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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Lies

People grow through experience if they meet life honestly and courageously.  That is how character is built.
~ Eleanor Roosevelt
- - - - -
Character is built on honesty and courage.  As is life. 
Life can also be built on deceit and lies and cowardice.  A web of lies, if you will.
Not all lies are meant to hurt or harm.  Some are meant to amuse (often to amuse the teller of said lies).  Like when I used to tell people in high school that they got called to the office.  And they would go.  And they hadn't been called to the office.
Or when my friend Craig would lie about most everything.  In fact at one point I said to a colleague who knew me and also knew Craig, "He mass produces lies."
Which was true.  But not in a bad way.
(pause)
Though it sound pretty bad reading it here.  Well, it sounds like nothing, but it reads pretty bad.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Flying

Once you have tasted flight you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.
~ Leonardo daVinci
- - - - -

Last May in staff meeting we were talking about flying cars.  Sara said she had seen one on MSNBC.  Joe said, "Well, if it was on MSNBC, it must be REAL."  

Wayne:  I have seen a video of one before too, though.

Me:  Was it from the movie "Star Wars?"

Joe:  I've seen one, too.  It's longer and it has wings.

Wayne:  (sarcastically)  And it rhymes with "plane."

It took us about a year, but Wayne is now fully integrated into the judicial affairs culture.  You're welcome, Wayne.  And you're welcome rest of the world that will get to work with Wayne.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Dock

For whatever we lose (like you or me),
It's always our self we find in the sea.
~ e.e. cummings
- - - - -

Do we like docks because they are a place from which we can launch or because they are a place to which we can return.  Wait.  We don't like docks?  Oh.  Never mind.

On the other hand, I don't think I'll let you speak for me.  I do like docks.  They are like bridges without follow through.  Bridges who don't have a desire to finish what they started.  Bridges that get you part way there and then leave you to your own devices.

Or maybe bridges are like docks that don't know when to stop.

Or maybe they're just completely different things.

I like docks.  I like going out on the water and looking beyond.  And looking back.  You know they say you shouldn't burn bridges, but I think even more you shouldn't burn docks. 

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Shoes

She couldn't help thinking something was wrong with a person who had more shoes than books in their home.
~ Victoria Connelly
- - - - -
I'd rather be well-read than well-shod.  Which is good because I'm pretty sure I am better read than better shod.  I'd rather spend time with a librarier than a farrier.


Friday, September 26, 2014

Color

Your attitude is like a box of crayons that color your world.  Constantly color your picture gray and your picture will always be bleak.  Try adding some bright colors to the picture by including humor, and your picture begins to brighten up.
~ Allen Klein
- - - - -
I agree.
Obviously.  Humor is a survival tool for me.  If there was a first aid box for me for surviving things I would want it to include duct tape, WD-40, humor, some matches, a doctor, warm socks, a lot of water, some canned food...  It woudl be a large first aid box.
But my point is that humor can definitely add color.  And off-color humor makes a bleak picture bleak and slightly off.  But aren't we all slightly off in our own ways?
That is not a rhetorical question.  The answer is yes.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Conversation

A good conversation is a dialogue, not a monologue.  That's why there are so few good conversations: due to scarcity, two intelligent talkers seldom meet.
~ Truman Capote
- - - - -

I like good conversation.  Sometimes I have those with myself.  In my own head.  Sometimes I share those conversations with others via social media.  I'm always in my own head.  Which is better than being in other people's heads.  I don't know my way around in there.

Sometimes I get to have good conversations with other people.  Usually I get to talk daily with Leslie and we converse about a variety of topics.  Sometimes I get to talk with her in actual real-live person.  I like that.

I talk with Kirk a lot, but usually via text.  You'd think that doesn't count, but you're wrong.  Because if he and I talk in person I don't always get to talk.  I won't say it's like listening to a monologue with Kirk.  I won't say it because that would be unkind.  Not because it would be untrue.

Then the other night I got to have a dialogue with Rachel.  You know how some - maybe most - people don't like the sound of their own voices?  Well, some of us don't even know the sound of our own voices sometimes.  Rachel and I had been type-communicating, but then she called me.  

Me:  Hello?
Rachel:  (silence)
Me:  Um... Did you call me?
Rachel:  (laughing) You don't sound like yourself.
Me:  What do I sound like?
Rachel:  You sound hoarse.  Are you all right?
Me:  Well, I live alone and I never see anyone during the day, so I don't talk much.

