Carrying Stones – moving a mountain one stone at a time

What Happened to Being Kind?

During a communications conference I attended years ago, two comedians leading a session about improv introduced the concept of “Yes, and….” They explained it was always easier to take someone else’s idea and build on it in a positive way. Choosing “No, but…” is a negative path, they said, and can quickly suck the joy out of improvisation. Some of the time, it could even make the participants and audience angry instead of happy.

Nobody wants that. Right?

This could be interpreted as choosing to be kind to others instead of mean. We seem to have taken a dark turn from a “Yes, and…” world to a “No, but…” society. Wearing masks for our collective health is one example. It seems like it would be easy to say, “I am wearing a mask to protect you.” The other person would say, “Yes, and I am wearing my mask to protect you, too.”

That isn’t how it seems to be going though. We have chosen to say, “I am wearing a mask to protect you.” The other person on a darker path says, “No, I’m not going to wear a mask even if it kills you, me, my family, or anyone else around me.”

They say it’s a violation of personal liberty, a violation of their right to choose.1 The way I see it, that is akin to walking around slapping strangers. We are living through a pandemic and their right to choose ends when it begins to harm others. Their so-called liberty shouldn’t impede my right to live free of sickness.

If we’re going to make it through this pandemic together, society needs Love in the Time of COVID2. We’re really in trouble if we can’t remember how to be kind to one another.


  1. Ironic, given the stance on abortion of most mask deniers. 
  2. You probably have some time on your hands. Go read something by Gabriel García Márquez. 

Consider the Ouroboros

Scanning the audience who attend Trump's rallies, less-educated white voters seem to comprise his base. Could this lead to a political ouroboros of voters? An electorate that doesn't appear to understand their unrequited affinity for the president leads them on a doomed downward spiral as his economic policies swallow them whole to benefit the rich?

Consider this tweet from @KBAnderson.

The party of less-educated whites is devoted to making economic life worse for the less-educated.

The “pro-life” party has caused 100,000 unnecessary deaths.

The supposed party of Christian honor is the party of utter cynicism.

They can’t be shamed. They must be vanquished.

Yesterday was National Voter Registration Day. Please make sure you are registered and pleases go vote.

Orson Welles Commentaries on Isaac Wood

Orson Welles Commentaries – Isaac Woodard Jr.:

Orson Wells aired a powerful series of commentary broadcasts on ABC Radio from September 1945 through October 1946. Five of those episodes, which were dedicated to homebound veteran Isaac Woodard Jr., kicked off on July 28, 1946, with the reading of an affidavit that detailed the blinding of that soldier by an officer.

All five commentaries are provided in this YouTube playlist collected by @italkyoubored, who also wrote a companion article on his blog. Here is the first, the reading of the affidavit followed by Wells’ thoughts and insight.

Yesterday, another black man was shot at least seven times by an officer for the crime of breaking up a fight. Jacob Blake was shot in Kenosha, Wis., while entering his car where his three children waited. They watched as their father was gunned down by police for the crime of helping others put down their fists and stop hurting one another. According to the latest reports he survived, although the 29-year-old is now paralyzed.

America has come so far, but we still have so far to go.

My Plea to 2021 Democrats

Anyone would benefit from this advice

I hope members of the Democratic Party will keep a few things in mind after they retake control of whatever remains of our great American Republic.

  • Don’t take on a holier-than-thou attitude. Never talk down to people. It makes you the lesser person.
  • Don’t talk over people. It’s rude and makes you a bully.
  • Don’t let people talk over you. Don’t let bullies run over you.
  • Listen more than you talk. God gave you two ears and one mouth. Allocate your resources appropriately.
  • Make good trouble. John Lewis, may he rest in peace, deserves for all of us to surge forward on his mission to gain true equality for all.

Trying to Write Again

Years ago, Merlin Mann1 said you can’t think your way out of writer’s block. You must write your way out of thinker’s block. I’ve been trying to do the former when, obviously, I should be attempting the latter.

So much as happened since New Year’s Eve 2020. The novel coronavirus pandemic aka COVID-19. People wearing masks alongside their embittered archenemies who refuse to wear such a violation of freedom. The Black Lives Matter Protests and the anonymous federal police stripping protesters of their rights by hauling them away in unmarked rental vans. This occupational force first raided Portland, Ore., with more federal forces promised for Chicago, Ill., Albuquerque, N.M., and other American cities under the moniker “Operation Legend” (a name that would make Cobra Commander cackle with maniacal glee).

