Speechwriting: Corporate, Weddings, Retirement

6/30/08

Barack Obama Busted for His Tolerance of Abortion

While Barack Obama tries to buy off Hillary Clinton supporters by asking his own supporters to fork out cash for Clinton's massive campaign debt, he steps into hot water by talking smack about James Dobson. It comes down to influence: Obama has no influence of prolife people, unlike Dobson. Obama is wasting his time, especially since John McCain has not overwhelmed voters with his views about abortion either.

Hillary Clinton, in turn, is doing in New York what Illinois voters miss, working in the Senate. Obama quickly hit the road after his election in the Illinois senate to run for president. Although he has a storied career in public service in his younger days, these have been rare in the last few years.

Meanwhile, James Dobson gets in Obama's version of Christianity, suggesting the O is biffy on the details. O called him, in essence, a liar.

And, about religion, there's Richard Dawkins, the most religious atheist. Who does he vote for?

Politics aside, I am disappointed that Barack Obama is not willing to speak up for unborn children.

What? Barack Obama is running for president, so that makes this a political conversation? I guess you could go there.

No, that's just a coincidence. Obama is a leader with the capacity to influence our nation for good. Instead, he prefers to conclude it is OK to kill an unborn child. Politically expedient or not, death is death.

This is not about John McCain. I am not a Republican or Democrat (read why). I have not decided who I will vote for. But I will vote. Anything less, and I give my freedom away.

6/28/08

Edgy, Silly, Whacked Blog for the Wandering Mind

Big Whack: Science & Mystery & Religion
The truth is out there. Fiction too. You pick.


That's a new blog I am toying with. It is a mix of fun and folly, hitting both silly topics, like watching Whac-a-Mole Played by Venus Williams (video), and Roger Miller - Do-Wacka-Do 1966. Also, more serious issues, like the Joel Osteen travesty: Forbidden Apple: Sauced by Joel Osteen and Richard Dawkins, Mystery Writer?

For the faint of heart? Not really. Light of heart? Possibly, but I have no desire to tipsy around hard issues. Not that I am ambivalent in general as I post here, but there, I take a bit of spice with my black coffee.

6/27/08

Hayley Westenra sings Amazing Grace

Hayley Westenra - Amazing Grace

Classic presentation of the song.
http://www.hayleywestenra.com/

Abortion & The Death Penalty

Did you hear that the Supreme Court says it is unconstitutional to execute someone because they raped a minor?

Kennedy v. Louisiana

I am in agreement with the majority. For me, the death penalty is premeditated murder, no matter how deserving the criminal seems emotionally.

Since I think the state should never willfully kill a confined man, I cannot categorize it further.

Also, all the other problems in capital cases still exist. Racial and economic bias, for starters.

In Illinois, we have found that many of death row were in fact innocent. Over-anxious public and prosecution often loves "a good hanging" here still, and so some men were rushed to be found guilty with questionable evidence. The man seemingly guilty of the rape of a child would be among the most easy in our hearts to kill, with due process appearing on paper but not in truth.

Child rape - apparently this does not include statutory rape.

That nails exactly how I think about abortion. No matter who the father is, no matter who the mother is, it is either morally acceptable, or not. For me, it is not, so if it is two wealthy mid-30 marrieds who just do not want the inconvenient child, or the gang bang rape of an inner city single 15 year-old, or the state or culturally encouraged abortion of an unborn girl in China or India, abortion is not morally acceptable.

I understand I see these two life issues as uncomfortable absolutes, and might be accused of lacking sympathy for the mother (or for the victim's loved ones, in the case of a death penalty situation), but what I feel is not relevant, nor is it in the case of the victimized, as far as the willful cessation of life of another. More sympathy, or even empathy, for victim or criminal should not define morality.

My views on this exist both within my faith, but outside of it as well. That is, they happen to coincide, and could exist without the support of the other.

Arguments against the death penalty in theory, and in practice, should be easy when we look at consistency of application, criminal impact, and racial, cultural and economic bias. How we choose who has the right to kill, and who has earned the cost of life cannot be based on gut, emotion ("What if it were your daughter?" arguments are faulty), skin color, or any other floating standard.

Do we stop here? No. There is much more. The raped child needs tremendous support, as do the victims of other crimes. The unwed mother needs support. The lack of support does not justify the death of a child, or a criminal.

