Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Bilbo's New House

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One week ago I started moving in...on my birthday...and today the big move is finally over...and...I can now finally enjoy the fruits of my labor. I still have some things to organize in the garage and, a few items to get, but the hard part of moving is now over. Although I have just moved across town it feels like I am living in a totally different city. I moved to East Bakersfield which is closer to the foothills and is a much older and quiter part of town. I really, really, like it, so far, although at the current moment the house if full of the friends of my two teenage sons. Later this evening an old friend and his family will be spending the night and I won't really get much peace and quiet until after New Year's Day. The whole move and the initial feelings associated with the move can best be described as surreal and dreamlike which I attribute to the fact that this is the first time in my life I have lived "totally" on my own... and...the fact that my current living situation is so radically different than what I have been experiencing for the past four and a half years. In some ways I feel like I am starting over again or at least entering a completely new faze of my life....Now that my living situation has changed I can now turn my attention towards exploring and creating some new social networks which is something I need to do. I have alot of longtime loyal friends in Bakersfield but most of them are busy with the daily grind of work and family responsibilities. We touch base from time to time but I feel like I need to expand my network of friends to include meeting some new people who are share some of my interests and passions. I have a few ideas of what I intend to do on this front but don't anticipate doing much until after the new the meantime...I intend to just hang out here at the house for the rest of my a little blogging...continue workining on the house...watching some football...and...try to enjoy life....

The Bedroom

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The Dining Room

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The Kitchen

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Wednesday, December 20, 2006

I'm wiped out.....

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This is going to be the shortest blog entry ever. All I have to say is that I am totally exhausted. I put in 14 hours today. I didn't realize moving is so much work. I need to move more often....

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Saturday, December 16, 2006

We all have our ups and downs in life...but...sometimes the dark night of the soul descends upon us for an extended period of time. For the past four and a half years I have lived under a significant amount of stress and anxiety due to my divorce and my subsequent living situation. This fall my living situation became increasingly bleak and when it looked like it was about to reach unbearable levels recently and the orcs, goblins, and trolls were going to consume yours truly, Gandalf arrived on the nick of time...and...just in time for Christmas...What mysteries do I speak of you may ask?...This afternoon I met with an ER doctor who currently lives in Hawaii, in regards, to renting his house. Apparently he has been trying to sell his house for the past two months, without any luck, so now he has decided to try to rent it out...I was very interested to say the least. The house is over 1900 square feet. Hardwood floors, very nice tile walkways, new carpet, appliances, covered patio, and is walking distance from the college where my two sons plan to attend...and...walking distance to the church where they attend...and...a couple of blocks from the bikepath where I ride my bike...and...built in bookshelves!...Generally, I am not a compulsive person and I like to think before I make important decisions and I wanted my two sons to see the place considering they may come to live with me in the near future. After looking at the house they both enouraged me to rent approximately four o'clock this afternoon I called my future landlord and told him I would rent out the house. It was a win, win situation for both of us. He was afraid he wasn't going to rent out the house and I was getting increasingly depressed about my living situation. I can't tell you how happy I am about my new living situation...and...Tomorrow I will begin moving in and I hope to be moved in completely before New Years Day, just in time to see my USC Trojans crush Michigan. A couple of additional perks. The landlord will pay for a gardner, and he is leaving his new washer, dryer, fridgerator, and microwave which will save me thousands of dollars because I didn't own any of these things.....Tomorrow is my birthday and I can't think of a better birthday present to myself than the opportunity to move into my new house. What a glorious day!!!

Setting the Record Straight

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My two sons Paul and Wesley asked me if we could go and see the new movie Eragorn but I am reluctant to spend the big bucks to see this was hammered by the majority of the movie critics...It only received a ten percent approval rating on Rottentomatoes.... Ouch!!!...It doesn't get much worse than that...but..I wasn't particularly surprised and suspected something was up when "my sources on the street" made no mention of the film as the release day approached and I noticed the film wasn't released to the critics prior to the film's opening on Friday almost always a bad sign....Over the years I have been critisized by friends and family members alike for reading movie critics and relying on their advise for my choice of purchasing DVD's or going to the movies....but...let's get the record straight. I don't go to a movie or not go to a movie because on anything a "particular" critic says about a film... but... I generally pay attention when the vast majority of critics either like a film or not and this approach has served me well over the years. My DVD collection which includes such films as Mrs. Brown, Princess Mononoke,Last of the Dogmen,Girl with a Pearl Earring,Dark City,Existenz,Gattica,Frailty,Quills,Waking Ned Divine,Touching the Void, and Spirited Away are all films that I probably would have never seen, let alone purchased, if I first hadn't read or watched movie reviews over the years. One may not want to over rely on the opinions of the movie critics when choosing to see this film or that but it is what they do for a living and I for one am grateful they provide a service for him or her who has ears to hear....

The Last Ten Days

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Here is a quick cliffnote version of the past ten days.

1. Went to see Mel Gibson's movie Apocalypto. While I do respect Gibson's willingness to take risks in his filmaking choices there is just too much running around in the jungle and "lack" of historical context and character developement to win me over. Some have hailed this film as cautionary reminder of what happens to a society that losses it's moral compass but I suspect this is only true for the viewer who already strongly believes this to begin with. For most folks who see the film I am afraid it will only contribute to their interest and thirst for violence. I wasn't moved by the film and had a similar emotional response when I saw The Passion.I guess I just don't get it...Here is my suggestion to Mel. Give me Braveheart II before you take on another potential earth shattering project.

2. Spent some time looking for houses and found two houses that I "really", "really" liked but they both fell through. The one guy decided to stay put and the other house was rented the previous day by a couple moving here from Texas who had not even seen the house, except for some small photo on the internet! I was deeply disappointed because I want to move out of my current living situation so bad...I have decided to stay put during the holidays and wait until after New Years to start looking again. There are a ton of houses to rent on the market, but too many of them are way overpriced, imo, and I am picky about the kind of house I want to live in...In the meantime, I am trying to make a home for myself in "my heart" whether I am at work, travelling, or in my bedroom.

3. I have reacquainted myself with "enchanting" music and literature. I am currently reading William Morris facsmile Kelmscott Press Edition of "The Wood Beyond the World"...Morris founded Kelmscott Press in 1890 and his production company has produced some of the most celebrated and beautifully illustrated books in history. I own a facsimile reproduction of the Kelms Geoffrey Chaucer's Works which includes over 87 mind blowing illustrations. It is the most valuable book I own and the limited originals are considered some of the most valuable books ever published. As a writer Morris is not in the same league as Tolkien or Lewis but the few books he has written are enchanting and worthy of reading if one is a fantasy buff like me....On the music front, I recently purchased two C.D.'s by Loreena Mckennitt. "Mckennitt is a Canadian singer, composer, harpist and pianist most famous for writing, recording and performing world music with a new-age/Celtic feel". I have known about her for quite some time but have never purchased anything by her until last week. She is often compared to Enya but after listening to her new album "An Ancient Muse" and her live performances in Paris and Toronto I feel her music has more depth and variety than the music of Enya. It has been said of Mckennitt that "before McKennitt composes any music, she engages in massive research on a specific subject which forms the general concept of the album. Before creating Elemental and Parallel Dreams she travelled to Ireland for inspiration from the country's history, geography and culture. The album The Mask and Mirror was preceded by research in Spain where she engaged in studying Galicia, a Celtic section of Spain, along with its abundant Arabic roots, thus creating an album including elements of both Celtic and Arabic music...and...according to the liner notes of her latest album, An Ancient Muse was inspired primarily by travels among and reading about the various cultures along the Silk Road."....She is probably best known for her pop hit, "The Mummer's Dance" back in the 1990's but my current favorite is a song called, "The Lady of Shalott", a beautiful enchanting nine minute song about "a magical being who lives alone on an island upstream from King Arthur's Camelot"....Her most recent release An Ancient Muse is her first release since 1998. She has not produced any new music since the death of her fiancé Ronald Rees and two others close to her drowned during a boating accident. Apparently this event had a profound effect on her life, as expected, for the past eight years. She has an incredibly beautiful voice and her music has alot of variety which is something you often don't find in some of the other popular "New Age sounding" musicians. It's worth a spin and a few bucks if you like some New Age enchantment from time to time....

4. Yesterday was my last day at work for the next three weeks. I won't be around much this holiday season. I am going camping next week and then my sons and I are going to Tucson Arizona for a week before I head off to San Diego to finish up my vacation. I will be home for a couple of days near Christmas and will be home on New Year's Day to watch USC crush Michigan and demonstrate "once again" why midwest football is always overated.

