Room 8 at The Palomino

I prefer to go off the beaten path whenever possible. I don’t mean it in a figurative sense, as in a poem by Robert Frost. When I want to experience real America, I hit the back roads. That’s why, if I can help it, I prefer to lodge in rustic roadside motels. At best, these abandoned motor courts have become hotels catering to long-term guests; at worst, they have become seedy backrooms for the world’s oldest profession. If you’re lucky, you find a motel under new ownership that the latter has lovingly restored for the benefit of kitsch enthusiasts. In my travels as a sales representative for a major technology firm, I encountered many of these.

The position called for little more than a friendly demeanor, a firm handshake, and the ability to make small talk about anything. Clichés such as “Always be closing,” “The customer is always right,” and so on aptly described my work. But let me clarify—I’m speaking in the past tense now. I’ve since left the world of sales.

A strange turn of events led me to become the owner of a roadside motel, a gift from its previous proprietor. The motel’s name is The Palomino. I affectionately refer to the location as “she.” She has an old neon sign with flaking paint depicting a rearing horse—a symbol of defiance fitting for my Palomino filly.

She’s in rural Appalachia, on a former US highway. As a result, it has kept its original number, but the DOT has prefixed it with “old.” If you find yourself against the breathtaking backdrop of the Blue Ridge Mountains, you might stumble upon The Palomino.

There will always be room for you. We have all the modern conveniences, including internet and cable television. Our permanent residents are friendly, and our cleaning crew keeps the building spotless. But I feel obliged to offer one piece of advice—steer clear of Room 8. If you heed this warning, you will remember your stay at The Palomino.

This post is a sample of my creative work and will appear in an upcoming anthology. This introduction should give you a good idea of what to expect in the future.

The Teru Teru Bōzu, Umbrellas, and Ponchos: Exploring Rain Gear and Japanese Folklore


The teru teru bōzu. Could that be the best way to deal with rainy weather?

Personal Preferences

Umbrellas have always given me mixed feelings. Despite their intended purpose, they frequently leave me wetter when I try to close them after reaching my car and dealing with the resulting drips and dampness is inconvenient. Many people worldwide often use umbrellas, particularly in Japan, where they have established a specific set of rules for proper umbrella usage. However, I’ve discovered a better rain gear solution: Frogg Toggs ponchos. They allow me to embrace the wetness only when I remove the poncho, making rainy days more bearable.

Umbrella Usage and Japanese Culture

People in Japan commonly use umbrellas, and they emphasize the significance of umbrella etiquette in their everyday life. The Japanese have developed a distinct approach to using umbrellas, emphasizing proper behavior and respect.

A Weather Charm?

As I looked into rain-related folklore, I came across the interesting tradition of teru teru bōzu. People use handmade dolls resembling ghosts or monks to bring good luck and ward off rain. While I recognize that I have no control over the weather, I’ve noticed an intriguing pattern: whenever I wear my poncho, the rain appears to stop. Of course, this is entirely coincidental, but it got me thinking about the beliefs underlying the weather charm.

The Mystery of Teru Teru Bōzu

Do the Japanese truly believe that this charm can influence the weather, or is it just a cute tradition for children? Is it similar to mythical figures in Western cultures, such as the tooth fairy, and the Japanese intend to distract children from their weather-related fears? (e.g., the ruination of a planned outing) Given Japan’s rich cultural heritage and belief in kami (spirits), some may genuinely believe that the little dolls have the power to bring about a sunny day.

Pop Culture and Teru Teru Bōzu

Teru teru bōzu has also made an impression on Japanese popular culture, particularly anime. Non Non Biyori Repeat, episode four, contains a memorable depiction. Renge-chan, the main character, is dressed in a white raincoat and fashions a mask out of a paper plate to communicate with the sun, hoping to get better weather to ride her new bicycle.

Closing Thoughts

As I question my hypothesis about my poncho transforming me into a teru teru bōzu, I find myself in the middle of a stormy day full of errands. Regardless, perhaps my blog post will shed light on cultural differences when it comes to dealing with the weather.

