Saturday, August 13, 2011

George Shearing.............

..would have been 92 years old today.  Gone but not forgotten.

A man of no reputation...............

"Man of No Reputation” by Rich Mullins and a Ragamuffin Band

It was said this man was of no reputation
Yet he could stop the rising storm
With a gesture of his hand
But he chose to use his hands to heal
Hearts of darkness, hearts of stone
Just like mine would be revealed

He was a man of no reputation
And by the wise, considered a fool
When he spoke about faith and forgiveness
In a time when the strongest arms ruled

But this man of no reputation
Loved the weak with relentless affection
And he loved all those poor in spirit just as they were
He was a man of no reputation

It was said this man brought only confusion
That he’d achieve his ends by any means
And the truth that it brings revolution
And for once they were right
The truth set us free

The hearts of the captive were his only concern
And the powerful knew their days were ending

He was a man of no reputation
And by the wise, considered a fool
When he spoke about faith and forgiveness
In a time when the strongest arms ruled

But this man of no reputation
Loved the weak with relentless affection
And he loved all those poor in spirit just as they were
He was a man of no reputation

One day soon the gates of heaven will open wide
And the Prince of Peace will come back for his bride
But for now we live on these streets
Forbidding and tough

Where push always comes to shove
And it’s said love’s never enough
Where a prophet in rags gives hope to a fearful world
No injustice, no heart of darkness
Will keep this voice from being heard

He was a man of no reputation
And by the wise, considered a fool
When he spoke about faith and forgiveness
In a time when the strongest arms ruled

But this man of no reputation
Loves us all with relentless affection
And he loves all those poor in spirit, come as you are
To the man of no reputation

Thanks Nicole

Vital questions............

We really need to upgrade our national conversation about
wealth and prosperity, if, that is, we want to be wealthy and
prosperous as a nation.  

Consider John Ruskin, writing in 1862:

   Labour being thus various in its result, the prosperity of any nation is in exact proportion to the quantity of labour which it spends in obtaining and employing means of life.  Observe, - I say, obtaining and employing; that is to say, not merely wisely producing, but wisely distributing and consuming.  Economists usually speak as if there were no good in consumption absolute.  So far from this being so, consumption absolute is the end, crown, and perfection of production.  Twenty people can gain money for one who can use it; and the vital question, for individual and nation, is never "how much do they make?" but "to what purpose do they spend?"
-John Ruskin, Unto This Last

...that old familiar pain....

December, 1985.  Was back in Philly for Christmas with my
Mom and Dad.  Stopped at Goody's Record Store in Ardmore
to thumb through the racks of vinyl.  Dad was always difficult to
buy for, but he had an affection for jazz piano, so I was looking
at George Shearing's latest, when I glanced up......and my heart
stopped.  Two aisles over was my first true high school love and
my first true heart break.  Now,  fifteen+ years had passed and
I was well and truly over the hurt.  We had managed to stay
friends and, for a few years after, occasionally got together for
a drink or two.  But, by this winter's day, it had probably been
seven or eight years since our last contact.  As nonchalantly as
one can when one's heart has stopped, I ambled over and tugged
at her sleeve.   After a few seconds time delay, as she processed
who was tugging at her sleeve, I got a big hug.  I was totally
unprepared for my body's reaction.  My heart started beating
again but my lungs and brain stopped functioning.  I just
couldn't breath and struggled for coherency.  I suspect it wasn't
all that different from the first time I asked her for a date in the
fall of 1968.   Before I passed out from oxygen deprivation,
I invited her over to Mom and Dad's for a drink, she said yes,
and I fled from the scene.   Very strange, these bodies of ours.
Anyway, she came over and the four of us spent a fun hour of
catching up and reminiscing.  My conclusion:  the past is best
left in the past. 

Saw the news that Dan Fogelburg would have turned 60 today. 
It was a sad day when he died.  A few of his songs rate regular
turns as the ipod shuffles.  This one, however, takes me back
to "that old familiar pain."

