Community Archive

April 08, 2010
Local mechanics

Real Live Preacher has asked that people google bomb his local mechanic so that he can get more business as he opens a new repair shop. I can understand the need for this since it is so easy for repair shops to take advantage of people who cannot work on their own cars and often don't understand how cars work. Thus when someone knows a good, reliable, and especially trustworthy mechanic this is worth promoting. So Gordon's request prompted this posting.

However, not living in San Antonio I'm not able to make use of Mike the Mechanic. However, I happily refer people to my mechanic, Aero Automotive in Canton, GA. This is owned by my friend Scott Holton and I have often been told that the problem I am having with my car needs just a simple repair or even no repair. The work I have had done there has been well done, and the few times a repair has gone wrong they have made it right. I've even upgraded my AAA coverage so that if my car needs to be towed I can get it towed there since the shop is more than 30 miles from my home. I am sure that there are probably other good mechanics closer than Scott, but I am unwilling to risk the time and money that would be involved in trying multiple shops looking for a shop I feel I can trust.

Posted by JoKeR at 10:27 AM
January 01, 2007
Optimism for the Future

I found a link to a series of articles about what some intellectuals think give us reason to anticipate a better future. Interesting reading.

Posted by JoKeR at 02:38 PM
Happy New Year

And the urge gets scratched...

Hope everyone has a happy New Year and comes up with better resolutions than Bush:

People always ask me about a New Year's resolution -- my resolution is, is that they'll [our troops will] be safe and that we'll come closer to our objective, that we'll be able to help this young democracy survive and thrive and, therefore, we'll be writing a chapter of peace.

It is my understanding that New Year's resolutions are supposed to be about something we can change about ourselves to make us better people. Bush apparently has a different understanding wherein a resolution is just a vague hope for a better future. Of course, I doubt he has any ideas that will actually lead to a better future, so I guess a vague hope is the best we can expect him to offer. It wouldn't surprise me if he doesn't think that there is anything about himself that needs improvement. He seems just that clueless.

Posted by JoKeR at 01:40 PM
June 30, 2006

Once again, I have found what I think is a terrific link via Metafilter. This time it is a flash presentation called Gapminder which graphically shows income and health statistics about countries all over the world over a span of several years. It was created by Hans Rosling who apparently has some other videos at his site (or is that a shared site, it is apparently so overburdened by people accessing what might be his latest video that I haven't been able to get the site to respond, thus my speculation that the site is overburdened at present). I am, in fact, making this posting as much to remind myself of this information (and maybe get into the site later when it isn't so busy) as from a desire to share it with my reader (I do have one, don't I? Hello?)

Posted by JoKeR at 10:30 PM
March 11, 2006
Comments yet again

OK, I think I've disabled comments except for "authenticated users" which means using TypeKey which is free, but maybe not for everyone. I will, one day, do something to make this easier, but after deleting 800 spam comments, I want them to stop NOW. I did find and save a comment from Satchel Pooch, but if I didn't recognize anyone else's name in the comment I deleted it. Sorry if a comment of yours got caught in the mess (except for the spammers, God will punish you if there is any justice).

Posted by JoKeR at 10:36 AM
Busy, busy, busy

HI, folk. Being at work in an office full time really eats into my leisure time. Whoda thunk it? I haven't even managed to keep up with reading the blogs I'd gotten used to reading regularly. This does not mean I've stopped being interested, just shifted priorities. Of course, managing priorities can be difficult. Finding time for work, family, church, friends, relaxing, chores, shopping, etc. is always a balancing act (or is that a juggling act?) but we do what we can do. Please remember that I have not forgotten you, even if I haven't been as visible lately.

Posted by JoKeR at 08:17 AM
February 16, 2006
Camera battery = pictures

So, I finally found my camera battery recharger. Somehow it had gotten buried under the pictured pile o'stuff.

But now that I have a working camera again, allow me to show you our newly rebuilt, refinished, and reupholstered rocker. This had been my wife's grandmother's rocker and so it is not only beautiful, but it has a lot of sentiment attached to it as well. Behold!


Posted by JoKeR at 10:43 PM
February 08, 2006
Schedule getting busier

Well, folks, it looks like things are going to get a bit busier for me. I got a call from my most recent employer asking that I come back on at least a temporary basis for the next few weeks or months, possibly leading to more permanent work. This is not the job opportunity I was looking for, but it both helps to pay the bills and offers an opportunity to work with some new technology that they have (finally) brought in. Thanks for all your prayers.

Posted by JoKeR at 10:38 AM
January 24, 2006
Invisible workers

I just finished reading an article by a writer who hit hard times and wound up working as a custodian. The article is not a message of despair and desperation, it is an acknowledgement of a societal divide that is rarely spoken of in polite society. Go read it. If the link is broken I've saved the article (encrypted) in the extended section of this article, but follow the link so the author has an indication that people are noticing his work.

One of my first real experiences realizing just how deep this societal divide is occurred when I was working at First Data. Note that I was already well into my 30s by this point and had been working professionally for more than a dozen years. More shame to me that I hadn't thought much about it before that time.

I was working as a programmer/analyst and as such was part of the elite in the division in which I worked. As time went by I came to recognize just where that divide between ins and outs was. Basically, the administration and support folks (management, technology, HR, etc.) were the elite. I was appalled by the way those not in this clique were treated but I continued to work there and reap the benefits of my position (reserved parking space, salary, bonuses, stock options, etc.) This company was running a call center where hundreds of workers sat in small cubes in front of terminals and phone calls were fed to the wage-slaves as fast as they could handle them.

These "slaves" were accorded very little respect. They had no space on company property which they could claim as their own. No locker. No desk. Not even a locked drawer. All workstations were shared by different shifts and different people depending on attendance and workload. These workers were issued expensive equipment for which they were financially responsible if lost or damaged, so they had to carry it with them on breaks, to the bathroom, where ever, because it could not be secured. I once heard the VP of Operations for whom these masses worked respond when informed of worker complaints "What are they complaining about? They have a job, don't they?" Yet the management could not understand why their employees were not motivated to improve their job performance. They claimed good morale by doing a company survey which was used as part of a bonus incentive plan: the employees were told that if there was high employee satisfaction then the bonuses would be bigger. Yet the survey results didn't match up with the poor performance they were seeing. Go figure.

Yet, this division between the management elite and the wage slave workers was not the divide addressed by the article I referenced. Despite the distance and antipathy between those two groups, there was a third group which was looked down on by both. The custodial staff were even lower on the social ladder of the company. They were invisible. They had access to every corner of the building unsupervised where they were trusted to not betray company secrets or steal company or management's property (the wage-slaves had virtually no personal property to be stolen since they had to take theirs with them), yet they did not have names, did not receive eye contact when encountered, did not exist.

In my current stretch between jobs I interviewed for a position which included an encounter I've never had elsewhere as employee or interviewee. My interviewer was leading me from one location to another when we encountered one of the custodial staff. My interviewer stopped and greeted her then introduced her to me, telling me of the many years she had worked there. I don't think I missed a beat in reponding in this situation as I would have tried to do in greeting anyone else to whom I was introduced as part of the interview process, but it was certainly unexpected. I didn't get that job, and based on things I've heard about that situation from others who are familiar with it I'm just as glad I didn't. There were some seriously crazy dynamics at that place. But, at least in regard to how the custodial staff were treated I was shown a level of respect for them which I don't think I've seen anywhere else I've ever worked. I'm glad that I had recognized the divide between custodial and non-custodial workers in that earlier work situation so that I could appreciate just how different this was from the norm.

I like to think that I haven't pursued a different vocation because I still have hope of landing a job utilizing my profesional job skills which will pay me more than I would be able to earn at a more clerical or manual labor type of job. However, I do wonder sometimes if I am just trying to fool myself. Do I continue to believe deep down that I am somehow better than that? I'm out of shape and would face a serious challenge if I tried to do some work which had me on my feet all day or required regular heavy lifting, but is there more to my reluctance than just fading hopes? Maybe a stretch at some different type of work would make me better appreciate any position I get later. I guess there is no way to answer that unless I manage to get a job doing work unrelated to my professional training, but it makes me wonder sometimes.

Dennis Perrin wrote the following piece. I've copied it here because I don't know how stable the source is and I don't want to lose it. I've encrypted it with rot13 since I'm not trying to garner links based on his text. Just copy the text and past it into the rot13 text window to restore it.

Fvapr '06 unf zreryl fyvgurerq ba jurer '05 fyvzrq bss, V'z va ab uheel gb erivrj Wnpx Noenzbss'f qvegl gnoyr qnapr, fvapr gung'yy xrrc qbmraf bs yvo oybttref ohfl pyvzovat bire rnpu bgure va uvtu vaqvtangvba (juvyr qrsraqvat gur ercf bs Orygjnl Qrzf, nf Wnar Unzfure, jubfr obbx ba znxvat "Angheny Obea Xvyyref" V rawblrq, unf qbar, unaq bire cher zhyr urneg). Gurer'yy or cyragl zber pebbxrq cresbeznaprf gb pbzr va gur jrrxf & zbaguf nurnq. Vafgrnq, V'z tbaan cbfg n cvrpr V choorq va gur Naa Neobe Bofreire ynfg Znl, fvapr gur znwbevgl bs lbh unir abg frra vg, naq vg qbirgnvyf fbzrjung jvgu zl cbfg nobhg Neguhe Fvyore naq gur uneqfuvc bs jevgvat sbe jungrire nhqvrapr lbh pna fant. Gung cbfg trarengrq n qrprag nzbhag bs znvy, naq fbzr bs lbh jrer pbaprearq gung V jnf uvagvat ng unatvat guvf hc zlfrys. Abg n punapr, abg jvgu gur vagryyvtrag naq fhccbegvir erfcbafrf V'z trggvat.

Gur cvrpr pbzrf cnegyl sebz n obbx V'z jbexvat ba, naq vf n yvggyr erivfrq sebz gur choorq irefvba. Vg'f n gehr fgbel, batbvat. Rawbl.

N Wnavgbe'f Fgbel

Nsgre svir, jr rzretr. Jr ragre lbhe ohvyqvatf, pynj guebhtu lbhe genfu, tynapr ng gur cubgbf bs lbhe snzvyl naq sevraqf. Jr fpbhe lbhe onguebbzf naq yhapuebbzf. Jr xabj lbhe qvrgnel unovgf, zhfvpny gnfgrf, eryvtvbhf naq cbyvgvpny nssvyvngvbaf, vs nal. Naq lrg lbh vtaber hf, qvfzvff hf, gnyx qbja gb hf vs lbh qrvta gb gnyx ng nyy. Lbh guvax zber uvtuyl bs lbhe crgf.

Fbzr bs lbh ner avpr, vs va n pbaqrfpraqvat jnl. Orpnhfr, nsgre nyy, lbh jbhyq arire qb jung jr qb. Ab punapr. Lbh pnaabg vzntvar fhpu vaqvtavgl. Jung’f ybjre guna jung jr qb? Jr yvar gur oveqpntr. Gung’f gur jnl vg vf.

Bssvpr pyrnavat fgevcf njnl cergrafvba. Vg’f gbhtu gb jrne n snyfr snpr jura orag bire n pybttrq gbvyrg, jbexvat gur cyhatre nf fuvg jngre fcvyyf ba bhe obbgf naq cnagf. Be erzbivat qevrq ibzvg sebz n pnecrg jvgu n unaquryq fgrnz pyrnare. Anfgl fcvyyf naq zrffrf xrrc hf ubarfg. Gurer’f abguvat pbaprcghny nobhg bhe jbex.

V ernyvmrq guvf nsgre fghzoyvat guebhtu n unmr bs crefbany zvfuncf, ybhfl whqtzragf, naq rkgerzr neebtnapr. V arire gubhtug gung, va zl sbegvrf, V’q or qhfgvat phovpyrf naq fpehoovat onguebbzf sbe n yvivat. Ohg lbh arire xabj jurer lbh’yy raq hc. V pregnvayl qvqa’g.

V bapr yvirq va Arj Lbex Pvgl, jurer V znqr n zbqrfg yvivat jevgvat, rqvgvat, naq fcrnxvat ng havirefvgvrf naq ba cnaryf. Sbe n gvzr V pb-ubfgrq n zbeavat enqvb fubj gung unq n avpr sbyybjvat, naq bppnfvbanyyl V’q nccrne ba GI gb nethr gung gur pbecbengr zrqvn nera’g ernyyl nyy gung "yvoreny." Tbg gb xabj frireny zrqvn cebf. Jrag gb uvtuoebj pbpxgnvy cnegvrf. Gura, nsgre arneyl n qrpnqr bs serrynapvat, V fanttrq gjb obbx qrnyf sebz n snveyl cebzvarag choyvfure naq jnf ercerfragrq ol bar bs gur gbc yvgrenel ntragf va gur pvgl. Znqr zber zbarl va gjb lrnef guna V unq va zl jubyr yvsr. Jnf zneevrq gb n jbzna V ybirq gur zbzrag V fnj ure. Unq gjb perngvir, yviryl xvqf.

Gura -- OYNZZB.

Vg ortna jvgu zrrgvatf sbe zl guveq obbx jvgu na rira ynetre choyvfure. Cvpgher lbhefrys fvggvat va n gbc rqvgbe’f bssvpr vafvqr n ynetr ohvyqvat va zvqgbja Znaunggna. Ybbx ng gur ahzrebhf fzvyvat snprf nebhaq lbh. Yvfgra gb gur synggrel. Srry lbhe onpx orvat fynccrq. Lbh arire jrag gb pbyyrtr, naq urer ner nyy gurfr nzovgvbhf Cevaprgbaf naq Lnyrf xvffvat lbhe nff. Lbh’er ybbfr, shaal. Lbh pna’g oryvrir guvf vf unccravat, ohg pbaivapr lbhefrys gung vg’f lbhe qhr.

Gbb cresrpg? Lrf, lrf.

Univat fjnyybjrq gur choyvfure’f ulcr, urnq fjbyyra jvgu cenvfr, V gbyq zl jvsr gb dhvg ure wbo jvgu n evfvat zhygvzrqvn pbzcnal. V gura cynprq gur snzvyl’f erznvavat rttf va n tyvggrevat onfxrg naq njnvgrq zl ybat qrfreirq erjneq.

Jryy, un un, gur tyvggre ghearq gb penc bireavtug, rttf fznfurq, onfxrg ohearq. Nyy gur synggrel naq cebzvfrf zrnag mvc. Gurl hfhnyyl qb va choyvfuvat. Ohg V jnf gbb vtabenag gb frr vg, gbb neebtnag gb nqzvg V’q orra jebat. Abg bayl unq V zvfernq gur ovt obbx qrny (ghearq bhg, ba frpbaq gubhtug, gung gur choyvfure qrfverq n qvssrerag qverpgvba), V’q nyfb ohatyrq gur gnkrf bjrq ba gur nqinaprf sebz zl svefg gjb obbxf, fb jr jrer va qrrc ubpx gb gur VEF. Jvgu ab erny vapbzr naq ab fnivatf, jr sryy oruvaq va bhe erag. Zl jvsr gbbx n grzc wbo va -- jung ryfr? -- choyvfuvat, naq ba jrrxraqf fur jbexrq sbe n Serapu pngrevat pbzcnal fcernqvat câgé ba penpxref va geraql qryvf.

V qvq abguvat. Svtherq V jnf nobir jbexvat n qnl wbo. Zl ryvgvfz oneryl znfxrq gur boivbhf: V unq shpxrq hc va n znwbe jnl, naq jnf chyyvat guerr vaabprag crbcyr V ybirq qbja jvgu zr.

Unq gur areir gb npg fhecevfrq, ovt qvz teva ba zl snpr nf zl jvsr phefrq zl tnzoyr, zl rvtug-lrne-byq qnhtugre nfxrq jul jr jrer ybfvat bhe ncnegzrag, naq zl lbhat fba, zrepvshyyl boyvivbhf, cynlrq jvgu uvf jbbqra genvaf naq jngpurq "Fabbcl, Pbzr Ubzr" bire naq bire, vgf hcorng fbhaqgenpx funecravat gur greebe V jnf gelvat gb fhccerff. Va bar qrfgehpgvir ehfu bhe ubzr orpnzr n jnl fgngvba bs evccrq obkrf naq sheavgher fubirq va pbearef nf jr qvfznagyrq bhe yvsr naq jbaqrerq jurer gb tb. Zl jvsr naq xvqf ybbxrq gb zr, naq V, ubcryrff, ybfg, frys qrsrngrq, bssrerq abguvat ohg nathvfurq rkcerffvbaf.

Jr jrer ubzryrff. Whfg yvxr gung. Rirelguvat jrag vagb fgbentr. Zl jvsr naq xvqf gbbx n genva gb Gbyrqb naq gura n pebjqrq ohf gb Naa Neobe, jurer ure fvfgre cvpxrq gurz hc naq gbbx gurz gb ure ubzr bhgfvqr gbja.

