Category "Bicycles"

Category "Learning"

Category "Life"

Category "Purpose"

March 2, 2012

On becoming a Viking - 4

The heart of an Explorer

I've been studying viking-age history in preparation for participating in a viking-age reenactment camp at the end of June. I have patterns for and plan to make my own period-authentic clothes, shoes, tent, bedding, weapons, armor, shield, woodworking, furniture, and hand-crafted items to sell and trade.
So in the last few weeks I've been mostly researching, studying and reading. I am becoming fascinated by Archeology! I am amazed that they can even determine what some of the 1000+ year-old items are, let alone determine it's age and origin. For instance, in an excavation of an ancient sod long-house in Iceland, they lifted out and sifted the entire floor of the house one little section at a time, and found gold and glass beads that the ancient residents had dropped and couldn't find in their own dirt floor! And, it is reported that some of those glass beads were created in China! We know that the northern people were primarily farmers, fishermen, and traders, using their versatile ships to fish and transport goods. We know that they had established trade routes and towns via the sea and their boats well before what we call the beginning of the Viking age (when the pillaging started) It's also been dawning on me that exploration was well under way for the Northern Germanic people prior to and during what we call the viking age.
I've been researching the development of the Norsk people's ship-building, fishing, trading expeditions, and exploration. They wanted to know and see. It started by sailing around their own coastlines and seeing what they could see. It started by younger men and their boats moving up the coastline to find better fishing and fertile farmland, and then plopping down their roots.
I ask the question, how did they start expanding their trade? I can only imagine the scenarios. A lot of it has to do with migration of Germanic people. But a lot has to do with the heart of an explorer. We know the Vikings assimilated great knowledge from other people into their culture and made it their own. The only way they could do that is to boldly go out, with a great self-confidence and learn from observation and from other people. What is evident, according to the Authors of 'Viking Art,' David M. Wilson and Ole Klindt-Jensen, is that traders in the Viking age knew what they liked and what their customers liked and many foreign objects became study pieces to assimilate into their own style. And they were hungry to understand the outside world, and to gain more of their goods.
At a time when the known world was small, and the Romans had advanced as far north as they were going to go, the Vikings were busy charting the unknown and communicating that through their network of ships and trade. Their only boundaries were their own safety as they traveled, traded and fought off people who would plunder their wares. In some places like Novgorod and Kiev, they established strongholds, fortresses, to protect their storehouses and trade goods, and keep the trade route itself open for their own use.
There are also stories, or sagas passed down verbally of vikings who sailed out just to explore and see what was beyond. They had a confidence in their sailing abilities and were not afraid of going beyond their knowledge. It's evident in their stories they were cautious of attack from hostile tribes, but that's more an indication of what life was like for everyone in the early Viking age.
Jumping forward to now, thousands of years later, I acknowledge that my own life is more fulfilling when I'm learning and exploring. I got to know the Geography of the entire Twin Cities on my bicycle. And I brought back memories, such as the Fox on the edge of the Fort Snelling State Park, watching me bike by one foggy morning. And frequently when my wife and I are driving somewhere obscure, I'll say something like, "Oh, turn here, I know where we are!" because it turns out, I've biked there. Everywhere from Blaine to Hastings, from Stillwater to Hopkins and Eden Prairie. Bicycling changed my attitude and my life. I met a lot of people on bicycles who have the heart of an explorer. People who want to see and experience life around them and beyond their own house, family, and jobs. Last year I took a long bike ride from the Farm up North of Hinckley, about 90 miles and I learned some very interesting things.
So, In my quest to become a Viking, I'm re-instituting my bicycle exploration and I'm taking notes. A bicycle is a great way to explore, and like the ancient vikings, be out in the elements and really see the natural world around me. Just like seeing that Fox on the edge of the park, watching me.
I'm planning on making my own rope from the inner bark of a tree, like people in the Viking age did. The heart of an explorer is learning and experiencing new and foreign things. Even if they are ancient technology, lost in Modern times. Thor Heyerdahl taught me something about experiential archeology. He built a straw boat of the ancient world to prove that it could have happened and to experience it happening. By experiencing he also shed light on what it must have been like and what those ancient people went through to accomplish what they did. "Thor Heyerdahl (October 6, 1914, Larvik, Norway - April 18, 2002, Colla Micheri, Italy) was a Norwegian ethnographer and adventurer with a background in zoology and geography. He became notable for his Kon-Tiki expedition, in which he sailed 8,000 km (5,000 mi) across the Pacific Ocean in a self-built raft from South America to the Tuamotu Islands in 1947." - Wikipedia.
My first expedition by bicycle this year was to the library to check out a book called the Bicycle Diaries, by David Byrne. "Byrne's choice was initially made out of convenience rather than political motivation, but the more cities he saw from his bicycle, the more he became hooked on this mode of transport and the sense of liberation, exhilaration, and connection it provided. This point of view, from his bike seat, became his panoramic window on urban life, a magical way of opening one's eyes to the inner workings and rhythms of a city's geography and population." - from his book.
I hope to learn from Byrne's heart of exploration, and develop and record my own version of experiential archeology, and feel part of what life was like in the Viking age and experience life which I do not yet see, right now.

