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Sunday, January 31, 2016

Important

A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.
~ Jackie Robinson
- - - - -

If you think I posted this to honor Jackie Robinson and all he endured to integrate baseball, you're wrong.  I appreciate all he did.  I can't imagine what that would be like.

But his number is 42.

You should have known that.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Silence

Whereof one annoy speak, thereon one must remain silent.
~ Ludwig Wittgenstein
- - - - -

Kirk: My car reads me your texts in a British voice.  I'm driving.  Text me.

Me:  Pip pip good sir.
        I hope your travels are outstanding
        How are you this fine day?
        Off to the grocery?
        To get some cheery
        Ohs
        Get it?
        CHEERY O
        CHEERIOS!
        BWAA ha ha ha

Kirk:  :)  
          This was a good thing.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Language

Words are the leaves of the tree of language, of which, if some fall away, a new success takes their place.
~ Field Marshall John French
- - - - -

I like words and language.  I like how words can mean different things in different settings.  Or we can play with them.  Or we can play Words with Friends.

I love eavesdropping on other peoples' words.  Sometimes though, when you come in part way through the conversation, you can make mistakes about what people are really saying or meaning.  Maybe that's the fun of it, though.  For example, Leslie shared this conversation she eavesdropped on --

Woman:  It's so little.  I used to think it was so big.

Man: (grumbles something)

Woman:  It looked so big in fourth grade.

Turns out she was talking about their grade school auditorium.  (pause) Or so she said.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Mailbox

You deserve a longer letter than this; but it is my unhappy fate seldom to treat people so well as they deserve.
~ Jane Austen
- - - - -

Write a letter today.  To someone.  They will appreciate it.  I can almost guarantee that.

People put a lot of meaning on letters and mail and messages. The mailbox is forever a harbinger of hope.  Good news on the way.  A surprise.  A happy note.  

Sometimes the mailbox can bring bad or sad news.  Or news that makes you angry.

That said, I hope never to be so angry at a mailbox (or the rest of the world) that I do what was done to this mailbox.  That took a lot of effort.  It doesn't look like it was an accident where someone ran over or into the mailbox.  It also looks like it took a few hits, so it wasn't some swatting at it when they drove by.

If no news is good news, then perhaps no mailbox is good mailbox.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Shadow

We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves.
~ Buddha
- - - - -

I like this quote. It positions the shadow in a positive way. I am drawn to light and shadow, but shadow is a distortion, not a reflection. It doesn't show us as we are, but an exaggerated sense of what we are.

Simultaneously exaggerated and simplified. You can't see the face in a shadow. You can sometimes see features. You can sometimes see outlines, but the details are hidden.

I think we see others in the same way that we see ourselves in shadow. We see some aspects of what they are, but never the details. Or maybe a very few details, but never the entire picture.

I was going to say that we see ourselves as a reflection, but that's not quite right either. Maybe a distorted reflection - like in a funhouse mirror. Pieces exaggerated, pieces diminished. Never an exact replica of reality.

More importantly, why are they called "funhouses"?  They aren't fun at all.  They are scary - especially if there is creepy music playing and images of clowns on the walls.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Cynicism

Most cynics are really crushed romantics; they've been hurt, they're sensitive, and their shell is a cynicism that's protecting this tiny dear part of them that's still alive.
~ Jeff Bridges
- - - - -

The original cynics believed in living a simple life in connection with nature while disregarding contemporary desires for things like sex, wealth, and fame. That goes back a couple of thousand years. The more things change, the more they stay the same.  

Figures.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Bike

I'm lazy. But it's the lazy people who invented the wheel and the bicycle because they didn't like walking or carrying things.
~ Lech Walesa
- - - - -

Words matter. What you call a thing matters. In the quote above, the word "lazy" conveys one kind of message. If the word had been "efficient" or "seeking to conserve energy" that would be different, right?

I don't know if the person who invented the bicycle was lazy or not. I do think that whoever invented the word bicycle was smart. It's much more marketable than the velocipede.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Worry

What worries you, masters you.
~ John Locke
- - - - -

I think that is true. I heard once - when someone was speaking of possessions - the things you own, own you. Again, I think that is probably true. Caring about a few things allows you to be free of care. Or more carefree than if you obsess over things.

Some people are natural worriers. They can't help it. Maybe it is a call to action for them - if there are things about which they can worry, then there is action for them to take. If they aren't worried, they aren't thinking ahead, and things can simply happen to them.

