Wednesday, April 29, 2009

I Found a Sweet Purse Today

Postscript one month later - I left the purse and a few other items at a bus stop today in hopes that someone else could use them. I probably should have put a few bucks inside it...maybe next time.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Monday, April 27, 2009

If We Are a Christian Nation

Why is it that we don't act more like Jesus?

Some people say the U.S. was founded on Christian principles, and is a Christian nation - but how is it that we twisted what Jesus taught into justifying the displacement of Native Americans, slavery, war, torture, solitary confinement, executions, exploitation, usury, discrimination, idol worship etc. etc. etc..

We are not a Christian nation - we are a nation of pragmatists. We do what works, which isn't all that bad - but don't be a hypocrite about it.

There are no justified wars, there was no manifest destiny, white European's have no special insight into God's ways. We used religion to accomplish things - some good and some bad. What we have yet to do as a nation is take what Jesus told us and made it a way of life.

"But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. Do to others as you would have them do to you."

“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful."

“Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.”
Luke 6:27-38

Saturday, April 18, 2009

U2 Grace

I've been listening to the U2 song "Grace" quite a bit lately and was looking for it on YouTube when I ran across this video of Mother Teresa with the song as background.

One of the most fascinating and heartening things about Mother Teresa to me is that she accomplished so much good in her life, outwardly giving the appearance of a person with a deep and abiding belief in God, while internally she struggled with her faith and questioned whether God exists at all.

I think for Mother Teresa, like other people who work in extremely difficult circumstances helping alleviate other human beings suffering - that having faith, and maybe especially faith that is unsure, questioned, struggled with - allows those special people to accomplish things that people who only believe in the scientific view of the world could never survive.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Op-Ed Columnist - How to Raise Our I.Q. -

There is a pretty interesting and hopeful article in the New York Times stating evidence shows that the belief that I.Q. is overwhelmingly inherited is wrong. Maybe not all that surprising, but I.Q. is not determined mostly by nature after all - nurture plays a big role as well. High School students who understand they can improve their I.Q.'s tend to do better in school, and early childhood education can really help give children more brain power. Our I.Q.'s have increased over time and the article makes this surprising statement -

"Half the population of 1917 would be considered mentally retarded by today’s measurements, Professor Nisbett says."

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Ubuntu 9.04 to Be Released on April 23rd, 2009

You can download the release candidate of Ubuntu 9.04 (Jaunty Jackalope) now or wait until next Thursday for the released version.

Ubuntu 9.04 supports; the ext4 file system which allows up to 64,000 subdirectories, one Exabyte volume, and files up to 16 Terabytes. Ext4 also adds two bits to the time stamp field thus delaying the Year 2038 problem for 500 years, allows faster boot times and has improvements over ext3 file systems in preventing disk fragmentation.

I've been using Ubuntu for several years and am pleased with it. It's not perfect but no operating system is. It does almost everything I want with the exception of running iTunes and occasionally not being able to open some videos on a limited number of websites. Open Office works fine for the word processing, spread sheet or presentation type work I want to do. Gimp is a very powerful photo editing tool, Picasa is good for organizing and minor photo retouching and there's a ton of other free applications available. Support is good because the people who post questions and answers on the Ubuntu bulletin boards tend to be people who know something about writing or modifying code...or at least aren't afraid of playing with a computer and learning something new.

One of the interesting things about Ubuntu compared to some other operating systems are the system requirements needed to run this version of Linux. For example, there are other flavors of Linux that require even less memory, but Ubuntu will run reasonably well on a computer with 256 Mb of RAM. This may not be fair but I think there is an inverse relationship between the amount of memory taken up by an application or operating system and the elegance of the programming, and therefore to some extent it's usefulness and reliability.

Mainly I just like Ubuntu because it's free, fun to play with, and it works fine for what I need an operating system to do.

