Wednesday, January 31, 2007

ears to hear

One may sing with the voice of a meadowlark, but if his audience is deaf, it makes no difference.
One may paint with exquisite color, and expose soul beneath the surface of his subject, but to the blind, it means nothing.
The brisk chill of the harshest gale can be softened with a windbreaker zipped to the neck.

He who has ears to hear, let him hear.
He who has eyes to see, let him see.
He who has skin, let him feel the breeze.


Wednesday, January 24, 2007

concerning gender distraction

Last night I stole 22 minutes and 48 seconds to sit down and watch an episode of The Office wired from my iPod to my TV. I chose the episode, “Boys and Girls” from season two. A very funny episode, I must say. While Michael never knows how to be a guy around girls (women), he knows even less about being a guy around guys. The show was an accurate dramatization of what happens when boys and girls are separated.
Driving home from work tonight, I heard a spot for tomorrow’s edition of South Carolina Public Radio’s production, “speaking of schools”. They’ll be talking about single gender education. Now I realize that my experience, though it be extensive, does not make me an expert in speaking to the value or stupidity of a methodological trend, but I have made some observations from having been involved in single gender education. Education is a very “new idea, trend-trying, there’s-always-a-newer-way-to-do-it” venture. (I was once involved in an educators think-tank for advocates of hyper-hyphenation-compound-adjective-creation.) But for the life of me, I can’t figure out how anyone couldn’t see the ridiculousness of single gender education for middle and high school students.
I have racked my brain to figure out where this notion was started. No doubt somewhere in the beginning of the process, someone, realizing that when hormones begin to kick in, humans are distracted by the opposite sex from anything not involving the opposite sex. Education (excepting 8th grade health class) tends not to be about the opposite sex, and thus does not receive proper attention from pubescent would-be scholars. But this realization shouldn’t be enough to lead one to the idea of single-gender ed. Through my extensive experience, I’ve observed that this distraction is precisely what ensures that said scholars behave with some modicum of civility, and thus maintain some minute possibility of inadvertent, indirect learning. (It should also be noted that the removal of the opposite sex from the physical environment in no way removes them from the cerebral environment and therefore does not diminish the distraction in the least. Students of this age have been known frequently to enter an apparent catatonic state to approximate the REM stage and therefore intensify the enjoyment of the distraction. Students will go to great effort to be distracted by the opposite sex, and this effort is, in itself, a distraction.)
Though the behavior of a co-ed middle school classroom may lead an educator to believe that the removal of one or the other gender would improve the behavior of the remaining, a few days of the observation of such an environment proves this notion desperately errant.
Several years ago, I taught separated classes of 7th grade boys and girls as my class met on alternating days with their health class. I have to say that there is one thing worse than students distracted by the opposite sex – students not distracted by the opposite sex.
My co-ed classes contained boys who behaved at least two years older than those of the same age in the segregated classrooms. I also found that the girls in the co-ed classrooms neither belched inordinately loud, nor did they pass gas in any attempt to outdo the girl on the other side of the room. When boys are in the room, in order to make the boys feel immature and inferior, girls tend to talk more about the subject of the class, and less about their changing bodies. With girls in the room, boys tend to talk more quietly in feigned lower pitched voices.
During this experience, I began to realize that without boys, girls become boys, and without girls, boys become animals.
With boys in the room, girls are less apt to hamper their chances with them by disclosing their obsessive crush on the “old guy” teaching the class. How lame would that be? With girls in the room, boys are less apt to disclose their obvious inexperience by discussing something that the girls obviously know is bogus.
I also coached a Girls’ High School Varsity basketball team when I was but 23 years old. From this experience, I can assure you that with boys present, girls are less apt to attempt to embarrass their coach by “pantsing” one another in the middle of the gym floor, feigning a fight in order to remove the practice jersey of another.
Most assuredly, I, as a teacher, am most in favor of co-ed secondary education. I certainly hope that in any in-service of school teachers to discuss this issue, just as they require the girls to watch “my changing body”, they are required to watch The Office, episode fifteen of season two. Let Michael teach them a lesson or two.


Tuesday, January 23, 2007

two for tuesday

1. If one is married to the perfect woman, at the very least he should strive to be a wise choice.

2. Rather than stud, I think I should prefer to be referred to as stallion. The benefits are the masculine beauty, grace, strength, style, awe, and wonder of the latter without the implication of hedonism, egocentrism, promiscuity, insensitivity, selfishness, and laziness implied by the former.


