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Sunday, November 30, 2014


We know that in September we will wander through the warm winds of summer's wreckage.  We will welcome summer's ghost.
~ Henry Rollins
- - - - -

I moved this summer.  In fact, between May and August, I drove through 15 states.  I didn't mind.  I like traveling.  I like wandering more, but travel doesn't always provide the time necessary for wandering.

I had plenty of time for wondering, though.  I can do that most any time.  I didn't do much troveling, though.  Since that isn't a word.  Troweling is a word.  But it's not smart to dig or do brickwork while driving.  

In fact, it's illegal in some states.  That might be a lie.  Or a mistake.  Let's call it a mistake.  That's less harsh.

Saturday, November 29, 2014


The bicycle is just as good company as most husbands, and when it gets old and shabby, a woman can dispose of it and get a new one without shocking the entire community.
~ Ann Strong
- - - - -

I was fortunate enough to be able to take some time off between Iowa State and Clemson.  I did some work during that time - reading and writing (but no 'arithmetic to speak of).  I had some time away from technology and some time to relax and let go of what my job had been and get ready for what my job will now be.

My first day of work was a Catholic holiday, so Leslie didn't have work.  On that day she got a new bike and went for a nice bike ride.  Well, she said it was nice, I'm trusting her on that.

My workday consisted of an orientation in the morning, lunch with other new faculty and the president, then going around campus on a very hot and humid day to get my ID and keys.  When I made my third walk up one hill on campus I thought, "How come Leslie gets today off and I have to work?!"

Again, this was after a month of not working.  It was ridiculous.  Absurd even.  I can't believe me - I can be a baby sometimes.  


But most times I'm pretty nice.  

Friday, November 28, 2014


I am more modest now, but I still think that one of the pleasantest of all emotions is to know that I, I with my brain and my hands have nourished my beloved few, that I have concocted a stew or a story, a rarity or a plain dish, to sustain them truly against the hungers of the world.
~ M. F. K. Fisher
- - - - -

This is a great quote.  Leslie does this all the time - through stew or story - sustains people around her.  I am thankful for that.  It could be a Granny story, BLTs, a story about a crappy broom, lamb chops, or a story about trying to cook when other people are in the kitchen and in her way.

She is a creative soul.  

I, on the other hand, tells stories through - well words, yes, but also through photos.  Lots of times the photos tell their own stories.  At least each viewer of each photo can make a story about the image that fits her or his experience or the moment she or he is in.

For me, the story told here is...  "Get out of here with that camera!"

Actually, a lot of the photos I take tell that story.

Thursday, November 27, 2014


There is always something left to love.
~ Gabriel Garcia Marquez
- - - - -

Last year around Thanksgiving I saw a lot of people doing "30 Days of Gratitude."  That was good.  A good exercise to be appreciative and to celebrate the good things in the world around us.  But is 30 days enough?  I don't think so.  I think most of us or at least most people I know can find something for which to be grateful in every day.  

I just worry that for some people it could be 30 days of gratitude and 335 days of whining.  

Okay, to be completely honest I don't worry about that.

Instead, I'm just grateful that I have a lot to be grateful for.  Like wonderful people in my life, the beauty in nature, a job I love and chocolate pudding.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014


It's no good running a pig farm badly for 30 years while saying, "Really, I was meant to be a ballet dancer."  By then, pigs will be your style.
~ Quentin Crisp
- - - - -

I have to admit it -I ate pig face.  In my defense, it was buried under some other things, but I ate pig face and knew I was eating it when I ate it. 

As you may have surmised I am not vegetarian or vegan or pescadorian or gluten-free or free-range in my eating.  I have heard people say that they won't eat anything with a face.  Okay.  I respect your choices so long as you don't invite me over for gluten-free vegan Thanksgiving and try to convince me it's Thanksgiving.  It isn't.  Not in my practice of what that meal is about.

Anyway, for those people who don't eat things with faces, I wonder if they would eat the pork left behind when I ate that pig's face.  It didn't have a face anymore. 

I hear pig face and I think "Silence of the Lambs." 

