Tuesday, August 22, 2017

"A government that robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul." - George Bernard Shaw


I'm unsettled. Burrito is lethargic, inactive, and has been since this morning. I've been gone most of the day but he doesn't seem to be eating and certainly not running around like he normally does. There's no way to tell what's happened and therefore no way to address it. Tomorrow morning I'll get some probiotic from the feed store which helps their gut function. It's a "can't hurt" action. I'll also take his temp (rectal) which should come in within a degree or two of 102.
This is the hard part of raising animals.

I spent a couple of hours at the coffee shop and made good progress, then came home and did a brisk (by my standards) 3.5 miles. Took a quick shower and then went over to David & Marta's rental and spent several hours painting. The problem came when I got into the fourth can of paint, a can that had the exact same color coding on the lid, but was NOT the same color. About two shades darker. Grrrr.
I had rolled out the second coat on part of one bedroom wall when I could clearly see the problem.
Nothing to do but put that second coat on the whole room, and now I'll go back and redo the cut-in tomorrow. 'cause a this point there's a white strip up at the ceiling and along the floor.
I was *this* close to being done with painting. That second coat on the small bedroom was the last step.

David was there doing some work on the barn he's building (it will be horse property) and came in for a visit. Great guy who has also spent time in Kenya. We compared experiences and readily agreed on key aspects of our perspective, incl. the cluelessness of Americans who don't realize how good we all have it.
In-country (David in Kenya, me in Tanzania) they don't have cupboards because they don't have anything to put in them. Or closets for extra clothes, which don't exist.
We sure like David and Marta, and that they're family in Christ makes it that much better.

I've mentioned here how much I enjoyed teaching, and especially the relationships I developed with my students. My favorite places on campus were the classroom and the cafeteria where I ate lunch with students. We had fun both places.

I took my work very seriously, worked very hard, and expected the same from my students. Most people who enter into a program like a college degree track will rise to expectations if they're at all reasonable, and I did my best to make it possible for them to succeed. Most of them did. And we had fun in the process. They knew not to take me too seriously because I don't take myself seriously. That allowed us to banter at times in the way friends do, friends who know it's all good.

Tobin sent me a video clip last week, something he'd captured from a TV show, or Netflix show or... The front part of it got cut off so he told me what it was, a bit about Richard Wagner (German classical composer) and the end of the world. He said it reminded him of me.

I used to tell students that if they came to my office to complain about an exam or paper grade (it happens, sometimes legit, sometimes baseless whining) they should stop and listen for what music is playing. If it was Wagner they should leave and come back again later.
(Wagner wrote some really ferocious music that's great for working out frustrations.)

That message from Tobin made me feel good.

I miss teaching.
The people are the best part.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Never, under any circumstances, take a laxative and a sleeping pill on the same night." - Dave Barry



Today, while watching a recorded episode of "Inspector Morse" (PBS) I learned a new term. "Billet doux" (billay-doo) is French for love note.

I understand parking lot fender benders, but how do two giant ships run into each other? It's not like either one of them can suddenly swerve into the other. They can't suddenly do anything.
[Note the adjectival, suddenly, vs. the common "all of a sudden." If you can have all of a sudden what's part of a sudden? (pet peeve)]

We left at 6:15 and drove to one of our favorite b'fast joints in Harrisburg, 30 miles north of us. Don't know if the medium traffic was people headed to work or to the zone of totality, but I think it was the latter because 90% of the cars took turnoffs for Corvallis where the campus of OSU was deemed to be prime viewing turf.

