I've moved to another two blogs, one on writing, and one on general stuff like this one. Please come visit! MY NEW BLOGS:

Friday, July 31, 2009

Thoughts from John

John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life."

John 14:6 [Jesus said] "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father but by Me."

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Your Healthcare

The machinations with Obama-Care continue to appall and outrage me. Our representatives admit that they don't even have time to read the bills, yet the pressure is on to pass something NOW NOW NOW.

Just wanted to give you a heads-up on a website that explains what is in each bill that is currently being lobbied for passage, analyzed by Betsy McCaughey who has read all of each one. This is incredible! I am purposefully not ranting on this blog, with great restraint. I've pasted a bio of Dr. McCaughey below, and please go to check out the site HERE

Governmental health care has not worked well in any country in which it's been tried. In all statistics, including access and mortality rates, the US with its private system is far and away superior. Access to healthcare is not nearly as grim as the politicians are screaming about: for example, many are eligible already for Medicare but are not sick and thus don't sign up, and many can afford coverage but decide not to do it. If you show up bleeding at a hospital's ER, you WILL get care. Hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, and other institutions donate millions of dollars in beneficent care every year.

Public or Governmental Health Care is certainly a worthy subject to be debated and considered, and if a plan comes up that might improve the kinks of private health care delivery, by all means let's talk about it. But this terrible rush to *just doing SOMETHING" resulting in destruction of a system that works pretty well, a mind-boggling drain on our economy for several generations to cover this generation, and without even understanding what's going on, is shameful.

OK, here's the link to the website:


Betsy McCaughey, PhD

Dr. McCaughey is a health policy expert and former Lt. Governor of New York State. In 2004, she founded the Committee to Reduce Infection Deaths (, a nationwide educational campaign to stop hospital-acquired infections. She serves as the CEO and Chairman of the organization. In three years, RID has made hospital infections a major public issue, provided compelling evidence that preventing infection improves hospital profitability as well as saving lives, and won legislation in over 20 states for public reporting of infection rates. RID has become synonymous with patient safety and clean hospital care. Dr. McCaughey’s research on how to prevent infection deaths has been featured on Good Morning America, the CBS Morning Show, ABC’s 20/20, and many other national programs. She has appeared on Fox News Network’s Hannity & Colmes, The O’Reilly Factor, CNN’s Talk Back Live, and numerous radio programs. Dr. McCaughey is the author of over one hundred scholarly and popular articles on health policy, infection, medical innovation, the economics of aging, and Medicare. Her writings have appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, New Republic, Policy Review, Forbes Magazine, New York Law Journal, Los Angeles Times, U.S. News & World Report, and many other national publications. Her 1994 analysis of the Clinton health plan in the New Republic won a National Magazine Award for the best article in the nation on public policy. Her article on the dangers of “Dumbing Down Medical Care” won the National Media Award from the American Society of Anesthesiologists. She has been profiled in The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, New York Magazine, The Washington Post, and other publications.

From 1994 to 1998, she served as Lt. Governor of New York State. She focused on health issues, and her bills became models for legislation in many states and in Congress.

She has taught at Vassar College and Columbia University, and produced prize-winning studies while at two think tanks, the Manhattan Institute and later the Hudson Institute.

Prior to entering the health policy field, Dr. McCaughey earned a Ph.D. in constitutional history. She is the author of two books on that subject, From Loyalist to Founding Father (Columbia University Press), winner of the Bancroft Dissertation Award, and Government by Choice (Basic Books). She also chaired a national commission on reforming the Electoral College in 1992, wrote its report, Electing the President, and testified before Congress on the subject. In 1989, she served as Guest Curator for the Bicentennial Exhibit and related events at the New York Historical Society.



Dissertation defended with distinction
Richard B. Morris Prize
Bancroft Dissertation Award
John Jay Fellowship



General and Departmental Honors
Woodrow Wilson Fellowship
Herbert H. Lehman Fellowship
Honorary Vassar Fellowship


Post-doctoral Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities
John M. Olin Fellowship
H. L. Mencken Award
National Magazine Award for “No Exit,” a critique of the Clinton Health Plan
Annual Prize from the American Society of Anesthesiologists


While completing her Ph.D., Dr. McCaughey trained in the corporate banking department at Chase Manhattan Bank, and served as a lending officer in the Food, Beverage, and Tobacco Division. She also studied accounting at the Columbia University School of Business. From 2000 to 2003, she was a regular columnist for Investors Business Daily.

