God at the Box Office

Movie Wizard of Oz

The film “Passengers” was reviewed in a novel way when Pastor Andy showed clips during services at the Church of the Nazarene in Colville, WA.

The plot is about a group of people leaving on a space trip.  They are shown encased in glass-topped boxes on a trip that is to take one hundred years.  Thirty years into the voyage, a man awakens to find that he’s the only one among the passengers or crew who is.

At this point, the audience feels his loneliness.  At the first week’s service,  details of how many people today are facing this emotion in America were given.  The next Sunday when I attended, the clips he showed were about how the man finds a way to awaken a woman he finds attractive.

The discussion is about selfishness.  Because when the woman discovers that he has purposefully brought her alive, she becomes angry and he somehow is out of the space craft and having trouble getting back.

People who take unique approaches to showing daily life lessons are to be applauded.  The folks over at the Nazarene church also had other great ideas for how to live.  Between Sunday School and Church Service, on this hot summer day, they offered root beer floats instead of coffee.  Trays of ice-cream filled mugs were a refreshing sight to see and to experience.

Thank you, Pastor Andy.  Your reviews of film are a fine way to show spiritual insights.  I’m sorry to have to miss your clips of “The Lion,” a video of how a five-year-old boy finds himself lost in a big city in India.  We found this movie an exceptional one with its intriguing plot, the charming little boy actor.  Sorry to have missed your thoughts about its spiritual lessons.

 

Summer Fun

Person SweatingI once lived in Iowa.  The summers were so HOT that they begged a person to take at least eight showers to cool down.  The major redeeming factor was sweet corn so fresh it felt like it had just rolled down from the farm into the kettle.

Now on a summer day recently in Laughlin, NV., where temperatures can reach 128 degrees, I had hair so frazzled that it looked electrocuted, and two red eyes like fried eggs.

What was memorable  was not only the HEAT but an unadvertised special.  Fillet mignon steak and four-ounce lobster tail at the Hickory Pit at the Edgewater are served on Tuesdays between 4 and 6 p.m.  Fortunately, I learned of this special when another Laughlin casino I contacted also said it wouldn’t cost $39 per tail but only $22 with an “access” card or more commonly known as a Player’s Card.  We were THERE.  Everyone was ordering the steak and lobster meal.

At the River’s Lodge, on a behind the scenes tour with mutual friend, Kim McMillion, assistant to the chief engineer, we walked miles around most of their 35 acres.  Said Kim, “I supervise 24 guys so you might say that I’m the ‘Mom’ for our ongoing renovations.”

She pointed out art work of a Hollywood artist who makes concrete look like wood or great scenery like the real-life mine site with places for kids to pan for gold.  We marched between several the “Dotty” locations featuring free snacks, art work and their own bartenders who makes food items for these Asian, Mexican and Burgundy Street  locations.

We marched right past a cushy lounge area filled with large sofas and leather chairs.  You won’t find people just resting at other casinos, just the River Lodge.  The new café just opened was in a huge restaurant with table-clothed dining in front of huge windows overlooking a lovely view of the river.  Try Eggs Benedict.  It arrives on a huge platter.

Comps at the River Lodge are called ‘Rewards.”  I gave a copy of Rusty Springs, my contemporary novel, to Kim for forwarding to the ‘reward’ boss.  Maybe it will become a PRIZE for someone in the future.

\(Thanks Photo Pin for this drawing of someone who looked just like me after a few days going between casinos in Laughlin either walking or being shuttled around in the super fast water taxis.)

 

Some People Love Golf

Chinese Golf Courses

The Chinese sure do.  They build Mega courses.  Consider Mission Hills Club where there are 12 courses all in a row on the mainland across from Hong Kong.

John Bender, a Florida videographer, said, “I was there to film for the Golf Channel.  To see these U.S. designed courses all in a row at Mission Hills, is unbelievable.”

According to a couple of Australian golfers who commented recently on Trip Advisor about Mission Hills in Shenzhen: “Played 8 rounds in 11 days.  Favorites were the Olazabal, Norman and Osaki but the Sorenstam/Rose/Poulter night course was just as good and an incredible experience.  Also played the Faldo, Peter Dye, World Cup and Zhang Lei Wei courses”  Chris R. also said about cost: “It depends upon the course but expect at least $200 Australian dollars.”

Gloria, also from Melbourne, said: “I went to Mission Hills for one week and played five different courses.  I booked through China Golf Experience.  Everything was organized and trouble free from the transfers from Hong Kong airport to . . . ”

Another golfer said on Trip Advisor, “216 holes of golf.  Unbelievable.  The condition of the course I played was very impressive.  The whole experience is one I will never forget.  A great day out for golfers of all abilities.  A must if you have the time and money.”

