Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Gospel Favorites

It is official! I absolutely LOVE YouTube.

People have posted all these great old time gospel songs that I adore, but never get to hear.

Lord, Do It

That's When You Bless Me

Lord, Don't Move That Mountain

My Soul Has Been Anchored

I Won't Complain

I Know I've Been Changed

I Need Thee

And some contemporary...

Never Would Have Made It

And Kurt Carr because he's amazing

The Potter's House

So I had my next solo free music all picked out then my church choir had to go and sing this here song. I hadn't heard it in years. It was one of mom's favorites so naturally I started remembering her.

Friday night I ordered it from Amazon because I have to cut it down to 3 minutes to swim it as my free routine next October at Nationals. I'm kinda sad because I've been looking forward to swimming Anthem of Praise for the last few months. I've already cut, too. One cut is marvelous!

But I'm going with The Potter's House. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A Look at Alan Keyes

Analyzing Alan
A look at presidential candidate Alan Keyes.
View more »

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Pollster.com Map

So I'm trying not to keep tabs on the polls. I really am, but I just find these colorful maps so fascinating. Especially since they keep turning blue. At the end of the day, I know the polls mean very little, but it's like a car accident. I just can't turn away.

For everyone else who can't turn away, either:


Getting Involved

Links to Political Articles:

Barack Obama's Blueprint for Change: Ethics
Applying the issues to everyday life.
View more »

Barack Obama's Blueprint for Change: Health Care
Applying the issues to everyday life.
View more »

The election is bringing out the worst in people from the top to the bottom.

McCain Shows His Childish, Immature Side at Last Night's Debate
Time to grow up.
View more »

People Magazine Puts the Real McCain Family on Display
A picture worth a thousand words...
View more »

With a little twist:

The Racist Women of the Florida GOP

The Florida Federation of Republican Women vs. Oprah Winfrey
View more »

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Disturbing Images from the Republican National Convention

By now, we've all heard the stories of the protesters clashing with law enforcement outside the Republican National Convention in Minnesota. We've seen the video of the police officer spraying the crowd with a substance rumored to be mace. But those aren't the images I'm concerned about.

I'm concerned about the images inside the convention hall itself. Take a look at any of the videos from the convention and you'll notice a disturbing trend. Have you noticed how everyone looks disturbingly alike? The convention is overwhelmingly populated by old, white people. What is that about?

Aren't they supposed to be representing America? Well the last I checked, American is made up more colors than white. It's made up by more ages than elderly. It's made up of off the rack shoppers as well as the ones who have their tailor on speed dial. So why in the world are people so eager to get behind a party and that party's representative when the people in the party so obviously don't represent America?

I really wish someone could explain this to me. I certainly don't get it. Then again, I sincerely hope I never will.

I don't want to understand people who are so comfortable taking care of others who look like them while their neighbor who is slightly darker perishes. I don't want to understand people who can so easily talk about God or quote scripture when they blatantly disregard His command to love one another. No. That is something that I never want to understand.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

A Nation of Whiners...

...that's what America is according to John McCain's adviser Phil Gramm. This whole mess is absolutely sickening to me. My goodness. Are you people really that out of touch with the American economy? But wait...that's my bad for not already knowing that you are.

Of course America has no reason to whine about the rising cost of gas and food when you're looking at the prices from behind the million dollar stacks you stole from the American people in the Enron fiasco. $5 a gallon? No problem. Filling up your Humvee today will just barely make a dent in Joe Schmoo's retirement fund that's now sitting in your bank account.

Okay. So these people are crooks. They've always been crooks. They'll always be crooks. What's breaking my heart are all the Americans lining up to give them their vote. As if the last 8 years weren't bad enough. But I guess I shouldn't be surprised. After all, Jesus did say we were sheep. Just like sheep, we fall stupidly in line behind the shepherd who manages to distract us with what Bobby Goat has going on with Billy instead of staying focused on the shotgun the shepherd is loading.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Zoetrope Has Turned Political

So this post on Zoetrope has been driving me nuts. I can't believe people are really this naive. If nothing else, the Obama campaign is seriously revealing closet racists.

Hey Crystal. It's nice to know I'm not alone in this way of thinking. It will absolutely kill me to vote McCain but I know that in the long run it will be the best thing to do. I'm actually from Ohio, a "very conservative" state. Usually the candidtate that takes Ohio wins the Presidency.

