Down the Hall on Your Left

This site is a blog about what has been coasting through my consciousness lately. The things I post will be reflections that I see of the world around me. You may not agree with me or like what I say. In either case – you’ll get over it and I can live with it if it makes you unhappy. Please feel free to leave comments if you wish . All postings are: copyright 2014 – 2019

Archive for the category “Philosophy”

Throwback Thursday – from August 2016 – “Ooh, I Can Hear Myself Thinking”

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Ooh, I Can Hear Myself Thinking

tree aloneTHIS IS ONE OF MY FAVORITE TIMES of the year at the Chapel of St. Arbucks here in Terre Haute (That’s French for, “Why did I buy more onion dip?”).

At this time every year we have a Scholastic Solstice of a sort. For about ten days this place is quiet. The Public Schools have resumed classes while the colleges and universities don’t kick into gear for another week or so. As a result, the usually busy St. Arbucks is an oasis of relative quiet. The decibel level drops from “Karakatoa on the Wabash” loud down to “My headache has disappeared” manageable. The difference is both thrilling and humbling.

During the summertime when the schools are out, St Arbucks becomes a favorite haunt of the pubescent masses who come in, order a “Strawberry and Cream Frappuccino,” and think they’re drinking coffee – Oh, so grown-up. All they are really doing is getting a fortified sugar rush and turning into nonstop chatterboxes. The giggling alone from a table with 10 high school girls is enough to make my Curmudgeon Lobe work overtime.

It is different with the obligatory teenage boys who are also here, following the girls and trying to look macho. At least they are much quieter as they practice looking both sullen and somewhat dangerous or James Dean emotionally lost and in need of a cuddle.

These two factions are in St. Arbucks all summer, minus the two weeks when their parents drag them to visit the Grandparents in some version of Iowa. When they return though, they have two weeks of giggling and posing to catch up on. It is during those two weeks that we try to get out of town.

When the colleges and universities shovel their students into town they show up by the study-group load, monopolizing tables and power outlets for their computers and cell phone chargers.

As a rule the college age crowd isn’t as noisy as the younger chair-fillers. They just fill the sonic landscape with keyboard clicks, textbook page turning and low frequency murmuring about the validity of the scientific method and the real meaning of “The Fight Club.”

Whatever happened to the days when college freshmen argued philosophy in on-campus student lounges and not out in public where the rest of us can hear them and are thrown into fits of despair for the future?

It is during this all too short respite when the younger students are back learning how to cheat on tests from their underpaid teachers and the older students are still trying to figure out how to smuggle microwave ovens into their dorm rooms that the Chapel of St. Arbucks becomes a place for contemplation, reasonable discussions about unreasonable things and, on occasion, a venue for impromptu middle-aged performance art. Things that could never happen if the students were here sounding like a billion hormone driven cicadas.

At this moment I am one of four customers/worshippers here at St. Arbucks. Two of them are women in their thirties who are chatting and sipping quietly. The fourth person is seated at the table behind me and I haven’t heard a sound out of her. Perhaps someone should check to make sure that she is still alive. If she isn’t, let her be for a while – it’s nice in here right now.

Throwback Thursday from June 2016 – “Bagpipes And Fractions”

 

Bagpipes And Fractions

Hole1SATURDAY MORNING. THE SUN IS SHINING. The sky is blue and my butt is dragging like a line of tin cans behind the newlywed’s car.

Why? Was I out partying all night? Have I been on a three-day bender and just woke up slumped over my keyboard? Have I just finished my fourth Iron Man Triathlon this week?

No. No. And No in a million years.

No party. No booze. No, because my idea of a Triathlon is Chips, Salsa, and a Burrito. All of that might make me run a bit, but not 26 miles worth.

No, my friends – my rear end is dragging because I am about to hit my biblically allotted three score and ten years and I find the world getting more and more stupid as I get older.

Half the world wants to kill the other Half because they are the other Half and they want thahole3t other Half to be like their Half. They want it both ways. If the other Half won’t be like their Half they figure it is best to kill them so their Half can become the Whole.

Of course, if their Half becomes the Whole it then wouldn’t be long before they would feel it necessary to have another Half to be upset with and they would be off and running again trying to kill “them.’

Got it? Me neither, but it’s a fact – of a sort.

Let’s see.