A page from Chaucer

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Back from the Attack

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I have been offline now for about ten days after a virus attacked my computer and destroyed a number of my operating took longer than normal to get my computer back because apparently the computer store where I get my computer serviced had an out of date phone number. Fortunately, I stopped by the store yesterday to check on the status of my computer or else I may not have gotten my computer back who knows when???? So, what was it like to be without a computer for ten days?....Actually, not as bad as I had anticipated. Before, when my computer went on the blink I would get a bit anxious but this time I just went with the flow. I have kept myself busy with work, sending out Christmas cards, Christmas shopping, wrapping Christmas presents, and listening to a lot of music which I will have more to say about in a later blog entry. I am glad to get my computer back but during this "ordeal" I was reminded there is a real world outside of cyberspace that is full of life, joy, and possibilities...

Saturday, December 02, 2006

The Re-Enchantment of Everyday Life

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I'm currently re-reading Thomas Moore's books "The Care of the Soul, The Re-Enchantment of Everyday Life,and Soul Mates". While his writings can be, at times, a bit, esoteric, and hard to follow, he most often has some profound, interesting, and unique things to say about life, love, and the inner workings of the human spirit which he identifies as the soul in his writings. His unique style is probably related to his rather unique background, experiences, and the wide range of writers who have influenced his life and thought. Moore grew up in a working class family in Detroit Michigan. His father was a plumber and his mom a housewife. After graduating from Catholic prep high school he travelled and attended college in Ireland, Canada, and the states where he earned degrees in theology, musicology, and philosophy. Later he spent twelve years in Catholic order as a monk. He eventually left the order, married, had a child, and practiced psychotherapy before becoming a popular author and speaker in the early 1990's. Many of his books have appeared on the New York Times bestseller list. Personally I find his books very interesting and stimulating which is probably due to the eclectic influences he cites in his biography on his website. The eclectic who's, who, include Jung, William Blake, William Morris, Bach, Emily Dickinson, Emerson, Marquis De Sade, Jesus, Buddha, Lao Tzu,Dorothy Sayers, Oscar Wilde, and James Hillman, a "Pomoxian" leaning, readers delight.

In the weeks to come and until this little reading project runs it's course, I'll try to pass along a few quotes, comments, and ponderings as time and motivation for now... I'll leave you with the following quotes from his book "The Re-enchantment of Everyday Life, for you to ponder.

"The Soul has an absolute, unforgiving need for regular excursions into enchantment. It requires them like the body needs food and the mind needs thought. Yet our culture often takes pride in disproving and exploding the sources of enchantment, explaining away one mystery after another and overturning shrines, dissolving the family farm that has housed spirits of civility for eons, or desecrating for material profit a mountain or stream sacred to native residents. We have yet to learn that we can't survive without enchantment and that the loss of it is killing us."

Enchantment is tinged with play and eros,...elements that are suspect in culture of extreme ambition, and it always implies an escape from logic, one of the prized tools in a society bent on understanding...enchantment is often colored by at least soft hues of absurdity, which is only a sign of it's saving distance from excessive rationality"

"I'd rather be a dysfunctional soul than a well-adjusted robot"

The tendency of reason and science to take up too much room in modern life is just another symptom of disenchantment. The root problem is not science. It is religion...
Many people define their religion as a belief, and they pin their hopes and understanding on a provisional understanding of life. But there isn't much room for faith in a religion that is reduced to belief, and there isn't any place for an open-minded appreciation for the world's sacredness. In a disenchanted world, for all its concern for morals and social action, religion separates itself from everyday life and becomes obsessed with its own brand of belief and moral purity. In this kind of setting, the people who pollute our rivers and oceans and exploit workers and famililies may go to church and profess strong moral values, and yet they don't have any concience about the water, the earth, or human community....There is something dreadfully wrong with this kind of religion, which creates a kind of psychotic dissociation. A person feels morally pure because he is blissfully adhering to ideas of moralilty that have little to do with the world in which he lives, and at the same time is committing heinous sins that are not cataloged in his disenchanted morality."

"The first step in enchantment, then, is to recover a beginner's mind and a child's wonder, to forget some of the things we have learned and to which we are attached. As we empty ourselves of disenchanted values, a fresh, paradisical spirit may pour in,and then we may discover the nature of the soul and the pleasure of being a participant,and not a master, in the extravagance of life"

Monday, November 27, 2006

Thanksgiving Week

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It's a bit late to talk about Thanksgiving at this point but I did want to share a few things about Thanksgiving week. I spent the first part of the week of Thanksgiving camping in the Big Sur and Santa Cruz areas. I had the whole week off and the weather was unusually warm for this time of year so I decided to go camping before I headed over to San Jose to spend Thanksgiving day with my mom and aunt. The camping part of my trip was great because I had the campgrounds pretty much to myself. It was very peaceful and quiet which was great as I spent some quality time reflecting and meditating on the past year. Each year since 2001 I spend some time prior to Thanksgiving day reflecting and journaling the past years events that I am thankful for and here are a few of things I wrote in my journal this year.

1. A greater sense of self awareness regarding my short and long term goals...and...a greater self awareness about the areas in my life that need attention and devotion of my time and energy.Self awareness is not an end into itself but it is difficult to pursue one's needs, passions, and desires without some self awareness.

2. The relationship with my two sons. I am very proud and grateful I have been able to maintain a strong and growing relationship with my two sons since my divorce over four years ago. It is not easy to keep close to one's children when one does not live with them but I am very grateful that we have what I believe to be a good and growing relationship.

3. I am grateful for my health. I am more physically fit at this time in my life than I have been for over ten years. I am eating better and exercising at least four days a week now. Not bad for someone pushing 50 and has sustained some of the bike and car accidents I have over the years.

4. Emotional stability. I feel like I am at a better place emotionally than I have been for a number of years. Emotionally stability is a fickle thing since we do not have control over many of the variables in our lives but I feel I have grown stronger in a number of areas over the years and feel more confident to pursue some things I was not able to in years past.

5. Am grateful for where I am in life. Being divorced, single, and pushing 50 is not easy at times but I feel content where I am in life and do not envy my friends or the more "normal" living circumstances of others. It has not been easy to get to this place where I am at but I do not regret the twists and turns my life has taken over the years.

There are many other things that I am grateful for this past year but they are more personal in nature and thus I'll leave it with these five things....During my week off I also got in some great hiking and mountain bike riding. I visited a new California State park on this trip and had a great ride through a beautiful Redwood forest near Santa Cruz. There aren't too many places I haven't been to in California but I was pleasantly surprised by the discovery of a new place I can now go riding and hiking.....Not much to report about Thanksgiving day. Spent a quiet meal with my mom and aunt.I don't get too many home cooked meals these days so I am always grateful for a hot meal with all the fixens. The meal was great and I took my mom for a walk around the block before we sat down to eat some Turkey. My mom is amazing. She is almost 92 and still is motivated to walk around the block once a week... I left the next morning and came back to Bakersfield where I spent Saturday putting up my Christmas decorations before I watched the USC Trojans stomp the Irish of Notre Dame and move one step closer to their fourth consecutive National Championship game. It was sweet....Yesterday I went to see the movie The Fountain after being intrigued by the comments of my friend Dave who saw the movie earlier in the week. What a trippy movie, the music, the images, and the storyline all blended together to form a unique mosiac of the past, present, and future. But, it is the kind of movie alot of folks probably won't appreciate, especially if one likes their movies linear, logical, and an ending that is neat and tidy. Personally, I found the film emotionally satisfying and intellectually stimulating. While the film probably provokes questions about death and dying for most people who saw the film this is not what I found particularly interesting or intriquing. Death is not something I give much thought to because I figure there is nothing I can do about it and what I believe or don't believe about death and what happens after one dies is not going to effect what "actually" happens when a person dies. Of course, I may be singing a different tune when the time approaches for the grim reaper to visit me....What intriqued me about the film is to what great lengths people will go to find a solution or formula to the problems and challenges we all face in this life....and....the film reminded me that there is so much in this life that is out of our control, ultimately, and no matter how intelligent, hard working, and passionate we are there are many things we will never control or master for one reason or another. I doubt this is the point the director was trying to make but this is what I got out of the film. If one goes into this film looking or searching for some kind of deep philosophical meaning I suspect one will be disappointed....but....if one just absorbs the sights, sounds, and emotional energy of the movie without thinking too much or trying to figure out some deep meaning than I think one will appreciate the film for what it is.....

