“I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain.” (James Taylor)

In my lifetime I have never had to experience the hardships caused by natural disasters and for that blessing I am truly grateful. I lived in Houston for a year and I remember how easily flooding happened whenever it rained but I can only imagine what 50″ of rain does to a city like that. The reality is that when Mother Nature picks a fight, she always wins. The best we can do is start over and thankfully, Americans are great at that.

Today’s blog isn’t about suffering or loss. It’s about hope for the future and the greatness of humanity. Once the clouds go away and the water recedes, the world will get to see just exactly what makes America great. We never give in to disasters and we never give up on each other. The media will tell you all day long how divided we are and how much hatred exists in every corner of this country but it’s simply not true and every hurricane definitively proves them wrong. I have heard no stories of people being turned down by rescuers simply because of the color of their skin, their gender, their faith or their political affiliation. It didn’t happen because the vast majority of us don’t see anything but another human being who needs help. Then we do what needs to be done.

Isn’t it amazing how many people just showed up in coastal Texas with their boats and started looking for survivors. They didn’t wait for FEMA to give their approval or ask who was going to pay for their gas. They knew what to do and they did it and they’re still doing it with chain saws, trucks, blood, sweat and tears. That’s what makes America the envy of all the world. We never stop trying to help each other. Thousands of people, whose names we will never hear on TV, are working extremely hard right now trying to get SE Texas back to normal. It will continue to be a monumental task because now we have all the devastation in Florida to deal with too.

The greatness of humanity always comes to light when darkness overtakes us. Unfortunately, darkness is what sells for the media and they will be looking for stories that highlight our difficulties not our achievements. The good news is, for most of those involved in the rescue and clean up efforts they won’t have time to watch TV or worry about what some talking head says is important. Honestly, that happens every day for most of us because we’re too busy living and helping each other. We don’t need anyone to tell us about reality because we experience it every day and far more frequently than they do in their New York studios. My advice to the media is this – put down your cameras, shut the hell up, roll up your sleeves and help us do the work that must be done. After a few days, you might even learn something truthful about the country WE ALL LOVE.

James Taylor did an amazing job of writing the lyrics to Fire and Rain. Here’s the verse that best describes what a lot of us are going through today and every day…

Won’t you look down upon me, Jesus
You’ve got to help me make a stand
You’ve just got to see me through another day
My body’s aching and my time is at hand
I won’t make it any other way

Now let’s get to work.

 

©Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com, 2017. 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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“We are drowning in information but starved for knowledge.” (John Naisbitt)

Welcome back class. Today we will discuss the answers to last week’s pop quiz. The best answer to the first four questions is, “I don’t know.” I formulated these questions after searching Google and Wikipedia to make sure there were no good answers to these questions. I only indicated that I used the internet to derive the questions. I never said there were good answers. For the sake of discussion I can give you some answers just to satisfy your curiosity but in no way are they definitively the right answers.

Clark’s First Rule of Motion was given this esteemed moniker after my best friend Clark and I set a speed record getting to Manhattan Kansas one Friday afternoon in 1972. We were in a hurry to get to Mel’s Tavern for Happy Hour and 25 cent fish bowls of beer. Clark clearly stated his first rule of motion when he said, “The faster we go, the sooner we get there.” I thought it was such a profound idea that I gave it his name and made it official.

Krueger’s Formula for achieving critical mass in social gatherings is just another way of saying people should all drink more at a party. In high school, my friend Krueger was always the life of the party because he had a large supply of alcohol at his house thanks to his parents indifference as to how much booze he took from the liquor cabinet. Whenever Krueger showed up, the party we were having always achieved critical mass.

Pascal’s wager is a real thing but it has no winner. Blaise Pascal was a 17th century mathematician who came up with a mathematical formula for why we should believe in God. Atheists and theists have been arguing the validity of his thought process for centuries and no one has ever won the argument because you have to die to find out if God exists. I personally think his wager makes perfect sense but I think the argument over its validity makes no sense. If you have to have a mathematical formula based on probability to have faith that God exists, then you’ve already missed the point entirely.