Two Halves. One Half wants the other Half in a Hole so they can be the Whole until they decide which Half of the remaining Whole needs to be in the Hole with the original other Half.

Using that illogical equation – eventually the Whole would end up in the Hole with all of the other Halves and then they would, no doubt, start Halving again – all in a most Unholy way.

hole2aI think I’ve just given myself a headache.

As for you, the observers, are concerned, it is your chore to determine which Halves are which and which Halves are most likely to end up in a Hole and which will become the Whole – until the next Halving.

Personally, I don’t think either Half is operating with a Whole deck. Each Half has Quarters within it that are pulling them in many different directions. It seems to me that before the main Halves are able to put any other Half into a Hole they face the possibility of being Halved from within themselves.

I see these internal Quarters rendering the Halves less able to dispaHole5tch the other Halves into a Hole. The Quartering of the Halves, and likely Eighths and Sixteenths in time, will lessen the possibilities of any Holing of any Halves. What we will end up with is a collection of highly insane fractions that will have to be content with being nonlethal pains in the butt to everyone in their neighborhood – something similar to living next door to a guy who collects bagpipes.  

Getting to this stasis with bagpipes might take a while and things will be very unpleasant until then, but I don’t see any other way of surviving that is Wholly acceptable.

I say, let the Whole thing commence by all of us sitting down to lunch. I’ll have Half a tuna sandwich and a glass of Whole milk. And an Aspirin.

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I Will Swat Flies And So Would Gandhi

 

WHAT CAME FIRST?

I’ve heard feverish arguments for both The Chicken and for The Egg. I’ve also heard that The Chicken was busy crossing the road and forgot where it left The Egg.

I don’t know. It is 6:18 in the morning. It is still dark outside – much too early for any Philosophical Questions. Even The Chicken and The Egg thing is too demanding. At this hour my brain can barely handle basic body functions: Heartbeat, Vision, Bladder. After that it is Hit and Miss until my coffee kicks in and that could be anytime between 7 AM and 7 PM. Before or after that I am not a responsible human being. Some people have argued that 7 to 7 isn’t all that great for me either.

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Throwback Thursday from March 2017 – “The Future Ain’t What It Used To Be”

Throwback Thursday from March 2017 – “The Future Ain’t What It Used To Be”

The Future Ain’t What It Used To Be

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I WAS SCANNING THROUGH THE PAGES OF THE WALL STREET JOURNAL the other day. That’s not something I do all that often. If I want financial information anything in The Journal is at least a week old. That would be like wondering if your tub is overflowing, but waiting a week to check on it. By that time your ceiling may be collapsed and the parakeet drowned in its cage.

What I did see that tickled my interest was an article about how the future was going to be different than today. Really? I didn’t know that Carnak The Magnificent worked for The Journal.

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Obviously the article was written by someone right out of college who has been living in a Reality Bubble until last week.

Of course the future will be different than today. Otherwise Time would be one long Today. I suppose that it would eliminate the need for things like the TV Guide and the expiration date on my milk carton.

As yesterday moves into today so will today trickle into tomorrow. Things change as New Ideas coalesce in fertile brains. Technology will continue to make “The way it has always been done” into a memory, and I will throw away that leftover Mac & Cheese that has suddenly turned blue.

When Daimler had coffee with Benz, and Ford and the Duryea brothers made their first automobiles the Buggy Whip makers of the world got nervous. They could see the future

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staring them in the face. The Future did them in and someday, maybe tomorrow, it will be the same for the car makers of today. Some bright and curious person will come up with a way to make, “Beam me up, Scotty,” a reality. “And while you’re at it, bring the dog in too.”

It will happen. Of that there is no doubt. It may not be “Beaming.” It might be something simpler, like faster cars unusable by drunks, teen drivers, or pizza delivery guys.

Personally, I’m looking forward to tomorrow and I’m hoping that it is different that today. Today? Been there, done that. Tomorrow offers an unlimited range of opportunities, amazement, and giggles.

I guess that some people might be afraid of tomorrow, any tomorrow. Well, I hate to be the one to break the news to you, but there is no way you can avoid it without permanent repercussions and probably ruining your clothes

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It is vital that the Future be different from Today. Without that difference there would be no progress of any kind. Of course, the Future being different doesn’t mean that it will always be an improvement over Today. We hope it will be better, but History has shown that there are no guarantees. You win some, you lose some, and some – you break even. For every “I Love Lucy” there is a “My Mother the Car,” lurking in the shadows.

