Debit Card

Debit Card: (n) a plastic card that resembles a credit card but functions like a check 

No one should have a debit card if they don’t know the value of money.

And if they use their debit card poorly, they will soon have a nasty lesson on the danger of money.

I think a debit card is an absolutely marvelous invention—as long as you have money in the bank and you’re just swiping it away.

Yes—how apropos. “Look at me! I’m swiping my own money. I am stealing from myself. Don’t tell anyone.”

Of course, someone is told.

Whoever is in charge of keeping the tally on your balance—well, that individual knows fully well how much money can still be swiped before you are not only a thief, but a criminal.

Money is serious business that should never be taken too seriously.

But when money is not taken seriously, you can get into serious trouble.

I am happiest when I am not dealing with money or debit cards or credit or paying for anything.

I’ve never gone fishing in a lake and had a crab crawl up to me and charge me for the fish I just caught. (That may be because crabs don’t live near lakes.)

But there’s something beautiful about entertaining oneself, or even feeding your face, without spending a dime. But it is not interesting enough that I will actually pursue it.

It does, however, make great verbiage for an article, where you’re trying to be just a little bit cutie—and bitchy—about debit cards.

Crux

Crux: (n) a vital or decisive element (often in the phrase “the crux of the matter”)

Tossed off as a comment by a pundit on any one of a hundred new shows:

“This needs to be taken care of. It is the crux of the matter.”

I don’t know whether the word “crux” is a current one or not. Sometimes I am sympathetic to the younger generation’s unwillingness to adopt language from the past. Other times I want to scream at them to buy a history book or a dictionary.

But I, for one, am very careful about using the word.

Crux is one of those odd terms that is lifted directly from the Latin and placed into our lingo.

In Latin, the word “crux” means cross. And cross is normally associated with one situation and a single individual. It was the form of execution used by the Romans at the behest of the Jewish Council, to kill off Jesus of Nazareth.

So even though the young Nazarene spent his life healing, loving, challenging, organizing and believing, he has become known for the “crux (cross) of his matter.”

A man of peace reflected upon as a criminal hanging on a tree.

So as I look at the climate of our society today—considering the crux of the matter—I wonder what our cross is. What will we be known for?

We certainly want to be recognized for our skill in changing the oil in our car or our delicious recipe for the potato salad we bring to the family reunion each year.

But do we get to choose?

Would Jesus of Nazareth actually have chosen a cross as a symbol of his life?

The crux of America is three-fold:

  1. We allowed slavery to exist for 350 years and bigotry for another century and a half.
  2. We stole our country from the Native Americans, who didn’t own it either, but certainly had squatter’s rights.

And finally:

  1. What will be the crux of our matter going forward? Will it be world domination or the inability to manage our own affairs with grace and aplomb, stumbling our way off the historical stage?

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Criminal

Criminal: (n) a person guilty or convicted of a crime

If my recollection holds any accuracy of memory, I believe it happened right after my twenty-eighth birthday. I was in a room with a bunch of friends—and some strangers—and a question was posed.

“What was your first job?”

Well, I let three or four people go before me so that I could understand if I was on point, what the question really meant and the best way to answer it.

After the fourth teller finished his story about being a bag boy at a grocery store, I raised my hand and explained, “The summer between my junior and senior year, I joined some sort of national work program for teenagers sponsored by the government, which offered opportunities for local jobs at minimum wage. After volunteering, I discovered that the possibility afforded to me was working at the cemetery, cutting the grass and taking care of the gravestones.

“I was torn between being grossed out and wondering whether anything could be any more boring. But the only other thing available was with a farmer, bailing hay. I did not like hay. I didn’t like heat. I didn’t favor sweating and knew the farmer would be there the whole time, and I’d have to really work hard. I thought that the keeper of the graves might actually trust me to do the job without peeking over my shoulder.”

“I was right. Matter of fact, after about four or five days, I discovered he never showed up to confirm my work. So I started coming to the graveyard, signing in, and then leaving. I was able to continue this practice for about two weeks, collecting my check—until I finally got caught.”

