Monday, February 19, 2018

Adolph Caso Presents The Sermon

The Sermon

By Adolph Caso

Under the control of Spina bifida,
His voice strong, multi directional,
And, aimed at every individual in his church,
Biju, (as he was named)
Was born with the deteriorating disease
That plagues everyone,
Including, Biju.

From visits to doctors and hospitals,
He received no reprieve;
He also sought the intervention of God--
Multiple times,
All in vain.
At wit’s end,
With God not responding,
He lashed out in despair:
God protected others and not him!

Why was God not listening, while being open to others?
He complained.
“I need help, and you are denying it to me!”
He yelled in despair.
His joints full of pain,
He admitted that
He came close to denying God’s divinity
Let alone his existence.
“Why should you doom me as such--
To walk as I walk,
When others walk with no pain,
And no waddling?”

Having reached the conclusion
Of giving up on God
And of divesting himself of his religion,
He made a second attempt.

“Could it be:
“I am asking the wrong question?”
He asked himself.

“Should I beseech God for favors,
“As I do in each prayer?
“Is God the conduit to good or bad health?
“Is God the vehicle in denying or fulfilling personal dreams?
“Is God the replacement for doctors without cures?”
“Is God’s role to re-route Nature’s laws--
“Including Destiny?”
“No!,” he concluded.
“No, no, no!”
His heart relieved,
He stopped to reflect:
“Do I ask Caesar to give me
Things which he does not possess,
Or able to grant…?"

After a few reflective seconds,
He admitted to the possibility that
He was asking the wrong questions.
With that realization,
He donned his priestly cloth--
As a better shepherd,
And marched with full confidence,
Strait away to the church—

Enlightened as never before,
His pains notwithstanding,
First he genuflected.
The large consecrated host firmly in hands,
He raised his arms high above his shoulders
In the direction of Heaven,
Where he held it for many seconds
Defying  both
His veritable Spina bifida
Gravity itself.

I always wait until I am working on
Adolfo's poetry to add to it...
Most songs seem to come to me
But the last one I had never heard before...
Adolfo, I believe your words brought it...
God Bless you and your powerful words!

Friday, February 16, 2018

Guest Blogger, Berit Brogaard, Writes About "What Drives Romantic Attraction" From Latest Book, On Romantic Love

“Brit” is a Professor of Philosophy with joint appointments in the Departments of Philosophy and Psychology at the University of Miami as well as the Network for Sensory Research at the University of Toronto. Her educational background includes a medical degree in neuroscience and a doctorate in philosophy. Her areas of research include perception, synesthesia, blindsight, consciousness, neuro-psychiatry and emotions.
Brit has written over 75 peer-reviewed articles, some three hundred popular articles on neuroscience and health issues and two books: Transient Truths (Oxford) and On Romantic Love (Oxford). She is currently finishing a third book with Oxford entitled Seeing and Saying as well as working on another book for popular press.
Her work has been featured in various public media, including Nightline, ABC News, the Huffington Post, Fox News, MSNBC, Daily Mail, Modesto Bee, and Mumbai Mirror. She is also an editor of the international peer-reviewed philosophy journal Erkenntnis and was the first female President of the Central States Philosophical Association. Brit has fear-color/texture/shape/motion synesthesia. She has recently co-authored a book with Kristian Marlow, The Superhuman Mind, based in part on research at the lab.

On Romantic Love  
By Berit Brogaard

Romantic love presents some of life's most challenging questions. Can we choose who to love? Is romantic love rational? Can we love more than one person at a time? And can we make ourselves fall out of love? Berit Brogaard here attempts to get to the bottom of love's many contradictions. This short book, informed by both historical and cutting-edge philosophy, psychology, and neuroscience, combines a new theory of romantic love with entertaining anecdotes from real life and accessible explanations of the neuroscience underlying our wildest passions. Against the grain, Brogaard argues that love is an emotion; that it can be, at turns, both rational and irrational; and that it can be manifested in degrees. We can love one person more than another and we can love a person a little or a lot or not at all. And love isn't even always something we consciously feel. However, love -- like other emotions, both conscious and not -- is subject to rational control, and falling in or out of it can be a deliberate choice. This engaging and innovative look at a universal topic, featuring original line drawings by illustrator Gareth Southwell, lluminates the processes behind heartbreak, obsession, jealousy, attachment, and more.  

What Drives Romantic Attraction?

