Saturday, October 16, 2021

Review of KARANJA RUN

This novel by Gordon Smith reads like non-fiction, its strength and its weakness.

It opens with the central family’s reaction to the unfair accusation that got their young daughter expelled from school.

The last portion of the book is an engrossing, exciting, touching search and rescue operation in a hostile region Down Under.

In between these dramatic episodes, the earlier portions describe life on a ranch in the Outback, way out, and sketches the backgrounds and personalities of the main characters. There are events, but not much plot. Still, one gets a feeling for Australia, at least the rural life there.

I admire and like the Aussies, and I appreciate them as our ANZUS allies these past 70 years. As anglophones, we share much culture. As people, many of these, our “mates,” exude a hearty friendliness hard not to like.

We share a common language, but the editor of the book or the proofreader was not always on the alert, and too many grammatical mistakes mar the presentation. A shame.

Prepare to be educated, occasionally disappointed with the writing, and moved emotionally, besides geographically.

 

Monday, October 4, 2021

LEO COOPER CHIANG, October 2021

 

This link is to be a repository of Leo Cooper Chiang hit photos, sometimes accompanied by "brother" Luke. 



You cannot take too many baby pictures, right?

they will update this shared google photos album with pictures every so often: https://photos.app.goo.gl/yA5oKNJG4xHwJrc4A

Joyously,

Leo's Granddad

Sunday, October 3, 2021

Two Personal Milestones

 

Dear Family and Friends,

 

Tina was more alert than usual today, and so this afternoon, we got her out of bed and into her wheelchair to go to the kitchen to watch TV with me and get her teeth brushed.

Because she had tried to speak a week ago while in the hospital, we deflated the trach cuff,  to allow her to make sounds if she wished. We said, “Hello. Say ‘hello.’” And Tina said, “Hello,” in a raspy but understandable voice. On the way to the kitchen, I gave her some program choices, and she said, “Home and Garden.”  Then she added, “I love you with all my heart.” I was amazed and pleased, as this challenging year could easily have made her resent our inability to do more for her, and we seldom see her smile.

This afternoon, for the first time in several years, I was able to walk the one-mile road around the lake, courtesy of the skill of the Hospital for Special Surgery surgeons (Dr. Windsor and Dr. Gausden) who did my two hip replacements. (Colette accompanied me and protected me from possible assailants, none of whom dared show up.)

We persevere and advance.

 Love,

Doug

Thursday, September 30, 2021

THINKING IT THROUGH: Coaching Students to Be Problem-Solvers

After many years of work, two educator-administrator authors (Drs. Michael Hibbard and Patricia Cyganovich) have distilled decades of experience into publishing this extensive contribution to educating students to become systematic, effective problem-solvers.


The book publisher's short description:

Thinking It Through: Coaching Students to Be Problem-Solvers guides educators in integrating creative and critical thinking to power the six phases of the Cycle of Problem-Solving: problem-finding and analyzing the audience, researching, generating ideas for solutions, selecting a solution, designing an implementation plan, and self-regulation and setting goals for improvement.

The authors draw from the works of Thomas Friedman, Bena Kallick, Ken Kay, Robert Marzano, Jay McTighe, Daniel Pink, Ken Robinson, Tony Wagner, Grant Wiggins, and Young Zhao in creating a coherent system for teaching to produce independent problem-solvers.

Thinking It Through provides guiding questions to focus on specific skills and attitudes needed to progress through the Cycle of Problem-Solving and four developmental levels of problem-solving.

This book is for classroom teachers, grade-level teams, content-area departments, pupil-service departments, whole schools, and school districts; the strategies are helpful in elementary, middle, and high school disciplines. It is recommended as a textbook for college undergraduate and graduate education programs.

Educators have found the Thinking It Through Cycle and System of Problem-Solving helpful in engaging a school, district, or institution in the life skill of problem-solving.

Creative and critical thinking, communication, collaboration, arts, basic skills, empathy, mindfulness, resilience, perseverance, and positive work habits are problem-solving tools. These are coherently and systematically included in the Cycle and System of Problem-Solving to give educators the theory and strategies needed to empower students to solve the problems of their lifetimes.

Ken Kay, the founding CEO of EdLeader21, concurs, "There will be nothing more essential for students in their personal, professional, and civic lives than to become self-directed, creative problem-solvers."

Noted consultant and co-author of 17 books, including the award-winning Understanding by Design series, Jay McTighe urges, "If you agree, as I do, that problem-solving should be considered a basic skill of a modern education, then this book is for you."

Martin G. Brooks, Executive Director of TriState Consortium, offers this praise for the authors: "I have seen first-hand the transformational work that Drs. Hibbard and Cyganovich initiated and oversaw as school administrators. Their focus on problem-solving, critical thinking, creativity, and innovation encouraged teachers to do more profound and more meaningful work with students."