In addition to all of the national trauma, my wife’s father-in-law in ICU for more than a week.

Violence and disease are everywhere we look. Our goofy man-child president flounders about like a drowning orange monkey while our nation founders and sinks in the sea of division he has created. As I write this, more than 4 million cases of coronavirus are on the record along with roughly 144,000 dead Americans.

Yeah. Dark times, they are here.

The overwhelming firehose of bad news is the latest reason I haven’t been writing (and believe me, I have a bucketload of reasons not to write at the ready). I should say firehoses, plural. The sheer amount of animosity flooding through the nation’s TVs by the media is drowning everyone who isn’t bingeing reruns of Buffy the Vampire Slayer or longing for Happy Days.

  1. I started following Merlin when he was a “productivity guru,” a term which would either make him giggle or sigh with exasperation. I think he is brilliant for a lot of reasons. Find one of his podcasts.

Photos of Roadside Americana

Download 11,710 Free-to-Use Photos of Roadside Americana:

The Library of Congress has published over 11,000 high-resolution shots of U.S. roadside attractions, and released the images (to which it had purchased the rights) into the public domain. The photos were taken by architectural critic and photographer John Margolies, who spent forty years documenting his travels along U.S. highways, photographing billboards, drive-ins, diners, car washes, mini-golf, novelty buildings, and other roadside constructions.

These are great and free to use! You can view all of them at the Library of Congress, though many are easier to review on Flickr.

24 Hours on Facebook

The main lesson learned after 24 hours on Facebook is that the people most likely to ask What Would Jesus Do are the least likely to follow his lead.

I was raised in a Southern Baptist church and respected the adults who taught us right from wrong. They taught us about the wrath of the Old Testament God and the compassion of New Testament Jesus. Our teachers were strong, yet gentle.


Several years ago, I had a bout with the flu that evolved into pneumonia. I was out of work for at least two weeks and didn't fully recover for 4 to 6 months. After that experience I am hesitant to venture out into the COVID-19 world because, despite arguments to the contrary, it is still a problem in America. I fear that if I get it, it won't be one of the easy cases you hear about, it will be one of the bad ones, and I am just not willing to risk it.

This makes me sad because I want to be on the streets protesting to support the #blacklivesmatter movement. Because I am afraid of getting sick, I have donated what little I can to support the movement and decided I could log into my dusty Facebook account to let people know my thoughts and maybe help them see the world as I would like to see it.

It did not go as planned.


I have aged with those people I grew up with in church. Naturally, I was friends with many of them on Facebook. I took a breath and dove in to engage them. I wasn't there to berate anyone for their views, but to have conversations with people backed with sources to support my beliefs.

It didn't take long before I was lumped in with "you Democrats" who just want to elect politicians who kill unborn babies. This was from one of those adults I looked up to in church. My head is still spinning from the exchange because we were talking about the T-shirt they posted that said "All Lives Splatter" with an image of a car plowing through a crowd of people. You've probably seen it too. It offended me and I asked if they really thought encouraging injury and murder was the right thing to do. That's when I was essentially labeled a baby killer.


In another thread, I was discussing the battery on 75-year-old Martin Gugino. He stepped up to speak to an officer among a squadron of police in riot gear. The officer responded by violently shoving him to the ground. In the video of this incident, you can see Gugino immediately begin bleeding from his ear. You see his phone fall from his limp hand, which then begins to twitch involuntarily. The police looked at him and just marched past him. Follow-up reporting says he sustained brain damage from this needless aggression.

Someone once counted among my best lifelong friends—also a fellow church member, now with a long career in law enforcement—accused me of being a writer who can make things sound the way I want. I say accused because in context I could sense his contempt for the skill. He pointed out the old man's "ASSAULT" (his caps, not mine) led to the officer's need to defuse the situation. That response could have been talking to the man or some other act that wouldn't have impaired his abilities for the rest of his probably short life.

My friend's comment broke my heart and curtailed my fruitless mission to have intelligent conversation with others. Facebook just isn't the right forum. The people I grew up with, people I held in high regard for decades, lost my respect in one day with a single exception.


One friend in law enforcement met me in the middle. He understands where I'm coming from and agrees to disagree. He listened to what I had to say and I returned the favor. That was all I was asking for from anyone. I'm taking him to lunch on Friday to show my appreciation and to continue a good conversation with a friend.