I like lampchops, too.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014


I went down the street to the 24-hour grocery.  When I got there, the guy was locking the front door.  I said, "Hey, the sign says you're open 24 hours."  He said, "Yes, but not in a row!"
~ Steven Wright
- - - - -

My dad told this joke one time.  

There was this hit man and his name was Artie.  One day a guy came up and said, "Artie - I need you to kill someone for me."

Artie said, "Okay, but it's going to cost you."

The guy said, "Well, I actually need you to kill three people."

Artie said, "Well, that will cost you more."

The guy said, "Is there any chance you can give me a price break?  I don't have much money."

Artie said, "Well, how much have you got?"

The guys said, "I have $5."

Artie thought about it for a while but finally said, "Okay.  I can do that."

So the three people Artie was supposed to kill were all at the supermarket one day.  Artie had been following one of them, but when he saw all of them there, he snuck up on each one and strangled them right there in the grocery store.

The newspaper headline the next day read, "Artie Choke Three for $5 at the Supermarket."

Now, at the time, I think it was actually $1, but since I had this photo, I changed it to keep up with inflation.  And I'm not saying that my dad made up this joke.  He might have.  He might not have.  The troubling part is that he could have made it up.  He could have.

And that's part of the reason why we children turned out the way we did.

The moral of the story is the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.  Just trying to keep with the grocery theme since our parents do produce us.

Monday, November 24, 2014


I don't like Thomas Edison.  I'm a fan of Nicolai Tesla.
~ David Lynch
- - - - -
Kirk is a fan of the show The Comeback and he says that Lisa Kudrow is very good on it.  I haven't seen it.  I did like her character on Friends.  She was good in some other stuff.
We were discussing this recently and I said that Lisa Kudrow went to high school with Leslie and then was annoyed that people weren't giving as much money at some fundraiser as LK thought they should.  Then I stopped and thought, "Is that right?  I feel like I made that up."  Incidentally, I have that thought a LOT.
So I texted Leslie.  She did not go to high school with Lisa Kudrow.  I kind of figured since I looked it up and LK went to high school in California, I think.  Then I thought maybe it was college and for some reason thought maybe it was my friend Ryan.  So I texted him and asked if he had ever had an interaction with LK.  He responded, "What makes you think that we're not the same person?"  Then he asked if she likes ice hockey.
I don't know if Lisa Kudrow likes ice hockey.  Add that to the ever growing list of things I do not know.
I also do not know where I heard this anecdote.  Maybe someone will read this and write to me and let me know it was them.  Or maybe LK will read this and write to me and say, "It wasn't me, and I'm going to send you a huge check just to show how generous I am."
More likely, she will respond and say, "Don't call me LK."
More likeliest of all, she won't respond at all.

Sunday, November 23, 2014


Who has more fun than people?
~ Jim Frazier
- - - - -

People are awesome.  Troublesome.  Flawed.  Some of them are really not awesome at all.  They are awful.  Wait...  That's not the point I'm trying to make here.

I like the idea of people being a hobby.  Being attentive and caring like you would for a model railroad town.  Investing time the way you would when knitting a scarf.  Dedicating energy and enthusiasm like you would to a sport.  People deserve that.  People who aren't so great probably aren't so great because no one invested in them and maybe they can turn around if someone does.

Now, if you're saying your "hobby is people" Virginia Green and what you mean is collecting them and keeping them in your basement is your hobby - that is NOT okay.  Actually, there is an exception to that.  Surprisingly, if someone is named "Sandy" you can legally collect them.  So, yes Virginia, there is a Sandy clause.


I'm sorry.

Saturday, November 22, 2014


Twerking is not feminism.  It doesn't liberate you.
~ Annie Lennox
- - - - -

Don't we all want to be free?  Free to do what we want, to think how we want?  Free to make our own mistakes and free to learn (or not) from them?  What does it say about us as a culture if we instead value the subjugation of others?  I think it says bad things.

Incidentally, in case you were wondering, Leslie is not twerking in this photo.