Honestly, it’s more than a little sad that you’re not alone in this way of thinking. If it will kill you to vote for McCain, then why are you? You haven’t said why you think it’s the best thing to do. Instead, you go on to disparage others who are doing the same thing. You said:

Personally I think he has used the fact that he is half-black to get votes from poeple who don't know crap about our country. When I was in Georgia during the primaries, I couldn't find 1 black person who could tell me any of the issues this man stood for.

So what if you couldn’t find one black person to talk about the issues. Unless you were there for an awful long time, there is no way you could have talked to them all. So based on your limited sampling, you’ve decided paint all black people into this ignorant corner. Since it bothers you so badly, here’s a black man who is very solid on the issues:

The usual repsonse was, "It's about time that we have a black man as president. That's why I'm voting for him." These same black people didn't hesitate to tell me that they were tired of being judged by the color of their skin. But this was the exact reason they were voting for Obama.

Why is it so wrong that people are happy to get the chance to support a man that looks like them? It’s actually a lot less dangerous than your stance. They’re voting FOR something while you’ve decided to vote AGAINST something despite the fact that it “kills you.” Craig Mazin just posted an article in his blog about this very thing. As he was writing his latest script he found himself trying to write AWAY from something instead of writing TOWARD something. When he wrote away, the scenes ended up flat and uninteresting.

The same thing applies here. Things have a way of working out a lot better when you’re on the positive side of it. With your stance, where do you suppose you fall?

I said it before and I'll say it again. The only thing black about Obama is his wife Michelle. I also don't understand why a person who is both equally black and white are considered to be African American and not Caucasian.

This statement is pretty funny considering that you just disparaged blacks in Georgia for not “knowing crap about their country.” If you knew the country’s history as well as you think you do, you’d know that it was a law that 1/8 of black blood made you a black person. At ½ Obama certainly qualifies.

I am not a racist in the least. I think for way too long people in this country use the excuse of what happened to their ancestors to get away with crap that most of us can't. They use it to justify bad behaviour and poor choices in their own lives.

Right here is the real reason you’re not voting for Obama. Any person who has to say that they’re not racist most certainly is. If you weren’t, you wouldn’t need to make this statement. I’m not judging here. We all have our little quirks and character flaws. All I’m saying is to be you. But since it’s not PC, you have to claw your way out of the racist hole you dug for yourself.

It also sounds like there’s a little jealousy going on here. Like black people get away with crimes everyday based on their ancestors who were in slavery. If that were the case, the majority of the prison population wouldn’t be black. No one is getting away with anything. Oh and by the way, troubles afflicting black folks are not limited to slavery. Or perhaps you missed a little storm called Katrina after which our government left I don’t know how many thousands of black people homeless and starving in a stadium for days. It is unfathomable to me why anyone would dare vote for a man cut from the same cloth as Bush. And yet, that’s exactly what you’ve decided to do because you want to vote away from Obama.

For the record, I'm a full-blooded Cherokee Indian and my family was displaced on the so-called Trail of Tears. My ancestors are listed on the Dawes Rolls. I spent several years living on the reservations in Arizona as well as Cherokee,NC. My life is what I've made it and no one is to blame for any choices I've made, be it wrong or right.

Still digging out of that hole, I see. Glad to see you stand by your choices. Oh, and by the way, before you lob darts at Michigan and Florida for knocking Hillary out of the race, you might want to remember how Ohio put Bush into office.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Reflections on The Word: Deuteronomy 28:8

Ever notice how we get caught up in the parts of Bible verses that we like and tend to gloss over the rest? For instance, I was just looking at Deuteronomy 28:8 KJVR which says,

“The LORD shall command the blessing upon thee in thy storehouses, and in all that thou settest thine hand unto; and he shall bless thee in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.”

Pretty wonderful promise, huh? I love knowing that God will command his blessing upon me. I can’t get by from day to day without his blessing. And the fact that he commanded my storehouses to be full is really encouraging. It means that I’ll never lack for anything. In fact, I’ll have such an overflow that I’ll be able to bless other people with what God has given me.

And then there’s the promise that all that I do with my hands shall be blessed. This is just a further confirmation of Psalm 1:3 that whatsoever I do will prosper. To put this in perspective, every time I write something, it should prosper. Every time I cook, the meal will be delicious. Every time I study something new, I should gain an understanding. The list goes on and on because the Word says, “ALL.” Not some. Not a couple things here and there, but “all.”

