“Integrity has no need of rules.” (Albert Camus)

This is one of my favorite quotes and somehow it finally found its way into my subconscious dream last night. It’s probably the result of too many times lately when my integrity has bumped up against the rules the state has instituted for the care of foster children. If we all had enough integrity, we wouldn’t need rules to govern our behavior. Unfortunately, integrity is in such short supply that we are left with rules for everything. Here’s how the collision of these two opposing forces exploded in my dream last night.

I woke up this morning not rested at all and with a headache to match. As I sat down for breakfast and popped open my laptop, I was surprised to find an old TV test pattern on my screen and it kept repeating the same audio message, “Stay tuned for an important public announcement at noon today.” I could do nothing to remove this virus from the computer so I went to check my phone. It had the same message and it wasn’t working either. Then I checked the TV and it was no different. I even tried my one TV with an antenna and it was there as well. With my head still reeling from the pain, I went back to bed and set my clock for 11:45.

I tossed and turned for a few hours but I can’t say it helped. Finally, I got up, took a shower and got dressed just in time for the big news. I sat down on the couch and turned on the TV just in time to see the test pattern slowly fade to black and the same voice begin to speak.  “Greetings people of Earth, this is your Lord God Almighty speaking to you in every language so that all can hear my words. I come to you in person today to clearly communicate my plans for your continuing existence on this planet. It has become abundantly clear to me that the evolution of the human race has reached a critical point. And yes, evolution is part of my plan. It’s the natural outcome of having free will and you all have taken full advantage of that. You now stand ready to take the next great leap forward in your development, if you freely choose. There’s just one catch. This time you will go it alone. I won’t be there to save you if you make the wrong choices. That is what you wanted isn’t it, the right to do whatever makes you happy?

You now have the intellectual capacity to reason, to decide and to act on your best interests so why would you want me around anyway? I could have made you into slaves that blindly followed my every whim but then faith wouldn’t mean much would it? No, I gave you free will and asked you to believe in me without any real proof of my existence. Some of you have been faithful but most of you have chosen to ignore my expectation to “Love one another as thyself.” That’s your right and I’m only a little surprised you made that choice. Free will works both ways and having control over your own destiny is a powerful motivator in the evolution of humans.

If you ever tried to understand my intentions you might have noticed that I really didn’t expect that much. Thou shall not kill, lie, steal, cheat, envy or have any other gods before me seemed to me to be a fairly reasonable request but again some of those can conflict with your desire to get ahead in life. Having a conscience and a higher purpose in life does make it a lot harder to be successful, so I can see where my expectations have met with the most resistance. Again, it was your choice and I respect you for making your own decisions. It’s just that my expectations are kind of essential to humanity as a whole. When you put your wants ahead of others needs you make it really hard for someone else to have enough to survive. I was hoping that fairness and a sense of togetherness would be self-evident ways to live as opposed to the mantra of me first, last and only. That’s the problem with free will, it’s unpredictable, even for someone as omnipotent as I. I chose not to control your every thought and I still believe that was the right decision in spite of the many great tragedies that mankind has brought on itself with avarice, hatred and the lust for power. You all made the choices and you all paid the price. It’s not what I wanted for you, but you didn’t ask me for advice.

Now it’s time to make another individual choice, and this one’s the biggest one yet. I am preparing another planet like Earth, in a parallel universe, and I am looking for people who would like to start a new life there. The people who go there will have an entirely different expectation this time around. This time the expectation will be absolute and undeniable. You will love one another as yourself or else you will be put to death immediately. It’s just another theory I want to test that given the highest possible expectation of existence, most true believers will easily accept this responsibility because the benefit far outweighs the cost. By establishing a new world where fairness and equality are the greatest achievements anyone can hope for, all of the bad parts of humanity will be eliminated. There will be no need for armies or policemen to enforce the power of the few over the many. There will be no need to legislate an endless supply of rules that govern all human interactions. On the other hand, there will be unlimited time to educate everyone, to fulfill every individual’s capacity for humanity and to share the joys of life.

I will give you all 24 hours to make your decision. I promise that the new planet will have all of the natural wonders that Earth does and your lives there will be every bit as good as the best parts of this planet. I also promise to remove every vestige of my name from the Earth, when I go. After tomorrow, there will be no recollection that God was ever part of this planet’s history. Every building and institution that ever used my name will be removed and the space will be taken up by green grass. I will also take with me the Constitution of the United States because it was written with my influence. There will be no printed money in any country of the world because most of it has my name on it. You’re all pretty good at printing lots of that so it shouldn’t be a huge problem to replace it. There will be no laws of any kind in your new godless world but since you are all so good at making decisions that best serve you, it should be easy to make up some new ones. The good news is that you really don’t need that many, this time around. Free will makes rules pretty irrelevant. I mean, if it feels good, you should be able to do it and without faith based morality to get in your way, there will be no absolute rules to argue with anyway.