Jul qvqa’g V tb? V fgvyy qba’g xabj. V sybccrq ng n sevraq’f fghqvb hcgbja naq fgnerq ng gur jnyyf juvyr zl zneevntr pnzr ncneg. Qrgrezvarq gb pyvat gb Arj Lbex ng jungrire pbfg, V uryq ba sbe arneyl gjb zbaguf, fyvccvat, fyvqvat, onatvat zl urnq ba gur fvqrjnyx. V gevrq serrynapvat, ohg gurer jrer srj gnxref (naq V ghearq qbja n avpr-cnlvat bssre gb jevgr n arpebcbea cvrpr nobhg n zheqrerq pbzrqvna sbe n ovt tybffl znt). Fb V erznvarq qrsvnagyl harzcyblrq, nf gur pybpx ba zl zneevntr gvpx gvpxrq qbja.

Gverq bs jnvgvat, zl jvsr eragrq n ubhfr va Naa Neobe. Fur envfrq gur zbarl ol fryyvat ure orybirq Fgrvajnl, juvpu fur jnf pehfurq gb unir gb qb. Ohg hayvxr zr, fur jnf jvyyvat gb fnpevsvpr sbe gur xvqf. Fur jnf zbivat ba, naq gur bayl guvat fur jnagrq sebz zr jnf bhe orybatvatf bhg bs fgbentr naq qryvirerq gb Zvpuvtna. Nsgre gung, fur ernyyl qvqa’g pner jurer V jrag be jung V qvq. Fb V fubirq bhe cbffrffvbaf vagb n ovt eragny gehpx (frira fgenvtug ubhef bs yvsgvat naq chfuvat) naq uvg gur ebnq. Chfurq gur cnpxrq, qragrq H-Unhy guebhtu Arj Wrefrl, Craaflyinavn, naq abegurea Buvb, nofbeovat gur ebohfg snyy pbybef haqre pevfc oyhr fxvrf, gura n ehfgl snyy qhfx. Ebyyvat vagb Naa Neobe whfg orsber zvqavtug, V gbbx zber guna unys na ubhe gb svaq gur ubhfr. Jura V qvq, V sryg eryvrs, naq gura funzr. V unqa’g frra zl snzvyl va arneyl rvtug jrrxf, naq gur fvtug naq fzryy bs gurz sybbqrq zl oenva naq lnaxrq zr ivbyragyl vagb gur cerfrag.

Zl jvsr, pbby ohg tynq gb frr zr va bar cvrpr, nyybjrq zr gb fyrrc ba gur pbhpu. V fcrag gur sbyybjvat qnl haybnqvat gur gehpx naq qernqvat zl qrcnegher. V qvqa’g jnag gb fgnl va Zvpuvtna, ohg V jnagrq, arrqrq, zl snzvyl, naq gurl jrer chggvat qbja ebbgf. Nsgre n srj qnlf zl jvsr naq V jnezrq gb rnpu bgure sbe gur svefg gvzr va zbaguf. Fur fhttrfgrq gung jr nyy tb gb gur Jvneq’f Bepuneqf Unyybjrra snve arne Lcfvynagv. Gur xvqf ybirq vg. Gurl srq n pbhcyr bs ubefrf, ebqr n genva, ngr pnaql nccyrf. Gurl sbhaq fbzr unl naq ebzcrq va vg, fpernzvat tyrrshyyl naq punfvat rnpu bgure.

Zl jvsr fzvyrq ng zr.

"Jul qba’g lbh fgnl?" fur fnvq, yrnavat ba n tenl srapr cbfg.

"Yvir urer?" Zl urnq jnf fgvyy va gur pvgl. "Abj? Gbqnl?"

"Lrnu." Fur yvtugyl fdhrrmrq zl unaqf. "Lbh orybat urer. Gurer’f abguvat yrsg sbe hf va Arj Lbex. Trg n wbo urer naq or jvgu lbhe snzvyl."

Zl jvsr’f biregher frrzrq n zvenpyr. Fur unq rirel evtug gb xvpx zl fbeel nff onpx gb gur uryy gung Arj Lbex unq orpbzr, n xvpx V shyyl rkcrpgrq naq qrfreirq. Vafgrnq, fur bssrerq sbetvirarff naq ybir. V qvqa’g xabj jung gb fnl rkprcg, "Lrnu, V’yy fgnl."

Jr xvffrq. Fur pevrq. Gura zr.

Fb V fgnlrq. Ohg vg qvqa’g gnxr ybat sbe zr gb ernyvmr gung svaqvat choyvfuvat jbex va fbhgurnfgrea Zvpuvtna jbhyq or qvssvphyg. V xabpxrq ba rirel ninvynoyr qbbe, bssrerq gb cebbsernq, pbclrqvg, punatr pbcvre gbare, nalguvat gb trg n sbbg va. Ohg gurer jnf abguvat. Rira tnir nqiregvfvat n tb, ohg ncneg sebz n srj pbairefngvbaf jvgu n ybpny perngvir qverpgbe sbe n fznyy fubc, gung perrx jnf qel gbb.

Zl jvsr fhttrfgrq oyhr-pbyyne jbex. V jnf nccnyyrq. Zr, n choyvfurq nhgube jub unq fcbxra ng Lnyr naq Trbetrgbja, jub unq qrongrq Nzrevpna sbervta cbyvpl ng gur Fzvgufbavna naq ba PAA, trg zl unaqf qvegl?

"Svaq fbzrguvat," fur vafvfgrq.

V’q tbggra zl unaqf qvegl orsber. Jura V tenqhngrq uvtu fpubby, zl sevraqf jrag gb pbyyrtr juvyr V whzcrq ba gur onpx bs n tneontr gehpx. Qhzcrq biresybjvat, ebggvat pnaf sebz pbhagyrff genvyre cnexf va abegurea Vaqvnan. Zrg zl svefg nqhyg jub pbhyq abg ernq be jevgr (n qevire jub zbbayvtugrq fynhtugrevat cvtf), naq fnj, ng na rneyl ntr, jung gur ybjre pynffrf raqherq. Sebz gurer V zvkrq naq pneevrq pbapergr, gevrq pnecragel naq thggre vafgnyyngvba, qht qvgpurf, cynagrq cbfgf. Nyy gur juvyr V ernq jungrire V pbhyq teno, naq ortna gb jevgr wbxrf naq yvggyr rffnlf. Jura V ghearq gjragl-gjb V zbirq gb Arj Lbex naq qvqa’g ybbx onpx.

Hagvy abj.

V ungrq gubfr wbof, ybbxrq qbja ng gur crbcyr jub qvq gurz, jvgu bar be gjb rkprcgvbaf. V pyvzorq bhg bs gung cvg naq jbexrq zl jnl hc gb jurer gur vagryyvtrag naq gnyragrq erfvqrq. V jnf abj hfrq gb cbyvgvpny naq cuvybfbcuvpny qvfphffvbaf, gb genqvat dhvcf jvgu rkgerzryl oevtug crbcyr. Irel srj xarj zl cnfg. Bu, V zrg fbzr anfgl, ivyr, crggl svtherf va gur juvgr-pbyyne jbeyq gbb. Gur fznegre crbcyr ner, gur zber ivpvbhf gurl nyybj gurzfryirf gb or. V jnfa’g oyvaq gb vg, ohg V svtherq vg orng snyyvat onpx vagb gur cvg bs znahny ynobe.

Creuncf vg jnf sngr gung oebhtug zr shyy pvepyr. Be xnezvp whfgvpr. Tbq xabjf V unq zber guna zl funer pbzvat. V ernyvmrq gung vs V jnagrq gb erpbaarpg jvgu zl snzvyl naq znxr n tb bs vg va Zvpuvtna, oyhr-pbyyne jbex jnf cerggl zhpu zl bayl ebhgr.

V frnepurq gur wbo bcravatf, tevaqvat zl grrgu bire rnpu nq. Fcbggrq bar gung cebzvfrq "sha jbex" jvgu "qryvtugshy crbcyr." Ubj punezvat, V gubhtug. Znl nf jryy gnxr gur qvir. Cubarq gur ahzore naq urneq n Oevgvfu ibvpr nafjre, "Xreelgbja Znyy. Znl V uryc lbh?"

Gur ibvpr orybatrq gb Yrfyrl, jub ena Xreelgbja, naq gur "sha jbex" jnf wnavgbevny. Yrfyrl vaivgrq zr va sbe na vagreivrj naq vagebqhprq zr gb Evpuneq, Xreelgbja’f urnq bs znvagranapr. Gurl nfxrq zr n ahzore bs dhrfgvbaf. V pbasrffrq gung V’q arire qbar nalguvat yvxr jung gurl arrqrq qbar. Evpuneq pbpxrq uvf ynetr urnq, fzvyrq, naq fnvq, "V tbg n srryva’ ’obhg lbh. V guvax lbh’yy jbex bhg svar." V yrsg, naq n srj ubhef yngre Yrfyrl pnyyrq naq tnir zr gur wbo.

Gur avtug orsber V fgnegrq V gevrq gb pbaivapr zlfrys gung orvat n znyy wnavgbe jnf aboyr. Ohg gur gehgu jnf gung V gbbx gur tvt bhg bs qrfcrengvba -- cnegyl sbe zbarl, ohg nyfb gb chavfu zlfrys sbe nyy gur onq guvatfV’q qbar, nyy gur jebat pubvprf naq qrnq raq gheaf. Yngre, n qnexre zbbq cbffrffrq zr. Jung unq V orpbzr? Rirelguvat V unq jbexrq sbe jnf tbar. Va nyy zl srirerq qernzf V’q arire gubhtug vg jbhyq pbzr gb guvf. Gur rzcgvarff V sryg jnf fb pbzcyrgr gung vg znqr zr fzvyr. Unq V ybbxrq va gur zveebe, V jbhyq’ir frra n yhangvp’f snpr.

Gur arkg qnl zl zbbq yvtugrarq fbzrjung, naq V tbg gb zl arj wbo n unys ubhe rneyl. V cnexrq frireny oybpxf njnl, naq nf Xreelgbja’f oevpx oryy gbjre pnzr vagb fvtug, gur Fgnef naq Fgevcrf nobir vg juvccvat va n puvyyl jvaq, gur ernyvgl uvg zr. V ragrerq gur erq oevpx pbheglneq naq sbhaq Evpuneq zrffvat jvgu fbzr gnatyrq jverf va uvf jbex-tybirq unaqf. Nsgre n oevrs crc gnyx ("V xabj lbh’er tbaan qb tbbq"), Evpuneq tnir zr n gbhe naq vagebqhprq zr gb gur granagf. Znal qvqa’g rira obgure gb ybbx zl jnl. Nabgure pyrnare, nabgure qnl.

Lbh ner ab bar -- gung jnf gur svefg yrffba.

V jnf gur "pybfre." V jnf gb xrrc Xreelgbja pyrna naq fgngvp-serr sbe gur orggre cneg bs gur nsgreabba, gvyy nebhaq 4:30 be 5, jura gur fybj fuhgqbja pbzzraprq. Evpuneq dhvpxyl gbbx zr guebhtu gur cnprf. V arrqrq gb qvtrfg uvf vafgehpgvbaf vafgnagyl. Ab tenpr crevbq. Yrnea vg, qb vg. Guvf jnf jung ur rkcrpgrq.

V sbyybjrq uvz guebhtu gur znyy, uvf syhvq zbgvba erzvaqvat zr bs gur terng Yvba onpx Oneel Fnaqref, ehaavat ybj gb gur tebhaq, onynaprq, svaqvat naq rkcybvgvat gval bcravatf, fjveyvat cnfg sebmra qrsraqref. Gur znyy pbasbezrq gb Evpuneq’f zbirzrag. Vg jnf uvf qbznva. Vg orag gb uvf juvzf, uvf zbbqf, uvf frafr bs checbfr. Naq gubhtu ur bppnfvbanyyl fvturq naq fubbx uvf urnq ng gur yngrfg zrff, ur arire ybfg zbzraghz.

V gevrq gb xrrc cnpr naq vagreanyvmr rirelguvat Evpuneq guerj ng zr juvyr fgenvavat gb zngpu uvf tenprshy fgevqr. Gur cerffherf bs gur cynpr xrcg Evpuneq zbivat, qnfuvat guebhtu vgf unyyf naq objryf. Rnpu gnfx unq vgf bja ybtvp, vgf bja frg bs ehyrf gung bar pbhyq vagrecerg fhowrpgviryl ohg va gur raq unq gb ubabe pbzcyrgryl. Pyrnavat, znvagnvavat, vf nyjnlf obggbz yvar.

Evpuneq fubjrq ubj ur pybfrq gur znyy, obygvat gur ragenaprf fuhg juvyr xrrcvat n srj rkvg qbbef bcra gb qenva gur ohvyqvat bs erznvavat phfgbzref (jub cnffviryl pbzcyvrq). Gjragl zvahgrf nsgre gung, nyy qbbef jrer ybpxrq, naq Evpuneq naq V jrag hcfgnvef gb pyrna gur erfgebbzf. V jrag fgenvtug gb gur zra’f ebbz.

"Anj," fnvq Evpuneq. "Qb jbzra’f svefg."

"Ernyyl?" V nffhzrq gung zra jrer zhpu svyguvre guna jbzra.

"Zna, lbh orra va n jbzra’f ebbz nsgre n qnl? Lbh nva’g frra abguva’!"

Ur jnf evtug. Jrg gbvyrg cncre pbirevat erq gvyr. Oynpx unve fghpx gb gur fvaxf. Cuyrtz ba gur zveebe. Cvff ba gur frngf. Gnzcba ontf fghssrq jvgu pnaql jenccref, hfrq gbvyrg cncre, fgber erprvcgf, naq ohevrq haqre vg nyy, uhzvq, fbvyrq gnzcbaf.

V fgnerq ng gur ebbz naq gura ng Evpuneq.

"Jrypbzr gb Xreelgbja," ur puhpxyrq.

V qvqa’g xabj jurer gb fgneg be jung gbbyf gb hfr. Nzngrhe gvzr. Evpuneq frafrq zl rzoneenffzrag naq cngvragyl fubjrq zr gur cebcre jnl gb pyrna n gbvyrg, fpeho n fvax, naq znxr gur snhprg puebzr fuvar. Ur erirnyrq n srj gevpxf jura vg pnzr gb jvcvat gur zveebef, gryyvat zr gung zbfg fcbgf pnaabg or frra juvyr fbzrbar’f fgnaqvat.

"Lbh tbggn trg qbja ba vg, zna. Fcenl gur jubyr guvat naq qvt vagb vg."

Uvf grpuavdhr, fbyvq. Va n srj zvahgrf, gubfr fvaxf naq zveebef jrer fcbgyrff. Gur puebzr tyrnzrq.

"Yvxr gung, rirel avtug."

Evpuneq gbbx cevqr va uvf jbex. Gurer jnf abguvat qrzrnavat nobhg vg. Pyrnavat gur znyy naq xrrcvat vg ehaavat jnf n arprffnel gnfx, naq Evpuneq qvq vg orggre guna nalbar ryfr. Jungrire erfvqhny ryvgvfz V unq pbzvat vagb guvf wbo sryy njnl va gur snpr bs Evpuneq’f fgrnql ynobef. Abguvat V qvq onpx rnfg znggrerq abj. Guvf jnf n serfu fyngr, na bcravat gb erqrzcgvba naq zhpu-arrqrq uhzvyvgl. Naq gurer ner srj guvatf zber uhzoyvat guna zbccvat hc n zrff juvyr jryy-gb-qb phfgbzref ohmm ol lbh. Gurl’er fcraqvat zber zbarl guna lbh rnea juvyr lbh pyrne gurve cngu naq znxr vg fzbbgu. Gurl guvax abguvat bs lbh, naq lbh guvax bs abguvat ohg gur gnfx.

Zl svefg erny grfg pnzr jura n frjntr onpxhc sybbqrq gur znyy’f onfrzrag -- n fznyy evire bs uhzna jnfgr, gur fgrapu hafcrnxnoyl guvpx. V ena hcfgnvef gb gryy Yrfyrl naq sbhaq bar bs gur fubcxrrcref lryyvat naq jnivat uvf nezf.

"Ner lbh njner bs gur fvghngvba? Jung ner lbh tbvat gb qb?"

"Tbaan gryy Yrfyrl nobhg--"

"Jryy, lbh orggre trg zbivat, fba! V’ir tbg gb trg gb zl serrmre qbja gurer! Gurfr ner arj fubrf!"

Gur thl xrcg fdhnjxvat juvyr V syrj cnfg uvz naq hc gb Yrfyrl’f bssvpr ba gur guveq sybbe. Fur ybbxrq rknfcrengrq nf fur cubarq gur cyhzovat pbzcnal. Gura fur gbyq zr gb chyy bhg gur jrg-qel inp naq ortva fhpxvat hc gur frjntr. Abj, V unq ab vqrn jung gur jrg-qel inp jnf be jung vg ybbxrq yvxr, ohg Yrfyrl jnirq zr bss, fb V frnepurq gur onfrzrag, fybfuvat guebhtu gur evfvat oebja gvqr.

