10.10.08

Psychology Dissidents' Victory at Last

Exercising a never-before used bylaw, a dissident group of psychologists in the APA forced a referendum on the issue of psychologist participation in the interrogation of detainees. This referendum will seek to remove military psychologists from places like Gitmo and replace them with independent psychologists who will work on behalf of the detainees.

2.10.08

This is The Place

You would have chuckled at this title,
as only a heathen in SLC could.
The night of the day I found out
all I could see was your face when I closed my eyes.
I am sorry I was not there the last time you reached out to me.
I know that I would not have been enough.
For the longest time you were a kindred spirit:
a razor sharp mind
that wrapped the finest humor
like bandages around a soul
with wounds that wouldn't heal.
While I'm left with great sorrow,
I can respect that you'd had enough...
and I hope that you've finally found a love
that is enough
in the great abyss.

Ronald John Bernier
Ronald John Bernier 1959 ~ 2008 Ronald John Bernier died 8 September 2008 as a result of long-term illness and depression. He was born 6 January 1959 in Putnam, CT to Armand and Evelyn Doris (Ouellette) Bernier. He grew up in Plainfield and graduated from Plainfield High School in 1977. Ron attended American University in Washington, DC, studying History, and also worked at the National Archives from 1978-79. In that year he began his long-time association with the probate industry, helping to find countless "missing heirs" and reuniting families that had lost touch with each other. He worked for the American Archives Association of Washington, DC (and later Bethesda, MD) from 1979 until the firm closed in 1993. Ron moved to Sacramento, CA to continue this work and in October 1995 founded his own firm, National Estate Services. He lived briefly in San Francisco and Oakland, CA before moving to Salt Lake City on 22 September 1996. In addition to his probate company, Ron co-founded Genealogical Resource Institute in 1998, helping people trace their ancestry. In June 2007 he also became Research Manager with American German Heir Search, based in FL. Ron learned that he was HIV positive on 31 August 1988 and lived with that disease for 20 years, through many illnesses and much suffering. He served on the Board of Trustees of PWACU (People with AIDS Coalition of Utah) from 2000-2005 and was its Secretary in 2004. Ron is survived by a brother in CT (and his children, Daniel, Jonathan and Erin Bernier), as well as a sister, Carole Krzywda of Liverpool, NY and her two children, Laurie Krzywda of Augusta, ME and Michael (Rebecca) Krzywda of Rochester, NY (and their children, Matthew and Josephine). He also leaves many friends in CT, the DC area, CA and UT, who will miss his quick wit and amazing sense of humor, as well as his deep love for them. There is less laughter in the world because of his passing. Ron will be buried alongside his parents in St. John's Cemetery in Plainfield. A celebration of his life will occur on Friday, 3 October at 11:30 a.m. at the Plaza Hotel on South Temple, in the APG meeting room. All of his friends are warmly invited to attend.
(from the Salt Lake Tribune Obituary Notices, Oct. 2, 2008)

13.8.08

Images of Colorado

Love enforcement officer
Demonstration: the importance of wearing protection

Guru, poolside

Cowboy, sunny-side up

Tenda

17.7.08

Ecology Amiss at 'Casa Ra'

Columbia, MO (AP) Trustees of the favored retreat of intellectuals and iconoclasts have sounded the alarm about the wildlife surrounding The Sunset Villa. "The ecology's all out of whack," lamented Colby "Jackalope" McPherson, Director of Organics, Environment, and Balance for the Villa. Mr. McPherson, a former sheriff of Fremont County in southern Colorado, released photographs and a statement to the press that made allegations that unchecked populations of deer around the Villa were most likely to blame for the recent destruction of the site's tastier landscaping.

Denuded green sweet potato vine

Vandalized and scandalized purple sweet potato vine

Local naturalists were quick to challenge McPherson's claims. "It most probably was nothing more than a hungry rabbit," dismissed Phinneas Rector, Interim Director of Backyard Habitats, a not for profit group frequently at odds with custodians at the Villa. Rex McPherson, Managing Director at Sunset Villa, defended cousin Colby's assessment of the situation, "Could've been a rabbit but if you examine the photo of the once robust green vine you'll see that such a rabbit'd've (sic) needed a long neck to nibble the end of that vine which clearly extends out past the wall."

