Most Important Job
Overflow
The stuff that spills out of my head. Half Journal, half Blog, half stream of consciousness, half meaningless blather, half....

My name is Cody Clark.
If you're interested, you can find out about me here and here. But this is the site where I am most at home. Please excuse the mess.

I love guests, like everybody else, so sign my Guestbook.

Oh and if you wish to shower me with gifts, here's my wish list.


Listening To
Wilco
United Future Organization
Thievery Corporation
Steve Reich
Fuschnickens
Mocean Worker
Bowling For Soup
Radiohead
Barenaked Ladies
Cornershop


Reading
The Constant Companion
   by Eknath Easwaran
SoulSalsa
   by Leonard Sweet
The Perennial Philosophy
   by Aldous Huxley
Peace Like A River
   by Leif Enger
Tomorrow Now
   by Bruce Sterling
An Intimate History of Humanity
   by Theodore Zeldin
Sandman
   by Neil Gaiman
White Noise
   by Don Delillo
Creating Positive Futures
   by James Ogilvy


Stuff To Do
Environmental Scanning
Work on Waitt Foundation Community Site content
Finally learn how to use Paint Shop Pro
Put poetry on website
Finish friend's tshirt
Paint more tshirts


People to See
me
Rebecca Blood
Fleming Funch
Chris Corrigan
Peter Russell
Phil Ringalda
pamie
Phil Gyford
Owen
Mark And(erson)
Bob McDaniel
Nick Bostrom
Eric
Mary T.
Margaret Berry
Eliot Wilder
Daniel Talsky
Fred from Floyd
Gwen Zepeda
Alison Hawke
Malcom Davidson
Veronica Nichols
Caterina Fake
Meg Pickard
Kurt Brobeck
Dave Trowbridge
meesh
Sarah Hepola
Matthew Sturges
Dooce


Places to Go
Building Tomorrow's Communities
Futurescan
Mondo News
Everything2
Arts & Letters Daily
SciTech Daily Review
Arts Journal
Slate
Salon
Business Daily Review
EurekAlert!
SmartMarriages
Metacritic
Red Rock Eater
Obscure Store
memepool
Techdirt
Robot Wisdom
kottke.org
Boing Boing
Daley News
Raising Hell
Internet Scout
The Marriage Movement
Shifted Librarian
Deviant Art
Beliefnet
Relapsed Catholic
Holy Weblog!
Sursum Corda
not martha



Archives:







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Friday, November 22, 2002
Keep Breathing

"God is closer to me than I am to myself: my being depends on God's being near me and present to me. So God is also in a stone or a log of wood, only they do not know it. If the wood knew God and realized how close God is to it...it would be blessed as the highest angel. And so I am more blessed than a stone or a piece of wood because I am aware of God and know how close God is to me. And I am the more blessed, the more I realize this, and I am the less blessed the less I know this. I am not blessed because God is in me, but because I am aware of how close God is to me, and that I know God."
- Meister Eckhart-


This is a great point, especially for me. I tend to forget. So, if I tend to forget God is in me, does that make me, like, a block of wood or something? That's a metaphor I will have to ruminate on...

And when we say to one another, on parting or in prayer, "God be with you." or "Via con Dios.", or even "God Bless You." it's kind of stating the obvious. Like saying, "Hey, keep breathing, okay?"

What's a good salutation phrase that effectively says "Don't forget God is with you." that doesn't sound pedantic?

Well, if the difference is awareness -- and since for me the act of focused breathing helps me center myself and tune out distractions, thus helping me increase my awareness of God within me -- then maybe "Keep Breathing." is not such a bad salutation to greet and part with after all.

So with that, I am off to prepare for my childrens' baptism, the subsequent party, and then a trip up yonder to the hills of Oklahoma for Thanksgiving. I may post here if I can find a moment and a thought, but since the computer room will be a makeshift guest bedroom for the next few days and the prospects of finding a cybercafe in Poteau are slim, I suspect any updates will be spotty until after the first of next month.

Have a good Thanksgiving. And y'all Keep Breathing, okay?


Thursday, November 21, 2002
A fountain empties itself

I came across this beautiful poignant poem while doing some research for a writeup of poet Brian Patten for Everything2. I just had to share:

'Sometimes it Happens'

And sometimes it happens that you are friends and then
You are not friends,
And friendship has passed.
And whole days are lost and among them
A fountain empties itself.