6/25/08

So So Much: Wheels Spinning for Things Which Matter

Karitos 2008. This might be interesting you Midwesterners. I have recently becoming involved with them, with my key responsibility at the moment maintaining their blog.

The short description of Karitos is that it is an annual Arts Conference "providing Biblically-based artistic and technical growth experiences to Christian artists." The next one is July 31-August 2 in Bolingbrook, Ill.

Two recent posts worth looking at:

Blogging as a hobby, it occured to me, is different than as an occupation. This blog (the one you are reading), falls somewhere in between hobby and work. I'm my own boss, and I really do not make a lot of money (very little) from this, so it lands more in the hobby side of things. As an occupation, though, it hits a few points: I'm very aware I have an audience, and work hard not to self-indulge with in-jokes, personal life stories and photos, and thoughts that are better kept in my diary. While I don't shy away from what I think or believe, I want to avoid MySpace syndrome.

The Karitos blog leans closer to an occupation. They came to me and asked me to take it on. They have a mission, and my job is to stick to it. I agree with the mission, so the tak is hardly painful. My topics aim toward their goals. However, it is not a corporate blog, and there are freedoms as such. I'm not selling anything.

All that is to say, it has been a busy week blogging.

Somewhat related
Google as indexed my consulting site: AnthonyTrendl.com. One page now exists officially in the search engine.

It looks like this:

What I Do: Trendl Communications
Communication consultant Anthony Trendl can help your company: writing, communications management and strategy.
anthonytrendl.com/ - 9k - Cached - Similar pages - Note this

6/16/08

Logo Generation

Developing a personal logo is tricky. What's the message? I'm working on a website to promote my communications management consulting work, and here's where I am at with my logo.

Red, white and blue. Classic colors. A capital 'A' for my first initial, and a 'T' forming the crossbar. There's a guy in there, between two leaning beams, bringing it together: diplomatic communication.

Meanwhile, the blue and red represent a cool mind under duress. Much of communications can be stress-laden, with deadlines, compromises and parties in conflict. Finally, and firstly, in there is a cross, representing my faith. While not all of my clients care to know all this, it is in there.

Got an opinion? Lemme hear you.

6/15/08

PayPerPost: A Question of Ethics

PayPerPost.com will pay me for posts. At least, I think they will. I'm still looking into this.

A quick look at what's being said: ZDNet’s Larry Dignan’s views, TechCrunch (dislikes), Wikipedia's not-quite-balanced take, James Paris' positive look, and so on.

The issue comes down to whether or not a blogger should write posts at the paid behest of another company. How much a post makes, as I understand it, relates to blogger profile. My blog is ranked by Technorati at around 609,000, better than some.

One controversy that opened was that there was not a full-disclosure requirement. Now there is. Problem solved? Not quite.

To hit that mark, I will fully disclose: I make money from this blog. Not so much I can live off of it, but I take in a few bucks each month. Whether you click on an Adsense Ad (those Google ads), or buy something after clicking on an Amazon.comad, or pick up something else at the other links, all of it adds to the kitty.

I sometimes advertise this blog too. Whether I link from another blog, or pay for advertising, it is because I hope someone new will find this, read it, and click on an ad.

More disclosure? Sure, why not. All of my posts are what I think. I will not say, "I like," if I do not.

There it is. All of it.

Most bloggers hosting an ad intentionally are aware of the implications. The New York Times writes for advertisers, and so does the Washington Post. They need ads to survive. I do not.

It does not answer my PayPerPost question, but now you know "the rest of the story." Do all of your Amazon.comshopping here, and the rest becomes moot.

Lemonade on the Porch With Old Acquaintances

2:28 am. I am awake, working hard on my professional website (unpublished, but coming soon). Church will be hard tomorrow.

As I scanned this weekend's race results, I saw an old friend having run a 5K in my hometown. He himself once among the best runners in Illinois (a 14:58 3-miler), and now, seems to race irregularly just a bit faster than me now. Never knew him well -- we wound up running in Kentucky and California in 1983. In the 1980s, I could not have competed with him. Now? Maybe, but not just yet. So, Gene Krupinski, wave as you pass me.

Also, another old friend seems to have found me on Classmates. Alfonzo Brooks? If you are reading this, post a response so I can get your e-mail address, or look on the bottom left here for mine. He and I took a spontaneous 140-mile bike ride once, and were great friends on track and cross-country.

