Tony Hawk Building Skateboards in Challenged Neighborhoods

Tony Hawk doing a trick on a skateboard
From the Guardian/US article

It’s the last Friday of the month–time for the monthly We Are the World Blogfest. This month I’m highlighting an article about the 588 skateboard parks opened around the US by funding from the Tony Hawk Foundation. I am neither a fan nor a skateboarder (more than a little too old for that  😉 ). Still, most people know the name of the legendary skateboarder Tony Hawk.

Skateparks aren’t cheap; the foundation donated $5.7 million to build those parks. The article that explains all this, includes other ways for people to help communities support youth.

Cohosts for this month’s WATWB are: Belinda Witzenhausen, Sylvia McGrath, Sylvia Stein, Shilpa Garg, Eric Lahti. Please visit their sites for more good news articles like this one. 

Debt for Dolphins–Protecting the Coral and More

The Seychelles, which depend on tourism and fishing, has announced a first-of-its-kind program to exchange debt for protection of the ocean around its islands. The island nation will create two new marine parks and in return will have a substantial part of its large national debt paid off under a debt swap, according to an article in the Guardian.

$22m of national debt owed to the UK, France, Belgium and Italy was bought at a discount by The Nature Conservancy (TNC), the NGO that has assisted the Seychelles.

TNC also raised $5m from donors to pay off part of the debt and cut the interest rate charged to the Seychelles government on the outstanding loan. This has freed up $12m over the next 20 years to help implement the new marine plan.

The new parks will cover 15% of the Seychelles ocean. Photograph: The Ocean Agency from the Guardian article

This post is part of the We Are the World Blogfest. Cohosts for this month are:  Shilpa Garg, Peter Nena, Eric LahtiRoshan Radhakrishnan and Inderpreet Kaur Uppal. Please check out their posts as well for other non-political good news.

The Gastroenterologist Transportation Commissioner

Another short piece from a writing group prompt–obviously the phrase that’s in the punchline. Use prompts; they work. 😀

No one could have imagined the result of appointing the well-regarded specialist Transportation Commissioner. He had much party support, having donated thousands of dollars to local, state and federal candidates. An astute observer, however, might have given the choice some pause. The gastroenterologist and his wife had developed a small vacation resort in the nearby mountains. The property featured the “Colonic Cabins” and a snack shop featuring “Digestive Delights.” Given his prominence in the community and all the money he’d contributed, he had no difficulty getting the short street to his medical offices renamed “Alimentary Avenue.” Still, disturbed as the locals were by the name he selected for the traffic artery he had commissioned a year after his taking office, they couldn’t deny the benefits of reduced traffic congestion after the opening of Gastric Bypass. What could you expect from him?

Shelter Dogs Get Week-Long ‘Vacation’–Spend Thanksgiving in Real Homes

This month’s good news story comes from Huffington Post (yes, an unlikely source).

Smiling dog

Lifeline Animal Project, a nonprofit that runs multiple shelters in the Atlanta area, launched its first annual “Home for the Pawlidays” program this year. For the week surrounding Thanksgiving, the 20 dogs are staying “as special guests in people’s homes,” spokeswoman Karen Hirsch told “Today.” Lifeline provides food and supplies for the short-term foster homes during the week.

“We chose the dogs who had either been at the shelter the longest or who needed a break from the stress of the shelter the most,” Hirsch told HuffPost in an email. “All the dogs we chose are good candidates, because they adore people.”

Seems like a great way to give the dogs a break as well as a good shot at adoption. A tad challenging for the hosts, but for those of you who have ever adopted a shelter dog, you will know the intelligent response many (if not most) will have at opportunities like this. This is their shot at getting out of a cage and into a home with people. They’re better than most folks at a job interview–they know what’s at stake.

Georgia’s program is not the only one. According to the article, these types of temporary visits away from the shelter are happening across the country. Here’s another one described at HuffPo.

Virginia’s Richmond Animal Care and Control, for instance, has run a similar Thanksgiving program for the past three years. And in 2015, the placement coordinator for Virginia’s Fairfax County Animal Shelter told HuffPost that she’d personally seen how weekend fostering ― the practice of an animal going to a home over a weekend ― transformed one of the shelter’s dogs from a nervous wreck to a relaxed, happy animal.

