Category: Social Jazz


“Law Is a Negative Concept….”As a friend of mine once remarked, this negative concept of law is so true that the statement, the purpose of the law is to cause justice to reign, is not a rigorously accurate statement. It ought to be stated that the purpose of the law is to prevent injustice from reigning.In fact, it is injustice, instead of justice, that has an existence of its own. Justice is achieved only when injustice is absent.

“But when the law, by means of its necessary agent, force, imposes upon men a regulation of labor, a method or a subject of education, a religious faith or creed-then the law is no longer negative; it acts positively upon people. It substitutes the will of the legislator for their own wills; the initiative of the legislator for their own initiatives. When this happens, the people no longer need to discuss, to compare, to plan ahead; the law does all this for them. Intelligence becomes a useless prop for the people; they cease to be men; they lose their personality, their liberty, their property.” Frederic Bastiat, The Law, page 25.

What does this mean? It means there is a difference between using laws to prohibit people from doing bad things to others, and laws that require people to do things considered “good” by those who happen to be in charge at any given time.

For example, outlawing murder is to prevent injustice from reigning. Making a law that everyone must purchase a product from a private institution is the loss of inherent rights to liberty and property.

The former is the proper role of government, the latter is tyranny. Sadly, we have voted in tyranny at almost every turn, and have forfeited our God given rights of liberty and property. If you don’t think this is true, see how well not buying health insurance works out for you, or not paying property taxes every year. You basically rent your house from the government, forever. You don’t pay? They take all your stuff. How is that freedom?

The guise of the property tax being good is that they use the ill-gotten money to pay for schools, in part. How could anyone be against paying for schools, they ask?

I’ll ask it like this: imagine I clean out your bank account, and use that money to feed the homeless. You don’t get to charge me with theft because I used your money “wisely.”

We have hired/elected people to be the thieves, and now it’s considered honorable. The premise is the same, and it is still theft, no matter how honorable the expenditure of the stolen money may be.

The question is: do we stand on principle? Or do we throw principle and rights out the window when something sounds nice?

You make that choice, each time you vote. Best to know where you stand.

I was a weird kid, but don’t worry, I grew up to be a weird adult, so it all worked out. Only now, I don’t have random people, who also hold power over me as to whether or not I get to keep writing, judging my writing like a literary agent or publisher – but who won’t pay me any money. Now, I get to keep writing whether I get down-graded or not. Yay!

Back to when I was in middle school: the assignment the teacher gave to the class was a fiction story. There were pretty loose parameters, mostly length, and we were advised, as always, to follow standard grammatical rules, etc. Fine. Well, here’s the deal, I am NOT a fiction writer. Since I had to be, I stepped up and thought of a cool idea.

My story was about a scientist. She was super smart and she had discovered something big about the universe. She was going to present her ideas to some board or panel (not that I knew how scientists actually relayed their ideas at this point, but work with me, I was 12). Anyway, she kept not sleeping well, having horrible nightmares about being choked to death, felt like someone was watching her, but she knew the info to be too important to keep quiet. The day arrived and she was going to present her findings.

What she had uncovered, as only the reader got to find out, was that this universe was actually a portion of a molecule that resided inside some being in another, vast (to us) universe. And, the molecules that we thought so tiny actually contained entire universes. (Side note: when I saw Men in Black, I had the passing thought that, just maybe, they’d stolen my idea, but that’s another story altogether). Please, don’t ask my how she knew, her methodology, or whatever. She was science-y, okay?

Well, when this scientist lady went to reveal all that she had found, she stood up in front of the panel, began to speak, but all of a sudden she was dry in the mouth, saw shadows start to move, and then her throat constricted. It was later reported that she had had a heart attack and died. Mysteriously, all her work had gone up in flames, and no one knew what she was going to reveal. The end.

Now, this may not have been the most gripping story anyone could have written, but my grammar was fine, I met the length requirement, and all other parameters, as requested. But, on my paper, and I kid you not, my teacher wrote that my story was “weird.” I got marked down two grade because of my plot. No joke. I got a “C,” on my fiction paper all because it was weird.

Looking back, that’s not a bad thing. I guess I was just ahead of my time, and she just didn’t have the vision. She’d have called Men in Black “not believable” or something. 😉

 

**Click on the link to the right (or on the title just over there —->) to get my book The Declaration Made Easy!**

In Part II, we ended with me promising to discuss inspection results, pools, and closing costs. Yay!

