This 5 minute video of the Japanese tsunami is astonishing. That must be why, to date, it has more than 12 million hits on YouTube.

The footage carries the viewer up over language. I watched it in total silence. But the word that sums it up for me is “suddenly.” As in:

Waves of destruction roll over the land, until it lies in complete desolation.
Suddenly my tents are destroyed; in a moment my shelters are crushed – Jeremiah 4:20

You wake up, shuffle to your coffee pot and carefully enact your morning ritual. You plan your day…meet Diane at Starbucks, drop by the office for a few hours, play golf this afternoon…

All the while something large and shattering is already on the way to your life. You will do nothing you planned. Your life will change, perhaps even end, “suddenly.”

Life’s changing moments are usually outside our control. We all hold the illusion that we can originate or manage change. But, as my friend Rex Miller says, “Real change comes from somewhere else and invades us.” We do not see it coming and we cannot control its content or its pace.

We often forget that good things also come suddenly.

You wake up, shuffle to the coffee pot…not knowing that great wealth or your future spouse or healed relationships are already walking up to your front door.

You will suddenly collide with delirious joy.

The same Bible that records sudden tragedies also recalls a sudden earthquake that shook a prison to pieces, releasing the captives (I wonder how conservatives would view a similar “act of God” in our time).

Perhaps the real challenge is to embrace all the suddenlys as coming from the hand of a kind God.

Even the tsunamis have a way of cleansing and reordering the landscape of life.

Go back to the site of this video in ten years. I can confidently predict that it will reflect the sparkle, shine and great joy of renewal. The earth never turns on itself, never destroys itself. It only dances to the rhythms of renewal.

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Ann Voskamp has hit another one over the far center wall with this piece on married love.  The whole thing is worth your time, but here’s an appetizer:

I don’t know how another man’s skin feels.

My grandmother lived that kind of courage. The kind that made a vow and had the bravery to let it age.

The wrinkled faithfulness of monogamy, it can look pedestrian, the kind that finishes well, parades up through the Arc de Triomphe, battle scarred, and the tourists just blithely shuffle by, pigeons taking to oblivious wing. She told me about this.

I remember it, nights like these.

How she said that the bravest love is wildly faithful and it falls hard again every morning. How it puts the toilet seat down and the cap on the toothpaste and winks for those already-won eyes. It knows what we seek may be found in what we already have. And there can always be this — the allure of the vows.

This — World’s Funniest Analogies — is just too good to keep to myself.  You writers will love it.


“From the attic came an unearthly howl. The whole scene had an eerie, surreal quality, like when you’re on vacation in another city and Jeopardy comes on at 7:00 p.m. instead of 7:30.”

Excellent article from the Hoover Institute on Steve Jobs. But, more importantly, it looks at why entrepreneurs drop out of college. Consider that Bill Gates and Steve Jobs had to quit college so they could go change the world.

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Seen & Heard Today

The Wall Street Journal carries a great article on “The Waffle House Index.” Seems that Waffle House is one of the companies most responsive, and resilient, in the face and aftermath of hurricanes. So, FEMA actually measures hurricanes according to Waffle House’s state of operations.

“Green means the restaurant is serving a full menu, a signal that damage in an area is limited and the lights are on. Yellow means a limited menu, indicating power from a generator, at best, and low food supplies. Red means the restaurant is closed, a sign of severe damage in the area or unsafe conditions.

“‘If you get there and the Waffle House is closed?’ FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate has said. ‘That’s really bad. That’s where you go to work.'”

And another WSJ piece by the always-wise and grumpy/funny Joseph Epstein…on “Who Killed American Lit?”

Rick Reilly is one of the best sports writer alive.  This piece features the marching band from the Ohio State School for the Blind.  And they’re playing the half time show for a deaf football team!  Think about it.  Blind marching band. Deaf football players.  Perfect. I thank my son, Eddie, for alerting me to this.

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Seen & Heard Today

The great Kinky Friedman has endorsed Rick Perry for President. His announcement column in The Daily Beast is one of the funniest things I’ve read.

John Miller is a great writer.  He has written five books and many newspaper columns.  But, this piece — explaining why he returned to Michigan — is probably the best John Miller piece I’ve read.  This will resonate with anyone who has — or has not — returned to their home.

We all die.  For that reason, this article from Kiplinger’s Magazine is essential.  It gives succinct and clear information on what to do when your spouse dies.  Just excellent.

This video is so inventive and uplifting and…insightful.

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Seen & Heard Today

Very interesting piece on the best words in book titles. Actually, it’s specific to the science fiction and fantasy genre. Still, it’s helpful to stimulate thinking when it comes to titles.

Sally Jenkins is one of the best sportswriters in the US.  Her piece on Pat Summitt’s newly diagnosed Alzheimer’s should win an award.  This will make you cry and laugh.  I’m so glad to see that Alzheimer’s is not what it used to be.  Glen Campbell is continuing to tour.  And Summitt will continue to coach at the University of Tennessee.  Her sense of humor is so good: “I keep forgetting I have it.”

Apparently, this essay has been around for a while.  But I’ve not read it before.  I make my living as a writer, but I now realize that I’m not a real writer.  Extremely well-written and funny essay.  No, it’s not by John Belushi.