And sometimes it happens that you are loved and then
You are not loved,
And love is past.
And whole days are lost and among them
A fountain empties itself into the grass.

And sometimes you want to speak to her and then
You do not want to speak,
Then the opportunity has passed.
Your dreams flare up, they suddenly vanish.

And also it happens that there is nowhere to go and then
There is somewhere to go,
Then you have bypassed.
And the years flare up and are gone,
Quicker than a minute.

So you have nothing.
You wonder if these things matter and then
As soon as you begin to wonder if these things matter
They cease to matter,
And caring is past.
And a fountain empties itself into the grass.

-- Brian Patten




Futurists' Bible Study

Whereas I aspire some day to be paid to be a religious futurist, that is to be both religious and a futurist to get paid, and Whereas I believe that the foundational spiritual approach to any subject like planning and the future is found in scripture, and Whereas I cannot find any such collections of related scripture on the future, I am now informally collecting such scripture for study and meditation.

Like this from James:

Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and get gain"; whereas you do not know about tomorrow. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, "If the Lord wills, we shall live and we shall do this or that."
-- James 4:13


and this from Luke

Luke 14:27-33 And whosoever doth not carry his cross and come
after me, cannot be my disciple. For which of you having a mind to
build a tower, doth not first sit down, and reckon the charges that
are necessary, whether he have wherewithal to finish it: Lest, after
he hath laid the foundation, and is not able ti finish it, all that
see it begin to mock him, saying: This man began to build, and was
not able to finish. Or what king, about to go to make war against
another king, doth not first sit down, and think whether he be able,
with ten thousand, to meet him that, with twenty thousand, cometh
against him? Or else, whilst the other is yet afar off, sending an
embassy, he desireth conditions of peace. So likewise every one of
you that doth not renounce all that he possesseth, cannot be my
disciple.


Whereas I am both a Catholic and a scripture greenhorn, I'd be grateful for any help in my newfound collection.


Swap Miss

Well, I'm bummed. A few years back I attended a swap meet at the Orange Show and had a blast. Now they're finally having another one.

Cool Event I Can't Attend

But it's this Saturday. We're baptizing our two youngest that day -- we've claimed 'em for the Clarks, now we'll claim 'em for Christ -- and we'll be having 120 or so of our closest friends over for a party afterwards (That's based on RSVPs, not just invitations. Yikes!). And then after that, we're having a Hebner Thanskgiving dinner celebration, as it is an "off" year for Hebners and "on" for Clarks at Thanksgiving. So we are booked solid that day.

But y'all go and tell me how it was. I wanna have my own swap meet...



Wednesday, November 20, 2002
Cube Farmers' Anthem

This excellent Hemingway poem came across my metaphorical desk. As a cubefarmer, the tone sounds distinctly Dilbertian:

The Age

The age demanded that we sing
And cut away our tongue

The age demanded that we flow
And hammered in the bung.

The age demanded that we dance
And jammed us into iron pants.

And in the end the age was handed
The sort of shit that it demanded.

-- Ernest Hemingway (1922)


Any skilled composers out there want to set this to music?


We are made of Ocean

Even a strong wind is empty by nature.
Even a great wave is just ocean itself.
Even thick southern clouds are insubstantial as sky.
Even the dense mind is naturally birthless.

-Milarepa, "Drinking The Fountain Stream"


Circumstances found me on a boat last night. Spectacular night, calm seas, beautiful lights on the shore. Reflections of light on the water at night always make me think of impermanence and dependence. We are like reflections on the water, distinguishable but distorted, who rest entirely on and in the Ocean. We may think ourselves to be distinct individuals, but really we are all just ocean. It's a metphor that breaks if you stretch it too far. Just take away that we depend on God as reflections depend on water.

And then the waves, each appearing distinct, arising from and rushing back to the Ocean. Each wave merging into the place from which it came. We are maybe more like waves -- we think we are separate, but we are all made of Ocean.

Moby is wrong.


Monday, November 18, 2002
Veronica's Bored. Congratulations, Veronica.

Dear Veronica,

Welcome to Boring. I'm a native in these here parts -- second generation Boring. I was born here and hope to retire here. I love Boring. I'd be happy to show you around.

So you're from Drama, huh? I've vacationed there before. Yep. Did a week or two in Desperation a few years back. Spent a three day weekend in Despair too. All very exciting for sure, but I'm always glad to come back home. To Boring.