Co-hosts for this month’s WATWB are:  Shilpa Garg, Simon Falk, Lynn Hallbrooks, Eric Lahti, Damyanti Biswas and Guilie Castillo. Please check out what they have to say!

While you’re here, let me add a brief promo for the January edition of the Eagle Peak Quarterly now online. Lots of interesting features. It’s FREE.

Muffins and Maple–Will it Lead to More?

We unanimously agreed at our local writers group that the prompts of the day were not only incomprehensible but insipid. Nonetheless, one about the start of a romance between the two poets, whose prompts we had read, stimulated this response. Perhaps I can use it in a story. One has to develop characters through appropriate means.  😉

BTW: for those who don’t know how, but need to include dialogue in WordPress (or like to post poetry), do this: click on the text editor rather than visual and add <div style=”text-indent: 23px;“> before your first line. Put a word in and return to the visual editor, After all dialogue is complete, you should go back to the text editor and close the dialogue style with </div>.  (If you don’t, WordPress will generally do it for you, but best to be consistent with styles.) You could manually indent each line, but that’s tedious.

He buttered the cornbread muffin with soft, nearly melted butter. Any firmer and nothing but crumbs would have remained–an unfortunate reality of cornbread. She accepted the offering with grace, knowing he meant well. She’d have preferred cranberry orange, but that, she concluded charitably and wisely, could be mentioned in a future encounter should the friendship bloom into something more.

She poured the strong coffee, thick with the sweet syrup of a local maple. An acquired taste from her days in Maine. She thought he might like it, despite his choice of a corn muffin. She turned away briefly at the call of a loon and looked back at the hint of a smile forming on his face as he put down the mug.

“Well, can’t say I’ve ever had coffee like that,” his grin growing.

“It’s better with a bit of buttered rum,” she said, “it cuts the sweetness some.”

Time is Running Out–Download Your FREE Copy of The Fountain

Cover of The Fountain, Kindle book

Don’t miss out! Just two days remain to 

Download The Fountain for FREEtoday and Monday, December 18th. 

It goes back to the regular price on the 19th. 

See snippets from just three of the reviews that we have received. Read the rest of these and other reviews on the Amazon page.

It’s in the top ten of sci-fi anthologies and short stories right now on Amazon!

“A great read!” Says D.G. Kaye, author of several nonfiction books.

“If you enjoy short stories in fantasy/sci-fi genres, and stories that make you think then look no further than Maberry’s tales which will engross you with stories about karma, greed, time travel, aliens and muses. . . Maberry is a prolific writer who knows how to keep a reader captivated till the end and finishes his stories with an unexpected twist.”

The Twilight Zone Meets Philip K. Dick” says Nicholas Rossis, author of several sci-fi and nonfiction books.

“I wonder if The Fountain’s stories should be labeled speculative or science fiction, as they remind me more of Twilight Zone and less of Philip K. Dick. Maybe that’s the best definition of them; the common ground between these works. Whichever it is, I enjoyed them and their twists. Maberry writes in a clear way that immerses the reader into the story. He has a gift for creating easily identifiable characters who feel familiar after just a few lines. All in all, a fine collection for those who enjoy their short stories with a twist.”

“Stories with Surprises,” says June Randolph, author of a sci-fi series about an interplanetary diplomat.

“If you love stories with a surprise at the end, you will love these. Some are ironic, some cautionary, and some funny. A delight for the gray matter. Perhaps my favorite was Alfred’s Strange Blood Disorder. I laughed the hardest at that one.”

 

Get Waiting for Westmoreland, Tenth Anniversary Edition, ON SALE ’til December 31

Book cover, Waiting for WestmorelanTime is running out to get the print edition in time for holiday gift giving. Act soon!

But good news–more eBook sellers now have it. Order it right up until Christmas and still get it to your friends or family!

See the sale details below the following summary.

