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October 31, 2004

Keeping the Junk out of the Dump

One personís Junk is another personís Treasure. Thatís one of the principles behind Garage sales and Ebay. Someone out there might want it. And it keeps many still-useful (and not so useful) things from ending up in the dump.
Garage Sales, Goodwill, Ebay are all good choices. There is way too much waste going on here in the land of disposables, and our Landfills are filling up. But now we have more options for finding stuff people are getting rid of, and giving our stuff to others. For FREE!
Check out these sites to pick up free stuff and unload your stuff for free:
http://www.mnexchange.org and
http://www.freecycle.org and
http://twincitiesfreemarket.org

I read about this in the paper and thought, ďYES! Great Idea. Who says you canít get something for nothing?Ē Well, you might have to go pick it up. In the Newspaper they talked about a dairy barn someone was giving away. They said itís all or nothing. Come and get it and itís yours for free.

This reminds me. One day last year my sister called me and said, ďJohn, do you want a free sailboat?Ē I said, ďYes, that would be cool!Ē Iíve always wanted to do sailing and have a boat. Iíve been sailing with friends and loved it. So I fell for the ĎFreeí boat. I had to go pick it up in Northern Wisconsin though. The first obstacle was finding a boat trailer because the free boat didnít come with one.
I borrowed a boat trailer from a coworker. The second obstacle was finding a vehicle that could hall the trailer. My sister Ďvolunteeredí since it was her idea and her friend who was giving away the boat. So, early one Saturday morning we set off to get the boat.
The boat was an old wooden Johnson Boatworks X-Class racing scow. It was a very fast racing sailboat made by a company right on White Bear Lake.
The free sailboat had a lot of rotten wood that needs replacing. But I was optimistic still and wanted a free sailboat. Iím still excited about it, but the repairs are going slowly because I donít have any free time to devote to it right now. But at least the free boat is off the ground and covered now. Maybe in a few years Iíll have it completely refinished. It will be beautiful! That old sailboat is a good project for me, and if I didnít come along and fall for the Ďfree boatí trick, it would have been bonfire wood.

Recycling stuff between people is really a good idea. We have way too much waste in this country.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:49 PM

October 30, 2004

Anticipation

Today was an interesting day. Not too often but some days I feel outside of myself. As if the events of the day are on parade, slowly marching by me as I watch.
I watched myself working on my computer this morning, and then rush out of the house to work. At work I watched myself interacting with the residents and cleaning and making dinner. The day was very busy and then It was time to go. I drove to my Language partner's house and we went out for dinner. It was great. He likes to eat at Pho 79. The Pho is very good. Anyway, After that we drove around looking for a good coffee shop to hang out at, to talk and practice our language skills. But after driving around and talking, we didn't see anything, or I couldn't find a parking spot, so I drove him home. Then we were done for the evening. Then I got home and my computer was still having problems so I worked on that. Now I'm typing this blog.
The day is over and I'm tired. There were so many things that happened today that it's hard to list them all. It was a very busy day. I think that's why I'm anticipating sleeping-in in the morning. Looking back on today It was kind of a long day with a lot of reflection on what I was doing.
Tomorrow's another day and it feels good to be done with this one.

Have a great Halloween day and be safe.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:31 PM

October 29, 2004

CHAT

Tonight I went to the 10th Year Anniversary Benefit Gala for the Center for Hmong Arts & Talent (CHAT). Stated as simply as possible in their program, Chatís mission is to nurture and develop Hmong artists to enhance the community.
It was a great event that was well organized and mentally and emotionally stimulating. There was a moving speech by the founder of the theatre group which preceded the CHAT organization as it is today. Towards the end of his speech, he could barely contain his own tears but managed to choke out the gratitude and joy at seeing how the program has grown. What started as a theatre class that had some Hmong students, grew into 6 original plays about Hmong culture, history and modern challenges. They have touched the hearts of thousands of people.
Tonightís program had some great performances. My favorites were:
1. The young girl drummer for the 3-week old rock band, ďShattered Echos.Ē She was cute and played the drums with a smile and attitude. For only having been together for 3 weeks, they were really good. I liked their song, ďWhy Canít IĒ There is an old Chinese saying, ďThose who say it canít be done should not stand in the way of those who are doing it.Ē And this young group is doing it well. I look forward to seeing them again sometime.
2. Generation after Generation. This was a very touching story told by a young man and a young woman in a singing/speaking/hip-hop way. Here is a small sample from the poem by Tou Saiko Lee which was woven into this presentation:

Some of our people stay on, some fall off.
I barely held on to the ledge
With ignorance repeatedly
Stepping on my fingers.

3. Artwork by Mai C. Vang. I discovered a talented artist who is part of Studio 220, an art club for Hmong artists. Mai had several paintings on display, one of which was auctioned off for the CHAT fundraiser. Hanging next to the other paintings, these stood out. The quality was much better and they had a life of their own. For instance one painting I loved showed a picture of a young woman sitting in a kitchen, with dishes piled up and flowers in her hand. The expression on her face was as if she were miles away from that kitchen. She was in a place where it was peaceful and loving and joyful.
I bid on Maiís painting, but unfortunately for me the bidding went over what I could afford. But itís for a good cause, and all of the proceeds go to CHAT to help make a difference in these young artistís lives. AND, Now I know the artistís name, so I can go see other works also.

4. The play, ďHmong Tapestry, Voices from the ClothĒ was also very good. This was a preview showing and they didnít show the whole play, just two scenes to get us going. The play actually runs October 30th Ė November 27, 2004 at the Mounds Theater, 1029 Old Hudson Road in St. Paul. I was almost in tears during the river-crossing scene. I plan on going back to see the entire play before the end of November.

For more information about CHAT or a schedule of events and other programs:
Kathy Mouacheupao
651-603-6983
Center for Hmong Arts and Talent (CHAT)
995 University Avenue,
St. Paul, MN 55104


Check out their website for great photos of the play, "Hmong Tapestry, Voices from the Cloth:"

http://www.aboutchat.org

It was a great night. Iím happy I participated. This reminds me, our Charitable giving campaign ended today. We had to turn in our payroll deduction forms by noon today. What I said before still resonates with my soul, "Not giving is not an option." What we each give does make a difference. I saw it on stage tonight and in the paintings on the wall.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:31 PM

October 28, 2004

The pouring Rain

Wow, the rain is really coming down hard right now! It's a good time to be sitting here typing instead of out in it. I didn't ride my bike today because It was raining this morning and I had class tonight so I rode the bus. I stayed dry but didn't exercise today.
Last Friday however I did not stay dry. I rode with my friend Dan again and got drenched. I was waterlogged by the time I got home. And I chose to do that? Haha, yes. I did. Strange as it may be, I did purposefully ride in the rain. It was fun and had a good purpose for me. It reminded me that a little rain won't make me melt. Sometimes when our worlds are gray and rainy we feel like we can't do anything. But after venturing out there we discover that we can do anything. The pouring rain is no longer an obstacle. It's an adventure.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:54 PM

