Monday, December 29, 2008

Another Visit to Christmas Around the World

Today I went back to the Christmas Around the World exhibit for the sixth time. Why six times?...On the previous five visits I have taken a friend or family member to see what is the second largest nativity exhibit in the world. This time I went back to finish photographing some of the nativities and ornaments I had passed over on my previous photo shoot. It has been a pleasure to photograph this exhibit and it has helped to hone my skills photographing indoors which has always been a challenge for me. I hope you enjoy this latest edition of Christmas displays from the Christmas Around the World exhibit.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Christmas Around the World

Earlier today I visited the Christmas Around the World exhibit for the second time during this past week. The exhibit includes over 2000 nativities from all around the world and is spectacular and hands down the best Christmas exhibit I have attended in Bakersfield. It is worthy of museum status in my opinion. If you want to see more pictures you can see them over at my photography site called Bilbo's Adventures. During the holiday season I try to get out as much as I can and attend as many local Christmas events as possible. Christmas is a special time of the year and the holiday lights, Christmas music, church services, and various Christmas festivities helps make it truly a magical time of the year, even if the economy sucks.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

The Enchantment of Christmas

This week-end marks the beginning of the Holiday season. While we all look forward to eating turkey, pumpkin pie, putting up Christmas trees and spending time with loved ones for a significant number of people the holiday season also signifies a time of stress and deep depression for some. Personally I generally have my highest highs and lowest lows during this time of the year. Since my divorce over seven years ago I have really bounced around during the holiday season going here and there often not sure who or where I am going to spend Thanksgiving or Christmas day.

In an effort to ward off the holiday blues this season I am trying to be more intentional about what I do and where I go for the holidays. Over the past couple of days I have spent a significant amount of time decorating my house in an effort to create an atmosphere that will hopefully lift my soul and the spirit of anyone who comes to visit. So far I am really pleased with what I have created this year. Over the years my holiday tastes have evolved to include a bit of almost everything from traditional nativity scenes to gnomes, dragons, fairies, and my latest Christmas Viking ship decoration. To the Christmas traditionalist my house may appear to be an eclectic mass of Christmas schizophrenia but there is a method to my apparent madness. It’s called “enchantment” and for at least the past eighteen years or so I have slowly, gradually, and methodically surrounded myself with objects and mythological beings which are by their very nature incarnations of the spirit of enchantment.

I am not sure where the origins of this magical/mythical appeal are rooted. Perhaps it originally started when I became obsessed as a boy with watching Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer…or…maybe it all started with the birth of my two sons eighteen years ago. Whatever the case, my heart and home are now inhabited by religious and mythological symbols and beings which help to create a feeling of enchantment and in a world filled with so much cynicism and assumed cold hard facts it is always good to come home to an alternative world filled with creatures, beings and powerful religious and mythical symbols which remind us of the beauty and enchantment that co-exist with a world dominated by science, politics, competing ideologies and some religious people who seem determined to squelch anything magical or mysterious.

Earlier in the day I spent time photographing some of the enchanting symbols and creatures who now inhabit my humble abode and I have posted the entire collection of this years Christmas decorations on my photography blog called Bilbo’s Adventures.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

It's midnight on the west coast and I am too tired to say much...but...I did want to say that it was a wonderful day seeing Barack Obama elected the 44th president of the United States and I am so happy to see that a campaign run on integrity, for the most part, can win an election. Great night and a day of inspiration for millions of people today...

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Highlight of the Campaign

Today I spent the morning working for the Barack Obama campaign. I must admit I was a bit anxious going into some of the poorest neighborhoods in our city where you generally don't see any middle class white guys walking around. I wasn't particularly anxious about talking to African Americans, rather, I was concerned about running into pit bulls who often roam the streets of poor neighborhoods in my neck of the woods. I was so glad I wore my Barack Obama tee shirt. The tee shirt apparently gave me street cred with the locals who to my surprise treated me with a certain amount of celebrity status as soon as the spotted Barack's infectous smile on the front of my tee shirt. Even some of the local gangsters types stopped and talked with me as I moved about the apartment complex where we were canvassing. All in all it was a very positive experience but one encounter in particular really touched me.

I walked up to the door and knocked on the screen door. The voice on the other end yelled, what do you want?...I walked right up to the screen door and our eyes met. She peered at my eyes...she looked suspicious... probably wandering what a middle class white guy was doing in her poor neighborhood where only poor minorities, mostly African Americans lived. I spoke up and said with a loud voice..."I am a volunteer for the Obama Campaign." The door flung open and to my surprise she threw her arms around me as if she had been waiting for my arrival for months and then this 83 year old frail woman who is dying of cancer danced around the living room while she sang the praises of Barack Obama. She then said something about hoping to live long enough to vote on election day.She then grabbed my hand and led me into her living room where I sat for about fifteen minutes listening to her story about cancer and living in a crack infested apartment complex. She then asked if she could have a Barack Obama button like the one I was wearing. I gave her mine. She was so happy and before I left I asked her if she needed a ride to the voting booth on election day. She said she did so when I got back to the headquarters later that day I made arrangements for someone to pick her up and take her to the voting booth... I will probably never see this dear soul again on this side of heaven but I don't think I will ever forget the spirit of this woman who I hope and pray lives long enough to cast her vote for Barack Obama on November 3. I was deeply touched by her even though I was only in her presence for such a brief time. This was the highlight of the campaign season for me.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Get your facts straight Palin

Here is what FACT CHECK had to say about Palin's suggestion that Obama "pals around with terrorists"...

The Statement: Republican vice presidential candidate Gov. Sarah Palin said Saturday, October 4, that Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama is "someone who sees America, it seems, as being so imperfect that he's palling around with terrorists who would target their own country."

Get the facts!

The Facts: In making the charge at a fund-raising event in Englewood, Colorado, and a rally in Carson, California, Palin was referring at least in part to William Ayers, a 1960s radical. In both appearances, Palin cited a front-page article in Saturday's New York Times detailing the working relationship between Obama and Ayers.

