Speechwriting: Corporate, Weddings, Retirement


August 30, 1966 Was a Tuesday

No, I don't remember, but I was there. I saw August 30 in 1966. A Tuesday, I'm told.

A great day. I took my first breath that day, and I first saw my mom and my dad.

Hal Lifson's 1966!Hal Lifson's 1966!

Cruisin 1966Cruisin 1966


Excellent for Backyard Use: review, Easton Platinum Volleyball Set

Olympians may scoff, but for any backyard BBQ or picnic, this volleyball set will do the job. What needs to be official size is. The ball is durable, cleans easily, and can take a good whack on the sidewalk.

What surprised me was the overall quality for the cost. I expect it to last many years. Mine needs to, being donated to a children's group.

A handy feature is the portability of it. Once out of the box, it can be packed and tossed into the back seat of the car and carried to the beach. It assembles quickly, and disassembles just as quickly.

I fully recommend the Easton Platinum Volleyball Set.

Anthony Trendl


Does Kindle Matter?

The iPad, Nook, Kindle or any of the other e-readers are changing reading patterns. Some people lament at the loss of the classic book.

If the object is the point, the content of the object is less important. Originally, we told tales, no book. A book, to a degree, ruined that. We have professional storytellers, but, day-to-day, all is scripted (like Garrison Keillor) or printed. Print allows for longer tales (like The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), with returning motifs, symbols, and slower contemplation of layered stories, but we have relegated storytelling to campfires and short dinner table vignettes.

Apple iPad MB292LL/A Tablet (16GB, Wifi)The book, originally, like for Gutenberg, was merely a tool to retain truth. It was the package, not the point. The point, for him, was to provide freely God's Word. If we dwell so much on the packaging of tales and truth, we have lost something.

Beautiful books exist, and the medium of a bookshelf has much value, but it is, ultimately, for me, not why I buy a book.

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5-year-old boy plays "Folsom Prison Blues" by Johnny Cash

You know she has the blues when the train keeps a comin'. She knows she's not movin' on. She shot a man a Reno just to watch him die. She has no delusions about why she is in Folsom Prison, but she has got them blues just the same. (Facebook readers, two videos are here that will make Tuesday shine. Click through to see, listen and compare.)

Johnny Cash's cover of the little girl's song. It is not clear how his cover version was released 49 years before the girl was born, but you know Johnny has the blues. That must be why. (Skip the JohnnyCashVevo remix. Awful.)

Folsom Prison Blues


Are We Socially Lazy?

Are we a socially lazy culture, convinced Twitter relationships, Facebook statuses, and blogs count as meaningful relationships?

Sociologists, I have no doubt are studying this scientifically. What about anecdotal research? What are you seeing? Do we need a scientist to prove to use the obvious? 

I have a friend convinced his e-mail relationships equal face-to-face ones. He moved a far distance from here, and maintains nothing has really changed. A number of friends constantly post and dialogue their politics on Facebook, aggressively, creating contention, not relationship.

Making Artisan Gelato: 45 Recipes and Techniques for Crafting Flavor-Infused Gelato and Sorbet at HomeI am not invalidating online relationships, implying that they are insignificant, but I contend we are, fundamentally, socially lazy, and using social media as a crutch.

Friends from out of town were visiting, and lamented the lack of hospitality they found. People preferred to invite them to dinner, but more rarely would they be asked into someone's home for dinner.

We have people over for dinner often for formal (nicely dressed, candles, flowers, three courses, aperitifs, palate cleansing sorbets, carefully selected ambiance music, and so on) to less formal (blue jeans, no shoes, leftovers/whatever is in the fridge, random pop and rock music). I am also a heavy user of social media. Where does this put me? I don't know. I have gotten together with many online friends, and enjoy old friends with whom I can also connect online.

