Category Archives: Personal

Possessive, Plural, and Plural Possessive (Apostrophe Apostasy!)

Apostrophe ApostasyThe English language can certainly be confusing. Add grammar and punctuation to that, and there are all sorts of possible dangers ahead.

Today I’d like to specifically address the use of (or rather, the non-use of) the apostrophe when pluralizing surnames.

You see, in far too many communications from individuals and organizations, the apostrophe is used when it should not be. Far less often it is omitted when it should be employed, but generally the grammatical grievance looks something like this:

We will be joining the Smith’s for dinner tonight.

What that sentence literally means is, “We will be joining [those who belong to Smith] for dinner tonight.” Now, is that what the writer intended? Likely, no.

The proper way to pluralize is to simply add the letter ‘s’ to the end of the singular form of the noun. (Right? We all know that, don’t we?) For some reason, particularly when referring to a family surname, adding that apostrophe has such a strong pull on us that we must stick it in there.

What’s really odd is, even our iOS devices’ auto-correct feature adds that pesky apostrophe! Come on, Apple!

Now, you could employ the little dot with the tail if you wanted to make the plural possessive. For example:

We are going to the Smiths’ for dinner tonight.

In this case, you’d be speaking of the Smiths’ residence, while omitting the specific word used for that residence. (“House”, “Home”, “Abode”, “Domicile”, etc.) But since the Smiths possess their home, you’d add that friendly possessive punctuator to the end of their pluralized name.

Now, where this gets even tricker (I’ll admit) is when the friend’s surname ends in an ‘s’, or even something that sounds like an ‘s’. For example:

Tomorrow, we’ll be having dinner with the Joneses.

The trouble is, first, it’s sometimes harder to say. Second, sometimes it just doesn’t feel right. All those ‘s’ sounds… shouldn’t there be an apostrophe in there somewhere?!

Nope. Not unless its possessive, as above, in which case, the sentence would read:

Tomorrow, we’ll be having dinner at the Joneses’.

So much to remember!

For more on this very interesting topic, please see this article, and this very funny article about the apostrophe.

And please, friend, practice and perfect this punctuation, and help end the Apostrophe Apostasy!

What Makes A Good Story?

Who doesn’t love a good story? We are drawn into some tales, so much that we feel we can’t turn away. We can’t put the book down. We are mesmerized.

What is it that grips us so? Is it a likable character, or characters, who draw us into their own stories—almost as if they were our own—or does a compelling story grab our attention, whether or not we find depth and humanness in the characters who play it out?

Lots of Books

I really don’t know. I feel could be swayed either way.

My kids love a good story. We will often read “chapter books” together just before bedtime. We’ve read some great stories like The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and Gentle Ben, and we just finished off The Jungle Book (the real stories by Rudyard Kipling, not the Disney-fied versions) and The Black Stallion. Next up is C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia!

But they pretty quickly recognize a story that is missing “something”. (We would not recommend Irma and Jerry, by George Selden, though we loved The Cricket In Times Square!) The most interesting part was that we began Kipling’s Jungle Books after giving up on Irma & Jerry midway through, and within mere paragraphs all four listeners were hooked (as was the Reader!) by the tale Kipling spun.

On the other side of the coin, the oldest two boys and I tried—and tried, and tried—to read Dickens’ Great Expectations together, until after months of trying, we finally put it down and have never returned. While the story has some interesting, likable characters, we would say the plot was not only not compelling, it was perhaps entirely nonexistent?

What is it that is either present or lacking in a story that compels or repels the reader?

I am a reader. I am also a writer.

I am currently enjoying the process of writing out a story that has been very well-received. The plot is not very original, I don’t think, though there are plenty of cliff-hangers and interesting adventures. The strength of this story does seem to be its cast of likable characters. The reader (and even the writer!) want to know what happens to these characters. We are rooting for the “good guys” and against the “bad guys”.

The story that I am writing was originally told over a series of nights at bedtime. It was perhaps a couple weeks. Maybe slightly more. The kids love the stories that I tell, and they especially love the ones that I make up with them as the main characters!

We need to identify with the story. That’s important.