At this point I stopped speaking, thinking I was going to get some laughter and maybe even a round of applause for my tale. But instead, a young woman sitting across the room gasped and said:

“Geez…that was criminal.”

Looking into all the faces around me, I waited for someone to speak up and offer at least some support for my ingenuity.

No one did.

I was angry.

Although I did not stomp out of the room, I made my exit from the party as quickly as possible without drawing attention to my frustration.

I fumed. How dare anyone accuse me of being a criminal? I knew what a criminal was. It’s someone who commits crimes, right? An individual who breaks the law and is tracked down by the police and thrown in jail, to stay there until they learn their lesson or complete their sentence.

Then a horrible thing happened.

My conscience showed up.

For some reason, my conscience was in a mood to talk, in a most accusing way.

Mr. Conscience reminded me that three years ago, I had skipped out on rent that was due.

He also brought up the fact that I copped some money from a drawer when I was at a friend’s house.

There were four or five examples that my goddamned nosy conscience decided to dredge up. Each one could be individually explained away—and had been, by my glib nature.

But collectively, they showcased an individual who felt he was superior to everybody else—certainly high and lifted above the rules—and therefore could do what he wanted.

The conclusion was simple. I was a criminal because I committed a crime by breaking the law, which was really a rule set by those who have the uncomfortable job of trying to make things run smoothly by seeking common ground among diverse people.

I was thoroughly ashamed.

Since that day I have not lived a faultless life, but I’ve never been a criminal again. Because even though I don’t always agree, I always know that agreeable is necessary.

funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

 


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Credit Rating

funny wisdom on words that begin with a C

Credit Rating: a classification of credit risk based on investigation of a potential customer’s financial resources

You’ve probably never thought of it—or maybe you have—but shall we refer to it today as “the big four questions?”

The answers to these questions determine your suitability, respectability and popularity in our society.

  1. Are you skinny?
  2. Are you wealthy?
  3. Are you hip with the trends?

And question four:

Do you have a good credit rating?

We are so intense on question four that we have a number assigned to it, and that particular number determines whether you are considered to be “up and coming” or “down and trodden.”

While everyone is terribly concerned about racial inequality in this country, nobody is in the least troubled about the potential of judging another by turning to everyone and whispering, “He’s a 493…”

At that point, we are all supposed to understand that this person is either extraordinarily unlucky, a criminal or has absolutely no sense of what to do with a dollar bill.

Could there be a greater condemnation? After all, you can have black skin and put on a beautiful suit of clothes, walk into a room speaking great King’s English and even the white supremacists have to comment, “He’s one of the good ones.”

But if you walk in a room with a low credit score, it doesn’t matter what color your skin is, the condition of your clothes, your sparkling attitude or your smile.

You are a credit risk.

Therefore you are a social leper and a cultural bewilderment—similar to having financial AIDS.

That fact that this is the acceptable way we conduct business in this capitalistic climate does not seem to bother anyone.

There are many reasons you can have good credit.

There are even more reasons you can end up with bad credit.

I do not think we should do away with the system—but I think we should make sure that the system doesn’t do away with us.

 

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Counterfeit

Counterfeit: (n) an imitation

It actually only happened once.

There were many times that my dollar bills were scanned by clerks or tellers to make sure they were the real currency and not counterfeit. But funny wisdom on words that begin with a Conly once did the clerk disappear and the manager return by her side and explain to me that the bill I had given them, which happened to be a hundred dollars, was fake.

Standing in line I realized that everyone behind me awaiting their opportunity to check out and leave, was suddenly staring at me as if I were a criminal trying to pass “bad paper.”

Realizing this, the manager was quick to explain so all could hear, that this was a common occurrence, and it did not reflect on my character whatsoever.

I was relieved until I realized that it did reflect on my solvency—because it was explained to me that the hundred dollar bill was no good, so they could not take it for my purchases, and unfortunately, I did not have another Benjamin Franklin sitting in my wallet waiting to be used. So not only did I lose a hundred dollars, but I also lost all the food and merchandise I had gathered—because of the fake money.