As I am working on my website, I am asking myself what I have accomplished in my career, throughout the whole range of things I have done. My resume, like most people's, is a careful retelling of a complex tale. With a complete professional services site, I can rebuild into it all my experiences, insofar as they relate.

One friend often looked longingly toward our high school reunion. I wondered why. Those days were what they were, but are gone. Great memories or awful ones, now, as I get older, I wish I could do what I did when I was 18. Now, recently married, that friend doesn't quite ache for that reunion. That changes things, doesn't it? This day looks better than those days.

As I work through my poetry, trying to reduce it down to what is worthy of submission, I relive memories and emotions. Why did I write a given piece? Was it a writing exercise, or was I exorcising some intensity in my heart? Deep blues, joy, funk, or folk? Was I trying to make a point? I go through it all over again.

Ran across a grade school friend, Jeff Malicki, or, rather, his name. His sister, Sherri, and I were great buddies in preschool. He introduced to what became a favorite song, Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen, in 1976, the year after it came out.

I found Cheyenne Brown, a funky harpist, bending notes so that it comes somewhere between a jazz guitar, a sitar and an autoharp. No idea who she is, but I like it. Thinking about it, a dear friend from college, played the autoharp, seeing it as a simple instrument for the mission field.

It is taking a lemonade on a porch with old acquaintances. There are lots of lemons, plenty of sugar, and water meant for drinking with our soul.

Against All Odds (Take A Look At Me Now)
Phil Collins



For kicks, I took a listen to the Eagles' Hotel California as well, the acoustic version.

Amazing Grace by Jo Ann Smith on Autoharp

Jo Ann Smith with a single-key diatonic autoharp, playing a rendition of Amazing Grace. The autoharp is a custom model made by Tom Fladmark. Visit Jo Ann's website at www.autoharpist.com

6/11/08

Details of Life: Magnificent Mundanity

Life has been busy with details.

Details are not details to God. What we see as cacophony, He sees as symphony.

Developed a site for my running coach. My key responsibility was writing and organizing information. Some of it, Jim wrote, but I edited, like his two stories (one, two), but it took some time to put together. Some good stuff there looking at the emotional drama of achieving a dream.

Ran a couple of road races. The first was not well-run. No idea why I ran so slow, but I did. The second, just last Saturday, the Cosley Farm Run for the Animals 5K went much better. My goal, like last year, is to run under 20:00, and I have to drop 2:42.6 to get there. The challenge is big since I have not done this since early college. I am hopeful as every element that could be in my favor exists: good training, healthy back and knees, better diet, and a solid group of runners to sweat it out with.

Somewhat related: Salutes go to Bob and Kristi Rice. My old jogging buddy, Kristi, ran her first 5K.

At Millenium Park, near the BeanAlso on Saturday was a trip to the Chicago Blues Fest to see my brother, his wife and my niece. Rain kicked us out of Grant Park, and back to their hotel. We babysat a sleeping baby while they dined at NoMi, followed by drinks at the Signature Room.

My creative writing has quieted briefly as I worked on chasing some contract work. There's a quirky short story in the works, and a major poetry project. If I have my druthers, I will start submitting a collection of poetry -- maybe two, one serious, one silly -- to publishers and agents this fall.

House hunting has not yet begun, but it is now on the radar. A few things are coming together to make this possible, but a few more need to happen before it becomes a serious endeavor.

A six mile hike with Aliz in the woods near the Little Red School House. You can see a picture of me approaching a slough.

I started as the lead for a new blog promoting Christianity and the arts, sponsored by Karitos Festival 2008 "providing Biblically-based artistic and technical growth experiences to Christian artists".

Learned college buddy Michele Franks will be moving to Chicagoland. We used to talk about God huddled over a table in a coffeeshop (Coffee World Coffeehouse & Deli), trying to look intellectual, as this was the in-vogue place to look Mod and sophisticated. It will be a treat renewing this friendship, exploring new coffeeshops at which to muse.

Had tea with Chicago Captioning's Steven Knoerr at TeaGschwendner. He's a tea man, but I am all coffee. A new experience.

Dined a few times at the Epicurean Hungarian Restaurant. Stop on in (4431 W Roosevelt Rd., Hillside, IL 60162, 708-449-1000). We love it there. Gypsy musicians, incredible food, a gentle and friendly host. All good. When you do, say hi to owners and hosts Tamás and Alina.

