Friday, May 28, 2010

Poem Friday

And you thought I'd forgot! Nope, at least for this week I'm committed to Poem Fridays.
This is a poem by Wendell Berry, a great American author...and my favorite author. I have never read anyone that captures and articulates my feelings as well as Wendell Berry, and in my opinion he is the most relevant living voice we (the present world) could be listening to. This poem is from his book Sabbaths 2006. Read it out loud.


O saints, if I am even eligible for this prayer,
though less than worthy of this dear desire,
and if your prayers have influence in Heaven,
let my place there be lower than your own.
I know how you longed, here where you lived
as exiles, for the presence of the essential
Being and Maker and Knower of all things.
But because of my unruliness, or some erring
virtue in me never rightly schooled,
some error clear and dear, my life
has not taught me your desire for flight:
dismattered, pure, and free. I long
instead for the Heaven of creatures, of seasons,
of day and night. Heaven enough for me
would be this world as I know it, but redeemed
of our abuse of it and one another. It would be
the Heaven of knowing again. There is no marrying
in Heaven, and I submit; even so, I would like
to know my wife again, both of us young again,
and I remembering always how I loved her
when she was old. I would like to know
my children again, all my family, all my dear ones,
to see, to hear, to hold, more carefully
than before, to study them lingeringly as one
studies old verses, committing them to heart
forever. I would like again to know my friends,
my old companions, men and women, horses
and dogs, in all the ages of our lives, here
in this place that I have watched over all my life
in all its moods and seasons, never enough.
I will be leaving how many beauties overlooked?
A painful Heaven this would be, for I would know
by it how far I have fallen short. I have not
paid enough attention, I have not been grateful
enough. And yet this pain would be the measure
of my love. In eternity's once and now, pain would
place me surely in the Heaven of my earthly love.

Thursday, May 27, 2010


Today is my last day at work. Did you know I blog at work? Well, if you're my future, I don't blog at work...blogs are for self-important post-college, pre-true-adulthood twenty-somethings.
Well, I'm super excited to not work here anymore. Of all the jobs I've had, this one seems the farthest from what "work" was supposed to be many millenia ago before we men-types were sent out to the east of Eden. The job that most closely resembled that old forgotten type of work was probably mixing and blending smoothies all those years...but still a pretty major stretch.
Anyway, we pack the moving truck tomorrow and abandon our roots here in Gainesvegas for a couple of years. I'm pretty sad about that part. I somewhat inadvertently think of myself as a leader, and so its hard for me to think of what Moe's Thursday will be like after we leave. And where will everyone watch The Office and 30 Rock...and is it fair for us to bring Bananagrams (TM) with us? Its not that I think I'm more important than other people...but who will fill the enormous void of terrible jokes and talking too much?
Here is what I'm pumped about, though:
My social circle consisting of Valerie, Carver and I,
Learning medicine,
Experiencing life outside of the colorful, lawless swamp,
Being an hour from mountains,
Living in a house again,
Finding hills to skateboard down.

OK, I have work to do. I'll see you later!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

You should look at these photos

Energy Independence

Begging your pardon

OK, sorry about my last post. It may have been a little harsh...especially depending on YOUR opinion of immigration. I still stand by my opinion, though.
"...but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison."

Monday, May 24, 2010

Opine and a poem

People rant and rave about immigration. Granted, I don't live in Arizona. Maybe the immigrants there are really hostile or something, but the ones here sure aren't. I wonder if those who rant and rave about immigration eat tomatoes or blueberries, or are descendants of American Indians. And if you do eat tomatoes and blueberries, are you really willing to pick them yourself...and not as a pastime on a Saturday but for entire days, making $10 an hour? Come to think of it, I bet 100% of Mexican and Guatemalan immigrants are more American than almost every American you know. A bunch of European descendants eating American food picked by American people and complaining about it. We all need to get our story straight if we're gonna cry "capitalism" and "closed borders" in the same breath. That don't jive.

