Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Self - Family - Community

"Perfect the self, nurture the family, serve your community, and the world will save itself."

Vietnamese proverb - Source: INTERLUDE: An Internet Retreat

What You Think is What You Become

In Paul's letter to the Philippians Chapter 4 verse 8, he writes,
"Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things."
Paul is telling the Phillipian's this because he knows that what you think is what you become and wants these people to become pure, pleasing, commendable - excellent and worthy of praise.

I think the lesson for us is to be careful about what you expose yourself to day to day. Not to say we can't occasionally watch a scary movie, tune in to the cable news networks, or read the newspaper reports of murders, fires, earthquakes etc., but if we make that sort of thing a steady diet then we tend toward fearfulness, anxiety, hate, mistrust, anger, depression and other mindsets that we don't want to foster.

It's not about being a Pollyanna - but rather giving yourself a space to think about good things, and reflect on how blessed we are to be alive on this earth right now.

Wishing you peace, moments of joy and some time to recognize that which is pure, pleasing, commendable, excellent and worthy of praise.

Interlude Thought of the Day - Risk

Interlude Thought of the Day:

"To laugh is to risk appearing the fool.
To weep is to risk appearing sentimental.
To reach out for another is to risk involvement.
To expose feelings is to risk exposing your true self.
To place your ideas, your dreams before the crowd is to risk their loss.
To love is to risk not being loved in return.
To live is to risk dying.
To hope is to risk despair.
To try is to risk failure.
But risk must be taken because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing.
The person who risks nothing does nothing, has nothing, is nothing.
He may avoid suffering and sorrow, but he simply cannot learn, feel, change, grow, love. . . live.
Chained by his certitudes, he is a slave;
He has forfeited freedom.
Only a person who risks is free."


Monday, May 29, 2006

It’s So Simple

Gorden Cosby tells us It’s So Simple to live a life free of fear and filled with love.

Simple doesn't necessarily mean easy.

Gordon Cosby is the founding pastor of The Church of the Saviour an ecumenical Christian church incorporated in Washington D.C. in 1947. They have a wide range of outreach services including the recently created Inward/Outward internet project offering people daily thoughtful messages. It's a space to reflect a bit and read what other people think about the inspirational daily messages. Reading Inward/Outward can be a breath of fresh air - a nice break, from some of the media's fear-filled, violent, or hate-centered messages.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Standing On The Street Corner

The weather didn't cooperate for the Memorial Day Cruzen To Colby event, it was 52 degrees, mixed drizzle and some light showers - but it was still fun. My job was to man a barricade to make sure cars didn't drive onto the course.

I got a chance to hang out on the street and meet a few people. It's an odd coincidence that two of them were homeless men, given my recent posts on the blogging homeless person in London. You can see a picture of one of them below. He was very happy, positive, energetic - and get this - a really good singer.

He told me he slept in the woods, he was looking forward to reaching 62 so he could get social security and V.A. benefits. He said he wasn't disabled, or addicted, so he didn't qualify for public aid. He made his money by doing some day labor and singing for tips to people outside, or sometimes inside, of local taverns.

He was very vocal about his faith and a fun guy to hang around with for awhile. He was naming the makes and years of the cars as they went by. He was what I would call a blues, or maybe jazz singer - and serenaded me with a few tunes. A black guy (also homeless) who said he was from New Orleans stopped by and they sang a little a cappella with each other. They were laughing and dancing, joking around and generally just having a good time.

It was great!


Here's a few pictures I took -

55 Chevy


Nice Guy (Homeless)

Surfer Car

On Colby - Flying Pig


Public Art

Fish Scales

Friday, May 26, 2006

Cruzin' to Colby Car Show - This Sunday and Monday


Everett's annual Memorial Day Cruzin' to Colby event is this Sunday and Monday.

The event features more than 800 classics, customs, street rods and antique vehicles, a cruise on Colby, a sock hop at Everett Events Center, and a barbecue cook-off. It runs from noon to 11 p.m. May 28, and 1 to 4 p.m. May 29. Various locations in Everett.

More information on the event can be found at Seattle Rod-Tiques.

If you like cool cars it's a great event - as you can see in the Cruzin' to Colby - Photo Album from the 2004 show.

If you like BBQ there's a whole lot of contestants who will participate in the Pacific Northwest BBQ Association barbeque cookoff.

This years cruise down Colby starts on Sunday at 3 pm and the sock hop begins at 7 pm. The cars will be available to view at Hewitt and Colby from 10 am to 4 pm on Monday.

Proceeds from the event go to Camp Fire USA of Snohomish County and Hospice Services of Snohomish County.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Homeless - Wired - Lawyer

I've posted on the Wandering Scribe phenomenon before, but this post from WanderingScribe: February 2006 where she is talking about sneaking into a hospital chapel, caught my eye:

"There is a peculiar smell of burnt plastic and warm oranges in there, which I’ve got used to now, but there is carpet and vases of flowers and soft lighting too, and sometimes, when I sit at the back in the evening, recharging my phone, with my feet maybe up on the chair in front, sleepily doing my crosswords in the soothing light and eating whatever I have left in my foodbag, it can sometimes feel like home."

Is it just me or does it seem weird that a homeless person would have a phone to recharge?

If you haven't been following this story - the scribe claims to be a homeless person living in her car in London. She has attracted a large audience of virtual supporters and managed to get interviews with the BBC, The New York Times, and Le Monde.

She now reports on her blog that she has a book deal. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately depending on how you look at it) the deal hasn't allowed her to move out of her car.

Some skeptics are claiming there are inconsistancies in the story. Her posts are supposedly all made from public libraries - but coming at hours when libraries are closed. The high cost of parking a car in London near the hospital where she was recharging her cell phone and showering. The fact that she has an email address from a paid service provider. Electing to not seek aid or accept offers of housing from concerned readers of her blog, all combine to make one wonder what the real story is.

At the least she has spurred people to think about what it might be like to be homeless.