I guess that the writer for The Wall Street Journal has not yet experienced a sufficient number of tomorrows to notice that the future is always different. He seemed so surprised in his writing, as if no one had ever told him about it before. He’ll learn and I’ll find something else to read.

If the Future wasn’t different then every weekend would be just as unpleasant as Mondays and that is not acceptable.

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Throwback Thursday from March 2017 – “What Is This Stuff?”

Throwback Thursday from March 2017 – “What Is This Stuff?”

What Is This Stuff?

faber1TO QUOTE THE FOUNDER OF THAT GREAT INSTITUTION OF HIGHER LEARNING – FABER COLLEGE, “KNOWLEDGE IS GOOD.”

Knowledge is that which is universally agreed upon to be really good “Stuff”. And it is better to go through life with good “Stuff”.

“Stuff” can be just about anything, but some “Stuff” is better than other “Stuff”. For example – faber3It is good to know that your message will be clearer if you don’t use the same word three times in the same sentence (See Above).

Knowing “Stuff” can be profitable. I once knew enough “Stuff” to get on a couple of Game Shows and I walked away with a lovely selection of “Parting Gifts” and some cash. I would have done better if I had known some additional “Stuff”, but “Hey, Stuff Happens!”

“Stuff” accumulates in your brain as you go through life. You learn “Stuff”. You forget “Stuff”,
but there is always more “Stuff” just around the corner. In fact (Fact aka “Stuff”), there is a stuff_logo_hoopstore in Kansas City called “Stuff.” They are open 365 days a year. There is never a lack of demand for “Stuff”. “Stuff” carries a lot of “Stuff”, but most “Stuff” enters our life through the brain.

I have always held to the theory that the brain is like a garbage can. We start out with an empty can and over time we toss in a lot of “Stuff”, some good, some bad, some obligatory. By the time we reach our teen years we think we know everything and have all the “Stuff” we need. Not true. It is during those years that we turn over our cans and dump out all of the “Stuff” we have amassed. Thankfully some “Stuff” sticks to the sides in our can. That is the “Stuff” we will need to survive those teen years when we do all of our thinking with our pants.

The “Stuff” that sticks in our can is called “Knowledge.”

After a few years “Life” (Reality) intrudes and we begin to start gathering “Stuff” again, faber4refilling our garbage cans. What “Stuff” we choose to reject and let bounce off the lid of our can ends up becoming The Congressional Record.

I made the mistake this morning of Googling “Stuff” and I was instantly overstuffed like my Aunt Nellie’s favorite chair. “Stuff” is worldwide. It is not a phenomenon or a movement. It is just – “Stuff”. It seems that the Internet is an attempt to organize “Stuff”. It is an obvious failure, otherwise how would one explain the existence of Facebook?

Much “Stuff” is useless except in emergencies – like first dates and tax audits. However, other “Stuff” can be worth its weight in…“Stuff.”

Knowing how much rice to cook is a bit of important “Stuff.” I know that 2 cups of rice will feed more people than I know.

There are some people who really think that they know all of the “Stuff” there is to know. That, I believe, is both a physical and capacitorial impossibility. How can someone know all that “Stuff?” In the time it took you to read and understand that sentence a whole boatload of new “Stuff” has been added to the pile. One could never catch up.

The world is moving at the “Speed of Stuff.” If somehow you were able break the “Stuff Barrier” you would hear a booming, “What the heck…?”

I don’t see that happening anytime soon. There is just too darn much “Stuff” in the way.

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The Wrath Of Nebuchadnezzar And Me

 

HABITS – THEY ARE LIKE QUICKSAND. Once you find yourself mired in them it can be difficult to get out. Yeah, quicksand, or contracts with a cell phone company or a relationship with someone who sucks the life out of you and eats crackers in bed.

Not all habits are that dramatic. Most habits just kind of sneak up on you and you are perfectly comfortable with them – until someone or something comes along to break into the usual pattern of everyday life.

I had such an intrusion into my life this morning. Nothing big, mind you, or earthshaking, but, darn it – it made me alter my routine – and I like my routine.

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All You Really Have…

 

“All you really have, in the end, are your stories.”

