because the more things change the more they stay the same

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>My Life as a Bar Code


I recently took on part-time employment as an “associate” (new world term for store clerk) in a local department store. My official department assignment is Point-of-sale (new world term for cash register). Now I scan and hit computer keys and once in a while people actually pay with cash.
I remember my first part-time job as a store clerk in W.T. Grants. I worked 20 hours a week after school and evenings and did some register work. In those days, prices were on the tags. The cashier put the amount in and totaled the amount of sale including figuring out the sales tax and manually adding it into the total charge. Customers handed the cashier cash and the cashier had to figure out the change, counting it to herself as she removed it from the drawer and counting it back to the customer. Cashiers had to go to the office and get their “drawer” for their shift and hand the drawer back in when the shift was done. Shortages were a “no-no” and a cashier could be penalized if her draw came up short because she miscounted change. Cashiers had to be “bonded” in the event of theft or lost money. One thing for certain, cashiers became very proficient in basic math skills.
 Today, as I scan and hit buttons that do all the brain work for me, I think about how many aspects of our lives are managed by barcodes: store coupons, credit cards, preferred customer cards, bank accounts, identification cards, and even medical services. Try to get through a day without swiping something into a machine that calculates our vital statistics. Heck…we can even open up a charge account by simply putting in our social security into a service pad. Yikes. 
UPC” stands for Universal Product Code. They were originally created to help grocery stores speed up the checkout process and keep better track of inventory, but the system quickly spread to all other retail products because it was so successful.
“UPCs originate with a company called the Uniform Code Council (UCC). A manufacturer applies to the UCC for permission to enter the UPC system. The manufacturer pays an annual fee for the privilege. In return, the UCC issues the manufacturer a six-digit manufacturer identification number and provides guidelines on how to use it.”
I must admit, I like the convenience of less brain activity, especially as I age. But I can’t help but wonder what else I’ve lost in the process besides the ability to add and subtract.  


>New Connections

>Now they have this think called a blog hop. Back in the Day hop meant either a dance or something a rabbit did. I guess the concept is you can hop from one blog to another. I suppose it’s no coincidence that hop and hope are only one letter apart. When we lift off, we hope we’ll land in a safe, comfortable place.

Enjoy your hopping and I’m hoping it’s a great experience. Love to know what you found while you rabbited around the net. Check out New Connections blog:

>The Times They Are A Changin’


Bob Dylan knew the world was heading for major changes, even in 1964, a time today’s young people would consider ancient history.

While technological advances have greatly enhanced our quality of living, say for instance high-powered washing machines as opposed to the wringer type my mother used, the sad truth remains our grandchildren and great grandchildren will be born into a world far different than ours…our lifetimes as remote as horse and buggy days.  

A recent article ( bemoans the fact children born in 2011 will cock an eyebrow to terms we took for granted and kids will ask the question, “Mommy, what’s a dial phone?” 
The upcoming generation might very well resemble an armored police officer, with communication devices, instant Internet access tools, and plugs coming out of both ears as they walk down a sidewalk, so in tune with their digital world, they fail to connect to those around them. Will we become a nation of wireless geeks? 

Will children know what it was like to curl up with a good book instead of clicking on the latest download?

With so many gadgets and so little time, will children lose the ability to lie under a tree and paint the clouds with their imaginations?

With the growing disdain over what we used to consider a balanced diet, will this future generation never know the delight of coming home to freshly baked cookies?

Remember when Daddy trucked off to some mysterious place he called an office and returned just when Mom put a roast on the table? Remember how we were quizzed about our day or sent to our room when we sassed back? I wonder what the future family table will look like or if there will be such a thing as a dinner table? 

I remember when VCRs first came on the market, promoting an explosion of movies available to rent or purchase. With digital television, movies can be rented at a click of a button. No discs to worry about returning. 

I remember sitting around our family television and having to get up to turn the channel to one of three stations. With the advent of cable and later digital cable, viewing options are as plentiful as our overstocked grocery stores. With the high cost of movie theaters, I imagine a future where entertainment rooms will be added to the house and transferred to a home theater with the click of a button.

Even jewelry like watches and fobs will be obsolete with phones that act like alarm clocks and keep the times for all 24 time zones.

The once popular Road Atlas may be a thing of the past, too. I remember when my husband bought a new one every year and kept it in the car. Now we have a GPS that not only gives us maps, but dictates the best way to get where we’re going. Who needs an atlas when you can use the Internet, bring up even historic maps. 
The list goes on. 

Not that I mind the convenience of these changes. Change is good, freeing, and keeps the mind active. Yet, with every new advance something is lost. Is it any wonder we wax toward nostalgia as our hair grays and wish for the uncomplicated good old days. We feel like carrying the past on our shoulder’s like a spare tire when all these changes deflate our sense of what is good. But if we could go back, let’s be honest. Would we really want to stay there? 



