The Monk’ To Do List

Originally posted on June 14, 2013

I started reading Thomas à Kempis to find some affirmations for my daily life, which, like everyone else’s, I suppose, can be challenging. Being a monk doesn’t exempt a person from work. I’ve met monks who told me one could become exhausted, because in some orders they don’t get a lot of sleep. Anyway, The Imitation of Christ is a treasure trove! Listen to these hints for the monk’ (and mine!) daily to-do list. First, general priorities:

“On the day of judgment, surely, we shall not be asked what we have read but what we have done; not how well we have spoken but how well we have lived” (Book 1, Ch.3)

Next, how do I prioritize my daily activities? Carefully, and in accordance with what pleases God:

“A good and devout man arranges in his mind the things he has to do, not according to the whims of evil inclination but according to the dictates of right reason” (Ch. 4)

What should my attitude be towards work? Do everything well and with love:

“He does much who loves much. He does much who does a thing well. He does well who serves the common good rather than his own interests.” Book 1, Ch. 15.

Is it OK for a monk (or for me) to just read a lot or should our work be a bit more practical than that?

“On the day of judgment, surely, we shall not be asked what we have read but what we have done; not how well we have spoken but how well we have lived” (Book 1, Ch. 3)

Some days at the office are doozies. Work can be true suffering at times. How do we handle that?

“You have come to serve, not to rule. You must understand, too, that you have been called to suffer and to work, not to idle and gossip away your time. Here men are tried as gold in a furnace” (Book 1, Ch.17)

Finally, check your to-do list as a daily routine:

“Each day we ought to renew our resolutions and arouse ourselves to fervor as though it were the first day of our religious life. We ought to say: “Help me, O Lord God, in my good resolution and in Your holy service. Grant me now, this very day, to begin perfectly, for thus far I have done nothing'” (Book 1, Ch.19)
“. . . In the morning make a resolution and in the evening examine yourself on what you have said this day, what you have done and thought . . .” (Book 1, Ch. 3)

If you’re diligent, and you achieve something, albeit small, every day, you will feel fulfilled:

“If you have spent the day profitably, you will always be happy at eventide” (Book 1, Ch. 25)

I don’t think I’ve ever mined this quantity of gems from a single book, apart from the Bible. Mother lode! The Imitation of Christ is available free all over the Web. Check it out.

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)

gods-grandchildren-morgan-tcboo-e1477275117220This is a very important day! Today, I’m going to plunge into NaNoWriMo. This means starting my Sci Fi novel, God’s Grandchildren. I have a sort of an outline ready, but it’s not the detailed outline that James Patterson does. That’s probably the reason why Patterson writes eight books per month and I don’t. But we’ll see. If you know me, please hold thumbs for me (or spit in your cat’s eye — whatever your culture demands).
If you want to know more about NaNoWriMo, click here:
And so — off to work!


I Love LibraryThing

I’ve discovered one of the seven wonders of the web, as one member calls it. No it’s not In-Your-Face Book. It’s The Library Thing (  You enter your books in minutes (because the details are automatically looked up from and Library of Congress) and you have a world class – no, and unprecedented class library cataloguing system.

Mmmmm … now all I have to do is find the API to export MyLibraryThing into Zotero. As soon as the term paper pressure is off and I’ve finished editing the Four Lions, I’ll rescue my other books from my proprietary online database.

In the meantime, back to “Movement in the Acts”…

While writing this, I was listening to “Rachmaninoff: Vespers 08: Khvalite Imya Gospodne – Praise the N” by Robert Shaw Tags: ,

Bibliophiles, Unite!

I’ve discovered WorldCat ( Same as Librarything ( except you don’t seem to have to pay to store more than 200 books. Different business model – links to – who knows?  Telegram style blogging – I think it defeats the purpose, but anyway …  Let’s just say this is where blog meets twitter. Blitter. I’m blittering.

I’ve also discovered The New Interpreter’s Bible series of commentaries. (Check it out at Wow! Great! I can’t get enough of them. I sit for many minutes and just smell them.  I’m in a moral crisis as to whether I shall expose their beautiful naked backs or leave their dusties on to protect them. If you understand, you understand. If not, okay, don’t pity me, for I’m happy this way.

Okay, since I’m supposed to be writing a paper right now, I’m first going to try and find out if there’s a limit on the number of books I can store on  Will let you know.

Quote of the day:
In Mexico we have a word for sushi: Bait. – Jose Simon

While writing this, I was listening to “Bizet: Symphony #1 In C, Op. 88 – 1. Allegro Vivo” by Alfred Scholz; London Philharmonic Orchestra Tags: ,

While writing this, I was listening to “Hole Heart” by Arno Carstens

There’s Such Wonderful Software For A Mac

I’m a recent Mac convert. I’m writing full time, and I switched to a Mac about 5 months ago after my children and wife bought me a Mac Mini. This change was the kick in the pants my writing career needed.