V svanyyl sbhaq gur guvat va gur pbeare bs n pybfrg -- abg va gur orfg bs funcr, n jurry zvffvat, penpxrq ubfr. Ohg V tbg gur chzc tbvat naq ortna qenjvat frjntr zl jnl. Rkgerzr fchggrevat fbhaq. Gur chzc pubxrq ba gur svygu naq fcng fbzr bs vg onpx bhg. Gur inp’f oryyl svyyrq dhvpxyl, naq V yhttrq gur znpuvar gb gur fybc fvax naq qhzcrq gur enapvq ybnq vagb gur crryvat onfva. Zl abfgevyf ohearq. Fbzr bs gur svygu fcynfurq ba zl nez naq purfg.

Ybiryl. Fvzcyl ybiryl.

V xrcg vg hc sbe nobhg avargl zvahgrf, trggvat abjurer, cresbezvat n Mra rkrepvfr zber guna nalguvat ryfr. Nf V pebhpurq bire gur abkvbhf fgernz, ubfr uryq haqre gur fhesnpr, V abgvprq gung n pbbx sebz bar bs gur znexrg’f rngrevrf jnf va uvf onfrzrag xvgpura, selvat hc fyvprq cbgngbrf. Uvf fubrf jrer pbirerq va penc, ohg ur oyvguryl pbbxrq ba, frrzvatyl hapbaprearq gung ur jnf cercnevat sbbq va n iveghny gbvyrg. V jnagrq gb eha hcfgnvef gb jnea uvf phfgbzref, ohg V jnf va ab erny cbfvgvba gb qb fb. Enggvat bhg n granag n srj qnlf vagb gur wbo qvqa’g frrz yvxr n fzneg zbir.

Gur cyhzoref svanyyl neevirq, pynq va frevbhf jnqref naq urnil, jbea jngrecebbs tybirf. Pbzcnerq gb gurfr cebf, V jnf n obl cynlvat tebja-hc. Gurl fhetvpnyyl unaqyrq gur ceboyrz, fanxvat gur qenvaf, svaqvat ynetr cynfgvp genfu ontf ybqtrq va gur cvcrf. Guvf frrzrq bqq gb zr, ohg gurl gubhtug abguvat bs vg, qbhogyrff univat chyyrq fgenatre guvatf sebz haqretebhaq. Nsgre gurl yrsg, V hfrq n ynetr fdhrrtrr gb fpencr gur ornpurq pneantr vagb n ovt sybbe qenva, naq cbherq oyrnpu jngre npebff gur ragver onfrzrag gvyy gur purzvpny fzryy ohearq guebhtu naq qrfgeblrq gur yvatrevat bqbe.

Jura Evpuneq urneq gur fgbel gur arkg qnl, ur gbyq zr, "Abj lbh bar bs hf."

Evpuneq’f raqbefrzrag urnegrarq zr. Bire gur arkg srj zbaguf, jvgu Evpuneq pbeerpgvat zr urer naq gurer, V qrirybcrq vagb n cerggl qrprag pyrnare naq znvagnvare. Orsber ybat, Evpuneq naq V unq Xreelgbja ehaavat fzbbguyl, bhe fuvsgf oyraqvat jvgubhg n abgvprnoyr tnc. Gur granagf jrer, sbe gur zbfg cneg, unccl jvgu bhe rssbegf, ohg znal rkcrpgrq hf gb pngre gb gurz nf freinagf freir gurve znfgref, rfcrpvnyyl Evpuneq. Ur raqherq qvfzvffvir naq cngebavmvat nggvghqrf naq erznexf. Gurer jrer gvzrf jura V gubhtug n srj granagf jbhyq eho uvf urnq sbe tbbq yhpx. Ur pyrneyl abgvprq guvf, ohg vg qvqa’g snmr uvz. Ur qerj uvf fgeratgu naq frys-checbfr sebz n qrrcre jryy. Ab znggre ubj qvegl uvf pybgurf be fbvyrq uvf unaqf, Evpuneq erznvarq qvtavsvrq. Ur fvzcyl qvqa’g pner jung bguref gubhtug bs uvz.

Guebhtu vg nyy, Evpuneq fzvyrq. Ohg vg jnfa’g n fzvyr bs erfvtangvba be fhobeqvangvba, nf V svefg fhfcrpgrq. Vg jnf n pneaviber fzvyr gung phg guebhtu gbhturfg uvqr naq obar. Jura Evpuneq fzvyrq vg zrnag gung ur haqrefgbbq cresrpgyl jung lbh jnagrq, naq gung gurer jnf ab arrq sbe shegure qvfphffvba. Naq vs lbh unq nal oenvaf, lbh yrsg vg ng gung.

V pnhtug zl svefg gehr tyvzcfr bs Evpuneq va uvf fzvyr. Vg orgenlrq n enj, ebhtu cnfg. Nf Evpuneq yngre gbyq zr, guvf jnf jul ur jnf ng Xreelgbja, ngbavat, xrrcvat ohfl, urycvat gb ohvyq n qrprag yvsr sbe uvf jvsr naq xvqf.

Lrg V sbhaq V pbhyq rkcynva abar bs guvf gb gur cebsrffvbany fpevorf V xarj va Arj Lbex naq Q.P. Jura V gbyq n srj bs zl byq npdhnvagnaprf jung V jnf qbvat, gurl rkcerffrq qvforyvrs, ynhturq, gubhtug V jnf chggvat gurz ba. Bar pbyhzavfg V xarj nfxrq jurgure guvf jnf cnegvpvcngbel wbheanyvfz. Ab, V nafjrerq -- V’z qbvat guvf orpnhfr V arrq gur jbex. V gura gbyq uvz gung ur fubhyq gnxr fvk zbaguf bss naq qb gur fnzr guvat, gung vg jbhyq or tbbq sbe uvz. "Hu, V qba’g guvax fb. Gunaxf naljnl," ur ercyvrq. Ur arire fcbxr gb zr ntnva.

Evpuneq naq V xrcg vg tbvat sbe gur orggre cneg bs n lrne. Gura, nsgre orvat va gur choyvfuvat cvcryvar sbe zbaguf, zl frpbaq obbx, juvpu qrnyg jvgu gur znavn bs Nzrevpna fcbegf snaf, svanyyl nccrnerq. V’q xabja vg jbhyq riraghnyyl or choyvfurq, ohg ng guvf cbvag vg frrzrq vapbatehbhf gb zl arj yvsr. V jba’g cergraq gung V qvqa’g jnag vg gb fryy. Anghenyyl V qvq. Ohg gur obbx, zl jevgvat, jnf ab ybatre gur raq-nyy, or-nyy bs zl rkvfgrapr, abe jnf gur cbfr bs Jevgre. Naq gur obbx’f neeviny, nybat jvgu gur zbqrfg choyvpvgl tvtf gung pnzr jvgu vg, vyyhzvangrq gur qvssreraprf orgjrra Gura naq Abj.

Tbg n pnyy sebz ZFAOP nfxvat gung V nccrne ba "Uneqonyy jvgu Puevf Znggurjf" gb qvfphff sna evbgf. V npprcgrq naq gura cubarq Yrfyrl gb gryy ure gung V jbhyqa’g or jbexvat gung avtug fvapr V jnf orvat cvpxrq hc naq gnxra gb Fbhgusvryq gb gncr zl frtzrag. V unqa’g orra ba angvbany GI va lrnef, naq jnf n yvggyr areibhf, ohg vg znqr zr ynhtu gb guvax gung V jnf gnxvat gvzr bss sebz pyrnavat gbvyrgf gb zvk jvgu gur cbvagl-urnqf. Nsgre n tneoyrq fgneg, V dhvpxyl uvg pehvfvat fcrrq naq jnf onpx va gur byq tebbir, onagrevat naq znxvat cbvagf gung pnhfrq gur ubfg gb dhrfgvba zl fnavgl. Yvxr byq gvzrf. Fbba gur frtzrag jnf bire, naq V jnf qevira onpx gb Naa Neobe gb jngpu zlfrys ba gur fznyy fperra.

Arkg qnl V jnf fjrrcvat gur znexrg sybbe jura V abgvprq bar bs gur pnfuvref fgnevat ng zr. Nsgre svir be fb zvahgrf bs guvf V jrag hc gb ure naq nfxrq vs gurer jnf n ceboyrz.

"Lbh . . . lbh jrer ba GI ynfg avtug." Fur guehfg ure vaqrk svatre ng zr. "Gung jnf lbh, evtug? Jung jrer lbh qbvat ba GI?"

"Lbh’er pbashfvat zr jvgu fbzrbar ryfr."

"Ab-- vg jnf lbh, nyy evtug." Abj frireny phfgbzref jrer fgnevat ng zr. "Gnyxvat nobhg fcbegf be fbzrguvat."

V abqqrq. "Lrnu. Naq gbavtug V’yy or ba Yrggrezna." V dhvpxyl svavfurq fjrrcvat naq jrag gb gur onfrzrag gb uvqr.

Jbeq fcernq guebhtu gur znyy. Evpuneq gubhtug gur jubyr guvat jnf shaal. "Zvfgre Jevgre Zna," ur pnyyrq zr. V pbagvahrq zl qnvyl ynobe, bayl abj V jnf frra nf fbzr Rnfg Pbnfg vagryyrpghny rkcng jub, sbe fbzr zlfgrevbhf ernfba, pyrnarq n znyy va gur Zvqjrfg. Fbzr bs gur crbcyr jub’q ybbxrq qbja ba zr fhqqrayl orpnzr sevraqyl, bhgtbvat. N srj fubjrq zr gurve cbrgel naq nggrzcgf ng fubeg fgbevrf.

V gevrq gb ubyq n fgrnql pbhefr naq fgnl va yvar jvgu Evpuneq, ohg zl pbire jnf oybja, naq vg jnf pyrne gung zl gvzr ng Xreelgbja jnf tebjvat fubeg. Gura V jnf bssrerq n fcbegf pbyhza sbe na bayvar zntnmvar jurer V jbhyq znxr zber guna V qvq zbccvat sybbef. Gnxvat gung nf n fvta, V tnir zl gjb jrrxf’ abgvpr.

Evpuneq qvqa’g jnag zr gb yrnir. Ur fnvq V jnf gur orfg jbexre ur’q unq ng Xreelgbja. Guvf trahvaryl gbhpurq zr, naq V nfxrq vs jr pbhyq erznva sevraqf. "Lbh orggre!" ur fnvq jvgu n qverpg fzvyr.

V er-ragrerq gur jevgvat tnzr srryvat orggre nobhg rirelguvat. V gevrq abg gb gnxr zlfrys gbb frevbhfyl naq pbzcbfrq zl cvrprf jvgu, V ubcrq, gur fnzr sbphf naq qvyvtrapr V rzcyblrq jura pyrnavat Xreelgbja. Nsgre svir pbyhzaf, ubjrire, gur pbzcnal gung bjarq gur jrofvgr jrag oebxr naq ena bss, fgvyy bjvat zr gjb tenaq. V qnjqyrq nobhg sbe n gvzr, gelvat gb guvax bs n perngvir arkg fgrc. Ohg rpbabzvp ernyvgl sbeprq zr onpx vagb gur jbeyq V’q erpragyl yrsg-- bayl guvf gvzr V jnfa’g gbegherq nobhg jung ynl nurnq.

Gbbx n wbo jvgu n fznyy ybpny pyrnavat pbzcnal. Gurl fgnegrq zr cneg gvzr, ohg fbba zl rkcrevrapr rnearq zr zber ubhef, gura n envfr, gura n cebzbgvba gb fhcreivfbe. Vg’f n sne zber pbzcyrk pyrnavat jbeyq guna V rkcrevraprq ng Xreelgbja. Jr jbex sbe pbecbengr pyvragf va fbzr bs Naa Neobe’f zber rkcrafvir ohvyqvatf, pyrnavat raqyrff phovpyrf, gur bcra-nve cevfbaf bs bhe gvzr. Yvxr pbaivpgf, gur phorf’ vaunovgnagf cbfg cubgbf bs snzvyl, pnyraqnef jvgu gur qnlf purpxrq bss, naq eryvtvbhf vzntrel. Whqtvat sebz jung V’ir frra, znal jub vaunovg gurfr yvggyr obkrf ybir Trbetr J. Ohfu -- sbe rirel Wbua Xreel cubgb be fgvpxre V fnj qhevat gur 2004 ryrpgvba, gurer jrer rnfvyl n qbmra ceb-Ohfu qvfcynlf, fbzr qbar hc yvxr fuevarf.

Gurer’f fnqarff va gubfr phorf. Naq jura lbh chyy genfu sebz gubfr uhzna irny pengrf, lbh frr gur fnqarff znavsrfgrq va gur jbexref’ qnvyl qvrg: ZpQbanyq’f Jraql’f Gnpb Oryy Cnlqnl Errfr’f Ynl’f Sevgbf Qbevgbf jenccref penzzrq haqre Pbxr Crcfv Zbhagnva Qrj pnaf. Rvtug-cyhf ubhef fgnevat ng n fperra, tenmvat ba whax sbbq, tnmvat hc ng snzvyl cubgbf naq pyvccrq Qvyoreg pbzvp fgevcf sbe grzcbenel eryvrs. Va bar ohvyqvat gur jbexref jrer haqre pbafgnag cubar naq ivqrb fheirvyynapr, naq sbeprq gb tvir hevar hanaabhaprq gb znxr fher gurl jrer qeht-serr rabhtu gb uryc gur znantref vapernfr znexrg funer. Ohg nyy guebhtu gur unyyjnlf uhat senzrq cbfgref gryyvat gur jbexref gung gurl jrer cneg bs gur Pbzcnal Snzvyl, cbfgref fubjvat crbcyr fzvyvat naq yrncvat sbe wbl. Zbfg bs gur jbexref V fnj gurer jrer gbb urnil gb yrnc, gbb orngra gb fzvyr.

Lrg n snve ahzore bs gurz gerngrq zl pyrnaref naq zr nf oneryl uhzna, fbzrubj orarngu gurz. Zl gurbel jnf gung vs n jbexre va phor 6798 vqragvsvrf jvgu Trbetr Ohfu, ur zhfg oryvrir gung ur’f fbzrbar ur’f abg-- fb vg’f rnfvre gb qhzc ba gur Ubaqhena jbzna jub rzcgvrf uvf tneontr naq qhfgf uvf pbzchgre. V’ir unq vafhenapr pbzcnal erprcgvbavfgf naq onax gryyref fcrnx gb zr nf vs V jrer n gjryir-lrne-byq. Pyrneyl, gurl arrqrq gb srry fhcrevbe gb fbzrbar, naq gurfr crbcyr ynvq vg ba guvpx. Fbzrgvzrf V’q trg fb znq gung V jnagrq gb synfu zl zrqvn naq perngvir rkcrevrapr, gb bhg-ryvgr gurz. Ohg V ernyvmrq gung jbhyq unir znqr zr ab orggre, naq va znal jnlf jbhyq unir znqr zr jbefr. Vafgrnq, V’q yrg gurve pbagrzcg sybj cnfg zr, xabjvat va zl urneg gurve qrfcrengvba.

Creuncf gur phor qjryyref gnxr gurve phrf sebz gurve obffrf, jub pna or vaperqvoyl pbaqrfpraqvat. Naq gur zber rqhpngrq gur obff, gur zrffvre naq zber nybbs ur be fur vf. Vs lbh guvax gung oyhr-pbyyne thlf ner svygul, gel pyrnavat na bssvpr bs zrqvpny Cu.Q.’f be pbecbengr ynjlref. Bu, gur anfgvarff V’ir frra. Vg’f nf vs gurve cebsrffvbany fgnghf nyybjf gurz gb rng, cvff, naq fuvg yvxr pbzzba onealneq navznyf. Gehfg zr, lbh qba’g jnag gb ragre n erfgebbz gung’f orra hfrq ol qbpgbef sbe gur orggre cneg bs gra ubhef. Fbzr bs gurz rng juvyr gnxvat n penc: V’ir pyrnarq fgnyyf yvggrerq jvgu cbcpbea naq serapu sevrf. Naq gur fzryy? Jryy, yrg’f whfg fnl gung univat na nqinaprq qrterr tvirf lbh crezvffvba abg gb syhfu.

Zbfg bs zl pyrnaref ner hfrq gb guvf. Gurl fzvyr jura V irag, jbaqrevat jul V phefr gur boivbhf. Gb znal bs gurz, guvf vf ubj yvsr jbexf. Jura lbh cbyvfu gur fbpvny ynqqre’f ybjre ehatf, trggvat fung ba vf shyyl rkcrpgrq.