Posted by carl1236 at 9:59 AM | Bicycles | Learning | Life | Purpose

Category "Attitude"

Category "Journal in a Jar"

Category "Life"

February 11, 2011

Do you see anything in your children that reminds you of your spouse?

This is an interesting question I pulled from my "Journal in a Jar" this morning. The short answer is yes. Of course I question all of my views on life so I naturally expand this question to include humanity. I ask myself if people pass on to their offspring, not only genetic physical characteristics, but also dispositions. I do see in my daughter many of the same characteristics in her motherhood that my wife has as a mother. The way she handles and cares for the new baby, the way she is strong even when she doesn't feel like she is. I know my daughter will be a great mom just like my wife. Is that motherhood in general? Or is that a disposition that she inherited from her mother? I've seen many moms I could not compare with my wife in the care and love they use toward their children in daily practice. So I see that as something positive, whether my daughter learned by first-hand experience while growing up or whether the disposition was genetic, I'm really happy with my daughter and how she is handling being a new mom! And that reminds me of her mom, my wife.

Posted by carl1236 at 12:19 PM | Attitude | Journal in a Jar | Life

Category "Journal in a Jar"

Category "Life"

March 21, 2010

Eearliest Memories of Home

There is no place like home, there is no place like home, there is no place like home. In the 1939 film, Wizard of Oz, Dorothy wants a place where there isn't any trouble. What she discovers in her state of unconsciousness, is that there are several key ingredients to happiness and fulfillment in life. At the core of the plot is having a brain, a heart and courage.
The brain is an amazing piece of equipment we have. Without a brain we have no calculations, reasoning, creative thinking or memories. Having a heart means love, caring, compassion. Without a heart, we might as well be mechanical machines carrying out our assigned tasks. And Courage is the ability to overcome our fears. It's a great asset that allows us to step beyond the doors of our safety zones.
Most of us think of home as a safe place. Dorothy was surrounded by family members that loved her and protected her. I know it's not that way for everyone, but maybe there is some place, like a neighborhood, or grandparents home where we do feel connected and safe.
My earliest memories of home are from my pre-elementary school years in a small farming community southern Minnesota, Dexter. It was much like Kansas in the Wizard of Oz. We had a little house there, with backyard and sidewalk in front. I remember playing with friends, our dog, and toys. It was a safe place. I remember laying in front of the garage on a spring day, my face pressed against the concrete to feel the warmth of the sun that had been absorbed into the material.
I remember rocking back and forth on the tongue of the utility trailer my dad used for hauling brush and other things around. I also remember that one of our friends slipped and got caught under the metal tongue of the trailer and broke his arm when it crashed down on him. That was the end with playing on the trailer-turned-seesaw. But even so, it was safe for us, because mom and dad calmly took care of the problem, and us.
During that period of my life I was unaware of the larger world outside of my home and neighborhood. Except for an occasional excursion with mom or dad into town, my life was at home with mom or my friends. It wasn't until I was almost ready to go to Kindergarten that we moved and my world expanded beyond my safe home.
And now looking back on my earliest memories of home I realize that home is a concept as much as it is a place. Home is a place that we try to get back to, where there isn't any trouble. It's a safe place where there are people we love and share memories with. Our courage may allow us to step outside our door, walk down the block, go off to college, visit foreign lands, but there is no place like home.