Friday, November 21, 2014


Here, Fridays were dedicated to the two Bs - Beach and Boats.
~ Laura Miller
- - - - -
I like boats.  They seem quiet.  Well, from a distance.  When you're on them, they may not be so quiet.  They seem to have a direction, though there is no way for me to know from the shore if that is true or not.
I don't know how to sail a boat.  I could learn.  I would make some mistakes.  Maybe from the shore, though, it would look like I knew what I was doing.
Is life like that?  Up close it is chaotic and jerky and uncertain, but from a distance it slowly follows the course it is supposed to?
Maybe.  But sometimes boats sink.  Maybe eventually all boats sink.
I like them from a distance.
Unless I'm swimming and need rescued.  Then I like them closer up.
Like life.  I like it from a distance.  Unless I'm trying to live it. Then I like it close up.
Maybe I'd be really good at sailing boats.

Thursday, November 20, 2014


I like this place and could willingly waste my time in it.
~ William Shakespeare
- - - - -
It's amazing to me how beauty and color and miracles peek out at us all the time.  We miss most of them because we aren't paying attention.  We're on our machines or in our heads.  Strangely enough, when we are on our machines we are probably liking and sharing the miracles other people have noticed.  And when we are in our heads we are probably dreaming of the exact miracles we are failing to notice.
We're bad at paying attention.  We certainly pay a larger price for not paying attention than what it costs to pay attention.
Why is that?
I dunno.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014


Time is a created thing.  To say, "I don't have time" is like saying, "I don't want to."
~ Lao Tzu
- - - - -

I had kind of a rough day yesterday.  I have a very good life and very little about which I ought to complain.  That said, there are times when the little things add up and it just sort of pushes you too far.  Yesterday was a day like that for me.

I was writing to Leslie about it - because she is usually the recipient of my venting (whining, complaining, reflection - call it what you will).  I listed my troubles and struggles and then I wrote, "And TIME STOOD STILL.  No joke.  It felt like it took 6 hours to get from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.  Wait.  That's 5 1/2 hours."  

Clearly, not only do I have no right to complain, but I also do not understand time.  Or else I do not know what standing still means.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014


It takes a real storm in the average person's life to make him realize how much worrying he has done over the squalls.
~ Bruce Barton
- - - - -
I think worrying is a waste of time.  That doesn't mean that I don't fall prey to it on occasion.  What is odd is that sometimes I don't realize that I am worrying.  I get angry.  I get angry at things unrelated to worry.  I - unfortunately - sometimes take out my worry on other people. 
They get confused when I get angry with them or overly emotional about small things.  They don't understand where it is coming from.  They are not sure what to do or say to manage the situation.
But that's what they get for standing in front of me in the checkout line at the grocery store.

Monday, November 17, 2014


I am always ready to learn although I do not always like being taught.
~ Winston Churchill
- - - - -

I learn things from Leslie all the time.  Sometimes we talk about things we learn from things we have read or discussions in which we have participated.  Sometimes we learn from experiences we have had as teachers.  I think I almost always learn more from teaching than from studenting.

The other night we were talking about primates.  Leslie had heard a story - though she stressed to me that she had not fact-checked it - about a chimpanzee who learned sign language.  The chimp expressed sorrow to one of her scientists when the scientist shared she had lost her baby.  The same chimpanzee taught her baby sign language.  

Leslie - who often thinks I doubt the information she shares with me - said, "I don't know if it's true, but if it is, isn't it amazing?  How can that happen?"


She said, "You're making fun of me.  Do you think it's possible?"

I said, "Sure.  That's how we got language.  Humans learned it from the scientists."

Leslie:  What are you talking about?

Me:  The scientists.  The ones who kept us in cages and taught us language.

She said, "You're making fun of me.  I am not saying it's true.  I'm just saying I heard it."

Me:  No, I believe you.  The same thing happened with a chimp on Mr. Rogers.  And then she cried when he died.

(long pause)

She:  You're making fun of me.

Me:  (getting the giggles)  No.  No, it's true.  I know it sounds made up, but it's really true.

Leslie:  I don't know whether to believe you or not.

Me:  (laughing harder)  I know!  It sounds like a lie.  It sounds like a lie I would make up, but it's not.  

Leslie:  Hm.

