Friday 5 | Click-worthy Links

Wireless Computer Mouse with Wheel

Here are 5 more places online worth checking out:

  1. What do you think of when I mention Kansas? If you don’t think of America’s most beautiful public library, add it to your list.
  2. Here’s a site that will analyze your writing for overused words, repeated phrases, and more!
  3. Remember the Choose Your Own Adventure books? Here’s the Cave of Time all mapped out for you.
  4. Speaking of interactive stories, perhaps you’d like to create your own.
  5. And to stick with the theme of writing, here’s a bit of history on the rise of the mass market paperback novel.

Enjoy!

The Suitcase Lay Open | 100 Word Challenge

The doctors had done all they could. The young mother pulled at a drawer in the hospital room to reveal rumpled clothes haphazardly tossed inside. Early in her stay, the clothes had been meticulously organized, but now other priorities reigned.

The suitcase lay open on the adjustable bed no longer occupied by her daughter. She started to pack while making a mental list.

She would need to call her pastor and schedule a date.

The doctors had indeed done all they could, and now she had to schedule the baptism. How incredible it felt to be packing up and heading home… as a family.

suitcase

The Last Request of James W. Rodgers

If you were sentenced to death for your crimes (come on, we both know you’ve done something wrong at one time or another), what would your last request be?

If I could have a non-tangible things, I’d ask for more time to spend with my family. That’s something that I never seem to get enough of as it is. To know that my end is nigh would put that into even sharper relief.

If I was limited to physical objects, I think I’d ask for book to read. I’d probably pick something by Kurt Vonnegut, known for his gallows humor. This might surprise some of you who would assume that I’d pick the Bible as my last book to read, but something tells me that Vonnegut isn’t waiting up for me at the pearly gates. So if I want to enjoy time with an author, I’m choosing one that I can only get on Earth.

If my last request was limited to food, here’s the menu: Popeye’s Fried Chicken, a thick steak (medium), cheesy potatoes, pink jello fluff, and I’d wash it down with a gigantic frozen Coke.

James_W._Rodgers_mugshotBut my last requests pale in comparison to convicted (and now dead) murderer, James W. Rodgers.

Rodgers was sentenced to death for his role in the killing of a co-worker at the Continental Uranium Company at its Rattlesnake uranium mine in Utah. The two had been fighting over how to properly grease a scoop shovel when things escalated. Rodgers co-worker found out the hard way that you don’t bring a large wrench to a gun fight.

He was quickly apprehended, found guilty, and sentenced to death by the firing squad. So what was his last request?

When asked for a final statement, Rodgers continued to insist that he was innocent and said, “I done told you my last request … a bulletproof vest.” He was dressed in denim and offered a coat, to which he replied, “Don’t worry, I’ll be where it’s warm soon.”

What would your last request be?

Jot 5 | Save the Date

jot_logoThe Jot Writers’ Conference always seems to sneak up on me. And that wouldn’t be so much of a problem if I wasn’t one of the main organizers of the event. But thanks to my skills in last-minute, procrastination-honed organization, I have exciting news.

Jot 5 is Friday, March 13th from 7-11pm at Baker Book House in Grand Rapids, MI.

We even have speakers lined up. Good ones, too. I’ll be posting their topics soon on the main Jot website, but for now here’s the list:

Jot will also have some workshops, but those aren’t ready to announce yet. Just forget I said anything about the workshops.

Stay tuned to our main Jot website for all of the upcoming news about Jot 5!

I am thankful for my bookstore’s customers. Specifically, Ken.

A couple of weeks ago, a co-worker stopped me and told me that a customer who just left asked whether I was still working at Baker Book House. She told me that the customer had told her some stories about me. At first, I was a little nervous, but since I have positive memories with most of the customers who would know my name, the worry died down a little.

“Who was it?” I asked.

“Oh,” she said, “his name was Ken.”

All worries disappeared. My memories of Ken are among my best at Baker Book House. To be honest, I can’t believe that I haven’t shared anything about him on my blog until now.

selah_hiding_placeBack when I was the music buyer for the bookstore, six to ten years ago now, Ken was a frequent and friendly shopper. I’d see him in every couple of weeks and he always bought the same thing: a stack of CDs by the group, Selah.

After his third or fourth time making the same purchase, I had to ask him what he was doing with all the Selah CDs he bought. This is when I got to know Ken a lot better.

“I buy them for the people at the cancer treatment center where my wife was treated,” he told me. “The music of Selah was a great comfort to my wife while she was undergoing treatment there. And even though she didn’t recover, she felt peace because of this music.”

“Wow,” I said.

“I have a deal with the doctors and nurses at the treatment center that I’m allowed to come in and give these CDs out as gifts whenever I want to,” he continued. “So, I pick up a few at a time as my paycheck allows and I hand them out when I can.”