Posted by carl1236 at 6:23 AM | Journal in a Jar | Life

Category "Journal in a Jar"

Category "Life"

March 14, 2010

The Sibling Wish

I have four siblings; Three brothers and one sister. I'm the second oldest and my sister is the youngest. Each of us is approximately two years apart so there is quite an age difference between the first and the last.
When we were in elementary school, my older brother and I mostly played together. And at that period in our lives our best friends were also a pair of brothers the same ages as us. We were like the four musketeers, or more like Tom Sawyer-Huck Fin times two. We had some great adventures together.
When our next younger brother came along, not much changed with our set of friends, our play partners, or our routine of playing in the neighborhood. Our younger brother mostly stayed home with mom while we ran around the neighborhood getting into mischief.
But it was always the four of us friends. In a way they were like another set of brothers. But of course everything changes and we get older, move on to Junior high school, high school and life school. And so while we were in elementary school, with our other pair of brothers, we wished to have adventures together. We wished to learn about life together. We built tree-houses on islands, floated on rafts on the Mississippi, rode our bikes, hopped trains, swam in our friends pool, played kick the can, held parades in our neighborhood honoring the death of our pet turtle, walked on our hands down the street, built jumps for our bikes, and in the winter went sliding and ice-skating together. There were countless other amazing and wonderful adventures we had.
At that time in our lives, our Sibling Wish was simple. We wished to keep having fun with our brothers in adventure. The new additions to the family came along too much later to participate in our little band of hoodlums. Another wish we had was that we could have our own bedrooms. We lived in a tiny house with only three bedrooms. Four of us boys shared the large upstairs bedroom (which now I realize was really tiny) and our sister got the other bedroom downstairs by my mom and dad's room. She was the only girl, and a baby, so it made sense. Our Sibling Wish then was that we could have what she had. There might have been some jealousy involved in that wish. But she was just a baby, so it was ok. And by then things were already changing in our family. Not long after that, our older brothers moved on to Junior high school. That brought a new set of friends for them and a division of elementary school brothers and older brothers. Our Sibling Wish became more like, "I wish we could get back to doing our stuff." But their wish was probably becoming, "I wish those younger brothers would stop following us." And me and my friend wished that we could be doing what our older brothers were doing.
Then our family moved and I joined my brother in junior high school and I felt like I was growing up. I developed a whole new set of friends too, and I was immersed in much more real and diverse learning. I was amazed at the offerings. We had shop, science, math, and language classes. The expansion of our adventures went from the neighborhood to the world. The expansion of our friendships went from the neighborhood to the many neighborhoods.
With four boys there seemed to be a lot of sibling rivalry and jealousy. We were not always nice to each other. But there is something about being a brother or sister that is a bond that can't break. Or can it? On one hand we don't choose our siblings. When we are younger, we are stuck with them and had to live with it. Our parents decided that for us. But as we got older we competed for space, for growth, for friends, and for escape. Sometimes our Sibling Wish, was "I wish you were gone."
I believe a lot of this rivalry should have been checked earlier. It's a difficult thing for parents to sort out sibling relationships. We as parents tell our kids that they have to like their siblings. We've told them wisdom that when you get older, you will wish you were good friends with your sibling.
As we got older, we all felt the separation of our family. One by one, us siblings grew up and moved away. Our Sibling Wish became, "I wish I could do what you are doing."
And years pass, and we have our own kids, jobs, life challenges and our Sibling Wish becomes, "I wish we would see each other more often."
The Sibling Wish changes with age. And even though families can be dysfunctional at times, I recognize that there is an ageless connection in family. We did not choose who our siblings are. We were stuck with each other as blood relatives. When we are older we choose to stay connected and love our siblings as friends that will be there for us no matter what we do in life. In the future the Sibling Wish might end up being, "I wish you were still here."

Posted by carl1236 at 6:59 AM | Journal in a Jar | Life

Category "Attitude"

Category "Journal in a Jar"

Category "Life"

March 12, 2010

Show me the money!