 

It’s been ten years since Waiting for Westmoreland came out. Why the title? See Chapter 8, but here’s a cluethere’s no more point waiting for a general than for Godot. You have to find your own way. As in the path from Vietnam to enlightenment.

The book is really about how my experience in Vietnam put me on a quest to reform myself and make the world a better place. I have continued on that path to enlightenment over the past four decades. We have published a tenth anniversary edition commemorating when I first shared that experience with the world.

This special edition has a colorful new cover, an expanded epilogue and a foreword by 40+ year friend and retired diplomat Bob Tansey.

If you haven’t read it yet, now is your chance to get the book at a holiday discount. If you have read it, now is the opportunity to buy one as a gift for a friend or family member who needs it. See the excerpt from the foreword about why you should.

 

Here’s the details on the sale:

Get an Amazon Kindle version for just $1.99 through December, 2017 [In the US; may be higher elsewhere].

Or get another digital format for your tablet or other e-reader at $1.99 through 12/31/17 at these sites:

  • Nook
  • iBooks 
  • Kobo (still pending but will be available soon)
  • Other sites–check your favorite, they may have it!

Rather have it in print? Nicer for a gift. The trade paper version is on sale at $10.16 plus shipping through December (a 40% discount from the cover price). Order soon if you want to send it as a gift–it’s 3-5 days to print plus shipping time (you can pay for expedited shipping, of course).

 

So why give it away as a holiday gift? Take a peek at this excerpt from the foreword: 

John Maberry and I met over forty years ago. I’m pleased that we’ve kept close contact all these years. I went overseas with the foreign service and later as an environmentalist, spending most of the past thirty years living and working all over the world. John and his wife Juanita spent most of those years in Northern Virginia before retiring to a remote corner of New Mexico while my wife and I returned to the Washington, DC area a few years later.

John and I met because we were both attracted to the teachings and practice of Buddhism and are both members of the SGI-USA Buddhist community (see sgi.usa.org). I like to share the values and practice of Buddhism with others, and one might say it’s simply convenient for me to share this book, a story of my old friend and fellow Buddhist practitioner.

On deeper reflection, though, this book means a lot more to me – and may hold a lot for you! There are important universal truths in here, told through the story of my old friend. That’s why I buy this book and give it away to people—I believe that they can benefit from it possibly even in profound ways.

Download The Fountain–FREE for the 2017 Holidays

Cover of The Fountain, Kindle book

Download The Fountain for FREEtomorrow and any of the next four days: December 14 through the 18th. 

It goes back to the regular price on the 19th. Don’t miss out!

See snippets from just three of the reviews that we have received. Read the rest of these and other reviews on the Amazon page.

The Twilight Zone Meets Philip K. Dick” says Nicholas Rossis, author of several sci-fi and nonfiction books.

“I wonder if The Fountain’s stories should be labeled speculative or science fiction, as they remind me more of Twilight Zone and less of Philip K. Dick. Maybe that’s the best definition of them; the common ground between these works. Whichever it is, I enjoyed them and their twists. Maberry writes in a clear way that immerses the reader into the story. He has a gift for creating easily identifiable characters who feel familiar after just a few lines. All in all, a fine collection for those who enjoy their short stories with a twist.”

“Stories with Surprises,” says June Randolph, author of a sci-fi series about an interplanetary diplomat.

“If you love stories with a surprise at the end, you will love these. Some are ironic, some cautionary, and some funny. A delight for the gray matter. Perhaps my favorite was Alfred’s Strange Blood Disorder. I laughed the hardest at that one.”

“A great read!” Says D.G. Kaye, author of several nonfiction books.

“If you enjoy short stories in fantasy/sci-fi genres, and stories that make you think then look no further than Maberry’s tales which will engross you with stories about karma, greed, time travel, aliens and muses. . . Maberry is a prolific writer who knows how to keep a reader captivated till the end and finishes his stories with an unexpected twist.”

Waiting for Westmoreland Tenth Anniversary Edition available NOW!

Book cover, Waiting for WestmorelanIt’s been ten years since Waiting for Westmoreland came out. Yes, the title refers to that general from Vietnam. But the book is really about how my experience in Vietnam put me on a quest to reform myself and make the world a better place. I have continued on that path to enlightenment over the past four decades.

