More questions. More help. Introducing Mastering Table Topics Second Edition.

Spare us your “thoughts and prayers”

Photo By: Shane T. McCoy / US Marshals, Image from Wikimedia CommonsThe phrase “thoughts and prayers” should be permanently struck from our vocabulary. Any sincere sympathy it once had has been soiled by cynical politicians and others who have no intention to help.

“Thoughts and prayers” is less than the least thing anyone can do. A thought? What kind of thought? “Thank God it wasn’t me!” “I hope it doesn’t cost me reelection.” And prayer? You want to pass off your responsibility to God? Doesn’t the Bible say “faith without works is dead?”

“Thoughts and prayers” has become something people utter when they know they’re supposed to feel bad, but they don’t really give a damn.

If you’re one of those people, spare us your “thoughts and prayers,” as well as “God has a plan” and “they are in the better place.” Don’t say anything at all. Get out of the way and let those of us who actually do care go out and do something.

Wisecracks that played Carnegie Hall

Cover from a book of epigramsMy granddaughter found this old book of epigrams that I bought in junior high school. I got it at a time when I started seeing myself as smart. Being able to pull quotes from smart people made me feel smarter. I loved epigrams because they are, as Oscar Levant put it, wisecracks that played at Carnegie Hall.

But I learned more from epigrams than how to sound smart. They taught me how to make my points succinctly and with a dash of humor. I also learned the hard way that a quote from a famous person doesn’t prove a point. Just because Oscar Wilde said something witty, it doesn’t make your position valid. You have to build your argument, but the right epigram can help drive the point home.

Here are some of my favorite epigrams from the book and what I learned from them.

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Taking no for an answer

It was a special day for my son. After over a year of hard work and saving, he bought his own car. It was the model he wanted with the features he needed at a reasonable price that he could afford. But one thing marred the day and could have caused the deal to fall through.

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Some good news

Indie Author Day 2017Would you like some good news? Here are a few announcements.

First, I will be speaking at Muzeo in Anaheim, California on Thursday, May 24, 2018. I will be speaking about Mastering Table Topics as part of their free Open Book Author series. I will show you how to organize your thoughts quickly and come up with a prompt and informative answer. You’ll have the chance to try out your skills with questions from the book. Autographed copies will be available for purchase. I will provide more information and a link to make reservations as we get closer to the date.

And speaking of online stuff, I now have a Facebook author page. It includes links to new blog posts, announcements, events, and Facebook-exclusive posts. There is also a Shop Now button that takes you to my bookstore on Amazon.

I hope you enjoy the new Facebook page, and thank you for your ongoing support.

Beware of foreign influences?

I found the following cartoon on Twitter. It took me a few minutes on Google Translate (most of which was spent navigating the Russian keyboard) to get the translation. It loosely translates to “Don’t feel bad we don’t celebrate Halloween in Russia!” (Then how do you know when to release horror movies? Or give out fun-size candies?) The Russians agreed, “Why should we celebrate some stupid Western holiday?”

A consequence of a global society is navigating through cultural markers that don’t make sense to us. You try to contact a business associate in another country and find their office is closed because of a national holiday you didn’t know existed. And cultural symbols in one country don’t make sense in another. No one in the Southern Hemisphere is dreaming of a white Christmas. It’s the beginning of summer!

But are these cultural differences such a bad thing?

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