Thirty years ago there wasn’t a golf course in China.  Chairman Mao called it a sport for the bourgeois.  However, when President Carter greeted Chinese leader Deng Ziapoing in the U.S. in l979, Deng knew that if Americans were to invest in China they’d need to travel there and would need a course.

So when Carter introduced Deng to Robert Trent Jones Jr., a world top golf course architect, Deng asked him, “What is golf?”

“It’s a small ball hit over a big field into a hole.  People gamble about it and buy each other drinks.”

“Of perfect,” pronounced Deng.  “Chinese will love it.” and went home to build the first course.

On Bender’s visit to film U.S. business men who work in China and play golf, he met the man who invented the sweat-proof grips for tennis rackets and golf clubs.

When Chinese build a golf course, or any other type of project, the workers all move to live on the site just as is expected to happen with projects coming up on their New Silk Road.

Now the Chinese are thinking differently about golf.  Many were built were on valuable farmland and others used too much water in parched areas of the country.  Most were private, exclusive to businessmen who often invited local government officials to play.  As a result says Rob Schmitz as heard on NPR’s Main Edition, “The government has shut down 111 courses, one fifth of all courses in China and is banning construction of new ones.

This becomes challenge for Chinese players.  Party officials in one province are forbidden from playing during working hours.  Government official inspection squads show up at clubs to look through computers to check day by day how much a player spent and who they were playing with.

The rise of Chinese golfers such as Feng Shanshan, one of the best women players in the world who won a bronze for China at the Rio Games, leads the way for other young Chinese golfers, who play not to complete a business deal, but because they enjoy hitting a small ball over a big field into a little hole.

“If you have a golf academy, a pro shop, a golf course, you need to promote, do some marketing.  But at the same time, you have to stay under the radar and not promote the fact that you’re in the golf industry,” says Gareth Winslow, head coach at Shanghai’s Junior Golf Academy.  “Promoting golf in China can be tricky.”

 

 

Wake Up Americans

Chinese Freight Train

China to Europe in two days, not twenty-one.  Global containers shifting from ocean to a trans-continental route.  Events are happening faster each day as China continues to rebuild ancient trade routes by land and by sea.

Global product containers, 90% of which now are going by ocean, may be soon taking trans-continent routes.  It’s called “the New Silk Road,” or “Belt & Road Initiative.

Over a trillion dollars in projects are underway.  Over the next five yeas, faster railroads, refineries, bridges, industrial parks and ports are to be built.

Projected is the China to London with a 7,500 rail line through nine countries.  Freight trains to cross the Eurasian continent in eighteen days.  China is the world’s largest exporting nation so the economic lives of over 630 million Chines are going to be upgraded.

The new maritime Silk road from the middle of China to Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia is to replace the old Silk Road begun between 206 BC and 220 A.D.

Xi jinping, president of China and the general secretary of the community Party, a man in his mid-sixties, has been planning this expanding trade route involving sixty countries since its first announcement in 2014.  He is now offering Chinese credit through  new established banks for countries who want to help build new roads, pipelines and ports from Lithuania to the Horn of Africa, Sri Lanka to Israel, and Pakistan to Iran, and the two train lines which will run from China to Germany.

The Chinese Development bank has already been building roads, high-speed rail and pipelines in many Chinese provinces.  The fund is expanding to cover these new projects in South Asia, SE Asia, the Middle East and parts of Europe.

Another new bank approved recently by 22 countries, but opposed by the U.S., Japan, South Korea and Australia (which is reconsidering because they lie so close to the expansions), The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB, and the BRICS Development Bank are to finance projects in energy, telecommunications and transportation (China and Indonesia are its main shareholders).

Announcement of another Chinese landmark came a few days ago on June  20th when the global investment index provider MSCI said it is adding domestic Chinese stocks known as “A shares” to its index.  Ultimately hundreds of billions are anticipated to flow into the index.  MSCI will ease the transition into what has been a difficult procedure for foreign investors to buy or to sell.  It’s expected that U.S. pension as well as Mom and Pop investors may soon be owning these shares in their portfolios.

Recent activities of the New Silk Road were known by Swedish visitors who told me, “Before leaving Sweden a month ago, we saw a video of one of these Chinese fast freight trains.  They told us it was heavily armed just as were the caravans transporting goods along the old Silk Road route in the days or Marco Polo and Alexander the Great.  We also have heard the Chinese president say that some day he hopes to build a similar new trade route to the U.S.”

Experts like Mike Burnick, the editor of Real Wealth Report investment news letter, have said that because China already has an “Insatiable” taste for metals and natural resources that there will be a boost in commodity prices for such things as copper, steel, uranium, platinum.

As a former news reporter and editor, I’ve been prompted to asked several Americans if they knew about the New Silk Road.  Only the Fed X delivery man had a vague idea that he’d read something about it,  Others, even a free-lancers for an oil company, did not.

Hey, America.  Do we want to left behind?  Shouldn’t we quit bitching and get behind the rebuilding of our own infrastructure?