Saturday, November 25, 2006

All Hail to USC

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The Leprechauns of the Midwest were no match for the Men of Troy this evening. Too much offense,defense, and team speed. I honestly thought Notre Dame had a chance in this game because I thought they had an edge in the motivation department and I figured the Irish offense was good enough to perhaps outscore the USC offense which has been up and down this year, but, boy was I wrong. USC just has too many great athletes on both sides of the ball and they have one of the great college coaches in recent memory. Under Carroll's leadership USC has only lost one game by more than six points in his tenure at USC and they have now beaten something like 19 out of the last 20 ranked opponents which is one of the most incredible stats in college football history.....Before the season began I predicted USC would lose two games this season, and they still might, but I never dreamed they would be in position to play in the national championship game this year. I know they still have to get past UCLA, but I just don't see a letdown next week because of Carroll's leadership and the superior athletes who are now peaking at the right time of the year which has become USC's signature under the reign of Pete Carroll.....If USC does beat UCLA, as expected this week-end, than they will face Ohio State for the National Championship. Ohio State is a great team but I think USC will give them a run for their money. Ohio State has lived up to all their expectations this year but Ohio State has yet to meet a team with so many great athletes who play so agressively on both sides of the ball. As I have said elsewhere, USC never plays to not lose. They play an agressive brand of football which is unmatched, imo, anywhere else in the why I think they can not only play with Ohio State but I now think they have a chance to beat Ohio State.....Confession time....I confess I had lost my confidence in the greatness of the USC football team for much of the season but I have been humbled by the play of USC for the past three weeks but I am now proud to report that I am back on the USC, is the best team in the country, bandwagon feels great!!! Trojans!!!!...and... Do what you have to do against your crosstown rival UCLA next week than show the folks out in the midwest and the rest of the country how we play football out here in Hollywood land...where...the weather is always sunny...the days are warm...and we know how to play smashmouth football with anyone in the country

Preview of the Big Game

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Just got back from my week long camping trip and visit to my aunt's house on Thanksgiving. I'll have more to say about in a seperate blog entry Sunday night. I came back today because I wanted to see the Notre Dame/USC game. I am a big sports fan but at the present time there is only one sports team that I have a strong emotional connection with and that is the USC why I am currently in a state of anxiety regarding this game...and...if USC loses I will be bummed. There is a significant amount of anxiety regarding this game because I don't have a strong sense of who will win this game...and...I find myself going back and forth. Notre Dame has a great quarterback, coach, and revenge on their side but their powder puff schedule, imo, may be misleading regarding how really good are the Leprechans of the Midwest. USC, has great athletes, a vastly improved defense, and an underated offense to go along with a string of victories which includes winning 54 of their last 57...and...USC is 19-0, under Carroll during the month of November since he arrived on campus. Something has to break today. Either USC's, November streak, or Notre Dame's luck of the Irish, this year. They should of lost to both UCLA and Michigan State earlier this year. They better not hope on a miracle fourth quarter comeback in this game because USC does not play to not lose. Carroll's teams play aggressive and they will not allow Brady Quinn to sit back and drive down the field. Notre Dame better play as the frontrunner if they hope to win the game...I don't feel confident enough to go out on a limb and predict this year's winner which means that my only prediction is that the team that makes the most mistakes is the team that will lose...So, hold on to the ball, Booty, Washington, Gable, Jarrett, and Smith because, if you do, you might just find yourself playing for the national championship again.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Mother Nature is calling

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I am about to head off for a solo adventure to the wilderness for the next four days before I hook up with my mom and aunt for the Thanksgiving week-end. I don't know when I will have access to a computer again since I will be camping out in the Big Sur area which is a rather remote area of the California Coast. I suspect I may run across one of the those internet cafe's along the way but I generally don't like to log in while I am in the wild. Bad wilderness etiquette. Over the next four days I am looking forward to some hiking, biking, and shopping. I'll be doing some shopping in the Carmel and Monterey area on Tuesday and a bit in Santa Cruz on Wednesday. I will be looking for Christmas gifts and things for my future new living arrangments. I enjoy shopping in places along the coast because of the unique items they carry and the ambiance and atmosphere provided of the small shop experience. It will be nice to get away from Wal-mart, Target, and the other big box bullies that now dominate the shopping landscape from coast to coast. I also plan to get out and do as much hiking and biking as my body will allow me to do over the next four days. I am in pretty good shape right now for this time of the year but I am a 48 year old man who does now have limits in what he can do....I also hope to get in some reflection/meditation/reading and journaling time this week and it will be interesting to see what transpires as I take the time to listen to the whispers of the spirit within. I haven't been away "alone" for any extended time in years and I am not sure how it will go. Being alone and away from our daily props is tricky. In the past, I have experienced moments of estasy and sadness while being alone. Estasy from the sights and sounds that mother nature provides for us and sadness from the darkest fears that haunt all our souls. Being alone and facing our the dark emotions is always challenging but I have gradually learned, over time, it can also be very rewarding because it provides opportunities for healing and personal growth....So, it is now time to say good-bye and heed the call of nature because when mother nature calls us to join us she generally has gifts and healing balm ready for our bruised and battered souls....

Saturday, November 18, 2006

The Mighty Men of Troy

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I haven't said anything about my beloved USC Trojans so far this year. Shame on me...Today USC took a step closer to another National Championship. Although this team hasn't been particularly impressive in most of their victories, nontheless, they continue to win except for their slip up at Oregon State. USC has been absolutely amazing over the past four and a half years. They have now won 54 of their last 57 games and the three losses include a triple overtime loss to Cal, last years loss to Texas in the waning seconds, and the loss to Oregon State when they had a chance to tie the game a the end. If this is not an example of a juggernaut than I don't know what is.....I'm not predicting a National Championship this year because I don't think they can beat Ohio State and they may lose next week to Notre Dame because the Irish have an excellent offense and a score to settle with the men of Troy....but beware....USC is now 19-0 in the month of November since Carrol arrived and they have always played their best football at the end of the season or when the stakes are high...and...Carroll projects a tremendous amount of positive energy and plays to win as opposed playing not to lose. If USC wins next week than it is going to be an interesting debate over which one loss team deserves to play in the National championship. I am assuming they are going to beat UCLA...and they will....sorry Julie...I don't see how you can leave them out of the National Championship game if they run the table considering their schedule and thier history over the past five years...But...I suspect and predict they won't get in...which is O.K....because....the last time they were given the shaft they terrorized the rest of college football for two years. Just ask Oklamhoma what it like to play a USC football team that has talent, depth, and an axe to grind with everyone...It's not a pretty sight....So, go ahead and continue to tell the Trojans they are not as good or deserving as Michigan and Florida and just see what happens...I dare you...

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Concluding Observations

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Originally I intended to only write two blog entries about sex because I know most folks don't feel comfortable about talking about sex publicly and I don't want to attract the wrong crowd if you know what I mean. But, I decided to add another entry after remembering the excellent book I read on the subject of sex last year called the Soul of Sex by Thomas Moore, the prolific author of such best sellers as Care of the Soul, Soul Mates, and The Re-enchantment of Everyday Life. While Moore's book on sex can get a little deep/esoteric, at times, he does have some interesting and thought provoking things to say about sex,marriage,relationships, and life in general. Following are some of the more interesting observations of Thomas Moore on the subject of sex.

If we are displaying sex with unseemly exaggeration and preoccupation, then we have not found the heart of sex and made it a fully integrated part of the individual and social life. Given our obsession with sex, we need to get more of it, not in quanity but in quality. It's like a person addicted to junk food. He eats as much as he can because there is nothing there. If he eats real food--unprocessed, close to it's earth origins, wonderfully prepared--he might leave the addiction behind. We need more sex, not less, but we need sex with soul.

Lovemaking is a ritual that, like all religious rites of the world, tries to make present the spirit that will make the human activity magically effective. Like all ritual, too, sex requires art, attention to details, and a devoted imagination.

Sex is a kind of gnosis or holy knowing. In sex we get to know a person in a way that is more than special. Sex reveals much that is unconscious to both people, and so the unveiling that goes on at the physical level is mirrored as the soul sheds its protective covering.

At the very heart of sex lies a profound affirmation of life, giving us a reason for living, optimism, and energy. At every step, this process can be wounded and weakened by a fear of vitality and a failure to trust life, in others and in oneself. Everywhere we are told to set limits on eros, to be careful that we are not lost in its' passion. But if we listen to these worried cautions, we may end up with only a modicum of self possession purchased at the cost of life's passion. Eros may go underground as seething, dark desire, and the surface of life turn mechanical and controlled, cheerless and humorless.

Why not extend the idea...that sex can be healing? The display of each other's bodies and especially the private parts, the organs usually veiled, may help heal a marriage or keep each person lively and vibrant as the Greeks would say, in touch with immortality.

It might help many people to allow themselves their sexual shyness, not discounting it as a personal inadequacy but recognizing that indulgence and abandon are not the only kind of sexual liberation.

The rush of vitality we find in sex can make us feel in our bodies that life is meaningful--one reason why sex has such powerful attraction and why, when sex is lacking or unsatisfactory, life seems dull and empty...Sexual vitality also helps keep couples together, because sex can give daily lives the optimism they need to carry on.

Sex eases us away from the intellectualized life and places us in a different position where intuition, emotion, and physical sensation take on special importance.

A married couple may not feel terribly affectionate at times when they make love, but as they make love they may bring each other loyalty to their marriage, to their home, and to their children.