Current board positions include: Cantel Medical Corp., The American Council on Science and Health, and The Coalition for a Secure Driver’s License, and the Committee to Reduce Infection Deaths


Feature Speaker, Manhattan Institute Young Leaders Conference, New York, New York, June 3, 2009.

Feature Speaker, APIC Annual Conference, Denver, Colorado, June 17, 2008.
Keynote Speaker, New Research and Compelling Economic Data in Support of Infection Prevention,”
Stanford Group Health Conference, NY, NY, June 16th, 2008
PBS “Second Opinion” Panel on Hospital Infections, Rochester, NY, May 3rd, 2008
Presenter “New Research and Compelling Economic Data in Support of Infection Prevention,” Lotos Club, New York, NY, April 17, 2008.
Presenter, Association of Health Care Journalists, Washington, D.C., March 28th, 2008
Vassar Brothers Hospital Grand Rounds, Poughkipsie, NY, March 26, 2008
Keynote Speaker Greater New York Hospital Association C. difficile collaborative for 38 hospitals in the municipal area, March 7, 2008.
Baxter Healthcare Annual Meeting, Chicago, Il, January 21, 2008
19th Annual Piper Jaffray Healthcare Conference, New York, NY, November 27, 2007
The 42nd Annual Region I Conference of the American Society of Microbiology, Harvard Medical Center, Cambridge, Massachusetts, November 2, 2007
Eighth Congress of the International Federation of Infection Control, Budapest, October 2007
Thomas Jefferson University Medical Center Nursing Infection Control Education Day, Philadelphia, October, 2007
Association of Professionals in Infection Control Annual Conference, San Jose, CA, June 25, 2007
The MRSA and Families Network International Conference, Trinity College, Dublin, June, 2007
National Teaching Institute & Critical Care Exposition (annual gathering of ICU nurses), Atlanta, May 22, 2007
Hospital Infection Forum (co-sponsored by PALL Corporation), Long Island, NY, March 8, 2007
Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, New Jersey, February 20, 2007.
Grand Rounds, New York-Presbyterian Medical Center, January 8, 2007.
Grand Rounds, University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, November 1, 2006.
Grand Rounds, Maimonides Medical Center, Brooklyn, NY, September 27, 2006.
“News from the Infection Prevention Front,” Live Webcast, Infection Control Today, September 5, 2006.
Illinois Hospital Association Quality Leadership Conference in Chicago, May 23-24, 2006.
APIC 2006 Futures Summit in Savannah, April 2006
Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America’s 16th Annual Scientific Meeting, March 2006
Testimony on Hospital Infection Reporting, Connecticut State Legislature, March 6, 2006
“The Human and Financial Costs of Hospital Infections,” Live Webcast, Infection Control Today, February 28,2006
“Unnecessary Deaths,” 2nd Annual Minimizing Healthcare-Associated Infections Conference in Las Vegas, February 27, 2006
“The Most Effective Strategies for Preventing Nosocomial Infections,” 3rd Annual Patient Safety Conference at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing, December 2, 2005
“The Compelling Case for Reducing Infection,” Manhattan Institute, March 31, 2005
“Preventing Hospital Infection: Saving Lives, Reducing Costs,” Harvard Club, March 11, 2005
“The War Against Infection,” Keynote, National Conference of Insurance Legislators, February 4, 2005
“Making Hygiene a Central Part of Medicine,” Forum on Hospital Infection, Harvard Club, December 7, 2004
“Improving the World’s Best Health Care,” Rotary Club at the Princeton Club, November 16, 2004
“The Future of Medicine,” Weill Cornell Medical College Reunion, October 2, 2004
“Reforming the Malpractice System: Ethical and Empirical Considerations,” Long Island Jewish Hospital, sponsored by the Medical Society of the State of New York, June 13, 2003
“Preparing Medicare for an Aging Society,” House of Representatives Briefing Sponsored by the Alliance for Aging Research, Cannon Caucus Room, March 17, 2003
“Scientists are Saving Medicare and Protecting Us from Disease,” Luncheon speaker at the Advanced Medical Technologies Association Meeting, Chicago, February 23, 2002
Keynote Speaker, “Operating Ambulatory Surgery Centers and Surgical Hospitals,” Healthstream Continuing Medical Education event, Chicago, September 27, 2002
“Scientists are Solving the Problem of Aging,” Jonathan Edwards College, Yale University, April 10, 2001
Medical Innovation and What It Will Mean To Us,” Williams Club of New York, February 8, 2001
“Almost as Good as Cocoon,” Fifty New Yorkers luncheon speaker at Alliance Capital, January 25, 2001
Dinner keynote speaker, “Why There Is No Medicare Crisis,” Alliance for Aging Research, May 22, 2000
Keynote luncheon speaker at “Medicine Briefing: Research at Risk” for U.S. Congress and U.S. Senate Staff and Members, Senate Caucus Room, April 13, 2000