Certainly there are all sorts of reasons for being homeless - and our hearts and hands should go out to helping those who cannot help themselves whatever the circumstances may be.

Hopefully some of the ardent online supporters of the Scribe will, if they haven't already, translate their energy from the antiseptic environment of the world wide web to the real world of the homeless, or otherwise hurting, people where they live.

In the case of the Wandering Scribe it appears to me she is doing just fine on her own.


Postscript 5/27/06: I'm probably spending too much time on the Wandering Scribe phenomenon but it's hard for me to look away after reading some of her posts and seeing the discussion in the comments. Something doesn't smell right about this whole story and it's not the musty old sleeping bag she's been sacking out in outside of London.


Earlier this week I noted it seemed odd that she would be homeless and have a cell phone, but what do I know? It's of some interest to note that she says she began living in her car in August and made the comment that she was surreptitiously charging her phone in a hospital in February, meaning she had been paying a cell phone bill for six months.

Maybe it's one of those one-time pay phones without a monthly fee? Otherwise it's not clear why a person would keep a cell phone if they were on the public dole (which she says she is). She's had essentially no job interviews which would seem to indicate she isn't using the cell phone to network with people regarding gainful employment.

The poor blighter is so out of touch with friends and family that she's holed up in a car - so what's the cell phone for? Apparently not potential employers, friends, family members or social services that might be able to give her a warm place to sleep (assuming that's what she wants...needless to say stories of sleeping on someone's couch would make for a pretty boring book).


I'm also not sure about the ethics, or legality, of accepting public aid and having a site dedicated to asking for Paypal donations.


This is another quote the WanderingScribe made in February of this year -
"My background is almost an obstacle now, having a law degree almost a handicap, at least for the kind of jobs you can get without references and while living in a car."
I don't know what having a law degree means in the U.K. but in the U.S. it generally doesn't correlate to living in your car.

Reading the comments on the Wandering Scribe's adventures I can't help but think some people are misinterpreting a bit of skepticism over the Scribe's tales, with a non-caring attitude for homeless people or people suffering for whatever reason.

I'm sorry if the Scribe is hurting. I'm also really sorry for the thousands of homeless people without a law degree, a car, a cell phone, a blog....


We had a writer in the U.S. who decided to live in the woods awhile back too.

Henry David Thoreau thought freeing one's self from all the trappings of civilization was a fine and nobel adventure. Thoreau's cabin on Walden Pond was 10 feet by 15 feet and yet he wrote as if it was the most glorious place to live on earth.

I think we have to be careful before we decide to "pity" people that may not want or need our pity. Living a simple life without a huge mortgage, car, laptop, cell phone, regular 9 to 5 job - might be much more idyllic than being tied into a life of quiet desperation sitting in a cubicle pushing paper to make the mortgage on the big house you don't get to spend much time in because you're stuck in traffic.

Think of the "The Dharma Bums" "On the Road" - the idea that being freed from the chains of civilization is a good thing or a bad thing, is more a matter of attitude than reality. John Steinbeck was living in a vehicle when he wrote Travels with Charley in Search of America extolling the virtues of a nomadic existence. It wasn't a car, but the point is that moving around, living in a vehicle can be a matter of choice and the attitude you take no matter what you are faced with - is up to you.

For my money being a bum, a nomad, a traveler - is a good thing. Give away your money, your clothes, your house. I think that's what Jesus told his disciples to do.


I'm going to leave Wandering Scribe to her own devices. It seems like she is a savvy sort of person able to manipulate the system to provide for herself. It's somewhat interesting that she is so self centered to not talk about other homeless people she encounters on her journey, but seems to be mostly concerned with how she looks to others. Doesn't want to appear homeless or disheveled and what not. Doesn't want to ask for help. Doesn't want to move out of car quite yet.

I imagine the vetting her story will receive, should her book deal come to be, may be quite painful, if the skeptics are correct that she isn't being honest about her situation.

Time will tell, but the New York Times author may want to do a little more research than Googling for homeless people with blogs the next time he interviews a homeless person. Leaving out details like the law degree, cell phone, inconsistancies with post times vs. library hours and the odd writing style (written as if done real time in the woods - not sure how that would work unless she has a laptop or is handwriting notes and then transcribing them to her blog).

At least Wandering Scribe has started a dialogue. I think it's important to move beyond her specific case of a college educated, car owning, cell phone owning, internet savvy, wannabe author / homeless person to the more general. I don't see a point in defending or questioning her, other than to point out to the possibly overly-gullible that if you are going to help anyone you need to be able to spot manipulation, have a sense for what is true, and choose your battles wisely.

Defending someone you don't know from the internet skeptics seems like a bit of a waste of energy - it might be more productive to meet some homeless, or otherwise hurting, people who live where you live and defend them, if that is where your interests lie. There are all kinds of hurting people in the world, some have homes, some don't - some want help, some like Wandering Scribe don't.

Finally I will say this - I have never been homeless for long, or lived in a car (other than that breakdown on the way to Burning Man last summer) but I do have some personal knowledge of car living.

My great Aunt and Uncle (now departed God bless them) lived in a car.

Actually it was a boxcar. The kind you see on the railroads. They were witty, kind and very happy. They chose not to live anywhere near a city but rather in Montana in the middle of nowhere.

Sometimes I think they were a heck of lot wiser than us city-bound folks stuck in the rat race.

Walden by Henry David Thoreau - Project Gutenberg

The Christian Science Monitor | Thoreau Still Beckons If I Can Take My Laptop


Postscript II 5/27/06: Some people have told me that using Craig's List is a good way to find part time work. You can put an ad in for free describing whatever skills you have and say what sort of job you are looking for. Lot's of part time work helping people move, day laboring, dog walking, house sitting etc. I posted this link in the comments section of the Scribe's blog (I have a feeling it won't be approved) but what the heck they are offering 100 pounds a week plus a house to live in for a Live in cleaner/ au pair/ dog walker - Iver/ Langley. It seems like the Wandering Scribe is mobile enough she could get over there and apply - it ain't no book deal but it's a start.

