I notice that a fairly high percentage of people don’t seem to know how to nourish a conversation. By “nourish” I mean using skills that encourage and foster deeper, longer, more interesting exchanges between people. This skill is useful and leads to better interviews, smoother working relationships with others, and long-term friendships with people that will surprise one.
I became aware of this when I used to belong to a business networking organization. One of our tasks in the group was to schedule a “dance card” with each of our chapter associates. A dance card was simply a coffee appointment or maybe even lunch, and during that hour we were to find out how we could assist each other in business connections.
Continue reading The Question
Some of the major English dictionaries select a “Word of the Year.” The word is selected basically on its frequency of use in the past year. Selfie was the Oxford Dictionary word of the year in 2013, because Oxford research noticed a 17,000% increase in its use since the previous year.
So popular the word, people began playing with the word and gave birth to welfie which is a workout selfie, drelfie, a drunken selfie, and bookshelfie which is a selfie in front of your bookshelves. All linguistic good fun.
Continue reading The Selfie
My editor asked me to rewrite the piece I was working on, using no personal pronouns. It seemed like an impossible request.
Everything I do has some sort of personal reference. When I get in my car I am thinking about where I want to go. Or, when eating, what will taste good to me. Or, when speaking, whether I will receive accolades from those listening. Continue reading Personal Pronouns
Samuel was a prophet in Israel and came to this role in the eleventh century B.C. He was the last leader of the nation before the first king, Saul, was appointed.
The times during which Samuel acted as national leader were not good times. Fraught with idolatry and rebellion, the nation repeatedly lost her way and suffered horrible consequences as a result. Continue reading Getting What You Pray For
Laetitia Thompson, age 17 was one of the two hundred 16-20 year-olds present for the MTV “Enough is Enough” town hall meeting in Washington, D.C. Held on April 19, 1994, the meeting was supposed to explore the issue of violence in America with, then president, Bill Clinton.
Questions ranged from teen suicide to handgun legislation and showed the depth of angst being experienced among Gen Xers.
Then Laetitia raised her hand. “Mr. President, boxers or briefs?”
It was an iconic moment. A teen-aged girl was asking the President of the United States what kind of underwear he wore and simultaneously showing how far we had tumbled on the civility scale. Continue reading Boxers or Briefs
On an early Sunday morning in 1999 we went down into the Paris subway to begin the next leg of our trip – Normandy and the D-Day beaches.
Since it was very early in the morning there weren’t many people in the subway, and it caught our attention when we heard American voices?
“Where are you from,” we asked them.
“We’re from Las Vegas; what about you?” Continue reading Conversation in Paris
Remember the AD 2000 scare about the effect of the new millennium on computers all over the world? Y2K was the name of the scare, and it drove doomsday-ers to their local stores to stock up on supplies for a world catastrophe in the computer realm. Frantic questions circulated about whether planes would drop from the sky and electrical power would fail on January 1, 2000.
In point of fact, there were only a few problems. Among the small problems reported were the failure of two bus ticket-validation machines in Australia and 150 slot machines in Delaware’s race tracks. Continue reading Y2K
William Willimon, Dean of the Chapel at Duke University, once told a group of pastors about the outrage of a parishioner when a gallows, complete with noose, popped up on the front lawn of the Duke Chapel. The Wilmington Morning Star reported that the gallows was part of the set of a movie being filmed on the iconic lawn.
According to the parishioner, a gallows had no place in front of a nice church. Indeed, the gallows stood for violence and death – not the sort of thing that polite church-goers would want to see walking into the narthex. Continue reading Gallows On a Church Lawn
Sonia Singh is a mother and artist from Tasmania, off the southeastern tip of Australia. Sonia is also an artist that rescues second-hand Bratz dolls. She calls her new creations “Tree Change Dolls” because of the radically different look she gives the formerly sexualized dolls. Continue reading Knitting A New Innocence
Our canoe trip began from our outfitter’s camp near Ely, Minnesota. A canoe, two fishing poles, and three backpacks sat on the boat dock, along with our waterproof map. After my son and I gave our canoe a test spin, we put the packs into the canoe and slipped off into the BWCA. Our map had a disclaimer in the lower right corner, ‘Not for navigation purposes.”
That’s not a very comforting realization – “not for navigation purposes” – because the Boundary Waters Canoe Area is millions of acres of pristine wilderness. It is only trees and water as far as the eye can see, and there are no convenient road signs to direct you. Portages from one body of water to another are often obscured or hidden by the distant tree line, and we could only steer to approximately where we thought the path would be.
Continue reading In the Wilderness