I don't know, but I'm not going to worry about it.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Journey


We don't receive wisdom; we discover it for ourselves after a journey that no one can take for us or spare for us.
~ Marce Proust
- - - - -
Eduvacation. I thought I was the first one to think that up.  I'm not.  I'm kind of glad because once I thought of it, it seemed like something other people should have thought of.

My post was going to be about taking time away to learn. I have heard a quote, "Sometimes you have to take a kid out of school so he can get an education." I thought it was Will Rogers or Abraham Lincoln who said it. I can't remember. After an extensive 2-3 minute search online I wasn't able to find it. That made me think that it could have been my friend Frank who said it. He is wise and funny and it seems like something he'd say.

Instead, my post is about the fact that I didn't come up with "eduvacation," I don't really know how to search things on the interwebs, and I have a bad memory.

Maybe I just need a plain vacation.  

(pause)

Or more education.

(pause)

Probably both.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Art

For most people, art is only valuable if other people say it is; and artists are only worthwhile if they are either rich, famous, or dead.
~ Wayne Gerard Trotman
- - - - -

I think approachability is a very important part of thinking, philosophy, revolution, and art. If what you are sharing or trying to accomplish isn't accessible by all people, what good is it really? I worry about the continuation of elitism that separates intellectualism from the lived experience of most people. Until we find - and USE - a common language that bridges across the divides of education, socio-economic status, and the multiple identities that we all have, then we are not positioned to create sustained positive change. 

Case in point...  Leslie and I went to see a concert that was in an old school building (Postmodern Jukebox - Thanks Kirk and Jared!). We got there early because we weren't sure how long it would take us to get there. The school had been converted into an arts center of some kind and there was art upstairs. The image above is one of the pieces that was there.  

I overheard a man say to his friends, "That's about the best chicken drawing I ever saw."

I had to agree. Not that I've seen a lot of chicken drawings - but it was good. That said, I also had to disagree because it was a painting not a drawing.

(pause)

Maybe there I've exemplified just what I was talking about before.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Colors

Nature always wears the colors of the spirit.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
- - - - -

Someone posted something the other day about the fact that we appreciate different colors in everything except people. The saying, "You can't judge a book by its cover" is also a familiar saying. Yet we do judge people by their colors. We think thoughts about their intelligence, their generosity, their ability to contribute to society.

And we all fall into traps when it comes to the color of people. Again, a lot of people have said, "I don't see color." Now some people don't.  My brother Erik is colorblind.  Actually - not philosophically. But that is not what I mean.

No matter how hard we try, we cannot see beyond on our own experiences.  The important part is the trying. Making an effort to understand others regardless of how they look or where they come from.

This is true for me. I hope that I practice what I preach.  That said, I have to admit that I am still a little afraid of and weirded out by those people in Blue Man Group.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Awake

Our truest life is when we are in dreams awake.
~ Henry David Thoreau
- - - - -

I think that we have people in our lives for different reasons. Some people are in our lives to lift us up. Others to challenge us. Others to make us more creative. Others to make us think about things in different ways. If we are really lucky, we have a few people we can stand most of the time who do multiple things to make us think in different ways simultaneously.

It's not just the ways in which people add to and challenge us, though. In truth it is also - perhaps most importantly - the ways in which they are available to us. Are they there when we need them? That is a part of the test of their relationship with us.

A few months ago I had an experience and I needed to share it. I needed to share it with a person who would understand. I needed to share it with a person who would be there at an odd time of day. I needed to share it with someone who would realize how beautifully the pieces of the universe had merged together to bring me a unique moment.

I know that happens  in every moment, but we notice some more than others.

Anyway, the person I chose was Kirk. Turns out I don't think he was awake when I wrote, but he did respond later. And it also is fine that it was later since I was on an airplane for a lot of the day after I sent the message.

Me: Because you're the only person I know who would appreciate this (and who might actually be up)...  Drove to the airport this morning to go to Las Vegas to see Reyes and Catrina. On the way - as I was very tired because I had to get up at 3 AM - I heard "Hold On" by Wilson Phillips.  And if you haven't seen "Bridesmaids," I now realize that this is not going to make sense to you.

Pay attention to moments. Share them wisely. Make the most of your time.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Communication

Much unhappiness has come into the world because of bewilderment and things left unsaid.
~ Fyodor Dostoyevsky
- - - - -

I don't think this sign was very well designed.  "U No Will Parking Be Towed" is kind of how it reads.  Especially if you are colorblind.

Communication is difficult.  It takes both U and I.  Otherwise it would be commncaton and that's not even a word.

