This week, I got nothing.

Sweet jumping Jesus, it’s already 1:36 PM on Sunday after noon! Where in the hell did the last week go? How in the name of all that’s holy, or unholy for that matter, did it get to be Sunday already?

Bah! There is no use in trying to figure out where the time went; I just need to accept the fact that it is Sunday, and I haven’t yet written my response to Sarah’s quote challenge. So, with that admission, I’m going to do something I don’t normally do, and admit that I don’t have the time or energy to respond to this. I’m going to decline a challenge. Mark your calendars; this doesn’t happen often.

Sorry folks, but this week, I got nothing.

C.

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Take your philosophy where you can find it…

For the quote challenge this week the Original Sarah gave us this: ““Never put a sock in a toaster.” –
Eddie Izzard.

I have to admit that I haven’t thought a great deal about this particular quote; it’s such good advice that I just thought, “well of course, that makes sense. Who who wants toast that tastes like sock?”

So, I don’t have any great, long post in response to this quote, so I think I’ll just mention a few  other words of wisdom and advice that I have found helpful over the years.

“Never lick a frozen fence post, not even on a triple dog dare” – The Christmas Story

“It’s better to have loved and lost than live with a psycho for years”  _ The Big Dog

“Forget a word to the wise, it’s the stupid that needs them” – Bill Cosby

“Never bring a knife to a gun fight”

“Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; Courage is als0 what it takes to sit down and listen” – Winston Churchil

“If you can make another person laugh, you have made the world a better place” – Michael Hugo Fletcher (my Dad).

All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing” Edmund Burke

“It doesn’t matter what you think you deserve, what matters is what those that wrote letters for you think you deserve” Tur””laugh an Grannda Fihr

“It’s not enough to be able to pick up a sword. You have to know which end to poke into the enemy.” Terry Pratchett

“Do, or do not. There is no try” – Yoda

“It aint easy being green” Kermit the Frog

I could keep going, but I have to get some dinner. Take your philosophy where you can find it.

Do more than curse the darkness.

It’s already Friday? Good lord, where did the week go?  It seems like just yesterday that I posted the quote for this week’s challenge. I distinctly remember thinking that  I would have plenty of time to write my post about it before the weekend. Seems I might have been a bit optimistic about that. Well, there is no time like the present, so it is time to get to writing.

For those of you that need a reminder, this week’s quote was this, “Sometimes it is better to light a flamethrower than curse the darkness”, from the inspired pen of Mr. Terry Pratchet (Just an aside, if you have not read his Discworld series you have missed some of the most entertaining and thought provoking fiction you could ever hope to find).

Before I get to my thoughts on this, and why I like it so much, I need to admit a couple of things.
1. I get angry a lot. When I get angry, I tend to do, and say, some really stupid things.  I don’t really like this about myself,  but it is true.

2. Over the years I’ve worked diligently to learn how to…if not let go of the anger, to at least channel it into productive activity. And, finally,

3. Sometimes, even when I’m not angry, people that don’t know me well think that I am angry because of my demeanor and, admittedly, odd sense of humor

With those admissions made public, let’s move on to the subject at hand.

The simple fact is that all of us have things in our lives, or in our hobby, business setting, or in the world in general that we think should be changed. Things that we wish were different, or more fair, more just, whatever. Depending on what the situation is, we sometimes feel that as badly as we want the situation to be different there is nothing we can do about it. When we ( or at least when I) feel that the only thing we can do is talk (rant) about the problem, that is what we do. We talk. We wish. We rant. In other words, we want the light, but all we do is curse the darkness.

Let me tell you something, cursing the darkness never, ever, get’s the light turned on. The light comes on when people (including myself, I need to be very, very clear that I’m just as guilty of this kind of behavior as anyone else) stop cursing  the darkness and doing what is necessary to get the damn light on.

Now, the first step to getting  the lights  on, the first step in making a change in whatever situation you want to change, is as simple as realizing that all of us can do more than just talk. We can act. True,  in a lot of cases, we can only act in very small ways, but WE CAN ACT. We, all us, can act.  And, if enough of us act,  if enough of us do something as simple as light a candle, we can light up the world.

At this point, I want to tell you another secret: once we realize we can do something as small as lighting a candle, it gets a whole lot easier to light another candle. A whole lot easier to do something more, maybe something a little more difficult. The more you do, the more candles you light, the more you can do. Trust me, I can speak to the truth of this from my own personal experience.

