Monday, September 29, 2008

Fall Is A Good Time For Living

One of the best things about being alive is the ability to slide beneath freshly washed and scented bed sheets after a long day of doing things you probably wouldn't have done if you didn't have to.

Another one of the best things about being alive (and being able to hear and smell) is the ability to hear the sound two orange chambers make as they rip apart, and to smell resulting spray of citrus.

Also good: back massages, and the gentle whir of fan blades.

Fall is the perfect time of year to experience good things. I would recommend walking around in a local park, and listening to the sounds acorns make as they drop on the fallen leaves.

My sons and I play a game every Fall. We go to a local tree park, and try to catch the leaves as they come down, before they hit the ground. It's more fun later on in the season, when you are wearing jackets and the wind is more unpredictable.

Are there jazz musicians that play on the street corners in your city? Go listen to them, and drop alot of dollars into their instrument case. If you are a regular church goer, put your weekly donation in the instrument case of a local street musician instead of giving it to your church. It's a better investment, trust me.

Picnics are great in the fall too. Some cheese, some bread, some grapes. A couple of sodas. We live near a small airport/bike trail, and there's a perfect hillside for picnics. Eat, and watch the planes take off. What could be better?

Also good in fall: Walking through graveyards. I will walk through several graveyards this fall. The older the better. There's a graveyard across the street from the aformentioned airport bike trail that is home to the first citizens to set up camp in our area. Many of the stones are feeble, many mark the resting places of young people that never made it past the age of five. The words are fading, and the ones you can read bare many touching rememberances. One gravestone simply says this after the person's name: BORN IN FRANCE. Died. What else could you need to know?

Friday, September 26, 2008

the man is on food stamps...

Here's a little Jurassic Five for the democrats and republicans in Washington, who are trying to figure out a bipartisan way to shift wallstreet's failures onto those of us with actual can work it out guys!

P.S. On a brighter note, it just occurred to me that I've neither seen John McCain nor Barack Obama posed in full camo (dead forest creature held triumphantly over their smiling faces) in hopes of courting the hunting demographic this election season...I don't think I've even seen either of them holding a gun. This is change I can believe in.

Monday, September 22, 2008

hard wood floors

There is a place in a person’s life
(god willing)
that they must contemplate tearing up the old carpet,
and putting in hard wood floors.

This dilemma is easier to achieve in the west
(outside of the ghettos and trailer parks),
where things come a lot easier; often with an appetizer.

The prospect of switching flooring--if it ever appears in your life--
is a sign that there is nothing dangerous about you.

It is a sign that the revolution has succeeded,
and the government of your country
is probably as threatening to you as a meter maid.

You are putting in flooring.
Maybe some day you’ll buy a boat.
You will probably gain weight,
and wonder [upon dying] if you could’ve spent your time better.

You could’ve.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Lodo, Meet Maggie

This is my new dog Maggie, by request.

I am not a 'dog' person, but I do admire some things about dogs. Maybe I'm envious because I always wanted to be the flamboyant, artistic type, but am--deep in my soul--bourgoise to the bone. Do I have bones deep in my soul? Apparently I do.

Think about this. Dogs can lick themselves in public, and feel no guilt over drinking straight out of the toilet. Only great artists of the Salvador Dali caliber could get away with this kind of stuff. For a human, this is radical behavior. For a dog? Very vanilla. It is very Republican in the dog world to drink out of the toilet and publicly lick yourself.

So maybe dogs and people aren't all that different after all.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Blackwater Shot Our Dog

(reposted in honor of the troop reduction in Iraq.)

"The K-9 handler made several unsuccessful attempts to get the dog to retreat, including placing himself between the dogs. When those efforts failed, the K-9 handler unfortunately was forced to use a pistol to protect the company's K-9 and himself,"-from a New York Times Story

In Iraq, the mall cops are shooting people’s dogs.
In Iraq, the mall cops have bullet-proof vests.
And laser guns, and tattoos that read Death From Above.

Dogs in Iraq have strong feelings about the occupation.
Eight dogs out of ten have joined the insurgency.
In Iraq, dogs think differently about the war than they do in the states.

In Iraq, dogs are looking into uses the Soviets found for dolphins.
In Iraq, the dogs have considered allowing themselves to be outfitted with rocket launchers.
An American secret weapon for dealing with these dogs is peanut butter.

Peanut butter works on dogs in Iraq just like it does everywhere else.
The reason Blackwater was forced to shoot that dog was they were out of Peanut-butter.
In Iraq, Beatle Bailey had eaten the last spoonful with a cracker. Now his mouth is dry.

originally appeared at Zygote In My Coffee .

Monday, September 8, 2008

Divine Providence?

I was sitting at my son's bus stop waiting for him to get dropped off from school. I was reading Thomas Merton's No Man Is An Island, wishing I had something to underline a passage with.

I looked at a broken pencil on the ground before me that some high-schoolers had thrown from the back window of their bus the last time I waited for my son's school bus.

The pencil wasn't sharpened. Why couldn't they have thrown a sharpened pencil?

Just as I was thinking about this, the high school bus pulled up again. Teenagers unloaded, and I said hello to my neighbor's son, and went back to reading.

As the bus pulled away again, an object came flying out of the back window and bounced off my knee. It was an ink pen, and it worked.

I stood up and shot a big smile at the perplexed looking teens in the back of the bus. The looked thwarted and confused. "Thanks!" I shouted, waving the pen over my head.

