Vintage Car Show: Where’s Christine??

During our trip to Minneapolis on July, we headed out one morning to Stillman, Minnesota, a town on the Mississippi River, where we planned to have lunch. Rob’s mom, Ione, went with us.

On our way out, we stopped by a vintage car show in a local park. Ione’s neighbor, Mike, keeps his 1956 Ford Galaxy in her garage and in exchange, he drives her to the grocery store when she needs to buy stuff. We were curious about the types of cars that might be at the show. That photo above, by the way, was NOT in the show. But it was so weird looking, with all the astro turf covering it, that it could have been in a weird car show!

After Rob parked and we were walking down a shallow hill to the exhibit area, it occurred to me that car shows, antique or otherwise, aren’t on our usual agenda. In fact, I couldn’t recall the last time I’d gone to a car show. That said, there’s a certain mystique about vintage cars that intrigues me. Who were the original owners? What kind of lives had they lived? Were any of the cars haunted, like Christine, the 1958 Plymouth Fury in Stephen King’s book (1983) of the same name?

The exhibit was small, but fascinating. The windows of the cars were open and you could peer into the vast, pristine interiors that invariably featured HUGE everything. The steering wheels were usually the size of a two-year-old. The seats were leather, the glove compartments could easily accommodate several laptop computers, iPads, and leftover containers from lunch.  The back seats were spacious and looked comfortable enough to curl up on and go to sleep.

In this beauty, I could almost see Alfred Hitchcock at the wheel, headed toward the day’s filming of The Birds or 39 Steps or Rebecca.

Here’s an old fire truck – I don’t have any idea what year this is. But it was easy to imagine the firemen riding high on the truck, the tensions rising at it neared the fire.

When I first spotted this 1955 Ford, I texted it to our daughter: Is this Christine?? Goes to show how much I DON’T know about vintage cars.

But it had the same eerie feel as the car in the movie, the hood open like a giant mouth. The guy who stood beside it – who wasn’t in the photo I took – could have been a character from a King novel, a kind of down home sort of man with a quick laugh and strange eyes.

Here’s an old Corvette (I think) with a couple of other cars.

Here’s a  vintage Mustang. Years ago, one of my uncles worked for Ford and designed the original Mustang. I think he would enjoy seeing this one:

I have no idea how this truck was used or its year or make. But it’s easy to see it hauling butt on some interstate in the present, loaded up with produce – or artifacts from a UFO crash site…

I think this is Mike’s car, the one that’s kept in Ione’s garage. Then again, I may be wrong, and it may not be a Ford Galaxy at all!

I admit that when we first arrived, I expected to be bored since antique cars are definitely not my thing. But as I walked around, looked inside these beauties, studied what was under the hoods, my imagination began to play with it all. I realized it’s all creative fodder. And, who knows? In a future novel, maybe the ghost of Hitchcock will be driving that big ole black car.

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A New War??

Rob and I watched President Obama’s address to the nation on September 10. And we watched the hour afterward, where TV pundits explained – or tried to – what it all meant.

Here’s what it meant to me: I felt like I was watching George W. Bush during a similar address more than ten years ago, when he told us it was imperative that the U.S. invade Iraq, which hadn’t even been involved in 911. His remark that the U.S. will seek out and destroy ISIS wherever it is bore eerie parallels to Bush’s axis of evil speech in his state of the union address on January 29, 2002.

I clearly recall Bush’s expression during that speech, the way his eyes narrowed, his mouth twitched, the way his voice struggled for sincerity and failed utterly and completely. Obama scared me. And I voted for this man twice. The first time he ran, Rob and I stood in a line in Fort Lauderdale for five or six hours, waiting to get inside an auditorium to hear this man who spoke so movingly of change. We actually got great seats and were riveted by his energy, his idealism, his vision. Now it’s six years later and guess what? Not very much has changed.

-       Gitmo is still open for business and has fewer than 150 prisoners who are costing the U.S. untold zillions a year.  Why? National Public Radio – NPR- recently conducted a program about Gitmo. Check it out. It’s an eye opener.

-       Surveillance on Americans has expanded under Obama, not shrunk. Just ask Edward Snowden. If you’re a blogger who ever mentions politics, be sure to check your Statcounter for the number of hits you receive from government spy agencies. Are you a danger to the U.S.?

-       We are supposedly out of Afghanistan this year, but there are still about 30,000 troops there.  Why?

-       And why do we still have more than 30,000 troops in South Korean, more than sixty years after WWII?

-       And why do we, civilians who just want to get from point A to B on a plane, still have to remove our stupid shoes and put them in a stupid tray when we go through security at the airport? I mean, really. There was ONE guy way back when who had a bomb in his shoe. ONE.

-       And why are TSA employees allowed to feel you up and over when, in any other situation, this behavior would constitute sexual battery or assault?

-       Why does the military/industrial complex receive untold zillions while we are constantly told that universal health care would be untenable financially?

I am so disenchanted at this point with Obama’s promise for change that unless the democrats run a true liberal in 2016, I’ll be sitting out the election. A true liberal would be, oh, let’s see, the list is short. Forget Hillary Clinton. She’s a hawk.  I love Elizabeth Warren, the senator from Massachusetts who has never backed down from a fight; Bernie Sanders, the self-proclaimed socialist who is up there on my hero list with Nelson Mandela; or Wendy Davis,  currently a democratic Texas senator who is running for governor.

She’s the woman who filibustered for 11 hours to block a truly restrictive abortion bill for that state. Think about that. You talk for 11 hours. You can’t sit down. I don’t know if you can even pause for a sip of water. I suppose they have time for a bathroom break, but maybe not. It’s Texas, after all, one of the most right-wing states in this country that pretty much hates women.

And that’s the thing, really. Our national politics are intimately threaded through our international politics. Eisenhower warned us about the military/industrial complex more than half a century ago. No one listened.

You notice how gray Obama has gotten in the last two years? My sense about this man is that he meant well, he really did. He hoped to initiate significant change, hoped to engage a recalcitrant congress, to work with them, but encountered one cement wall after another. When he rallied the U.S. military to save thousands of people stranded on a mountaintop where ISIS had chased them, I cheered for him. Humanitarian efforts are where we should we putting our military might.

