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April 2011

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Easter and Risen Flowers

April 24, 2011
California wildflowers
What a beautiful sight are these wildflowers along the coast of Northern California. A writer aquaintance of mine sent the picture today in honor of Easter. S. T. Georgiou teaches in San Francisco and has written some wonderful spiritually rich books about his journey and the importance of the late poet Robert Lax in his life. His chance meeting with Lax in 1991 when he traveled to the Greek island of Patmos to try to discern directiorn for his life led to a great friendship and mentoring relationship.

I am just about finished with the third book of the trilogy, The Isle of Monte Cristo. Life journeys can be full of helpful insight for others and the books of Georgious certainly attest to that.

The Oil Spill One Year Later and Gulf Stories

April 21, 2011

The worst ecological disaster of our lifetime happened a year ago. It is no longer regular front page news, but the explosion of the deepwater oil drill owned and operated by BP (British Petroleum) a year ago led to an epic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico and the impact will be felt for years and years.

PBS has on their website a timeline for all the stories they've post over the past 12 months - 232 so far. It's interesting to see this. But what is really impactful are the stories of people who live in the area. Hurricane Katrina's impact on Gulf coastal areas was profound, but add this oil spill disaster and you can imagine the hardship. And yet the human spirit continues to rise to the occasion. Check out the Bridge the Gulf Project, a storytelling initiative from citizens of the region.

A Run to the Borders and I Picked Up Some Books on Sale

April 16, 2011

I love to read and I read a variety of things. With my career shift to teaching I obviously read more books on education. But I love music and I find myself reading about music artists and the industry. I also love to explore spirituality and my faith and in the past few years I let myself become more openminded and challenged.

Today I visited a Borders bookstore not far from my house. As you may have heard, this large bookselling chain is closing down many of their stores. The one near my house is down to the final days and they are selling everything, including the fixtures! Books were marked 70-80% off. I browsed the limited selection and found three books that looked good, one from each of the categories I mentioned above. They included Don't Shoot! I'm the Guitar Man by Buzzy Martin. This book is about a musician born in Grand Rapids, Michigan who moved to California to pursue his dream of making it in the music business in 1979. He didn't get the recording contract, but he got married, continued to play and eventually started teaching at-risk kids. Then he was invited to teach music at San Quentin prison! The book recounts this rewarding, but sometimes harrowing experience.

I also picked up John Shelby Spong's A New Christianity for a New World. I've read some of Spong's writing from the web and his newsletters, but never one of his books. He's a liberal and progressive Christian thinker and challenges a lot of traditional dogma. He's articulate and often has some insightful things to say, even if I don't agree with all of it.

The third book is Education Nation by Milton Chen. He's writing about innovative ways of educating and as someone who worked with the George Lucas Educational Foundation (maybe you've surfed over to the site, Edutopia) surely has insight and some worthwhile things to consider about education.

Reading is important and even with the changing ways of the publishing business and the tendency for some people to not consider reading a valuable pasttime I was impressed with the number of people at the bookstore shopping for bargains. If you put all these people in some other location and tried to assess their reading interests based on their appearance I think you'd be surprised. Just as you can't judge a book by its cover, you can't judge a book lover by the way they look.

Some Days Chicken, Some Days Feathers

April 15, 2011

There's an expression I first heard from my Mother-in-Law that is an approach to life that has been helpful to me. When you have a bad day you need to remember it is just one day in your life. Keep it in context. Not every day will go well, just as not every day is a bad one. "Sometimes chicken, sometimes feathers."

A life lesson that has been very important to me is to live one day at a time and to remember that each moment is special. Am I always conscious of this? No. It is a very challenging thing to do. But there is so much wisdom in this. What happens to us is not as important as how we respond to it. And respond is the key word. Usually we react and that is often immediately, without any pause to consider what is happening and how we should respond.

Occasionally we get reminded of the importance of living in the moment. Some times it is as simple as fighting a cold and having to stay home in bed. I don't like to be sick or to take sick days. I usually push myself hard. And that is not always a good thing. Today the cold I have been fighting all week finally knocked me down enough that I had to stay home and in bed most of the time. I am just now feeling well enough to post this blog entry. And in it all I am I learning to be grateful for the realization that life is one moment after another and each one can be special. Yes, we remember our past. Yes, we dream about the future. But we must live in the day. As another well-known saying states, "Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift. That's why they call it the present."

Before You Die - Say It With Talk Or Chalk

April 7, 2011

Candy Chang is a public installation artist, designer and urban planner. She recently came up with an innovative idea for the side of an abandoned house in her neighborhood in New Orleans. She put up giant chalkboards with "Before I die I want to" stenciled on the side multiple times and then a line extending out. People were invited to add their statement. It was a way for the people there to remember what is important to them. There were numerous great responses (see here) including, Before I die I want to...have fun, finish school, go to Rome, understand, be ok with not understanding, cure cancer, see all my Grandkids, and write a book. Pretty awesome.

I also saw an article about a woman who has been diagnosed with end stage lung cancer. She's only 35, not a smoker and has lived a healthy lifestyle, but she's one of those unfortunates who gets struck by this kind of nearly always fatal lung cancer. She's married with three kids, ages 4, 3 and 1. She wants to leave something for them and decided a legacy video that expressed her love, joy and hopes for them is the way to go. Her main message is "rejoice in every day", a grand statement for all of us. You can read the article about this brave San Jose woman at

Both ways of sharing values, one with chalk and the other "on camera" talk, are essentially a form of ethical will. Preserving a philosophy, message to loved ones and values to pass on is an ancient practice and well worth considering. You can write a letter, record a video message, or pen a book. Be creative, thoughtful and sincere. Let those who matter hear the message you have in your heart. It is meant to be shared.

Ice Cream Sundaes Are Goo...Google...Good

April 3, 2011

I didn't post on April 1st. It's two days later, but I assure you this is no April Fools Prank. Today is the birthday of the Ice Cream Sundae. The first one was whipped up by a couple of guys in Ithaca, New York 119 years ago. The story is that the Reverend John M. Scott, 
as was his custom, visited the Platt & Cold Pharmacy after services at the Unitarian Church. But instead of getting his usual dish of vanilla ice cream Chester Platt served him his dessert in a champagne saucer with cherry syrup poured over it and a cherry on top. What to call the new concoction? The Reverend proposed "Cherry Sunday" in honor of the day it was invented!

Despite the importance of healthy eating, I would find the world a lesser place without ice cream sundaes. And it's appropos that today's anniversary falls on a Sunday. How do you like yours? I favor chocolate syrup, but go ahead and give me a cherry, some fudge, candy sprinkles and even nuts (not too many, please). Ice cream sundaes are part of my personal history, conjuring up many a fond memory. Chalk it up there with other delights like pizza, baseball, swimming and driving cars.
Google Ice Cream Sundae Logo
As Google is want to do on memorable occasions, they put together a custom Google Logo for today and it links to a page of results on the ice cream sundae, including the official site - - where you can get the history of this delicious dish.

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