The BACON wasn't nearly as good as we've had there before. Still good (it's BACON), but what they used to serve was outstanding.
The interior has been completely remodeled since we were last there and now has a classic car theme with what's called automobilia all over the place.
Turns out there's a connection between the remodel and the average BACON.
One of the waitresses, a 30-something Hispanic gal we've had before, is super sweet and sat down at our table for a bit of a visit. (We felt complimented that she felt that comfortable enough with us to do that.) She told us she'd worked there for 5 years and the owner-wife recently died. The owner-husband decided not to carry on and sold the place to the new owners three months ago. Our waitress said they were like family to her and she was sad to see him make that decision. The new owners have a restaurant background and have plans for this place that include adding dinner service instead of just b'fast and lunch.
"Do you like them or do you wish you had the old owners back?" Long pause...no answer.
Then she said, "I'm the only one left; all the other girls quit."
The people are the best part.

From there to the city park in Halsey (pop. 904), 10 miles further up the road. We were joined by about 40 other groups - couples and families - either sitting in the grass or in camping chairs like us. Pam and I read our books while we waited for the eclipse to start, watched through totality, and left shortly after the sun began to emerge. We didn't have any significant traffic coming home, either.

The eclipse was very cool and we're glad we drove up there. From what I've read online there was a big difference between the 99% we'd have had here and the totality we saw. Totality didn't last long, maybe only a minute, because we were right on the edge of that zone.

We could feel the temp drop, the automatic lights around the park came on, and people clapped when it went total.
We got home about lunchtime and agreed it was a fun adventure and well worth the minimal effort to see it in totality.

I did 3 miles this afternoon. It was about 83 and it felt every bit of that. Got home and looked at my schedule to see I should have done 4 miles. So, do I add to tomorrow's to catch up? I'll leave about 10 a.m. and see how I feel. My training won't fail or succeed based on one mile worth of difference this week.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

"The greatest remedy for anger is delay." - Seneca


Marta has been very generous to us in all matters of the goats, from the ridiculously low price we paid for the first two bottle babies, to helping us navigate some of those early problems with medicine from her stock, to the "farm loan" of Sundae.
David and Marta own a rental property, a beautiful 5 acre lot about a mile from our house. They're rehabbing it between tenants, including putting in a pasture and barn so it can be horse property, and doing some work on the 4 bdrm, 2 bath house. The guy they've used in the past for some of that work has bumped up his prices so Marta asked me if we'd like to make "some pin money" (very few people have even heard that expression). Yes! We spent four hours over there Saturday, Pam washing windows while I painted the living room. This afternoon I went back and spent 3 hours painting one of the bedrooms and Tuesday I'll paint the laundry room. (The walls have a very deep texture making painting a tedious process.)
When it's all done I'll send her a bill. Pam and I talked about it and agreed it will be a very complete invoice with hours worked (2.75), price per hour (.36), minus the good neighbor discount of 10%, for a total of 32 cents.
Or I might do the math so that we end up owing her money.
At the bottom I'll say we'd be willing to waive our fee in exchange for stud service for Sundae and Stella when it's time to breed them.

We'll leave here about 6:15 tomorrow morning for the 35 minute drive to the b'fast joint in Harrisburg. Brett & Phares (pastor & wife) may meet us there and go on with us for the 10 minute drive to Halsey, just within the zone of totality. That assumes traffic isn't as bad as they're predicting, but we'll go back roads so I'm hoping both the up and back are easy enough. The eclipse begins here at 9:04 and ends about 11:30.
If the press is to be believed we won't be able to get out of our driveways for weeks.

A friend my age who also recently retired wrote a blog post last week about his adjustment to his change of life circumstances and the lack of a must-do at this time schedule. No need for an alarm clock, no meeting times to keep track of, no deadlines to meet.... He wrote that it took him some time but he's learned a new way of living, of being in the moment without concern for what must be done by a particular time. His new life is about being, not doing.

As I read that I thought how different my retirement has been. Mine is about doing, not being, just doing different things, activities not possible when I was a pastor. Never mind living in AZ, I could not have raised goats, had this kind of time for writing, had half an orchard of fruit trees, or (the best part) hang out with Pam as much as I do.

Which is not to say I feel like I've fallen into my "groove," settled into my niche.
For me that place is being a good steward in God's sight. At my age I'm pretty sure what skills and abilities he gave me, so the question is how I should be using them.

