Batkid Scrubbed from Oscars

batkid

The Make-a-Wish Batkid from San Francisco got cut from the Oscars. They flew him and his family to LA for the Oscars, and he was to appear at the end of a segment about superheroes. But they cut him. I guess they were too busy serving pizza to the crowd. The Academy paid to send him to Disneyland instead. Hey, he’s just a 5-year-old kid with leukemia. He’ll get over it.

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A Day (or Week) for Everything Under the Sun

There seems to be a national day or week for everything. In March we have Horse Protection Day (1st), Doodle Day (7th), No Smoking Day (12th), World Kidney Day (13th), Puppy Day (23rd), Purple Day (26th), Skipping Day (28th).

And then we have awareness weeks. In the upcoming months, we have National Stationery Week, Orphan Week, Sleep Awareness Week, Gardening Week, Homeopathy Awareness Week, and much more.

The religious community is missing out on some public relations opportunities. I propose:

  • Wesleyan-Arminian Awareness Week.
  • Substitutionary Atonement Day.
  • Worship Team Appreciation Day.
  • Save the Organ Week.
  • Potluck Appreciation Month.
  • Progressive Sanctification Day.
  • Hermeneutics Sunday.
  • Egalitarian vs. Complementarian Understanding Day.
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Lent Without Latte

I’ve known Doris MacDonald since junior high, when we competed against each other in Bible quizzing out in California. Doris Au and her sister Margo (their formidable captain) attended the Glendale United Brethren Church in the LA area. I attended the UB church in Lake Havasu City, Ariz. I think Doris will acknowledge that we usually won.

Doris (left) and Sharon.

Doris (left) and Sharon.

Doris, and her husband, Alan, went on to spend several decades with Wycliffe Bible Translators. For many years now, Doris has been half of The Braeded Cord, a superb musical twosome in the DC area. Doris plays keyboard and violin, and sings.

Her compatriot, Sharon Dennis, once gave up lattes for lent, and she wrote a song about it, “Latte Blues.” It’s very good. You can watch it on Youtube. Then go to TheBradededChord.com to order their albums.

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A Book You MUST Have

A study identifies Lee Child has having the strongest reader loyalty of any bestselling author. For instance, 41% of John Grisham fans say they plan to buy his next novel, but 70% of Child fans want the next Jack Reacher novel.

I’m one of those Lee Child fans. However, were Robert Parker still alive, I’m guessing he would top the list, at least with the Spenser books. A Jack Reacher book is a Must Have. A Spenser book was a Must Have NOW.

There are two important elements: the author, and the subject. You need to like the author’s writing style. But also, you need to like the subject. For that reason, a continuing series helps. If you like the character, you want to keep reading about him/her. Lee Child writes ONLY about Jack Reacher. A Cross novel from James Patterson may be a Must Have (it is with me), but not necessarily the novels from his many other series.

Who are your Must Have Next Book authors? Or is there a particular character you follow (like Spenser, but not Jesse Stone or Sunny Randall)?

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The World of Readers

Chinese-readers

This list shows the countries with the most avid readers. Sadly, the US ranks #22. I thought we would be higher, since books are everywhere. If you take my wife, Pam, out of it, we wouldn’t even be in the top 25.

A few of these surprised me, at least in terms of ranking higher than the US: the Philippines, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Turkey.

I had read elsewhere that the Chinese are very avid readers. US book publishers have become more aggressive in translating American book into Chinese to reach that huge audience.

It would be interesting to know the dynamics within these countries which contribute to high readership. Offhand, I don’t see any patterns, except that none of these are Third world countries (and thus have higher literacy rates).

1. India — 10 hours, 42 minutes
2. Thailand — 9:24
3. China — 8:00
4. Philippines — 7:36
5. Egypt — 7:30
6. Czech Republic — 7:24
7. Russia — 7:06
8. Sweden — 6:54
8. France — 6:54
10. Hungary — 6:48
10. Saudi Arabia — 6:48
12. Hong Kong — 6:42
13. Poland — 6:30
14. Venezuela — 6:24
15. South Africa — 6:18
15. Australia — 6:18
17. Indonesia — 6:00
18. Argentina — 5:54
18. Turkey — 5:54
20. Spain — 5:48
20. Canada — 5:48
22. Germany — 5:42
22. USA — 5:42
24. Italy — 5:36
25. Mexico — 5:30
26. U.K. — 5:18
27. Brazil — 5:12
28. Taiwan — 5:00
29. Japan — 4:06
30. Korea — 3:06

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Ann Kiemel Anderson Wins Her Race

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Ann Kiemel Anderson succumbed to cancer on Saturday, March 1, 2014.

In the early 1980s, just after college, I devoured a number of Ann Kiemel’s books. They were basically just free-verse tales of interactions with people. Ann greatly inspired me. She didn’t give readers admonitions to go change our world, but glimpses of a person actually doing it.