If I suddenly received $100.00, $1,000.00 or even $1,000,000.00, what would I do with it? It really does not matter. I would not hold onto it. I would not save it for a future day. I would not do what most people consider 'responsible.' But I am not advocating not to save for specific goals like retirement, a car, a motorcycle, a house, etc, because without saving money, a lifestyle can easily become unsustainable. I am stating only that my investment in life is in people, not getting more money so I can live more comfortably and buy more things.
Many people in America are in over their heads in debt. A person goes out and buys a new car at $30,000.00, and a house at 300,00.00, and pretty soon, wham, that person needs to be earning at least a few thousand dollars just to pay for those things. In an effort to stay on top of the debt load, many people then take jobs or positions that pay more money, even if it doesn't make them happy.
Ideally we should all go out there and choose only the career that we are excited about, that we are engaged in, that helps us have purpose and meaning in life. But how many people do you know that actually achieve all of that? And even if a person does, it changes. Anything can happen.
One of my most engaging jobs ever was doing software technical support and training. It was meaningful work to me. I was helping people solve problems and making their work-life a little easier and less stressful. In many ways, I had a calming effect on people because they knew I would not stop until their problem was resolved or they found a work-around. And when people call technical support they are usually already stressed out when they reach for the phone.
Doing software training was also really rewarding. I had knowledge and I could share that knowledge. I loved coming up with creative ways to get people to that 'ah-ha!' point when they understand and can put the principles to work. Teaching is meaningful to me and has tangible and intangible rewards for more than just me.
The third attribute of my most engaging job, that tied it all together and made it even more fun and positive, was being part of a high-performance team. Being part of a real team our job functions didn't always matter. The focus was on getting the job done right for the customer and helping each other do that. There was a lot of cross-training going on, a lot of discussion in the hallways, a lot of late nights working out solutions and solving problems together. We all had a shared vision and goals. And we cared about each other. It was amazing. High-fives were frequently passed between us. In situations like that, it did not matter how much I was getting paid or how many hours I 'donated' to the company.
After five years of doing a job I loved, and advancing my skills, It came crashing down on us. In a really bad April Fools Joke, the owner of the company called us all into the conference room, and introduced us to the new owners. He had sold the company without most of us knowing. We had never met the new owners before this meeting. And worse yet, they knew nothing about our business. And it got worse. The very first month they took over they could not make payroll. The reality of that situation was that they paid too much for a company they knew too little about.
The death of that company came a couple years later after a lawsuit against the previous owners and bankruptcy. One by one, as people jumped ship, our high-performance team was dismantled . I was one of the last remaining employees before the doors were closed. Luckily I found another job that paid enough money to feed my family and pay for my car, rent, utilities, etc. The real tragedy with this change was that not much could compare with the excitement and happiness I had experienced in my work.
I've used this analogy before, and I think it fits pretty well. Sometimes we do things out of necessity versus what will excite us and engage us. One domino falls because another one before it fell. My favorite job fell and I had to find another one as soon as possible or risk losing my car and not being able to buy baby formula. The new job wasn't bad, but it definitely lacked many of the key ingredients I see that make work meaningful and engaging.
I think on some level, I knew and understand that the pursuit of money was not my objective at all. My objective was to have purpose and meaning in my life. It was to make a difference in other people's lives. For me, the drive for money alone cannot satisfy that inner need for meaning and purpose. It's an April Fools Joke that turns into reality.
Now we look around at our economy and wonder how it all got into such a mess. Immediately we start to point fingers. Someone is to blame for this recession. Some of the statements I've read are, "It's because the banks are too lenient on who they give loans to." "People who borrow more than they can afford are to blame."
I think it's a deeper-rooted problem in our society. The drive for profit and a focus on making money shifts the focus from doing meaningful, engaging work that is rewarding to us and other people. Instead of dominoes falling one way, they get lined up to fall based on income and profit, not people.
Our companies of all sizes suffer because of the loss of meaning and purpose, other than the bottom line. I observe people in my current job. The owners and investors are clueless that one of their most respected workers spends an hour to two hours at a time talking on the phone almost daily about personal things. I see it in the zealous nature of a young person that is highly critical of others and lacks compassion and whose drive is the bottom line. And that is rewarded in our society and companies. I see it in the decisions companies make regarding not spending money on tools or equipment their employees need to do their jobs. I see it in people who no longer have each other's backs, who do not see work as a team effort. I see power and control, territorial behavior, versus collaboration, teamwork and a focus on the shared vision and mission. We end up with companies full of disengaged employees, mainly because there is no soul in focusing on making money. The end result is something we spend. And the cycle of spend-earn-spend-earn doesn't have the same meaning as meaningful work that stimulates us, engages our skills and talents, and pushes the limits of our potential.
If I were to receive an unexpected sum of money, whatever the dollar amount, I'm sure I'd find a way to use it with meaning and purpose. Just like I try to use my time. I would probably buy a laptop to write more, I would donate some money to programs I believe are helping people. I'd invest it in people, giving them opportunities to discover what engages them. These are things I do now, regardless of how much money I have. The focus in my life is not about striving for more things that will decay, rot, break, become lost, stolen or earn more. It's about striving for meaning and purpose in life. It doesn't matter how much money I have for that to happen. And in the end, my investments will pay off larger, in ways that I could ever realize if my focus was on the bottom line.