Jonathan P. Costa, Sr. Assistant Executive Director, EdAdvance, states: "I have never encountered a pair of leaders more qualified to share insights regarding student agency in problem-solving than Drs. Hibbard and Cyganovich. Thinking It Through is among the most in-depth and thoughtful examinations of the power of shifting the focus of learning to the student that I have encountered. The results represent a unique blend of theory and practice, grounded in the depth and power of the real-world examples they share and explain."

"This work is an incredible contribution to teaching problem-solving," concludes Professor Marcia Delcourt, Coordinator, Ed.D. Instructional Leadership at Western Connecticut State University.



My contribution was to coach the authors and edit the text through my

WriteYourBookWithMe.com enterprise.


This valuable work is available in paperback format through amazon.com, bn.com, and its publisher, outskirtspress.com. Amazon will be putting the book into Kindle e-reader format, as well.


Here, Amazon provides a substantial free sample  (10%) of the text, along with the opportunity to buy the book:


Thinking It Through: Coaching Students to Be Problem-Solvers

Monday, September 20, 2021

Book Review/Endorsement: DEATHBED EXPERIENCES

 The basis of my endorsement of Dr. J. Steve Miller's exceptional study, a work that seems likely to become a classic.


Review of DEATHBED EXPERIENCES AS EVIDENCE FOR THE AFTERLIFE

 

Author: J. Steve Miller, Kennesaw State University, Kennesaw, GA

 

This extraordinary book, this scholarly tome, will set the agenda for future studies of the phenomena associated with “life after death” or “deathbed experiences,” happenings that indicate what happens to us as we pass from life to death and the hereafter. Prof. Miller’s 400-plus pages of closely argued text, with nearly 800 footnotes and approximately 1000 references, set a research standard hard to match, essential to those interested in the topic.

In the future, scholars unfamiliar with this work will be identifying themselves as producing analyses warranting little serious attention.

As a semi-retired scientist, a physicist/engineer with a long history of interest in not only science but also philosophy, I was privileged to receive a nearly final Advance Review Copy from Prof. Miller, an acquaintance through internet correspondence. I spent decades as an agnostic, only recently returning to the Christian faith, as a lapsed Protestant who views the Bible as history written by fallible mortals.

Prof. Miller’s book is so well-argued that it has moved me from hoping there is a life after death to expecting that there is, being only somewhat short of certain.

Here’s the book’s outline, in brief:

 

Part I: Examining DBE Phenomena

Chapter One. Phenomena Before Death

Chapter Two: Phenomena at Death

Chapter Three: Phenomena After Death

Chapter Four: Phenomena Throughout the Death Experience

Chapter Five: Conclusions from the Evidence

 

Part II: Challenges from Science and Naturalism

Chapter Six: Charges That the Evidence Isn’t Scientific

Chapter Seven: Challenges to the Afterlife Hypothesis

 

Part III: Deathbed Experiences and Christianity

Chapter Eight: Comparing DBE and NDE Research to Christian Teachings

 

Appendices

Bibliography

 

The appendices include definitions of key terms, an example of a detailed DBE report, the math behind a major British Census study, application of Bayesian statistical analysis, a tabulation of scientific journals in which related work is found, and an extensive discussion of Rev. John MacArthur’s theological criticism of NDE.

The range and depth of this work are breathtaking, beyond this reviewer’s ken in several areas. Two areas raised questions for me: first, an early anecdote about Mark Twain’s detailed vision of the funeral arrangements for his younger, distant brother before the boy’s death…how do we have the effect (the vision) before we have the cause (the death)? Second, the correct application of Bayes’s theorem to improve our estimate of the probability of the existence of an afterlife, from new information, a topic for future research.

This profound and carefully researched book will encourage all who hope for a life after death in the presence of a just and benevolent God.

 

Douglas Winslow Cooper, Ph.D.

Formerly, Associate Professor of Environmental Physics

Harvard (now, Chan) Graduate School of Public Health

 

 


Available from, among others, amazon.com: 


https://www.amazon.com/Deathbed-Experiences-Evidence-Afterlife-Groundbreaking-ebook/dp/B09FLZ3J9P/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1632142130&sr=8-3

Saturday, September 18, 2021

CALORIES DON'T COUNT? Diet and Weight Gain

 Good fifty-minute talk on diet and weight gain.

We process sugars so as to get all their calories, but get less available from fats and proteins. More details, but you still need to control "available calories" to help control your weight:


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GQJ0Z0DRumg

Sunday, September 12, 2021

WRITE YOUR BOOK Podcast with Russ Hedge

 It has never been easier to write and publish a book!

Russ Hedge discusses the ins and outs with Douglas Winslow Cooper, PhD, a former Harvard professor who has helped others finish and publish over 40 books in the last ten years via his Write Your Book With Me




To view it, paste the link into your browser. 