Mr. Rector returned fire, "Rabbits are keen at using their little forehands and one could have easily bent the vine toward his hungry agenda." Biologists at the University of Missouri-Columbia were eventually pulled into the fray. Edna Prudence, Department Chair, stated from her office late yesterday, "The faculty are divided so it could have been either culprit. We will probably never know with any certainty." Driven to display unity, the McPherson cousins held a press conference today. Said Colby McPherson, "As is often the case, human malcontents have now eclipsed the story of nature with their own bent agendas. We're merely trying to shine a light on the ongoing tension between peaceful cohabitation and the consequences of brazen self-propagation."

Rex McPherson, without advisement from his more environmentally minded cousin, chirped, "The loss of Rubi marked the beginning of the whole system getting out of balance." Porifio Rubirosa, nicknamed "Rubi" by her fans, was a turtle who had taken up residence on the Villa's grounds ealier this summer but who vanished without a trace several weeks ago.

12.7.08

Cormac's Gems

Here are a few favorites I've plucked from McCarthy (italics added for separation):

"We done blessed the food once, he said. So unless you got some personal business to conduct just tuck on in."

"They rode through the ruins of old sawmills and they rode through a mountain meadow dotted with the dark stumps of trees. Across a valley in the evening with the sun on it they could see the tailings of an old silvermine and camped in withy huts among the rusted shapes of antique machinery a family of gypsy miners working the abandoned shaft who now stood aligned in all sizes of them before the evening cookfire watching the riders pass along the opposing slope and shading their eyes against the sun with their hands like some encampment of ragged and deranged militants at review."

"He said that even the sepulturero would undersand that every tale was a tale of dark and light and would perhaps not have it otherwise. Yet there was still a further order to the narrative and it was a thing of which men do not speak. He said the wicked know that if the ill they do be of sufficient horror men will not speak against it. That men have just enough stomach for small evils and only these will they oppose. He said that true evil has power to sober the smalldoer against his own deeds and in the contemplation of that evil he may even find the path of righteousness which has been foreign to his feet and may have no power but to go upon it. Even this man may be appalled at what is revealed to him and seek some order to stand against it. Yet in all of this there are two things which perhaps he will not know. He will not know that while the order which the righteous seek is never righteousness itself but is only order, the disorder of evil is in fact the thing itself. Nor will he know that while the righteous are hampered at every turn by their ignorance of evil to the evil all is plain, light and dark alike. This man of which we speak will seek to impose order and lineage upon things which rightly have none. He will call upon the world itself to testify as to the truth of what are in fact but his desires. In his final incarnation he may seek to indemnify his words with blood for by now he will have discovered that words pale and lose their savor while pain is always new."

"The horse had dark hooves with heavy hoof walls and the horse had in him enough grullo blood to make a mountain horse by both conformation and inclination and as the boy had grown up where talk of horses was more or less continual he knew that where the blood carries the shape of a hock or the breadth of a face it carries also an inner being of a certain design and no other and the wilder their life became in the mountains the more he felt the horse subtly at war with itself. He didnt think the horse would quit him but he was sure the horse had thought about it."

"They followed one by one, the stiff winter nettles at the cave door rattling viperously against the legs of their jeans. Inside they struck matches and Warn took a candlestub from a crevice and lit it, the calcined rock taking shape, tonsiled roof and flowing concavity, like something gone partly to liquid and frozen back again misshapen and awry, their shadows curling threatfully up the walls among the dried and mounded bat droppings. They studied the inscriptions etched in the soft and curdcolored stone, hearts and names, archaic dates, crudely erotic hieroglyphs--the bulbed phallus and strange centipedal vulva of small boys' imaginations."

