You're only given a little spark of madness. You mustn't lose it. Robin Williams

Location: Kentucky, United States

Monday, June 30, 2003

26 Things

26 Things: The International Photographic Scavenger Hunt begins tomorrow. This is the first time I have joined a creative internet-event. I really don’t know what to call this category of happenings. They spring up like wild flowers, some are more weed than flower, but the good ones spread by word of mouth, or link to link, and grow into thousands of people all over the world coming together to share in a single creative focus.

For 26 Things, the idea is to find something that expresses of each of the twenty-six things on the list, take a picture of it, and post it to the web at the end of the month. The list is rather broad, and if you wanted to, you could knock it out in a day. To really do it well though, and find just the right image is going to be time consuming, and will take a lot of thought and planning. I am looking forward to the journey.

On a similar note, Jazz is doing the next Blogathon, so pass the word, and everybody sponsor and support her as she bravely tries to coherently Blog every half hour, for twenty-four hours, on no sleep.

Saturday, June 28, 2003

What Immortal hand or eye

Sitting on the deck this morning watching the hummingbirds buzz the feeder like little jet fighters refueling in mid-air had Beverle and I wondering in a William Blake sort of way about the maker of such joyful diversity.

One of my favorite weekly web reads is the comic Cat and Girl. I love the way she makes me think and laugh at the same time. My favorite strip is this one. I wish I could have this as a T-shirt so I could wear it like a billboard, spreading its heresy like a virus everywhere I go. [Disclaimer: the author’s interpretation of this strip may not coincide exactly with my own. What follows are the thoughts that she has provoked in me, they are my own, and I in no way intend to speak for her, especially in light of the matter at hand].

Girl’s argument is that the value of expression is defined by the limitation of the medium. It is the artist’s expression within set boundaries that allows communication to be possible. Any medium where the boundaries are set too wide, like life, suck. There is no point of reference for the beholder to use as context as an agreed starting place for discussion.

Our lives are an evolving struggle to find order in chaos. The struggle defines who we are as we individually set our own boundaries. The boundaries are everything. Without them, we have no laws, community, or culture. It is a paradox of our existence that that which brings us together ultimately is what separates us. The tighter the focus, the more we find areas of disagreement.

Within our boundaries we try to find meaning in our lives, it is here that we create ourselves with the tools we have at hand. This is why a hunger for learning is so important, and should not be seen as merely a means to vocation. It is what we should be about in every area of our lives. Death occurs when something ceases to grow and is not limited to the merely physical. Death of mind, death of spirit is much worse than physical death, as can be seen in any hospital or nursing home. For every door we close, every bridge we burn, our personal boundaries become tighter and more focused. I have often thought that growing old was really just the loss of options. That is why you see some people old in years, but young in mind and heart, while others, barely adults, hobbled by the choices they have made, seem ancient, and hopeless.

Therefore to communicate we seek areas of restrictions; music, (though seemingly fluid and limitless is mathematical in it precision and is the strictest of our mediums of expression), film, painting, sculpture, and writing in it’s various creative forms; novels, short stories, essays, and poetry.

From our point of view, life is boundless. We are constrained within the limits of natural laws. However, since we have yet to understand these laws, we have no capability for determining what our true limitations are. As humanity learns and grows, we continually add to the tools available for our improvement. What was thought impossible just a few generations ago is now commonplace. We stretch and push, redefining our limitations a generation at a time.

God, the Eternal, in every culture, is seen as a being that has no limit. All knowing, all powerful, all seeing, in every place at every time, God can do whatever He wants. He is perfection without limitation, immutable and unchanging.

My view of God is different from a lot of others. I will not be offended if your view disagrees with mine, and I do not feel it is necessary for you to agree with me, okay.

I think God is self-limiting. I believe that for the pleasure of it, the fun of it, God limited Himself to three amino acids and a set DNA chain length and said, “Okay, let’s see what we can make with this”. Therefore the greatest artist created the greatest limited media and began to play, with the full intention of creating a work that would move Him to tears and laughter, and with joy, pain, and suffering, move the unmovable, and change the unchanging. I think we were created as free agents, with free wills, for the sole purpose of becoming willing companions to our Creator, that the original plan of the Gospel from the beginning was the method to release us and bid us to come back to Him in love. We are, as it were, at play in the fields of the Lord.

