Saturday, June 30, 2007


Today was my last day at work. For the last year I've been a Grounds Maintenance worker. In a month I will be a foreigner and a teacher. Until then I am just a bum, but a reflective bum trying to soak up as much of my beloved shire as I can.

I have gained a deep respect for the working man. My dad is a working man. My grandfathers and their fathers were working men. There is something satisfying about going to work everyday and working hard with your hands. If there are jobs in Heaven, I hope to be a gardener. My boss, a squat tough east coaster extended his hand to me this afternoon and wished me well. He appreciated my work and I know that he is a bit sorry to see me leave. You don't know these guys I worked with, they are just normal guys, but I tell you, they come to work every single day, rain or shine. They visit the chiropractors more than some and they smoke cigarettes and talk shit but I've never met such honorable men. And if an employer asks about my experience as a maintenance man, I will say this to him, "Working as a ground maintenance man was not glamorous. I didn't learn any new software. It barely paid the bills, but it did toughen me up. It was a struggle against nature. It was very quite but the trees spoke and the flowers asked for water. And the men I worked with were good hard working men. It taught me more about myself than four years of college."

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The Computer

The computer has arguably had the largest impact on human society. In the vast stretches of time that man has roamed and settled the corners of the earth, computers are comparably a new tool, but one that has, unlike any other, drastically aided in the increase of knowledge, communication, and innovation. It shapes nearly all aspects of modern human culture. It’s full impact is yet to be seen but for better or worse, the rapid increase in computer technology that we are seeing in our day is changing the very way in which we as people see ourselves and our place in the universe.

For thousands, if not millions of years, man followed the migrating beasts of the plains as hunters and gatherers. Around ten thousand years ago some of the people stopped following the beasts and did something that man had not done before. Settle. They planted fields of grain, domesticated the wild beasts, they built cities with stone walls. Hunters became farmers and soldiers and merchants. Governments formed to manage the trade of the grain. Life went on like this for nearly ten thousand years and knowledge increased slowly, rising and falling like an incoming tide.

About five hundred years ago something changed--man invented a process of enquiry that became known as the scientific method. With this new approach to the natural world, man’s knowledge increased greatly and produced greater and more powerful tools. Then, just over seventy one years ago, a very sophisticated mass of vacuum tubes became known as the computer, a tool used for calculating. Aided by the computer, man’s knowledge is now exponentially increasing, accelerating faster than it ever has before. Where it took man one hundred thousand years to learn to farm and ten thousand years to become industrious, it has taken but fifty years for him to become a space faring race.

Computers now sit on nearly one billion desk tops around the world. Paired with telecommunications, the computer and the world wide web, allow people from all walks of life to share themselves in community and network in ways that promote connectivity and creativity which in turn spurs innovation. The computer redefines space and time, making the world smaller and move faster. There are some that speculate that computers will themselves become human, that artificial intelligence will emerge, perhaps not a tool but a companion.

It is fascinating to think about where the computer revolution will lead man in the end. Perhaps the world will move to fast for his liking or he may adapt and become something else all together. Man is organic, imperfect--beautifully small in comparison with the cosmos. Man is by nature a poet. As computer technology continues to advance, man will probe deeper into the subatomic world, to the outer limits of space and beyond. The hugeness of our universe, almost impossibly large to comprehend might be made just small enough for a person to put on his desktop next to a vase of flowers and picture of his family.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Mr. Antolini

I've been reading my favorite books again lately. The books are the same, but each time I go to them I am different. I finished one of my favorite books tonight, The Catcher in the Rye. I've read it several times but I was always Holden Caufield. Reading it this time I found that I was able to relate to Holden but for the first time understood Mr. Antolini.

Like Holden, I can see the people running through the rye towards the cliffs all around me. I can relate to him in that. The world is full of phonies. But I never realized the beauty in Holden or that spark in him until now. For all his criticisms, he's just another kid playing near the cliffs. I understand why Mr. Antolini strokes his hair and watches over him as he sleeps. Mr. Antolini is a catcher in the rye!

When Holden is nearly at rock bottom in the living room with Mr. Antolini, smoking cigarettes and drinking cocktails in the dark, Mr. Antolini says something very profound--something that speaks to me. He quotes William Stekel: "The mark of the immature man is that he wants to die nobly for a cause, while the mark of a mature man is that he wants to live humbly for one."

That is encouraging. Perhaps the cause can be won in the end with a good attitude, a firm handshake, a hug, getting up everyday and working with a smile, picking up those that stumble.

Friday, June 08, 2007


My shoelace broke today at work. At lunch I stop at a corner market to buy a new pair. I ask the clerk if she sells shoe laces and she says yeah and directs me down isle three. There they are, and to my surprise there are a variety of styles to choose from. There's a pair of laces for $2.19. Just what I need, but next to them is a pair of hardy leather laces oozing with ruggedness. They're tagged at $4.49. More than double the price. I had the adequate laces in one hand and the manly laces in the other. I pay double for the lumberjack laces as a treat to myself.

I get out to the truck and my partner sees the laces and comments on how hardcore they are. You bet they are. I even say the word extravagant out loud to describe them. I'm really excited, no kidding. I've got one boot tied up real snug and I feel as if I could hike Mt. Rainier--or, get in a knife fight in loose gravel. Beaming, that's what I am. The laces in the other boot aren't broken but I take out my clippers and cut 'em off anyway. I don't even bother untying them. They're weak, old. I start threading the second boot up with the leather straps and my partners watching me, grazing on his sandwich and cheese crackers. I get the lace through the second eye and give a firm tug. The strap, the leather man-lace rips! "You've got to be kidding me!" I scream. My partner laughs at me. He's crying with laughter. I'm crushed. $4.49. Down the toilet.

I head back into the market still with only one boot laced up.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

The Two Well Mannered Anarchist

I'm sitting on the front porch browning in the brilliance of the sun. Two young men walk by. Scrunny but cheerful chaps they are. One is wearing a brimmed hat pushed back high on his forehead and in his hands holds a silver trumpet. The other wears thick glasses and carries a great tattered flag over his shoulders. It is a red rectangle above a black rectangle and the two colors are held together with a strip of elctric tape. They stop at the end of the walk way in front of the porch, eyeing Beth's boots that she had put out on the curb.

"Are these free for the taking?" the trumpeter asks?

"They are," I say.

He's happy for the gift and with boots in hand, continues down the street.

"Hey," I call, "What does your flag mean?"

They look back smiling. "Anarchy", they say and turn back away.

I chuckle to myself. Anarchist politely asking if they can hall away a free pair of old boots. They aren't very good anarchist.

Hope and joy in unexpected places

I know quoting texts can be dull but there is much here that I want to share:

"When shall I see a sign that it will ever be otherwise?"

"Turn your face from the green world, and look where all seems barren and cold!" said Gandolf.

Then Aragorn turned, and there was a stony slope behind him running down from the skirts of the snow; and as he looked he was aware that alone there in the waste a growing thing stood. And he climbed to it, and saw that out of the very edge of the snow there sprang a sapling tree no more than three foot high. Already it had put forth young leaves long and shapely, dark above and silver beneath, and upon its slender crown it bore one small cluster of flowers whose white petals shone like the sunlit snow.

--Tolkien, Return of the King

Friday, June 01, 2007

Free Market

eHarmony is being sued for not offering their services to the gay community. This is like someone suing McDonald's for not serving pizza. If a business does not serve your needs then go somewhere that does or start your own business to rival the competition. Come on. This is just common sense people!