Strange Visitor – A Christmas Story

via Strange Visitor – A Christmas Story

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Review: M200 Café Crème 2015 Special Edition

The Pelikan's Perch

963124_122014_se_m_200_cafecreme_offen_2_8281It seems as if it were just yesterday that Pelikan announced a new M200 model for 2015 and, two months later, we now have the Café Crème (pronounced kah/fay krehm) in hand.  The company has been producing many special editions in recent times within both its Classic and Souverän lines.  For the M200 line, Pelikan gave us the clear transparent demonstrator in 2012 which they followed up in 2014 with the cognac transparent demonstrator.  Both of those releases were nice pens but ultimately were little more than re-releases of prior M200 models with a slight upgrade of the cap top trim.  While this was welcomed by many due to the relative scarcity of examples from the original release on the secondary market, the new models overall have felt uninspired and stale.  What’s more is that pen collectors/users are very polarized over demonstrator models with one camp loving them and another…

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Strange Visitor – A Christmas Story

As we are in the Christmas season I thought I would repost this

Brad W. Merrill

Back in December 1979 I was a brand new missionary for the LDS Church (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints sometimes called the Mormons) This was sent to me in a package I received from home.  I thought I would share it with all my friends in Cyberspace. I didn’t write this and I don’t know who did. Please enjoy it.

STRANGE VISITOR

            I had just finished the household chores for the night and was preparing to go to bed when I heard a noise in the front of the house. I opened the door of the front room, and to my surprise, Santa Claus himself stepped out from behind the Christmas tree.

He placed his fingers over his lips so I wouldn’t cry out. “What are you doing…? I started to ask, but the words choked up in my throat as I saw that he had…

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Fountain Pen Day – November 7th

Thought I would share this with everyone.

The Pelikan's Perch

Fountain Pen Day LogoWhile this site is dedicated to the Pelikan brand of fountain pens, I feel it reasonable to promote any cause that advances fountain pen awareness and the joys of handwriting.  For those of you who are unfamiliar, Fountain Pen Day occurs on the first Friday of every November.  This year, the event will fall on Friday, November 7th and will mark the third year that this day is observed around the globe.  According to the official site, the goal of the day is to, “embrace, promote, and share the use of fountain pens in day-to-day life, as well to help revive handwriting as a whole.”  There are a reported 61 vendors signed up this year who have pledged to support the day, many of whom will provide special deals/discounts.  When that day rolls around just 10 days from now, take a moment to write a letter, handwrite your posts to…

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Everyone’s demographic is a bit different, but these ideas should work for most if not all. If you have a blog, what have you seen that seems to help?

The WordPress.com Blog

This is a guest post by Kristina Chang, Evan Moore, Tony Xu, and Omer Rabin; students at the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

“What makes a blog popular? What drives page views?” These are the questions that we’ve been trying to answer over the last few weeks. We were on a mission to dig into the data and analyze the strongest parameters that influence the flow of visitors to WordPress.com blogs.

Out of the 30+ million blogs on WordPress.com, we randomly selected a sample of almost 100,000 blogs to perform a regression analysis. Here are our findings, together with a few recommendations. We hope that this provides some new information, and kudos to you in case you’ve already incorporated these tips into your blog – the data suggests that you’re on the right track. Keep it up!

Make your blog easy to follow – It almost sounds obvious, but the…

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How to turn your blog into a book

While a little outside of the generally accepted scope of my blog. (Small business, accounting and tax) I thought this might be of some interest to my readers. A couple of books that I am aware of that either used a similar concept or are structured in such a way to be similar that I am aware of are Side Glances, by Peter Egan (a collection of his Road & Track magazine column of the the same name) and the other the way that Harvey Mackey has structured his book Swim With The Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive.

The WordPress.com Blog

 We know many of you love your blogs, and gleefully publish photos and posts without thoughts to reuse your work in other forms. But we know some wonder: could this be a book? Recently we wrote about how a WordPress.com blogger scored a book deal for You Are Not So Smart. But what if you want to do it all yourself?