If there is a problem with the house, now is the time to address it. Your realtor can write an addendum to the offer contract and things can be done a few ways. If you have a VA loan, the addendum will require that the sellers fix the issue(s) before the funding can be given the green light. Depending on your loan type, you might be able to borrow more than the agreed price in order to fund the repairs after closing, or you can buy the house “as is.” If you want to buy a house with foundation and/or roof problems, you’ll likely just need to cough up the entire purchase price in cash. If you are in this position, more power to you!!

At this point, the seller can tell you to take a long walk off a short pier, or they can fix the problem(s). We had an offer on a house that needed about $2,000 of really serious repairs to even be ready to sell. That didn’t include all the cosmetic issues and other problems in the house. Once moved in, IF the seller fixed the major issues, we would have had to replace a sink, re-caulk the master shower, buy new faucets for the master bath, fix or replace some interior doors, etc., etc., etc. We didn’t ask the guy to fix any of that. Just the real necessities, and he balked. Ah, well. I mean, if you are going to put your house on the market, make sure the roof doesn’t leak, the A/C has been serviced (ever), and the drains actually drain. Just throwing that out there…

If the seller decides to cancel the contract because of the request for repairs, you’re out that house. Yup, it can end that quickly. It’s like dancing a really tense tango where you’re not sure if, when your partner dips you, they’ll pull you back up. “Oops! Didn’t mean to drop you, there…” But, I’m assured that most sellers are not interested in losing a sale…except for that one guy.

Anyhoo, let’s presume there is a problem (there will be), that y’all come to an agreement on how to fix it, and things move forward. Now is the time for paperwork! They do things online, for the most part, now, and that’s way cool. My dad, the last house he bought, printed out all the documents to read. He’s old school like that. The point is, the papers, by the end, were literally 3 inches tall when stacked. It’s like reading a bill proposed by Congress, only in this contract, you might get something worthwhile for your money and this agreement is voluntary. Okay! Let’s discuss pools.

If there is a pool on the property, the kids will go nuts. I mean, jumping up and down with glee. And, this is because they don’t have to shell out the hundreds of dollars each month to run the thing (write a check). Nor do they have to pay for the separate pool inspection before closing (write a check). Nor do they have to pay for the repairs on said pool (write a check). After looking for houses, I decided that maybe, just maybe, I’d cross “pool” of the “must have” list and transfer it directly to “reject house upon knowledge of the existence of a pool on the property.” But, then again, none of the houses we looked at seriously had pools, so I was not faced with battling against the long faces of the children upon learning we might not get a house due to the presence of a pool. I may have buckled. But, we’ll never know, so let’s move onto closing costs.

Alright, people, we are getting close to the end of the process. You’ve signed 4,000,000,000 pieces of paperwork, written about 85 checks. and it’s time to make things official, make sure your bank has funded their part of the venture, and you are just about ready to take possession of the house. EXCITING!! What is the one thing you want to do when you are getting ready to get a house? YES!!! Write more checks!

Get that checkbook out and get that comfy pen handy because you’ll be looking at papers that show you thousands of dollars worth of closing costs (fee, charges, surcharges, taxes, escrow account deposits, etc.). Oh, man. You’ll have SO MUCH FUN!!

Okay, maybe not fun, but it’s what you gotta do to get the house. If you have this money, great. If you have a loving parent(s) who is interested in giving you the mother of all housewarming gifts by paying the down payment and/or closing costs, that’s awesome, too. I pray I am able to do that for each of my three kids. Aim high, I always say!

Now, you’ve done the final walk through, written all the checks, and your loan is funded. You get the keys, and look lovingly at your new house. Imagine where you’re going to put everything and which rooms each of the kids get. Then, call the HVAC people because I think your A/C just went out.

 

 

***The craziest thing about the check writing is, while it seems old-fashioned to do so, most items along the way are not able to be paid by credit card, or even debit card. You pay with check or cash. Go figure, in this time of electronic everything else, house buying gets left in the dark ages.***

Last time, we found out that you will either get a home that is totally run down, but in your price range except for the massive overhaul you’ll have to do to make that house a home, or you’ll end up buying a house that is more expensive than you are comfortable with.

You can rejoice, though, because you can QUIT LOOKING FOR HOUSES!! That frees up about 10 hours a day for you to start writing checks! Yay! As it turns out, even if the house you are going to buy is too expensive, revel in the fact that you won’t have to sanitize the entire thing just to move in. It’s a give and take.