Posted by carl1236 at 7:22 AM | Attitude | Journal in a Jar | Life

Category "Journal in a Jar"

Category "Life"

March 11, 2010

Marriage Fears, Expectations, Anticipations!

Ever thought about getting married? Are you married? I am 20 and I don't worry. I know everything works out. Actually I'm a basket case for other reasons. Saying I love you was the easy part, now I have to go and face my father-in-law and do the right thing. I have to ask permission to take his daughter back to Texas with me. It's not going to be easy standing there and looking him in the eye and talking. But my only saving grace is that I can stand there and honestly say I will take care of his daughter and won't let anything bad happen to her.
I can not promise that I know what I am doing. But I do not have to be afraid of going back on my word to not hurt her. In actuality, the gravity of this one moment might solidify my resolve to not let her or him down. I wish every parent would have these talks with future son-in-laws.
This is how I feel. Scared of standing up for myself and for what me and my girlfriend decided together. Scared that somehow I won't measure up to this successful business man that has a mind as sharp as a tack. Scared of being just a punk that will use her and hurt her whole family. They would tell her, "I told you to listen to me!." Well, ok, maybe that's just my fear talking. I think they are all wonderful people. I love her mom already. She's so nice to me every time I talk to her. I think about my girlfriend's future when I look at her mom. Seriously. If my wife turns out with a heart like hers, my life could not turn out better.
What do I expect out of this? I don't know. I don't really. I really am not thinking like that right now. I'm thinking that this feels right and we talked about it and we both like the idea of being together. I don't want to kill the mood by being practical either. And no she is not pregnant! But let's think about that statement.
I asked myself, If she were pregnant, would I marry her? Yes, I answered. I would. I have too much pride and honor to walk out on that responsibility. Then I asked myself. If I love her enough to marry her if she were pregnant, do I love her enough to marry her even if she were not? I answered yes again. Commitment by logic! That's me. That's why I'm going to speak to her father. That's why I asked her to come back to Texas with me. I made a commitment in my own mind and heart. I follow through.
It's not just that I follow through, It's also that I'm really comfortable with my girlfriend. I know that she adores me, and that she is thrilled by getting my letters in the mail, and that she has so deeply fallen for me. I fear that also. I fear that when I wrote all those letters, somehow my inner feelings I so freely shared in letters could not be lived up to. I feel like I could betray my words by admitting that I'm still a young 20-year-old explorer on an adventure.
But then I come back to my original feeling, that when I know I feel comfortable with her, I feel her good heart, know that she adores me, has fallen in love with me, and that I could do no better, I have courage enough to stand in that room with her dad...
"Sir, I would like to bring your daughter back to Texas with me." Oh, God this is hard! I'm sweating. I am a soldier. I am old enough to die for my country! I am an adult! I should not be afraid, but I am.

Thoughts from 1983

Posted by carl1236 at 9:16 PM | Journal in a Jar | Life

Category "Attitude"

Category "Journal in a Jar"

Category "Life"

March 10, 2010

Is it more difficult to be a parent now, when I was raising children or when my parents raised me?

That's 3 Generations I guess. Although I am not currently raising children, since mine are grown up and now raising their selves, I have an answer. I'm going to say 'none of the above.'
1. My parents had a difficult time raising four boys and a girl. We were hooligans! Sometimes angels but often fighting and getting into mischief. We could easily have fallen into drugs or anything else, if we had been in that neighborhood. We certainly knew as kids where those circles were and who those kids were.
2. You can teach a kid values and being able to make good choices. It's a lot of hard work on a parents part, and a certain amount of awareness. A lot of parents are not prepared for this, so it's difficult no matter what generation. And this has to start at an early age, especially before the pre-teen years.
3. It depends on the kids and the parents mental, emotional and physical health in any generation.