Lovers who are also friends will have something to say to each other before, after, adn during sex. They will be aware of their deeper ties as they make love, and their lovemaking will be tightly woven into other dimensions of their intimacy. Their friendship will give sex a loving context that is more stable than romantic love or physical attraction.

Modern society's combined moralism against and obsession with sex indicates that we have yet discovered the deeper meaning of sexuality...But, like all powerful elements in the soul, sex needs to be manifested. Otherwise we suffer not only from the sudden return of the repressed--sex breaking our repression in negative and uncontrollable ways--but also from diminishment of life and vitality. Sex gives life color and vivacity. When we hide it out of fear, our personal lives and our social life become flat.

If we see the physical world as one of lifeless objects and mechanical functions, a great portion of our time love lives will be lost. We are willing to spend much of our time in a loveless, sexless environment, but if the working hours of our days are not enlivened by the nymphs of sex and spirits of eros, now can we suddenly and without context fall into lovemaking? How can we divorce sex from life and expect it to season our lives?

Your sexual imagination will never grow weak or stop working, no matter how old you are and no matter what the circumstances of life...Sexual desire still goes on when there is little or no chance of contrete satisfaction.

In marriage good sex goes along with a full life, because sex gives to the emotions and to the sense of coupling a sensation of fullness....It's difficult to have good sex on an empty heart or in impoverished home. By impoverished I don't mean a home without money, but rather a home without the spirit of abundant life, a spirit that can be evoked in a poor home as well as in a rich house

Sex can become routine in marriage, especially if all the acouterments remain plain and familiar, but if sex is seen as an art rather than mere self-expression or duty ,then the whole of one's life can prepare for it and at the same time be carried on in the afterglow of sex.

Sex doesn't have to be perfect or done in any particular way. As long as it lies at the heart of marriage, it does the soul task of mediating between worlds, between the daily concerns of living and the eternal concerns of meaning and the heart. Even when people sense a contradiction in their marriage between good sex and bad communication, they can be certain that sexual passion is not meaningless.

Let's talk about sex: Part II

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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

As I said before in my earlier blog entry on sex, "I confess that I may not have anything profound to add or contribute to this all important conversation" but I do have a few questions and observations. In my last blog entry I raised a number of questions, now I would like to add a few observations...


1. At this particular time in our country's history a significant number of people
seem particularly threatened by homosexuality, yet, from my current vantage point
heterosexual promiscuity seems much more of a threat to marriages and families. I
personally know three women who were molested by their fathers who were deacons
in their respected churches.

2. Sexual addiction is generally not just about sex, but rather, it is most often a
coping strategy people use to deal with emotional pain.

3. I suspect alot of people fear sexual passion because maybe they fear they will
lose control.

4. I suspect a significant number of people do not see themselves as sexually
attractive and thus do not feel comfortable with their bodies.

5. I suspect a vast majority of families, ever talk much about sex.

6. Alot of people's tone of voice changes when they talk about sex.

7. Most adult conservations seem to be short and to the point.

8. The schools specialize in talking about the mechanics of sex while the church
specializes in the morality of sex...and...the sex industry fills in the gaps.

9. People who have been sexually abused need healing and alot of support.

10. If sexual abuse is swept under the rug the consequences may be passed down
to future generations.

11. Sexual repression is like keeping King Kong chained. It may work for awhile but
eventually Kong is going to get out of his cage.

12. Sex and good food go hand in hand.

Global Warming in My Neck of the Woods

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Al Gore's movie "An Inconvient Truth" is loaded with scientific evidence that supports his assertion, and others, that the earth is getting warmer. I don't have any "scientific" evidence to pass along but I do have a boat load of anitdotal evidence from my neck of the woods.

1. Tonight I rode home after dark with my window rolled down.

2. I am still hiking and riding my bike at dusk in my shorts and a tee shirt.

3. I have yet to turn on my heater.

4. I have yet to wear a coat or even a light jacket in the morning or after dark.

5. It's the warmest November I ever remember.

6. Only a small handful of trees are turning color. Usually, by this time of the year all of the trees have turned color and some have even lost most of their leaves.

7. I am sleeping with only one lightweight polar fleece blanket on my bed.

8. I still sleep with the window open at night.

9. I'm going camping next week even though it is the middle of November because
the evening temperatures are still in the mid forties along the coast.

9. It was the hottest summer I ever remember. Thank God I was gone for three weeks
when it was between a 110-115 degrees for about two weeks.

10. It was the warmest January and February on record in Bakersfield last year
which means the heat wave has extended for four season's running now which is
something I never remember in the past...usually, in the past, if one season was
above or below normal the next season would be cooler or warmer than than

It's beginning to feel like winter is never going to arrive.
Southern California is known for their mild winters, but it is generally much
colder in the Central Valley where I live because the surrounding mountains trap
the cold air and fog for much of the winter...but...not this year...yet... just seems so strange going to a high school football game at night in
November and not needing a coat. If the weather doesn't begin to cooperate soon
than I expect Santa to arrive in Bermuda shorts and a surf board this year...
and...the beard will definitely have to go....

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Let's Talk about Sex: Part I

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O.K., I suspect you are wondering what's up with this particular blog entry. To be honest, and I want to be honest on this all important topic, I currently feel the need to let off a bit of steam on the topic of sex...because...over the years I have become increasingly frustrated about both the lack of quality discussions on sex and the never ending negative context in which sex is discussed in public. I can count the number of satisfying/fruitful sexual discussions on one finger. Homosexuality,abstinence,pornography,rape, and sexual promiscuity seem to be the only aspects of sex discussed in the public square these days. Doesn't anybody have anything else to say or contribute to the discussion of sex?...Is there anybody out there who has something to add to this most sacred of human experiences?...or... are we only left to talk to ourselves or a shrink about our sexual desires, questions, passions or interest in sex?...and...I find it telling that we can create some interesting and provactive discussions about politics, religion, and a host of other human related topics but when it comes to sex we, more often than not, come up with a big fat zero, which is ironic considering the interest and passions the vast majority of us have about the topic...getting off my soapbox for a minute...I concede that sex is an extremely personal matter that we have all been socialized to approach with great care...and...I concede there is much wisdom in being cautious about the personal details of this aspect of our lives...and...I confess that I may not have anything profound to add or contribute to this all important conversation...but... I have actually spent a sigificant amount of time thinking about sex and following are some questions and observations I have regarding sex. I would like to begin with some questions in part I. These are questions I, most often, do not have answers for, but these are some questions that have passed through my brain at one time or another over the years....and....I hope these questions do contribute, in some small way, to a fruitful discussion about sex, if not here, at least somewhere, sometime, in the future....


1. Why do we prefer to use scientific terms like penis and vagina when we talk about sex, both in public and in private...and...why is the vernacular sexual vocabularly considered dirty or obscene? least with a significant number of people in the middle class?

2. What are the sexual options, if any, for the reported 77 million adults who are not currently not married?

3. Why is masturbation such a hush, hush topic,especially, especially when one considers that everyone does it or has done it?

4. What do we make of a husband or wife who continues to masturbate even though they are married?

5. What is erotic sex and why do so few married couples experience erotic passionate sex?

6. If sex is such a private matter to discuss than in what context is it appropiate to talk about sex?

7. Why is it so hard for so many couples to talk about sex?

8. Why is it so hard for so many couples to express their sexual preferences/passions and desires, with each other?

9. Why does the average married couple only have sex about one and a half times a week...especially, when one considers it is one of the most pleasurable of all human experiences....and it's free!...

10. Why do so many churches, generally, give lip service, to the beauty of sex...and spend so much time mentioning the negative aspects of sex....

11. Why does the Catholic church continue to "insist" that their priests be celibate and expect abstinence?

12. Why doesn't repressing our sexual desires work, for most people?

13. Is sex between consenting non-married adults always wrong? matter what the age and circumstances?

14. Why are a significant number of hereterosexual adults more offended and repulsed by homosexual behavior between two men than two women?

15. How realistic is it to expect engaged couples, in our day and age, to remain abstinent until the day they get married?

16. What does God "really" think and feel about people who struggle with their sexual identity or sexuality in general?

17. Why do so many Christian women seem repressed regarding their sexuality?...this question is based on my antidotal evidence taken from various discussions with many of my Christian friends over the years...

18. And finally....Why is so much shame and guilt associated with something so pleasurable?

Monday, November 13, 2006

Sunday, November 12, 2006

It's been almost six years since I attended and belonged to a church on a regular basis. I stopped going to church almost six years ago because "I felt" betrayed and abandoned by my pastor and the congregation while I was going through my divorce. I never intended to stay away as long as I have but, to be blunt, I haven't missed going to church, which surprised me, because I was a active member of the Evangelical subculture for over twenty five years. Over the past couple of years, I have attended Catholic mass on a number of different occasions but have been unable to get passed the "exclusive nature" of the Catholic tradition. I have tried on several occasions to discuss/engage some of my Catholic friends regarding the exclusivity of the Catholic tradition but everyone seems content to just keep the status quo. I can understand the desire or psychological need to maintain personal peace, at almost any cost, but "I" am presently not in the mood to join or participate, on a regular basis, any organization that does not reflect the values that are critically important to me. I know we, and the church at large, are all imperfect but I frankly don't see the point in supporting institutions that have institutionalized ideas and practices that contradict the core values I support. I'm all for working within the system to try to bring about change, but, I have been there and done that, and now feel it is time to move on and see if I can find a church that better suits what "I" am passionate about these days.