In the 1960s, Ayers was a founding member of the radical Weather Underground group that carried out a string of bombings of federal buildings, including the Pentagon and the U.S. Capitol, in protest against the Vietnam War. The now-defunct group was labeled a "domestic terrorist group" by the FBI, and Ayers and his wife, Bernadine Dohrn — also a Weather Underground member — spent 10 years as fugitives in the 1970s. Federal charges against them were dropped due to FBI misconduct in gathering evidence against them, and they resurfaced in 1980. Both Ayers and Dohrn ultimately became university professors in Chicago, with Ayers, 63, now an education professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Obama's Chicago home is in the same neighborhood where Ayers and Dohrn live. Beginning in 1995, Ayers and Obama worked with the non-profit Chicago Annenberg Challenge on a huge school improvement project. The Annenberg Challenge was for cities to compete for $50 million grants to improve public education. Ayers fought to bring the grant to Chicago, and Obama was recruited onto the board. Also from 1999 through 2001 both were board members on the Woods Fund, a charitable foundation that gave money to various causes, including the Trinity United Church that Obama attended and Northwestern University Law Schools' Children and Family Justice Center, where Dohrn worked.

CNN's review of project records found nothing to suggest anything inappropriate in the volunteer projects in which the two men were involved.

Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt told CNN that after meeting Obama through the Annenberg project, Ayers hosted a campaign event for him that same year when then-Illinois state Sen. Alice Palmer, who planned to run for Congress, introduced the young community organizer as her chosen successor. LaBolt also said the two have not spoken by phone or exchanged e-mail messages since Obama came to the U.S. Senate in 2005 and last met more than a year ago when they encountered each other on the street in their Hyde Park neighborhood.

The extent of Obama's relationship with Ayers came up during the Democratic presidential primaries earlier this year, and Obama explained it by saying, "This is a guy who lives in my neighborhood … the notion that somehow as a consequence of me knowing somebody who engaged in detestable acts 40 years ago — when I was 8 years old — somehow reflects on me and my values doesn't make much sense."

The New York Times article cited by Palin concluded that "the two men do not appear to have been close. Nor has Mr. Obama ever expressed sympathy for the radical views and actions of Mr. Ayers." Other publications, including the Washington Post, Time magazine, the Chicago Sun-Times, The New Yorker and The New Republic, have said that their reporting doesn't support the idea that Obama and Ayers had a close relationship.

The McCain campaign did not respond Saturday to a request for elaboration on Palin's use of the plural "terrorists."

Verdict: False. There is no indication that Ayers and Obama are now "palling around," or that they have had an ongoing relationship in the past three years. Also, there is nothing to suggest that Ayers is now involved in terrorist activity or that other Obama associates are.


Yesterday at a fund-raising event in Colorado, Sarah Palin said, "Our opponent though, is someone who sees America, it seems, as being so imperfect that he's palling around with terrorists who would target their own country."... Shame on you Sarah Palin...Shame on you John McCain if you do not denounce this outrageous statement...Shame on the Republican party if you don't call for Sarah Palin to step down...Shame on any Republican if you in any way try to defend or rationalize this as politics... Shame on the campaign manager of John McCain for repeatedly playing the politics of fear...Shame on the political pundits if they don't call Sarah Palin and John McCain on the carpet...Shame on the radio political talking heads if they try to spin this and suggest, imply, or assert there is any truth to this statement,...and...shame on the American people if they don't stand up and say with a loud voice, "enough is enough"

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Joe Six Pack

Chris Matthews: Welcome everyone to Hardball. Today's guest is Joe Six-pac from Idaho. Welcome Joe. What did you think of Sarah Palin's performance last night in the debate, Joe?

Joe Six-pac: Sarah body slammed the "other Joe", Chris.

Chris: But,the polls indicate that Biden won by double digits. CBS reported among non-committed voters that Biden won 46 percent to 21 and CNN reported Biden won 51 to 36.

Joe Six-pac: Come on Chris, what would you expect from two socialist leaning liberal bias news agencies? Drudge reported that 8 out of ten people who responded to their website said Palin beat Joe Biden, hand's down. Them's the facts Chris.

Are you suggesting Joe that Drudge is not bias?

Joe Six-pac: Everyone knows the liberal media is biased, Chris...except...the liberal media itself.

Chris: So, why do you think Palin won Joe?

Joe: Did you see the wink Chris?...come on...She hit him with the facts, hard, and often.

Chris: But, alot of her facts were simply wrong, Joe...and...she often distorted and stretched the truth. It was like watching a female version of Pinocchio.

Joe: There you go Chris. Attacking her. That is all the liberal media knows how to do.

Chris: Joe, don't you care if she gets the facts straight?

Joe: You liberal media socialists wouldn't know a fact if it hit you between the eyes.

Chris: Let's move on...Palin looked and sounded like a robot...She didn't answer many of the questions...and...she simply repeated the talking points her handlers have been feeding her over the past week? Doesn't that bother you?

Joe: What bothers me Chris is that Biden and Obama are socialists...and...all they know to do is tax and spend.

Chris: You didn't answer my question Joe.

Joe: I am not going to play the liberal media's favorite game of gotcha.

Chris: So, Joe, why do you think Sarah Palin is qualified to be the next Vice President?

Joe: She is a maverick Chris, and she is going to clean house in Washington when her and McCain win in November.

Chris: Really...Where is this unbridled confidence coming from? What makes you think McCain and Palin can control the Democratic house and senate?

Joe: Not sure what unbridled means. The liberal media always uses big words when they can't handle the facts. That is why they are elitists.

Chris: Biden and Obama assert that McCain and Palin represent four more years of George Bush. Can you explain how a McCain/Palin ticket is different from Bush in the areas of foreign policy and the economy?

Joe: Didn't you listen to what I said earlier Chris? Palin and McCain are mavericks....All Biden and Obama want to do is surrender in Iraq and tax and spend. McCain will win the war in Iraq and bring our soldiers home with honor...and...McCain will capture Bin Landin. Did you know Chris that Obama voted to cut off support for the troops?

Chris: Joe, did you know that McCain voted against funding of the troops as well?...and...he voted against increased spending for vets.

Joe: How dare you question McCain's patriotism. He served this country with dignity and honor and has always put his country first...unlike...Obama who is only interested in himself.

Chris: There you go again, trying to change the subject and not answering my questions. You are beginning to sound like Sarah Palin.

Joe: There you go again Chris...attacking me...

Chris: Do you guys ever feel an obligation to answer any questions of the media?

Joe: We answer the questions Chris, but the liberal media don't listen because they are bias.

Chris: Look of frustration...moving on...Yesterday, McCain asserted that he has told the absolute truth 100% of the time. Do you really believe this Joe?...

Joe: The liberal media wouldn't know the truth if God delivered it personally. I believe John McCain, not the liberal media.

Chris: In closing...I'll give you the last word Joe. Tell the American people why Sarah Palin would make a good vice President.

