...and the keyboard is no slouch either.As a student of history it's easy to sometimes look at the story of mankind as a won/loss record. You can skip over the details and just focus on the battles. If you doubt this look at the entire industry of WWII video games. No deep dissection of the evil of the Nazi regime or the ethically shaky adoption of their medical research by American scientists, just guns blazin' good guys versus bad guys. But in the end it's not who had the biggest machine gun or the most powerful bomb that matters, although that helps in the short term. The things that change the world are ideas and the best way to get those ideas out there is to put them on paper. If you've read even one of my blogs before, then you know just how highly I value the written word. I get that from my father. It's be reinforced by a life long obsession with books. Film is a medium I love, and the theatre is a magical place, but a book is a work of art that will last through the centuries. While the Spaniards never found the Fountain of Youth, and there is no Philosopher's Stone, there is a bridge to immortality for us mere mortals. We can write. We can leave a statement for the generations that follow us to see. "Here I was. I lived, I felt, I hurt. These are my thoughts." I've stepped away from writing for more than a month now. At first it was out of necessity as our European excursion and ensuing move to New Orleans made it almost impossible. We've been in our new house for several weeks now and still, I didn't write. It wasn't that I didn't want to or couldn't. It just seemed to me that I had nothing important enough to say. That's a load of hooey, and I apologize to my readers for buying into it. For one thing, I've promised you all a complete journal of our trip and I'm less than halfway through that. Secondly, I've committed myself to honing my craft as a writer and continuing to try to make my mark in the field of literature. That's not something that I've given up on, and as of now you can consider me re-focused. What is it that shook me up? What finally righted my sails and reminded me what I need to be doing? A good book. This weekend, as anyone who hasn't been living under a rock knows, the final book in the "Harry Potter" series by J. K. Rowling was released. I started reading the books in the fall of 2002. I had been one of the biggest critics of the series, as I thought my peers should have something more important to spend their time on than children's books. A friend bet me that I couldn't read the first fifteen pages of Book one and stop. If I did, she'd never mention Harry Potter in front of me again. I finished that book in less than an afternoon. Before the week was out I had burned through the first four books in the series (all that were available at the time). Since then, I've been at the book store at midnight on release day for every book. Rowling has created a world that is not only exciting and enthralling, but comforting. She has captured the very essence of myth. In so doing, she has made herself (and the characters she dreamed up) immortal. As long as their are people we will share our legends. And now Harry Potter is one of them. Congratulations, Mrs. Rowling, and thank you. Thank you for giving us a new group of heroes to visit and a beautifully full world in which to visit them. Thank you for carrying the torch that so many have taken up before you and millions more will take up because of you. Thank you for using your pen. And most of all thanks for waking a slumbering writer from his doldrums.