Nostalgic Delight: Exploring the 1980s Phenomenon of Voltron and Its Enduring Popularity

The 1980s Cartoonscape: From “Space Ghost” to “Speed Racer”

When I got home from elementary school, I always looked forward to one thing: homework. I’m kidding. I couldn’t wait to get home and watch some cartoons. I fondly remember everything from “Space Ghost” to “Speed Racer.” I started fourth grade at Heard Elementary School in Franklin, Georgia, in 1984. I’d get off the bus, drop off my belongings, and go to the den, where the television was.

I only had a few hours until my father arrived home and took over the “dial.” (One turned analog knobs on televisions. We referred to these knobs as “dials.”) When my father returned home, it was time for news from one of Atlanta’s local affiliates. Boring!

So I’d sift through the UHF channels to find my cartoons. As Weird Al Yankovich’s 1989 film of the same name famously parodied, UHF was a fascinating experience. You never knew what you’d get, much like Forrest’s box of chocolates. It could be an infomercial, a syndicated staple like “The People’s Court,” or an older dramedy like “Eight Is Enough.”

The Discovery of Voltron: A Transformative Childhood Experience

After watching “Superfriends” and “He-Man” on WGNX 46, I switched to WATL 36 at 5 p.m. on September 10, 1984. As a nine-year-old, I found a show that would alter the course of my life forever: “Voltron: Defender of the Universe.” In my defense, a cool new cartoon has the power to do such things when you are a child and innocent.

Voltron was unlike anything I’d ever seen before. As a newspaper advertisement stated, the visual effects “blew me away.” I didn’t realize that Voltron was my first memorable exposure to anime. Anime has previously appeared on American television. “Speed Racer,” as previously mentioned, was an anime. However, the art style of “Speed Racer” did not strike me as significantly different from that of American cartoons.

Furthermore, I need help recalling “Star Blazers” (“Space Battleship Yamato”) or “Battle of the Planets” (“Science Ninja Team Gatchaman”). I was not even born when Osamu Tezuka brought “Astro Boy” to the small screen. So I credit Voltron with sparking my long-standing interest in and enjoyment of anime.

Voltron’s Influence on the Anime Boom: From Toonami to Streaming

Since then, unadulterated anime has become more accessible to the American market. Several subscription services now offer anime streaming. As a result, your children might be colossal anime fans. Or perhaps, like me, you are a member of Generation X, whose Japanese peers are known as “the First Generation Otaku.”

Toonami reintroduced anime to us Xers during our university days and reinforced our love for the medium. Anime has grown into a multibillion-dollar industry since World Events Productions licensed several Toei Animation properties, edited them together, and renamed them Voltron.

I’ve wondered how something like Voltron became remarkably popular in the 1980s. That was before there was commercial internet. Yes, Matthew Broderick’s character in 1983’s “WarGames” used a dial-up modem to hack WOPR, but the general public was unaware of public data networks.

Voltron’s Path to Popularity: Word of Mouth and Merchandising

Voltron became popular only through word of mouth. Excited little kids like me inquired of my peers whether they, too, had seen this awesome “cartoon” known as Voltron. If they hadn’t, they would have tuned in because their friends urged them to.

There was also merchandise to entice interest. Given the success of recent Transformers and Gobot releases, merchandisers correctly predicted that Voltron would be a big hit. And so Matchbox, Panosh Place, and LJN stepped forward, imported Japanese toys from their original series (“GoLion” and “Dairugger”), and rebranded them as Voltron.

I had a few of them myself. Along with the Blue Lion, I had Prince Lothar’s action figure. I also had a vinyl “Vehicle Voltron” from IJN’s “Basic Series.”

Limited Entertainment Options: How Voltron Captured Children’s Hearts and Minds

Beyond word of mouth and merchandising, there was also the reality that fewer entertainment options existed in 1984. If it weren’t on broadcast television, no one would see it. (Do you remember how much a VCR or a Betamax machine cost in 1984? $$$)

So, there were fewer competitors for children’s hearts and minds back then. The original Voltron will always hold a special place in the hearts of fans, as nothing can surpass its popularity.