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Seen & Heard Today

  • Ann Voskamp is one of my favorite writers. Her latest essay, “Learning to Forgive (your parents),” is classic Voskamp. Do yourself a great favor and read this wise and moving piece.  If you check click the link after today, you’ll need to scroll down to this one.
  • First of July, the Spring Hill paper published a profile of me.  I just remembered it and thought I’d pass it along.
  • Marshall Grant died this past Sunday.  He was Johnny Cash’s bass player for many years…part of the “Tennessee Two.”  I’ve read much about him and his death this week.  But this pieceby the AP’s Chris Talbot is the best thing I’ve read on him.  I thank my son, Eddie, for passing it on.I really love Grant’s remembrance here of how they — Johnny Cash, Luther Perkins, and Marshall Grant — created that “boom-chicka-boom” sound.  And, his insight that, “Our inability had more to do with our success than our ability did…”  None of them were great musicians (Grant put strips of scotch tape on the base neck so he could remember where to put his fingers).This is another reminder that we should lead with our weakness rather than our strength.  I practice that…which is very easy for me, because I have many more weaknesses than strengths!  :-)Of course, most people lead with their strength.  But our weaknesses, our “inabilities,” will make us more vulnerable and that opens us to those mysterious muses, those breezes from Heaven, that we would have missed in our “full metal jacket” mode.

    Again, good article with good insight.

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Seen & Heard Today

I am so proud to be the publisher of Daddy, Help Me!  This children’s book is a great way to start a conversation between fathers and children.  Here is a fine piece on Ken Harvey, the author.

Apple has more cash than the federal government. Incredible little peek.  I just hope the government doesn’t try to confiscate it.

This youtube video is just wonderful.  John Stott, who just died, is asked “When do you feel most alive?”  His answer is a 4-minute devotional treatise on living with God.  Beautiful.  BTW, when Stott died last week, my old friend Michael Cromertie was quoted in the NYT as saying, “If Protestants had a pope, he would have been John Stott.”

Some things I do not understand:

  • Why we want to see friends on TV.  We see them in person, but if they’re going to an NFL game or attending a political rally or religious event, we want to know where they’ll be sitting so we can watch for them.  Why?  I understand if a friend is being interviewed, making a televised speech, acting, or appearing on Jeopardy.  But, why is seeing them digitized and televised so important?
  • Moments of silence.  I have never understood the purpose.  And I don’t understand what my mind is supposed to do in one.
  • Why we expect people to repost things on Facebook in order to prove they care about motherhood, US troops, the environment, God, etc.
  • Why reporters only have curiosity about things they personally doubt or despise.
  • What “spot on” means.
  • Opinion.  I absolutely do not get why the opinion of a man or woman on the street is important.  Would you ever care what the person gassing his/her vehicle near you cares about US foreign policy?  Do you even barely care what the lady checking out ahead of you at the grocery thinks about quantum physics?  Do YOU even care about it?  Yet, those are the very people who inevitably show up on local (sometimes national) TV news programs.  I just do not care.

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Seen & Heard Today

Very good article on fonts and other design details.

This piece — 10 Technologies that will change the world in the next 10 years — from Infoworld is just jaw-dropping.

Ever wish you had a phone number for a company?  Now, you do.  This site gives an excellent consumer affairs list for many American companies.

The Internet Monk is essential daily reading for me.  From a recent, and excellent, essay on grief:

Grief is like a serious injury. A person with whom I have a bond is gone. That bond has been severed, leaving a deep and tender wound. It hurts. It is sometimes hard to find relief. I have to do what I can to relieve the pain, clean and dress the wound, protect it, and give it time to heal. I must adjust my life to allow for it, and it’s a damn inconvenience, I’ll tell you. Whether or not the person who died “is in a better place” doesn’t change any of that. Grief is not selfish, but grief is about me.

I often compare grief to losing a limb. If my leg were to be amputated or lost in an accident, my life would be irrevocably altered because of that loss. I simply could not live the way I did before. Furthermore, it would hurt. It would be hard to come to grips with my new reality mentally and emotionally. I might even think that God had treated me unfairly. I would be forced to accept new assignments from life—to heal, to rehab, to learn new habits and ways of getting around, to learn what new kinds of support I will need from those around me. Perhaps I will get an artificial limb and learn to do even more than I could before I lost my leg. Perhaps I will develop the desire to help others who have gone through the same experience. Who knows where this road will lead? All I know at the moment is that I’ve taken a turn somewhere and I’m not in Kansas anymore.

Many of you have navigated more grief than I’ve met in life.  But I can certainly see the truth in these lines.

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Seen & Heard Today

Now, we have a new fragrance for men – Benedictus. It was created in honor of Pope Benedict’s 60th anniversary as a priest.

Gotta see this great little video here on economic freedom and quality of life.  So clear and concise.

Oh, the pure joy of stuff blowing up.  This video captures some great movie scenes of blowing and burning bridges.  Glad they included the great blowup from “The Wild Bunch.”

And, finally, here’s a story about Jesus-in-the-kudzu.  I can’t help but think about the drunk rednecks who see this and lose control of their pickup or repent.  Or both.

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Seen & Heard Today

Very good article from AP on airfares.  Most helpful information in the article:

“There’s no way to guarantee the best fare. But before booking, travelers should heed this additional advice:

• Book on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. That’s when airlines most often offer sales.

• Buy in advance, but not too early. The best time is four to six weeks before traveling. In general, prices for any given flight are highest eight to 10 weeks and two to three weeks in advance.

• Embrace social media. Airlines are giving more benefits, like exclusive sales, to travelers who interact with them on Twitter and Facebook. Those specials are often gone within hours.”

Now, THIS — spy camera in sunglasses — would be a great thing!

Susanna Breslin wrote a beautiful essay for Forbes about her father, Jimmy Breslin.  She included this astonishing paragraph which Jimmy wrote about his father:

“Yet, even now, 40 years after my father’s death, I am, in my dreams (as in my biography of Mark Rothko), still trying to breath the life back into him (or his substitute) — as if a biographer were a paramedic administering decade after decade of CPR to a patient he refuses to admit he has lost.”


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