Yesterday I attended a local Congregational church and in the weeks to come I intend to visit the local Methodist and Presbyterian churches. I have attended all these mainline churches before but I want to give them another look. Mainline churches in my neck of the woods are a dying breed but I just don't see myself going back to mainstream evangelicalism anytime soon. The Congregational Church is the current front runner because I enjoy the pastor and the spirit of the services. The pastor is a woman who generally encourages the congregation to get involved in community service without heaping on guilt or shame and she has yet to bad mouth or bash other Christians or the culture at large. Over the years I grew tired of the constant barrage against the culture and left leaning politicians and theologians...and...later grew increasingly disturbed by what I feel was an unfair characterization of those folks who didn't see the world from a conservative Christian perspective. I came to this conclusion after reading for "myself" what the various non evangelicals had to say for themselves and felt there was a significant amount of distortion being distributed on a regular basis....All of the mainline congregations in Bakersfield are smaller than I generally like but maybe I can get to know some of the folks more on a personal basis....My recent decision to explore some of the local churches is based on a personal need. At the present time I don't have much of a social network outside of work and family therefore I feel the need to build some relationships with adults who are like minded. I don't know where this is going to lead, if anywhere, but I will give it a whirl. It's not easy trying to establish adult relationships when you are divorced and pushing 50 but I figure it is better than just sitting around and doing nothing....

Monday, November 06, 2006

For Julie

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My blogger friend Julie Bogart has been up to her eyeballs lately keeping up with her grad work and keeping fellow cyberspace junkies like myself inspired by her ongoing excellent articles which can be found at Julie Unplugged. a result Julie has apparently failed to keep up with some very important recent news regarding her favorite band U-2. So Julie, I am passing along this article for you.

U2's Vertigo Tour may soon create a real sense of vertigo among moviegoers as the band is planning to release its first 3-D concert film next year. The untitled feature is being directed by Catherine Owens and Mark Pellington. In conjunction with the film's anticipated mid- to late-2007 debut, U2 also might take part in the first live 3-D performance projected in theaters nationwide.

For the film, Owens and Pellington shot more than 700 hours of footage with the band in seven South American cities during February and March. Trekking across Argentina, Mexico, Chile and Brazil, the film's 3-D director of photography Peter Anderson ("T2 3-D: Battle Across Time") used nine pairs of Sony Cinealta 950 cameras to capture the band with swooping camera angles and kaleidoscopic imagery. The director of cinematography for the film's 2-D footage is Tom Krueger.

3ality Digital Entertainment, the project's producer, put together of the largest assemblages of 3-D camera technology ever used for a single project. A representative for the band called it "the first-ever 3-D multicamera live shoot."

The feature is being edited in New York by Olivier Wiki and readied for a summer or fall release. Discussions are underway with several major studio distributors. It is expected that the film screen nationwide using the Real D technology in place by theaters screening the digital 3-D release of "Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas."

Real D unveiled the first theatrically projected live 3-D event last week at ShowEast in Orlando. It is planning a live 3-D concert presentation next fall, and sources said it might be a U2 concert.

Owens has been the creative director of screen visuals for U2 on several of the band's world tours. Feature director Pellington ("Arlington Road," "The Mothman Prophecies") began his career by directing U2's "One" video.

The soundtrack is produced by Carl Glanville, who also produced the concert DVD "Vertigo 2005/U2 Live From Chicago." Wiki edited the U2 video "Original of the Species," which was nominated for two MTV Video Music Awards.

Thanks Dave!

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I became a Pearl Jam fan years ago after seeing their video Jeremy on MTV. It's one of my favorite videos and I have used it in my classes for years. Although I own a number of their C.D's and two of their concert videos I never felt like a "true believer" because I have never attended their concert nor do I own one of their famous bootleg C.D.'s which is apparently a must for any true blue follower of Pearl Jam. While I probably never will attend a Pearl Jam concert since Bakersfield is not and never will be on their tour schedule in this life time or the only hope for becoming one of the faithful is to some how get my hands on one of their bootleg C.D.'s. But, where does one get a bootleg copy of anything?...I have no idea??? Really....Check the internet?...Call up the local "pirate" underground radio station?...See if Eddie Veddar is listed in the Seattle phone book somewhere?....Lord help me....Earlier today my prayers were answered when I received three Pearl Jam bootlegs from my fellow Pearl Jam fellow traveler,cyberspace bud, and blogger extraodinaire Dave.....Thanks Dave. Although I am not in a particular Pearl Jam mood at this particular time of the year I did listen to the songs from the Van Andel Arena concert while mountain bike riding earlier this afternoon. I normally don't just sit and listen to Pearl Jam while I am at home but I do really like listening to thier music while hiking and riding my bike. It really gets the blood flowing while I am trying to push this near 50 year old body up a hiking or mountain bike trail.... The quality of the recordings is quite good for a live concert and I am just amazed how incredible technology is getting these days.....Again, thanks for remembering your promise and helping me get over the hump to become a faithful true blue fan of Pearl Jam...

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Weighing in on the recent scandal

After reading and following the recent scandal/fall of Pastor Ted Haggard I confess I have alot of mixed emotions on numerous fronts. I first came across Ted Haggard while watching a PBS program on materialism called Affluenza years ago. During the program Pastor Haggard spoke eloquently about the need for people to spend more time with their families and less time chasing the almighty dollar but he did so without sounding pious or judgmental,imo. Personally I am saddened to hear that apparently pastor Haggard has been "thrown under the bus" for his failing to live up to his ideals and the expectations of others. As someone, who is not above reproach in such matters as these, and has felt thrown under the bus at one time in my own past, it is a dark place to must be incredibly painful for his family and those close to him. Personally, I am not particularly interested in the details regarding what "exactly" happened because I suspect,at this time, Pastor Haggard has neither the ability or the motivation to come clean. Why throw gasoline on yourself when you are already on fire? There will come a time when Haggard will need to come clean, for the sake of himself and his family, but I don't think the time is now and I don't think he owes anything to the media at this am content to conclude that Haggard screwed up, big time, he knows it...and.... will probably pay for his failings, in one form or another, for the rest of his life.

As I listen to this story from a variety of different angles ranging from bloggers to the national media I can't help thinking about the circumstances that contribute to such tragic situations. I don't mean to imply that Haggard doesn't bear personal responsibility for his actions but I also personally believe that behavior does not happen in a vacuum. Why do people who seem to have everything together and such prestige take such great risks?...and...what role if any, does society play in creating an environment where people risk everything that is important to them for momentary pleasure?...and...what role, if any, does the Christian sub-culture play?...I have felt, for some time now, that the Christian sub-culture makes it very, very difficult for people who struggle with sexual identity issues, and sexuality in general, to get the proper help and perspective on sex that they need which is why most Christians within the sub-culture generally go "underground" with their struggles....I make no assertions about what may have caused Haggard to risk it all but I suspect there may be many layers that need to be peeled back in the days,weeks, or years to come before Haggard experiences the healing and peace that he apparently needs and is probably seeking...Postscript...I know that much of what I have said may sound too empathetic for a man who was leading the charge for a law that was opposed by the homosexual community which makes him a hypocrite...and...that of course, cannot nor shouldn't be swept under the rug...but as I said at the beginning, I have such mixed emotions about this story because "it is" a tragic story on a number of different fronts and I can't help thinking about the paradox between mercy, forgiveness, judgement, and taking personal responsibilitity for our own we all will at one time, to one degree or another, find ourselves in a situation where we will "hope" for mercy, rather than paying the price for what we probably deserve....