Those of you who prefer to stay here will get everything you truly deserve, I promise that too. I will not intervene in any way to alter the future of Earth based on the choices you make as individuals going forward. This is truly the opportunity of a lifetime for those of you who prefer free will over faith. I am excited to see exactly how the two Earths progress from this point forward. And finally, I will get to test the theory put forth by Albert Camus that, ‘Integrity has no need of rules’.”

©Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

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“A dog is a man’s best friend PERIOD”

When I write this blog I try to be an objective observer of life and as rational as possible. Today, I will be neither objective nor rational so you’ve been warned. I just finished reading this article on Yahoo. Here’s the link and if you don’t read the whole article then don’t bother reading this post.

https://www.yahoo.com/politics/the-u-s-military-is-failing-its-canine-veterans-117867436181.html?soc_src=mags&soc_trk=copy

Reading this story was painful for me and I’m sure those of us who have a normal amount of compassion as humans will be just as enraged as I am. If this is the best we can do for our canine companions, we should all be ashamed. Considering all the wasteful spending that Congress has approved over the years, wouldn’t you think just once they could get one right? Taking care of dogs who were drafted into the service of their country, who risked their lives protecting presidents and politicians, who saved an average of 150 lives, who saved the taxpayers countless dollars by doing their jobs relentlessly should be the easiest decision any Congressman could ever make. They did none of that. The bill they passed was worded in such a way that it means nothing.

This shall not stand. We cannot do this to the world’s greatest animal. What dogs have done for humanity is second to none. Protector, companion, hunter, friend, guide… there aren’t enough superlatives in the English language to describe them adequately but the government lists them as equipment? They didn’t even ask for the job they were given and they never got paid for risking their lives. Would any politician ever do that?

So then, if the government is just that corrupt or stupid or dysfunctional that they can’t even take care of dog veterans, well then it’s up to us to do it for them. We the PEOPLE of the United States of America owe it to them big time. This debt is greater than that other one no one wants to talk about either because this one is all about humanity and compassion which are the character traits that define these dogs. Dogs don’t expect anything from us except our love and our time. They would die for us without hesitation and if we can’t figure out a way to return that compassion to them then we have no right to call them our friends.

If you’re still reading this and you’re not crying or as furious as I am, then I need to work on my writing skills. If, on the other hand, you believe in humanity and realize that we’re being tested by this crisis, then here’s what you can do. Write your Congressmen and tell them in no uncertain terms that wasteful spending for their pet projects will get them voted out of office if these dogs aren’t taken care of after their service is over. But please don’t stop there. Even if Congress decides to do what’s right, it will take months for them to actually do it. These dogs can’t wait for the molasses in January way that Congress moves. If everybody gave up one cup of drive-thru coffee in favor of making a donation to any of the organizations listed in the Yahoo article, then these dogs would be taken care of forever. One cup of coffee in exchange for the greatest companion ever known to man? That’s nothing and so far that’s all we’ve ever done for these dogs. Come on America, let’s show these dogs how much we care and how grateful we are that they share this planet with us. It’s called humanity for a reason and this is our chance to prove it.

©Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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“There is a destiny that makes us brothers, None goes his way alone, All that we send into the lives of others, comes back onto our own.” (Edwin Markham)

I never had any brothers but I was blessed with five of the best male cousins any man could ever want. Allen McClintick, Tom McClintick, Bruce McClintick, Dan Croswell and Jack Croswell were more like brothers to me because we all shared a common ancestry with our Grandfather McClintick. To be one of only six men on earth who could say, “Yep, that’s my grandpa,” put us in an exclusive fraternity we all cherished with a passionate fervor, few can comprehend. We are closer than any other cousins I have ever known.

We all ended up in different parts of the country but the common ground of our place in Minnesota kept us close in spite of geography. We each made the journey to the property  and did our share of the work that was always plentiful. It’s called paying your respects and hard work was the only form of payment my Grandfather McClintick would have accepted from us. Every descendent of Guy R. McClintick was blessed with a name that equated with honesty, compassion, integrity and dedication. We all accepted the mantle of responsibility that came with this incredible inheritance.