Monday, January 22, 2007

monday, myspace style

I \X/at(|-|e[) t|-|e o|=|=i(e e|*iso[)e a|}o|_|t e|\/|ail s|_||2\/eilla|\|(e, so I t|-|i|\||< I'[) |}ette|2 |}e |\/|o|2e [)is(|2eet!!!!! LOL
juSt kidDing LOL!!!
Monday, sheesh! LOL
FinAlly took my trUck to tHe boDy shop thIs morNiNg. Then I haD to riDe with a stRanGer to the rEntaL thiNgy pLace. I’m liKe, I doN’t knOw. She oPenEd the door for me though, LOL. Tried to get mE to pay an extra thirty5 dollars a day for inSurAnce. I’m like, riGht! WhatEver. Just for hoLding the doOr? FOFL.
It totally rained like almost all day!!!! Bummer. I can’t believe how lazy I was. I didn’t go to the gym. YUCK!!!!! I am like SOOooOOO fat!!! I need t0 be up in tHe GyM w0rKing on mY fitnEss. Can I get a wiTneSs? LOL
I know tHat just be!ng a good pers0n is what matTers though. But somEtimes I thi[/]k, is that re/\lly enough. Just sayin’

I’m T to the I-R-E-D, so I’ma goNna lay it oUt, ya know?

: dag yo!


Sunday, January 21, 2007

belated but pre-dated

Well, Mom’s done it again. She’s gone and gotten yet another year younger. The math doesn’t add up, or, I should say, subtract up. If you subtract the year she was born from 2007, the number you come up with is not her actual age. I don’t know how it works. I asked Molly, who is well practiced in subtraction right now, and she couldn’t figure it out either. So I asked Will if there was some kind of Algebraic phenomenon going on. He worked it out, 1944 + y = 2007, but it still turned out to be the wrong answer. Jack chimed in with a story problem. 20 year old has boy child. When the boy child is 43 years old, how old will the mother be?
Nope, still didn’t work out correctly.
So, we’re all baffled yet again.

So, why am I writing such goofy nonsense on this, another January 21? And why am I doing it a day late, but dating it as if it weren’t late at all? Because I’ve racked my brains for two days trying to come up with some clever, sweet, thoughtful, sentimental something that I may not have already written on any of the previous three January 21s. I mentioned last year that I’d created a terribly stressful situation for my self, but somehow eeked by with a mediocre attempt. This year though, I’m afraid I’m all out of mediocrity.
Perhaps it’s my own advancing chronology that has rendered my creative, clever self-image waning. At any rate, a simple “happy birthday” will have to do.
Happy Birthday Bonmomma
May your logarithmic age regression continue.


Saturday, January 20, 2007

miXtian tape

Until recently, to find me with a mix tape of Pop Christian music, or CCM would have been a very rare occurrence. When I think through the reasons that this would be, I contemplate why the music that was important to me was important to me. I mentioned yesterday that it shaped my life, but I allowed it to do that because it already in some way was expressing who I was or who I wanted to become.
Music has the ability to express a part of you and form a part of you at the same time. It served a balancing purpose of bringing disconnected parts of me together. It may seem rather odd that Christian music wouldn’t have been the primary music desired in the expressing and shaping of my life. But life is the operative word here. Christian music more than any other kind, has such a narrow lyric criteria, that it becomes formulaic, generic and inauthentic. I always found that though it contained facts and sentiments that I believed, it didn’t challenge me, ask me to question anything about myself, it didn’t expose anything I’d hidden from myself, and it didn’t cause me to contemplate God. Usually it merely rehearsed things I’d already been told rather than show me how God played in the everyday of my life.
I find it very sad that Christian music comes and goes as trendy style oriented wholesome background music. It finds it’s secular counterpart in pop icons like Britney Spears, Madonna, and Destiny’s Child rather than cultural commentators and dreamers and poets. The flashy music speaks impersonally of factual attributes and character traits of God, but come off as theoretical theology that we believe but never experience.
Ironically, music that does manage to express the interaction of God in the lives and struggles of people is usually cast off as experiential and irreverent. Also ironically, is that the Bible is entirely made of the life narrative. The point is that God interacts with, cares for, corrects, and rescues people. It is a book of life and lives. His story is written in the lives of people.
I have often had to go to non-christian music to go beyond facts and to hear stories about how God is interacting, and by that, I have been shaped.