Saturday, August 7, 2021

FINANCIAL SUCCESS FOR NEWLYWEDS

 My close friend, financial advisor (among other things) Jim Bakun, has just published this fine book, now available on amazon.com:

https://www.amazon.com/Financial-Success-Newlyweds-Theres-Money/dp/1977224210/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=financial+newlyweds+by+jim+bakun&qid=1628367315&s=books&sr=1-1




I helped him with it and wrote the following Foreword:


FOREWORD

 

How important are money management and finances in marriage and family affairs? Tremendously. The American Bar Association recently indicated that 89 percent of all divorces could be traced to quarrels and accusations over money. Another study estimated that 75 percent of all divorces result from clashes over finances. Some professional counselors indicated that four out of every five families wrestle with serious money problems.”

Dr. Jeffrey R. Holland, formerly President of Brigham Young University

 

I chose a quotation about finance and marriage from a religious authority because this book combines all three of these elements. Marriage is a sacred agreement, a promise, and one of its greatest risks is the mismanagement of the couple’s money.

 

How you earn and how you spend your money reflects your talents, insights, tastes, priorities, generosity, and miserliness, and as a couple, newlyweds need to be in general agreement about money-management or they will be sailing into a sea of trouble.

 

During his former career as a Certified Financial Planner, Jim Bakun counseled over 16,000 clients about money management: getting it, spending it, saving it, investing it, and bequeathing it. And not getting cheated out of it!

 

I met Jim at a Toastmasters Club, where he was sharpening his skills as a public speaker in preparation for lecturing on the topic of prudent financial management for people of all ages and walks of life. A strong friendship soon developed, and when he decided to write a book, he asked for my help, and this book was conceived. He brings to his writing a special combination of common sense, financial expertise, and the wisdom of a life well-lived, including a happy marriage well-managed.

 

Financial Success for Newlyweds will teach you how to handle your finances so you can save your marriage, not an easy trick these days. The author spells it out, and all you have to do is pay attention to spare yourself the painful money lessons of the School of Hard Knocks, which is not a branch of Fort Knox where the U.S. Treasury has piled up more gold than financiers like Warren Buffett and Jeff Bezos combined.

 

Money is not the key to happiness, but a lack of money can open the door to lots of unhappiness.

 

Fortunately, you will learn a bundle from Jim’s book and enjoy the process, too.

 

 

Douglas Winslow Cooper, PhD

WriteYourBookWithMe.com

Walden, NY

Summer 2020


Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Razib Khan Reviews Murray's FACING REALITY


This friendly review of a controversial book summarizes Murray's main points: a seemingly intractable difference between Black-White intelligence and crime statistics and performance. The topics are notoriously sensitive issues, and there are few policy options offered:


The Woke will ignore it if they cannot suppress it.

As for people's often-unspoken feelings, "watch the feet," observe migration patterns. 

Sunday, July 25, 2021

LEO COOPER CHIANG, Welcome to the World!

Leo was born Sunday, July 11, 2021

to Lisa Stuppler and husband

Philip Chiang. 

"Brother" Luke is a bit puzzled.

Grandparents (Tina Su Cooper and I) are delighted.

 





You cannot take too many baby pictures, right?

they will update this shared google photos album with pictures every so often: https://photos.app.goo.gl/yA5oKNJG4xHwJrc4A

Joyously,

Leo's Granddad

HOSPITAL FOR SPECIAL SURGERY (NYC HSS) SUCCESS

 “Where’s the patient?” the physical therapist greeted me outside my home on the Thursday afternoon after the Monday morning I had my Total Hip Replacement [THR] performed at HSS. After our half-hour PT session, he commented that in 20 years, he had not seen such a rapid recovery from this operation.

 I told the therapist the credit belongs to the Hospital for Special Surgery, primarily to surgeon Elizabeth B. Gausden, and to all those involved pre-operatively and post-operatively.

 My May 24, 2021, operation, by Dr. Gausden et al., was very successful, as demonstrated by my rapid recovery and minimal pain. Dr. Gausden’s pre-op and post-op conversations with me were informative and reassuring; the nurses were skilled, caring, and trustworthy; my concerns were addressed by HSS personnel intelligently. The educational literature was clear and helpful. Pain management by Dr. Kahn et al. was successful. I came off opioids in a few days and managed residual soreness with OTC meds.

From the staff managing the entrance on my arrival to HSS to the nurses on the floor managing my departure the day after the surgery, an emphasis on quality, courtesy, and compassion was evident.

Even the food service excelled. That Tuesday, as I looked over the choices I would have had for dinner entrees that evening, I only half-joked that maybe I’d stay a bit longer so as not to miss that meal.