False Documents
Nicole Walker

They ran the numbers twice for you
giving you the benefit of the doubt
but you knew the computer at the other
end of the officer’s PDA would not find
your brown number in its little black index.
You drove exactly one mile per hour below the speed
limit. You buckled your baby into his car seat according
to instructions. You signaled for exactly three seconds
before you turned left. You wanted to hide the Subway wrappers,
the empty box of Orbitz gum. Evidence of Big Macs.
You wanted to drink the Mountain Dew before it turned toxic
in the hot Phoenix sun as you asked, doesn’t this green
sludge make me American enough? But you didn’t
move because you knew the officer would have taken
that for gun-finding or drug-hiding or some other supposed
Mexican sport. You with your hands at ten and two
wondered how long the bus ride the officer would take you
on would last and whether they would provide any water.
You wondered, as the officer put hand to holster,
how dangerous it would be to down that Mountain
Dew then and there, in the wide-open American air.

Sunday, May 23, 2010


As a caveat, this post will not capture what I am feeling/thinking to a sufficient extent.

We're moving from Gainesville on Saturday. I moved here about this time, 9 years ago for school. Looking back, there is no way I could have written or hoped for a richer life than the one I'm moving from Gainesville with. This place, and our deep, broad, rich, and diverse community here has been like the roots upon roots in a forest might be upon soil, or vice versa. If anything I've learned over the last 9 years sticks out the clearest, it is community. Filial community can be, and has been for me, one of the most wonderful and sacred things in my life. If God is restoring everything to himself through Christ, and I know he is, and if that restoration means humanity will resemble anything close to the community I have had in Gainesville, we have no idea how deep and rich and good that restoration will be.
Wendell Berry, my favorite author, writes a lot about place. All of the valuable things in our life are intimately dependent on and crucially supportive of place. It is so hard for me to leave Gainesville. Not because of the Gators, or the weather, or living on campus, but because it has been the setting and home I have had while going from an 18 year old, lacking wisdom, assurance, community, etc. to who I am now, which I think is as different as can be.
I hope we are moving back here in two years. I hope Dan and Natalie are still here...or willing to also move back. I hope John Brantley's replacement is incredible, and that Jeremy Foley is still our AD. I hope Ron Kuykendal is still our priest. I hope Moe's still has the Big Moo.
Well, I just took a break to do something else, and am no longer feeling as emo about leaving. Anyway, thanks for reading. See you soon. Thanks for being a part of the rich, deep, and good that is my life.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Poem Friday

I've decided to adopt a routine for my blog, at least for Fridays...or at least this Friday. I'll write it in my planner for next Friday, and see if it becomes habit. Anyway, the following poem was written for Obama's inauguration, and when I heard it read that day I really loved it, and still do. The poet does an incredible job of ascribing worth to the things that make up the days of people like you and me, who may not see worth in our day to day 100% of the time. My favorite line is "the figuring-it-out at kitchen tables." What a picture of a family making it, whether they feel like they are making it or not. Well, I hope you like it too.

Praise Song for the Day
by Elizabeth Alexander

A Poem for Barack Obama's Presidential Inauguration

Each day we go about our business,
walking past each other, catching each other's
eyes or not, about to speak or speaking.

All about us is noise. All about us is
noise and bramble, thorn and din, each
one of our ancestors on our tongues.

Someone is stitching up a hem, darning
a hole in a uniform, patching a tire,
repairing the things in need of repair.

Someone is trying to make music somewhere,
with a pair of wooden spoons on an oil drum,
with cello, boom box, harmonica, voice.

A woman and her son wait for the bus.
A farmer considers the changing sky.
A teacher says, Take out your pencils. Begin.

We encounter each other in words, words
spiny or smooth, whispered or declaimed,
words to consider, reconsider.

We cross dirt roads and highways that mark
the will of some one and then others, who said
I need to see what's on the other side.

