29 April 2009

The Electrons Speak: Code 3; Vain, Vain; Silvery Alerts; Good & Pushy

The electrons have been flowing freely at No. 3 Equity Court and at No. 3 Equity Court (Mobile), but they’ve primarily been devoted to correspondence, posts or articles for other forums, or passionate if incomprehensible drivel. And so, after a considerable delay, I offer the following:

Code 3

This weekend, I saw for the first time Son Tim (paramedic extraordinaire at my old rescue company, MCRS, Co. 20) driving a rig with lights & siren. While we “veterans” can teach current people nothing about patient care, we continue to whisper wise counsel respecting safety issues. Dad cannot make any comment, for Dad is thoroughly proud of the progress Tim has made. Purely as an Old Guy, however, I can comment: His performance was quite workmanlike going through traffic, holding back enough to let people hear the siren and see the lights, and let things develop in front of the rig without putting his crew in a position where someone else’s stupidity could unilaterally kill them.

In any hazardous occupation, if you work for a responsible employer and with responsible people, you will be meeting about safety, talking about safety, and training, training, training constantly. To anyone outside the business, it looks anal. To the newest people there, it looks anal. To the old ones, it’s barely sufficient.


Miniaturization has NOT lightened some lawyers’ physical loads, including mine. Smaller laptops are fine. They are still heavier than no laptop, which is what I carried when I started. Add to that other electronics, thicker files (I think due to the fact that with computers and printers we all generate more paper documents), wires for communication and power, planner “systems,” and other bric-a-brac, and you have a load that the old style “portfolio” won’t hold. So now we have aluminum cases, canvas retro-safari bags (Land’s End and Duluth Trading), catalog cases (Naugahide - poor naugas - and leather), back-to-Harvard-book-bag-backpacks, and finally big bags with wheels and telescoping handles for those who admit that the load finally has gotten too damn heavy.

I’ve only used wheeled conveyances for trial loads previously. For a trial, you’ve one or two (or more) document boxes, plus your briefcase, your books, and whatever charms and fetishes you must have to ensure a favorable outcome. (Bert, get your head out of the gutter and look the damn word up before you make a comment.)

But the common load gets heavy. But I’m a guy. But the load . . . And the existing briefcase didn’t have sufficient volume. But, Vishnu on a rotisserie, wheels?

OK, I bought a manly sort of briefcase. With wheels. And the damn thing is loaded and heavy. But funny thing, I can’t bring myself to use the wheels. It has a comfortable shoulder strap, and perhaps I stagger a bit like the old frontier peddler with his pack full of necessaries (pins and fine tools and such), but it’s a workable compromise.

Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity

Me, me, me - The Silver Alert

I have heard various legislators talk about their achievements this year. They’ve had some good ideas. To hear them tell it, they knew that small wounds need to be clean, so they thought of putting small squares of gauze on adhesive tape, and calling them band-aids, and were distressed about engine wear, and decided oil would make a good lubricant.

One of the little happy sounding things that they did in the West Virginia Legislature this year is run with a proposal by the “senior lobby,” which was to devise a “Silver Alert” system. The idea is that when an old person, particularly one with dementia, Alzheimers or the like, wanders off or is lost, there is a special method to alert the community and quickly find that lost person.

Well, now, of course, this sounds like a good idea. You take a need, you devise a fix, it helps a group that everybody likes (Grandma & Grampa) and piss on whether it’s well thought out or efficient, it’s a PR win-win. So now we are headed toward a Balkanized rainbow of alert systems where every interest group will have its very own way of responding to its version of an emergency need. Wonderful. Just wonderful. And it’s all the rage. Other states (such as Virginia) have their own special “Grey Alert” system for old folks. There are lots of statewide plus competing national “Amber Alert” systems for missing children. A few of these sorts of things may be non-profit scams, but most likely are well-intended - just not efficiently thought out. It doesn’t take a separate system for every kind of emergency. We have existing people who already know how to respond to emergency needs, and some existing communication systems. To provide efficient communications for a “Community Alert” will require communications work. But let’s do it ONCE and do it right. There are events for which citizen information is extremely important and some events for which a citizen’s response may be helpful. Quickly looking for a lost person certainly is an example of the latter. If such a person is moving, the search area expands exponentially. (PiR², remember?) Storm damage, location of escapees, flood conditions, other weather warnings, public utility failures and outage information, all this is information critical to or at least helpful to the public. (The Onion quotes a FEMA proposal for a nationwide phone tree today.)

