Sunday, April 22, 2007

Peter or Paul?

I am quite sure that joke has been done before .
if it hasn't, I am a genius

I spent this Easter reading a study of the 2nd letter of Peter, in which he outlines the path to knowing Christ in a sort of 8-step program of building blocks:

...make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love.

For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Spoken by one who knew him well -- perhaps best -- it seems a trustworthy plan.

Contemporary scholarship proposes that the letter was actually written in the year 150, when Peter would have been old by even Biblical standards... if he hadn't already been executed in middle-age. It's probably true, and a little sad, because I like thinking of Peter showing the wisdom of his experience, and the conviction of his heart -- sticking it a little to Paul, the intellectual interloper who showed up late at the Movement and somehow got to be the authority.

...when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong. (Gal 2)

Snap. -eth.

But see it from Peter's point of view:

Local fisherman falls in with lay-minister who he does literally worship, even when asked not to. Jesus names him his manager, the one in charge to keep the servants fed when the time comes. But when it does, and it is bloody and real, and truly dangerous, he takes advantage of his tourist status to blend into the crowd.

Think of it this way, and you can see his repentance in the list he makes...goodness, self control, brotherly love. shoulda..woulda..coulda... Just a guy trying to make it work. "I too am a man."
I read this letter as if from Peter himself, warning me that one of the hard lessons of humility is not thinking that it shouldn't happen to you.

Because most days I know that I am Paul. Not "fell down in the road, personally called" Paul, but "listen, do it my way, I know what I am talking about" Paul. "You Gentiles listen to me!" Paul. (Acts 13) The kind of guy who really would stand up in Antioch and tell Jesus' best friend he was doing it wrong.

Then write to 12 other people about it.

So this is a new mantra. It helps when I can't fall asleep, or when I awaken at 4 in the morning, when the meeting goes on too long, when the struggle seems too hard, when I have to remember to love my enemy, because that doesn't come naturally....

brotherly kindness

Without that, none of the rest of it matters.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

The Phenomenon of Teddy Bear Fences

This is a new feature of our cultural landscape -- new in that I have watched it happen in my lifetime, to where if I think hard enough about it, I might be able to come up with my first memory of it, like lapel ribbons (Atlanta 1978), and the phrase "it's all good" (Hammer time?).

Recall the McDonald's shooting in San Ysidro, 1984. After the incident, people drove by and stared, pointed out their car windows. Then the restaurant was torn down. Teddy bear fencing had not yet been born.

As you might expect, the Va Tech shooting followed the proscribed narrative for incidents of its kind: a provocative memorial has been erected and controversy has followed.

Dodie and I, both with close ties to Tech, held our own point/counterpoint the other night by phone. I post this on her behalf as well, since sitting at the computer too long gives her a headache.

Point the 1st: I am generally opposed to memorials at the spot where one died. I prefer to visit the spot where one is buried. Not only is the death spot tainted with sadness, it is generally too public a place (highway, newstand, college campus) or too private (someone's front yard). There is one yard in Worcester where 2 such shrines are erected, and not from the same incident. In a town near me recently, a homeowner, disturbed by the shrine in his yard and the debris it collected, removed it. Without asking the family who erected it. Guess who got villified.

The roadside shrine -- known in my vocabulary by the catch-all term Teddy Bear Fence -- is now expected as a right (also rite) of the left-behind. They may even fear that we will judge them harshly if one is not erected. Perhaps we will. which is why...

...Strangers will come. I believe that people who leave teddy bears on fences do so to draw attention to themselves rather than the dead. I do not believe they are necessarily conscious of that. I believe that their need to be part of the story -- any story -- is so overwhelming that they have to go. I believe that they are afraid that if they don't, no one will, and then it won't be on the news, and other strangers will think that no one loved this poor victimized person... even if 100 people later come to his untelevised funeral.

Someone always wrecks it for the others. And right on schedule, this happened at Tech, where at a makeshift memorial of stones for each fatality... someone added one for the shooter. And I believe these people also only do this to draw attention to themselves. Otherwise they would go into their closets and pray. Because love is not boastful. and yaddayadda. We saw this in Colorado, and should not be surprised that it happened in Va. The How To manual is quite known by now.

Get your own memorial. And here is where Doe made a fantastic point. If you want a stone for Cho, go get 32 more and make your own memorial. You don't put your own candles on another person's cake, do you?

In a case of meta-culture so strange you can't tell whether The Onion made it up, or you should just shrug and say "of course..." A shrine has also been erected in Second Life. This means of course that teddy bears can actually walk there themselves.

And while we're on the topic of teddy bears (which are creepy puppets + haunted children, by the way) would someone please explain to me how this entire line of toys made it through the marketing review?? Let's hope this is not the first of a series.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Salvador and Dar&o

or... more proof that I live in a comic book

Here then, The Adventures of Salvador and Dar&o,
(disguised just enough to avoid search engines)

# 27: Showdown on the Bridge


Water drips through the walls of a skybridge above the millpond, and splashes into the plastic linings of the trashcans against the scaffolded walls. Dar&o, Chief Global Somethingorother, pinches an unlit cigarette between finger and thumb and stares out over the parking lot. He flips an object into the air, head-over-tail like a coin. It is a souvenir poker chip, bearing the name of the company he now leads...but only in part.

D: My abbreviation looks like an emoticon.
Bender: Stop commenting on the text. It annoys the reader.
(His nemesis enters from the bridge's other end, his loafered feet scraping the ground.)