"Were there darker provinces of night he would have found them."


"The dumpkeeper had spawned nine daughters and named them out of an old medical dictionary gleaned from the rubbish he picked. These gangling progeny with black hair hanging from their armpits now sat idle and wide-eyed day after day in chairs and crates about the little yard cleared out of the tips while their harried dam called them one by one to help with chores and one by one they shrugged or blinked their sluggard lids. Uretha, Cerebella, Hernia Sue. They moved like cats and like cats in heat attracted surrounding swains to their midden until the old man used to go out at night and fire a shotgun at random just to clear the air. He couldn't tell which was the oldest or what age and he didn't know whether they should go out with boys or not. Like cats they sensed his lack of resolution."


"All my life, he said, I been witness to people showin up where they was supposed to be at various times after they'd said they'd be there. I never heard one yet that didnt have a reason for it.
Yessir.
But there aint but one reason.
Yessir.
You know what it is?
No Sir.
It's that their word's no good. That's the only reason there ever was or ever will be."


"He woke all night with the cold. He'd rise and mend back the fire and she was always watching him. When the flames came up her eyes burned out there like gatelamps to another world. A world burning on the shore of an unknowable void. A world construed out of blood and blood's alcahest and blood in its core and in its integument because it was that nothing save blood had power to resonate against that void which threatened hourly to devour it. He wrapped himself in the blanket and watched her. When those eyes and the nation to which they stood witness were gone at last with their dignity back into their origins there would perhaps be other fires and other witnesses and other worlds otherwise beheld. But they would not be this one."


"To see God everywhere is to see Him nowhere. We go from day to day, one day much like the next, and then on a certain day all unannounced we come upon a man or we see this man who is perhaps already known to us and is a man like all men but who makes a certain gesture of himself that is like the piling of one's goods upon an altar and in this gesture we recognize that which is buried in our hearts and is never truly lost to us nor ever can be and it is this moment, you see. This same moment. It is this which we long for and are afraid to seek and which alone can save us."


"I thought one time maybe you'd gone to California, Boyd said.
What would I do in California?
I dont know. They got cowboys in California.
California cowboys.
I wouldnt want to go to California.
I wouldnt either.
I might go to Texas.
What for?
I dont know. I aint never been.
You aint never been noplace. So what reason is that?
Only one I got."


"They washed their clothes out with soapweed and hung them in an acacia tree where they could not blow away for the thorns. Clothes much consumed by the country through which they'd ridden and which they had little way to repair. Their shirts all but transparent, his own coming apart down the center of the back. They spread their blankets and lay naked under the cottonwoods and slept with their hats over their eyes while the cows came up through the trees and stood looking at them."


"He sighed and seemed himself weary and cast down. He said that while one would like to say that God will punish those who do such things and that people often speak in just this way it was his experience that God could not be spoken for and that men with wicked histories often enjoyed lives of comfort and that they died in peace and were buried with honor. He said that it was a mistake to expect too much of justice in this world. He said that the notion that evil is seldom rewarded was greatly overspoken for if there were no advantage to it then men would shun it and how could virtue then be attached to its repudiation? It was the nature of his profession that his experience with death should be greater than for most and he said that while it was true that time heals bereavement it does so only at the cost of the slow extinction of those loved ones from the heart's memory which is the sole place of their abode then or now. Faces fade, voices dim. Seize them back, whispered the sepulturero. Speak with them. Call their names. Do this and do not let sorrow die for it is the sweetening of every gift."


"Yes, it tells about him. It tells what it wishes to tell. It tells what makes the story run. The corrido is the poor man's history. It does not owe its allegiance to the truths of history but to the truths of men. It tells the tale of that solitary man who is all men. It believes that where two men meet one of two things can occur and nothing else. In the one case a lie is born and in the other death."