Does that mean the characters are the most important part of a “good” story? Or can a strong, interesting story overcome less interesting individuals who are playing it out?

I’d really love to hear from you, Dear Reader. What do you prefer? What prevents you from putting down your book? When real life demands you pull yourself away, do the characters, or their story remain in your thoughts. Do you find that you miss them, or wonder what will happen to them?

Or is it both?

These are the questions that I currently ponder as I enjoy the characters and stories of books read and written.

Now, I must return to my book… 🙂

I’m Just A Bus Driver

school-bus

Well, not just

But, as of today, I’m officially authorized by the State of New York to transport students in large, yellow vehicles. Again. (I previously drove school busses for two different school districts more than fifteen years ago now!)

Last fall, as I contemplated ways that I could feasibly bring in a little more income for our family, I remembered the transportation industry. (That makes it sound very important. Because it is!) I checked our school district’s website to see if they were in need of drivers, and in fact, there was a job posting for School Bus Driver! I stopped in the next day to meet the transportation director and see about reinstating my license, and what other steps would be necessary to get me back in the fold. He said they definitely need drivers, and when could I start?

He also assured me that driving a school bus is just like riding a bike. (I think he meant that very figuratively…) 🙂

Strangely, scheduling a commercial driver’s license road test is a lengthy process these days. Although I scheduled my road test in early February, after going through several other steps in the process, the earliest (only!) date available to me via the DMV website was March 18th. I think it was five or six weeks out from that date!

The local district here brought me in for refresher training (still a tiny bit more to complete) and I took and passed my (second) CDL road test just this morning. So now, after a few more steps—I’m not actually, officially hired as of yet!—I’ll be behind the wheel of a school bus as many mornings as I am needed.

It’s fun to be back in the big seat again. I’m enjoying meeting a new group of people, too. Looking forward to what new adventures lie ahead in my second stint as a school bus driver. I am imagining it will be different as an almost-forty, dad of six than it was as a barely-twenty, single (and then, just-married) lad in the late twentieth century. But I’m sure a lot will be the same, too.

A new chapter begins!

I leave you with this song, that I can’t help but sing as I embark on this next amber mission. Enjoy 🙂

Content Creator

content-creator

So God created man in His own image, in the image and likeness of God He created him; male and female He created them. Genesis 1:27 (AMP)

In my life so far, I’ve always enjoyed creating. Whether it was a song, or a blog post here, or a book of those posts, or even a meal. All the way back to some of my earliest memories of making little books at my Grandma & Grandpa’s house with my craft-loving grandma—I’ve always been a creator.

Lots of times that reminds me of God, the Creator. I know, as the quote from Genesis reminds us above, that we are made in God’s image; we are like him. That probably includes the ability (and desire) to create. We are mini creators.

This can take all sorts of forms. Some create buildings, some create art, some create works of literature, some create new technologies. We are likely all wired, on some level, to create.

I’m guessing there is a hole in this very sweeping premise somewhere, but it does seem like a piece of the core of our being: we are made to create.

Which might be why I feel so restless recently.

For a long while, much of what I’ve been doing with my time is managing the creations of others. Sometimes I do this in my work, managing software and technology created by others, as well as maintaining business accounts and data. Other times it is the current stage of being the father of six incredible mini-creators, which requires much time and energy to sustain them as well as cheering on their creations. And, truthfully, often I find myself managing the dissemination of products that I created at some time in the past. In all of this, I am often neglecting time for my own creating.

(I do still find time for some pretty tasty culinary creations, though.) 🙂

Knowing this is good, and knowing that it’s likely only a season is also helpful, but I do think that there is a serious deficiency for me as a “content creator”. A deficiency that I am hoping to find ways to fill.

One is this blog. I love to write out thoughts. It may be that it inspires thinking in others, or hope, or faith, or action, but even if no one reads it, it does help me to write (create) it.

Another is music. I know that music is a part of my being. Intentionally sitting down at the piano or grabbing my guitar and spending time “creating” music is life-giving to my soul.

I’m also trying to be very intentional in writing a book I am working on (actually, a couple books, but I am focusing on one primarily).