Friday, June 27, 2003

Now & Later

I bought Beverle a canopy-swing for the deck for her birthday. I am sitting in it right now. It is dark except for the glow from my laptop. Dog, I mean Katy, lays her head on my leg wanting to be petted and her eyes glow green in the light. Over the sound of the crickets singing, I hear the voices of the actors from the outdoor theatre down the street. The air is cool and damp tonight. There will be fog around the Knob in the morning.
Maybe Beverle and I can have coffee on the porch before the kids wake up. We can sit in the cool of the morning in our robes, eating fresh fruit sprinkled with powdered sugar, and sipping strong Arabica bean coffee watching the day wake up.

Update dat?

The last few days have really been hectic. Work has been almost too much to keep up with, my schedule completely full, with several walk-ins just to make it harder.

Today was my last Jury day. I am glad to have done my civic duty, but I am happy it is over. I was fortunate that all the cases I sat on were either settled or dismissed before I had to make a judgment. The closest I came to having to make a decision was on a case of terroristic threatening. It came down to taking one persons word over another. This is the case that was dismissed. If it had come to it, I still do not know how I could have chose.

One of Zack’s friends is staying over tonight. That means boys yelling and screaming all night while playing Halo. Tomorrow night we are going to Louisville to see Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing in central park. Free Will is a summer ritual for us. Last year we saw Hamlet, which is my favorite. The Merchant of Venice is also being performed this season but we are not sure if we will find time to see that one.

We still have the dog. She has been with us long enough to have been given the name Katy. I was happy to call her “The Dog”, but no one else liked the irony. Of course, Jason wanted to name her Kat, so we were thinking alike anyway. Katy is a very well behaved dog, unlike most I have known over the years. If we could just break her from infrequent car chasing, she would be perfect.

One little eccentricity she displays that is interesting; when we pull into the driveway, she sprints from the front porch to the far side of the back yard. Then she runs back and forth along the tree line like a guard checking the perimeter. She does it every time we come home. We have decided she is chasing away the killer rabbits, (or swallows carrying coconuts).

With everything else that is going on there has not been much time for reading, but I have been slowly making my way through Fast Food Nation. If you are at all curious about how Fast Food has changed and is changing American and global culture this is must read. The one complaint I have with it is that after putting it down I feel like reading again in half hour.

Since reading Brave New World a few weeks ago, I keep seeing similarities from it in daily life. Fast Food Nation shows that fast food culture came about by applying the mass production methods of Henry Ford to food production. This successful idea then spread to practically every facet of life. Everywhere you look Ford’s influence is seen in our culture, and if you read what I wrote about the transgenic goats you can get the idea that maybe Huxley’s novel is tame in comparison with the reality that may await us, but then again maybe a burger and fries is just a that and nothing else. Would you like to Super-size™ that?

Tuesday, June 24, 2003

Oh Brave New World that has such, Uh, Things, in it.

While reading a back issue of National Geographic magazine early this morning I came across an article on high-tech fabrics. One section referred to a company in Montreal called Nexia Biotechnologies that is using transgenics to breed goats that produce complex proteins in their milk. These proteins are then separated out to produce medical or industrial materials.

What has totally messed with my mind all day is that they have combined, (I am not going to even pretend I understand the science behind this) a spliced gene from a spider with a goat to come up with spider-web goat’s milk.

That’s right, goat’s milk that contains what is essentially, spider-web material, that is separated from the milk, then “spun” out from an artificial spider-web extruder to make a filament that is five times stronger than steel.

What are the thought processes that led up to someone even considering this? What else is in their minds? How many of the innumerable combinations of unthinkable possibilities are on the drawing board right now?

Don’t get me wrong; I am not sure I am against this. However, I am concerned that this type of work is going on before we have a clear ethical plan for where we are going. Then again, maybe that path has already been decided for us, but who made that decision, and are they really qualified to speak for everyone? It think there needs to be some time spent in intense public debate about the choices ahead of us, before someone opens Pandora’s Box and we are all left to live with what is inside of it.

