Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Commonplace; some of my favorite quotations

"I don't preach to or deliver bibles to the needy. My religion is irrelevant in the presence of hungry people." ~President Bill Clinton, Nashville, TN 2010

As Thomas Jefferson himself said, “Question with boldness even the existence of a God; because, if there be one, he must more approve of the homage of reason, than that of blind-folded fear.” 

What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.- James 2:14-17 (ESV)

"Trees are the best monuments that a man can erect to his own memory. They speak his praises without flattery, and they are blessings to children yet unborn." ~ Lord Orrery

"The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong." ~ Mahatma Gandhi

“All opinions are not equal. Some are a very great deal more robust, sophisticated and well supported in logic and argument than others.”
― Douglas Adams, The Salmon of Doubt

I knew I was different. I thought that I might be gay or something because I couldn't identify with any of the guys at all. None of them liked art or music, they just wanted to fight and get laid. It was many years ago but it gave me this real hatred for the average American macho male.  ~Kurt Cobain

Voting is easy and marginally useful, but it is a poor substitute for democracy, which requires direct action by concerned citizens.  Howard Zinn

"Science... its only sacred truth is that there are no sacred truths.All assumptions must be critically examined.Arguments from authority are worthless.Whatever is inconsistent with the facts, no matter how fond of it we are, must be discarded or revised. Science is not perfect, its often misused, its only a tool... but its the best tool we have. Self-correcting, ever-changing, applicable to everything."  -Carl Sagan

"I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use." ~ Galileo Galilei

"Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts."  Winston Churchill

"It must be borne in mind that the tragedy of life doesn’t lie in not reaching your goal. The tragedy lies in having no goal to reach. It isn’t a calamity to die with dreams unfulfilled, but it is a calamity not to dream. It is not a disaster to be unable to capture your ideal, but it is a disaster to have no ideal to capture. It is not a disgrace not to reach the stars, but it is a disgrace to have no stars to reach for. Not failure, but low aim is sin.”
― Benjamin Elijah Mays

"If you’re too much worried about the afterlife, you’re not enough worried enough about this life. Living a life of love means not having to worry about hell." - John Shore

“If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?”   - Alexander Solzhenitsyn

Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction. -- Blaise Pascal

If you aren't willing to believe in the discoverable laws of nature that govern this world, then leave the care and keeping of it, to those of us who do.  GDC

I have faith in science.  GDC

I think each rich and powerful person should spend a night far from help in the woods, naked and alone, to remind them of where they may have come from, of those on whom their wealth and power is built, and of their duty to all their fellow beings.   (GDC)

One of the saddest things about living is to lose ones you love and to awaken to the cumulative attrition of kindred souls. We are fortunate to be able to carry them about with us, in our memories of moments lived with them.   GDC

To feel the wind in my face and God all around me . . . (this is what I had put next to my picture in my high school year book, the year I graduated)

To live life in every breath. To see that every blossom is perfect. To have no mind. (paraphrased from a character in "The Last Samurai")

The way I live determines the way my people survive.  Graham Nash

Work every day as if it were your first, yet tenderly treat the lives you touch as if they will all end at midnight. Love everyone, even those who deny you, for hate is a luxury you cannot afford.  Og Mandino

To be wronged is nothing, unless you remember it (Confucius said this). Therefore, commit to memory only those things that are worth remembering. (GDC)

In the absence of objectivity (which is impossible), integrity must suffice. (GDC)

Life isn't fair by design. We must make it so, where we are, where we can. (GDC)

"To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public."   Theodore Roosevelt, 1918

Illegitimi non carborundum!!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

I re-read a little more of Carol Burdick's Woman Alone - A Farmhouse Journal this morning.  It was touching to recall encounters with her parents, who were my mother's cousins, and to recall the old farmhouse her father had rebuilt, which they and she retreated to.  Her parents had invited my parents (and probably grandmother and great aunt) and me out there for afternoon visits, and I had cherished them, always wanting more.   After she'd inherited the farmhouse, C.B. hired me to mow the lawn and repair and paint the siding.  I loved spending afternoons out there, alone, too.
C.B. spoke often about needing to write, and I feel that need, too.  In notes on my journal when I took her "A Place In The Universe" class, she said that perhaps I had a book in me.  It needs to come out, I daresay.  Perhaps it helped her to find some peace.  Perhaps it may work for me, too.
Her book is ostensibly about dealing with the deaths of parents, and I now know it is tough stuff, even well after the fact.  I recall that C.B. left a message on our answering machine soon after our father died.  She and he had gotten up early many mornings and played tennis together where the Saxon Inn now stands.  Her message, as I recall, was simply "I just heard about your Dad.  He was wonderful . . . "  This from a woman who proclaimed a lack of faith, about a minister of the church she says she'd rejected.  I hope she found some peace, as she despaired over her parents' waning and apprehended her own.  May we all.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Separation