However the opportunities present themselves, I really do believe that I need to be creating. I am made to create.

Are you? What is it you’re made to do? Are you doing it?

If you’re not, I’d recommend—from my current personal experience—to pursue it. Intentionally. Fervently.

I believe it’s important to be in the place you were made to be. May your week be full of chances to be who you were made to be and what you were made to do!

Shortage of Time

Shortage of Time

I feel like a broken record sometimes.

No matter how many years (or decades) I have traveled the solar circuit… I feel like I keep learning the same lessons.

One of those is this: we have a limited time here—so make the most of it.

This is not a “rah-rah” post intended to inspire you to some unimagined greatness. But I do hope that, like me, you’ll be reminded that somethings are not worth fretting over.

Some things are.

It’s not so much that fretting, worrying, bothering, troubling ever does any good. All of that originates with fear. Fear of losing, fear of changing, fear of any bad that might come.

Not that it’s bad to concern ourselves with some things. Things like your kids who are growing up, your spouse who misses precious time with you, your parents who are aging, close friends with whom you’ve inadvertently lost contact… at least, you think it was inadvertent.

There may even be some dream, begun way back with your earliest memories, that the relentless rush of life and obligations has pushed aside.

We have a limited time. It is certain that one day—we don’t know when—our time here will be done.

So live.

Dream. Love. Enjoy. Experience. Now is the time.

What got me thinking about this again was not just our friends who are dealing with stage four cancer, nor any news of sudden, unexpected death of anyone close to me. Nor was it the frustrations of financial finagling that we are caught up in again (for what seems like now far too long).

It was more the words of my daughter, commenting more often lately that “all [you] ever do is work, Dad!” Her heart is longing to connect with mine. (And we do connect, but she wants more.)

It was even thoughts of a life that I have often thought of pursuing, but always turned aside from because of the demands and obligations of life. But I am recently reminded: truly, if you want something to happen… you must simply do it.

And then there’s our son. The first person to transform me from son to father. He’s fifteen, going on twenty-five. We butt heads now and then—a strong Campbell trait—but I admire him more than clash with him. It’s just fun to root him on in his various endeavors: all-star goalie, aspiring novelist, farmer, mechanic, among others.

Sometimes reality knocks loudly enough and I am reminded that this current season is likely ending soon.

Before we blink, our son will be moving on—his adult life is nearer than I can really understand. He’s ready now to do something—anything—with all that he is learning. Then, who knows? Wife… kids… I was only 24 when Ian was born.

But we’re not there yet.

And I’m brought back to where I started. Reminded again of things already learned. Live now, today. Don’t miss it.

Are you missing your life for want of whatever is next, or seems to be missing? Sometimes I focus on those.

This week, I have work to do, and life to balance… but I don’t want to miss my life while I’m doing those things.

Like you, I have a shortage of time. I don’t know when the end will come, but I do know that it will.

Since it has not yet come… Let’s choose to live now, as best as we are able.

The Shimps

The Shimp Family

Our friends could use your help.

All of a sudden, this January, their life was flipped upside down.

On January 16th, of 2014, Scott was diagnosed with stage 4 Esophogeal cancer. Treatment began almost immediately and treatment is now under way. On January 23rd, Scott completed his first round of Chemo treatment.

Scott is younger than me. They have a son who is not even two years old. (And three more beautiful children.)

You never know what’s coming…

Of course, lots of people deal with cancer.1 But twice?

We met the Shimp family probably somewhere around the year 2007. In 2006 they learned that their 17-month-old daughter had leukemia. For two years they fought the disease with their tough little Autumn, and two years later, she was cancer free. (And still is today!)

But here they are again.

We know the Shimps through our good friends from college, the Velasquezes. We like to call them, “The Vs”. The Vs are really good at meeting and loving people, and I think that God, knowing that, arranged for them to meet the Shimps—quite randomly, by overheard conversation at a library, only to realize that they shared a back yard!—and subsequently walk through those years with Autumn’s cancer together. And through that “chance” connection, we’ve been able to enjoy their friendship through the years since then, too.

There is a website—supportingtheshimps.com—that explains much more about what is going on, and how you can help. If you are able to help, these are good people to help.