Storms of Life are exciting, yes. Boring is all calm seas and still winds. You can take off and land from Boring. To anywhere your heart desires.

The soil is fertile here in Boring. Good for growing things. You can grow children if that's your crop of choice. Children thrive on Boring. But, without all the rocks and earthquakes of Drama, whatever roots you want to put down here will grow straight deep and strong.

Boring is the Heartland of everywhere you've ever been. But just because it's the Heartland that doesn't mean you can't bring your mind. In fact, Boring gives you time to think, to use your mind. To write.

Granted writers in Drama produce better narratives, but here in Boring, we prefer a well-developed character.

That's why I'm sure you'll do well here.

Now there's one rule all newcomers to Boring need to know -- there's a difference between being Boring and being Bored. Boring is a judgement others put on you, Bored is a judgement you put on yourself. You have control over the latter without having to leave the Boring city limits.

Well, there I go, talking too much again. I'll leave you to get settled in. There's a block party every week in Boring. Usually a pot luck. Your potato salad will be fine. Hope to see you there.

Cody


Three Down. One to go. I think.

So, Petunia is now a Clark. She was not as impressed by this as we all were. She was like, "What? I thought I was a Clark already. What's up with the court thing?"

We went to court and it was standing room only in the hall outside the courtrooms. Lawyers meeitng with clients in doorways. Impatient children running around in the halls. Parents shushing and trying unsuccessfully to entertain their broods. Typical scene for the Family Court building.

Except this day, everybody was cheerful. It was almost all adoptions, being National Adoption Day and all. We were one of the last families to go before the Judge, so we got to see all the other families go in. There was one with an adorable autistic boy. There was one family with three little hispanic girls all dressed in identical frocks which matched their mother who'd obviously sewed them herself. There was the one with two little African American boys dressed in identical bright purple suits, who looked so happy it made your own smile muscles hurt. And then the family who went right before us made me cry a little bit -- nine children, two little African American girls to be adopted that day, two with mental handicaps and one with a prosthetic leg, two had bald or partially bald heads which suggested maybe some medical condition like cancer. Damn. Sometimes I consider the greatness of love that people can show and it gets me all choked up. It was a very feel good day.

Later that night we talked about what to do next. You see there's this voice that tells me that three kids is enough. It was the same voice that told me that two was enough, except now it is stronger. I'm going to ignore that voice. That voice that says, "Enjoy the three you have." I'm going to ignore that voice, that voice that says, "You'll be paying for college educations until after your retirement. You'll never own a really cool car, no dream vacations, no summer homes." I'm going to ignore that voice.

Because all of the best stuff in my life has come from ignoring that voice. I can't live my life listening to that voice. That voice is not from God. Somewhere out there there's a kid who needs a forever home and will be glad we ignored that voice.

Our compromise is that we will not extend our child rearing years by taking on another baby. Petunia will be our youngest. We are looking for an African American child -- because Heidi is firm in her conviction that Mr. Freshpants "should not be the only black person in the family" -- to be our second oldest child. So we are being a bit more picky with our third foster/adopt. But then older children are hardest to place, so hopefully we're still filling a need.

In a way, we're leaving it up to God. We'll let our agency know what we're open to and then wait faithfully. God will send us one if it is her will. All we have to do is say "yes". And ignore that voice.


Friday, November 15, 2002
The Big Day

Today is the day. After a whirlwind stint as a foster child in our home, Petunia goes to court today to finalize the adoption.

Houston celebrates National Adoption Day today, so it should be quite the "to do."

Only other foster parents can truly appreciate how astounding this is. She was placed with us in early January as a foster and we're finalizing adopting by November. Record time. This for a child that would have gone on the private adoption block for tens of thousands of dollars. (Don't get me started on what I think of the baby market, um, I mean, the private adoption process.) So instead of spending tens of thousands to adopt her, we'll just put that money toward her college education.

The key here, the reason why she went through the system so quickly and cleanly I guess, is that nobody fought for her.

Except us.

We are extraordinarily blessed.


Thursday, November 14, 2002
Attention.

"Attention is living; inattention is dying.
The attentive never stop; the inattentive are dead already."

-Dhammapada 21, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.


This reminded me in prayer this morning of the Romans 6:23 -- "The wages of sin is death," -- which I am used to hearing since I grew up as a more or less Judeo-Christian type.