That was the day that Ken started getting the ministry discount that we give to pastors whenever he bought Selah CDs.

A while later, I saw that Selah was coming to town to do a concert. I told their record label about Ken, about his love for people, and about how he was using Selah’s music to spread love and comfort. I asked if I could get Ken a couple backstage passes for him to attend the concert and meet the group. The record label jumped at the opportunity.

Ken was blown away when I told him about the tickets and the concert opportunity. He thanked me up and down, but I was just glad to be part of what Ken was doing.

When I stopped being the music buyer and moved on to marketing and helping with store events, I lost touch with Ken. So I was really glad when I heard from my co-worker that he’s still around. Mostly, I am thankful because I’m sure that Ken is still helping people where he can, and the world needs more people like him in it.

Friday 5 | Click-worthy Links

Wireless Computer Mouse with Wheel

Here are 5 more places online worth checking out:

  1. Have you ever wished for a giant robot exoskeleton? With enough money, your wishes can come true.
  2. If you think that all the animals and plants in Australia want to kill you, you aren’t far wrong. Here’s a tree that makes people commit suicide.
  3. Fellow Harry Potter nerds and writers, here’s what a billion dollar outline looks like.
  4. And in case you don’t have enough nightmares in your life, check out the frilled shark.
  5. My wife and I are big fans of the show “White Collar”, but I didn’t think stuff like that really happened in real life. I was wrong.

Enjoy!

What does it mean to be colorblind?

Plate4It shouldn’t come as any surprise to you that I am colorblind. Out of the 800+ posts I’ve written on this blog, I’ve mentioned it at least twice (Jokes at My Expense & I am colorblind in a color-coded Christmas wonderland). But for some people, it is still a novelty to learn of my minor disability.

For the lengthy scientific answer of what color blindness actually is, read up on this incredibly boring Wikipedia article. For the quick and dirty version, all you need to know is that eyeballs have rods and cones that allow us to perceive light and color differences. Colorblind folks have some messed up cones that make it impossible to differentiate between certain colors.

What it does not mean is that everything is a shade of gray (unless you have achromatopsia, but that doesn’t even really count since that is a failure to understand color differences not a failure to see them).

In fact, I would posit that aside from the obvious differences in color perception ability, color blindness is a meaningless condition. I mean, a big part of what I do everyday at work is create ads and other visuals to promote products, events and sales. Granted, I will occasionally ask a fully color-perceptive co-worker for verification of a specific color, but I make do pretty well on my own.

And in case you think that I’m just getting defensive, know this. Emerson Moser (distant relative?), one of the top crayon makers at Crayola revealed after 35 years in his job that he was colorblind. He only revealed it at his retirement. How crazy is that?

So what does it mean to be colorblind?

Not a colorful thing.

Chubby Bunny Deaths

From grade school through high school, I took my life in my hands semi-regularly, usually at church youth group events. I’ll blame it on peer pressure. Well, peer pressure and because we were instructed to do so by our youth group leaders. How?

Chubby Bunny.

marshmallowsThere is a game that is now banned in most thinking regions of the world called Chubby Bunny. If you don’t remember playing this game as a youngster (possibly because you suffer from memory lapses as a result of playing the game in question), let me explain it to you.

Step 1 – Put a marshmallow in  your mouth.

Step 2 – Say “Chubby Bunny” as articulately as possible.

Repeat Steps 1 and 2 until you can no longer be understood, you lose any of the marshmallows, or you die.

But has anyone really died from playing this childhood game? According to Snopes.com, yes. At least two people, in fact.

In 1999, 12-year-old Catherine “Casey” Fish met a sugary end during the Care Fair at Hoffman Elementary school outside Chicago. Had she waited until the authorized time for the Chubby Bunny competition to begin, she may have lived. Instead, she stuck four marshmallows in her mouth while the class supervisor was out of the room. By the time someone got help, it was too late.

But that was just a kid who wasn’t listening to the rules, right? That would never happen to someone who should know better.

Oops. It totally did. In 2006, 32-year-old Janet Rudd’s final sugar rush happened in London, Ontario during a game at the fair.

And those are only the reported Chubby Bunny deaths. Who knows how many go unreported everyday?

Let’s talk straight for a minute. Stuffing marshmallows into your gob probably isn’t the safest thing that you can do in life. So should we stop people from playing it at parties and such? I don’t know. I don’t think kids should be coerced into playing it as I was when I was young, but I don’t think the same rules should apply for adults. People do dumb things everyday and if an adult wants to play Russian Roulette with a mouthful of puffed sugar, I’m not going to stop them. I just hope they’ll act responsibly and know when to give up.

For that matter, I wonder what dumb things I do everyday that are analogous to playing Chubby Bunny. At what point should I give up before I get myself killed or worse? I guess I’ll just trudge on in my ignorance. That’s probably best.

Anyway, I won’t be playing Chubby Bunny.