“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.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

“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.
Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

“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

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

“When nature has work to be done, she creates a genius to do it.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

robin universe

This is a photo of my good friend, Robin Rakes. This is how I want to remember him, now that he’s gone. If there was ever a person who embodied all the wonders of the universe, it was Robin. From the wiffle ball he’s holding to the cosmic cloud he painted on the wall, Robin’s world was the universe and every amazing thing about it was his to explore.

We went to high school together but we didn’t meet till I was in college. The day we met was a moment that will always be special for me. He struck me as kind of arrogant but in a comical way, as if he knew everything but he was willing to let me in on his secrets if I passed his test of friendship. As long as I had a well developed sense of humor and a capacity to laugh at his absurd statements, we would get along fine and we always did.

Robin was a fountain of information and opinions and he flooded my life with ideas and jokes about every subject from art to music to sports to food and he was ever the cynic when it came to humanity. Fools were not tolerated and friends were held to the highest expectation of friendship. Friendship, for Robin, was an Olympic sport and he always went out of his way to make sure those of us in his circle were enthralled, not just entertained.

I’m still not sure what I brought to his life in return. I had no artistic skills at all, my musical tastes were ordinary and I wasn’t epicurios. Maybe he recognized my willingness to learn from the master and took pity on me as a poor lost suburban kid who needed a pilot to take him to the stars. I went along for the ride because it was a once in a lifetime opportunity. He taught me things I will always have with me to remember him by, like classical music and art and not just the beauty of it but the finer points that make it even more amazing.

It was in the minutia of life that Robin found his happiness. The tiniest details made him giddy with excitement and eager to share his revelations with others. He looked for ways to enrich every experience for others and to spread the wisdom he gleaned from each new discovery. I once drove 15 hours from Houston to KC just to get there in time for a party he said would be great and he wasn’t lying. I didn’t sleep for 24 hours but it was worth it.

Robin had a knack for creativity and problem solving that was amazing. At his funeral, someone told a story about how Robin figured out a way to bake an old audio tape of the 1969 KC Chiefs Super Bowl to restore it to its original quality. I came home thinking about this blog and how I could honor his memory. I remembered that I had this old photo of him on a 35mm slide but I had no way to scan it for this post. It took me the better part of an hour but I finally managed to use a little slide viewer to light it from behind and then I used my digital camera in macro mode to shoot it. I did some quick retouching in Photoshop and it came out pretty good, all things considered. Robin’s life should be an inspiration and all of us who knew him need to find ways to carry on his legacy.

I’m just sorry I didn’t make more of an effort to stay in touch. I didn’t even know he had cancer until I read the obituary. It’s not much but at least I have this photo and the phenomenal memories that it brings back to me. On behalf of Robin and all the other amazing people we have in our lives right now, let me just say this as tactfully as possible. Let’s all get off our butts and tell each other what we really mean to each other. It’s not hard to say, “I love you and you mean a lot to me. Thank you for being my friend.”

Thanks again Robin. You are unforgettable and I’m proud to be your friend.

©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

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

“If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.” (George Orwell)

I haven’t slept much lately and I’m writing this blog at 5 a.m. because I’m deeply troubled by the terrorism taking place all over the world, but more specifically the tragedy in Paris. This one hits too close to home for those of us who believe that freedom of speech is the single most important human right. I can’t stop thinking about the danger to the future of humanity if speech is curtailed in any way, shape or form.

What these terrorists did is one of the most cowardly acts of cruelty ever conceived. It ranks right up there with the Holocaust, as pure evil. They don’t get to hide behind their so-called faith and justify their actions by being called to jihad. That’s the essence of oppression and we should all be outraged by their evil ways.

Killing another person is no way to express faith in any religion and it will not change the world. It will have the opposite effect. It will make the rest of us try that much harder to renew our faith in the sanctity of life and the value of human rights for all people, everywhere. It will bring us together and give us the strength we need to fight hateful ideology of any kind and freedom of speech is the way to win this war.

I believe in freedom of speech and I exercise my right every time I write this blog. I say whatever comes into my head and I believe my words have value for all to hear but I absolutely respect those who disagree with me and the validity of their opinions. That’s how the process works. Open and honest debate is an exchange of information not prejudices. Even when I don’t agree with someone else’s views, I’m not offended by them, they are just opinions being expressed. My reaction to them is something I choose to have, it’s not obligatory. I’m not controlled by some animal hind-brain that controls my impulses. I save my outrage for real human tragedies, like this one in Paris.

Here’s the lesson I want to impart today. Freedom of speech is the most important part of the social contract that makes peaceful coexistence possible and keeps us from living under any form of tyrannical rule. If we ever let go of our right to speak freely, we will see despotism and oppression on a scale that makes the Holocaust seem insignificant.

Fanaticism, in any form, is always guided by a lack of values, an obsession with control and a ruthless mindset. By silencing their critics, fanatics hope to intimidate the rest of us into compliance out of abject fear for our lives. They can’t make a valid argument for change because they don’t have one. Fear is all they can achieve and that’s why they hate free speech.

Free speech is the foundation of education and eventually, wisdom. It spreads the good news of humanity and compassion that fanatics are deathly afraid of and it makes life worth living. I would rather be dead than living in a world where anyone else arbitrarily decides what I should be thinking or saying. I will defend that right with my last breath if necessary and you should too. We would dishonor everything our founding fathers did for America if we ever succumb to this form of tyranny. Let’s not forget the admonition Jesus gave us long ago, “Every one to whom much is given, of him will much be required.”