I'm using Ubuntu 9.04 pre-release version and so far it's working fine. I think it boots up and shuts down quicker than the last version Ubuntu 8.10 (Intrepid Ibex) even though I didn't change to the ext4 file system. Canonical provides a new release for Ubuntu every six months, one in April and one in October. Ubuntu 9.10 (Karmic Koala) will be released October 29, 2009.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Joe Raiola - The Joy of Censorship

I'm looking forward to hearing Joe Raiola, senior editor of Mad Magazine, talk at the Everett Public Library tonight. His ideas on our first amendment rights to free speech sound thought provoking.

For kids who grew up in the 1960's Mad Magazine was "the" source for anti-establishment humor, goofy humor and satirical digs at everything from politics to Hollywood to Madison Avenue and advertiser driven consumerism. It was funny and edgy for it's time. I was lucky to have teachers and parents who believed it was better to be reading something (even Mad or comic books) than nothing at all.

I like his advice quoted in this article -
"Question authority to the highest possible level whether it be political, religious, or that of any expert," said Raiola. "Continue to think for yourself; don't let anyone silence you - consciousness is power."

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Jack's Life Lessons

This isn't my list of lessons but I like the simplicity of the ideas. I might post them on our fridge if I can find a spot.

Monday, April 13, 2009

We Shall Remain - PBS Series

"The Master of Life
has appointed this place for us
to light our fires,
and here we shall remain."

We Shall Remain is a five part series on the Native American experience, airing Monday nights. The episodes start with “After the Mayflower” tonight, with “Tecumseh’s Vision”, “Trail of Tears,” “Geronimo” and “Wounded Knee,” on subsequent Monday nights. Additional information on the series is here

Thursday, April 09, 2009

NYC Households Without a Vehicle

It's interesting to consider that 80% of the households in the Flatiron neighborhood of Manhattan do not have a vehicle. This percentage of households without a vehicle is representative of all of Manhattan where it ranges from 70% to slightly over 80% according to these demographics in the New York Times. 59% of the people take public transportation to work. 29% report they get to work by biking, walking or "other". According to this data 0% of households have two or more vehicles.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Right Now: What Are You Doing?

This might be a good page to pull up every so often when distractions are keeping you from attending to something more important.

Right now I'm thinking it's already Wednesday - where does the time go? When I was younger the weeks seemed longer. Later in the week TGIF is more like in Thank Goodness It's what the Frak? Friday already...

Speaking of the word frak - B and I watched the last two episodes of Battlestar Galactica last week. That was a good series, I recommend getting the DVD's and watching it if you never have. BSG is mentioned in the April 6th New Yorker magazine - Talk of the Town section, in an article by Mike Peed. Seems that Edward James Olmos (Admiral William Adama) and Mary McDonnell (President Roslin) visited the U.N. for a conference on how BSG might "inform the international body’s approach to some problems of the day: terrorism, torture, religious conflict."

The article concludes with this -

"....Horejsi teaches literature at Columbia (some classicists see the show as a retelling of the Aeneid). “ ‘Battlestar Galactica’ repays you the way great literature does,” she said. “The show is as complex, as sophisticated and nuanced, as any kind of text that I’ve encountered, and the discussion tonight was on a par with the academic conferences that I’ve attended.” She went on, “My students always laugh when I recommend ‘B.S.G.’ to them. Whatever. They’re eighteen."

Tuesday, April 07, 2009


Tumblr looks like it might be an interesting place to visit.

I find it visually appealing and while perusing the site I learned that Hard times make hairy men more attractive.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Flowering Plum Trees In Bloom

P1000630Originally uploaded by Jack Crossen
The "Thundercloud" flowering plum trees, forsythia, daffodils and grape hyacinth are all blooming now. Pretty soon the lilac, azalea, lilies, rhodedendrons, and tulips will be too.

It's supposed to get up to 70 degrees today, the Mariners open the regular season against the Twins tonight and North Carolina and Michigan State play for the NCAA basketball championship.