Within a week, I could walk my dog a half-mile, climb stairs, and drive my car, all with little or no pain. Success!

Thanks, HSS. 

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Romantic Writing Coach: Podcast with Luke Jean-Luis

 

Interview 07/19/21 on a podcast by Luke Jean-Louis, The Deep-Voice Man, 

https://anchor.fm/thedeepvoicemanshow/episodes/Douglas-Cooper-The-Romantic-Writing-Coach-e14q533/a-a4blmlr 

A half-century inter-racial romance has led to 37 years (so far) of a special, loving marriage. For the last 17 years, Tina has been quadriplegic and ventilator-dependent, due to MS, receiving round-the-clock nursing at home. Issues include medical care, race, step-parenting, finances, and maintaining mutual love.

See also, TING AND I: A Memoir of Love, Courage, and Devotion. Available through amazon.com, bn.com, http://outskirtspress.com. 

See, too, http://WriteYourBookWithMe.com


Saturday, June 26, 2021

A "Light Classical" Heroine Herself

My dear wife, Tina Su Cooper, my love for over half a century and my spouse for 37 years, quadriplegic and ventilator-dependent, having skilled nursing care at home for 17 years, suffered a pair of strokes in mid-March, from which she is only very slowly recovering.

Before the strokes, Tina could verbally indicate her preferences only in short sentences, greet us, thank us, and enjoyed a narrow set of television programs and music, usually Classical, Light Classical, or Easy Listening. She would occasionally say, “I love you with all my heart.”

The first month after the strokes, she did not seem to know she was home or who we were. She slept most of the day. Was this all there would be?

The second month, Tina would sometimes follow us with her eyes and nod a “yes” if asked a question to which that was the correct answer. “Are you warm enough?” “Do you like this program?” “Do you want quiet?”

This third month, she does usually follow us with her gaze. She smiles when greeted. Her nod is more emphatic, and last week, she added shaking her head “no” to answer questions. I half-jokingly commented that she had doubled her vocabulary, as limited as it is.

This week, as usual, I reminded her who she is and who I am and how much I love her. She was watching a home-improvement or a house-hunting program, which she sometimes enjoys. When I asked her if she liked it, she did not answer, which I took for “no” or “not much.”

Puzzled, but knowing her love of music, I asked her whether she would like to listen to “Easy Listening” music or “Light Classical.” She had once been a gifted amateur pianist and still enjoys music. In asking this way, I had forgotten her limitations and had gone outside our “yes/no” set of answer options.

Tina’s recovery from her strokes has been slow, but our nurses and I agree that she has already progressed beyond what some medical professionals thought would be her limits. The hospital’s doctors seemed to favor “do not resuscitate” and “palliative care” or hospice care. None was so open as to urge, “pull the plug,” but that seemed the sub-text in two meetings I had with them. I told them to care for her medically, save her life, spare her pain, return her to us for nursing care at home.

Yes, only a few days ago, in response to my music-choice question, Tina looked at me, smiled a little smile, and silently mouthed two words, “Light Classical.”

Our heroine, recovering.

Sunday, May 30, 2021

IN MEMORIAM: Robert F. Starbuck

 

IN MEMORIAM: ROBERT F. STARBUCK

 

Robert F. Starbuck died a hero in Vietnam on February 4, 1967.  Only 25, he was a sergeant of an elite RECON Marine detachment holding a hill against overwhelming odds.  He was awarded the Silver Star, one of our armed forces’ highest decorations for bravery.

 

Bob and I were football teammates, high school classmates, and friends. He was very likeable and decent.  His death must have been shattering to his family. When I learned, much later than 1967, of his death, I pondered what I could do in his memory. Moving back to Walden, I found that our high school, Valley Central, held an annual awards ceremony for members of the athletic teams. I established the Robert F. Starbuck Captain’s Award in his honor, going each year to the captain of the football team, in recognition of Bob’s leadership, courage, strength, and service to our country.

 

Recently, a memorial ceremony was held in honor of our local servicemen who died. There is never enough we can do to thank such people.

 

The story of Bob’s last battle is one of those in the book, Honor the Warrior: The United States Marine Corps in Vietnam, by William L. Myers, published in 2000. Mr. Myers dedicates his book to the nearly 15,000 members of the U.S. Marine Corps who died in Viet Nam. His dedication includes this excerpt from a poem by Laurence Binyon:

 

          But they shall not grow old

          As we who are left grow old.

          Age will not weary them, nor the years condemn,

          But at the going down of the sun and in the morning

          We will remember them.

 

We do remember.

 


 From my TING AND I: A Memoir of Love, Courage, and Devotion 

 

REVIEW of THE JOY OF CHEMISTRY

 

Review of THE JOY OF CHEMISTRY: A Quick Study Guide for Kids and Beginners to Learn Chemistry

Author: Nervana Elkhadragy, Ph.D.