As a blogger who has authored several successful books with publishers, and who works on WordPress.com, I recently self-published a book based entirely on posts from my blog. I wanted to see what I could learn, and I’m here to share it all with you.

The book I self-published is called Mindfire: Big Ideas for Curious Minds. It’s a collection of my best essays from my WordPress blog at scottberkun.com, where I write about ideas, creativity and leadership. The book has done well, and has often been…

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Strange Visitor – A Christmas Story

Back in December 1979 I was a brand new missionary for the LDS Church (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints sometimes called the Mormons) This was sent to me in a package I received from home.  I thought I would share it with all my friends in Cyberspace. I didn’t write this and I don’t know who did. Please enjoy it.

STRANGE VISITOR

            I had just finished the household chores for the night and was preparing to go to bed when I heard a noise in the front of the house. I opened the door of the front room, and to my surprise, Santa Claus himself stepped out from behind the Christmas tree.

He placed his fingers over his lips so I wouldn’t cry out. “What are you doing…? I started to ask, but the words choked up in my throat as I saw that he had tears in his eyes. His usual jolly manner was gone. Gone was the eager, boisterous soul we all know.

He then answered me with the simple statement of “Teach the Children.” I was puzzled. What did he mean? He anticipated my question and with one quick movement brought a miniature toy bag from behind the tree.

As I stood there in my night shirt bewildered, Santa again said, “Teach the Children.” My perplexed expression still showed in the near darkness.

“Teach them the old meaning of Christmas… the meaning that Christmas now-a-days has forgotten.”

I started to say, “How can I…?”  when Santa reached into the toy bag and pulled out a brilliant star.

“Teach the children, the star was the heavenly sign of promise long ages ago. God promised a Savior for the world and a sign of the fulfillment of that promise was the great star of the East. The star now reminds us of God’s love for mankind and of God now fulfilling His promise. The countless shining stars at night…one for each man…now show the burning hope of all mankind.”

Santa gently laid the star upon the fireplace mantle and drew forth from the bag a glittering red Christmas ornament.

“Teach the children, red is the first color of Christmas. It was first used by the faithful people to remind them of the blood which was shed for all people by the Savior.”

“Christ gave his life and shed his blood that every man might have God’s gift to all, eternal life. Red is deep, intense, vivid…it is the greatest color of all. It is the symbol of the gift of God.”

As Mr. Claus was twisting and pulling another object out of his bag, I heard the kitchen clock strike twelve. I wanted to say something but he went right on.

“Teach the children,” he said as the twisting and pulling suddenly dislodged a small Christmas tree from the depths of the toy bag.

Here was the second color of Christmas. “The pure color of the stately fir tree remains green all year round,” he said.

“This depicts the everlasting hope of mankind. Green is the youthful, hopeful, abundant color of nature. All the needles point heavenward…symbolic of man’s returning thoughts toward heaven. The great green tree has been man’s best friend. It has sheltered him, warmed him, made beauty for him, formed his furniture.”

Santa’s eyes were beginning to twinkle now as he stood there. Suddenly I heard a soft tinkling sound. As it grew louder and louder, it seemed like the sound of long ago.

“Teach the children, that as the lost sheep are found by the found by the sound of the bell, so should it ring for man to return to the fold…it means guidance and return, it further signifies that all are precious in the eyes of the Lord. Who is there among you if his son asks for bread will give him a stone?”

As the soft sharp sound of the bell faded into the night, Santa drew forth a candle. He placed it on the mantle and the soft glow from its tiny flame cast an eerie glow about the darkened room. Odd shapes in shadows slowly danced and weaved upon the walls.

“Teach the children,” whispered Santa, “That the candle shows man’s thanks for the star of long ago. Its small light is the mirror of starlight. At first candles were placed on the Christmas tree…they were like many glowing stars shining against the dark green. Safety now has removed the candles from the tree and the colored lights have taken over in that remembrance.”