And, if you can believe it, they also just started a new business in 2014. I spoke with Scott this past weekend about that, and he said that is still a go. They produce screen printed t-shirts, and embroidered products in any quantity, with really fast turnaround time (according to Scott… he seemed impressed!) and it is a great way to support their family, as well as accomplish something for your organization, business, etc.

If you need “screen printed or embroidered apparel”, please consider using CrossRoads Apparel!

The Shimps are a family whom God has certainly allowed ample opportunity to trust him, in the roughest of times. And they do. Actively, and inspiringly so. (I know this not just from my own thoughts, but from the comments I read on their website, and Facebook pages, etc.)

We don’t know what will come of this, but that’s one of the neat things about them. They are optimistic, trusting, and taking life moment by moment, walking forward with Jesus.

I’m not sure what I’d do in Scott’s position. I think I would face this giant obstacle with similar determination and trust in God’s goodness. But I’ve not had to face anything quite like this. And I’m not sure what I’d do in Susanna’s place, either, if Jen were the one diagnosed with this powerful, terrible, menacing illness. Susanna is incredibly strong in her faith in Father through this, also.

I’m certain you know people who could use help, too. (And if so, please tell me/us about them in the comments here.) If, after reading this, you are able to and prompted to pray, or to give…

May I request that help be directed toward our friends, the Shimps?

Thanks.

  1. According to cancer.org, about one in two men in the United States will develop cancer at some point in their lives, and one in three women. One in two! And, according to their predictions, 1,600 people per day will perish from the disease in the year 2014. Wow.

[ThisDay] Sex Sells (Apparently)

One of the posts that has received the most interaction was admittedly expected to attract some attention. I wasn’t just searching for website hits… rather, I was making a point. A fun night out with Emma at the mall turned into conversations about large images of ladies in their underwear—everywhere! That night I posted some thoughts on our much we use sexual imagery in marketing and advertising, and the possible consequences of that. That was certainly a memorable post from January 31st in GregsHead.net history. A close runner up was the story called “My Computer Had a Heart Attack” (a good, lengthy read!). For today though, and the last day in this series: Sex Sells (Apparently). (Thoughts/comments welcomed!)

Sex Sells (Apparently)

January 31st, 2013

Aerie Ad - Girl in lingerieI wouldn’t usually post such photos here. But I guess I’m trying to make a point.

Have we really gotten so used to seeing women in their underwear (or less) that it doesn’t even slightly surprise us?

(My hope is that when you saw the photo for this post on my website, you were surprised, or shocked. It hopefully seemed quite out of place. And it should.)

Last night my four-year-old daughter, Emma, and I walked through nearly the entirety of our local mall, and the volume of near-nudity prominently displayed in store fronts truly overwhelmed me. It was not hidden in the lingerie section near the back of a department store. Rather, right out in front, for every passer by.

I did some research when we got home and found out that there are an inordinate amount of lingerie stores in our mall. It could be that this is the reason that there are so many super-over-sized revealing photos, but still, you can’t walk down nearly any corridor of the mall without being bombarded by boobs.

Aerie storefront display - Girls in lingerie

I know I sound old saying this, but… I don’t remember this when I was a kid!

(Yep. Old.)

Now you can be shopping at the Apple Store for an iPad mini and get an eyeful of what amounts to “soft porn” at the same time. (There’s another “intimate apparel” store across the hall from our Apple Store.)

Am I overreacting here? I’m not sure. I am a guy, of course, and scantily clad, beautiful women do have a certain appeal, but what is that appeal? Certainly it is to my flesh—the part of me that is supposed to be dead. We are all well aware, however, that it still fights for life.

Jesus said that adultery is wrong, but that a man looking at a woman lustfully is just the same (since sin is a heart issue, before it’s a behavior issue) … but, I’m not sure that’s why I feel uncomfortable strolling the halls of the mall. (There wasn’t any lustful looking going on.)

I am more uncomfortable when my boys are with me. Aged 14 and 11 1/2, the internal chemicals are beginning to and have already worked their magic and the appeal of women dressed in little, even posed suggestively many times, well… that’s not something I want to test my boys’ will power on. And all to just find a new favorite well-used video game?

