Been a long time…

This blog began seven years ago with the idea that I’d have plenty of topics to write about. Additionally, this direct connection to people would encourage me and result in regular posts that to date would number in the hundreds.

Reality has set in.

It’s been two years since my last post.

(Cue “Rock and Roll” by Led Zeppelin,

Not what I had hoped; it’s what I had secretly expected.

Inspiration, motivation, and perseverance (so much for alliteration) sometimes comes, some times it doesn’t. Sometimes I notice it; a lot of times I don’t. Sometimes I want to accept the challenge; many times it’s too easy to see what’s on Netflix.

This is a challenge to myself. Write something. Don’t listen to the Sirens’ song to do something easier and less challenging.

Do what’s harder. Life is more rewarding when it’s harder because you worked to achieve the end result. It may not be pretty, but it’s something you did.

Hope to see you sooner than two years from now.


Jesus saves the day at St. Arbucks

Blog’s Inspiration: Jennifer Fulwiler posed a question on her show on Sirius XM’s The Catholic Channel. She asked what type of coffee would Jesus order? Fulwiler blogs at Conversion Diary.

How are we to approach the Gospels in this current age? Certainly, Jesus’ words are timeless. There is no need to rewrite or “punch up” what the Gospel writers penned. They are beautiful how they are.

Do people really understand the context, the setting? Even if they can understand the setting, does it ring true to them because it’s not something they can easily visualize?

Take, for example, the Wedding at Cana (St. John 2:1-12). Sure, people understand weddings but do they understand wedding feasts that went on for days? Probably not.

At the wedding, the host ran out of wine. Mary, Jesus’s mother, encouraged Him to do something. Jesus ordered the servants to fill jars with water. The Christ then proceeded to turn the vats of water into the best wine anyone had ever tasted.

What if the story took place at a busy Starbucks on a Saturday morning. The store is full of young families with kids in tow, hunters on their way to the woods, youth soccer players in day-glow kits and so forth.

The long line teems with people desperately needing their caffeine fix. The baristas are busy working until one announces—quite shockingly—they’ve run out of coffee. (As improbable as this may seem at a Starbucks, work with me for the sake of this story.)

Mary and Jesus are sitting on comfy chairs with their morning coffee. They are on their way to a local craft festival. Mary plans on selling shawls she knitted, and Jesus is going to sell rocking chairs he made.

Mary hears the commotion and anguished cries. She tells Jesus to do something.

Jesus goes to a barista and tells her to take the customer’s order: soy, no whip, skinny Caramel Macchiato.

“Name for the cup?” Jesus asks.

“Jill,” says the impatient texter glued to her smart phone. “Aren’t they out of coffee?” she asks while still texting.

“Jill, thank you,” says Jesus. He writes “Faith” on the cup and hands it to the barista.

Taking the cup, the barista says, “We don’t have any coffee to make this order.”

“Put some hot water in it,” Jesus says, “and complete the rest of the order.”

The barista completes a hot-water version of a soy, no whip, skinny Caramel Macchiato. “This is going to be one nasty tasting drink,” the barista mutters. Jesus hears.

“Faith, I have a soy, no whip, skinny Caramel Macchiato,” says the barista as she places the drink on the counter and turns to the next order.

“It’s about time,” says Jill with a snarl. Turning to the woman behind her Jill says, “Faith? Starbuck’s is always getting the names wrong.” The woman ignores Jill because she cherishes her relationship with a smart phone.

Jill takes a sip and stops with an astonished look on her face.

“I thought you said you were out of coffee? This is the best coffee I’ve ever had.”

The astonished barista looks bewilderingly at Jesus. He hands her another cup for a double shot, three vanilla pump latte. The name, again, is “Faith.”

“What happened?” the barista asks.

“Another day at St. Arbucks.” He smiles and takes the next order for “Faith.”

To use a pen or not to use a pen, that is the question (as I type)

What keeps me from writing? Well, certainly a lack of confidence in my abilities hampers any output.Hanx Writer

There’s also the problem of having any steady influx of writing ideas. It’s never easy coming up with topics to write about. Then, there’s also the issue of will the topic be interesting to anyone or will it confirm my lack of literary flair?

