Saturday, June 29, 2013

More on "The Genius of Dogs"

   Watch Micheal Hare, one of the authors of "The Genius of Dogs," in a video released by the publisher, Penguin Books.

"The Genius of Dogs"

     Two researchers at Duke have just published a book showing that dogs are "much smarter than we think."

     The book can be ordered online from Amazon:

     You can find out more about the book by visiting

Friday, June 28, 2013

Captain Mark Kelly

     I heard a talk recently by Capt. Mark Kelly, a NASA astronaut who piloted the Endeavor.  Kelly was candid and inspiring through his lecture.  He said that as a boy, he had always wanted to be the first person on Mars.  That wish started his dream of becoming an astronaut.
     Interestingly, Kelly stated that he didn't do that well on his first test flight.  In fact, he did poorly.  But he went on to become a highly skilled pilot and astronaut.   He described taking off in a spacecraft as "like the hand of God ripping you off the go from zero to 17,000  mph in 8.5 minutes.
     He also cautioned against following the lead of the group and said that sometimes group decisions are totally wrong.  "None of us is as dumb as all of us," he explained.  "A team of people can make a horrible decision," he went on to say.  Speak your opinion even if it goes against the group.
     Several years ago, Mark became the primary caregiver for his wife, Gabby Giffords, when she was shot in the head in Phoenix.  He explained how she had to have several head surgeries, one in which a chunk of her skull was removed and replaced with titanium.  Today, she is busy with her physical and occupational therapies.   She is determined and brave.
     Mark told the audience about a funny incident that happened several days ago.  "We were having breakfast," he explained, "when I started complaining about how my arm hurt from surgery.  My lovely wife looked up from her yogurt and said, 'are you freaking kidding me?"  He closed by saying, "Gabby does not give up.  Her advice to you is to be passionate and courageous."

Photo credit:

Are Tax Liens a Good Investment?

 I recently heard someone say that tax liens are a good investment, yielding up to 21% in 14 months.  Hmmmm, I wonder....
     There's a lot of homework involved in this...for a good article, check out Forbes online, rather than relying on what you see in business seminars or on television.
     Beware that you can end up with the property you have a tax lien on, and it might be in a ditch.
     The link below will lead you to an article titled "Vulture Investing" and was written in December, 2012 by Morgan Brennan.


Saturday, June 22, 2013

A Time for Healing

      I'm trying to sell my house and a friend thought it best if this painting came down.  So I took it down and put it in a closet.

     Yesterday, I brought it back out again.  This painting has a long history in my life.  It hung in the living room of the house where I grew up, then I inherited it about 12 years ago.  It's a reproduction, but a very good one.

      I just put it back up on the wall in my bedroom, because it's too beautiful to stay in a closet.  The original is in Florence, and I believe it's from the 16th century.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Attending Church at Duke Chapel

     I had long wanted to attend church at the Duke Chapel and finally, several weeks ago, I seized the opportunity.  Upon entering the church, I was treated to music by the Charlotte Youth Choir, whose voices majestically filled the chapel.  So inspiring.  The Chapel invites different choirs to sing during the summer months.

     Here is a shot of the exterior of the Chapel.

Julian Abele

     Not many people know that Duke Chapel was designed by a black man, Julian Abele.

Here is a link to an article that appeared in 2005 in the Smithsonian.

The article is titled "Out of the Shadows" and shows how Abele is finally getting recognition.

Unfortunately, due to the Jim Crow South, he was never able to see his finished work, completed in the 1930's.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Durham Presbyterian Church

