Longer Still (Post Election Reflections of a Black Man amongst the Evangelicals)

  The Scriptures that contain the stories of Israel, the Messiah Jesus, and the early church have long shaped how I viewed the world. It was the bible that affirmed black personhood in the fac…

Source: Longer Still (Post Election Reflections of a Black Man amongst the Evangelicals)

A Goal Per Post – Blogging

It’s not always the “formula” trendy content that people want to read. It’s honesty. And it’s activity. I’m inconsistent. It’s important also to actively follow other blogs.

HarsH ReaLiTy

I do not seek to go “viral” off a post. Viral blogs, much like blogs that get unexpectedly Freshly Pressed, tend to fizzle out after the fuss dies down. Whether that is organic interest or generated, there is nothing wrong with going viral. It is an awesome experience for many bloggers, people, and users of social media. I simply have no need or want for that kind of attention.

CaptureI will often have new readers comment and tell me “congratulations on your blog popularity!” I always respond with something polite, but the amusing part is… my blog isn’t popular. Sure I have some people that regularly visit and I also read a lot of blogs so new people visit back, but that doesn’t make it popular. My blog isn’t what I would call one of the “cool kids” on the block and that is why I now run two blogs…

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Novel Writing Competitions 2016

Let’s face it. Contests can make us some money, maybe get us published, be the start of our writing career

Jessica Davidson

Novel Writing Competition listing for 2016. Updated: 4 April 2016  Selection of international writing competitions for unpublished or self-published novels, plus a couple for UK residents only.  I haven’t entered them all so can’t vouch for them personally, but if you have experience of any of these comps I’d love to hear from you. Good luck!

Please be sure to check the websites for more information, submission requirements and deadlines. 

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Pool Fundamentals

It’s been a while since the last installment in my series of articles on pool. Hopefully, you have taken the prior instructions and practiced them; perhaps you have had some success, maybe some challenges. Good. Let’s move on…

The key to playing pocket billiards well is consistency. If a player fails in a shot attempt or position for the next shot, there should be a method of evaluation and adjustment. However, if there is no mechanical standard as a foundation, then how can you make an adjustment?

The best players establish the same stance, stroke, aim, and even thought processes, and maintain that standard. This is achieved through concentrated practice.

During practice sessions, slow down, and pay attention to what your body is doing.

Stance

There are diverse methods for dictating how to assume a good stance. But I’m not going to address any of them here. Instead, I’m going to give you some guidelines and encourage you to experiment and discover what works best for you.

  1. For over 99% of shots, both of your feet will be on the floor. If you have to stretch beyond that, you need to acquaint yourself with the mechanical bridge. Every good player knows this piece of equipment, and is not afraid to use what I’ve heard called “the sissy stick”. Snooker players become exceptionally proficient with it (regulation snooker tables are 10’ x 5’). Just think of it as a very steady means of going where your left hand (if you’re right handed) cannot go.
  2. If you are off-balance, that’s how you will shoot. Position your feet, legs, and body to give balance and support.
  3. Turn and bend your body in such a way that it does not obstruct a straight stroke from your carriage (back hand) to your bridge hand. This is especially crucial to larger framed people, like me.
  4. Position your head, and more specifically your dominant eye, directly above your cue as low as possible. Allison Fisher, one of the best players in the world, literally rests her chin lightly on her cue. This not only provides greater accuracy, but also gives a control meter. If for some reason her stroke is not smooth and straight, she will feel it. If you don’t get your head as low as possible, you are “shooting from the hip” (as they say). Accuracy is compromised.
  5. Once you are in this position, there are only two parts of your body that should move, which brings me to…

Aim

If you have not visualized the shot, why are you shooting it? Before taking your stance to address the shot, take the time to look around the table. Examine the situation, not only the current shot, but look ahead. Most players look at least two shots beyond the current. This should affect how you play the shot you’re about to take. Then, look at what must be done with this first shot to achieve your plan. Now, you’re ready to take your stance and begin aiming at the spot you have already determined.

In your stance, your eyes should move between your target-spot and the cue ball at first. Draw an imaginary line between the two points. This is your path. Your stroke will line up with the path as you line up the shot. Look at your cue stick as you take warm-up strokes. Ensure that it is moving directly on the path and the tip of your cue will strike the cue ball where you want it to. Then, and this crucial… DO NOT LOOK AT THAT CUE BALL AGAIN! It’s a constant. It’s not going to suddenly move on you. You have assured yourself through warm-up strokes that your cue is aimed on your intended path. Look at your target-spot on the object ball. Focus on it. The cue ball will go where you send it, so it’s not even relevant to your aiming process now.