October 27, 2004

Letting Go

Letting go of our expectations of others can be liberating. How many times have we been disappointed because someone didn't live up to our expectations? We end up punishing ourselves because of our reaction to events we cannot control. We have to admit that what others do really is out of our control. We can make our expectations known to others, and that's good for communication, but it's not a guarantee that they will meet those expectations.
For most people it's easy to say though, and not so easy to do. Tonight I let go of some expectations of myself. That's sometimes harder even than letting go of our expectations of others. Tonight I rode my bike really hard, and I'm tired. It felt good, but I don't have the energy to do other things that I feel like I should be doing. At some point tonight I realized that I needed to just let go of my superman expectations and get some rest. So I'm not posting my blog at 11:59 because I'm here early, on my way to bed. Once I made the decision to let go of some of my expectations, like that I had to clean, and had to work on some other projects, had to study more, etc, I felt a weight lifted. Now I can get some rest. It's liberating.
Too often I think we like to control everything. Some things we can control and some we cannot. We can control our reactions and we can let go of some of our expectations.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:08 PM

October 26, 2004

The Journey

"It is good to have an end to journey towards; but it is the journey
that matters in the end." -Ursula K. Le Guin
Sometimes we think, "Why does everything have to be so difficult?"
But you can stop attacking yourself, and stop attacking those that try to help you.
It's not your fault the lawnmower wouldn't start.
Blame it on Faulty workmanship, bad design, human intervention.
The Universe is not out to get you.
The Universe is not against you.
The Universe supports all life.
" The kingdom of God cometh not with observation....the kingdom of God
is within you. " Luke 17: 20, 21.
The next quote is often used to justify fighting other people because of our perception of their wickedness. In life we often find out after a lengthy bloody battle against others, we are alone and empty.
" We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities,
against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world,
against spiritual wickedness in high places." Ephesians 6:12.
Since the Kingdom of God is within us, the wickedness in high places also means within us. We are not and should not be fighting other human beings, we are fighting ourselves.
ďIn some sense man is a microcosm of the universe; therefore what man
is, is a clue to the universe. We are enfolded in the universe.Ē Ė David Bohm
Thatís why Lao Tsu said in the Tao te Jing (8. Chapter 30)
ĒWhenever you advise a ruler in the way of Tao, counsel him not to use
force to conquer the universe.Ē Not only is it misuse of force, but itís a use of force against ourselves.

The psychology of cowards
By Bill Douglas
http://www.yellowtimes.org/article.php?sid=1133

ĒWhen it's you against the world, bet on the world.Ē - Anonymous


Posted by carl1236 at 11:47 PM

October 25, 2004

The bottom line

How do we best live life?
The first Recommendation (10 Commandments) is to Love God with our whole hearts, minds, bodies and souls, with everything we do and think. This is the greatest recommendation for a fulfilled life. God is joy.
The second Recommendation is to Love our neighbor as our self. Before I talked about recognizing God in other people. It's a way for us to remember that we are all connected, and all share this life together. What we do to others we also do to ourselves.
The spirit-human manifesto: You are God and I love you. I will treat
you with Dignity and Respect. I will be on your side helping when you
are down and be on your side cheering when you are up. I am God and I
love me. I am not vain, but I am thankful for life and respect it. I
recognize God's work in my life and don't destroy what I've been
given. You, me and God are all together in this thing we call life. We
will follow these recommendations as we live our life to the best of our
ability.
These are not wishy-washy platitudes. It's a recognition of the
value of each human being. The idea behind this statement is based on
something Jesus told us. "What you do to the least of one of these, you
also do to me. And what you don't do for the least of one of these,
you also don't do for me."
Many people believe that we are all part of God or that God is in all
of us, and everything. When we mock or belittle one of our fellow
human beings, we are also mocking God. When we steal from someone else,
we are also stealing from God. When we see someone in need and ignore
it, we are also ignoring God. When we are greedy and lustful of someone
else's posessions, we are also greedy and lustful of God's posessions. When we pollute the environment we are also polluting God. When we show kindness, compassion, mercy and love to another human being, we are also doing it to God.
Sometimes in life we are looking for "paths" that are more glamorous,
more ritualistic, more mysterious, more grand, but to God the currency
of salvation is love. God IS love.
The bottom line is still how we love each other.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:11 PM

October 24, 2004

building excitement

Today was a really nice day. It started off a little rough because I was up too late last night. This morning I overslept and had to get ready for work in 15 minutes. Then I rushed off to start my day. I stopped by the coffee shop and the baker, Marlene was just pulling the muffins out of the oven. I got a tea to go and a fresh, still hot Cranberry-Orange muffin! mmmm.
I noticed a recurring idea cycling through the events of my day today. It had to do with motivation. The idea is basically, ďWhatever we do, or want to do, getting involved in it, getting going on it, getting started doing it, etc., can build our excitement.Ē At first we donít always want to do something. Like this morning I was dead tired due to lack of enough sleep. But I knew once I got to work it would be ok. So, I donít usually complain anymore about things like that, I just dive in and get going at it, knowing that it wonít be so bad once Iím involved in it.
At work today I administered medications, cooked breakfast, served it up, helped one of the residents start the dishwasher, did some housecleaning, did some laundry, made lunch, served it up, cleaned it up and turned on the Vikings football game for one of the guys who loves Gophers and Vikings football. He had his Vikings shirt on and kept asking who the Vikings were playing. Then I put more laundry in and sat down for a break. The morning flew by because I was really busy. Several times during the morning I thought about how nice it was to be working here. I love helping these guys and interacting in their lives. Helping them to try to do as many things on their own is really a worthwhile thing. They get a lot out of it, and I provide dignity and self-worth for them. Getting the one guy to put the dish-soap into the dishwasher, close the little detergent door, close and lock the dishwasher and turn the knob to start was a huge step for him. And he LOVES it! Once I get to work I love it! The work itself reminds me why Iím there and my enthusiasm rekindles. I know in advance of going that this is how it often works. Getting going on whatever it is can build our excitement and we end up having a great day!
When I finally sat down to take a break I wasnít really in the mood to do my homework. I just wanted to sit and vegetate for a while. But I knew that once I got going on it I would get into it and enjoy it. So I cracked open the book and my notes and started working on the assigned homework. I was just getting the hang of it when I realized that I had to finish the laundry and do my charting before it was time to leave. But even though I really didnít feel like doing my homework, I got into anyway. Once I started it, my enthusiasm was rekindled and I remembered why I love learning languages so much! I didnít get it all done (not even close, haha) but I did get done more than if I would have just vegetated in front of the TV.
I took care of the rest of my responsibilities at work and drove home. It was such a beautiful day out, I was thinking frequently how nice it would feel to go a for a bike ride when I got home. It was only 4:30pm and there was still plenty of daylight. I might have been a little wishy-washy about going for a ride as I started my drive home, but then I saw three cyclists out on the road spinning away and looking like they were intense. I rolled my window down further and felt the moderate air temperature and the sun on my face. By the time I got home, I was convinced. The excitement was building as I got changed. I hit the road and it felt great! I knew it would once I got out there. I had a route in mind as I was getting ready because on the way home from work I passed one of the trails I like riding on and it had fresh asphalt on it. I thought that would be a good adventure. So when I set out on my ride I knew where I was going. As a highlight of my ride I took a mental photograph as I rode through the trail. On this winding trail through a park most of the trees had already dropped their leaves onto the trail, giving it a blanket that softened the ride. The empty branches hung over the still fully-clothed underbrush like a mist hanging over the ground. I saw a lot of people out walking, with friends or family or their dogs. It was a nice sight to see. I ended up riding eleven and a half miles with an average speed of 17.2 miles per hour. And thatís good for me, considering the last mile and a half was all up-hill back to my house. It was definitely worth doing!
Tonight after I cleaned up, my wife and I went out to dinner at the recently remodeled/relocated Mai Village Vietnamese Restaurant on University Avenue in St. Paul. I knew she was looking forward to trying it last night, but our plans kind of changed and we ended up eating at a Mexican restaurant because it was closer to where we were. She had recommended going to this Vietnamese restaurant because she drives by it all the time and has been thinking about trying it out for a while. So tonight I wanted to offer that as my choice for dinner because I knew she would love it. I had eaten at this restaurant before they moved, and the food was great. Plus I love Vietnamese food.
However, given my work load and tight schedule, I was already behind for the evening. But I knew that it would be good once I got there, and that my wife would love it. I was great! The decor is amazing. We walked in the front door and saw the traditional Vietnamese woodwork and decorations and then followed the greeter to our table. As we walked into the restaurant area we crossed over a wood bridge on a little pond with a waterfall and gold-fish and coy. The place is huge and very nicely done. Everyone was friendly and the food was great. I recommend the Asparagus-Crab Soup, a specialty of Viet Nam. Also, their egg rolls are very good, with the traditional fish sauce to dip them in.
While we were at the restaurant, a man walked by us that I recognized! It was an old friend that I havenít seen in over a year! I couldnít believe it. He stopped and chatted with us for a few minutes and told me about his recent trip to Saigon. He told me what heís been up to lately and I told him Iíd come to see him again soon to catch up more.
During dinner my wife also helped me with some thought provoking questions for a topic Iím researching. She also loved the Mai Village Restaurant and talked about coming back here for her sisterís birthday (and mine, since our birthdays are a day apart and we usually do something together with her. yay) So, no matter what else happened, it was definitely worth going out to dinner together in that location.

