in sight.

When I was small
I used to be obsessed
With how many stories tall
A building stood.

I’d count the window lines
As though it really mattered
And be upset
To miss a single row.

But after years I know
How seldom size relates
Against the life
That has transpired within

And, measured right,
The biggest place in Kansas
Was the modest house
Where I grew tall.

©2015 John I. Blair

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Compassion's a Cycle

Some friends we choose,
and some just appear
Some we will lose
and some disappear

Others will help you
just when you need,
And others will take,
..and take, till you bleed.

Your heart will get stronger
Your life will be filled
Your days will last longer
Your soul will be stilled.

Speak with your eyes
And talk with your face
Never despise,
there is no disgrace

A friend in need
will be You, one day.
Speak as you find,
and treat like you say

Time will heal the wounds we get
the scars will still be there.
There's them that remain,
and some give us pain, it all seems so unfair
Your best friends, will hurt you,
...your enemies, too.
they all are your healers sure to stay True

Look out for friends,
for they will care, too.
Compassion's a cycle, all starts with You.

©March 21, 2015 Phillip Hennessy

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Caught in the midnight glare
Of a floodlamp on the eave
First a tapered head, then
Beady eyes, sleekly haired
Stout paunch, bald tail
Waddle out.

Not the least abashed
Or maybe not aware
A possum lumbers into view,
Thirst slaked at the basin
I put there for the finches,
Hunger not a problem
In a yard where birds are fed.

Primordial marsupial,
Looking like the first,
And not the best,
Attempt at making mammals,
And yet
Supremely well-prepared

For citified survival,
This one will thrive
So long as there
Are snug dens for daylight,
Strong barriers for dogs,
Ample snacks
To satisfy its questing snout.

©2015 John I. Blair

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The glossy, bossy grackle
Swaggers through the grass,
His beady yellow eyes
Staring, glaring
At everything in sight
That might be weak.

Slender as a sword
And black as night
He displays
A classy form
Belying bullying ferocity –
Count Dracula reborn
With feathers
And a beak.

©2015 John I. Blair

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It's a Good Day Today

I'm here, I can see,
I can touch, I can taste,
I can feel the sun,
and the wind on my face.
I hear the birds singing,
the cars going by...
It's a good day today,
a Good day to die.

The pain that's inside me
will kill me some day
if I pay it attention,
it won't go away
So I'm looking outside,
my spirit is free,
I'm making the most
of what's gifted to me.

The sweet sound of music
that sings in my ears,
The memories flow
as they bring back the years.
I'm older, I'm wiser,
I'm twenty, I'm ten
I'm living my life
all over, again.

I can do this forever,
and ever, it seems.
Is this what it means,
we're living our dreams,?
I dreamt this for real,
this happens to me
There is no illusion,
I can feel it, you see.
It's all here today,
and all gone tomorrow
There's nothing to pay,
and nothing to borrow.
Remember, remember,
each day that goes by
It's a Good day today,'s a Good day to die.

©2015 Phillip Hennessy

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Author's Note:
(A parody of the original poem about Doneraile,
written by a poet who was disgruntled
with the town in County Cork. This parody,
less severe, was written for the
2011 literary festival in Doneraile.)


Come Harvest Moon or Autumn gale
It’s show time now in Doneraile.
Now you, like Raftery, heist your sail,
If you can write, hit Doneraile.

If you want to sing or tell your tale
The place for you is Doneraile.
If your partner’s left and you’re a male
No better place than Doneraile.

If you’re interned or locked in jail
Break out and head for Doneraile,
If on remand then try get bail
And meet your friends in Doneraile.

The Philistines can whinge and wail;
They have no place in Doneraile.
Of the action here you must avail
At this culture-fest in Doneraile.

Not wind or rain or driving hail
Will keep the scribes from Doneraile.
And farmer/poets will leave their kale
To reap the fruits of Doneralie.

To Chareleville they’ll go by rail
And head with glee to Doneraile.
If your inspiration has gone frail
Rejuvenate in Doneraile.

If your Muse has gone and your talent stale
‘Twillbe revived in Doneraile.
I watched as Gandal fanned his tail
When he heard mentioned “Doneraile.”