 


This charming little book is intended to introduce kids to chemistry. It does so partly by anthropomorphizing atoms in a fashion sometimes cuddly, sometimes wrong. Chapter 1 sets the tone, “How Are Particles Similar to People?” The book’s title is appealing, as are the chapter titles, despite their simplification.

Unfortunately, simplification runs the risk of error.

For example, the answer to a Chapter 2 question, “Which one is easier to smell from a distance, hot or iced coffee?” is given as, “Diffusion occurs faster at a warmer temperature because particles have more kinetic energy, and thus move faster. That’s why we all enjoy the smell of freshly brewed coffee.” More nearly correct is that the temperature of the hot coffee produces a higher vapor pressure in the aromatic constituents, which then diffuse in the air at the same rate due to the air temperature, as do the aromatic components from cool coffee. “Freshly brewed coffee” smells better than stale coffee for other reasons as well.

Even so, questions and answers at the end of each chapter are generally a plus for reinforcing the lessons. A shortcoming is that each answer is introduced with an exclamation about how well the student has already answered it, such as, “Nice explanation!” Condescending?

Dr. Elkhadragy’s making particles into people requires us to extend a poetic license to the author for sentences such as, “Particles are like individuals. They think and make wise decisions.” Too cute to be true.

Similarly, drawing an analogy between the solar system and an atom produces “electrons are tiny particles that orbit the nucleus at a very high speed.” Too simple by far. The discussion later becomes more sophisticated with the introduction of the concept of electron shells. All in all, the description of the atom is mostly true and informative.

Next, we have compounds, “in which two or more elements decide to make a deal, hold a contract, and stay together.” Too folksy for my taste. I awaited details of the divorce.

A former science teacher myself, I enjoyed the description of the periodic table, not an easy thing to describe clearly and succinctly. One can easily remember that the specific groups of atoms had particular characteristics, like people in certain neighborhoods.

The book has an excellent discussion of the relative reactivity of the various kinds (groups) of elements.

It is easier to understand compound formation once one knows that atoms have “goals,” one of which (except for hydrogen and lithium) is to have eight electrons in the outermost shell. Group VII elements will tend to gain single electrons and become negative ions. Groups I, II, and III metals tend to give up electrons and become positive ions. Figure 6 has an atom preparing part with an electron.

Ionic and covalent bonding are well described once one gets past the idea of an atom’s “wanting.”

In sum, this well-written and well-edited book makes a painless introduction to essential aspects of chemistry. However, before using it in one’s classroom, consider how suited it is to the age of one’s students. Perhaps middle school students are the appropriate cohort.

P.S. The author has informed me that an upcoming revision will be addressing some of these concerns, in which case I will likely be happy to add another star to this review.

 https://www.amazon.com/Joy-Chemistry-Beginners-Analogies-Examples-ebook/dp/B0942V9B3V/ref=sr_1_5?crid=23HCOBI1PX8XE&dchild=1&keywords=joy+of+chemistry&qid=1621771058&sprefix=joy+of+chemistry%2Caps%2C201&sr=8-5

 

Sunday, May 9, 2021

SOURCE OF COVID-19 (WUHAN) CORONAVIRUS

 

In an extensive article, science writer Nicholas Wade summarizes:

Where We Are So Far

Neither the natural emergence nor the lab escape hypothesis can yet be ruled out. There is still no direct evidence for either. So no definitive conclusion can be reached.

That said, the available evidence leans more strongly in one direction than the other. Readers will form their own opinion. But it seems to me that proponents of lab escape can explain all the available facts about SARS2 considerably more easily than can those who favor natural emergence.

It’s documented that researchers at the Wuhan Institute of Virology were doing gain-of-function experiments designed to make coronaviruses infect human cells and humanized mice. This is exactly the kind of experiment from which a SARS2-like virus could have emerged. The researchers were not vaccinated against the viruses under study, and they were working in the minimal safety conditions of a BSL2 laboratory. So escape of a virus would not be at all surprising. In all of China, the pandemic broke out on the doorstep of the Wuhan institute. The virus was already well adapted to humans, as expected for a virus grown in humanized mice. It possessed an unusual enhancement, a furin cleavage site, which is not possessed by any other known SARS-related beta-coronavirus, and this site included a double arginine codon also unknown among beta-coronaviruses. What more evidence could you want, aside from the presently unobtainable lab records documenting SARS2’s creation?