"He nodded. He knew her well enough, this old woman of Mexico, her sons long dead in that blood and violence which her prayers and her prostrations seemed powerless to appease. Her frail form was a constant in that land, her silent anguishings. Beyond the church walls the night habored a millennial dread panoplied in feathers and the scales of royal fish and if it yet fed upon the children still who could say what worse wastes of war and torment and despair the old woman's constancy might not have stayed, what direr histories yet against which could be counted at least nothing more than her small figure bent and mumbling, her crone's hands clutching her beads of fruitseed. Unmoving, austere, implacable. Before just such a God."


"I had an uncle was born in Missouri. His daddy fell off a wagon drunk in the mud one night goin through there and that's how it come about that he was born in Missouri."


"Who can dream of God? This man did. In his dreams God was much occupied. Spoken to He did not answer. Called to did not hear. The man could see Him bent at his work. As if through a glass. Seated solely in the light of his own presence. Weaving the world. In his hands it flowed out of nothing and in his hands it vanished into nothing once again. Endlessly. Endlessly. So. Here was a God to study. A God who seemed a slave to his own selfordinated duties. A God with fathomless capacity to bend all to an inscrutable purpose. Not chaos itself lay outside the matrix. And somewhere in that tapestry that was the world in its making and in its unmaking was a thread that was he and he woke weeping."

27.6.08

KIM

huddled prayers for you
warming as i wake,
rays of dawn light
fervently poking me
with a thousand urgent pinpricks,
"now! Now!"
eyes opening in time
to see the silo of my mind
opening, too
then the trembling launch
of a psychic ICBM of Grace,
heading west to find you,
inscribed simply with the spell,
"love"

22.6.08

Summer Reading

Insculpta Homeboy

(AP) Columbia, MO. The Management of the Sunset Villa (aka "Chalet du Soleil") announced Sunday morning that a local turtle has, in fact, taken up residence on their grounds. Rex McPherson, grounds manager, remarked, "Our friend goes by Porfirio Rubirosa and is one of many splendors of wildlife our guests can expect to enjoy when they stay with us." It's true: a deer was spotted leisurely grazing in the Villa's front yard in the middle of the day just last week while McPherson was chatting on the phone with his brother. A few days later, a doe was seen with her two spotted fawns in a nearby neighborhood. When asked about the turtle's moniker McPherson replied while smiling, "It stays with the original Latin theme of the Villa, but we're not sure if the turtle actually has ties to the famously endowed Dominican lover or not."

18.5.08

The Worst Graduation Present Ever

for K, my Stunning, Redheaded Princess/Niece upon her Departure to Adulthood

As I've said before: God does have a fabulous sense of humor. One of its manifestations seems particularly poignant now: namely, that with age comes wisdom that can almost never be imparted upon those who follow us on the journey through life (at least not successfully). This wisdom is forged in the fires of our cumulative experiences and shaped by the hammers of adversity that fall upon us and that we bring down upon ourselves. It is also informed by the reluctant realization that certain truths do, in fact, apply to each of us and that if we had only been able to consider those truths as relevant when they were passed on to us, they would have indeed changed the course of our lives. But you're a bright star and so I offer to you those truths I have uncovered on my journey in the hopes that they may offer you some guidance, solace, or simply some company as you prepare for this momentous departure. Put another way, the best that I have to give to you comes in the form of unsolicited advice, quite possibly the worst graduation present ever. I use the phrase departure to adulthood somewhat loosely; I know that train left the station some time ago. It has been a pleasure watching you blossom into such a beautiful woman. It has also been a terror--but that is mostly about my own response to the passage of time: something that you will no doubt discover yourself picks up speed as you move along the path until the movement of days, weeks, and months become seamless and fleeting and indistinguishable. But mostly, it has been a pleasure to watch you grow up--not the least of which has been merely an aesthetic pleasure: you are a beauty. In addition to the unsolicited transmission of my discoveries below, please know that I am always available to you in person. I promise to always give you the truth as I see it (all that any of us can ever do but most won’t and likely to be not quite right oftener than not). Nonetheless, I hope this is simply the formal beginning of our own lifelong dialogue as adults on the journey.