Also, Aliz and I dined at the home of gracious friend Natalie Lombard, in the company of Paul Lloyd and his wife Lynn Zuk-Lloyd, and another couple, reading things we had written. Natalie honored me by reading two humorous pieces I had done, and I read some poetry. We had lamb and potatoes, and drank a locally made wine.

We also dined at Mark and Jody Cantey's home (a deliciously grilled steak), lingering on their porch overlooking a park, talking about the goodness of God.

A late lunch, not quite dinner, with eclecticist Larry Slater at Fu Yuan (118 W Liberty Dr, Wheaton, IL 60187, (630) 668-8770) a few days ago, and just yesterday, breakfast with Harbinger Home Restoration president, Craig Penzato, and coffee with former professor and current friend Oliver Witte just before he took the slow train to southern Illinois.

Life is not all dinner. Dessert too. Last week, this meant joining Scott Davis and his creatively dextrous son Mark at Graham's Chocolate to celebrate Mark's last day as a high school junior.

Reconnected with my old friend Susan Gilbert-Miller, with whom I worked years ago, as she transitions from New York to California, with the Midwest in between.

Meanwhile, David Weichelt and soon bride Julie finalize plans for their June 29 wedding. Ditto for the amazingly busy medical student Glenn Jablon, also getting married soon, to the lovely Courtney on July 12. Looking forward to celebrating the new life these two old men are about to enjoy.

Grabbed a Coke with good friend David Dane. We both lamented how these times, they are a-changin'. The good news is that no matter what we think these times look like, Christ is in charge. It ain't over til He says it's over.

To post again a favorite poem (originally posted February 3, 2008):

Pied Beauty
Gerard Manley Hopkins

Glory be to God for dappled things—
.....For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
..........For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
.....Landscape plotted and pieced—fold, fallow, and plough;
..........And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim.

All things counter, original, spare, strange;
.....Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
..........With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
...............Praise him.

6/5/08

Early Morning with Bob Dylan



Dig Dylan. I am at 5:00 am. A spam text message on my cell woke me at 4:10 am. Listening on YouTube, I am thinking about a beginning of today.

"What Good Am I?" from "Oh Mercy"
see lyrics: http://www.bobdylan.com/songs/whatgood.html

Why this song? Why this album?

1992
April
1
Wednesday
5:45 pm


That's why.

The sum of that moment in time -- over within 15 broken-hearted minutes -- concluded the beginning of a new era. Relationships that mattered ended, forcing me to ask questions about who I am. Not just what Bob Dylan is singing, but about what I am. A few things I knew, but sorting them together was challenging. My life played discordantly.

I was heavily involved in a jail ministry, served in an educational prolife organization, tutored semi-full-time, and, at that point, was completing a BS in English with no sense of direction. I lived in a dilapidated basement apartment managed by landlords of negotiable scruples on Rt 51.

On that day, at that time, enough changed too that the first post-college church I attended, my first "grown-up church" -- that relationship also came to an end. As one friend told me then about relationships: hearts entangle. Not one thread, but many, and not neatly woven.

Just before this date, in 1991, I had a complex year - particularly the spring. I became involved in a high profile murder trial for which I did research, and, as a result, started receiving hate mail and phone calls. I was graduating college, working at Bent Grammar School, and tutoring. I managed PR and marketing, and organizing some events for the prolife group. Nasty things were said about me in the local newspapers.

After graduating, I drove to Colorado Springs, CO for an interview with Focus on the Family. No experience. First real interview. I didn't get the job.

Driving to and from Colorado over 17-hours, and two eight-hour days coming back (sleeping in my car in Salina, Kansas) -- I listened to this album non-stop. I bought the cassette a day or two earlier.

Introspective, spiritually investigative, and suspicious of evil, Dylan's songs were no answer to my forthcoming challenges, but they did reaffirm the questions themselves.

Life then changed just a few months later that evening of April 1, 1992. Now, the question was forced upon me: what now, who now?

The answer is a much longer thought, but in short, I learned, and in 1993, in August, I drove my car one last time north up I-55 to Wheaton, Illinois to attend graduate school.

What really matters was not a relationship, at least, not that one. It mattered, and does, even now, 16 years later, but not in the same sense as the one, only important relationship with God. What felt twined was ripped apart, and what was ripped apart required retying to a better stead.

