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Thread: AW's Day of Listening - Interviews Thread

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  1. #24
    rockin the suburbs III's Avatar
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    Aug 2006
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    III’s interview with Norman D Gutter a.k.a. David Todd



    Who was the biggest influence on you at a young age?

    My parents for sure, Dad more than Mom. Mom was terribly sick during all of my memory years, and she died when I was 13. Dad worked the night shift, and at Mom's death we three kids became latch-key teens; worse than that, we were home alone every weekday evening until Dad got home sometime after 3 in the morning. Dad was asleep in the morning when we quietly left for school, and during sports seasons I never saw him from Sunday night to Saturday morning. Yet, almost every night we went to bed on time. Every night we did our homework. Every night we self-limited our TV watching. Never did any of us go out at night when we were not supposed to. Wednesday night my brother and I walked the quarter mile to boy scout meeting and home again, never deviating from the shortest, safest route. Mom and Dad so instilled in us the idea of obedience, that we never thought to do otherwise. May I insert here the poem I wrote about this?

    Remembering Mom and Dad
    Mom died at night--a painful death, they say.
    Three children mourned. Then age thirteen, I cried,
    though not as much as Dad about the way
    Mom died.

    Despite his night-shift job, this hero tried
    to raise us right. He faced the world's array
    alone. Steadfast, he took no second bride

    who might divide his time. Would he betray
    his sacred trust? No way. I've much relied
    on what Dad taught, and always kept the day
    Mom died.

    You’re a U.S. citizen but you’ve lived in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. How did living abroad change your approach to life?


    My five years in the Middle east has given me a global perspective on life. I'm not so concerned about buying American. I'm not always concerned about "What's best for America," but rather what's best for the world? I certainly have a better understanding of the Arab-Israeli conflict, and a much greater appreciation of Israel as a result of those years. And a greater love for America, and for the freedom we have.

    What’s the most amazing thing you’ve ever seen?

    In terms of physical things, it would be either the pyramids in Egypt or the Great Wall of China, both seen on vacations in our expatriate years. In terms of events, our trip to China in 1983, where we spent two weeks in six cities, was an amazing time. The poverty and suffering of the people was incredible. Our kids were 4 and 2 at that time, and most Chinese had never seen a blond child before. They were the stars of the show, and where ever we went we always had a parade of Chinese following us. Also on that trip, we had a few days in Hong Kong and visited a missionary from our church. He asked us to carry Bibles into China and deliver them to a man in Beijing. We agreed, got them through customs, and carried them all the way through China until, on our last night there, we made contact with [name withheld], a man who had been imprisoned 21 years in a Chinese prison camp for his Christian faith. That was an amazing moment. So, I guess you could call me an international Bible smuggler.

    What do you consider to have been your biggest time-waster over the years?

    Hmmm, only one? Daydreaming of greatness.

    What first attracted you to your wife? What attracts you to her now?

    My wife and I met at a singles retreat for our denomination in 1975 and were married eight months later. I saw a spark in her, that her Christian faith was real. She had been raised in a devout Christian home where it really meant something, whereas my religious raising (despite having good parents) was ritualistic and more or less meaningless. She had what I wanted as far as a Christian walk. Her most attractive quality continues to be her love for Jesus, and her dedication in following Him. She has great compassion for others in need, and will seek to right injustices. A few years ago she gave away a bunch of our kitchen stuff, including my favorite carving knife, to a family in need. We became foster parents mostly because of her compassion for kids.

    What’s the best thing about being a parent?

    Having the kids move out when they grow up! Seriously, seeing them develop into good citizens. While neither our son or daughter has turned out exactly as I would have liked, they are good citizens, hard workers (go-getters), self-starters, kind-hearted. That's really the most a parent can ask for. In terms of being foster parents (which we were for nine months in our 50s, before we broke a rule and they shut our house down), it was feeling we were making a positive difference in the lives of those four kids.

    Your tagline is “Engineer Sonneteer”. How do your skills as an engineer cross over to your writing and vice versa?

    I love formal poetry (rhyme, meter, and structure), which may have been influenced by my engineering background. As a civil engineer involved in designing heavy construction projects, I am responsible for producing construction drawings and specifications that show the contractor, in the clearest, most concise, and yet most complete way, what to build. This probably carries over to my poetry, and I guess to my prose as well. I'm not much for hidden meanings. Deep plot points are okay with me, and subtle hints early in a book that become critical later for importance, but not those poems where you have to unpeel umpteen layers to figure out what the poet is saying. I like it plain and direct. What I've learned of the craft of writing, in turn, has worked back into my engineering writing, especially business letters and reports. I'm always looking to avoid passive language in my business prose, avoid excess modifiers, and try to make it more interesting.

    What aspect of literature really moves you?

    The writer's ability to make an unsympathetic character interesting, either in fiction or prose. I won't mention specific books, but I have read a number of them where a character is destable because of his/her actions or beliefs, yet by the end of the book I am almost on his/her side because the writer has done such a good job of character development.

    Do you write from the heart or from the mind?

    From the mind. My definition of poetry builds on something Wordsworth wrote: Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of emotions of the heart, remembered in tranquility, which find their way to paper or pixels only after a lengthy stop in the brain.

    Why did God make David Todd?

    That question has yet to be answered fully. To worship Him. To serve Him by serving others. To proclaim His message in everything I do. To develop my mind as fully as it can be developed.

    How has God worked through you in the lives of others?

    I witnessed to my sister, and she later accepted Christ as her Savior. I was chairman of the building committee at church, for a $2.6 million dollar project. Otherwise, I just hope the life I've lived and the example I've set have been a positive influence towards the kingdom of God on others.

    Do you play any sports?

    In high school I played football (end and defensive end) and ran track (half-mile and mile). In adult life I've played only softball. I'm now at the age and in physical condition that I don't play any competitive or recreational sports any more. Well, maybe a little ping pong from time to time.

    What’s the worst job you ever had?

    I suppose it was the two weeks during senior year in college when I tried to be a short order cook, and failed miserably. Or, it might have been junior year in college when I worked a week at a yarn factory, and couldn't get the hang of the machinery. In adult life, the four jobs I've had have been good.

    What’s in your CD player right now?

    At home, some Christmas CD. At work and in the pick-up, I don't have CD players, only cassette tape players, and I rarely listen to cassettes, preferring the radio. I'm not one to purchase the latest gadget. I don't have anything that will play an MP3 file (whatever exactly that is), and I don't go off and buy a CD player when a cassette player does just fine. My preferred music is of a different era, and I have all I need on my cassettes. At home, we have one CD player, and all of our CDs have been picked up at thrift stores. It is all Christian music, not the rock kind.

    You seem like such a cerebral and even-keeled guy. Under what circumstances do people around you get to see the less-composed side?

    I get riled when people question my integrity or intellectual honesty. I hate arguments and fighting, and really struggle to not return anger for anger. I've seen two Internet poetry communities die because the poets fought each other. How silly. So I have decided to live my life on an even keel, taking this Bible verse to heart: As far as it depends on you, live at peace with all men." Romans 12:8

    If you were on national TV for thirty seconds, what would you say?

    I can't really answer this, because it would depend on the context. Would it be engineering? Christian practice? Literature? Genealogy (my hobby)?

    And, should I ever write my autobiography, I fully expect the title to be, "The Journey Was A Joy".
    Last edited by III; 12-16-2008 at 08:11 PM.
    My narcissistic website with books, music, and junk:


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