Monday, October 23, 2006

The Simple Pleasures of Life

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Last night I slept in my new bed and it was wonderful...just wonderful...Oh, the simple pleasures of life. For the past three and a half months I have either slept on the ground or in the same twin bed I slept in as a child. Last night I went to bed early, lit a few candles, and put on some Michael Jones piano music and drifted off to sleep. Living in an affluent country like the U.S. we often take for granted the numerous luxuries at our disposal and don't even notice we have such luxuries until they are gone or absent from our lives for an extended period of time. For the past couple of years I have been living a rather Spartan existence, by choice, but have recently decided it is time to upgrade my living, I went out and bought a new bed and some other bedroom furniture in anticipation for the day I move out of my mom's house. It's been fun but exhausting as I have mentioned elsewhere but I am currently satisfied with my recent purchases and look forward to many comfortable nights sleeping in my new bed. I splurged on a few items including a 500 thread count Pima cotton sheet set I purchased from Costco. I never realized a set of sheets could feel so heavenly. If you don't know what Pima cotton feels like, and I didn't before my recent purchase, it feels kind of like soft satin, but not quite as slippery, with the feel of the softest cotton this side of heaven. I won't bore you with all the other stuff I purchased over the past couple of weeks but will only add that I am very satisfied with my bedroom situation for the first time in many, many years. Not only is my new bedroom furniture comfortable but it is very pleasing to the eye which is important to me. I figure since I intend to spend a significant amount of my time in my bedroom in the years to come I might as well surround myself with furniture that reminds me that there is beauty in this world even though I am constantly reminded of the dark side of life. I love nature because it touches my soul so I figure it was time to bring a little of the beauty into my living environment to remind me of the beautiful side of life....

Saturday, October 21, 2006

The Doctor Bill Show

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It was bound to happen. My back went big surprise...I have been overdoing it, movng this and that, and I know better, but for some reason, dumb one, I think it won't happen this time. When will I ever learn to listen to the little small voice that warns me to stop or slow down...Probably never...I don't think this recent, back going out episode, is serious, but I need to take a couple of days off and act with precaution before I do further damage which might create sigificant pain and loss of work and the abandonment of my workout rountine which I have worked hard to maintain for three months running now. I stand on concrete at work which makes it difficult to recover from back spasms and pain. I haven't had a do nothing day for quite some time now so I think I'll take tomorrow and Monday off. Earlier today I tried to work the pain out by going bike riding but that only made the problem worse. Back pain, is tricky, because if you try to recover simply by sitting in a chair, which seems logical, generally the problem gets worse. I have found that stretching exercises, and walking as much as you can is the best recovery recipe. But whatever you do, don't lift anything and don't sit in one position in a chair for too long. Get up, move around, and do whatever you can and then sit back down again. I learned all of this when I broke my back while mountain bike riding in 1998. Back pain is very difficult to handle because it effects everything you do and the pain can get so severe that you think you are not going to recover anytime soon...but...generally the pain, significantly gets better in a couple of days but if it doesn't get better in four or five days or it gets alot worse you may want to see a doctor and make sure you haven't injured or ruptured a disc......For longterm relief....walking and riding a bike is the best remedy...the body loves motion...and although I have broke my back, torn the cartiledge in my right knee and torn the ligaments in my left knee, I get around pretty for a guy quickly approaching 50 years old...and....I owe it all to keeping active about four to five days a week, year round....Well, that's it for this episode of the doctor Bill show...until next week....keep those legs a moving...and don't spend too much time on the couch watching the tube.....

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Abandon Ship?

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After checking my blog today I noticed I haven't posted anything for a week and a half now...I've not abandoned the blog ship yet, but I've been "very" busy perparing myself to move. I don't have any bedroom furniture so I have been running here and there for the past ten days looking at beds, dressers, quilts, sheets, blankets, and all the other things one needs to live. It's been fun but very time consuming and exhausting to tell you the truth. Not sure exactly when I am going to move since my two sons need to work through and decide if they want to come and live with me. Whether they come and live with me will decide where I move. If they want to live with me I will probably move near the school where they go so they can walk to school. If not, I'll probably look for a house in the older part of the city where the trees are large and the neighborhoods are quiet. That's my personal preference. In the meantime, I am going to continue to shop until I either drop or complete the task of making a home for myself and my sons to make a go of it in the suburbs of Bakersfield. No matter how the chips fall it will be nice to move out of my mom's house where I have been holding up for the past four and a half years. I grew up in this house and I have many fond memories but it is time I strike out on my own. I know I'll feel a lot better when I do...hopefully sooner than later, but my current situation demands alot of patience and patient I will be......

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Friends of Peace

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And to finish off the peace trilogy....Here are 20 friends of peace.

1. Martin Luther King

2. Gandhi

3. Any world leader who is always cautious to use force and never when one is not provoked.

4. Meditation

5. Prayer

6. The music of Michael Jones

7. The music of the Cambridge Singers

8. Forgiveness

9. A good therapist

10. Friends who unconditionally love you.

11. The ocean

12. A gentle breeze on an autumn or spring day.

13. Photo Albums

14. A hug

15. A phone call from a friend

16. The peace movement

17. Dali Lama

18. Jesus

19. An infant who is sleeping in their crib

20. Patience and perservance when one is provoked

Enemies of my Peace

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This is a follow up this to my last blog entry. Here is a list of 20 things that stunt my peace experience.

1. Listening to talk radio.

2. Listening to the President of the U.S.

3. Listening to the Vice President of the U.S.

4. Listening to and accepting the false guilt and shame of others.

4. Travelling to L.A.

5. Allowing the negative self talk tape recorder in my head to stay on too long.

6. Trying to do too much in a given day or moment...

7. Doing too much of a good thing.

8. Giving unsolicited advise.

9. Thinking too much.

10. Thinking too little.

11. Not paying enough attention to my intuition.

12. Seeking approval from those who don't know me, or don't care.

13. Eating too much sweets.

14. Enabling others.

15. Visiting Las Vegas...once is enough...

16. Watching Bill O'Reilly

17. Not taking a stand out of fear.

18. Assuming the worst before I know the facts.

19. Allowing others to define me.

20. Listening to my sons music in the car.

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I woke up this morning, early, as usual, and all was calm. No dogs barking, no sound of traffic, and I wasn't pressed for time to go anywhere or do anything. So, I just stayed in bed and listened to the quiet sound of the birds chirping outside and the computer humm. I need and desire more does the world around me. These are not peaceful times and what individual peace we may experience is often fleeting. We need to make peace a priority as individuals and as nations and communities. When was the last time a politician, pastor, or any other community leader made peace a priority?....Politicians may speak of peace from time to time but then they resort to force, violence, or war to achieve their goal which almost always creates more chaos, instability, anger, and hatred which are antithetical to peace....So where does that leave us?.....I can't control what politicians do but there are many things we can personally do to bring peace to our individual lives and communities.

1. Make peace a priority in your life. Slow down, for starters. Do whatever you need to do to remove yourself from the rat race that we all find ourselves in way too often.

2. Try to live in harmony with those you live, work, or spend time with. Don't manipulate, belittle, condescend, neglect, or snubb, those who you love or spend a great deal of time with. This can be challenging because some people may feel hurt or rejected no matter what you do. Go the extra mile. Listen to others without waiting for a rebuttal. Ask questions of clarification, if needed, and don't return fighting words back. Violence, hurtful words, and violent actions always begets more violence. Get help if you are in a relationship that is falling apart before the hurt and pain turn you against each other.

3. Support those who also are committed to peace. Vote for candidates who are looking for ways to solve the worlds problems without threatening or using confrontational measures to solve the worlds problems. Warmonging, nationally or individually, may bring initial stability, but most often creates such anger and hostility in the other that resistence or open warfare will generally follow. "He who lives by the sword will die by the sword"....

4. And, finally. Do whatever you need to do on a regular basis to bring peace in your life. Meditate, pray, spend time with people who bring peace to your life, go for a walk, listen to peaceful music, relax, take a vacation to a peaceful place each year, work on your relationship with those you live with, and love your enemies.......

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Leaving the Shire

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I am currently at a crossroads in my life on several critical fronts and over the past forty eight hours things have become much clearer and I have decided it’s time for change…big changes…..I can’t go into explicit details about some of the changes because of privacy issues but I have decided that I am going to move, sometime in the next two to four weeks…..and…I have also decided that it is time to begin changing and exploring the social network front. Change is often bittersweet because it is always difficult to leave that which is familiar and comforting to us, but, it can also be a time for growth and opportunities for new experiences. For the past four years I have beem living with either my elderly mother or my aunt and uncle but I have now decided it is time to fly the coup and make a go of it on my own. It's a bit scary leaving the house I grew up in and living alone for the first time in my life but I am also very excited about the freedom and new opportunities to pursue some of my own hopes, dreams, and personal preferences. I look forward to what lies ahead......On the social network front....I also look forward to exploring and hopefully getting involved on a community level in some way. I have a great passion for being involved in some kind of religious community, various environmental causes/projects and working, interacting, and engaging other men in their day to day lives.....and most importantly, I hope to begin spending more time with my two sons as they grow into grown men.......I don't know where the path I have chosen will eventually lead but that is what is interesting about life, it's an adventure. Adventures seldom turn out the way we expect and there are plenty of ups and downs but hopefully we all will also be able to experience the joys of living and interacting with others.....So, it's now time to say farewell to the comforts of the Shire and embrace the opportunities that lay ahead beyond the land where hobbits dwell...P.S.....I just hope I don't stumble into Mordor along the way. I don't much care for those nasty orcs.....

