The Round Four Winner of Our Columnist Contest Is….


16: Frank Talk – Frank Sheftel

Wow! There’s been so much talent. Congrats to the other four finalists of Round Four. Keep writing!

Frank Talk will advance to the Final Round. Now on to Round Five!

This week we’re printing the last five of our finalists. Their columns will be numbered 21—25. Voting for Round Five will be the same. It begins Wednesday, May 2, and ends Tuesday, May 8, at 10 a.m. The winner of Round Five will be announced in our Wednesday, May 9, edition. The victors of each round will then go head-to-head in our Final Round (May 16) to decide the new columnist of The Tolucan Times!

There are three ways you can vote for your favorite: by email,; by phone, (818) 762-2171; and on Facebook, (be sure to “Like” us while you’re there). When voting, just notify which number (21—25) you think deserves a spot in our pages. If by email, put your choice in the subject line.

We’re finishing strong … On to Round Five – it’s still your turn!

21: Ever Wonder Why

By Lynn Rembert

I think we are here to question, to wonder, and to laugh while looking at the absurdities in life:

Courtesy: Please and Thank You — how did “no problem” replace “you’re welcome”? (“Thank you for clearing the table.” “No problem.”) Does that mean there is no problem now but there was before?

In the grocery store looking at the calorie information, I talk out loud. That doesn’t bother me as much as arguing with myself about talking out loud and then losing those arguments. But that is a lot better than people strolling the aisles loudly talking on their hands-free cell phones. Maybe the earpiece makes people feel like they are alone and can talk as loud as they want. Reality check needed here.

Compromise: Don’t treat me as if I’m learning-challenged. Take voting — explain the proposition in simple English. “Yes” means it will be done and “No” means it won’t. One issue per proposition. That’s probably what happened with Prop. 8: Was “Yes” against marrying whomever you wanted and “No” for it or vice versa? Why should anyone have the power to regulate who someone can or can’t marry? In that case, we need a measure to regulate who can and cannot divorce — it’s only fair.

Don’t add a totally unrelated item onto the coattails of another bill. Put in a couple of sentences of what it would do and then let’s vote. When a bill is passed, where is the follow up? We voted for school bonds for buildings. Where are the buildings? The answer to the education budget can’t be to raise taxes without accountability for the money. And why does there always seems to be money for a committee to study a problem, but never enough money to solve it? Knowing how important education is, ensure the taxes we’re paying are spent educating students and not on administrating them.

Compassion: We don’t want to know about a situation unless we are directly involved. With some of the greatest minds in the world in America, why can’t we come up with ways to help people in need?

Stream-of-consciousness-thoughts: A person running for office has all the answers, but once elected, they don’t even know the questions. Then it goes from “we the people” to “you the people.” Politicians work so hard keeping their jobs that they often forget to do their jobs. Taking care of the issues facing our country today will have to come from the bottom up and not the top down.

Finally, at the end of the day, all we really have is pride, dignity, and respect. We want it for ourselves and we owe it to each other.

22: Blessings

Profound blessings to you indeed courageous enough to journey back and to be willing to look deeper, delve deeper into your family heritage. For, indeed, your Grandfather was never seen or acknowledged for his service to his country, for his warrior that sacrificed much and endured great suffering and trauma for his struggles as a soldier in World War I and World War II.

For his Soul knowingly came as the warrior to say “no more, no more undisciplined behavior,” yet his persona perceived himself as a “bean-counter” instead, which caused great pain, much anger for not being truly honored and seen in his family as the trauma of war played out. So he projected much anger and hatred on his family, including your mother, preventing her free expression and joy at exploring as she grew, forgetting he had indeed fought in the war for freedom. So let his off-springs, your aunts and uncles, including your mother, truly acknowledge and honor him for his good deeds in stepping forward and taking action, despite much sacrifice. Let them truly honor him so he can take responsibility for his wrong-doing to them so that the love between him and his family can flow again.

