Thursday, September 25, 2008

Happy Birthday, Dad

News hasn't been good here recently, and I intend to blog about that soonish.

But, today, I need to remember someone else.

68 years ago today, my father was born. He was born prematurely on the family farm in North Kennebunkport, Maine (which later split from Kennebunkport and renamed itself Arundel), the 10th of 12 children. Medical care being what it was then and there, they used the oven as an incubator to keep him warm.

He grew up, worked on the farm, and trained as a machinist in the local high school's vo-tech program. He worked as a machinist for a few years in southern Maine until one night when he got a ride with his next-older brother's wife and met her coworker, a young lady who'd just graduated from high school in California and then moved to Maine with her mother.

They got married a few months later, and moved back to California together. Two days after their first anniversary, they had a daughter; they tried to have another child for several years, but it didn't happen quickly; I was conceived on or around my father's thirtieth birthday, almost 7 years into the marriage.

My father wanted out of California by then; they looked into Seattle, but Boeing laid off a bunch of machinists, so they decided to go back to Maine.

The sudden pressures of being near both their families caused stress in the marriage, as did financial issues, and about 10 years after moving back, a divorce finalized the split.

He lived the bachelor life for a while, with temporary duty assignments (he worked as a civilian machinist for the Navy) around the world. After several years of this, he had the opportunity to do a long-term relocation to Guam; he took it and reveled in it.

He never moved back; a heart attack killed him in February 1996, a month before he was to retire.

And so, today, despite everything else going on in my life today, I remember the man who gave me his name. Happy birthday, Dad.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

A random conversation...

"Booty is truth, truth is booty."
"Indeed.  For truly it is said, 'I like big butts and I cannot lie.'"

Thursday, September 11, 2008

In Memoriam

In memory of those who were killed 7 years ago today:

This was Blue Man Group's tribute to the lives destroyed on that day, a visualization and recitation of papers that blew away from the destroyed buildings.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Religion: A Metaphor

An old thing I wrote, which I was reminded of by a conversation this morning.  There may be more like this coming.

Envision God as a mountain. There are many well-worn, wide paths up the mountain - these are the well-known religions, their paths made regular by the many feet who follow them up. They may not be the most direct routes, they may not be the fastest routes, but they're obvious and relatively easy, and if you have problems, there's somebody nearby who can help you out.

Some people just go straight along the path their parents led them toward as a child. They go along as if wearing blinders, never considering any side paths or detours. (These tend to complain the loudest that others don't follow the same path. I mean, really, it's right there plain as day, just follow the path, why don't you? What do you mean you're on the other side of the mountain? What mountain? I'm just following a path.)

You can take less-traveled paths. The way isn't always as obvious, there aren't as many people around. Some people consider this an advantage.

There are old paths, overgrown, that nobody goes on anymore. These are the old religions, once dominant but now languishing without worshippers. Some people, making their own paths, find them and use them where they're convenient, then continue on their way when the path doesn't lead where they wish to go anymore. Others try to follow the old paths all the way along.

You can make your own path. It's hard work. There's no guarantee that you won't fall off a cliff. If you fall and hurt yourself, there may not be anybody nearby who can help you. It's even harder if you're trying to cut a new path for other people to follow.

Which paths are right for you will depend on your starting point - which side of the mountain you're on, which paths are nearby. Somebody telling you that their path is absolutely the right one to take won't be of much help if you're on the other side of the mountain altogether.

You can't just mix-and-match paths. If you try to blindly follow directions from separate paths willy-nilly, you're likely to end up walking off a cliff. ("Okay, Buddhism says forward 30 paces. Now Catholicism says turn right and go forward 10 paces...")

And some people look at the mountain and can't understand why on Earth anyone would want to climb that thing in the first place. It's just a mountain, after all.