Now that we’ve reached the later stages of life and we face the end of days, I believe we will be closer than ever. We’ve already lost Dan Croswell and Tom McClintick but there are no regrets for any of us. We all did our part to make the world a better place and followed every rule our Grandfather McClintick taught us about dedication and faithfulness. That’s what it takes to call yourself a McClintick Grandson, an undying desire to make a difference every day until there are no more days. It was always the path less traveled but made easier by our Grandfather’s footsteps leading the way. His guidance fortified us for every difficulty and created a bond that will never be broken, even in death.

I love my cousins like brothers and I’m proud of who they are and what they have done with their lives. They raised good kids, loved their wives, worked hard, played harder and helped others wherever they went because to do any less would be unacceptable to any McClintick. Life is hard but living is easy when you have a family around you who shares the joys and sorrows that come every day. We’re close as a family because we work at it and we accept God’s plan for our lives, unequivocally. We don’t waste our precious gift of time by dwelling on what might have been but rather we focus on what still needs to be done and how to get there.

I’m looking forward to being reunited with my cousins in the next life and I just hope there’s plenty of work that needs to be done in Heaven. Our Grandfather has been there for decades so I’m sure he’s got many things planned to keep us happy for eternity. It will be great to be together once more, sharing the load with my Grandpa, my dad and my uncles. Heaven will never be same after all the McClintick men get there.

Even God will be amazed!

©Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content

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“I remember things the way they should have been.” (Truman Capote)

Memories are funny things. One man’s comedy is another man’s tragedy, or so it seems after the fact. Many of the stories I have told here on WordPress are vivid recollections of events from my past but are they true or just the way I want to remember them? I think I have a very good memory but every once in a while I get challenged by someone else’s version of the same story. Today’s post is my version of one such story.

The summer of 1968 is fondly remembered as the Summer of Love. I was only 14 that year but I sure didn’t want to miss out on this once in a lifetime event. I couldn’t make it to San Francisco to join in all the fun with the flower children and DeadHeads so I had to settle for one week at the lake in Minnesota to make my mark.

Her name was Connie Larson and she was the most gorgeous girl from Minnesota I ever met in all my summers at Portview Resort. Connie was one of six sisters who came there every summer but I only remember four of them being there that year. She was a year older than me and it was very apparent I was in over my head but that didn’t stop me. I followed her around for a week hoping for a few precious moments of soulful bliss and she didn’t disappoint. I made sure her cabin was attended to every day with fresh firewood and clean garbage cans. I offered her guided tours of the property even though she knew the place as well as I did. We played together in the sand at the beach in front of her cabin and that summer I even swam across the lake and back just to show off for her. It was a mile swim that I only did once, so yes it’s a big deal. As I recall, I even swam it after I got stung by a hornet that same day. She was a whole year older, I had to do something extraordinary. For that act of bravery I got her undivided attention for the rest of that day and evening. I never hurt so good in all my life.

By the end of the week, we were inseparable and planning next year’s summer vacation at the lake. After five days of being missing in action, my mom was starting to get worried about me and the blonde love of my life. She even caught us fooling around in the old icehouse. It was still full of sawdust and it was the perfect place to hide out from the world while we planned our future together. My mom didn’t share my enthusiasm for blondes and sawdust and she quickly decided that this ancient structure was a death trap. She even had my grandfather tear it down before the next summer. Truth be told mom, we never even kissed but it was kind of fun seeing your face when you thought so. After the best week of my life, Connie left me all alone to face my future. We never saw each other again and the resort closed a year later.

My summer of love was over before I knew it and my childhood memories gave way to manhood and little time for romantic notions. That’s probably how it should be because fantasies are always better left unfulfilled. I went home that summer actually believing that girls could be interested in me and that I wasn’t the completely useless dork my sister Karen had convinced me I was destined to become. An older female had changed my life in just one week and I was forever grateful to Connie Larson for every bit of confidence she gave me that one blissful summer.

And then, 47 years later, Connie came back into my life right here on WordPress. I got an email a few weeks ago telling me that ConstanceL had just signed up to follow my blog. I took a huge chance and sent her an email to thank her for signing up and to find out if she was the girl I remembered. She immediately answered my inquiry with an emphatic, “No, I don’t remember you but my family always stayed at Portview Resort and I was searching for information about Portview when your blog came up.” After several hours of looking for my ego, I decided to try again so I sent her another email with more detailed depictions of our summer romance. She finally allowed me a tiny shred of encouragement when she said she remembered a boy that was pretty cute. I’m old now so I’ll take that any day.