What's really difficult in raising children, whether of yesteryear, today's day and age, or tomorrow's hope, is that we have to be engaged in the process of raising our children, and be willing to do what it takes to help our children make good choices on their own. I don't think that is easy at any time. It can be fun and meaningful though.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:06 PM | Attitude | Journal in a Jar | Life

Category "Journal in a Jar"

Category "Life"

March 8, 2010

What I know about my parents wedding

I don't know if I never heard the details of my parents wedding or if I did and forgot, but I don't remember anything about it. Over the last few years we've been having more discussions in general about our family trees, especially since my brother and my parents and my aunts are digging into old information and hunting down leads. One common idea I hear is that it would be nice if previous generations left us a little more information!
At some point in a family tree, future generations might become curious about who you were and what your life was like. Maybe your family tree will die out and there will nobody curious enough to dig, but then again, maybe someone will be researching you for historical purposes in a town or region.
When my brother did some digging, he found out that our great grandfather on my mom's side was also being researched by the Wisconsin historical society because of his colorful past in Wisconsin. That was kind of a surprise, but convenient and helpful to my brother's research.
One of the purposes of this new writing project, my "journal in a jar" is so that I write down some of my family history, my experiences, my memories and my thoughts about things. Overall, I think there might be much more information available about people in our generation than there ever was in previous generations, so maybe research of family trees will not be as difficult as in the past.
But for my mom and dad's wedding? I know very little about it. Now I have to begin the process of finding out before they eventually take their memories, their ideas and dreams away with them. And I think in light these kind of thoughts, I had better record more about me and my wife to make it easier on future genealogy hunters. Also, because of our families efforts to find out about previous generations, It might even be my duty to leave more information for my future generations.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:11 PM | Journal in a Jar | Life

Category "Journal in a Jar"

Category "Life"

March 1, 2010

My Boy Scout Experiences

I wrote about Scouts in a previous entry when I was talking about living with death. But you don't have to read that entry because I'm going to copy and paste the contents into this current entry dealing with just my scouting experiences. Of course you can still read that one if you are curious how scouting relates to living with death.

