Decaf: (n) decaffeinated coffee or tea.

Having had a showdown with caffeine in my early years, when taking too much No-Doze in an attempt to stay awake, I have been reluctant to drink regular coffee.

Actually, it’s much sillier than that.

I don’t like coffee at all.

But I will occasionally hold a cup in my hand when I’m forced to be with grown-ups so that I can appear to be one of them.

When I do that, I request decaf.

No matter now long I live on this Earth, it will continue to astound me how there are some people who can take the simplest, little piece of information and turn it into a full diatribe, discussing their superiority and my inadequacy.

It never fails.

If I’m at a party and request decaf, there’s always someone—who has been practicing blowing hard—who explains to me that I am drinking “kid stuff,” “brown water” or “the nursing home special.”

They go on to explain that they only drink “the real stuff,” with just as much caffeine as it possibly can hold and still remain liquid.

I stay quiet, admitting my frailty and conceding that this may eliminate me from ever being considered studly.

I don’t know why we human beings turn everything into a competition.

I am not an expert on coffee in the first place.

So truthfully, I’m not in the mood to discuss brews, roasts and grinding.

But if you are, I wish you God speed.

God speed away from me.


Con Man

Con man: (n) a man who cheats or tricks others by persuading them to believe something that is not true

Every once in a while I take a stroll through the Ten Commandments to take an inventory on how many I’ve broken.

That is one of the more ridiculous aspects of that top ten list–it does not serve as a guide to our lives, but rather, a reminder of how futile ourfunny wisdom on words that begin with a C
attempts often are when we pursue self-righteousness or any form of superiority that makes us feel that we’re near to the heart of God.

For instance, I’ve been a con man.

I didn’t do it for a living. That’s probably good. Otherwise, I might be writing you from Folsom Prison, with the blues, or from Sing-Sing without a song.

But I have presented claims as facts, trying to impress people around me, when in actuality the legitimate information was far less than my boast.

Here’s the only difference between me and the standard con man: I actually believed my own bullshit.

I did.

I had thoroughly saturated myself in fictitious notions that twisted my brain to such an extent that they squeezed out common sense and replaced them with Thanksgiving stuffing.

So not only was I a con man to those around me, but I did a remarkable job promoting it to myself.

This is why self-awareness is probably one of the greatest virtues that a human being can pursue–it makes you stop off every once in a while and read the Ten Commandments and realize how far you have fallen short–as you chuckle over your own inadequacy.


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Bother: (v) to take the trouble to do something.

The solution to all of our problems is wedged between “Don’t bother me” and “Why bother?”Dictionary B

For after all, our unwillingness to be bothered by “the truth that makes us free,” causes us to be cynical about anyone else.

Since I know I am not going to change, why bother changing you?

So we’re convinced we should accept our own inadequacy, and assume everyone else will be equally as inadequate.

It’s really a simple adjustment.

Life is not trying to bother us–it’s trying to teach us the pattern of the Natural Order. And the true essence of greatness is discovering how to enlighten others without feeling the need to act as their instructor.

This leads to a glorious conclusion:

I will change because change saves me.

I will help you find a similar salvation by making the change in my life seem appealing.

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Banana: (n) a long curved fruit that grows in clusters and has soft pulpy flesh and yellow skin when ripe.Dictionary B

I have two thoughts that come to my mind when I consider banana: one is a sensation of flavor and the other is a source of inadequacy.

First of all, a banana is a tricky fruit because when it’s not quite ripe, it tastes kind of “green” but is very high in potassium. When it actually begins to rot and has the banana flavor we’re accustomed to, it is high in sugar and you might as well be eating a candy bar.

I like bananas.

However, I do have memories from high school, of sitting at a lunch table with friends, eating a banana and having them all giggle, because in their adolescent minds, it conjured the image of a penis.

Now, here’s where the inadequacy comes in: I’ve never seen or eaten a banana that is actually the size of a man’s penis.

It’s another elaborate ruse from the male of the species, contending that his particular endowment is enriched beyond reality.

Every time I look at a banana and consider myself, I quickly shake my head, hoping to rid my brain of the unnecessary comparison.