Now comes the real craziness that no one prepares a first-time home buyer for. I thought that I had read up on what needed to be done, what would be expected, and such, but there wasn’t really a solid, to-the-point kind of guide, save a Dave Barry book that I thought couldn’t be true because he’s a humorist. He jokes about writing so many checks that they litter the side-walks. That’s crazy. There are only enough to cover the dining room table.

Okay, okay, maybe not that many, but there are checks to be written, and right away.

The first and more important thing that you have to realize about real estate is that you have to enter into a binding contract when you start haggling about the cost of the home. Either side can negate the contract within the first 10-days, presuming you don’t have a dolt for a realtor, but it will cost you money to break the contract within this period of time, even if you back out because the house is lemon and you didn’t find it out until you got an inspection.

The contract thing was a little dizzying, at first. I swear, the legalese sound like this, “THIS IS A LEGALLY BINDING CONTRACT. IF YOU SO MUCH A STEP OUT OF LINE, YOUR SOUL WILL BE BANISHED TO EVERLASTING DARKNESS!” when it, in reality, is basically saying, “Don’t be a dirt-bag. If you say you’ll buy the house, y’all agree on a price, and you make a deal, then, follow through. Don’t say you’ll buy the house and then back out at the last second because you have cold feet or find another house you like better. These people have taken their house off the market for you, and if you get flighty, they might have missed out on a real buyer.” Makes sense, but it’s still a little intimidating.

My beloved realtor, Willita Thompson, was quite patient with us about being so ill-informed, but she deals with this all the time, and so she just stated, as a mater-of-fact, that we needed this money…today. Well, it’s not just her! Everyone else (including former real estate agents) among our friends never once thought to sit us down and say, “Now, you know, you’re going to have to have thousands of dollars to spend to be able to get a loan, right?” If you’ve never bought a house, you’re thinking, “Wait…thousands?” If you’ve bought a house, you’re nodding your head, knowingly.

I’m presuming that people think we know this because they’d like to think that we’d be well-informed, and on the ball. Well, they’d be WRONG. But, that’s another blog, altogether. I mean, NOW we are. But, before we started this whole thing? Not so much.

If you are in that same boat that we were in, after reading this series of blogs, you’ll be all set! So, if you’ve never bought a house before, you’re wondering what option money is. Well, you are asking the seller to take their house off the market while you haggle. This costs you, the buyer, money…usually around $100. Write a check.

Then, you have to prove that you are not some joker that is just being a pest and really has no intention of buying the house. This is called “earnest money,” a befitting name and is around $1,000. Write a check.

Presuming the seller doesn’t laugh your offer into the trash, you have a deal! But, wait, there’s more! You really ought to get the house inspected. Just do it. It’ll cost you about $500, depending on where you are located. Write a check.

Next time: Inspection findings, pools, and closing costs!

 

For many years my husband was in the Air Force and we lived on base. Before that, we were just young, stupid kids who rented and never thought past our 6 month lease. Ah, yes. Back when we “knew everything.”

Then, he separated from the Air Force and, after a time, we were faced with the *exciting* prospect of buying a house. Sounds fun and easy, right?! WRONG. It’s the most perplexing thing I’ve done…and I’ve learned French and successfully filled out insurance paperwork.

First, you have to find a realtor. Thankfully, though I hear this can be arduous, in and of itself, I knew one who is trustworthy and good at her job. I feel like we won the lottery, we are so happy to have a competent realtor. If you are in the San Antonio, Texas area and looking to buy or sell a house. comment below and I’ll give you her name and number. Okay, first job done…now, we just find a house, right?

No. First, you have to decide what kind of house you want and where you want it to be located. Think of the price you can afford to pay, the layout you want, the amenities you must have, and extras you’d like. Take some time, write them all down, and make sure you know exactly what you want.

Now, take that list, crumple it up, and throw it away. Don’t be ridiculous. You think you’ll get any of those things?? Nope. The next step is to  search for houses in your price range, in areas with reasonable property taxes, and maybe a few of the items on your list. You’ll need about 10 hours a day for a few weeks to really get your spirit broken. Once you’ve snapped, give in to reality.

You’re going to find a house that is more expensive than you’d ever expect, in a decent (but not great) neighborhood, and you’ll deal with that galley kitchen, no fireplace, and small rooms with no closets. No, in fact, by the time you find a house, any house, that isn’t currently condemned, you’ll be happier than you ever thought possible.