Now, occasionally, you will find that simply lighting candles isn’t enough. Yes, it does change things, but the darkness, or the situation you want to change, is going to require more action. More direct action. The light of a small candle is a start, but sometimes in order to bring great change, you need more than light. You need fire. Fire not only provides night, but it also burns things (situations, buildings, etc) down,  so that rebuilding can take place. That, my friends, is when you put down the candles, and apply the match to the flamethrower.

When and if you decide to reach for the flamethrower,  you need to keep a few things in mind. To begin with you need to remember to be very careful where you aim the fire. Yes, you can make great changes, but if you are not careful, you can also cause a lot of harm. So, pick your target carefully, focus the fire narrowly, and do not lose control. When you lose control a controlled burn becomes a wildfire and that does no one any good.

The next thing to keep in mind when you ignite the flamethrower of your actions to change the world is that a lot of people have worked very hard to get the world nice and dark, and they will try to put out the fires of change. Yeah, I know, as hard as it is to believe some creatures; slugs, cockroaches, professional whiners, etc, like to live in the dark.

Finally, remember that no matter how careful you are, no matter how tightly you focus the fire of your flame thrower, there will be consequences you were not expecting. Yes, you will make great changes, and you will create a great light, but it is possible that some people you didn’t intend to will get scorched along the way. It is probable that you, yourself will be singed a bit. When that happens don’t try to hide from it. Apologize, profusely, to the innocent bystanders and do whatever you have to in order to make things right with them, and apply aloe to your own burns. Once that is done, take a look around, and decide if you need another candle, or another tank of fuel for your flamethrower. Just don’t fall back into the dark.

Don’t curse the darkness.

My friend Kat tagged me to come up with a quote for this week’s quote challenge, and since I never (well, almost never) turn down a challenge, I’ve spent the last hour or so thinking about the quote I’d use.

There are so many inspirational and thought provoking quotes to chose from that the task of picking just one is not as easy as I had thought it would be. Should I go with something philisophical? Would something from a song or movie be better? Should I delve into my library and come up with something from a book? Or, should I turn to the words of the few political leaders I have admired?

Well, it was easy to eliminate the words of politicians. There just are not that many I can honestly say I find to be inspirational. Songs and movies were somewhat harder to eliminate as sources. There are literally thousands of those to chose from ( Trust ,me, I keep a file of memorable quotes called Words of Power on my lap top and turn to it often).

In the end I chose a quote from a book; one that I find humorous and thought provoking at the same time.  I chose a quote that I find useful in several different settings. I chose one that  “speaks” to me, and sometimes I wonder what it says about me that I find this quote so powerful. With that introduction, I guess it’s time to reveal the quote;

“Sometimes it’s better to light a flamethrower than curse the darkness” Terry Pratchet ( in Men at Arm )

I’ll write my thoughts on this later this week, and since I don ‘t know her, and therefore am interested in learning more about her, I tag the Original Sara to respond to this  quote

It doesn’t terrify me, I just don’t like it, usually.

You know, I’m constantly reminded that life happens even  when you are not paying attention. For example, I was not paying close attention last week when Kat put up the quote for the week’s quote challenge. I make no excuse for my tardiness in this matter. I simply resolve to pay more attention this week.

So, to the quote:

“Experience teaches us that silence terrifies people the most.” ~ Bob Dylan

Now, when I first read that, my initial thought was, “Bob, I do love your music, but after all the drugs you’ve pumped into your body, how can you remember anything you’ve been taught?”

But, that line of thought didn’t really address the quote, so I sat back, lit a cigarette, and thought about it some more.

The first thing I thought was that silence doesn’t terrify me, but I have to admit I don’t like it much. I can’t concentrate in a silent room. When I’m reading, writing, working on any kind of project at all, I need some kind of background sound. As I write this the television is running in the background. I’m not paying any attention to it, but it’s on. Later this evening when I’m assembling components for the Gleann Abhann chains I’m making, I’ll have Pandora Radio playing in the background.
When I try to work without that kind of auditory distraction I end up thinking more about the lack of sound than I do thinking about whatever I’m working on. I tend to get distracted more easily, and I actually spend less time working on the project at hand. However, if I turn on the television, or even better a radio, I can focus better. In fact, I can focus so well that often hours will fly by before I realize how much time has passed. This of course is a good thing, because during those times when I’m really focused I find that I get quite a lot progress made on whatever project I’m working on.
I don’t really know why this is. I think the background noise allows me to block out thoughts of everything but the specific project I’m working on. I know it doesn’t make any kind of logical sense, but it works, and you don’t mess with what works.