Counterfeiting is perhaps one of the most selfish crimes because it demands that other people collaborate with your sinister plan to make it work. They are the ones who have to carry your phony dough and pass it along—otherwise the jig just doesn’t work. I walked out of the store frustrated, angry, wanting to hit somebody for how they hit me in my finance and security.

That’s the trouble with counterfeit—eventually all things that are fake are exposed, and you’re left holding a bag of nothing.


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Ballpoint Pen

Ballpoint pen: (n) a pen with a tiny ball as its writing point.Dictionary B

In the pursuit of proving my maturity by adequately sprouting a jaded attitude, I must stop off and admit that many things in life get better.

Once we survive the tenuous nature of invention, the comical attempts at prototypes and the initial product being launched into a market, needing in no time to become “new and improved,” we still often end up with many things that thrust us forward to progress humanity.

This illustrious beginning is presented to you from my wacky consciousness to discuss the ballpoint pen.

I was around when this creature emerged from the deep lagoon of office supplies.

My first memory was the Bic.

It came in a package of 7 or 8.000 (I exaggerate). It was a thin, clear tube with a pen stuck inside, a black stopper on the bottom and a plastic cap on top.

These pens were notorious for writing for about 15 minutes and then either leaking at the tip or ceasing to perform the function, while simultaneously taunting you with visible ink which refused, for some reason or another, to come out–like a spoiled teenager stuck in a room.

One of my friends had the brilliant idea that these cheap pens could be brought back to life by placing the tip underneath a match, thus reopening the surface for use.

It actually worked. I should say–it worked if you were patient and didn’t overheat the pen.

Because I was not so patient, I began to have a bizarre collection of Bic pens around my house in various stages of 1st-. 2nd- and 3rd- degree burns. Some were even melted beyond recognition.

They were cheap enough that you could just go out and buy more–but for some reason I had this sinister desire to scorch them. My friend who made the original suggestion did very well at just barely touching the tip with the flame, to re-engage penning.efforts.

I always went too far.

So I can truthfully say that in my lifetime, ballpoint pens have improved–except for the fact that the last time I used one, it opened up and the ink leaked all over my hands and made me look like a criminal … who had just been fingerprinted.

 

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Avow

Avow: (v) to assert or confess openly.

They call it allocution.dictionary with letter A

It is the action demanded of a criminal in a court case when a guilty plea has been accepted and it becomes his or her responsibility to admit to all of the facets and details of the crime.

Even though we demand this from the more sinister members of our society, we do not require it of the common man or woman.

The most popular rendition of denying one’s previous deeds is the apology. I think we all would agree that an apology from a murderer in a courtroom would not only be insufficient, but insulting. And the lack of requiring that people avow their involvement–good or bad–in a situation gives enough wiggle room that we are never quite certain of what is true and what is false.

When truth becomes a bouncing ball, it’s not safe for anyone to play.

Very recently, I have become convinced of the intelligence of coming clean. It’s a three-step process:

  1. I come to myself.

I realize I have done or am doing something unfruitful, perhaps even wrong.

  1. I come to the facts.

I decide what would be an accurate assessment of my situation and how to phrase it in such a way that I could unburden my conscience and clarify my need for repentance.

  1. I come to others.

It simply is not enough for us to be aware of our own frailties. We gain power and position when those around us know we can be trusted because they have heard us be honest about uncomfortable matters.

It is certainly much more popular to disavow–to distance oneself from causes or endeavors that have proven to be detrimental. But the ability to avow one’s involvement, positive or negative, is the trigger for our trust of those we love or those we wish to lead us.

 

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Apologetics

dictionary with letter A

Apologetics (n.): reasoned arguments defending a theory or belief.

Living in a world that wants to debate the power of argument and argue over the rules of debate, I find myself retreating in self-defense.

It isn’t that I’m afraid to make a stand, nor that I lack evidence of a personal nature on what I hold dear. It’s just that when I am limited to the power of mere articulation, I lose the majority of the beauty of my human emotion and faith.

We are not better people when we are convincing. For after all, Adolph Hitler was able to make a case for his Super Race.