We have published a tenth anniversary edition commemorating my first sharing that experience with the world in 2007.

This special edition has a colorful new cover, an expanded epilogue and a foreword by 40+ year friend and retired diplomat Bob Tansey.

If you haven’t read it yet, now is your chance to get the book at a holiday discount. If you have read it, now is the opportunity to buy one as a gift for a friend or family member who needs it. See the excerpt from the foreword below about why you should.

Here’s the details:

Get an Amazon Kindle version,  for just $1.99 through December, 2017 [In the US; may be higher elsewhere].

Or get an EPUB version for your tablet or other e-reader at that same price. Note: Nook, iBooks, Kobo and others are still pending but will be available soon.

Rather have it in print? The trade paper version is on sale at $10.16 plus shipping through December (a 40% discount from the cover price). Order soon if you want to send it as a gift–it’s 3-5 days to print plus shipping time (you can pay for expedited shipping, of course).

 

So why buy it and perhaps give it away as a holiday gift? Take a peek at the foreword

John Maberry and I met over forty years ago. I’m pleased that we’ve kept close contact all these years. I went overseas with the foreign service and later as an environmentalist, spending most of the past thirty years living and working all over the world. John and his wife Juanita spent most of those years in Northern Virginia before retiring to a remote corner of New Mexico while my wife and I returned to the Washington, DC area a few years later.

John and I met because we were both attracted to the teachings and practice of Buddhism and are both members of the SGI-USA Buddhist community (see sgi.usa.org). I like to share the values and practice of Buddhism with others, and one might say it’s simply convenient for me to share this book, a story of my old friend and fellow Buddhist practitioner.

On deeper reflection, though, this book means a lot more to me – and may hold a lot for you! There are important universal truths in here, told through the story of my old friend. That’s why I buy this book and give it away to people—I believe that they can benefit from it possibly even in profound ways.

. . . .

As John’s story unfolds in this book, we get to share in the lessons he learned of life and how he put those lessons into practice through great personal effort. He takes the past and rectifies it – turns “Poison into Medicine” rather than allowing circumstance to define him and how he will live.

 

Still not convinced? Here’s an excerpt from one recent review:

“Here we have a book that is much more than memoir, and more life journey told (and written) exceedingly well and with great courage. If the writer’s mandate is to ‘open a vein’, Maberry has opened that vein and allowed whatever flowed to fill this work.” [continue reading]

Building Toward a Future–Turning Abandoned Homes to Good Use

From a Southern Poverty Law Center message came this interesting story. A woman incarcerated in an Indianapolis prison heard a mayoral candidate describe the problem of 10,000 abandoned homes and lots in the city. She had a “eureka” moment as the SPLC described it. People like herself, imprisoned for years not only had trouble getting jobs, they had difficulty finding a place to live. Not surprising, given their records. That, in turn, led to more recidivism. So why not put recently freed convicts to work renovating those properties? In exchange for their efforts, they could move into the homes.

Vanessa Thompson had already been incarcerated for 17 years when she proposed her idea to a public policy education program that the prison offered. The plan it gathered support among fellow inmates at staff. They set up a Go Fund Me page to generate funds to accomplish the project. Through the prison, the class members presented videotaped testimony to the Indiana legislature. In that very conservative assembly, her plan received unanimous support. Read more at these links: Building Toward a Future and the GoFundMe site.

group of women participants in prison project

This month’s co-hosts of the We Are the World Blogfest are:  Shilpa Garg, Inderpreet Uppal, Sylvia Stein, Susan Scott, Andrea Michaels and Damyanti Biswas Please visit their blogs too!

One more note, if any of you are in the vicinity of Silver City, New Mexico on today, Black Friday–stop by at the Tranquil Buzz between seven am and five pm for a local author book sale and talks by some of them between 1 and 3 pm. The coffee shop is located in the Arts District at 112 West Yankie Street. Of course it’s open other days too for coffee, tea and on some occasions for readings or music.