But then we miscommunicate in lots of ways now.  Like when I got Facebook message from my friend Jacob.  It read, "Yzysgetgjsjhsadhxgxvnbvufyf NYC."  You might think that it was an accidental pocket text.  If it WAS a pocket text, can you explain the NYC at the end?  Because that is a thing.

Or maybe it's a secret code Jacob and I developed. 

Either way, we don't want you to know.  You'd just misinterpret it.

I guess when I say that communication takes U and I, I really mean it takes I and Jacob. 

Monday, January 18, 2016

Memory


I've a grand memory for forgetting.
~ Robert Louis Stevenson
- - - - -

The other day I forgot to schedule a blog to post.  Actually two days in a row.  Then my mom texted me the message above.  She's nice like that.  

Oh... speaking of nice - since I've called her that a few times - I should explain her "heynicelady" moniker. It throws me off when I get messages from her because I always think the message is from Kirk's friend Bryan. When they were kids Bryan wrote "heynicelady" on a little decorative chalkboard my mom has hanging in the kitchen. That was, I believe, decades ago and it is still there. So I guess when Kirk and Jared were helping Mom set up her texting persona, that's what they all decided to go with.

Okay, so after this exchange my mom added, "Thanks for letting me know. I usually check your blog early, when I get on the iPad. I also want to see if I am a part of the topic for that day. Love you, Mom."

I told her she often IS a topic in my blog, but of course she already knows that.

My point is, it's good to have lots of ways to communicate with people you love, especially since on occasion we miscommunicate. Like when my mom texted me "CN ~h."  She said it was an accident, but I am pretty sure it was code for something about Cartoon Network or maybe science was consulting her for a name for one of the new elements on the periodic table. 

As Madonna said, "Life is a mystery."

(pause)

It is possible others said that, as well.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Beauty


Beauty is a form of genius -- is higher, indeed, that genius, as it needs no explanation.  It is of the great facts in the world like sunlight, or springtime or the reflection in dart water of that silver shell we call the moon.
~ Oscar Wilde
- - - - -

I wonder why we equate youth with beauty. Young things are not very smart. Not smart things are not very beautiful. Like if you're not smart and you try to touch fire you will burn your finger and that won't look pretty. 

Kirk: I think the baby looks like me.  Mainly cause Facebook keeps trying to tag him as either me or you.  (pause) You look like a baby.

Me:  I look SO young.

But if I WAS a baby, I wouldn't be able to have the job I do. I'm sure Kirk has one of the best babies in the history of babies, but he couldn't teach my classes. Yes, it's mainly because he couldn't open the door to the classroom.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Heart


Write it on your heart that every day is the best day of the year.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
- - - - -
I sent this to my mom last year.  I think it got to her on Valentine's Day.  She's a nurse, so I tried to make it accurate.  The heart.  Because hearts mean love.  And I love my mom.  Most people do, I think. She's pretty nice.

She went to visit Kirk and Jared last fall after Zak was born.  I warned Kirk that Zak would love her best.  He chose neither to confirm nor deny.  Instead he wrote...

Kirk: Today we went to see lighthouses.

Me:  Oh.  I'm glad you did that.  I was worried that baby would ruin the visit.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Education

Education is all a matter of building bridges.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
- - - - -

Kirk sometimes gives me advice.  Often it is not at all helpful.  I still like it, though.  Sometimes.

Kirk:  Do you like the course you're teaching?

Me:  I will like how I figure out to teach it.  

Kirk:  You should just use that movie where Michelle Pfeiffer teaches inner city youth.  I don't remember the name.

Me:  I know the movie.  I can hear the theme song in my head.

Kirk:  Just show that each class and at the end say, "What's your take away from this?"

Me:  That's a great idea.  Dangerous Minds?

Kirk:  "Now that you've seen this film seven times, what's your take away now?"  But don't get it mixed up with Dangerous Liaisons.

Me:  Or Danger Mouse.  Michelle P. was in Dangerous Liaisons, too.  And Dangerous Hairspray.

Kirk:  No.  Danger Mouse is good!

Me.  ALL her movies have dangerous in the title.  I never noticed that before.  Dangerous Scarface.  Dangerous and the Fabulous Baker Boys.  Dangerous Witches of Eastwick.  Wow.  She's actually been in a ton of movies.  Dangerous A Midsummer Night's Dream.