Santa turned the small Christmas tree lights on and picked up a gift from under the tree. He pointed to the large bow ribbon and said, “A bow is placed on a present to remind us of the spirit of the brotherhood of man.”

“We should remember that the bow is tied as men should be tied…all of us together, with the bonds of goodwill toward each other. Goodwill forever is the message of the bow.”

Now my mind began to wonder what else old Santa might have in his bag. Instead of reaching in his bag, he slung it over his shoulder and began to reach upon the tree.

I thought he was hungry as he reached for a candy cane, purposely placed high on the tree. He unfastened it and reached out toward me with it.

“Teach the children that the candy cane represents the shepherd’s crook. The crook on the staff helps bring back the strayed sheep of the fold. The candy cane represents the helping hand we should show at Christmas time. The candy cane is the symbol that we are our brother’s keeper.

Santa then paused; he seemed to realized he should be on his way. Later would be his big day. As he looked about the room, a feeling of satisfaction shone on his face. He read wonderment in my eyes, and I am sure he sensed my admiration for this night. He was his old self as he approached the front door. The twinkle in his eyes gave Santa away; I knew that he wasn’t through yet. He reached into his bag and brought forth a large holly wreath. He placed it on the door and said, “Please teach the children, the wreath symbolizes the eternal nature of love; it never ceases, stops or ends. It is one continuous round of affection. The wreath does double duty. It is made of many things and in many colors. It should remind us of all the things of Christmas. Please teach the children.”

I pondered and wondered and thrilled with delight,

As I sat and viewed all those symbols at night.

I dozed as I sat in the soft candle light,

My thoughts were of Santa and all he made right.

To give and help, to love and to serve

Are the best things of life all men can deserve.

Old Santa Claus, that jolly old elf,

Is the very best symbol of Christmas itself.

He’s the sign of the gift of love and life,

The end of evil, the ceasing of strife.

His message to me on this pre-Christmas night,

Has opened a treasure of deepest insight.

The one thing on earth we all we all out to do,

Is the teaching of children the right and the true?

Hope Rising 9/11 Bronze Monument Unveiling

Yesterday I had the opportunity/privilege to go to the unveiling of a sculpture called Hope Rising – To Lift a Nation which is modeled after the famous  photo in this post. The location of this heroic – sized (9 ft.) bronze monument? Sandy, Utah.  The sculptor is world-renowned Stan Watts who was granted permission to do so – even to the point of the permission of the firefighters in the photo.

This monument stands at the head of the original Healing Field near Sandy City Hall. http://www.healingfield.org/

The Healing Field contains an American flag for each of the victims of 9/11.  A section for each of the following:  Flight 93, Flight 77, Pentagon, Flight 175 and Flight 11 as well as all those in the World Trade Center. Each flag has a card with a card on it with the name of the victim and some personal information about each one.

Of course there were speeches by local politicians, US Air Force, fire officials – including one who spent time at Ground Zero assisting with the clean up and other notables. Frank Layden, former Utah Jazz coach, general manager and president who was raised in Brooklyn. Former NBA player Thurl “Big T” Bailey among others. Just prior to the unveiling 3000 white balloons were released into a beautiful blue September sky. Overhead an eagle circled. A Life Flight helicopter, swooped over the crowd, paused over the field of flags and dipped its nose in salute.

There was a “Fire Ride” for local Harley riders – there were over 1000 bikers from Sandy to Ogden for the unveiling of another monument that will one day become the centerpiece of a larger America’s Fallen Firefighter Memorial that will include the names of firefighters who lost their lives in the line of duty. From stock Honda Gold Wings to custom choppers and everything in between. I spoke to a guy – a retired Provo Fire Department Captain, who had a gorgeous Harley Davidson Firefighter edition that he had added some custom touches to. Flames (“real fire flames”), a mural on the back of the saddlebags that depicted a firefighter holding a hose on the left bag and on the right in full fire gear walking away with “Jolley” and PFD on his fire coat on the right bag. The saddlebags also had faint American flags on the sides of the saddlebags.  He had also added a plate on the tank that had all 343 firefighters names that perished that day. I am sure I am missing some things, but that isn’t the point.