When I first heard that phrase, it was back when my understanding was, um, less mature. I figured it meant that if you did something bad enough, God would fry you with a bolt of lightning. That was back when I veiwed sin as offenses against a list of laws -- bad stuff you do. I also believed death was something that happens after you, well, after you die.

We Christians believe in how Life can extend beyond Death, thus conquering its power. Now I understand how Death can overtake Life *before* you die. Sin is not just a big rap sheet of legal offenses, it is a state of separateness, disconnectedness. It is a sort of self-centered autopilot that eventually turns you into a "Living Dead." Just like in the old movie, except you smell better.

Try this experiment: Sit and watch eight straight hours of TV. I did this a coupla Saturdays ago watching College football all day. Afterwards, I just felt like a slug. The catatonic state induced by extended TV watching left me feeling tired, scattered, vaguely cranky, and well, dead. It's a little taste of the death brought on by living inattentively.

What you pay attention to, or don't pay attention to, determines if you Live or Die. Before you die.

One of the web writers I admire, Eliot Wilder (over there on my sidebar), is the author of some of my favorite web quotes:

"Is your first responsibility to yourself? The question is misleading; that is, it misleads the person who takes it to heart. It's like asking, must you shift your weight in order to walk? Of course you must, but anyone who concentrates first on shifting his weight will not walk well -- Eliot Wilder"

Which says to me that if I want to walk well in this Life, I must not focus my attention on myself.


Wednesday, November 13, 2002
Some you just gotta follow, some you dont

I look at my referrer logs to see who's visiting. Every blogger does.

(BTW, I notice a distinct increase in the number of people from my work domain that read my site. Could youse guys please ID yourself? It's an unsettling feeling to walk around at work and wonder who's reading your private thoughts and blather. No pressure, but it'd be nice if you'd surface in my comments. Don't be a lurker coworker.)

And like every blogger, I am amused at the search terms that lead them to my site. I usually avoid the "look what I found in my referrer logs" type of entry, but sometimes you read a search and say to yourself, "Hey, I want to know that too."

So when a search really intrigues me, I often follow just to check it out. I couldn't resist this one -- Semiotics and Outkast.

I was disappointed by the results cause I didn't find anyone talking about the semiotics of Outkast. But I did find a good hipper-than-me blog called Hipster Detritus that I plan to read in the future. It's all about the connections.

On the other hand, I have no desire to know about "teens in peed diapers". If you do, get off my page.



What X must think.

I'm jealous of Y.

Sitting smugly on the other side of the "="
Watching X divide, invert, distibute, and associate itself
Just to figure itself out.

It'd be nice to be a dependent variable,
Defined by combinations of independents.

Y is Y. Nobody solves for Y.

I am, by nature, X.
Squaring myself, finding my roots,
Determining my value.

All for resolution.
All for the equation.
All for Y.



Tuesday, November 12, 2002
End of the McPeace?

In history to date, there has never been a war between two countries that have a McDonald's. Strange but true. So is it a bad sign that McDonald's is pulling out of its Middle East locations?

Like Creedence, I see a bad moon rising.


Monday, November 11, 2002
Mr. Stinky Pants.

My pants smell. My pants are making my nose stuffy. I'm allergic to my pants.

I am wearing the pants I wore to dinner Friday night. By accident. You see, I rotate my clothes and get a few wearings before I wash them. Unless I've stained them or done something to get them unduly dirty, I usually hang my clothes and let them air out for a day or two. Gravity takes care of most wrinkles. I usually have two to three full outfits in rotation at any one time, and I toss the oldest shirt in the hamper when I get out a clean shirt to wear. But today when I dressed, I forgot to sniff test my jeans.

These jeans I'm wearing are the ones I was wearing when we went to the restaraunt Friday night. There were seven of us and exactly three tables in the non-smoking section that would accommodate our party. So we had to wait. I tried not to get annoyed when I noticed that two of the large tables were occupied with parties of four or less. I failed. Then I tried not to get more annoyed when the small parties at the big table took their time, talking over their food. I succeeded there -- I like to talk at dinner too. But we had two old people and two little people standing for twenty minutes in a crowded foyer and they were getting testy, so we all relucantly sought out the big table in the smoking section so we could get on with it.

You can easily spot us non-smokers who got forced to sit in the smoking section. We're the ones who've asked to keep our big menus and are fanning the smoke away from our faces. We're the ones who look over immediately as someone lights up, calculating air currents and wind speed, assessing ventilation opportunities. We're the ones that requested that the ceiling fans be turned on.