Opening paragraphs........

"The densest of the medieval centuries - the six hundred years between, roughly, A.D 400 and A.D. 1000 - are still widely known as the Dark Ages.  Modern historians have abandoned that phrase, one of them writes, "because of the unacceptable value judgment it implies."  Yet there are no survivors to be offended.  Nor is the term necessarily pejorative. Very little is clear about that dim era.  Intellectual life had vanished from Europe.  Even Charlemagne, the first Holy Roman emperor and the greatest of all medieval rulers, was illiterate.  Indeed, throughout the Middle Ages, which lasted some seven centuries after Charlemagne, literacy was scorned; when a cardinal corrected the Latin of the emperor Sigismund, Charlemagne's forty-seventh successor, Sigismund rudely replies, "Ego sum rex Romanus et super grammatica" - as "king of Rome" he was "above grammar."  Nevertheless, if value judgments are made, it is undeniable that most of what is know about the period is unlovely.  After the extant fragments have been fitted together, the portrait which emerges is a melange of incessant warfare, corruption, lawlessness, obession with strange myths, and an almost impenetrable mindlessness."
-William Manchester, A World Lit Only by Fire

On getting out of the way.........

Thanks Jessica


The wisdom of the market............

photo courtesy of

Friday, August 12, 2011


“When you are inspired by some great purpose, some
extraordinary project, all your thoughts break their bonds;
your mind transcends limitations, your consciousness expands
in every direction, and you find yourself in a new, great and
wonderful world. Dormant forces, faculties and talents
become alive, and you discover yourself to be a greater
person by far than you ever dreamed yourself to be.”
- attributed to Patanjali 

The Bard and the Boss...........

PROSPERO:     Mark but the badges of these men, my lords,
            Then say if they be true. This mis-shapen knave -
            His mother was a witch, and one so strong
            That could control the moon, make flows and ebbs,
            And deal in her command without her power.
            These three have robb'd me; and this demi-devil--
            For he's a bastard one - had plotted with them
            To take my life. Two of these fellows you
            Must know and own; this thing of darkness I
            Acknowledge mine.

CALIBAN:   I shall be pinch'd to death.

-William Shakespeare,  The Tempest, Act 5, Scene 1, 267-276

The Boss, Darkness on the Edge of Town:

Opening paragraphs.............

     "Joseph Needham, a man highly regarded for his ability
as a builder of bridges - between science and faith, privilege
and poverty, the Old World and the New, and most famously
of all, between China and the West - was obliged to make an
early start in the craft, as the only child of a mother and
father who were ineluctably shackled in a spectacularly
disastrous Edwardian marriage."

-Simon Winchester, The Man Who Loved China

Creative ways to increase traffic........

Agents eat pot brownies accidentally served at Rose
McGowan’s realtor open house.

Rest of the story here.   Enjoy!



"The quieter you become, the more you can hear."
-attributed to Ram Dass

photo courtesy of

The Furniture Guy channels his inner Cato (The Elder)........

..............with a post highlighting the folly that has been, and is,
federal real estate policy - here.

Even though Greg cedes more respect to tarot card readers than
to Realtors, consider him both a keen observer of the residential
real estate scene and a linguistic craftsman turned word artist. 
Try this one or that one.  Love this conclusion:

"Don’t make me warn you again. Buy a cheap house, fix it,
and live in it. You’re waiting for a cataclysm to appear in
the windshield, and it’s in the rear-view mirror."

The key thing to remember with real estate is that almost ALL
markets are local, and your results may vary.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

So, you think you are in control......

"To give your cow or sheep a large spacious meadow is
the way to control him."
-Shunryu Suzuki

In praise of wine..................

.......and other fun stuff, from the-not-to-be-missed blog at
the Hammock Papers:

“… It is little, shy wine like a gazelle.”

“Like a leprechaun.”