Here’s what I know so far:

Kibble of Wisdom #1: Adulthood has no Endpoint

That is, of course, unless you consider death an end (but that's another conversation). I've discovered that, in some ways, I got duped by cultural myths that sold me on the notion of becoming finished. Hollywood sells us the notion of a perfect mate and guidance counselors the notion of a perfect career. That's not to say that these institutions cannot bring joy and meaning, only that they can never complete you. The seduction of getting through college is a sense that when you finished you’ll be done. Not true. Adulthood is a process. Relationships and careers are too. Consider your life as happening right now; not when you're finished with school, not when you're in a relationship, not in the future. Life is now so never put off becoming who you want to be--start being that person now. We reach physical maturity fairly early in life; growing up mentally and spiritually takes the rest of our lives and only becomes arrested if we choose it.

Kibble of Wisdom #2: Only You can give Yourself Happiness (and only You can take it away)

When you fall for the myth of perfection it's easy to put your energy into the pursuits of finding the soul mate that will bring you happiness and the career that will actualize you. Unfortunately at that point you've just placed the source of happiness and actualization outside of yourself and you'll be locked in to an endless circle of chasing your tail and consequently, will never obtain either of them. I spent more time chasing my tail that I would hope for you. We're all dealt a hand for which we are not personally to blame. The hand is never fair, but this works in both negative and positive ways. It appears that the tendency for many people is to focus upon the ways the hand they were dealt was negative and not upon the many beautiful things they were given that they didn't deserve either. Focusing on the negative rarely achieves more than acknowledging the simple truth that life is not fair and then ensuring daily doses of misery and pain. This acknowledgement of misery and pain never rectifies our lives by transforming us into something different. No, while the hand dealt is not our fault it is always our responsibility. Here's why: the hand you were dealt has shaped the person you are, both good and bad--and no one or no thing can reach down inside of you and make it any different. You can. Be weary of letting yourself think of the hand you were dealt as a cage because if you do, it becomes one. When the hands are dealt, the Dealer also gives us the key to release ourselves from mental cages: the key is called Choice and it is the greatest gift of this Life (in my opinion). On my journey, the times I was most miserable were those times when allowed myself to become passive--to view myself as being swept along by the river of life. It's true: life is a river and much is out of our control; nonetheless, resist the idea that this means you should throw your hands in the air and fail to attempt any navigation whatsoever. Think of whitewater rafting: everyone is going to hit rapids but not everyone will make it through them. We can control how we position ourselves in the rapids, how we paddle, and how we work with others.

Kibble of Wisdom #3: If You haven't already, start a Relationship with Yourself

I've noticed that most people treat their friends better than they treat themselves. If this sounds like something you do then consider thinking of yourself as one of your friends. If you would forgive a friend for making a mistake, then forgive yourself when you make one. If you would give your friend something during their time of need, then give yourself something during your times of needs. If you would be honest with your friends, be honest with yourself. If you would respect your friend's boundaries or limitations, accept your own. If you would defend your friends, defend yourself. If you would want the best for your friends, want the best for yourself. When you relate to yourself as another one of your friends then you will be aware of those times when someone is asking you for something that you do not have to give them. If a friend didn't have money to loan you then you wouldn't ask them for it or expect. In the same way, when someone asks you to compromise who you are or crosses your boundaries they are asking you for something that you don't have to give them. If they don't respect the borders of your singular nationhood, then they want something from you that you cannot give them and they're probably not a very good friend. You will have to defend those boundaries because no one else can do it for you. If you afford yourself the same respect toward yourself that you give to others you'll find yourself in healthier relationships. If you rationalize and justify others' disrespect of your boundaries you'll end up in relationships where others repeatedly cross them. Queen Latifah gave herself a wedding band—not a bad idea.