Soundtrack mix for the blogging of this blurb:

Sufjan Stevens – “Abraham”
Kansas – “The Wall”
U2 – “Vertigo”
Rich Mullins – “How to Grow Up Big and Strong”
Sufjan Stevens – “To Be Alone With You”


Friday, January 19, 2007

mix tape

On Sunday evening, while delivering the kids to their respective small group locations, I heard a piece on All Things Considered about Rob Sheffield’s new book, Love is a Mix Tape: Life and Loss, One Song at a Time. When I’d finished my taxi driving, I drove to Barnes and Noble to buy it, but alas, they had just closed. Last night, after gym time, I drove Allison over there for a cup of joe, and to grab the book.
In only half a chapter, my processor has retrieved a couple decades of memories, emotions, and meanings and placed them immediately accessible into my RAM. I read the few pages upon crawling into bed last night just as my eyes began to cross and my lids weighed down and my mind morphed into the other world. No doubt, I carried the thoughts with me where they would play all night, because so far this morning, amidst fielding last minute add/drop deadline advising tasks, I am completely consumed with thoughts triggered by those pages.

Music. There is no more powerful earthly force. There are people in whose lives music plays no role whatever. I’ve always considered these people weaklings.

In my life, I see two distinct roles music has played. It has shaped me, and it has been my means of expressing my shape. Maybe I shouldn’t say distinct roles, because at some point one realizes that his shape will be seen. And down deep, music doesn’t define me, it is merely the language that expresses my definition. At the very least, music has influenced what I think about, and how I think about it, and it has become the truest expression of my thoughts.
When one looks back, it is seemingly easy to sum up the big influencers of his life. They are usually the things that still play. But from time to time, we are made to realize the plethora of smaller bits that have profoundly played through the years. If you were known by a snapshot, what would the soundtrack be? This is not a tough question to answer for me, because there exist boxes of extant soundtracks from various points in my life. Each is inseparably tethered to places, experiences, and people.
There are bands ands albums to which I’ve listened consistently for years. They’ve influenced me profoundly. But there are others that I listened to non-stop for shorter periods of time. This has always been my modus operandi. Over time, these temporal obsessions are forgotten, but their influence lives on. Often the context, environment, and company they played into are also forgotten. But all can be regained, relived with a couple of bars from one of those tunes. One finds that without thinking, he still knows all the words, all the riffs, and still expects it to be followed by the next song on his mix tape. It would be a mistake to think that the impact of those tunes was any less than that of the longer run music. In fact, there is no doubt that the short obsession music influenced the way I experienced the long haul music.

One doesn’t always get to choose what connections music will serve in the future. Songs that meant little, were not liked, or even despised, will later emerge as the carriers of memories that are sweet and fragrant and nostalgic and warming. Songs that were important favorites and deeply meaningful can someday connect themselves to painful experiences or memories and become painful themselves.

For several years after graduation and marriage, my college roommate and I exchanged mix tapes by mail as a way of remaining engrained in one another’s lives. We made “remember this?” mix tapes and “you’ve got hear this” mix tapes. It was always a thrill to get those in the mail, and to listen to the tunes as I recorded his onto the tapes.

These days, I walk around with my entire music collection contained in a pocket-sized rectangle. It plugs into my home stereo, my car stereo, my computer and my ears. It will even create mixes for me that will cause me to listen to tunes I haven’t heard in years. But back in the day, in order to listen to music in any place other than the house, I had to insert a cassette, and create ride music, or workout music, or greasemonkey music, to take with me. And it would play over and over until it was burned into my being. Some songs appeared on every tape, some only in the company of others, but each collection had mood and meaning. Each spoke to who I was, who I was becoming, or who I wanted to be.

Now, I am, and I am still becoming, in the same way I was back then when I was becoming what I am now. I wonder what mix of expressions and melodies and rhythms will be the soundtrack in the years to become.

Soundtrack mix for the blogging of this blurb:

Kansas – “Questions of my Childhood”
The Decemberists – “The Island”
Roland Dyens – “Libra Sonatine – India”
Rush – “La Villa Strangiato”

Related: Nostalgic Nudge


Thursday, January 18, 2007

wintry day

Two days ago, I came across a few photos that I'd not seen for some time, and continued my streak of uploading too many photos to flickr. The last one I put there was a shot of Farming Creek Road taken on my way to work on a frosty, frozen, beautiful Monday morning almost exactly two years ago. I thought it was fun to post that pic, because it was so unseasonably warm at the moment. Temps in the 80s all weekend with nightly lows that allowed for deck sitting without a jacket.