(Turns out it was a gorilla named Koko and she cried when Robin Williams died, not Mr. Rogers, but I was not trying to lie.  I just was mistaken)

Me:  I think that primates can learn sign language...  it has something to do with brain size.

Leslie:  Maybe.

Me:  Like they have taught dolphins sign language.

Leslie:  How is that even possible?!

Me:  (laughing really hard)  Okay, that one I made up.  But the Mr. Rogers thing is true.

Leslie:  The only thing dolphins can do is flip you off.

Which is what I think maybe Leslie was doing to me in her brain.  Also, I think maybe I am learning to read minds.  

Sunday, November 16, 2014


The flood of print has turned reading into a process of gulping rather than savoring.
~ Raymond Chandler
- - - - -
This quote is so accurate.  I would argue that now it is not the flood of print but the flood of electronic information.  We want to be the first to post to share to repost to post on someone else's wall or timeline.  We don't take the time to check our facts - if indeed there are any facts.
We are bombarded - flooded - with information. 
The question we should ask ourselves is maybe "Inforwhatpurposemation?"

Saturday, November 15, 2014


The shallow consider liberty a release from all law, from every constraint.  The wise man sees in it, on the contrary, the potent Law of  Laws.
~ Walt Whitman
- - - - -
I think that when anyone tries to share deep thoughts they come across as shallow.  When people unintentionally share deep things, then they are really deep.  I think people can share deep ideas while having serious conversations, but if they are trying to sound deep, the trying comes through which compromises the depth.

Except for Jack Handey.  His thoughts are always deep.

Friday, November 14, 2014


When you are discontent, you always want more, more more.  Your desire can never be satisfied.  But when you practice contentment, you can say to yourself, "Oh, yes - I already have everything that I need."
~ HH the 14th Dalai Lama
- - - - -
It can be a sound of realization.  Pleasure.  Fear
A question or the introduction to a disagreement.
You can bend it to convey lots of different things depending on your needs, wants, emotions, circumstances. 
You can do the same with with other sounds...
Of course some are more flexible than others.

Thursday, November 13, 2014


My grandmother is over 80 and still doesn't need glasses.  Drinks right out of the bottle.
~ Henny Youngman
- - - - -
I think we need to be grateful for what we have.  The glass half full or half empty...  Half full is better.  There are lots of things that could happen which could be worse than our current situations.  For instance, recently when in Pittsburgh at the library, I looked out the window and saw a kid being driven somewhere in the back of the Duquesne police SUV vehicle.  Maybe they were just giving him a ride.  Maybe not.  I just know that I'm happier being here writing this than I would be being "transported" anywhere. 
Or "trainspotted" somewhere.  Did you see that movie?  I don't want to have to deal with that.  I don't want to have to be in squalor (which is a beautifully perfect word - much more beautiful than "dirty" or "encrusted."  Kudos to whoever created it) or to be a heroin addict. 
If you are addicted to female superheros or protagonists are you a heroine addict? 
Anyway, I don't think you should brag and say, "My cup runneth over" because it means that you're bad at pouring things and why brag about that?

Wednesday, November 12, 2014


Coffee first.  Schemes later.
~ Leanna Renee Hieber
- - - - -

Coffee is pretty popular around here.  By around here I mean on college campuses and in towns and cities where I have lived.  I myself do not like coffee.  I like the smell. 

And I like the concept of coffee.  It is a catalyst not only to get the day started, but to bring people together - "Let's get coffee sometime."  It can start conversations and help build connections.

I met with Devin a while ago.  We had agreed to go for coffee.  When we met, we realized neither of us drinks coffee.  We also agreed that it would have been odd if we had agreed to, "Get together for juice."

