That most wonderful time of the year

From our house to yours, enjoy the wonders of the human spirit throughout this string of holiday seasons that carry us into 2011. May your holiday spirit enjoy broad sprinklings of merriment, family, safe travels, and optimism for what lies ahead.

One-of-a-kind, On-line, Odd-ventures

double genache chocolate cheesecakeIn ongoing ventures as an E-preneur, I've gathered a marketplace for world-class goods that you can't find anywhere else. Please explore with me the worlds into which I've  wandered, studied long and hard the last 3 years, and discovered wonders -- gourmet specialty coffee roasting and blending; gourmet artisan chocolate; gourmet cheesecake; art prints, and artisan crafts by amazing family artists. MORE DETAILS

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Join in themes that support living in good cheer and overcoming anything the world throws at us. Favorite subjects: Family. Grandchildren. Dogs. Friendship. Excellent books. Incredible food. Cameras and photos. Espresso. Movies. Music. College sports. Baseball. Fountain pens. Cooking. Other stuff. Yours?

Talk back: Tell us how you found Be of Good Cheer dotcom.

Thanks for dropping by. Come again, and bring a friend.

Cleaning out the Garage, Part 2


The garage is a cave. Blame inaction, literally and metaphorically, on the garage. Its contents, mostly boxes stacked in monolithic solitude, gathering dust, in some cases date back to Neanderthal. 

In the garage, for the moment, life unfolds in a vacuum. March? February? April? I think it is. Or not. Doesn't matter. Moving soon. Keep digging. Get through today. So tomorrow looks welcome.

Blessings abound these days. These days rank No. 1 among the blessings. Each day is a gift. Some tougher to manage than others, yet each a gift. Told a group last week, the difference in an optimist and a pessimist is, optimist arises each new day and says, "Good morning, Lord." Pessimist rolls over, grunts, hits the snooze button, groans, and says, "Good Lord, morning."

Wonderful opportunities to spread the premise of good cheer recently. One, a group of college students. Eager. Excited to participate in their convention, 600 strong, from 60 institutions from around Texas. (Texas, in case you missed it, is huge. Further from Houston to El Paso than from El Paso to Los Angeles.)

Spoke to their awards luncheon, and a couple of breakout sessions. The topic: journalism. It's in a state of disarray. Long talk on the phone two nights ago with a friend, a peer, 40 years into his commitment to the profession at newspapers, just three years removed from retirement and aching for that time frame to shrink fast, faster, to now. Disillusioned, he said, with the state of his calling, his business, his specific newspaper and those his friends work for in other cities, his Denver. 

Blogs. (Ironically.) Message Boards. Anonymous, unaccountable, irresponsible, sometimes maniacal, often irrational, and always-irrepressible patrons visit themselves verbally into the Web pages of newspapers and magazines and e-zines, and they insult the industry. (Is always-irrepressible redundant? After all, I am on a life mission of eliminating and wiping out redundancy.)

Anyway, so. The message for the masses, those young and aspiring collegiate journalists practicing at their school papers, yearbooks, radio and TV stations: "Respect the Estate." Asked to speak about 20 minutes, and they to listen about 20 minutes, and praying they didn't finish before I, the message ran along these lines:

Respect the fourth estate. Respect the privilege, the responsibility of free press in the only place in the world where it exists fully. Respect that freedom on any and every level. That freedom arrived paid-for, steeply; earned, now endowed.

Every person involved in practicing the trade freely, therefore, deserves respect -- associate, teammate, source, and subject. And most certainly, the reader/listener/viewer. Respect them by respecting language, the most flexible language in existence, English.

Responsible and accountable, thorough and balanced and fair and truthful and sensitive use of language shows respect for the person receiving the verbal and oral accounts of the journalist, who becomes eyes, ears, taster, toucher, and emotive conduit of the community. Watchdog, even. 

Bravado is welcome. Quoting von Goethe: "...Boldness has power and magic in it." Caution flag: one significant problem with opinion  is that you don't have to know anything to have one. (reference, paragraph 5)

Opine with respect. 

The estate is dying; long live the estate.

That's what I told them, in so many, hoping not too many, words. Along with some fun stuff. After all, it was lunchtime. Food as food trumps food for thought at lunchtime of conventions. 

Most did not finish before I. That's good cheer in and of itself. Reminds me of an old one. Speaker says to the audience: "The biggest problem we have in our society today consists of ignorance and apathy."

One among the audience turns to a friend and says, "What's that mean?"

The friend replies with a shrug, "Who cares?"

Convention, long gone, back college-ing. (Not to be confused with collaging, or collagen. Not to be confused with anything, really, because college-ing isn't a look-it-up word. But I'd bet it's understandable, which makes it communicative, which suits me if not Hayakawa, Tannen, Strunk or White.)

That student convention is over; mine has just begun. Let's convene more often.