It always seems like once we do it, itís good. We can use that as a motivational tool. Instead of waiting to find out that it works this way once we are involved, we can think ahead and know that it will work that way and look forward to it. We can build our excitement and do it and fully enjoy it.

See the ongoing MOTIVATION LIST. This one is Number 6 on the list. If you have things that motivate you that are not on this list, please let me know. Iíll add it.

Now I have to finish my homework! I know it'll be fun once I get started on it and before I know it, It'll be time for bed!

Posted by carl1236 at 10:16 PM

October 23, 2004

Six Stages of Childrenís Moral Development

In the book CHILDREN OF CHARACTER, by Steven Carr Reuben, Ph.D. the second chapter is devoted to the six stages of Childrenís Moral Development. The author says that we should have ďRealistic, age-appropriate expectations of children.

Here is the list:

Stage 1: Might makes right. Power is the key to behavior. The weaker are controlled by the stronger. Many kids and adults still function in this level. They suffer from arrested moral development. Commonly found in children ages 4-5.

Stage 2: An Eye for an Eye: Take equal and exact revenge. Payback. This is the principle of exacting damages in kind for injuries, real or imagined. Everything has to be paid back. At this stage fairness is the key. There is jealousy if things are not equal. If younger brother gets a present when itís not his birthday, then older sister demands one too. People at this level live lives of moral indignation.

Stage 3: The Moral Mirror of Others: Look for approval

Stage 4: Internalized Ethical Self-Image: Temper Justice with Compassion

Stage 5: Social Obligation: Participate in a larger, more complex group.

Stage 6: Spiritual Democracy and Personal Responsibility: Respect the rights of others.

According to this, President Bush would be in Stage 1 and 2 (War in Iraq) and Governor Pawlenty would also be in Stage 1 and 2. (Ultimatums to Minnesota Native American Tribes in an attempt to take gambling revenue from them) See Saturday, October 23, 2004 Pioneer Press and Star Tribune Articles.

A Stateís Conflict of interest:

As stated in the National Indian Gaming Regulatory Act the major goal of the act was ďto provide a statutory foundation for Indian gambling operations as a means of promoting economic development, self-sufficiency and strong tribal government.Ē

In 2001 there were six separate gambling-related bills referred to the Minnesota State Gov Ops committee:

http://www.press-on.net/articles/10-26state_casino.htm

At that time one Republican in the Legislature stated that if they didn't get (the money) one way they would get it another way. So, letís see, what stage of moral development is that?

State owned Casinos? A for profit government? Isnít that an attitude of ďThey have lots of money and I want it.Ē and ďI will get it because I make the laws.Ē What kind of a message are we sending our children? When Gold was discovered in the Black Hills, the treaty with the Native Americans was all of a sudden deemed no longer appropriate and the U.S. Government decided that it was ok to renegotiate with the tribes to gain the gold. They didnít renegotiate though, they offered ultimatums.
It was a lose-lose proposition for Native Americans just as these State-owned Casino and expanded state gambling proposals are.

Maybe our society has not learned from history and have not morally developed beyond age 4-5. Well, maybe it's just the people we have elected.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:16 PM

October 22, 2004

Everyone has value

I read an interesting story in a book tonight. Bob Lenz, one of the co-authors of "Teen Power Too," used the five dollar bill as an example of human worth. He said that no matter what we say to the five dollar bill it still is worth five dollars. We can spit on it, call it names and ridicule it and it is still worth five dollars. Even if it were verbally abused and physically all crumpled up, there are very few people who would not accept the five dollar bill if it were given to them. Why? Because regardless of what happened to it, they know it is worth five dollars to them.
I like this illustration because no matter what others do to us, or say about us, each of us still has value. We should remember this for ourselves and treat others like they have value also.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:59 PM

October 21, 2004

Purpose

I posted this in response to GOALS, CHOICES AND OTHER TRIVIAL ISSUES. Since It took me so long to write, haha, I'm out of time for tonight, so I'm goign to post it here also. If we can find and understand our unique purpose in life, then everything else we choose to do falls into place.

