Thursday, October 29, 2009

Norman and Merle — Happily ever after?

A long time ago in eastern Wisconsin, I purchased a ragged copy of a book called The Life of William McKinley, which was compiled not long after the 25th president of the US of A was assassinated in 1901. During my brief sabbatical the other day, I started paging through the book. What I learned about McKinley is a tale for another day. This is about a small discovery.

Between page 303 and the adjacent photo of "sailors from the battleship Illinois in the funeral procession, Washington," I found a note, written — in pencil, I think — on a piece of small notepad paper:
Sawyer, Wis.
April 9, 1926

Dear Merle:
Am writing you a few lines
to let you know, I might
come down Sunday with my
old bus. There isn't any news
around here, so I will close.
As Ever,
I presume Merle was a woman. Was she thrilled to receive these short words from Norman? Otherwise why did she keep the note? Did he and his old bus arrive with a marriage proposal? Or was the little slip of paper merely a handy bookmark, long forgotten (much as Sawyer is today — I understand it merged into Sturgeon Bay a few years later.)

What stories could be told from this little note, a bit of mysterious poetry from eight decades past: What went through Norman's mind and heart as he composed — how long did his emotions tarry after he wrote, "my old bus," and before he decided "There isn't any news around here, so I will close"? Did the postman who carried the note call out, "Hey Merle, you have a letter from Sawyer here"? What did Merle think as she saw she had a letter from Norman, and as she opened the envelope?

And how did Sunday afternoon go? If, as I suspect, preserving the note had more meaning than as a bookmark, I imagine it may have been a magical day, the lives of Merle and Norman were henceforth intertwined, and they lived ever after — happily, we would hope.

There isn't any more for me to add, so I will close.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Give more than you take

A man named Wallace D. Wattles once wrote a book called The Science of Getting Rich. It's filled with much wisdom and good advice. To read it well is to skew your world viewpoint a bit. When I read it, a few things fell into place — some of which I codified here and collected in the ebook Preserve the Embers; Stoke the Fire. (Click on its picture over there on the right to get the ebook — then click the Richardson & Bluhm box to have someone print you a handy-dandy copy for a modest fee.)

Here is a thought that helped the tumblers fall into place and unlock my brain: "Give to every person more than you take from him," Wattles wrote. A corollary is the famous (I think) Zig Ziglar promise, "You can have anything you want in life if you will help enough other people get what they want."

Much has been written and spoken about finding happiness and fulfillment. Most of it boils down to: Locate your passions, then follow the dreams they give you. Cast aside negative emotions, or rather recast them in a positive way. Peter McWilliams writes about moving out of your comfort zone and channeling the fear into an excitement for the new adventures.

Once you've brought the fear under control, which begins the process of freeing yourself, Wattles' principle is a sound one for following your dreams: Give to every person more than you take from him. Make sure you have created something of value and quality that satisfies beyond the investment. The other person will notice and be grateful, and some will express their gratitude with more business, or by giving back, in whatever coin you gave to them. Consistently give more than you take, and eventually you will have enough — and sooner than you think.


Saturday, October 24, 2009

Creativity break

Not that you'd notice from the amount of activity on this page recently, but I'm going to do something now that makes me a little nervous and tentative. I'm turning off the computer and walking away for a few days.

I spend a large portion of my day sitting in a chair staring at a computer screen as part of my deal to sell a certain corporation 40-50 hours of my life every week. Before work and after work, I come home and spend time sitting in a chair staring at a computer screen.

I noticed something months ago: Many of my most creative moments involve sitting in a chair, or on a park bench, with a pencil and pad of paper in my hands. And I enjoy being creative.

If my creative well has run dry sitting in front of the computer screen, it's time to turn off the 'pooter and recharge. See ya Wednesday.

Talk amongst yourselves. Download an ebook or two. Browse the Richardson & Bluhm box; I can always use the FRNs and you could use some of the new and vintage literature in there.

Above all, of course, refuse to be afraid. Free yourself. Dream.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

B.W.'s Shameless Book Plug: 6 Monsters

Getting a degree in English can be tedious at times. The classics of literature do not always make the most compelling reading. But every so often you'll come across a terrific bit of writing that is still a page-turner after a century or two.

For the scary season, the vast staff of Richardson & Bluhm print-on-demand books has compiled a half-dozen of the best page-turners in literature, from names you might have caught a time or two before like Edgar Allen Poe, Robert Louis Stevenson and such.

Poe's "The Cask of Amontillado" is a matter-of-fact tale told by a fellow who'd had enough and decided to bury a (presumably) former friend alive behind a brick wall. Nathaniel Hawthorne's "Rappaccini's Daughter" is about a man who builds himself, well, a daughter. "The Turn of the Screw" is a ghost (?) story that leaves readers guessing 100+ years after Henry James wrote it.