My second thought on the subject dealt with silence among people, or groups of people. Again, it doesn’t terrify me, but again, I don’t like it much. If I am in a group of people I’d much rather be talking with them than sitting in silence. I’d much rather be hearing their stories, or learning what their thoughts on a particular subject are and why they have those thoughts. I genuinely like most people (someday I’ll write about those few people I don’t like) and I like learning about people. Now, you can learn a lot about people simply by observing them, but you can learn so much more about people by talking to them.

My third thought went in a slightly different direction. There are times when it is good to be silent. When you are in a theater watching a movie, at Court during an SCA event, or a business meeting of your SCA group (or business meeting of any other organization you may belong to), or to be really broadminded, when other people are talking shut the hell up and listen to what they are saying. I can’t tell you how often I’ve had to bite my tongue in the above situations to stop myself from saying something like, “Excuse me, I know you two are enjoying your private conversation, but I’m trying to listen what the King is saying ( or the Seneschal, or a character in a movie, etc) so would you kindly STFU, please?” OK, I admit it, I have done more or less exactly that on a couple of occasions, but not nearly as often as I have wanted to. This is not rocket science folks; when someone else is talking, you listen, you don’t talk at the same time.

So, those are my thoughts on Bob’s quote. I hate to disagree with the man, but my experience is that silence doesn’t terrify me, I just don’t like it much, except when it is time to be silent.

What they have in common

I am participating in a “Quote Challenge” that my friend Mistress Sarah cooked up on her blog, Beerwithastraw.com, and the quote for this week is this:

“The best way to learn to be a lady is to see how other ladies do it.” –Mae West

Sarah said she wanted a male perspective, so she tagged me. I’ll have to remember to thank her for that at some point in the future. Yes, she’s due for a very special thanks. Oh well, I do like a challenge.

(Late Thursday night)…..OK, I’ve tried to write this post several times. In fact I’ve written it at least three times now, and I’ve not been satisfied with any of the posts. So, I’m starting again. Over the last 43 years I’ve had the to know several great Ladies. In some ways they were all very different; but when I thought about it, I realized they all shared some of the same characteristics: class, confidence, integrity, generosity, a sense of humor, and a genuine care for people. Each Lady demonstrates these traits in often very different ways, but they all share them.

“Class ” is defined by Dictionary.com as “Elegance of style, taste, and manner “, and that description works. Of course what a Great Plains farmers wife (like say, my Grandmother) considers to be elegant or stylish will be very different from what a women of New Orleans Society would consider elegant (like, say, Mrs. Dawn Murphy), but a whatever her definition, a Lady will act in a manner that shows her view of elegance, taste, and manner. She will do this without thinking about it; it is not something she works at, it is something she IS.

A Lady is confident in any situation. She knows what is going on, what she wants, and has a pretty good idea of how to go about getting it. She is not nervous, skittish, or afraid.

A Lady has a personal integrity that is unquestioned. She is trusted by all because she has proven herself to be trustworthy. Equally importantly, she expects others to do the same. She trusts people until they show they do not deserve to be trusted. What is interesting, because of that trust, most people go out of their way to not lose the trust of a lady. Well, that’s been my experience, at least.

A Lady is generous. I don’t mean just generous with her money, or possessions, but with her time and attention. While financial generosity is nice, the generosity of time and attention is even more important. When dealing with someone a Lady doesn’t make that person feel that she is in a hurry to be doing something else, or to be somewhere else. She devotes her attention to the person before her and makes that person feel important.

A Lady has an infectious sense of humor. She is quick to laugh, and quick to help other people laugh

All of the Ladies I have had the pleasure and honor to know have shared the characteristics I’ve already listed, and they have all shared a genuine care for people. They all like people, all types of people. Because they like people, they devote, their time, attention, generosity, and humor on the people around them. All people, not just their family or friends, but literally everyone. This care for and interest in people is real, and it is rare. People respond to this care. Because they are around someone that so obviously is paying attention to them, is interested in them, people tend to try to be behave better when they are around a Lady. A person in the presence of a Lady tend to cuss less, laugh often , and even people that are normally very shy, tend to talk comfortably and easily. They feel better about themselves, and because they feel better, they try to act better.

As I said at the beginning of this post, any woman that deserves the title of Lady, will display these characteristics in their own way, so it would be kind of difficult to point to any one person and say, “Go, observe her, she is a Lady”. My Grandmother, a woman of the Great Prairie was different in just about every way from Mrs. Murphy. Mrs. Murphy was also very different from Her Excellency Morgana or any of the dozen or so Ladies I’ve known in the SCA. But if you take the time to look beyond the differences, you would, I think see the things these Ladies all had in common.