I know there's something better down the road.
We need to find a place where we are safe.
We walk into that which we cannot yet see.

Say it plain: that many have died for this day.
Sing the names of the dead who brought us here,
who laid the train tracks, raised the bridges,

picked the cotton and the lettuce, built
brick by brick the glittering edifices
they would then keep clean and work inside of.

Praise song for struggle, praise song for the day.
Praise song for every hand-lettered sign,
the figuring-it-out at kitchen tables.

Some live by love thy neighbor as thyself,
others by first do no harm or take no more
than you need. What if the mightiest word is love?

Love beyond marital, filial, national,
love that casts a widening pool of light,
love with no need to pre-empt grievance.

In today's sharp sparkle, this winter air,
any thing can be made, any sentence begun.
On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp,

praise song for walking forward in that light.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Mustache Tuesday

Valerie and I were watching the Phillies/Brewers game on TV the other night and she asked,
"Are all the guys with something in their mouth dipping?" To which I replied,
"Well, if its in their bottom lip, then yes." And then she said something about how its crazy that you can do that while you play professional baseball. I had never considered it in regards to other professional sports before, probably because I grew up so immersed in baseball. My high school coach lit all of his forthcoming cigarettes with the one he was about to finish, while having a dip in. And then I came across this photo of Kieth Hernandez, clad with his 1980s soup strainer and a cigarette...during a baseball game.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Abandoning the Final Frontier and "Why don't we let the Russians bid on purchasing Louisiana?"

This weekend we went to Merritt Island to see my family before we move and to go to my cousin Tessa's graduation party. Incidentally, the Space Shuttle Atlantis had its final launch Friday at 2:20, so we left early to catch that.
I grew up in the shadow of the space program. My dad has worked at the space center since just after I was born, minus a few months after the Challenger accident in the 80s, when he got laid off for half a year. I played on an AAU baseball team called the Spacecoast Braves. I have always been extremely enamored by the whole deal...especially because my dad is such a part of it. We didn't make it to Kelly Park before the launch because most of the rest of Florida had the same idea, so Valerie, Carver and I watched the launch from the side of 528. It was awesome. Hundreds and hundreds of cars moving along at 20 miles per hour, and then at 2:18 or so we all pull over and watch the launch. I can't tell you how special it is to me that Carver got to see a launch, even if he won't remember it. One day when he is a little older I think he will be pretty awestruck that his grandpa was a part of such a program. I think its a real shame that the country that has always led the world in space travel, especially manned space travel, is giving up. Sure, a lot of money is spent on it, but it has brought us so many things we use today, including telecommunications, all satellite based technology, and thousands of products like Velcro. You can talk all day about the innovation of private industry, but the public won with the space program. Now we will pay $58 million to buy a seat for an American to ride up with the Russians, and have virtually zero ownership of current and future space station projects. This is like Lewis and Clark getting to about Nebraska and saying, "Meh, the rest is probably about the same. I'm sure there are no geysers or grizzlies, or volcanoes, or grand canyon, or salmon, or redwoods, or giant secoyas, or American hops, or the Salinas Valley. Let's just turn back. The price is too high to discover." They didn't say that, though! The other side of hard work is always worth it Mr. President! I know you know that!!!
Anyway, sorry for my bad attitude, its just hard for me to understand spending so much public money on weapons and defense and cutting a mission of human discovery completely.
The weekend was wonderful, though. It was priceless to see Carver at the beach. Its the first time he's been there since he started walking, and he walked into the waves with no fear. I loved it. I also loved seeing my family, and I'm so proud of the mature young woman my cousin is becoming. I am also dreading being so far from Ayden and Emilye. They better come hiking!