S: What are you looking at?
D: The water. It used to run this building.
S: Imagine that.
D: I don't have to imagine it. In my country, industry is still run by water, and sweat, and the tears of many hunchbacked women.
S: (pausing) ooooo....kaaay.... (a beat). I'm glad you were able to come on-site. I am looking forward to partnering with you.
D: Partner is a noun, Brooklyn.
S: Have I offended you in some way?
D: This whole country offends me.
S: (noticing the cigarette) You can't smoke in here---
D: You can't smoke anywhere! (Throws cigarette as if into the pond. It bounces off the bridge window.) You promised me a company meeting. To meet my people.
S: Yes, well, we just had one you see, and we can't do it more than once a month. It upsets the facilities people. I can get you a WebEx...
D: Don't you know the Global business will bury you? The North American customer is dead.
S: You're a very angry person. Try winning the people over with love. I told them how important they were, how they are the heart of the business, how nicely they fill out a room...
D: So did your predecessor!


D (contd): But in the end, it was his inability to please EUROPE that brought him low. Try pleasing them with a few well-placed wife jokes -- you will feel a litre full of disdain.

S: Is that a lot?
D: SILENCE! (strides closer) You may have won for now, my clever little colleague. But your days are numbered. The future will be mine!

S: (hands in pockets, rocks on heels). No, lunch then, I take it?

#28 Arrival of the Snooker Table

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Losing the Squat

Jason Varitek, 35

This didn't start to be a post about Varitek (though every day is a good day for a little Tek).

Varitek is 35 today, and the gang on WEEI is afraid the old plowhorse may be losing it. Not that there has been any sign of it yet this season. He's as slow and as pigeon-toed to the base as he ever is, when he gets the chance to get there. But when a 6'3" 230lb man can jump up from a crouch and nail a baseball 127 feet, around the guy who threw it, into the 2nd baseman's glove... well, it's a feat at any age, really.

This commentary about the 35 year-old "old man" caught my attention for the same reason it probably catches Tim Wakefield's (who at 40 is still younger than I am): "old man, my eye."

And this is what the post was originally about.
I am 43 years old, and deteriorating under my very nose.

Lately I've taken to throwing out my knee by using a laptop. And the saddest part was that I had to do it 3 times before I even figured out how I was doing it. It's a simple recipe: Turn on the game, stretch your legs out over the nice ottoman you got at Bldg 19, put the laptop on your thighs, work away. 9 innings later, stand up. See if you can get out of bed the next day.


I do not have much athletic ability -- not even enough to put athletic in quotes. I lack the depth perception to throw, catch or hit a ball with much success, I would hate to break a nail in a contact sport, and as you've heard me say many times, "I wouldn't run from a fire."
Because I would do it with the same rottweiller reflex as Jason's.

But one thing I could do, my whole life, was squat completely to the floor, flat-footed, in the style of the far east. And I could rise from this position too, unassisted, with straight posture. I thought this was terribly cool, and made up for not having earned these legs from anything noble like riding, running, skating, or softball.

Tonight, healed from my latest laptop injury (or so I thought) I went into the squat to look at a lower bookshelf, and what the Internet tells me are my "collateral ligaments" declared an end to this position. Perhaps forever.

As the yoga tape tells you, "respect...any resistance..." Only it was more like these 2 ligaments grabbed the back of my head, pushed my face into a puddle and said, "Drink mud, punk!" With a Dead End kids accent...which was unexpected.

Add it to the list of things I can't do anymore, like digest a donut or sleep past 7am.

So here's to you, birthday boy. You big ol' tank. 6 foot-three. damn. that's hot. I'll rub your knees if you rub mine.

All the Tek you can

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Game Two

True, Game 1 was last night, and I missed it -- missed seeing an embarrassing wake-up call from the Royals, god help us, but tonight we are answering. And it snowed about 2 wet heavy inches on my way home tonight, so what feels better than baseball?

What I really logged on to write about is Youk's new goatee. Yoooooouuuuk! Finally. did someone get a stylist?

Let me say that I have never been a big fan of the goatee, though some of my best friends.... you know. It might be the longest running man-fad since the 18th century ponytail.
On the other hand, I do like the shaved head, and the shaved head/goatee combination is a young man's strategy toward agelessness 4-eva -- creating a neck, a chin, and a hairline all at once. A little jealous, thought the girl with the same hair style since 1990.

Kevin Youkilis is not a bad looking guy, but his lantern jaw and his fondess for the chew tend to make him look like this guy.

While this baseball card pose doesn't do him justice, I vote my approval of the goatee. And the home run. Thanks Youk.

PS... find out if Jason likes me

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

One more place to release your books

On our last episode...I offered an update on places where book hoarders could free themselves and their burdens without feeling like executioners, and bring the gift of books to others. Such a nice little ministry.

Today I found another, with special appeal to collectors and list makers. Come along.

Book Crossing
Who is it? Humankind Systems, Inc.

Still asking... Yet another internet/software company, but in this case, one of the partners began to tinker with the idea of web Community and creating the kind of site where the members truly defined the parameters of their society.

Ok, so what is it then? Where book compulsion meets geocaching, this is Release a book into the world -- anywhere/anyway you like -- then register it on bookcrossing. When it is found, the finder will make an entry that they have found it, and is of course encouraged to release it again when finished with it.

What's out there? Only 543,000 registered members; 3.8 million registered books.

How do I find my free books? Stop it. You are supposed to be working your book compulsion program, not feeding it.

But if you wander over to the Go Hunting area I suppose I can't stop you. Who am I to stand in the way of the bookless?Here's a peek, locals.

Speaking of the bookless, give some thought to The New Orleans Public Library System, though they prefer cash. Send the books themselves to Better World who are selling used books on the Internet to raise money to rebuild the NOPL and other literacy causes.

Remember that you can ship books Book Rate (imagine!) and this is very cheap for you. Please read their guidelines before sending.

And of course, Miss Bender has no objection to your using the Readership to give and receive books. Just don't send them to her.