I grew up with the Western…my father an avid reader of Zane Grey. Great television Westerns like Hopalong Cassidy, The Lone Ranger, Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, Bonanza, The Virginian, The Rifleman, just to name a few, a part of my early development: “Happy Trails to You” hummed in my head for more days than I can count. With the success of Lonesome Dove, both the Pulitzer Prize-winning book and the television mini-series, and most recently the remake of True Grit, demonstrates the strong possibility the Western will make a comeback, one of the reasons I why I can recommend Henry McLaughlin’s award-winning book, Journey to Riverbend, due for release February, 2011. also available on Kindle.
“We’re so proud of Henry and his award-winning first novel. This one grabs you from the first sentence and never lets go.” Said Jerry B. Jenkins, owner of the Christian Writers Guild. And it doesn’t take long before we realize why Henry won Operation First Novel sponsored by Christian Writers Guild.
I echo Jerry’s sentiments because Henry is a former critique partner. Fearless Fiction Writers knew from the first, Henry would do great things with his writing.
Michael Carter makes a journey to Riverbend as a favor to a boy he counseled who dies on the gallows. Ben Cartairs left his home after a falling out with his father and wants more than anything in this world to be reconciled. But, when Ben is hung, unable to prove his innocence, Michael promises to find Ben’s father and tell him he could be proud of the man his son had become, a changed life saved by Grace.  
Soon after his arrival in Riverbend, Michael learns that Ben’s father, Sam Carstairs has been kidnapped. Michael joins the search party, determined to fulfill his promise. But the journey to Riverbend isn’t only about Ben and Sam Carstairs. In the tension that follows his journey, Michael recalls his own evil past, his bloody brawl with his father and a journey that had resulted in Michael’s salvation. In Riverbend, Michael meets and falls in love with the beautiful Rachel Stone, a former prostitute who has conquered her past through faith but who is resistant to trust any man.  
And so it is that all the characters McLaughlin introduces are on independent journeys. In this historical western, McLaughlin mirrors the same situations many Christians and non-believers struggle with today. Told with raw reality that was the West of bygone days, McLaughlin takes the reader on parallel journeys. Kudos for a job well done. An entertaining read from start to finish. 
By Henry McLaughlin
© 2011



I pulled out my recipe for snicker doodles, an old-time favorite for the holidays. As I put in the shortening, butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla, the recipe said to blend until creamy. My mind flashed to when I first learned how to bake, back in the day when cake mixes were a novelty or used for last minute church suppers.

The kitchen was my mother’s paradise and her instructions were gospel. To deter meant banishment from the stove.

First: “Wash your hands. No good cook comes to the kitchen with dirty hands.”

Next: “Now read the recipe, and put all the ingredients on the shelf.”

Third step, to my mother the most crucial in the whole process: “cream the shortening, butter, eggs and sugars.”

I stuck in the rotary beaters, set it on high and splashed wet globs from one end of the kitchen to the other. “Done,” I said.

Mother knew better, knew I was always in a hurry to get to the end of a project. “Nope. It’s too grainy. Set the beater on low, scrape the sides frequently, fold the batter together and repeat. Let time and the ingredients do their magic.”

Reluctantly, I started again, following her directions blowing out my frustration all the while. “This takes too long.”  

“Don’t rush it,” Mother said. “Creaming is the most important step in the whole process. If you hurry the creaming, the cookies will come out crumbly and dry. Creaming is what makes them chewy and delectable. Don’t rush the creaming. It takes time but the result is worth it.”

I slowed down and watched with wonder as the goo gradually melded into a creamy, light texture, the ingredients transforming before my eyes.

As I carefully creamed for the snicker doodles, Mother’s words came back to me. I thought about our instant society, how we crave immediate results, the growing tendency to hurry through life in the fastest checkout line. In our haste we blunder through the mix of it all, leaving globs of broken dreams in the muck of our speed.

I thought how the creaming principle is true in all the rooms of our lives, not just the kitchen. We tend to rush for the pleasure without enduring the process. God has given us the recipe for a rich, textured life. If we take the time to cream it, not be satisfied with grainy goo or toss it aside because of its unpleasantness—if we repeatedly scrape, fold and beat for as long as it takes, the grimy gook of our shattered hopes will become that creamed foundation that awakens the flavor of our human experience.  


Remember Jim Neighbors, Gomer Pyle, who smiled with every new twist and turn in his life? I love surprises. And I hope I never get too old to appreciate the new or the old with a twist. This blog is dedicated to life at its fullest. Not every surprise brings joyous news, like a flooded kitchen sink in the middle of a holiday dinner. But every surprise is a reminder that life is far from boring.

My husband and I stopped at an IHOP on our way to New York City to visit our son for Thanksgiving. Even an IHOP is a treat…we don’t eat out that much. But we were met with a surprise in a place where we thought no one would know anything about us or that we were approaching our 33rd anniversary.

I left for a few minutes to go to the ladies room. When I came back, I saw my husband’s neck stretched, perhaps looking for me. Maybe I was gone a little longer than expected. When I sat down, an elderly man came to our table and handed us a poem he’d scribbled on a napkin, written in the voice of my husband. What a special moment, found at random. Made us want to give back a little…a random kindness in return to perhaps give someone else the pleasure of a surprise.

YOU LEFT ME by Joe Testo

                My Darling, you left me

                For minute or two

                Though that is not much

                Still I missed you

                So I thank the Good Lord up above

                For giving me you

                My Darling, to love.

                Give someone a random surprise today. In fact, come back and let us know about it. God bless.

>New Things Held Back by Old Worries

>Do not call to mind the former things, or ponder things of the past. Behold, I will do something new, now it will spring forth, will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, rivers in the desert (Isaiah 43: 18-19)

The desert, though dangerous, hot, uncomfortable, and teeming with mirages, is not to be feared. God has promised rivers in them. He will bring new things out of the old. The reason we fail to realize this is because we feel safer clinging to the old oasis. We fear journeying out into the desert because we don’t know where or when the next oasis will be. We cling to our hurts, fearful if we let them go we’ll receive bigger ones. We cling to our disappointments, afraid to try again. We falsely believe failure means God didn’t want us to succeed. Perhaps God wants us to put that first foot forward in spite of our doubts, comfort and biasis. Maybe He has already moved us toward that New Thing, but we fail to grasp his leading because we are too encompassed with our arguments against why we should keep the old.

What do you think?

Ponder me back.

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