Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy New Year!

Turn Does The Year
By Stephen B. Bagley

the old year turns
either onto a new path
or onto the same
with only minor changes

we raise a cup or not
as it may be hoping it will
even as we realize
it might not be as hoped

in this heartbeat
between then and now
and what comes after
drink deep the bittersweet

we are promised nothing
but we plan and plan
and if the fates be kind
some plans will bloom

we cannot make promises
we might not keep
even though we will try
and cry and laugh and run

dance with me or
love with me maybe
pray with me perhaps
kiss sweet lips now

think of what we leave
behind walk toward what
is before us hold my hand
as the old year turns new

(Copyright 2015. All rights reserved.)

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Contributing to the heat death of the universe

Was watching a show on the Discovery Science Channel -- can't tell you which one because I didn't pay attention -- but the scientist on it talked about how every living thing contributes to entropy, how being alive is a constant journey toward disorder and how using the energy we do is an infinitely small contributor to the eventual heat death of the universe. Yeah, happy stuff. I think I switched over to watch a movie at that point. Probably Guardians of the Galaxy, which I enjoyed greatly.

Later, over a hot cup of chai latte, I begin to think about what the scientist said. We do contribute to disorder by being alive. We have our own personal carbon footprint. Energy is used by our gadgets, cars, machines, buildings ... we build a debt up by simply being alive. It's mostly a factor of our current technology; four thousand years ago, we lived short lives. Our impact was less; we simply didn't survive long enough to have much of a footprint.

We can reduce our carbon footprint by doing easy things: Take public transportation when available, don't use plastic when we can avoid it, use recyclable plastic when we can, use more glass and paper containers, change the air filters in our heaters and air conditioners, take our own bags to the store, weatherstrip our houses and buildings, and so on. I'm sure you can think of several things that are fairly easy to do. Naturally, we won't see much of a impact, particularly if no one else does any of these items. But in a huge group, it's amazing how much energy we can save.

But will anyone do them? Some of them are not particularly convenient. Some of them take more time. And in the short run, more money. I do carry my own canvas bags to use; they're cheap and sturdy. We do change the air filters. Our house has nice windows. We don't have access to public transportation here. We probably keep our thermostat too high in the winter and too low in the summer. And so on. It's hard to work up enthusiasm about results when they're dependent on so many people.

Not much point to this. Just where my mind has been wandering. Next week, I'll be talking about my plans for 2015. This week, a couple of visits to the doctor. Actually, doctors. House cleaning. Chores. Planning.

Have a great week and a Happy New Year!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Books for Christmas and after!

Blackbirds First Flight 
Anthology - Enjoy chilling poems and dark tales in this collection from Stephen B. Bagley, Kent Bass, Wendy Blanton, Gail Henderson, Jean Schara, & Tamara Siler Jones.
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By Stephen B. Bagley
Poetry - Enjoy more than 50 sensual & moving poems, including the award winning "Non-Communion," "Torrent," & "Endless."
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Floozy & Other Stories
By Stephen B. Bagley
Humor - Laugh at these hilarious tales from the author's decidedly different life.
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Murder by Dewey Decimal
By Stephen B. Bagley
Mystery - Who killed the librarian? Who's next to die and why? 1st in Measurements of Murder series.
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Murder by the Acre (Second Edition)
By Stephen B. Bagley
Mystery - Who killed the ladies man? Bernard, Lisa & the chief are back! New expanded edition. 2nd in Measurements of Murder series.
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Murder by the Acre (First Edition)
By Stephen B. Bagley
Mystery - Who killed the ladies man? Bernard, Lisa & the chief are back! 2nd in Measurements of Murder series.
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Tales from Bethlehem
By Stephen B. Bagley
Inspirational - Have you ever wondered about everyone else in Bethlehem on the night of the Nativity? These charming and touching Tales will tell you their stories.
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Monday, December 15, 2014

Smart phones or another horror of modern life

By Stephen B. Bagley
Excerpted from A Little Floozy.

The perfect Christmas gift this year—according to numerous ads on TV and online—is apparently a “smart” phone. Or a smart phone upgrade. I don’t have a smart phone; my phone just makes  and receives calls. It’s a dumb phone. And I’m happy about that.

Many people think it’s strange that I don’t like the smart phones. Well, they think other things are strange, too, but we’re not going to talk about those. It’s strange, they say, that I love computers, robots, lasers, telescopes, cameras, anything with lots of buttons and lights, and rockets, but dislike smart phones.

But I do. I find smart phones annoying. Their screens are tiny. Their buttons are small. They make weird noises, and people use them to post embarrassing and/or naughty pictures online. Worse, people use them to “text” each other. “Text” is not a verb. You can’t “text” someone just as you can’t “font” or “comma” or “semicolon” someone. Or you shouldn’t if you have any respect for the English language.

