The Present, Unwrapped = Now

August 23, 2009

Eulogy for My Dad

Filed under: Uncategorized — 8goodfood @ 5:52 pm
Dad with my niece Natalie, Sept. 2006

Dad with my niece Natalie, Sept. 2006

Ashes to ashes, dust to dust…. And as the dust settles, it’s time to report that my dad died late Monday night, August 17th. If he’d lived to September 1st, he’d have been 81.

He didn’t want to die. He made that quite clear as he struggled and fought against the disease that ravaged his body. He hung on for what seemed an eternity, but finally succumbed after nine days of refusing food. Yet another cancer death. Melanoma consumed him quickly in the last few months, especially the final four weeks.

Dad fought hard, refusing to let go, even when it was painfully obvious he would not win this battle. He never gave up, always holding out hope for healing.

He lived a great life—long, full and rich. From the Great Depression to the “Great Recession,” he got to do pretty much whatever he wanted all along, his independent spirit always guiding the way. He loved life, embraced it fully, and always said he wanted to live to be 100. I know he’s still loving life, in whatever form or fashion. In fact, I’d venture to say he’s now having a lot more fun with a lot less struggle.

He loved books and bookstores, and he loved sharing his beliefs with people, especially ideas that would empower people to live life more fully. He was always joking and kidding around, striving to turn a frown into a grin on some unsuspecting stranger. He was good at that.

Dwight Ennis McLeod Jr. was interested in a wide variety of things. He never stopped learning, always reading and studying, from economics and politics to metaphysics and history. He loved searching back through time to discover how the roots of our family and Scottish ancestry spread out and mingled with history. He was a great father, always available, loving and supportive.

My dad was born and raised in Kerrville, Texas. He graduated from Tivy High School and Schreiner Institute (now Schreiner University), both in Kerrville.  He graduated in 1949 From Texas A & I in Kingsville (Texas College of Arts & Industries, now A & M).

He saw combat in the Korean War, having been drafted into the army and serving as an aide-de-camp to a brigadier general at Ft. Hood before shipping off to serve in Korea. He volunteered for combat because of a shortage of troops.

My brother and I learned to catch trout from mountain streams in Colorado from my dad. I gained a deep appreciation of nature and the Rocky Mountains because of numerous camping trips with my family while growing up in Colorado.

Having been raised Methodist, my dad discovered a more metaphysical approach to viewing life’s mysteries in the late 1950s. This fascination led him to a strong involvement in the Church of Religious Science for decades to come. He was an enthusiastic leader in the church organization, serving on the international board in Los Angeles for five years. He was instrumental in the development of an extremely successful church in Denver, and he founded the first RS church in Austin back in 1980.

He owned, operated and started several used bookstores in Texas, including The Book Exchange in Austin. He loved to start a store from scratch, build it into a thriving business, and then sell it and move on to his next project.

I know without a doubt, he has now moved on to his next project. He always referred to death as “graduation day,” thus, congratulations and a celebration of life are in order.

I love you Dad! We miss you and we wish you well on your way! Enjoy the cruise!

Memorial service Sunday, 4 p.m. August 30 at the Austin Center for Spiritual Living, 4804 Grover Ave. in Austin, 78756


February 22, 2009


Filed under: Uncategorized — 8goodfood @ 6:07 pm

What’s special about today? Whatever you decide, I suppose. The only meaning anything in life has is what meaning you choose to give it, right?

(Like Shakespeare said: “Nothing is good or bad but thinking makes it so.”)

It’s George Washington’s birthday today. Hey, that’s significant. If he were alive today, would he go to an Academy Awards party tonight? That’s what I’m doing. Roll out the red carpet for George Washington!

All I want to post right now are links to random things.

I got a kick out of this news item, just because of the notion of a cat being so famous, it makes international news when he dies:

Here’s a great video about how increasingly rapid advancement of technology, along with population growth, are changing our world and life as we know it dramatically:

Here’s a story about a guy who made a 400-foot jump off a bridge with a bungee cord, and it broke! He lived to tell the tale:

This video shows Indian police in a laughter-training event, or something like that. It’s pretty funny. I know laughing parties have been big in India. I once went to one in Austin hosted by some people from India:

Wow, this is cool, a simulated ride on flight 1549 as it took off, then got disabled by the bird strike and landed in the Hudson River:

Here’s a wacky video of a very aggressive goose relentlessly attacking a man and his dog in a boat:

This is important stuff! I hope you watch every single video and read every word!