Kirk:  Welcome to Assessment and Evaluation of Higher Education through film.  This semester we will examine this topic through: Dangerous Minds, Dangerous Liaisons, The Killers of Sheep, Lion King, Dial M for Murder, The Crying Game, Big Fish and Basic Instinct.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Looking

Do not think of your faults, still less of others' faults; look for what is good and strong, and try to imitate it. Your faults will drop off, like dead leaves, when their time comes.
~ John Ruskin
- - - - -

Me: (to Leslie, whose hair did not look stellar) Your hair looks stellar.

Leslie: (in a perfect Stanley Kowalski howl of agony) STELLAR!!!!

Monday, January 11, 2016

Exploration

Exploration by real people inspires us.
~ Stephen Hawking
- - - - -

For the holidays this year we did a lot of traveling.  A lot.  We are drove from SC to Iowa by way of Crawfordsville, IN - home of Wabash College.  That is where Leslie's dad went to school for a while. After spending some time with my Mom, we drove to Pittsburgh by way of Portage, IN.  Portage was the half-way point between Ames and Pittsburgh when Leslie and I lived in those places.  After a few days in PA, we will drove back to SC.

It was a little over 2,400 miles and a little over 41 hours in the car.

Fortunately, I love road trips.  Revisiting familiar places and people, exploring new places, all that stuff.

We spent a lot of time listening to Season I of Serial then the first few episodes of Season 2. Then we listened to a lot of episodes of Criminal.

It was a very investigatory holiday season.  

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Flamingo

Is there anything more beautiful than a beautiful, beautiful flamingo flying across a beautiful sunset? And he's carrying a beautiful rose in his beak and also he's carrying a very beautiful painting with his feet. And also, you're drunk.
~ Jack Handey
- - - - -

So when I see things that are interesting, sometimes I take pictures of them. You may already have figured that out. In the case of this image, I took it thinking it was interesting, but not sure why - or maybe how the pieces of interestingness fit together.

First of all, it's a grave. With a pretty big marker. It's also the grave of someone with an interesting and multifaceted last name - South. Third, it has a pink flamingo by it. Pink flamingos are in the south. The grave is in Pennsylvania. Pink flamingo law decorations came from Leominster, Massachusetts - you know, where plastics factory and art school collide. 

They gained their first surge of popularity in the post-World War II era of conformity. One of the (gabillion) challenges of sameness and conformity, however is losing oneself or at least getting lost. In the housing developments that grew during that time, the houses looked the same. Apparently people brought the flamingos home to decorate their yards so they would know where to park their cars and find their 2.5 children.

I provide you with that shallowly researched historical context in order to pose this question: Is not this headstone already different enough so as not to require a pink flamingo?

I think you'll agree the answer must surely be yes.

So why is the flamingo there?

I don't know.

I do know that I want to get one of these for my mom, though. A pink flamingo, not a grave. Just to be clear. 

Anyway, she and I have a raging battle about pink flamingos. She thinks I like them, and I think she likes them and I'm not sure either of us like them.  That said, we both enjoy shrimp so while we may not like pink flamingos, we are both a little bit like pink flamingos.

Also you can spell the word "amigo" from some of the letters in flamingo.  You're welcome.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Convince

If you can't convince them, confuse them.
~ Harry Truman
- - - - -

Leslie:  Pretend like you're Melissa McCarthy and I'm Helen Mirren's stunt double in Spy II and you have to rescue me.

This is how she convinced me to get in water last summer in Canada when the water was very cold.  It worked.  Well, I didn't rescue her, but Spy II is a movie, it's not real life.

Also, it was a little ironic five months later when we watched The Heat and argued over which of us was the Melissa McCarthy character and who was the Sandra Bullock character.  As much as I would have rather been Melissa McCarthy in that context, I think Leslie was right and a lot of the time I was more like Sandra Bullock.

Also, I probably am too easily influenced by movie characters.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Grow

Out of difficulties grow miracles.
~ Jean de la Bruyere
- - - - -

Sometimes the miracle that grows out of difficulties is simply persisting through and surviving the difficulty. Resilience is a pretty popular word now. That's what I'm talking about.  Resilience.

To silience again.  I guess resilience means to bound back. So a lot of people are resilient when it comes to snakes and spiders.

I'm resilient when it comes to skunks.  I've never been sprayed by a skunk. I do resilient when I see them, though.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Acceptable

Error is acceptable as long as we are young; 
but one must not drag it along into old age.
~ Johann Wolfgan von Goethe
- - - - -

Granny: (voice mail on Leslie's phone) Hi, honey. I think you said you were going to call me tonight. When you do, let me know how you spell acceptable.  I can't remember if it's with an A or an I.  Thanks.