     I had my third visit to Durham Presbyterian Church today.  What a wonderful place!  I've never experienced anything like it.
     While the church looks traditional from the outside with its white columns and steeple, the inside is anything but traditional.  The pews have been removed, replaced with comfortable, upholstered chairs that can be moved around.  There is no alter, pulpit, or baptismal font.   Elegant, modern wall hangings with Christian symbols grace several windows.
     There is no choir loft or choir.  However, a gifted musician, Angie, leads the congregation in songs of praise.  Her beautiful voice resonates above everyone else as she accompanies herself on an electric piano.  Some of the songs are traditional, like "Blessed Assurance," (my mother's favorite hymn), while others are drawn from more modern sources.  Rather than hymnals, the congregation usually sings from words that are projected on the wall, an innovative and delightful departure from holding a hymnal.
     Visitors to the church never meet a stranger.  The friendly, welcoming atmosphere of this church keeps me coming back.
     After church this morning, Stephen and I shared what we like best about Durham Presbyterian.  For example, the way that prayers for the people are handled is very special.  Amanda, Ace, or Franklin, write down prayer requests from the congregation, then offers them up with the refrain, "Lord, hear our prayer."  Sensing the openness and trust in this part of the service moved me to tears.  We could definitely feel the Holy Spirit moving at Durham Presbyterian this morning.  Stephen and I agreed that one of the most special qualities of the place is that there is no where to hide.  Such openness allows us to witness the hurt and suffering of our fellows.  This is very touching and poignant.
     I wrote down the names this morning of people to pray for, and will pray for them during the week.  I feel that this church has set a new standard for out-reach with this loving tradition of recording prayers.  It it so much more personal than hearing names called out from the back of the congregation.
     One of the most enjoyable aspects of this church are all the children.  Little Davis Golden came up to the front and hugged his dad during the call to worship this morning.  And Amanda held her baby while giving the benediction at the close of the service.
     I hope this church will grow and prosper and become a major force in the spiritual life of Durham.


Psalm 91

Live under the protection of the Lord most high,
and stay in the shadow of God All-Powerful.
Then you will say to the Lord,
You are my fortress, my place of safety;
you are my God, and I trust you."
The Lord will kep you safe from secret traps
and deadly diseases.
He will spread his wings over you and keep you secure.
His faithfulness is like a shield or a city wall."
You won't need to worry about dangers at night
or arrows during the day.
And you won't fear diseases that strike in the dark
or sudden disaster at noon.
You will not be harmed,
though thousands fall all around you.
And with your own eyes you will see
the punishment of the wicked.
The Lord Most High is our fortress.
Run to him for safety,
and no terrible disasters will strike you or your home.
God will command his angels to proect you
wherever you go.
They will carry you in their arms,
and you won't hurt your feet on the stones.
You will overpower the strongest lions
and the most deadly snakes.
The Lord says,
"If you love me and truly know who I am,
I will rescue you and keep you safe.
When you are in trouble, call out to me.
I will answer and be there to protect and honor you.
You will live a long life and see my saving power."

June 16, 2013

     Have you ever known someone who turned out to be not at all the person you thought they were?  I never thought this could happen to me.  But it did.  Be careful of the people you choose to let into your lives.  I was duped. I was lied to.  But I'm glad I found out the truth, in time to propel the person out of my life.  I do not blame myself.  I did nothing wrong.  Except to trust.
     Before letting someone into your home to do repairs, do your homework first.  Check the website which shows arrest records.


For getting through it,
for knowing it's not my fault,
for family,
for trust,
doing the next right thing,
and motion,
not doing it alone,
letting go,
going on.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Two Gifts: June 9, 2013

One, to survive,
Two, to move on.
The first was a miracle,
The second, a second chance,
An opportunity
for corrective action.

Sunday, June 9, 2013


Rips through you
Like a chard of glass,
Leaving you reeling,
And wondering how you can go on.
But, you will go on,
And on,
and on....

First, Breathe

Then, fight,
For strength to go on.
Fight to re-gain
The equilibrium you had
Before the trauma.
In time, you will heal.
You will be free of the shock you now feel.
Reach out 
For help 
And hope --
And be present in the process.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Mindful Meditation Can Reduce Anxiety

    It really does work!  Please read this supportive article:

New Research on Mindful Meditation

      Scientists at Wake Forest Hospital have shown that mindful meditation can reduce anxiety. 

       Please click here for the full article.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

World War II Veterans of Edgecombe County, North Carolina

     This spring, we lost Joel Bourne, one of the founders of the Edgecombe County Veterans' Museum.  Joel was a World War II vet, and you can see his photograph in the Museum, along with hundred of others.  Joel was simply one of the very best people in the area and he was constantly doing things to make the county a better place for all.
     Among other things, Joel put up quite a sum of his own money to renovate the old Colonial Theatre.  And he and some other good buddies, many of them World War II vets, contributed much time and labor to organizing the museum, located next door to the Museum.
     There is another noteworthy veteran from Edgecombe County, David Gatlin.  He flew over 200 missions during World War II.  He lives in Florida, while his brother James Earl, lives in Tarboro.  You can purchase David Gatlin's book describing his war experiences at the Museum.
     I think it's remarkable for such a small town to have had such a large number of veterans from World War II.  We owe them a huge debt for their efforts to make the world a safe place again.