Sunday, June 22, 2003

The child in his eyes

As I was walking to my car this morning I saw this elderly man, very fragile looking. He was standing in the corner of an empty bank parking lot. I heard a whirring sound and a remote controlled truck jumped the curb and ran down a grassy bank into the street. The old man turned in profile to me and I noticed the remote control in his hands. The truck spun around in the street, raced back up the small hill, and jumped back into the parking lot, bouncing on its tires and accelerating. The old man remained apparently oblivious to me as I walked within a few yards of him and started my car. I was amazed at the look of fascination in his face and for several moments just watched him. It made me feel good to see him, the child still in his eyes, and an unconscious smile on his face. I wanted to get out and ask him if I could play too, but grown up things waited for me, and could not be put off. I put the car in gear and with regret, left him to his joyful work.

Saturday, June 21, 2003

New Pictures

The zoo photo gallery is working now.

Also I need to clear up a misconception, Zack didn't take the "Old Man" picture, that one is mine. Zack did take the shot of the day though. It is a polar bear image that should be up at "Little Color Blind Journal" before the weekend is over. Check it out.

Friday, June 20, 2003

The Old Man

Over the weekend, Zack received a digital camera as a gift, so yesterday we brought him to the Louisville Zoo to try it out. We have been members for several years and try to go whenever we can. Knowing that we can always get in without paying has taught us to not try and see the entire zoo in a day, instead, we pick certain animals ahead of time and observe them, trying to get a better feel of who they are, spending as much time as it takes to leave with a better understanding of the one on the other side of the glass.

Our favorite is the orangutans. A few years back they were the big event in the zoo, now the new popular exhibit is the lowland gorillas, and the crowd stays there. We have remained fascinated with the “Old Man of the Forest” though. Looking into their eyes you cannot help but sense a kindred, and yet an alien intelligence. Beverle will sit on the ground next to the exhibit for an hour or more and invariably one of the “Tangs” will come and sit by her. Bev puts her hand to the glass and one of them will place their huge hand up to hers while she talks to them. I enjoy watching her as much as the orangutans. I believe she could spend the entire day just sitting talking with her sad eyed friends, and as you look into their eyes, you can't help but feel a sense of wonder for what they may be saying back.

Tuesday, June 17, 2003

Two fragments of an overheard conversation

…oh me too, I find suntan booths are sooo relaxing…

…see, the other day I blistered both my lips…

Monday, June 16, 2003

That Butterfly Moment

The house I was raised in had a detached two-door garage. Beside it was a swing-set that, when my parents would go grocery shopping and leave me home alone, I used as a ladder to climb up on the garage roof.
I knew I was not supposed to be there, that is why I always waited for Dad to leave before doing it. The “not supposed to be up there”, was part of the fun of course. After all, I might get hurt, ha-ha. I would walk back and forth along the peak of the roof, arms outstretched, a daring tightrope walker.

Getting up on the roof however, was easier than getting down. When I thought it was about time for my parents to get home from the store, I would try climbing down the way I came up, but my legs could not reach the swing set. That left only one way down, I had to jump. It didn’t seem that high standing on the ground looking up. To a ten-year-old looking down though, the drop seemed breath taking.
Sitting on the edge of the roof, legs dangling over the side, toes stretched, reaching for the ground, I would try counting to three. “One”, take a breath, rock back, rock forward, “two”, breath, back, forward, “thr-two and a half!” This would go on repeatedly until, hearing the car in the driveway, my arms would launch me into space.

There is a moment, not more than a tenth-of a second long, that seems to last for an eternity. That moment where you have leaned out too far to come back. Gravity has not taken over yet, you are still in contact with the roof, but there is no changing course; you are technically, if not actually, airborne.

That moment is the Razor’s Edge, the infinite now. It is the place where life dwells. The memories of those times in the moment are vivid. They are clean breaths of existence. Now is a soap bubble that cannot be caught or held, just observed, and then not consciously. If you separate yourself too much in observation, you are no longer there. It is a stare down with consciousness and we always blink first. We try to capture those moments, to hold them. We use creative outlets driven by a “muse” where we are outside of ourselves. We try sex, or drugs, but still it eludes us, and in our searching, we destroy ourselves.