Now introduce him to his grandchildren, all of them, including you and all those living across the globe — in Australia, South Africa, Canada, and USA. Step forward and let him see you too — for you all carry this unfulfilled desire to be seen, acknowledged, and honored for Who You Are (Your Own Uniqueness).

Let him see you – let him see you carry the angel’s wings of the spiritual warrior continuing his work, to create space for more love in the world and you do so consciously. Give him back any underlining residual of the martyr-victim for not being seen or heard so you can now fully open your wings to be seen and heard, acknowledged and valued for your truth, beauty, and goodness – knowing you carry the warrior energy of your Grandfather. Yet you do not have to sacrifice anymore to overcome obstacles and challenges.

Let him now see his Great Grandchildren and his Great, Great Grandchildren and to know it was not in vain, his actions were deeply impacted so none of you have to fight in wars, rather to take up the peace light and bring great knowledge and wisdom consciously for future generations so he can rest in peace. His soldier warrior stops with him and no more sacrifices need to be made on behalf of this family lineage. Light a candle in honor of his memory and his great contribution and participation in humanity’s growth and evolution.

Feel and receive his blessing to unfold your wings to explore and discover the spiritual warrior path, free to be seen, acknowledged and valued for Who You Are and your own contribution and participation in humanity’s growth and evolution.

Illuminating the Delight in Light

A weekly column that takes a deeper look delving below the surface of our daily lives to provide a higher perspective and a greater insight into the bigger picture to those small incidents and big events in our lives – the worm’s eye view and the bird’s eye view of LIFE (Living In Full Existence).

23: Mind Over Matter?

By Kathryn Dawn O’Brien

Is the world really as it appears or is there something unseen just beneath the surface? Something we may scratch off or bump into from time to time. We’ve all had experiences that do not fit into the model for our accepted paradigm. Sometimes we choose to completely forget them. Sometimes we choose to file them away. And sometimes we seek to find meaning or an explanation for such an occurrence.

In this column I will explore the inexplicable with a keen eye and open mind, delving into areas where what we accept as conventional reality collides with the unknown — normal vs. paranormal. It is my intention to use this as a forum for skeptical inquiry, and expose the truth underlying the mystifying, by scrutinizing phenomena such as: ghosts, reincarnation, aliens, ESP, psychics, mediums, possession, exorcism, faeries, tarot cards, Ouija boards, séances, remote viewing, astral traveling – to name just a few.

My next column will examine the world of ghosts. Have you ever seen or felt any? Do you believe such a thing as a haunting even exists? My grandfather claimed the ghost of his mother visited him shortly after her death. I, myself, have never seen a ghost. However, there have been times when I am convinced my home is a way station for souls in transition. I’ve had objects fly out of my hand and across the room, seen mysterious shadows cross my patio, and had ongoing unusual challenges involving water and electrics (rumored natural conductors for etheric energies). And the smell of my dead grandfather’s pipe tobacco has been known to permeate certain parts of my nonsmoking house on several occasions.

If you have any reliable ghost whisperers, hunters, or chasers to recommend, please do. Maybe I’ll get one to stop by and give an assessment of my situation.

Finally, I invite you to join me in this journey by sending in your own personal stories and observations. Let me know the topics you would like to see researched. Weigh in on my conclusions and those of others. Together we may be able to root out if there is indeed something “out there” or “in there” or “nowhere.”

Kathryn Dawn O’Brien is a Certified Hypnotherapist with a private practice in the San Fernando Valley, and author of Murder Has a Memory, the debut novel in her Roberta Law Mystery series.

24: Only in L.A….

By Elizabeth Cleary

It’s happened to all of us. You’re standing in the express lane of the local grocery store when the line, which had been moving along quite nicely, comes to an abrupt halt when the person in front of you challenges the cashier about the price of an item she has just rung up.

You sigh resignedly, let your eyes rove over the magazines rack, and reach for an entertainment tabloid featuring one of your favorite celebrities on the cover. As the dispute causing the delay drags on and the young man who had been bagging groceries is sent into the bowels of the store to do a price check, you turn around to commiserate with the customer behind you and come face to face with the celebrity on the cover of the magazine you are holding.