Here's a dream scenario: No more awkward first dates. If you are single and hoping not to be, you can fill out a detailed questionnaire and submit the information to a database containing similar information from other relationship seekers. A computational algorithm then determines how well you match with others in terms of your personality  and what you are looking for in a potential partner. Once you have been matched with another person, all you need to do is arrange a date and go from there.
If this scenario sounds familiar, that's no coincidence: Many online dating sites provide at least some primitive version of the above scenario. People seeking relationships supply first-person insight into their personality and what they are seeking in a partner. They are then matched on the basis of this self-reported data.
As anecdotal evidence suggests, this approach can be successful. People do, occasionally, find love using online dating services.
However, the success of such services is unlikely to be a result of algorithms calculating who will be a good match for each other based on self-reports. In a recent study, published in Psychological Science in August 2017, scientists tested this sort of approach to dating and found that self-reports of personality from potential partners do not predict attraction.
The team, led by psychologist Samantha Joel of the University of Utah, asked volunteers to fill out questionnaires about their own personality traits and the traits they would like in a potential partner. The researchers then arranged four-minute, face-to-face speed dates and collected subsequent feedback about how attracted people were to their predicted matches during these brief encounters.
The researchers found that people were no more likely to be attracted to predetermined matches than they were to non-matches. 
The study methodology had well-known limitations: It only allowed for testing of initial attraction, not an attraction that may emerge from repeated encounters. Further, it followed the existing online dating strategy of relying on self-reports to determine personality and the traits one would like to see manifested in a potential partner. The first limitation is not necessarily a methodological flaw, as long as we draw a sharp line between initial attraction and longer-term attraction/romantic love. The second, however, is problematic. We are often very bad judges of our own personality and the traits we want others to possess. This limitation could have been avoided to some extent by using more sophisticated measures of personality and partner preference; for instance, by relying on third-person perspectives from family members, co-workers, and friends.
If this common dating approach fails, however, it raises the question of whether there might be other ways to predict who may be successful romantic partners. Information about personality by itself is unlikely to help predict good long-term matches. But a combination of feature-matching and behavioral modification—that is, teaching people how to remain attractive to as well as attracted to their partners—may hold some promise. 
Independent studies have found that long-term attraction and romantic love are more likely to occur when the attributes that generate attraction in general, together with certain social factors and circumstances that spark passion, are particularly strong.
Here are 11 features that together provide a decent indicator of who you will click with over the long term (Aron, et al. 1989):
1. Similarity. The similarity of people’s belief sets and, to a lesser extent, the similarity of their personality traits and ways of thinking.
2. Propinquity. Familiarity with the other, which can be caused by spending time together, living near the other, thinking about the other, or anticipating interaction with the other.
3. Desirable Characteristics. Outer physical appearance that is found desirable and, to a lesser extent, desirable personality traits.
4. Reciprocal Liking. When the other person is attracted to you or likes you, that can increase your own liking.
5. Social Influences. The potential union satisfying general social norms, and acceptance of the potential union within one’s social network, can contribute to people falling in love. Or, if a union does not satisfy general social norms or is not accepted by one’s social network, this can result in people falling out of love.
6. Filling Needs. If a person can fulfill needs for companionship, love, sex, or mating, there is a greater chance that the other person will fall in love with him or her.
7. Arousal/Unusualness. Being in an unusual or arousing environment can spark passion, even if the environment is perceived as dangerous or spooky (Dutton & Aron, 1974).
8. Specific Cues. A particular feature of the other may spark a particularly strong attraction; for instance, parts of their body or facial features.
9. Readiness. The more you want to be in a relationship, the lower your self-esteem and the more likely you are to fall in love.
10. Isolation. Spending time alone with another person can contribute to a development of passion.
11. Mystery. Some degree of mystery surrounding the other person, as well as uncertainty about what the other person thinks or feels, or when he or she may initiate contact, can also contribute to passion.
As the list makes clear, many of the factors that determine whether people should connect romantically are circumstantial or a result of how people behave in courtships and relationships. While it may be possible for modern technology to determine partner matches by relying not just on personality, but also on people's particular circumstances, no such algorithm can provide us with the skills necessary to maintain a relationship that is both healthy and exciting. These types of relationship skills may need to be acquired through long-term practice and training.

Aron A, Dutton DG, Aron, EN, Iverson, A. (1989) “Experiences of Falling in Love”, Journal of Social and Personal Relationships August 6, 3: 243-257. 
Dutton, D.G., & Aron, A.P. (1974). “Some Evidence for Heightened Sexual Attraction Under Conditions of High Anxiety”, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 30 (4), 510-517. 
Joel S, Eastwick, P, Finkel, E. "Is Romantic Desire Predictable? Machine Learning Applied to Initial Romantic Attraction," Psychological Science. Published online August 30, 2017.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

EXCLUSIVE! P-Review of ICE! Best-Selling Author Lauren Carr Takes High Dive into Cold Case Mysteries!