We Americans live in a competitive, adversarial system of allocating resources. As such, we are wasting lots of those resources with needless lobbying/PR and by duplicating efficient centralized services with scattered services which work less well because they work less often.

Getting Push Back

When you are in law school, a really good academic achievement and something that is de rigeur for your resume is to make “law review.” The law review is a scholarly publication put together by law students who edit articles by faculty and academicians from all over and a few of whom write notes/articles of their own. I am proud to say that I was a member of the Law Review at the West Virginia University College of Law – for, um, about 24 hours. When you first work law review, in your second year of school, you are assigned what is commonly known as “dog work,” such as cite checking and the like. This is work guaranteed to numb the mind, although beyond doubt those who stay the course in law review can make a strong case for its value. When I found out that it was (1) unpaid (2) dog work and that (3) I would be doing it rather than doing work on actual cases for Al Lemley at Furbee Amos in Fairmont and getting paid damn good money for the time, I told the then-editor, Lloyd Jackson (now an ultra-prominent politician, entrepreneur and lawyer from Lincoln County) thanks but no thanks, and he was able to take it like a man, without an excess of tears and wailing. (OK, the actual response was, “Whatever.”) I go on this detour to introduce Alfred Lemley, and why I valued him so. Al (now retired) was a lawyer’s lawyer, a man’s man, and a curmudgeon’s curmudgeon.) He was scary as hell to a mere student. He was gruff. He grumped. He was a master trial lawyer. He could be kind, funny, threatening, easy, and it was all genuine. I began work at Furbee Amos the day after my first year’s exams were over, and it took me two days to figure how to work with Alfred. It was sink or swim. If you did work for Alfred, say wrote a brief, he would ask, “Is this ready to file?,” or “Is this your best work?” There was only one acceptable response: “Dammit, Alfred, I wouldn’t have brought it in if it weren’t.” In other words, you got pushed, you had to push back. This was not a macho thing, a “dozens” thing, rather it was a way to induce and recognize intensity and interest and commitment. After that exchange, Al would grumble, “Well, OK, let’s look at it,” read it, and we’d discuss whatever it was. He would criticize the work (properly), discuss the underlying issues, alternative approaches (and hopefully, I’d seen those and had a reason to reject them), and he always took the time to slow down a bit and make sure I got whatever learning was available there.

And I remember these sessions and must say that Alfred is one of the key people who taught me and mentored me in law and scholarship, and I love the guy dearly.

Long intro, huh? Well, there are some folks in my life who are brilliant minds who for whatever reason have not learned to push back. Invariably, they are younger. I cannot pretend to do what Alfred did. But I do find myself goading them, trying to teach in my own poor way, and feeling fulfilled when they push back. There are several young lawyers in that crowd, and others. Most recently, my great friend & beloved pastor gave me a delightful push back that I have savored all week. LaJ is heading up the church’s “CROP Walk” effort, which is a one kilometer community walk to raise money for world and local hunger projects. My curmudgeonly view is that walking is unconnected to raising money, and what you should do is have those who know how & who to call get on the phones and flush out the money. This is the method that Herschel Rose, Jr., a legendary trial lawyer, used to raise money for the United Way: “Roger? You gave $200 last year. You won that Smith case, so you’re doing pretty well. This year, you’re good for $300. Send it in.” “Ok, Herschel.” Click. I do the same sort of thing fundraising, “I don’t have time for bullshit, neither do you, this is for the Boy Scouts, send me $150, I don’t care whether you go to the dinner or not, but I want the damn check.” Well, you can’t use these approaches with the public generally, but among a core of contributors, you flush out dependable money.

