Atmosphere: (n) the pervading tone or mood of a place, situation, or work of art.dictionary with letter A

As our earth cannot exist and sustain life without oxygen and water, so the following ideas, organizations and gatherings require a certain atmosphere in order to generate life:

  • Movies–inspired entertainment
  • Government–cooperation and service
  • School–a focused relaxation
  • Church–a joyful noise
  • Business–eager integrity
  • Parenting–detached awareness
  • Sexuality–mutual respect
  • Racial relations–no one is better than anyone else
  • Conversation–breathing and speaking
  • Exercise–to one’s ability
  • Creativity–simple and daily
  • Eating–tasty fuel
  • Friendship–encouraging confrontation
  • Laughter–frequently and often at oneself
  • Confidence–inside more than outside
  • Music–heart journeying to soul
  • Sports–fair-minded competition
  • Religion–humbly helpful

These are the necessary atmospheres.

When you don’t provide the atmosphere for the challenge … you suck the air out of the room.


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ATM: (abbr.) An abbreviation for automated teller machine.dictionary with letter A

It is the trifecta of disasters.

  • First of all, anything that’s automated is only of value if it automates.

When it develops personality quirks and fails to deliver its automation, it is annoying beyond all curses of Job.

  • Second, it is a teller.

I don’t need machines lecturing me on my bank account, my balance or charging me fees because I find myself suddenly and haplessly in need of cash. Can there be anything worse than a self-righteous mechanism which knows too much about you?

  • And finally, machine.

There are two things I know about machines:

  1. They can be very helpful.
  2. They break down often and cease to be helpful.

So even though I am a user of these contraptions from time to time, they have also proven themsevles to be adversarial rather than being advocates for my well-being.

When I was younger, I was convinced I could trick them–to get $20 out of them when I only had $19.42 in my account. At that stage of the game the machines would not offer you $10, assuming that anyone who didn’t have $20 should not be pushing anyone’s buttons.

Being priggish, the machine would never give me $20 for my $19.42. The thought was, “Come back when you have money.”

The problem was, of course, I needed money now–so I could make more money.

The not-so-automated, over-telling, pompous machine … was unsympathetic.


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Atlas: (n) a book of maps or chartsdictionary with letter A

My traveling companion is not cleared for maps.

Whenever I get the coinage together to contact Mr. Rand and see if he can get together with Father McNally and make me a paper traveling plan for my journeys, I then have to take that gift and place it in the hands of a woman who finds innumerable ways of mutilating the offering.

It’s probably because she uses the map so much, but in no time at all, they’re dog-eared, ripped, chewed up and even sometimes have pages missing, making Old Glory consist of 41 states.

I have comically thought to myself how dangerous it would have been for her to be on the Santa Maria with Columbus, as he requested a guiding chart to get him to his destination, to have her hand him a gnawed page of parchment with missing pieces.

Perhaps we would all still be in Europe and the American Indians would be hunting buffalo … if my partner had been the cartographer for Christopher Columbus.


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Atlantic: (n) short for Atlantic Oceandictionary with letter A

I was 22 years old before I ever got the opportunity to see an ocean. Living in Central Ohio, there were not many nearby.

When I asked my parents about whether they would take me so I could see…well, the sea…they told me it was no different from Hoover Lake down the road, where we fished.

“It’s just water, with shorelines, and maybe a little bit more sandy.”

Being a kid, I bought into their version and settled for my nearby body of water.

But when I was 22 years of age and arrived in Jacksonville, Florida, I had a couple of extra hours on my hands. I drove down to the beach, parked my car, got out and started to trudge across the sand. In a matter of seconds I came up over a rise and there it was.

The Atlantic Ocean in all of its glory.

Not only were the beaches much more than mere piles of sand, but the ocean was magnificent–nearly angry. It pelted the land with its waves, foaming at its mouth, eager to express its supremacy. And when I kicked my shoes off and went down into the water, I was astounded at the vigor and energy with which the waves struck my body.

As I found out with many things during my life, my parents’ definitions and interpretations were often flawed.

The Atlantic Ocean was much more interesting than Hoover Lake.


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Athwart: (prep) in opposition or counter to.dictionary with letter A

I don’t want to be spooky.

I am not one of those fellows who finds God in every flower or a demon under every rock, but occasionally I have to admit, there are certain attitudes that permeate our society which seem to have been blown in by a wicked specter.

Maybe it’s because I find them dangerous, but more than likely, the reason these particular trends concern me is how quickly they inundate the thinking of the populace.