2004-present: Founder and Chairman of Committee to Reduce Infection Deaths
2002-present: Adjunct senior fellow, Hudson Institute, national columnist
1999-2001: Senior fellow, Hudson Institute
1994-1998: Lt. Governor of New York State
1993-1994: John M. Olin Fellow, Manhattan Institute
1989-1992: Senior Scholar, Center for the Study of the Presidency
1986-1988: Guest Curator, The New York Historical Society
1983-1984: Post-Doctoral Fellow, National Endowment for the Humanities
1981-1983: Assistant Professor, Columbia University
1979-1980: Lecturer, Columbia University
1977-1978: Visiting Assistant Professor, Vassar College


Government by Choice: Inventing the United States Constitution (Basic Books, 1987) with Preface by Chief Justice Warren Burger, Ret., and Foreword by Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan
From Loyalist to Founding Father: The Political Odyssey of William Samuel Johnson (Columbia University Press, 1980).

Monday, July 27, 2009

Thank You by Ray Boltz

This song highlights how our every action may matter, and it's important to keep the right perspective. I've been struggling with this myself lately: I've been looking at all of my problems instead of focusing on greater things. The song was a good reminder for me, anyway.

The various videos on Youtube were somewhat schmaltzy. I like Billy Graham, a few clips of whom are in here, so I chose this one. Lyrics, which are really the point, are below.

Thank You -- by Ray Boltz

I dreamed I went to heaven
And you were there with me
We walked upon the streets of gold
Beside the crystal sea
We heard these angels singing
Then someone called your name
You turned and saw this young man
And he was smiling as he came
And he said friend you may not know me now
And then he said, but wait
You used to teach my Sunday School
When I was only eight
And every week you would say a prayer
Before the class would start
And one day when you said that prayer
I asked Jesus in my heart

Thank you for giving to the Lord
I am a life that was changed
Thank you for giving to the Lord
I am so glad you gave

Then another man stood before you
And said remember the time
A missionary came to your church
And his pictures made you cry
You didn’t have much money
But you gave it anyway
Jesus took the gift you gave
And that’s why I’m here today

CHORUS (repeat)

One by one they came
Far as your eyes could see
Each life somehow touched
By your generosity
Little things that you had done
Sacrifices you made
They were unnoticed on the earth
In heaven now proclaimed
And I know that up in heaven
You’re not supposed to cry
But I am almost sure
There were tears in your eyes
As Jesus took your hand
And you stood before the Lord
He said, my child look around you
For great is your reward

CHORUS (repeat)

I am so glad you gave.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Four Pillars of the Story

As I go along writing The Story Template, I thought I'd share a few tidbits now and then of what I'm working on. Today I'm going to talk about the four pillars of a story.

Each story develops a premise from one of these four pillars. They are:

Story World

Four quick examples of movie premises:

Story World: Fellowship of the Ring
Plot: Iron Man
Theme: Facing the Giants
Character: Forest Gump

Many stories, especially the throw-away kind, develop only one pillar, most likely plot. We've all experienced these stories: they're fun to go through, but you're never tempted to read or watch them again since you already know the trick. Some examples might be an Agatha Christie mystery, or a hard-core action/adventure film. However, as I've been reflecting on these, I am appreciating that the more pillars that are strong in a story, the more gripping it becomes.

I've arranged these pillars based on two axes: Outer or Inner Story, and Concrete or Abstract. Let's see if I can line them up in a table, like this:

..........................Concrete ....................Abstract

Outer Story ............PLOT .................STORY WORLD

Inner Story ........CHARACTER ..............THEME

The Concrete pillars, Plot and Character, are the easiest to do. However, for your story to resonate you really need to strengthen ALL of these, work on parallels between, and weave them together.

All right, that's all for tonight; I'm pretty tired :-) Have a great day!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Ideas Have Consequences

"I Hope the Russians Love Their Children Too"

Sting released this video in 1985, while the Cold War still raged and Reagan stood at the helm of the USA against Gorbachev. Watching this, I'm struck with the message: We are all human, we all have hopes and dreams, exhilarating triumphs, sins and heartbreaking tragedies. And we all come together in our circles of friends and family to love and live and die.