(pause)

The conversation got better from there.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Building

Space has always been the spiritual dimension of architecture.  It is not the physical statement of the structure so much as what it contains that moves us.
~ Arthur Erickson
- - - - -
I think I might have liked to be an architect.  I never really thought about doing that.  But maybe I am an architect of people and experiences rather than of buildings.  Maybe - since I teach - I help build competence and character and an ability to navigate the world. 
Of course there is still independent action and thought on the part of those with whom I work, study and from whom I learn, but maybe I help build them in some small way.  At least build their confidence and provide them energy - help them make connections and put pieces together.  I may help build the professionals of the future, maybe.
Like Dr. Frankenstein.
On a loosely related note, I should change my last name to Frankenstein.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Past

Just because we don't understand doesn't mean 
that the explanation doesn't exist.
~ Madeleine L'Engle
- - - - -

I believe that we can often best understand our present by looking carefully at our past.  Where have we been?  What have we seen?  What have we experienced?  Who are the people we have known?

We probably can't ever fully understand everything - particularly in a given moment.  There are too many lenses through which we look - identity, context, environment, blah blah blah.  However, I do think we can come to some understanding of some things in some moments.  Often when engaging with particular experiences or people.

For example, I wonder sometimes how I get the ideas that I get.  How I make the connections between concepts that I make.  How my mind works.  Then I see or experience something and it gives me some clarity.

For example, the following is an email I got from my father:

I read an article that had an opening line you might want to use to start one of your blogs.  It went something like " I just noticed it has been quite awhile since I have written anything about moths."  
You can easily finish the blog from there.
 
  Love,
  Dad

That's probably part of the reason I am the way I am.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Insects

Nature will bear the closest inspection.  She invites us to lay our eye level with her smallest leaf, and take an insect view of its plain.
~ Henry David Thoreau
- - - - -
 
I like it when people say that they're not afraid of something unless it is unexpected.   My mom used to say, "I'm not afraid of spiders unless they surprise me."  Or, "I'm not afraid of snakes if I know they're there."
 
I find that to be true for me, too.  Of everything.  I'm afraid of most everything if it surprises me - a bee, a buffalo, a bright light, a bag of flour.  Really anything can scare me.  If I'm walking down the hall and I don't expect a slice of American cheese to hit me in the forehead, that scares me. 
 
I'm not sure where it comes from.  It might come from the time I was a little kid in my bedroom and I was supposed to be going to sleep, but I had the hiccups.  Then my dad ran dow the hall from the living room to my room yelling, "AAAAARRRRGGHHH!"  I wasn't expecting that. 
 
He asked if it stopped the hiccups.  It did.  But it didn't stop the tears.  In fact, it kind of started them.
 
"But," you might ask, "Wasn't that better than finding a spider in your sheets?" 
 
No.  No, it was not.  Why would you even ask that?

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Kids

What feeling is so nice as a child's hand in yours?  So small, so soft and warm, like a kitten huddling in the shelter of your clasp.
~ Marjorie Holmes
- - - - -
 
I think it is fine to bring children out into public.  That said, I also think it is odd to promote "kids eat free" on the same day as "Bloody Mary Sunday" on a poster in a stall in a bar / restaurant.  At least the parents have to eat meal, too.  It would be worse if it was "Kids eat FREE when parents drink Bloody Marys." 
 
I also think it's odd to reference holding a kid's hand in your balled up fist to holding a kitten in your balled up fist.  I'm opposed to that.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Truck

Always remember the last words of my grandfather who said, "A truck!"
~ Emo Phillips 
- - - - -
 
This truck looks a lot like the one my grandpa had.  I used to play in it.  I used to pretend I was driving away.  Not sure where I was driving TO, just that I was driving AWAY FROM where I was.  I don't remember particularly wanting to leave the farm where the truck was.  I think it was just sort of an imaginary adventure where I would drive away and go somewhere new and then keep driving.
 
Unless I heard Erik and my cousin Tamara coming.  In that case, I would get down on the floor and hide from them.  I sure did like hiding from them.  I liked it more if they were looking for me, but even if they weren't, I liked to hide.  And it was actually easier to hide from them if they weren't looking for me. 
 
It's easy to hide from people who aren't trying to find you.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Grace

Mass transportation is doomed to failure in North America because a person's car is the only place where he can be alone and think.
~ Marshall McLuhan
- - - - -
There is beauty in lots of places in the world.  Even in things outdated or unpopular there can be tremendous beauty.  And we are so powerful that we can create grace and beauty in most of our everyday actions and interactions.  Even our inactions - even sitting alone and thinking good thoughts in your car can be beautiful.  Showing kindness is a beautiful (and sadly rare) thing.
I think that we undervalue elegance and beauty in form and movement and action and gesture.  We undervalue grace.  If we would appreciate those things more, I think we would try to be graceful in the eyes of others - lifting them up rather than pushing them down.
No one looks graceful pushing someone under a bus.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Drops

Time itself comes in drops.
~ Henry James
- - - - -
 

Why is it when we see drops of water on leaves or flowers we think of the water as nourishing the plant, but when we see drops of water running down the face of another person we don't think of those tears as nourishing that person?  Instead we stop and look at them for a moment and then think, "Wow.  What a crybaby."