So we ate in the smoking section. Now, three days later, my pants still stink. Incredible. I swear that one of the several hundred toxic ingredients of cigarrette tobacco must be a chemical equvalent of velcro.


Sunday, November 10, 2002
Pop Culture Exercise: Disconnected Spoilers



Here's what I'm calling a disconnected spoiler:

"She had cancer. She knew it all along."

This explains a lot in a recent video release I just rented. But which movie? (you can guess in my comments)

So then I was having some mental fun with the idea of these disconnected spoilers, especially spoilers that can spoil several movies at once, like:

"The protagonist is dead but doesn't know it."

which would work as a spoiler for The Sixth Sense and The Others as well.

So the game is -- Come up with spoilers which will spoil multiple movies. Who can come up with the spoiler that spoils the largest number of movies at once?

The more specific, the better. Spoilers like "It was all a dream." are just too easy.


Friday, November 08, 2002
Dirty Diapers, Urine, and Jesus' Hairy Legs

So I understand that I am to "pray without ceasing" and "seek God in all things." Sure. So what do I do when I am changing a poopy diaper? Identify with St. Joseph? I'd like to think that he changed his share of Jesus' poopy diapers and didn't make Mary do all the work. Someone served God by changing Jesus' dirty nappies. So don't I serve God when I change dirty nappies as well? Sometimes the most Grace can be found when your hands are smeared with the muck of humanity.

Jesus was God, sure, but he was also fully human. It is the latter of which I find most inspiring to me. To have a mature understanding of the nature of Christ, I feel I must consider the full implications of Jesus' humanity.

I had a priest friend who loved to go around mildly shocking people by saying, "You know the best thing about Jesus Christ? He had hairy legs!" And people would laugh. But why? Jesus did have hairy legs. And poopy diapers as a baby. And nose hair, probably. Without the benefit of Right Guard or Dr. Scholl's sandal inserts, he probably smelled pretty bad at times too. Jesus wept, Jesus bled, Jesus peed, Jesus pooped. He was human. Thank God.

A few years back someone at work was reading an alternative publication and noted the name of one of the bands listed in the music section, "Hey, look who's gonna play at Numbers. It's 'Jesus Penis'!" Guffaws all around. And then everyone turned to me, the token Christian, to catch my reaction. I think they were expecting some righteous indignation on my part. I think I disappointed them. "Well, Jesus did have a penis."

Yep, Jesus had a penis. To down play that tells us more about ourselves than anything. To deny one iota of Jesus' humanity, even those aspects of being human we don't even want to acknowledge about ourselves, is to cut the very core out of the central message of Christianity we hold so dear.

I remember back in 1987 when Andres Serrano's `Piss Christ', a large photo of a crucifix submerged in a glass of urine, caused a scandal and got the NEA in trouble. (Not long after, in a colossal example of bad timing, the Mapplethorpe retrospective added gasoline to the flames and got everybody ready to cut the NEA altogether.)

The shock of this piece originated from the juxtaposition of what is to some the most holy of images with what is, to many of those same people, considered the most base and vile of substances. Some considered the submersion of the cricifix in urine a prima facie statement of contempt for Christ and therefore blashpemous. In fact, Serrano was brought up in a devout Catholic family and religion was very significant to him as a child. He was not deriding faith, but examining it.

Revulsion at the sight of one's bodily products is natural and serves an evolutionary purpose. Serrano's art forces us to confront the nature of such revulsions with pictures of blood, semen, and urine by finding beauty in their depiction. He refuses to let us separate the divine from the profane in our minds.

Indeed, when I stumbled upon Piss Christ at an exhibit at an art museum two years later, I thought it a beautiful picture. The golden light that bathed the crucifix appeared to glorify it, not degrade it. Then I read the card and realized, "Oh. So this is it." And then I had to confront my own revulsion, my own rigehteous anger, my own shamefulness of my own humanity. I drove home contemplating urine and blood and Jesus what it means to be human and what it means to be divine and if Jesus came to show us that there didn't need to be a difference. Maybe sin was the only thing separating our humanity from our potential divinity. Maybe Jesus showed us how to be human and divine at the same time by conquering sin. Maybe... My faith was strengthened by viewing a cross submerged in urine. Go figure.

And thirteen years later I came across this poem by Andrew Hudgins in Slate which says it more eloquently that I ever could have.