“Dappled, in a tapestry meadow.”

“Like a flute by still water.”

“… And this is a wise old wine.”

“A prophet in a cave.”

“… And this is a necklace of pearls on a white neck.”

“Like a swan.”

“Like the last unicorn.”

photo courtesy of

Hoping this is true..........

Full essay from Michael Barone here, conclusion here:

But Americans prefer to see themselves as doers rather than victims. They do not see themselves, as the masses in the Progressive Era a century ago may have done, as helpless victims of large corporations and financial interests.

They want public policies that enable them to earn success, and they resent policies that channel money to the politically well positioned or to those who have not made decisions and taken actions necessary for earned success. They want to be empowered, not patronized.

That's why voters here and, as Greenberg notes, in other advanced countries are rejecting policies that give more power to the mandarins who run government and provide less leeway for ordinary people to work for earn success.

Thanks WRM

Shoe on higher education...............

(double click to enlarge, or simply go here)

# 1.................

Spring, 1963.  A 15 year old Philly girl has the #1 song on the
charts.  It was the first time pop music crashed the consciousness
of this eleven year old boy.  My parents had just bought me a
highly modern GE Quartz AM/FM alarm clock radio.  I suspect
their rationale was for me to learn how to wake myself up each
morning so I could  pedal off in a timely fashion to Penn Valley
Elementary School. At that point in civilization, radios were
somewhat subversive things.  I could now stay up late and listen
to WIBG and learn for the first time of the wide world beyond
our sheltered little neighborhood.  Beatlemania (and the whole
British Invasion thing) was just around the corner.  Times were

I guess first songs just stay with you.  Here is Little Peggy
March singing "I Will Follow Him."  Original version here.


"The thing about writing is, if you let it be, it's a method of
travel. You can make your way back to things that you
thought you had lost or move beyond anywhere you've been.
Writing is not just an act of symbolically representing the
things you know -- but a process where mind and experience
and life goes farther -- without limit.

"I'm writing again, but with different rules. I want to be
-Jess at the Wanderations blog

For the lazy amongst us, you could substitute the word "blogging"
for the word "writing."  There was a two year stretch in my life
when I followed Julia Cameron's regime of handwriting three
"morning pages" every day.  Perhaps we will talk more about
that tomorrow.  For today, may I suggest that if you haven't
visited the Wanderations blog you do so soon.

Thanks Rob

Good news may seem scarce........

......but my favorite economic futurist suggests we not abandon
all hope quite yet.  From Jeff Thredgold's Tea Leaf :

"The U.S. Department of Labor reported a net gain of 117,000 jobs in July 2011, slightly stronger than the 85,000 net gain expected. In addition, estimated job gains of the two prior months were revised higher by 56,000 jobs.

"Goods producing employment rose by 42,000 jobs in July, with gains in manufacturing (up 24,000 jobs), construction (up 8,000 jobs), and mining & logging (up 10,000 jobs). Private sector service providing employment rose by 112,000 jobs in July, led by gains in education & health services (up 38,000 jobs) and professional & business services (up 34,000 jobs). Overall government employment fell by 37,000 jobs during the month, impacted by 23,000 temporary job losses in the state of Minnesota."

"Another positive development in recent weeks has been the sharp decline in oil prices. Only two weeks ago oil was trading at $100 per barrel. Global economic slowing and stock market paranoia have led oil down 20%…or $20 per barrel…to roughly $80.

"The oil plunge, should it continue or even stabilize, will allow more dollars to stay in consumer hands in coming months, a positive development for consumers and the economy. Declining prices at the pump are similar to a tax cut."

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


"A warrior cannot complain or regret anything.  His life is an
endless challenge, and challenges cannot possibly be good or
bad.  Challenges are simply challenges."
-Carlos Casteneda,  Tales of Power

Ministering well?