His boss then smartly hit the trail
With FailteIsteach, for Doneraile.

©2011 Mattie Lennon.

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The Tree

Nobody knows the heart of the Tree
So we should pass by and let it be
It shelters us from the rain
And comforts us when we feel pain
The leaves blow, the wind pushes through
It's like they're dancing, so beautiful too
Look at the trunk, do you see the bark
And their silhouettes, long after it's dark

So much beauty, can be seen in a Tree
Touching inside of you of all nature can be
Trees in a beautiful scene
Branches spread in between

Beautiful Tree with your branches held high
I admire your beauty as I walk by
Your shape from every angle, is beautiful in all
And you're at your peak, when your leaves fall

I see you everywhere that I go
I take in your beauty and I know
In everything, and all things I see
I'm thankful for the presence of The Tree
© by Bud Lemire on March 7, 2015
                                    Author Note:
Lately I've been getting closer to nature.
Especially the Tree. Just look at the trees.
They add so much to life and photos in a
scene. They do so much for us, and give us
so much as well. They help us breathe easier.
They give us paper and so much more. Yet,
their beauty is something to take in. Their
shape is something to nourish our soul.
When you look, and you feel these words
deep inside, you'll know what I'm talking
about. Mother Nature has a masterpiece
with the Tree.

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It's Taking Me a Long Time

I cried myself to sleep last night
When my eyes opened you were gone
It’s not like we haven’t played this song before

The tears that feel right from my eyes
When I woke up there was no surprise
It’s like we’ve been through this a million times

It’s taking me a long time
To get my feet back on the ground
It’s taking me a long time
To come around

It’s taking me a long time
To wipe away those bad memories
It’s taking me a long time
A long time to believe

I cried myself to sleep last night
When I fell into a dream I knew something wasn’t right
I felt like I’ve heard this all before

It’s taking me a long time
To get my feet back on the ground
It’s taking me a long time
To come around

It’s taking me a long time
To wipe away those bad memories
It’s taking me a long time
A long time to believe

©3/27/15 Bruce Clifford

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So Tired of You

I never thought I would grow so tired of you
I can’t believe I wish I never knew you
I’m so tired, so tired of you

I never thought the future would not be ours
I never knew I would one day wish you were gone
I never thought I would grow so weary of you
I never knew everything about you was so untrue

I never thought I would grow so tired of your kiss
I can’t believe I wish I knew to resist
I’m so tired, so tired of you
I never knew someone who’s entire history was so untrue

I never thought I would grow so tired of your lies
Everything about you was hidden in deep disguise 
I thought I knew you, but you’re the one girl I never knew
I’ve grown so tired, so tired of you.

©3/5/15 Bruce Clifford

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Charles “Napa Charley” Hopper - The Ancestor whose Adventures Sparked my Interest in Genealogy

         As a young girl, my maternal grandmother, Carrie Edith Bullard Joslin, frequently regaled my sisters, my cousins and me with stories of various family members and could provide oral histories tracking our family lines back through the centuries. Grandmother Joslin was quite a character all by herself. When she would come to Texas to visit (after my Grandfather Joslin passed away), she would be expected to stay at least a month or longer if our pleas were answered. One constant in all her visits was her daily “walkabout” which frequently included a picnic in – of all places – the local cemetery.

         My cousin, Gayle Arthur Joslin, and I could always tell when Grandmother was preparing for a “little outing” as she would begin the ritual of doffing her apron in favor of a “sun-coat”, her sun bonnet, a fresh set of anklets and her walking shoes. Into the pockets of the sun-coat would be dropped several sticks of white chalk, lengths of charcoal and several sheets of tracing paper and a few of colored art paper. For those in the know, these materials were the requisite items for documenting headstones in the local cemetery before family historians were blessed by cheap digital cameras, the Internet and websites devoted to preservation of family lineages.