Kibble of Wisdom #4: Boys are Problematic; Men are an Endangered Species

One of the most profound statements to come out of the HIV epidemic was a bumper sticker that read simply, "Boys Lie." Granted it was surely developed by a bitter, old queen and it's no accident that this message is being passed along to you by another one. Boys, particularly those in their 20s but not limited to them for sure, appear willing to obtain sex through any means necessary. Now, I say this not to presume that you're a naive, young thing who knows nothing about the ways of the world but only to serve as a steadfast reminder of the landscape. If adulthood is defined by being physically, mentally, and emotionally responsible for oneself than we have to conclude that most of the men in the world are, in fact, boys. Boys will say anything to get what they want so it would serve you well to pay less attention to what boys say and more attention to what boys do. So here's the lowdown on how to deal with boys: resist giving them what they want. I know it sounds like playing games but I know of nothing else that provides you with more information about whether they are actually a man and if so, what type of man they are. Boys who lie are lazy. They're lazy because they want what they want and they want it now. They're lazy because they don't want to put the effort and work into relating to a whole woman with an intact personhood. Therefore, the quickest and easiest way to avoid boys who lie is to not give them what they want. At this point, many will simply call you names and move on (they're lazy so they're not going to put any more effort into someone who is not giving into them). Good riddance but it's only the first cut of the cards. Some will persist. Continue resisting what they want and instead, express what you want. In this way, you'll be able to see if what you want is important to them--and if they're willing to put time and effort into meeting your needs. At this point, more will move on. Good riddance, but it's only the second cut of the cards. At this point, if you wish, you can give them a little of what they want, but with limitations. In this way, you'll be able to see if they respect your boundaries. This is a critical point because, by now, a healthy adult like yourself will have begun the process of making emotional connections to the other person. If they don't exactly respect your boundaries a temptation will arise to rationalize their behavior, to understand it, to empathize with it, to passively condone it. Don't. It will be easy to tell yourself something like, "Well, he doesn't really respect this small boundary that I've put up because he doesn't understand it, or he was raised differently than I was, or because it is a less significant boundary, but I’m certain that he'll come through for me when it's really important, when it matters." He won’t. I've fallen at this point many times and let me tell you unequivocally: when you hear your internal voice making justifications to yourself, say back to it, "Bullshit!" As far as I can tell, one can never be sure of another person’s fidelity to their promises to us at all times. What you can be sure of is how they behave when they hurt you. A boy who clearly feels pain if he unintentionally hurts someone he loves (especially in the minor ways we hurt the ones we love) is probably less likely to hurt you in the big ways. A boy who clearly does not feel pain when he unintentionally hurts someone he loves in the little ways is most assuredly a boy who will go on to hurt you in big ways. Resist the temptation to tell yourself anything otherwise and you will avoid much pain. If you set the bar at real adulthood for the men you are involved with it would mean expecting them to take full responsibility for their own happiness, their own sexuality, their own emotions and that they would never place that responsibility on you. He will also have nothing but respect for you owning those same responsibilities for yourself. If he's not matured to this point, never take on the task of trying to get him there. You'll only be reinforcing the underlying current that you are somehow responsible for him growing up and therefore, it will never happen.