The first thing that happened was that I started doing all my writing in Scrivener, in stead of Word. Word sucks mightily on OS X, as does every other member of the MS Office family. Word sucks bilge water off the back of dead sailors. Word sucks the petrified yolk out of paleolithic ostrich eggs. Word sucks the water out of Las Vegas right back into the Hoover dam. Word sucks like Electrolux … I’m sure you’re beginning to get the idea.

mac mini

Next, the other pieces of my writing system began to fall into place. Scapple, a neat little mind mapper, complements Scrivener nicely. Not because it’s a great mind mapper, but because it’s so well integrated.

Aeon is a timeline maker, which makes sure the victim doesn’t turn up alive two days after she’d been murdered. A wonderful piece of programming.

Logos, calibre, a JSTOR subscription, ATLA databases through the Emory alumni, WorldCat, Piirus, and others constitute a vast research library. I honestly don’t have to leave the house anymore, except for grimoires, which one shouldn’t keep at home anyway.

Finally, for twenty bucks, Blogo gives me a very neat little blogging machine, so it seems even my blogging activities are getting a boost.

Overall, I’m as pleased as punch.

See you soon.

A Lot Has Been Happening Here At FreedomOn6Acres

I haven’t posted in a long, long time. I’ve just been too darn sick. But now I’m better and looking forward to the future. I’ve been busy nonetheless.
I’m finishing off my new book, working title: “The Mystery Of Pain,” but I think it will go out into the world as “Walking Through The Valley Of Pain,” subtitled “A Journey In 365 Days.” I’ve worked on it for almost two years. It is a devotional (in other words, a quotation with commentary for every day of the year) written specially for people who battle chronic pain.
Chronic pain needs encouragement for every day of the year: it saps your life force all the time, so you have to replenish all the time. In fact, before you can even start replenishing, you have to come to terms with what is happening to you in the first place.
I cast the net wide. I have used quotations from everywhere. Any word of wisdom (or piece of scientific research) that can serve as inspiration was fair game. I then added my own comment, and ended with a prayer for the day. This I did 365 times. I’m exhausted but very satisfied. Now I pray that it might actually help people.
I haven’t decided yet whether I’m going to self-publish or submit it to a publishing house. Frankly, I’m out of patience with the outrageously long response times of most of the big houses. How long does it take to read five pages of a manuscript and toss it into the trash? Six months? Give me a break. But, as the presidential candidates say, I haven’t decided yet.
So here’s my little post, and stay tuned!

How To Be A Gentleman: 100 Rules

With thanks to

How to be a Gentleman


I wish someone had made me learn these by heart before I left high school. In fact, before I entered high school … Memorize them. There will be a quiz.