         Some headstones have the deceased’s name, dates of birth and death and various bits of poetry, references to other family members, hobbies, and other miscellany either carved into stone or set out in bas-relief. Gandmother’s tracing paper would be thin and light in color, suitable to tracing those headstones, which were carved by using the charcoal stick. The thin colored art paper would be placed on those with information in bas-relief so as to use the chalk stick. These chalked pages required careful “fixing” of the chalk by application of clear nail polish to prevent the data from being blurred and lost. Of course, my cousin and I were thrilled to join her on her walkabout and especially well pleased to partake of her wonderful picnic lunches. The drudgery of traipsing from grave to grave while she documented the plots was less appreciated.

         As could be expected, this peculiar hobby of Grandmother’s generated many questions about why she devoted so much time to this effort. She would, once again, launch off into the litany of names with which we became somewhat familiar after so many repetitions: the Bullards, the Hoppers, the Joslins, the Davenports, the Coffees and, “Oh, yes, let us not forget” the Youngers and the…” and the lists went on.

         The genealogical fervor, however, for me came when my two sisters and I committed to filling out our family tree. We gathered the materials furnished to my grandmother, my mom Lena May Joslin Carroll and her sister, Linnie Jane Joslin Burks which included photocopied family history books for three lines: The Bullards, the Hoppers and the Joslins. As we carefully transferred the family pages from the books to the computer, we endeavored to capture the various stories as well. This was not so difficult for the bulk of the members of each family line. That is, not until we hit Charles Hopper, Jr. born 1800 Burke, North Carolina, died 1880, Yountville, Napa County, California. In the process of transferring the stories about this fascinating man from faded photocopied pages to the digital wonder of the personal computer, my sense of wonder and intrigue developed.

         The little stories related in the The Hopper Family, by Leona Hopper Newbill, were merely bits and pieces of the life of a man whose exploits would change the face of American history, be documented in the annals of no less than four states and numerous counties and imprint numerous geographical locations with his name, his legend, his legacy.

         Charles Hopper, Jr. grew up in the forests of North Carolina where hunting and fishing were essential to augmenting the crops to feed the outrageously large families of that time. He became a crack shot, easily the best hunter known to all surrounding his family’s farm. As was later related in The History of Jackson County Missouri, Containing a History of the County, its cities, towns, etc., Pp 336 W Birdsall, KCMO 1881:
“Charles Hopper, or Big Charley, was among the first to locate near the lone tree (Lone Jack, Jackson County Missouri). He selected his home there in 1830 and moved to it in 1831; and like Graham, continued to add to it, until he became a large landholder, as well as one of the greatest hunters of the country. It was said he could kill more deer than any one man in this or the adjoining counties.”

         One of the stories was a listing of the game bagged by Charley, where he laboriously enumerated each rabbit, squirrel, raccoon, deer and so forth along with a description of the quality of the fur and the utilization of the meat. Clearly, hunting was more than a hobby for Charley Hopper. It was a means to support and feed his large family.

         Then we happened upon the story of “Charley and the Grizzly Bear”. It told of Charles Hopper single-handedly killing the largest grizzly bear ever, a fact supported by the skeletal paw bearing seven-inch long claws having been preserved in a museum. The story was one of several related to a local California university researcher in Charley’s waning years.

         And why, do you suppose, was Charles Hopper being interviewed by this researcher? Well, because Charles Hopper had left his mark in the history of California back in 1842 when he led the Bidwell-Bartleson Party into California. This was the first party to successfully travel overland via wagon train from Missouri into California. Hopper was a close friend to George Yount and of Joseph Chiles. Charley Hopper was a born pioneer and when regaled with tales of the lush hills of California, the gold mines and the adventures to be had, he vowed to make the trip. When the mixed party started out, Thomas “Broken Hand” Fitzpatrick was assigned to be the guide. After numerous travails, the original party of trains split up and Broken Hand left the Bidwell-Bartleson party to travel northwestward to Oregon. Charley Hopper would be assigned to take up the breach, becoming the hunter/trapper and by default, the guide.