Anchored by "Frankenstein" and "Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde," 6 Monsters is a lovely little pile of classics. Click here to learn more and be among the first to order your very own copy. Act now — it's only two weeks to Halloween! And feel free to explore where it says "More from B.W. Richardson and Warren Bluhm, editors."

Labels: ,

Monday, October 12, 2009

They wait to change the world

An abandoned book cries out to be read. From time to time I'll find a book at an antique store that I never heard of, and it speaks to me:

"I have the idea the world needs now. I tell the story that could change someone's life. And in changing that person, I change the lives around him/her. In changing those lives, I change the world and alter time. Read me ... please read me ..."

I'll often take them home, and sometimes dive in and read. But many still wait on my shelves, calling, pleading ...

Thursday, October 08, 2009


"A piece of paper defines my rights. My acts of defiance enforce them."

OK, let's get a few things straightened out here. A couple of things have fallen off the shelf, and I ought to pick them up, do some vacuuming, straighten this place up a little.

First off, a stopped clock is right a couple of times a day. Glenn Beck appears to be a fraud, but I like what he wrote that I quoted. I really get the feeling that he is like many Obama supporters: An administration I dislike cannot violate the Constitution with impunity, but I am blind to the violations done in my guy's name.

He did write, "Our collective experience since the Founding has taught us that all governments of every stripe are fascist in nature. They will gobble up as much money, resources, and people as possible unless adequately checked ... All these 'isms' simply reflect the mistaken belief that progressively larger governments are needed to address our problems." Whether he understands that this was true prior to Jan. 20, 2009, is unclear. But at least he appears to grasp truth at the moment. Sadly, I expect he will rediscover his blind spot the day a Republican president is inaugurated, just as most Democrats will have the scales fall from their eyes that day.

A number of simple truths here. The vast majority of US of A citizens are comfortable with "progressively larger governments," as they know of nothing else in their lifetimes. The federal government, however, long ago passed the point where it can sustain its sheer bulk with the seized assets resources available at its command. Its fiscal and moral bankruptcy are obvious to an increasing number of people; sadly, most of these people are pinning their hopes on some sort of revived Republican Party.

"... We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness ..."

A number of things are clear. Much about the U.S. government and its subsidiaries is destructive to the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness — beginning with the notion that the smaller units of government serve the federal government, and not vice versa. Or perhaps beginning with the notion that the governed have consented to all of this. Or perhaps beginning with the notion that the powers being exercised by the government are just.

In any case, an altering or abolition is in order. However, in the immortal words of Macolm Reynolds, "I got no need to beat you, I just want to go my way." How does one go about altering or abolishing a tyrannical government while adhering to the principle of non-initiation of force?

A housecleaning is in order. But you do not clean a house by demolishing it with explosives and other implements of force. Nor, recent history shows, do you clean the house by clearing it of one sort of vermin and allowing another sort to move in.

Wednesday morning I indulged in a writing exercise recommended by the legendary Ray Bradbury: I compiled a list. As ideas and fragments of ideas and images came to my mind, I wrote them down. It began with simple ideas: "The generous thief. The dinosaur lover." Then I progressed to concepts: "Mudslides as weapons. Sacrificing for an ideal. Future events, seen now in past tense."

And then this:

"A piece of paper defines my rights — my acts of defiance enforce them."

I believe that Thoreauvian statement contains the seeds of how one goes about altering or abolishing a tyrannical form of government while clinging to the Zero Aggression Principle.

More on this as the cobwebs clear from my mind. Your own insights are always welcome; click on the word "comments." See it? Right down here:

Friday, October 02, 2009

Successful capitalist Michael Moore:
'Capitalism did nothing for me'

The irony of film entrepreneur Michael Moore is that he seems to have trouble recognizing that his skills at playing the game of capitalism would be useless in the heavy-handed totalitarian system he advocates.

In this interview with, Moore talks about how his fellow capitalists tried to fight his previous works ...
“In fact, in Fahrenheit 9/11 if you remember, capitalism, the Disney Corporation, tried to kill that film--tried to make it so that people couldn’t see it,” said Moore. “My book Stupid White Men--Harper Collins tried to kill that book so that people couldn’t see it. It's only because I put the light of day on it and told people what was going on did people get the chance to see these things.”
Does he understand that there is no light of day to shine in systems where something resembling the free market and capitalism don't exist? There, if the Powers That Be want to kill a film or a book, it gets killed and that's the end of it.

The system Moore detests, of course, is not a free market; we live under more of an amalgam of capitalism and government force, where political and corporate types do favors for each other with our cash. To that extent Moore does a service by shining his light. It's just a shame his proposed solutions all seem to end with the government types crushing the corporate types and taking full control.

In Michael Moore's perfect world, Michael Moore doesn't exist. He misses the point.

Labels: ,