So with all these magnificent promises God has made me, I have to wonder why I’m not living them. The problem isn’t with God. Numbers 23:19 clearly tells us that God is not a man which means he won’t lie to us. I got this promise directly from God’s word which means it’s the truth. If he spoke it, he’ll do it. It’s as simple as that.

So then the problem must be with me. That leads me to last part of the verse. “…and he shall bless thee in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.” Hmmm. This makes me wonder. Am I in the land he’s given me? Am I doing what he set out for me to do in his will? Am I walking in an area in which he’s anointed me to walk?

Chances are, the answer is no if I’m not seeing the manifestation of the rest of God’s promises in my life. It would behoove me to get my butt back to land he’s given me and quit trying to stray into areas I want to tippy toe around in. That means, I need to get the job he wants me to have. I need to work in the ministry he’s laid out for me. I need to pursue the dreams he’s put in my heart.

As Bishop always says, “God provides where God guides. He protects where he directs.”

The bottom line is, if I’m not finding God’s provision in my current endeavors, then it’s time to sit back and see if what I’m doing is indeed what God has for me to do. If it’s not, then it’s time to step back into the land God has for me.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

A Letter I Haven't Had The Nerve To Send

Dear Ms. Ahlswede,

As I was searching the internet for more information on the fire at Paradise Gardens Apartments in December 2006, I came across the article you posted on your website. As a tenant of that building who found herself homeless after the fire, I want to tell you that I am deeply offended and thoroughly angered by your statements.

Allow me to elaborate.
You said: “Why did this conflagration occur? Smoke detectors absent? No. Fire extinguishers unavailable? No. Unmarked exits? No.”

While on the surface, this may be true, but if you’ll dig a little deeper you’ll find that the fire alarm hadn’t worked in quite some time. As for the exits, they may have been marked, but their fire doors were missing allowing the fire to blaze out of control. What’s the point of having fire extinguishers and marked exits if people can’t get to them during the fire? To go into hallway meant death as that poor couple who were visiting their son from India found out.

Or you could talk to the guy who was trapped below ground in the laundry room. The elevator hardly worked on a good day and the stairway was engulfed in flames. He was only able to escape when the firemen broke through a padlocked door that led to the outside. Should you doubt his story that the stairs were in flames, I urge you to check out the video the fire department posted on their website. It clearly backs him up. So please, tell me again how the owners aren’t responsible for that.

I know it’s more comfortable for you to ignore this, but the owners had 9 fire code violations only days before the fire. So while you so freely assign blame to the tenant for this incident as you do in the next paragraph, I urge you relay all the facts. Not just the ones that make one, who I suspect is a member of your organization, look good.

You said: “A resident cooking dinner had a grease fire and threw water (not baking soda or flour) on the fire, making the fire worse. The tenant then fled the apartment, leaving the door to the unit open to the enclosed hallway, only allowing the flames to be fanned further.”

Your outrage regarding the tenants’ actions comes through loud and clear in this paragraph. It’s very easy to call someone stupid for not knowing how to put out a grease fire as you obviously do, but what about the owners’ responsibility here? Had you bothered to read the official report from the fire department, you would have learned that they couldn’t rule out the stove itself as the source of ignition. Or perhaps you did and choose to ignore that little bit of information because it’s much more fun to pin everything on the hapless and stupid tenant.

And finally, your statements that still have me angry even after a year are these: “Second, the owners of Paradise Gardens are to be commended for their quick response to refunding rent checks and security deposits within four days.

Third, the staff at Paradise Gardens has bent over backwards to help the tenants. They have responded to requests for taking pets off the balconies of burned units to pet shops for safekeeping, making calls for residents, and many other human interest examples of excellent customer services occurred at Paradise Gardens.”

Of course the owners were quick to refund rent checks and security deposits within four days. They couldn’t do anything else with the media watching as closely. What isn’t common knowledge is that my security deposit was short $100. Perhaps they kept it as a cleaning fee for a mess that I had absolutely no hand in causing. I’m sure to your mind, that’s fair, right.

The staff bending over backwards to help us after the fire is such a load of blarney that I’m sure they must have put on a great face for you or you’re smoking something really good.

Or perhaps you consider it great customer service to let a tenant return home in January and tell her, “Yeah. Your place burned down. Sorry.” Or maybe it was great customer service to hire a man with one arm who actually laughed when I mentioned that some of my property was missing. No? Then I’m sure it was great customer service for them to schedule me to pick up my property then not bother to call me when they cancelled the appointment only one hour prior.