Now I know this is childish, and I also realize it’s foolish to watch a beautiful woman at a distance eating a banana, and have unclean thoughts come into your head.

But I am not going to be dishonest with you after all these months of writing and pretend that “a banana is just a banana.”

No–a banana has transforming powers, both in nutrition … and in naughty thoughts.


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dictionary with letter A

Armada: (n) a fleet of warships.

Certainly when I see the word “armada,” my mind immediately pops off to think of the Spanish one.

The Spanish Armada was dubbed the greatest naval force that ever existed on Planet Earth. Because of that it was deemed invincible.

Matter of fact, the English, the French and even the pirates would avoid interfacing with this formidable fleet out of fear of being decimated by the sheer, brute force of its power.

But the Spanish Armada learned a valuable lesson, which is transferable into our times. Once you develop a reputation, you have two choices:

1. You can continue to work on getting better, using only your own standards as the criteria for excellence rather than comparing yourself to the surrounding, meager competition; or

2. You can continue to promote and advertise your status as supreme, hoping there will be no challenges to your claims,continuing to be all-powerful via publicity.

Can you guess which one is popular in the human race?

So while the Spanish Armada promoted itself, striking fear in the hearts of lesser navigators, the English, under the command of Sir Francis Drake, decided to improve its own boats–and eventually defeated them.

It’s not just that pride goes before a fall–it’s more that pride is the stumbling block that trips us up in our inadequacy, producing the tumble.


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dictionary with letter A

Annuity: (n) a fixed sum of money paid to someone each year, typically for the rest of his or her life.

In my saner moments–in other words, when I’m more sane–I actually come to conclusions that are factual instead of impudent.

Because when I read the definition of “annuity,” I thought how wonderful it would be to have somebody who would present me with a check on January 1st which would cover my expenses and frivolous notions for an entire calendar year.

Trying to be noble, I would say that this would make me more productive because the fear of financial failure would be lifted from my shoulders.

But then candor enters my tattered soul and I have to admit that this would make me nothing but lazy.

  • After all, without a bit of uncertainty, I don’t work as hard.
  • Without a tinge of peril to my health, I might stop eating vegetables.
  • Without some insecurity about my love relationships, I might doze off on my commitments and cease to be interactive with the kind souls around me.

Yes, even though I don’t want to admit it, I am a better human being because things are occasionally screwed up. Not only are they defiled by my efforts, but many of them are ruined by my friends, associates and just flukes of nature.

I become more proficient and appreciative because I have to adjust and correct errors. Sometimes jubilance comes to my heart because I have miraculously figured out how to make ten dollars work like twelve.

Without this, I become a “kept man,” a prisoner to the generosity of others instead of the beneficiary of my own talent.

So even though I am not so virtuous as to turn down such an annuity if it was offered to me (hint, hint) I am fully prepared on this lovely day, to concede … that I am better off without it. 

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dictionary with letter A


Ananias: (New Testament) the husband of Sapphira who was struck dead because he lied.

If you don’t find out what’s really important, you can end up doing a lot of stuff that is not only unnecessary, but possibly useless.

I am learning this more and more everyday.

Truthfully, most of us human beings have two major goals:

  1. To look good
  2. To have people notice we look good.

It’s what makes us obnoxious, devious, dishonest and even dangerous to our fellow-travelers.

The law of averages tells us that if there are five good possibilities that could come out of an endeavor, we will be fortunate to find one. Then we have to decide how to justify the other four.

  • Are we going to cover up, lie and deceive?
  • Or develop a sense of good cheer, allowing us, in a jocular way, to admit our inadequacy?

Yes, I am perceiving more each and every day that this whole experience of being a human being will boil down to whether we are able to stand tall and tell the truth, hell to pay.

We admire it in each other. If we really want to look good, being the first one to admit our weaknesses and be candid about them is a fabulous way to receive acclamation. But we still think that appearing to be Top Dog–while we are actually lost puppies–won’t turn around and bite us in the ass.

Ananias lied.

That’s what the Good Book says. It wasn’t about the style of his lie; it had nothing to do with the content. Certainly severity wasn’t taken into consideration. He thought he could lie to another human being, and ended up fibbing to God.