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Sharing

It ain't no fun if the homies can't have none.
~ Snoop Dogg
- - - - -

My friend Joe is great.  He and I share a similar sense of humor.  In fact, sometimes we say the same thing at the same time.  That's not quite as impressive now that we're several states away, but when we were in the same room it used to be amazing.  And annoying to Sara.  But she is strong.  And I like to think that it helped her build character.

Actually, I like to spend more time thinking about vacations and yellow lab puppies and autumn, but you get the idea.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Siblings

We know one another's faults, virtues, catastrophes, mortifications, triumphs, rivalries, desires, and how long we can each hang by our hands to a bar. We have been banded together under pack codes and tribal laws.
~ Rose Macaulay
- - - - -
 
I read somewhere recently that one of the things about having siblings is that when you spend time with them you are immediately transported to the childhood you.  That is good in that you can go back to where you started to maybe help understand where you are now in a better way. 
 
It is less good because it can sometimes make you want to bite and wrestle and say things a 7 year old would say.  Of course, for some of you that isn't different than any other day.
 
Right, Kirk?  Erik?  Not me, of course.  I've grown way up from those days.  In maturity, not age.  I'm still quite young.  I mean youthful - not babyish and immature.
 
Shut up.  I hate you.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Crossing

I have sung in hobo jungles, and I have sung for the Rockefellers, and I am proud that I have never refused to sing for anybody.
~ Pete Seeger
- - - - -

I love learning new things and sharing information with people.  Sometimes you find your roads cross with others in the most interesting ways.  The questions you're looking to answer may not be so far removed from the answers others are seeking.  Research can be a point of human connection.  We just have to pay attention to it.  Watch for it.  Talk about it.

For example, raise your hand if you've ever sent an email including the line, "So, I was doing some research on Hobo Festivals..."

Okay, now put your hands down.  I can't see you.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Arrows

That Hallmark image of cupid as a fat cherub with arrows?  I think the real cupid is some kind of psycho juvie with a taser.
~ Lesley Livingston
- - - - -

I also am not so sure about cupid.  I can think of a lot of ways to be nudged into having feelings for someone that would be nicer than being SHOT with an ARROW.  Like a whisper or a tap on the shoulder or even a little push.

But what do I know?  If I was cupid I know I'd misuse my arrows just to create awkward situations.  Which is what I do with my arrows now.

Oh - that reminds me of the time one of the neighbor kids was shooting arrows into the air and one landed in our back yard.  My mom was furious.  She went over and yelled at them.  I'm not sure if it was because they did it or because they missed.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Hunting

The perils of duck hunting are great - especially for the duck.
~ Walter Cronkite
- - - - -

I was looking online a few weeks ago for fishing license information in South Carolina.  It is pretty reasonable.  I like fishing.  I think I would like fishing here.

As I was reading the online information, however, I also saw that in South Carolina you can get a license to hunt alligators.  Well, you can enter a drawing to get a permit to hunt them.  The part of the state I live in doesn't have an alligator season, but the rest of the state does.  It runs from September 13 - October 11th this year.  

I missed the deadline to enter into the drawing for 2014.  That is okay.  I suspect I will miss the deadline for 2015 and every year thereafter.  

Friday, September 12, 2014

Explanations

No, no!  The adventures first, explanations take such a dreadful time.
~ Lewis Carroll
- - - - -
 
I hadn't thought before about this, but what is the difference between stories and explanations?  I feel sure there is a difference.  Explanations are often not any more true than stories.  Explanations might be presented as "facts," but that doesn't make them factual.   Or true.
 
Oh, but then the subject of truth is...  subjective.  Right?
 
Are all versions of truth and are all explanations stories?
 
(pause)  Give me a moment.  I'm thinking.
 
(another, sightly longer pause)
 
Maybe yes (she wrote with conviction!).  Maybe explanations are just stories that are not as gripping as explanations we don't call explanations, but we call stories.
 
I would go to a storytelling festival, but not an explanation-giving festival.
 
No, wait.  That's a lie.  I like festivals.  I'd be tempted to go check out an explanation-giving festival.  I bet they'd have a vendor selling big floppy hats and also a lot of fried food.  I bet I could tell a pretty good story after visiting an explanation-giving festival.