Then, just when you least expect it, you’ll find a great house, just in the location you wanted, with all the things you wanted…and it will have sold two days ago. So, you’ll go back to putting an offer on the house you are going to buy and the real insanity begins.

Next up: Paperwork and check writing…you’ll be an expert in both!

 

When I was a liberal*, I didn’t even really know what I was. There were several themes that I followed, almost zombie-like, that were not spoken, really. They were demonstrated by my friends (all liberals), and I mimicked them mindlessly. Let’s run them down.

How to be a liberal:

Rule 1. Be angry. All the time. At everything. Seriously, just presume things are bad and worth being angry about, then you can fit something into it, if need be. It doesn’t have to be explosive anger. You can seethe. That’s fine, too.

Rule 2. Be disingenuous. Make sure that your praise of ANYONE is based on their adherence to the protocols of being a liberal. If they step out of line, they are no longer worthy of praise and must be crushed. Racial slurs and sexual and/or rape innuendos (or outright calling for rape, when women are involved) are appropriate here. They broke the code. They are nothing to you, anymore. Unless they back-pedal. Then, they’re cool again.

Rule 3. Presume everyone is as disingenuous as you are, all the time, about everything, except other liberals. More on that later. Cynicism and true sarcasm are your friend. The more bitter you are, the more you can project that emotion onto everyone around you. Except for:

Rule 4. Other liberals. Believe in the depths of your soul that only liberals can be good in any way. Because all liberals have a “good heart” their actions do not belie a false faith in them. They don’t mean the racist, sexist, horrible things they say or do. They just got emotional, just lost control for a minute (think about that one), or were angered to insanity by someone who was not a liberal. Which leads us to…

Rule 5. Know that you are not responsible for anything you say or do. It’s always someone else’s fault. They made you angry. They made you. Got it? You are NOT in control of your emotions, actions, or anything. This way, when you say something awful to someone, it’s their fault for not being liberal. If another liberal lashes out at you, you are supposed to brush it off because, remember, they didn’t mean it.

Rule 6. Be pompously irate at facts and reality. Proclaim loudly and often that things should not be such-and-such a way, and that something should be done about it! Offer solutions that involve the government coming to “help.” Which leads us to:

Rule 7. Accept that history starts today. Never look at the past with an objective eye. If you do break this rule and look at the past, use all former rules as a filter for what you see.

Rule 8. Be a huge advocate for “choice,” but know that this ONLY applies to a woman somehow having the “right” to kill innocent humans growing in her body. Light bulbs, cars, insurance plans, etc. do not apply here. In all other instances, be an interventionist.

Rule 9. Deny that you are an interventionist, always, regardless of the truth. And, speaking of the truth…

Rule 10. Reality doesn’t matter. Everything must be emotion based…how you FEEL about things. I mean, if you FEEL that a peanut butter and jelly sandwich is racist, it IS. See? Easy. The fact that it has nothing to do with race is irrelevant.

Rule 11. When losing an argument, change the subject ever so slightly. Just enough to attack your opponent so they feel they have to defend themselves and their character, and quit debating the topic at hand. Then, if they get mad at you for calling them racist, misogynistic, or whatever, you win because you are calmly sitting back watching them get mad. The fact that the person was right should not occur to you. Block that part of the conversation out and refer to rule number 3.

Rule 12. Use anecdotal evidence whenever possible. The fact that these anecdotes go directly against the vast majority of cases in any variable is irrelevant. And, make sure to use an emotional plea while using said evidence. For instance, besides the fact that 70% of crime is committed by people born in single-parent households, hold up the one person you know that was raised by a single parent, who is not a criminal, and say that there is nothing wrong with single parenthood. You must disregard all the other kids that had a built-in disadvantage at birth, and the hardships they face, because someone didn’t want to give their baby to a loving home with two parents when they had sex out of wed-lock. See, now a “good” liberal would change the subject to rape and incest, to show how heartless I am, when, in reality, it’s people choosing to have sex out of wed-lock that produce vast majority of babies that then suffer due to their choices, not rape or incest.