"Nu, zna, gung’f whfg gur jnl fbzr crbcyr ner," fnlf Evpuneq jura V ivfvg Xreelgbja naq jr pbzcner abgrf. "Gurl unir gb guvax gurl fbzrobql ryfr, fbzrobql orggre. V jnaan gnxr ’rz naq znxr ’rz pyrna sbe n jrrx, naq gura unir ’rz gryy zr gurl orggre!" Ur ynhtuf. Naq ur’f evtug. Uryy, V’ir frra uneqrarq jbexvat pynff thlf tvir hc nsgre n jrrx be gjb bs oraqvat, fpehoovat, jvcvat, naq qhfgvat, gura yhttvat yrnxvat ontf bs genfu npebff sebmra cnexvat ybgf gb png naq enppbba vasrfgrq Qhzcfgref. Abg rirelbar pna pyrna, zhpu yrff pbafvfgragyl naq pbeerpgyl. Vg’f n gbhtu, gunaxyrff tvt. Ohg lbh pna svaq fbzrguvat jbegujuvyr va nyy gung tevzr naq npur. V qvq. Va znal jnlf, snvyvat naq univat gb pyrna jnf bar bs gur orfg guvatf gung rire unccrarq gb zr.

Sbe gbb ybat neebtnapr naq qravny qrsvarq zr. Va Arj Lbex V jnf vafhyngrq sebz n oyhr pbyyne jbeyq V bcrayl qrfcvfrq ohg frpergyl srnerq. Zl snvyher va gur pvgl sbeprq zr gb furq guvf enapvq fxva, gb gnc vagb gur uneq ernyvgl bs jub V nz. Uhfonaq. Sngure. Arj Lbexre jvgu n Zvqjrfg nqqerff. Naq jevgre.

Pyrnavat urycrq zr gb svaq erqrzcgvba, n fbyvq cynpr jvgu zl snzvyl, n orggre haqrefgnaqvat bs jung ybir naq fnpevsvpr zrna. Ohg haqre vg nyy, pyrnavat’f whfg n wbo, abg zl vqragvgl. V svaq gung jura V yrnir jbex sbe bhe gerr-yvarq arvtuobeubbq, jurer ba jrrxraqf V fvg ba gur cbepu jvgu zl jvsr naq jngpu bhe xvqf ebzc va gur lneq. Guvf vf jung V zvffrq naq abj rzoenpr. Gur fha ortvaf gb frg, naq n ynja zbjre fgnegf hc oruvaq n arneol srapr.

Posted by JoKeR at 11:26 AM
Job Search

I've mentioned to some of my friends who sometimes read my babblings here that I had a job possibility pending for the past week or so. This is just to let you know that the company has chosen someone else so I am still in the hunt. I did get some positive feedback about my interview and was told that it had been a difficult choice, but apparently at least part of what swayed their decision was that the person they chose had a very strong internal recommendation. I guess I need to develop some contacts there myself! Thanks for all your prayers and well wishes. More news as it becomes available.

Posted by JoKeR at 10:09 AM
January 17, 2006
Community Chorus

NPR had some commentary on Monday about participating in a community chorus. The piece features and was written by a member of the Harmonium Choral Society in New Jersey, but I think that the sentiments expressed are likely to be appropriate to many such groups. Having started singing with The Dekalb Choral Guild in 2005 I was quite pleased to catch the broadcast and am glad that I was in the car to hear it.

Basically she talks about how singing in a group is both uplifting and fulilling. The comaradarie and satisfaction of the rehearsals and performances is very enjoyable. I wonder sometimes if am really qualified (or dedicated) enough to sing with these folks, but it has been a challenging and rewarding experience.

Posted by JoKeR at 06:10 PM
January 01, 2006
Beginning of Year

Didn't want to let the first day of the year go by without saying anything. Unfortunately, I don't really have anything much to say. Hope everyone is having a happy and safe New Year! I'll try to have something worth reading sometime soon.

Posted by JoKeR at 08:48 PM
December 31, 2005
End of year

Well, here it is. The end of another year. Not the best in many ways, but not the worst either.

BushCo has not been as successful in pushing their agenda as in previous years which offers hope that the country is wising up to these guys.

Still struggling with various aspects of my life, but interesting developments have also occurred.

I am now singing with The Dekalb Choral Guild which has been an interesting and generally enjoyable experience.

I've also been volunteering at the new Geogia Aquarium which is truly a world-class operation. They claim to be the largest aquarium in the world and I have no reason to doubt them. It is a fascinating place to visit.

I've improved my blog this year, not least by actually writing things for it. The upgrade to the latest version of Movable Type was significant in that I now have greater spam control for my comments so that I've been able to allow comments again. I'm still getting some spam comments (usually less than a handful each day), but they don't get publshed without my approval and deleting them is easier than it used to be.

Church has been difficult as I'm not thrilled with our current Interim Pastor, but more significantly our Music Director for the past 26 years has taken a new job elsewhere. While I am happy for her (larger program, shorter commute), the church feels the loss of her significant contributions to the life of the congregation and especially to the worship experience which has been perhaps the strongest aspect of our congregation, IMHO.

I have found a new community in which I have been active of late at Real Live Preacher, particularly in the chat room which has been set up there. As an outgrowth of that group I have set up Real Live Pirate where some folks who met at rlp share some links and other information. rlp2 (as we call it) might become obsolete as rlp continues to upgrade his site, but so far it has been fun.

I've been having lunch most every Thursday with my brother for several months now (many people at his office now greet me as "Cliff's brother"). We've been using this time both to keep up with what we are each doing and with what is happening in our shared and individual families. More than that, we've been discussing our spiritual lives which have taken us in different directions from each other. I think I understand him a bit better now (though not fully) and I hope he sees a bit more of what I belive and why.

I'm hoping for good things for the new year. A new job would be nice (and there are some irons in that fire). Getting a new pastor could be good, though we'll have to wait and see about that. I trust our pnc (Pastor Nominating Committee) will be able to find someone better than the interim we currently have. If not then I think we are likely to be looking for a new church. We may not wait until this interim is gone.

I guess that's enough for now. Hope to see some of you next year. Have a safe and happy New Year!

Posted by JoKeR at 10:48 AM
December 26, 2005
Christmas Quiz

Susie tagged me with this and expects to see it answered, so what can I do?

What you want for Christmas... if your friends were millionaires: Hmmm, a Toyota Prius maybe - both fun and saves money long term. Less expensive, less permanent (or is it?), and more meaningful: a trip to Germany or pay for her to come home for a visit.

What you want for Christmas... for real: books and DVDs, for example.

What you want for Christmas... in abstract: World peace, an end to hunger.

Year of the first Christmas you can remember: I can't remember which was earlier. One memory was getting to open a present of my choice on Christmas Eve and the box I chose turned out to be pajamas! What a disappointment! The other is visiting the extended family in NJ where there were at least 20 people participating and it was TOO MUCH. That event led to the decision that such a huge Christmas present orgy would never again be attempted, even if we were visiting at Christmas time again.

Ever in a holiday play? When? When I was in nursery school at an Episcopalean church in Arkansas I had problems with my social skills. I was cast as one of the donkeys, but I proved more muleish than donkeyish and refused to participate. I didn't like the robe I was supposed to wear or something. Funny that now I like being in the choir because I get to wear a robe so that I don't have to worry about what I choose to wear to church. :-)

An early Christmas memory? We took a trip to Arkansas from Georgia for Christmas with my father's parents (Mom's folks were the NJ clan). Since we needed to carry all the presents as well as the usual trip luggage, my Mom exhibited great creativity in wrapping presents. There were many presents which we would open only to find another wrapped present (or more than one) in some nook of the package so that the presents wouldn't take up as much space. Many times the interior present wasn't even for the person who had opened the exterior packaging.

Favorite holiday ornament (Past and present)Past: Hmmm, there are lots of ornaments and decorations I enjoy, but a favorite? I suppose the 1994 Swarovski Christmas Ornament which MM&I bought on our vacation trip in Austria that year. Since then we have bought many more of the annual ornaments issued by Swarovski, but that one started the tradition. Wait a minute! "Past and Present"? What does that mean? Are you trying to say that ornaments from the past are no longer in the present? People get rid of Christmas ornaments? What kind of crazy idea is that?

Classic Christmas song you never get tired of: Oh Holy Night is one I like a lot, but I have heard some awful recordings of this, so I guess I'd have to say a good recording of it, not just any recording, "good" to be defined by the listener.

Classic Christmas song you loathe: Loathe is too strong a word for it, but I do get tired of The Little Drummer Boy.

Modern Christmas song you never get tired of: Hmmm, this one is harder as I prefer the classic sacred Christmas carols to the newer songs which are almost always secular. I guess I'll say Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer because there are some recordings of this that I really do enjoy.

Modern Christmas song you loathe: Too many to name: Jingle Bell Rock, I saw Momma Kissing Santa, don't get me started.

How many languages can you say "Merry Christmas" in? English, French, Spanish, I may recognize more if I hear them, but I can't think of any others off the top of my head.

Naughty or Nice? We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God! None are worthy! Total Depravity! Yada, yada, yada, and all that Calvinist stuff for Scout. But generally, nice I guess.

Favorite Christmas Ghost: Christmas Present! Seeing all of the folks celebrating Christmas as Scrooge is shown what Christmas can mean compared to the painful experiences he had or will have unless he changes help us see what Christmas can be.

Favorite Misfit Toy: Hmmm... We have a bunch of the stuffed doll figures from the TV show, but I don't think I really have a favorite misfit, so I'll just direct your attention to this harsh critique which made me laugh, even though I love the show and watch it most every year.

Can you wrap presents well? I think I can wrap most anything fairly well. That doesn't mean I always make an effort to do a beautiful wrapping job. However, my little sister tells me that I was the one who taught her how to wrap presents (one of those things that she remembers better than I do).

What tops your tree? A gold-colored foil 5-pointed star.

If you were a Christmas elf, what would your name be? Suse loves this question? I'm just glad it is the last one. I have no idea what name a Christmas elf should have, and certainly don't know what mine would be. Why doesn't someone with some name ideas put together one of those "Which ???? are you?" quizes.

Who's IT: Well, Suse, I think naming "other rlp pirates" is sort of unfair, but I'll name a few specifically: revstacey, wandering willow, sugar, JLM, little green friend.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Posted by JoKeR at 11:27 AM
December 05, 2005
"Hey! Wake up in there!"

So, I was in my favorite chat room when someone said that I had caused him to feel a need to become even more active in his ministry. All because I told him some stories about when I was growing up in Arkansas during desegregation.

Now I'm glad for him that he is excited about some social justice issues and is acting on it. That is great! It is just ironic that even as I've motivated someone to greater activity (albeit inadvertantly), I continue to have trouble motivating myself to find productive (and remunerative) work. So I check one of my favorite blogs and find a link to this. It isn't the title ("Miserable Failure") that bothered me, but the message of the post which is a call to action for left-leaning religious people. So I turn on the TV and AMC is showing Field of Dreams, a story of people doing things they are "supposed" to do, even though they don't understand it.

This all felt like I was being slapped silly with a message that I should be doing something, but I'm not sure what I should be doing, and not sure what I want to be doing. As I've read Spong in recent years I've come to be more skeptical of a God who routinely actively intervenes in everyday life, but it certainly felt like I was being pushed. I'm just not sure towards what?

Posted by JoKeR at 11:22 PM
November 23, 2005
Happy Thanksgiving

Here is the pumpkin I carved for the church's Thanksgiving potluck this past Sunday.


Here is a higher resolution image if you're interested.

Posted by JoKeR at 10:22 PM
November 19, 2005
Real Live Pirate Updated

Ahoy, maties! For a variety of reasons I've updated the Real Live Pirate web site. For those who may not know what that is, it is a site set up for fun due to a group of frequent chat participants refering to ourselves as "The Pirates of Pennance," obviously playing off of both The Pirates of Penzance and Real Live Preacher where we met and meet to chat.

As a static site it really hasn't been very interesting except to point new pirate wannabes to it in order to share some links to other pirates and pirate-related sites. It seems to me that our group of friends has enough and varied interests that there would be a variety of web sites we might run across which would be fun to share with other pirates, and perhaps even non-pirates. So, I've now installed blog software and reconfigured the site to use it. (Note that this is part of a move to a different web-hosting service, so while I have found that I can get directly to the new site, it may be that pirates whose internet connectivity uses different domain name servers (DNS) might not yet have access to the new site. Fear not, it should not take more than 48 hours (less than 40 by now) for the new site's address to propogate around the entire internet at which point it should be accessible to everyone. If you don't see the new page you might try refreshing the display and/or clearing your browser's cache of saved pages just to verify that your computer is pulling the page from the internet instead of from a saved copy of the page.)

So what does all of this mean? It is my hope that other pirates might be willing to post links that they find of interest into this common site. Most of us have our own blogs and I don't really see a need for anyone to post complete articles on rlp2 (rlp being the aforementioned Real Live Preacher, thus Real Live Pirate is rlp2). However, I know that I often run across funny, thought provoking, or otherwise interesting sites (at least, I think they qualify as such) which I'd like to share with friends, but I don't want my blog to be simply a linklog (a collection of links with little other content) even if that would be more interesting than my usual drivel. (I thought this was called a link farm but apparently that is a search engine spamming scheme for raising page rank in search results. Live and learn. I found some other sites referring to a collection of links such as I envision as a linklog, so that's the term I settled on. Anywaaaaaay...) Examples of other collective link sharing sites include SlashDot, MetaFilter, and Fark. However, those either are too specialized (SlashDot is specifically for topics of technical interest), too crude (Fark, of course), or simply too busy to keep up with (MetaFilter and the others as well). Knowing the folks who are sharing the links would make the links more interesting to me ("what does their interest in this site teach me about my friend?") and would help spark conversations when we do chat.

So, if you are interested in contributing I encourage you to visit the new site and get yourself registered (just click login and follow the instructions) and let me know that you have done so and what your handle there is (in case you decide on a different one than I usually see you using). I will then update your access so that you can post new entries. Even if you are not interested in contributing links I hope you'll visit the site and see what folks are linking to.

One consequence of this change is that the forum which had been on the old rlp2 site is now gone. I asked a few pirates if they thought that would be a problem and they agreed with me that there hadn't been enough content there to be concerned about losing. Sorry if anyone disagrees with that decision, but I don't think that can be undone at this point. For the new site the blog posts will allow for comments so discussions can continue there as needed. If anyone would dearly love to see a forum separate from blog comments on the rlp2 site then let me know. If there is enough interest I can build a new forum.

I hope to hear from some of you soon. I think this could be fun. Maybe we should even start an rlp2 webring.

Posted by JoKeR at 10:45 AM
No easy answers

Scout posted about a friend who unexpectedly, perhaps foolishly, has become pregnant. I wrote a comment there and found myself spending so much time composing it I decided to make a post of what I've written. No new, sage wisdom to be found here. But I felt that stating my position is a reasonable thing to do. Note that I've edited the text which I copied from my comment a bit to make it fit as part of my blog and perhaps edit it some from when I first posted it, but I think the basic thoughts are the same.

This is where the rubber hits the road in the choice/abortion debate. It is not equivilent to some other medical procedure like getting stitches or getting a cavity filled.

At the same time, in the early stages it is foolish to say that this developing fetus is fully human (IMHO). A large percentage of conceived embryos abort naturally and only the most extreme of the pro-life crowd would argue for naming/baptising/burying the remains from every miscarried pregnancy (and I'm sorry if referring to the embryo/zygot/whatever as "remains" is offensive, I just am not certain what a good, sensitive word to use for this situation would be). The person in the situation of facing an unplanned, unwanted pregnancy is the only one who really can understand what they are going through because each person is different and there is no easy answer. Abortion will end the prenancy (not completely without risk, but as long as it is legal it is possible to minimize that risk) and solve all sorts of complications. On the other hand, I do believe that there are many women who have had abortions and felt guilt about that the rest of their lives. Even the pregnant woman cannot be certain how she will feel in later years about the decision she makes, whether she chooses abortion or not.

Nick, one of the guest posters at Alas A Blog, has written about the roller coaster of physical trials she has experienced in her pregnancy and how deciding to keep a baby instead of choosing to abort does not mean a simple, few months of a bit of weight gain (though I have been unable to find the post I remember in which she addressed this quite directly). Pregnancy carries a lot of risks as well. Pregnancy is probably one of the most physically demanding things a person could ever do, not even considering the emotional considerations.

I don't envy your friend. She is facing a difficult choice and there is not a choice which is obviously right which will make everything ok and without consequence. To a certain extent it is pointless to try and heap guilt on her and say it is her own fault (and you didn't say whether their contraception failed or they had decided not to use it, so there may even be an argument for diminished guilt if she had taken measures to protect against this and they just didn't work, aside from the argument you've already made that having a relationship with this guy in the first place was a bad idea). I do hope that this helps her to make better choices in the future so she doesn't find herself in this situation again. It is precisely because this is such a difficult situation to deal with that I fully support keeping abortion legal. It is hard to imagine a law which could restrict abortions without leaving many women in situations where they would feel they still had to abort, despite whatever legal consequences there would be. Thus, making laws to restrict abortions just makes the decisions facing pregnant women that much more complex.

I wish your friend well, whatever her choice. I hope that you will continue to be her friend and support her. It sounds like she needs one very much, even if she doesn't listen to your words of wisdom. I'll be reading to see if you give us any updates on her decisions.