Lo and behold Old Man Winter. His icy breath swept us and brought frozen tears from the reluctant sky. All manner of operations were on a two-hour delay this morning, including all schools in the area. Go ahead and laugh, Yankees - down here we're unprepared.
Molly slept with her pajamas inside-out and a spoon under her pillow in hopes that would bring on a weather induced school closing. I don't know if it was that or my picture that changed the climate so quickly.
This morning, as I drove into work late, I drove across Farming Creek to view a scene almost identical to that old pic. Silvery wisps weighing down the pine boughs, icy sparkles glinting in the fields. And of course a bare, misty tree filled with balls of mistletoe.
Seems like a great night for firewood, popcorn, sweatshirts, and mistletoe induced companionship.


Tuesday, January 16, 2007


I spoke in Chapel today. Yep, spoke. Didn't sing, didn't play.
No, the temperature is still stable in all after-life locations.
So I was told that I was added to the "Chapel Quote of the Day" archives.
Rod's included quote?

"Maybe I've been watching too much Strongbad."
I guess there's a first time for everything and a last time for everything.
Sometimes they're one and the same.


Monday, January 15, 2007

mlk day

The United States has only four federal holidays commemorating individuals - Jesus, Christopher Columbus, George Washington, and Martin Luther King.

Happy Birthday Dr. King.

related: in the name of love


Sunday, January 14, 2007


If you’ve been reading for some time, you’ll know that last week's new truck post was not my first truck post. In fact, I probably ought to link in there posts concerning motorcycles too. It was quite difficult refraining from turning the whole newsbreaking into yet another exposition of my spiritual and emotional struggles into which events and objects like this so strongly play. By the time I’ve finished writing this, perhaps I’ll have linked you to previous such posts, perhaps not.
Now Allison and I are very different in our financial leanings. I’m a tightwad and she’s a spender. I’m generic, she’s name brand. Or maybe I should say that fiscally speaking, she’s liberal and I’m conservative. She’s generally not irresponsible and I’m generally not a miser. She likes to have things and I like to have the potential for things. Over the years, we have both moved drastically toward the center, but at the moment, we are far from meeting in the middle.
This all plays into our purchases because she decides on the best, highest quality among the choices and I go for the cheapest, no questions asked. I’m typing on what would have been an iBook if not for Allison talking me up to a PowerBook. Because of Allison I’ve got a LOT more computer, for very little more money. So for most of my life, I’ve gone around with slightly less than I can get by on, and she’s gone around with slightly more than she needs. I borrow from her a lot. Like rides, and keys, and stuff like that. It all evens out. Ordinarily, her ride works, mine doesn’t.
So when we went out car shopping, my objective was to shop enough to be absolutely sure I’d found the working vehicle with the lowest price in town (or state). It didn’t matter what it was, or what it looked like. Lowest price.
Her objective was to make forward progress rather than a lateral move.
I can’t pretend that I didn’t struggle while shopping. I can’t pretend I didn’t struggle with the decision. I can’t pretend I haven’t struggled all week with the whole thing. I’d have to admit that I seriously thought the deer episode might have been God popping on the back of the head as to say, “NO NO NO NO NO!”
So tonight, I’ve tried to put it all to rest, and approach like Allison does. In order to convince myself that a new (pre-owned) vehicle was even called for, I’ve assembled a comparison chart to convince myself that I’m better off in the current scenario.

Here are the side-by-side comparisons:


So as you can see, it looks like Allison has won this time. The chart makes it clear that all the perquisites of this newer vehicle were not as extravagant as I might have thought. In fact, there was only one item that the older vehicle has that the newer one doesn’t. That is quite extraordinary, as most upgrades leave off at least a few features to which one had previously become accustomed.
I’m quite happy with the results of this simple comparison. It is quite a useful procedure.
You have no idea how much I hope it never occurs to Allison to put me in one of those charts.


Saturday, January 13, 2007

saturday sky

How is it that you wear that face,
but never shed a tear?
Dark, gloomy, foreboding, withdrawn.
Sullen sadness and sorrow are
written thick upon your countenance,
But no tears fall.


Friday, January 12, 2007


I'm sitting at the kitchen table looking out at the bare trees and feeling your feeling of desert. Dry and dusty and abandoned and forgotten and lost. But the reason I'm not afraid of walking into your desert with you is that I know that when entered, the desert is a very beautiful place. There are these little tiny yellow flowers and blooms and blossoms everywhere.
I've seen this in you. I know where your beauty lies. I know where your blossoms are. I wish that I could show them to you - lift them to your nose so that you could be revived by your own sweet aroma that wafts upward like incense. I’d show you the buds that are about to break open and explode with color and fragrance.