I am 41 and coming back to the University for my Batchelor's degree. Many people however won't share my view on Degrees. Although it can mean something, It means more to me to be learning than it does to achieve a degree. Who says it has to end when we get a Batchelors, Masters or Doctors degree? Those are arbitrary limits set down to measure rank in education. However it doesn't mean a limit to what we will learn in life. It also doesn't mean that is the right choice of what to learn. It seems the higher the degree, the more focused on one area one has to become. For me, I just have a purpose in life, and everything I am learning is a tool to use toward that purpose. My purpose doesn't involve achieving a specific rank, title or level of education. Those things are only tools in the process of carrying out my purpose. Other than their usefulness in serving my purpose in life, these things have no meaning in themselves. They are not the purpose of life. They are things we do while living; Occupations of our time. We should never be made to feel bad about our careers, our degrees, education level or status in life. That's rankism. We often do this to ourselves and others when we lose sight of our purpose in life. I've done it many times before and that's why it took me about 15 years to come back to the University. But now the difference is I'm not really here to earn a BA, I'm here to learn, which is no different than what I've been doing for the last 15 years through other sources. I'm not saying don't set goals to achieve, I'm saying it's good to keep things in perspective and remember that life is a process and how we live our lives is much more important than what status we achieve. And if setting and achieving a goal of a specific degree can help us have a greater impact in this life, according to our purpose for being here, then it doesn't matter what age we are, we will do it anyway.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:55 PM

October 20, 2004

BookCrossing.com

Today I received a free book from BOOKCROSSING.COM. Itís title is ďSomebodies and Nobodies,Ē and talks about Rankism as one of the big ismís right along with sexism and racism. Iíll talk more about the book later as I read it. For tonight though, I just wanted to highlight the cool service at Bookcrossing.com. This is a very interesting concept. Itís a floating library. With this system a book may be on loan indefinitely. Each book has a special identification number inside of the front cover. When one person finishes reading the book they pass it on to someone else, then they are supposed to go online, log in (anonymously) and post a few comments on the book, where they left it or about the person they gave it to.
You can also donate a book to this free-floating library. They call it ďreleasing a book into the wildĒ haha. You can download and print a label for the front jacket, register and get an ID number from their website and send the book on itís way. You log the book in first as the person who acquired the book for the library, then you can track it and read other peoples comments on the book as it finds itís way from one person to another. Cool concept isnít it?
On top of that, they also have meetings on Tuesday nights all over the world to talk about books and exchange them. Itís a great way to meet people and find new reading material. Also, the bookcrossing.com website has a search by city so you can hunt down a newly released book. For instance, today I saw that just hours before I came online someone had left a childrenís book in a bus shelter in St. Paul. The exact street intersection was listed, so I could have gone over there to try to retrieve that book if I was really interested. But at a bus stop, Iím thinking the book was gone within a half hour.
As I am cataloging and putting together my own library at home, I will surely be on the lookout for books that I have enjoyed that I can release into the wild. What a great way to bring people together.

Posted by carl1236 at 9:34 PM

October 19, 2004

Victims of our own intelligence

ďWe think we are so clever, but we have become victims of our own intelligence.Ē The man on the bus said. I was overhearing a man who was telling someone else about a song he had written.
Because we choose every attitude we have, we cannot say that we are victims of other people. At any given moment we are making choices about how to think and act. At the moment we think itís the right attitude or right action. But sometimes in retrospect we become aware that our attitudes werenít the greatest. We might be appalled by our previous attitudes. But we can only blame ourselves. We chose those attitudes at the time and thought they were right. Hopefully throughout life we can gain awareness of our attitudes and we change. ďWe think we are so clever,Ē he said.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:19 PM

October 18, 2004

Separation of Body and Soul

The heading of this blog is ďThe Daily Spirit-Human." In the MOTIVATION LIST I talked about one of the reasons I used the word ďDailyĒ in the title of the blog. It was to motivate me to write every day. It was setting an ambitious goal to help me to be creative every day. Another reason for the word daily is a reminder that we are living in this life as human beings and are also spiritual every day of our lives. Though we donít always think of ourselves as spiritual, we are all trying to define who we are and what our purpose is. We look for meaning to our lives and thatís a very spiritual quest. Many people discover a deeper and more meaningful life. Many donít.
Some people get the idea that we cannot walk in both worlds at once. Jesus even said that we cannot serve two masters (God and money). And he taught us to live ďin this world, but not of this world.Ē Since we cannot separate our spirit from our body and we have to live in this world, we can try to live in a spiritually fulfilling way. We can be living our daily lives spiritually. That encompasses everything we do, think and say. Itís not just being good, but also finding (and giving) meaning, purpose and joy in life. Since we cannot separate our bodies and souls, we have to find a balance in life, nurturing our bodies and caring for them so they carry us through this lifetime.
Thatís why I quit smoking many years ago. It was more of a spiritual release from bondage to something that was killing me. I decided that if I put toxins into the body that my spirit carries through this life, I am not valuing the awesome gift of life I have, I am not caring for my body, and I am disrespecting God and myself. I know that when I smoked I had an attitude like, ďscrew it, I only live once.Ē and ďItís my body, I can do with it what I want.Ē I realized that both of these statements were absolutely true. But Is that what I really wanted? Spiritually no. I wanted freedom, peace and happiness. Smoking only caused more suffering for short term gains in a feeling.
That is why I decided I needed to exercise more. It was more of a spiritual thing than it was a desire to be buff or anything like that. I could care less about appearances, but I do care about the responsibility I have to make sure my body does what itís intended to do: Take me through this life and help me live a happy, fulfilled life. I donít want to short change my experience or degrade it. When itís the right time to go, Iíll go.
Giving to others is a spiritual thing. I make it a part of my life. I see compassion and charity as occupations of the spirit. I cannot separate that from my daily life. I am a daily Spirit-Human.
Today I want to show an example of someone living their life in a spiritual manner. Itís not talking about being holy or sanctified or saved. Itís being a human being that is in the process of giving the soul some good work to do.
I didnít ride my bike to work this morning, and havenít for almost a week because of the weather, bad timing and other reasons. This morning was really cold and I felt like I wasnít equipped for it. When I talked to my friend Dan at work (A.K.A. Lance Armstrong) He was wondering what happened to me. I must have sounded kind of forlorn or something, because later in the day, he came over to my desk and told me that it was warmer out now and that heíd love to ride with me. He offered to ride his bike to my house and meet me there so we could go for a ride together. I was thrilled at the idea. So, I rode the bus home, changed and then Dan showed up on his bike as promised. I ended up riding 24 miles with him and it felt great! I was riding much faster than usual and he laughed and said I must have a lot of pent-up energy. But it was not just the long rest, my spirit was feeling jubilant because of the way Dan picked me up and encouraged me and went the extra few miles out of his way to ride with me. He made an option that I didnít have before since my bike was at home.
There are millions of things we can do in this world, and most of it is simply a way to occupy our time here. We get to decide what to do with it, and how best to live our lives. As I choose how to do that, I can never forget that I am a daily Spirit-Human. Inseparable body and soul until itís my time to move on.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:57 PM

October 17, 2004

Who Am I? What am I doing here?