Joe: She will make a great VP because she will bring American values back to the White House...and...she, and McCain will get our economy back on track by cutting out all the pork barrel spending in Washington that has occurred since the liberals took over the congress. She will make America the shining light on the hill that Reagan talked about...but most important...she and McCain will stop this country from becoming a socialist country which is what "will" happen if Obama and Biden win the election. The choice is simple. We can choose socialism and tyranny or we can choose democracy, capitalism, and freedom.

Chris: Thanks Joe...

Friday, September 19, 2008

Mr. Toad's Wild Ride

It’s been a wild ride both personally and nationally this week. On the personal front I haven’t been home before 10:00 on three different nights this week…and…I just barely crawled across the finish line on Friday…On the national front the stock market has experienced some of the wildest fluctuations in history due to the collapse, bankruptcy, and bail outs of some of our largest financial institutions…While I have taught economics for over 15 years I confess I don’t know what to make of it all and am reluctant to offer any specific suggestions or criticism at this time regarding the governments response to the current economic meltdown. In other words, I am in a “let’s just wait and see” mode. While I don’t have any strong admonitions or thoughts about the recent actions by the current administration I do have some very strong feelings about the various events surrounding this economic debacle. Here are a few of my thoughts.

1.I have a really, really, bad feeling about our current economic situation. While I understand the rational for bailing out the various financial institutions I don’t have much confidence that this plan is going to rescue or solve our serious economic woes anytime soon. The government has added an additional trillion dollars to a debt that has already doubled over the past eight years…and…I can’t help wondering “when” this is going to trigger some serious hyper inflation which will completely wipe out the most economically vulnerable of us in a flash.

2.While I do empathize with those who suggest that we restrain ourselves from too
much finger pointing I do believe that the current administration and those who support without reservation a “trickle down”/ absolutist laissez-faire approach to the relationship between the government and economics do bare a significant amount of responsibility for the serious mess we find ourselves in. Some have suggested that almost everyone is to blame, including, homeowners who supposedly should have known better to buy a house they could not afford. While I concur that there is enough blame to go around it is hard for me to blame people for wanting to own their own home when given the opportunity. While George Bush is certainly not the only person to blame I do believe his administration and the economic advisors he consulted with contributed to the environment that allowed for the economic carnival atmosphere which has been par for the course on Wall Street since George Bush arrived at the White House eight years to go.

3.While thousands of employees and tens of thousands of investors stand to lose almost everything it currently appears that fat cat CEO’s will walk away almost unscathed. Richard Fuld of Lehman’s Brothers has made in access of 350 million dollars over the past five years and there are reports that some of the CEO’s are now hiring lawyers to secure what money is still owed them. Personally, I find this aspect of the current economic meltdown morally repugnant. Republicans like to assert that critics of their trickle down economic philosophy promote class warfare but I can think of no better way to stimulate class warfare than to create an economic environment where there is such a gap between the workers, managers and owners…and…it is “my hope” that politicians on both sides of the aisle will come to the place where they are willing to put some teeth

Final thought…Earlier today the federal government pumped billions into preventing the stock market from slipping into oblivion which caused another round of frenzy activity on Wall Street. While the recent action by the feds may have temporarily stopped the bloodletting on Wall Street it remains to be seen what will happen in the weeks and months to come. It is my hope that our economy will gradually rebound in the months to come but it is my suspicion that there is more bad news to come as the “perfect storm” is not finished wrecking havoc on our economy. Conservatives like to assert that government regulation will doom our economy and while I do believe there is some truth to this assertion I have also come to the conclusion that if business doesn’t regulate itself it will only be a matter of time until the government steps in and does what apparently the business community lacks the will to do for itself...and...if our financial institutions become socialistic in the process than the carnival ring leaders of Wall Street will have no one to blame but themselves.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Obama Rally

I attended a local Barack Obama fundraiser and organizational meeting last night at a local Basque restaurant and it was encouraging to see so much diversity. There were young people, old people, and every age in between. There were African Americans, Hispanics and suburban white guys like me. We were all one big happy political family under the umbrella of the Obama campaign. It was really nice being around so many people who are as energized as me about Obama. I live in a very conservative area and I seldom get the opportunity to rub shoulders with more than one person at a time who shares my political or religious perspective on the world. The whole event last night was kind of like sitting down and watching a USC game with a room full of USC football fanatics. It was just fun....My only complaint was the music. No U-2. Barack Obama national rallies seem to always open with U-2's City of Blinding Lights or It's a Beautiful Day. I'll have to talk to the local powers that be and maybe we can arrange to get some U-2 music at the next rally...Apparently the activity in the Democratic party in my neck of the woods has been working with a skeleton crew for some time now but it now looks like a potential sleeping giant may be waking up from decades of sleep.

I don't have much more to add to this story. It was a lovely evening hanging out with Obama Momma's and those of us who are new to the local political scene. There is a lot of things happening locally in the weeks to come and I'll try to post the latest happenings along the way. I'll be making some phone calls and working at the Obama booth at the fair and I am currently considering traveling out of state for a week-end or two and doing some work to get help Obama win the swing state of Nevada. I know the national polls have been leaning in McCain's direction for the past week or so but I am confident that the massive local organizational strategy of the Obama Campaign and the excitement and inspiration Obama has brought to the local rank and file will be more than adequate to bring to an end to another four years of policies that are bad for too many people in this country. Let's hope so...

USC wallops Ohio State

I guess my previous bit of anxiety about this game was unfounded. It's funny how even football fans aren't beyond using coping strategies to deal with the potential emotional pain associated with their favorite team not living up the hype and potential... Apart from the first quarter it wasn't much of a game. Oh, some Ohio State fans are suggesting what if this or that didn't happen but the bottom line is that USC is just a much better team...because, bottom line...collectively, USC just has too much talent...and...they have been stock piling talent for years. If there is a silver lining in the game for Buckeye fans it would be the play of the freshman quarterback Terrelle Pryor who played better than expected considering the national stage and the ferocity of the USC defense...and...they could be encouraged by the fact that the Ohio State coach Jim Tressel was not playing it safe. I admired his play calling on offense and they did what they could with the talent they does that leave us for the rest of the season?...Number two Georgia barely won and it doesn't look like USC is going to be seriously challenged the rest of the way... so... if injuries or a big head doesn't get in the way it looks like USC will be heading for another championship run this season. I'm not going to predict this early in the season a USC lock down championship this season but on the horizon it appears from where I sit that there are only a couple of teams out there who can match up with USC's talent and team speed. Oklahoma, Florida, and Georgia. I'm picking OU to challenge USC for supremacy this year...let's just hope for the same results when USC walloped OU in 2003.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