Small Strokes

I was driving to work this morning and a group of school kids were crossing the cross walk. I'm guessing they were about six years old. I waited patiently until the crossing guard gave me the go ahead. I know this sounds sort of goofy, but she gave me a nice smile and wave and it actually brought a tear to my eye.

It just seemed like such a nice small simple gesture. I'm sure she thought nothing of it and had no idea her small act of kindness made my morning much more pleasant.

We may think we need to offer a grand act of kindness to make a difference, but sometimes the smallest act - a smile, a kind word, a wave - can make a huge difference in someone's day.

The nice thing about setting our sights on small acts of kindness is that we are free to do something rather than waiting for the moment, which may never arrive, when the grand act becomes possible.

Daily Reflections - Creighton University

This comes from today's Creighton University Daily Reflection by Don Driscol S.J. -
"From the history of my life I know that God comes to us through the incarnation of caring people. So today I pray to be available and reverently responsive to the people I’ll meet today. It’s the gospels’ theme. It’s our call. One final thought emerges from a question in today’s reading from Acts: “... why are you standing there looking up at the sky?” These words evoked a memory of my brother’s dying. As I paced back and forth past the nurses station in the ICU of a Chicago hospital, I memorized the words on a small poster one of the nurses had displayed. It read: “A man went out on a starry night and shook his fist at the heavens yelling, “Oh, God, what a lousy, rotten world you’ve made. I could have done much better.” Then a voice boomed from the clouds saying, “That’s why I put you there. Get busy.”

Monday, May 22, 2006

Be Here Now

Tom Barrett's Meditation of the Week at is on Being Open to Experience and has a link to a good article on the Buddhist practice of equanimity.

The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary says equanimity "suggests a habit of mind that is only rarely disturbed under great strain."

Calming down, slowing down, breathing, being a detached observer and centering yourself are all good practices, but I don't think we can or should expect to always be one way. Be good to yourself - it's a journey not a destination.

We don't want to get disturbed over something we can't control and expend a lot of time and energy on it. Sometimes it's best to say the Serenity Prayer and let it go.

If being disturbed motivates you to good action - that's fine - as long as you don't make a habit of it, and give yourself high blood pressure, a stroke or a heart attack. If we live in a state of being disturbed, excited, upset, angry, or distraught we may end up oscillating, accomplishing nothing - going nowhere.

It's often better to work for what you want rather than fighting against what you don't want. Working for what you want leads one to be calmer, less fearful, more optimistic, more centered, more connected and more effective.


History is filled with groups who attacked others in the name of government or religion - not working for what they want, but instead fighting against what they don't want. Without an enemy they have nothing. It's a perfect example of the futility of this type of thinking because it's been happening forever and nothing changes - there is always another enemy - another battle to be fought. Lots of things to fight against but not much time left to fight for - compassion, justice, and dignity for all. If we want peace in the world we should work on schools, education, social justice, hospitals, infrastructure for the poorest of the poor to allow for self-sufficiency and an end to extreme poverty. Unfortunately the bulk of our time and money is spent fighting against what we don't want rather than promoting what we do want.

It's an interesting difference between Buddhist and Christian thought that the Buddhist path is towards acceptance, detachment, and letting-go versus the Christian path towards rebirth, renewal, and working - and at times fighting - for what is right. That's an oversimplification of course, but it tends toward truth if you think about the economic and living conditions in an overcrowded "poor" country with a large Buddhist population and a relatively uncrowded "rich" country with a large Christian population and seemingly unlimited opportunity and space. If you lived in a crowded poor area it might make more sense to detach and work inside yourself rather than to work for change in the world.

The beautiful thing is that these world views are not incompatible; as demonstrated so well by the Trappist Monk Thomas Keating in his writing and talks, as well as the Buddhist Monk Thich Nhat Hanh. Both of these men are teaching that we begin from the inside and work outward. We use contemplation and meditation as a means to an end - not as an end in themselves - to allow us to go into the world as enlightened, compassionate beings, able to help others on their journey. We show our progress on this path by example.


We would all like to balance our roles so we can devote appropriate amounts of time and energy to home, work, family, social, mental, spiritual and physical needs. Of course this is much easier said then done. Contemplative prayer and meditation can help us to quiet our minds and begin to prioritize our goals. It can help us to slow down, worry less, do more, and most of all - to show up with the greatest gifts we have - ourselves, our time, our attention.

All it takes is a little time to breathe...let go...and be here now.

Cheap or Free Online Storage

MIT's Technology Review has an article by Wade Roush about cheap or free online storage.

One of the examples is Amazon's S3 storage service which features -

* Pay only for what you use. There is no minimum fee, and no start-up cost.
* $0.15 per GB-Month of storage used.
* $0.20 per GB of data transferred.

Even if you aren't a web developer it seems like this would be a viable option for storing digital data in a safe off-site area. There are certainly many other ways of doing this, but for convenience and peace of mind having a web server with your data makes sense.

You could scan any photos, kid's drawings, poems, stories - etc. that you want to keep, have Amazon keep them on their server and then you don't have to worry about carrying CD's/DVD's with you when you move, transferring them to your new PC, or having a fire, flood, or other natural disaster wiping out your digital library.


Macy's Promotional Banner 234x60

Thought of the Day - From Kerry Nelson

Pastor Kerry Nelson of Covenant Lutheran Church, Houston Texas is good enough to write these daily devotionals and provide them free of charge to anyone interested. They can be inspirational and thought-provoking no matter where you fall on the non-believer to true-beliver scale.

From Pastor Kerry -

Good morning. Welcome to Monday, May 22nd.

