Monthly Archives: April 2015

It’s NOT Speed-dating!

The Persistence of Memory Salvador Dali (and his mustache) Courtesy about.com

The Persistence of Memory
Salvador Dali (and his mustache)
Courtesy about.com

Fortunately, I’m past those that deal with dating, on-and-off relationships, and other unsure bets. I am the embodiment of the line from When Harry Met Sally, “Promise me I’ll never be out there again.”

Especially given some of the strange rituals that accompany the process these days. Speed-dating? Really?

Apparently you sit with a person of whichever sex interests you for a very brief period of time—as in minutes—and try to learn enough about the other person to determine if he or she might be worth more time (apparently if that other person has the same opinion of you).

Imagine my horror when I realized that having two teenagers at home is just like speed-dating my wife. We have five minutes in the morning before we each head in different directions.

“When did you say Katie’s trip was?”

“Did I hear something about a soccer tournament for Adam?”

“I’ll have to get back to you on that.”

“Wait, did you pay the credit card bill?”

“Call me.”

“No you call me, maybe we can do lunch.”

I’m going to go down to the office supply store and get a couple of those “Hello, My name is:” stickers, and a letter of introduction from some high and lofty personage, and see if that….

Ooops, sorry, gotta run.

Community Service

Socrates Courtesy Wikimedia

Socrates
Courtesy Wikimedia

Yesterday, the American Diabetic Association’s Tour de Cure bicycle race was held in our area. This is a fundraiser for diabetes research and rides can choose a ten-mile, thirty-mile, sixty-five mile, or one-hundred mile course, with people donating to support their efforts. Local ham radio operators provide communications from each of the seven rest stops with the race coordinators at the start/finish lines. When I lived in Wyoming, the local hams provided similar service during Frontier Days.

Some people enjoy providing service to their friends and neighbors; some belong to an organization that encourages (and if necessary shames) its members into serving the community. Churches often provide the tipping point for people who wouldn’t go out on their own. Many high schools require a certain amount of community service in order to graduate. I believe that organizations provide the social network and support to help those who are comfortable being part of a group, but are not comfortable acting as an individual. Members of the Local Club (whatever it is) are more likely to adopt a road and clean it than the same people as individuals.

I know every generation worries about the state of their children. Supposedly, Plato credited Socrates with the following quotation:

The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they allow disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children now are tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers.

However, in Socrates’s time young men and women couldn’t cocoon in their bedrooms with smartphones and video games.

The Impending Storm!!!

Rick Moranis and AudreyII Little Shop of Horrors

Rick Moranis and AudreyII
Little Shop of Horrors

To quote Tom Lehrer, “Spring is here! Spring is here!”

(Those of you who are Lehrer or Dr. Demento fans know the rest of the song, but that’s not where I’m going….)

It seems like every day the weatherman on TV points out that “there’s a chance of thunderstorms….IF this cold front currently over Kyrgyzstan and IF this low pressure system in Chile coalesce with the effect of butterfly wing flapping in South Africa.”

So I debate. Should I spray weed killer on the eighteen foot dandelion in the front yard that keeps ringing the doorbell? If the rain comes, it will wash the weed killer away, but if I don’t spray, the weeds will take over.

Decisions! Decisions!

I’ve always found that I do best if I sit back and think about a problem, so I went to the front porch and sat on one of the two white Cracker Barrel rocking chairs. I tried my best to think and logically assess the situation.

Then I saw it

A sporty BMW pulled up in front of the house. The driver looked around; when he didn’t see anyone watching, he jumped out and walked across my lawn without even turning the engine off The giant dandelion spoke first..

“Here’s what I promised you,” it said, handing the weatherman a roll of banknotes. “You were never here, and we never met.” The weatherman did a quick count and started to turn back to his car.

I pounced from my chair, weed killer in hand and began to spray the dandelion and watch it wilt. Surprisingly, just from the overspray, the weatherman began to wilt in exactly the same way, and soon both were merely smudges on the front lawn.

The weatherman was dead! What should I do?

I pulled my cellphone out of my pocket, dialed the police department, and calmly reported, “Hey, there’s a BMW running in front of my house with no one in it.”

Ahhchooo!

I have allergies. I made it almost sixty years without them, but then they showed up—BANG!

Or should I say, “Ahhchooo!

We Nowaks are famous for the ferocity (and volume) of our sneezes.

I’m allergic to dogs (we have a dog).

To cats (two cats)

To birds (Alex the parrot lives in my office/radio room.)

To dust mites (We have a dog, two cats, a bird and two teenagers, so we have plenty of dust and the mites that go with them.)

I’m also allergic to pollen. Lawn pollen, and tree pollen.