Well, for CROP, LaJ made a very good presentation about local poverty and then Pastor Josh acknowledged my stance and proceeded to give from the pulpit a logical and persuasive case for both the fundraising aspect of this sort of “demonstration,” and the symbolic significance, “We walk because they [the hungry] walk.” He reasons [and I’m very much paraphrasing and if he or others give me better language, I’ll post it] that it raises the conscience of the community and also turns the thoughts of the participants inward.

How do you judge? For the short term, define the goal, “Raise $5,500 [or whatever amount.]” Check the till when you’re done. Compare numbers. But the lasting effects, building a year-to-year dependable fundraising project that people get used to contributing to and expect and plan to contribute to are far harder to track. Tracking attitudes or, dare I say, tracking peoples’ hearts and understanding of the reality of crushing live-in-chicken-coop poverty is likely impossible to gauge.

And so - push back. Without that, without intellectual, moral and courageous discourse, we’ll just get our mental meat from McOpinion’s, get a shake at The Spin-Your-Ass-Silly Zone, do the Celebrity Stare and feel proud of our membership in the WalMart Coffee Club.

Thank God for the Marketplace of Ideas, a place you take your energy and commitment in with you. If there were no haggling, no disagreement, no discourse, it wouldn’t be a marketplace, and its products would be low quality junk and severely overpriced.

The wolf eats a sheep here and there. Mediocrity kills them all.

Pippa passes.


18 April 2009

Sweepings from the Floor of My Hard Drive

Not that anyone who reads these Dispatches expects laser-like focus and Edward R. Murrow analysis, but I think I can favor you with genuine rambling this day.


If the displaced Israelites had gone a little further than Egypt, they would have found coffee bushes, discovered the brew, and then Moses & God could have gotten on the same page with regard to the respect to be given barristas. [Aside to my faithful brethren Preacher Joel, Pastor Josh and Parson Jim: Yes, I know that my Biblical historical time line is out of whack. I’m making a point here. Being literary in a petit way. Please feel free to point out what an ignorant heathen I am. In print. From the pulpit. On restroom walls. Wherever.] Ahem. Where was I? Ah, yes, barristas.

In any event, Moses & God would have approved of a conversation I had with the Starbucks barrista at the Morgantown Barnes & Noble this week. It is, by the way, if not a sin at least a spiritual faux pas to drive pass a book store intentionally and not check out at least the new releases. When I don’t have the time (or want to take the time) for an aimless shelf/stack search, I have a path through B&N that takes me past the bathroom, all the newly published stuff and then into the coffee bar. This week, I ordered a cinnamon dolce latte (same drink favored by cowboys ‘round the campfire) from a twenty-something barrista who just had that hard-to-define appearance of being a well-functioning person. By ingrained habit, I was calling her “ma’am,” and abruptly realized that might be awkward or even less than respectful given the differences in our ages. So I asked, and there being no other customers, we had a delightful conversation about forms of address. It turns out, she’d been to a sociology class at WVU recently which had discussed that very issue and while she preferred “miss,” the class had concluded that modern forms of address are very much in flux. She did express regret, though, that the most common address (I won’t say the norm, because to accept it is to give up) is either no honorific at all, “hey you,” or something worse.

A 20th Century sci-fi author, Robert A. Heinlein, made pithy social observations. Many were made through the “Notebooks” of a character, the near-immortal Lazarus Long. Among those entries, we find:

Moving parts in rubbing contact require lubrication to avoid excessive wear. Honorifics and formal politeness provide lubrication where people rub together. Often the very young, the untraveled, the naive, the unsophisticated deplore these formalities as “empty,” “meaningless,” or “dishonest,” and scorn to use them. No matter how “pure” their motives, they thereby throw sand in machinery that does not work too well at best.

A Constant Blatant Fraud for Only $59 per Month

I’ve run across a positively delightful low-life, immoral, unethical, brazen, brass ball, “who me?”, legerdemain business fraud which doesn’t violate any law, and which is a stench in the nostrils of honest people.

In the past couple of years, Partner JC has introduced me to a city concept called the “incubator.” That’s a business center where individuals go to work and are furnished (for a fee) a desk, cubicle, address, phone answering and, when necessary, conference room, etc. They only have to spend the minimum they need for their immediate office needs rather than fund a full-size operation before they have the gross income/sales to support that. Great idea.