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Week-end Camp-out

Fall has the Sierras...Bakersfield won't experience fall until November. The trees in the Sierra's are beginning to turn bright gold as some of the pictures show and in the next couple of weeks they will turn bright red and orange. The first winter storm hit the high country over the week-end and I got caught in the middle of the storm. I was camped around 8,000 feet and didn't experience the winter wrath of mother nature but I did get wet as the rain fell throughout the night and the high Sierra peaks above 10,000 got a dusting of snow. I didn't mind the rain because I was well protected by my equipment and it was actually quite nice since I haven't seen any kind of rain since last April. The trip was a bit rushed as I tried to cover as much ground as possible taking pictures of the numerous canyons that are scattered throughout the Sierra range. I didn't get as many good pictures as I had hoped and the weather didn't cooperate with my plan to hit some of the hot spots in the Northern half of the Sierra's....All in all it was a good trip even if it was rushed. I got out and did some hiking and mountain bike riding and getting away from civilization is always good for the soul.

Fall in the Sierra

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Sunday, September 24, 2006

Friday, September 22, 2006

Since the price of going to the movies has reached seven dollars for matinees and ten bucks for the evening shows in my neck of the woods I have cut back going to the theatre. After all, if you have a watchful eye you can now get many DVD's for as low as 5 to 7 bucks, if you wait about six months after their release....but..... Recently, I got the movie bug, broke down, and payed the big bucks to see three films which I would like to highly recommend. Just something magical about sitting in the dark staring at a sixty foot screen that keeps me coming back again and again. The three films are the Illusionist, Little Miss Sunshine, and Jet Li's Fearless. Of the three, I liked Little Miss Sunshine the best. It was absolutely hilarious watching this, bust the gut, roll on the floor, must see, Indie film. The film is kind of a hybrid between the Royal Tenebaums and Sideways but better, imo, because of numerous "out of left field" episodes which keeps the viewer on the edge of their seat once the family heads to California for the big beauty pagent contest. This film came to my attention after reading the reviews on Rottentomatoes. It received a 93 % approval rating on the tomatometer which is almost unheard amongst the critics at Rottentomatoes. Return of the King received 94% by contrast. It's not critical one see this film on the "big screen" but it is a must see film once it is released to DVD.......The Illusionist is a period piece which stars Edward Norton and Sideways Paul Giamatti. One has to suspend ones logical sensibilities to accept the ending but it is entertaining and the performances and production quality are all excellent and I liked the unique peak into the world of magicians.....I went to see the film Fearless yesterday because I am a sucker for the Hidden Dragon, Hero, and House of the Flying Dagger, martial arts films. I must admit, I didn't much care for the first half of the movie where Li is presented as an obnoxious kung fu narcisstic fighter but the second half of the film is excellent. I don't want to give anything away but I will say that the moral and personal transformation underpinnings of this film are admirable and worth the price of admission.....So, I am currently on a hot streak of three for three in the movie department and thus I don't feel quite as bad for laying out the big bucks over the past three weeks....

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Riding the Roller Coaster of Life

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It's been a roller coaster week and tonight is the first time I have been home before nine o'clock. I haven't slept well this week due to my schedule which included back to school night on Tuesday. The week of back to school night is always hectic because I have to travel back and forth to school twice that day which includes about 150 miles of driving. I generally don't get back home until after nine o'clock and it generally takes me until midnight to wind down. And, then I am back at it again six hours later....

Wednesday I bought one of those flashdisks and decided to download all my stuff so I could take it back and forth to work....and....while going through all my floppies I found some old yahoo discussion group entries that I had turn, inspired me to go back to the various discussion groups archives and download some of the more memorable entries and discussions. This is going to be a big project but I think it will be worth the effort since it will give me an opportunity to reread some of memorable discussions I have encountered over the years. I also intend to go at a slow pace so it won't be a burden or additional stressor which is something I don't need at this time in my life.....I have decided to start with the old Postmodern Christian Archive discussion group which I found is still listed. The group is no longer active as far as I can tell but this is the first group I joined back in 1999. I have many fond memories of this group and found the discussions incredibly stimulating, in large part, because it was the first time in my adult life I had ventured outside of my conservative Christian sub-culture to "engage" folks who saw the world much differently than what I had grown accustomed to for the past twenty three years. And, at times, the whole experience was surreal and sometimes overwhelming as I tried to keep up pace with a group of folks who were often more educated and informed than I was on numerous subjects. I soaked it all in though and it marked a radical new beginning in terms of what I thought and how processed information. It will also be interesting to go back and reread some of the discussion threads now that I am at a different place in my life.....Well, that's it for now. If I can get motivated I would like to do a series of blog entries on the topic of Jungian archetypes. I have been reading some books on the subject over the past couple of months and find the whole subject fascinating and relevant to my current situation in life. But, we will see. I don't want to start the series if I don't think I can finish it. I have done that too many times before......

Friday, September 15, 2006

A Tribute to My Religious Past

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A critical examination of the past, particularly a hard, honest look, at one’s life, family, and relationships with various institutions can be a mixed bag, especially if one has experienced a significant amount of abuse, neglect, rejection, etc. It’s can be a mixed bag because even in the midst of abuse or mistreatment there are generally examples of love, care, support, or acts of kindness by those who may have been abusive or neglectful. Imo, self awareness of one’s past is potentially a good thing…but…it can also result in temporary or sometimes long term rejection of those individuals or institutions who may have been abusive at times. I have no desire to suggest or judge how people deal with their past but simply to point out that a critical examination of one’s past will generally lead to a growing self awareness that may potentially lead to a significant amount of cognitive dissonance and or rejection of one’s past…

For many people religion and our relationship with a religious community is a very important aspect of our lives and thus effect us on a very deep and profound level…..and….for many, if not the majority, our experiences with our religious community may swing back and forth between the positive and the negative…but…. for some…ones past experiences with the Christian subculture may now, in hindsight, border on the abusive, manipulative, and even cultish…..and thus… may understandably be tempted to throw the baby out with the bathwater or chuck religion altogether. I suspect for most of us the experiences with our religious past may not be so extreme so we may just become critical to the point where it either rubs people the wrong way or creates questions of doubts about our standing with God and the Christian community with our fellow brethren.

Over the years I have done my fair share of criticizing this or that regarding my Christian past and, the Christian subculture in general, but today I want to acknowledge and pay tribute to some of the positive contributions of my religious past. I came up with the idea for this tribute while teaching one of my classes earlier this week. While I was teaching I was reminded how my teaching style and the fact that I was a teacher to begin with was predominantly and positively influenced by the Christian subculture.....In an effort to not sound too long winded I'll limit my acknowledgements to the major influences. Here is my Cliff note version the people, communities, and authors who I am forever indebted for positively influencing my life.....

Beulah Nash: For, taking me under her wing when I first became a Christian….and….for her generous hospitality.

The Genesis Bible College Community: For, introducing me to interesting books to read which contributed to my becoming a life long learner and reader...and...for, rescuing me from an extreme Christian legalistic community.

The Charismatic movement: For, modeling that "experience" is an important part of our lives and a legitimate and equal partner with science, reason, and logic....and....I don't need to suppress my feelings. It's o.k., to have feelings, even the dark emotions.

Maranatha music industry, Keith Green, Phil Keaggy, and the Second Chapter of Acts: For, revolutionizing the Christian music subculture and providing millions of young Christians with something relevant to listen to.

Dan Bushy and Glenn Calkins: For, being such great Christian friends. I wish I knew where you guys were today.

Francis Schaeffer:
For, teaching me that "all" of life is spiritual and rescuing me from the world of religious dualism....and....opening a window to the world of art, culture, philosophy, environmental issues, and classical music at a time when I took great pride in being a cultural barbarian.

Franky Schaeffer:
For, risking his career and reputation by engaging the culture, on it's terms, at a time when most evangelicals were steeped in a pietism that made them culturally irrelevant...and...for later following his conscious to become Eastern Orthodox which took alot of guts.

Susan Schaeffer Macaulay:
For, inspiring me to become a teacher and introducing me to the educational philosophy of Charlotte Mason who influenced my teaching style and methodology.

Jacques Ellul: For, opening the door to the dialectic method of thinking which helped provide a critical corrective to my black/white, either, or, thinking….and….for stimulating my thinking in regards to the role of technology, pacifism, and neo-orthodoxy.

Vernard Eller and the Christian Anarchist community: For, helping break the bonds of my political and theological leaning ideology.

C.T. McIntire Jr., George Marsden, Herbert Butterfield, and The Christian Institute of Toronto: For, shaping how I understand and critically interpret history.

Calvin College: For, producing professors and writers who stimulated my thinking for almost ten years on the relationship between culture and Christianity…and….teaching me that Christianity could make important positive contributions on such topics as science, pop culture, technology, war, the environment, music, literature, etc.

Barry Lily and Al Wilson: For, accepting me and not judging me during some of the darkest days of my life.