Piss Christ
-----------------
If we did not know it was cow's blood and urine,
if we did not know that Serrano had for weeks
hoarded his urine in a plastic vat,
if we did not know the cross was gimcrack plastic,
we would assume it was too beautiful.
We would assume it was the resurrection,
glory, Christ transformed to light by light
because the blood and urine burn like a halo,
and light, as always, light makes it beautiful.

We are born between the urine and the feces,
Augustine says, and so was Christ, if there was a Christ,
skidding into this world as we do
on a tide of blood and urine. Blood, feces, urine?
what the fallen world is made of, and what we make.
He peed, ejaculated, shat, wept, bled?
bled under Pontius Pilate, and I assume
the mutilated god, the criminal,
humiliated god, voided himself
on the cross and the blood and urine smeared his legs
and he ascended bodily unto heaven,
and on the third day he rose into glory, which
is what we see here, the Piss Christ in glowing blood:
the whole irreducible point of the faith,
God thrown in human waste, submerged and shining.

We have grown used to beauty without horror.

We have grown used to useless beauty.

-- Andrew Hudgins, 2000


All this from changing a diaper. God can jump out at you from the most unexpected places.



Thursday, November 07, 2002
Don't Speak, Then...

Before you speak, ask yourself, is it kind, is it necessary, is it true, does it improve on the silence?

-Sai Baba




What I was thinking at 3:15 this morning...

I was thinking that if you are going to dial a phone number at three fricking fifteen in the morning, you'd damn well ought to be special careful you don't dial the wrong number and wake someone up. That's what I was thinking.

Then I got to thinking about dialing phone numbers, and dials in general, and how they've kind of disappeared from our lives. Sure we talk about them. "Just dial 1-800..." "Don't touch that dial!" But when's the last time we've actually interacted with an actual dial? The last dial phone I used was in my teens.

I once inherited this TV from my Grandma (God Rest Her Soul) that had the clunky dial that went ker-chunk with each channel and a separate UHF dial that you could never be sure was exactly turned right because it didn't ker-chunk. I guess the ker-chunk was a form of reassurance, "Channel 2. Got it! Ker-chunkl"

That TV was kind of cutting edge 'cause it had one of the first remote controls available at the time -- a sound activated remote. We found out that the remote was actually based on sound because every time the dog walked into the room the channel would change. Then one day the dog walked in and the channel didn't change and we figured out that the difference was that the dog's collar had dropped off. Seems it was the clinking of the tags that caused the channels to change. This was useful to know. So whenever we lost the remote we could just rattle our keys until we hit the channel we wanted. Anyway that was the last dial I could think of that I'd used in a while.

But then I thought of the oven, which is operated by several dials, which blew my whole dial theory. Then I wondered why oven makers don't replace that "Bake, Broil" dial with one which selects which set of burners to use -- upper, lower, or both -- which would be more informative...

3:21... I guess I wasn't going to fall back asleep without some intervention. Who knows what detritus would have run through my mind had I not gotten up, checked on the kids, drank some Ovaltine, and read email (guaranteed to put me in a mood to sleep), and climbed back into bed.


Wednesday, November 06, 2002
Girlzilla Loves Mr. Freshpants

siblings


Slackers!

All right, I'm pissed. Where were you? All you Democrats? Gah!

I decide to vote with you this election ('cause I was voting for gridlock) and you stand me up! There I was at the polls and it was all lilly white Casual Corner and Starbucks and Eddie Bauer. Not a single nose ring or Doc Martens in sight.

What happened to GOTV?! You didn't GOTFV!!! Was it so important to pick up your dry cleaning? No!

Now, thanks to you, sculpted breasts in our public buildings will be covered by curtains.
You went by the bank, and now Social Security will "reformed" into a bad 401k plan.
You picked up that refill of Zoloft and now our prescription drug coverage will be written by drug companies.
Because you caught a rerun of Friends, we'll be spending public money on ridiculous contraptions that will fail to knock down non-existent missiles from space.
Regulatory henhouses will be stuffed with foxes.
Our budget will be beyond red. We'll go infrared. They'll have to invent a new color for our budget.
We're gonna get wrapped around an illusory Axis of Evil. Tilting against more mustachioed windmills.

Auughh!

Well, I'm not gonna be worried. I will trust God that he knows what he's doing. I will Chill.