Just as the Ponzi scheme followed the Mutual Fund, so the “Virtual Office” has followed the Incubator. The Virtual Office provides a phony address, phony phone number and phony presence in a “prestigious” place, without ever requiring you to get within 500 miles of that place. I’ve run into this by finding a consulting business located in a very, very small rural town in quarters so small and run down that you’d expect hay to be stored on the second floor. (Note for urban readers: That is a way of saying that it’s sort of like a barn.) And then I found the website and have seen some documents from this business. To contact the business, you call a phone number in area code 212. That’s New York City. It is answered in the barn, so the call is being forwarded. To mail something to the business, you send it to an address on Madison Avenue in New York City, which is in mid-town Manhattan. Presumably, it’s forwarded to West Virginia. There is NOTHING on any company document or public communication that says that they exist anywhere but Madison Avenue, New York. I checked out the address in New York and it’s a “Virtual Office” outfit which ostensibly will offer you office space, conference rooms and so forth, just like an incubator but which, for $59 per month, will let you use their address and they will forward your mail (at cost) and let you arrange to use a 212 phone number (at cost) to be forwared to you.

Those who sell goods have “customers.” Those who sell services have “patients” or “clients.” Those who have virtual offices have “poor schucks” or “marks”.

Dust Were Ye Made

Ash Wednesday was more than 40 days ago, but I been busy, OK? Wanna make something of it?

I had a thought that evening. There was a reference to the “dust to dust” thing, which led me to a line from Simon & Garfunkel, “For all I’ve created returns unto me, From dust were ye made and dust ye shall be.”

Which led me to memories of Carl Sagan. I’m slowly reading The Varieties of Scientific Experience, which is Sagan’s collected lectures on science and human spirituality. He was agnostic, and was kind about it. In Cosmos (which is a hell of a lot more spiritual than he intended, at least to me), he concludes that the science shows that atoms other than hydrogen have been made within stars. So you and I, beings made largely of carbon and oxygen, on a world made largely of silicon and aluminum and iron with 80-ish other natural elements thrown in are all made of “star stuff,” that our physical forms are created from matter made in the truly unthinkable heat of a star.

I have no point to impart. Other than maybe “think about this.” [Funny, as I write this, I'm listening to a musical meditation, Jesus' Blood Never Failed Me Yet, sort of Christian New Age, and I don't see much irony.]

Pippa passes.


12 April 2009

Why in the left-handed pluperfect hell would you listen to a heretic like me with reference to things spiritual?

Meditation on the last words of Christ: “It is finished.”
Good Friday, 10 April 2009
Central Christian Church, Fairmont, West Virginia

Christ did not use those English words. He spoke in Aramaic. His words went from Aramaic to Greek to Latin to English, with possibly other languages thrown in before we heard our version of them. Usually, our translation is “it is finished,” although another accepted one is “it is accomplished,” which in English is at least a little different. So, I don’t even pretend to know exactly what the message was. Something ended. What? The crucifixion. That wild week in Jerusalem from the “Hosanna!” on the way in to the “Crucify Him” on the way out. Christ’s three-year whirlwind ministry, that was over. And His earthly life, his heartbeat, The End.

In every beginning, there is the seed of an end. The Book of Ecclesiastes talks about “a time to be born, a time to die, a time to every purpose under heaven.” The Byrds, a folk rock group, put that to music in the ‘60's. That’s where I first learned it. It’s hard to get used to the fact that you have to have an end. There has to be an end to your earthly life. There even has to be a last time you walk into this physical church. But the really tough nut to crack is that in every end, there is a beginning. Somewhere in my reading over the years, I ran across this:

“Living is a process of continually being born again. The trick is to learn how to make that crucial exit without suffering the trauma each time.”

So on that oddly named “Good Friday,” the days of delusional kings ended. The day of a genuine King arrived, and his crown of thorns was more noble than anything gold David and company ever wore. When the crucifixion was finished, so were centuries of blood sacrifices. The cross took that one big sacrifice, even though I still don’t understand it. It was the end of the Old Covenant, and the dawn of the New Covenant, the one that we commemorate at His Table. We crossed the line between “Some day . . .” and “We’re here . . .”