Did Alison’s mom give you a ride?” 
“Yeah,” Katelyn murmured. She glanced in his direction. Concluding that there had been a development in an ongoing drama, the center of which being a thirteen-year-old boy named Zack Daniels, Chris opted to say nothing. 
She watched his back while he poured a glass of milk to go with his brownie. Katelyn had inherited his fair coloring— from his steel gray eyes to his light auburn hair. Chris had been in his mid-twenties when his hair gradually turned silver at the temples. By the age of forty-five, his hair was an equal mixture of silver and brown curls. While he drank his glass of milk, Chris saw Katelyn’s eyes darting from the tablet to the cupboard behind him and across the room. She couldn’t look him in the eye. 
“What’s wrong?” 
“Nothing.” She bit into her brownie and squinted at the screen on her tablet. 
“What happened at school today?” 
“Nothing happened.” 
Chris let out a deep sigh. “How’s Zack?” Katelyn swallowed and set down the tablet. 
“What happened with Tara?” 
“She’s a bitch,” Katelyn said. “That’s what happened.” 
Chris tried not to roll his eyes over yet another drama between Katelyn and her arch rival, Tara. The war had been ongoing since October. Both eighth graders were pursuing the same boy. Bouncing between the two of them like a tennis ball, Zack enjoyed the attention of two girls fighting over him way too much. The boy wasn’t worthy of either of them.
“What’d Tara do this time?” Chris asked with a heavy sigh before taking another sip of his milk. 
“She told everyone that you’re a perv.” This got Chris’s full attention. “She said you raped a teenage girl when you were in college and got her pregnant. Then you killed her and that’s why you ran away to join the FBI.” 
“What the—” 
“It was some girl named Sandy.” Chris felt as if his soul had been ripped out of his body to take him back to another time and place—to when the nightmare had begun. 
Sensing that something was up, Sadie and Mocha stopped surveilling a family of squirrels invading the bird feeders to turn their attention to the scene brewing in the kitchen. Their eyes were wide like orbs. Thor was more interested in the carrot that Emma had given her before racing to the study to email her friends. 
“It’s not true. Right, Dad?” 
“What’s Tara’s last name?” Chris asked in a soft voice. “Sinclair,” Katelyn said. “Her mom is some big wig on the county commission. Her dad is—” 
“Victor Sinclair,” Chris said. “He’s the county prosecutor.
I know. I know them all very well.” 
“You didn’t do what they say you did, did you, Dad?” Katelyn stared up at him. 
“No!” Chris slammed the glass down so hard onto the counter that the milk inside splashed over the rim. “How can you even ask me that? You know me. You’ve seen me with your friends. What makes you think I’d take advantage of a young girl like that?” 
Katelyn’s eyes were wide with fear. 
“Do you really think that I’m that warped?” Chris demanded an answer. She sobbed. 
The sight of her tears broke Chris’s heart. “I’m sorry.” He went around the counter to take her into his arms. Refusing to let him touch her, she raced up the back staircase to her bedroom. She had the last word in the conversation with the slam of her door. 
Grief, frustration, and anger from the last twenty months built up inside him. If he didn’t do something, he would explode. Desperate for some way to release the pressure, he turned around in circles.
With a deep roar, Chris grabbed his glass of milk and hurled it at the wall. The glass shattered. Milk splattered all over the floor much to Sadie’s and Mocha’s delight.


A Chris Matheson Cold Case Mystery 

Book 1

By Lauren Carr

Starting a book that is the first in a series is an exciting opportunity for me, especially with author Lauren Carr. First, she introduces all of her characters first thing and gives a short description. We know, as her fans, there will always be animals, and a solid family environment setting. I've read most of all of her series, but this one is totally new! Meet Chris Matheson, a retired FBI agent, who has come back to live with his mother on their home place after the sudden death of his father...

The wife and mother of his three children was killed in a terrorist attack. Chris' mother is unique as a woman and mother, as well as grandmother, and has the guts and stamina of someone with whom most readers will immediately bond and enjoy getting to know.