When he started bombing missions to stop ISIS, I got nervous. Yes, two freelance journalists had been beheaded on You Tube, a provocation, an invitation to engage. Yeah, it’s barbaric, it’s Medieval – but Saudia Arabia, our ally – has beheaded 16-30 citizens this month (depending on which source you read) and one of those beheadings was for sorcery, which in that country might be nothing more than a weather prediction.

When I listened to Obama’s speech the other night, I realized he had caved, that he was channeling Bush, that not much has changed. For some reason, the consistent paradigm of US foreign policy is that we must be the world cop. We must intervene, conquer, and of course, always, “guard and defend our interests in Mideast” – i.e. OIL.

That’s tragic and sad. We could do so much better.And if the paradigm doesn’t change of its own volition, something will force that change.

 

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Irish Flash Dancing

This one will surely make you smile!

 

 

 

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Erica’s Synchros

 

Recently we received two synchronicity stories from Erica. They are quite different from each other and illustrate how synchronicity can manifest itself in any number of ways.

The first one involves a date, the second is about a book.

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Perhaps you are too young to remember that on 15 August 1945 WWII in S.E. Asia ended and was won by the USA.

I was born in 1935 in then Netherlands Indies, now Indonesia. I was baptized and raised Roman Catholic. As a child I lived through and survived the Japanese occupation (1941 – 1945).  My mother was very devoted to Mother Mary, the Holy Virgin.

During the war every day she prayed Hail Marys, begging the Holy Mother to please put an end to this horrible war. At last on August 15-  which in the Catholic church is the holiday of Mary Ascension – the Japanese surrendered  and that was the end of the war in S.E. Asia and the Pacific, thanks to U.S. General Mac Arthur.

To my mother this date of August 15 was PROOF that  the Holy  Mother had answered her prayers ! Coincidence?

In the 1960s I stopped going to church. I did not lose my faith, I abandoned religion.

Like your blog a lot.

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On a lazy rainy afternoon in the summer of 2007 I sat down reading “The Four Agreements” by  Don Miguel Ruiz.

When I  finished and closed the book I thought to myself, in Dutch, “This book is so good.” Then I decided to watch TV. The first thing I saw on the screen was Oprah Winfrey  throwing her arms high up in the air shouting, “That book is so good!”

Don Miguel Ruiz was her guest in that show! Everyone in the audience got a copy of that so good book.

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Only Erica can determine what these synchros meant for her. But the second one, at least to me, suggests she was clearly in the flow, in tune, experiencing that deeper reality in an immediate, personal way.


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Story bundle

One afternoon, 15 years ago, I walked into a bar in Los Angeles and pulled up a stool next to Billy Dee Williams. I apologized for being late. I’d driven up from San Diego where I was visiting with a cousin. Even though I had started out early, traffic was nearly deadlocked at times and the 125-mile drive took more than three hours.

Billy and I talked about our novel PSI/NET and the plans for a sequel. The black protagonist was a retired remote viewer, or psychic spy, who re-activates and ultimately saves the nation’s capital from a backpack nuclear bomb. We also talked about the possibility of a movie or TV series, starring Billy, of course, as the protagonist, Trent Calloway.

Billy did most of the publicity for PSI/NET, but I  joined him in Atlanta where we made joint appearances at a science fiction writers conference and radio shows. I clearly recall one stop on the tour. We arrived at a black-owned radio station in downtown Atlanta in a limo that the publisher had provided. Billy had his window open and people on the street recognized him. He obviously enjoyed the recognition.

We entered the radio station, and I couldn’t help noticing that everyone working there was black, and so were the guests—except me. As the show began, I sat between Billy Dee and four-time world heavyweight champion Evander Hollyfield. I remember the radio personality asking Billy to repeat some of his famous lines from Lady Sings the Blues…and then, oddly enough, he would turn to me and say, “Now, Rob, you say the lines.” Kind of funny. I also remember asking Hollyfield what he ate for breakfast while he was in training. His answer: two baked chicken breasts. Yeah, breakfast…after running several miles. I didn’t ask him about his ear, but I couldn’t help taking a peek to see if I could see a scar.

I was thinking about all this stuff today because that novel, PSI/NET came out in a special e-book promotion along with five other science fiction novels. It’s called a ‘story bundle’ and for the next 20 days readers get all six books, but pay only what they want, a minimum of $3 for the bundle. Readers who pay $15 or more get even more novels from a secondary list. Trish paid $16 and got 13 novels. Sure, most of these novels, like PSI/NET, have been previously published, but the price is right and the stories are great.

So if you’re a science fiction/fantasy fan, take a look here. The novels are categorized as a sub-genre, cyber punk, which is defined as stories in a near future-dystopian setting, usually featuring high tech tools. I’m not sure that PSI/NET exactly fits that mold, but I’m glad to have it in the bundle.

I was thinking there’s no synchronicity in this post, but then I realized there actually was one. I wanted to get this post up as quickly as possible, Thursday being the earliest I could do so. That’s when I realized that I was writing about a story of a terrorist attack on the nation’s capital in a post being published  on 9/11.

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Nika & Small Claims Court

Nika and Noah, enjoying a great view

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On August 29, we posted a story about our daughter’s dog, Nika, who had been hit by a car in June. Fortunately, she wasn’t badly injured. But the young man who hit her took Megan to small claims court  for the damages to his car caused when her dog hit his car.

The case was selected by Judge Judy, but the young man chose not to appear on her show – even though he stood to win the entire $1700 he was claiming. Before Megan had to appear at the mediation, I asked a psychic friend what she picked up on this. This woman is a TV writer whose psychic abilities she keeps to herself. Here was her response to my question about how this mediation hearing would unfold:

Unfortunately there feels like some law or statute that they can pin on Megan.  I don’t think this man is a sympathetic person to the court, but he may have her on a legal technicality.  I don’t think he’s going to get all the money he’s asking for.  He would have done better on Judge Judy.  He was right to be worried about being made fun of by her.  He feels almost like he has some sort of disorder, like Aspergers.  He just keeps repeating the same sentence over and over, which means he can’t let this go.  The root of it feels biological.  He appears unreasonable but he truly just gets stuck on something and he can’t let go.  It even exhausts him.  He’ll be talking about this 20 years from now as if it happened yesterday.  He might be right, but nobody likes him.

It’s like:  Did you run that stop sign?  And the answer is yes.  So Megan needs to have a good explanation for going against what the law is.  They will still find that the law was violated, but she could mitigate the cost.  Work on her reasonable explanation.  