So, nothing really original. I doubt my opionions here surprise anyone who has read much of what I've written. I do agree that the best goal we should, as a society, be seeking in regards to abortion is that it should be safe, legal, and rare. That rarity should come because unwanted pregnancies are rare due to good health education, including sex education. But when a woman decides to abort her pregnancy she should not have roadblocks put in her way, especially not by that half of the population who will never have to face this decision, of whom I am one.

Posted by JoKeR at 02:46 AM
November 12, 2005
Scam Alert! Publisher's Billing Services

I got a very official looking statement from Publisher's Billing Services for a three year subscription (18 issues) to Cruise Travel magazine. I've never seen or heard of this company, never seen or heard of the magazine, and certainly didn't want to pay $90 for it, even if they did allow me to make two payments of only $45 each. I googled the company and found this article about this company sending out subscription offers disguised as invoices. That was the only reference that Google turned up for Publisher's Billing Services and I'm hoping to provide additional links to it so that people have a better chance of avoiding being taken in by these jerks. They did provide an 800 number for customer service so I called and waited through a long hold (I was just sitting at the computer doing other things while running up their phone bill) to get a customer service rep. Once I identified myself I stated in no uncertain terms that I wanted to be removed from their mailing lists and wanted to never hear from them again. I also expressed sympathy to the phone rep for having to work for such scum. She told me that I was removed from their records. I certainly hope so.

Posted by JoKeR at 04:16 PM
October 31, 2005
Dekalb Choral Guild pumpkin

I've now carved a pumpkin for this evening's rehearsal of the Dekalb Choral Guild.


Posted by JoKeR at 03:15 PM
October 29, 2005
North Decatur Pres 50th

The church which I attended in high school has been celebrating their 50th anniversary all year. This weekend will be the culmination of that celebration. In honor of that occasion I have carved a pumpkin to take there this evening.
NDPC 50th pumpkin.JPG

Posted by JoKeR at 02:40 PM
October 10, 2005
Today's the day!

My loving OLDER brother arranged for my son to set this as my wallpaper for today.
50 bday.jpg

Posted by JoKeR at 11:22 AM
October 07, 2005
Stupid kite-eating tree!

Charlie Brown
You are Charlie Brown!

Which Peanuts Character are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Posted by JoKeR at 07:18 PM
October 04, 2005
Tagged with a Meme

Apparently there is something of a tradition in the blogosphere of answering a set of questions, and then tagging other specific bloggers to answer the same set of questions and pass the list of questions on. These lists of questions are called memes (as are other instances of data/info spreading through the blogospere) and the chain letter style distributions sometimes mean that many people wind up sharing personal, usually trivial, perhaps even interesting data about themselves. There is even a site that is simply an ever growing collection of these question lists.

Well, Jake tagged me with a very short list, just one question: What are 5 of your idiosyncresies? I won't discuss the definition of idiosyncrasies since Jake did that so well, but will just supply my answer:

1. I don't drink coffee. It's not that I can't drink coffee, it's just that I choose not to. In fact, the only times I have had coffee are when I've been in need of a caffeine hit and couldn't get to some tea or even coke. Don't actually enjoy coffee as a flavor for the most part, kahlua being a notable exception.

2. I don't care about fashion. Changing what you wear because some snobbish designer is promoting their latest clothes doesn't make much sense to me. Between being a bit colorblind and still harboring some anti-social tendencies, it just seems to me that what I wear shouldn't be as important as other aspects of who I am. I have especially low tolerance for things like What Not to Wear.

3. I like to double check numbers I encounter during the day. I'm not saying I like spending my days just doing math problems (though I do spend some time doing that), but when I run across a statement like "they travelled as far as if they'd been to the moon and back, though the three years it took them was 1,000,000 times longer than it would have taken light to do so," I'll start calculating the number of seconds for light to travel about 500,000 miles, multiplying that by a million, and then dividing that by whatever to get it into days to figure out if that really was a consistent set of numbers.*

4. I'm a cat person, not a dog person. I've had pet cats on and off (more on than off) most of my life. Until 10 years ago or so I'd never really had much to do with dogs (largely because I didn't want to). Then my wife decided the time had come to get a dog, something she'd always wanted. Not knowing much about dogs I had few arguments against getting a dog, so we got one. One dog, to be kept in our fenced back yard (except in the worst weather), which became one indoor dog, which became two indoor dogs. Now I know enough about dogs to be able to argue against getting another. I prefer cats.

5. I tend to be a collector. I stopped collecting comic books after accumulating about 20,000 of them. I have hundreds of record albums, thousands of CDs, and uncounted numbers of books. I have come to understand what people mean about how we belong to our possessions, not the other way around. I'm trying to change my collecting ways. I've sold about a third of my comics. However, I'm not really ready to stop accumulating and get rid of many of the things that own me. Someday.

OK, now to pass it on. (I rushed to answer this so I can tag some of the other pirates before the folks Jake tagged get to them.)

Reverend Mommy
Wandering Willow
Little Green Friend

And finally, the fellow who first got me into blogging: dlature (I'm still on his blog roll, I don't know if he still reads here)

*No, the calculation is not even close. Based on it taking about 2.5 seconds for light to travel 500,000 miles (rounding up a bit, but the moon is not quite 250,000 miles away, either) about 30 days is what it would take for light to make a million round trips to the moon and back.

Posted by JoKeR at 12:38 PM
September 30, 2005
More Men's Fraternity

OK, I've once again spent part of Friday morning at a Men's Fraternity (MF) meeting at my brother's church. I previously discussed this group in an earlier post.

As I've seen more of the group I'm getting a better handle on what I don't like about it. The material is being presented as a finished product, well thought out and comprehensive. But in fact, the material is incomplete and at times even inaccurate, IMHO.

I've already discussed the four faces that the program's creator, Robert Lewis, presented as the four aspects of manhood: The King, The Warrior, The Lover, and The Friend. The clear intention is that using these four aspects of a man someone can better understand who they are and how they can improve themselves. I pointed out some of the inaccuracies in what was said about these aspects in the other post. What I didn't mention then is the fact that there are aspects of a person's life (I'm sorry, it is hard to think in the way they talk), that is, of a man's manhood which I don't believe are addressed by these four faces. Where is the student face? Shouldn't we always be learning? Or is that a part of a person that is not a part of manhood? Personally, I think that a man who thinks that he doesn't need to learn any more is not a well balanced person. What about The Artist? It used to be that it was expected that any man of character would be a poet, musician, and/or in some other way a creaative person. Isn't that what is meant by a Renaissance Man, someone who is able to demonstrate a wide variety of abilities? Why isn't this one of the faces Lewis discusses? I'm sure that there should be other faces (The Child, The Healer, etc.), but I think this illustrates my point that his presentations don't include a wide enough array of options when he is discussing what it means to have authentic manhood.

This week, Lewis started out by summarizing why men struggle to find their manhood today. Not surprisingly he spent a good deal of this summary talking about the gender revolution. He talked about how the genders have become reversed which he illustrated by talking about a TV commercial he'd seen. A couple pulls into a gas station and the woman was driving! Not only that, the man got out to fill up the tank. While he is standing by the side of the car the woman adjusts her mirror so that she has a better view of the man's rear. Once the tank is full that silly man was so incompetent that he didn't have any money to pay for it so the woman gave him a credit card to pay the bill. He concluded this anecdote with the question "And this is supposed to be funny?" Well, yes, it is funny because of the role reversal which he derides. Showing the man as incompetent and a sexual object is unexpected, therefore funny, because we are used to women being shown as the one who is incompetent and a sexual object. It is also funny because it shines a spotlight on the fact that women are treated this way in society which helps to make it clear that it is as inappropriate to treat women this way as it is to treat men this way. I guess he can't see that because he is too busy being offended by the idea of a woman being more competent and in control than the man she is with. Of course, it doesn't help the humor much to point this out, because if you have to explain the joke then that sort of ruins it, but perhaps there is still a possibility of someone (though not Lewis) learning from this, even if they don't find it funny.

The bulk of the presentation centered on discussing the three critical issues around which authentic manhood revolves . He defines the issues as unfinished business of a person's (rats!), of a man's past, establishing a clear and compelling vision, and creating a high impact, workable plan for life. The majority of this discussion focused on the unfinished business part. This unfinished business is described as wounds which he defines as "any unresolved issue where lack of closure adversely impacts and shapes the direction and dynamics of a man's life now" (I guess women don't have wounds, or maybe some other word is used for women as in the old saw about how men sweat, but women glow).

Lewis describes five wounds men must deal with, at least that's what the written material says. In presenting it he says "the five wounds" indicating that this is the complete list, but then he qualifies it by saying "most men," so at least he's not insisting that these apply to all men. These five wounds are:

1. the absent father wound
2. the overly bonded with mother wound
3. the all alone wound
4. the lack of a manhood vision wound
5. the heart wound (this one he says every man has, or did he say "everyone"? I wrote "everyone" but that is so contrary to the way he generally speaks I wonder if that's what he really said.)

Apparently there are not any wounds due to absent mothers, absent siblings, too many siblings, abusive situations, etc. I am ready to allow that these five things can affect a man's life (or his manhood, as Lewis continually says), but once he has deliniated these wounds he doesn't seem to consider that his list is incomplete. He spent some time talking about the first three wounds, spent less time talking about the vision of manhood that a man should have, and deferred discussion of the heart wound all together. Clearly he is leading up to this heart wound being the lack of God in our lives.

Beyond the fact that I find his presentations to be incomplete and inaccurate, I'm also bothered by the structure of the meetings. When I think about a presentation I've seen some of the things I consider are whether it was well done, what I think of the material which was presented, and perhaps how it applies to or affects me. Each of these meetings start with a pep talk about how terrific this material is, so that makes it difficult to discuss whether it is well done. The DVD of Lewis' presentation is then shown, and of course there is no opportunity to question him about what he says since he is not there. Then we break into small groups and discuss questions which are given in the handout material so that we jump right into how it applies to or affects us. This lack of opportunity for some of the the discussions I'd like to have (such as the points I've mentioned here) leaves me feeling frustrated.

At the end of the meeting I talked briefly to my brother and shared some of these thoughts with him. He acknowledged that some of my points were valid and admitted that I am helping him to see the materials in a different light. He surprised me a little bit by saying "if only he'd say 'person' occasionally instead of always saying 'man'!" I can certainly agree with that. I think that if I do continue to go to these meetings it will be so that I can continue to help him see beyond the ideas which are being handed to us on a platter for ingestion without full consideration.

Posted by JoKeR at 09:28 AM
September 19, 2005
Black Roger Cash

While it is still Talk Like a Pirate Day I want to encourage you all to find your true inner pirate.

My pirate name is:

Black Roger Cash


Like anyone confronted with the harshness of robbery on the high seas, you can be pessimistic at times. You're musical, and you've got a certain style if not flair. You'll do just fine. Arr!

Get your own pirate name from fidius.org.

Posted by JoKeR at 11:27 PM
September 16, 2005
Men's Fraternity

I've now attended the first two meetings of a group my brother invited me to. This is a men's group called Men's Fraternity (MF) and is meeting at my brother's church. MF is a program that attempts to help men get in touch with their authentic masculinity.

As a feminist, I'm not so sure I see what this masculinity is supposed to be. I'd rather be striving towards being a better, more well rounded person rather than focusing on my masculinity. I find myself thinking of Tim Allen's Tool Time as an example of the posturing that often is called masculine behavior. But MF generally seems to be geared towards actually helping men to become more well rounded, they just want to sell it as finding authentic masculinity.

Robert Lewis started MF and is featured in a series of videos, one of which is shown as the bulk of each meeting. After watching the video the men split into small groups to discuss some of what we've seen and how that fits with our own lives. However, I find that I don't agree with a good deal of what Lewis is saying, but in my efforts to follow and understand his presentation and then participate in the small group discussions I am not always able to identify and communicate my misgivings in the small group and there is little other opportunity to do so within the structure of the meetings. So I'll take the time to do it here.

In this second session Lewis presents what he calls the four faces of manhood. These are The King (leadership), The Warrior (initiative, protecting, etc.), The Lover (tenderness, self-sacrificing), and The Friend (loyalty, accountability, fun). He then presented the following chart showing how to envision these four faces and presenting the extremes of either too much or too little of each face in a man's makeup. Thus too much of The King leads to tyrannical behavior, while too little leads to abdication.


But look what he does with the extremes of The Lover. From Critical (on the "too much" end of his scale) to Cold (on the "too little" end). How does that make any sense? I agree that those are two ways that people's, I'm sorry, men's relationships with their lovers can go awry, but how is being hyper critical evidence of too much love? Can there be too much love?

I can see his extremes with The King and with The Warrior (too much: Destroyer, too little: wimp, OH NO!!!!). But how does The Friend follow the extremes? He presents a user as an example of someone who is too demanding of their friends, but I would see being a user as an extremely distorted version of friendship. Another distortion of friendship would be someone who is overly solicitous to the point of being around more than their friends would want. Where would that be on his scale of too little to too much? And as with The Lover I find myself wondering if there can be too much friendship. As friendship involves being given the support and the criticism you need, it also means giving the same. I can see giving too much criticism or support, or demanding unreasonable support, but once you get to that point it is no longer friendship. I would see the extremes of friendship as being more like a range of indifferent to best buddies. The other problems mentioned for friendly relationships are not caused by too much friendship as much as by a twisting of what a friendship should be.

He's trying to present these things in a simple, dichotomous way. However, I don't think that issues like love and friendship can be accurately portrayed in such a simplistic manner. Even his leadership and warrior/protector roles are too simplisticly presented as each of those can also exist in a wide range of variations along more than just a simple "too much/too little" continuum.

Furthermore, as a chart, what is this supposed to convey? Am I supposed to find my location on the chart? He's got four qualities on two axes and then a range of values on each axis. Is my location supposed to be a point? A shape? As a visual aid I just find this confusing.

I also find it frustrating that both presentations have presented feminism as being one of the major causes of the confusion which men feel in this modern world. However, I think the feminism he is complaining about is just a distortion of what feminism is really about, as I understand feminism. As such he is setting up and attacking an all too familiar straw woman and calling this insight. In fact, his attempts to lead men towards seeing that friends and family, including sharing feelings and admitting dependance on others, should be important in a man's life are generally in line with much of feminist thought about wanting everyone to be true to themselves without having to conform to bogus societal expectations. In fact, I've heard this striving of men for more compassion and understanding being described as them getting in touch with their feminine side, but I guess that wouldn't draw men, manly men, masculine men striving to become even more masculine to hear his series of talks.

I've been going to the meetings (at 6:00 am! on Friday mornings) as something of a favor for my brother and so that I can better understand him. But I don't know how much more of this I can take.

Posted by JoKeR at 11:04 AM
September 15, 2005

Okay, I've taken these personality tests before and I can never remember the results. So I spent a little time this evening taking a couple of different tests which gave slightly different results (I was borderline in a couple of categories). However, as I read the description I was surprised at how well the INTP description fit me (in my opinion). So I decided to blog this here so that I can look it up later the next time I forget.

INTPs are pensive, analytical folks. They may venture so deeply into thought as to seem detached, and often actually are oblivious to the world around them.

Precise about their descriptions, INTPs will often correct others (or be sorely tempted to) if the shade of meaning is a bit off. While annoying to the less concise, this fine discrimination ability gives INTPs so inclined a natural advantage as, for example, grammarians and linguists.

INTPs are relatively easy-going and amenable to most anything until their principles are violated, about which they may become outspoken and inflexible. They prefer to return, however, to a reserved albeit benign ambiance, not wishing to make spectacles of themselves.

A major concern for INTPs is the haunting sense of impending failure. They spend considerable time second-guessing themselves. The open-endedness (from Perceiving) conjoined with the need for competence (NT) is expressed in a sense that one's conclusion may well be met by an equally plausible alternative solution, and that, after all, one may very well have overlooked some critical bit of data. An INTP arguing a point may very well be trying to convince himself as much as his opposition. In this way INTPs are markedly different from INTJs, who are much more confident in their competence and willing to act on their convictions.

Mathematics is a system where many INTPs love to play, similarly languages, computer systems--potentially any complex system. INTPs thrive on systems. Understanding, exploring, mastering, and manipulating systems can overtake the INTP's conscious thought. This fascination for logical wholes and their inner workings is often expressed in a detachment from the environment, a concentration where time is forgotten and extraneous stimuli are held at bay. Accomplishing a task or goal with this knowledge is secondary.

INTPs and Logic -- One of the tipoffs that a person is an INTP is her obsession with logical correctness. Errors are not often due to poor logic -- apparent faux pas in reasoning are usually a result of overlooking details or of incorrect context.

Games NTs seem to especially enjoy include Risk, Bridge, Stratego, Chess, Go, and word games of all sorts.

(more below the fold)

A Functional Analysis -- by Joe Butt Introverted Thinking

Introverted Thinking strives to extract the essence of the Idea from various externals that express it. In the extreme, this conceptual essence wants no form or substance to verify its reality. Knowing the Truth is enough for INTPs; the knowledge that this truth can (or could) be demonstrated is sufficient to satisfy the knower. "Cogito, ergo sum" expresses this prime directive quite succinctly.