"Neither is new wine put into old wineskins; otherwise, the skins burst, and the wine is spilled, and the skins are destroyed; but new wine is put into fresh wineskins, and so both are preserved." Matthew 9:17

We've all seen that episode of "I Love Lucy" where she's in a huge vat stomping grapes with her bare feet. When I was a little boy I remember taking a sip of wine from some adult's glass. I thought it was awful stuff. For years after that I assumed it was because the people who crushed the grapes hadn't washed their feet.

Actually the juice used for fine wines and good champagne is extracted from the grapes very gently. Almost by gravity. When that juice is removed the grapes are then pressed. The juice extracted by that method is used for grape juice. Finally the grapes are crushed. The juice extracted in this stage is used for vinegar.

I think the whole process of making wine is a parable about the Christian life: Those who give freely and generously of who they are and what they have are life's fine wine. Those who have to be pressed to give of themselves are life's grape juice, and those who hold on tight to what life has given them end up as bitter and sour as vinegar.

Did you hear about the young woman who was proposing marriage to her boyfriend? She said to him:

"I know I'm not as good looking as Nancy, and I admit I'm not as rich as Nancy. And I don't have a yacht like Nancy, or a house in Hawaii like Nancy, and I don't have a private plane like Nancy. But darling I love you."

The young fellow said to her: "I love you too, but tell me some more about Nancy."

In our day you get someone's attention by telling them what's in it for them. Even the church is being urged to appeal to people's self-interest to give people what they want whether or not its what they need. We have become the ultimate consumer generation. Evaluating every person and organization on the basis of what they can do for me.

But like wine, the truly fine people in life give freely and generously of themselves; their time, energy, love, talents, and compassion. On the other hand, like vinegar, the miser hangs onto what they have until it is pried out of their cold, dead fingers. They sour life for themselves and those they touch because their only concern is what they can get out of life rather than what they can give.

Prayer: Gracious Lord, guide us to the path of generous living. Give us compassionate hearts, listening ears and open minds. Teach us to give as selflessly as you gave your life on the cross. In Jesus' name. Amen."



Saturday, May 20, 2006

Lightening Up

B and I spent yesterday cleaning out our garage and having a garage sale. We weren't so much trying to make money as we were trying to transfer things to people who wanted them. It was quite a bit of work, but we made a dent in our accumulation of stuff.

It's amazing how many things you can accumulate over the years. We literally had thousands of little knick/knacks, trinkets, toys - things. It would have been impossible to price each individually. We ended up marking bags/tins/boxes with things like "mystery bag of shiny stuff - 50 cents".

I'm glad they have found a new home.

One thing about having an old house with lots of little storage spaces is that you have a chance to fill those various storage spaces. We've done a good job at filling. I think we can probably have another sale or two.

It was a good feeling to pass on at least some of our "stuff". We don't like to put usuable things into the waste stream, so it was good to have people who wanted these things take them. One of our rules was that we would only sell/give nice collections of small things (toys, figurines, dolls) to little kids - preferably the ones who looked like they could use some nice toys.

You get all kinds of people at a garage sale, which makes it interesting (only a couple of jerks all day..not bad). We had free coffee and cookies for everyone and had a pretty good time (except for the early morning when an elderly couples car started on fire).

The gentleman had put oil in his car the night before. It spilled on the exhaust manifold, which heated up and ended up igniting the oil after he parked his car at our sale. The burning oil caught the wiring on fire and it was touch and go for a minute. Luckily a neighbor had a hose that would reach. The fire truck and fireman added an exciting touch to the whole event.

This is a picture I took this morning (it's raining so probably no-sale today). If you'd like the plans for my special clothes-hanging device send me a post-card ;-)

You Have Too Much Stuff

From inward/outward -

"At his death, Gandhi owned 16 worldly possessions:

1 robe
1 mala bead for prayer
1 pair of sandals
1 blanket
1 pen
1 bent safety pin
1 metal bowl to pour water
1 fork
1 bowl
1 spoon
1 lantern
1 water bottle
1 cloth napkin
1 length of rope
1 ink well
1 spinning wheel"

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Pastor Kerry Nelson

Today's thought from Pastor Kerry Nelson of Covenant Lutheran Church, Houston TX. Pastor Kerry is good enough to write these daily devotionals and provide them free of charge to anyone interested. He's been a great inspiration to me over the years.

"Good morning. Welcome to Thursday, May 18th.

Hear this, you that trample on the needy, and bring to ruin the poor of the land, saying, "When will the new moon be over so that we may sell grain; and the sabbath, so that we may offer wheat for sale? We will make the ephah small and the shekel great, and practice deceit with false balances, buying the poor for silver and the needy for a pair of sandals, and selling the sweepings of the wheat." The LORD has sworn by the pride of Jacob: Surely I will never forget any of their deeds. Shall not the land tremble on this account, and everyone mourn who lives in it, and all of it rise like the Nile, and be tossed about and sink again, like the Nile of Egypt? Amos 8:4-8

Let’s start by acknowledging that there isn’t anything particularly holy about being poor, nor is there anything diabolical about being rich. We have to begin with that reminder because that runs contrary to how we often think. In Amos’ day, as in ours, there is a tendency to assume that the rich are rich because they have been particularly blessed by God – and that the poor are poor because they have not been blessed by God, they have been immoral, slothful, foolish, etc. It is just the knee jerk way we think, the unconscious judgments we make. And if we need to find evidence to back up either assertion, we probably can find it.

On top of that, we associate wealth with privilege and poverty with obligation. We think that wealthy people “deserve” what they get and that poor people are a “burden” because of what they get. A wealthy salesman can spend $1000 taking customers out to dinner and write the whole thing off as a business expense. We think that’s good. A poor single mother can pick up $300 in food stamps for the month and we can think that she is a drain on our resources.

We pamper and pander to the rich while the poor are neglected and used. I’m not saying that happens all the time, or that individual people don’t act differently. I’m just suggesting that the mere presence or absence of money in the bank makes us think differently, act differently and assume different things about life.