Voltron’s Timeless Appeal: Why the Original Reigns Supreme

Those who have a Netflix subscription may recall that Netflix did a “Voltron” reboot that lasted several seasons. That is true, but “Voltron” on Netflix didn’t create the same level of interest because it wasn’t an anime but a cartoon. American kids in 1984 had no idea what anime was, but they knew Voltron differed from “Inspector Gadget” or “Heathcliff.”

This distinction stems primarily from the use of Japanese source material. That makes a significant difference. The original Voltron will likely remain the most popular version, and it is unlikely that any other version will surpass it.

Without detracting from the main point, I’ll briefly mention that the original Voltron has been re-released on DVD for its anniversary, along with brand-new toys. And they continue to sell out quickly.

Rediscovering the Untouched Source: Crunchyroll’s Streaming of GoLion and Dairugger

However, American anime licensors such as Sony’s Crunchyroll have decided to stream the original, unaltered source anime. I’ve seen “GoLion” and “Dairugger” as an adult. I understand why World Event Productions heavily edited the anime for American television. They were violent. Voltron, for example, was killing “robots” in the sanitized Voltron. But GoLion was killing aliens in the original anime.

Voltron’s Enduring Legacy: A Timeless Symbol of Adventure and Imagination

Despite the internet’s absence, Voltron’s 1980s success was due to several factors. The show has gained widespread popularity for various reasons. These reasons include the impact of television, successful word-of-mouth marketing, profitable merchandise, limited alternative entertainment options, and the captivating nature of the program.

Voltron introduced many young people, including myself, to anime, sparking a lifelong interest in the genre. Despite subsequent iterations and reboots, fans will always have a soft spot for the original Voltron. It stood out from other cartoons of the time because of its unique blend of Japanese source material.

Even though the internet and streaming services have made anime more accessible today, the original Voltron remains iconic and is unlikely to be surpassed in popularity. We are celebrating the anniversary of this beloved series with new toys and re-releases, demonstrating its enduring influence.

The Mysterious Voice: Haunting Encounters in Munfordville, Kentucky

The Parsonage in Munfordville: A Minister’s Home

In the mid-to late-1960s, my parents lived in Munfordville, Kentucky. My father served as the minister of the Munfordville Church of Christ. As a result, my parents and my young sister resided in a residence known as a “parsonage,” which belongs to the church where a minister serves. Munfordville was my father’s second full-time “located work.” Their sojourn in Kentucky lasted only four years but was full of memorable events.

Repairs and Unexplained Incidents: October 1967

When the church-provided home was undergoing repairs, one such incident occurred in October 1967. One of the church’s members was a carpenter. He and several other members were working on the house, and he kept calling out to my mother for things like coffee refills. One morning, when this member had left to buy supplies, my parents heard a voice calling my mother’s name. “Brenda.” My parents were perplexed. No one other than my father and baby sister was present to call out my mother’s name. Added to this mystery was the fact that the voice sounded feminine. My sister? My sister couldn’t have been much older than a year. So, even if she had somehow called my mother’s name, she would not have been able to annunciate it.

Exploring Scientific Explanations: Hypnagogic Hallucinations and Pareidolia

Even now, when I hear that story, it sends shivers down my spine. It makes me think about the mysterious things we may never know the answer to on this side of eternity. To be sure, there are a few scientific explanations. But do they adequately explain what my parents went through? Hallucinations can fool our senses of hearing and vision when waking up from sleep or falling asleep. These are called hypnagogic or hypnopompic hallucinations. But my parents were both rested and had no illness affecting their sleep cycles.

Was it pareidolia, in which the brain tries to make sense of something random? We usually think of pareidolia when we see little bunnies in the clouds or a person’s face in the wood grain of a door. I’m prone to pareidolia. However, there were no ambient noises or radio or television transmissions in this case. It was quiet, except for the voice calling my mother’s name.