Now, especially the liberals in the readership are going to be offended by this. They are going to be saying to themselves, “What?! No way! I am nice!” Well, so was I. I was even called “nice” by conservatives. But, my heart was like the Grinch’s. I lauded government programs to “help the poor,” not thinking about how this was legalized theft that didn’t even help the faceless “poor” I’d go on about. I railed against “inequality” and “prejudice,” even though I had no idea that what I was saying was the opposite of what would actually help a society. I’ll do more blogs about why the policies I chose to support were hurtful, when they seemed they’d be helpful. That’s just it, though, isn’t it? I never took the time to learn what the real effects of the policies I supported were. And, that makes a “good” liberal.

Dear liberals who have read this far, instead of getting mad and huffing away: you, too, can be free from the bondage that is liberal thought. My challenge to you is to read Thomas Sowell and Walter E. Williams daily for one month. Then, get back with me. Please do let me know if you are taking the challenge.

I’m not sure, exactly, what made me turn away from my liberal ways. It wasn’t all at once. First, I had to pay taxes, so that was a huge wake-up call. There weren’t even many taxes. Mostly it was a lack of getting redistributed wealth from poor saps who did have to actually pay taxes. More people need to feel that sting so they have the vested interest of reducing that sting, hopefully across the board. Second, I grew up a bit and saw how some prospered and others didn’t and the lifestyle choices that tended to coincide with that. I actually took the time to read Thomas Sowell’s book Basic Economics. Blew my mind. I became avidly pro-life when I read The Declaration of Independence, brushed up on some unbiased science, and saw The Silent Scream. Liberals, watch it. Don’t pooh-pooh what you THINK it is. Watch it. And, read The Declaration of Independence. Just do it.

Better yet, read my book on The Declaration, which has it translated into modern English! Click the link to the right of the blog page, and get your copy TODAY.

When you are done with that read all four of Frederick Douglass’s autobiographies. Seriously. It’s literary butter (and if you knew how much I love butter, you’d know what kind of compliment that is) and will help you to see the Constitution for what it is, why it’s important, and why it matters that you understand.

*”Liberal” is pretty much interchangeable with any kind of statist, and heaven knows that statists have been changing their names from socialist/communist to liberal to progressive back to liberal again, etc. That’s part of rule 11. Shoot, they’ve even gotten some conservatives to be statists…and not even notice! Bravo, liberals…but many of us are on to you. Why not join reality with the rest of us? It’s so much more freeing and the people are just grand. They actually mean it when they compliment you.

Part II – Knowledge. If you didn’t see the last post, click here for Part I. This one will make much more sense if you read the first, also.

For those that call themselves “pro-choice,” they seem to forget that the choice is whether or not to have sexual intercourse. In that respect, I am pro-choice…all adults should have the choice to have sex or not. But, the pro-abortion crowd thinks the choice is in whether or not one can be expected to be at the mercy of consequences for actions. People know that sex has a very possible result of creating another human. In fact, that is the entire reason for the act of sex. Sure, it bonds those who enter into this very intimate act, it feels quite lovely, and most of us would like to partake in this activity on a regular basis. But, the entire system of sexual intercourse, the mechanics of it, if you will, are all engineered to make more humans.

Of course, one can USE this power in many way, some of which would never result in the creation of a human, but I’m discussing the original meaning of “sex,” so, don’t get all philosophical on me about what “sex” means. You know exactly what sex is and what I mean when I write that word.

**Note: I am NOT getting into rape and incest here. That’s another post. This discussion is about abortions that come about because of people being created due to consensual sexual encounters between adults.**

In the last post, I asked you to fill in part of a sentence. Now, I ask you to finish another.

“It’s okay for laws to remove the consequences of behavior, of people who knew what the possible consequences were, when _________________________.”

When people have the knowledge of what sex’s purpose is, even if they are trying to avoid it, must be held accountable for their actions. So, they can deal with the consequences in a variety of ways, but those ways must not include shedding the blood of innocent humans for the sake of covering up the evidence.

Imagine if there were laws that allowed people to kill their children to hide abuse, kill invalids when they don’t want to care for them any more, or singled out a group that was not worthy of rights, even the basic right to life, based on circumstances, which the targets cannot control. Name me any other group, where the entire group is made up of completely innocent humans, that it’s morally okay to kill due to the way they look or their current location. There are none.

Totally innocent humans that cannot defend their own lives, but have been proven to do so when finally given the opportunity (abortion survivors), are the only group in American that is legal to kill and/or maim just so someone doesn’t have to face the consequences of their actions.

History will judge us, as a people, by how we treat the weakest among us, who have no voice to defend themselves. Do we choose to be barbarians? Or heroes?

Know where you stand.

