Smokemont Baptist Church

Sometimes, it’s the little hidden away places that have the greatest impact on a hiker’s soul.  Smokemont Baptist Church in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of those places.

Photography:  Elyse Bruce
Original Music:  Elyse Bruce
Copyright © Elyse Bruce, 2014

Photoshop Your Memories

While it’s true that we all put our best foot forward whether in our personal lives or in our professional lives, it’s important to keep in mind that putting your best foot forward doesn’t mean misleading others into believing things that may or may not have a basis in fact.

I pondered how I could impart the importance of being transparent in business and personal dealings, and decided that one of the best ways to impress this upon readers and visitors was to share this video from Rhett and Link.  Enjoy!

Who Said That?

The graduates of McGill University who finished their degrees after World War II ended are the great-grandparents and great-great-grandparents of those who are graduating from university and college over 65 years later.  The quotes beside each graduates’ name speaks volumes of how they interpreted the world around them.  Since most of the quotes fail to acknowledge the author of the quote, I thought it would be fun to see how many of these quotes are recognized by those who follow or visit my blog.  Today’s quote is this:

Surely not in vain my substance of the common Earth was ta’en.

Feel free to add the name of who you believe was — or may have been — the person who first spoke or first wrote those words, in the Comments Section below.

Bach, Department Stores, and Movies

I love Johann Sebastian Bach (31 March 1685 – 28 July 1750).  I love his fugues. I love his toccatas.  I love his concertos, his passions, his cantatas … well, I pretty much love everything Bach ever wrote.  And others over the centuries love everything Bach ever wrote.  Why, even Ludwig von Beethoven (another composer whose music I adore) said that, as far as he was concerned, Bach was the “original father of harmony.”

All right, bottom line here is that I love Bach and nearly all of his music.  Cue the applause from other Bach and classical music fans and aficionados.

I also happen to love pop culture.  I loved the 1988 Penny Marshall directed movie, “BIG” starring Tom Hanks, Elizabeth Perkins, and Robert Loggia.  The story line was engaging; the acting was just right.  In one of the scenes, Tom Hanks and Robert Loggia are walking through the department store when this happens.

Years later — 26 to be exact — the piano is still found in the department store where the scene was filmed.  And not only is it still in the department store, it’s still being played!  The best part is that there are staff members with some classical training who give performances on this piano.

So what does this have to do with Johann Sebastian Bach?  Click on this video and you’ll see for yourself.

Now, wasn’t that worth the time watching those two video clips?  I think so.  And if you didn’t really know or like Johann Sebastian Bach before today, perhaps you have a new respect for his music and how virtuosity comes in many forms.

Elyse Bruce

 

Idle No More: Saying It’s Racist Doesn’t Mean It Is

Recently on my social media pages, I shared a meme about the problem the American government is faced with when it comes to illegal aliens crossing into the Southern United States.  The issue is incredibly polarizing and because it is, understanding how each faction perceives the issue is the starting point to fact-finding and then finding solutions to the issue.

This was the meme I posted with one word in the status update / tweet:  Discuss.

Illegal Aliens Discussion

What happened on Facebook?

Once the meme was posted to my Facebook Timeline with the word “discuss” some of my Indigenous Facebook friends insisted that the meme was racist against Indigenous peoples.  By virtue of posting such a meme on my Timeline, in their opinion, I was racist.  Their shock and dismay was clear by their public and private messages.

What happened on Twitter?

Once the meme was posted to my Twitter feed with the word “discuss” some of my Caucasian Twitter friends insisted that the meme was racist against Caucasians.  By virtue of posting such a meme in my Twitter feed, in their opinion, I was racist.  Their shock and dismay was clear by their public and private tweets.

Is the meme racist?

According to a Washington Times news article published on 30 March 2014, of the 195,000 illegal aliens against whom charges were filed in 2013, 68,000 of them had criminal convictions.

In other words, about 35% of illegal aliens who were charged, convicted, and set for deportation, were criminals with convictions.

What does that mean exactly?

It means that 65% of illegal aliens didn’t have criminal convictions.  To put it simply, if there were 20 illegal aliens in a room, 7 of them would have criminal convictions.

Of the remaining 13 with no criminal convictions, it would be reasonable to question if there were gang or criminal ties, but no convictions for offenses they may have committed but for which they weren’t arrested, charged, tried, and convicted.

But isn’t a traffic ticket technically a conviction?

The criminal convictions weren’t for minor offenses.  Even vehicular manslaughter convictions and DUI convictions were overlooked.  When they talk about criminal convictions, they mean convictions for dangerous offenses — offenses such as murder and rape.

Interestingly enough, 68% of all Level 3 criminal illegal alien offenders were previously convicted of a crime in the U.S.  In other words, they hadn’t left their criminal ways behind in their country of origin.  They brought those criminal ways with them into the United States.

How many of those 193,000 were deported in 2013?

Homeland Security sent 125,000 of those 193,000 back to their country of origin.

You have to admit that 193,000 isn’t really a lot of illegal aliens in the grand scheme of things, right?

According to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) report, the department went after only 25% of 722,000 potentially deportable illegal aliens they were aware of in the U.S.

But most of these illegal aliens are actually trying to get away from South American dictators, right?

In 2013, according to ICE, nearly 250,000 of those illegal aliens caught were from Mexico.

The number two spot went to Guatemala with about 47,000 illegal aliens caught.

So for every 1 person escaping from Guatemala, there were 5 crossing over from Mexico.

But doesn’t the meme imply that anyone with a tattoo is a criminal?

No, it doesn’t.  What it does show is that tattoos are a recognized way in which criminals show their membership or gang affiliation, and advertise their skills, specialties, successful criminal activities, and convictions.  Certain designs have an accepted meaning in criminal circles even where language is a barrier.

Yes, tattooing has been around for centuries, and doesn’t necessarily mean that the wearer is a criminal.  That being said, every tattoo has significance for the person wearing it.

What cannot be overlooked is the fact that experts state that tattoos denoting gang membership — especially face tattoos — are a rising trend among gang members while incarcerated as well as when they are back out in society.

Then you’re saying the meme is accurate?

I’m saying that along with the people who look like the people on the left-hand side of the meme, there are people who look like the people on the right-hand side of the meme.

Since this is a reality, it’s important to look at what’s really coming across the U.S. borders illegally and find solutions that will separate the dangerous from the desperate.

And if asking people to discuss this issue honestly and rationally and compassionately is supposedly racist, it may be time to ask why people would rather sit in their polarized faction camp instead of address the issue head on.

Elyse Bruce

Who Said That?

The graduates of McGill University who finished their degrees after World War II ended are the great-grandparents and great-great-grandparents of those who are graduating from university and college over 65 years later.  The quotes beside each graduates’ name speaks volumes of how they interpreted the world around them.  Since most of the quotes fail to acknowledge the author of the quote, I thought it would be fun to see how many of these quotes are recognized by those who follow or visit my blog.  Today’s quote is this:

Mechanics, and not microbes, are the menace to civilization.

Feel free to add the name of who you believe was — or may have been — the person who first spoke or first wrote those words, in the Comments Section below.

Along The Appalachian Trail

Every Wednesday, there’s a new Midweek Meditation to enjoy.  This week, you’ll travel along the Appalachian Trail in the area of Newfound Gap where North Carolina and Tennessee meet up in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Photography / Videography:  Elyse Bruce
Original Music:  Elyse Bruce
Copyright © Elyse Bruce, 2014

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