If not, then I’m sure you consider it great customer service for the owner to have his attorney send me a Notice of Abandonment after he has prevented me from retrieving my property then demand that I pay rent from December to April 2007 and storage fees from that point forward.

This fire was a complete nightmare from the beginning and the owners did absolutely nothing to make the situation better. In fact, they made it far worse. Even tenants with undamaged property were not allowed to retrieve their belongings because the owners claimed asbestos contamination. But testing is expensive so they only did a couple samples and based their decision to destroy everything on those results.

I had to get my own consultant to test my unit. The only contamination he found was what had been caused by the abatement company the owners hired for clean up. It took me over five months to get anywhere near a resolution in this mess. And I was one of the fortunate ones.

It cost me an unnecessary $10,000 that I didn’t have and talking to every government agency I could find who had any leverage, but I got most of my property. I’m still missing my class ring and some appliances, but that’s nothing compared to the tenant who had a locked box that contained cash, jewelry and checks. The clean up company only returned her checks.

Other tenants are missing their big screen TVs, laptops, stereos, etc. What makes the loss so hard is that none of these things were damaged by the fire. They were seen, intact, the following day, but the fire department wouldn’t allow us to remove those items during our 10 minute reentry. These losses were all products of the owners hiring a clean up company as shady as they are. Tell me, what is there to praise in that?

A Still Angry Tenant

Random Acts of Meanness

I’ll admit it. I’ve been sort of a grump lately. I’m won’t bore you with the details of what's motivating the grumpiness, but I’ve noticed a sort of unexpected side effect that I will tell you about. I can be really mean when provoked. In my current State of Grumpy, it doesn’t take much to provoke me.

Earlier this afternoon, I went to the kitchen at my job to get a bit more of my sausage and rice concoction. I’m all set up and waiting to get in the refrigerator because some guy is standing in front of it talking to another man at the table. Finally the guy moves and I open the door just as one of the security guards comes in. I guess he thinks I’m opening the door for him because he just went straight in and put a tiny little bottle of chocolate milk inside.

So now I'm really annoyed at his presumption and he doesn’t even bother to acknowledge me with a nod or even say thank you. I may as well have been invisible. Really? Is he convinced he’s so important that fairies randomly open refrigerator doors for him?

But in that split second before I remembered I’m saved, I considered dumping his milk down the drain and putting the empty bottle back. That’s what I’m talking about. Just a random act of meanness.

Last week, I finally got my first romance novel critiqued, revised and ready to submit. Thursday was going to be a very exciting day for me. I found a post office that had early hours and planned to get there the moment they opened. Except, I’m very good at finding more stuff to do than I have time for so I ended up being a half an hour late. Instead of going to the post office I’d planned, I figured I could just find one closer to my job so I wouldn’t be late to work.

So much for that plan. I did find post offices along my route to work. The problem is that none of them had window hours before 9a. By the third post office, it was 10 til 9 so I just stayed put. I ended up 2nd in a line of about fifteen people. And to make things even more fun, they didn’t actually open until about 9:03a.

The line moved into the window area. Despite having seen more employees on the premises, only one window was open. After another minute or so, another employee sauntered out to her window. She took her good ole sweet time shuffling whatever it was she had to shuffle before gesturing to me to approach.

One of my address labels started to peel so I asked her for some tape. She plopped the tape dispenser on the counter and proceeded to weigh the inside contents. She handed them back to me to seal inside the outer envelope. When I got ready to tape the envelop she snatched the dispenser back with the declaration that she didn’t have all day.

Really? You don’t have all day? To do your stupid job? Are you kidding me? I’ve been standing here for the last 20 minutes waiting for you to earn your fricking pay check and now you don’t have all day?!?!?! Then I remembered my salvation, smiled, thanked her for her time and headed off to work. I arrived there almost an hour late.

And to make this morning complete, while on the freeway, I ended up behind a van from the clean up company that totally ripped me off and stole my property when my apartment building burned down. I’m telling you, these people turned an already brutal situation into a complete and utter nightmare. I’m talking five months solid of fighting these people and they were still able to get away with stealing things like my high school class ring. And don’t get me started on the landlord who allowed all this to happen or the one arm guy he hired to oversee the property retrieval and thought it was very funny when tenants’ property came up missing.