Politics can be brutal. The insults fly from both sides. Words that the political candidates speak are used like swords to cut their own throats. Each side is ready to pounce on and devour any little action they can exploit. Even if it means twisting the truth.
Admiral James Stockdale asked in the 1992 Vice Presidential debate, ďWho am I? What am I doing here?Ē This quote has been tossed around a lot since then. Most of it not in a good way. I vividly remember watching that debate on TV. I remember thinking what an intelligent man that was and that his words were humble and that he spoke with sincerity. But after he said that line, the opposing political force played it over and over, out of context and claimed their opponent was a stupid, confused old man who did not know who he was or why he was there.
I think many people like to jump on the bandwagon. And are willing to throw stones at someone without really knowing why. Anything goes as long as their side wins. People still fall for it and that seems to be the way political wars are won.
Hopefully we are intelligent and wise enough to be able to see beyond the mudslinging this year.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:54 PM

October 16, 2004

Drowning

When we are overwhelmed by everything, so that we canít get to the surface, we know we are in trouble. The more we struggle, the more we feel like we are drowning. We try but when it seems like we are not getting any closer to the surface, we panic and become more self-defeating. Sometimes when we are almost out of air, deep under the water, we donít even know which way to swim to the surface.
The way out of drowning is to slow down, regain perspective, get oxygen, and get to the surface without inhaling water. When a scuba diver gets confused and has to get to the surface they are taught to calm down, blow bubbles into the water to see which way the bubbles go (they float to the surface), then follow the bubbles.
When you feel like you are drowning, cutting back on extras helps things. Itís like giving yourself a spare tank of air so you have some breathing room and more time to find the surface. This is calming down, taking a step back. We need to stop moving, stop struggling momentarily to evaluate the situation
Then we need to find our way to the surface. Itís easy to be confused and not understand what people want, or what our next move should be or what will do damage and what wonít, or how to even continue on our current path without feeling so overwhelmed. We ask, ďWhy is everything so difficult?Ē Being paralyzed by fear is a natural reaction to drowning. Even though we know how to swim itís very difficult to do when we cannot breathe. We need to find the air. Once we look for the surface, blow some bubbles, then we will have hope and confidence.
We have to be able to discern the direct route to the surface. Blowing bubbles is anything that will help us to see how to handle the problems we are facing. Get counseling, get help, hire someone, get medical help, find a consultant, talk to friends and family, and read.. Doing nothing is like being paralyzed by fear. It doesnít get us any closer to the air. Make a plan.
Once we reach the surface and are breathing again, we have to swim. We have to do what we are good at and keep doing it. But remember that we canít swim forever. We need breaks, rest, and to keep swimming.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:39 PM

October 15, 2004

A thousand points of light

Tonight driving home it was lightly raining. At one point I was driving toward a bright light and the drops of rain on my windshield all lit up. It was a really beautiful thing. But I quickly realized I couldnít see the road and I had to wipe it away. The rest of the drive home was uneventful and the conditions were never quite the same to reproduce the momentary brilliance of a thousand points of light. But the beauty of it is still stuck in my mind.
It was a great day for me. I saw my son briefly, who was home for a day from college. I went out to dinner with my Korean language partner. That was awesome. I love Kimchi. I canít explain it, but I do. Of course I really enjoy and appreciate almost any kind of food. After dinner we went to a coffee shop and listened to a Jazz group play. That was good too.
The coffee shop was packed, probably because the Jazz group was pretty good. Iím sure they brought some of their fans with them. We sat down at a table where a woman was studying something that looked like a textbook. We struck up a conversation because my Korean language partner was curious what she was studying.
She was preparing herself to talk to people about God. She was studying a guidebook on the key points of Christianity. It was interesting that one of her favorite hobbies was to give bibles to people. She was talking about the bible and what it meant for her to study it. She said, ďthe bible is the inspired word of God, and I know that when I have difficult times I can always find something in there to help me.Ē She also talked about the power of Godís word in peopleís lives.
By the time we finished talking, she had my friendís address and was planning on dropping off a bible at his apartment tomorrow. She was thrilled to be able to do it. Then she looked at her watch and decided it was time she left. And it was getting late so we also decided to leave. I drove him home and dropped him off in front of his apartment building. It was really a great evening, and then I was on my way home. Thatís when I had the experience of witnessing the dazzling light show on my windshield. The thousand points of light was an inspiration and revelation to me.
As we were driving I was thinking about the night and how that woman enthusiastically talked about the bible. I reflected on what the bible (and other holy texts) have meant to me throughout my life. The bible has also been called the living word. When I was younger I could never figure out how a book or words could be alive. Or how a book written by so many different people could be considered the words of God. And these words of God kind of tell a story from the beginning to the end, but I would not call it a smoothly written novel. Itís more like a thousand little topics loosely organized into chapters and verses that we can peruse and study in any order. There is an overall story, but this is really a collection of works that were done at different times and in different places and organized by someone to form the bible we have now. Like a thousand points of light, itís brilliant. The words of God come through the text and shine light on our hearts. The reason all of our spiritual texts, holy words are so special is because the words talk about ways to transform ourselves. We are moved and inspired by the revelations we have about the way things really are, and it has a deep impact on us. We are changed by it.
Throughout my entire life I have been touched and changed by the word of God. But I am not just talking about a book with words in it. I am talking about the thousand points of light. The insight and spirit behind the words. The heart of God can come to us in many forms. God can speak to us and change us using any means available to God. As long as human beings have existed, God has been talking to us. Long before the written word, God has been talking to us. A good question is do we listen? Does it change our hearts?

Posted by carl1236 at 11:30 PM

October 14, 2004

When We are tired

When we are tired and donít think we can go on, we have to really dig deep for the energy to make it. Like tonight Iím sitting here at 11:45pm thinking about what to write in this blog. I want to go to bed, but I feel like this is an important enough issue to get it down in writing. I see so many college students who are stressed out. I see many of my co-workers who are burnt out on life. Sometimes itís like people are sleepwalking through life.
It might seem obvious but when we are tired we need rest. Not just rest from work or school (physical rest), but we need to know how to rest easy. To ease our minds. Life can be very stressful as we pursue our goals and dreams. Life can also be very gray without goals and dreams. Learning to rest inside is very helpful to living a joyful life.
A lot of our happiness in life comes down to what we are looking for in life. Are we ever going to be satisfied with what we can get out of life? We canít take it with us. When we are tired itís easy to forget what it is we are looking for. We can set our goals on the things that will bring true happiness.
Have faith that when we are tired God will give us rest.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:59 PM

October 13, 2004

catalogablog

I found this great Library related blog recently. Yesterday he blogged about talking about blogs, and I thought it was interesting. David Bigwood is a Librarian in Houston, Texas. If any of you are interested in Library cataloging, this is good stop. There are also links on his site to other blogs:
http://catalogablog.blogspot.com/

One attitude I find common in most librarians I meet is that Information should be free and accessible. To reach that ideal, information has to be organized so that it can be retrieved on demand.