December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays!

Filed under: Uncategorized — 8goodfood @ 10:01 pm

Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays! (Whatever!)

It’s Christmas in July!

Ever since I was a kid, that age-old, mid-summer marketing slogan has cracked me up. It still makes me laugh! But these days I have a new take on it, just a slight twist:

It’s Christmas in June!

According to the recent work of an Australian astronomer, maybe Christmas should be in June. I know the alleged birthday of the alleged baby Jesus (I’m an alleged journalist–gotta have proof before publishing anything as fact!) has long been in dispute. I’ve always suspected if some Immaculate Conception and miracle birth ever really happened, it was likely not in December.

But I never really cared. Christmas has always seemed to me to be as much a secular holiday, for a welcome winter break, and a commercial/consumer holiday, as much as a religious one.

And nowadays, with all the back-and-forth, the flaps, flack and fluster about being politically correct and all-inclusive during the holiday season, well, it’s even more fun than it used to be!

Astronomer Dave Reneke, news editor for Sky & Space magazine, has postulated that a spectacular heavenly event, about 2000 years ago, offers hard evidence to pinpoint the birth of Jesus to a specific date: June 17, 2BC.

Should we swap Father’s Day sales for those blowout, “Christmas In July” sales?

According to an article in an Australian publication (link below), Reneke says astronomy charting software has allowed astronomers to go back in time, so to speak, and map the night sky as it would have been 2000 years ago.

“It’s like a digital map where we can move forward in time as well as backwards,” Reneke explained.

What researchers have discovered is not a comet, supernova or exploding star–common theories thrown about for years–but a conjunction of Venus and Jupiter. They’ve pinpointed this planetary dance, when those two bodies in the night sky came together and appeared as one, to that exact date in 2BC.

Reneke said the conjunction of the planets was so close, they would have appeared as one very bright star, a “beacon of light,” and been visible across the eastern sky at dawn as Venus and Jupiter moved across the constellation of Leo on June 17, 2BC.

So if there were indeed three kings of the Orient, or three wise men, or three blind mice, following a star to Bethlehem, modern science proves they had something spectacular, beautiful and alluring to guide them.

“They could easily have mistaken it for one bright star. Astronomy is such a precise science, we can plot exactly where the planets were. It certainly seems this is the fabled Christmas star,” Reneke said.

I can say I was certainly captivated by the beauty of Jupiter and Venus last month when they formed a tight triangle with the crescent moon. That was gorgeous! And when the space shuttle and space station cut a straight line across the night sky next to them, I was, well, star struck.

Christmas may or may not be a religious holiday for you, but this is definitely a great time of year for caring and sharing among loved ones, be it family, friends or whatever kind of community warms your heart. May your holiday season be filled with peace, love and joy!


About Dave Reneke, news editor for Sky & Space magazine:

Brief blogpost:

November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving! Let’s Play TAG! (Thanksgiving – Appreciation – Gratitude)

Filed under: Uncategorized — 8goodfood @ 12:59 pm

No matter what your life is like, it’s always worth taking time to appreciate Thanksgiving. What a worthy holiday! What a great thing to celebrate! Being thankful and feeling a heartfelt dose of gratitude always reaps benefits for everyone involved.

Gratitude is like a lubricant; it allows life to work with ease. Life flows freely when a steady dose of gratitude greases the wheels. Doors open and great things show up!

Regular application of gratitude makes life work like a well-oiled machine, albeit a machine with heart. It can silence a squeaky wheel and help you glide over rough edges.

The more one lives with gratitude and grace, the more one’s life hums along in a smooth, fluid fashion. Gratitude can clear out the cobwebs and cut through confusion. It can give you instant clarity. It can quell conflict instantly.

Gratitude makes it easier to give, receive and release. It makes it easier to get what you want, and it also changes what you want. It works in social situations just as well as in political or personal dialogue. It opens the door to forgiveness.