Add to the murky mix are church and work relationships. I remember leaving one church, and I can count on my left hand (with fingers to spare) how often I received an invite since then. Love the one you're with? Same thing with most of my work relationships. Even with Plaxo and LinkedIn, trye connection post-employment is rare. I know their resumes, and the odd "I'm reading XYZ business book flavor of the week," status update, but that's not relating. That's exchanging data.

Not all work and church relationships have been this thin, but I suspect I am not the only one reading this who thinks friendships could be better.

When is the last time you had someone new, someone old over for dinner?


My New Chicago Tribune TribLocal Column: The Red Bandana: Finding Fitness Through Running As Told By An Out Of Shape 40-something Guy

Any average runners out there plugging along? A few ups and downs, trying to stay fit, but falling in and out of commitment? I've started a new column with the Chicago Tribune's Wheaton, IL edition looking at my experience with this.

Things I will look at aren't so much how to be a better runner. As I can, I'll refer to runners and coaches far more experienced than myself who can address that. From time to time, I will profile runners local to Wheaton (a suburb west of Chicago). Mostly, though, it will be about the joy of running, with an honest look at the struggles. My own situation has been filled with on-again, off-again times working out regularly, and I know I am not the only one.

It is called "The Red Bandana" because that's what I traditionally wear when I run, whether indoors or out. It started when I was in high school. My hair was longer, and I thought I looked cool. Not as cool looking as I thought, as I gave off that "I'm stoned" look, despite never having even smoked a cigarette.

Now, that bandana soaks up the blood, sweat and tears of a guy who could stand to lose 15 pounds. Mostly just sweat, but no fashion statements are made.

In the first column, I introduce you to my couch. We are breaking up, and it is hard. I'm overweight. The numbers might not indicate it, but I'm soft, with a gut. I contend so are you. If running's your thing, and you find the temptations of the couch a little stronger than they should be, check out my column.

Or, if you love running (and run farther than I ever will), and want to share the joy of exploring the Illinois Prairie Path, treadmills, and the people I meet along the way, click through and join me.

Together, we can taste the fresh scent of spring, swat a few mosquitoes, and limp through a couple miles.

The Red Bandana: Finding Fitness Through Running As Told By An Out Of Shape 40-something Guyhttp://triblocal.com/Wheaton/detail/207217.html

Others will be posted here as I go along.


Ladder to the Clouds

Ladder to the Clouds
© 2010 Anthony Trendl
OK, a little higher. Yup, yup. Some more. I think we can climb onto a cloud. You climb first.

No worries, I'm on it.

My Swamp Rose Mallow Published in Today's Chicago Tribune

Swamp Rose Mallow
© Anthony Trendl
My picture, "Swamp Rose Mallow" was picked by the Lisle, Illinois local edition of the Chicago Tribune. See in today's paper. I took it August 1 at the Morton Arboretum.

It was a lucky shot with a cheap cell phone camera. No Photoshopping, not even cropping. The resolution could be better, and I would like the colors a little brighter and richer, but I like the perspective. It is, to me, vaguely reminiscent of Christina's World by Andrew Wyeth who passed away just over a year ago.

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Christina's World, 1948 Styles Art Poster Print by Andrew Wyeth, 30x24


No Gays or Holy Rollers on the Supreme Court? Who Cares? (Do you?)

There are two people we are afraid to have on the Supreme Court: a committed Evangelical Christian and an openly gay man. Just that assumption stated alone is enough to roil the blood of a few who want vehemently one or the other.

Gays? Holy rollers? Worse, more pejorative terms exist for both. My Facebook account shows how tiny minded some people are as they categorize others into insultingly limited groups. I have seen some ugly things among otherwise good people. We live a corrosive society which works hard to demonize the assumed opposition by denigrating people into inescapable boxes, and Lady Liberty becomes nothing but a statue, not a living truth.

Presently under fire is the sexual orientation of the federal judge who overturned California's ban on gay marriage. Some are arguing he is gay. If so, so what?