I’m an ordinary girl in a big world,
but I’m going to change it–
God and I
and love.

Back in 2006, I wrote a blog post titled “Ann Kiemel, Wherefore Hast Thou Been?” It became by far the most-commented blog post I’ve ever written–85 comments. Turns out many lives, like mine, were impacted by her simple stories. People shared their testimonies of Ann’s influence on their lives.

Ann found the post through a niece, and she twice added her own comments. She mentioned her desire to return to writing, and she soon started a blog in which she continued sharing her free verse stories. A couple years later, two of Ann’s early books that meant so much to me were republished: “I Love the Word Impossible” and “I’m Out to Change My World.” They now inhabit my Nook. Both are timeless.

Ann experienced some real difficulties later in life, with lots of discouragement. I hope that my blog post, and the overwhelming outpouring of support in the comments, perhaps spurred her on.

In one of her comments on my blog, Ann wrote, “today, i still believe utterly in sharing Jesus with my neighborhood. i speak the name of Jesus every day to someone.”

Another of Ann’s early books was titled, “I’m Running to Win.” You did, Ann, you did.

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Inequities in the System

deathpenalty580

This is interesting, and disconcerting. In 2014, thus far 10 people, from 5 different states, have been executed in the United States–5 blacks, 3 whites, and 2 Hispanics. In each case, the victims were white.

About half of all US murder victims are white. But three-fourths of all executions involve white victims. Why is that?

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Ann Kiemel Stricken with Cancer

Ann Kiemel Anderson in September 2013 (with birthday cake).

Ann Kiemel Anderson in September 2013 (with birthday cake).

I’ve been blogging for over 10 years. No post has received more comments than a post in 2006 titled “Ann Kiemel, Wherefore Hast Thou Been?” It has thus far received 85 comments.

I just received this update from a reader, reporting that Ann Kiemel is dying of cancer.

“Last year, Ann had surgery to correct bones in her foot that were not fusing. A very painful recovery ensued and she had to take prescription painkillers. Some of you may know from her last book, “Seduced by Success,” that she became addicted to these drugs years ago after suffering multiple miscarriages. She went through rehab then and has remained drug-free until the foot surgery.

“Around the first of February 2014, she went back to rehab to detox from the drugs. She stopped updating her website about this time but a friend took it over for her. Ann was in so much pain that the doctor knew something else was wrong. A scan revealed blood clots in her lungs. She was sent home with blood thinning medication, but the pain continued.

“MRI and PET scans revealed an aggressive, metastasized cancer throughout her body. Jan (her twin sister who has cancer herself) is at her side. More updates will be posted to Caringbridge and Facebook. This is so, so sad. How could the cancer have gone unnoticed for so long? Please be in prayer for Ann’s family.”

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Be Nice to Customer Service

I called AT&T yesterday to fix a billing error. I talked to a woman sales rep–a black woman, by the way she talked, if I may be stereotypical (and possibly wrong). She was very thorough, and got things straightened out.

I concluded, “Thank you. You’ve been very helpful and very professional.”

She immediately perked up, as if she hadn’t been complimented in years. Her friendly tone shifted up a couple notches as she wished me a great day.

Be nice to the customer service people on the other end of the line. They get chewed out by angry callers all day long for stuff they didn’t do. Give them a moment of satisfaction. Everyone needs that.

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This has been a Very Warm January. Really.

jan2014-temperatures

The lower 48 states cover less than 2% of the world’s surface. What was the GLOBAL climate like during January? According to a Feb 20 report by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration:

  • Globally, January was the 4th warmest January on record (since 1880). The others were also recent years: 2002, 2003, and 2007).
  • Globally, we’ve now had 347 consecutive months (29 years) that were warmer than the average for the 20th century.
  • Globally, we’ve now had 38 consecutive Januarys (38 years, if you’re trying to figure it out) that were warmer than the average for the 20th century.
  • Alaska actually had warmer-than-average temperatures during January 2014. The average January temperature for Fairbanks is 1.1 degrees, but the average this year was 16.4 (it hit 45 degrees one day).
  • In the US, 2012 was the warmest year on record (the 11th warmest globally).

The report noted that the cold air blasts we experienced during January were fairly normal during the 1900s. We just don’t remember it, because we’ve had so many relatively warm winters in recent years.

It’s fascinating how Americans view the world. While 2012 was America’s warmest-ever winter, Europe experienced the type of cold we had this year, with hundreds of people dying. However, Americans didn’t look at Europe and proclaim, “See, global warming is a hoax!” When Americans sample the weather at a particular time in the specific place where they live, and conclude that that’s how it is in the rest of the world–well, I tend to ROTFLOL (that’s text-speak for “rolling on the floor laughing out loud”).

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