Last night it was Emma, who was certainly taking it all in. Once she said, “More bras! Ha!” (Yes, she’s awesome.) So I’m not really sure what she thinks about it, but she at least finds it somewhat humorous.

spencers

But I think in the end, I just find it sad. Near the end of our mall tour we passed Spencer’s. This particular window display was the most overt of all the stores in their attempt (in my opinion) to use sex to sell. (They might even more be selling sex, not simply lingerie, but…) I actually shook my head at their forwardness, and quickly moved along. Later when I was looking for store displays online to share with you here, I discovered that when you click the above banner—taken from their website, but this was also the current store front display—you have to consent to viewing adult material before going further into their site. So, perhaps they aren’t even trying to hide the soft porn part?

(Note: I actually do remember that my mom would direct us past and cast doubt upon the goodness of Spencer’s stores in our various malls. Though I do think we darkened their door a time or two along the way. I think my sister liked some of the stuff in there? I do not remember such displays in their front windows… but I do have this inner, red warning light regarding their establishment. Perhaps this is not a new development.)

What I think all of this reveals about us (yes, pun intended) is a culture that is certainly progressing more and more towards debauchery. Again, I know that I sound old suggesting that “my generation” wasn’t as perverse as “this generation”, and to an extent, I’m sure I’m wrong. People are people. We’re all dead in sin, none of us can escape that; one generation’s societal moral superiority notwithstanding.

But I really do think this is a symptom of a deeper sickness.

Families are now horribly rent asunder: rampant divorce, children outside marriage, multiple parents (but really no parents), gay marriage, abortion… they are all signs of our inner moral corruption and decay.

So it makes sense that we’d continue to feed our flesh—the part of us that drives this decay—and even progressively think less and less of it, allowing it to have more of a hold on us.

We’re naked under our clothes. (Did you know that?) Nakedness is not the sin. The way it’s used to appeal to our selfish, fleshly, worldly desires can be, and those desires can be. Paul said, “All things are permissible, but not all things are beneficial.” Perhaps that applies here.

I don’t think I’m talking about the over-sized posters, though.

It seemed so blatantly obvious last night on our walk through the mall that these are symptoms of a culture-wide decline; gradually slipping more and more toward full worldliness, and farther away from godliness. It makes sense, of course, as culturally we have been removing God from everyday life for several generations now. It’s certainly bound to happen this way.

I know I sound old. (And, I kind of am!) This generation is worse off morally than mine, but maybe not than my parents’ generation? (The sixties, hippies, etc? Could be we improved from that?) And we will continue the downward trend until, as individuals, and families, and then as a society we allow God to resume his rightful position as Father and leader and provider and all that he is and wants to be to us.

Until then, it shouldn’t surprise me what is displayed in the large windows of our public marketplaces. If we continue this way, it wouldn’t be shocking to see actual nudity soon, as well as much more sexual images.

This really is the visible symptoms of a deeper issue.

I want to say, “And I hope for our society’s sake that we turn to Jesus and live full lives as he intended us to!” … but I wonder if that’s my wrong thinking about “life to the full”. Life to the full is messy. We are messy, broken, sinners. We are in a broken world, and though we can experience a taste of true, unbroken life, we are still here, in this mess. And that will never change, until we’re not. So, no matter how much we, as a society, might turn to Jesus … the deeper issue here (not the symptoms) is part of the bigger picture of “full life” that God intended. I think.

That doesn’t mean I have to traverse the mall corridors, though. 🙂

I’ll finish by saying that I hope wherever you are right now, you know the Father, the One True God, and Jesus Christ whom he sent (John 17:3) and that you know his abundant grace and life and are living that fully and free from guilt and condemnation and judgement (John 3:17) … because that is how we’re meant to be.

(Clothed, or not.)


Note: The photos in this post are mostly taken from the retailers’ websites. My iPhone camera was not doing a good job capturing the images I wanted to use for this post. All of these images here were on display in three-times-real-life size in the store windows, as well as dozens more.

OTHER POSTS from JANUARY 30th