Thursday, July 24, 2014

Real Bad Chemo Day

I once knew an old man
and when he reached that point
they chucked him into a nursing home
and sorted through his things
to take and sell and otherwise throw away.
Thereafter, I visited him once a week.
He was a spiritual man
a Baptist longer than I'd then been alive.
He tried telling me
he was ready for the golden ladder,
to cross the river, and the great reunion
and how he could do nothing
now that everything was gone.

He looked forward to being done.
Of course, the young pastor gave rebuttal
along the lines of how sometimes it isn't what you do
as much as it's who you are.
This was the best I could come up with.
One time I even said how he might outlive us all.
God forbid, he replied.
He was patient though, nodded sagely and encouragingly

waiting towards my inability to then understand.

Monday, July 21, 2014

I Love You - Now Buy My Books

I've always had a problem with self-promotion. This may explain my current level of book sales. Maybe I should get over it, but it seems phony.

Like - there's this website called I'm a member there. There are LOTS of people using that site with whom I used to work. The gist of the site is, itself, self-promotion. You sign up, make connections, and look therein for opportunities. It's not Facebook or Myspace or… whatever. I get that. But what's interesting is I never hear from any of my connections unless they have something about themselves to say.

Admittedly, some of my connections I consider associates or people with whom one works. I dislike very few of them. Then again, we were never best buds. It's like - you don't have to be friends with everyone you work with, but you do have to get stuff done. Many of these individuals I mostly listened to and during the course of time I learned about significant differences between them and myself. Yet, ever the one to promote diversity of relationships between myself and others - I kept most of my own thoughts to myself. Those folks I understand. They're in the world of business and want to be successful and they keep doors (relationships) open and at arm's length. That's cool…

But there are others I did consider friends. The fault there may be mine. I never hear from these people unless, you got it, they're self-promoting their latest business, opportunity, or accomplishment… i.e. self-promotion. It smacks of insincerity; at a certain age one understands the carnival barkers are merely barking and what I once thought were friendships have wilted into, how to say this politely, people looking at me the way an Amway representative sees the world - as one large selling target.

I don't pretend to care about others very well. I either care about them, or I don't. There's something sickening about faux happy-face in the name of sales. True sociopaths have a knack for making others think they care. Interesting link there … something about the sociopathic nature of business. And there's nothing wrong with business. I am, at heart, a capitalist. If we it gave it a real shot, it might work.

But back to self-promotion… humans can say they care and for that instant they believe they do. But talk and deeds need to match. Some are better at this than others and I very much envy Nathanael (John 1:47).

Or apply this to 'church', as understood by most in 2014. Unlike what one sees on tha tee-vee or in tha moovies - the pastor/priest isn’t always the bad guy. More often than not, he's the one who cares while there are many using 'their' church for their own purposes. Oh, the tell-all I could write about that. But one persistent idea is that of pastor as salesman and where in the world does church growth come from? Yet, Jesus wasn't an entertainer. He didn't sell coffee, open a book store in the back of the temple, nor did a too-loud band accompany him every Sunday for the young people.

But where is church growth supposed to come from? It's certainly not doctrinally sound preaching, nor is it found in trying to do things close to what one reads in the book. Rather, if the given church isn't self-promoting, it's not going to need that addition added to the sanctuary. Here I'm getting snarky and a bit off-topic, but it is certainly something to consider. Just know motive plays a large part.
Now, go read I John 3:18.

Friday, July 4, 2014

My New-Old Typewriter

A while back a church member gave me a portable, Sperry Rand / Remington 666 (interesting number, but not that relevant today). It's a typewriter. Few of the younguns in these parts know how to operate one. I took it to class once and challenged them to load a piece of paper. These are college freshmen and sophomores. It daunted them. Only three tried. I'm sure they'll become more adventurous and proficient at trying new things as they age.

It's a simple device. Hit the letter key, the letter arm rises as does the ribbon-guide. If there's paper on the platen, a mark designating that letter is made on the paper. I used a fancier, electric version in college. It died years ago.

The case is 15 inches long, 4 and three-quarters of an inch tall and 13 inches deep. I may be wrong, but research shows it was made in Holland in the early 1970s. It arrived with no paperwork though ribbons are still available for purchase on the internet. The original documentation, including a section on how to type, is also available for download. Like what isn't? Fascinating, no?

It's a magnificent machine. It yet works and I want to use it, but I don't know what for.

It's also a reminder of, if not simpler, then less confusing times. We seem to be confused a lot, and we call it sophistication. Psychologists used to call that avoidance. I think now they call it enabling, or something like that.

I'm not even that old and still I remember non-Monsanto owned seed- corn, blackberry patches back in the woods on the edges of a field, a little thing called going to town, taking a bath, Americans who were unafraid of gluten, and people who looked for patterns and not exceptions. All these things worked well. Still do.

Another fascinating tidbit is that in the early 1800s the typewriter was 'invented' over 100 times by different individuals. I suppose this means that when conditions are right a concept happens, whether people want it or not. And heck, who wouldn't want a typewriter? Charles Thurber is generally credited with the first 'workable' typewriter patent in 1843; for clarification, that pre-Civil-War. This also means it takes some doing to get it right, not that that ever stopped someone from trying.

There's also a thing called staying power and the old canard about buggy-whips. You can still buy one of those too. The typewriter is also still around. The faculty mail room where I work yet boasts one of those big, fancy IBM electrics. I've even seen people use it. The machine, as a species, is coming up on being 200 years old. That's a while.

Technology is an interesting thing. It both advances and accumulates at the same time. Look around your house. The cutting edge doesn't immediately replace the tried and true. This explains some of the anachronisms. I suspect this is the reason why the Blu-Ray hasn't replaced the CD.

As a gift, it's pretty cool. Someday when I have my museum-quality den I'll put it on a pedestal under a glass dome, next to my pre-Reagan globe. Until then I don't know quite what to do with it. I suppose it will sit in a corner and from time to time I'll look at it with a very non-pragmatic sort of appreciation and someday, if the lights go out, it will help me be an important person - one who can type letters and thoughts on pieces of paper.

If you ever win on Jeopardy with any of this send me a couple of bucks.