– – Burt Reynolds on the TV drama “Burn Notice” 2010

We are born; we live our lives, and as we see the final curtain beginning to come down our material things become meaningless. Most of the people we have in our life become exasperating as they can’t understand where we are and where we are going.

What is left?

We have our memories and even those begin to fade away. What can we do? We take our memories and we speak them aloud or write them down. We tell our stories. We move them from the fragile causeways of our brain to a place outside ourselves.

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Fiction Saturday – “A Conversation By The River” – Conclusion

Fiction Saturday – “A Conversation By The River” – Conclusion

Conclusion

“Some Monks pray while farming, some while cooking, or writing. I walk. I walk without a physical destination. Today I am here. I think I am here to talk with you.”

“And with the fish?”

“Yes – And with the fish. Walking is my way of praying. Each step is a prayer – a prayer for understanding and for thanks.”

I was getting confused with all of this.

“’Thanks? For what?” The Monk smiled at me and I relaxed.

“I give thanks for each step because I know that a time will come when I can no longer walk and the steps will have to be taken by someone else. Aren’t you thankful for something – your life? For your mother and father, for your home, your friends, and for this lovely spot by the river?”

“I guess so. I never thought about it before. Now that you put it all that way though I guess I do have a bunch of stuff to be thankful for.”

“Good. Now let’s be quiet so this fish and I can talk things out.”

The Monk and the fish might have been talking, but I didn’t hear anything. I stayed quiet because I know that you are supposed to be quiet while fishing and I didn’t want to scare the Monk’s fish.

It seemed to me like we were going to be there all day when the Monk broke the silence.

“That fish,” he said, “Makes a very good case for himself. Much better than me. Tonight I go hungry. My young friend I might as well be on my way.”

“You’re leaving? Where are you going to go?”

“Like I said earlier, I m going nowhere and everywhere as well, but I think I will start by going through your village. How far is it from here?

“The village is around that bend in the path and then an hour – less for you – you take bigger steps than me.” While I spoke he gathered together his things. He pulled his empty hook from the river, dried it and the twine on his red sash before carefully folding it and wrapping it around his body and over his shoulder. I wondered how many times he had done this before when a fish out talked him. When everything was in its place he stood up and bowed to me.

“It has been a pleasure to have spent this time with you and I wish you wisdom and happiness as you grow.”

He started across the grass toward the path. I hurried after him.

“Mr. Monk, can I walk with you awhile? My house is that way too, around the bend.”

“Of course, my friend. Let us both pray with each step we take.”

He was taller than me and I had to take more steps to keep up with him. He saw me trying to keep up and he slowed down to make it easier for me.

“What will you do when you get to the village?”

“I will beg. I am sure that some kind person will feed me and give me a place to sleep tonight. There is almost always someone in each village I visit. People are good.”

We walked on.

“This path goes on all the way to The Great Ocean they say. What will you do when you get to the end of the path?”

“I will turn around and walk back to the Monastery high up in the mountains. It is my home.”

“How long have you been walking?” He looked down at me.

“I began my prayer when I was no bigger than you. It is my entire life, my prayer.”

I was amazed. I could not imagine leaving everything behind and walking for such a long time. He was an old man compared to me – older than my father.

“I’m sorry that I ask you so many questions, but I’ve never really talked with a Monk before.”

“There is no need to apologize. How else can you learn? I ask questions all the time.”

We rounded the bend in the path and up ahead I could see where the path split. One part went on to the village. The other led to our farm.

“This looks like where we part ways. I go on to the village and you to your home. Again, I thank you for our time together.”

I had an idea. I had one more question.

“Do you have to go to the village tonight, a rule or something? I’m asking because my mother and father are kind people and I’m sure that they would be happy to give you something to eat and a warm and dry place to sleep. Would you come with me? I’m sure they won’t be upset.”

“Even your father who thinks we Monks are all wealthy?”

“Yes, I’m sure. He likes to go fishing too. You two could talk about that. But I don’t think he talks with the fish. He uses bits of bread as bait. Please come there with me.” The Monk paused. He looked at me and at the path into the village.

“Young man, every road that I walk splits, and I have often wondered where my life would be if I chose to take that other pathway. My prayer is in my step, not in the road beneath my feet. All roads go somewhere. This road,” he said, pointing off down the path, “It goes to your village and eventually to The Great Ocean. But this other path would take us to your farm and your family. The village and the ocean will be there tomorrow, but if I go that way today I will miss the gift of seeing your family. That chance is only mine for today, never to return.”