Today is one of those days were I wish I could skydive. The parachute ride down is not the point, neither is the free fall. It is that butterfly moment in the plane, leaning too far out the door.

Life is waiting, it is there the moment you let go, and there is no turning back.

There is no turning back.

Sunday, June 15, 2003

We went camping with Robby’s grandparents this weekend. They have this very nice trailer/camper, which in my mind is the only way to camp. Microwave, TV, and air conditioning are “roughing it” essentials.

Rachel bought her pet rabbit, Norman. She kept him on a leash next to the camper.

This is something you don’t see every day. Several wild rabbits kept trying to check Norman out.

Pappaw Pack, Robby’s grandfather brought his boat and we tried skiing for the first time. It took four or five tries to get the hang of getting up, but skiing is a blast. I really wanted to jump the wake, but the landing took me out every time.

Mammaw Pack brought a wonderful dessert that I just could not get enough of, I would have eaten the entire pan full, but it was also one of Robby’s favorites too.

Jell-O Christmas Salad

Make Jell-O b directions, adding banana slices and pineapple chunks

Add a layer of colored miniature marshmallows on top of the Jell-O.

Add custard layer*

Add Cool Whip layer.



2 cups pineapple juice

4tsp flour

4 tsp butter

Two eggs

Cook over low heat until thick

Mammaw Pack is a real internet aficionado so if this is wrong Mammaw, email me and let me know.

Saturday, June 14, 2003

Haiku Fiction

1000 Words or less: is my idea for a creative forum for Bloggers and web writers. I had the idea of writing short fictional pieces to post. I have no illusions about my writing ability, but I am eager to improve, and hungry to learn. As I was working on that first piece, I realized it would have to be a very short piece of fiction, and that opened up the idea of what I first thought of as micro-fiction. Therefore, I tried to write a fictional piece within a set number of words. I wanted to stay within 500 words, but “a picture is worth a thousand words” helps clarify the goal the I had in mind. One thousand words with a single abstract theme, like a Haiku, (a real Haiku, not these over simplified English versions), reveals an idea indirectly through images.

Beverle has given me another website for Father’s day and I thinking of a “Friday Five” sort of thing, where a theme is posted every week or two to provide ideas for writers to place on their sites. Maybe I could put titles and links on my site to help writers compare their stuff with others.

I am considering developing this idea but would appreciate input.

Is this workable?

Is someone already doing this, or something very similar?

Friday, June 13, 2003

Re: sickside

Theo sent me this regarding Kimberly at sickside. It is good to know this is just "stupid computer tricks."
Thank you Theo,

Thursday, June 12, 2003


Kimberly's site is down. Does anyone know what is going on? Does anyone have her email?

1000 words (or less)

They used to say time travel was impossible, something to do with the speed of light maybe, or time paradoxes. That was before they discovered you could go back in time, but only inside yourself. You could not change anything, like kill your Grandfather, or some stupid thing. All you could do was relive a few moments, an hour maybe, then you were back in your older skin, the same you.

The scientists were not happy with this of course. They wanted to learn the mysteries of the past, to observe the ancient Pharaohs, visit Lincoln at Gettysburg, or check the Grassy Knoll. So they put it away; mothballed it as an expensive toy, and went after bigger things.

He is a janitor, night shift for the past three years. He feels tired, and used up. The world has lost its color. His music, once so important, has no meaning; now there is only the mop and broom.

The box had been taken from storage and marked for disposal. The cardboard was old and dusty and made quite a mess where they had dragged it in. It was full of vacuum tubes and wires, yellowed manuals and assorted papers. It had been gone through and everything of value removed. He placed the box in the garbage cart and dusted off the front of his work shirt, all the while poking through the contents looking for something useful to take home. He has read somewhere that vacuum tubes where still used in some high-end guitar amplifiers. Maybe he could find a buyer somewhere. Probably not, how would you go about even looking for someone who dealt in such arcane material. That is probably why they pitched it in the first place. With a sigh, he pushes the cart down the hall towards the next room. Something in the box catches his eye.