Meanwhile, according to Gallup, with Elena Kagan approved and Justice John Paul Stevens stepping down, there are no Protestants (Evangelical, liberal Methodist, and otherwise) on the Supreme Court. 54% of Americans call themselves non-Catholic Christians, so that is arguably something worth looking at. That is, if fair representation of people groups is your thing. Stevens, interestingly enough, was known as a liberal judge.

Either way, whether in their person life, the judge is flaming, effeminate and gay marching in gay pride parades wearing a skirt, or a Christian volunteering for Habitat for Humanity or Salvation Army, praying before entering the chambers after taking her son to Awana -- should it matter?

To be a Supreme Court judge, first off, the person needs a juris doctorate, a law degree. They need admittance to the Bar, and have put more than a few years working up the judicial ladder. A paper trail will exist. What they judged, related comments, perhaps some articles in law journals.

Meanwhile, they are vetted. When a spot opens up through either retirement or death, a big list of possible candidates are run through and filtered through various channels. The result is many are culled out because of personality, reliance on their feelings and not law, expectation that they will retire too soon, and a myriad of other reasons. Hopefully, and I'm not so naive to think this is a pure process, biased judges toward certain decisions will be cleared out. That is, judges who, no matter what the Constitution says, believe abortion is a right or a wrong will be chucked from the list. 

People are people, true, and no one judges as a machine. However, I believe if we surveyed America and asked if they preferred to see an openly homosexual judge sitting on the Supreme Court, they would say no. Similarly, if we surveyed that same portion of America and asked if they preferred to see an openly Evangelical judge sitting on the Supreme Court, they would say no. Or yes. Depends on the person surveyed's bias, don't you think?

Either way, I wish we were not so simple minded as all that. Some voters will openly admit they voted for Barack Obama because he is black. To me, that's redneck thinking gone backwards. History will not judge Obama's success as a president with the qualifier, "He did well for a black man." Other voters, equally racist, voted against Obama because he is black. That his mother was white didn't matter to either voter. Racism did impact the election. We all know it. Obama wants the economy to get better, unemployment to improve, and for fewer soldiers to die under his watch that under Bush's. He is not looking at the back of his hand saying, "Look at me, a black man in a white house." He is saying, "These hands need to help America." I don't agree with all of his solutions, but his skin color is not what I disagree with. His hands do need to help America.

I want unbiased Supreme Court justices. I don't know how we honestly ascertain this given the humanity of every candidate who will ever be considered. I do not think we need a gay man on the Supreme Court. We also do not need an Evangelical Christian. Or a one-legged Viet Nam veteran. Or a three-legged test tube baby. All black? All white? Diversity has no place in the Supreme Court. We need only smart, objective students of Constitutional law qualified not by their skin color, sexual orientation, who they pray to, but by their amazing credentials as sensible, diligent, careful judges. Anything less just isn't American.


Anne Rice in Shock People Are Talking About Her Quitting Christianity

Christ the Lord: The Road to CanaMore on the Anne Rice "I quit being a Christian," soap opera. Here, on Facebook, she links to an LA Times article. I can only wonder if she is naive.  It would explain here ignorance of the good things happening in and through churches. How she sheltered herself from all of that, and apparently, they expectation anyone would respond to her very public declaration escapes me. Either that, or she is playing liberal and conservative Christian.

I am in a bit of a state of shock. When I publicly walked away from Christianity in the name of Christ, I had no idea so many people would find this gesture worthy of a response. I am still not entirely certain why the story "has traction." But indeed it does.
My response found somewhere in her comments (over 500 comments preceded me):
Anne, what you stated is vogue, no matter how sincere your position and decision are. People love to 'bash' religion, so of course when someone as known as yourself, especially someone who so publicly joined/rejoined a church, and especially even more when that someone spent much of her Facebook time posting problems she has with that particular church -- when that person declares she is quitting that same church -- oh, those hapless fish caught in the barrel with be talked about as they are shot.
Buy Christ the Lord: The Road to Cana by Anne Rice