Proponents of natural emergence have a rather harder story to tell. The plausibility of their case rests on a single surmise, the expected parallel between the emergence of SARS2 and that of SARS1 and MERS. But none of the evidence expected in support of such a parallel history has yet emerged. No one has found the bat population that was the source of SARS2, if indeed it ever infected bats. No intermediate host has presented itself, despite an intensive search by Chinese authorities that included the testing of 80,000 animals. There is no evidence of the virus making multiple independent jumps from its intermediate host to people, as both the SARS1 and MERS viruses did. There is no evidence from hospital surveillance records of the epidemic gathering strength in the population as the virus evolved. There is no explanation of why a natural epidemic should break out in Wuhan and nowhere else. There is no good explanation of how the virus acquired its furin cleavage site, which no other SARS-related beta-coronavirus possesses, nor why the site is composed of human-preferred codons. The natural emergence theory battles a bristling array of implausibilities.

https://nicholaswade.medium.com/origin-of-covid-following-the-clues-6f03564c038


To which I would add that regardless of the origin, the Chinese Communist Party is responsible for having allowed it to be transmitted worldwide while preventing its transmission within China, an act of biological warfare. 

Tina Su Cooper Is Recovering

Days before Tina was sent home from the hospital, I had THE TALK with two sets of doctors et al.: Tina was wholly unresponsive though clearly alive, and at this time, 45 days after her multiple strokes, there was little hope of cognitive improvement. "What do you want us to do?" The subtext was: is this life worth saving, or shall we minimize our efforts? 

I explained to both sets that Tina had recovered unexpectedly 17years ago when the choice was "home or hospice?" and again a few years ago when she was returned to us in "a vegetative state," later to recover some ability to communicate and appreciate, the classic "Come-back Kid." Though at 77,  Tina is not a kid, she is a person with possibly years of life ahead.

I instructed the doctors to do what they could medically to save her life and protect her from pain, and we would resume around-the-clock nursing for her at home. 

She returned home earlier this week, essentially unresponsive, virtually comatose, and we wondered what would result. For a grim few days, we saw a lot of sleeping, some looking around pointlessly, no response to any touch or sound.

Yesterday, that changed. Nurse Mary Wilkinson asked her, "Are you feeling better?" Tina gave a small, definite nod! This was repeated several times.

Subsequently, Nurses Mary and Heather Geib and I have asked Tina simple questions like, "Are you warm enough?" and have gotten small but definite nodding motions of her head and some change in facial expression, even a hint of a smile.

She even mouthed "hi" when encouraged to do so by Heather. 

Also new, she is moving her head to view various parts of the room. 

This was not the case just days ago.

We think that successful care of her physical health will be accompanied by some continued improvement of her cognition and communication. We are thrilled.

Our prayerful watch reminded me of a Frost poem, "Neither Far Out Nor in Deep,"

The people along the sand
All turn and look one way.
They turn their back on the land.
They look at the sea all day.

As long as it takes to pass
A ship keeps raising its hull;
The wetter ground like glass
Reflects a standing gull.

The land may vary more;
But wherever the truth may be---
The water comes ashore,
And the people look at the sea.

They cannot look out far.
They cannot look in deep.
But when was that ever a bar
To any watch they keep?



We have a limited view of our mysterious life, yet we persist in hoping,
and sometimes that hope is rewarded, as is prayer. 



Tuesday, April 27, 2021

No Longer Running Away, I Discovered God's Love

 

by Helen A. Bemis

 

 

     What is God really like?

     Is He someone to fear and run away from?

     In my youth, I was constantly told to be a good girl, and all my life, I have always worked at being a “good girl,” but….

     Now, I’m told I will not get to Heaven by my “good works” but only by God’s Grace.

     In my youth, I was also told that my God was an infinite, loving God.  I found the words “infinity” and “infinite” hard to understand when I was a little girl. I still find them hard to understand. 

     What I found even more confusing is: if I committed a sin, this infinite, loving God would not hesitate to send me straight to Hell.  The descriptions of Hell not only scared me as a child but still make me shiver in fear today. 

     I looked for love.  Sometimes it was in the wrong places.  I looked to be liked, not the same as being loved, but being liked did feel good.  Yet I found that if I wanted to be liked, I needed to follow the expectations of others, and sometimes that would conflict with my beliefs.

     My solution?  Usually, I ran away.  I ran away from a God I did not understand.  I ran away from difficult decisions.  I continued to long for love, and I wanted to understand the truth of God’s love. As I slowly began to recognize God’s love as compassionate, kind, sensitive, freely given, and so much more, I started to trust in His promises for me.

     As I discovered the truth about God, I recognized His love for me, and I realized fear had no place in God’s world of love. 

     Could the problem with “love” be that we only have one word (in the English language) for love?  Actually, there are at least three forms of love: sexual love, familial love, and compassionate (sometimes referred to as the Greek agape) love.

     The New International Version of the Bible, in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 describes love as follows:

     “Love is patient; love is kind.  It does not envy. It does not boast. It is not proud.  It is not rude. It is not self-seeking. It is not easily angered. It keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

     One of the places in which I found God’s presence was with Mother Nature.  I took many strolls, and through the sounds, scents, and beauty on the 200-acre farm, I felt God’s presence.