Stroke

Warm-up strokes are essential. They assure that you will be shooting where you intended. How many warm-up strokes should you take? As many as you need to ensure accuracy and control; and then add a couple more for the feel of the shot. With more difficult shots, take more. As long as your warm-up strokes are consistent with the execution stroke (when you actually shoot), your movement should be programmed so that you could literally close your eyes at the point of execution, and still deliver the shot with accuracy.

When I say “accuracy”, I am not suggesting that you will make every shot. I am saying that, if you follow these procedures, you will deliver the shot that you intended. If you miss the shot, it could mean you visualized in error (in other words, you aimed wrong).

Herein lies my point about consistency in the mechanical processes. There could be an infinity of reasons why a shot is unsuccessful. Improvement comes from analyzing the unsuccessful attempts, more than the successes. But, if there are no constants (in other words, every time you shoot is a completely different experience), how can you make adjustments?

For example, if I have been, through concentrated practice, consistent in the mechanics of my game, and yet I missed the shot, then I have a basis by which to examine why it happened. Maybe I aimed incorrectly. Maybe I moved my head when I know I shouldn’t. Perhaps I shot too hard, or not hard enough. Maybe I applied accidental English (spin) to the cue ball, which changes everything about the shot.

Sometimes, we rush shots. We are presented with a shot or position that seems so simple, we skip the processes. In all of the Kingdom of Pocket Billiards, there is nothing more humiliating than missing the simple shot because we “took it for granted”. Unless you are competing in a tournament where there is a shot clock employed, there is no good reason for any player to skip the steps. And as a side note about these “shot clock” tournaments, the competitors in these should already be so adept at the basic steps that they can swiftly do them. If that’s not you yet, don’t play in that kind of tournament. My first article on pool talked about “controlling the rhythm of the game”. Here’s a principle to consider: If you have established (again through concentrated practice) a rhythm through which you are able to flow through the processes successfully, and you suddenly don’t, you are not controlling your rhythm. You’re not playing your best game. Here is an exercise to practice:

You are faced with an incredibly basic and simple shot. I mean it’s practically an insult to your pool-playing prowess. Go slowly through all of the mechanical processes, then just before you shoot, STOP. Stand up. Walk around the table at least once. Chalk your cue (don’t you hate missing a simple shot because you miscued?). Go slowly through the processes again. You might feel silly, but it will pay off in the long run!

Pain

I have often made light of my own physical pain by saying: “Pain is your body’s way of saying you’re alive! Some of us are just more alive than others.” Or I’ve been heard to say, “It’s only pain” (which is the little boy in me who wants to scream and cry trying to be a big boy because my dad always said “men don’t cry!”).

Recently, I’ve been spending a lot of time and energy trying to help a dear friend through withdrawal from two powerfully addictive prescription pain medications, morphine and percoset, which are both narcotics.

She was prescribed these for pain management in preparation for necessary back surgery about nine months ago. As one psychiatrist recently stated, she should never have been allowed to continue on those prescriptions that long. She hasn’t had the surgery yet, but those meds were only intended to be for short-term use, due to the severity of their addictive and psychological effects.

So, when my friend was cut off, she was faced with “cold turkey”. This actually brings me to my topic. Continue reading Pain

True Victory

What a strange game this life is. When you think of a “game”, certain concepts would naturally seem included.

For example, isn’t the object of a game usually to win? This suggests competition, and a desire to be number one. While some may live their lives like that, they are in for a lot of grief and strife. And at the end of their life, they will discover that there can only be ONE number one, and they are not the One! It shouldn’t be this way for Christians though. We are commanded to put God first, striving only to please Him. On the next priority level in a Christian’s life is… others! We are to esteem others better than ourselves. This is the living proof that we are being re-created in the image of our Lord Jesus. Christ said that the love we have for others would be the identification tag of His followers. We’re not in a competition against others. We are in a race toward the prize of fulfilling the calling God has for each of us.