Some people have chronic illness. Imagine if such a person started practicing chronic gratitude. It wouldn’t take long for patterns of chronic upset, irritation and anger to fall away, and then the path is clear for any kind of illness to also fade away. Gratitude allows a flow of “ease,” and the degree of this flow corresponds inversely, and precisely, to one’s degree of “dis-ease.”

Thanksgiving is the first step in a progression of ascendancy toward peace. It looks something like this:


Thanksgiving opens the gate to gratitude and grace, a path to peace.

An attitude of gratitude creates harmony. What better way to resolve and dissolve internal or external conflict?

Gratitude also creates happiness. What is happiness anyway? It’s a generous flow of joy and gratitude, be it momentary or constant, that makes you feel good. If someone wants to be happy, all they need to do is find a way to be overflowing with gratitude. Contribute to another. Give, then give thanks.

Every day can be Thanksgiving Day, in a way. Why not? If we choose, we all get to play TAG and, like most kids playing tag, we get to be happy!


November 19, 2008

Catch the Space Shuttle and ISS Zipping by Tonight

Filed under: Uncategorized — 8goodfood @ 2:17 pm

The weather here in Texas has been perfect lately, gorgeous days and clear, cool evenings. The skies should be crystal clear tonight, perfect to catch sight of the Space Shuttle and International Space Station as they pass overhead.

For those of us in Austin, the best view this week is tonight at 6:17, according to a local news station, or 6:19, according to a NASA website (link below). Our orbiting spacecrafts are to pass between Jupiter and Venus, I think, in the southwestern sky.

Venus and Jupiter have been spectacular lately, quite prominent in the southwestern sky as dusk descends into darkness. You can’t miss ’em! They are the brightest objects in the sky after sunset.

This link goes to a NASA site that will tell you when the best viewing is according to where you are on the planet. It’s especially easy to see these craft in orbit when they’re docked together, as they are now, but they go by pretty fast so you need to be in position ahead of time to catch them.

Here are the specifics from the NASA site on tonight’s viewing from Austin:

ISS Wed Nov 19, 6:19 PM – 3 min. duration – 69 degrees max. elevation

Approach: 34 degrees above West Southwest; Departure: 15 degrees above Northeast

Thursday and Saturday also offer opportunities for viewing, but they will appear so low on the horizon it might be hard for most folks to see.

Every time I’ve seen the space shuttle and ISS scoot across the heavens, I’ve been impressed. It gave me a unique feeling, a sense of a certain kind of connection I get from nothing else. It puts things in perspective like nothing else. How would you describe it? Well, it’s … kinda cosmic!

Fascinating Election Maps

On another subject entirely, yet still having to do with perspective, here’s a link to some cool election maps. I found this site after the 2004 presidential election, and I was glad to see it was updated after the recent election. Whoever created these maps extrapolated voter information with computer technology to offer great views on how people voted. It morphs maps in all kinds of ways to show that this country is not just made up of red and blue states. This serves well to dispel any “us against them” notion, a perspective that most simple election maps seem to offer.

I think that simplistic view is deceiving, in many respects. These maps offer a more realistic perspective on the citizens of the good old USA. You can easily see how most states are more purple than red or blue, how this country is more of a mixed up melting pot rather than divided up into sectors of opposing views.

Remember what a big issue the so called “culture wars” were back in the 2004 election? Seems to me partisan politics played a big role in spawning that rabid divisiveness. The strategy is one of the oldest on earth: How do you win a war? Divide and conquer!

I know I’m not alone when I cheer the notion of us leaving such divisive tactics buried in the past!

(This site still has maps of the 2004 election too)


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November 13, 2008

Work or Play?

Filed under: Uncategorized — 8goodfood @ 8:21 pm

 After that last/first post, someone asked if I was going to start blogging. “On occasion,” I replied. I write a lot, every day, but what flows from my fingertips on a daily basis is not material for a blog like this. However, fodder for such blogging does pop up from time to time, so maybe I will post with some frequency. We shall see.

But because I was asked, something now compels me to follow up. This is easy because I had wanted to add more quotes to the last post but figured the others I had in mind would veer off message too much. It’s always too easy for me to digress and to say too much. So I tried to keep it short.