Spring is here.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

I Wish There Was a Carl's Jr. Around Here

From The 19 worst drive-thru foods in America....
Carl’s Jr. Double Six Dollar Burger
with Medium Natural Cut Fries and 32 oz Coke
2,618 calories
144 g fat (51.5 g saturated fat)
2,892 mg sodium

Of all the gut-growing, heart-stopping, life-threatening burgers in the fast food world, there is none whose damage to your general well-being is as catastrophic as this. Consider these heart-stopping comparisons: This meal has the caloric equivalent of 13 Krispy Kreme Original Glazed Donuts; the saturated fat equivalent of 52 strips of bacon; and the salt equivalent of seven and a half large orders of McDonald’s French fries!

I like Sonic too, but there aren't any in this area -
Sonic Minute Maid Cranberry Juice Slush (“Route 44”–extra large)
616 calories
165 g sugars

In its pure form, antioxidant-packed cranberry juice is a healthy choice. But this Cranberry Juice Slush comes with an asterisk next to the word “cranberry” on the Web site’s nutrition list. That’s probably because only 78 of the whopping 616 calories come from “cranberry flavor”—the rest of the bulk comes from the “slush.” Consider that a code word for sugar overload: the extra-large has the sugar equivalent of six packs of M&Ms.

Articles like this are just filler - it's not news that fast food is not health food, that it's high in calories, fat and sugar. If you eat this kind of food once in awhile because you like it better than something else - I don't see the problem. The more pressing health issue is that we need to find ways to incorporate more movement into our everyday life.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

The Roar on the Other Side of Silence

"We do not expect people to be deeply moved by what is not unusual....if we had a keen vision and feeling of all ordinary human life, it would be like hearing the grass grow and the squirrel's heart beat, and we should die of that roar which lies on the other side of silence."

This quote is from the George Eliot (pen name of Mary Anne Evans) book Middlemarch and was posted in a NYC subway as part of the MTA Train of Thought program.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Living in the In-Between

Grand Central
Originally uploaded by Jack Crossen
Psalm 90: "So teach us to count our days that we may gain a wise heart."

Learning to value time is one of life's most important lessons.

We can think about the past and anticipate the future but life happens in the in-between.

We can appreciate the moment by slowing down and taking a moment to pause between stimulus and response - paying attention to our breath, clearing our mind and relaxing our body.

No one can take away our ability to choose our attitude in any situation, however in order for us to choose our attitude we need to give ourselves some time.

In his book, "The Tipping Point How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference" , Malcolm Gladwell describes a study done by two Princeton psychologists inspired by the biblical story of the Good Samaritan. The study involved seminary students and determining which of them would stop to help a person in distress. The single most important factor was whether or not the students believed they could take the time to help another human being. Some of them literally stepped over the person in distress while hurrying on their way to give a talk on the Good Samaritan. The moral of the story?

Slow down - 99% of the time whatever it is you think is driving you to rush about, can wait. Give yourself some time to pause and reflect - even if just for a moment.


"Everything can be taken from a person but ... the last of the human freedoms - to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way." Victor Frankl

"Take more time, cover less ground."- Thomas Merton

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Happy Fool's Day

I think we could use more foolishness in our lives everyday, not the malicious kind, just the plain silly fool variety. Not taking ourselves too seriously is a good thing and it's an honest thing - because at some level we are all idiots at least some of the time. Some of us, like yours truly, maybe more often than others. The nice thing about it is I think some of the goofy/stupid/silly things I do are funny - so at least I can entertain myself.

I'm not talking about the stupid stuff someone does when they are drunk or acting mean or rude, just the everyday dumb stuff we all do...forgetting things, dropping things, spilling things, locking ourselves out of the house/car, leaving your fly unzipped, etc. If we start from the point of view that we are all clowns, minus the scary face paint and big shoes, the world will be a happier place and we will be happier since we don't have to live up to some unrealistic expectation of perfection.

No one is more insufferably boring than someone who doesn't realize they are a flawed puny human.

Get out there and act foolish - a little today and everyday.


"The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool."

William Shakespeare, "As You Like It", Act 5 scene 1
Greatest English dramatist & poet (1564 - 1616)