Debunking Electromagnetic Interference Theory

Could electromagnetic interference have been the cause? Perhaps the electromagnetic fields produced by nearby power lines or electronic devices interfered with their brain’s neural circuits, causing auditory phenomena to be perceived. That is unlikely because electromagnetic interference in the brain is only a theory that has yet to be proven.

The Supernatural Question: Could it be a Visit from Beyond?

But what about the obvious? There was a supernatural activity that produced the unembodied voice. While I believe in the afterlife, I am not convinced that the dead can visit us. God’s word shapes my beliefs as a Christian.

Insights from Biblical Narratives: Lazarus and the Witch of Endor

I remember Jesus telling the story of the rich man and Lazarus, in which both men died and went to Hades (Luke 16.19-31). In anguish, the rich man wished that Lazarus be summoned from the dead to warn his brothers. Abraham did not say such a thing was impossible, but he did say that the brothers would probably not believe it even if he sent Lazarus back from the dead.

When the rich man asked for a drop of water, Abraham explained that God created a great gulf between the two places, making travel between them impossible. If there is such a chasm between paradise and torment in Hades, why should we not expect a similar chasm between the living and the dead?

In the Old Testament, the witch of Endor summons Samuel to meet with King Saul, and he is the only biblical figure to rise from the dead other than Jesus and Lazarus, the brother of Mary and Martha (1 Samuel 28.3-25). However, Samuel’s summoning seemed to surprise the witch of Endor. Indeed, God permitted her to do so for Samuel to inform Saul of his impending death. God has that power over death. Jesus was raised from the dead by His power, and Jesus used that power to raise Lazarus from the dead.

If such things exist, an explanation is likely rooted in reason arising from a cause we have yet to understand.

Seeking Rational Explanations: Auditory Hypervigilance and Stress

There is one final and most plausible explanation. Could my parents have been suffering from auditory hypervigilance? Sometimes, stress, anxiety, or a history of trauma increases someone’s sensitivity to stimuli. This truth immediately brings to mind the feral cats that roam our property. The cats constantly scan their surroundings and become startled by the slightest noise. People can be like that as well. So, even if such people are mentally sound, stress causes them to experience things that aren’t there.

Living in a Glass House: Stressors in the Parsonage

Could my parents have been under such stress? Living in a “parsonage” is the epitome of living in a glass house for those who have never been in that situation. Plus, my parents were young and inexperienced. The place the church provided was being renovated, with several members doing the work. My parents continued living in the house during its renovation. As mentioned earlier, a particular member was persistent in requesting something from my mother, such as coffee refills.

The Unanswered Enigma: What Did My Parents Truly Hear?

So I’ll leave it up to you. Exactly what did my parents hear? Why did it sound so similar to my mother’s name? In such cases, I frequently refer to Deuteronomy 29.29, which states that the secret things belong to God. We want an explanation for everything as humans. However, there will always be mysteries that no one can fully explain.

Finding Emotional Balance in a Broken World

Emotional Balance in a Fallen World: Seeking Equilibrium

In this article, I examine the concept of emotional balance in a fallen world and emphasize the importance of equilibrium for optimal mental health. I begin by recognizing that sadness is a natural part of life and explain how our free will in a broken world leads to sorrowful experiences. Using an Arabic axiom about the weather, I emphasize the importance of balancing sunshine and rain to appreciate life’s fullness.

The Significance of Balancing Sunshine and Rain: Appreciating Life’s Fullness

Despite the initial appeal of positivity, the article then delves into the significance of avoiding positive feedback loops. I use the biblical character Elijah to demonstrate how isolation and self-focus can reinforce negative emotions. On the other hand, God intervenes by reminding Elijah that he is not alone, thereby introducing a negative feedback loop and assisting him in overcoming his loneliness.

Breaking the Cycle: Avoiding Positive Feedback Loops

I conclude by emphasizing the importance of seeking help from others when facing adversity. While solitude is necessary for personal reflection, disconnecting from fellow believers can exacerbate anxieties. Instead, I encourage readers to focus on others, following Jesus’ teachings and cultivating community.

Seeking Help in Adversity: Embracing Community Support

Finally, the article encourages readers to maintain emotional balance in the face of life’s challenges and to view adversity as an opportunity to grow and enrich their lives with the help of others.