Sting was right about that, but not, I think, right about the point of his song: that we are all human, and therefore we shouldn't argue over how we live. No. Ideas have consequences. Why else the grand scale of rejoicing in the streets when the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, and a thousand, a million, other examples large and small of the repressive nature of the Iron Curtain? Would anyone truly choose to live as a regular citizen in that kind of society?

This world is fallen, and we as humans will never have a perfect society although I believe America does better for more people than perhaps any society previously in existence. For example, can you imagine that in 1985 a Russian could make a similar video about the Americans? Could the Russians in 1985 have protested their government, and encouraged Gorbachev to back down, without being thrown into a camp in Siberia or worse?

In one world: FREEDOM

Freedom is easy to take for granted, and difficult to maintain. Easy to lose. Let us not lose ours in this country, dear friends.

Here are Sting's lyrics:

In Europe and America, there's a growing feeling of hysteria
Conditioned to respond to all the threats
In the rhetorical speeches of the Soviets
Mr. Krushchev said we will bury you
I don't subscribe to this point of view
It would be such an ignorant thing to do
If the Russians love their children too

How can I save my little boy from Oppenheimer's deadly toy
There is no monopoly in common sense
On either side of the political fence
We share the same biology
Regardless of ideology
Believe me when I say to you
I hope the Russians love their children too

There is no historical precedent
To put the words in the mouth of the President
There's no such thing as a winnable war
It's a lie that we don't believe anymore
Mr. Reagan says we will protect you
I don't subscribe to this point of view
Believe me when I say to you
I hope the Russians love their children too

We share the same biology
Regardless of ideology
What might save us, me, and you
Is if the Russians love their children too

Monday, July 20, 2009


The lady from China in her 30s was a dancer and was trained as one since she was a little girl. Later she got into some kind of accident and lost her entire left arm. She was depressed for a few years. Then, someone asked her to coach a Children's dancing group, and from that point on, she realized she could not forget dancing. She still loved to dance, and she wanted to dance again. So, she started to do some of her old routines. But by her losing an arm, she also lost her balance.

It took a while before she could even making simple turns and spins without falling. But eventually she got it.

Then she heard some guy in his 20s had lost a leg in an accident. This guy also fell into the usual denial, depression and anger type of emotional roller coaster. She looked him up (seemingly he was from a different Province in China) and persuaded him to dance with her. He had never danced. And to dance with one leg? Are you joking with me? No way. But she didn't give up. He reluctantly agreed -- I have nothing else to do anyway. She started to teach him dancing 101. The two broke up a few times because the guy had no concept of using muscle, how to control his body, and other basic techniques of dancing. When she became frustrated and lost patience with him, he would walk out.

Eventually they came back together and started training. They hired a choreographer to design routines for them. She would fly high (held by him) with both arms (a sleeve for an arm) flying in the air. He could bend horizontally supported by one leg and she leaning on him, etc. They danced beautifully and they legitimately beat others in the competition.

Friday, July 17, 2009


George Herman Ruth Jr., or *Babe* Ruth (1895-1948), is arguably the greatest baseball player of all times. He was the first player to hit 60 home runs in one season (1927), and this record stood for 34 years until it was broken by Roger Maris in 1961. Ruth's lifetime total of 714 home runs at his retirement in 1935 was a record for 39 years, until broken by Hank Aaron in 1974. His lifetime batting average was 0.342, and he made 2873 hits, and 714 home runs.

I'm not really a baseball fan, although I can understand it unlike football. Still, I heard this quote yesterday and found it inspiring:

Don't let the fear of striking out hold you back. -- Babe Ruth

The Babe only connected with a little more than 3 out of 10 pitches, and yet this is the 10th highest average in baseball history.

You do not need to do the job perfectly. Just keep persevering, without even looking at what is accumulating, and you may be surprised.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Change Your Point of View

Here's an interesting piece I found by Joe Gracia. Have a great day, everyone!

You've probably heard of Stephen Covey, author of "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People." He uses the word paradigm a lot, which simply means a belief, or a point of view.
Dr. Covey believes that you need to have a paradigm shift before you can make dramatic breakthroughs in your business success -- or your life.

Here's a story I heard a few years ago that illustrates the point perfectly.

Imagine you’re in London’s Heathrow Airport. While you’re waiting for your flight, you notice a kiosk selling shortbread cookies. You buy a box, put them in your traveling bag and then you patiently search for an available seat so you can sit down and enjoy your cookies.

Finally you find a seat next to a gentleman. You reach down into your traveling bag and pull out your box of shortbread cookies. As you do so, you notice that the gentleman starts watching you intensely. He stares as you open the box and his eyes follow your hand as you pick up the cookie and bring it to your mouth.