         The stories in the Hopper book did not tell me enough about this courageous, stalwart, fascinating relative. I was hungry to know more. I could not wait to end the laborious task of entering the data from the three family history books. I was ready to research. And research I did. Many are the stories of Napa Charley Hopper. How he dealt with the Indians, how by divine intervention he saved the Bidwell-Bartleson from certain death by dehydration on the salt flats of Utah when he dreamed of an oasis, was guided to it by a vision in time to guide them to the life-saving water, and how he cannily led the exhausted, starving, road-weary group into what would become Napa Valley – Yountville – California.

         “Uncle Charley has a firm and abiding faith of the idea of a general Providence that rules over all things and which is common to all men. His thought is rather that, when a man is alone and in danger, and whether within him or from without, there will come teachings and warnings of supernatural origin and distinctness, entitled to implicit confidence. He gives the following instance, which occurred while crossing the great desert southeast of Tularu Lake. "Here we were two days without water, and camped at night in the worst of spirits, not knowing whether to go back, or keep on, and there was a good deal of murmuring in camp. I do not know how to account for it, unless there was some supernatural interference...and I think from the circumstances, as well as others in my experience, that there was...but towards morning, whether in a dream or not, I cannot say, I SAW a green spot where there was plenty of water and could perfectly see the course that led to it. It was so perfectly plain, and I was so sure of it, that I got up, mounted my horse, and told the party when they got up to follow my trail. I struck out northerly, away from the trail we had come over, and everything I came to was JUST AS I HAD BEFORE SEEN IT, SO THAT I WASN'T ONE BIT SURPRISED when I saw a few miles ahead, a green grassy spot, where, when I came up to it, there was the blessed water we so much needed. (From a Sketch book of Napa, Sonoma, Lake and Mendocino Counties, CA 1873 BY C. A. Menefee.)

         Along the way, he would become famous for a series of firsts in the various western states touched by his travels: Utah: Charles Hopper guided the wagon train carrying the first white woman ever to see Great Salt Lake, Nancy Kelsey “barely eighteen” who carried a baby in one arm and led a horse with the other. (See: Charles Hopper, "Narrative of Charles Hopper, A California Pioneer of 1841," Utah Historical Quarterly 3 (1930).

         Several years ago I purchased a book about Charles Hopper that included a photograph of my daring GGG-Grand Uncle Charles “Big Charley” “Napa Charley” Hopper, Jr. It revealed a still handsome man with a full head of stark white hair and the icy blue-white eyes I had seen in my Grandmother Joslin’s face. The genes from her mother, my namesake Malinda Ellen Hopper Bullard and Malinda’s uncle were strong.

         Researched and Compiled by Melinda Carroll Cohenour – 31 March, 2015.

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The Adventures of Ollie-Dare - Chapter 1


Once upon a time, long ago there was a small bear born in a cave deep within the great forest. Miria and Randi of the great forest were the parents to the little bear, and had not yet named him. Not being able to decide upon a name for the little bear, they had decided to call upon the elders of the forest to help in naming him.

So Randi called a meeting of the Elders within the forest walls. There were birds, elk, squirrels, foxes, deer and at least one of all the other forest creatures present for this calling of the Elders.
Elders of the forest gathered in the center of a large circle, and the younger members sat beyond the circle so they could listen to the elders speak. Randi the bear spoke of his new son, and told of how he seemed to be special in ways and words, and his thoughts on how the animals of the forest should name the little bear.

Miria soon appeared with the small cub in her arms, and the Elders each in turn approached him. The little bear never flinched or moved during this strange ritual. The Elders were very impressed, for the little bear held their eyes and gave an impression of knowledge beyond his years.

The oldest of the Elders stood as Miria was being seated and said, "I have thought upon this matter and feel that this new member of the forest shall one day bring wisdom and leadership, therefore, we shall carefully name him." And as the other Elders nodded in agreement, he said, "We shall wait for the naming of this cub, and watch him grow. He will show us by act and deed the name we shall use!"

As the weeks went by the little bear cub grew and played within the cave. One day as he played, his father said "I must begin the journey of Spring once again, for I have seen the robins near and heard the river frogs singing."

The little bear became very excited for at last he would venture beyond the walls of the cave into the forest. Miria, watching the excited cub, hoped that soon they would name her special child, for he was now going to be out and about with other small forest creatures, and she knew they would all have names to be spoken.