He sat down in the dust and looked at both paths.

“I need to think and pray. Give me a moment.”

I watched him close his eyes. He folded his legs like I had seen him do when he first came and sat by the riverbank. I said a prayer of my own that he would come with me.

After a couple of minutes the Monk opened his eyes. He smiled at me.

“My young friend, you prayed. I could feel it. It was a very good prayer. You prayed and I listened for the Wisdom to tell me what to do.”

“What did you hear?” I could feel my heart pounding in my chest.

I heard that you are an honest and truthful boy and that I am blessed by having this time with you today. Today is not done and there is more time to share.”

“Does that mean you’ll come back to my home with me?”

The Monk held out his hand to me.

“It does. Now help me up and let me get this dust off my robe. I don’t want your father to think that I am there to beg.”

And so we walked together to my home and with each step I learned more of the power of prayer.

Fiction Saturday – “A Conversation By The River” – Part Two

Fiction Saturday – “A Conversation By The River” – Part Two

Staying up in the tree once he knew that I was up there seemed silly to me. I climbed down. The Monk had moved back to his spot – my spot – by the riverbank. He didn’t pay any attention to me. I stayed by the tree trunk not knowing what to do next. He told me.

“Come and sit down. It’s a beautiful riverbank you have here.”

I went and sat down next to him by the water’s edge. He ignored me.

“You’re a Monk aren’t you?” As soon as I said that I knew it was a silly question.

“Yes, I am. Are you a farm boy?”

“Yes, I am,” I said, but being here in the middle of all the farms around here and with me looking like I do, his was a silly question too.

“What does a Monk do, Sir?”

“There is no need to call me ‘Sir.’ And as to what a Monk does it is really very simple – we pray.”

“What do you pray for?” I thought that was a reasonable question.

“We pray to understand.”

“To understand what?”

“To understand why we are here and what we should do to be worthy of this life, this river, this conversation we are having.”

“You must pray a lot,” I said to him.

He began to fiddle with his red sash. He took out the twine and the fishing hook.

“Yes, I pray all the time.”

“You don’t look like you’re praying now. You look like you’re going to try to catch a fish.”

He tied the hook to the frayed end of the twine.

“Fishing calls for a lot of praying, my young friend.”

He dipped the hook into the water and sat quietly. At least he got that part right. After a few minutes I had to say something.

“You really are going to need to pray. You don’t have any bait on that hook. You won’t catch any fish that way.” For a man who looked so smart he seemed pretty dumb when it came to fishing.

He looked at me and smiled.

“I’m not trying to catch a fish. I am waiting for the fish to put himself on my hook. It has to be his decision. It is his life and I cannot take it. He must offer it up.”

I couldn’t help but laugh.

“That’s asking a lot of a fish, Mr. Monk.”

“Very true. I have a life and so does the fish. Our lives are of equal value. They both came from the same place – from The Creator. I want to eat to stay alive and so does the fish. My hook has no bait because that would be cheating, tricking the fish.

“The fish and I must negotiate and debate about whose need is more important today. If we agree that the fish is more important today – who knows what lies just downstream for him, then I will go hungry today. If what lies down this path is more important for me, then the fish will take the hook and I will eat. Do you understand?”

He turned back to focus on his empty fish hook and I looked at him and then down into the water. There was a fish looking at the hook, but he didn’t look convinced.

“That must be why my father says you Monks are always begging for food. You can’t talk a fish into biting on an empty hook.”

“Your father is a wise man,”

We sat there, silently, for quite awhile. It was a nice day and I was enjoying my time with the Monk even though I really didn’t understand him a lot. Before he came down the path I was just sitting here daydreaming. Now I am, thinking. I’m not used to that. He had me thinking and climbing a tree.

“I saw you coming down the path for a long time. Where are you going?

“Nowhere. Here.”

“What does that mean?”

To Be Continued…

Fiction Saturday – “A Conversation By The River” – Part One

A Conversation By The River

The banks of the river are my favorite places in the whole world. In the afternoon after my chores have been done and I’ve finished my studies too I go to the river.

The river is not very big, but it has come a long way. From high in the mountains the river has wandered down through forests and the hill country, by the city where the Emperor lives, and then to us and our farms. I have been told that, eventually, the river ends as it flows into the Great Ocean. Someday, when I am grown, I would like to make a boat and sail it down the river all the way to the sea. But now I just go to the river and sit by the water and dream.