David and Goliath

In approximately nine hours the men of Troy are going to go to battle against the Ohio State Buckeyes who are the pride of the Midwest and Big Ten football. I must confess I am nervous about this game, especially, now that Chris Wells the All-American tailback is not going to play. I am nervous because this is shaping up to be the classic David verses Goliath and over the years David has taken down Goliath more often than not. On paper and according to the armchair football pundits USC should win by a couple of touchdowns... but...and it is a big but... Ohio State is returning alot of players and they are going to play with a huge chip on their shoulder especially after the whipping that was put upon them during the last two National Championships blow-outs. I also am reminded how Ohio State rose above all odds and put it to the Miami Hurricanes who at the time were being lauded as the greatest college football dynasty of all time...On the other hand...I wouldn't be surprised if USC won by three touchdowns. Motivation can take a team to the edge of the promise land but you need talent to get you past the Giants who guard the promise land...and...USC, imo, has even more talent on both sides of the ball than the SEC teams that put a licking on Ohio State the last couple of years...There is a scenario where Ohio State could beat USC...and it is...turnovers and ball control...If Ohio State doesn't turn the ball over, can move the ball in small chunks up and down the field, and cause USC to turn the ball over than they can win. I don't think this will happen, but if it does, than Ohio State can again become the toast of the town in college football and they will again win the respect of the football pundits who are currently down on the Ohio State program. I don't think it will happen because the USC defense is so big and fast and they are more likely to cause turnovers than Ohio State...but...anything is predictions...If the game is close, I give the edge to Ohio State. If USC wins the turnover battle, look for a blow out...but I think the final score will be USC 24 Ohio State 10....Go Trojans!!!

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Economic Policies Run Amuck

While thinking about McCain's trickle down economic philosophy I was reminded of a song by Bruce Cockburn named simply Trickle Down...

Picture on magazine boardroom pop star
Pinstripe prophet of peckerhead greed
You say 'Trust me with the money -- the keys to the universe'
Trickle down will give us everything we need

Brand new century private penitentiary
bank vault utopia padded for the few
And it's tumours for the masses coughing for the masses
Earphones for the masses and they all serve you

Trickle down give /em the business
Trickle down supposed to give us the goods
Cups held out to catch a bit of the bounty
Trickle down everywhere trickle down blood

What used to pass for education now looks more like ignoration
Take the people’s money and slip it to the corporation
Yellow rain golden shower pesticide firepower
Summon feudal demons of sweatshop subjugation

Workfare foul air homeless beggars everywhere
Picturephone aristocrats lounge around the pool
Captains of industry smiling beneficently
Leaking hole supertanker ship of fools

Trickle down give me the business
Trickle down supposed to give us the goods
Cups held out to catch a bit of the bounty
Trickle down everywhere trickle down blood

Take over takedown big bucks shakedown
Schoolyard pusher offer anything-for-profit
First got to privatize then you get to piratize
Hooked on avarice- how do we get off it?

Trickle down give me the business
Trickle down supposed to give us the goods
Cups held out to catch a bit of the bounty
Trickle down everywhere trickle down blood

Trickle down give me the business
Trickle down supposed to give us the goods
Cups held out to catch a bit of the bounty
Trickle down everywhere trickle down blood

Why McCain is the wrong choice

The political season kicks into high gear for me today. This afternoon I am heading down to the grand opening of the new Obama headquarters in downtown Bakersfield. It will be nice to rub shoulders with some other local people who share my enthusiasm about the historic campaign of Barack Obama. I have been following the race for the White House very closely since I got back from vacation about five weeks ago. I have watched a significant amount of both the Republican and Democratic convention over the past two weeks and what I have seen and heard has reinforced my belief more than ever that Obama is the right person at this time to lead our country...and...the John McCain/Sara Palin ticket would be a disaster.

I'll refrain myself from going into all the reasons why I think John McCain would be a bad choice but I would like to mention one incident that for me sums up why I don't think the country should give the keys to the kingdom to McCain and his understudy Sarah Palin. About three weeks ago McCain and Obama appeared at Rick Warren's church to field questions from Pastor Warren about a whole host of issues ranging from war to their own personal faith. The one question and response that jumped out to me more than any other was Warren's question about evil. Warren asked both candidates whether they believed in evil and if they did, what would they do about it. Both candidates answered that they believed in evil but it was "how" they defined evil that was most telling to me. Obama described evil as something that exists in our cities, homes, and abroad while McCain limited his description to evil to the terrorists who are "out there"...and...McCain promised to hunt down Osama Bin Ladin and his terrorist network and destroy them.

Last week during Barack Obama's acceptance speech he asserted that John McCain does care about the country but he just doesn't get it and I couldn't agree more. After listening to John McCain off and on for months now John McCain, like many of his followers, McCain seems to see the world in terms of black and white, the good guys and the bad guys... and...his prescription...rattle the saber,flex our military muscle, continue Bush's tax breaks for the rich and simply sit back and watch the trickle down effect restore our economy back to the golden days of the 1990's.... Obama has been criticized by some critics and members of the media for being too nuanced in his response to the challenges that lay ahead but from my perspective Obama's leanings towards nuance reflects that "he does" understand the complexity of the world and he does see the big picture of what is going on not only in our country but the world abroad...while John McCain's general outlook to the challenges ahead reminds me of George Bush who rode into Washington on a white stallion waving his sword but is now going to leave town soon on a donkey. McCain may not be clone of George Bush but from everything I have seen and observed during this campaign his "worldview" seems too hauntingly familiar to that of George Bush.

Friday, August 15, 2008

I started my twenty second year of teaching this past Wednesday. Not much to report. After twenty years the beginning of another school year is no longer filled with as much anticipation as it was in the past…but…it is also not filled with anxiety either. It is what it is, a comfortable feeling. It’s not that I am indifferent because I do feel a deep sense of gratitude about being able to do something I sincerely enjoy for such a long time in the same place…I just don’t get too worked up in the way I did when I was younger. I hope my current psychological state of mind represents maturity. I am currently teaching three preps, sociology, civics, and economics. There will be plenty to talk about in my civics class with the upcoming election and all.

While I have been somewhat of an absent landlord on this blog since I got home from vacation I have actually been blogging on a regular basis on my relationship blog…Over the past six years I have spent a significant amount of time reading, thinking, and reflecting on the nature of relationships and I thought it might be therapeutic to write about what I have read and been thinking about…and…I thought it was about time I give back to the cyberspace community what has been passed along to me by others. Blogging can easily become a narcissist exercise and it is my hope that my ponderings on relationships might be helpful to others and contribute to the overall betterment of my fellow cyberspace pilgrims.