Today, September 9, Megan arrived promptly at court at 9:00 a.m., as the summons stipulated. She didn’t get in to the mediation until 10:45. Two women were mediating. The driver stated his case, Megan stated hers. Megan explained that her dog had seen a squirrel and had raced away from her, still leashed, and that there was a video to prove that she was still on her leash. The young man said he couldn’t stop his car to avoid hitting Nika as she ran out into the road.

Megan explained that she was a dog walker and artist who lived paycheck to paycheck and couldn’t pay him a lump sum. Her vet bill alone for this fiasco had been nearly $500.  She offered $800 payable at $100 a month for eight months. The young man refused. Megan pointed out that he never asked her how her dog was doing, what her injuries were.

“Would that have made a difference in your willingness to pay me?” he asked.

“It would have made me less resistant to discuss things,” she replied.

And he said, “Your dog is irrelevant.”

Yeah? Irrelevant?

At this point, Megan broke down in tears and the mediators asked the man to leave the room. They asked Megan some questions about her work, her finances, and she explained her situation. What are you willing to offer him? $900 max, she said, paid out over 9 months. They asked her to leave the room and the young man returned. Megan believes the mediators convinced him to take her offer.

“I wish you’d told me from the beginning what you could afford to pay,” he said to her. “Then we could have avoided all this.”

He seemed to be missing the point that he had hit the dog with his car.

Two years ago, Nika was attacked by a pitt bull as she and Megan’s friend, Tim, were about to get in the elevator to go downstairs for a walk. The vet bill was $1,200. Megan didn’t take the man to small claims court. She tried to get him to settle amicably. She’s not someone who rushes to the law for recompense. In the end, she was reimbursed just $200 for that fiasco.

When I wrote to my friend about the small claims settlement, she replied:

So the “court” was on Megan’s side but technically she had to be found guilty.  $900 is better than 1700.  

 Megan needs to do some meditating on all the dog issues.  If any insight is passed along to me, I’ll share it with you, but this is old, deep stuff she’s working out.  When I ask for help understanding it, it’s like going down a long dark tunnel.  It feels like I’m looking at Shakespeare type clothing.  And this sounds really weird – only it feels like the future.  I see a triangle connection.  I have no clue what any of this means.  But the triangle has two long sides and a shorter bottom, like a candy corn.  And it’s on its side so the point is pointing toward San Diego (Is that east from me?  I think it is).  This has nothing to do with San Diego, it’s only a direction sign for me.  

I also see a third thing coming but she can cut the ties.  Imagine a big pair of scissors and snipping to the left and right.  Let this go.  She will stand up a happier woman and be done with this thing.  But her dog thanks her for remembering the bond they made.  She’s done enough.  It’s like she took on this payback to prove how sorry she was about something in the past/future, or a loyalty issue.  She’s proven it, now she can move on.   When she snips the ties, money will come more easily and paying him off will be a lighter experience, not the dirge it is now.  I feel like she’ll sell a small painting, or something.  It’s kind of a gift after this test she’s gone through.   

I emailed my friend’s insights to Megan, and she’s still puzzling over it. My friend was certainly on track with the young man’s personality. I did some research today on Asperger’s – and lack of compassion, obsessiveness, and repetitive behaviors are some of the symptoms.

Onward.

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The ‘Sailing Rocks’ of Death Valley

I first read about these large stones in Death Valley that supposed moved on their own back in the late 1980s. Specifically, I remember comments by skeptics, who found the idea hilarious. They suggested that the people who were reporting that the stones rolled across the valley on their own were scientifically challenged. In other words, wackos. If the stones did move, it was the work of pranksters. End of story. I wish I still had that debunking article.

Yes, the skeptics said the stones had trails behind them that seemed to indicate movement, but the logical answer was that someone pushed them across the valley floor—known as Racetrack Playa— or created the lines behind them.

They assured us that stones‑especially large ones weighing hundreds of pounds, don’t move on their own. They used this example as a way of showing the gullibility of people who believed in the paranormal, and accepted things that weren’t scientifically sound.

Well, now we know for a fact that the stones do move across Racetrack Playa, and pranksters are not the cause. We also know the mechanism by which they move.

It’s an interesting example of the process that takes place when the veracity of an idea shifts from the realm of the impossible and implausible to acceptance.

First there is ridicule. Then when evidence is presented, which might include measurements, strong doubts are raised and the evidence is dismissed because the idea is still preposterous, outside of scientific reality.

Finally, more evidence is presented and the explanation for what seems impossible is linked to a scientific truism. In the case of the so-called ‘sailing rocks,’ forces of erosion—water and ice—move the rocks along. The theory was supported by GPS readings and video proof. The skeptics accept the explanation, and they tell us that they knew it all along, that it’s another victory for science over nonsense. No alien intervention or mysterious magnetic forces were involved.

The problem is that the debunkers would not have solved the mystery. Because there was no mystery. Rocks don’t move on their own. Period. End of story.

Fortunately, there are still scientists who are curious about the unknown, and not simply in the business of defending the current scientific paradigm. Some tried to show that dust devils or strong straight-line winds moved the stones. But no one had seen the rocks moving.

In some cases the rocks’ trails were measured to be as long as 820 feet (250 meters), according to Slate.com. Some of the trails formed a graceful curve, while other trails created a straight line, then an abrupt shift to the left or right, which further baffled researchers.

In 2006, Ralph Lorenz, a NASA scientist investigating weather conditions on other planets (hello aliens!), took an interest in Death Valley. In particular, Lorenz wanted to compare the meteorological conditions of Death Valley to those near Ontario Lacus, a vast hydrocarbon lake on Titan, a moon of Saturn.

That pursuit led him to take an interest in the enigmatic sailing stones of Racetrack Playa.

Lorenz developed a kitchen-table model — using an ordinary Tupperware container — to show how the rocks might glide across the surface of the lake bed.

“I took a small rock and put it in a piece of Tupperware, and filled it with water so there was an inch of water with a bit of the rock sticking out,” Lorenz told Smithsonian.com.

After putting the container in the freezer, Lorenz ended up with a small slab of ice with a rock embedded in it. By placing the ice-bound rock in a large tray of water with sand at the bottom, all he had to do was gently blow on the rock to get it to move across the water.