Chris is somewhat unsettled as the book begins, especially when his daughter comes home from school with the gossip that he had once raped a teenager and killed her! Instantly I was sympathetic to this new series lead. Gossip and lies are so destructive, but when a murder of a former friend which has haunted Chris for years suddenly comes alive again, it overwhelmed him. Even knowing that the FBI had cleared him years ago or he would never have been accepted as an agent, he became enraged when he realized that those in his home town still consideres him guilty of rape and murder.

Chris had felt sorry for Sandy Lipton. She apparently didn't date much so when she asked him to take her to senior prom, he hesitantly agreed. After the dance, he quickly delivered her back to her door... The sad part of this story is that Sandy had built up a fantasy of Chris as more than a friend and everybody knew it...

Soon it was discovered that she had become pregnant, actually, raped, while Chris had proceeded on to Quantico to begin training. Until his father notified him that he had been slapped with a paternity suit. But Sandy and the baby of her being raped had soon disappeared...

Worrying about her son being able to get back into community life, his mother suggested that Chris join a local book club, mostly made up of retired law enforcement investigators, who enjoyed reading murder mystery and thrillers. Elliott, who had a personal interest in Chris' mother, soon invited Chris to join...

But neither Chris, nor his mother, actually knew what this group was doing! From the moment I met these characters, I found myself considering that I was now a part of... The... Geezer... Squad... I was hooked!

Then I fell in love when I met Sterling! Chris had been devastated by the loss of his father...and also Winston, his canine companion...over a short time period. The daily interaction with a dog had been an important part of his life... And so the family helped to fill that loss by bringing Sterling into the family. The only thing they were told about Sterling was that he could be goofy... 

What?! Chris immediately wanted to know... Sterling is also a retired law officer but somewhere along the line I figure he either learned a lot of human characteristics from his former handler who was shot, as was Sterling. His handler had died... Or....Sterling could understand humans... I'm still not sure which... But his scenes are hilarious and will have you laughing in surprise, especially when some are done behind Chris' back
without his even knowing what Sterling is up to. Here's a silly hint about one heart-warming scene where Sterling decides to help a couple who were discussing their great need for money! Sterling just may be heading for my top-dog winner in Carr's books for me! Simply... unbelievable!

The number of criminal acts in this book is high, but they are spread across cold cases and deaths that are occurring in the present. Chris' own cold case becomes a priority for the Geezer Squad when Chris shared his own story. The group had already been working on an assumed serial killer case which they'd been investigating and to which the numbers attributed to this individual was increasing. What they didn't expect was that the same MO for those cold cases would be turning up on recent murders!

Multiple cases, multiple villains, and a mighty geezer squad to help gather information for the police and the FBI! Carr continues to up the stakes when you read her books. With this book and the number of bodies involved, I didn't even try to determine whodunit! This first in series has set the framework for a wide diversity of future novels. I'm already anxious to move on to the next and this one is not even out!

Preorder Your Copy Today!

Lauren Carr's New Release & a New Series!
​Coming February 26, 2018

Carr's ability to successfully integrate amazing characters into a solid family and community environment of loving individuals is truly amazing. The unique touches for each character, including the animals, reveals a loving, caring writer that works to ensure her readers are pleased with the world in which they have entered, and when finished, wanting more! 

At this point, I'm predicting the cold case mysteries will become my favorite of her books--Can you believe it, given the praise I've shared for all of her previous books!?! I'm a fan that continues to be joyfully surprised at each book and anxious to grab the next...There are only a few authors demanding this kind of attention from me. Lauren Carr is a must-read author. Start with this book if you, by chance, have not yet read this fantastic, best-selling mystery writer. And here's a personal recommendation from me, her books are continually reasonably priced and within reach of most readers of all ages... I appreciate that!

'Nuf said... Now's the time to pre-order!


An Amazon All-Star Author, Lauren Carr writes mysteries that have made Amazon's best-selling ranks internationally. 
Lauren Carr is the international best-selling author of the Mac Faraday, Lovers in Crime, and Thorny Rose Mysteries—over twenty titles across three fast-paced mystery series filled with twists and turns!
Now, Lauren has added one more hit series to her list with the Chris Matheson Cold Case Mysteries. Set in the quaint West Virginia town of Harpers Ferry, Ice introduces Chris Matheson, a retired FBI agent, who joins forces with other law enforcement investigators to heat up those cold cases that keep them up at night.
Book reviewers and readers alike rave about how Lauren Carr’s seamlessly crosses genres to include mystery, suspense, crime fiction, police procedurals, romance, and humor. 
Lauren is a popular speaker who has made appearances at schools, youth groups, and on author panels at conventions. She lives with her husband, and three dogs on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV. 