But that's what we did.  And it was good.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014


Interpretations of interpretations interpreted.
~ James Joyce
- - - - -
We all communication in so many ways. 
Ha ha ha.  I just reread this.  Look at the typo.  I miscommunicationed.
Anyway, we also miscommunicate in all of those same ways.  It is easy to get a text or an email and misunderstand what someone meant.  We can't hear their tone or the noises in their heads when we read what they write.  We can't know the circumstances they are in when they are sending us a message.  Sometimes we don't even know what they mean because we don't know all the latest text lingo.
The same is true of letters we receive in the mail, but maybe we read those a little differently because we can see a person's handwriting.  Or maybe because letter-writing takes more time and requires effort for the sender to get the letter to the recipient...  Maybe because of that we are more forgiving?  More patient with others and with our own lack of clarity in what the sender meant?  Maybe.
What I really struggle with is when I misunderstand people's body language.  When I almost hit that guy on the street, was he telling me with his finger, "That was a close ONE!" or "Please wait ONE minute while I cross the street" or "Look up at the beautiful clouds"?  It's virtually impossible for me to know what he meant with a single gesture.
Communication is a mystery.

Monday, November 10, 2014


You can get help from teachers, but you are going to have to learn a lot by yourself, sitting alone in a room.
~ Dr. Seuss
- - - - -
We learn the most by ourselves - in a room, in our heads, on paper.  In the moments when we are in our own thoughts and making connections between ideas and people and things.  In the moments when we realize things we always knew of thought thoughts about things we never knew how to think before.
It isn't always sitting.  You might be standing in a shower.  You might be walking in the woods.  You might be driving across the country.  An idea can come no matter what you're doing.  You might be playing a game or raking the yard or you might be standing around by the dryer waiting for your pants to dry after sitting in one of the chairs in this photo.

Sunday, November 9, 2014


Before you speak...  I have already heard.  Before you see...  I had seen a million times.  Before you reach...  I came and departed, so is the way and life of a versatile soul.
~ Michael Bassey Johnson
- - - - -
How many times do we speak to another person - even someone close to us - with an assumption that they have not heard what we are about to share?  That they have not seen what we are going to show them?  That they haven't been where we want to take them? 
I was really struck by this quotation when I read it.  I reflect on my own interactions with others and I almost always assume I am sharing something new or a new way of looking at something old.  That is probably very rarely true.  And it is terribly arrogant of me to think such a thing, isn't it?
People have lived lives and had experiences and thought thoughts before we enter their lives.  It is obnoxious of us to underestimate or even pretend to understand what they carry with them every day.  We can't possibly know.  We can't be the first-givers of knowledge and ideas.  We can share but they have their own contexts in which they will make meaning of what we share.
Versatile means to turn easily.  It is not so easy to easily turn the thinking of a person who carries his own knowledge and lived experience with him.  People have their own ideas about things.
Well, unless they're babies.  Babies don't know anything.  I don't say that because I think babies are stupid.  I don't think that at all.  In fact their brilliant.  They convince people to wait on them and to jump when they want food or their butts wiped or a toy they've dropped.  We may be able to share new things with babies, but we're not fooling them into thinking we're in charge.  They're way too smart for that. 
And they can turn us from a great book or a good conversation in a second if they want to.  I'm not sure if that means we are the versatile ones because we're easily turned or they are because they have so many strategies to get what they want.  It doesn't matter. 
The point is that babies are really bossy and manipulative.  Like little evil geniuses.  Well played, babies.  Well played.

Saturday, November 8, 2014


An idealist is one who, on noticing that a rose smells better than a cabbage, concludes that it makes a better soup.
~ H. L. Mencken
- - - - -
I think that maybe a person named Rose might make a better soup than someone named Cabbage.  Rose is kind of a grandma name and grandmas make good soups.  Cabbage is kind of a nickname.  If someone is still going by a nickname, she might not be old enough to make a good soup.
Why do you have to be old to make good soup?  Because you have to be patient.  You have to not be about immediate gratification.  Soup takes time.  It's not like you can just dump stuff out of a can, add a little water and throw it in the microwave and have soup.
What was I talking about?

Friday, November 7, 2014


(photo by Michael Flewelling)
I like long walks, especially when they are taken by people who annoy me. 
~ Noel Coward
- - - - -
Leslie is a very kind and patient person.  She sometimes gets annoyed by other people.  Especially when they don't do what she tells them to or what she thinks they should do.
I suppose most of us get annoyed by that from time to time.  We like to get what we want.
The problem is that sometimes people want to annoy Leslie and almost always she doesn't want to be annoyed.