All true. To be honest, I think another issue may be something as simple as do I use a pen or iPad.

Really, it could be something that mundane. But when I examine it, that’s where the problem becomes. It also doesn’t help that I have a hard time making and sticking to a decision.

Writing by pen has a certain nostalgic quality. There is something about seeing the ink trail over paper as one writes. It can almost be hypnotic. It takes writing back to it’s true essence. When using a pen, one is writing. It’s easy to call oneself a “writer” when a pen and paper is one’s tools.

However, pens are limiting. My brain works faster than my hand can write. Writing by hand also makes it difficult to move a section or to rewrite. One always ends up with scribbles, cross-outs and “spaghetti” arrows all over the paper.

Writing with a stylus on the iPad is a solution, but it doesn’t have the same appeal of pen and paper.

Writing by keyboard is not as nostalgic nor as personal. Press a key and a letter appears. However, writing this post with Hanx Writer brings back a bit of personal nostalgia. It simulates writing on a typewriter with the key strike and margin bell sounds. It takes me back to the Ernie Pyle School of Journalism at Indiana University and the Defense Information School at Fort Benjamin Harrison, Ind.

So, maybe typing is more nostalgic for me? Keyboard writing seems more natural to me. Guess that’s my brain’s particular wiring. Words seem to flow out easier. I can see the construct of the story or blog post better. It’s also easier to place quotes or facts in an outline or to smith the words and sentences as I see them on the screen.

What about you? If you’re a writer, how do you like to write?

Building 3

Building 3 in Housatonic, Mass. Always love the look of this building. Recently, the roof beam supports caught my eye. Guess it was the gentle curves against the straight lines. This building is just down the road from a good friend.

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Summer mushrooms


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On this 12th anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001

I remember 9/11.


Photo illustration courtesy of PEO Soldier.

It was Tuesday morning. I was in Montana, stationed with the 341st Space Wing at Malmstrom AFB. We were in the second day of a wing-wide exercise.

At 6 o’clock that morning, I came into the battle staff to start my 12-hour shift as public affairs representative to the commander. It was going to be a day filled with various exercise scenarios and long periods of tedium.

Not much was going on after the change-over briefing. Everyone was waiting for the scenarios to begin.

Shortly after 8:45 someone from the adjoining support battle staff came in and told us to turn on the news. A plane had just struck the World Trade Center. The battle staff director did.

We saw coverage of the clear blue New York City sky. We also saw its iconic skyline marred by smoke billowing from one of the towers.

We all sat stunned and in disbelief.

I thought how could anyone not see such a large building on such a beautiful day.

People began calling their offices and families to tell them what was unfolding.

The live coverage kept unfolding before us. The assumption was this was some type of accident. Shortly after 9 a.m., I noticed the second plane slide into the screen. It came from right to left and was momentarily hidden by the towers. Nobody else seemed to see it, certainly not the broadcasters.

The second fireball erupted at 9:03 from the second tower.

This was no accident, I thought.

Everyone in the battle staff now knew America was being attacked.

And it didn’t end. Approximately 30 minutes later, another plane struck the Pentagon.

What was going on?

A lieutenant colonel sitting in front of me knew I had an upcoming assignment to the Pentagon. He turned to me and said rhetorically, “Do you still want to go to the Pentagon?”

Then the news reported a plane crashing in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

Again, what was going on?

The base went into lockdown. No one came on, no one left. Everyone began refocusing their work to support whatever the future had in store for us.

The rest of my day consisted of preparing my commander for media interviews. Eventually, he turned that responsibility over to me. Requirements of the job and from higher headquarters demanded his time.

It was a busy day of answering media queries and conducting on-camera interviews.

After almost 16 hours, I finally came home. There was a voicemail on my answering machine.

“I know you’re probably at work…,” the voice of my mother came through the phone. She was crying. No mother wants her son in a war.

I will always remember 9/11.

Brinkley nearby

Nothing like having a buddy nearby when not feeling well.

Whatever has been going around has been with me for a week. It just makes me feel tired all the time.

Was trying out this new Pressgram app. Brinkley was laying near me and was gracious enough to help pose for this picture. He’s a good buddy. I’ve long considered myself a cat person, but Brinkley has shown me how dogs are a man’s best friend.

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