I have done a lot of reading this summer and will probably include a few blog entries in the weeks to come about what I have been reading. Right now I am reading a book on back pain and I intend to pass along some of the information from the book soon. My back has been bothering me since last May, so I figured it was time to look into the subject at greater length.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Back from the Wilderness

I just got back from my annual three week vacation whirlwind treking tour. This year I spent a week along the Oregon Coast, the Redwoods, and Central Oregon near Bend. I don't have too much too say about my vacation which might be of interest to others since reading about other's peoples vacations is I suspect, generally not something most folks are interested'll keep this short and "hopefully" a bit sweet. I did the usual sightseeing, riding my bike, hiking, and taking pictures...but...this year, I did alot of reflection, reading, and journaling. If you want to see some of my vacation pics you can see them at Bilbo's Adventures.

And, if you want to check out "one aspect" of my reflections you can go over to my blog on relationship which is located at Soulful Relationships.

It was a pretty intense vacation on the psychological front but I'll skip the details for a later blog entry perhaps in the future. I'm back, life is good and beautiful, which I am always reminded of when I travel, but now it is time to dig in and deal with life as it with the rest of my fellow pilgrims.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Heading to Bigfoot Country

I was up until 2:00 A.M. last night packing for my upcoming three week vacation which starts later today. This will be like no other vacation I have ever taken before. I have made no particular plans or reservations. I am not sure exactly where I am going except to say I will be headed north. And, I am not really sure how long I will be gone. It could be five could be as long as three weeks. In other words, I am just winging it...So, what brought about this unusual set of circumstances? It all started earlier this month when I thought my mother was going to die. Originally I was thinking about going to Colorado with my son this summer for three weeks but he said he didn't want to go to Colorado...and...since my mother was in bad shape I decided to head north and hang around where she is just in case she got worse or passed away. She has since gotten better so I feel comfortable enough to take off. Also, this is the first extended trip I am going solo. Usually I go with family or friends but this year all my plans for a traveling companion fell is why I am not sure how long I will be gone. I may get so lonely after four or five days in the wilderness I may feel compelled to head back to civilization...or...who knows, maybe I'll become so exhilarated I will just continue heading north and end up somewhere in Alaska and never come back. In all seriousness, I doubt I will travel farther than Oregon, although, if I get the itch I may go as far as the southern end of Olympic National Park in Washington...but...I really just don't know. I am taking my new camera and hope to take hundreds of pictures of the Northern California and Oregon I don't check back for three weeks you will know that I am off in the wilderness somewhere....and...if I don't report back in after that than you will know that...a bear or mountain lion finally got me...I gave up on society once and for all and decided to just blend in with nature somewhere in Alaska or Canada...I met a real life mountain woman and we decided to homestead somewhere in the great wilderness of the north...or...I found a Bigfoot or family of hobbits who have agreed to take me in for as long as I want. So, if any of these senario's don't work out than you can expect to hear from me again in 5,7,10,14,18, or 21 days. Who knows. I certainly don't.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Bilbo's Adventures

Over the years I have been blessed to have taken some incredible trips and witnessed the grandeur of God's wonderful creation. I have mountain biked in Mammoth Lakes California...I have stood on the top of Cascade Pass in Cascade National Park and soaked in the spectacular 360 panorama of the incredible North Cascades...I have stood at the base of Mt. Edith Cavell in Jasper National Park in the afternoon and watched one avalanche after another tumble huge blocks of ice towards an unnamed lake below...I have seen, up close, mountain goats and bighorn sheep grazing grass as I hiked up the trail towards Hidden Lake in Glacier National Park...I have hiked and seen the incredible array of wildflowers on the most magnificent mountain in North America, Mount Ranier...I have drank ice cold fresh water from Iceberg Lake in Ansel Adams Wilderness...I have seen the tallest, oldest, and largest trees in the world...I have hiked the Sierra Mountain range from north to south...I have stood on frozen lakes in June...and...I have lost 22 pounds in six days while hiking over mountain passes in my home state of California...and...I have been blessed to see all that I have seen in the past 40 years. I still remember my first adventure to the High Sierra's with my two uncles as if it were yesterday. I can still see the crystal blue Sabrina Lake and the aspen's shaking in the wind...I have so, so, many fond memories.

Last summer I decided to keep a journal of my summer adventures in a beautiful Celtic design journal that I take on vacation. And,I thought it might be fun and inspirational to those who love travel to make some of these entries public by posting them over at my photography blog which I have renamed Bilbo's Adventures. At this time I have only posted one journal entry but this summer I intend to keep a daily record of my three week adventure along the northern California and Oregon you are getting cabin fever and wish you were somewhere else just stop by Bilbo's Adventures and just let your imagination take you away.

The Lost Coast

Friday, June 13, 2008

More of simply the best

Throughout his career Bruce Cockburn has never shied away from controversy. His left leaning songs have inspired many but have no doubt caused some to wish that he just stick to the music. But, Cockburn can’t just stick to the music because politics and world events is an important aspect of the world we live in and the life he lives. Bruce Cockburn is no armchair critic. Over the years Cockburn has traveled extensively abroad which provides the basis and inspiration for many of his political leaning songs. Also, he has been personally involved in numerous projects which range from the removal of land mines in Africa to bringing attention to the terrible plight of Native Americans, South Americans, and most recently the people of Iraq. One may not agree with Cockburn's particular political conclusions but there is no doubt that Cockburn’s political songs are written and performed with great passion and we can respect his convictions and zeal even if we don’t always agree with his viewpoint. Following is a sample of some of Cockburn’s songs which reflect his perspective on the world we live in.


Out in the desert where the wind never stops
A few simple people try to grow a few crops
Trying to maintain a life and a home
On land that was theirs before the Romans thought of Rome

A few dozen survivors, ragged but proud
With a few woolly sheep, under gathering cloud
It's never been easy, or free from strife
But the pulse of the land is the pulse of their life

You thought it was over but it's just like before
Will there never be an end to the Indian wars?

It's not breech-loading rifles and wholesale slaughter
It's kickbacks and thugs and diverted water
Treaties get signed and the papers change hands
But they might as well draft these agreements in sand

Noble Savage on the cinema screen
An Indian's good when he cannot be seen
And the so-called white so-called race
Digs for itself a pit of disgrace


Goons in blackface creeping in the road --
farm family waiting for the night to explode --
working the land in an age of terror
you come to see the moon as the bad news bearer
down where the death squad lives.