It’s spring in Virginia. My normally while car is yellow. My normally brown wooden deck is yellow. When it rains, the puddles leave yellow trails behind as they evaporate.

Which got me thinking (always dangerous)—given pollen’s purpose, does that mean I’m now afflicted with a sexually transmitted disease?

Random Issues and Other Nonsense

Courtesy: NASA

Courtesy: NASA

Computer wonks professionals are always focused on security above all else. Of course, the most secure computer is the one that is not only disconnected from the internet, but also, unplugged, disassembled and the individual pieces mashed with a sledgehammer.

Therefore, it was no surprise that I received a computer peripheral for my “Home Cloud” that had seals on the cardboard box stating that opening the cardboard box would void the warranty.

My family used to have a tradition of passing an item – a cheap ceramic jar labeled as a “Penny Jar” so that each birthday, holiday, or whatever, it would show up. Sadly it eventually broke. However, with re-gifting now a common practice, there have to be items that keep getting passed along and never actually used; Christmas fruitcake doesn’t count.

Samantha Cristoforetti, an astronaut on the International Space Station is from Italy (and a ham radio operator who talks to kids in school by radio). The Italians have some of their priorities set right, and they designed an espresso machine specifically to work on the space station—the other astronauts drink instant coffee. It finally arrived after a launch mishap (explosion) of a supply rocket in January. If I were an executive with Starbucks, I would be soooooooooooo embarrassed that the Italians beat us to this milestone.

Finally, I have to wonder why certain otherwise normal people feel compelled to write blogs.

My Kind of Girl

Project Runway

Project Runway

In my younger days, I confess that it wasn’t the cheerleaders that caught my interest. Any girl who lusted after the high school quarterback seemed a wee bit shallow.

Working in healthcare, I’ve never once fantasized about being at a late October party with some girl in the “sexy nurse” Halloween costume.

However, I’ve always had a thing for attractive real women who can carry on an intelligent conversation and don’t look like they’ve been airbrushed, Botoxed or Photoshopped.

From time to time, though, through no fault of my own, I come across a news story about top rated fashion models. I have to admit that they totally confuse me.

For some reason, perhaps a quirk in my DNA or a mental aberration, I have never been attracted to extremely skinny women who walk in a particular strange manner and who have a totally vacant expressions as though they are oblivious to the world around them.

The Virtual World

In real life, I’ve met and worked with people who have headed off in different directions. They were so close, but now are gone.

In the virtual world, I’ve been taking a series of on-line courses with people I never expect to meet face-to-face. Nevertheless, I feel I’ve gotten to know them fairly well.

In the giant scheme of things, maybe this is a foreshadowing. Soon, in the next life we may know people on a similar basis—”I never actually met you before, but I know you and will spend eternity with you.”

Kind of hard to wrap your mind around, isn’t it?

What’s Wrong with Nursery Rhymes!

Would you let your child hang around this woman?

Would you let your child hang around this woman?

For centuries we’ve taught our children nursery rhymes, and then wonder why they grow up so maladjusted.

“Old Mother Hubbard went to the cupboard to get her poor dog a bone…” Why would she store a bone in the cupboard? If she had a bone left over from a meal, given that there were no refrigerators, it would make better sense to just give it to the dog at the meal. Besides, a bone is more entertainment than actual nutrition.

“Jack be nimble. Jack be quick. Jack jump over the candlestick.” There’s the poster boy for national fire prevention week. On the other hand, we get our panties in a wad over the idea of our children running with scissors—but jumping over candles is just fine.

“Jack Spratt could eat no fat; his wife could eat no lean.” Where does Michelle Obama and the food pyramid stand on this one? Where are the vegetables and the fiber?

“Hey diddle, diddle, the cat and the fiddle, the cow jumped over the moon,” but then we wonder why some kids stray into drugs.

As Silent as a Tomb

tombHoly Saturday, Jesus’ body has been laid in the tomb. I don’t usually think much about Holy Saturday—it’s kind of the runt of the litter—the unappreciated day of Holy Week.

On Holy Saturday, was Christ aware of His body lying there? I’ve always felt that at death I will discard my body like the first stage of a rocket and launch the next stage. But Jesus wasn’t moving on just yet. When the Risen Christ revealed himself to Mary Magdalene the next day, He told her not to hold onto Him because He had not yet ascended to the Father. If He was aware of his body in the tomb, was he glad for the quiet after the screams of the crowd, first praising him then demanding His death? Was the cool comforting after hours on the cross in the scorching heat?

On Holy Saturday, the Apostles, as far as we know, were busily doing the only logical things—running and hiding from the authorities, frightened, confused, and bewildered.

And what about the Jews who had demanded His death? Did they go home to a pleasant celebration of the Passover Feast as if this was just a normal event? What about the Roman officials and soldiers who knew the whole event was bogus with an illegal overnight kangaroo court? One of the soldiers had been shown the truth and had proclaimed that, “Surely this was the Son of God.” Did Pilate resent being played for a patsy by the Jews, forced to do their bidding even though as governor he was supposed to be the one in charge.

How many had second thoughts and regrets once the mob mentality had passed? How many asked, “What have I done?”

How many didn’t.

And one last thought. I am amazed at places where I unexpectedly find God, one of which seems at least semi-appropriate for today. In the Harry Potter series, Harry and Hermione find Harry’s parents’ gravesite. Included on the stone is the inscription:

 “The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.”

which plays in integral part in the plot. It is also a quote from 1 Corinthian 15:26 recounting how Jesus conquered death.

Greater Love

Greater love has no man, but to lay down his life for a friend.

Regardless of your faith, religion, or decision against, we all can appreciate this statement.

To Christians, Jesus took on all of our imperfections and died in compensation for all of us.

But there are others to whom this applies. Many have laid down their lives.

God knows, over the past twelve years there have been ample opportunities for young men and women to fall on a grenade or take a bullet for a comrade.

Yet, it does not always require death. Then there are the parents, especially many single parents, who put their own lives aside to provide for their children; not to merely provide essentials, but to prioritized a school event when they’re dead tired or to have more modest meals to allow for a school ring or a yearbook.

How many adults juggle both care of their children and care of their parents?

And what does this mean?

All of these things are heroic, and yet none of them are. We are merely following the example set by Jesus, our Savior. We are called to express our love for others above our love for ourselves.

So, on this Good Friday evening when Jesus was laid in the tomb, in earthly terms to rest; in celestial terms to prepare for the next phase. In any case, to be “put away” in one form, yet to return in another that is more, beautiful, more powerful, more wonderful, with the promise that His next return will be beyond comprehension.

With all that in mind, share a greater love, to someone, in some way. Call someone you loved, with whom you haven’t spoken in a while. Tell a family member what wonderful attributes they have.

You know what to do.

And, as you do, prepare for the stone to be rolled back from the empty tomb and share in the joy.

May the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord let His face shine upon you. May the Lord look upon you and be gracious unto you. May the Lord bless you, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, now and forever. Amen.

Today

It’s Holy Thursday, or if you’re Protestant, Maundy Thursday.

What does that really mean?

In the news today the vultures, er, I mean the media, were asking, “Who’s going to pay?” the families of the victims of the crashed German aircraft.

What a stupid question.

Cash will never replace a loved one. A life is something beyond value.

Which is why today, nearly two thousand years ago, Jesus was betrayed by one of his closest friends, was brutally tortured and executed in the most humiliating manner—one reserved for slaves.

No one asked, who was going to pay.

Instead, the very Son of God, died that way to reopen the connection between God and mankind.

It was Jesus who paid. No civil litigation; no arbitration; just a flat out gift for each and every one of us, paid for with the flesh, blood and last breath of Jesus.

Today let’s focus on the value of what we’ve been given. No greater love than this, but to lay down one’s life for a friend.

Rare Artisans

quill-pen

I refer to myself as “esoteric.” You might prefer to say that I’m “odd” or “different.” I’m okay with that.

Being esoteric, I sometimes find that I need the skills of certain specialists. While many guitarists have their instruments repaired or tweaked, I give credit where due and refer to Doug, who takes care of my instruments as a luthier—the appropriate name for an artisan skilled in making or repairing stringed instruments.

I write with a fountain pen, and have a collection of six through which I rotate. The oldest of my pens, going back about thirty years, has traveled with me everywhere, including through Afghanistan and Iraq. Unfortunately, after returning home, it fell and landed right on the nib—the part that carries the ink to the paper. The manufacturer couldn’t repair it, but under their lifetime warranty, replaced it. Since the original had sentimental value they returned it as well. The replacement was very nice, wrote very well, but was, well, a replacement. Even worse, a stapler fell off the top of the desk, landed on the pen, resulting in a huge dent. The manufacturer repaired it, but it, unfortunately, looked like a badly dented replacement pen that had been repaired.

I found an interesting site online—Pentiques.com—and decided to try them out. They have since repaired both of these pens, the original and the replacement. The original looks and writes better than it did the day I bought it. Wow!

Artisans such as Aaron and Kim Svabik at Pentiques are few and far between, but if you find one, take advantage of the skill, the precision, and the unique capabilities that they offer.

 

Pentiques.com
PO Box 7361
Goodyear, AZ 85338
Aaron@Pentiques.com