The Google Effect is also a real thing but finding ancillary extremes would take forever and I’m not even sure what ancillary extremes really means. I found primary, secondary and tertiary effects but the Google Effect hasn’t been around long enough for any ancillary effects to be recognized yet… much less ancillary extremes. I would argue that the most extreme Google effect would be rampant hubris, the nonsensical belief that we have all the answers at our disposal. The other possible extreme effect would be the realization that a huge proportion of Google answers are completely useless and only posted on the internet for the expressed purpose of making money. Lying for profit is the main function of the internet, not truth seeking. When Google finally comes up with an algorithm to discern facts from fiction, then the internet might become a reliable source of knowledge. Until that day comes, it’s just buyer beware.

The fifth question about deductive reasoning was my way of giving a hint to the correct answer of IDK. If you had really been able to go through all the millions of possible Google pages looking for the right answers you would have eventually realized that there were no right answers. Deductive reasoning tells us that when all the other possible answers have been eliminated, whatever remains must be true and in this test the only possible correct answer becomes, “I don’t know the answer.” Admitting this is a fundamental principal of gaining knowledge and eventually wisdom. If we are unwilling to ever admit that we don’t know the answer to every question, then we will never be able to learn new things.

The other clue you had to work with was the title of this test, “Everything’s got a moral, if only you can find it.” The real purpose of the test was to stimulate your intellectual curiosity with a conundrum of impossible proportions and to remind you that Google does not have all the answers. In point of fact, NO ONE has all the answers and NO ONE ever will. Google is not a source of wisdom. Wisdom is the humbling process we go through by actually thinking for ourselves and realizing how much we don’t know. When we face the truth about our cognitive abilities and look for ways to expand our minds, then we will begin the process of becoming wiser. Lewis Carroll was obviously trying to make this point when he said these words. The moral of the story is that we should never settle for Googled facts in favor of reasoned truths. Google is a valuable tool but it’s not the be all, end all of knowledge. The good news for those of us who thrive on seeking the truth is that there will always be more questions than there are answers and I will always have a job as your remedial professor of things that matter.

©Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com, 2017. 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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“Everything’s got a moral, if only you can find it.” (Lewis Carroll)

Now that school is back in session, I wanted to exercise my right as Professor of Remedial Philosophy and Stuff that Matters by giving an exam on the first day of class. Don’t worry, it’s only five questions worth 100 points but it is 10% of your semester grade. This is mostly just a simple way for me to determine the philosophical reasoning ability of my students as a starting point for future interactions in this class. The questions were all derived from searching Google and Wikipedia so feel free to utilize those same resources on your phone or tablet. You will be given 30 minutes to complete the test. Please keep your answers brief and to the point. Let’s begin.

Question One: What is Clark’s First Rule of Motion?

 

Question Two: What is The Krueger Formula for achieving critical mass in social gatherings?

 

Question Three: Who won Pascal’s wager?

 

Question Four: What are the ancillary extremes caused by the Google Effect?

 

Question Five: How does deductive reasoning apply to this test?

 

Thanks for participating. That’s all for today. Please check back in a week for the answers and my explanation.

 

©Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com, 2017. 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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“People love each other, sure it’s the only way to be.” (Brewer & Shipley)

Lord, it’s me again. Now that You’ve answered my prayers with a great husband for my daughter and an amazing wife for my son, I would like to take a moment to express my thanks. Love is the greatest blessing ever given to mankind and it makes everything we do even more incredible. I just pray that everyone alive today gets to experience true love and the sooner the better.

No doubt You’ve noticed Lord that the world of today is a troubled place. People seem to be less intrigued by the prospect of love and more devoted to the pursuit of selfishness and enmity. We seem to be hell-bent on finding faults in everyone else while we blindly ignore our own failings. I’m 63 years old and I’m still waiting to meet someone who is perfect. On a good day, I still can’t count all my faults on two hands. I do the best I can with my imperfections and I rely on You to help me with my daily leap of faith. Thanks for that too.