They cut down people like they cut down trees --
chop off its head so it will stay on its knees --
the forest shrinks but the earth remains
slash and burn and it grows again
down where the death squad lives.

I've got friends trying to batter the system down
fighting the past till the future comes round.
it'll never be a perfect world till God declares it that way
but that don't mean there's nothing we can do or say
down where the death squad lives.

Like some kind of never-ending Easter passion,
from every agony a hero's fashioned.
around every evil there gathers love --
bombs aren't the only things that fall from above
down where the dead squad lives
down where the dead squad lives

Sometimes i feel like there's a padlock on my soul.
if you opened up my heart you'd find a big black hole
but when the feeling comes through, it comes through strong --
if you think there's no difference between right and wrong
just go down where the death squad lives.

This world can be better than it is today.
You can say i'm a dreamer but that's okay.
without the could-be and the might-have-been
all you've got left is your fragile skin
and that ain't worth much down where the death squad lives.


Abe Lincoln once turned to somebody and said,
"Do you ever find yourself talking with the dead?"

There are three tiny deaths heads carved out of mammoth tusk
on the ledge in my bathroom
They grin at me in the morning when I'm taking a leak,
but they say very little.

Outside Phnom Penh there's a tower, glass paneled,
maybe ten meters high
filled with skulls from the killing fields
Most of them lack the lower jaw
so they don't exactly grin
but they whisper, as if from a great distance,
of pain, and of pain left far behind

Eighteen thousand empty eyeholes peering out at the four directions

Electric fly buzz, green moist breeze
Bone-colored Brahma bull grazes wet-eyed,
hobbled in hollow of mass grave
In the neighboring field a small herd
of young boys plays soccer,
their laughter swallowed in expanding silence

This is too big for anger,
it’s too big for blame.
We stumble through history so
humanly lame
So I bow down my head
Say a prayer for us all
That we don’t fear the spirit
when it comes to call

The sun will soon slide down into the far end of the ancient reservoir.
Orange ball merging with its water-borne twin
below air-brushed edges of cloud.
But first, it spreads itself,

a golden scrim behind fractal sweep of swooping fly catchers.
Silhouetted dark green trees,
blue horizon

The rains are late this year.
The sky has no more tears to shed.
But from the air Cambodia remains
a disc of wet green, bordered by bright haze.
Water-filled bomb craters, sun streaked gleam
stitched in strings across patchwork land and
march west toward the far hills of Thailand.
Macro analog of Ankor Wat’s temple walls
intricate bas-relief of thousand-year-old battles
pitted with AK rounds

And under the sign of the seven headed cobra
the naga who sees in all directions
seven million landmines lie in terraced grass, in paddy, in bush
(Call it a minescape now)

Sally holds the beggar's hand and cries
at his scarred up face and absent eyes
and right leg gone from above the knee

Tears spot the dust on the worn stone causeway
whose sculpted guardians row on row
Half frown, half smile, mysterious, mute.

And this is too big for anger.
It’s too big for blame
We stumble through history so
humanly lame.
So I bow down my head,
say a prayer for us all.
That we don’t fear the spirit when it comes to call.


padded with power here they come
international loan sharks backed by the guns
of market hungry military profiteers
whose word is a swamp and whose brow is smeared
with the blood of the poor

who rob life of its quality
who render rage a necessity
by turning countries into labour camps
modern slavers in drag as champions of freedom

sinister cynical instrument
who makes the gun into a sacrament --
the only response to the deification
of tyranny by so-called "developed" nations'
idolatry of ideology

north south east west
kill the best and buy the rest
it's just spend a buck to make a buck
you don't really give a flying fuck
about the people in misery

IMF dirty MF
takes away everything it can get
always making certain that there's one thing left
keep them on the hook with insupportable debt

see the paid-off local bottom feeders
passing themselves off as leaders
kiss the ladies shake hands with the fellows
open for business like a cheap bordello

and they call it democracy
and they call it democracy
and they call it democracy
and they call it democracy

see the loaded eyes of the children too
trying to make the best of it the way kids do
one day you're going to rise from your habitual feast
to find yourself staring down the throat of the beast
they call the revolution

IMF dirty MF
takes away everything it can get
always making certain that there's one thing left
keep them on the hook with insupportable debt

Gospel Of Bondage

Tabloids, bellowing raw delight
hail the return of the Teutonic Knights
inbred for purity and spoiling for a fight,
another little puppet of the New Right.

See-through dollars and mystery plagues,
varied detritus of Aquarian Age.
Shutters on storefronts and shutters in the mind --
we kill ourselves to keep ourselves safe from crime.
that's the gospel of bondage...

We so afraid of disorder we make it into a god
we can only placate with state security laws,
whose church consists of secret courts and wiretaps and shocks,
whose priests hold smoking guns, and whose sign is the double cross.

But God must be on the side of the side that's right
and not the right that justifies itself in terms of might --
least of all a bunch of neo-nazis running hooded through the night
which may be why He's so conspicuously out of sight
of the gospel of bondage...

You read the bible in your special ways,
you're fond of quoting certain things it says --
mouth full of righteousness and wrath from above
but when do we hear about forgiveness and love?

Sometimes you can hear the Spirit whispering to you,
but if God stays silent, what else can you do
except listen to the silence? If you ever did you'd surely see
that God won't be reduced to an ideology
such as the gospel of bondage...


Picture on magazine boardroom pop star
Pinstripe prophet of peckerhead greed
You say 'Trust me with the money -- the keys to the universe'
Trickle down will give us everything we need

Brand new century private penitentiary
bank vault utopia padded for the few
And it's tumours for the masses coughing for the masses
Earphones for the masses and they all serve you
Trickle down give /em the business
Trickle down supposed to give us the goods
Cups held out to catch a bit of the bounty
Trickle down everywhere trickle down blood
What used to pass for education now looks more like ignoration
Take the people’s money and slip it to the corporation
Yellow rain golden shower pesticide firepower
Summon feudal demons of sweatshop subjugation

Workfare foul air homeless beggars everywhere
Picturephone aristocrats lounge around the pool
Captains of industry smiling beneficently
Leaking hole supertanker ship of fools
Trickle down give me the business
Trickle down supposed to give us the goods
Cups held out to catch a bit of the bounty
Trickle down everywhere trickle down blood
Take over takedown big bucks shakedown
Schoolyard pusher offer anything-for-profit
First got to privatize then you get to piratize
Hooked on avarice- how do we get off it?
Trickle down give me the business
Trickle down supposed to give us the goods
Cups held out to catch a bit of the bounty
Trickle down everywhere trickle down blood
Trickle down give me the business
Trickle down supposed to give us the goods
Cups held out to catch a bit of the bounty
Trickle down everywhere trickle down blood