The point is, the diversity that was present there. The stage was provided by Lehi City, fire trucks from North Tooele County, Salt Lake City, Sandy, Murray, West Valley City, among others.  People from all walks of life.  One thing I noticed is that many of these bikers were combat veterans. One had a patch identifying him as a member of the 82nd Airborne.

It was an honor to be able to participate in this event.  If you live in the area, I encourage you to pay a visit to the monument.  And if you aren’t and have an opportunity to visit the Salt Lake City area, take time to visit the monument. It is a short drive south of downtown.

What were you doing the morning the Towers came down?

I imagine many of us do remember what we were doing that fateful morning ten years ago Sunday. (It happened on a Tuesday though)

The families and friends of the fallen so much more so than the rest of us. While I didn’t personally know anyone who died in the attacks in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania that day, I had a couple of co-workers (two brothers and their mother) at the time lose a family member to the attack on the Pentagon. His name is Brady Howell and he worked for the Director of Naval Intelligence where he was a management intern.  I mention this partly because my memories surrounding that time include him.

I know what I was doing.

Three days earlier (September 8, 2001) I had just run my third half marathon in five weeks as part of my training for the St. George (UT) Marathon on October 6th.  The race on the 8th was run in 1:54:12 – the second fastest of the three. On the morning of September 11, I had ten miles planned including 10 800 meter intervals with rest intervals at about 3:30 on the Jordan High School track near my home. Ran to the track as a warm up (about 1.5 miles), did my workout averaging 3:58 for all 10, then ran home. It was about 60 Fahrenheit that morning here in Salt Lake City.

I got home from my run and was in the bedroom changing (this was about 6:45 am MT/8:45 am ET) and the morning news was on when I saw video of the first plane hitting the tower. My wife was in the bathroom and I recall saying to her “come here, you have to see this. A plane just hit the World Trade Center in New York” or something to that effect.  According to Wikipedia the timeline for the second tower being hit was just after 9:00 am ET and the Pentagon about 30 minutes or so after that. Those images are as vivid today as they were ten years ago.  Of course at the office there was a lot of talk about it and the images of people huddled around a television or similar type gatherings for much of the day.

After a while, I had to force myself to not look  at the media reports as I had deadlines to meet. I know that sounds a little cold, but I still had to meet those deadlines. At the time I worked for a network marketing company in the tax department and I had sales tax returns due and only had a few days left to complete everything and get them sent off in time so penalties were not incurred.

What I found to be very eerie was how quiet things became after the President/FAA grounded all flights.

I run very early in the morning, so it was really noticeable –not only the sounds but the lack of landing lights. All the flags at half-staff. At the end of a run that first Saturday I ran through a park near my home and noticed – really noticed all the families in the park. It seemed like more families were out that day for some reason.  Another unique thing I experienced that year was at the marathon. It was my third marathon, but first St. George. Just the atmosphere seemed different. I hadn’t been a runner for very long- about two years, but had been going to the marathon for several years as a spectator. I knew it was related to 9/11 but couldn’t really put a finger on why it was different beyond that.

At the race expo the day before the race, a local radio station who was a race sponsor was doing a promotion where they had labels that looked like American flags on them with the names of those who lost their lives that day on them and where. By some stroke of luck I got the one which had the name Brady Howell  and PENTAGON on it. (If I recall correctly they were accepting small donations which would go to some fund or other).  Race morning included a moment of silence for the fallen as well as the national anthem prior to the start. Members of the US Military manning aid stations, runners carrying flags for 26.2 miles.  Very different from previous marathons I had run. I gave copies of my race bib which had the sticker with Brady’s name on it to my co-workers – including one for his widow. I put information about the race on the face of the bib and keep them in a binder so I kept the original. If the name and date of the race is already on it – I don’t worry about it. In this case it had race name, no date. So I wrote in the lower left hand corner: Oct. 6, 2001 4:11:12 New PR! This event served as a bookend in many ways to what began on September 8, 2001.