  1. There are plenty of ways to enter a pool. The stairs is not one of them
  2. Never cancel dinner plans by text message.
  3. Don’t knock it till you try it.
    4 . If a street performer makes you stop walking, you owe him a buck.
  4. Always use “we” when referring to your home team.
  5. When entrusted with a secret, keep it.
  6. Don’t underestimate free throws in a game of HORSE.
  7. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should .
  8. Don’t dumb yourself down.
  9. You only get one chance to notice a new haircut.
  10. If you’re staying more than one night, unpack.
  11. Never park in front of a bar.
  12. Expect the seat in front of you to recline. Prepare accordingly.
  13. Keep a picture of your first fish, first car, and first girl/boyfriend.
  14. Hold your heroes to a high standard .
  15. A suntan is earned, not bought.
  16. Never lie to your doctor.
  17. All guns are loaded.
  18. Don’t mention sunburns. Believe me, they know.
  19. The best way to show thanks is to wear it. Even if it’s only once.
  20. Take a vacation of your cell phone, internet, and TV once a year.
  21. Don’t fill up on bread, no matter how good .
  22. A handshake beats an autograph.
  23. Don’t linger in the doorway . In or out.
  24. If you choose to go in drag, don’t sell yourself short.
  25. If you want to know what makes you unique, sit for a caricature.
  26. Never get your haircut the day of a special event.
  27. Be mindful of what comes between you and the Earth. Always buy good shoes, tires and sheets.
  28. Never eat lunch at your desk if you can avoid it.
  29. When you’re with new friends, don’t just talk about old friends.
  30. Eat lunch with the new kids.
  31. When traveling, keep your wits about you. No matter where you are.
  32. It’s never too late for an apology.
  33. Don’t pose with booze. It’s unbecoming .
  34. If you have the right of way, TAKE IT.
  35. You don’t get to choose your own nickname.
  36. When you marry someone, remember you marry their entire family.
  37. Never push someone off a dock.
  38. Under no circumstances should you ask a woman if she is pregnant.
  39. It’s not enough to be proud of your ancestry, live up to it .
  40. Don’t make a scene.
  41. When giving a thank you speech, short and sweet is best.
  42. Know when to ignore the camera.
  43. Never gloat.
  44. Invest in great luggage.
  45. Make time for your mother on your birthday. It’s a special day for her too.
  46. When opening presents, no one likes a good guesser.
  47. Sympathy is a crutch. Never fake a limp.
  48. Give credit. Take blame.
  49. Suck it up every now and then.
  50. Never be the last one in the pool.
  51. Don’t stare .
  52. Address everyone that carries a firearm professionally .
  53. Stand up to bullies. You only have to do it once.
  54. If you’ve made your point, stop talking .
  55. Admit it when you’re wrong.
  56. If you offer to help don’t quit until the job is done .
  57. Look people in the eye when you thank them.
  58. Thank the bus driver .
  59. Never answer the phone at the dinner table .
  60. Forgive yourself for your mistakes.
  61. Know at least one good joke.
  62. Don’t boo.Even the ref is somebody’s son.
  63. Know how to cook one good meal.
  64. Learn to drive manual/stick shift.
  65. Be cool to younger kids. Reputations are built over a lifetime.
  66. It’s okay to go to the movies by yourself.
  67. Dance with your mother.
  68. Don’t lose your cool. Especially at work.
  69. Always thank the host.
  70. If you don’t understand, ask before it’s too late.
  71. Know the size of your girlfriend’s clothes.
  72. There is nothing wrong with a plain t-shirt .
  73. Be a good listener. Don’t just take your turn to talk.
  74. Keep your word.
  75. In college always sit near the front. You’ll stand our immediately and come grade time it will come in handy.
  76. Carry your mother’s bags. She carried you for 9 months.
  77. Be patient with airport security. They are just doing their job.
  78. Don’t be the talker in a movie.
  79. Women like men who shower .
  80. You are what you do. Not what you say.
  81. Learn to change tire.
  82. Be kind. Everyone has a hard fight ahead of them .
  83. An hour with grandparents is time well spent. Ask for advice when you need it.
  84. Don’t litter.
  85. If you have a sister, get to know her boyfriend. Your opinion is important.
  86. You won’t always be the strongest or fastest . But you can be the toughest .
  87. Never call someone before or after 9am and 9pm.
  88. Buy the orange properties in Monopoly.
  89. Make the little things count.
  90. Apologize when it’s appropriate, but never make excuses.
  91. There is a fine line between looking casual and looking like a slob. Find it.
  92. You’re never too old to need your Mom.
  93. Never talk about your military service unless specifically asked.
  94. Know the words to your national anthem.
  95. Your dance moves might not be t he best, but I promise making a fool of yourself is more fun than sitting on the bench alone .
  96. Smile at strangers.
  97. Make Goals.
  98. Being old is not dictated by your bedtime.
  99. If you HAVE to fight, punch first and punch hard.

What do you think? Anything to add? Feel free to leave a reply.

My battle with my blog’s connection to Facebook

Blogging is fun. I honestly love it. And it’s less challenging than maintaining a website proper. But it still happens on a darned computer!

Here’s my quest: I want some WordPress plugin that will post a note to Facebook every time I publish a blog post. That’s simple. There are probably 50 plugins that do that. But I want to control the resulting Facebook post.That’s not so easy.

Here’s the reason I need to be in full control of my Facebook entries: my Facebook timeline is inhabited by my friends and family – not a bunch of strangers. I care deeply what I dish up for their consumption. I don’t want to annoy them or bore them. I don’t want them to think I’m cooky, although I am.

I’m sure such a WordPress plugin exists – I just don’t know about it. If you do, for heaven’s sake let me know! In the meantime, I’m going to update my Facebook page manually every time I post. Not that that gives me complete control, but then at least I can decide to post or not to post. (Yeah, I am going to do it. Wait for it …) To post or not to post. That is the question.

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Six Acres and Independence

Our piece of land is our Declaration of Independence. No more store-bought eggs. In summer, no more tomatoes from some farm in California. Soon – no more milk, cheese, butter, cream, half-and-half, or yoghurt from the store.  This is where we make our stand against man-made or natural disasters, economic collapses, or shortages and want.

We have been working this small piece of our Earth for almost 4 years now. It has resisted us and nourished us; hurt us and healed us. Now we are getting ready for the big push: The Cows. It may happen next month or next year. We’ll be working around obstacles, through them, under them, or over them. But we will get there. Our tools? Hard work and all the smarts we can muster.

All I can say is: watch this space . . .

I don't want to die with my stories still in me