And as the ice-embedded rock moved, it scraped a trail in the sand at the tray’s bottom. Lorenz devised his clever experiment by researching how the buoyancy of ice can cause large rocks, when encased in ice, to move by floating along tidal beaches in the Arctic Sea.

The ultimate proof came when James Norris, a research engineer, attached GPS to stones and set up video cameras. The right conditions eventually occurred and he had documented Lorenz’s theory.  

 

 

 

 

 

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The Giver

If you haven’t read Lois Lowry’s book The Giver, then do yourself a favor. Download it for four bucks and change. Buy the hard copy. You won’t regret it. This book, published in 1993, is one of those dystopian novels where the world is laid out through the eyes of a single character – a young boy named Jonas.

His world is fairly bleak. He lives with his parents- non-genetic parents, parents who were chosen for him when he was an infant – and a sister, who was chosen the same way. His father is a Nurturer, who tends to the Newborns in the community, and his mother is a judge who keeps track of the various infractions committed by community residents.  The power mongers are on the council and their decisions are binding, iron-clad.

With each birthday, children in the community receive certain gifts. Nines receive a bike. Twelves receive their “assignment” for life. Everything in this community is monitored for the degree of sameness the residents exhibit.  Jonas, at his twelfth birthday, is assigned the position of Receiver, an important and enigmatic position that places him in the internship of The Giver, the man who holds the community memories.

Our daughter recently read this book for the first time and called when she finished it. “Oh my God. I cried at the end of this. We have to go see the movie the next time I come home. I’m blown away by this book.”

The movie? This was the first I’d heard of it. “Who’s in it?”

“Jeff Bridges plays the Giver and Meryll Streep is the elder on the council.”

I Googled it. The reviews weren’t great. But anything with Bridges or Streep in it is good enough for me. So when Megan came home for the weekend before her 25th birthday, so we could celebrate it with her a week early, she, Rob and I went to see The Giver.

For more than 90 minutes, I sat in this darkened theater completely enthralled. I had re-read the book before Megan came home, so it would be fresh in my mind. I realized that what had satisfied me twenty years ago when I’d read it had left me wanting this time, dissatisfied with the ending. But in the movie, that dissatisfaction vanished.

Movies provide various viewpoints and some of the most poignant scenes are those between Bridges as the Giver and Jonas as the Receiver. We come to realize that after whatever cataclysmic event changed things, the status quo (Council of elders) chose sameness over diversity. Through an unexplained technology and genetic engineering, they somehow erased the collective memories of the very emotions that make us human – love, passion, sensuality, sexuality, pain, sadness, grief, triumph, the tragedy of wars and their horrors.

Bridges is terrific as The Giver. His own daughter was selected as a Receiver a decade ago but as she was given the memories, she couldn’t stand it and asked to be “released.” And this word, released, has a precise meaning in this society of precise vocabulary.

In the movie, in the moment when Jonas actually understands and sees – through video – what this word actually means, is a powerful turning point. Jonas watches his dad – the nurturer- insert a syringe into the head of an identical twin whose weight isn’t up to snuff. His father doesn’t seem to understand that he is killing the twin.

In so many ways, the ending of the movie surpasses the book’s ending. This may be due to the fact that we see the moment when Jonas reaches the boundary of memories – and moves beyond it. Once he’s beyond it, the people of the community  experience the return of memories of love and hate, war and peace, all the emotions that make us human.

Lois Lowry, as a writer, a novelist, set these ideas into motion. But  Hollywood ran with them and made them real in  a dynamic, visceral sense, And I haven’t even mentioned the character who is pivotal to the second plot point in the story, an infant named Gabriel…

You’re in for a treat with this one.

 

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UFOs in Pennsylvania?

This video is interesting and is best seen on a full screen. Since the local PA news covered it in late August the story has since been picked up by Good Morning America. I originally ran across it on Whitley Strieber’s website.

 

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The Masque of Synchronicity

I began my Tuesday evening meditation class recently with a quote.

“Meditation takes us from survival to creation; from separation to connection; from imbalance to balance; from emergency mode to growth-and-repair mode; and from the limiting emotions of fear, anger, and sadness to the expansive emotions of joy, freedom, and love. Basically, we go from clinging to the known to embracing the unknown.”             – Dr. Joe Dispenza, You Are the Placebo

As soon as I mentioned the name of the author, one of the students, a middle-aged man named Gary who was taking my class for the first time, called out. “I know Dispenza. I read that book and went to his three-day workshop. He’s fantastic.”

After class, I spent half an hour talking to Gary about the workshop, and his story was rife with synchronicity. Earlier this summer, he was with a friend who said she wanted to go to a bookstore and find something to read. Once they arrived, she had no idea what she wanted. So Gary walked up to a nearby bookshelf and just randomly snatched a book. It was Dispenza’s Placebo. He’d never heard of the book or author. He took a quick look at it and handed it to his friend. “Get this one.”

That weekend he read the book from cover to cover, spending nine hours in one stretch studying it. When he finished, he wanted to find out more about Dispenza and his workshops, so he went to his website. To his surprise, Dispenza was leading a workshop the following weekend in Miami, 70 miles to the south. He signed up for it, and the following Thursday took his 88-year-old mother with him for the two-hour introductory session.

Afterwards, they headed home and he kept wishing that he had someplace to stay that was closer so he wouldn’t have to get up at 5 a.m. and fight traffic to Miami Beach in order to arrive on time. He was so focused on the idea of a closer location that his mother asked him what he was thinking about. As he explained how he wanted to apply Dispenza’s technique for changing your reality to his current issue, his cell phone rang.

It was a banker friend who had some information about a money transfer. The banker asked him what he was doing and Gary told him about the workshop that he would be attending all weekend, driving back and forth from West Palm Beach. “Why don’t you stay in Miami?” the banker asked, then added: “I’ve got the perfect place for you. It’s a two-bedroom condo. It goes for $685 a night, but I can get it for $180 a night. The owner is my client.”

When Gary asked where it was, the address was only five blocks from the workshop. “Turn around right now and go there,” the banker said. “I’ll set it up for you.” Gary and his mother stayed the weekend on Miami Beach, and he walked to the workshop.

When I came home from the class, I told Trish about Gary’s story. She had written a blog post on Dispenza’s book and now here was someone who had attended the recent workshop in Miami. We might’ve gone to it ourselves, but that weekend we were out of town.