It would be nice to come to Good Friday service, continue last night’s Tenebrae time of deep mourning, recoil at the details (even though the wounds we talk about aren’t nearly as gruesome as the real ones), then spend Saturday in some sort of vigil/limbo/ sackcloth/prayer thing. Then we’d get up on Sunday to springtime sunshine, shout “He is risen!,” and after church head home for the race or the ball game or to sneak some chocolate bunnies, and that’s all there is. Easter over, the end, we now return to our regular programming.

It doesn’t work that way. In this weekend, there is a beginning. I’m finding that being a Christian isn’t easy. It isn’t even easy to be a clueless Christian. Christ’s end on earth created a new beginning - in this case, an obligation – to speak His Word; to act according to His Word; to help the other person to her feet when she falls; to get up ourselves when we fall; and never to give up. And we do that until for each of us, “it is finished” or our mission right here and right now “is accomplished.” Then we have another new beginning. Just what that is, I don’t know. I just know that where He’ll take me is better than where I’ve been.

[LaJ did two meditations, one of which I would grade "superior," and I've urged her to flog it around for publication. She writes in a more conventional, smoother and better organized fashion than I do, not nearly so personal or curmudgeonly.]

Big Doin’s This Day

Things have been sewage in a blender since Thursday night. Or even Vishnu on a rotisserie. We’ve seen arrests by non-police and what amounts to four trials. The first, by the Sanhedrin, found our guy guilty of something they didn’t name, but they couldn’t think of a punishment. The second was a fizzle because the tribune moved jurisdiction to the locals. The local sort-of-king had a jolly time and kicked the case back to the tribune, who found our guy not guilty, then ordered him executed anyway so the rubes would shut up.

And this morning, the tomb is empty.

Something is going on, I tell you.

Spiritual Paths

This is my path.

Beats me what your path is. If you don’t have one, I hope you find one. Sometimes, the darn thing will come and find you. Oddest thing.

Universal Lessons from Easter Experiences

Thursday night was Maunday Thursday and a time in the Christian Church for a service known as “Tenebrae.” This is Greek (I think), roughly translated as “time of darkness.” It represents the fact that Christ was arrested after dark and was manhandled around Jerusalem in the dark of the night. It symbolizes the spiritual darkness of that next day, as well as the mid-day physical darkness of that again oddly named “Good Friday.”

The religious meaning is all well and good, and to me Tenebrae is one of the two most important and meaningful services of the year. For everyone, It is important to recognize that lessons for life are available in many places and from many teachers. Even if one does not follow the Christian spiritual path, there is a deep and powerful lesson to be found in this idea of Tenebrae.

Early in the Tenebrae service, the church is “stripped.” All of the decorations, finely embroidered cloth, candlesticks, gilt-edged Bibles, everything shiny and pretty, flags, all of it is removed. What cannot be removed is shrouded in black. Symbolically, the church is reduced to nothing, a bare room, zero. There are similar teachings in other philosophical systems and training experiences, where students or candidates are set upon a path which at some point leaves them (at least symbolically) totally destitute and totally alone. The student must turn her thoughts inward and really believe that she has no house, no money, no job, nor even food for her next meal.

These times happen to us, to each of us. Thinking about them is painful, but vital. Considering them in advance, symbolically, is healthy and helpful. These times and trials may sneak up on us. And so it helps us to make this journey in a symbolic world, where it’s easier to organize our thoughts to prepare just a little for the times when the placid pond of our life turns out to be a toilet bowl, and someone pulls the flush handle.

Think back: I bet you remember a day which started out as an ordinary day, and you remember getting up on this ordinary day and doing ordinary things, and yet you remember this ordinary day as you remember almost no other ordinary day, because as the day went on something extraordinarily bad happened. Suddenly, you were in a different world or maybe you were no place or no world at all, at least not one that you recognized. There was nothing around you that you could identify and hold onto and no one who you could talk to. These are our times of darkness, these are the times we are reduced to total destitution, be it destitution of purse, or heart, or spirit, or body.