They round the corner and pause at the top of the stairs to allow her to lift the hem of her gown. At that moment, everyone in the foyer looks up and there is an audible intake of breath. His mother-in-law begins to cry, followed by several aunts and nieces. He turns his head to look at his daughter and realizes she is the most beautiful thing he has ever seen. Every moment of his life to this point now makes sense. Just to be the man she called Dad has given him all the strength he could ever need.

The video camera is still new to him and he is having trouble finding her in the viewfinder. He zooms back to locate her in the line and then zooms up close. She is wearing a very grown up, lady-like dress. Her hair is French braided and she has on a pair of her Mother’s earrings. All the other kids are jostling and fidgety, but she has her hands folded in front of her and is patiently waiting. As she steps up to receive her grade school diploma, she turns and smiles at him through the lens of the camera.

All of the other times he has ever been here have been for someone else. He feels a foolish grin creeping up his face and presses his nose against the glass. This is their child, newborn and perfect.

The janitor job is gone, now he is a street musician, playing his songs for whoever will listen. Sonnets of memory, word pictures so clear they bring his listeners to tears. Pictures of a family lost years ago, too much tragedy to bear alone. He finishes for the evening, sorts the money in the hat, closes the guitar case, and picks up the strange little box.

Now he lives life in the moment, a moment at a time.

If you could go back and relive a moment of your life, what would you pick?

Would that moment relived effect who you are now?

What would change?

Tuesday, June 10, 2003

Input Welcomed

The list I made in the last post was just a start. It would be great to include other's opinions as well. What are your favorite influential books?

Miss Patterson, if your out there... Maybe you shoudn't read this.

In a conversation the boys and I were having a few weeks ago, I referenced George Orwell’s novel, 1984. Neither of the boys had read it, so I was forced to explain the book as well as the point I was using it to make. This made me think of other books they are unfamiliar with that left a lasting impression on me when I read them as a teenager. I made a list, brought up Amazon.com, and placed an order.

These are what we ordered, in no particular order


Brave New World (more about this one later)

The Lord of the Flies

The Old Man and the Sea

Watership Down

The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy

Animal Farm

Dandelion Wine

I started our own little reading group with the intention of talking about the ideas these books present. Zack is reading The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, (this edition contains all five books so he may be reading this one for a while), and Jason quickly read The Old Man and the Sea, and has started on Animal Farm. I am reading Brave New World.

I included Brave New World on the list although I have not actually read it. I was supposed to have; I just didn’t.

I am the result of a failed educational experiment at our school during my High-School years. At that time, the English Grammar/Literature courses were divided into nine weeks segments. You picked which course you wanted to take, like in College. I ended up with only nine weeks of Grammar, but two “Courses” of Science Fiction and a Creative Writing class.

In one of the Science Fiction classes, we were supposed to read Brave New World. I got confused with the dialogue changes Huxley used near the beginning of the story, put it down and never went back. I found out too late that the format of the final review was a four-question essay test. “Oh well”, I told myself. I had been reading Plato around that time and was enthralled with the Socratic Method; (actually, it is probably the Sophists who influenced me the most, as you shall see). With the test in front of me, I turned on the Blarney and received a final grade of an A, 100%! The teacher even wrote “good paper” in red ink at the top! I honestly did not have any idea what the story was about.

I still have that paper today, just in case you do not believe me. I do not believe me either, that is why I kept it.

Therefore, I am reading Brave New World for the first time before giving it to the boys. Although I think the character development is thin, I am fascinated with the supposition the story line presents.

In what I think is the foundational statement of the book; Mustapha Mond is speaking with the Savage and says:

“But industrial civilization is only possible when there’s no self-denial. Self-indulgence up to the very limits imposed by hygiene and economics. Otherwise the wheels stop turning.”