Now that I’m a grandfather, I’m really wondering what kind of future my grandchildren will inherit. I hope You have a plan for us but I know You think free will is very important and we should make our own choices, no matter how poorly we might choose. I understand that mankind is a work in progress and we all have a part to play in the outcome but a gentle nudge in the right direction might be a good idea right about now. You can even have my life if you think it would help people appreciate the importance of self-sacrifice. I would gladly give my own life to ensure a better future for my kids and grandkids. You gave a Son for me so I know You’re not asking too much.

Lord, give us peace, love and harmony. Help us find the good in everyone we meet and teach us to be compassionate. We all want a better future but we all need each other to help us get there. The title says it all, “People love each other, sure it’s the only way to be.”

Amen

©Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com, 2017. 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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“Love you forever and forever. Love you with all my heart.” (Paul McCartney)

I made it. Tomorrow my son gets married and I will be there to enjoy the occasion with the whole family. In my line of work, I always wonder if I’m going to make it home each night because I drive 70,000 miles a year and this last month has been particularly risky. I see no reason to recount all the hazards I avoided on the road so let’s just say I’m thankful to be here and I am really looking forward to the big day.

Thomas is the best son I could ever hope for and I am eternally grateful that he kept looking until he found Leah. She makes him better in every imaginable way and her daughter Verity has transformed him into a wonderful father, which makes me very happy. It wasn’t that many years ago that I was beginning to think he might go the confirmed bachelor route because babies worried him.

I remember how it felt when he was born and how much I depended on my wife for guidance. I had no clue what to do but she was all over it. My wife was a fantastic mother from day one, which helped make up for my failings as a first-time father. I was working sixty hours a week then so she could stay home full-time and that worked well for both of us. Slowly but surely, I got used to being a dad and by the time he was two I wanted to spend every minute I could with him because he was just that much fun. Thomas has been with Verity for almost her whole life and I can see a similar transformation.

I spend every day working with children and most of the time I truly enjoy the experience. I get lots of hugs, a few tears and more than a little childish behavior but all of it is meaningful and worthwhile. To see my son become a dad is one of the highlights of my life. Every man should be so lucky. Tomorrow, I get to give the message at their wedding ceremony and I have a very special one in mind. My speaking skills are not equal to my writing skills so please pray for me tomorrow around 5 o’clock. The good news is he has already learned everything I needed to teach him so now I get to revel in the moment. I can’t possibly say it any better than Paul McCartney did when he wrote his great song I Will, “Love you forever and forever. Love you with all my heart. Love you whenever we’re together. Love you when we’re apart.”

©Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com, 2017. 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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“Every one to whom much is given, of him will much be required.” (Jesus)

My wife, Carol, is one of the few people I know who faithfully decorates graves on Memorial Day. She loves flowers and she does a wonderful job of paying her respects. I struggle with that responsibility so I’m thankful she does it so well. I get too emotional when I visit a cemetery and see all those American flags on the graves of veterans. In the history of the United States, more than a million Americans have sacrificed their lives for the love of their country. Their willingness to lay down their lives for the rest of us is truly amazing and I often wonder what this country would be like without them.

The freedom we enjoy today cost a million lives. Maybe we should all take a moment to let that sink in…………. A few minutes of respect isn’t much to ask for the blessings of liberty that we all possess as Americans. Freedom really isn’t free. In fact, it’s the most expensive possession anyone will ever have. When a million people willingly give their lives to perpetuate freedom for others, you know it’s priceless. It’s also why so many people die just trying to get here. The possibility of a place where freedom truly exists drives people to risk all, no matter how hard the journey or how great the sacrifice.

I think Jesus was talking about freedom when he made this statement, “Every one to whom much is given, of him will much be required.” He knew that mankind needed to be free and that the struggle to achieve this great goal would require immense sacrifice. It took 1700 more years of human endeavor before freedom was realized and the cost was extremely high but worth every sacrifice. I think he was also talking about the Kingdom of Heaven and the price of admission there. If we are willing to give everything we have, we will get everything we need. That’s the grand bargain that he is offering to all who believe.