Just then he reaches over and takes one of your cookies from the box, and eats it! You’re more than a little surprised at this. Actually, you’re at a loss for words.

Not only does he take one cookie, but he alternates with you. For every one cookie you take, he takes one.

Now, what’s your immediate impression of this guy? Crazy? Greedy? He’s got some nerve?! Can you imagine the words you might use to describe this man to your associates back at the office?
Meanwhile, you both continue eating the cookies until there’s just one left. To your surprise, the man reaches over and takes it. But then he does something unexpected. He breaks it in half, and gives half to you.

After he’s finished with his half he gets up, and without a word, he leaves.

You think to yourself, "Did this really happen?" You’re left sitting there dumbfounded and still hungry. So you go back to the kiosk and buy another box of cookies.

You then return to your seat and begin opening your new box of cookies when you glance down into your traveling bag. Sitting there in your bag is your original box of cookies -- still unopened.
Only then do you realize that when you reached down earlier, you had reached into the other man’s bag, and grabbed his box of cookies by mistake.

Now what do you think of the man? Generous? Tolerant?

You've just experienced a profound paradigm shift. You’re seeing things from a new point of view.

Is it time to change your point of view?

Now, think of this story as it relates to your business. Perhaps you've been doing something the same way for years, but never stopped to think about how it could be done better. A little bit of research and brainstorming may make you see what you’re currently doing in a whole new light.
Maybe, you've only been using newspaper advertising to market your business, and haven’t been open to other methods of marketing.

Seeing things from a new point of view can be very enlightening.

Possibly, you've been annoyed at one particular client who may have complained about some aspect of your service, but when you actually take the time to understand his frustration and his point of view, you may suddenly experience an entirely different perspective.

After all, he may have just helped you to avoid problems with future customers.

Think outside the box. Don’t settle for the status quo. Be open to suggestions. Be open to changing your point of view.

Things may not be what they seem.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Super Writing Contest!

This message was released on June 30, 2009. I thought I'd pass a heads up on it, since this prestigious contest is a wonderful way to get the word out.

Popular Christian Journalism Contest Calls for Entries for 2009 Awards**

By Michael Ireland**, Chief Correspondent, ASSIST News Service

LANSING, MI (ANS) -- One of the most popular journalism contests in the nation is known as the Amy Writing Awards, presented by The Amy Foundation, founded in 1976 by W. James Russell and his wife Phyllis, and named after their daughter.

The Amy Writing Awards is a call to present biblical truth reinforced with scripture in secular, non-religious publications. First prize is $10,000 with a total of $34,000 given annually to the authors of the 15 award-winning articles.

The Amy Foundation Writing Awards program is designed to recognize creative, skillful writing that applies in a sensitive, thought-provoking manner the biblical principles to issues affecting the world today, with an emphasis on discipling.

The Amy Foundation awarded $34,000 to 15 Writers in 2008. The First Prize of $10,000 went to Tony Woodlief for an article in The Wall Street Journal

Tony Woodlief received his B.A. from the University of North Carolina in Political Science (1990) and his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan , Dept. of Political Science (2002).

Woodlief's background is in non-profit management, policy analysis, business consulting, education, and corporate training, with strong presentation and writing skills. His writing has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The London Times, National Review, and WORLD Magazine, where he is a regular contributor. His short stories have appeared in Ruminate and Image, and his spiritual memoir, 'Somewhere More Holy', will be published by Zondervan in 2010.

According to The Amy Foundation, his winning article, "OK, Virginia , There's No Santa Claus. But There Is God" thoughtfully revolves around a conversation with his 8-year old son Caleb, who says "I know there's no Santa Claus." Acknowledging that "Caleb and his brothers will figure out the Santa secret eventually," Woodlief resists "the elevation of science and reason to the exclusion of magic, of mystery, of faith."

As winner of the Amy Writing Awards $10,000 first prize, Tony Woodlief joined a growing list of authors who for 24 years have shown how a compelling presentation of biblical truth applied to the serious issues of life earns a legitimate place in mainstream print journalism.

The Amy Foundation presented the $10,000 first prize to Mr. Woodlief at the 2009 annual Michigan Prayer Breakfast, Wednesday, May 6, in Lansing . This first prize presentation was the Amy Foundation's celebration of the 24th anniversary of the Amy Writing Awards.

The Amy Writing Awards program encourages writers to apply biblical principles to contemporary issues. Articles considered for awards must appear in mainstream print or online news publications and include at least one Bible quotation. The 2008 winning entries were selected from nearly 700 submissions published in the mainstream media (print and online) last year.