When I was young, I was in Cub Scouts. I remember it was a lot of fun. I remember it was difficult for our family to afford the book, the dues and the uniform, but somehow I got them. I loved the activities we did and the snacks and the great leaders. We had fun doing the activities and playing games. I also remember doing and making our pinewood derby cars with my dad. Of course my dad got totally into it and helped us strategically place the weights and polish the axles so our cars would fly down the track. We even tried liquid weight so it would shift as the car went over the hill, giving it an extra boost. I think that's illegal now, but I don't think they had a rule against it back then. Our car didn't win anyway, but it was fun trying to come up with some new strategy to make it faster. We also used graphite on the axles so the wheels would spin faster. We actually won some races and made it to the finals I think once or twice. So it was cool, and fun. I think Pinewood Derby is a good experience for kids if they get to work with their dads or moms or another relative and if the boys get to do the work on the car, with a little help.
When It came time to move on to the next level, Webelos, (WE'll BE LOyal Scouts), The meeting location was different, we had a different leader and I only went for a little while before dropping out. I think I just mostly was having more fun playing with my other friends then and wasn't getting anything out of my new group. And that was the end of my childhood scouting experience.
Then when my son was old enough, he came home from school with a slip advertising a scout recruiting meeting coming up at his school. So I went with my son to check it out. I think it was my son's idea and he wanted to do it. I'm not sure though. I had good experiences with cub scouts so I wasn't opposed to it. But I do remember I was really busy with work then. I was working for a software consultant doing training and technical support and programming. That was a challenging job that devoured my free time.
The first night of cubscouts was an organizational meeting, where we were supposed meet our son's new leader. That first meeting should have have been a warning sign of what was to come. The Cubmaster forgot her key to the church. So all of the parents and their boys sat on the little strip of grass between the church and the street and organized into groups by age: Tiger Cubs, Wolves, Bears, Webelos, in that order. So there we were sitting in our group with other boys the same age as my son, but we didn't see a leader with us. We waited. The Cubmaster finally came over and said, "Well, your group doesn't have a leader yet, so one of you will have to be the leader."
We all looked each other and asked her a couple of questions. Then she said, "It's easy, we'll show you what to do. Just pick a leader and it'll be fun." Then she walked away. The problem was that none of the people in our group wanted to be the leader. I did not have time for this for sure, so I did not volunteer that first night. I did what a lot of parents do. I had an expectation of scouts that did not include me working on lesson plans and teaching boys. I wanted to be able to just drop my kid off and let him have a great experience with someone else leading it. That's how I thought it ran. In reality I found out that Scouts is an all volunteer organization and the leaders are there because they care. And they put a lot of energy into the program.
So, two ladies reluctantly volunteered to co-lead the group, but they did not want to put much work into it or get uniforms or get training. After a couple of meetings, I was lying awake at night worrying that my son was going to have a bad experience in Scouts and quit. So I decided that if it's worth doing, it's worth doing right and putting some effort into. At the next meeting I volunteered to be the leader. I think those mom's were really happy to be relieved of the duty. And I do believe we all gave those boys some good experiences. And we did some cool things together.
That was the beginning of my seven years as a Scout Leader. During that time I held most of the positions in Scouting, such as Denleader, Cubmaster, Scoutmaster, Trainer, etc. I went to all of the leader roundtables and training opportunities. I came back with some great ideas.
I put my heart and soul and resources into running the program and working with the boys and their parents. This was a great experience, but also overwhelming. We took boys camping almost every month, made realistic dogsleds for their klondike derby and of course, did pinewood derby. We also taught them how to carve and tie knots and start fires. I even taught the boys how to start a fire with wet wood. I learned an incredible amount as an adult and had a lot of fun helping to raise a lot of boys.
Some of my favorite things about scouting? I learned to love one my favorite life-long hobbies; woodcarving. Bob Plant taught me how to do and teach woodcarving. I loved that man. He was so good with teaching and was a nice guy to be around. He was always encouraging the boys and getting them to try doing things on their own.
I also learned a lot about dedication and determination in the face of unbelievable odds. We did fundraising together, we recycled aluminum cans together, we did state fair cleanups together, we built stilts and sleds and cars, and of course went camping. We also did archery, rappelling, horseback riding, bb-gun shooting, canoeing and swimming. I taught a dozen or more boys how to swim for the first time.
I remember Ku was so scared of the water the first time we took him to the pool that he would not leave the edge. I mean he would not even go into the pool from the edge. Eventually he learned how to swim. That was glorious. That was amazing. I am so glad I was there to be part of that.
Everything changes though and scouts was no different. I kept leading even after my son moved on to other activities, mainly because I knew there were a lot of boys that needed a good leader and role model. And I was having fun.
Eventually though, I got stretched too thin. Work was really demanding and I transitioned into another job and I had to keep the rest of my life afloat at the same time as spending nearly every day keeping a big scout program floating. Even with the few others that were true hard-chargers, we couldn't maintain a quality program without sacrificing something. We kept trying to get the parents involved, but it was difficult. As a result all of us leaders put in heroic efforts to keep it going. By the time I stopped doing it, I was dedicating 3 or 4 nights per week working on something Scouting related, plus monthly campouts and a weeklong summer camp every summer.
When I finally stopped doing it I wasn't relieved. I was sad. I was worried what would happen to these boys, and I was feeling guilty for stopping. When I told the few dedicated leaders that I was going to stop leading this unit, they were also devastated, but realizing the short-staffed situation we were in, no-one wanted to take over my position. The whole unit folded with about 40 boys losing out. But I couldn't continue working the way I was, and I saw the deterioration of the quality of our program so I did what I had to do. It was very sad. I was so involved, then it came to a stop. All of it. I mourned the loss for a while, then moved on to other volunteer work.
It happened in the same way. I happened to be where things were falling apart, where they needed help. It was like looking at a car accident or a train wreck. I cannot just stand by while someone needs help. And that's exactly when my engine gets into motion. I'm not moved into volunteer work by bigger causes like saving the environment or saving the world, but I am moved into action when someone needs help.
I have so many more good scout stories to tell, so maybe for future entries I'll tell some stories. Like when I challenged the boys, "I bet you that I can start this fire with one match and wet wood." I proceeded to fill a large bucket up with water and throw my sticks into it, soaking them and challenging the boys again. They all took the bet. I won. ;-)