There's a broad river winding
Through this African lowland
The moon is held up orange and big
See it raise its hands
And the last ferry's pulling out
With no place left to stand
For the mines of Mozambique

There's a wealth of amputation
Waiting in the ground
But no one can remember
Where they put it down
If you're the child that finds it there
You will rise upon the sound
Of the mines of Mozambique

Some men rob the passersby
For a bit of cash to spend
Some men rob whole countries dry
And still get called their friend
And under the feeding frenzy
There's a wound that will not mend
In the mines of Mozambique
Night, like peace,
Is a state of suspension
Tomorrow the heat will rise
And mist will hide the marshy fields
The mango and the cashew trees
Which only now they're clearing brush from under.

Rusted husks of blown up trucks
Line the roadway north of town
Like passing through a sculpture gallery
War is the artist
But he's sleeping now

And somebody will be peddling vials of penicillin stolen out of all the medical kits sent to the countryside.

And in the bare workshop they'll be molding plastic into little prosthetic limbs
For the children of this artist
And for those who farm the soil that received
His bitter seed...
The all-night stragglers stagger home
Cocks begin to crow
And singing birds are starting up
Telling what they know
And after awhile the sun will come
And we'll see what it will show
Of the mines of Mozambique


Everything's broken in the birthplace of law
As Generation Two tries on his tragic flaw
America's might under desert sun
I saw her frightened eyes behind the muzzle of her gun

Uranium dust and the smell of decay
Sewage in the street where the kids run and play
Not enough morphine and not enough gauze
Firefight in darkness like snapping of jaws
This is Baghdad
This is Baghdad
This is Baghdad
This is Baghdad
This is Baghdad
This is Baghdad
This is Baghdad

You couldn't see the blast-the morning was bright-
But some radiant energy flared up into the light
Like the sky throwing its hands up in a horrified dismay
Or the souls of the dead as they sped on their way

Carbombed and carjacked and kidnapped and shot
How do you like it, this freedom we brought
We packed all the ordnance but the thing we forgot
Was a plan in case it didn't turn out quite like we thought
This is Baghdad
This is Baghdad
This is Baghdad
This is Baghdad
This is Baghdad
This is Baghdad
This is Baghdad

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Simply the Best

There's roads and there's roads
And they call, can't you hear it?
Roads of the earth
And roads of the spirit
The best roads of all
Are the ones that aren't certain
One of those is where you'll find me
Till they drop the big curtain....Bruce Cockburn

I have been a fan of Bruce Cockburn since the 1990's even though Cockburn has been on the music scene since the late 1960's. Cockburn is not a household name in this country but he is somewhat of a legend in his native country Canada. My introduction to Cockburn's music was the result of a fluke encounter unless one wants to attribute it to fate or providence which is o.k. with me. I was sitting in my pastors office one afternoon and I picked up a denominational church magazine and read a review of his album, Nothing but a Burning Light. I found the article intriguing and his "over the hill Generation X" look somewhat rolled the dice and went down and purchased the album without ever having heard any of his songs. I then went home... sat on the patio... and listened to the album maybe three or four times before I came back into the house. It was an instant connection and the rest is history. Shortly thereafter I bought another album and loved it as well...but...the big bonding moment came when I attended a three week conference at Humboldt University later that summer. One afternoon I walked into a little hole in the wall record store and it was there I found almost all of Cockburn's cassettes. I purchased maybe eight or nine of them and feasted on the music of Cockburn for the entire three weeks....

There is a lot I like about Cockburn's favorite aspects of his music are the rhythm and the lyrics. Most of Cockburn's songs are on the slow side which fits my own preferred pace of life. Although I can hang with the likes of Pearl Jam and Green Day, on most days, when I am home or in the car I prefer the slow, drip, drip, sound of a good Cockburn song...regarding his lyrics...Cockburn's lyrics are poetic and considered some of the best in the industry...but...don't take my word, here is a sampling of some of the lyrics from some of my favorite Cockburn songs. I'll begin with the last stanza from one of my favorite Cockburn songs, A Child of the Wind.

Little round planet
In a big universe
Sometimes it looks blessed
Sometimes it looks cursed
Depends on what you look at obviously
But even more it depends on the way that you see


Not a knife throw from here you can hear the night train passing
That's the sound somebody makes when they're getting away
Leaving next week's hanging jury far behind them
Prisoner only of the choices they've made
And everyone's an island edged with sand
A temporary refuge where somebody else can stand
Till the sea that binds us like the forced tide of a blood oath
Will wear it down - dissolve it - recombine it

Anyone can die here they do it every day
It doesn't take much effort though it goes against the grain
And the ultimate forgetfulness of violence
Sweeps the landscape like a headlight of a train
Ice cube in a dark drink shines like star light
Starlight shines like glass shards in dark hair
And the mind's eye tumbles out along the steel track
Fixing every shadow with its stare
And in the absence of a vision there are nightmares
And in the absence of compassion there is cancer
Whose banner waves over palaces and mean streets
And the rhythm of the night train is a mantra


Sunset is an angel weeping
Holding out a bloody sword
No matter how I squint I cannot
Make out what it's pointing toward
Sometimes you feel like you live too long
Days drip slowly on the page
You catch yourself
Pacing the cage

I've proven who I am so many times
The magnetic strip's worn thin
And each time I was someone else
And every one was taken in
Powers chatter in high places
Stir up eddies in the dust of rage
Set me to pacing the cage

I never knew what you all wanted
So I gave you everything
All that I could pillage
All the spells that I could sing
It's as if the thing were written
In the constitution of the age
Sooner or later you'll wind up
Pacing the cage

Sometimes the best map will not guide you
You can't see what's round the bend
Sometimes the road leads through dark places
Sometimes the darkness is your friend
Today these eyes scan bleached-out land
For the coming of the outbound stage
Pacing the cage
Pacing the cage