Thursday, November 6, 2014


Andre tider har andre sedar.
~ Norwegian Proverb
- - - - -

Is it ironic to anyone besides me that the narwhal is not native to Norway?

I didn't think so.

Is it weird that my parents own this album and failed to teach me one single Norwegian country dance? 

Probably not.

If we pretended Norway didn't exist, would we call it "Ignoreway?"

No.  Because we would be pretending it didn't exist.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014


The measure of a man is what he does with power.
~ Plato
- - - - -
There are a lot of things that make up power.  "Pow!"  and "Ow!" for example.  You can start things off explosively with POWer.  Or you can hurt people if you misuse pOWer.
Most importantly in power you can find WE.  poWEr might be the strongest power of all. 
No.  Invisibility is the strongest power.  Or bulletproofness.  Or the ability to levitate your car out of a traffic jam.  Nevermind what I said earlier.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014


Art, like morality, consists in drawing the line somewhere.
~ G. K. Chesterton
- - - - -
We do like our lines, don't we?  Dualism is comfortable.  A single right and many wrongs.  A single right and many without rights.  And one definition of what those rights are.  Things outside of the "good" or "right" category are wrong.  Simplicity.  No gray areas. 
Power lines.  Baselines.  Boundary lines.  Clotheslines.  Waiting lines. 
Rules.  Regulations.  Structure.  Clarity.  Conformity. 
Are these good things?  I guess sometimes they are.  Complete chaos isn't always good.  Somewhere in the middle is what is best, I guess.  I suppose it is a sliding scale.  At some times or in some situations we want more structure.  At other times we want more flexibilty and autonomy.  That makes sense.  There are lots of questions for us to consider and lots of thoughts we can think when it comes to lines, though. 
Perhaps most importantly we have to ask ourselves is "the bottom line" really just the butt crack?

Monday, November 3, 2014


You can't be suspicious of a tree or accuse a bird or a squirrel of subversion or challenge the ideology of a violet.
~ Hal Borland
- - - - -

When I was a kid, my dad would come home from work and if we were watching TV, he'd say, "Why don't you go outside and chase squirrels?"  I never understood why he wanted us to do that.  I'm pretty sure I couldn't have caught a squirrel.  I'm pretty sure squirrels don't like to be chased.  I don't know what he would have done if we had caught a squirrel.  It makes no sense at all.  And I suspect that the neighbors would have wondered what was wrong with us if we were out chasing squirrels.

Wait.  Maybe it was "Why don't you go outside and chase rabbits?"  

Never mind.

Sunday, November 2, 2014


Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance.
~ George Bernard Shaw
- - - - -
I know Smokey the Bear warns about forest fires.  And McGruff the Crime Dog warns about crime.  And Officer Ugg warns about poison.  Those are good.  It's good to have some sort of character kids can associate with and from which they can learn.  I will say that I think my brother Kirk is still terrified of Officer Ugg, but that's beside the point I'm trying to make here.  Well, above the point I'm trying to make.
My point is...  I think there should be a wolf as a character to keep people safe.  Wolves represent intelligence and cunning and freedom and loyalty and communication.  Maybe wolves could protect people from telephone fraud.  People who call and con others out of money about roof work or through credit card / identity theft.
And the character could be called Beware Wolf.

Or maybe I could make a TV show about an Irish wolf lifeguard and call it, "Bay O'Wolf Watch."

Or maybe I should just get back to work.

Saturday, November 1, 2014


A faithful friend is the medicine of life.
~ The Apocrypha
- - - - -
I like seeing friendship enacted.  Seeing two people and knowing that they have a connection and that they will be there for each other.  They will argue and disagree and support and love and care.  I like that.  I think it's good to watch for it in others because it can help us figure out how to be better friends ourselves and what friendship really looks like.
I see that with Patty and Joy.  They are great friends and really support each other.  When Joy took a job in another office, one of them (I forget which) said to the other, "I think we brought the best out of each other."
And then someone (who shall remain nameless) said, "You brought something out of each other...  Gas."
You might think that ruined the nice friendship moment.
Let's not say that it ruined it.  Even if it did, let's not say it.