If there was ever a New Year’s Resolution worth keeping, this one is it. We must ALL resolve to fight oppression with the truth, abhor violence while demonstrating  compassion, speak out for those who cannot and never give in to terrorism.

©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

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

“Faith can move mountains… but we all have to help.” (Guy Horst)

In my six years of working with foster children I have come in contact with people from black to white and every shade in between. For the life of me, I cannot comprehend why we still cling to racial stereotypes and the hatred that follows. In my experience, there are no absolute traits that define the races. I have met just as many wonderful black foster parents who took in white siblings as wonderful white foster parents who took in black siblings. I’ve seen kids who defy any obvious racial characteristics and kids who seem to possess all the racial profiles, but only at first glance. Once I get to know them, all of my preconceived ideas are proven to be wrong, time and again. The only thing I can say absolutely is this, everybody everywhere is unique and given my willingness to treat them equally, I get treated about the same in return. When I accept them for who they are, they accept me for the man I am,  a flawed individual who tries to do his share of the work.

I don’t have an ingenious idea for how America can solve its longstanding angst about race but I do know this much, if racism is the mountain we are asking God to move, then we all have to do our part. I’m glad I got out of white suburbia and made friends with people of all colors. And guess what, I didn’t have to go very far. There are lots of races living in suburbia and taking in foster kids. Their houses look just like my house and they have opened up their homes to kids from anywhere. That’s why racism is the most futile attitude anyone can possess. It doesn’t make any sense to categorize people by their color.

On the other hand, it makes perfect sense to categorize people by their prejudices. Bigotry is alive and well and living in every neighborhood but bigotry is always about perception not reality. Bigotry is the easy way out for those who choose not to know better. I have not been disappointed or deceived by any person of color who earned my respect these last six years. I only hope I earned their respect as well by being faithful to the cause of foster care. We all share the work equally and we do it in spite of the regulations imposed by the state. The people I work with know who we can depend on because we prove ourselves every day and we don’t need a bureaucrat to tell us how to do our jobs. It’s not hard to figure out, when we all just do our share and no amount of regulation is needed for us to succeed in helping these kids. We just do what the kids need, right then and there.

If there’s one thing we can all learn from this Christmas Day blog, it’s this, Jesus Christ showed us all exactly what it takes to move mountains with faith. All He asked was that we share the work of humanity equally among all the people of the world. I’ll be back at it again tomorrow, care to join me?

©Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com, 2014. 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

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

“It’s whatcha do with whatcha got.” (Don Raye)

This title was given to me by one of my newest grhgraph followers, TimWalker. It’s a song from a movie named So Dear To Me. I wasn’t familiar with either one but I always try to accept the challenge presented by reader requests. So here goes.

It’s funny how often things happen to me that seem to follow a specific pattern. I get a quote stuck in my head and then I start looking for ideas that I can attach to it to give it life and a place on this blog. Then the real world interrupts me and adds experiences to the theme I’m working on at that moment. The last three days have been precisely what I needed to give this catchy song title a new existence.

On Friday night, I was sent out to pickup a foster child who was being taken to the psychiatric hospital in Kansas City, Kansas for evaluation. The only problem was, he was about three hours away which meant I would get home about four in the morning given the dense fog I was driving in all the way there and back. It wasn’t a horrible drive but it was bad enough with more than a few deer standing just outside my headlights as I whipped by at 60 mph on mostly single lane highways. The kid slept and I sang along with lots of Christmas songs playing on the radio. He got checked in and I made it home by 4 A.M. but I really didn’t sleep much. On Saturday night, the Christmas classic, “It’s a Wonderful Life“, was on TV and I caught parts of it while I kept up with several college football games. It is my favorite movie of all time and I’ve seen it so many times I could probably recite every line. On Sunday morning, the church service was based on themes from the same movie and then it all came together in an epiphany as I was walking out.

For all of my life I have identified with Jimmy Stewart’s character, George Bailey, especially the last ten years or so. After I closed my business, I kind of lost my way in life. Working for other people in the printing business never worked for me and I eventually ended up taking the job I have now out of sheer desperation for a paycheck with benefits. To say it pays less than I’m worth would be the understatement of all time. I am on call seven days a week for 24 hours a day and I average about 4 days off the road per month. It is one of the most demanding jobs I have ever had. At 60 years old, most people my age are planning their retirement. That’s not an option for me and I will probably die on the job. So yes, I can appreciate the dilemma George Bailey faced in this movie. He thought he would be better off dead.

The epiphany that came to me today was a great reminder of what God really means to me. It’s what you do with what you got, that matters to Him. My life before was similar to George Bailey’s but now it’s more like Clarence the Angel, who earned his wings by helping George. Every time I meet a new kid in foster care, God is asking me to take good care of them. He’s letting me earn my wings and a place at His side, when my turn comes to take the last leap of faith. God has spent the last 50 years of my life preparing me for the work I’m doing now. I would not be faithful if I gave anything less than all I’ve got.

Each of us has a destiny. Each of us owes it to the rest of humanity to fulfill that destiny the best way we can, by serving others. George Bailey was a faithful servant and when he needed help, Clarence came along at just the right time to save him from the depths of his despair. How many people do we all know who need that same effort, on their behalf, right now? George and Clarence represent the fellowship of all mankind and they both benefited from the other’s existence. The most important aspect of faith is that we do our best work with whatever we have and always for others. We can all be just like George and Clarence by giving our best effort every day and that’s why…                                                                         ……it really is a wonderful life.

©Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com, 2014. 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

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment