Monday, December 21, 2009

Thoughts on Work and Culture by Hamilton Wright Mabie

As a matter of fact, in most cases, it is the community, not the
individual, which is selfish; for communities are often ruthless
destroyers of promising youth.

The gifted young preacher must clearly discern the needs of his own nature
or he will miss the one thing which he was probably sent into the world to
accomplish, the one thing which all men are sent into the world to
secure,--free and noble self-development. He must be wiser than his parish
or the community; he must recognise the peril which comes from the too
close pressure of near duties at the start. The community will
thoughtlessly rob him of the time, the quiet, and the repose necessary for
the unfolding of his spirit; it will drain him in a few years of the
energy which ought to be spread over a long period of time; and at the end
of a decade it will begin to say, under its breath, that its victim has
not fulfilled the promise of his youth. It will fail to discern that it
has blighted that promise by its own urgent demands. The young preacher
who is eager to give the community the very greatest service in his power
will protect it and himself by locking his study door and resolutely
keeping it locked.

The young artist and writer must pass through the same ordeal, and must
learn before it is too late that he who is to render the highest service
to his fellows must be most independent in his relations to them. He
cannot commit the management of his life to others without maiming or
blighting it. The community insists upon immediate activity at the expense
of ultimate service, upon present productivity at the cost of ultimate
power. The artist must learn, therefore, to bar his door against the
public until he has so matured his own strength and determined his own
methods that neither crowds nor applause nor demands can confuse or
disturb him. The great spirits who have nourished the best life of the
race have not turned to their fellows for their aims and habits of work;
they have taken counsel of that ancient oracle which speaks in every man's
soul, and to that counsel they have remained steadfastly true. There is no
clearer disclosure of divine guidance in the confusion of human aims and
counsels than the presence of a distinct faculty or gift in a man; and
when such a gift reveals itself a man must follow it, though it cost him
everything which is most dear; and he must give it the largest opportunity
of growth, though he face the criticism of the world in the endeavour.


"Look at the biceps on that guy!" I said out loud at the table. Normally more subtle, I was taken by both the enormous size and the appearance that the man's arm might actually explode any moment. He was slicing a 15 inch diameter log--first slicing downward and then upward--with a chainsaw--and more quickly than I can slice chocolate cake. No, not in the restuarant where Baron, Laura, LaWanna and I were having lunch after church Sunday. But on one of the flat-screen TV's showing the lumberjack competition. Actually, I probably gasped more audibly when the man that was speed climbing a tree began to fall from about 80 feet up. I was attempting to keep my attention at the table and be engaged in conversation since our social butterfly daughter and her most tolerant husband are still willing to spend time with the old folks. I appreciate all our "kids" and their spouses for spending time with us and acting as if they enjoy rather than tolerate the time together. Still, I was distracted. Why? Because people who control their thoughts enough to will their bodies to go beyond what they thought possible are fascinating to me. Are the events of lumberjack competitions logical? Probably not. Does completing an Ironman competition justify the amount of time, energy, and money invested to reach a level of conditioning to make it possible? That can be, and often is, debated. When the Psalmist exclaims "I am fearfully and wonderfully made!" his observation resonates with me. DISCLAIMER; I don't understand most of how we are made. At times I begin to think that I do, but the human body is so amazing that one could spend a lifetime studying it and still be learning at the end of life on earth. And that brings me to the real point of this post. It has to do with "happenings" in Atlanta. You know, the New York City of the south. The city where our daughter will be living in TWO WEEKS. The city where we moved most of her things Saturday. In that city, there is an exhibition that I REALLY want to see. It has been around for some time now in various locations. And I have been aware of it for a couple of years. Well, it slipped up on me in Atlanta. I did not realize it was coming and it is already here. What display would possible tie all this rambling together? This; Yes, it is an exhibition of actual human bodies and organs displayed somewhat like that plastic skeleton that used to hang in your high school science class. They have perfected a process called "plastination" that enables them to preserve and display bodies so that the muscles can be observed as if the person were alive--only skinned. This is probably freaking some folks out about now. But I would REALLY like to see this exhibit both for the actual displays AND to watch people as the move through. Partly, I would want to keep an eye out for any Jeffry Dahmer type that may be lurking in the crowd. Do you find this weird? Would you like to see this exhibit? Do you have moral or ethical objections? Are you available to go next Monday?

Friday, December 18, 2009

New Career?

If you pay for career counseling, does it make sense to ignore the recommendations? You really can't argue with the logic. Although it disregards my education and current interests, the recommendation certainly seems to align with my career path to this point. Most readers are aware that I spent 37 years performing almost every type job available at the U.S. Postal Service, so I am very well acquainted with delivery systems. Fewer of you know of my exploits on bicycles. I do not ride as regularly as my brother, Keith, or his training partner, Josh. But still, I have managed to survive a couple of mountain bike races, a couple of adventure races, a criterium (a long time ago) and a metric century (62 miles) ride, as well as several sprint triathlons. Now, thousands of REAL cyclists will laugh at these beginner's credentials but it fits with the pattern for the new job. What is the logical next step for someone with lots of delivery and a little cycling experience? Delivering packages on a bike for UPS, of course.

I can hear you snickering. You are thinking "That is just silly. UPS is a modern company, moving at the speed of light. They would never pay somebody to deliver packages on bikes." Well, think again! I knew you would not believe me, so here are photos to back up the story;

So, what do you think? I was really excited about the first. Then, I was a little discourage by the low pay. And then, while convincing myself of all the benefits that override the pay, it occurred to me that the poor cyclist is probably responsible for any package that is lost or stolen. So really, the greatest potential for profit would be to follow this guy and when he dismounts to walk up to a door, toss his packages in back of the truck and take off. No matter how fast he is, he can't catch an 8 cylinder with a bike pulling a trailer.

Still, it seems like a fun seasonal job. What do you think? Remember, if you don't comment--the terrorists win!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Mamma's Love

Meet Xena. She is large enough to pass as an adult cat and in some ways, she is. But she is still young and part of her is a kitten. She loves this super-soft blanket that is folded on the foot of our bed and will spread eagle on it and dig her face in to NURSE. She sucks on the blanket and spreads her paws as if she is massaging the blanket. She closes her eyes and it is as if there is nobody else around. The separation from her mother at birth will probably require therapy all her life.


Twas the month after Christmas,
and all through the house
Nothing would fit me,
not even a blouse.
The cookies I'd nibbled,
the eggnog I'd taste
At the holiday parties had gone to my waist.
When I got on the scales there arose such a number!
When I walked to the store (less a walk than a lumber).
I'd remember the marvelous meals I'd prepared;
The gravies and sauces and beef nicely rared,
The wine and the rum balls, the bread and the cheese
And the way I'd not said, "No thank you, please."
As I dressed myself in my husband's old shirt
And prepared once again to do battle with dirt---
I said to myself, as I only can
"You can't spend a winter disguised as a man!"
So--away with the last of the sour cream dip,
Get rid of the fruit cake, every cracker and chip
Every last bit of food that I like must be banished
"Till all the additional ounces have vanished.
I won't have a cookie--not even a lick.
I'll want only to chew on a long celery stick.
I won't have hot biscuits, or corn bread, or pie,
I'll munch on a carrot and quietly cry.
I'm hungry, I'm lonesome, and life is a bore---
But isn't that what January is for?
Unable to giggle, no longer a riot.
Happy New Year to all and to all a good diet!

Author Unknown