     My childhood home sat on a hill, and at the bottom of this hill was a slow-moving trout stream.  When I walked by this stream, I could hear fish jumping and frogs croaking.    

     Milk-weed plants grew along the river banks. In mid-summer, their sweet perfume filled the air, luring the bees to snuggle inside flowers.  I found the river area a peaceful place, though never a quiet place. Besides the river’s sounds, the birds sang in joy or squawked in protest when I visited its shores.  During these times, it was easy to talk with God as I walked with Mother Nature.

     After high school graduation, I attended a school of nursing.  I did enjoy learning many things at this school, but I still ran away. At first, it was by sleeping ten to fourteen hours a day. Then, after thirteen months of study, I quit nursing school. I ran home. 

     Sometimes, the unknown scared me.  Running away seemed the best decision.

     During this time, I met my future husband. However, when I told my priest that I was planning to marry a Methodist, his response shocked me, “If you marry this man, you will go straight to Hell!”

     My husband and I have had our share of problems, but I never felt myself in Hell after we married.  I felt that my husband helped me to learn how to trust God.  Our firstborn was a son.  At eighteen months, he developed Reye’s  Syndrome, a disorder that, I learned later, would sometimes occur if you gave aspirin to a child who had the flu. 

     This time, I was willing to trust God with my son’s life.  My words were very hard for me to say, but they were my most honest and sincere prayer to God: “God, I realize that my son is really Your child.  I may have no right to ask for his life, but I am asking that You heal him.  I know You always give the highest good in any situation.  I trust You. I will honor whatever You decide in this time of his sickness.  Thy will be done!”

     I had not run away.  I would not run away from praying for God’s mercy and grace for our little boy. He did answer my prayer by healing our son.

 

     Mistakenly, through the years, I fell into the trap of believing in a “vending machine” God.  If I were a good girl and obeyed the rules, God would be “good” to me. 

     I went to church every Sunday, sang in the choir, and made many friends.  The ministers were varied, and as lessons about God continued, I still felt something was missing.  My time in the choir was my personal prayer time with God.  During that time, I had a few special “God Moments,” akin to viewing beautiful sunsets or rainbows. Yet, my longing was echoed in the choir’s hymn, “Nearer My God to Thee.” 

     Then came the disturbing news: breast cancer.  Oh, I knew that it was not the death sentence that it used to be, but I WAS scared, even as I said to others, “I’m not afraid to die.”

     I did feel I had more to accomplish with my life.  Prayers at church and the stories of others encouraged my resolve to “beat this cancer,” but truly, the key for me was how I began to listen to God.  At that time, the minister’s wife told me about her breast cancer experience.  She said that she felt it was the closest she had ever felt to God, “a very sacred time.”

     As I listened to her story, I knew I wanted to feel that special relationship with God.

     Medical procedures proceeded. After my lumpectomy, I was told the good news that the cancer was not in my lymph nodes.  Yet, the doctors wanted to have me go through a regimen of chemotherapy and possibly even radiation.

     My oncologist assured me she would use a very mild form of chemotherapy.  Even so, I still became very sick.  I did not understand why they needed to give me chemotherapy if the cancer had been completely removed.

     I sought a second opinion.  This oncologist explained the HER-2 factor that had been found in the cancer.  “It’s like your body is stepping on the gas (creating a cancer-forming factor), and chances are great that you would be getting another cancer within as short a time as four years.  The drug they use to stop your body from manufacturing the HER-2 will not work unless coupled with chemotherapy.

     “They have done many trials to see the best combination for each individual.  I believe I can find the one for you that will work without the side effects that you had experienced in the past.”

      He also explained my need for radiation.  “If you were to dig the dandelion weeds from your lawn, you might see some of these dandelion weeds still grow back.  That can be the same with breast cancer.  An occasional cancer cell might still be left in your breast.  Today they can zero in on the exact area of the cancer site and eliminate through radiation any such existing cells that may still be located in this area.”

     I agreed to the treatments of chemotherapy and radiation.

     During this time, I found that sometimes I could not fall asleep, even though I was exhausted from the treatments.  However, I discovered some wonderful blessings that only came by trusting God’s care for me.  I had learned to rest my body and not worry about every little “speed bump.” I called them “speed bumps” because these concerns could shake you up or make you worry without killing you. I began to recognize that most of these situations were not worth the time to be considered. 

     My priority became to look for laughter as well as things to be grateful for.  I listened to the silence and to the delightful sounds of the world around me.  I heard the birds singing, the soft sound of the wind tickling the trees, and the buzzing of the insects. I appreciated the blue of the sky, the shape of the clouds, the bright colors in the flowers around me.  I adopted the expression, “Stop and smell the roses,” as I smelled the fragrant air after a rainfall or the lawn after it had been freshly mowed.