Yesterday I was sitting on the grass by the river. I was watching the fish swim around in the water. The sun was still hot and I had found a spot underneath one of the big trees. Its leafy branches kept me from the heat of the sun and made it the perfect place to be.

From my place under the tree I could see down the dusty path from our village and, in the other direction, I could almost see the hazy shape of the mountains to the west.

As I looked up the path I could see someone, a man, walking slowly in my direction. As he got closer I could see the little clouds of dust that his sandals kicked up with each step he took. In the bright sunlight it looked like he was dressed in a golden robe. When he got closer I could tell that he was dressed in yellow with a red sash around his waist and over one shoulder.

I have seen men dressed like him before. My parents said that men dressed like that were Monks, holy men, who travel throughout the country. My mother said that they bring good luck. My father said that they were pests, always begging and wanting food for free.

The Monk was coming toward me down the dusty path. I wasn’t sure what to do. I didn’t have anything to give him, so I decided that the best thing for me to do was to hide. I climbed the tree and hid myself in the branches.

I could see the Monk clearly as he got close and, instead of passing by and going toward the village, he stopped and sat down under my tree in the very same spot where I had been. I watched him. He didn’t make a sound. He sat there with his eyes closed.

The Monk was bald. There was not one hair on his head and he was clean shaven like my father. He sat with his legs folded up underneath him and his hands rested in his lap/ I didn’t move either. I didn’t want to make any noise that would tell him where I was hiding.

After a few minutes the Monk opened his eyes and stretched out his legs. He took off his sandals and dipped his dusty feet into the water of the river. He sighed and smiled. He had a kind face.

He undid his red sash and unfolded it on the grass next to him. He had several things, but not a lot, that he carried with him.

I saw a spool of twine and a fishing hook, a small knife – not big enough to scare anyone, a book not much bigger than my hand, a flint, and a cup. That was all he had. He was not a rich Monk like my father said that they all were.

He took his cup and bent over to get himself a drink of water. Even though it was a hot day the water in the river was always cool having come down from the mountains.

He drank his cupful of water and then he did something most strange. He bent over again very close to the water. It looked like he was talking to the water, but I couldn’t hear what he was saying. When he finished talking he put his hand onto the surface of the water, like he was petting an obedient dog. That made no sense to me. It was like he was thanking the river for the water he had taken,

The Monk sat quietly by the water for a few minutes and then dried his feet, put his sandals back on, and stood up. I thought that he was going to leave and continue walking down the path. Instead he walked over to the trunk of the tree and, without looking up, he spoke.

“Why don’t you come down? I won’t bite.”

That startled me and I almost fell from my place in the branches.

“Come down and we can talk.”

To Be Continued…

Throwback Thursday from August 2015

Throwback Thursday from August 2015

 

Ooh, I Can Hear Myself Thinking

tree aloneTHIS IS ONE OF MY FAVORITE TIMES of the year at the Chapel of St. Arbucks here in Terre Haute (That’s French for, “Why did I buy more onion dip?”).

At this time every year we have a Scholastic Solstice of a sort. For about ten days this place is quiet. The Public Schools have resumed classes while the colleges and universities don’t kick into gear for another week or so. As a result, the usually busy St. Arbucks is an oasis of relative quiet. The decibel level drops from “Karakatoa on the Wabash” loud down to “My headache has disappeared” manageable. The difference is both thrilling and humbling.

During the summertime when the schools are out, St. Arbucks becomes a favorite haunt of the pubescent masses who come in, order a “Strawberry and Cream Frappuccino,” and think they’re drinking coffee – Oh, so grown-up. All they are really doing is getting a fortified sugar rush and turning into nonstop chatterboxes. The giggling alone from a table with 10 high school girls is enough to make my Curmudgeon Lobe work overtime.

It is different with the obligatory teenage boys who are also here, following the girls and trying to look macho. At least they are much quieter as they practice looking both sullen and somewhat dangerous or James Dean emotionally lost and in need of a cuddle.

These two factions are in St. Arbucks all summer, minus the two weeks when their parents drag them to visit the Grandparents in some version of Iowa. When they return though, they have two weeks of giggling and posing to catch up on. It is during those two weeks that we try to get out of town.