Hamlet:  I do repent: but heaven hath pleas'd it so
             To punish me with this, and this with me,
             That I must be their scourge and minister.
             I will bestow him, and will answer well
             The death I gave him. So, again, good night.
             I must be cruel only to be kind.
            Thus bad begins and worse remains behind.

William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act 3, Scene 4, 173-179

On Gratitude.....

"Gratitude is indeed like a gearshift that can move our
mental mechanism from obsession to peacefulness, from
stuckness to creativity, from fear to love.  The ability to
relax and be mindfully present in the moment comes
naturally when we are grateful."
-Joan Borysenko, Gratitude: A Way of Life

Opening paragraphs........

     On the first Monday of the month of April, 1625, the town of Meung, in which the author of the Romance of the Rose was born, appeared to be in as perfect a state of revolution as if the Huguenots had just made a second Rochelle of it.  Many citizens, seeing the women flying toward the High Street, and hearing the children crying on the doorsteps, hastened to don their cuirasses, and, supporting their somewhat uncertain courage with a musket or a partisan, directed their steps toward the hostelry of the Franc-Meunier, before which was gathered a compact, vociferous, and curious group, increasing every minute in numbers.

-Alexandre Dumas, The Three Musketeers

Sing in the sunshine...........


The Master said, "The gentleman calls attention to the good points in others; he does not call attention to their defects. The small man does just the reverse of this."
-The Analects of Confucius, 12:16

Two points...................

     "These, then, are the two points I wanted to make.  First,
that human beings, all over the earth, have this curious idea
that they ought to behave in a certain way, and cannot
really get rid of it.  Secondly, that they do not in fact behave
in that way.  They know the Law of Nature; they break it.
These two facts are the foundation of all clear thinking
about ourselves and the universe we live in."
-C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Weathervane and "The Good War"...

Faithful readers will know that my Sweetie and I are fans (and
season ticket holders) of the Weathervane Playhouse here in
Newark.  Here, here and here for a sample of previous posts
about this community gem.

Last weekend the troupe romped through Chicago, the finale of
the regular season.  And a good season it was with  Little Shop
of Horrors, 39 Steps, Big River, and Sound of Music rounding
out the playbill.

This year - a new tradition.  Starting this Friday, the Playhouse
will have the first of nine performances of  a musical
interpretation of Stud Terkel's oral history of The Good War
Jen Bender, a real live Broadway director, will  be in town to
direct the show as a way of honoring her friend, and ours, the
late Mathew Trombetta.  More information here.

Do plan on attending.

Me and Dilbert.........


"If you know the enemy and yourself, you need not fear the
result of a hundred battles.  If you know yourself but not the
enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat.
If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb
in every battle.
-Sun Tzu, The Art of War, edited by James Clavell

On reason............

"You cannot use reason to understand God's law."
Ram Dass, Paths to God

Watched Stephen Hawking on the Discovery Channel the other
night as he explained how the Universe could have created itself,
thus negating the need for a Creator - or God.

I don't think he was trying to prove there is no God, just that one
is not necessary.  In the process, it seemed to this layman that he
took some enormous leaps of faith in science.  He lost me when
he said that time does not exist in a "black hole."  But, it was only
an hour show and perhaps a longer lecture might  have proved
more enlightening.  Probably not.

I was interested to know how he thinks life became alive.  I
missed the first five minutes of the show, maybe he covered it
early on.

Anyway, I'm with Ram Dass on this one.  The intellect is just
the wrong tool, and reason the wrong paradigm, to find God. 
That's my story and I'm sticking to it.


"Consider all this; and then turn to this green, gentle, and
most docile earth; consider them both, the sea and the land;
and do you not find a strange analogy to something in
yourself?  For as this appalling ocean surrounds the verdant
land, so in the soul of man there lies one insular Tahiti, full
of peace and joy, but encompassed by all the horrors of the
half known life."
-Herman Melville,  Moby Dick

Lord have mercy............

Billy Joe Royal performs Down in the Boondocks.  Click
throught to Youtube, more copyright issues.