In seasons of low energy level, or moments of single-minded concentration, the INTP is aloof and detached in a way that might even offend more relational or extraverted individuals.
Extraverted iNtuition

Intuition softens and socializes Thinking, fleshing out the brittle bones of truths formed in the dominant inner world. That which is is not negotiable; yet actual application diffuses knowledge to the extent that knowledge needs qualification and context to be of any consequence in this foreign world of substance.

If Thinking can desist, the INTP is free to brainstorm, calling up the perceptions of the unconscious (i.e., intuition) which are mirrored in patterns in the realm of matter, time and space. These perceptions, in the form of theories or hunches, must ultimately defer to the inner principles, or at least they must not negate them.

Intuition unchained gives birth to play. INTPs enjoy games, formal or impromptu, which coax analogies, patterns and theories from the unseen into spontaneous expression in a way that defies their own comprehension.
Introverted Sensing

Sensing is of a subjective, inner nature similar to that of the SJs. It supplies awareness of the forms of senses rather than the raw, analogic stimuli. Facts and figures seek to be cleaned up for comparison with an ever growing range of previously experienced input. Sensing assists intuition in sorting out and arranging information into the building blocks for Thinking's elaborate systems.

The internalizing nature of the INTP's Sensing function leaves a relative absence of environmental awareness (i.e., Extraverted Sensing), except when the environment is the current focus. Consciousness of such conditions is at best a sometime thing.
Extraverted Feeling

Feeling tends to be all or none. When present, the INTP's concern for others is intense, albeit naive. In a crisis, this feeling judgement is often silenced by the emergence of Thinking, who rushes in to avert chaos and destruction. In the absence of a clear principle, however, INTPs have been known to defer judgement and to allow decisions about interpersonal matters to be left hanging lest someone be offended or somehow injured. INTPs are at risk of being swept away by the shadow in the form of their own strong emotional impulses.
Famous INTPs:

Rene Descartes
Blaise Pascal
Sir Isaac Newton

U.S. Presidents:
James Madison
John Quincy Adams
John Tyler
Dwight D. Eisenhower
Gerald Ford

William Harvey (pioneer in human physiology)
C. G. Jung, (Freudian defector, author of Psychological Types, etc.)
William James
Albert Einstein
Tom Foley (Speaker of the House--U.S. House of Representatives)
Henri Mancini
Bob Newhart
Jeff Bingaman, U.S. Senator (D.--NM)
Rick Moranis (Honey, I Shrunk The Kids)
Midori Ito (ice skater, Olympic silver medalist)
Tiger Woods
Fictional INTPs

Tom and Fiona (Four Weddings and a Funeral)
Dr. Susan Lewis (ER)
Filburt (Rocko's Modern Life)
Copyright © 1996-2005 Joe Butt

Posted by JoKeR at 01:21 AM
September 14, 2005
Worthy desparate people

I saw this article in the paper this morning and it got me to thinking.

The last thing Lindsey Wilson wants is for people to stop helping victims of Hurricane Katrina.

But after her experience last week, she admits it will be hard for her to open up her door -- and her heart.

"I've lost a little faith in humanity," said Wilson, a 22-year-old Georgia State student who was victimized by a Lithonia woman claiming to be an evacuee from New Orleans.

Wilson went to the Red Cross center at Life University in Marietta last Friday hoping to help an evacuee in need of a comfortable place to stay for a while, some food to eat and some clothes to wear.

She found Beretta Jo Hogg, 36, and her 8-year-old son, who had come to the center to claim some of the money being given to people displaced by the storm.

Wilson invited Hogg and her son to stay in her apartment in Vinings.

But, Cobb County police say, Hogg's story was a hoax.

She actually had been living in Lithonia and then an apartment in Stone Mountain before being evicted two weeks ago, according to an employee at the apartment complex who identified herself as Tiffany.

Hogg was charged with the felony of theft by deception for accepting $1,300 set aside for hurricane victims from the Red Cross, police said. She remained in the Cobb County Jail on Tuesday on $2,850 bond.

Clearly, the people who have been forced from their homes by the disastrous force of Hurricane Katrina are in need of help due to circumstances beyond their control. Society at large seems to be generally agreed that it is a good and worthy thing to help these folks.

But what is Hogg's excuse? We don't know. All we know is that she had been evicted and had no place to stay and quite likely very little money (after all, if she'd had money she would have paid the rent, right?). But this poor, desparate woman with her 8-year-old-son were clearly not worthy of being helped. As she watched other people who had been battered by the vagaries of life getting help freely and generously she was on the street with her child with no where to go.

It can be argued that it was unethical and even illegal for her to take money and help which had been intended for hurricane victims when she was not herself a victim of the hurricane. But how is she less worthy of help than these other people? There are people in desparate circumstances every day. Is it unethical to take advantage of a system that systematically helps some folks while ignoring others? This system is not just the Red Cross hurricane relief efforts. This system is our country, our government, our selves.

Why is it so hard to understand that society will be better off if we help people who are desparate rather than setting up obstacles to their recovery and then throw them in jail if they don't follow the arbitrary rules that have been set up to exclude them.

Could the money, clothes, food, and shelter have helped Hogg to get back on her feet and contribute to society? I don't know. I don't know anything about her except that she was in desparate circumstances and trying to keep her small family together and alive.

Was she worthy of being helped? None of us are and all of us are. May none of you, dear readers, find yourselves in a situation where you can find no way to get food and shelter other than to try to circumvent societal expectations and arbitrary rules. God help us. There is a very real chance that no one else will.

Posted by JoKeR at 12:52 PM
September 07, 2005
Personal news

My daughter called this afternoon to say she had made it to Cologne safely. She had a horrible flight to Frankfurt surrounded by crying children followed by a seven hour layover there. She used that time to visit a museum in the city and that helped to restore some sanity.

My son has been offered a job as assistant stage manager for an upcoming production. Not only will this be a more challenging job behind the scenes than he's had before, it will pay a big enough stipend to actually cover more than the cost of the gas getting to the theatre.

For myself, I have now completed my second training class for my volunteer work at the Georgia Aquarium. Maybe I'll be able to finish all of the training by the time it opens in November.

The really good news is that I've got the best shot I've had in quite awhile to get some paying contract work. It will be great if that comes through. We can really use the money.

Posted by JoKeR at 10:25 PM
September 06, 2005
Fulbright underway

Well, once again my daughter is off to spend time in Germany, this time nearly a full year. She will be doing some assistant teaching of English for junior and senior high school students. She will, of course, also be able to spend some time doing some travelling and might even be able to do some studying herself. This first part of the trip when she has had to say goodbye to friends and family in order to go to an unfamiliar city to work with people she's never met has been difficult. We all hope that she will get settled quickly and make some new friends so that she won't feel isolated for long.

Meanwhile, my son came home from Dragon*Con and passed on second-hand hugs from Lavarr Burton to my wife and I. He grew up watching ST:TNG and Reading Rainbow, and of course we watched it with him (or was he watching with us?) so that was pretty neat.

I got a call this morning indicating that there is a possibility of some contract work soon. Apparently there is a project that is gearing up to help with Katrina recovery and the software to coordinate it needs a few tweaks. That would be an exciting opportunity for getting some work while doing something that really needs doing. I should get a call tomorrow letting me know more.

Posted by JoKeR at 03:25 PM
September 05, 2005
Real Live Pirate

Well, the crazy gang over at Real Live Preacher have been having fun with pirate talk and such in preparation for Talk Like a Pirate Day, and it seemed like a good idea at the time, so I want to now introduce Real Live Pirate. This is a work in progress. We'll just have to see how it progresses.

Posted by JoKeR at 10:03 PM
September 03, 2005
Pray without ceasing

What he said.

Posted by JoKeR at 02:37 PM
September 02, 2005
Who escaped Katrina?

I just learned that CNN is providing a place for people to announce that they evacuated safely from New Orleans. It only seemed reasonable to pass the word on about this since as of this writing only a few hundred people have entered their names, and we know that hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced.

Posted by JoKeR at 12:07 AM
September 01, 2005
Katrina disaster

Clearly, the devastation along the Gulf Coast of the US is unprecedented in our nations's history. There are hundreds of thousands of people who need assistance and are in danger from lack of clean food and water as well as problems finding places to stay.

Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) has a list of advice and contacts for people who wish to help.

I would like to mention the Presbyterian Disaster Assistance which has consistently helped in areas hit by disaster around the world. They have established a page specifically for donations to help hurricane Katrina relief efforts.

Let us all keep the victims of this disaster, the people working to help them and restore order, the friends and families of all of those people, and our country in our prayers.

Posted by JoKeR at 12:00 AM
August 30, 2005
Forgotten but not forgiven

As I've been working on my site, I ran across this old post. The funny thing is that I had not thought about the slight which I felt that evening in a long time, yet upon re-reading it I felt the anger and resentment from that remark all over again.

Funnier yet, I've thought about that event many times since then, but I remember a different moment.

Outside the dinner I encountered the wife of the distinguished professor. As I said, I used to babysit for their kids. When I encountered her the conversation went something like this:

"JoKeR!* Good to see you! How long as it been, 20 years?"

"Actually, closer to 40 years."

"No, you can't be 40 years old!"

"Actually, I'm closer to 50 than 40."

"Well I'm not!"

Remember, this woman is closer to my mother's age than mine. I have laughed over that exchange many times and on how it reflects our own vanity and denial of our aging. Yet, what I had felt compelled to write about that evening was the slight I felt had been given my father. Now, a couple of years later, I had more or less the forgotten the slight, only to find upon being reminded of it that I had not been able to forgive it.

I'm not sure what that says about me except that it is clear I still have some maturing to do.

*Obviously she did not call me JoKeR, but I'm pretending that I'm maintaining some degree of anonymity here. :-)

Posted by JoKeR at 01:36 PM
August 21, 2005
Clean once, entertain twice

After making significant efforts to clean up the house and the yard this past week, we hosted two different gatherings on Saturday.

First we invited all local members of both my extended family and my wife's extended family. (By local I mean close enough to be within local calling area, which in Atlanta covers a lot of ground.) Usually when we celebrate family events we've gone to another relative's house, where they, of course do not invite the rest of our other family. This was perhaps the first time since our wedding that we had both sides of the family together.

The impetus for this gathering was my daughter. We were celebrating her imminent birthday as well as wishing bon voyage as she prepares for a year in Germany as a Fulbright scholar.

While not everyone could make it, we hosted one of the biggest crowds we've ever entertained. It seemed to be a good time for all.

After a bit of cleaning and food preparations we had two couples over for dinner. One of the couples we know from church. The other through my wife's work. The baby son of one couple entertained us all. With lots of shared intersts among the group (all presbyterians, many librarians and computer professionals, etc.) we had interesting conversation and good fellowship through the evening.

Now we'll try to keep the house somewhat organized so that the next time we decide to entertain it won't be so much effort.

Posted by JoKeR at 06:20 PM
August 19, 2005
What type of commedian are you?

I found this amusing.

the Prankster
(42% dark, 30% spontaneous, 15% vulgar)
your humor style:

Your humor has an intellectual, even conceptual slant to it. You're not
pretentious, but you're not into what some would call 'low humor'
either. You'll laugh at a good dirty joke, but you definitely prefer
something clever to something moist.

probably like well-thought-out pranks and/or spoofs and it's highly
likely you've tried one of these things yourself. In a lot of ways,
yours is the most entertaining type of humor because it's smart without
being mean-spirited.

PEOPLE LIKE YOU: Conan O'Brian - Ashton Kutcher

My test tracked 3 variables How you compared to other people your age and gender:
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 25% on dark
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 25% on spontaneous
free online datingfree online dating
You scored higher than 50% on vulgar
Link: The 3 Variable Funny Test written by jason_bateman on OkCupid Free Online Dating

Posted by JoKeR at 04:41 PM
August 18, 2005
Line up those hedges!

So, we're having guests over this Saturday, a rare event these days. I look at the front yard and see the overgrown and debris-strewn mess that exists. I decide to at least trim the hedges. As they grow up all spiky and tall they make it hard to see the street which makes pulling out of the driveway more adventurous than it needs to be.

I start on the hedges along the street. These are the critical ones for seeing the on coming traffic. Being completely out of shape I have to stop and take frequent rests. Fortunately, my hedgehog makes quick work of the branches I'm trimming. Unfortunately I have a lot of hedges to trim. My front yard is completely lined by hedges. The only gaps are at the driveway and front steps. Some of the hedges are so tall I cannot even reach the top of them to trim them except with a ladder. Then I get an idea.

I've seen folks using trimmers which are mounted on long poles for trimming large foliage, like this one. I'm unwilling to go out and buy a new trimmer, but maybe I can improvise.

Using some giant twist ties I attached my hedgetimmer to the end of a wooden staff (remnant of a small tree I cut down), attached a small sledge hammer to the other end of the staff to act as a counter weight, and wrapped the electric cord around the staff so that it trails from the rear instead of hanging off the front tip. I then tied a rope to the staff at two points forming an impromptu shoulder strap.

Voila! I had a hedgetrimmer which was generally carried by my shoulder instead of my arms which also had an extra long reach. Using this I could trim along the sides of the hedges using a see-saw motion which took very little effort. The tops of the hedges were more accessible so that I didn't have to work with my arms extended high over my head except for the largest bushes. By the end of the afternoon I'd trimmed the hedges on three sides of the yard (I didn't get to those directly in front of the house) whereas I've usually only mangaged to get one side trimmed in a day before I'd be totally exhausted.

Of course, now I've got a lot of clippings that I need to pick up before the county comes by to pick up yard waste tomorrow. I've put it off for as long as I can by writing this, so I guess I'd better get busy.

Posted by JoKeR at 02:26 PM
August 09, 2005

So I found out that the Georgia Aquarium is looking for volunteers as they work towards opening later this year. I think aquariums are somewhat interesting and I've got more time on my hands than I'd like, so I signed up.

Well, first of all, I have to have my own health insurance. They cannot accept liability for people's health when they are volunteering there. Thus the 40 million Americans who do not have health care are further barred from contributing to society through volunteer efforts. Just one more problem with our screwed up health system.

Next, after getting past an interview (how badly would I have had to behave so as to have been unacceptable as a volunteer, and I did check: being a Democrat does not disqualify me) I also have to have a drug test. Clearly, people wanting to give away their time is suspicious on the face of it. I mean, it is obviously anti-capitalist to be willing to give something (time in this case) for nothing, isn't it? But being far removed from any illegal drugs (as far as I know) I had no problem passing this hurdle either.

I am now scheduled to attend the first of five training classes I'll be taking (a total of 18 hours in class) so that I can be properly prepared to help others. I can see the sense in this. If I'm planning to tell others about the Aquarium I need to know something about it.

Eventually, I will have to pay for a membership so that I can be allowed into the Aquarium in order to volunteer there. At least that also includes discounts at the gift shop and whatever uniform clothing they expect the volunteers to wear (so I'm told). I just hope they have some 3X shirts.

If I can make it through all of these hurdles, then eventually I will be able to get into the Aquarium and donate some of my time there as a volunteer. I just hope that posting this doesn't get me fired before I get started.

Posted by JoKeR at 09:26 PM
August 07, 2005
Real Live Preacher

I've been spending a lot of time at RLP's blog lately. He has written many interesting postings (look through the archive yourself, I'm too lazy to highlight any right now). He also is now writing a regular column for Christian Century and has published a book of his writings.

After starting out putting his writings up on a Salon blog he has now got his own webspace and domain. He is using Drupal and it is looking pretty nice. I tried playing with Drupal a little bit and got frustrated, but maybe I'll give it another try.

One of the things he's been doing is allowing his readers to register (more than 600 at this date, I'm number 133). As part of the registration readers can indicate a web page and I've been browsing some of the sites of his other readers. His posts and his readers are generally pretty nice and it has been interesting.

Worth checking out.

Posted by JoKeR at 07:43 PM
August 05, 2005
The Slug Revives

Well, well, well. After months (not yet years!) of inactivity I feel like trying to do something with this site again. No promises about how active I'll be, but this is a start.

I doubt that I'll enable comments again. I was getting tons of comment-spam and that is just not worth dealing with. I've been thinking of redoing the blog with Drupal or WordPress. Any other suggestions? I'm really not interested in upgrading MovableType since they have gone to a more commercial product with less flexibility for individual (read: free) users.

In any event, I plan to do a little more here.

Posted by JoKeR at 12:05 PM
September 24, 2004

My wife and I have been married for more than 20 years (there, that won't need to be updated every year). We have been living in the Atlanta area most of our lives (MM is an actual born and raised NATIVE of Decatur!).

Mary Martha and I have two wonderful children: Alex and Jessica.

Jessica is attending the College of Wooster in Wooster, OH (well, that's going to need updating pretty regularly as she studies abroad and then graduates). She is currently studying International Relations and German.