After I pulled the faded memories from her brain she started to piece things back together but not quite like I had. She has blocked out the icehouse escapade entirely but at least she didn’t try to deny that it might have happened. So now I’m left with memories that sure seem real to me but the only other person who could testify to my storytelling isn’t quite ready to do so. It’s her loss really, in my imagination she gets to be Cinderella and Show White all rolled into one and I’m perfectly happy to be her pretty cute prince charming, if she would let me.

It’s your turn now Connie, I think we all want to hear your side of the story.

©Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content

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“To every action there is always opposed an equal reaction.” (Sir Isaac Newton)

If there was ever one universal truth for all mankind this has to be it. This is Newton’s Third Law of Motion but it clearly explains humanity as well. There is no action taken that doesn’t create an equal and opposite reaction. We need to consider this fact in everything we do and yet we continue to function as if it doesn’t exist.

My concern for the inevitable outcome of this truth is our ever increasing reliance on technology. I’ve been reading up on artificial intelligence and the future ramifications of its application. Even some of our foremost thinkers like Bill Gates, Stephen Hawking, Steve Wozniak and Elon Musk are voicing their concerns for the future of mankind if we continue to focus on this technology. I’m not qualified to voice an opinion on their level of expertise so I’m going to stay within my area of experience, the demise of problem solving skills in humans.

As we continue to increase our dependency on smartphones and tablet computers we are chipping away at our innate reasoning process in favor of ready-made answers to every question. The more we rely on our devices to think for us, the less we develop our own problem solving skills. I can foresee a future where the smallest difficulties will be handled by Artificial Intelligence and we will be perfectly happy to relinquish our decision making ability over to this little robot companion. If they make one that looks and acts like a dog, people will be lined up at the Apple Store like never before.

I’m not suggesting we give up our technology. I am stating emphatically that it doesn’t have to own us. I still force myself to do math in my head and I can do simple calculations faster than most people can get to the calculator on their phones. I can still spell better than anyone I know without having to look up an online dictionary or ask Siri. I’m not that smart but I make my brain work as often as possible to keep it alive. I’ll match wits with anybody in a problem solving contest that requires deductive reasoning, not just fact finding. Reason and wisdom are the most valuable parts of our existence and they make us who we are more than any other aspect of our being. Why would we ever want to minimize their importance in favor of AI?

The world of tomorrow is being created today by extremely bright humans who can reason, who can solve problems with tenacious intellect and who can and will inject a healthy dose of humanity into every decision. Artificial Intelligence is just that, it’s artificial and it has a place in our lives but it shouldn’t be given the key to the vault of our collective human experience. Each one of us has the ability to improve the world in ways that no robot could ever imagine. Each one of us has a duty to all of mankind to improve the human race so that all of us can thrive on this planet. Each one of us must act in our own unique way to impact our corner of the universe so that the future is better than today.

By following Newton’s Third Law and sharing these responsibilities equally, we will never have to be afraid of AI  and the future will be better than anyone can imagine.

©Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content

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“Don’t think twice, it’s all right.” (Bob Dylan)