Kibble of Wisdom #5: Being Generous and Being a Doormat are Not Synonamous

It took me a long time to get to this one for myself. This includes everyone else, not just romantic interests but certainly including them. Always be generous. Helping others is one of the very best parts of being human. It's also linked to happiness and well being. For those of us who have been given so much there is a moral imperative that we also give a lot to others. I used to hold the worldview that if I gave my best to someone the exposure to such rich love would teach them and change them. Not true most of the time. When you lose yourself in the process of giving to another, or when you fail to recognize when you are trying to give someone something that you don't have to give them (i.e., money, time, energy) or cannot give them (i.e., happiness, fulfillment, resolution of their own past and problems, moral absolution) you have crossed into the realm of becoming a doormat. Anyone who continues to take from you without the awareness that they're depleting everything you have for yourself is not someone who cares about you. (Would you let a friend give you everything they had? No you wouldn’t). Also, there is evil in this world. I never wanted to believe that until I met it face-to-face on more than one occasion). You need to know that there are people in this world who would use your generosity, your kindness, or your trust in order to exploit you. I don't want to give the impression that you have to walk around with an impenetrable shield around yourself. I just want you to be aware that caution should precede generosity and those people who feel real gratitude for your generosity will understand that generosity is never be a blank cheque (literally and figuratively). For me, I mixed up the notions of empathizing and trusting. In other words, if I could understand they way they were I thought my empathy for them would make them trustworthy to me. Not true. Everyone has reasons for being the way they are--experiences in childhood, shitty parents, etc. Understanding those reasons still does not make them trustworthy. It just means that like everyone else, there are reasons they are the way they are. Make others earn your trust and don't give it to them a minute before they have. Trust is never something that can be frontloaded in a relationship – it just can't be. Trust will come only when someone successfully navigates the rapids with you. Before you've gone through rapids together trust is nothing more than a warm and fuzzy feeling (and probably a delusional one) inside your body but not something woven into the fabric of the relationship between you and them.

Kibble of Wisdom #6: Your Family is your Touchstone

Sure, right now you want to put some distance between yourself and the rest of us and that's normal. But know this: you can come home anytime you want to or need to. You've got a big family and lots of homes. Part of the cultural myth about romantic love is that it's unconditional. Perhaps over a lifetime it can become that. By and large, however, romantic love is the most conditional--and it should be. If a romantic love crosses a line, hurts you, disrespects you then he better change his tune and better change it fast or he should be eliminated from your life. But the love of your family is unconditional. We love you and will always love you. No matter what do. No matter what you become. Take it from me: this is not to say that you can never disappoint us or that you can never hurt us. On the contrary, you can and you probably will (because we can never not disappoint or hurt our families sometimes). Also, that's not to say we won't ever disappoint or hurt you too. It is to say that we are among the most charmed and blessed because we have a family who can work through the disappointments and the hurts and who will never stop loving us. Who needs the lottery? We've already won it.

Kibble of Wisdom #7: Categorical Variables: Handy for Research, Not so much for People

What I most loved about my education was that it exposed me to people from the far corners of this Earth. They looked different. They talked different. They ate and loved differently. They prayed differently. They played differently. The given categories of race, sex, religion, sexual orientation, nationality, creed and such amounted to vast amounts of misinformation that served only to make me feel far away from them. I challenge you to get up close to them and get to know them as individuals. It will enrich your life and ground you to this world. It will bring you friends that others will tell you should not be your friends. It’s the best way to be a rebel. As well as learning much about those who people this planet you will learn the nuance of your own texture and that will allow you to better celebrate your own life. Differences will cast into relief what is important to you and what you can (and cannot) tolerate in others. Fear of difference is probably natural--succumbing to it is just lazy.

Kibble of Wisdom #8: Be Weary of Simplicity and the People who Peddle it

Way back when, snake oil peddlers rolled into town with a cart full of ointments and tonics. They made all sorts of claims and lots of people believed them. Of course, they had to move on after they made the sell so they'd be long gone by the time that people wised up to falsities of their claims. The same kind of charlatans still exist now, more often than not on the internet or telephone so you can’t find them when their covers are blown. But a more sophisticated beast also lived then and still exists now as well. They peddle simplicity in matters that can never be proven or disproven. Because their claims can never really be tested and they don't have to be nomads. In fact, many of them build huge physical and emotional edifices that will be around a lot longer than they will. My advice: be leery and weary of anyone trying to sell you anything that’s cheap or easy. Watch out for these folks particularly in the areas of politics, knowledge, and religion.

Kibble of Wisdom #9: Absences in Laughter Require Investigation

When you’re a child and say you don’t feel good, one of your parents usually sticks a thermometer in your mouth. Think of laughter like that thermometer. If you’re not laughing frequently, what in your life is suppressing your spirit? What will it take to change or exorcise that suppression? How can your Family help you at this time? These eerily silent times that possess a lack of the forceful, diaphragmatic expulsion of air typically mean there is an illness in your life. These are good times to come home and be pampered a bit while you figure out where to make adjustments. Let me know if I can help as I try to make this one of my specialty areas (not counseling so much as laughing).