Alex has graduated from Ben Franklin High School. He is currently working at the Columbia Seminary Library and doing some theatrical work. Drama is his primary interest these days. He is working on deciding what direction his life will take in the future.

We have one dog, Jenny, and two cats, Susie and Dicken.

That's the immediate family.

We are members of Church of the New Covenant Presbyterian Church in Doraville. This is a Presbyterian Church (USA) congregation.

I no longer work for Syntellect Corporation in their Roswell office. Their primary office is in Phoenix, AZ. They were bought by EngHouse and in the subsequent evaluation of expenses and concurrent downturn in revenue I was laid off.

Mary Martha works at Columbia Theological Seminary. She is the Circulation Librarian at the John Bulow Campbell Library on campus.

We are blessed to have all four of our parents living within a short drive of us here in the Atlanta area. That has been a powerful motivator keeping us in Atlanta, especially since the kids were born. Both sets of parents have become great-grandparents, but we are not yet grandparents ourselves.

MM&I both have brothers who also live in the greater Atlanta area with their families. I have two sisters, one living in Corvalis, OR and the other living in Memphis, TN, both married. We also have nine nieces and nephews (that's a total of nine, not nine of each) scattered among our various siblings.

Welcome to my blog. Please introduce yourself to me if you find any of these pages interesting.

Posted by JoKeR at 02:11 PM
May 21, 2004
Mission Accomplished

It appears that today will be the final day of high school for my son. The flexible scheduling of his school means that some folks finish earlier than others. Each student's work pace and load determines how quickly they complete their graduation requirements. With students finishing at widely different times the actual graduation ceremony was held a few weeks ago, but the students who hadn't actually completed everything continued working, getting their diploma once they had satisfied the powers that be that they were ready. With only part of his last final to complete, it looks like today will be that ultimate day. Hooray!

Posted by JoKeR at 11:01 AM
April 24, 2004
They grow so fast

My son Alex and his long-time friend Christina have grown into wonderful young people. Can it really have been 10 years since they met?

Posted by JoKeR at 11:25 PM
April 19, 2004
Fourth Generation

With the arrival of Hailey Marie Riviere there are now four generations of Rivieres in my extended family. Here is my mother with her great-granddaughter. This new baby also makes me a great-uncle. What's really funny is that this makes my brother a grandfather. Could any baby be cuter?


Posted by JoKeR at 12:43 AM
April 18, 2004
Lion, Witch, & Wardrobe

My son and I recently finished a run of performances of The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis at Kudzu Playhouse. My son was Aslan and I was Tumnus, the fawn. A friend of one of the actors took many pictures during a performance and my wife and I have chosen a few to share here. Note that I haven't tried to resize these and each picture is about 1.5mb, so don't try to view these unless you have a fast connection or a lot of time.

First we meet the children and their Uncle Diggory as they arrive from London.

Next we see the Centaur, the Beavers, and the Unicorn in Narnia.

The evil Fenris Ulf drags then confronts Tumnus near the lamppost.

I am then seen cowering before the unseen Fenris Ulf.

Edmond expresses doubts about all this Narnia business.

The Queen (aka the White Witch) meets and intimidates the unseen Edmond as the dwarf looks on.

Edmund and the Queen talk together.

The forest friends discuss the return of Aslan and the arrival of human children.

The children read the notice of Tumnus' arrest left by Fenris Ulf.

Dinner at the Beavers' house with the children.

Mr. Beaver tells the children about the prophesy and the White Witch.

The Elf takes affront at being called a dwarf.

Father Christmas discusses his return after being kept away by the White Witch.

Father Christmas gives presents to the children, with help from the Elf.

Edmond is determined to see the Queen.

Forest friends come in with Aslan.

Aslan talks to Peter about what must be done. And talk some more.

Aslan knights Peter Fenris-bane.

Edmund is captured by the White Witch after failing to deliver his siblings to her.

Aslan quiets his followers while discussing the possibility of meeting the White Witch with the Dwarf.

Forest friends worry while Aslan meets with the White Witch.

Aslan prevents Peter from attacking the White Witch.

The children worry while Aslan meets with the White Witch.

Peter and Aslan discuss what to do next.

The White Witch prepares to sacrifice Aslan.

The girls talk with Aslan after his resurrection.

Wood nymph and follower of Aslan look on. Still more looking on.

Aslan talks with his followers after the victory over the White Witch. (How did Tumnus get glasses?) Still more talking. Close up of looking on. Another close up of looking on. And another close up of talking.

Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy are crowned kings and queens of Narnia. (How lazy is that that I didn't even rotate the pictures for you? Maybe later.) UPDATE: OK, now I've rotated the pictures and uploaded them again.

Aslan tells of the many years of peace under the human kings and queens.

The children rediscover the lamppost after many years.

The children emerge from the rediscovered wardrobe.

Uncle Diggory listens to the children talking about Narnia.

Posted by JoKeR at 04:29 PM
February 24, 2004
Missed Anniversary

Well, I let it pass without notice. I have now been unemployed for more than one year. Still no likely job prospects. I've been on a few interviews this year, but they have been few and far between. Who knows, maybe Bush is accidentally right and there actually are new jobs in the pipeline so that I will have a chance to start working again.

In the meantime I've lost weight, rebuilt my deck, sold part of my comic book collection, started teaching my son to drive, been in a few plays at a local community theater, and continued to serve on the session at church. All in all, it hasn't been a bad year, except financially. I am and will continue to be grateful to the support of family during these trying times.

Who knows? Maybe I'll even start posting more often.

Posted by JoKeR at 09:37 AM
November 19, 2003
Monthly post

So, what is it that has made me so inactive here of late? I've been working on rebuilding my deck, for one thing. I was Gepetto in Pinoccio at Kudzu Playhouse in Roswell for a couple of months. I'll be playing Santa Claus in The Magic Toyshop, again at Kudzu Playhouse. I've actaully spent some time (not enough) looking for work. I've been losing weight (65 pounds, so far!).

But why haven't I been more active on my blog? I'm not sure. I think I might be a bit burned out on computing lately. I really need to focus on this some more since that is what my career has been about, but I guess I'm somewhat ready for a change. Still, computer connectivity is part of the way of the future for allowing working from home and keeping in touch. Perhaps this is just one aspect of my depression which the medication has not been useful for addressing as yet.

Posted by JoKeR at 12:37 AM
October 10, 2003

So, today I turned 48. It was a pleasant day. The weather has been beautiful. I got some nice gifts (mostly DVDs, including the new "A Mighty Wind" release). I broiled myself a birthday cake (oh, you mean I should have set the oven on "bake"?) and made some banana ice cream. I got multiple wishes for a happy birthday from various members of my family (though Fimion never bothered to mention it, even as we went out for a celebratory dinner and had cake and ice cream (see above) afterwards (actually, is it technically cake if it was broiled?)). Also, the lumber for my on-going project of rebuilding my deck was delivered (happy birthday to me!). All in all it has been a good day. Hey! I have even posted to my blog!

Posted by JoKeR at 11:13 PM
June 01, 2003

Well, I haven't been posting much lately, have I? I've been busy with some different things, but I don't have a good excuse other than just procrastination.

I'm still looking for work. Job leads previously mentioned have not panned out. I've got a couple of new leads which I am pursuing. I've been told to expect a call early this week to set up an interview with a major corporation headquartered here in town.

I've been losing weight! I started trying to lose weight a little over a year ago and lost 20 pounds in a few months, but then lost and regained the next five pounds a few times until a little over a month ago. At that time I got to feeling better and have now started working out regularly as well as watching what I eat more carefully. I've already lost an additional 10 pounds for a total of 30! The treadmill workouts have also noticably improved my ability to get where I'm going without getting short of breath. I've watched all of the episodes of "I'll Fly Away" while I've been walking on the treadmill and have now started watching "Nicolas Nickleby" again. Once I'm finished with that I'll probably start working my way through my wife's collection of Xena tapes.

The whole family is now coming down with or getting over a cold. No fun.

The Bush administration is continuing to run the country into the ground, show callous disregard for everyone but the wealthy, lie about what they intend, and most people seem to think this is all a good thing. I cannot understand why people aren't demonstrating in the street every day about these demagogues.

The PC(USA) General Assembly met this past week and I haven't heard about much that was significant. They debated GLBT ordination again and decided to continue waiting for the report on the task force for peace, unity, and purity which was appointed last year to try to find a way to address some of the issues which have been dividing the church.

I'll see if I can't do better at keeping something happening here.

Posted by JoKeR at 11:32 PM
May 12, 2003
Home again

After driving for 24+ hours over three days, packing, loading, and then unloading our minivan, and getting not enough sleep, I am happy to be back home. Of course, I'm no closer to having a new job, but you can't have everything.

I haven't pointed to much of the news lately because it is all so discouraging. I'd like to have some good items to report to demonstrate that there is hope in these times of war, recession, and stress, but it just seems that there are problems on every side. Maybe I'll feel more optimistic later.

Posted by JoKeR at 01:25 PM
May 07, 2003
Road trip

We're hitting the road to pick up my daughter from college. In theory she is coming home for the summer, but with various trips she has planned or is considering as well as offers to house sit for friends I'm beginning to wonder how much we'll see of her. In any event, I won't be likely to post anything more until next week.

Posted by JoKeR at 11:08 PM
April 30, 2003
Healing Memories

Do memories heal? Can we be healed from painful memories? Memories can have a powerful influence on our perceptions of the world. Is emotional pain associated with memories an indication of a need for therapy or perhaps a reminder of resentments which have not been relieved by forgiving others or ourselves?

I recently experienced a very difficult evening. My wife had a very pleasant evening. We were seated side-by-side at a dinner honoring a retiring professor. We had both grown up in the academic community where this professor had spent his entire career. We've both known the honored professor and many of the guests for 40 years or more. We had both babysat for his children.

Obviously, at an event such as this multiple people praised the professor's contribution to the institution, to his fellow professors, to his many students, to his family, and to many others throughout the community beyond the academic institution. He was praised for his academic achievements. He was praised for his winning ways. He was praised for having managed to avoid the kind of political games that go on so often in academic institutions.

In his own remarks thanking folks for their kind words and for the opportunity he had been given to serve, he reviewed his time under five different presidents of the institution. The second of those presidents, my wife's father, had given him his first a chance to serve as Dean. He quipped that at that time there was both an in-house Dean and an outhouse Dean. Thus was my father's contribution to the institution remembered on this auspicious occasion, 30 years later still referred to only obliquely and derogatorily. My wife shrugs the reference off as being merely a play on words since the honored professor was the Dean of Academic Affairs (the in-house Dean) and my father was the Dean of Ministry Development (training of established ministers who are outside the institution's main student body). However, it was clearly a play he relished, this apolitical professor, that he would remark upon it in a brief statement, not much more than five minutes if that long, 30 years later.

So there I sat, watching the distinguished assemblage honoring this man. I found myself thinking that my father should have been honored in a similar way. Instead he is remembered as the outhouse Dean.

Recognizing the dichotamous nature of our two reactions to the evening, I am reminded of a song by Fred Small. He tells the story of two drivers. The first driver (himself) is angry and frustrated at being stuck in a traffic jam. The second driver (a small, tubby, bald-headed fellow) is unbothered by the lack of movement in their cars. The singer eventually comes to recognize that their different attitudes make all the difference. He himself was trapped in the traffic jam, while the carefree "Budha Behind the Wheel" was free, though experiencing the same traffic jam.

It is easy to recognize that it is my own attitude that has made me unhappy with what was said at that dinner and during my family's time at the institution 30+ years ago. It is not so easy to release the anger and hurt that I feel. I think I have matured some in that I can recognize that changing how I feel is my own problem. I just hope and pray that I can grow enough to be able to effect the changes which will release me from those feelings.

Posted by JoKeR at 11:47 AM
April 25, 2003
Job Search

Well, these past two weeks have been the most positive since I was laid off in February in terms of prospects for a new job. I have interviewed for two different positions and gotten positive feedback from both. I had a third(!) interview about one of the positions today and had secretly hoped that an offer might be made. Instead, I was told that, due to some participation by people other than the person with whom I was interviewing, there are now some additional candidates for that position who will need to be interviewed so that no decision can be made for at least two weeks. In addition I just got the word yesterday that they chose someone else for the other position I had interviewed for. Thus, no new job can be announced or assumed yet.

One issue that these developments have helped us to settle is that now it appears certain that I will be driving up to Wooster to pick up my daughter from school. If I had gotten a new job then MM would have driven up there rather than have me ask for time off right after I started. With no job on the immediate horizon there is no reason for MM to take time off from work to make the trip. This has the added advantage of allowing me to remove the back seats from the minivan so that we have more room for loading Jessica's stuff for the trip home. MM felt a bit uncomfortable about driving all the way to Ohio alone so her mother was planning to ride with her. This would make a nicer trip overall, but it would mean that the middle seat would have to be kept in the minivan and thus there would be less cargo area. In any event, it now appears that I will be driving up.

Well, back to full job-search mode! Pray for me.

Posted by JoKeR at 02:36 PM
April 20, 2003
Blog the Job Search?

Well, I haven't posted much of anything lately. Truth to tell, I've been a bit down. I've actually had some of the best news yet in my job search. I had an interview this past Tuesday and I have another interview for a different position on this coming Tuesday. Considering these are the first interviews I've had since I was laid off more than two months ago, this is big news.

But what should I write about while I'm in my job search. After all, the people with whom I'm applying have my email address. Anyone who knows anything about the Internet might guess that if I have an email address at riviere.ws then it is possible that the URL www.riviere.ws might well have something to do with me. And clearly, working in the computer industry, anyone I'm interviewing with is at least aware of the Internet and is likely to have a great deal of familiarity with how it works.

So back to the question: What do I blog about during a time when I am in a job search? Do I wax poetic about the wonderful institution with whom I am interviewing? In other words, do I try to schmooze my way into the good graces of my potential bosses on the assumption that they will check it out as they consider me? Do I express the anxiety I am feeling as I consider advantages and disadvantages of different positions? Do I discuss whether I am considering therapy to help me cope with the depression brought on by being unemployed? I can certainly see that it would be a bad idea to post derogatory comments about potential employers since, as I said, they might see it.

I think it is safe to say that I have been practicing my guitar some lately. I'm still not good at it, but I am building up callouses on my finger tips again.

It had better be safe for me to say "He is risen! Halleluah!" Today of all days, especially. While I don't do heavy handed evangelism at work, I don't know that I could work comfortably someplace where I was not allowed to acknowledge that I am a Christian (or struggling to be one, anyway).

Well, I'm not any closer to answering my question, but if I don't hurry and wrap this up, it won't even be Easter when I post it.

Posted by JoKeR at 11:55 PM
April 11, 2003
Tucker Haiku

I found myself writing my first haiku this evening, inspired by our first dog who took the Rainbow Bridge trip recently. Tucker was a very active, alert, and protective dog. Thus, this poem:

With Tucker on guard No falling leaf can surprise A house so well watched
Posted by JoKeR at 01:17 AM
April 03, 2003
It's late & I'm tired

Well, I checked in planning to write about how I can hardly stand to read the reports of the war on Iraq. I read a report earlier this evening which I cannot find now (I'm not sure that it was publicly linkable anyway) about the last letters home from some of the soldiers who had been killed, the letters often arriving after the families had been told about the deaths of their sons. I couldn't even read the whole article because it was just too painful.

However, upon checking my blog I found that Chris had left be another comment, this time in my Faith & Religion" section. So I wound up spending time writing up an answer to that. I actually do spend a lot of time thinking about God and theological issues, I just haven't been recording my thoughts lately. I'll try to do better (yeah, right!).

Posted by JoKeR at 01:28 AM
March 22, 2003
Happy Anniversary

Today my wife and I have celebrated our 23rd Wedding Anniversary. Unfortunately, we only got to spend time together this evening. The workshop led by Bishop Spong I mentioned earlier was today so I spent most of the day there. Then I picked up my son after his play, so it was after 5:00pm before I got back home.

We went out to Sushi Avenue in Decatur. The delicious food and quiet atmosphere was very pleasant. Some mango ice cream finished the meal.

While this year's celebration is a bit restrained due to somewhat tightened finances, that does not change my commitment to our marriage. Just two years till silver!

Posted by JoKeR at 11:59 PM
March 10, 2003
Current interest maintenance

Well, I finally got around to updating my "Listening" and "Reading" lists over there to the left. The thing that is a bit different is that I have started archives of old entries from those links, one for Listening and one for Reading. Having put together the links to track information about what I'm listening to and what I'm reading, I found I was reluctant to update them because it meant throwing away the old linked entries. Now I have a procedure where I can move the old links to the two posts on my Media page and those links remain effective. (Well, they are effective as long as the hosts of the sites to which I've linked keep their pages up. Ah, the impermanence of the Web!) Since having this information about what I'm interested in is sort of a recommendation, why should I stop recommending it just because I've moved on to something else for awhile?

Posted by JoKeR at 06:04 PM
February 25, 2003
New kitten

We have a new resident at our house. Dickon arrived from our friendly veterinarian hospital on Sunday afternoon.