This statement sparks so many connections in my head it is like a fireworks display. Think about the decline of morals in our society, even the lack of perception of decline goes with the idea of “Happiness” that Huxley puts forward. The ever increasing proliferation of sexual promiscuity and deviance, abortion, our fast food culture, products that are designed to fail within a set time period, that are more expensive to repair than replace, fashion that changes monthly, hip-ness, that by the time you know what it is, has already passed, drug culture, credit cards, video games, reality TV, p-rnography, pop-psychology, all of these things speak to our increasing predilection for instant, guiltless, self-gratification. These things drive our culture and economy. Without them the “wheels stop turning”.

Leon Kass says it best in this quote from his article in First Things magazine.

“Huxley’s novel is, of course, science fiction. But yesterday’s science fiction is rapidly becoming today’s fact. Prozac is not yet Huxley’s soma; cloning by nuclear transfer or splitting embryos is not exactly Bokanovskification; MTV and virtual–reality parlors are not quite the "feelies"; and our current safe–and–consequenceless sexual practices are not universally as loveless or as empty as in the novel. But the kinships are disquieting, all the more so since our technologies of bio–psycho–engineering are still in their infancy—and it is all too clear what they might look like in their full maturity. Indeed, the cultural changes technology has already wrought among us should make us even more worried than Huxley would have us be.”

Saturday, June 07, 2003

The sound of the Wind and the Joy of the chase

There is a song playing in my ears, the melody of wind. A bird chirps as it flies overhead. “Do birds sing when they fly? I guess so, I never thought about it before. Maybe he hears the wind too.” The air is thick and humid; I can taste the dampness of the earth in it. The sun is settling down to rest, backlighting the clouds and filling them with color.

The cracks in the pavement add percussion to the sound of the wind rushing by as I settle back onto the saddle and spin the pedals through the next curve. My bike carries the momentum through and asks for more. It is faster than I am. Its stiff aluminum frame always wants to accelerate, faster, faster. It is happiest when you are in the big ring, arms in the drops and cranking hard, the muscles in your thighs screaming, accelerating, and hoping this time to fly.

Off in the field to the left I here someone holler out. I glance to the side and see Danny yelling, I raise my hand and wave. He waves back, but he was not yelling at me. There is a dark blur crossing the field, parallel and gaining. It’s Danny’s dog, and he wants a race.

I have been resting from the last hill and am coasting. I move to the drops and click to the big ring. The dog is just back to my left now. Twenty-two, twenty-five miles per hour, and we are running side by side. The dog has a grin on its face like a child. I can see it stretch out to its full stride as we race along. I drop to a higher gear. Twenty-eight, thirty, thirty-two, the dog is dropping back, but has not slowed at all. My legs are burning, and I am running out of breath.

We clear the top of a small rise and I see it, a slight downhill grade. I look at the dog in my eyeglass mirror he sees it too.

They say a dog can sense fear. This one senses “gone, solid gone.” He draws up and stops, panting, but the grin is still on his face. He understands the sound of the wind, and the joy of the chase. I drop into a bigger gear and accelerate, pedaling hard. The bike smiles.

Wednesday, June 04, 2003

An Incomplete Thought

Today I met a man who has no memory prior to 1993. He is seventy-years-old. Diagnosed with a frontal lobe brain tumor he had only a ten percent chance of surviving the surgery. They told him at the time that even if he survived he could be paralyzed or lose his memory. Sixty years of his life just vanished.

Imagine waking up tomorrow, reborn. You don’t know where you are, you don’t know who you are, you can’t walk, you can’t talk, and you don’t recognize anyone around you. There are two adults standing beside your bed. Someone tells you these are your children. They tell you their names, but they are still strangers. Later they tell you your name, but you are a stranger to yourself.

You are taught to walk and talk and feed yourself. You do not know which foods you like and which foods you don’t. You are taught to read, and every book is new to you. There are no reruns for you on TV. You have no job. You have no training for a job. In fact, you have never been to grade school. You have never been a child.

Who are you?

In the movie Regarding Henry, Harrison Ford plays a lawyer who receives a brain injury and loses all memory of himself. In the movie, he has to learn all over again who he is. He decides that he doesn’t like the same foods that he used to like. Then he decides that he doesn’t like the man he used to be.