I wasn’t going to write anything here about Gary’s synchro, because we’ve already written about Dispenza and his new book. But then something peculiar happened. Back at my desk, I’d returned to working on my next book: Bump in the Night: Ghosts, Spirits & Alien Encounters. I had just Googled a short story by Edgar Allan Poe Poe called, Masque of the Red Death, that I was considering for a chapter on ghosts in literature. I scrolled down the article, which was a summary of the eerie tale about a ghost wearing a disguise to a party of wealthy people who thought they were insulated against an epidemic called the red death that was ravaging the countryside.

Halfway down the article, I came to an ad inserted into it. The ad was for You Are the Placebo and featured a photo of Dispenza. What an odd place for it—a book about healing in the midst of a story about disease and death. And what timing. Synchronicity. I knew then I needed to write Gary’s story. Thanks, Edgar.

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Melissa & Her Grandmother

Today while I was at lunch with a friend, I received a text message from Melissa, who lives in New York. We’ve posted her synchros before.

My Nana just passed away.

I know Melissa’s family from when we lived in Boynton Beach. Her youngest sister is a friend of our daughter’s and Melissa used to babysit Megan. I’d also met her grandmother and knew she’d been experiencing health problems. We’d  seen Melissa just a week ago, when she was in Florida visiting her family.

I texted Melissa my condolences.

I’m so sad, she wrote.  She was so lively the days I was there. I also had a synchro. After it happened and I was in the shower crying/sad, I asked her if she’d please say hi. I’m not ready and wanted her around.  A little while later, my husband and I turned on the TV. The History Channel is showing the Hatfields & McCoys.

Nana’s maiden name is McCoy. I took it as a sign.

 I was wondering what she would do because she didn’t believe in anything like that.

Later in the day, I received another text from Melissa:

Told my mom (Merilee) about the synchro. She was quietly stunned. I asked why. She said she went to lie down and turned on the TV in her room and that’s what was on for her, too.

I asked if her mom – Marilee – just turned on the TV, and didn’t go looking for the history channel.

The way she said it was that when she turned on the TV the history channel was just on. She still didn’t see it as any big synchro until I told her about my synchro earlier in the day.

I asked Melissa about the times. She had texted me at 11:30 a.m.   She says that when her synchro with the names occurred, her mother was still at her mother’s house, and that her own synchro happened later. So did the History Channel run this same show at different times? I will have to check on this. What seems clear, though, is that spirits use whatever they can to communicate with us – objects, music, animals – even a TV show.

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Astrology & Synchronicity=Astro-nicity

Some astrologers disagree, but it’s clear to me that synchronicity—meaningful coincidence— is at the heart of astrology. Take a look at a summary of my August horoscope from Susan Miller’s Astrology Zone, and what has unfolded this month.

 This will be a major month for you, where so much can be accomplished in regard to home, property, and family matters, as well as concerning your career news, that it looks like you may be jumping for joy.

 As you enter August, your home appears to be a big focus, and you may be busy calling in the painters, making important repairs, or comparing paint chips, fabric swatches, and kitchen top samples (as a few examples) to give your home decor a sleek upgrade.

 Taurus, ruled by graceful Venus, has strong links to the land and to flowers, trees, and other greenery, so if you live in the country (or suburbia) and want to landscape the land around your house, do it now. City dwellers can add flowering plants and small trees to their home to give it life and beauty. If money is tight, you can simply add some new accessories or do a thorough cleaning job, tossing out items you no longer need.

 So how does that fit my everyday reality? In mid-August, we received a notice from the Village of Wellington that our barrel tile roof needs cleaning and we had 30 days to get it done. We’ve received these annoying notices before, annoying particularly because the banks that own the rundown foreclosed houses in the neighborhood ignore the village’s citations and let the grass and weeds grow and the houses deteriorate. Fortunately, there are only a couple in our neighborhood.

Grudgingly, I always comply. I knew the roof was dirty, but was waiting for the end of the rainy season. Two days after receiving the notice, Trish found a card from a pressure cleaning service on our door with a quote for cleaning the roof. I figured they must have accessed public records and saw that we had received a notice about the roof. I called the number and set up a date to get the job done.

Meanwhile, our palm trees were badly in need of trimming to remove dead fronds, seed pods and remains of fronds trimmed off earlier. I used to handle this task, but the palms have outgrown my ladder and it’s a dangerous task. I was mentioning this problem to my neighbor and saying that I needed to hire a landscaper to take care of it.

The next morning we heard a knock at the door and there was a guy from a landscape company asking if we wanted ouf palms trimmed. No one had come to our door with such an inquiry for several years. I hired him on the spot. Afterwards, my neighbor came over and said he was amazed by how quickly I took care of the trees. Then he was even more amazed when I told him that I had made no effort whatsoever to find a landscaper. Instead, the landscaper found me.

The next day, two young guys who owned the pressure cleaning company showed up and went to work. When they finished, I asked one of them if they had gotten my address from the village. He said, “I sometimes look at the public records to find people who need pressure cleaning, but I didn’t do it this time. I was working in the neighborhood last week and went around leaving my cards.”

So it was synchronicity on both jobs—the roof cleaning and tree trimming. And, just like Susan Miller’s horoscope said, I was spending time this month taking care of domestic fixup and cleanup matters. It was synchronicity all the way around.

Oh, and that comment about good career news. In mid-August, I also heard that my young adult novel, Seventh Born, will be coming out in September in a print edition, and also that my meditation book, The Jewel in the Lotus: Meditation for Busy Minds, will be coming out as an e-book first about the same time. I’m not exactly jumping for joy, as Susan Miller said, but it’s definitely good news that these books are coming out.

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And to Megan: HAPPY 25!!

 


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What Goes Around…

Nika at the beach

Back in June, our daughter, Megan, was walking her dog, Nika, and two of her clients’ dogs, when Nika apparently saw a squirrel. She tore away from Megan, her leash flapping against the ground as she raced after the squirrel and into the busy road in front of her building. A car hit Nika, who was catapulted into the air and slammed to the asphalt.  Megan thought the blow had killed her and ran over to her, picked her up, and got Nika into her car, with the other two dogs she’d been walking.

She called us as she sped to the vet’s office, and was so hysterical she could barely speak.  When she ran into Pet Smart, shouting that her dog had been struck by a car, they took her immediately.  While she was waiting for results of the X-rays, she received a call from a local policeman.