The one that comes to my mind, which seems to have become very popular in the past 15 to 20 years is the notion that we prove our intelligence by being negative.

Everyone wants to be a critic.

The trouble with critics is that when everyone is doing it, it is no longer a mere critique, but rather, eliminating the energy for creative ideas.

It’s scary to be creative.

Even as I write this essay, I have to be hyper-vigilant about grammar, detail, accuracy, length and form. Some of this is good, but the amount dumped on us is a burden that discourages experimenting with good ideas to see if they’re great.

At any moment, you can offer a suggestion and there is a multitude of nay-sayers standing nearby–to make these inclinations athwart.

Yes, they are fully prepared to explain in vivid and often vicious detail how stupid you are for your assertion. So the end result is a generation that plays it safe while simultaneously feeling no safety.

It will take courageous people chancing that their efforts may be ridiculed, but still proclaiming their thoughts, to overcome this mob mentality of merciless menacing.

My contribution is two-fold:

  • I will continue to create.
  • I choose not to take what is created in front of me athwart.


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Athlete: (n) a person who is proficient in sports and other forms of physical exercise.dictionary with letter A

I often find myself aggravated when I listen to one of the pundits on ESPN or other sports programs talk about athletes having a “God-given ability.”

I think it’s one of the largest cop-outs in our society. It seems to me that when we discover that anything will take effort or demand commitment, we pull out the DNA card and insist that “we are not born with that particular inclination.”

The trouble with ignoring your inner athlete is that you rob yourself of the grace, agility and even healthy lifestyle that are conducive to human well-being.

I think it’s disgusting that we are not encouraging all young people to participate in some sort of team sport actitivity, which would enhance their abilities, so that they would possess the confidence and physical know-how to maneuver themselves through the narrow spaces of life.

Yes, athletes have an advantage, and it’s not just in high school and college. People who are athletic tend to stay trimmer, thinner and in better health than those who aren’t.

As a young boy I was allowed to vegetate, with the most exciting part of my day being breakfast, lunch and dinner. The end result was obesity.

When I finally got old enough to discover my “athlete in residence,” I was already so overweight that it was nearly impossible to return to a normal size. It has to start early–and we have to escape the notion that our five-day-old child has a personality; that because he laid his tiny hand on a ball in the room that he will someday be a superb “baller.”

We are trapping our children in a destiny that doesn’t exist, and in so doing we are robbing them of the power to find the full extent of their athletic ability, which grants them the jubilance and health to be alive and virile.

  • We are all athletes.
  • We are all given opportunity.
  • We are all provided life.

And as soon as we allow our children to tap that energy within them, the obesity rates that have been going up will suddenly drop.

For I will tell you–it’s not about how much you eat.

It’s about how you burn it.

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Atheism: (n) disbelief or lack of belief in the existence of God or gods.dictionary with letter A

God damn atheism.

A rather ineffective threat, don’t you think?

Seriously, I’ve always been perplexed with the whole idea of atheism. Obviously, anyone who adheres to this frame of mind is also fully aware that the earth is an intricately formed entity because we need extensive scientific research to comprehend it.

The whole thing reminds me of packing for a long trip. There are two schools of thought:

Some people don’t pack snacks or drinks, but rather, choose to purchase these items at convenience stores. But sometimes these convenience stores aren’t–convenient, that is.

So at that point, it’s nice to have some snacks to munch on in the car.

Likewise, some folks think it’s completely unnecessary to check the car over before the trip as long as it’s running fine.

Of course, a trip to the local grocery store doesn’t reveal some creaks and whistles that might be discovered if you extend that journey by several hundred miles.

Some individuals make reservations at hotels in order to be prepared to check in upon arrival.

Other people like to do it on the fly when they get to a community and see what lodging possibilities are available.

Is there a power in being prepared? Because I know a lot of religious people who are not prepared to die and find out that the whole “God thing” was just an elaborate, beautiful fiction.

And I certainly also know atheists who would be equally as shocked to discover there is an afterlife and a Creator awaiting their arrival.

So the choice has always been easy for me.

I am one of those people who likes to prepare a little bit.

So I am fully prepared for a time on this planet that ends with my own death and nothing to follow.

How do I do that? By making sure I don’t do anything religious that takes the joy out of my living.

But I’m also fully prepared to talk to the Guy in heaven if it ends up that the DNA test came back and He actually is my Father.

How do I do that? By treating all of His creation–especially humans–with the respect and dignity that He requires.

To me atheism is as risky as making a prediction that Jesus is coming back by next September.

Since you really can’t be sure, it might just be a good idea to prepare for all alternatives.



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