The next summit for world leaders to discuss the Belt and Road is in 2019.  Will the U.S. be a world player?

(Data sources: Mother Jones, Der Spiegel, Real Wealth Report, Stansberry Research, Swedish Visitors.   Photo: courtesy Photopin.)

 

 

 

Antoinette Needs You

2017 cover lebensborn secrets
Antoinette, the courageous girl pictured above, has secrets. But so does the person telling her WWII story.

According to statistics of the American Library Association, the multitude of fiction available to readers and listeners via every sort of media is so vast today that novels have a life-span of six months.

Antoinette’s story, Lebensborn, was first released in 2010 with this title.   It whisked around the world with a publisher and sold in the U.S. and in countries such a China, India and Australia.  It garnered many reviews, one person in fact calling it the best novel of the year.

It won a gold medal for fiction.  Then, a fellow author said he was beginning a publishing company.  “I’ve always loved your story,” he said.  “I wouldn’t change a word of it.  If you come with me, I believe I can give it the recognition it deserves.”

Due to the time it was taking for him to market his own fiction, he was slow to get in gear and requested to publish a different book in my author’s trunk.  So out came Snowbirds, a little memoir of adventures in a recreational vehicle.

Antoinette’s take could only be found then in audio form and in used book stores.  One friend reported that she saw it listed at for $349.  Why?  Apparently, at that time it was considered “a classic.”

Authors today can choose an editor, a cover artist and an independent publishing company and be on their way with a good-looking product.  Gloria de lost Santos, recently deceased, a Hollywood artist, produced her new cover.  Russ Davis at Gray Dog Press designed the interior and produced the book using a soft-paper material.

The book is now available on Amazon, ACX audio and in local stores.  In order to stay alive though, Antoinette needs folks who will give others their thoughts about her life by sending a review to Amazon, Goodreads, a book blogger, friends.

Antoinette needs friends.   Can you help?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Honoring My French Legion Soldier Dad’s Service

world war one scene

My cousin Steve Packey displays a photo of his Grandfather Joseph in his law firm in Sacramento.  It is Steve’s noble way to remember a family member who served his country during war.

Joseph enlisted in the U.S. Army in Chicago when the U.S. entered  WWI.  He was sent to Jefferson Barracks in Missouri where it was discovered he was fifteen years old and thought too young to serve.  Officials sent him home.

From there, he marched himself up to Canada and enlisted in the French Foreign Legion.  The photo in Steve’s office shows him standing beside a car in Paris that he drove for an officer.  Soon he was fighting in the trenches.  The hand-sized Soldier’s Book he carried contained pages of military objectives in French and English. That little part of WWI history can be seen in an Iowa museum in McGregor, Iowa, if it’s still there.

Like most veterans who fought, Dad would not share the terrorizing experiences of trench fighting.  However, I was fascinated with the beautiful medal he was given following his battle wounds.  It was inlaid with ivory and green stones and I wore it often to high school on a chain..  Until the chain fell off.  I continue to regret that loss.  The few remaining objects I  have of his are a rosary and one of his fishing lures.

Joseph does leave a legacy of patriotism and courage.  I also believe he passed along a sense of adventure.  I discovered this during a Mom’s Day call from son John when I asked, “What kind of mother was I?”  And, he answered with not a second’s hesitation, “Adventurous.

This may be one of the reasons I wrote Lebensborn Secrets.  The adventures continue in Rusty Springs and Casanova Cowboy.  Perhaps even, Snowbirds.

(Again, thanks to PhotoPin for use of the above scene.)

Fun Signage

1700 signage

I enjoy a clever sign.  In Spokane, this business sign brought a chuckle: I took my wife to Japan for our 25th.  On our 50th, I go get her.

A few seem to be placed by a Zen poet.

While wandering around the main Brown Building supply building, I came across a treasure trove of tin signage from the l940’s or 50’s.  It’s an usual place to find boxes upon boxes of signs, many featuring Marilyn Monroe.

A few signs left with me.  A tin sign is an assessor, not really needed, but, if the words and message behind the sign are genuinely funny, then, why not put them on a wall inside the house or barn?

Here’s my favorite:

NO SOLICITING

WE ARE TOO BROKE TO BUY ANYTHING

WE KNOW WHO WE ARE VOTING FOR

YES, WE KNOW JESUS

UNLESS YOU ARE BRINGING COOKIES

PLEASE GO AWAY

I might place this one in the bathroom:

Beware

Pickpockets

and Loose Women   (New Orleans Police Dept.)

Commenting about the signage above: What in the world is a ‘Tinker?’

What would a first-class B&B host post?  Turn off cell phones?  No phone calls accepted after l0 p.m.?  Eat everything on your breakfast plate?  Or, this note:  We can’t cater to all food cravings.  But, cookies are available unless someone gets to them before you do.