This is my personal blog, on which I talk about a variety of topics purely as they catch my fancy. Some topics are serious, others whimsical. I love comments and questions so don't be shy, just courteous, even if you don't agree with me. I have another blog, The Story Template, on which I post writing-related topics on Tuesdays and Fridays.

Let's see, a bit about me... I'm married with two children, and spend much time taking care of our family. In my life BC (before children) I was a scientist who did bench research. I am a Christian who came to faith under protest through studying the historic circumstances surrounding the death of Jesus. I've written one novel, A Lever Long Enough, that I'm honored to say has won two awards. I also have written a nonfiction book, The Story Template: Conquer Writer's Block Using the Universal Structure of Story. This book is a programmed learner-type book that helps you, the writer, develop a complete compelling story (novel or screenplay) from a vague idea.

YOU CAN CONTACT ME at amydeardon at yahoo dot com.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Advice from Bill Gates

I got this in my email. This is supposed to be advice from Bill Gates: a speech that he gave to a high school. I don't know if he's the author, but the advice is great, whoever wrote this.

Rule 1: Life is not fair - get used to it!

Rule 2 : The world won't care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something BEFORE you feel good about yourself.

Rule 3 : You will NOT make $60,000 a year right out of high school. You won't be a vice-president with a car phone until you earn both.

Rule 4 : If you think your teacher is tough, wait till you get a boss.

Rule 5 : Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your Grandparents had a different word for burger flipping: they called it opportunity.

Rule 6: If you mess up, it's not your parents' fault, so don't whine about your mistakes, learn from them.

Rule 7 : Before you were born, your parents weren't as boring as they are now. They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes and listening to you talk about how cool you thought you were. So before you save the rain forest from the parasites of your parent's generation, try delousing the closet in your own room.

Rule 8 : Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life HAS NOT. In some schools, they have abolished failing grades and t hey'll give you as MANY TIMES as you want to get the right answer. This doesn't bear the slightest resemblance to ANYTHING in real life.

Rule 9 : Life is not divided into semesters. You don't get summers off and very few employers are interested in helping you FIND YOURSELF. Do that on your own time.

Rule 10 : Television is NOT real life. In real life people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to jobs.

Rule 11: Be nice to nerds. Chances are you'll end up working for one.

Monday, February 18, 2013

We All Make a Difference

This is a story that you may have heard before. I couldn't verify its origins on snopes.com, although it is said to be a true story told by Barbara Glanz CSP. If anyone knows, please let me know and I'll post it!

A few years ago, I was hired by a large supermarket chain to lead a customer service program to build customer loyalty. During my speech I said, "Every one of you can make a difference and create memories for your customers that will motivate them to come back.


"Put your personal signature on the job. Think about something you can do for your customer to make them feel special; a memory that will make them come back."

About a month after I had spoken, I received a telephone call from a 19 year old bagger named Johnny. He proudly informed me he was a Down Syndrome individual and told me his story.

"I liked what you talked about," he said, "but at first I didn't think I could do anything special for our customers. After all, I'm just a bagger. Then I had an idea! Every night after work, I'd come home and find a Thought for the Day. If I can't find a saying I like," he added, "I'll make one up."

When Johnny had a good Thought for the Day, his dad helped him set it up on the computer and print multiple copies. Johnny cut each quote and signed his name on the back. Then he'd bring them to work the next day.

Johnny said, "When I finished bagging someone's groceries, I put my thought for the day in their bag and say 'Thanks for shopping with us.'"

It touched me that this young man with a job that most people would say is not important had made it important by creating precious memories for all his customers.

A month later the store manager called me. "You won't believe what happened. When I was making my rounds today, I found Johnny's line was three times longer than anyone else's! It went all the way down the frozen food aisle. So I quickly announced, 'We need more cashiers; get more lanes open' as I tried to get people to change lanes. But no one would move. They said, 'no, it's OK, we want to be in Johnny's lane. We want his thought for the day.'

"It was a joy to watch Johnny delight the customers. I got a lump in my throat when one woman said, 'I used to shop at your store once a week, but now I come in every time I go by because I want to get Johnny's Thought for the Day.' "

A few months later the manager called me again.

"Johnny has transformed our store. Now, when the floral department has a broken flower or unused corsage, they find an elderly woman or little girl and pin it on her. Everyone's having a lot of fun creating memories. Our customers are talking about us, they're coming back, and they're bringing their friends."


Isn't that so cool?

Monday, February 11, 2013

Clarke's Three Laws

The novelist Arthur C. Clarke (1917-2008) was a British writer, inventor, and futurist. He worked as a radar techician and in 1945 proposed a satellite communication system. His most famous story is 2001: A Space Odyssey, published in 1968.