The problem for Amos, the problem for us, and the problem throughout the ages, is how the poor (read: powerless) are treated by the rich (read: powerful), how they both get where they are, and the meaning each attaches to their position in life.

Amos is writing against business people who give lip service to their faith (When will the Sabbath be over so we can sell grain again?) while cheating the poor (practice deceit with false balances.) Riches gained dishonestly through unjust and deceitful practices, especially practices that take from those who have little to begin with, crumble the foundations of life.

For the past few months the Enron trials have been front page news in Houston. Over the past years, “Enron” has changed from a noun naming a powerful energy company to a verb meaning corporate excess, dishonesty and deceit. Regardless of the outcome of the trial, I hope it reminds us of the value we once placed on a “social contract” where loyalty, quality, integrity, honesty and hard work were the hallmarks of success in business.

Let us pray: Gracious Lord, we still haven’t lost the tendency to measure personal worth and value using money rather than character. We still haven’t lost the tendency to make judgments about people based on external appearances and material possessions. And we still live in a day when we misunderstand the responsibilities that come with material blessings and instead, we allow them to insulate us from the world around us. Forgive us, transform our thinking, and come to the aid of the powerless. In Jesus’ name. Amen."

Pastor Kerry Nelson

The ONE Campaign

The ONE Campaign will feature a broadcast on NBC Tuesday night May 23rd, discussing some of the work being done by Bono and many many other people to help eradicate extreme poverty and disease in our world.

Beauty Beats and Shines

This is today's thought from inward /outward -

Annie Dillard

I am a frayed and nibbled survivor in a fallen world, and I am getting along. I am aging and eaten and have done my share of eating too. I am not washed and beautiful, in control of a shining world in which everything fits, but instead am wandering awed about on a splintered wreck I've come to care for, whose gnawed trees breathe delicate air, whose bloodied and scarred creatures are my dearest companions, and whose beauty beats and shines not in its imperfections, but overwhelmingly in spite of them.

Source: Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

Annie Dillard - Amazon Books

Elton John in Seattle This September

Elton John plays the Key Arena on Friday September 22.

Tickets go on sale Monday May 22.

Texas Hold 'em for PC's, PlayStation-2 and Xbox

I'm expecting to get a promotional copy of STACKED with Daniel Negreanu to play with. It's a video Texas Hold 'em game that claims to have advanced A.I. features that will make the game fun and educational.

I'm looking forward to trying it out. I was looking for video poker and craps games to play on a PC or PlayStation a few years ago and there was very little on the market. I bought a copy of Hoyle Casino but it was so-so at best. STACKED with Daniel Negreanu sounds much better, according to the P.R. release -
"STACKED with Daniel Negreanu is the first video game to bring next-generation gameplay and broadcast quality production to Texas Hold ‘em Poker. As the premiere state-of-the-art multiplayer 3D tournament poker title, STACKED will immerse players in the excitement and drama that has become synonymous with the sport that has been recently crowned “America’s new national pastime.”
The game is scheduled for release on May 30th. It's rated T for teen. Versions will be available for Xbox®, PlayStation®2, Sony PSP handhelds, and PC's.

Nacho Libre

The new Jack Black movie - Nacho Libre will be released on June 16th. I saw the previews last night and it looks like it might be pretty funny.

Jack Black plays Nacho, a monk who works as a cook in a Mexican orphanage, who becomes a wrestler to help raise money for the orphans.

There's a good summary of the movie at Wikipedia.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

No Roundup-Ready Wheat For N.D.

Orion online has an interesting article on North Dakota farmers fight to keep Monsanto's Roundup-ready wheat out of their state.

It's a classic struggle of free market proponents vs. democracy of for and by the people.

The farmers in North Dakota decided they would use a democratic process to decide what was best for their farms, rather than letting corporations or their political lackeys do it for them.

It's good reading regardless of whether you ever think about where a loaf of bread comes from or not.

North Dakota has a history of cooperative economics and populist political movements beginning with the Nonpartisan League, a populist party formed in N.D. in 1915.

North Dakota Democratic-NPL Party Blog

North Dakota Democratic-NPL Party


The term "Roundup-ready" means a plant that has been genetically modified to be resistant to the weed killer Roundup made by Monsanto. One of the concerns ND farmers had was the adverse economic impact if G.M. wheat caused them to lose trading partners outside of the U.S. The E.U. and Japan have instituted bans on G.M. products.

One of the seemingly obvious effects of "Roundup-ready" plants is the appearance of Superweeds as weeds crossbreed with the genetically modified Roundup-ready plants, or by a process of unnatural selection where only the weed most resistent to Roundup survives. It's sort of like the deal with antibiotics and the advent of superbugs. We now have super weeds that can't be killed by Roundup so we have to create some other pesticide. At some point we may accidently create the unkillable superweed...not unlike the ;-)

Sorry - I couldn't help myself from putting that silly movie reference in here. I imagine the cotton farmers in Georgia don't think the appearance of Roundup-resistant pigweed is such a big joke.

House of Flying Daggers

The trailer to House of Flying Daggers is pretty cool. Just the thing to make you want to hone up your knife throwing and bow hunting skills.

Macy's Promotional Banner 468x60

Monday, May 15, 2006

Drop the Cell Phone

I've been working out for awhile in a small gym and there's a guy who talks on his cell phone while he's working out.

I catch little snippets of his conversation, which is apparantly with his love-interest who has as little to do as he does. Totally inane repeated things. I want to answer his questions -

"What are you doing now?".

"I'm sitting beside you on this exercise bike."

"Do you know what I got you for your birthday?"

"No what?"

"Did you look at the present?"

"Uhh heh buddy you shouldn't have - we hardly know each other."

I want to suggest he get a really heavy cell phone to balance himself while he's lifting weights...or at least a headset so he can use both hands.

But really what are people thinking?

Yesterday at the supermarket I kept seeing this lady talking on her cellphone. I never get what's going on there. How boring can these conversations be - "I'm passing by the canned vegetables now."