Wild things are prowling - storm winds are howling tonight
Everything's transforming into pure crystals of light
The heart is a mirror; it throws back the blaze of love
Bathed in that glow it's no secret what I'm thinking of
I want to wait no more
Wait no more
Wait no more
Sipping wine with angels in this torch-lit tavern by the sea
What does it take for what's locked up inside to be free?
Fold me into you, you know where I'm dying to be
When my ship sets sail on that ocean of deep mystery
I want to wait no more
Wait no more
Wait no more
What does it take for the heart to explode into stars?
One day we'll wake to remember how lovely we are
Lightning's a kiss that lands hot on the loins of the sky
Something uncoils at the base of my spine and I cry
I want to wait no more
Wait no more
Wait no more


I've seen a high cairn kissed by holy wind
Seen a mirror pool cut by golden fins
Seen alleys where they hide the truth of cities
The mad whose blessing you must accept without pity

I've stood in airports guarded glass and chrome
Walked rifled roads and landmined loam
Seen a forest in flames right down to the road
Burned in love till I've seen my heart explode

You've been leading me
Beside strange waters

Across the concrete fields of man
Sun ray like a camera pans
Some will run and some will stand
Everything is bullshit but the open hand

You've been leading me
Beside strange waters
Streams of beautiful lights in the night
But where is my pastureland in these dark valleys?
If I loose my grip, will I take flight?

You've been leading me
Beside strange waters
Streams of beautiful lights in the night
But where is my pastureland in these dark valleys?
If I loose my grip, will I take flight?

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Military Spending

Robert Scheer in a recent L.A. Times article writes, “Why is U.S. military spending at the highest point, in inflation-adjusted dollars, than at any time since the end of WWII? Why, without sophisticated military opponent in sight, is the U.S. spending trillions of dollars on the development of high-tech weapons systems that lost their purpose with the collapse of the Soviet Union two decades ago?”…Several years ago I asked a similar question after discovering the U.S. spends more money on it’s military than the next ten countries combined!...and…the U.S. has spent more money on “one” nuclear sub than all government spending on PBS programs in all the years… Speaking of nuclear subs…Why are we continuing to shell out 2.5 billion dollars for a sub? Terrorists don’t have nuclear subs do they?...The last time I checked, the 9/11 hijackers used box cutters which could have been purchased for a couple of bucks at a local Wal-mart to do their dastardly deeds. If the terrorists don’t require nuclear subs than we must be building them to protect ourselves from the Chinese, right?...According to the 2007 Pentagon report to congress, “the intelligence community estimates China will take until the end of this decade or later to produce a modern force capable of defeating a moderate size adversary”…If the threat from abroad is not “real” than why do we continue to spend so much of our national treasury at such historical levels?...Have we become so paranoid?...or…is it a case of big business?...or both…and…is it any coincidence that Joe Lieberman who is one of the most vocal proponents for the building of nuclear subs representative of the same state, Connecticut, where the company that builds nuclear subs is based?...It does make one wonder and be suspicious…

The current Pentagon budget for this year is 625 billion, plus another 100 billion for other federal budget expenses for homeland security, nuclear weapons, and covert operations. The current amount is 35% higher than when George Bush came into office and is “larger than all other nations combined”…The next president of the U.S. is going to have a hell of time financing any of the domestic reforms without slashing and burning the current military budget…and…I wonder if they are going to have the political will to do so…but...if the next president and congress don’t do something to curtail and put the breaks on our runaway military spending than we may be joining the Soviet Union in running our economy into the ground… and… we won’t have anyone to blame except for ourselves for accepting hook, line, and sinker, the “myth of violence”….I’ll end with this excerpt from the Babylonian Creation myth and the haunting words of Walter Wink.

He sliced her in half like a fish for drying:
Half of her he put up to roof the sky
Drew a bolt across and made a guard to hold it.
Her waters he arranged so they could not escape

Blood I will mass and cause bones to be.
I will establish a savage, ‘Man’ shall be his name.
Verily, savage-man I will create.
He shall be charged with the service of the gods
That they [the gods] might be at ease!

"Violence is so successful as a myth precisely because it does not seem to be mythic in the least. Violence simply appears to be the nature of things. It is what works. It is inevitable, the last, and often, the first resort in conflicts…The myth of redemptive violence undergirds American pop culture, civil religion, nationalism, and foreign policy, and that it lies coiled like an ancient serpent at the root of the system of domination that has characterized human existence since well before Babylon ruled supreme…and…in the Babylonian myth, creation is an act of violence: Tiamat, “mother of them all”, is murdered and dismembered; from her cadaver the world is formed. Order is established by means of disorder. Creation is a violent victory over an enemy older than creation…This myth is the original religion of the status quo, the first articulation of “might makes right”. It is the basic ideology of the Domination System. The gods favor those who conquer. Conversely, whoever conquers must have the favor of the gods…and..Any form of order is preferable to chaos, according to this myth."....Walter Wink, Engaging the Powers

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Friday, May 30, 2008

Last night my twin sons Paul and Wesley joined their fellow Centennial High School Golden Hawk classmates in the graduation class of 2008. We arrived at the football stadium around 6:30 and didn't leave until about 9:30, after all the hats were tossed in the air and the confetti was released by well wishing family members. As far as graduations go this one went off without a hitch. I attend graduation every year at my high school, so it is kind of hard for me to get too worked up, even though this one is so special. This particular class was really large, over 500 strong which I believe is the largest graduation ceremony I have ever attended. After number 503 walked across the stage the parents, friends, and other family members stormed the field. It was kind of liking watching a college football game when the crazy fans rush the field after a big upset. We stood around, hugged my sons, told them how proud we were, and took a few pictures. Normally my two sons have no patience for having their pictures taken but on this night they both were on their best behavior. We then went back to the house for some cake and a few more pictures before my two sons took off to a school sponsored graduation function which they later confessed was a waste of time....The evening went so fast and when I left to come home after 10:00 o'clock, I couldn't believe it was over so quickly. The whole evening just seems so surreal, kinda like a wedding. You spend so much time, money, and effort for the big event, and then, bingo, it is all over like a flash. The whole thing just doesn't seem right. Why can't we drag these things on a bit longer. Why can't the parents have a pep rally before the big event? least an afterglow bonfire meeting after the graduates have left the field. It just doesn't seem fair that such big and significant events have to be so quick and is what it is...and...Now father and sons move on to the next chapter of life. The next chapter has an outline but many of the pages remain blank because it is now time for the father to pass along the pen to the sons who must write the rest of the book. The father will continue to offer guidance and proofreading when and if the sons want or need his assistance but it is now up to the sons to use their own imagination and skills to write the ensuing chapters. The father looks forward to reading the chapters that will develop in the years to come and hopes and prays that the stories will reflect and fulfill the deep longings and desires of the authors who are now part of the graduating class of 2008.