I have no regrets abut my decision re. Pathway; it was the right thing to do and done for the right reasons. The question is, what now?
So I've prayed a lot about it.
I've decided I will not go searching for opportunities to preach, teach, or whatever. I'm too suspicious of selfish motives, of ego getting in the way. So while it may strike some as too passive I've purposed to trust God to bring things my way. If opportunities show up I'll start with the presumption that God has sent them. Oh, some may be obviously ill suited to who I am and out of my wheelhouse, but if they seem to line up reasonably well, if I think I can do a credible job, I'll accept the opportunity.

That's why I went to MI to speak at that service, and told Nathan that if it works out at his end I'm willing to go to Thailand next year to participate in a seminar.

I got another request this morning, one for which I'm well suited, at least on paper, but makes me feel a bit awkward. Don't want to get specific 'cause I think it's a bit confidential at this point. Not sure, but I want to play it safe.

All of that to say unlike my friend I'm still sorting it out two years later. I don't want to be a slacker in his sight.
Sometimes life is hard to figure out.

Friday, August 18, 2017

"Football combines the two worst things about America: violence punctuated by committee meetings." - Vince Lombardi


When you tell your wife you smell burning rubber and she responds, "That's dinner."

I ran into town on some errands this afternoon, including a stop at a butcher shop downtown. I'd called and the owner agreed to sell me some freezer paper so I don't have to buy a whole roll online. Cool place, much  bigger and busier than I expected. They have a section with wines and gourmet cheeses, and about six guys standing in the center of the room behind the glass cases working at big tables carving up carcasses. Throw back.

I got the front brakes done on the Kia this morning. Problem: they pads weren't as worn as they should have been to account for the noise we get when brakes are applied. So next week I'll do the back brakes. The good news: Kia did a good job on the design, so it turns out to be a pretty straightforward job. I just assumed the rear wheels were drum brakes but they're discs just like the front. And now that I've done the latter the former should go even faster.

I can't decide how I feel about tearing down statues. On the one hand it seems silly, as though that big piece of granite or metal had some intrinsic power over contemporary culture. It's an inanimate thing, for Pete's sake.
On the other hand, for the same reason I can't work up the worry to care about its preservation. If it makes somebody feel better to tear it down, so what? If they think it's going to change people's hearts to remove a statue of a guy who's been dead for 150 years they're sure going to be disappointed.
Whatever.

To say the eclipse dominates the news here in OR is an understatement. And merchants continue to reach new lows in finding corny ways to piggyback on the event.
Meanwhile, some people have abandoned common sense to fret about the craziest stuff. Like, "Put your animals indoors so they don't stare at the sun and go blind."
Have you ever seen an animal stare at the sun? They've got more sense than that. Only people do something that stupid.

In the last few months I've had contact with three local struggling churches. One of them folded about 6 weeks ago, merging with another congregation (which was really a swallowing). The other two are shrinking, one losing key members and the other dying out as its aging congregation dies off.
I'm NOT saying the thing they have in common extends beyond these three churches, but they do have one thing in common: a pastor who doesn't lack for self-confidence. Alas, they don't have (IMO) a clear sense of what the church is to  be and do, what God wants the church to be and do. They've bought into the latest solution to reviving the church (missional, millennial, deprogrammed) and plow ahead from one year to the next firmly convinced that if they say it often enough and loud enough people will buy into it and the church will thrive.
Except it's not.

This week I got an email from friends here who have given up on the struggle and are looking for a better church. They'll find it. And the pastor of the church their leaving will tell himself, "They just can't accept the new reality."