     I discovered a sweet and precious friendship with God.  It surprised me.  It was like discovering a very special new Friend, and I wanted to learn more about Him.  We shared comfortable silences, as when you share a cup of coffee or a moment of companionship with a loved one. But it was so much better than that.  I now understand why some say that their relationship with God can be hard to explain.

     But is God’s love real only when He grants us our wishes?  He is certainly not a wish-dispenser!  He is not a God only to be valued only when giving us our desire!  What I discovered during this time may be a hard-to-describe love, a love like a precious jewel or like a profound solace.  It is often referred to as “a peace beyond understanding.”

     I discovered my God to be a very personal God.  He knows me and has showered me with awesome love.  He does what is best for me, even if I feel that it is not good for me.  He strengthens me in my weakness and blesses me with his gifts, gifts greater than I ever imagined.

     Discovering this personal God is an experience I wish for others. It satisfies the longing we endure, and it fills the emptiness that only He can fill. 

     I found in God’s love, indescribable peace and joy. Because I discovered God’s infinite love, I realized that I no longer wanted to run away.


Helen A. Bemis is a novelist who has written over a dozen books about the fictional Upstate New York town of Riverview and about the Riverview Animal Shelter and the pets, loves, conflicts, and kindness of these country people.

I have had the pleasure of being her editor and writing coach. Her books are readily obtained from Outskirts Press and amazon.com: 

https://www.amazon.com/s?k=%22Helen+A.+Bemis%22&i=stripbooks&ref=nb_sb_noss_2

Sunday, April 11, 2021

CORONA VIRUS - FROM WUHAN LAB OR MARKET?

The Covid-19, a.k.a “Wuhan,” coronavirus has killed a half-million Americans already and sickened many, many times more.

A former head of the U.S. CDC now opines it likely originated in the Chinese government’s virology labs in Wuhan; this opinion is resisted by those who usually treat CDC statements as gospel.

It makes little difference whether the Chinese lab had an accident or the local meat market got unlucky and sloppy. We know the Chinese military has been investigating viruses as biological weapons, as we did at Ft. Detrick in Frederick, Maryland, where I served decades ago.

The Chinese Communists stopped domestic travel from Wuhan once they knew (and lied about) the human-to-human transmissibility of the virus. The CCP kept it a secret and allowed international travel to spread the virus worldwide, the sin for which they deserve to be excoriated, regardless of whether the virus came from Wuhan’s virology labs or its butcher shops.

Spreading the virus worldwide was an act of biological warfare few in the U.S. dare charge, as we would have to face the perfidy of the regime and the ghastliness of this attack on the rest of the world.

Suppose something like this pathogen had spread from Ft. Detrick or Frederick, MD, while I served there. I am sure that the American and international news media would not have hesitated to blame the U.S. government, especially if it were under the Republicans at the time. They would not have suspected the local ShopRite.

The first barrage of World War III was biological. 

Now what?

 

Thursday, April 8, 2021

REVIEW of THE WOKE SUPREMACY

The book's subtitle is "An Anti-Socialist Manifesto," and the author provides just that.  

86% of the over-300 reviews at amazon.com are 5 stars, well earned.

I have listened to the book twice using my Kindle and Alexa. The book made the nuttiness of the Woke Crusade more understandable, though no more attractive. They hate possessions (except theirs). countries (especially the USA), and religion (especially Christianity and Judaism, but not Islam). If you are a white male, you are a target, as I am.

In sum, they passionately maintain there is no right or wrong, except that Trump voters were terribly wrong. Got it?

To get the book:

Sunday, April 4, 2021

REVIEW of BEST-SELLER STATUS

 I generally don't review a book here unless I like it.


Being an author is hard enough without having someone spit on your baby, and there is "no disputing taste," no accounting for taste, an ancient adage warns. Still, testimonials are influential, and, as an author and coach and editor myself, I sure like favorable mentions when I get them.

The first 20 pages or so were merely "here it comes." I wondered whether there would be "beef," and it did come: insights about writing, publishing, promoting, and profiting, covered in the next 60 pages.

I have a love/hate relationship with the book industry, given that some classics were ghostwritten and some authors made up their "true stories" and some best-sellers were written poorly. My favorite movie is Chariots of Fire, and the contrast between the two central characters' methods of achieving success reflects my ambivalence about the best-seller status that has eluded me. Is the best measure of success where you ended or how you got there? Ideally, you would be making it without faking it.

Authors-to-be and authors-right-now would profit from Michael Butler's succinct guide, especially about how to get their work legitimately noticed, heeded, shared, and appreciated.

Intelligent and informed effort is key to best-seller status. This book can help.