The funny thing was she used one of those "self-serve" checkout aisles and was scanning and bagging her groceries with one hand and holding her cell phone in the other so she didn't have to break off the conversation.

"I'm scanning the bread now."

"That's marvelous darling."

"I'm glad we have these cellphones."

"Me too."

"We don't ever have to be apart."


"Do you think I should use paper or plastic?"


"I like plastic too - what are you doing now?"

"Lifting weights."

How Are You?

I've got a gripe.

I think saying saying "how are you", and not meaning it, is rude.

I'm not Mr. Manners but even Emily Post in her 1922 Etiquette guide says,

"Informal greetings are almost as limited as formal, but not quite; for besides saying “How do you do?” you can say “Good morning” and on occasions “How are you?”

I'm never sure how to respond when someone says, "how are you?" and there isn't any real connection, time, or expectation that you would say anything real back.

I could say "fine" and "how are you?" The problem is I generally won't mean it - so I generally won't say it. Certainly there are times - fairly rare I'd think - where we really want to know how someone is.

I'm thinking about situations where people say "how are you" the same as you would say "hello" or "good morning". It's not a question so much as a statement (except it is a question which tends to just confuse the recipient). Oftentimes it's in a context where you have a few seconds to respond because you are both busy and need to move on. It's also often in a public setting where someone is (hopefully) unlikely to say how they are.

I think saying "how are you" in a situation where someone could not respond only lessens our ability to communicate. To me saying "how are you" and not meaning it, is communicating that I don't really care how you are, but I'm willing to say words that sound like I might.

Depending on the tone of the person saying "how are you" it can be an aggressive sort of statement - you better be fine, because I don't have time to hear how you are. It's also an aggressive sort of statement when phrased as a question - because it demands a specific response. A simple "good morning" or "hi Jack" or "hi Jill" doesn't demand a specific answer.

When people say "how are you" to me I generally respond "fine" and maybe "thanks for asking". I don't respond back "how are you?"


Because if I see you walking by me in the hall or on the street; I don't have time to hear how you are. So I won't ask.

I will ask "how are you?", but only if you have time to talk and I have time to listen...otherwise a nice "hi Bill", "hello", "heh", "good morning", "good night" or whatever words are somewhat spontaneous and thoughtul seem more appropriate to me.

It's all about tone though. Some people can say "how are you" and you can tell by their tone and body language that it's a nice greeting. For people who yell "how are you?" to everyone they see, like a command...well...they should read Emily.

And if you really want to know how I am - or I want to know how you are - then let's sit down and talk.


Postscript - I know some things just become automatic to people and they don't really hear what they are saying, or think about what they are writing (certainly the case for this blog).

I sometimes find myself using the words, "thanks" or "thank you" - way to much. I used to sign off a lot of emails with thank you...or end phone calls with thank you. I know it's phony..but I can't help it. I am a pretty thankful guy. But when someone calls me and asks me to do something and I end the conversation with "thank you" I think it might be a tad confusing...or at least is watering down the English language a little. For my part I'll try to say thank you when I mean it.


WanderingScribe has been living in a car in the U.K. for six months or so. Writing an online journal by dropping into the library every so often to keep her thousands of interested readers up to date on her situation.

Fascinating comment on our society that so many people are interested to learn about, and willing to virtually befriend a virtual homeless person.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Ever Heard of This Movie?

I was watching one of the funny video shows on the T.V. a couple of nights ago.

A woman was on Wheel of Fortune and had to complete this phrase -

T_m Hanks _n The Green M_le

I imagine it's tough being put on the spot like that, she came up with -

Tom Hanks In The Green Mole.


Original (uncolored) mole picture source - Enchanted Learning

Say The Unsayable

What poets try to do

Monday, May 08, 2006

Being Good - Helping Others

From the book "The Power of Purpose" by Peter S. Temes -
"Can there really be a secret weapon, a special hook, an inside secret that the most joyful and successful people know and the rest of us don't?

The answer is yes....that's what Aristotle said - happiness does not come from trying to make yourself feel good, but only from making yourself be good - from being a morally decent person."

And a piece on ambition from the same book -

"We're often told that too much ambition is selfish, or even harmful. But ambition can be a beautiful thing - if it is driven by a concern for others, for having a positive impact on the world. Ask yourself why you want what you want. Is making money one of your goals? Why do you want the money - so you can spend it on yourself? Or are you thinking about using your money to help others, to do things like putting your kids through college, helping friends who need a boost, and maybe if you are very sucessful helping other people's kids get an education too? Are you dreaming of a big new home? Why do you want it? To live in alone? Of course not - not if your ambition is the kind that ends in real success and builds a positive legacy.

The kind of ambition that works in the long run comes from closing your eyes at night and dreaming of being strong enough to help others - of seeing yourself reach out your hand to support someone who needs your strength. That's what success really means - seeing someone in need, feeling the call of decency, and knowing that you can share your strength. Success means thinking and feeling and knowing, "I can help." That's the kind of ambition that makes a real difference in the world.

Ask yourself why you want what you want. Who will benefit from your success when it comes? If it's all about you, think about how you can draw a wider circle, how you can include others in your success. Think about what you can do to have a powerful positive impact on the world by using your success to help others. Committing to help others will help you find greater happiness in your path to success and in the winner's circle when you get there. And you'll be far more likely to get there - you'll be a stronger force as you fight on behalf of others, instead of struggling only for yourself. The best first step on the path to success is, in fact, to deserve it."

From The Power of Purpose : Living Well by Doing Good by Peter S. Temes.

Alfie Kohn

I've read numerous articles and several of Alfie Kohn's books over the years and found him to be an excellent guide for new ways of looking at things. He has interesting and thoughtful ideas on money and motivation, education, competition, raising children and a variety of other topics as you can see from this list of articles by subject.