WHAT DO YOU DO? Smile, practically forcing them to smile back whether they feel like it or not? Tell them how much you love their work and, because you consider yourself a creative person, try not to obsess over the millions of times you know someone has said that to them before? Or, be truly creative and engage them in conversation on some timely topic by pointing to the screaming byline next to their name and saying, “Really? You’re cheating on #%#& with this actress from %$#&? That’s interesting.”

DO YOU DO NOTHING like pretend you don’t see them at all? Ouch, we all know how much that hurts when someone does that to us or pretend we just don’t recognize them, a bit of a stretch since their face is on the cover of not only the magazine in your hand but half the ones in the rack.

All you do know is that some sort of action is required because you may (or may not have) gasped audibly at the moment you made eye contact with them.

You are still considering your options when they open up another register and everyone behind you, including your celebrity, just disappears.

Now this should be the end of it but it’s not because you live in L.A. Though you may have gotten off easy this time there will be others where you are clueless as to an appropriate response.

I think it’s time the celebrities, enough of whom I know very well read The Tolucan Times, give us a meaningful sample for our research, step up and tell us what they want. A smile? A nod? A thumbs up? A great big SHOUT OUT: Hey Everybody, look who’s here! Let’s hear it. Chop! Chop!

I’d even go so far as to give them their own column to settle this issue … Ask a Celebrity.

As a fairly recent transplant from Minnesota (three years), my column would be about living in and dealing with situations unique to the City of Angels from a non-native perspective but with a definite pro-California slant.

20: Going in the Hospital — Where to Begin

By Mark S. Vass

Throughout life, we experience many situations for the first time. They may include traveling to another country, buying a house, or going in the hospital. When a person is about to embark on something new, they often find themselves in a predicament of not knowing where to begin. A solid education is the cornerstone of being able to navigate through a new experience. That’s what this column is for.

Assume that your family doctor refers you to a surgeon, and diagnostics are performed. Based on the test results, surgery is recommended. The next step for you is NOT to immediately schedule your operation.

The following are the first four (out of seven) basic items you should first contemplate:

“Is this something that can wait?”

Depending on your particular circumstance, there may be other options available to you instead of immediate surgery. These may be in the form of physical therapy, medication, or dietary issues. If you’re thinking of surgery, you need to talk with as many different professionals as you can. To make an informed decision, you’ll have to weigh the opinions of multiple sources which can include family doctors, second opinions, chiropractors, or acupuncturists. Also — because it’s their business — your health insurance will pay for a second opinion, if not more. Investing a few extra days can give you and your family the security that the correct decision is being made, for everyone.

“Did I choose the right doctor for me?”

You’ve decided that surgery is definitely in your future. There are a few ways to help put your mind at ease that this new person who may literally be holding your life in their hands is the right person. One of the ways I get information about my new surgeon is by talking to other patients while sitting in his waiting room. Most patients have no qualms about giving their opinions about their doctor’s bedside manner, the hospital, and the doctor’s staff. You’ll be amazed at what you can learn from others who’ve been in the same spot that you may soon find yourself in.

“I can’t take time from work.”

You may have a number of options available to you regarding time away from work. Depending on benefits offered by your company, you may be able to take advantage of sick time, comp time, vacation time, short-term disability, or long-term disability. You and your employer may also be covered under the Federal Family and Medical Leave Act. Just because you won’t be putting in a 40-hour work week doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be getting a paycheck. Later in this series, I’ll be devoting an entire column about Federal and State employment laws that can protect you.

I’ve been writing about medical self-help for over twenty years. About 17 years ago I became sick, started having multiple surgeries, and then finally permanently disabled. I figured, “I’m only one person. Why can’t I help others benefit from what I go through? I look forwarded to continuing this series that will be based on what YOU want. Until then, good health and good luck.

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