Ben Franklin’s Bright Idea

According to one biographer, when Ben Franklin wanted to promote the idea of street lighting for the city of Philadelphia, he didn’t just make speeches to enthuse his fellow citizens about what a great idea it would be. He installed a long bracket in front of his home and hung up an attractive lantern. This he always kept spotless and lit it every evening as twilight fell.

Passers-by could see his cheerful light from quite a distance and this one bright spot in an otherwise dark street beckoned to them. The glow silently recommended to everyone walking along the sidewalk what a great idea it was to see where they were stepping. As time went on the citizens of the town were sold on the idea of street illumination.

P.S.:
We could all take a lesson from Ben’s example. There are a zillion people who offer brilliant suggestions, but if we can think of something that will brighten the way for folks who pass by, let’s do it.

Books: Pennies From Burger Heaven

Written by Marcy McKay
SkipJack Publishing, Dec 2015

2016 USA Best Book Awards Finalist, General Fiction

This poignant story of one street kid’s search for her mother has lots of danger and suspense, twists & turns.

Life on the streets of Remington, Texas, is rough and raw at best. It becomes sinister after Copper’s Mama, a homeless prostitute, disappears one morning. Her daughter, Copper (Penny), blessed with abundant nerve — and a good deal of scared — sets out from their cemetery “home” determined to find her. She heads into the inner city they know so well, slowly untangling the web of her mother’s past involvements, hoping one of the threads will lead to Mama.

If the reader doesn’t want to be dragged through the mire of a ghetto — the crime, drugs, gang wars, predators and hookers — then don’t read this. Language isn’t a stream of profanity, but there’s enough realistic dialogue. God, Jesus and religion get a lot of bad press. There’s your stereotype phony televangelist visiting ladies-of-the-night when he’s not singing “Amazing Grace.”

That said, McKay has been accurate in her portrayal of the living conditions among the homeless and the people who prey on them, as well as the confusion about religion that exists among those who never attend a church or open a Bible. Coming from a non-religious background as I do, I see the thinking of my own people in this story.

For me the real hero isn’t so much the I-can-do-it-myself, spit-in-your-eye Copper, but rather the Detective who tries so hard to grab this scrawny little alley cat who’s clawing, kicking, and lashing out at him and everyone else. He tries to grab her from the streets before her life is destroyed as her mother’s was. Copper suspects his motive for his interest in her: what connection could this cop have to her mother?

Thanks to some supernatural — you might say divine — intervention, this kitten is granted another of her nine lives. On one hand, you somewhat anticipate the ending, yet all the slimy twists and turns — and final revelations — are totally unexpected.

Marcy McKay has penned a sequel to this book; this hasn’t been released yet, as far as I can tell. Marcy McKay is a frequent guest contributor to The Write Practice site, where she gives tips and exercises for improving your writing skills.

Truth for Our Times

The TRUTH

by Canadian poet Archibald Lampman

Friend, though thy soul should burn thee, yet be still
Thoughts were not meant for strife, nor tongues for swords,
He that sees clear is gentlest of his words,
And that’s not truth that hath the heart to kill.

The whole world’s thought shall not one truth fulfill.
Dull in our age, and passionate in youth,
No mind of man hath found the perfect truth,
Nor shalt thou find it; therefore, friend, be still.

Watch and be still, nor hearken to the fool,
The babbler of consistency and rule:
Wisest is he, who, never quite secure,
Changes his thoughts for better day by day:
To-morrow some new light will shine, be sure,
And thou shalt see thy thought another way.

I came across this poem and thought being STILL and being OPEN to new light, a better understanding of the situation, are wonderful qualities. Seems we need this wisdom in our troubled times.

The New Laptop

“Look! This laptop is loaded with the latest and the best software programme available,” he proclaimed, holding up his newest acquisition.

“Right. For the next two months.” His wife looked at the clerk, rolled her eyes and sighed. She’d been checking out jigsaw puzzles at the stationery store next door, now she berated herself for not being here in time to officially protest this purchase.

The clerk who’d rung up the sale sensed an approaching atmospheric disturbance and strolled toward the accessories aisle. She’d be within shouting distance if the customer asked for a refund in a minute or so.

“Dearest,” said the wife in a longsuffering tone. “Remember the last time you changed computer programmes and it took me three weeks to figure it out enough to do our women’s club monthly newsletter? Two months ago you got me this new cell phone with all the bells and whistles, and I still haven’t figured out how to reply to incoming messages.”

“It’s not so hard to figure out. Besides, your old phone was a dinosaur.”

“So is my brain. I’m technologically challenged, remember? You can’t keep throwing new devices and new programmes at me.”

“You have to keep up with the times, dear. You’d still be working with WordPerfect 3.0 if I wouldn’t have upgraded.”

“And Word Perfect 3.0 worked just fine.”

He sighed. She sighed. The marriage counselor standing behind them at the cash register grinned — and pulled his business card out of his shirt pocket.