Duped

And now you know the rest of the story.

That sentence, the tag line of famous broadcaster, Paul Harvey, would end his mini-biographies and histories about obscure facts of history or little known details of famous – or infamous – people familiar to the American public. It would not be uncommon for a listener to utter, Wow, after each episode, having just learned of some detail of an event or character trait of someone that often would utterly change his or her understanding of that event or person.

And yet, today, we seem to forget that there is always a “rest of the story”, lurking behind the headlines or latest utterances of TV or radio pundits. And the result is that we are being duped – day in and day out almost unceasingly. In our current desert of despair there appear very few oases of candor, honesty and integrity.

Recently, I’ve taken to listening to a number of Podcasts by Mike Rowe of the television show, Dirty Jobs, fame. Judging from his range of topics and assortment of guest conversationalists, Rowe seems to be curious and fascinated by a range of subjects, ideas and people. One recent podcast ( Click Here) featured Megyn Kelly, formerly of Fox Cable and now doing her own podcasts and speaking tours. Her conversation with Rowe was entertaining and enlightening. One particular comment, by Ms Kelly, in response to Rowe asking what did listeners and viewers really need to know about the news – how to be critical thinkers and listeners – caught my attention. Kelly’s response was that viewers probably didn’t know how much the news programs and talk shows desperately wanted to scare you and outrage you and to keep you that way.

In days gone by, many television news programs would feature blood and fire to hook viewers – “If it bleeds, it leads” was the motto. Now, it seems, it is fear and loathing…of one another. No, it is more a fear and loathing of nearly everyone and everything. How did this become so? How have so many become Howard Beales, screaming, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore” in the film, Network? Click Here. Is it because, since the dawn of the 24 hour news cycle, our outrages and fears and hatreds have been created and fed? Have we become so trusting or reliant on News Personalities that we have lost all ability to think critically – to think for ourselves?

Are bad things happening? Absolutely. Is everyone out to hurt us? No. Can we change things? Maybe. But, the only way to find out is to try.

Think. Seriously, just think. And ask yourself why things are the way they are. If you see things have gone wrong, think how you can do something about it, rather than just complain.

Learn. Read, research, compare, verify. Don’t rely on one source. Learn the history.

See the humanity in one another. Here’s a challenge – and NOT a “tic-tock” one: No matter where you live – small town, country, large city; whether you live in a single home, HOA, an apartment building…whatever, invite 5- 8 people to get together for a meal. Everyone takes a turn hosting a dinner. It doesn’t have to be fancy. As a matter of fact, simple is better. At the end of the cycle of everyone getting together it is almost certain that you will have made several new friends. You will also have been exposed to different points of view (avoid the taboos: politics and religion!) and discovered some really interesting people. Keep these get-togethers going and you may be surprised at how differently your world begins to look.

Make it a point to be sincerely polite to people you come into contact with on a day to day basis.

And, most importantly, pray. Pray that God helps you to be a better person. If enough prayers are answered what a better world this can be.

Wake up and Smell the Coffee

At 7:00 a.m. this morning there was a worldwide sharing of prayer for the end of the Corona Virus. Rather than being a sign of panic, this uniting in prayer is one more – and probably the best – weapon in our arsenal to defeat this sickness. If you missed this event, rest assured that millions upon millions of people are praying all the time for this scourge to end and we can join them at any time.

But, in addition to prayer, we can do something else with this quiet time we have been forced into.

How are we spending this time? For me, I have, for now, just about reached my limit with both Netflix and Amazon. The other day I attempted to find movies dealing with how people endured times of war. Not much luck – at least with finding decent movies that did not require additional fees. So much for watching the classic, Mrs. Miniver. Reading has always been a passion for me, but nearly all of our books have been packed in anticipation of our move. Thanks to our friend, MaryEllen, I do have a few that are still unread and were tucked under my nightstand. Whew!

Social distancing has certainly kept our personal contacts at a minimum.

Are Ya’ Home?