It cost him his life.

That sounds rather dramatic, but if you think about it, every lie we tell, every time we skim the truth and remove the quality of candor, and each and every occasion that we choose to misrepresent our situation … well, a little bit of us dies.

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by J. R. Practix

dictionary with letter A

Acolyte: (n.) a person assisting the celebrant in a religious service or procession.

I make no judgments on traditional religious practices which I may or may not consider to be part of my lifestyle.

Yet some of the more humorous events have happened to me while watching young and old try to walk down to the front of the church and light the ceremonial candles.

We call them acolytes. They are usually young people who have been convinced they have been granted an honor by sitting through a couple of classes, hearing an over-explained description of an age-old process, which appears to be VERY simple until Sunday morning arrives and they are put in the position of being the fire-starters.

One of my favorite visions is the young acolyte wearing the ceremonial robe with a pair of dirty tennis shoes sticking out of the bottom. I won’t even go into the symbolism.

I recall being at one church and an acolyte came forward to light the candle, only to discover that his magic fire stick was not making connection with the wick. For some reason the thing would NOT ignite. So in a moment of humanity, he proclaimed for all to hear: Aw, shit.”

Laugher ensued (even though I am sure folks sought absolution later.)

I DO like it when there is a hovering grown-up presence off to the side, nervously watching the youngsters go up to light the candles, like a mother hen concerned that the chicks will not know how to receive the nourishment of the grain being thrown by the farmer, breathlessly anticipating a fiasco–nearly apoplectic.

And of course, you can’t forget the acolytes who come forward dragging their feet, completely disconnected, barely able to get through the process before collapsing, exhausted, on the front pew designated for their position.

I know that the lighting of the candles is a symbolic portrayal of “bringing in the light of Christ” to our spiritual gathering. But like most human attempts to honor divine concepts, it is always laced with inadequacy, comedy and apathy.

I am not suggesting we should train and pay acolytes who are more professional in their approach.

But in conclusion, my favorite of all the events was when one of the deacons at a church realized that the trainee acolyte was having difficulty lighting the candle. The deacon ran up to the rescue, tried to light the candle himself using the apparatus, was equally unsuccessful, and so reached into his pocket and pulled out his cigarette lighter, leaned forward to complete the job, had his cigarettes fall out of his pocket, bounce on the altar–and scatter all over the top of the prepared communion.

In the seconds that followed, you could sense the man’s horror. There were probably countless revelations about his character revealed through this single action–and speculation on whether it would be appropriate to remove one of his cigarettes from the holy goblet, nearly rendering him paralyzed.

At length he gathered up his smokes and retreated to his seat to languish in his humiliation.

Being an acolyte is another one of those rites of passage that you have as a young person, which older people tell you is very, very important–but no one ever really mentions … after their eighteenth birthday.



by J. R. Practix

dictionary with letter A

Accusation: (n.) a charge or claim that someone has done something illegal or wrong.

Does an accusation have to be true?

Or is an accusation speculation by definition?

And if it is true, is it sometimes necessary to bring an accusation against someone to clear the air, to make sure some benefit can be derived from the experience?

Or does the action of bringing an accusation make you an ass whether it is true OR false?

Is there anyone in history who was an accuser who is now revered as being valuable and noble?

Is there a different route that can be taken to expose stupidity without using the act of accusation?

Is accusation what jealous people do to slow down the progress of those who appear to be surpassing their notoriety?

Is there a different word than “accusation” that would cover exposure of a misdeed?

Can an accusation be made nicely?

Can an accusation be made without pointing one’s finger?

Is it possible to make an accusation without drawing attention to your own inadequacies?

Do we believe that God makes accusations against human beings? And if He does, is it fair for Him to accuse us when He has a divine advantage?

So is there an upside to accusation?

Are we better off keeping our nose to the grindstone and pursuing our dreams without trying to critique the efforts of those pulling a load nearby?

Is it possible to ask too many questions about “accusation” before you become totally obnoxious–AND  a victim of the same action?

Accusation–it is a decision to pursue a point of attack, making sure that you have all of your bases covered for the backlash that certainly will follow.