Soon the day came for Randi and the little cub to go out. As the little cub entered the world beyond his cave, a sight like none he could image met his eyes. Large trees lined the forest walls, tall as the eyes could see, and colors of every mention lined the ground.

Randi laughed at his sons wonderment and said, "Come my son, there is much to see this day."

So Randi and the little cub started their journey through the forest lands. As they walked Randi told the little bear about the things he was seeing. He told of the big trees and how they supplied some of the smaller animals with homes, bearing fruit for many, and giving shelter and shade also. He named the pretty flowers, and told how they helped animals to tell the seasons.

Randi and the cub had walked for most of the morning when they came upon the forest river. Randi told him of the importance of the river, how it was the main source of food and water for the entire forest, and that it too gave shelter to many of the forest animals like the beaver.

Dusk came upon the forest, when Randi and the cub finally made their way back to the cave to the smell of supper and fresh brewed tea. After dinner they sat drinking tea when the little cub asked, "Momma, what am I called? All the animals I met today are called by a name. I have no name to be called. Will I ever have a name of my own?"

Miria thought for a moment and answered, "Son, you are a very special little bear, and we have asked that your name be chosen by the Elders of the Forest. Just be patient a little longer and soon you, too, shall have a name of your own."

Days went by and still the Elders of the forest had not set a name for the little bear. Randi went out one day and asked the Elders. "My son feels out of place, and I must ask, have you chosen a name?"

On the same day, the bear cub had gone into the forest to play. While he was playing, a small group of children from the forest appeared. At first the little cub was afraid for he knew not what to say or do in the presence of so many different creatures.

One of the animals stepped out of the crowd and said, "Hi, I am Jimmy the Rabbit, this is Banjo the Fox, and Ace the 'Coon. Sitting on the log are Chuck the Woodchuck, and Blossom the Possum. Above you in the trees you will see Fanny the Robin, and Nibbles the Squirrel . Over there is Beaver Joe and Shantey the Groundhog. May we ask who you are?"

"I have no name," said the little cub, "for I am waiting to be named by the Elders of the Forest, and as of yet they have not given me one. Just call me cub bear till then."

"Come play with us cub bear, and we will show you some games," said Ace the 'Coon. Off they went yelling and romping in the fresh meadow grass. On and on they played - each game more fun than the other. The little bear had so much fun and made so many friends, he thought of how lucky he had been this day.

As the days wore on, the small animals of the forest found that no matter how daring the game, or how dangerous the play, the little cub would always be first to start the game. So Banjo started calling the little cub 'Ollie' for he found the name fit somehow.

On one daring game when it came to be the cub's turn, the animals yelled, "Come on, Ollie, we dare." On and on they yelled, until 'Ollie-Dare' just became their name for the little bear.

Soon it was time for each to return home, and as they went their separate ways, you could hear from everywhere,
    "See ya, Ollie-Dare."
    "Bye, Ollie-Dare."
    "Come play tomorrow, Ollie-Dare."
The little bear entered the cave smiling, filled with all the tales of how much fun he had with his new friends, and their games. "Mother," he said, "I now have a name! I am called Ollie-Dare, we must visit the Elders and tell them."

Miria, worried, started off for the Elders camp.

Miria and the cub came upon the Elders and Randi sitting by the great Elms near the forest edge. As they entered Randi rose in alarm. "Wife, is something wrong that you seek me?"

"No," answered Miria, "but I think you and the Elders should hear of your son's day."

The little bear held his head high and went to the center of the Elders Circle. He began telling them of his day, and how the small animals of the forest had given him a name. After he had told them his story, he sat down and waited as they talked among themselves.

The Eldest of the Elders soon stood and announced, "Thus is the name we shall call the little bear, for wisdom is as the children speak. He shall be called Ollie-Dare."

Cheers could be heard throughout the forest late until the early morning hours. For through the forest the story of how the little bear had received his name was told.

This tale would be told for many years to come, for this is the beginning of Ollie-Dare the Wise Old Bear."

©2002 Rebecca Morris
Watch for the next chapter in May !

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