Just interesting (to me), that's all.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

"The ability to delude yourself may be an important survival tool." - Jane Wagner


Some days are more interesting than others, and this was one of them.
I made good progress at the coffee shop and had interesting conversations on the way in and the way out. (In between I'm over in the corner, often with my ear buds in, focused on my writing.) George is the classic old guy coming up on 80 who's lived here his whole life, went as far as graduating from H.S., and can build just about anything mechanical. He's having a "yard sale" Saturday that I'll go to, but I've been warned that if I'm not careful I'm likely to come away with tetanus. Apparently there is metal junk everywhere and just walking through the place is difficult. George is something of a hoarder.

I left for a 3-mile run at about 11:30 and got home at 1:15. I felt surprisingly strong and ran at a good clip...until I got to a place on Sheffler just before Baker Rd. It's a rental property owned by our friends David & Marta (she's our goat mentor) and I could hear him working up there so I walked up the steep drive to talk with him.
David is a rare breed. With only a H.S. education David, in his mid-50's, has mad skills at almost anything physical. They have 300 acres, most of it thickly wooded. David cuts trees, mills the logs, and makes his own lumber with which he builds anything imaginable, from homes to barns. He has everything from bulldozers, to harvesters and balers, to boom trucks, to.... most of which he bought on the cheap because they didn't run/work until he got his hands on them.
We talked for about an hour and I learned more in that 60 minutes than I have in most weeks. David took a piece of cardboard and sketched out the trusses I'll use for MoHo's new roof, including all the specs for span and spacing. He said I can probably have them made for less money than making them myself because they can use hemlock (cheaper) which I can't buy at Home Depot and the like.
I also learned that tanning Itzhak's hide isn't worth the time and money in chemicals. If I really wanted it tanned I'd do better to send it off to a commercial outfit. (I don't)
We talked about thoroughbred horses (he's a legit expert), and their church here in Veneta where Pam and I went last Sunday.
Good guy! Knowledgable and humble, a rare combination.

This afternoon I went to Napa's and picked up the pads and rotors to do the front brakes on the Kia. What are the chances that the screws holding on the rotors for the last 8 years aren't rusted in place? I'll let you know tomorrow night because I'll be out there first thing in the morning laying in the gravel, hoping to get this job done before temps hit the mid-80's.

If I do finish it before lunch we'll go into town to pick out a chest freezer we'll need for the goat meat I'll soon have and the fruits and veggies we'll have especially next year when we know more about our gardening efforts. We *might* even have some fruit from our trees next year. Plus, I can make and freeze pie crusts and/or complete pies for baking later.

Life is good on Baker Rd.
T'ank you, Fadder.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

"I took lessons on riding a bicycle, but I could only afford half of them. Now I can ride a unicycle." - Steven Wright


In one of those too-typical Facebook ploys someone instructed us to post the last picture we took of food. Not necessarily something we ate, just food.
I responded with a picture of one of our goats.
She did NOT approve.

Speaking of goats, AJ and Burrito are six weeks old and growing physically and in their sense of independence. They wander further away from Sundae to explore, graze, or just run and jump. Sometimes their natural curiosity gets them into situations they can't get out of. Like their feeder. Fortunately, this happened this morning while I was mucking out the barn so I could rescue Burrito almost immediately. Had I not been there his bleating - they can be VERY loud - would have summoned me. We're to the point where we can tell which goat is making noise and what kind of noise it is - a cry for help, impatient for the a.m. or p.m. feeding, feeling threatened, or just making bleating to bleat.

We've given up, or given in. We record several British dramas from PBS, mostly detective shows. The have a half dozen that are very good, especially as compared to our network examples of the genre. But too often we miss dialogue because of their thick accent. Even the show set in Australia, "The Dr. Blake Mysteries", can be difficult to understand. So when we do playback we turn on close captioning. It feels like cheating but we get a lot more out of the shows. Whoever does the cc for "The Coroner" must be doing it on the fly, because sometimes it makes no sense and can be pretty funny. But between listening and even that show's cc we can figure out what's being said.