I have been told the smart phones are little computers, but they are not! You cannot use a smart phone to break the encryption on a secret government site... not that you should do that under any circumstances. The FBI knows—or will when they read this—that I am not doing that and certainly not encouraging anyone to do that again. (Agent McHenry, how are those nervous hives? Hope they’re cleared up by now.)

The most annoying thing about smart phones—well, the second most annoying thing about them—is how it lets people look things up. They “Google®” it. (“Google” is also not a verb, but that may be a fight I will have to concede.) I have an awesome brain filled with millions of interesting and often strange facts. Say, for instance, you wonder how Genghis Khan died. I can tell you both stories: how supposedly he fell from his horse and died from internal injuries, or how supposedly a captured princess did something terrible to him with a knife and he never recovered. But do you ask me? No. You just “Google” it with your phone. My brain is loaded with all these wonderful items, but you instead use your smart phone. A pox on it!

Of course, my brain is faster than you looking it up, but once in a rare, rare, rare instance, I might possibly remember wrong. I might tell you that Khan died in July when he really died August 18, 1227. July, August, it was in the summer, okay? You didn’t know. If it hadn’t been for your phone, I could have told you that he died in January 1220 by eating undercooked badger and you would have believed it. The thing is I don’t understand why you’re so interested in Genghis Khan anyway. It’s weird. Get a life.

The actual most annoying thing about smart phones is how people will be talking to you and they get a text and then they interrupt talking to you to carry on a conversation with someone else—thus implying I am not as interesting as the other person they are “texting” to. This is insulting, and I find throwing silverware at them immediately makes them pay attention to me again, as they should. Knives are particularly effective. (Once again, just kidding Agent McHenry. I am not violating my parole with weapons, depending on how you define “weapons” since I think we’re all agreed that lasers, rockets, and firearms are not under that definition, but rather under the heading of “good, clean fun” or “party favors.”)

A friend pointed out that maybe all this texting nonsense is the universe getting revenge on me for not paying attention to other people when they are talking. He said a few more things, but I wasn’t listening. If you aren’t interesting enough to keep my attention, then the problem is with you. You need to up your game. Talk about a subject I’m interested in—for instance, my general brilliance and sweet humility—and I will hang on your every word and might even quote you.

People use their smart phones all the time everywhere. Weddings, funerals, church, even during the Sacred Rituals of the Poached Warthog Lodge, it doesn’t matter. The smart phone is ubiquitous. (This is a real word. You might not know it since it’s not often used by those who send texts. Too many letters, I guess.)

The other Sunday morning while sitting on the balcony at church—which I do because it seems to make my minister less nervous—I looked out over the congregation and noticed a man using his phone to text in church. Fortunately I had my binoculars with me and could easily see he was talking to a friend about going out to eat after the service. You will be proud to know that I did the only thing a decent, God-fearing man could do. I took the collection plate, flung it like a Frisbee® and bounced it off his head. He was so surprised. And unconscious for about twenty minutes.

I think the height of the balcony may have added to the force of the throw, but it could have been an angel, too. At least, that was my defense in front of the deacon board. They were overwhelmed by my piercing logic and silenced by my wise words. They sat there quietly with the oddest expression on their faces. They looked...frightened. It was quite strange and offsetting.

I may visit another church for a while. For some reason, I have started to receive a lot of brochures for other churches, several in other towns and one in another state. Curious timing.

I actually have a phone that could be smart if I was willing to pay the data charges. AT&T® telemarketers are baffled by my refusal to add anything extra to my phone. They often call me with offers of many “gigs” of data for a monthly payment that I would only need to sell my neighbor’s car to afford.

“You can read books on it,” the telemarketer says.

“The screen is too small,” I say.

“You can watch movies,” he says.

“If the screen is too small for books, how is it large enough to watch a movie?”

“On YouTube, you can find thousands of videos to enjoy,” he says.

“I’ve seen enough videos of grumpy cats and falling people,” I say.

Then he makes a fatal mistake. “You can Facebook,” he says. “You can Twitter. You can—”

“Facebook and Twitter aren’t verbs, you uneducated batweasel skunkface,” I explain kindly.

I then launch into a fascinating discussion about how we must protect the English language from the barbarians of textspeak. Somehow we get cut off, and I have to call him back to finish. Twice. You’d think they would have better service than that, but perhaps he’s using a  dumb phone. He should upgrade. I’m told it’s the perfect Christmas gift. 

(Copyright 2014 by Stephen B. Bagley. All rights reserved. Thanks for reading!)