Here's the passage I underlined:

"The best way to love ourselves is to love others, yet we cannot love others unless we love ourselves since it is written, 'Thou shalt love they neighbor as thyself.' But if we love ourselves in the wrong way, we become incapable of loving anybody else. And indeed when we love ourselves wrongly we hate ourselves; if we hate ourselves we cannot help hating others."

Saturday, September 6, 2008

The bathroom is the best place to sort things out.

Many say people should read more, but I don’t know. What is it that we should read? Road signs? The ten commandments?

I gather that those who want people to read more think society would be better if it were filled with frequent readers. Specifically, I think that they think society would be better if people read what they read.

I don’t think this is so.

What’s the point in reading if you’re just going to believe the things you read? If you don’t ask questions to yourself about the things you read, you might as well be watching C.S.I. In fact, I would say a C.S.I. Watching non-reader who asks questions of themselves frequently might actually be better off than a person who reads and reads but never questions anything that they read.

I think we’d all be better off if we stopped thinking about what other people should do so much.

Friday, September 5, 2008

String Theory & The Potential Inter-Atmospheric Repurcussions of the Carbon Emissions From the Russian Invasion of Georgia

Just kidding.

I will be posting fewer blogs for awhile. My sons are both in school now, and college is about to start up for me again in a couple of weeks. Between all of the homework and housework, I don't imagine I'll be taking a whole lot of time to weigh in on the weighty issues of our day. Their weight will have to be sufficiently weighty without the addition of my own personal weight. If my personal weight is somehow needed by the issue, the issue will have to wait, unless the issue is in regard to wheat, which is a topic close to my heart. If the issue is wheat, I will wade through the weeds and consider weighing in.

So, barring issues regarding wheat (or possibly Tom Waits, who is a great musician), The weighty issues will have to wait until I can get around to them. It's possible the weighty issues will be disappointed when I finally do weigh in, because I'll be spending more time at the gym this winter, and will hopefully drop a few pounds.

The Virtue Of Asking

In our culture, and perhaps all cultures, we are encouraged to give. Give time, give money, give answers (when you have them). Something that is less encouraged--but just as valuable--is to ask for help when it is needed. Meister Eckhart said the following in a sermon*:

“God’s divinity comes of my humility, and this may be demonstrated as follows. It is God’s peculiar property to give; but he cannot give unless something is prepared to receive his gifts. If, then, I prepare my humility to receive what he gives, by my humility I make God a giver. Since it is his nature to give, I am merely giving God what is already his own. It is like a rich man who wants to be a giver but must first find a taker, since without a taker he cannot be a giver. Similarly, if God is to be a giver, he must first find a taker, but no one may be a taker of God’s gifts except by his humility. Therefore, if God is to exercise his divine property by his gifts, he well may need my humility; for apart from humility he can give me nothing--without it I am not prepared to receive his gift. That is why it is true that by humility I give divinity to God.”

Whether or not you believe in God is besides the point. The point is, there could be no giver without a receiver. A person who receives help should never be viewed as a 'less than' in anyone's eyes.

We always hear about the great philanthropists, as we should. Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Oprah Winfrey, Bono: all admirable people. It doesn’t matter how much of it they do for ego. They do it. If only there were someone advocating a morality flat-tax that would require every person to do an amount of good in the world equal to that of the aforementioned--within the context of their own time and resources--we’d see a lot of good change, no doubt. So we hear about the great philanthropists, but we rarely hear of the bravery of those who would ask for--or be willing to receive--the aid offered by those admirable givers.

In America, there are many people who advocate the ‘pull yourself up by your boot straps’ philosophy. There are also a lot of people who feel entitled to some kind of aid from some larger power. We’re all probably in one of these camps or the other at various times.

Unfortunately, both of these camps are wrong.No one owes anyone anything, and not everyone has boot straps to pull themselves up by. It is an extremely gallant and noble act to donate your own time and resources to those who are struggling. People who do this deserve our admiration. It’s also a profound act of bravery and humility to ask from the root of your own poverty for assistance. I admire a person who can seek to change their own situation--be it emotional, economic, psychological, etc.--by reaching out for help.

Of course, no outreached hand can save you if you aren’t willing to do a little work yourself. But to admit that there is a problem that you either don’t have an answer for, or don’t have the resources to answer, is a step that deserves recognition. There is no giver without a receiver, and those who give should be grateful that they were able to be of help.

* Taken from Raymond B. Blakney‘s ‘Meister Eckhart: A Modern Translation, Harper and Row, 1941

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Being A Productive Citizen Is Often Overrated.

The above image is still one of the funniest things I've seen in my life. When my brother showed it to me for the first time, I almost died from laughing. Laughing tried to murder me, yet I am still here.

My sons and I spent the whole day playing with legos and listening to Weezer. I've never been happier. We were building this huge Mars Mission set, and it took all day. It's got a couple of small space cruisers, and a few land vehicles, and one gigantic, like...I would compare it to the G.I. Joe General vehicle (do you remember that?). It had tons of pieces, and was very fun.
My oldest son (7) is memorizing the U.S. presidents. The ones he can recognize on the spot are George Washington, John Adams, Tom Jefferson, Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, JFK, Bill Clinton, U.S. Grant, Polk, Jackson, and Teddy Roosevelt. He remembers Polk because I made a big deal about him expanding the U.S. border. After we learned about Andrew Jackson, my son told me he should've stayed in school so he could've gotten a better job: He was an asshole as a president.

I can't disagree with my son too much on that. Andrew Jackson would've been a great night manager at McDonalds.