Part I – Power

This seems like a no-brainer, right? If you have the power over other people, don’t abuse them, don’t kill them, don’t squash their souls. If you are the ruler of a country, and you randomly single out and kill groups of weak, yet innocent, individuals that cannot protect themselves, you are a tyrant and abuser of your power.

If you are a ruler and you make it legal to kill anyone of a certain group at the whim of anyone else, you are also a tyrant and need to be stopped. Seems simple enough.

If you are a ruler, or lawmaker, judge, or any part of a system of government that allows any of these types of things to go on, you are, at the very minimum, partially responsible for the bloodshed. This is all logical, right? Think of Mao, Kim Jong Il (and, now, Un), Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, the Ayatollah Khomeini…they all singled out groups to be either exterminated, or just made it legal to kill these groups without any legal right for the lives of those in the group. No good. Easy peasy to identify.

Since the beginning of time, there has been the concept of slavery: to literally own another person as if they were property. In America, it was legal to kill one’s slaves to varying degrees in varying states, and there was a great deal of legal protection for the offenders. It still goes on, legally, in some countries today. Thank God, it is not only outlawed in America, but is a repulsive idea to just about every American.

There was a time in these United States when it was legal to kill Mormons, just because they were Mormon. You could run them off their land, and/or kill them, and it was legal. Governor Boggs of Missouri made that extermination order and it wasn’t repealed until 1974. Sucks, but it’s over.

That isn’t the only group in the U.S. with sights set on them, though. There is one group left that is still legal to kill, with legal protection for the killers. The group I’m discussing cannot open their own mouths to defend their lives, unless, by a miracle, they survive the attempted killing. Every one of those who were attacked in this way, and lived, has defended their right to live, vehemently. Many are just dismembered and thrown in the thrash.

They are the innocent humans that are unborn.

You might say they are not “people,” and therefore have no right to life. You might say that, because only one person can care for them for a short period of time, that they don’t have the right to exist…that that right is only applicable at the whim of the mother. But, if that’s the case, finish this sentence:

“It’s okay, morally right, and upstanding, to kill an innocent human being when __________________________.”

If you say it’s when they are in the womb, you have to be more specific. That doesn’t fly. Because it’s illegal to kill an unborn human when the mother WANTS to see the baby to full term. Try again.

Finish the sentence, and make sure it can be applied universally to all Americans, because that’s how laws are supposed to be applied in this country…universally. We all get EQUAL protection under the law or it’s tyranny (see above).

You have the power to act. Know where you stand.

Many people who I’ve talked to, when discussing “making a difference,” focus on soup kitchens, giving money to charity, and the like. These ARE laudable things. In fact, giving to charity is required by many a religion. Help others, take one step toward saving your soul. Win/win. Works out nicely, as long as your donations actually go to good things (vet your charities!). Doing service projects are part of communities, and people do these all around the world. But, there are some who may not have time or funds for large-scale adventures, who wonder, “What about me? What can I do?”

Once you’ve paid your tithing or made your donations, is the only thing left to do volunteering at a soup kitchen? Nope. That is only one way to make a difference. There are boy scouts, reading stories to terminal kids, voting for representatives in DC that will stand for a free market system so there are fewer poor…any number of things.

The big questions we have left to answer is: does it have to be “big” all the time? Do you get off the hook the rest of the time if you volunteer once a year? Nope, and the best part is, the small things add up and, in the end, make life better for you, too! Lemme explain with two examples.

First, when I had very small children, going to the bathroom in public places was a chore. [Side note, why do little kids always want to touch EVERYTHING in bathrooms? The dirtier the better, it seemed, for them.] As any parent knows, I already had my hands full that day. I went into the bathroom and found the stalls a mess. We took turns and did the best we could to avoid the grime. The handicapped stall was the worst. I guess someone had a really hard time getting their bum clean and sliding off the seat. You get the idea. Anyway, I hadn’t thought anything of the situation and was just about ready to leave when a wheelchair-bound person entered the bathroom. It hit me like a ton of bricks at that moment. I could easily use the other stall. The other person could not. I asked her if she could hold it for just a moment while I quickly did something about it. She affirmed she could, so I grabbed a paper towel and wet it, added soap and quickly scrubbed the seat, following up with wet and then dry paper towels. The seat was clean in no time flat, the kids helped wetting the towels, you know and the floor (at least they weren’t licking walls or something), and she was able to do her business on a toilet that was not covered in filth. Was that so hard? No. Did it make a difference in my life? Not measurably on my end. Did I make a difference to her? She certainly had many thanks and praises for my little family at the time, so I’d say, “Yes.”