Besides, I'm an upper-middle class, socially-conservative, religious White Male. I should be freakin' dancing in the streets!

Damn Democrats.


It's Nippy

It's a rare cold morning in Houston. Actually, it's not really all that cold, probably above normal for November in most places around the country. But we can see our breath this morning. People can wear rare sweaters. Everyone talks about the cold. The mind notces difference and today the weather's different.

Me, I'm in shirtsleeves, riding to work with the car windows rolled down, lovin' it, soakin' it up.

People look at me in this weather in my tshirt and shorts and ask me, incredulously, "Aren't you cold?" Of course I'm cold, you ninny. That's what I want. Almost year round in Houston being cold is rare or at least pretty expensive. I'm enjoying all the free cold. Open the windows, please.

I hate indoor heating. There's something stultifying, smothering about a blast of warm air, especially after just coming in from the delicious cold. And disappointing too. All that free cold and somebody's paying extra to dispel it. Goes against my nature.

Elderly people in North Dakota struggling to pay their heating bills are reading this and sending me Karma Daggers right now, I know.

I live with young children and two elderly people, so I'm sure the house will be heated when I get home today. Sigh.

I'll go into my little prayer corner, close the door, open the window, and give thanks to God for the glorious absence of Houston Heat in the air.


Tuesday, November 05, 2002
Go Vote Today

I've been hearing that high turnout favors Democrats. So I guess if you're a Republican, you should stay home.

Heh.

Go Vote. Don't be a Civic Slacker.


One for Grandma: Mr. Freshpants Conquers Daddy

Mr. Freshpants is almost three. He calls me "my daddy," even whe he's speaking to me. And, if he wants me to pick him up, he holds up his arms and says, "My daddy, I want to carry you."

And we wrestle. As ususal, he wins. In the picture below, he's looking quite satisfied. Like a big game hunter beside his kill.

Mr. Freshpants conquers daddy.



Monday, November 04, 2002
She's still cute though...

One day, when we left Petunia at this hourly daycare that we use for babysitting, we signed her up to have some pictures made by one of those traveling picture companies. We dressed her in a nice picture day outfit. We were not there to ensure that the outfit we left her in was the one she was photographed in. We were not there to pick the background or the pose. We left it up to them. That was kind of a mistake.

Who dressed me like this!?

Though the picture has a kitschy camp value to it, it wasn't the look we were hoping for. Even Petunia has an expression that says, "Can you people bee-leeeeeve this getup?!"

But she's still adorable in an Anne Geddes sort of way, don't you think?


THE NEW ERGONOMICS

(This is the perfect time for James Tate. As suits my mood...)

The new ergonomics were delivered
just before lunchtime
so we ignored them.
Without revealing the particulars
let me just say that
lunch was most satisfying.
Jack and Roberta went with
the corned beef for a change.
Jack believes in alien abduction
and Roberta does not,
although she has had
several lost weekends lately
and one or two unexplained scars
on her buttocks. I thought
I recognized someone
from my childhood
at a table across the room,
the same teeth, the same hair,
but when he stood-up,
I wasn't sure, Squid with a red tie?
Impossible. I finished
my quiche lorraine
and returned my thoughts
to Jack's new jag:
"Well, I guess anything's
possible. People disappear
all the time, and most of them
have no explanation
when and if they return.
Look at Tony's daughter
and she's never been the same."
Jack was looking as if
he'd bet on the right horse now.
"And these new ergonomics,
who really designed them?
Does anybody know?
Do they tell us anything?
A name, an address? Hell no."
Squid was paying his bill
in a standard-issue blue blazer.
He looked across the room at me
several times. He looked tired,
like he wanted to sleep for a long time
in a barn somewhere, in Kansas.
I wanted to sleep there, too.

-- James Tate, 1995




Soul-Sucking Tapeworms

From the desire of being loved, Deliver me, O Jesus.
From the desire of being honored, Deliver me, O Jesus.
From the desire of being consulted, Deliver me, O Jesus.
From the desire of being approved, Deliver me, O Jesus.
From the desire of being popular, Deliver me, O Jesus.
From the fear of being humiliated, Deliver me, O Jesus.
From the fear of being despised, Deliver me, O Jesus.
From the fear of being forgotten, Deliver me, O Jesus.
From the fear of being ridiculed, Deliver me, O Jesus.
From the fear of being suspected, Deliver me, O Jesus.