What makes us viable and appealing is the stream of evidence which oozes from our pores as the proof of what lies within.

So a politician who is jaded and angry off-camera fails to convince me of his or her sincerity.

A corporation which revels in its slick advertising, capturing a market, is not nearly as appealing to me as one which takes responsibility for inferior products and sets in motion the research to improve.

And the religionist who mocks the simplicity of a child-like faith in favor of a theology with so many twists and turns that it produces a pretzel logic is not the mind of God to my weary ears.

Here’s what I want to know:

  • Can you tell me the truth?
  • Is it working for you?
  • What can you share with me that confirms that assertion?

Many centuries ago, a blind man who was healed by an itinerant preacher was mocked by the intellectuals of his day because the so-called miracle didn’t make any sense nor follow any acceptable form of religious practice.

His response was precious.

He said, “I don’t know about all your opinions and learned ways. All I know is that once I was blind, but now I see.”

Amen.

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Apologetic

dictionary with letter A

Apologetic (adj.) admitting and showing regret for a wrongdoing.

In my opinion, saying “I’m sorry” is only effective when it comes from the lips of an explorer instead of a captured criminal.

We live in a time when people do and say ridiculous things, and then are compelled by our media to stand in front of a microphone and mouth some sort of anemic confession of weakness, waiting for the news cycle to lose interest in them.

If they don’t do this, we assume they’re perniciously evil and should be shunned from the next barn-raising.

Yet an apology is probably the most powerful tool in human relationships. It is the glue that holds pieces together which are mismatched, but still strong because of the bond.

Still, an apology, like any other misused virtue, becomes nearly sinister when it is coerced and turned from the beauty of repentance to the aggravating death-march to compliance.

It reminds me of the parents who stand around and require their child to say “thank you” when you give the little one a candy bar. You become the victim of their insistence as the child, with chocolate dripping down his cheek, reluctantly mutters what is assumed to be words of gratitude.

How can we teach ourselves that an apology does not diminish, but rather, accentuates, our status?

I don’t know.

But there is a wise adage which states, “Except you repent, you will perish.”

To the human mind that seems unlikely. So what does perish?

What we lose in this transaction, because we have not used our own cognition to apologize, is the peace of mind and trust we have in others to be sincere–which can cause us to become angry, unforgiving souls … if we don’t believe them.

 

 

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Amice

dictionary with letter A

Amice: (n) a cap, hood or white linen cloth worn on the neck and shoulders by a priest or member of other religious orders.

Always willing to admit my ignorance, I had absolutely no idea what this word was, nor do I still have much of a vision for the garment described

But I am certainly aware of the inclination of those who wish to express their position, authority, superiority or uniqueness by the type of cloth they use to adorn their bodies.

I guess it’s just a part of being human.

But I must be honest–at times it seems inhuman or unkind, to separate oneself off from others by blaring a fashion statement.

Case in point: I don’t have anything personally against the Amish nor their ilk, but I find it a bit aggravating that secretly, somewhere deep in their souls, they sense a moral and spiritual upliftedness by dressing “plain,” and proving that in so doing, God is smiling more on them than on my sweatpants.

It does not take very long to travel through the Good Book to see that Jesus was quite aggravated himself by the religions leaders, who adorned themselves in elaborate robing to demonstrate their position and heavenly placement.

On the other hand, I suppose it’s essential that military service personnel wear uniforms, to create–well, uniformity. (Yet, when we really are being intelligent in wartime situations, we have our soldiers infiltrate the local populace by dressing normally. It increases the possibility for victory via subterfuge.)

I’ve had ministers tell me that wearing a collar when walking down the halls of a hospital makes it easier for the patients to identify someone who could bring spiritual solace.

As always, for every objection you can make in life, there is someone who can hatch a story to egg you on, to defend why things are the way they are.

But for the record, you will probably never see me wear an amice.

First of all, I don’t look good in hoods. I was raised to believe this is a slang term for “criminal”

Also, if the best shot I have at impressing the world around me of my prowess is to wear a particular doo-dad or a dud, in order to be the cool dude …then I think I would rather blend into the simply-clad masses.