This year, The Amy Foundation is celebrating the 25th year of the Amy Writing Awards program. Last year more than 600 articles were submitted. Cash prizes totaling $34,000 were presented to fifteen authors in May for articles published in 2008. These include the $10,000 first prize award, $5,000 second prize, $4,000 third prize, $3,000 fourth prize, $2,000 fifth prize, as well as ten $1,000 awards of Outstanding Merit. For articles published during 2009, prizes will be awarded in May, 2010.

To be eligible, submitted articles must be published in a secular, non-religious publication (either printed or online) and must be reinforced with at least one passage of scripture. Each author may submit up to ten entries.

There is no entry fee. A submission form is available on The Amy Foundation website ( ). Past Amy Writing Award winning articles are posted on their website as well as printed in their annual booklet of prize-winning entries.

Entries for this year's awards must be postmarked on or before January 31, 2010 to qualify for the 2009 Amy Writing Awards. Please note that January 31, 2010 is a Sunday. Entries must be postmarked by that date. Entries published in 2009 but postmarked on or after February 1st, 2010 will be disqualified.

Entries may be submitted to:

The Amy Foundation Writing AwardsP.O. Box 16091Lansing , MI 48901(517) 323-6233


* The article must have been published in a mainstream, non-religious publication (either printed or online), as determined by the Awards Panel.
* The article must contain at least one passage of scripture.
* The article must have been published between January 1 and December 31 of the current calendar year.
* Books, poetry, fiction and/or manuscripts are not accepted.


* God's word must be quoted directly from the Bible and the Bible must be acknowledged as the source.
* Biblical quotations must be taken from an accepted and popular edition of the Bible, such as the New International Version, The Living Bible, the King James, or the Revised Standard Version.
* The article must present the biblical principles on an issue as relevant, timely and deserving of thoughtful consideration, with an emphasis on discipling.
* Examples of issues for consideration, but not limited to these, are family life, divorce, values, pornography, morality, U.S. National interests, abortion, religion and addictions. The biblical impact on individual character and outlook are also appropriate issues.
* The need for obedience through biblical truth should be evident.


In addition to content, qualified articles will be judged on the following primary considerations:

* Persuasive power of the article. We are looking for articles that contain a discipling message, not articles that tug at emotional heartstrings.
* Author's skill in relating God's word to current interest issues.
* Author's sensitivity in presenting a biblical perspective to the search for meaning in life.* Extent to which creativity and skillfulness are used to present God's position on issues affecting the world today in a sensitive, thought-provoking manner.
* Decisions by the Judges and Awards Panel will be final.


* Submission of a printed entry must be in the form of the actual full page(s) or tear sheet(s) from the newspaper or magazine containing the publication name and date.
* Submission of an online entry must be in the form of a printout of the article on the website of the newspaper or magazine. The web address (URL) of the article and the contact information for the online editor must also be submitted.
* The total number of qualified entries (both printed and/or online) that may be submitted by a single author is limited to ten.
* All entries must be postmarked on or before January 31 of the following year.
* Entries will not be returned.* Articles may be submitted to: The Amy Foundation Writing Awards, P. O. Box 16091 , Lansing , MI 48901-6091 . Winners are notified by May 1.


Beginning with the 2008 Amy Writing Awards, articles are accepted that have been published on the web pages of mainstream, non-religious newspaper, news or e-magazine websites as determined by the Amy Writing Awards panel. Articles published in print, as well as those published online will be judged in one contest.

If a submission did not appear in a print newspaper or magazine, but was posted on a mainstream, non-religious newspaper, news or e-magazine website, the rules remain the same as for those articles that appeared in a newspaper or magazine except:

* Only online articles that appear on mainstream, non-religious news or e-magazine websites as determined by the Amy Writing Awards panel will be accepted. Decisions of the judges are final.* Articles or entries from "blogs" or newsletters are not eligible.
* Only entries sent in a printed format on paper exactly how they appeared on the website will be accepted. URL addresses of columns will not be accepted as an entry. Articles must be sent via US Mail, not via email.


** Michael Ireland, Chief Correspondent of ANS, is an international British freelance journalist who was formerly a reporter with a London ( United Kingdom ) newspaper and has been a frequent contributor to UCB Europe, a British Christian radio station. Michael has traveled to Albania and the former Yugoslavia , Holland , Germany and the former Czechoslovakia , Israel ,and Canada . He has reported for ANS from Jordan , China , Russia , Jamaica , Mexico , and Nicaragua . Michael's volunteer involvement with ASSIST News Service is a sponsored ministry department -- Michael Ireland Media Missionary (MIMM) -- of A.C.T. International at: Artists in Christian Testimony (A.C.T.) International where you can donate online to support his stated mission of 'Truth Through Christian Journalism.'