When the colleges and universities shovel their students into town they show up by the study-group load, monopolizing tables and power outlets for their computers and cell phone chargers.

As a rule the college age crowd isn’t as noisy as the younger chair-fillers. They just fill the sonic landscape with keyboard clicks, textbook page turning and low frequency murmuring about the validity of the scientific method and the real meaning of “The Fight Club.”

Whatever happened to the days when college freshmen argued philosophy in on-campus student lounges and not out in public where the rest of us can hear them and are thrown into fits of despair for the future?

It is during this all too short respite when the younger students are back learning how to cheat on tests from their underpaid teachers and the older students are still trying to figure out how to smuggle microwave ovens into their dorm rooms that the Chapel of St. Arbucks becomes a place for contemplation, reasonable discussions about unreasonable things and, on occasion, a venue for impromptu middle-aged performance art. Things that could never happen if the students were here sounding like a billion hormone driven cicadas.

At this moment I am one of four customers/worshippers here at St. Arbucks. Two of them are women in their thirties who are chatting and sipping quietly. The fourth person is seated at the table behind me and I haven’t heard a sound out of her. Perhaps someone should check to make sure that she is still alive. If she isn’t, let her be for a while – it’s nice in here right now.

Throwback Thursday -June 2015 “Bagpipes And Fractions”

Throwback Thursday -June 2015 

Bagpipes And Fractions

Hole1SATURDAY MORNING. THE SUN IS SHINING. The sky is blue and my butt is dragging like a line of tin cans behind the newlywed’s car.

Why? Was I out partying all night? Have I been on a three-day bender and just woke up slumped over my keyboard? Have I just finished my fourth Iron Man Triathlon this week?

No. No. And No in a million years.

No party. No booze. No, because my idea of a Triathlon is Chips, Salsa, and a Burrito. All of that might make me run a bit, but not 26 miles worth.

No, my friends – my rear end is dragging because I am about to hit my biblically allotted three score and ten years and I find the world getting more and more stupid as I get older.

Half the world wants to kill the other Half because they are the other Half and they want thahole3t other Half to be like their Half. They want it both ways. If the other Half won’t be like their Half they figure it is best to kill them so their Half can become the Whole.

Of course, if their Half becomes the Whole it then wouldn’t be long before they would feel it necessary to have another Half to be upset with and they would be off and running again trying to kill “them.’

Got it? Me neither, but it’s a fact – of a sort.

Let’s see.

Two Halves. One Half wants the other Half in a Hole so they can be the Whole until they decide which Half of the remaining Whole needs to be in the Hole with the original other Half.

Using that illogical equation – eventually the Whole would end up in the Hole with all of the other Halves and then they would, no doubt, start Halving again – all in a most Unholy way.

hole2aI think I’ve just given myself a headache.

As for you, the observers, are concerned, it is your chore to determine which Halves are which and which Halves are most likely to end up in a Hole and which will become the Whole – until the next Halving.

Personally, I don’t think either Half is operating with a Whole deck. Each Half has Quarters within it that are pulling them in many different directions. It seems to me that before the main Halves are able to put any other Half into a Hole they face the possibility of being Halved from within themselves.

I see these internal Quarters rendering the Halves less able to dispaHole5tch the other Halves into a Hole. The Quartering of the Halves, and likely Eighths and Sixteenths in time, will lessen the possibilities of any Holing of any Halves. What we will end up with is a collection of highly insane fractions that will have to be content with being nonlethal pains in the butt to everyone in their neighborhood – something similar to living next door to a guy who collects bagpipes.  

Getting to this stasis with bagpipes might take a while and things will be very unpleasant until then, but I don’t see any other way of surviving that is Wholly acceptable.

I say, let the Whole thing commence by all of us sitting down to lunch. I’ll have Half a tuna sandwich and a glass of Whole milk. And an Aspirin.

Rechargeable Batteries


IN JUST A FEW DAYS WE WILL BE HEADING SOUTH to attend the NACCC Annual Church Meeting. It is always a good and refreshing time. The delight of seeing old friends – I think that the best word is “Fellowship.” That means more than sitting around with a cool drink and shooting the breeze with everyone.

It is a time to exchange ideas, joys, sorrows, and hopes and plans for the future. It is also a time to recharge the batteries of faith – faith in God, Humanity, ourselves and each other. Time and tribulation can drain our batteries, but this Annual Meeting works to plug us in and reenergize us all for the year ahead.