Isn’t that what it’s all about? Making a difference to individuals? Making a difference can be simple, easy, spontaneous, and sometimes, quite unexpectedly.

My second example happened a loooong time ago, when I was in college [my first go ’round] at the University of New Mexico. The night before my story starts, my sister and I had been hanging out at home, just talking and whatever. Now, what you have to know about my sister is that she. is. hilarious. No, seriously, like I think I may have pulled a muscle laughing. Anyway, the next day, I go to class. I’m walking along and I think of something she said. I start laughing so hard that I have to stop walking, lean on the wall, and am just cracking up. I get a few weird glances, but people just avert their eyes and keep walking past the strange girl. Once I recovered from my laughing fit, I had a huge smile on my face. I was almost laughing, but held it together as I walked to class. As I walked, I said, “Good morning!” to everyone and smiled huge smiles at each person I saw. There was one man, walking with a cane, who actually stopped me after my salutation and said, “Thank you so much for your smile. It just made my day brighten…and I needed that.” He left me with a hug and a big smile. Did that make a difference? I’d say that was another scored point…and it wasn’t even on purpose!

I decided that day, that smiling at people was something I should do on a regular basis. It has served me well. Not only am I happier, but I’ve seen some grumpy pants people turn that frown upside down when I “model” a smile for them. As we now know, our behavior influences how we think. If we smile, we can’t help but feel better. Even if we hold a pen in our mouths cross-ways to force our face into a smile-like shape, it noticeably changes our mood for the better. But, I digress…

Did my smiling cost me anything, take up my time, or in any way feel like a sacrifice? No way. And, that’s how acts of service begin to feel, the more you do them. You get back much more than you give. It’s almost selfish, really…the good feelings you get from helping others. I think there was a “Friends” episode like that, come to think of it.

Anyway, while you’re thinking of things you can do for others, maybe start by smiling at a stranger and wishing them well. You never know who needs their day brightened by your beautiful face’s beams of happiness.

Today, I went to HEB to pick up a few items. (For non-Texans, HEB is the name of the best grocery store in Texas. Okay, carry on…) As I went through the aisles, I noticed an enticing pecan pie from the bakery. Now, normally, I’d have baked my own, but I was hungry, it looked really good, and I remembered I had a $3.00 off coupon for any bakery pie or 12″ pie. Just my luck!

I took my items to the checkout and handed the coupon to the clerk. The coupon was one that I had procured at the checkout line of another HEB. When you check out, the printer that spits out the receipt will also give coupons. It’s pretty much a Craps shoot because sometimes they’re wonderful and plentiful, and other times you get one crappy little 30-cents-off jobbie for something you’d never buy anyway, like HEB brand haggis.

After the checker rang up the items, she realized the coupon hadn’t worked. She looked at the pie (which was obviously, to me, a 12″ pie), picked it up, and looked at the bottom. She called over a co-worker and asked him to posit an opinion as to why the coupon didn’t work. He had no idea and so-called over yet another co-worker. They all head-scratched for a moment, and then one decided that maybe the pie was too big.

In my ignorance, I believed that maybe they had 12.5″ pies or something, and I, like an idiot, had picked up one of those, not realizing it was 12.5″ instead of 12″. I was ready to take their assessment at face value. Then, one of them offered the knowledge that a 12″ pie was the size of those in the silver throw away tins with the plastic wrap around it and that THIS was a MUCH BIGGER pie than 12″.

You know those pies, right? In the tiny 8″ and 9″ pie pans? Yeah. That’s what they assured me were the 12″ pies the coupon was good for. As they all nodded and agreed that this was the issue, I realized that none of them even know how long a standard ruler is. None of them thought to try the coupon again. None thought about calling a manager to ask him or her to help the customer with the situation. They came to a consensus as to why the coupon didn’t work and went with it, nodding and smiling as my $3 savings I was so happy about was just flushed down the commode.

No wonder politicians get away with the crap they do. My word, we are in trouble.

This is why y’all need to buy my book. Just click on the picture of the book to the right. Get one for you and your kids, grandkids, your neighbors’ kids…everyone. Maybe, just maybe, if we can get people, kids especially, interested in liberty and learning, we might one day end up with a nation of people who – and I know this is reaching for the stars – know what a 12″ pie looks like.

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