This is the first of our pets which Alex got to pick. We'd looked over some cats which were available for adoption on Saturday, but none of them excited Alex.

Dickon and his siblings had been left at the vet hospital a few weeks ago at an age too young to be separated from their mother. The loving staff at the hospital hand fed the small kittens and then found homes they felt they could trust for each kitten. Here is Dickon at the vet hospital when we first saw him.

MM & Alex went by the hospital after the afternoon performance of the latest play in which Alex is acting. I was at church so I didn't see Alex's initial reaction, but apparently it was favorable since they brought Dickon home.

Posted by JoKeR at 01:24 AM
February 19, 2003
Korean taught here

I heard a report on WABE (one of Atlanta's public radio stations) this morning about a group of students who initiated action to get Georgia Tech to teach Korean. The support from Atlanta's Korean community has raised enough funds to hire a professor and offer classes. While I think that this is great that they were able to motivate a complacent administration to respond to their legitimate request I wonder how far this would extend. Would Tech offer any class which a company or group offered to sponsor?

(As an aside, it took a bit of digging through the html code to find a direct link to the article since www.wabe.org uses frames which makes it more difficult to find links to the contents of a specific frame. Annoying.)

Posted by JoKeR at 09:12 AM
February 18, 2003
Popular nerds

Paul Graham has written an interesting article about the way high school kids pursue popularity and why nerds rarely become popular. Interesting stuff. Via MetaFilter.

Posted by JoKeR at 09:40 PM
February 14, 2003
Rainbow Bridge

I've been seeing references to "going over the Rainbow Bridge" for a little while now. I've thought for some time that this is likely a reference to the rainbow bridge connecting Asgard (home of the gods) to Midgard (Earth) in Norse mythology. Apparently this euphemism for death is frequently used in reference to the loss of pets.

Later today we plan to take the elder of our two dogs, Tucker, to the vet to ease his way through this transition. I've thought about writing here about our dogs before but have refrained because I feared it would become more of a rant than a commentary. It was my wife's idea to get a dog (eventually dogs) and I've never been as interested in having them in the house or my life. However, I agreed to have a dog because it meant a lot to her. Having lived with dogs for several years now I still cannot call myself a dog lover, though I have learned a lot about them.

My greatest concern as we've watched Tucker's health deteriorate as he has aged has been for the grief MM would experience as this time arrived. I have found, however, that I am having trouble discussing this with others without getting choked up myself.

I've joked for a long time that life begins not at conception or at birth but rather when the kids are grown and the dog dies. Well, I've got one child off at college and another just over a year away from finishing high school. Now one of our dogs is about to die. I guess we're getting closer to that new beginning.

I know the cliche is "no pain, no gain," but at times like this I sure wish there were another way. I don't remember it personally, but I wonder if birth was as painful as this beginning of life seems to be.

Posted by JoKeR at 12:28 PM
February 10, 2003
Holly Near

One of the highlights of the NAFA conference for me was getting to see, hear, and speak with Holly Near. It was through Holly that my exposure to the wider world of folk music first got started. My awareness of Holly began with the Weavers.

I had not really been aware of the Weavers during most of my youth. I've learned that I was familiar with many of their songs while I was growing up, but I don't think that I would have recognized the name "The Weavers" as even being a musical group, much less a focus for musical and political change.

My first awareness of the Weavers began with an episode of Lou Grant. The episode featured the reporters researching stories about a reunion of an old folk music group. The group had been blacklisted and mostly disappeared from public awareness but one of the reporters on the show (Joe Rossi?) had been a fan of their work and was excited about finding out what the former group members were currently doing. After watching the show, my wife told me that it was based on the real-life story of the Weavers. (MM is often more aware of history, popular culture, and other aspects of the world than am I. This was especially true at that time when much of my energy was focused on my comic book collecting.)

MM was able to locate a video about the 1980 reunion concert of the Weavers. Doing more than simply showing the concert, the video told a great deal of history about the group, how they had been blacklisted and what that meant to them, and what the members of the group have been doing over the years. This was all new territory for me.

One of the segments of the documentary featured one of the Weavers, Ronnie Gilbert, singing with a young singer who had been inspired by Ronnie. That young singer was Holly Near.

After watching the video we started looking for Weavers recordings for our new CD player. It was exciting that many of the old Weavers recordings were being re-released on CD, but not very many titles had been released and I was still hungry for more such inspiring music. That hunger led me to "H.A.R.P." featuring Holly, Arlo Guthrie, Ronnie Gilbert, and Pete Seeger (another member of the Weavers). That in turn led me to look for more of Holly's recordings, some of which were available on CD. After buying all I could find of her recordings I started looking for compilation recordings featuring Holly or the Weavers. In listening to those compilations I was introduced to many other performers and songwriters. Those introductions eventually led to me spending occasional long weekends (and hundreds of dollars) attending NAFA conferences.

Holly led one of the songs at the noon Peace Sing which was held on Saturday. She also helped to lead some of the workshops on different issues.

One of those workshops involved finding ways to get the GLBT community more involved in the folk music scene. In the course of the discussion, one of the things Holly discussed was that it was important to reach out to various groups beyond simply trying to get people to attend concerts. She recounted how people in some of her previous activist efforts had talked about getting the black community involved in the issues in which the activist groups were interested, yet they didn't bother doing anything to support the black community. They didn't go to rallies about civil rights for blacks or otherwise involve themselves in the concerns of the black community. She suggested that reaching out involves more than simply asking for support. It involves trying to understand and support people in the things about which they are concerned. Thus, if the folk music community wanted to get support from the GLBT community, then a good way to start would be by trying to support the GLBT community on issues and activities of concern to them and to get to know them more personally.

After hearing her comments I felt motivated to point out that sometimes efforts to reach out to the GLBT community are not always welcomed. I recounted my own experience with a local group that promotes itself as being gays, lesbians, and straights who are "committed to building friendships and strengthening neighborhoods through social events and community action" (I took this quote from their web site. I didn't have the quote with me at the workshop, but I tried to convey something of their purpose as I described them). In an effort to reach out to them I contacted them through their web site and attended one of their pot luck dinners in an attempt to get to know them better. While at the dinner I was questioned about why I was there as the only other straights who had ever bothered with their group were politicians who were trying to get their votes. When I talked to my contact in the group after the dinner I was told directly that they did not want me to join their group.

Holly responded directly to my comment. She said that I should not take such a rejection personally and that I should not stop attempting to reach out to the GLBT community. If I get rejected 50,000 times in such attempts, I should remember that these rejections are inspired by 500,000 painful experiences of members of the GLBT community. She suggested that rejection such as I experienced might be inspired by a fear of further painful experiences and not necessarily as a rejection of me personally.

In her singing, in her comments, and in her living, Holly Near continues to inspire many people to be more compassionate towards others and to seek peaceful ways of living together. In these days of increasing governmental scrutiny playing on people's fears and prejudices we may need people like Holly more than ever. I am certainly grateful to her and look forward to seeing her again some day.

Posted by JoKeR at 01:45 PM
True Journey complete

I'm home from my trip to Nashville. (Can anyone identify to what my title for this note is referring?)

The visit with Dale went well, I thought. We were able to meet without difficulty and spent a pleasant lunch discussing church, computing, careers, and family. I'm still keeping him in my prayers as his job search continues.

The conference itself was overwhelming, as always. I'll try to post some messages over the next few days reviewing some of the people I saw and met (I'll want to research appropriate links for them since urls were not standard pieces of information given out from stage or in conversation, though I might have some on CDs or other promotional material).

I don't know that I'll go the next couple of years when the conference will be in San Diego and Montreal. However, I might try taking in the Northeast or Southwest conferences, both of which I've heard good things about.

More later.

Posted by JoKeR at 12:04 AM
February 02, 2003

After the failure of the Challenger these many years ago, this doesn't surprise or shock me as much. It is certainly a tragedy as well as a significant setback for the space program, but we have been aware that a shuttle can fail. I've already started seeing some finger pointing about where the blame lies for this event, but it is likely that there are many people and institutions which have contributed to the lapses that allowed this to happen.

I certainly want the space program to succeed and would like to see a higher priority given to that effort. I'd much rather see $100 billion spent on expanding our explorations of space than on bombing civilians in Iraq, but I fear that the destruction of Columbia is more likely to lead to calls for the dismantling of NASA than an infusion of new funds and programs.

Given that the shuttles are about 20 years old and built using similarly old technology, it should be expected that they are starting to show some wear. What other 20 year old equipment would you expect to be in pristine condition after dozens of multi-G blast offs and the extremes of the vacuum of space and the intense temperatures of re-entry? With the incredible advances in electronics and materials in the last couple of decades I think that it would be possible to design new ships today which would have greater cost efficiencies per trip due to lighter and stronger construction materials as well as requiring less energy to run the more capable components and computers on board.

I am in no position to know whether the remaining shuttles are flight worthy. I expect that they will all undergo extensive testing and checking before anyone considers the next trip. The rockets which boost the shuttle should also be reviewed as the early reports I've seen (and I haven't followed this as closely as could be) indicate that the problems may relate to ice (formed on the fuel tank used to store the liquid hydrogen fuel) hitting the shuttle during take off.

In the meantime, I will continue to pray for the families of the astronauts as well as for the space program employees whose lives will be impacted as a result of this disaster.

Posted by JoKeR at 10:18 PM
January 14, 2003
Blogger's block?

It has been weeks since my last post. It isn't that I haven't been thinking about different issues (though I've sometimes tried not to think about them). It isn't that there aren't important and dangerous things happening which need thinking about (Dubya and Co. certainly manage to find lots of ways to challenge freedom and world peace). It isn't even that I've been too busy (unless playing Civ II counts as busy). I guess I've just been feeling down.

My son is in his first community theater production. He is one of the princes (I guess he's really three different princes) who dance with "The Dancing Princesses." This has meant a lot of coordination as the theater (Kudzu Playhouse in Roswell) is a solid half hour from home in light traffic. The play opened this weekend to sellout crowds and will run for another four weekends. It is nice not to have weekday rehearsals now that the play is in production, but there are performances on both Saturday and Sunday afternoons. Beyond that, he plans to audition for the next children's production at Kudzu, "The Secret Garden," which could mean both rehearsals for one play and performances of the other play for a few weeks.

My daughter was home from college during Christmas which was very nice. She is now back up in Ohio and we are working on packing up a few things which were more than she could carry on the plane so that they can be shipped to her. She is making plans to spend her junior year studying in Washington D.C. and Berlin along with some side trips. She has become quite the world traveller, and could wind up travelling even more as she pursues a career using the degree in International Relations which she is working towards.

I am still working at Syntellect, but that could change at any time due to the new ownership structure under Enghouse. There is a planned company-wide meeting tomorrow. I should know more after that.

I started taking a Spanish class which is being offered at church. With the increasing number of Hispanic residents in Atlanta and elsewhere around the country I thought it would be useful to be able to say more than simply "Si."

I hope to update this more frequently in days to come. We'll see how well that hope is realized.

Posted by JoKeR at 03:06 PM
October 07, 2002
The risks of living

Thanks to friend Doug Stearns for pointing me to this article from the magazine Skeptical Inquirer. The authors discuss the rational risks associated with modern life and compare these to the heightened risks posed post-Sept. 11th. They further compare and contrast the resources being dedicated to these newly perceived threats compared to similar or even greater risks which are not getting as many resources. Well written and thought provoking.

Posted by JoKeR at 10:44 AM
October 04, 2002
Remember BBSs?

Remember before there was an Internet so easily available? Many people set up Bulletin Board Systems to share files, games, and messages with other computer users. Now those mostly (totally?) defunct systems and communities can be remembered at BBSmates - dialing up the past. It even lists my own system: JoKeR's BBS in area code 404!

Posted by JoKeR at 02:39 PM
October 03, 2002
The Good, The Bad...

Braves win! Braves win! Braves win! Well, they won once, anyway. I'm glad they managed to win this second game in the series or it would have been a dire situation for them. They still need to win 2 of 3 possible games (the first two of which will be in SF) to go on to the next round, but it is better than starting the series 0-2.

Congress looks like it is on the verge of handing Bush the authority he asked for to invade Iraq whenever he feels like it. This is just getting scarier and scarier.

So, the Braves winning is the good. Congress going along with Bush is the bad. Actually, I think the Congress and Bush can be both the bad and the ugly. They are certainly taking us as far from good as they can.

Posted by JoKeR at 11:54 PM
September 29, 2002
Political stance

Economic Left/Right: -3.38
Authoritarian/Libertarian: -5.08

This according to the Political Compass.

OK. I'm not surprised. I'm not sure anyone who knows me would be either.

Posted by JoKeR at 11:50 PM
Busy Weekend

Whew! I've been quite busy this weekend. I got up early on Saturday because I had been elected as a commisioner to the Presbytery meeting being held that day. It was a confusing meeting with a motion from the Peacemaking committee on a resolution opposing going to war with Iraq at this time. There was a motion to refer the motion back to committee which was rejected, a substitute motion, ammendments to both the original motion and the substitute motion, then the substitute motion was defeated and the original motion was passed as ammended. It was very interesting and I was relatively pleased with the result. Like anything done by committee, especially a committee of hundreds, this was not necessarily the best resolution ever written, but I am glad that the Presbytery was able to express opposition to the current call to war.

The rest of the Presbytery meeting was fairly routine, though it is always exciting to see candidates for the ministry getting approved in their calls, which we did in the afternoon.

During a break I got to speak with Bob Horne who had just been presented with the Peacemaker of the Year award by the Presbytery that same morning (there was little discussion and no opposition when that motion was made) and whom I had met during a church school class about peacemaking issues just a week ago. He remembered me and thanked me for my comments during the class (we hadn't had a chance to talk after the class as I had gone directly to the choir room, as usual) for which I was most grateful. While we were talking he mentioned that Walter Wink would be the featured speaker at the Peacemaking conference in Montreat this coming year! That sounds really exciting and I plan to find out more about that. The Peacemaking conference I attended in Montreat 10 years ago still ranks as my favorite Montreat conference.

After the meeting I ran some errands. I stopped and bought some food for the church luncheon which we had today. Then I stopped and talked to a friend of mine with whom I am working to put up a web site for his business. When I got home it was about 4:30. After talking briefly with MM I then went on to the pot-luck filk sing which I mentioned in another note (I brought some homemade potato salad from Mr. Krogers). I didn't get home until well after midnight and didn't get to bed until almost 2:00am.

This morning I woke up just in time to get up, shower, dress, and get to church school late. Then to choir and worship which was a little rough as I had strained my voice a little when I pitched a song I sang too high the night before.

After worship I went to the Lunch and Learn which featured a young woman who had spent some time recently in Israel with Care delivering medical supplies to the Palestinans. I'm afraid I didn't fully pull my weight as a member of the Fellowship committee on this as the rest of the committee pretty well had everything set up by the time I got there. Usually we have between 20 and 30 people for these Lunch and Learn presentations, but with the concern over the middle east lately we had fully 50 people there today. It was a well done and moving presentation.

After cleaning up after the Lunch and Learn I met with my fellow co-chair of the Fellowship committee and discussed the budget for next year. We came up with some ideas which we'll discuss with Stewardship and Finance before presenting them to the session at our next meeting.

I then thought about going to a local meeting of Not In Our Name which I mentioned earlier. However, I decided to stay home and catch up on some things which also allowed MM time to go visit her parents which we do too infrequently. One of us had to stay to wait for a call from Alex as he had taken the afternoon to go to a Magic the Gathering tournament and would need a ride home. I even managed to get a short nap before Alex called.

It was nice to be home and have a chance to share a delicious meal together as a family. We watched Iron Chef!

After supper Jessica called! That is always a joy. Both MM&I got to speak with her before she had to let us go so she could get some studying done. She did admit that she had... relocated my collection of Indigo Girls CDs. Of course, the fact that I hadn't missed them over the last few months is an indication that I haven't been greatly inconvenienced.

I then went back to church to pick up the extra food that I had forgotten this afternoon so that we could put it in the freezer. After repacking the food in freezer bags and putting it away I finally got a chance to sit at the computer and decided to update my blog and let you know why I haven't gotten around to writing my next "Beyond Theism" piece. Maybe after I finish cleaning up the kitchen and walking the dogs. We'll have to wait and see.

Posted by JoKeR at 08:42 PM
September 20, 2002
Allow me to introduce myself

As I get started with this blog I thought I'd begin with a bit of self-indulgent introspection about how I got where I am today. I'm setting up my blog as multiple blogs focusing on different areas. I think I will use this primary blog to announce entries in the other blogs so that it is not necessary to subscribe to all of them to keep up with what I've written. (I want to make it easy for my fans. Hi, Mom and Dad!) If there is just one area in which you are interested then you can subscribe to just that area.

Of course, that is to say you can subscribe once I get it figured out how to make subscribing work! :-)

In any event, here are links to the first and second installments telling about my faith journey in my Faith and Religion section.

Posted by JoKeR at 11:55 PM