UPDATE!!! This day in history: May 17th, 1804, Lewis and Clark begin their exploration of the Louisiana purchase...a coincidence which superstitiously corroborates my opinion. But seriously, what a strange coincidence.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Black Gold

I think its time for us to analyze what’s happened, and what we might take away from this oil spill. Environmental regulation in general is seen as a restriction on business, and some would argue that it is antithetical to American ideals to restrict buisiness in any way. Well, the SWISS company that is responsible for this oil leak, which is equivalent to 1,633 5-quart oil changes per second, was able to win limited liability in a Houston court. This means that American fisherman, beachgoers, and gulf coast businesspeople of every type are limited to a total of $27 million in law suit money from this swiss company, or less than a percent of the real economic damages that will be incurred this year, not including the decades to come. The law that the company used as legal president was established in 1851, and was made to ecourage shipping in rough waters...not oil drilling in the gulf. Another interesting way to look at this volume of oil is that as of June 10th, we will have done the equivalent of changing the oil of half the personally owned vehicles in the United States, and dumping that oil in the Gulf. That’s 260,000,000 5-quart oil changes by August first.
Off shore drilling to get us off foreign oil, in this case at least, will cost America way more than another two decades of foreign oil. Rather than choose political sides and argue ideals that are based on vague perceptions of reality (we need to drill because there is no risk and this is Amurca), we need to look at numbers and facts...and the fact that this spill and its effects will never be financially worth off-shore drilling.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Dust of the earth

As you know, I've long been troubled by the animosity between Science and Christian Faith, especially in their perceived conflict over how we are here...not why, but how. A long time ago I read a book called "The Language of God", written by Francis Collins, former head of the Human Genome Project and current head of the National Institutes of Health, and Christian. It put my mind at ease. Well, he has kind of headed up a group that tries to bridge the theo-phylogenetic gap that has been existed since about the time of the Stokes Monkey Trial. Here is their website. It is quite a resource.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Misperception and Madam Malkin's Robes for All Occasions

For the sake of this post, let's assume that you, dear reader, believe in God, or that you at least have some perception of what the God of true Christians is like, whether real or not. What brings this up is that I think most people, Christian or not, have a certain perception of what God is like, and that this perception is not all correct, and is maybe way wrong. I think this is mostly due to the fact that authority on earth doesn't do a perfect job of being authority, and we ascribe our experiences with them to what the ultimate authority might be like. The only real, concrete idea we can trust of who the Christian God is, is through what the bible says...and it says things much different than how I think the world perceives God. I will list some things verbatim...

"Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne."
"Love and faithfulness go before you."
"I will not take my love from him, nor will I ever betray my faithfulness."
He is "the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles"
Jesus is described as being "full of grace and truth."

The bible is full of this stuff. To me, it makes God sound more like a great husband or dad than anything else. I'm not trying to sound religious by any means, I'm just trying to be real here. What is our perception of God? I'm always finding myself doubting that God would want good things for me, or that he cares about my trivial needs a whole lot. But if my dad's goodness and faithfulness to me and my family is even an inkling of God's goodness and faithfulness to us, I think we'd be crazy not to pursue his love. I'm just saying people...I think we've got it all wrong most of the time. I think the best thing we can do is try to understand what God might actually be like. The foundations of his throne, the very framework in which he is God, is righteousness and justice? What if you could trust that your dad or boss or president's authority was completely righteous and just? That would be so freaking reassuring! Could it be that he is like a Father, but a Father who is truly right and just and faithful to us? I'm not attempting some back handed way to get you to become a believer. I'm trying to really challenge what it is you think about the God of the bible. Let's be real with ourselves here. If he's really that good, we need to figure out what keeps us from trusting him.

By the way, I graduated Saturday with my masters in Interdisciplinary Ecology. I feel really great and thankful about it. The ceremony was for all advanced degrees. If you get an advanced degree you get to wear a hood, and your gown has big wings on it. As we were waiting for the processional I couldn't help but whistle the theme song for Harry Potter. I was almost sure I was at Hogwarts. Gosh I wish I could go to Hogwarts. Anyway, there were so many times I thought I would never finish this degree. I mean, I really didn't think so. Hard work, I think, is always worth it when you get to the other side of it.