Thursday, September 11, 2014

Geese

A wild goose never reared a tame gosling.
~ Irish Proverb
- - - - -
 
I watched this family of geese for a while - and from a distance.  You see that one in the back?  The one still on the shore?  That gosling was wandering off and exploring away from the group.  The rest just left that one.  Then it realized it was being left and scrambled to catch up.
 
I think most families have someone like that little gosling.  The one who gets distracted or is more drawn to his or her own adventures rather than being clingy to the family unit.  And that's good.  If no one ever branched out from his or her family, where would we be?  I can tell you where.  Wherever our parents live and their parents and their parents.  And - let me guarantee you - that house is not big enough for all of us.
 
So, thank you little wandering goose.  Don't let natural selection get you.


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Communication

The single biggest problem in communiation is the illusion that it has taken place.
~ George Bernard Shaw
- - - - -
 
We have so many means of communication now.  And so many ways for that communication to be messed up.  And archived.  And shared broadly.  I think we need to remember that. 
 
These things are all like tools.  We can use them as they are intended or not.   The problem is, we don't have a shared understanding of how each tool is intended to be used.  So we use them as we want to use them, but that isn't always good.
 
For instance, you wouldn't use a can of pears as a hammer.  No, wait.  That is a bad example.  I have actually done that before. 
 
Anyway, my point is, do good work.  And laugh (when appropriate) when you do bad work.  And laugh at the bad work of others (which is always appropriate).  For example:
 
Sara: (forwarding me an email with lots of typos) A bit of humor for the beginning fo the week.  It is interesting to me when someone spells the same word differently more than 2 times in any communication. Communikation.  Comuneication.  I know, I am mean.
 
Me: Your timing is perfect.  I needed that.  Thank you for accumudating my needs.


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Work

Many hands make light work.
~ John Heywood
- - - - -
 
Some people put the team in teamwork and some put the work in teamwork.  For example, there was one time when I was at ISU that I was dealing with a challenging student situation and was going to be meeting with students and parents.  If I was unsuccessful, the next step was for people to meet with Sally - the healer of all situations, people and conflicts.
 
I outlined what I planned to do and asked Sally if I could have some of her business cards to hand out if needed.
 
Sally:  GREAT PLAN.  P.S.  Did I tell you I was out of business cards?
 
Me:  No.  That's okay, though.  I can format one and give it to him.  Is the quote you have on your card, "Screw You" or "Screw Off"?  I can never remember...  And I lost the one you gave me during my interview.
 
Sally:  it woudl be screw you
 
So from this you can discern if Sally was more in the team category or the work category.  I was in the awesome category because that's where I always am.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Time

Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.
~ Marthe Troly-Curtin
- - - - -

I think sometimes we get too hung up on chronological time.  I prefer sometimes or playtime or even (on occasion) time out to actual time.  This is great for my creative self, but not always so good for my professional self.  Case in point...

Suzanne:  Is it 9:00 yet?

Me:  It's about fifteen minutes until 9:00.

Suzanne:  where?

Me:  in Ireland.  I have a friend who lives in Ireland, so I can do the time math.

Suzanne:  they are 7 hours ahead of us...  so it's 11 pm there...  and you said it was 15 minutes to 9:00 at 4:01...  which is impossible.

Me:  I don't really know anyone in Ireland.  I lied and made that up.  I wish I had a friend in Ireland though, but that's another "imaginary friend" story for another time.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Drawing



Life is the art of drawing without an eraser.
~ John W. Gardner
- - - - -

Okay...  So I was going through papers and I found a question I had written down.  The question is:

Why can't we have Pictionary exams?

Good question.  I think I'd do all right on a Pictionary exam.  Well, depending on who else was on my team.  or maybe it wouldn't be a team exam.  Hard to say.  Especially since this is all speculative.

Well, I was trying to find a photo to use and I found this.  I took it when I was cleaning out my files to get ready for my move.  The drawing is fine.  Whatever.  The notes, though...  We used to serve MSG on Thursdays at 7?  

And talk about needing a powerful mandate for board approval.

I don't draw so much in meetings anymore.  Well, sometimes I do.  Sometimes I just draw with words.  And sometimes those end up in my blog.

Mostly I'm just glad my handwriting isn't so good or else people would see what I'm really writing down.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Windows

A house without books is like a room without windows.
~ Horace Mann
- - - - -

A pile of windows inside does not allow us to see outside or for others to see inside.  Instead, they sit there in their pile.  Waiting to be used.  With potential to shed light or provide a view.