Kibble of Wisdom #10: Stretch your Wings

OK, so we can’t all be good at everything. Granted. But most of us can be good enough at a whole lot of things but most people won’t because they’ll never spread their wings. The monumental acts of survival required of our ancestors mean that we are equipped with so many tools that most of us will never know we even had—that is, unless, we try things and discover that they were in our toolboxes all along. In knowing you, I know that you have more tools than most of the people you will meet. Don’t be arrogant or modest about that. Just use them and do great things. Soar high and enjoy your wings for every second of the flight.

5.5.08

State of the Union

The New York Times continues to be the last American newspaper standing. Dip your toe into American waters to get a feel of our nation's current climate:

Making Greensburg, Kansas Greener

If you haven't caught wind of the rebuilding of Greensburg, KS - a rural community leveled by an EF5 tornado last year - you're missing out on one of the most exciting environmental developments to blow through our national consciousness.
If you think of people living on the Plains as a bunch of hicks, you'll probably be surprised to witness the most brilliant rural revitalization project ever undertaken in the Heartland of America.

The Athens of Missouri

Enjoy some photographs from a recent hike just outside of town:





Since my recent relocation from Kansas City, MO to Columbia, MO I've been reflecting on life in a smaller, college town in America. The immediate benefits that I have enjoyed are the many nature hiking opportunities and the ways that locally owned businesses still thrive on the basis of maintaining a good reputation. Of course, the dramatically lower crime rate is not a minor factor: one that increases one's senses of mobility and liberation.

1.5.08

PBS: America at a Crossroads

If media images of the Middle East leave them feeling dread and dislike, citizens of America and Her Allies (should we have any left) might enjoy watching an upcoming episode of America at a Crossroads on PBS. It is called Stand Up: Muslim American Comics Come of Age on May 11. Check your local PBS listing for specific times.

13.4.08

Pollan on Food, Condensed

The sentences below are quoted from Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food without comment.



EAT FOOD

DON'T EAT ANYTHING YOUR GREAT GRANDMOTHER WOULDN'T RECOGNIZE AS FOOD.

AVOID FOOD PRODUCTS CONTAINING INGREDIENTS THAT ARE A) UNFAMILIAR, B) UNPRONOUNCEABLE, C) MORE THAN FIVE IN NUMBER, OR THAT INCLUDE D) HIGH-FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP.

AVOID FOOD PRODUCTS THAT MAKE HEALTH CLAIMS.

SHOP THE PERIPHERIES OF THE SUPERMARKET AND STAY OUT OF THE MIDDLE.

GET OUT OF THE SUPERMARKET WHENEVER POSSIBLE.


MOSTLY PLANTS

EAT MOSTLY PLANTS, ESPECIALLY LEAVES.

YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT EATS TOO.

IF YOU HAVE THE SPACE, BUY A FREEZER.

EAT LIKE AN OMNIVORE.

EAT WELL-GROWN FOOD FROM HEALTHY SOILS.

EAT WILD FOODS WHEN YOU CAN.

BE THE KIND OF PERSON WHO TAKES SUPPLEMENTS.

EAT MORE LIKE THE FRENCH, OR THE ITALIANS, OR THE JAPANESE, OR THE INDIANS, OR THE GREEKS.

REGARD NONTRADITIONAL FOODS WITH SKEPTICISM.

DON'T LOOK FOR THE MAGIC BULLET IN THE TRADITIONAL DIET.


NOT TOO MUCH

PAY MORE, EAT LESS.

EAT MEALS.

DO ALL YOUR EATING AT A TABLE.

DON'T GET FUEL FROM THE SAME PLACE YOUR CAR DOES.

TRY NOT TO EAT ALONE.

CONSULT YOUR GUT.

EAT SLOWLY.

COOK AND, IF YOU CAN, PLANT A GARDEN.