At work today I found out that our company wants to lock up some information which is now accessible to anyone in our company on the intranet. They are doing this in the name of security against possible terrorist activities within our company. ?!? wow, are we taking a step backwards! Sometimes management only knows how to choke a company in a slow agonizing death. This idea of restricting access to our information, which is not secretive by any means, is contradictory to one of my major job responsibilities: To spread the use of our information throughout our company. How about instead of doing as management says and restricting access to those that are determined to have a "Need to Know," we trust our employees and hire employees we can trust. If we cannot trust our employees, should they be working for us? It's also funny to me that the people planning this lock-down have not consulted the person responsible for managing this information (me).
This brings me back to the topic I talked about a couple of days ago, "REPEAL THE USA PATRIOT ACT" One thing I'd like to add to this now, is the idea of living in fear verses living in love. How much energy do we waste when we base our decisions on fear? Fear creates more fear, and it's a downward spiral.
The next struggle for them will be to determine who has a "need to know" and to develop a plan for how to request and grant access to this information. (which is now available to everyone without hassle.)
Living in fear is a sad way to live. Some people think it's good, but that's because it gives them a sense of power over their world. We all try to control our worlds to some extent. It's like the early days of the internet. Our company also did not want to give employees access to the internet because they were afraid that employees would be browsing porn sites at work.
I agree with librarians. Information should be free. I also think that we as human beings should be free of fear. It starts with real love for each other.

Posted by carl1236 at 6:57 PM

October 12, 2004

Flogging Molly

Tonight when I got home from class, I saw a CD sitting on my desk with a note from my daughter on it. ďDad, This is the band I went to see last night, I hope you like it.Ē So I had to pop it in the CD player and see what it was. Flogging Molly songs seem to be something like Celtic rock-n-roll. I like it. Itís strange but good.
One of the songs on the CD seems appropriate for tonightís topic. Feeling flogged in one of your classes? Sitting on the steps outside of the building before class, I talked to one of my classmates about the Korean class. He was expressing sentiments like the song on the CD, ďItís been the worst day since yesterday.Ē
The conclusion we came to though was that we just need to keep working hard and we will ultimately be better off for it. An old saying in Russian that I remember every time I have a difficult time is ďPersistence is the key to success.Ē When we feel like weíve been flogged and Itís been the worst day since yesterday, just keep going, itíll get better. Ultimately we will be better off.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:10 PM

October 11, 2004

Repeal the USA Patriot Act

I was told about this issue from a Librarian friend. She said that with the USA Patriot Act, the U.S. Government can demand to see library records for who checked out what books and when, without notifying the library patrons. Interesting isn't it?
Isn't there a balance between protecting liberties and catching and holding someone accountable for their actions when they violate the law? From one point of view, there is a need to protect us from Terrorists, and from another point of view there is a need to protect us from a corrupt government that has too much power that could be used against it's citizens.
I am wondering where the checks and balances are also. The following set of links has a good overview of the issues and the implications.

Repeal the USA Patriot Act
by Jennifer Van Bergen
t r u t h o u t | April 1, 2002

http://www.truthout.com/docs_02/04.02A.JVB.Patriot.htm

EPIC site with a good overview, information and news related to the USA Patriot Act:

http://www.epic.org/privacy/terrorism/usapatriot/

U.S. Government site: Preserving Life & Liberty
Talks about the benefits of the Patriot Act from the Governments perspective:

WARNING: The following site explicity states that it is tracking every computer that accesses it, including the links clicked on, the computer's ID and it's hosting service. I find it interesting that they say this is done to 'improve their services.'

http://www.lifeandliberty.gov/

Governments Field Report promoting and justifying the Use of the Patriot Act so far:

http://www.lifeandliberty.gov/docs/071304_report_from_the_field.pdf

The Patriot Act:

http://www.epic.org/privacy/terrorism/hr3162.html

Balance in life is a good thing. Freedom is good. With freedom comes responsibility to not abuse our freedom or positions of responsibility. With power comes responsibility to rule justly and wisely.
The war on Terror continues but some day it will be over. Will our government be willing to give up power once granted?

Posted by carl1236 at 9:37 PM

October 10, 2004

Clowning Around

Tonight after work I went with my wife and daughter to a Halloween store to look at costumes for a party my daughter is going to. As I was browsing I found some new accessories for my clown suit. Yes, I have a clown suit. (And a Santa Suit!) I was a youth leader for over seven years and I did my share of entertaining and bringing smiles to childrenís faces. We had fun.
Iíve used the same costume every year, but now I have some new very large shoes, a blinking nose, and a squirting sunflower! This year, working at the group home I discovered they have a little party every year and they all like to dress up in their costumes. They wear them to work on Friday and they get really excited about it. So I said Iíd wear a costume too. I think itíll be fun.
Within the context of life, Joy is supposed to be part of it. Too often we get hardened and forget what itís like to have joy. Iím not talking about reckless abandon, but about fun and joy, which take on different forms at different times in our lives. There can be joy at seeing others smile. There can be joy in doing something with others, and even joy in working hard and accomplishing something. But isnít it funny how it is usually ourselves who take the joy out of living? It is easy to lose sight of Joy when we are immersed in struggles for survival. But itís still there if we choose it. Especially if we choose to give it to others.

Posted by carl1236 at 9:52 PM

October 9, 2004

The Transfer of Knowledge

In a book Iím reading, The organization of information, the Author distinguishes between information and knowledge. I found this explanation very interesting. She said something like knowledge is the internalization or actualization of information. Information is a static item that can be used to arrive at knowledge. However information is not knowledge. Someoneís knowledge can be recorded, but this becomes information and does not represent that personís entire knowledge.
Thich Nhat Hanh said that if you know what a lemon tastes like and you want to share that with someone who doesnít know, it is very difficult for you to transfer your knowledge to the other person. You can explain what a lemon tastes like, you can describe the texture, the feel, the taste in whatever words you can find that are appropriate to your experience. But, what you really want to share is not the description of it, but the actual experience. It would be much better to just give the other person the lemon and let them bite into it. Then they would have knowledge of the lemon.
Many people know and experience the love of God, yet do not know how to transfer their knowledge to others. They can tell us that God is love, that God always answers our prayers, or that God is the Universe and the very breath we breathe and without God we could not be alive or exist. Yet what they really want to tell us is not the description of who God is or what God does, but the experience of God.
Because of this difficulty in sharing our experience, or knowledge of God, we are left with information about God that is not knowledge unless it is internalized or actualized. In this life we are given the opportunities to experience God. We can hear about God all we want and we can form our opinions about God, yet we still would not have knowledge of God. We would have information about God. But when we experience God, then we know. When we know God we know that God truly is love and all of the miracles that have ever been done on this earth were done through Love. When we pray for God to help us in this world, God hears us. God does something. God answers us, but to know this, we have to experience it. I see God working in this world and changing peopleís hearts all the time. God is closer to us than our own jugular vein. God knows the number of hairs on our head and he knows our hearts. God is so close that we cannot be separate from God and still live.
Since we know that all of that information is not true knowledge, we can seek out opportunities to experience God so we do know. Since God is Love, that is a good place to start. Love others as we love ourselves. When we truly do this, then we know and experience God.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:41 PM