The point is, it took the complete power of the Holy Spirit in me not to run this van off the road and be thrilled about it. It was full of employees and I can only imagine they were on their way to another job site to steal more property from fire victims. I’m still considering writing “DO NOT USE THIS COMPANY” on the side of one of their boxes and posting it in the back window of my car. I still need some prayer on this one.

And just when I thought I could let the one arm guy go… After the fire, I went to building to retrieve what had already been salvaged of my property. To give a little background on the fire, it went to six alarms and two people died. I saw video of flames shooting out of a window that was only one apartment over from mine. Yet, God is good. I had no fire damage or water damage in my place at all. You’d think it’d be easy to get my stuff back, right? You'd be horribly mistaken.

Back to the meeting with the one arm man. He was having all the tenants sign forms supposedly to release our property to us. I guess they didn’t count on anyone actually reading the form. It said nothing about releasing the property. What it did say is that I wouldn’t sue the above mentioned clean up company. I ended up going around and around with the one arm man about what the form said. Finally, I told him to point out the section that says it releases my property to me. He pointed to a paragraph which I read aloud for everyone in the room. It was the 'will not sue' clause. I refused to sign it.

He gets all huffy and threatens to call the landlord. I can’t believe he actually expected me to be scared by that. I settle in to wait. The landlord tells him just to give me my things. To make this already too long story shorter, the one arm guy takes me to an apartment where my things are supposed to be. Except, they’re not my things. He doesn’t want to believe me when I tell him this. What if someone wasn’t as honest? Were they just going to give away property willy nilly?

After two more tries, he finally finds my stuff. As I’m going through it I’m pointing out things that are missing. Which is what set off his little laugh attack. He thought it was hysterical. He says jokingly that they should make a list of all the things that have come up missing. I turned a glare on the man. It was only by the power of God that I didn’t tell him that we should add his arm to that list ‘cause I was certainly thinking it.

And that brings this rant to a much overdue close. Thank you for reading.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Exercise and Fitness

Exercise Tips for Overweight People
Ideas to shape up for the new year.

Screenwriting Articles

Beginning Screenwriters: Avoid These Mistakes
Things to avoid if you'd like a reader to actually read your screenplay.

Effects of the Writers Guild Strike
Clearing up misconceptions regarding the WGA Strike.

Choosing The 2008 Presidential Candidate
Why voting for Huckabee is a mistake.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Fire Recovery: Left Behind

A while back I found a website where fellow tenants connected and shared information periodically regarding how to go about getting our property back after the fire. I just visited the page again to publish the link next to an article I'd written about the whole experience and had a sad surprise.

Yesterday, a woman posted the fact that she still had not been able to retrieve her property. It's been over a year and these people have obviously yanked her around. Or worse, said nothing at all.

Though after dealing with them, nothing surprises me. Except the article I found praising them for their excellent customer service. What a joke!

My heart goes out to poor Jessica. The last I dealt with them, the landlord was yelling at me because I was the last tenant who still had property on the premises and I wouldn't let him throw it away. It was May when I finally got him backed into a corner enough for me to get the stuff.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

And Then What?

My Bishop preached a good sermon today. He taught about sowing seeds among thorns. The thing that stuck in my head is the "And Then What" test. To determine if you're sowing seeds among thorns or not, you simply take the thing you're considering doing and ask yourself, "And Then What?" If you get a positive response, you are safe to sow where you were considering sowing.

To give this a concrete example from my own life, I've always wanted to publish romance novels. Finally, this past November, I wrote my first one as part of the NaNo competition. I'm currently scheduled to revise it so I can send it out to publishers. I'm also a member of a Master's Synchronized Swimming team. We're scheduled to compete at Worlds in Australia this coming April. How exciting is that!

I had to apply my "And Then What" test after practice today when several of my teammates decided to go out for a quick bite. I love my teammates, but I had to decline because the "And Then What" test on the go-with-them revealed that I would be spending money I needed to save for Australia and I wouldn't have time to do my scheduled revision today.

The "And Then What" on the go-home revealed that I'd stay on schedule and finish my book so I could send it out to publishers. The book could sell in the month or so and I'd have the money I need to go to Australia with the team.

So now, I'm about to go to bed content in the knowledge that I'm still on schedule and thus a step closer to competing in Australia.

Thanks, Bishop!

How can you apply the And Then What test to your life?