How much of who we are, is actually our remembered experiences? Is the man I met today really the same person he was?

My wife’s father, Jay, at the age of twenty-two, was a construction worker. He was on a team building bridges in the Appalachian Mountains. One day a huge pillar broke loose and struck Jay in the head. His skull was shattered. This happened in a backwoods area that had no hospital. He was taken by hearse on an eight-hour ride over the mountains to the closest medical facility. He was not breathing, so some one had to hand bag him the entire way. He should not have lived.

Jay was in a coma for months. When he woke up, he had forgotten he had a daughter. He did recognize some of his relatives but he had the relationships all messed up. He did not know how to walk and had to be taught again the basic functions we all take for granted.

Beverle’s mother says that after the accident, Jay’s personality changed. Where before he had been easy going, and “nothing ever got to him”, afterwards he was easily angered and agitated. This is not to say he was abusive, but that he was “just not the same person.” Beverle was very young when this happened, she says she accepts the idea that the man she knew as her father was different from the man who fathered her.

What if we could selectively cut the threads of our memory? What if something happened in your past that shaped you in a way that you regret? If given the chance would you erase the memory?

When I was sixteen-years-old, someone very close to me attempted suicide by taking an overdose. It was a very traumatic time in our family. However, I have no memory of what happened in the days following the initial event. It is as if an entire chapter is missing out of a book I was reading, and when I search for it, I come up blank.

Beverle tells me there are issues here I need to work out. Maybe she is right. I am going to talk with my brother to see what he remembers of that time, and maybe he can bring some of it back. Then again, what if I have subconsciously cut a thread of memory to protect myself? What if I am who I am because I chose not to remember? What if I am better off not knowing?

You have probably heard the agnostic/atheist question, “If God is all powerful, can He make a rock so big He can not lift it?” I have a scriptural answer for that question. Yes, God can make a rock so big that He cannot lift it. How can I say that you ask? The Bible says that He can throw our sins into the “sea of forgetfulness”, meaning He can chose Not to remember. Only God can be consciously self-limiting. By choosing not to remember our sins He erases, or cuts a thread of memory that would be detrimental to our relationship with Him.

Therefore, that leaves us with this: who am I? Who are you? How much of me is memory, and can I believe those memories? I think most people if asked would say the man who lost his memory from the brain tumor is still, somewhere inside, the same man as before. However, I think as he looks through scrapbooks of himself and all he lost, he would tell us that the man in the pictures is dead, and only he remains.

I have no answers.

Tuesday, June 03, 2003

In order to keep a true perspective of one's importance; everyone should have a dog that will worship him and a cat that will ignore him.
--Dereke Bruce

Jasmine, our house cat, turned five-years-old this month. We have had her since she was weaned from her litter. Shortly after bringing her into the house, we found her playing with a small rubber snake that belonged to one of the boys. She would carry it around and play with it. One day she brought it into the living room and dropped it at Jason’s feet. He picked it up and threw it into the kitchen and she sprinted after it. A few seconds later, she is back and drops the snake at Jason’s feet again. We had a cat that would play fetch! The funny thing is that we never tried to train her. She came up with the idea herself.

We still have that rubber snake, but Jasmine has enlarged her toy-box to include garbage ties, strips of cardboard, straws, and any flower she can get her teeth on (which sometimes means quite a mess when she knocks the vase over getting the stem out).

Just a few months ago, we found her taking a small rubber ball, climbing into a chair in the kitchen and dropping the ball under the table. It caroms around the chair legs a second or two before she pounces, catches it, climbs up and does it again.

"Dogs come when they are called; cats take a message and get back to you." -Mary Bly

If you are a dog person and have made it this far, I congratulate you on your acceptance of alternative lifestyles. Before I get to my real point, let me say that I understand people are evenly divided along different foundational lines: Red State/Blue State, Republican/Democrat, Pro-Life/pro-abortion, UK basketball/U of L basketball, (that is an inside KY thing). The division between Dog-people and Cat-people is a gulf of irreconcilable difference that has more to do with the way we see the world, than what type of pet we enjoy.