That mind/body thing.....

"If you think your body and mind are two, that is wrong;
if you think that they are one, that is also wrong.  Our
body and mind are both two and one."
-Shunryu Suzuki

Monday, August 8, 2011

Spending a quiet afternoon with the Fab Four

Thanks Steve

A poem for Monday

      A Standing Ground

However just and anxious I have been
I will stop and step back
from the crowd of those who may agree
with what I say, and be apart.
There is no earthly promise of life or peace
but where the roots branch and weave
their patient silent passages in the dark;
uprooted, I have been furious without an aim.
I am not bound for any public place,
but for ground of my own
where I have planted vines and orchard trees,
and in the heat of the day climbed up
into the healing shadow of the woods.
Better than any argument is to rise at dawn
and pick dew-wet berries in a cup.

-Wendell Berry, Collected Poems

photo courtesy of

Fun with statistics........

Here is one of those charts that purport to show a trend.  While it
seems logical, and may be an accurate accounting of where we
have been in the last four or five years, I suspect that the sample
size is too small to draw any meaningful conclusion.  I know the
sample size is too small in our community.   Have I told you
lately that we have some fabulous building lots available?

Thanks Mark

Creating distinctions.......

 "Some writers have so confounded society with government, as to leave little or no distinction between them; whereas they are not only different, but have different origins.  Society is produced by our wants, and government by our wickedness; the former promotes our happiness positively by uniting our affections, the latter negatively by restraining our vices.  The one encouraged intercourse, the other creates distinctions.  The first is a patron, the last a punisher."
-Thomas Paine, first paragraph from Common Sense

It's a jungle out there......

Once started, it is easy to get lost in the "Comment" thickets of
the blogosphere.  Scrolling through some of the more
argumentative sites can be interesting and attention grabbing, in
the way of rubber necking at the scene of a car wreck - and is
about as useful.  I've recently made the decision to make more
conscious choices.  In his post on Sunday, Nicholas Bate offers
Notes to Self 7, in which he suggests we not watch/listen/read
the news.  I would add one more - avoid the "comment thickets"
of the blogosphere.  To help with this effort, Nelson Biagio Jr.
provides a handy flow chart for our consideration:

(double click to enlarge)

Timelessness in opening paragraphs..........

   It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the
age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch
of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of
Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of
hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before
us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to
Heaven, we were all going direct the other way - in short,
the period was so far like the present period, that some of
its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good
or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.

-Charles DickensA Tale of Two Cities

Faithful readers will remember that Michael Wade had been highlighting
opening paragraphs lately.  It seemed fun, so I joined in.  Suspecting  he
favors Dickens, and not wanting to steal his thunder, I wrote and asked if
he had this one queued up.  He wrote back:

That is probably the gold standard when it comes to
opening paragraphs. By all means, go ahead and use it.
I’ve got plenty of others in the pipeline.

Thanks Michael

..they reach for her....

On interconnected systems........

“No tree has branches so foolish as to fight among
-as channeled by Christina Brandt

Sunday, August 7, 2011

On responsibility......

"Responsibility is our ability to respond to a situation.  We
always have a choice.  It does not mean we deny who we are
and what we have in our lives.  It merely means that we can
acknowledge that we have contributed to where we are.  By
taking responsibility, we have the power to change.  We can
say, 'What can I do to make this different?'  We need to
understand that we all have personal power all the time.
It depends on how we use it."
-Louise Hay,  The Power is Within You

Sunday's song...........


         Canticle of the Sun

Most high, all powerful, all good Lord!

All praise is yours, all glory, all honor, and all blessing.

To you, alone, Most High, do they belong.
No mortal lips are worthy to pronounce your name.

Be praised, my Lord, through all your creatures,
especially through my lord Brother Sun,
who brings the day; and you give light through him.
And he is beautiful and radiant in all his splendor!
Of you, Most High, he bears the likeness.

