Saturday, February 3, 2018

Highly recommended.............

     I don't mean to be a skeptic, to lack hope, or to harbor fear.  However, experience has been my diligent teacher.  Still, I hate it.  I don't want to raise a child of doubt.  I want my son to believe, to hope, to dream that the future holds brighter days.
     Grandfather, where is the balance between accepting our life's trials and pleading toward heaven for help, begging for a better tomorrow?
     And then Sopeap's lesson drops out of hiding and into my head.  "Whether we like it or not, hope is written so deeply into our hearts that we just can't help ourselves, no matter how hard we try otherwise."

-Camron Wright,  The Rent Collector

On dreams.............................

"I had a dream that feels important, but I don't know for sure."

"I guess that would depend on whom you believe."

"How so?"

"William Shakespeare called dreams the 'children of an idle brain, begot of nothing but vain fantasy.'"

"What's my other choice?"
"Dreams have also been called a sign of ambition.  I think the quote was" 'Dreams, indeed, are ambition; for the very substance of the ambitious is merely the shadow of a dream.'"

"And who said that?"

"That was also William Shakespeare."

"He couldn't make up his mind?"

She shrugs.  "I would say if it feels important it probably is.  Our subconscious can be downright persistent in prodding us along our path, even if it is a road we'd rather not travel."

-Camron Wright,  The Rent Collector

The subtle power..........................

..........................................................................of reassurance.

Pondering virtue.....................

     It is true that the idea of virtuous self-sacrifice is deeply embedded in Western culture ( at least insofar as the West has been influenced by Christianity, which is based on the imitation of someone who performed the ultimate act of self-sacrifice).  Any claim that the Golden Rule does not mean "sacrifice yourself for others" might therefore appear dubious.  But Christ's archetypal death exists as an example of how to accept finitude, betrayal and tyranny heroically - how to walk with God despite the tragedy of self-conscious knowledge - and not as a directive to victimize ourselves in the service of others.  To sacrifice ourselves to God (or the highest good, if you like) does not mean to suffer silently and willingly when some person or organization demands more from us, consistently, than is offered in return.  That means we are supporting tyranny, and allowing ourselves to be treated as slaves.  It is not virtuous to be victimized by a bully, even if that bully is oneself.

-Jordan Peterson,  12 Rules For Life:  An Antidote To Chaos

Fifty years ago..........................

People!...............................................................................I Love You

Friday, February 2, 2018

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

     I once believed that heroes existed only in old men's fables, that evil in the world had triumphed over good, and that love - a true, unselfish, and abiding love - could only be found in a little girl's imagination.  I was certain the gods were deaf, that Buddha was forgotten, and that I would never again see the natural beauty of my home province.
     It was a time when I learned about shape-shifters, shadows, and redemption;  when I finally grasped the meaning of a Chinese proverb whose venerable words still rattle about in my head:  The most difficult battles in life are those we fight within.
     It was also the year that I came to truly know the Rent Collector.

-Camron Wright,  The Rent Collector

Fifty years ago........................

Smokey Robinson & The Miracles.....................If You Can Want


Thursday, February 1, 2018

Fifty years ago........................

The fretwork hands stood at five past four.
     In the dying light of the December day the bronze face of the clock on the shelf looked black.
     The double panes of the tall window looked down on the busy street and the janitors shoveling dirty brown snow, newly fallen but already soggy, form under the feet of the pedestrians.
     Staring at all this without seeing it, State Counselor Second Rank Innokenty Volodin leaned against the edge of the window and whistled a thin, drawn-out note.  His fingertips leafed through the glossy, bright-colored pages of a foreign magazine.  But he saw none of it.
     State Counselor Second Rank Innokenty Volodin, whose rank in the diplomatic service was equivalent to that of lieutenant colonel in the army, was tall and narrowly built.  Dressed not in uniform but in a worsted suit, he looked more like a young gentleman of leisure than an executive in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
     It was time either to turn on the lights in the office, which he did not do, or else go home.  He made no move to do that, either.
     Four o'clock did not mean the end of the working day but of its daytime, or lesser, part:  everyone would now go home to have dinner and take a nap, and then, from ten o'clock on, thousands of windows in sixty-five Moscow ministries would light up again.  There was only one person, behind a dozen fortress walls, who could not sleep at night, and he had taught all official Moscow to keep vigil with him until three or four in the morning.  Knowing the nocturnal habits of the Sovereign, the three score ministers sat up like schoolboys in expectation of a summons.   So as not to get sleepy they called out their deputies, and the deputies harassed their section heads;  reference librarians on stepladders pored over their card catalogues, filing clerks dashed down corridors, secretaries broke pencil points.
     And even today, on the eve of Western Christmas, when for two days all the embassies had been quiet, frozen up, their phones still, and people were probably right this minute sitting down around their Christmas trees, there would still be night work in their own ministries.  Some would play chess and others would tell stories and still others doze on couches - but there would be work.
     Volodin's nervous fingers swiftly and aimlessly leafed through the magazine.  And all the time within him the pang of fear now rose and burned a little, then subsided and chilled.
     How well Innokenty remembered from childhood the name of Dr. Dobroumov!  At that time he had not yet become such a luminary.  They did not send him abroad with delegations.  He was not even known as a scientist, but simply as a medical doctor, and he went out to make house calls.  Innokenty's mother was often indisposed, and she always tried to get hold of Dobroumov.  She had faith in him.  The moment he arrived and took off his sealskin cap in the entry, the whole place would be filled up with an atmosphere of good feeling, calm, and assurance.  He never stayed less than half an hour by the bedside.  He asked about every complaint;  and then, as though it gave him great satisfaction, he examined the patient and expounded the prescribed cure.  On his way out, he never passed the boy without asking him a question, and he would stop to listen to the reply, as if he seriously expected to hear something intelligent.  The doctor was graying even then.  What would he look like now?
     Innokenty flung down the magazine and, tense and preoccupied, paced the room.
     Should he telephone or not?
     If this had involved some other professor of medicine whom he didn't know personally, Innokenty would never have thought twice about trying to warn him.  But Dobroumov!
     Could there possibly be a way of identifying a person speaking over a public telephone - if one wasted no time and hung up and left quickly?  Could they recognize a voice over the phone?  Surely there was no technique for that.
     He went to his desk.  In the twilight he could still make out the top sheet of instructions covering his new assignment.  He was to leave before New Year's Day, or Wednesday or Thursday.
     It was more logical to wait.  It was more reasonable to wait.
     Oh, God!  A shudder gripped his shoulders, so unaccustomed to such burdens.  It would have been better if he had never learned about it.  If he know nothing about it, had never learned ...
     He took the instructions and everything else off the desk and carried them all to the safe.
     How, indeed, could anyone condemn what Dobroumov had promised?   It showed the generosity of a talented man.  Talent is always conscious of its own abundance and does not object to sharing.

-Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn.  The First Circle

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Hockey night in Columbus.........

My Sweetie and I ventured to the big city to take in a National Hockey League game.   The Minnesota Wild took on the Blue Jackets in a mildly exciting game.  Jackets lost in shoot-out.  The boys in blue looked like they had tired legs all game, but they had their chances to win.  Oh well, fun none-the-less.

Finding peace of mind...................

“You find that you have peace of mind and can enjoy yourself, get more sleep, and rest when you know that it was a 100% effort that you gave—win or lose.”

-Gordie Howe

55 year old Howe tangles with Bobby Orr in a 1983 charity game.   

On guarantees............................

"Only one thing is ever guaranteed, that is that you will definitely not achieve the goal if you don’t take the shot."
-Wayne Gretzky

He was, I think, the first Canadian forward to play a true team game", said hockey writer and former NHL goalie Ken Dryden. The focus of the game prior to Gretzky's arrival, he said, especially among the Canadian teams, was on the player with the puck—in getting the puck to a star player who would make the big play. "Gretzky reversed that. He knew he wasn't big enough, strong enough, or even fast enough to do what he wanted to do if others focused on him. Like a magician, he had to direct attention elsewhere, to his four teammates on the ice with him, to create the momentary distraction in order to move unnoticed into the open ice where size and strength didn't matter. . . . Gretzky made his opponents compete with five players, not one, and he made his teammates full partners to the game. He made them skate to his level and pass and finish up to his level or they would be embarrassed."

The Code............................

Parents today might be surprised to discover what kids can do if they are left to their own devices. We certainly learned to figure things out for ourselves. We had to take the initiative, because the odds were that no parent would be available to shovel off the bay or the rink or a stretch of road. If we wanted to play, we had to do the work to make it happen. We also learned how to give as well as take, because we were all in it together, and it was important to interact with everybody in the group even if they weren’t your closest friends. If there is no one there to tell you to play nice, you figure out pretty quickly that there really is a code, and kids naturally respect it.”  

-Bobby Orr

Bobby Orr at his first training camp 1966.   I must be getting old.

Fifty years ago.........................

Donovan.............................................................Hurdy Gurdy Man


Monday, January 29, 2018

Birthday present from my daughter.......

When tithing is a bargain..............

     From as early as 1913, AT&T has been battling the U. S. government over its monopoly control of the nation's phone service.  That it was, in fact, a monopoly was undeniable.  If you were making a phone call in the United States at any point between 1930 and 1984, you were almost without exception using AT&T's network.  That monopoly power made the company immensely profitable, since it faced no significant competition.  But for seventy years, AT&T managed to keep the regulators at by by convincing them that the phone network was a "natural monopoly" and a necessary one.  Analog phone circuits were simply too complicated to be run by a hodgepodge of competing firms; if Americans wanted to have a reliable phone network, it needed to be run by a single company.  Eventually, the antitrust lawyers in the Justice Department worked out an intriguing compromise, settled officially in 1956.  AT&T would be allowed to maintain its monopoly over phone service, but any patented invention that had originated in Bell Labs would have to be freely licensed to any American company that found it useful, and all new patents would have to be licensed for a modest fee.  Effectively, the government said to AT&T that it could keep its profits, but it would have to give away its ideas in return.
     It was a unique arrangement, one we are not likely to see again.  The monopoly power gave the company a trust fund for research that was practically infinite, but every interesting idea that came out of that research could be immediately adopted by other firms.  So much of the American success in postwar electronics - from transistors to computers to cell phones - ultimately dates back to that 1956 agreement.  Thanks to the antitrust resolution, Bell Labs became one of the strangest hybrid in the history of capitalism:  a vast profit machine generating new ideas that were, for all practical purposes, socialized.  Americans had to pay a tithe to AT&T for their phone service, but the new innovations AT&T generated belonged to everyone.

-Steven Johnson,  How We Got to Now:  Six Innovations That Made the Modern World


Hey Sweetie.................................

Fifty years ago..........................

The Foundations.............................Baby Now That I've Found You


Released in 1967, but still all over the 1968 charts