You can say any foolish thing to a dog, and the dog will give you a look that says, 'My God, you're right! I never would've thought of that!'
--Dave Barry

Dog-people enjoy the faithful devotion of their friend, the way a dog can look at you with absolute trust and devotion, as if you are the greatest, most wonderful person they have ever seen. All this after you forgot your keys and walked back in to the house after being gone for only five minutes.

It is a matter to gain the affection of a cat. He is a philosophical animal; tenacious of his own habits, fond of order and neatness, and disinclined to extravagant sentiment. He will be your friend, if he finds you worthy of friendship, but not your slave.
--Theophile Gautier

Cat-people admire the aloof independence of their companion. They are enigmatic animals rarely showing you more than what they want you to see. Affection from a cat is subtle, and hard earned, which makes it all the more valuable. They give a sense of feral unpredictability, a tinge of wildness. We have domesticated dogs in all sizes, but we are food to the majority of cat species. That is why William Blake’s poem universally speaks both to our wonder and to our fear of what walks in the darkness of the wild.

Tiger! Tiger! burning bright
In the forests of the night:
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

In what distant deeps or skies
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand dare seize the fire?

And what shoulder, and what art,
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand? and what dread feet?

What the hammer? what the chain?
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? what dread grasp
Dare its deadly terrors clasp?

When the stars threw down their spears,
And water'd heaven with their tears,
Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the Lamb make thee?

Tiger! Tiger! burning bright
In the forests of the night:
What immortal hand or eye
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

We need the tiger in the jungle. We need to be reminded of our place in this world, and nothing does that like the royal fierceness of the large cats.

Never hold a dust buster and a cat at the same time.
--Kyoya, 9 Advice from Kids

The house cat reminds us of our place in the natural world by its indifference to our concerns. This is what aggravates Dog-people the most. The cat leads you to humility and sometimes leaves you there. It is not that they are too stupid to understand, but like tossing a pebble into the ocean, we leave no mark.

"If man could be crossed with the cat, it would improve the man, but deteriorate the cat." -Mark Twain

Jasmine has played fetch with us for over four-years and shows no sign of slowing. She is a very active, very vocal cat who sometimes to be trying to converse with us. One aggravating thing that she has always done when we play fetch is to never bring the ball back all the way, but will stop just out of reach and lie down and look up at us, waiting for us to throw the ball again. Each time she brings it back, she steps a little farther away.

It occurred to me that maybe I had the point of this game all wrong. Maybe fetch is not the game we are playing, at least not in the sense of throwing the ball and bringing it back. Maybe the fetch we are playing is drop the ball, and make the human get out of the chair and get it. Maybe we have not been playing, but have been played all this time by someone much wiser than ourselves.

A human may go for a stroll with a cat; he has to walk a dog. The cat leads the way, running ahead, tail high, making sure you understand the arrangement. If you should happen to get ahead, the cat will never allow you to think it is following you. It will stop and clean some hard-to-reach spot, or investigate a suspicious movement in the grass; you will find yourself waiting, fidgeting like the lackey you are. But this is not annoying to cat lovers, who understand and appreciate a good joke, even when it is on them.
--Robert Stearns

Sunday, June 01, 2003

Yep...they're ours

Today is Rachel and Robby’s first anniversary. One year ago today we where giving our little girl away to a guy that we had come to love and accept as our own. It has been a parents dream and pleasure to watch them over the last year, as they have grown closer in all the right ways.

Beverle noted before the wedding that when Robby came to visit Rachel at our house they were happy just to be with each other and did not need to run out and do something to keep themselves occupied. They would hang out with us, watch TV, or go for a walk. They always looked so comfortable together.

Now they are working on school, and trying to set up a budget. They are paying off their credit card debt, and trying to save ten percent of what they make. They are watching their diet and working out together, and like Bev and I, they are each other’s best friend.

We are so thankful for Robby, who has put a happiness in Rachel’s face that both warms our hearts and gives us peace. Of course, Rachel is the most beautiful, precious daughter in the world, and no, I am not partial. I say this with a completely unbiased, objective judgment. Really, just ask her Mother.

Happy Anniversary you two.