And when it happens what can we do? Do we rely on people? Oh, we know a lot of people. I bet you have a lot of acquaintances. It is a hallmark of West Virginia life that we appear to have so many, many friends, for we use many personal endearments in conversation. People we know fairly well are often “buddy” or “honey” or “sweetie” or the like. And in a time of a little need, it doesn’t cost much to reach out to someone, it does not require a strip of flesh, merely a little time. But what about the occasions when you have real trouble? Can you rely on your acquaintances.

As a “character” and a curmudgeon, perhaps I have fewer acquaintances than other people. I watch others go to social functions (elimination dinners come to mind - a duller form of entertainment I cannot imagine) and “work the room.” I am amazed by that. How in the world do you walk up to total strangers, introduce yourself and start a conversation? It’s all quite beyond me. One of my former partners has a daughter, Lisa, who is magnificently gifted at communicating with total strangers. I am in awe of the way she works a room, has people talking animatedly to her, and genuinely smiling at her. As for me, at those affairs, I will get my coke or my stage prop beer (which will last all night with about three sips), take a seat off to the side, and if someone wants to talk to me, by God, they are welcome to come and talk. Well, these are not the kinds of relationships that one depends on when life takes a horrible turn.

So the concept of friends now comes to mind. How many friends do we have? How many friends do you have? Who do we rely on? Who can we safely rely on? And after a few of these toilet flush experiences, and after we are burned by people we regarded as friends, who will we then be willing to rely upon? Perhaps that is a strength of this symbolic journey to the place of destitution, that we can think upon these things and find what matters to us and who matters to us and what we can depend on im ourselves, and who we can depend on in our lives.

This journey to destitution can also give us perspective and even joy. A part of my routine is that on most days, I meet my buddy Dave for coffee at Classics Café and we solve many of the world’s problems before Fairmont has really come awake. We sit at a table right at the front window where we can observe the scene and see the people driving bym walking by, many of whom wave at us and we wave back. We are right up by the front door, so we always greet whoever comes in, and since Dave sits closer to the door, he will pop up and open the door for the bread man or the coke man when they come to deliver, and then make a grumpy response when I again make the stale joke about him needing striped pants if he is going to be a doorman. Last week, a guy we hadn’t seen for months came in one morning. Weather has been moderating, but it was a pretty chilly morning, with the temperature somewhere in the 30s. Nevertheless, this guy had on his knee length shorts, sneakers and a Hawaiian shirt. He had bushy shoulder length hair and a Fu Manchu mustache and looked like he’d had a hard working man’s life. But he was perking along and he was upbeat and he got his cup from Jeri and filled it with coffee from the urn and sat down a couple of tables away. He took that first sip of coffee and smiled and you could tell was on his mind: “Man, that’s living.” I’m not sure, but perhaps if you can go there to that place of destitution or to that place where life has been hard maybe you can take that first sip of coffee and say, man, that’s living, and be content with what you have.

Pippa passes.


07 April 2009

Princes and Paupers

I’ve railed rather snidely against the "elite" lawyers here in the past. This is not one of those philipics. I still see the elite as somewhat of a stereotype. The men wear pinstripes and suspenders, in muted tones, Italian silk ties, Italian shoes, and for some odd reason have their shirts monogrammed. The women are equally well-dressed, which is even more expensive. They talk about millions of dollars the way others talk of thousands. They drop names and often are simply accurately describing relationships and not trying to impress anyone. (Oh, at other times, they are impressing upon the poor unwashed slobs with whom they are dealing that they are slumming that day. One woman I was dealing with kept talking about what "Lee" told her: "Lee told me this," "Lee told me that," and finally I asked, "Who the hell is Lee?" "Why, F. Lee Bailey, of course." Of course.) They drive nice cars, are paid big fees and bonuses, have titles like “general counsel,” come from “first tier” law schools, and Do Things That The Rest of Us Don’t Understand.

