From the monthly archives:

August 2010

April 10 is Beth’s birthday. A belated “habir” Ms. Beth…

Thanks to Sheila Lennon and her source, Dermot Casey, for the link. (Click here for a full screen version.)

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In the company of men

August 20, 2010

There’s a post today at Time Goes By that
hits me where I live. A reader named Bill writes asking: “Any thoughts on how men can find new groups of friends?”

Like Bill, I’m an older guy, comfortable in the company of women and generally uneasy with the superficial bullshit that seems to color men’s relationships. My social life these days has narrowed to occasional gatherings with my wife and her friends (“the ladies who lunch”), a little jibber-jabber at the Saturday farmers market, and infrequent chats with the few neighbors we have on this thinly settled stretch of country road, conversations that center on the weather, or the merits of concrete versus asphalt, or perhaps the irony of herbicide use in prairie restoration. Like Bill, the man who inspired Ronni’s post, “I am a man with an active and inquisitive mind, and don’t give a rip about sports, hunting, drinking or being an Elk, Moose, etc. I can talk business and politics but ultimately….” Ultimately, what? God save me from one more fantasy football general manager’s lame observation about Brent Favray or the Green Bay Pigskins. Ultimately there must be something meaningful nearby, but I guess I won’t find it if I don’t start looking.

My problem is complicated by my alienation. My patriotism isn’t of the common type. I see America’s class structure as an impediment to resolving some of the most horrible problems mankind has ever faced. A handful of mellow guys drinking a few beers wouldn’t necessarily welcome a strident SOB like me into their company, nor would I likely be comfortable among them. I’m not a fisherman or a bowler. I find most religion appalling at best, often a refuge of emotional cripples and existential cowards, and always a tool for creating division and invidious distinctions. (How about New York’s bishop Dolan’s unctuously prayerful posturing around helping the muslim community find a way to compromise their plans for construction in lower Manhattan? What a tea bagger. Maybe they could move the community center out to White Plains? Arrogant jerk. A real crusader. Well, as they say, opinions are like anal sphincters. Even the bishop has one.)

You see my problem.

The other day I was waiting for Beth to retrieve some books on hold at the library. I parked at an angle across three parking spaces in front of the local senior center, trying to find notice of the hours it’s open (and indeed the info wasn’t posted anywhere). Am I a senior center kind of guy? A buddhist nun with a shaved head and a great tan on her bare arms smiled at me from behind the steering wheel of her Toyota. I thought maybe a diet of brown rice and vegetables would take a few pounds off and restore me to a more youthful look. Maybe I could augment that organic diet with a quiet afternoon of bridge every week or two. Do they do that at the senior center? Maybe there are some guys who would be into that. Or euchre. We’re big on alternative card games here in Wisconsin. Sheepshead. I haven’t played sheepshead for a long time. Maybe poker?

Maybe I could find one guy who plays chess as poorly as Don Harvey, someone I could beat about half the the time. We have a nice little coffee shop downtown, perfect for sucking down a latte and talking smart.

Or maybe it’s time for me to crank up the engagement level and hang out with my peeps again, the socialists and greens and pacifists. More pragmatically maybe I should put some energy into assuring Senator Feingold’s re-election and lending a hand to the Tom Barrett campaign while I’m at it. None of these things is happening in my life right now, but I’m sure there are some men around here who share my interests and concerns. How about a woodworking class at some adult education venue? You’re never too old to amputate a thumb with a power tool.

The online world is wonderfully seductive. I can spend a lot of time virtually adjacent to guys I enjoy, guys who make me laugh and guys who catalyze the flames of righteous anger in opposition to the egregious nonsense that passes for politics these days. But there’s something missing in the virtual connection, something that cyber-singularity enthusiast and champion of immortality Ray Kurzweil denies. The nuances of facial expression, the spontaneity of laughter… these and so many other gestures are missing from cyberspace and the single-minded dedication to life extension, hell they’re missing from Facebook and twitter and the single-minded dedication to wasting time. I hope Ronni’s friend Bill finds his way toward developing some rewarding mature male friendships. For me, I think it all might start with the command from some internal cop: “Sir. Step away from the keyboard.”

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Attention Deficit

August 16, 2010

“Instead of thinking about ‘emptiness’ as a lack or something missing, think about it as space, as possibility, as your place to expand. And then welcome the emptiness around you.” — Karen Murphy Nice distinction. here’s something tangential… Instead of thinking of attention deficit as a disability or an inability to focus, we might think [...]

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Windchime Time Lapse of Perseids Meteor Shower

August 14, 2010

Image by Nomad Art Works I missed Perseid sky watching this week due to mosquitoes and humidity. Thanks to @NASA_GoddardPix on twitter I have a couple of great images available for my vicarious enjoyment. Bonus! They have a link to a high def video of the recent solar activity, the coronal mass ejection or super-flare [...]

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Clonal moo juice

August 13, 2010

Savvy dairymen in Britain may be adulterating the nation’s milk supply with something that looks like milk, tastes like milk, and comes from an animal that moos like a milker, but leaves regulators and ethical arbiters unsure of whether or not to permit its consumption. Here and there around the world, cloned cows and their [...]

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What You Need to Know About the Gulf Oil Disaster

August 5, 2010

By Barbara O’Brien Every day, news about the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico gets worse. This week we learned that a large section of the Gulf could become a “dead zone” as oil-eating microorganisms proliferate and suck oxygen out of the water. Whether anything positive could somehow come from this disaster remains [...]

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The French Fry and the Polluted Sky

August 4, 2010

Last month at bloomberg.com, Andy Grove offered his perspectives on innovation and job creation and America’s failure to link the two. (See “How to Make an American Job Before It’s Too Late.”) Grove led Intel to global dominance in the microprocessor market, and he’s uniquely qualified to talk about the conditions that have stunted American [...]

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August 3, 2010

The United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (aka “the FBI,” an agency with a confusing dual reporting relationship, working for both the Attorney General and the Director of National Intelligence, partnering with-but not responsible to-the Department of Homeland Security, and for 48 years the exclusive fiefdom of J. Edgar Hoover, whose notorious use of files [...]

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