--Mother Theresa



This prayer spoke to me last night at Mass as I am in a desert experience of sorts right now. I am full of such desires and fears and empty of the feelings and motivations and energy I need to "be a spiritual person." Full and empty at the same time. Inverted. Inside out.

That said, I guess I am halfway there. I need to be *all the way* empty. That way, as I am told, I can be a conduit for the abundance of the creator through me. But in the way are my attachments. I need to be free of expectation that things will be as I want them to be and not as they are.

I expect that, as a parent, I will be obeyed by my children.
I expect that, if I work all weekend trying to make progress on something, I will see progress.
I expect that my efforts at ministry will be appreciated by the people I'm ministering to. Even if they are Junior High age.
I expect that, if I clean something, it will stay clean for longer than, say, ten minutes.
I expect that, after I clear my mental to-do list, that things will not keep piling up.
I expect to find time to pray and exercise and am always disappointed.
I expect that my available time and disposition will allow me to avoid unwise food choices, and am often disappointed.
I expect to have the "will power", whatever the hell *that* is, to resist the friggin' Halloween candy that's sitting out in a prominent place in my home.

Now that I write those down, I can see how ridiculous they seem. You're probably laughing at me. I would be too if they weren't hooked into my soul right now like little energy-sucking tapeworms.

I want to be free of the seething dissatisfaction created by my stupid expectations. I am mired in a state of not trusting in God, in not letting go, in not accepting reality. I want patience, and I want it right now!

Pray for me that I might somehow get rightside-up, turned inside-in.

And if none of the above even makes sense, just pray for me in general. Please.


Saturday, November 02, 2002
Take your pick.

"Desire and aversion are of the mind.
The mind is never yours.
You are free of its turmoil.

You are awareness itself,
Never changing.

Wherever you go,
Be happy."

-Ashtavakra Gita 15:5


---- OR ----

"Don't worry, be happy."

-Bobby McFerrin



Friday, November 01, 2002
All Saints

Today is the Solemnity of All Saints. Today we are reminded that we all shall die. Today we are reminded that we all can go "to Heaven."

Truth be told, I have never been motivated to be a Christian by the promise of the afterlife. I am more concerned with my faith and how it affects my current life. I guess it is a nice idea, that we will live for eternity in a really nice place, but I've always seen our mission as Christians to help make *this* place a very nice place. And maybe the two ideas are related. Maybe we help God transform this world into the next.

I like the idea of the Bodhisattva. I'd like to think I'd be selfless enough to deny myself my "heavenly reward" so that I could stay behind and help others achieve theirs. But if the time came now, I'm sure I'd cave. I need a lot more spiritual progress before I can truly face my own demise and my eternal status with equanimity.

Today's reading in 1 Jn 3:1-3 is interesting, and may explain why I am a bit less enthusiastic about Heaven than a Christian should be:

Beloved:
See what love the Father has bestowed on us
that we may be called the children of God.
Yet so we are.
The reason the world does not know us
is that it did not know him.
Beloved, we are God's children now;
what we shall be has not yet been revealed.
We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him,
for we shall see him as he is.
Everyone who has this hope based on him makes himself pure,
as he is pure.


Now, by my faith in God, I know that whatever Heaven is will be just fine by me. But I just can't picture it.

I figure I have as much knowledge of what awaits me as an embryo has of the world he is about to be born into. John says "when it is revealed we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is." I'm pretty sure God is a being outside of the limitations of time, space, physics, logic and anything else I can comprehend. If we are to be "like him" in the next life and "see him as he is", what's to say that we'll be dancing around and behaving like transplanted humans, albeit purified? I figure we'd be more like, heck I dunno, timeless, omnipresent, fields of pure mind energy or something like that. Sounds pretty funky, I admit, but my point is that I cannot envision the afterlife because I don't think it will *be* something I can envision.

So here's where I let go and trust God that she'll make everything just peachy for us. But I'll focus on this life for now, because a better life for *this* world is something I *can* envision.

Happy All Saints' Day, nonetheless.



Better Still Is Surrender

Better indeed is knowledge than mechanical practice (of religious ritual).
Better than knowledge is meditation.
But better still is surrender of attachment to results (of one's actions),
because there follows immediate peace.

-Bhagavad Gita 12:12


How often is this true in my own life! I find that the greatest peace comes from doing what I can and then leaving the results in the hands of God. Much suffering comes to me through my own expectations about how things should turn out or how others should react to me.