Guest Blogger - Diana Raab - Happy Month of Love!

February 2018


"Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, 
while loving someone deeply gives you courage."

~Lao Tzu
Dear Friends 

Greetings from Santa Barbara where the past two months have been laden with two evacuations following devastating natural disasters (fires and fatal mudslides). As we're gradually allowed to re-enter our community, which for more than two weeks has been barricaded with police cars, fire trucks and mud-removing vehicles, we're slowly beginning to feel a sense of balance again. I feel blessed to be safely at home with clean water and a working internet, but I cannot stop thinking about and mourning for all the loss of loved ones and structures to our magical community (read my article below in the Montecito Journal). While it's normal for PTSD to surface at times like these, it seems like a good time to honor and count our blessings as well.

In honor of this month of love, I vow to consider new beginnings and saturating our world with love. A good intention for the month of February is to fill ourselves with compassion. Compassion may be defined as showing  love and concern for others who are suffering or going through some type of turmoil. In recent weeks, I've felt a deep sense of compassion and profound need for interconnectedness in my community. I've hosted dinners at my home for evacuees, held healing circles, and facilitated Writing for Healing workshops. 

When we have compassion for others, we're inspired to go out of our way to help them, whether that is on a physical, mental or emotional level. When we're compassionate, we're sensitive and have keen observation skills. Most poets are compassionate because they need to be in touch with their feelings in order to write compelling poetry. They also have to be keen observers of the human condition. The Dalai Lama often speaks about having compassion and the importance of having compassion for both ourselves and others. As he once said, "Compassion is a necessity, not a luxury."

Creatively yours,
February Writing Prompts 
  • Write a love letter.
  • Write about those times when you feel most loved.
  • Write about how you can love yourself more.
  • Write about a time when you were a recipient of compassion.

Recently Published Works
"Drunk as Drunk," "Tied Hands"(poem).  Blood and Bourbon. 2017.
Workshops + Appearances

February 17, 2018
Writing for Bliss
Vroman's Bookstore
Pasadena, CA
To register: Click here
February 23-25, 2018
"Writing for Bliss"
1440 Multiversity
Scotts Valley, CA
To register: Click here~~~~~
June 17-22, 2018
"Memoir Writing"
Santa Barbara Writers Conference
Santa Barbara, CA
June 30, 2018
"Writing for Bliss: 
Finding Joy Through Personal Writing"
Open Center
22 E. 30th Street
New York, NY
To register: Click here

"The Stuck Story 
The Science of Magic with Gwilda Wikaya
January 16, 2018

Empowerment Radio with Dr. Friedemann Schaub 
January 17, 2018

Love and Will by Rollo May (nonfiction)

This classic book was originally published in 1969. A year later, I turned 16 and my family physician gave it to me as a gift, saying, "In the years to come, this book will come in handy for you." I went home, sat in my reading chair and flipped through its pages. The discussion was way over my head. It seemed too grown up, deep, and incomprehensible to me at the time. I filed the hardcover book away on my shelf.

Numerous times in subsequent decades, I've picked up the book up, only to realize that it is indeed a gem, not to be read at once, but in small doses. Rollo May, one of my favorite humanistic psychologists is a seeker who looks to examine the inner reality of the way things are, whether he writes about, love, will or creativity. He says that our task is to unite love and will, but will often fights against love, because human will often starts with a 'no,"' and this willing begins againstsomething. May says, "Will comes in to lay the groundwork which makes a relatively mature love possible," (p. 285). Finding a balance or agreement of love and will is indeed a human achievement that ultimately leads to integration and wholeness.

Lust by Diana Raab (poetry)

Although my book of poetry was published four years ago, many people tell me that it's still one of their favorites, which they confess to keeping on their bedside table.

Here's a review from Amazon:

"A passionate journey through private emotional moments, Diana Raab's Lust voices the pain of loneliness and the heart's yearning for love while transcending the depths of human desire. In her fourth book of poetry, Raab employs narrative verse that is alive, titillating, and seductive. Lust examines the emotional and physical complexity of love, helping readers navigate the risks of intimacy as we move toward the realization that every experience enriches our lives, whether we perceive it as joy, pain, or out of the ordinary. Yet for all their psychological richness, the poems's simplicity and accessibility will resonate with women and men across all walks of life. Lust is a book you won't put down and won't soon forget."
Dr. Raab has authorized sharing her articles
at Book Readers Heaven!

Diana blogs for:

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