Apparently the kid driving the car had parked and marched into the lobby of her building, demanding to know who was going to pay for the dent in his car. He also called the cops and filed a police report. The cop told her that since her dog was off the leash (Nika’s leash was on her, she jerked away from Megan), she probably would be liable because of leash laws in the county.

Her apartment building is loaded with security cameras and there’s a video of the incident showing Nika on her leash.

After this, endless text messages ensued in which this kid demanded that Megan pay for the damages, that her dog had hit his car  - not the other way around – and she was liable.  When he had an estimate done on the damage, he texted Megan that she owed him $1,400. I find it difficult to believe that a 40-45 pound dog could cause that much damage to a car. Fortunately, Nika was just bruised and not injured, which struck me as rather miraculous.

The kid kept texting Megan and she ignored the texts. She finally replied that he had hit her dog, not the other way around, and that he should pay her vet bill of several hundred bucks and should go through his insurance company. He said he didn’t want to filer a claim with his insurance company because his rates would go up. Megan told him she didn’t owe him anything. He then threatened to take her to small claims court. She blocked his number.

In early August, she received a summons to small claims court. This kid was now claiming she owed him nearly $1700, an amount that included court costs. The date of her appearance is September 9 and it’s for mediation, where the parties attempt to reach an agreement.

Today, Megan received a letter from the producers of Judge Judy, an arbitration based reality show,  informing her that her case was being considered for the show.

It turns out that she received the letter by mistake and was  mistakenly referred to as the person who had brought the claim.  At any rate, Megan called the producer and had a long chat with the woman.  She agreed to be on the show, but that will happen only if the kid agrees as well.

If he agrees, then the show flies them both out to LA, (hopefully on separate planes!) puts them up in a hotel for two nights, all expenses are paid. In addition, Megan can take a friend whose airfare and expenses are also covered. Plus, she would  receive $200 for each day of filming AND the show pays the amount the kid is asking for in his small court claim.

The synchronistic irony? The filming is September 9 – the same day she’s supposed to be in court – and 10th. The producer said that wouldn’t be a problem. The show simply calls the court in Orlando and has the hearing pushed into October. I’ a bit puzzled about how a TV show has this sort of clout, but…

If the kid is basically after money, then this is his ticket to paradise. However, a national audience will hear that he hit a young woman’s dog and then demanded that she pay for the damage to his car. Does he want to expose himself in that way? Hello, world, I’m a cold-hearted SOB… How many people would do such a thing? Suppose he had hit a child instead of a dog? Would he demand that the parents pay for the damage?

Stay tuned. We’ll know more next week.

 

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A ‘Life as Illusion’ synchro

I was getting ready to teach a meditation class recently at Moksha Yoga Studio, and was trying to light a candle. I say ‘trying’ because when I open the pack of matches that I’d found on the shelf, it was filled with little sheets of paper instead of matches. Strange. What would anyone use such paper for, too small to clean glasses and not the right kind of paper, either.

I shrugged and found matches in my backpack in a pouch with some jasmine incense. I picked up a large candle out of a basket, and lit the candle wick. But it immediately went out. I tried again, same result.

That’s when I realized, duh, it was an electric candle. A very well disguised one, because I’m used to using electric candles in the gym when I teach yoga. I thought, well, that’s kind of a synchro…fake matches…fake candle. But what does it mean?

Maybe it symbolizes that something here wasn’t seem real. Or maybe nothing was real. After all, in Zen, the everyday world is considered an illusion. Meditation, meanwhile, moves us into a state of awareness where the physical world no longer seems so real. It could’ve been that.

Or, on a more mundane level, the alternative was that my class itself—at least on that day—wasn’t real. In fact, no one showed up, except Trish, and we decided to head home. But first I turned off the electric candle and dropped the fake matches in the basket next to it.

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Where the Dolphins Ended Up

 

Back in September 2013, our daughter, Megan, had her first exhibit of her dolphin art. As a result of that show, she sold three of her dolphin pieces, and others followed later on.

The first piece, which had hung on our living room wall, went to our friend and novelist Nancy Pickard.  A second one went to our friend and fellow blogger, Nancy Atkinson. A third and fourth eventually went to a local couple, Rose and Dwayne, who is an artist himself.

I’m always curious what people do with the art they buy, and now I know!  Nancy Pickard’s piece was the largest and she said it was going to look great on her bedroom wall. A few days ago, she sent me a photo of the dolphin in her redecorated, very Zen bedroom. The dolphin looks quite pleased, with plenty of color to swim in.

 

Nancy Atkinson thought her dolphin would fit perfectly in the condo she and her husband own on Maui, and asked Megan to ship it to Hawaii. She gave the dates when she was going to be in Hawaii, and asked Megan to mail it to that address. Mercury, which rules travel and communication in astrology, was retrograde during that period and I had reservations about the painting being mailed during the retro.. Long story short, the dolphin never arrived and eventually found its way back to Megan’s apartment. She subsequently mailed it to Nancy’s home on the mainland. So her dolphin traveled more than 11,000 miles before Nancy finally received it. The full story is here. Her dolphin, whom I fondly call Nomad, will probably end up in Hawaii.

The dolphin that Rose and Dwayne bought was framed and hung on a coquina rock wall in their living room. I think this dolphin looks quite happy, too!

Rob and I also bought several of her pieces and framed the smallest. That painting graces the living room wall with two other pieces that are done in panels. We call that wall The Dolphins’ Place.


Thanks to her Paint Nite classes, she is now expanding to other types of paintings and uses acrylics.

Nothing like bragging about your kid, huh?

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MacGregor Synchro-Sailors

 

This is a strange little synchro tale. I’m working on deadline on a new book that I want to get out as an e-book by Halloween, or actually a week or two in advance. It’s called Bump in the Night: Ghosts, Spirits & Alien Encounters.

So a few minutes after I talked with the publisher about the deadline, a friend Kathy sent Trish a website called MacGregor Sailors—it’s about sailing and what does it feature, but an article entitled, of all things:  ”Things that Go Bump in the Night.”

The article has nothing to do with ghosts, spirits, or aliens. It’s a story about an overnight sailing trip and the captain getting up about five times during the night to fix things that came loose…hence, things that go bump in the night. The next day, however, was great sailing all the way home, he wrote.

I asked Trish how Kathy stumbled onto that website, but she didn’t know.