If you would like to read this article in its entirety, please visit Preacher Pollard’s blog by clicking the link above. This article was my third post there in January 2020. I add new content there each Friday. Please visit Preacher Pollard’s Blog for more.

The Power of Stillness: Trusting in God’s Providence Amid Life’s Struggles

Exploring Spiritual Stillness in Christianity

In this article from 2020, I explore the spiritual concept of stillness, which I base on Christian teachings. Psalm 46.10a is my foundation: “Be still, and know that I am God.” I contend that we discover God in the stillness of our hearts, not in our anxious minds. I go on to say that in the biblical context, there are times when we’re supposed to act, such as when the Israelites faced Pharaoh’s army at the Red Sea, and other times when we’re supposed to be still and trust in God’s Providence.

Navigating Life’s Trials and Embracing Surrender

I delve into “stillness,” implying that it entails surrender or “dropping our arms” amid struggle or resistance. Consider the emotional and spiritual journey following a cancer diagnosis, from anger and grief to surrendering to God’s will, reinforcing that His grace is sufficient for all trials. I advocate prayer as a source of comfort and a remedy for anxiety.

Understanding God’s Subtle Providence

I go into more detail about God’s Providence, explaining that it doesn’t always involve apparent miracles but often works subtly through natural processes like our immune system. It’s like a domino effect that reveals God’s grand plan, which we can see if we practice stillness.

Cultivating Wisdom through Prayer and Faithfulness

Finally, I encourage my readers to cultivate wisdom about when to act and be still through prayer, live faithfully, and entrust the outcomes of their lives to God’s will.

If you would like to read this article in its entirety, please visit Preacher Pollard’s blog by clicking the link above. This article was my second post there in January 2020. I add new content there each Friday. Please visit Preacher Pollard’s Blog for more.

Finding Strength in Adversity: Lessons for Life’s Challenges

This is a synopsis of “Lessons From Adversity: An Introduction.” The original article is here.

Synopsis: In the face of life’s challenges, this article delves into the universal theme of surrendering control and embracing divine guidance. I examine the transformative power of abandoning one’s plans and trusting in a higher power through the lens of my experiences and scriptural references.

Embracing the Celestial Yoke: Surrendering Control to Divine Guidance

With a focus on humility, the article emphasizes Jesus’ invitation to accept a celestial yoke, which represents surrendering personal control and accepting God’s guidance (Matthew 11.28–30). I note the importance of distinguishing between self-control, which governs passions, and the recognition that making plans without taking divine will into account is an act of hubris (James 4.13–15). The well-known adage “The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry” poignantly illustrates the frailty of human foresight.

Balancing Surrender and Responsibility: Navigating Life’s Delicate Equilibrium

In the article, I emphasize the balance between surrender and personal responsibility, stressing the importance of fulfilling personal obligations while recognizing God’s ultimate authority. Finally, I consider the larger scope of God’s plan, including the intricate realm of politics and the inevitability of death, which reminds us of our finite existence (Daniel 2.21; Acts 1.6-7; Romans 13.1; Hebrews 9.27).

Solomon’s Timeless Wisdom: Fearing God and Keeping His Commandments

The article concludes with the timeless wisdom to “fear God and keep His commandments” (Ecclesiastes 12.13–14 NASB), drawing inspiration from Solomon’s wise words. Finally, let go of the illusion of control and trust divine guidance. Recognize that aligning your life with a higher purpose established by a higher power can lead to true solace and wisdom.

Letting Go and Letting God: Finding Solace in Surrender

This article offers a compelling perspective on the transformative power of surrendering to divine guidance in a world that often demands control and self-reliance, inviting readers to embark on a journey of faith, humility, and a deeper understanding of their place in life’s grand design.

Visit Preacher Pollard’s Blog for More!

If you would like to read this article in its entirety, please visit Preacher Pollard’s blog by clicking the link above. This was my inaugural post there in January of 2020. I add new content there each Friday. Please visit Preacher Pollard’s Blog for more.

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