I saw the most wonderful commercial on TV that still draws tender tears from me as I think about it now. The setting was a stadium (about the size of a suburban high school’s track stadium). You saw a young man running in a race. Flash to what was obviously his proud parents in the crowd. He was leading the pack. Suddenly, he stumbled and fell to the ground. As you saw the concerned parents, the boy did not get up immediately. When the other runners came up to him, they all stopped. Then you were able to see that they were “special needs kids” (i.e. Downs Syndrome). They gathered around the fallen runner and helped him to his feet. Then, arms around each other, all of the runners crossed the finish line together. The words on the screen were something like: “A True Victory!” Wow! Isn’t that beautiful?

Everyone should live their lives that way, but especially Christians!

Games have set rules. If you cheat, you are penalized, disqualified, and lose. This life has conflicting rules. The world is so diverse, filled with people who devise their own moralities. We live in a world where its becoming unacceptable to say someone is not playing by the rules. The world worships the Individual’s right to make up their own rules; and don’t dare challenge someone about their choices.

Religion takes the rules God has established and adds their own agendas. It’s a powerful weapon in the hands of people who desire to control others. One group says you have to act or even dress a certain way. Another group may have a different interpretation of the very same Scripture. What makes these standards so dangerous is that each group presents it as “God’s laws”. Judaizers!

A lawyer asked Jesus which was the “first” (primary, most important) commandment of God. Why would he ask that specifically? Maybe because he knew that he was unable to keep the hundreds of “God’s laws” their faith required. But, if he knew what was the most important commandment to God, he could make certain he didn’t break that one. The Lord told the lawyer (and us) to love God with all that you have and all of your being, and love everyone else as you love yourself. Jesus said that was all of the sum of the law. If you obeyed those two rules, then you are obedient to God.

Of course, the two and greatest commandment (no, that’s not a typo!) are really one, and entirely too rich and deep in meaning to address in a short article like this. Let’s really encapsulate: Love. So the rules to this “game of life”, as set by the game designer are simple: LOVE. Simple, right?

Or is it?

Progress and Opportunity

FIRST: PROGRESS REPORT

Through walking again 4 to 6 miles 3- 5 times a week, and eating in moderation (which is in conflict with my nature) I am now down to 252 pounds. A little over 2 years ago, I weighed 353 pounds!

This puts me only 17 pounds from my goal weight of 235 lbs. At that weight, I will judge how I feel, to determine if I need to lose more. Also, I will stop swimming in my clothes. I had committed when I began losing weight that I would not buy any new clothes until I reached my goal. I have no idea what my waist size will be! I haven’t weighed 235 since I was a teenager. In fact, I haven;t been in the 250’s since my teens either.

People have trouble believing I have done this without dieting. The fact is I have tried numerous diets in my life, some with TEMPORARY success. Then, when I went off the diets, BOOM! Usually I put more weight on than I had lost. Diets always made me feel deprived, and I made up for it. I can’t speak for anyone else necessarily, but for me… diets do not work. I have not used any “diet” at all to lose over 100 pounds so far. I work hard at my job (sometimes). I walk at not a leisurely pace (but I do not run unless I’m being chased and I’m not afraid of anyone). And again, the hardest but most important struggle is eating in moderation. I can eat ANYTHING (within reason, since I am diabetic), just in (there’s that bad word again) moderation.

NOW:  OPPORTUNITY!

For the second consecutive year, I am participating as a team captain in the Step Out To Stop Diabetes Walk in Akron, Ohio. I have type 2 diabetes. Those participants with diabetes are recognized as RED STRIDERS”. The walk this year is around the picturesque Akron University Campus on Sunday, September 27. It’s 4 miles, or 2 miles for those whom 4 is perhaps too much.

Donations are not based on distance, but based on support for the cause. Last year, my personal total was about $128. This year my goal is to at least double that. There are prizes provided by our many generous corporate sponsors for participants raising various amounts of donations.

So, I’m asking everyone in the Northeastern Ohio area to join my team. We are called ” The Cool Shooz“. I chose this name because I thought it would be cool if all team members would wear colorful decorative (but of course comfortable) shoes. There is no limit to how many people can be on a team. Last year one team at the Akron walk had over 200 members.

And if you are unable to join my team, I ask you to please consider a donation to help stop diabetes. 100% of your donation goes directly to the American Diabetes Association. It is tax deductible. Per your request, I can send you a tax receipt. Any donation of any size is greatly appreciated. Together, we can stop this disease that affects and kills millions of people every year. Here is the link to my team page:

http://main.diabetes.org/goto/coolshooz