** You may republish this story with proper attribution.

ASSIST News Service (ANS) - PO Box 609, Lake Forest, CA 92609-0609 USA Visit our web site at: -- E-mail:

Friday, July 10, 2009

Never Give Up! Never Surrender!*

(*my favorite quote from GalaxyQuest)
If you have a good idea that no one else seems to be enthusiastic for, be very careful before you decide it's really NOT something worthwhile. Here are some fun quotes...

"Computers in the future may weigh no more than 15 tons." – Popular Mechanics," forecasting the relentless march of science, 1949.

"I think there is a world market for maybe five computers." – Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943.

"I have traveled the length and breadth of this country and talked with the best people, and I can assure you that data processing is a fad that won't last out the year." - The editor in charge of business books for Prentice Hall, 1957.

"But it good for?" - Engineer at the Advanced Computing Systems Division of IBM commenting on the microchip, 1968.

"There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home." – Ken Olson, president, chairman and founder of Digital Equipment Corp., 1977

"This 'telephone' has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us." - Western Union internal memo, 1876.

"The wireless music box has no imaginable commercial value. Who would pay for a message sent to nobody in particular?" - David Sarnoff's associates in response to his urgings for investment in the radio in the 1920s.

"The concept is interesting and well-formed, but in order to earn better than a 'C,' the idea must be feasible." - A Yale University management professor in response to Fred Smith's paper proposing reliable overnight delivery service. (Smith went on to found Federal Express Corp.)

Who the heck wants to hear actors talk?" - Harry M. Warner, Warner Brothers, 1927.

"I'm just glad it'll be Clark Gable who's falling on his face and not Gary Cooper." - Gary Cooper on his decision not to take the leading role in "Gone with the Wind."

"A cookie store is a bad idea. Besides, the market research reports say America likes crispy cookies, not soft and chewy cookies like you make." - Response to Debbi Fields' idea of starting her company, Mrs. Fields' Cookies.

"We don't like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out." - Decca Recording Co. rejecting the Beatles, 1962.

"Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible." - Lord Kelvin, President, Royal Society, 1895.

"If I had thought about it, I wouldn't have done the experiment. The literature was full of examples that said you can't do this." – Spencer Silver on the work that led to the unique adhesives or 3-M "Post-It" Notepads.

"So we went to Atari and said, 'Hey, we've got this amazing thing, even built with some of your parts, and what do you think about funding us? Or we'll give it to you. We just want to do it. Pay our salary, we'll come work for you.' And they said, 'No.' So then we went to Hewlett-Packard, and they said, 'Hey, we don't need you; you haven't got through college yet.'" - Apple Computer Inc. founder Steve Jobs on attempts to get Atari and H-P interested in his and Steve Wozniak's personal computer.

"Professor Goddard does not know the relation between action and reaction and the need to have something better than a vacuum against which to react. He seems to lack the basic knowledge ladled out daily in high schools." - New York Times editorial about Robert Goddard's revolutionary rocket work, 1921.

"You want to have consistent and uniform muscle development across all of your muscles? It can't be done. It's just a fact of life. You just have to accept inconsistent muscle development as an unalterable condition of weight training." - Response to Arthur Jones, who solved the "unsolvable" problem by inventing Nautilus.

"Drill for oil? You mean drill into the ground to try and find oil? You're crazy." - Drillers who Edwin L. Drake tried to enlist to his project to drill for oil in 1859.

"Stocks have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau." - Irving Fisher, Professor of Economics, Yale University, 1929.

"Airplanes are interesting toys but of no military value." – Mrechal Ferdinand Foch, Professor of Strategy, Ecole Superieure de Guerre.

"Everything that can be invented has been invented." - Charles H. Duell, Commissioner, U.S. Office of Patents, 1899.

"Louis Pasteur's theory of germs is ridiculous fiction". – Pierre Pachet, Professor of Physiology at Toulouse, 1872.

"The abdomen, the chest and the brain will forever be shut from the intrusion of the wise and humane surgeon." - Sir John Eric Ericksen, British surgeon, appointed Surgeon- Extraordinary to Queen Victoria, 1873.