Amazon link to Books By Alfie Kohn

Local News - Artspace - Citywide Wireless - Coffee - Park - Sorticulture

This article appeared in the May 3, 2006 print edition of the Everett Tribune -

City Council Tags Site For Possible 20 Million Dollar Artist's Hub

"The local arts community envisions a downtown Everett mecca for the arts - studios for and creating art, gallaries, workshops, classroom space.

City officials envision a thriving arts district that attracts national attention and boosts the economy.

On April 26 the community moved on step closer to building a $20 million regional arts center in downtown Everett.

The City Council committed to working with Artspace Projects of Minneapolis, an affordable housing developer for artists, in the possible future development of 2919 Hoyt Avenue, where an aging parking garage sits today.

Council members authorized the mayor to negotiate a lease agreement with Artspace for a term of 100 years - the expected life span of this type of arts center....

"This is the first step, having the city make the site available," said Judy Tuohy, executive director of the Arts Council of Snohomish County. "This is a huge step toward making this project a reality."

Artspace, the arts council and the city have partnered on the project and are expected to break ground in 2008. Artspace has completed 17 projects throughout the country, including the 2-year-old Tashiro Kaplan Artist Lofts in Seattle's Pioneer Square District, and has 16 projects in the works.

"This sends a strong message about how much the city values the quality of life in Everett." Tuohy said.

Forty apartment units where artists will have work space in their homes will cost $14 million to $15 million, funded mostly through public affordable housing and state and local funds through Artspace, Tuohy said in a previous interview. The center may include two exhibit spaces, a gallery store, studio space for rent, art supplies shops, office space and a coffee shop.

"We really want to be able to create a visual arts center that will be nationally renowned." Tuohy said.

An arts center has the potential to attract businesses and people to Everett, bring together a group of artists that is engaged in the community, provide more cultural experiences and bolster the economy the partners said.

"The arts center doesn't just empty out at the end of the day." since artists live thrre too, said Cathryn Vandenbrink, regional director of Artspace.

"It's a proven fact that wherever one of these arts centers locates, the area ends up becoming a destination in that area - people start to spend time there, to visit," city spokeswoman Kate Reardon said.

Philanthropic efforts must raise $5 million to $6 million, Tuohy said. The city pledged $100,000 worth of early planning and architectural work, most of which has been spent, Reardon said.

A fund-raising campaign, headed by the arts council, will start in early 2007. "The Arts Council is the and soul of this project," Vandenbrink said. "The Arts Center will give them the opportunity to expand what they have to offer."

Everett has given Artspace the official support necessary to create a successful project, she said.

"It's really exciting to be working in a community where the arts organization is out in front, and the public entities like the mayor and council are right there with them," Vandenbrink said."

Jenny Zuvela - Everett Tribune

This article appeared in the April 27, 2006 online edition of the The Everett Herald -

Everett Could Go Wireless Quickly

"Citywide wireless Internet could launch in Everett within months.

Maverick Wireless, a company based in Anacortes, wants to make Everett the first city to boast Wi-Fi that company founder and president David Schmelke said is "far faster, far more reliable, far more secure with far better coverage" than what is offered by other wireless providers.

That means residents with wireless-enabled computers could use the Internet anywhere in the city. Teenagers could check their e-mail in Grand Avenue Park on a sunny afternoon. Drivers could search for maps and directions from parking lots. Residents in every home would have Internet access.

Maverick is negotiating with the Snohomish County Public Utilities District to rent space on utility poles for wireless hardware. The routers will measure about 12 inches by 8 inches, Parker said.

If all goes well with the PUD, Maverick could have the first phases of wireless service operating within months.

"We want to do everything we can to support the request," said Lynn Parker, project manager for wireless facilities at the PUD.

Maverick would likely offer free wireless Internet for a limited period of time each day. Paid subscribers would get faster service, but those rates haven't been released. Schmelke said it would be cheaper than DSL or cable.

Schmelke's offer comes months after the Everett City Council first weighed its options for citywide Wi-Fi in January. Then, the council's attentions were focused on MetroFi, a California-based company that became the first to cover a city, Sunnyvale, Calif., with free Wi-Fi access last December.

MetroFi drew Everett City Councilman Drew Nielsen's interest at a National League of Cities conference last year.

Since then, MetroFi was awarded a contract to set up wireless service in Portland, Ore., a task Everett officials say has left their city low on the company's priority list.

That left the door open for Schmelke to make a presentation before the city's technology committee, led by Nielsen.

"We clarified early on that we are not talking about the city providing any service, so the city won't be in competition with anyone," Nielsen said. "This will be provided by private enterprise. The city's just facilitating it."

The majority of the city - Schmelke promises up to 99 percent - could have wireless by the end of the year, Nielsen said. Schmelke said his company would ultimately provide between 45 and 60 access points per square mile citywide.

Schmelke said his company would relocate to downtown Everett if the city becomes its first wireless project.

Maverick opened in 2003, but its staff has spent three years conducting tests on its own technology. So far, the company has been self-funded.

"We wanted to identify whether this technology could be used or sold in these environments, and whether Wi-Fi is really the technology for citywide wireless," said Schmelke, a former T-Mobile employee. "The results indicated that this is the right technology, but it has to be done well.""

Krista J. Kapralos -


If you happen to be in the North end of Everett you might want to stop into "Neighbor's Coffee" at 1502 Rucker Avenue. It's an independent, homey, comfortable - sandwich and coffee shop in a residential area of Everett. They have lots of space - overstuffed chairs and couches to relax, visit, read or just hang out.


Providence Hospital donated the land at 13th and Colby to the city , making it an official city park. This .7 acre space has been used as a neighborhood park for sometime. It's a grassy field with a gazebo, trellis and kids playground equipment courtesy of the local neighborhood association. It's a nice space for picnics, ball games or other community gatherings.