October 8, 2004

Organizing ourselves

Iím currently reading a book called the Organization of Information. In the book the author talks about what information is and why we organize it. She asserts that we all organize information all of the time without realizing it. From the earliest age we organizing our thoughts and our actions. One of the main reasons we organize information is so we can later retrieve it.
Tonight I spent some time organizing my stuff at home. Itís an interesting experience trying to put things into a good system or order. In the process of doing this I found some things I had not seen in a while. It was really cool.
Sometimes we need to reorganize ourselves. Our thoughts become jumbled, we start to lose facts and ideas. Organizing myself includes things like reviewing how I stand on issues, and what I value, and how I can retrieve the courage I need to do something I am unsure of. Sometimes I find some interesting things I havenít thought about in a long time. Itís really cool.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:58 PM

October 7, 2004

A sign of the times

Usually on the news we hear all of the bad things. Mostly because sensational things are newsworthy. It drives ratings. And I think everyday good things are harder to present in the news. We also hear from one side, that these are the end times, that life is just going to get worse before it gets better. So itís easy to begin to think the world is going to ĎHell in a hand basketí quickly. It can be a troubling idea as we look around and see all of the fighting, terrorism, crime, prejudice and lust. Thatís what we hear about.
But, Iím going to paint a different picture. One of hope right now. If we think about it, for most of us life is not like we see on the news. We have families, we have jobs, we love our children, grandchildren, parents, wives, husbands, we have dreams, we have faith and we go through life just like everyone else. So our view on life just doesnít coincide with the view that the world is getting worse. I think there have been much worse times to live through. Can you imagine what it was like to go through World War Two? Or in some cases, like just 20 some years ago. Recently there has been a lot of news coverage of sexual charges against priests who abused young boys. But when we read the fine print, we see these young boys are now grown up and are just coming out with what happened. But did we feel safer 20 years ago? Horrible things still went on in those times. Much of it was just hidden or swept under the rug.
There has also been an incredible amount of good to go along with the bad though. We just donít hear about it. Like the people who stopped to help me with my bike, or when I was injured. Like the man and his wife who took us in one night when my wife and I were traveling home for Christmas 15 years ago and got stuck in a blizzard. Tonight on the bus I witnessed two great acts of kindness on the bus riding home from the University; a young woman quietly asked a drunk man who had just boarded the bus if he needed money for the bus fare. After he said no, he dug around in his wallet but couldnít find anything. She offered again, and then she just leaned over the isle and put it in his hand. The drunk man paid his fare and then turned to her and asked, ďwhy did you do that? thank you.Ē Then a few stops later an old woman got on the bus and the lady next to me jumped up, stood in the isle and offered her seat to the old woman.
Sure there are problems in our society, but isnít it each of our responsibilities to make our worlds a little better, all around us? These kinds of acts of kindness I see all the time. We can see them if we are looking. Also if we feel the same way, we start to notice others who are practicing what we also believe in. Itís like buying a car. Before we bought the car we hardly saw any of the model we bought on the streets. But after we bought it, we could see them all over. These two kind people are heroes in our modern times, but unlike anyone famous, their greatness may go unrecognized because we are not geared toward recognizing them.
Another sign of the times, we can always think about our world as troubled and messed up, or we can do what these kind people are doing all around us. Give to each other. This kind of thing gives me hope, and are more examples of God working on earth. Have faith and hope that when we pray, ďMay your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.Ē we will see some action. Maybe the action will be the next time we see someone who is in need and feel the urge to do something about it.
Donít live in fear of the times, live in love right now and our world will be a better place.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:59 PM

October 6, 2004

Pairs

Today I rode with my friend Dan again. It has kind of become a routine to ride with him on Monday, Wednesday and Friday after work. With shorter days now, I have to head for home by 6 pm to make it before it gets dark. Usually it ends up being about a 20 mile ride for me.
I discovered that riding with someone else is a lot of fun. It gives me someone to make comments to on things I see. It provides a second person to Ďdraftí behind so one person can ride more easily. It provides for help if something happens or there is a mechanical failure. It provides motivation to ride fast when one person wants to push harder.

See an interesting post in the Philosophy blog called ďTWOĒ

Posted by carl1236 at 10:36 PM

October 5, 2004

The underlying Current of Life

When things get rough, we can start to worry, doubt ourselves and lose hope and motivation.
But Isnít it nice when things eventually work out ok? For example, over the past few days I worked extremely hard on my Korean homework and quiz preparation. I think I got a perfect score on the quiz and I turned in all of my homework. I was relieved to find out that the Instructors decided to give us another weekend to study for our Chapter 1 test.
I knew I was in trouble when I spent 2 hours on the listening comprehension exercises and still couldnít catch most of it. There were a few moments when I just wanted to throw it on the floor and say, ďwhy am I doing this again?Ē But reason prevailed, and I knew that I had done everything in my power to be ready for tonightís class and Thursday nightís class.
Even so, regardless of what the struggle is, I know, I have faith that everything will work out ok. Underlying everything I do is a current, like a river, that I call life. Life goes on inside of us regardless of the external world. The things I worry about now are just occupations of my time that eventually disappear. The underlying current of life is always flowing. I just have to remember that itís there while Iím going through a struggle. I know everything will work out ok, because thatís the nature of life. I know this, because Iíve already experienced it over and over many times.
This works because I donít value myself by the external things I do or go through. I value myself because I am alive and everything I do is an extension of that. Even if I fail at one thing, I know that I can choose to regroup and do it again, or try something different. I know that I can learn from my mistakes and do better the next time. I know that I will succeed. That is the nature of things.
The underlying current of life in us cannot change by the things we do or donít do. It is life. The things we do or donít do are all temporary and do change. A problem arises however when we mistake the temporary for the life that is in us and think that the temporary things in our lives create who we are. If something goes wrong with our external world, we feel like we have failed and devalue ourselves. But itís an illusion. Who we are creates our external actions. We choose what we do and how we feel, so our creations cannot be who we are.
When I am done with this Semester, then Iíll go onto the next semester or do something else. I can choose whatever I want. I can choose to stay up all night studying because I want to do well on my test. I always try to do my best, because that is one thing my soul thrills in. The experience of going through something then becomes just as important as the outcome. Do I struggle at things like everyone else? Yes, all the time. But do I suffer from the struggles? Only if I forget the underlying current of life.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:51 PM

October 4, 2004

Some things are more important

We all have priorities in our lives; we all choose what is important to us. In the process we call life, we make choices based on what we value. Jesus said, ďwhere your treasure is, that is where your heart is.Ē Which is really the same in reverse, ďWhere your heart is, that is where your treasure is.Ē What we value the most will ultimately dictate our actions and be our reward.
Today was the kickoff for our companyís annual Charitable Giving campaign. Itís a program that allows for payroll deductions for donations to charities of our choice (1000ís of charities are listed to choose from.) Representatives from several charitable organizations were on hand for a couple of hours to answer questions. I learned a lot from talking with them and discovered some new charities I had never heard of.
There are so many good charities itís really hard to decide where my limited resources will go. But for me to NOT give is not an option. Even if itís a small amount, deducted each payday, it can make a huge difference for the people that need it. When added with everyone elseís Ďsmall incremental donationsí it becomes a great resource for those organizations working in the community.
Iím going to highlight a few interesting programs and then share some words from a young man in the 10th grade that sums up an idea of giving that ultimately means a heart that values human life and dictates life-saving action. For this High School Sophomore, NOT giving was never an option.