But, many folks continue to check on family and neighbors however possible, even if it’s a text or phone call just to say, Hello, how are you, can I do anything for ya’? Small things go a long way.

Speaking of small things, one small but significant highlight for us is our cup of coffee. Usually, we’ll have one (maybe two) in the morning and later in the afternoon. We enjoy it and recently my doctor told me that coffee, in moderation, can be beneficial. Since Costco is off limits for us now, we no longer have access to their store brand of “100% Colombian” coffee. For what is termed, commodity coffee (basic), it’s pretty darn good and cheap. With all this new found time and the need to seek other sources, I’ve “discovered” two new favorites.

First, is a whole bean, Mocha Java coffee from Mayorga Roasters. It’s smooth and flavorful. It’s available in 2 pound bags from Amazon or directly from Mayorga. Our Second new favorite is an organic whole bean Honduran coffee available from Aldi. Pretty good and we’re glad we found it.

Two of my favorite coffees

So, what’s your favorite coffee that you make at home? Let me know!

Pray, stay healthy, keep in touch and… Wake up and Smell the Coffee!

Bill

Living with Crazy

Hemingway at work on, For Whom the Bell Tolls.

Ernest Hemingway, in a 1929 interview with columnist Dorothy Parker in which they were speaking of courage, stated that “guts” was having “grace under pressure”.  Lately, I have seen more than a few examples of grace under pressure.

We hear stories of cops and firemen and medics (personally, I dislike the term, First Responders) who risk their safety to come to the aid of others. Whether by training, habit or vocation, most of them do this day in and day out throughout their careers. And much of the time without recognition or fanfare.

But, it is of the everyday acts of generosity, thoughtfulness, courtesy and, even, humor that I have recently witnessed that I am now referring to.

The all-pervasive virus news has featured stories of people loading up multiple shopping carts at the Costcos and Walmarts with toilet paper and paper towels. Maybe they have a hygiene issue or maybe they’re just plain “panic hoarders”.  But, the image that comes to mind more frequently is that of a lady at our local Food Lion walking ahead of us in the “paper goods” aisle. Only two packages were left in the entire otherwise empty aisle.  She looked at them and said, “Take one and leave one”. Thoughtful.  A similar situation at another nearby grocery store took another twist. The paper goods aisle had only a few packages left and people were looking anxious (kind of like seeing a highway sign saying, “next rest stop 25 miles”. Suddenly, you gotta’ go!). A nicely dressed woman eyed the situation and blurted out, “I don’t give a darn about the toilet paper, but they better not be out of coffee”! Grim faces suddenly turned into grins. Laughter is truly the best medicine.

Our little Shenandoah Valley town of Staunton is coming together, one neighbor to another. Small food businesses are helping area residents and one another by setting up an on-line ordering system for food staples from nearby organic farmers and food suppliers. These suppliers and farmers will bring the orders to a central location and the residents can pick them up without even getting out of their cars. Restaurants are offering curbside take-out service. It’s a win-win in difficult times.

Churches, including our beloved St. Francis of Assisi parish, are increasing their aid to the needy and to those that may be more vulnerable to catching something. Our pastor, with the aid of parish staff, managed to livestream this Sunday’s Mass. To partake spiritually in the Mass along with our fellow parishioners, even from a physical distance, was a great comfort to us .http://stfrancisparish.org/homily-lent4.html

Just the beginning of new floors

In the meantime, despite setbacks and these very trying times, the construction on our new home is continuing. The siding seems to be nearing completion. Installation of the hardwood floors started this past Saturday. Our newest target date is from the end of April to mid-May. Let’s keep our fingers crossed!

Chris fitting section of Hickory floor board.

So, let us all remember to be calm and kind and patient with others and ourselves.  And, to have Faith. We will be alright. God is watching over you and us, especially in these crazy times!

And, for goodness sake…Don’t Run Out Of Coffee!!

As always, Comments, Likes and Follows always welcome.

Bill