Related: come to the water


Thursday, January 11, 2007

paripatetic, parabolic proverb

Of course it's a parable TES! You're right, the point was more than to tell a meaningless story (which, of course, I'm not averse to).

Greed itself will stop us short of our selfish, gluttonous ambitions. But patience, perseverance, sharing and common sense are good to the last drop.


Wednesday, January 10, 2007

le cercle de la vie?

Yesterday morning on my way to work, I'm pretty sure I saw an acorn laying just inside the white line on the side of the road.

Last night, on my way home, I saw a opossum at the edge of the road dining on flattened squirrel. It must have been quite tasty, because he insisted that I go around him.

Which I did.


This morning, at the same spot along my reverse journey, I passed 4 Turkey Buzzards at the edge of the road dining on flattened squirrel and opossum casserole.

They moved aside to let me pass.

Related: what does it all mean?


Friday, January 05, 2007

new truck!

Yeah, I’m at that point again where I’ve got so many thoughts in my head that each distracts me from the others. There is so much I want to write about, or have written rough thoughts about, to try and sort things out in my mind, but alas, I just keep flitting from one thought to another. Distractions distractions.
And then, there are distractions that aren’t related to my thinking at all, distractions that completely pull me away from the thoughts I want to think. Sometimes these distractions disallow any thought at all. Sometimes they just replace them with more urgent immediacy.
For instance, there is the matter of my truck. You have read enormous bits of rambling concerning the ongoing saga of nursing my Explorer through what probably should have been its last weeks of usefulness. But somehow I’ve managed to turn its last weeks into months and years, delaying its ultimate demise seemingly indefinitely, but lessening its dependability exponentially with each reincarnation of its decaying form. This care and feeding and repairing and replacing has become so much a way of life that it has been only a minimal distraction in the larger ongoing saga of life. In the instances where the distraction was greater, they were at least short lived. To me, that is.
The increasing frequency of Allison’s comments concerning my need for new and dependable transport eventually opened my eyes to a further understanding of the depth of meaning in words used in the art of relational communication by the homogametic half of the relationship. For example, months of hearing, “Rod, you really deserve a truck that is nice and dependable,” and “You are really worth it babe,” and “I’d sure enjoy seeing you in a newer, sexy truck,” were simply taken at face value. My inevitable response was, “Naw baby, that truck is fine for me, I don’t need anything more,” or “It’ll be fine, I’ll get it running again.”
What I eventually began to realize was that the aforementioned phrases spoken through smiling lips should have been translated as, “&*$%@@, if you don’t get a new vehicle immediately, you’re gonna be as pre-owned as your truck is. A girl can only take so much.”
So, as one would expect, this last bout of dead in the driveway syndrome was met with the same phrases through the same smiling lips. This time, however, I was wise to their meaning. We hopped in the operational vehicle and visited some “Pre-owned” car dealerships. After merely two days of shopping, we decided upon a smart little 2003 Explorer Sport Trac (note the hip misspelling of the word “trac(k), a definite plus in the needability of said vehicle). It is not only the nicest vehicle we’ve ever owned, it is the nicest vehicle we’ve ever looked at.
Between Molly’s ‘cello lesson, and church on Wednesday, we zipped into the dealership, did the deed and closed the deal. After church, we went to the gym in the shiny new automobile. On the way home, I glanced at the tripometer and noticed I had driven my new ride a total of 6 miles. Another quarter mile up the road and I heard a gasp from the passenger seat, saw a flash of fur, felt an impact of nose, and heard the thump of either a deer hitting my door, or my heart skipping a beat. Probably both. As Allison continued gasping for breath, I turned the truck around, looked for the deer, who didn’t seem to even slow down upon contacting my new ride, and drove to the Exxon to survey the damage.
Yes, you heard correctly. Six miles into ownership, I had my first deer to door encounter. Mind you I’ve been driving these 26 years with no deer dings. Don’t forget the truck that I replaced, because it is very representative of the vehicles I’ve always driven, none of which would have minded one bit if I’d have hit a deer a day for a decade.
What are the chances of that? Astounding. I can’t express how profoundly astounded I am. Why then? Why not the night before? Why not 2 hours before? Why not any other night in my life?

Great googly moogly.

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