Sacred Music Friday: You Raise Me Up

You Raise Me Up, Hayley Westenra with Celtic Woman

cursive writing

Every so often I see some reference to the fact that cursive writing is a dying form. I certainly learned cursive in elementary school. In college I wrote all of my exams in cursive in blue books. (Do they still use blue books in college?) But I guess that cursive is for the most part no longer being taught in schools.


I suspect that this Baby Blues cartoon, while intended to be humorous, is based on fact.

My own cursive writing has gone seriously downhill. These days when I address an envelope or write a note I always print. The only time I use cursive is on a check, and I don’t write many of those because I pay most bills online and use a debit or credit card when out shopping. Hence my check writing has become a terrible hybrid of printing and cursive.

I’m not sure if this is really worth mourning. I used to use a fountain pen – well a cartridge pen, actually, but haven’t in decades. I don’t miss it. I’m not sure that losing cursive is any more of a loss than people no longer using typewriters. After all, no one mourns the fact that we no longer write in runes. Well, maybe a few mythopoeic types do. But not most of us.

In any case, the decline of cursive is definitely a change.


faith and mystery

My former rector, Fr. Phil at St. John the Divine, Morgan Hill, tweeted this the other day:

quoteFaith involves the humility of living with mystery
since an infinite number of things are in relationship
with an infinite number of things

I re-tweeted that. I’m always trying to figure stuff out. And sometimes things can’t be figured out. Science is important and critical and essential. We need science. But sometimes we simply need to make room for the mystery.

follow me on twitter: @MikeChristie220 I tweet whenever I publish a new blog entry.

it’s all table topics

One of our senior members at Toastmasters gave a talk on table topics recently. The table topics part of the meeting is where members are given a topic and need to speak off the top Toastmastersof their heads for a minute to two minutes on that topic. He spoke about strategies for running a table topics session as well as being called on to speak at table topics. All very informative.

He also pointed out that all life is table topics. Whether answering a question from a coworker or boss or engaging in conversation at a Chamber of Commerce mixer, it’s all table topics. And Toastmasters is great preparation.

There’s a lot to be gotten out of Toastmasters.



I enjoy getting the newsletter from They recently published a newsletter on autoantonyms. An autoantonym is a word with two opposite meanings. I didn’t particularly like their examples, but the whole thing is here if you’d like to read it.

My favorite autoantonym is “sanction.”

  • This is an officially sanctioned 5K rum.
  • The FIFA soccer officials were sanctioned.

My late, lovely, lesbian friend Dennise (how’s that for alliteration?) and I shared an office at a company where we were technical writers together. We had a manager who could be rather tightly wound at times, and when Dennise said that she might do something or another, I told her, “You’d better get sanctioning for that or you might be sanctioned.”

I love our English language.

Sacred Music Friday: Hail Thee Festival Day

It is still Easter, so please enjoy this Ralph Vaughan Williams classic. This version comes from St. John’s Detroit.

It should probably be no surprise given the Anglican roots of the American Episcopal Church, but this hymn appears in three different places in the 1982 Episcopal hymnal: Easter, Ascension, and Pentecost.

As I said, enjoy!

Cooks vs. Cons

I have to make a confession.

First, let me tell you why I have to make a confession. I have complained here, and complained loudly, about the emphasis that Food Network has placed on competition shows. I don’t like them. I don’t enjoy them. OK, Terry and I did watch one season of the kid’s edition of Rachel vs. Guy. That was fun. But mostly I don’t like the competition shows. Though I really shouldn’t complain. There are more than enough straight cooking shows for me to put on the DVR.

So here’s my confession. I’m enjoying the new Cooks vs. Cons. There are four contestants. Two are professional chefs and two are amateurs. No one knows who is what. The judges don’t know. The host (the dapper Geoffrey Zakarian) doesn’t know. We the viewers don’t know. It’s fun guessing along with Geoffrey and the hosts as to which two contestants are the pros.

It’s a fun show to watch.


Those of us who spend much of our time writing or generating other forms of communication need to keep accessibility on the top of our minds. It’s easy to forget about it as we hurry to get things done.

When I published my blog linking to the video of my Toastmasters speech I heard from my cousin who is hearing impaired. She said she liked the speech and said that she was glad it was captioned. I hadn’t captioned it, so I assumed that YouTube did it automatically.

Now I know that I don’t have the best quality sound in that video, having used my laptop’s built-in microphone. But still, the job that YouTube’s speech-to-text software did was, at best, horrible.

My introduction, which started with the traditional, “Mr. Toastmaster, fellow members,” came out as “mr Joyce  master blenders.” When I said, “Finally, it must have been probably two-and-a-half hours…” YouTube rendered it as, “finally there are way too many happy hours…” Good grief, I stopped going to bars decades ago. And when I did it was generally later in the evening.

I took the time to thoroughly and carefully clean up the closed captions. If someone in my family needs captions to access my video, I know that there are many others who do as well.

Perhaps you heard Stevie Wonder at the Grammys saying:

quoteWe need to make every single thing
accessible to every single person with a disability.

I bet you know someone who needs some kind of accessibility.

Keep accessibility at the top of your mind and remind me to keep doing so as well.

Walking the Kiso Road

KisoRoadWalking the Kiso Road: A Modern-Day Exploration of Old Japan
William Scott Wilson
Shambhala Publications (October 13, 2015),  288 pages
Kindle edition $9.99, Amazon paperback $12.16

The Kiso Road is an ancient travel route that runs through the middle of Japan. It is dotted with “post towns” that provide stopping points for travelers on the road. Wilson knows Japan very well, and has walked this road before. This book largely focuses on his most recent trek down the Kiso road, though he does offer flashbacks to previous journeys. He describes the inns and their owners, the shops and their shopkeepers, and the religious shrines and their guardians.

In addition, Wilson quotes from a nineteenth century Kiso Road guidebook, and quotes haiku from the masters of the form. He is literate in Japanese and often displays the poem in the original Japanese characters before providing the translation.

Walking the Kiso Road was a pleasant, highly enjoyable diversion.

Easter Communion

I wrote last week about attending the 8:00 a.m. Rite I Eucharist at Good Shepherd Episcopal. Despite my unfamiliarity with the language I felt comfortable at the service. I did take care to wear my Good Shepherd name tag, so the denizens of the Rite I service world would know that I was not new to Good Shepherd, even if I Communion waferwas new to the 8:00 service and Rite I. Everyone there was very friendly and gracious. It was a good feeling.

What was strange for me was when I went forward to receive Communion. I felt like a complete and total newcomer. But at the same time there was a real feeling of connection.

It’s not something I understand, but Communion is not something we understand with the left side of our brains, is it?