It was a long day at work,but I felt productive and had no especially stressful issues, but I was ready to be home. I took care of some minor automobile problems when I got home and talked with the wife and son, but I needed some private space.  So the dog and I went out in the yard on a warm evening when darkness came quickly, and crickets were calmly making their melodies.
I've had my hammock hanging in the aspen grove since August, but hadn't had a chance to enjoy it until tonight.
So, there I am, lying in my hammock in the dark, but my eyes have had a chance to adjust, so I can see the silhouettes of the aspens and a white pine against the twilight sky.  I'd heard coyotes earlier, but now it's just the crickets and leaves falling and the occasional vehicle on the highway down in the valley.  I'm just swinging gently, almost ready to doze, but certainly ready to relax . . .
. . . and my cell phone rings.  I should have left that thing in the house.  But I can see that it's a number I've seen before, and it's someone trying to sell me something.  So I push the number one and wait for a real person to come on the line.  The woman at the other end, once she picks up the connection, tells me I can get cheaper electricity, so I ask if they have sustainable options.  She says "it doesn't matter" and I tell her it matters to me.  So she refers me to her supervisor, who asks me what is my question.  I tell him I want to know what sustainable options they have, and he tells me they have ten percent.  So I say that's not good enough, and tell him they've called me repeatedly but I've never talked with a real person until now, and I want them to stop calling me.  He quickly says "goodbye" and hangs up before I get a chance to unload my frustration.  Damn it.
Lying in the hammock, letting my eyes get used to the semi-darkness again, feeling better.  Crickets serenading again.  Feeling good.
Then I hear a truck and see the headlights, and I'm on my feet, frustrated at the intrusion.  Again.  The truck turns around briskly in the bus turn-around and speeds back down the road.
I moved here with my wife twenty-five years ago, to get away from intrusions.  Back then we had people on four-wheelers driving right past the house, and hunters presuming to hunt in our yard, who I had to turn away, repeatedly, in person.  Once, I even cocked my gun as loudly as possible to emphasize my demand that they move on, immediately.
I remember a night thirty-three years ago.  I was living alone in a small house sixteen miles from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, and was just falling asleep when someone pulled up in my front yard.  I was wearing boxer shorts.  Just boxer shorts.  I grabbed a hatchet, turned on my porch light, and stepped out, yelling "get out of here!"  They probably thought I was nuts.  In that moment, I was.  I wanted to be left alone.  Same thing tonight.
Most of the time, I'm pretty long-suffering.  But not tonight.  Sometimes I think we didn't move far enough out of town.  My wife and son don't agree.  Maybe it's finally time for me to have my wife drop me off on the Finger Lakes Trail, thirty miles or so from here, and just wait for me to find my way home.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013


Okay, you walked to my house in the heat of the day, so you were thirsty.  I never would withhold water from a thirsty man, and I don't mind that you entered my house to get some.
You came to my house because you were frightened, but you came when you knew I'd be at work, and didn't bother to use my telephone to call and tell me you were in my home?!  But what if my wife or son had come home to find you in our home?
So I come home from work to find you in my yard and you tell me your troubles.  No problem, but I had things I needed to do, and the following day is my wedding anniversary.  Then I see you have one of my beers in your hand.  Okay, one beer.  I won't begrudge you that.
I make some telephone calls for you and my wife feeds you supper.  Then I drive you to a place where you can stay for a while and get your equilibrium.  But only when I ask directly, do you admit that you had not one, but six, of my beers in my absence.  You say it was because you were bored?!
Seriously, is there a problem here?
What violence lies in a heart so troubled that the actual and bloody injury, dismemberment, and killing of others is in any way satisfying? 
I suppose every heart has been angry and momentarily wished violence upon those who have wronged it. 
Depending on the person, such feelings are acted out on a limited scale, and a festering feud ensues. Sometimes they are subdued and harbored for long periods of time without their being enacted. They may linger for a time, but subside with meditation upon their potentialities, in the passage of time. In other cases, they are abandoned in favor of forgiveness and hope for reconciliation or, if nothing else, a conscious separation from those who have inflicted hurt upon the person.
But how is it that a person -- the breathing, walking, talking, former freight of a woman's womb, who entered life entirely dependent upon others -- actually carries those awful fantasies to fruition, with calculation and malevolence, upon persons both legion and unknown? This is beyond my ability -- or even my desire -- to imagine.
Yet I must ponder it:
Whether due to a congenital malformation or the result of traumatic experience, whatever causes malevolence to be the natural product of a human soul, is a tragedy larger than that single life, because no human life is isolated from others.  
How can we prevent this violence?  We must be vigilant in every possible way, from considering the words which issue from our mouths, to considering how we respond to those wrongs done to us; from deciding whom we elect to represent us, to being mindful of the mental and emotional states of our family, friends, and neighbors, and even the stranger we encounter on the street.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

A Sad State


Someone I know just posted an item on Facebook in which they stated they agree with a single sentence quoted from Vice President Joe Biden, which they interpret to mean that we can do nothing to save lives lost to gunfire?  In the next breath, Biden said there were things we COULD do that would not infringe upon Second Amendment rights that would help to reduce the likelihood of people dying.  The Vice President was obviously saying nothing could be done to GUARANTEE that no-one else would die unnecessarily, but that reasonable actions COULD be taken.
This same "friend" of mine had JUST accused someone else of taking a quote out of context, in which they quoted Jefferson and others as saying that this is not a Christian nation.  Sheesh.
Anyone who is satisfied with the idea that we can do NOTHING to prevent innocent people from dying at the hands of people with guns, is in a sad state.
Furthermore, this is the same person who not long ago agreed with another "conservative" on Facebook, that dialoguing with me on Facebook had reinforced their views and made them glad they were "conservatives".  Both of these men continue to regard me congenially, and I don't think they intended to insult me, but it was a slap in the face, nevertheless.  My efforts to engage in reasonable discussions on real issues, had only caused them to double down on their self-inflicted ignorance?  If it only produces the backfire effect -- meaning that people react to disconfirming evidence by strengthening their previous beliefs -- then I guess I'm done dialoguing with them.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Don't mess with my mother (the Earth)!!

People who don't care about the environment are motherf&%#ers.

About Me

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I've been a number of things over the years: husband, father, environmental technical specialist, college instructor, carpenter, volunteer firefighter and ambulance driver, student of Lakota and Japanese languages, technical writer, process engineer, research technician, IT technician, emergency dispatcher, etc.