Open Your Heart to the Hungry and Homeless. http://www.oyh.org
Open Your Heart to the Hungry and Homeless is a funding agency to over 100 smaller Agencies, like the Central Minnesota Task Force on Battered Women / Anna Marieís Shelter, The Bridge for Runaway Youth, Inc, Hunger Solutions Minnesota and the Violence Intervention Project. In their information, they put giving into terms we can all understand and afford. Once we understand that we can make a difference no matter what our economic situation, NOT giving is not an option. ď$3.00 per pay period will provide two weeksí worth of food for a family of four using food shelf services.Ē ď$5.00 per pay period will provide transportation expenses for one year for a housing shelter.Ē And $10.00 per pay period will help purchase school supplies, back packs, and calculators for 20 homeless youth.Ē

The Community Solutions Fund, http://www.solutionsfund.org, has a nice quote on their website:
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."
Margaret Mead

One of the 47 member Organizations of the Community Solutions Fund, New Americans Community Services (NACS), http://www.newamericans.us ďare making a stronger economy for us all by helping people to find and keep jobs. Their employment services help people from varied cultures navigate the American job market through customized employment skills, job search and job retention trainings.Ē
In a time when many peopleís hardened hearts have come up with solutions to our countryís economic problems like Ďshut down the borders and send the immigrants back,í this organization is choosing to value and make a difference in peopleís lives.

The source of inspiration for what I am writing today is a book published by the COMPAS Writers & Artists-in-the-Schools Program. http://www.compas.org

Today at our companyís annual Charitable Giving Campaign kickoff, I entered my name in a drawing for a few small tokens which some of the charities had provided. I won something!!! Itís a wonderful book titled, The Ragged Heart. Itís an anthology edited by Norita Dittberner-Jax, 1989. ISBN 0-927663-14-7. I opened the book to pages and pages of surprising depth and beauty from the mouths and hearts of our societyís youth. If you can find this book itís worth reading.

The Frozen Pond
By Eric Hernandez: Grade 10, Anoka Senior High School, Anoka, Minnesota.

ďAcross the frozen pond
in late winter,
in the woods
we had been building a tree fort and
spring was in the air.
Dusk was coming.
We plummeted down the pole and started towards home.
Walking on the ice
we came to a crater.
The icy water down in the center of it
mirrored our reflections.
He was leaning over it
slipped and slided into it.
We laughed at his clumsiness.
Then, horrified, we watched him
slide back into the deadly water
after several times of trying to climb the slick embankment.
Panic crossed our faces.
We couldnít reach him.
He was desperate and pale now.
An idea came to me.
My heart pounding, I raced back to the fort
ripped the pole out of the ground,
and charged back.
He was shivering.
He grabbed the pole which
was his lifeline.
We pulled him to safety
and rushed him home.
It was a cold walk home that night,
but I had a light burning in my heart.Ē

In our society we too often have the idea that what we get is what we deserve. We build elaborate tree houses and prize and possess them. We boldy claim that anyone who falls through the cracks deserves what they get. We have been known to ridicule them for their misfortune, stupidity and clumsiness. We have laughed at them for not being as smart, inventive, resourceful, cautious, industrious or as sane as us. Itís a philosophy of ĎEverybody for themselves.í Yet in our own sanity and superiority we have let them slide beneath the deadly water after several times of trying to climb the slick embankment. Itís indeed a cold walk home without a light burning in our hearts.

Posted by carl1236 at 4:24 PM

October 3, 2004

Meeting Mr. Racoon

Tonight after work I rode my bike about 20 miles home. About halfway home it was dark. It was a strange sensation riding on a bike trail at night. I've done it many times and my bike is equipped with lights on front and back. As I was riding along I scared a cat who was walking along the bike path. Then about 2 minutes later I came face to face with a racoon crossing the traiil. He froze in the middle of the trail and stared at me.
I pulled on the breaks and came about 10 feet from him. He still did not move. Then I said, "Beep beep, keep moving." Haha, mainly because I did not know what else to say to a racoon in the middle of the trail who was not moving. Then he scurried off the trail into the woods and I went on my way.
This story really is not about the racoon, but about my ride home in the dark. It did make the ride more interesting and reminded me that I was in his territory, in his element riding at night where there was no other traffic but us and a cat.
As the daylight gets shorter and cooler I'm finding less and less time to ride my bike. Unless I dress warmer and put lights on my bike, I would not be able to ride much. My motivation is still to improve my physical health and well-being. So I keep riding until it's no longer fun. I'm thinking that will be around 30 some degrees. But I have good motivation to do it: I care about my health.
Meeting Mr. Racoon was a bonus!

Posted by carl1236 at 9:51 PM

October 2, 2004

What do you wish for?

There is a photo exhibit hanging in the Old Man River Cafe showing the refugees from Thailand who came here recently. The photographer took the photos as part of the delegation that went to Thailand to visit their refugee camp. These are very good photographs and itís interesting to see how they were living there.
One photo showed a line of children waiting for something. The caption by the photo talked about how one child was asked what heíd like to do when he grows up and the child simply replied, ďI want to go to America.Ē
I was talking to my wife tonight about a picture of a Porsche 911 GT2 that she had on her desktop. Itís a beautiful car that can go from 0 to 60 in 4 seconds. This reminded her of discussion she had a long time ago with one of her coworkers who had just come back from an Auto Show. He saw a car he really liked for 185,000 dollars. My wife laughed and said, for that price it better come with 3 bedrooms and 2 baths!
At class the other night one of the phrases we practiced was, ďWhat would you do if you had a lot of money?Ē One of my classmates repeated a line from the Bare Naked Ladies song, ďIf I had a Million Dollars.Ē which kind of pokes fun at this idea of suddenly striking it rich.
Tonight at dinner my niece was talking about how she wishes the candidates for Presidency would stop attacking each other and talk about the issues and what they could do about them.
We all wish for different things. Me? I wish for world peace, peace in families, love between all people. Is it too much to ask? For the price we are paying for it, it had better come with 3 bedrooms and two bathrooms!
Everyone wishes for different things. What is it we are all looking for?

Posted by carl1236 at 11:22 PM

October 1, 2004

Dinner at Tong-Yang Market

Tonight I met with my language partner. We went to dinner at a Korean restaurant just off Central Avenue. It was really good! At his suggestion I ordered a special soup, but I won't mention some of the contents. It was very good though.
In continuing my language studies I felt like I made some progress tonight, thanks to his help.
We can never really do anything by ourselves in a vacuum. We need other people.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:41 PM