Be praised, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars;
in the heavens you have made them bright, precious and 

Be praised, my Lord, through Brothers Wind and Air,
and clouds and storms, and all the weather,
through which you give your creatures sustenance.

Be praised, My Lord, through Sister Water;
she is very useful, and humble, and precious, and pure.

Be praised, my Lord, through Brother Fire,
through whom you brighten the night.
He is beautiful and cheerful, and powerful and strong.

Be praised, my Lord, through our sister Mother Earth,
who feeds us and rules us,
and produces various fruits with colored flowers and herbs.

Be praised, my Lord, through those who forgive for love
of you;  through those who endure sickness and trial.

Happy those who endure in peace,
for by you, Most High, they will be crowned.

Be praised, my Lord, through our Sister Bodily Death,
from whose embrace no living person can escape.
Woe to those who die in mortal sin!
Happy those she finds doing your most holy will.
The second death can do no harm to them.

Praise and bless my Lord, and give thanks,
and serve him with great humility.

-St. Francis of Assisi

art courtesy of

The really good news.........

"The Good News means we can stop lying to ourselves.  The sweet sound of amazing grace saves us from the necessity of self-deception.  It keeps us from denying that though Christ was victorious, the battle with lust, greed, and pride still rages within us.  As a sinner who has been redeemed, I can acknowledge that I am often unloving, irritable, angry, and resentful with those closest to me.  When I go to church I can leave my white hat at home and admit that I have failed.  God not only loves me as I am, but also knows me as I am.  Because of this I don't need to apply spiritual cosmetics to make myself presentable to Him.  I can accept ownership of my poverty and powerlessness and neediness."

Brennan Manning, The Ragamuffin Gospel

The Y Bridge

My Sweetie and I went to the Y Bridge Art Festival in Zanesville
last evening.  Zanesville has a thriving "artist colony."  There are a
significant number of art galleries in the downtown and their
"First Friday" efforts have created a well attended "gallery walk"
through the area.  The local talent is diverse and impressive and
supportive of each other.  Zanesville is starting to use the "arts"
as an economic development/tourism tool.  Judging by their
recent efforts, they are having success.  While the festival offers
food, we walked to the Old Market House Inn and had a
fabulous dinner in air conditioned comfort (followed by desert
 at Tom's Ice Cream Bowl).  Mark it as a "let's go there" for next
August.  It is a fun evening.  Take your wallet.  The art is for sale
and  folks were buying.

The Y Bridge is a treasure in and of itself. 

Using it for an art festival is a stroke of genius. 

One leg of the Y closed for the Festival

The comfortably large crowd enjoys the talent on display

Chain saw art.  Who knew?

Fritz Raiser's water colors were my favorite

twisted gyves......

JULIET :  'Tis almost morning; I would have thee gone -
                And yet no further than a wanton's bird,
                That lets it hop a little from his hand,
                Like a poor prisoner in his twisted gyves,
                And with a silk thread plucks it back again,
                So loving-jealous of his liberty.

ROMEO:  I would I were thy bird.

JULIET:                        Sweet, so would I,
                 Yet I should kill thee with much cherishing.
                 Good night, good night! parting is such sweet sorrow,
                 That I shall say good night till it be morrow.

-William Shakespeare
Romeo and Juliet, Act 2 Scene 2, 176-185

(the audio improves as the video progresses)

On selling.............

"Sell not virtue to purchase wealth,
nor liberty to purchase power."
-Benjamin Franklin


Walter Russell Mead suggests an honest look at ourselves might
be useful.  An accompanying attitude shift might help as well.
Full essay here.  Excerpt here:

"The frantic twisting and turning in both America and Europe as our societies come to realize just how we have overpromised and underpaid is only the start. We will blame the politicians as much as we can, but we the people have also lied to ourselves. We accepted promises that sounded too good to be true, we accepted counterfeit promises and passed them along as good money."