Barns and summer means flies. I accept that. I'm less thrilled about the bee that stung me on the inside of my arm well above my elbow, a fairly tender spot. The stinger may still be in there.
I was unloading a bale of alfalfa hay I'd just fetched from the feed store. On the way home I realized the Kia's brakes are making that noise that says, "It's time for a brake job." Drat.
Tomorrow I'll call a few places to see how much they'll charge, and I suspect I'll end up doing the job myself. Not that I want to, especially on a gravel drive.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

"The best thing about the future is that it comes only one day at a time." - Dean Acheson


New carpet is down in the bedroom. We'd planned on the cheapest indoor/outdoor they carry at Home Depot, but when I went to get it this morning they had a piece the right size (actually, 4' longer than we needed) of a much better grade indoor carpet that was somebody's goof at 25% off. I paid $10 more than we'd planned and bought that instead. Put it down this afternoon, so now we have fresh paint and new carpet, all for less than $120. Score!

I seriously question the mental capacity and/or emotional development and/or moral character of anyone associated with the alt-right and White supremacy movements. I suspect most of them suffer from  near pathological self-esteem issues. When a group of them get together for a rally the whole is less than the sum of its parts and they behave like fools.

I'm also convinced they are not alone responsible for what happened in Charlottesville. They were the proximate cause; without them and their rally the violence and deaths would not have happened. But they are not the only ones responsible.

To prove my point imagine a situation in which a thousand crazy alt-right, KKK, White supremacists show up in the center of town with their bull horns, hand-made signs, and pointy hats. Their speakers rail against perceived injustices, the mob responds with shouts of approval and mimic the Nazi salute for three hours. With no one else present.

No press with their video cameras and microphones. And no counter demonstrators shouting back. No sticks and no guns, just empty streets. The 6:00 news would make no mention of the gathering or the crazies who made senseless speeches. Nothing.

I'm sure the fools would shout and carry on for about an hour, maybe 90 minutes. Then they'd get bored with themselves and begin to think, "Hey, I could be home drinking beer and watching Maury Povich." Their leaders would have real trouble getting them together for another rally a month later. Why should they show up? They crave attention to feed their weak egos and without that attention they have no incentive to get out of their Lazy Boy.

If we're going to assign culpability for what happened in Charlottesville I'm going to lay at least some of it at the feet of those who showed up in opposition. They fed the ugly beast, empowering it. I appreciate their motive, to proclaim their opposition to the bigotry and racism of that group. It's a good thing to do, to say, "No, that's not who we are and we reject your evil."

So let's gather! Let's find another park across town and gather by the thousands. We'll have good music, thoughtful speakers, and booths serving ethnic food to celebrate diversity and equality. We'll have a great time! And the press will give it wall-to-wall coverage.
Won't that make the crazies furious.

Will it happen?
Not a chance. For several reasons.
First, the press only cares about getting eyeballs and the profit that comes with them, and happy people getting along while having a good time won't get people to tune in to their broadcast or read their articles. Who will click through to a story with a headline like, "Thousands gather at Central Park and Get Along"?

But perhaps a greater barrier is those whose reason for going to the extremist's gathering is questionable. Some want the confrontation and welcome the fight. They are thugs who see a physical confrontation as sport and this provides a good excuse for swinging away.

The third group present, and probably the largest except possibly for the media, are there for the right reasons. They can't stay silent in the face of speech so antithetical to who we are as Americans. They do not, would not engage in acts of physical violence. They may yell and shout and confront verbally because they're filled with a righteous anger. But the fact is their presence empowers the idiots and inflames the situation.

So whose fault is what happened? Who bears culpability?
The extremists, the media, or the opponents?
I think the answer is D; All of the above.

I don't think there's one chance in a million that the press will stay away or that the counter protesters won't show up. And the small group of thugs who relish a physical fight are certain to be there.
But I sure wish there was a way to socially isolate the wackos instead of giving them the platform they so badly want.

Maybe if we had a President who could talk sense to the citizens who reject this racist nonsense.
Yeah, I'm dreaming.