Year In Review

Colonial History Post Most Popular in 2016

27848489006_51b603249d_zSince I like poring over data, here is the annual post on what entries performed best over the year. However, this year, I am looking at the Top post from the past three years:


One of the most intriguing books I’ve read on American history is Albion’s Seed. The book explores about 20-25 folkways in each of the four original British American colonies. In 2016, the post about the Backcountry — which is the colony my maternal side landed in — was the blog’s most popular post.


Last year, people were interested in a post detailing the original news story about the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln.


Two years ago, it was a journalistic type entry about the annual Amphicar festival that takes place in Celina, Ohio. It was my first time there — and watching the 1960s-era cars drive into the lake was impressive.


Categories: Year In Review

What I Believe: 2016 Version


30261393871_ec4f69bd58_zNo doubt, for me, 2016 will go down as one of the most difficult ones I’ve endured. But, it ends with the hope that it is always darkest before the dawn.

Just like I did in 2015, I’m listing five things I know for sure:

  1. We Are A Nation of Systems. Two decades ago I sat in a courtroom listening as a judge admonished a gun-toting mayor, charged with dereliction of duty, saying, “We are a nation of laws, not men.” The oft-repeated Americanism, though, does not go far enough. We are not a nation of laws — we are a nation of systems. Political systems, religious systems, educational systems, legal systems and judicial systems, to name a few. They often have competing goals, leading to a perpetual gridlock that hampers the quality of life for its citizens. And, as I learned firsthand in 2016 — after my teenage daughter reported being the victim of a crime — when a system fails, getting answers is cumbersome because protecting the system becomes the priority.
  2. Evangelicals Lost Credibility In 2016. According to Jesus, only a handful of things are required to get into heaven (Matthew 25: 35-36), yet the Orange One’s ascent to power was, in large part, because of evangelicals voting for a man who does not embrace those beliefs. In American history, the evangelicals only ‘got it right’ for about 40 years when they accepted Jesus’ core message and embarked on the Social Gospel movement. In time, fear and ignorance crept back in, leading to the current revival in anti-intellectualism. If evangelicals want to regain their credibility, though, they could start by letting the Bible make them more liberal.
  3. 20160112_103030-EFFECTSA Good Dog Is Therapeutic. Dogs add something to life. Maybe because they sleep 12-16 hours a day. Maybe because they have the brain capacity of a toddler (an age when hero worship is common). Regardless of the reason, a good dog can make the worst of days a little better. They are excellent companions for long walks in the woods. They expect little, but deliver a lot of joy, smiles, happiness and loyalty. They can teach you how to live in the Now.
  4. Perception Is Reality. Dogs are also walking ‘Oprah moments.’ My dog is a mixed-breed female, but nearly everyone she meets calls her a him. Although this was solved with a pink collar, her pedigree identity can’t be fixed that easily. I’ve been told she ‘looks like a’ Catahoula, Boxer, Whippet and Pit Bull even though her paperwork lists her as a Border Collie/Lab mix. All this ‘knowing’ has taught me a lot about people and dogs. People are extremely inept at visually determining a dog’s breed and their overreliance on personal experience (i.e. I owned a Boxer) determines the breed they ‘see.’ The lesson applies to many things in life. What a person perceives as truth — is true — regardless of its basis in fact.
  5. Life Is As Easy — Or Difficult — As You Make It. Alan Watts compares our existence to a river and notes that when a river reaches a bank it does not beat against it or try to plow through. Instead it bends and finds an easier way. Some efforts just don’t pay off. Accept it and move on. Life is easier when you do.
Categories: Personal Essays, What I Know For Sure, Year In Review | Tags: , , ,

Most Popular Posts in 2015

WildhorsesowyheeEach year, I like to look back and see which posts resonated with readers. Here are the Top 5 from 2015.

5.) 1800s Wild West Lynching Claims Life Of Claywell Man. This is one of the most interesting family stories I have researched. In this post, I relay the story of Warren Claywell, a young man tried and convicted in the Kansas Territory, of stealing horses. The trial was nothing short of a mob lynching and Warren was hanged to death in front of his aged mother and brothers.

4.) Quote For The Week: Be Thankful. Just like the headline says — these are quotes, taken mostly from religious writings, that encourage us to focus on what is right in our world. The post ends with Mark Twain’s maxim on what we all should be thankful for.

3.) Printing Errors Alter Biblical Meanings. This is one of my rare attempts to look at the lighter side in a book review. In this post, I pull out all humorous printing errors that have occurred over the years including one that financially destroys a printer. If you are interested in Bible printing and translation history A Visual History of the English Bible: The Tumultuous Tale of the World’s Bestselling Book is an excellent resource. Post ends with a funny, religious joke about Hell.

2.) ‘Becoming Madison’ A Nice Preamble To Constitution. In this recent December post I wrote a book review about Becoming Madison: The Extraordinary Origins of the Least Likely Founding Father. The book, which I highly recommend, takes a short, yet insightful look, at James Madison’s formative years and the role Patrick Henry played in determining Madison’s place in United States’ history.

1.) Original News Report on Lincoln’s Assassination Shows Much Has Changed. In this short post from April, I reference the New York Times reissuing of the original news article announcing Lincoln’s assassination. What is most interesting in the original article is what the reporter felt the need to relay to his readers — and what he left out.

Click here to view was what popular in 2014.

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