Well, for the first time, let me acknowledge that in our society and economy, somebody has to do million dollar deals. Someone has to be AIG’s general counsel, and have the stomach to negotiate bailouts with a straight face. Someone has to defend corporations against their own corporate greed and stupidity, just as somebody has to defend the lowest drug-addict-burglar. And while I can make moral conclusions and comparisons, for once I won’t. These are the Princes of the Bar.

Then there is the downmarket “working bar.” I would be considered a “curmudgeon” or a “character.” The former, I cultivate due to a peculiar affect. The latter is thrust upon you. I gravitate to rumpled khakis, black jackets, flag pins and L.L. Bean shoes. The closest my ties have gotten to Italy is I bet I’ve splashed some Chef Boy-Ar-Dee sauce on them once or twice. And I do hundred dollar deals and thousand dollar deals, and defend mere people against their stupidity or against the actions of others. I drive a 10 year old car.

Hmm - fees. Today, I did a case in Court. The people came in last week, and it took a good bit of work. I ended up making about $35 per hour for the time I put in it. The result was that, later this afternoon, my clients and their 3 year old child were reunited at my office.

My partner, God bless her, said she really didn't care if we made a fee on this one or not.

I do not begrudge the general counsel at AIG anything s/he makes or does. That is his/her way. This is my way. I’ll take mine. In a hundred years, who will know the difference?

Pippa passes.


05 April 2009

Symbolic journeys, low stress and generally soft stuff

Holy Week

We take symbolic journeys all the time. Every imaginable club, fraternity/sorority, fraternal order, scout troop, marching band, garden club, tribe, motorcycle club, gang, professional association, university and every other group of people who hold anything resembling a ceremony do so to mark passages, advancements, and commemorations.

We start the principal journey for the Christian churches this week, commonly known as Holy Week, commemorating the Last Week. Observe it as you will. Or, roughly as Scrooge said, observe it by leaving it alone. It’s important to me to take this one journey seriously.

New climatological observation

Based on the experience of the winter of 2009, I have determined that if March comes in like a lion, it goes out like a penguin.


I always carry a little pocket notebook. I’m not sure when I started, it hasn’t been too many years ago that I decided that juggling cards and scraps wasn’t working. I remembered that my Dad always had a little notebook, and by golly it works. I’ve noticed others around me starting to do the same. Low tech, and it works.

Holy week, revisited

Yo, Pastor Josh, Palm Sunday as an example of hypocrisy? Darn, one thing I like about that guy is that he stretches you and gets in your face a bit and makes you uncomfortable. His point is that the “vox populi” on the first Palm Sunday was “hosanna,” or “yippee, we’re glad He’s here,” but by Friday, it was “Crucify him.”

It is hard to stick to your guns when you feel the breezes of everyone who’s been around you rushing away.

Stick with Simon & Garfunkel

One service this week will include “meditations” by lay people on the last words of Christ. Parson Jim Norton (laity to us) is reflecting on the “why have you forsaken me.” At lunch today, I was surprised that he didn’t remember the S&G song, Blessed, which included that line three times, so I sent him the lyrics:

Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit.
Blessed is the lamb whose blood flows.
Blessed are the sat upon, spat upon, ratted on,
O lord, why have you forsaken me?
I got no place to go,
Ive walked around soho for the last night or so.
Ah, but it doesnt matter, no.

Blessed is the land and the kingdom.
Blessed is the man whose soul belongs to.
Blessed are the meth drinkers, pot sellers, illusion dwellers.
O lord, why have you forsaken me?
My words trickle down, like a wound
That I have no intention to heal.

Blessed are the stained glass, window pane glass.
Blessed is the church service makes me nervous
Blessed are the penny rookers, cheap hookers, groovy lookers.
O lord, why have you forsaken me?
I have tended my own garden
Much too long.

Some songwriters are pretty good poets. Simon is one. James Taylor another.


I’ve a couple of articles in progress. One is prompted by Son Tim and his increased EMS/fire duties, based on what the “old guys” (gender non-specific) have to teach the current field people. There are several lessons, one of which is “Cocky kills.” Become dead certain you know what you’re doing and you or somebody else can become just dead real fast. Helluva note to end a post on, but Mr. Reality isn’t a pleasant guy at all.

Pippa passes.