"640k ought to be enough for anybody." - Bill Gates, 1981

Never fear following your passion... Where there is a will, there is a way.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Michael Jackson's Funeral

I admit it, I watched a little of the Michael Jackson funeral. Actually, I saw air shots of cars in front of the cemetery where the family attended the private service, and I saw the hearse carrying the ornate casket to the Staples Center in Los Angeles. I turned off the television then -- I wasn't really that interested. Michael's life is what it was, and the memorial service didn't promise to add more, at least for me.

I have to admit what little I saw seemed dignified. There were also a few clips from Michael Jackson's videos, and a clip of him two days before he died, rehearsing for what he planned to be his last tour.

This is what I kept thinking as I saw this clip, what I usually think when I hear someone has died: did he have a clue that his time left on earth was so short? I think of the engravings from earlier times, with Death dancing with the finely clad gentlemen and elegant ladies.

I'm sure the memorial was important, and many people gave many heartfelt messages of hope and fond memories. Still, whimsical as I am, I wonder what Michael might say if he could have had five more minutes to speak at his own memorial. Would he speak of the afterlife? What insights might he carry?

But of course, there are no insights from the dead to be had by us now living. I don't believe dead people speak; I don't believe in ghosts, or mediums, or seances. Hamlet says in his *To Be or Not to Be* soliloquy that we do not know what comes after death, and therefore it is better to live although life is difficult.

As a culture, I don't think we spend much time really thinking of what happens to us after we die. There are so many, many distractions, but let me suggest that thinking of other things, spiritual things, is essential. But how does one decide what is secure truth?

Hmm, too long an answer to give in this short blog. I'll just mention two things. First, I came to my faith through an objective study, the outlines of which I've put HERE. Second, I firmly believe that if you ask God, whoever He might be and if He exists, to show you who He is, He will answer your prayer if you've prayed it sincerely.


Here is Hamlet:

To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to, 'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish'd. To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause: there's the respect
That makes calamity of so long life;
For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
The oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,
The pangs of dispriz'd love, the law's delay,
The insolence of office and the spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his quietus make
With a bare bodkin? Who would these fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscover'd country from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of?
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all;
And thus the native hue of resolution
Is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought,
And enterprises of great pith and moment
With this regard their currents turn away,
And lose the name of action.--Soft you now!
The fair Ophelia! Nymph, in thy orisons
Be all my sins remember'd.

(Hamlet, act 3 scene 1)

Monday, July 6, 2009

Happy Independence Day

Watching the news yesterday, I was saddened to see the following stories:

1. a fatal monorail crash in Disney World

2. the murder of NFL quarterback Steve McNair allegedly shot by his girlfriend Saleh Kazemi, who then killed herself

3. Diprovan is found in Michael Jackson's home; speculation continues about drug abuse

4. Marion Barry, the former mayor of our capital Washington D.C., who was arrested in 1990 for smoking crack cocaine (on film), is arrested again for stalking

5. a serial killer on the loose in a little town in South Carolina

6. a fireworks accident in North Carolina celebrating the fourth of July that killed four pyrotechnics workers


These stories only affect a few people, not the bigger things like how Obama's negotiations with the Russians may set policy, or how Honduras or Iran battle over governance, and yet they strike me as quintessentially American: Disney World, a sports hero, a music star, a politician, Andy Griffith's Mayberry, the fourth of July...

Here's a video filmed two months ago of Virginia Congressman Randy Forbes asking the questions "Did America ever consider itself a Judeo-Christian nation?" and "If America was once a Judeo-Christian nation, when did it cease to be?" on the floor of the US House. Interesting.

Friday, July 3, 2009

A Common Writing Problem

This limerick (from Randy Ingermanson's website) illustrates the need to cut cut cut to your final draft :-) Have a great Friday with a smile.

There once was a poet named Ran
Whose poetry wouldn’t quite scan.
He said, “I try hard…
But I guess I’m no Bard…
Because I always have to cram as many words in the last line as I possibly can!”


Wednesday, July 1, 2009

A Coolio Writing Site

Since I'll be meeting Jeff Gerke next month at GPCWC, I thought I should check out his website. WOW!

Jeff is the premiere speculative fiction editor in CBA, a writer, and recently he founded his publishing house, Marcher Lord Press. He's just written a book for writing Christian fiction that received some rave recommendations from my writing circle HERE, and today I bit the bullet and ordered it along with other books to spend over $25 (free shipping, dontcha know). I'll let you know what I think when I get it.

Just wanted to say, Jeff has some cool writing tools HERE that you should take a look at if you're at all interested in penning prose. My personal favorite to play with was the idea starter that Randy Ingermanson helped to program. So amusing!