Self-sacrifice is absolutely essential for freedom to reign here and in the hereafter. Life has no value without freedom and death will have no meaning without sacrifice. These two principles are inextricably connected. A million people have given testimony to this cause and given us a clear direction to follow. Jesus was clearly stating this expectation 2000 years ago and then He gave his life to prove Himself worthy of the Kingdom of Heaven. We all have the same opportunity to live as He did, freely devoted to all of mankind and willing to sacrifice ourselves for the greater good. Memorial Day is a powerful reminder of why we should always be grateful to those who gave us our freedom and showed us the way to Heaven.

©Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com, 2017. 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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“We start sh*t all the time.” (Unknown)

As epiphanies go this one won’t win me any awards but it was kind of funny so I’m going to share it anyway. I took my chain saw to Nuts n Bolts Hardware today to get it worked on so I can use it to destroy three overgrown bushes in the front of my house. It turned out that the only problem it had, was me. I forgot how to tighten the blade. Luckily the man at the service desk wasn’t that busy and he took the time to explain this simple procedure. After he was done giving me a refresher course in chain saw maintenance he asked if he could fire it up, because well, who doesn’t want to hear a chain saw running? I said, “Sure thing as long as it doesn’t scare anybody in the store.” He replied, “That’s OK. We start sh*t all the time.” To which I said, “You should get a sign and make that your motto.” And then it hit me – that’s my motto.

When I was just a little tyke I was very contrary. If the teacher told the class to go stand by the wall and all the other kids chose the east wall, I walked across the room and stood by the west wall, all by myself just to be different. When my Sunday School teacher was sharing her message about the greatness of being with God every Sunday morning, I raised my hand and asked, “What about Superman? He’s pretty great too.” For some reason I can’t possibly explain, my brain always had the opposite thought. Lucky for me, I was cute and funny and nobody ever took my reaction the wrong way. They just laughed and reminded me that when I got bigger I could do it my way.

Now I’m as big as I’ll ever be and it’s still hard to be a contrarian. Yesterday was just one more episode in a long line of times I have gone against the grain and gotten splinters. In my work with foster children I get my schedule a week in advance. I get told who, what, when and where but not much about how or why. I get to fill in the blanks and I spend a lot of time pondering how and why. I can’t give a detailed explanation of the latest crisis because it could get me in more trouble if my boss ever discovered this blog but let’s just say it was monumentally ignorant and I was not willing to risk the lives or limbs of four kids to do the job the way it was assigned.

When I pointed out the fly in the ointment by way of an email on Monday of this week, I got no response, which is par for the course. I always have to ask more than once for help. The tipping point came when I filled out my annual review online and I got to the very first question, “How well do you communicate with others in the company about potential problems and do you always seek better solutions?” Well now I was stuck. I couldn’t answer this truthfully without following through on my immediate problem. So I called again and set off a huge conflagration in my department. I wasn’t there so I only have second-hand accounts of the finger-pointing that went on when the truth came out but knowing the players like I do, I’m sure it was epic and ugly for all concerned.

Here’s my takeaway from my latest epiphany. Nothing in life will ever get better if we don’t start sh*t all the time. It’s as simple as that. Someone has to stand up and say, “I have a question. Why are we doing it that way?” I say this because of what I learned back in church. Jesus was the archetype for all contrarians. He raised questions and gave better answers throughout His whole life. He pointed out the error of our ways with a sense of compassion and an unerring devotion to finding the truth. He challenged every one of the tenets of His Jewish faith and gave us something better to believe in, salvation through redemption. For His good works, He was crucified and died. Then He did the most contrarian thing ever and came back from the dead just to prove His point. His absolute faith, dignity, love and courage changed the world forever.

As my epiphanies go, this one is right up there. Let’s all try to start sh*t all the time and then ask for forgiveness. It works for me but then again I’m cute and funny.

©Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com, 2017. 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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