Strength in the face of adversity . . .

Columbia, SC: Kershaw Co. man cuts off own arm

I read this story and was so inspired. Not because I’d like to cut my arm off, but it shows the capacity we have as humans to do what we have to do, however horrific, to survive. This article is truly an example of a possibility thinker in action.

KERSHAW COUNTY, SC (WIS) – A Kershaw County man is sharing his story of survival. He faced a life or death decision when his hand got stuck in a piece of farm equipment, and then a fire broke out around him. What he did next might shock you, and we have to warn you that some of the details might be disturbing.

Nothing Orange can Stay

Our Jack-o-lantern hasn’t weathered the high desert heat very well and indeed the gourd has shrunken downward. It got me to thinking about beauty and aging and roses.

This post is from 2008 written just after Halloween had passed. I like the thought, it stands up with things I might write today. Enjoy.

My daughter got so excited the other night when I agreed to carve her pumpkin with her. She’s almost 4 and can’t really do anything with the knife and such but she loves sitting by me and pulling all the slimy seeds out. It is a really crisp feeling cutting the triangle eyes into the pumpkin. The mouth is always a bit awkward for me but it usually comes out fine in the end. When I was finished My daughter hugged the pumpkin. She was so thrilled to see it now had a face that we had created.

Today she picked up the pumpkin all sad and sad: “Look Daddy, it is smashed.”

Our Jack-o-lantern hasn’t weathered the high desert heat very well and indeed the gourd has shrunken downward. It got me to thinking about beauty and aging and roses. Why are freshly carved pumpkins so beautiful to kids and the adults when they carve them? Simple reason: they are only that way temporarily.

We marvel at roses in a similar way. Even looking at my daughter I realze she is so very beautiful partly because I know she herself in all her youthful charms will not stay. I think Robert Frost wrote it well when he said “Nothing gold can stay.”

The beauty of a pumpkin fades, as does a season of life. If we get to heaven, or whatever a handful of religions view as eternal paradise, how attractive could it be compared to mortal life? I recognize that sounds sacreligious to the faithful Christians out there but it bears asking. Maybe if we all revered this life a bit more it would make the hereafter better still … instead of revering the hereafter over the here and now.

My daughter’s pumpkin has faded but she’ll never forget the beauty of it when it was fresh. Can life be seen as a pumpkin we get to carve? I try to carve it well, with bravery.

Here’s the poem I referenced earlier.

Nothing Gold can Stay
by: Robert Frost

Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.”

Better Call Saul (Season 2)

I fell into the Breaking Bad pool years ago and got hooked completely. Maybe it was because I’m a teacher and the main character is easy to identify with. Whatever the reason, I loved the show and watched it faithfully through all seasons. In contrast, I wasn’t very take in by Better Call Saul, the spinoff about a crooked lawyer. But that was season one, now I’m in s2 and it is really amazing.

Better Call Saul

Better Call Saul

“The trials and tribulations of criminal lawyer, Jimmy McGill, in the time leading up to establishing his strip-mall law office in Albuquerque, New Mexico.” -IMDB


Patrick Fabian Howard Hamlin (30 episodes, 2015-2017)
Michael McKean Chuck McGill (30 episodes, 2015-2017)
Rhea Seehorn Kim Wexler (30 episodes, 2015-2017)
Bob Odenkirk Jimmy McGill (30 episodes, 2015-2017)

Directed by
Written by

Vince Gilligan, Peter Gould

Other Info

Crime, Drama
IMDB Rating: 8.7

Vince Gilligan is once again at the helm. He does a great job in s2 showing how Saul becomes the lawyer he is. He was like an ADHD kid who used crime as his Ritalin. His brother knows him well and shares a lot of back story that explains Saul. Like Breaking Bad, we are led hither and yon to decide if he is a good guy or not. I am still not sure myself but I like the character!

To summarize, Saul is a lawyer who just can’t fit in any law practice. He rents a space in the back of a laundromat and starts practicing law his way. He finds loopholes but they never seem to hurt anyone, except big fat rich people, the likes that pilfer funds from old folks’ homes. I guess he’s a Robin Hood figure that way. S1 was dull in my opinion but S2 is so good, I have that same feeling when I would watch Breaking Bad. Looks like Vince Gilligan has still got it.

This is a great, engaging show that is worth your time. It raises issues of the legal system similar to many legal drama shows. I recently wrote the same thing about Billy Bob Thornton’s series Goliath. You won’t find Saul in court much but when you hear him offer legal reasoning it’s refreshing and “everyman” in style. I highly recommend (require) fans of Breaking Bad to see this. For those who like morality play in legal dramas, this is also for you. Because it lagged a lot in S1 and I’m not yet done, this is a preliminary rating. I could see this show getting to a 8 or 9/10. For now however:


My review Better Call Saul (Season 2) appeared first on Riley on Film.

Take Breaks, Retain More

Have you heard the story of the lumberjack who cut more wood by taking breaks?  If you know the tale, you know the secret: he was sharpening his axe.  Like chopping wood, studying and reading are activities that we actually do better when we take breaks.

Whether you are in school or at work, it’s important to not to overwhelm your brain. Science tells us that the mind cannot usually absorb more than three things at a time. So, if you are reading, take breaks and remember the tendency of the brain to retain 3 things in one sitting. Yellow pads are an excellent resource for this, as simple as that sounds. You’d do well to “space out” the time you have to study as well. The theory of time spaced learning got me through College Algebra at the junior college. I struggled with math up to then and a teacher shared with the class about it. My life has been improved ever since!

The theory is as follows: instead of studying to absorb new material over the course of an hour, break up your time into 15 minute increments (suggested). The data shows that memory is imprinted strongest when you start and stop a study time. Therefore, instead of having strong memories only twice in an hour, you will have them at the start and stop of each mini session. This equals more knowledge! Now this was great news to me, because I loved taking breaks from math!

When it comes to studying for memory, less is more and quality is better than quantity. Slow down and take more breaks, you’ll be amazed how much more you retain for life!

Temporarily Alive

Sounds morbid huh? Not to me. I see it as a positive, self-improvement mantra.  Most people have seen a dead person like a grandparent or friend in a casket at a funeral. We know they don’t look real. I remember my grandfathers both looked like wax. It is not their appearance that hits me the hardest it is the realization that they are not animated anymore. Some might even argue (and have) that it is because their soul has left the body. Whatever your explanation, it is undeniable that dead bodies look vastly different than living ones. I think you reach a plateau with the fear of death and you accept that everyone of us will indeed die. At that realistic point you can start to view people you encounter as really just temporarily alive.

You can ensure your words mean more because anyone you encounter, be it a boss or friend, will one day die. This can help with being direct, saying what’s most important only, and attempting to make a long lasting influence as much as possible. Of course it is first and foremost helpful in living a qualty life to accept that you yourself are only “temporarily alive.” This possibly morbid but certainly full-of-impact phrase has the power to change your life for the better. Laptop memory is affordable, but when our minds get to a certain age … all we can do is look back. Make the most of the time right now.

How might your day go differently with this mindset?