Sorticulture is June 16 and 17 at Legion Memorial Park.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Advantages of Being Nobody

One thing about not having a title is that you can be whoever you want to be - act however you want to act - do whatever you want to do - say whatever you want to say. If you are a king you have to act kingley, professors have to act professorly, businessmen - businessmanly, lawyers have to act lawyerly, bums - bumly....etc. etc. etc..

My mother would have liked me to be a priest. In some ways I probably have some of the traits that would make a good priest. Thankfully I am not. I can say priestly things or act like a priest if I feel like it, but being nobody allows me to act like a bum if I feel like it. I'm not talking about a bad bum e.g. a jerk - but rather someone dressed shabbily who you might see talking to themselves and picking up shiny things on the sidewalk. I can swear, I can drink, I can run amuck...whatever I want to do - because I'm nobody.

Don't Worry

It’s 2 a.m. as I type this. The only sound is the gentle hum of the refrigerator in the kitchen. A perfect time of day to reflect, think and relax. Some would say a perfect time of day to be asleep, but that’s never been my style. Never liked sleeping much. I like to get what I need but I’d much rather be awake thinking or doing things than lying in bed.

Yesterday was a good day. I rode my bike to a couple of stores in the morning and again in the afternoon. I walked to see a new friend but he had already left. I made some peanut butter and then used it to make power balls (peanut butter, jam, oatmeal). I washed, then waxed my 21-year old pickup with Turtle paste wax; cleaned the windows with Windex and used Armor-All on the rubber and vinyl. It was a good day.

I am very much into a Zen-like “sleep when tired – eat when hungry” philosophy of living. I don’t worry about how much sleep I get, or when I eat, and then extend that into life in general. I believe that there is enough. I don’t think I have to worry about how I will survive now or in the future. Not worrying about what the future will bring is a Christian thought as well. The obsession with getting my share, taking care of me, is not only sad - it’s selfish and ultimately will fail to make me happy. Matthew Chapter 6 tells me -

‘Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, “What will we eat?” or “What will we drink?” or “What will we wear?” For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." Matthew 6 - NRSV
Those verses tell me to forget about my “self” my ego. This is easier said than done and also a dialectical problem. Forget about my self vs. think about my self. If I don’t take care of myself how can I take care of anyone else? We can synthesize an answer by realizing that forgetting my self – letting go of my worries – is the ultimate in self-care. Forgetting my self means forgiving myself, having faith that there is an abundance of love, material things and everything else I need to be happy – right in front of me. All I have to do is slow down, think a little, smell the flowers and let it go.

Peace to you and yours.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Hanging Around The House

Clematis in bloom

Porch on a sunny May day


Hostas like this climate

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

A Reason to Eat Your Veggies

These veggies cost $4.95 at the local vegetable market.

I used them to make a large stirfry with olive oil, shitake mushrooms and Boca crumbles. I added some Bragg Liquid Aminos and nutritional yeast for a little extra flavor.

I ended up with a green pepper, two onions and 2 and a half garlic bulbs left over.

For the price of a cheeseburger, fries and a coke I have enough to feed six people, with very little saturated fat, lots of good vitamins and a whole heck of a lot fewer calories.


Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Shangri La Diet

U.C. Berkeley psychology professor Seth Roberts created his very own Shangri La diet.

Hope springs eternal in all of us looking for the easy road, but this diet seems to make some sense from a psychological point of view and it's being discussed/promoted on the internet by people who aren't trying to sell it - such as wunderkind Aaron Swartz.

It really isn't a diet but a way to reprogram your brain to stop the feast or famine routine. The theory is that when we have an abundance of tasty food our primitive brain functions cause us to overeat to store up fat for the coming famine. In times of famine our brain tells us to eat less to conserve available food. Problem is there is always an abundance of tasty food and there is no famine.

By drinking a cup of water with a teaspoon of sugar, or a teaspoon of olive oil each day, and then not eating anything else for two hours, we begin to reprogram our brain to think there is a famine - and thereby decrease our apetites. That's the theory anyway, and people claim it works.

I'm not so sure it's a new idea. If you observe some thin people they sometimes eat very small portions of something and then stop. Doh!

The one difference in the Shangri La diet is that we aren't eating small portions of tasty foods to retrain our habits, since the brain is programmed to tell us that if we've eaten something before and it tastes good, then we should fill up while there's time.

I haven't read the book (it just came out last month) but it's point seems to be - consume some flavorless calories each day and train yourself to want to eat less.

I don't know how drinking a cup of water with some sugar in it works in that regard, other than it wouldn't be something you'd want more of unless it had some flavor and maybe some carbonation in it. That brings us back to the question - is this really a new idea? I'm relatively sure there are quite a few people who drink a cup of tea with a teaspoon of sugar and then go for a couple of hours without eating. On the other hand, for us fatties, a little reprogramming might be just the ticket.

Here's an link to Amazon for the book (there were only a couple of reviewer comments at the time I created this link but they both give it 5 stars).

HOWTO: Be more productive (Aaron Swartz: The Weblog)

Lot's of good ideas from Aaron Swartz on how to be more productive.

He should know.

For a young guy he's done an amazing number of things - for example creating (infogami) which let's you create your own webpage in about 2 seconds ala Banjo (Testing the Gami)

I recommend reading through his blog, it's quite interesting - he's got a good balance between tech and general interest topics.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Putting The Internet In Perspective

The internet is certainly a wonderful tool for some things, however when asked if he used the internet for research when writing a book Richard Preston replied,

"... No. I find the Internet virtually useless in that respect. The problem with the Internet is that you can read Web page after Web page and never get the sense that you are either hearing the straight story, or learning something new. So much of it seems incomplete, half-baked, or just repackaged information."

From an interview with Richard Preston on page 298 of "The New New Journalism : Conversations with America's Best Nonfiction Writers on Their Craft: - by Robert Boynton.

I think the key is that when it comes to being an interesting writer; spending time on the web or in front of a computer is never a replacement for real world experience, interviews, conversations, library searches, reading books and magazines, and hard work.

That's why this blog is so boring :-0