I have always admired songs with great lyrics and this is my favorite Bob Dylan song. I actually prefer the version that Peter, Paul and Mary recorded but the lyrics are mostly the same. As I listened to this song again recently it became apparent that this song could easily be edited to render a completely different sentiment with just a few changes. Please read through it first and then I’ll give you the rest of my thoughts.
It ain’t no use to sit and wonder why, Lord
If I don’t know by now
An’ it ain’t no use to sit and wonder why, Lord
It don’t matter any how
When the rooster crows at the break of dawn
Look out your window and I’ll be gone
I’m the reason I’m trav’lin’ on
Don’t save my life, it’s all right
It ain’t no use in turnin’ on your light, Lord
That light I never knowed
An’ it ain’t no use in turnin’ on your light, Lord
I’m on the dark side of the road
Still I wish there was somethin’ you would do or say
To try and make me change my mind and stay
We never did too much talkin’ anyway
So don’t save my life, it’s all right
So it ain’t no use in callin’ out my name, Lord
Like you always did before
It ain’t no use in callin’ out my name, Lord
I can’t hear you any more
I’m a-thinkin’ and a-wond’rin’ walking down the road
I once loved you father, like a child I’m told
I gave you my heart but you wanted my soul
So don’t save my life, it’s all right
Well I’m walking down that long lonesome road, Lord
Where I’m bound, is probably Hell
But goodbye’s too good a word, Lord
So I’ll just say fare thee well
I ain’t sayin’ you treated me unkind
I could have done better but I don’t mind
I just sort of wasted your precious time
So don’t save my life, it’s all right
Instead of a song about breaking up with a girlfriend and trying to make peace with the experience, I used it to express my failure to put the Good Lord first in my life and my willingness to accept whatever fate that may bring me. I think it helps me express some longstanding doubts I have had about my faith. Do I believe there is a God? Absolutely. Have I lived my life with Him in charge? Not so much. The challenge for me has always been about free will. God could have easily created us to be slaves to his commands but he gave us all free will instead and free will is essential to any proclamation of faith. It wouldn’t be much of a commitment if we couldn’t choose.
Free will has led me down a path filled with selfishness and then I asked Him to save me from my poor decisions. Does that sound familiar to you? I can’t speak for anybody but myself but the world I see every day is filled with people who
live in quiet desperation hoping for a miracle that never comes. It’s not God’s job to save us from ourselves. That’s not how free will works. The choices we make every day will lead us, inevitably, to our fate. We can’t have it both ways. We don’t get to be selfish and then be redeemed by the blood of Christ. We have to walk the walk and frankly, I’ve been wandering not walking. I hope those days are over. Maybe, by rewriting this great song, I can start the process of redemption for all of us who wander through life. The great thing about free will, it’s never too late to make better choices. God put us here to take care of each other, the planet we live on and all living things. I promise to try harder to be the man God needs me to be and I hereby relinquish my free will to His service. Sorry it took me so long, Lord.
©Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content
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“No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money.” (Samuel Johnson)

I think it’s time for a new challenge. I recently posted my 200th blog and passed 150,000 views here at grhgraph. Given how little I know about the tricks of the trade for social media, I would like to think the quality of the writing itself has generated all of that attention. In order to prove that hypothesis once and for all there remains just one major challenge to calling myself a writer. I have to publish something that sells. I have published an e-book before and it was overwhelmingly ignored.

It’s clear to me now that leadership and small business management lessons aren’t very popular subjects, so this time I chose to go out on the proverbial limb and write something humorous. At least I hope so. Time will tell if I’m right about that. My favorite kind of humor is sarcasm so I’m taking a huge chance here that others will share  my views on humanity and the bizarre way the world works. Trust me, this book is definitely not for everyone. I even included a warning in the preface. I’m not crazy enough to believe this will ever be a huge success but I’m hoping for more than a few readers this time. Friends and family aren’t going to be enough to cure my need for writing validation.

In my usual way of self-promotion, which is minimal at best, I will give you a brief synopsis of the book. It’s called, Say What? The inspiration for this creation came from Mark Twain’s Letters from the Earth. In my opinion, Letters from the Earth is the most irreverent book ever published and it remains Twain’s most controversial piece of writing. To me, it was pure genius and it spawned a million wild ideas in my adolescent brain that have been put forth in my five years here on WordPress. Letters from the Earth was a series of stories explaining life on this planet as Satan would have explained it to God in some parallel universe where those two were on speaking terms.

My version of this story consists of me being abducted by aliens from the planet Zyntaaxea and asked to explain the English language and popular culture to them so they can better understand our civilization. I am taken away to their planet and over a period of hours I am engaged in a dialogue with Mitra, who is a female Zyntaaxean and head of their linguistics lab. I do my best to explain the mind-numbing way we communicate and the irrational way we behave but my cynical sense of humor gets the best of me and I can’t help but make fun of it all. Even those of you who love to laugh will still be challenged by my sarcasm.

I would really enjoy writing as a full-time career if it paid the bills. It’s just the kind of work I could do for another 20 or 30 years which would be great because I really don’t want to retire.  The older I get the more my life experience lends itself to good writing and especially the humorous stuff. I think Mark Twain inspired me when he wrote these words, “It takes a heap of sense to write good nonsense.”

Here’s the link to the Amazon Kindle site where the book is for sale. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00T852RYK

The way I understand it, you can buy the e-book for $2.99 or read it for free if you’re a member of Amazon Unlimited.. Either way, I get paid something for my 8,000 word effort. I only need about $5 a word to make this profitable and quit my day job. I guess that means I need about 50,000 people with a sense of humor as warped as mine. Today is my 61st birthday so maybe I should just hope for 50,000 people who are crazy enough to pay Amazon $2.99 just to encourage me to keep writing. Stranger things have happened, but not to me. That’s what makes this opportunity so much fun.

Thanks again to all who have read my blog. I am still amazed that people actually take time out of their day to read the things I write.

©Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content

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