Hopefully, this weird little synchronicity means that I’ll have clear sailing ahead with this book that has stumped me for awhile. But now I’m moving ahead.

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Mirage Men

 

That’s the name of a new documentary film that that portends to show that UFOs are nothing more than a complicated decades long effort by the U.S. government to deceive its citizens in a grand disinformation project. The basis for the allegations is a 2010 book by the same name.

For years, ufologists have suspected that the government was hiding information on UFOs and the film contends that the allegation is true. However, what they were hiding was the disinformation program. Mirage Men even uncovers a former government agent, Richard Doty, who played the role of one of the notorious Men in Black.

“The UFO community is a textbook case of a gullible group susceptible to manipulation. Having spent too long watching the skies and The X-Files, it’s implied, they’ll readily swallow whatever snippet of ‘evidence’ suits their grand theory,” according to an article in The Guardian about the documentary. The article was recently re-published here in Raw Story.

The Guardian tells us that Mirage Men “unearths compelling evidence that UFO folklore was actually fabricated by the US government. Rather than covering up the existence of aliens, could it be that the real conspiracy has been persuading us to believe in them?”

If what The Guardian says about the documentary is true, then it sounds like a reductionist simplification of the UFO phenomenon. In other words, since there is a documented pattern of disinformation regarding UFOs, then there are no ‘real’ UFOs.

As I was reading the article, I kept wondering if there’s nothing to UFOs, and ufologists are basically nut cases, then why the need for disinformation? What’s the point?
Finally, in the last paragraph the writer seems to wake up to that fact when he concludes: “As always in the conspiracy-theory hall of mirrors, it’s possible to flip the hypothesis on its head: what if the lies and hoaxes Mirage Men reveals are simply a smokescreen for the fact that the authorities really do know secrets about extraterrestrials? What better way to conceal them than by getting ‘found out’ in their disinformation tactics?…Perhaps we’re no closer to knowing if the truth really is out there, but we can be sure the lies are.

We’ll probably watch the documentary and hopefully it won’t be as one-sided as the article implies. Clearly, there is more to the UFO phenomenon than disinformation. 

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The Star Synchro

This synchronicity comes from Melissa, whose synchros we’ve posted before. When our daughter was much younger, Melissa used to babysit her. She and her husband, Jon, now live in New York.

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As you may or may not know, Coca-Cola has a campaign going where you “share a Coke with ____” and the bottles/cans have various names on them.  We have yet to find one with either Melissa or Jon…

Yesterday morning Jennifer (Melissa’s sister) texted me a picture of a 12-pack of Coke and it said “Share a Coke with a Star.”  She tried to find a single can or bottle for me but there were none, so we had to settle for the picture.  Star is our cat. Here’s Star contemplating the Coke can with her name on it.

Fast forward to dinnertime that same day – we ordered Chinese take-out, which usually comes with a soda or two, depending on what we’ve ordered.  Jon was emptying the bag of take-out, not paying too much attention.  As I walked by I noticed we had gotten a can of Coke (they usually send Sprite!) and I thought, “That can better say ‘Star’ on it…” We had been having a pretty bad couple of days and when I picked it up, sure enough, it said ‘Star’ and I just held it up to Jon.

I took it as a sign from the universe that things will be looking up, and it worked for at least a moment, everyone was cheered up!

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Later that same day, Melissa emailed me again and said she now believed the synchro was actually a trickster. She and Jon had rented a car so they could drive to a party in Connecticut.  The rental was pricey – $160, but she knew about the price  ahead of time.

“The toll pass we got didn’t work and we were stuck in the EZ pass lane and got yelled at by a cop and then got lost even with directions and the GPS. I had an anxiety attack and we didn’t make it to the party and went home.”

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This is how the trickster seems to work at times. Hey, here’s a synchro for you, and what a good one it is. Then, later, things turn out differently than you expected and you can almost hear the trickster laughing.

 

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Mass Sighting Over Houston?

The coverage by a local TV station in Houston about this mass sighting is measured but not dismissive. Could this evolve into another Phoenix lights?

 

 

 

 

 

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Ferguson

 

It’s difficult to write about what has happened and is still happening in Ferguson, Missouri. During the past ten days, there have been times when the streets of this small Midwestern town resembled images beamed from Baghdad.  Military tanks and military Humvees. Cops decked out like soldiers in full military gear – gas masks,  automatic rifles, even guys riding on top of these huge tanks like snipers, ready to take out whoever misbehaved.

All of this was the result of local cops shooting an unarmed black man, Michael Brown, 18.  Apparently this killing is pretty much business as usual in Ferguson, a town that is predominately black, but whose 53 police officers are mostly white – 50 out of the 53.

What really appalled me about this story was the revelation that the Pentagon sold  surplus equipment from the battles in Iraq and Afghanistan to local U.S police departments under something called the Defense Department’s 1033 program. Its motto is “from warfighter to crimefighter.” These local PDs can also purchase  similar equipment through grants from the Department of Homeland Security.

What business does the Pentagon have selling this surplus equipment to tiny police departments like Ferguson where, until the death of Michael Brown, there had been no murders in 2014? Does our community have such equipment?

Night after night, Rob and I watched these events on MSNBC, where commentator Chris Hayes did a stellar job of explaining what was happening. The media in Ferguson were hampered by the closing of airspace above Ferguson to any planes except police choppers. It meant that journalists were denied the larger picture that media choppers might have provided.

Watching these protestors, I was reminded of all the protests during the Vietnam War. In May 1970, friends and I drove from upstate New York to Washington DC for one of the largest protests against the war, the Kent State shootings, and Nixon’s invasion of Cambodia. There were more than 100,000 protestors.

We crashed in a city park that night, with hundreds of other protesters, and readied our meager and ridiculous bandanas with Vaseline, which was supposed to stop the effects of tear gas. Toward dawn, we were chased out of the park by cops and took to the streets.

There’s a momentum that builds in crowds this large. You can taste it, feel it, are swept up in it. People are unified by a singular vision or cause and seek to right a wrong. But in the courts, righting what is wrong takes time. In spite of that protest in 1970, Nixon wasn’t impeached until 1974.

Darren Wilson, the cop who shot Michael Brown, has his side of the story. But he hasn’t told it yet. He’s on paid administrative leave. Nearly two weeks after the shooting, the cops have yet to release details of the autopsy, the police report, or anything else that is relevant. Instead, they have released video that shows a convenience store robbery that may have involved Brown, but which they admit had nothing to do with why Wilson shot Brown. That video seems tailored to disparage Brown’s character.