Let’s all remember those who died that day and keep them in our hearts and minds.

Thanks for reading.

Brad

 

Why companies won’t hire – By David Frum, CNN Contributor for CNN.com

Unemployed men in Iowa line up for food during the Great Depression, circa 1935.
Unemployed men in Iowa line up for food during the Great Depression, circa 1935.

Washington (CNN) — A week of bad economic news has led some economists to worry: Is it 1937 all over again?

But here’s a second worry. Even if we avoid a repeat of 1937, we still have to worry about another 1936.

Here’s the background to the worries:

As everyone knows, the global economy plunged into a great depression at the end of the 1920s. In the United States, the Great Depression hit bottom in early 1933. The years from 1933 through 1936 were years of economic recovery.

Then — slam — the U.S. economy hit the wall again. In 1937, the U.S. economy tumbled back into a depression almost as severe as in 1929-33.

This past week of bad economic news raises fears that history might repeat itself, with a second slide into recession after the terrible collapse of 2008-2009.

But here’s my worry: Even if we avoid a second recessionary dip, we’re stuck on a very, very disappointing path. Call it the 1936 parallel.

From 1933 to 1936, the U.S. economy grew strongly, almost 10% a year. When supporters of President Franklin D. Roosevelt sang “Happy days are here again,” they had reason to celebrate. By the end of 1936, U.S. output of goods and services had returned to 1929 levels. Corporate profits were surging. $100 invested in the stock market at the end of January 1933 would have multiplied to almost $350 in January 1937.

Yet even before that second slump, one economic indicator remained ghastly: unemployment. Even as output boomed, markets soared and profits bulged, an estimated 17% of Americans remained out of work.

Today likewise, things have returned more or less to normal for the affluent — without taking much of a bite out of the unemployment numbers.

In fact, on our current trajectory, the U.S. will catch up to 2007 levels of economic output sometime in the next couple of months. Yet at the current job creation rate of a little north of 100,000 jobs per month, the U.S. economy will not recover its 2008-2009 job losses until the middle of the decade. And because so many distressed workers have quit the labor force altogether, the pace of job creation would have to double for the U.S. to see total employment rates return to pre-crisis levels before 2015.

What’s the problem? Consider just these factors:

1. This past recession delivered its hardest blow to some especially labor-intensive industries: construction and retailing. Even as economic activity recovers, we’re not going to see lots of new home building. Nor will we see people using their cash-out refinancings to go shopping at Best Buy. Americans are saving again. Those who have jobs are paying down debt.

2. Recessions lead to consolidations. Weak firms go broke, strong firms gain market share. The strong firms hire, the weak firms fire. But because the strong firms are more productive (that’s why they are strong!), they do not hire nearly as many people as the weak firms have laid off.

3. A catastrophic experience like the 2008-2009 recession changes an employer’s expectations about the future. Caution and self-protection become the guiding rules of business management. Companies decide it’s safer to have one worker too few than one too many. They may not recover their exuberance and optimism for years.

4. Last and most important: The economy, although growing, is not growing very fast. The rule of thumb is to reduce unemployment by 1 point, the economy must grow 2 points over trend. Right now, the U.S. economy is still growing below trend. The engine is just not revving fast enough to move the car.

Then there’s public policy. Employers must fear that the future probably holds heavier taxes, more regulation and higher employee health care costs. The outlook might be worse under a President Obama than a President Romney, but it looks sufficiently ugly either way.

As I said: That’s the optimistic scenario, the 1936 scenario.

Don’t get me started on the other.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of David Frum.

Editor’s note: David Frum writes a weekly column for CNN.com. A special assistant to President George W. Bush from 2001 to 2002, he is the author of six books, including “Comeback: Conservatism That Can Win Again,” and is the editor of FrumForum.