“Stay on message and keep it brief.” This is usually good advice for me.

The quotes I considered including in the Veterans Day post are in a similar vein. But they’re more about work, action and service to community in a context of consistency, in daily practice. One is gentle, the other a bit rough, almost gruff.

But the notions put forth in these words still have very much to do with fanning the fire of change, and doing it with a commitment to make the world a better place.

When you work you are a flute through whose heart the whispering of the hours turns to music. To love life through labor is to be intimate with life’s inmost secret. All work is empty save when there is love, for work is love made visible.

Kahlil Gibran

(1883 – 1931)

I see passion for work, for creativity and achievement, expressed in both of these quotes. But the angles these authors used to approach the subject are in strong contrast. Indeed, the one below has a bit of an edge.

This is the true joy in life: The being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one. The being a force of nature, instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy. I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community, and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can.

I want to be to be thoroughly used up when I die—for the harder I work, the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no “brief candle” to me; it is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on the future generations.


George Bernard Shaw
(1856 – 1950)


George Bernard Shaw embodied what he believed, at least what he declares in this quote; he was extraordinarily prolific and kept working into his nineties.

(Note: when I say “service to community” I don’t mean “community service” mandated by law! It’s service out of passion, not pressure!)

To me, the word “community” does not typically come with borders of inclusion and exclusion. I see community as all of these things: a home, a group, such as a school or a church, a sports team and its fans, a club, a circle of friends, a town, a state, a country, a continent and the world at large. Everybody’s connected and we’re all in this together, so, in some ways, it’s hard for me to draw demarcations between groups. We’re all part of a global community.


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November 11, 2008

Collective Hope and Gratitude on Veterans Day

Filed under: Uncategorized — 8goodfood @ 10:44 pm

Because today is Veterans Day I felt compelled to honor the contribution, service and sacrifice of the millions who have given so much on our behalf. To those veterans who may be reading this: Thank you! Your contribution is an endless inspiration!

And to everyone else who is inspired and motivated by our honorable veterans to make a positive difference: Thank you!

In Canada, Australia and New Zealand, today is Remembrance Day. It’s my privilege to remember the service and sacrifice of veterans on our behalf. I hope we can all use the gratitude gained from their contribution to do what we can to make sure the world moves towards peace. One day in the near future, perhaps, we will never again experience the atrocities of war.

The casualty figures from the wars of the 20th century are staggering. Just from WW I and WW II combined, the number of troops killed in both wars has been estimated to be around 35 million. Many millions more were seriously injured. The estimated death count rises to 92 million when civilians are included.

The 72 million lives lost during WW II was 3.7 percent of the global population in 1939.

At this point in history, there’s a fresh breeze blowing. Is it just a gust of hope? Will it build to gale force?

Seems there’s a new collective hope building in the world. My hope is for all of us to foster this movement for positive, constructive change, to help build momentum for peace and unity among all people. Why not?
In honor of those who have contributed so much, with intention to build on their contributions, I offer a few inspirational quotes. One of these is by Abigail Adams, the second First Lady and the first to move into the White House. Her birthday is today (11/11/1744).

I begin to think that a calm is not desirable in any situation in life. Every object is beautiful in motion; a ship under sail, trees gently agitated with the wind, and a fine woman dancing, are three instances in point. Man was made for action and for bustle.

Abigail Adams

I don’t know what your destiny will be, but one thing I do know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve.

Albert Schweitzer

Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.

Barack Obama


Obama has eloquently urged people numerous times to be of service, to take action to make a difference, to be useful, to contribute to community. A little bit from a lot of people can make a big difference.





                                      Obama Boogie Ride


From Wikipedia:

The number of World War I casualties, both military and civilian, was over 40 million — 20 million deaths and 21 million wounded. This includes 9.7 million military deaths and about 10 million civilian deaths.

The total estimated human loss of life caused by World War II is roughly 72 million people, making it the deadliest and most destructive war in human history. The civilian toll was around 47 million, including 20 million deaths due to war-related famine and disease. The military toll was about 25 million, including the deaths of about 4 million prisoners of war in captivity. The Allies lost approximately 61 million people, and the Axis powers lost 11 million.



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