More than 70,000 people have signed a petition urging the prosecutor to recuse himself from the case.  He and the Missouri governor have sparred over this publicly. The governor has the power to appoint a special prosecutor, but he has said that Prosecutor McCulluch should do it on his own. So far he hasn’t.

Prosecutor McCulluch himself has a rather interesting history that could bias this case: his father, a white cop, was shot and killed by a black man.

Some sort of past life scenario may be playing out here. We’ve recognized some synchros, but didn’t jot them down because this whole thing seemed so impossible to write about. How can there be such animosity toward Afro-Americans more than  50 years after the Civil Rights Act was passed?

My daughter and her generation don’t see color. They see human beings. So perhaps there has been some progress on that generational front. But twentysomethings are not in charge in Ferguson. In Ferguson, aging white men dominate the police force and the corridors of power. In national politics, aging white men dominate the scene in both parties, in both houses of Congress.

We are a country so divided that Egypt- EGYPT – urged caution in Ferguson. Wow. The Arab Spring meets racism on the other side of the world. Go figure.

I predict that when Jay Nixon – the Democratic governor- comes up for re-election he will lose. Watch him for a minute and you’ll realize this guy is clueless.  He hasn’t even visited Ferguson.

And then watch the video in which two cops gunned down a young black man less than four miles from Ferguson and ask yourself, Is this who we are? Is this the best we can do? WTF?

 

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Frogs & Us

Frogs have been a totem animals for us for years. I think of frogs as symbolic of transformation.

During the warm summer months, Cuban tree frogs hop onto our windows, drawn by the insects that are attracted  to the lights in our offices. They are the largest tree frog in North America and  are fascinating to watch. The top photo is of a frog  paying homage to a pasted frog on the inside glass of Rob’s office window.

Here’s a frog I snapped a photo of the other night that had just caught an insect nearly as large as he is and that will probably keep his tummy full for several days.

Considering the number of frogs in our yard, these guys rarely get inside the house. But when  they do, it’s usually significant in some way, even if that significance isn’t immediately apparent.   It often means that an event is on its way into our lives. If the frog is healthy and vital, then the event is likely to be transformative in a positive way. If the frog is ailing or dead, then the event is likely to impact us negatively.

Where the frog is found can provide hints about what’s coming and its life cycle can provide a time frame. The eggs these frogs lay can hatch in less than 30 hours and the offspring fully develop within a month. So, 30 is the key time frame – 30 hours, days, maybe as long as 30 weeks. The number three can also be a part of the time frame.

When our daughter was much younger, we lived on a lake in a suburban neighborhood south of where we live now. One morning, our cat drew our attention to a Cuban tree frog in the kitchen. He was hopping around happily on the wall, was healthy, vital, of medium size. We caught and released him into the yard. A kitchen is a place where family members gather to eat meals, converse, and gather together. It’s a place of sustenance. Within 30 days, we landed contracts for several books – not huge advances, but healthy enough to sustain us for the next year.

In 1997, we returned home from a weekend trip and found three dead frogs in our family room. By this time, Megan was old enough to understand the significance of the symbolism. “Uh-oh,” she said. “This isn’t good. Family room, dead frogs.”  Within 24 hours, Rob received a call from his mother that his father had had a stroke and wasn’t expected to survive. He flew to Minneapolis and his father died shortly after his arrival.

In February  2003, I was blow-drying my hair in the bathroom one morning, and a frog suddenly landed on my shoulder. I don’t know where it came from, but it sort of freaked me out, appearing seemingly out of nowhere like that.  I quickly caught it and hurried toward the front door to release it.  It hopped out of my hand in the living room, so I caught it again and finally released it from the house. Within a day, I learned my novel Out of Sight, had been nominated for an Edgar Allan Poe award by the Mystery Writers of American. Three months later, I won the award.

This weekend, Megan and her dog, Nika, are visiting. Last night on my way to bed, Nika suddenly stopped and jumped at the living room wall, startling a rather large frog. I tried to catch it, but it scampered up the wall and behind the TV. This morning, Megan came hurrying into the kitchen. “You guys aren’t going to believe what happened when I got home last night.” She had been out with friends and had gotten home after we’d gone to bed. “Take a look at these photos.” She whipped out her phone and showed us the photo below.

Esperanza is the first book in a trilogy published by TOR books. A lot of it takes place in the afterlife, in the magical Ecuadorian city of Esperanza. That poster board of the cover was something that TOR created for the book, so it’s hanging in our hallway. For Ghost Key and Apparition, I simply framed the covers and they are hanging elsewhere in the house.  The only pending thing I have with this series is a screenplay that Hilary Hemingway and I wrote for Ghost Key.

It’s interesting that the frog landed near the eye of the woman on the cover. Esperanza means hope. So the message could be just that: I hope. So, we’ll see! Regardless, the frog’s appearance there bodes well. Megan caught and released it.

 

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The Strange Ice Challenge Synchro

 

 

 

Here’s a strange trickster synchro. At first, I thought it was a fake story, like the ones that are featured in the Onion. But unfortunately, it’s true.

You’ve probably heard about the Ice Bucket Challenge or the ALS challenge.

The challenge involves people getting doused with buckets of ice water on video, posting that video to social media, then nominating others to do the same, all in an effort to raise ALS awareness.  People can either accept the challenge or make a donation to an ALS Charity of their choice, or do both.

Corey Griffin, a philanthropist was instrumental in making the fund-raising drive go viral. He started it with his friend Pete Frates after he found out that Frates had been diagnosed with ALS, the Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

Last week, Griffin drowned in a diving accident off the coast of Nantucket, Massachusetts. The 27-year-old dove off a wharf that serves as a popular diving perch for locals, resurfaced once, then slipped back underwater and drowned.

How odd that the man who popularized getting doused in ice water for charity would die in a water-related accident.

Griffin reportedly raised $100,000 at a fundraiser just hours before his death, with the ice bucket challenge having been one of the biggest talking points online in the past few days.

The drive has so far raised $22.9 million in aid of Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Among participants have been Oprah, Justin Bieber, Britney Spears, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Lady Gaga, Charlie Sheen, George Bush and the Foo Fighters.

Corey Griffin

 

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