Windows in the Shadows.  That would be a good name for a book.  It could be about a house of secrets.  Or how the answers to one family's questions reside in each one of them.

Windows in the Willows might be a good title for a book, too.  It could be about anthropomorphized animals who explore wealth, human emotions and have fun little adventures while cleaning windows in willow trees.  That might be too close to another book title though.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Injuries

Write your injuries in dust, your benefits in marble.
~ Ben Franklin
- - - - -
 
My mom's birthday is today.  She is a nurse.  I remember people coming to our door at all times of the day and evening with their wounded children in tow and they would open with "I'm sorry to bother you but..." and then would give some abbreviated version of why they had come over.  "He fell off his bike."  "She got bit by our cat."  "They were jumping on the trampoline and knocked their heads together."  "Does this look broken to you?"  "I think she ate this whole bottle of stuff."
 
They always asked what they should do.  Usually, somewhere along the line the question, "Do you think we should go to the hospital?" would be asked.  My mom would almost always say, "Well, it wouldn't hurt to have someone take a look just to make sure."
 
However, when it came to her own children, most things were solved with a butterfly bandage.  I never had any stitches.  There were some times maybe I needed them.  I got a butterfly bandage.  And maybe a baby aspirin. 
 
Erik went to the hospital a lot.  He was always crashing his bike (or running and crashing his face) into things.  Or eating things he shouldn't.  Or breaking his arms - usually wihtout my assistance.  Or getting stung.
 
One time he was playing around this side gate we had - one we never really used.  It had a rusty lock on it and some wire securing it closed.  It also had a wasp's nest.  I guess my parents put that there to keep out intruders.  He got stung.  A lot. 
 
I don't remember if he went to the hospital that time or not.  I think not. 
 
I probably went someplace quiet to try and concentrate on whatever I was creating.  I'm sure his crying was loud and annoying.
 
He's mostly fine now.
 
Wow.  Wouldn't it be ironic if he was covered in butterfly band-aids after wasp stings?  That's like two kinds of insects.  And also, I don't think butterfly band-aids would do much to help wasp stings.  But then, I'm no nurse.


Thursday, September 4, 2014

Lost

All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither, 
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.

From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crown less again shall be king.
- - - - -

But some who wander ARE lost.  Of course you never hear about them.  Or rather, you never hear FROM them.  

Because they are wandering.

And lost.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Stories

In every outthrust headland, in every curving beach, in every grain of sand there is the story of the earth.
~ Rachel Carson
- - - - -

My friend Brad lives near the beach.  Not this beach.  This is in Indiana.  My friend Brad lives in Florida.  I'm not going to give you his specific address because it's creepy that you want it when you don't even know him.

I like Brad because he is fun, patient, kind and very easy-going.  I remember one time I wrote to him and other staff when we were trying to schedule duty.  Brad was the first to respond and said, "That sounds good to me.  I don't mind weekends."

I immediately responded and said, "Why do you always have to be so difficult, Brad?!"

He didn't write back.

Sometimes I don't have any idea how I manage to keep friends.  I think it's because I'm so rich.  Not in money, but in other things.  I just wish I knew what those things were.  I'd try to sell them for more money.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Good

The word "good" has many meanings.  For example, if a man were to shoot his grandmother at a range of 500 yards, I should call him a good shot, but not necessarily a good man.
~ G. K. Chesterton
- - - - -
I love this quote.  I think it gets at multiple truths and serves as a prompt for us to get at our own truths.  I have never shot my grandmother at 500 yards.  Truth be told, I have never tried to do that.  I won't belabor this point by going on and on about whether I have tried to shoot her at closer range or whether I have succeeded in shooting her at all.  That is irrelevant to the point of this blog.
So, "What is the point?" you ask?  I don't know why you ask that.  I am not where you are and can't hear you.  And if you just read on, you can get a sense of what the point of this post is.  IF there IS a point.
My point is...  I think honesty is a good practice.  Good people are honest in good ways and dishonest in ways with good intentions.  While the road to hell may be paved with good intentions, at least it's paved.


Monday, September 1, 2014

Virtue

Just as treasures are uncovered from the earth, so virtue appears from good deeds, and wisdom appears from a pure and peaceful mind.  To walk safely through the maze of human life, one needs the light of wisdom and the guidance of virtue.
~ Buddha
- - - - -
 
Virtue.  Hm. 
 
I don't know that we pursue virtue (or wisdom for that matter) as much as people used to.  It's almost like that is beyond us by the time we are able to understand what it is.  Maybe I'm wrong.  Maybe I even hope I am wrong.
 
Apparently, the white lily can represent virtue. 
 
Whereas the Tomlin, Lily often represents humor.