The chores of daily life draw from our batteries much like accidentally leaving on your car headlights. You may be casting out a light to illuminate the way, but it won’t be long before you find yourself in the dark. The Annual Meeting acts like jumper cables to restart our engines and get us back on the road. Perhaps the old Willie Nelson song, “On The Road Again,” should be added to the Hymnal?

“On the road again

Just can’t wait to get on the road again.

The life I love is making music with my friends.

And I can’t wait to get on the road again.”

 

When I hear that it makes me think of the message of “Amazing Grace.”

“How sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me.

I once was lost, but now I’m found. Was blind, but now I see.’

Maybe it’s just me and my life experience, but I see so much in both those songs. Both carry a message of life renewed, rescued from days without joy and bearing the power of the music shared with friends.

Both songs sing of recharging our batteries and seeing our life with renewed energy. Whether you are singing “Amazing Grace” or “On the Road Again,” you are leaving behind the time when life was hard and are entering a time of happiness and energy.

Piedmont College in Demorest, Georgia – brace yourself. We are on our way and we can get a little loud at times. There will be a fair amount of singing and laughter. There will be looking back at our past and a lot of looking to the future. There will be joy.

I Do Not Have Any Answers Before Coffee

FOR SOME REASON BEYOND MY COMPREHENSION the people on Facebook are in a philosophical mood this morning.

Facebook? Philosophical? Two words I never think of being in the same sentence.

I crawled down the street to St. Arbucks, turned on my phone and the first thing I saw was not another cute cat picture or a snapshot of somebody’s breakfast, but someone asking the Universe a question.

“What if it is my destiny to be alone?”

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This Is Not What I Had In Mind

THERE ARE MORNINGS WHEN I WISH HAD OVERSLEPT. If I was still unconscious I would blissfully miss things that, if awake, I would later end up regretting. Today I was up early.

As I sat there slumped over my coffee trying to find inspiration I was slowly surrounded by several members of the “Usual Suspects” who haunt the chapel of St. Arbucks. Normally, I could ignore them as they carry on, but this morning they snagged me.

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What Is This Stuff?

faber1TO QUOTE THE FOUNDER OF THAT GREAT INSTITUTION OF HIGHER LEARNING – FABER COLLEGE, “KNOWLEDGE IS GOOD.”

Knowledge is that which is universally agreed upon to be really good “Stuff”. And it is better to go through life with good “Stuff”.

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The Future Ain’t What It Used To Be

wsj1I WAS SCANNING THROUGH THE PAGES OF THE WALL STREET JOURNAL the other day. That’s not something I do all that often. If I want financial information anything in The Journal is at least a week old. That would be like wondering if your tub is overflowing, but waiting a week to check on it. By that time your ceiling may be collapsed and the parakeet drowned in its cage.

What I did see that tickled my interest was an article about how the future was going to be different than today. Really? I didn’t know that Carnak The Magnificent worked for The Journal.

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Stop, Look, And Breathe

anger1 IT MAY BE THE HOLIDAY SEASON WITH LOADS OF HO! HO! HO! and your basic good cheer all around, but it seems to me that there are still a bunch of angry people walking around out there. Seriously angry people. Fearful people.

They are angry about a variety of things – some of which are worth being angry about, but so many of these people are worked into a lather about things that are not worth the effort. If you were to stop and ask these folks what it is that has their dander up, most of them could tell you, but a fair portion might be hard put to put their finger on it. They are angry to be sure, but it is a rather non-specific anger. It is like they’ve shot off their arrow even though they couldn’t clearly see the target.

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Throwback Thursday from December 2015

Throwback Thursday 2

Keep Yer Wheel. I’ve Got Something Better

dollar store2

SOME SAY THAT THE WHEEL IS THE GREATEST OF ALL INVENTIONS. Others say it is fire, or the printing press. I disagree. I think that the greatest invention in the History of the Human Species is The Dollar Store.

Let me explain…

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The Early Bird Gets The Coffee 

write1I LIKE THIS TIME OF DAY. The sun is not up yet. The only sounds I hear as I step outside are a few birds that are bothered by my presence as I bustle about opening and closing doors and starting the car. I try to be quiet. We do have neighbors after all. 

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