He was a keen observer of technological development, and incorporated many of his ideas in his novels. These ideas notably didn't seem to include conflicting principles or flawed theoretical concepts. Clarke codified some of his ideas of technology into three laws:

1. When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.

2. The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.

3. Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

These laws certainly have been guiding principles to great inventors like Franklin, Whitney, Morse, Bell, Edison, and Tessla, or modern inventors like Bill Gates or Steve Jobs. Think about how our computers or cell phones seem outdated five or even two years later thanks to cooperative endeavors from many brilliant unknown people.

How cool is that? Vive Technology.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Real Heroes -- by Bob Greene, CNN Contributor

Perhaps we can take a few minutes here to address an act of genuine valor that happened exactly 70 years ago yesterday.

It wasn't televised. There were no sponsors.

On February 3, 1943, an Army transport ship called the Dorchester, carrying American soldiers through the icy North Atlantic on their way to serve in World War II, was about 100 miles off the coast of Greenland in rough sea. More than 900 people were on board.

Many of them were little more than boys -- young soldiers and sailors who had never been so far from home. The journey had been arduous already, with the men crammed into claustrophobic, all-but-airless sleeping quarters below deck, constantly ill from the violent lurching of the ship.

In the blackness of night, a German submarine fired torpedoes at the Dorchester.

One of the torpedoes hit the middle of the ship. There was pandemonium on board. The Dorchester swiftly began to sink.

The soldiers and sailors, many of them wakened from sleep by the attack, searched desperately in the dark for life jackets and lifeboats and a route to safety.

With them on the ship were four military chaplains, from four disparate religions.

They were Father John Washington, born in Newark, New Jersey, who was Catholic; the Rev. Clark Poling, born in Columbus, Ohio, who was ordained in the Reformed Church in America; Rabbi Alexander Goode, born in Brooklyn, New York, who was Jewish; and the Rev. George Fox, born in Lewistown, Pennsylvania, who was Methodist.

In the chaos onboard, according to multiple accounts by survivors of the attack, the four men tried to calm the soldiers and sailors and lead them to evacuation points. The chaplains were doing what chaplains do: providing comfort and guidance and hope.

"I could hear men crying, pleading, praying," a soldier named William B. Bednar would later recall. "I could also hear the chaplains preaching courage. Their voices were the only thing that kept me going."

With the Dorchester rapidly taking on water, there were not enough life jackets readily available for every man on the ship.

So, when the life jackets ran out, the four chaplains removed their own, and handed them to soldiers who didn't have them.

More than 600 men died that night in the frigid seas, but some 230 were rescued. And some of the survivors, in official accounts given to the Army, and in interviews after the war, reported what they saw as the ship went down:

Those four chaplains, men of different faiths but believing in the same God, their arms linked, standing on the deck together in prayer.

They had willingly given up their futures, their lives, to try to help the men who had been placed by the Army in their care.

The U.S. Army War College has in its records a narrative of what happened that night. One of the men who survived the sinking of the Dorchester, a Navy officer named John J. Mahoney, is quoted as recalling that before heading for the lifeboats, he hurried in the direction of his quarters.

Rabbi Goode, seeing him, asked where he was going. Mahoney said he had forgotten his gloves, and wanted to retrieve them before being dropped into the cold sea.

Rabbi Goode said that Mahoney should not waste fleeting time, and offered Mahoney his own gloves.

When Mahoney said he couldn't deprive Rabbi Goode of his gloves, the rabbi said it was all right, he had two pairs.

Only later, according to military historians, did Mahoney realize that of course, Rabbi Goode was not carrying an extra pair of gloves. He had already decided that he was going down with the ship.

According to the Army War College account, another survivor of the Dorchester, John Ladd, said of the four chaplains' selfless act:

"It was the finest thing I have seen or hope to see this side of heaven."

The story of the four chaplains was quite well known in America for a while; in 1948 a first-class 3-cent postage stamp was issued bearing their likenesses. There are still stained glass windows in some chapels across the U.S. that pay tribute to the four men, including at the Pentagon. But the national memory is short, and they are no longer much discussed. February 3 was, years ago, designated by Congress to be set aside annually as Four Chaplains Day, but it is not widely commemorated.

This Super Bowl Sunday, with its football heroes whose televised exploits are bracketed by commercials for beer and corn chips, will be no exception. The nation's attention, this February 3, will be focused on the game.

But perhaps, at some point in the day, we can pause for a moment to reflect upon what valor and courage and sacrifice really mean. How rare they truly are.

And to recall the four men who remain, in the words with which their grateful and humbled country honored them on the front of that long-ago postage stamp, "these immortal chaplains."



CNN Contributor Bob Greene is a bestselling author whose 25 books include "Late Edition: A Love Story"; "Duty: A Father, His Son, and the Man Who Won the War"; and "Once Upon a Town: The Miracle of the North Platte Canteen."