On April 1, 1992, nothing ended. Not in the light of what began.

What good am I if I say foolish things
And I laugh in the face of what sorrow brings
And I just turn my back while you silently die,
What good am I?
-Bob Dylan, "What Good Am I?" from the CD "Oh Mercy."

6/4/08

Karana: Tenacious and Hopeful Hero: review: Island of the Blue Dolphins

A favorite book as a child Island of the Blue Dolphins- my review, as of today, is Amazon's most popular among 600 others for the same book.

As a child, my grade school librarian wore out from me asking to borrow so often. Later, as a private tutor, my students chose this again and again. "Island of the Blue Dolphins" lives up to its reputation as one of the greatest children's book ever.

Libraries are good for borrowing books, but some books should be on the shelf of any young reader. Scott O'Dell's magnificent "Island of the Blue Dolphins" is just that. Save your librarian some grief and buy a copy.

"The Island of the Blue Dolphins" is not the story of a foolish young girl who missed the boat when the island was being evacuated. Far from it. Karana was on the boat. Her playful little brother, Ramo, wasn't. He was only 6 years old and could never survive alone. She jumped off and headed to shore to save him. The boat left.

Every little girl or boy has been alone, frightened without a clear way of finding his or her way home. Often, the problem is fixed by turning the next corner, finding out it is the same neighborhood it has always been. In the case of "The Island of the Blue Dolphins," Karana's home never changes. Everyone she knows and loves, however, leaves.

For 18 years Karana took care of herself, and she grows from a preteen child into a woman just entering her 30s. This is that story, filled with adventures similar to "Robinson Crusoe," another true story set to fiction. Fans of "Swiss Family Robinson," will likewise enjoy this.

Karana's ingenuity to survive is surpassed by her tenacity and hope. Weathering hard circumstances, such wild dogs, storms and the constant need to find fresh food and good water. She uses what she learned from her parents and other villagers before the left, and what she learns by trial an error.

As exciting as "Treasure Island," only with a female protagonist, the book is more than a tale of heroics. Scott O'Dell's keen sense of description separates this from the rest of the bookshelf. Although sensitive that his reader is younger, he still manages to place to reader in the story, imagining the smell of sea or hearing the not-so-far off bark of wild dogs.

Like other classics as "Old Yeller" and "My Brother Sam Is Dead," not everything comes easily to Karana. There are somber times when people leave, when her brother dies, or when things look bleak. O'Dell tells the story as realistically as he can, which makes the happy times happier.

I fully recommend "Island of the Blue Dolphins," by Scott O'Dell. It won "The Newberry Medal for Best Children's Book" for good reason.

Anthony Trendl
editor, HungarianBookstore.com

6/3/08

Mahalia Jackson sings Amazing Grace

Mahalia Jackson sings Amazing Grace

I have long been a fan of Mahalia Jackson. She was gospel before gospel music became glitzy and gorgeous. She controlled her voice, drawing from it power only when needed. Give it a listen. When you are done, check out the other versions of Amazing Grace I have posted: Variations on Amazing Grace (various singers)

Don't let your kindness be random. Be strategic.

Remember Practice Random Acts of Kindness: Bring More Peace, Love, And Compassion into the World?

Nice thought. Don't do it. Be intentional. Be focused. Get it done. Don't wait for random opportunities. They aren't random.

Thinking of life as a collection of random events is fatalistic. If you believe in God, and I do, He is in control. Always. If you don't believe in God, and your life feels random, it means you aren't in control and, then, being kind really will not matter.

There are the less grandiose kind things, like doing some unspoken thing regularly for your neighbor. There is the going on a relief trip, like to Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina - hardly random. There is the planned giving of a large amount of money each month to an organization dealing with AIDS worldwide (sadly, not just an American problem).

The list goes on. All of this can be planned. It is 8:53 AM as I writing this. The day is just beginning. What can I do? I know a few things.

A better budget, which includes fewer meals eating out, fewer first run movies, a used car, can open tremendous amounts of money for this kind of freedom. In fact, you might save enough to allow you time off of work to volunteer for several months or a year. Then, don't waste that year. Plan each day.

A better personal calendar, which includes waking up earlier, wasting less time reading my blog, regular exercise (so you are physically capable to help), eating strategically with a friend, can release your schedule into one not filled with uselessness, but usefulness.

Don't waste your life. Anything less is selfish.