Me: Why does she need to know how to spell that word?  What is she writing?!

Leslie: She's probably writing a thank you card.

Me:  "Thank you.  Your gift was acceptable."???

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Teaching

Have not prisons - which kill all will and force of character in a man, which enclose within their walls more vices than are met with on any other spot of the globe - always been universities of crime?
~ Peter Kropotkin
- - - - - 

I have an idea for a new TV show.  It is about a college professor in Wisconsin. Each term she chooses 5-6 members of her criminal justice class to work with her in her other job as the county sheriff. Among the things they learn are:

* Legal policies
* Police procedures
* Crime scene investigations
* How to buddy up to prosecutors
* Stoicism on the stand
* How to give a powerful but troubling interview to the media
* How to railroad people you don't really like

I'm going to suggest that it be called, "How to Get Away With Making a Murderer."

I'm hoping it will star Viola Davis, but she might be busy with that other show she does.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Moist

The choking humidity makes amphibians of us all... breathing water in air; you learn to live with it, and you learn to like it, or you leave.
~ Gregory David Roberts
- - - - -

I know this post is titled "moist." The truth is that there aren't a lot of good quotes out there about moist because it isn't a favorite word right now.

That said, I took this photo when we were helping Granny move into her new apartment. She likes it there now. She plays Bingo two nights a week and cards two nights a week and watches the Steelers once a week. 

That's not my point. My point is that it is REALLY hot and humid - moist if you will - in her new apartment community. I told Leslie it is like a terrarium for old people.

If they were all in their 80s, it would be an octogenarium.

That would also be a good name for a book. 

They could also plant 80 of the same kinds of flowers there and have an octogerranium garden.

(pause)

I think I have more good ideas than the average person.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Ice

The only way to amuse some people is to slip
and fall on an icy pavement.
~ Edgar Watson Howe
- - - - -

When I worked at ISU, the conduct offices faced the sidewalks leading up to the building.  On icy days, we couldn't help but see people slipping and sliding.  Sometimes we laughed when people fell.  By "we" I mean those other yahoos.  I was too busy working trying to make sure justice was served.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Mmmm


Love, like chicken salad or restaurant hash, must be taken with blind faith or it loses its flavor.
~ Helen Rowland
- - - - -

What is good to one person is not good to every person. Flavor depends on taste.  Taste depends on personal preference. Personal preference depends on a whole lot of things.

This is true of love, fashion, literature, other stuff, and also food. In terms of food, there are some universals.  Like that black licorice tastes yucky. Or if it isn't a universal truth it should be.

Leslie: (reading about a restaurant) This place says it came up with a bunch of new chicken wing flavors. How many can there be? What did they add?  Black licorice?!

See?  Isn't that icky?

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Adventures

We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm, and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.
~ Jawaharial Nehru
- - - - - 

There are lots of kinds of adventures. Some are planned some are surprises. Some are fun some make for good stories later on.  A few examples:

advanture - the kind of adventure you have driving a moving van from South Carolina to Pennsylvania and back again.

adbenture - the kind of adventure you have with your friend Ben.  Or the kind you have when you go see Big Ben in England.  Or the kind babies have because they can't say "adventure" the right way.

adcensure - the kind members of Congress have.

addenture - the kind where you end up getting teeth knocked out.

adquencher - the kind in a bar.

adrenture - the kind you have when you get a new apartment.

adtenture - the kind you have when you go camping.


adZENture - the kind of adventure that is relaxing and calming.

It really doesn't matter what kind of adventure you have.  Just have one.  Or two.  Or three.  

Friday, January 1, 2016

Knowledge

What I know of the divine sciences and of Holy Scripture I learned in woods and fields, by prayer and meditation.  I have had no other masters than the beeches and oaks.
~ St. Bernard of Clairvaux
- - - - -

Me: When was the Spanish Conquest?

Leslie:  I don't know...  The 1500s?

Me:  Oh.  That's when they - WHOA!!

Leslie:  What?

Me: They have the dates of the Spanish Conquest as February 15, 1519 to August 13, 1521. They know the EXACT days it started and ended?!

Leslie: Why are you looking at this?

Me:  Wikipedia.

Leslie:  I said WHY are you looking at this?

Me: Because Joe just said that there are hammocks at ISU too and wondered if this just started.  So I'm looking up the history of hammocks and they were documented by the Spanish in the 1500s.

Leslie:  Oh, of course.  I should have known that's what you were doing.