Stanley Grenz and Brian Mclaren: For, helping to affirm that my subconscious postmodern leanings were not simply the imagination of someone who had finally gone over the edge.

Marcus Borg and Dominic Crossan: For, helping me understand and accept that one can maintain the “essence” of the Christian faith without agreeing or accepting all of the particulars…and…for modeling a spirit of religious tolerance.

Pomoxian, Faithmaps, and other Christian Postmodern leaning discussion groups: For, providing a safe place to interact with others while continuing learning…and…for, probably helping prevent me from throwing out the baby with the bath water in regards to my faith…..And thanks to all of those people and communities that also made positive contributions but were not mentioned due to limits on time and space.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

It's finally time to say goodbye to Mr. Sun

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After the longest stretch of hot weather I can remember in recent history apparently the worst of the heat is coming to an end on Friday. Today it was 98 degrees and it is supposed to drop down into the 70's by Friday. I can't remember the last time it was in the seventies. Maybe, sometime in the early part of May last year?....Heck, just last week the lows were in the seventies. It has been in the nineties and hundreds for about 100 days running now....and....I can't begin to tell you how glad I am to see the heat go. The long range forcast predicts that it will be in the eighties, with a few days of seventies, for the next ten days, and I have my fingers crossed that it will not get into the high nineties or hundreds for the rest of the year. Hip, hip hooray......There are alot of reasons I hate the heat. It is physically draining and it is very difficult to sleep when it is eighty or sometimes ninety well into the night. I also hate the heat because I associate it with poor air quality. You should see the skyline around these parts for much of the summer. It's just downright ugly....although....we have spectacular sunsets due to the flaming red sun that is poking it's face through the pollution as it settles down for the night......I also hate the heat because it makes my outdoor activities "almost" unbearable. For the past four weeks I have been hiking and biking in hundred degree temperatures twice a week and the only consulation is weight loss. On a couple of occasions I may have experienced early signs of heat exhaustion......So, hopefully, it's time to say goodbye to summer until next year and welcome the beginning of my three favorite seasons, fall, winter, and spring. I can't bring myself to say that I am sorry to see summer go because you have well passed your welcome in my neck of the bug the folks south of the equator until we meet again, hopefully later rather than sooner......

Sunday, September 10, 2006

The Enigma's of Life

Oh.......the enigma's of life. On the psychological front it has been a tough week. Alot of anxiety, stress, and frequent nasty feelings I either can't identify, or perhaps don't want to....but yet.... On the physical front, I feel better than I have in ten years. I feel strong, youthful, and vibrant again, something I never thought I would feel again because I assumed it was all down hill when I reached forty. Physically I feel like I am on top of the world...yet...emotionally I feel needy. It's funny, interesting, and mysterious how life works that way enigma.....and.....It's easy to become narcisstic when the planets don't line up in ones personal life but life is full of reality checks for those who have ears to hear. Rampant poverty around the globe, three families living in the same house across the street, and friends on the edge of a meltdown. These are all daily reminders that life is tough and rough for a significant number of people.....But....each day, generally has it's tender, sweet moments. For me, it occured on the bike trail this morning while zipping downhill at around thirties miles an hour with the cool wind blowing in my face and the soundtrack of The Last Samarai blasting in my eardrum. Life's best gifts are simple and free........Tomorrow is a new day and this week will no doubt present it's fair share of problems and challenges but the potential for the sun to break through and make an appearance is generally ever present.....which.....makes life bearable and worth pursuing for it's own sake.........

Thursday, September 07, 2006

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This has been a long, long, long,.......week.......I haven't been to bed before midnight anytime this week....My potential future living situation seems to fluctuate from day to day.....My mom, who is currently visiting had a mini stroke last night and I had to take her to the hospital.....and it has been hot, hot, hot, all week long which drains my week is potentially looking up......temperatures are supposed to dip into the eighties after 100 plus temperatures for most of last week. My aunt will arrive on Wednesday to take my mom home with her....and....I should have clarity on my living situation by Thursday. Summer, seems such a faint memory at this point.....Later in the month I will taking off for a couple of days to see the fall colors in the High Sierra's. I can't wait.....Am also looking forward to watching a little football now that both college and the pros have kicked into high gear....Go Trojans!......Life can get so hectic and mundane.....I often wish I were living somewhere else and doing something more noble with my time. I often feel like I am just hangin on and am at the mercy of variables I can never seem to control or predict......getting philosophical.....Life has it's seasons.....and...sometimes our time, energy, and activities, are dictated by life's responsibilities. We may yearn and groan for a better, easier, and fullfilling life, but life often does not cooperate with our best laid plans. Some call it fate....some exhort us to take charge of our own life....some roll with the punches....and....some give up and give in to the fate of thd gods.....some are self aware....but....most are swept up and taken out to sea by the circumstances of life. It's tough smelling the roses when to wind is howling day to day.....Tomorrow brings a new opportunities....more responsibilities.....but....always an adventure. The week-end is coming up and I hope to catch up with my sleep, do a little hiking, watch some football and spend some quality time with my two sons, my girlfriend, and my mom. If I sound a bit down, I am. It's been a long week. I may feel and sound down but I am not out and for that I am grateful....

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Bilbo's Next Journey

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I just found out about an hour ago that I am going to need to move out of my mothers house and I confess I have some really strong mixed emotions about the situation and how the whole matter went down. I am not going to go into any details because it's a family matter and will only say I was caught off guard.... Over the next couple of weeks I am going to need to quickly work through the various angles regarding my new living situation and I am both excited for the new possibilities and dread the prospect of moving at this time of the year. It's not going to be easy with my work schedule and all the various things involved in any moving situation. I was really hoping for things to settle down this fall but it now looks like my life is going to be very hectic for the next six weeks or so. Fortunately I don't have alot of stuff to move but on the other hand I really don't have any bedroom furniture since I was using my mom's for the past four years. I may have to sleep on my camping pads for awhile......And....then there is the emotional angle to all of this. For the past four years I have felt somewhat like an orphan since I was living in my mom's house and I have come to realize that I have a great need in my life at this time to create some space and have a place I can call my own.....which is something I have never really had in my life....I don't know how this is all going to go down because things are somewhat complicated by the fact that I have two sons who have expressed a desire to live me, under the right living situation which is complicated by their school situation, and my girlfriend Lynn who I still need to work some things out with.....At this point, it is critical that I take one day at a time and put to practice many of the things I have learned about dealing with stress, anxiety, and the flood of emotions that are triggered by such turn of events in life. It will be a challenge no doubt but with new challenges come new possibilities and I think I am up for the challenge, this time.....

Monday, August 21, 2006

Ponderings, paradoxes, and the past

I have done a bit of reminiscencing the last couple of days about the past while thinking about Julie Bogart's question "can you choose your beliefs" and reading about L'abri over at the Pomoxian
discussion group. At one time I had my heart set on becoming a L'abri worker and eventual staff member but that dream came to a screeching halt when L'abri's founder Francis Schaeffer was diagnosed with cancer. It was a painful time in my life emotionally on several fronts and I do sometimes wonder what "might" have happened if I had chosen a different path at a number of points along the way in the early 1980's. Generally, I don't think too much about the past but at the moment it seems to be on my mind. I also sometimes ponder how much control I really have regarding the choices I often make. I admit I fluctuate back and forth....because..... I can't really live with the implications that we have no choice yet it seems very clear, to "me", that there are so many variables, that are not in my control, that influence my choices which implies I may not be in control of what I believe and do as I think I might. Bottom's a quandry.....a mystery....and....a paradox...and.....that's what makes life interesting and makes faith, as defined as hope, a prerequisite for daily living...because when we lose hope in ourselves, our future, God as we understand God, than despair is bound to follow. And, I can't help thinking that so many people in this world have lost hope and the loss of hope breeds desperation and is the trigger to many of our problems in the world. I am not blaming the folks who have lost hope in the world because loss of hope ought to be seen as a human tradegy....but...unfortunately, so many individuals and world leaders don't seem to understand the plight of those who have lost hope thus they cannot empathize and thus often take advantage or blame the people who need our help the most.......Although we may choose to not think about the past most of the time, our past, is always with us. We may not acknowledge it, like it, or even give it the time of the day but it lives in our soul.....and.....we can never change the past which is why we should never ponder too deeply or too long about those aspects of our past life we wish we could forget.....but....ponder and reminiscence we must from time to time and think about what could of, wish would of, orwonder why life didn't turn out the way it did. It turned out the way it did because of who we were at a particular time in our lives and the variables that were out of our control manifested their own destiny which most of us will never understand in this life, or perhaps even in the next.....Life goes on, choices must be made, and unexpected variables will always come into play. That is the nature of life and their doesn't appear to be a damn thing we can do about the life that is given to the best you can with the gifts, talents, and wisdom you possess.....hope and pray....and eat and be merry.....for someday.....we all will return to the matter who we or poor....