Posted by carl1236 at 9:43 PM | Journal in a Jar | Life

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February 28, 2010

Our Family Traditions

Traditions are like comfort food. We keep going back to them because we like them and we know them. It's comfortable and good. The unknown can be frightening. Going without traditions can be frightening to some people too.
When a son or daughter goes off to the military or into college in another state, they are so busy handling their own affairs and figuring how to survive in their new system, that sometimes it's not possible to follow family traditions. At least not without a lot of trouble. For example, when I went into the Army, I couldn't come home for Thanksgiving the first year. I was in training and my new career had taken me a couple thousand miles away.
But that doesn't mean I didn't celebrate Thanksgiving. It means I did not spend Thanksgiving with my family, as it had been for the entire time I was growing up. So I spent my first Thanksgiving away from home with an Army family I hardly knew. It was good, but not the same.
I also remember the first Christmas that I did not come home. That is another family tradition I never would have missed as I was growing up. But again, I was very far away. I know families understand, but for me it was a little disconcerting that there was no snow and no family to share and celebrate with.
I think we have family traditions because it's a coming together of family to celebrate something, or share with each other some meaningful ritual. And I think it's an important part of the cohesiveness of the family. When we celebrate our family birthday's together we are saying to each other, 'you are important to me.' Thanksgiving is like that too. We are sharing a feast together. We are laughing and spending time with each other, and we even cook a special type of food for this tradition.
At some point our family traditions shift from our parents traditions to our own in-house traditions with our friends and our own kids. It's part of the growing up process it seems. In our house now, our family traditions have kind of dissolved or evolved into something different. Both of our children have moved out. So for birthday's we no longer throw a party for our children and their friends, complete with clown or other entertainment and decorations. But we do something else, like send a card, take them out for dinner or something like that. And sometimes the loss of traditions can be a little uncomfortable, like not being able to make spaghetti for dinner because we have no noodles or sauce in our house.
This year we are having a traditional family holiday party in August. To me it doesn't matter whether it's in August or December. At first the idea was uncomfortable to me, a kind of strange idea, because it wasn't going to be around the Christmas season. But the more I thought about it, the more I got the point of family tradition. It's not necessarily about the activity, it's about bringing family together. And to me that's just as good in August as it is in December.
I might wear a Hawaiian shirt, straw hat and flip-flops though. ;-)

Posted by carl1236 at 8:01 PM | Journal in a Jar | Life

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February 27, 2010

Who would you most like to sit next to on a long plane ride, dead or alive? A Short Story

The last book I read before I died was, The five people you meet in heaven, by Mitch Albom. I could really relate to the amusement park maintenance guy. I did not feel like I had accomplished anything in my life and did not value what I had done.
Now it was my time to go, and I guessed that I would soon find out from the five people I would meet in heaven, the meaning of my life. Unlike Eddie in the book, my death wasn't a horrific accident while saving a little girl. My death was quite ordinary for a middle-aged man, fallen out of shape and out of energy. It's a familiar story to many people these days. And with high cholesterol and blood pressure it didn't surprise me that I died of a heart attack while lying on the couch reading this little book.
The pain was incredible. But even so, I've been through incredible pain before and had developed a coping mechanism and acceptance of pain. Like when I had a hernia, that was painful, and I could not walk. But I managed and pulled through. This time I guess I did not pull through the pain. But then again, it's not the pain that killed me was it? I'll blame my death on the lack of exercise and poor eating habits over the years.
This is where my journey begins. I'm not going to talk about the people I left behind, and how my death affected them, because that's like looking at a train wreck, and standing there stunned. I'm still speechless, because I feel sorry for those that have to deal with grief and loss, while still living. They have this kind of a dull aching feeling that makes a person question the meaning of their own existence. I would say that I'm still alive though, because I certainly still feel alive.
Anyway, I don't really remember watching my death from the ceiling or witnessing my own funeral like we've all seen in the movies. I just remember being somewhere else. After I died I found myself standing in the airport waiting to board a plane. I seemed to be late. Evidently the other passengers were already on board, because I was standing there alone waiting for my turn.
I did not have any bags to check. When flying I always travel lightly anyway, knowing that whatever I absolutely need at the other end, I could get there. Metaphorically speaking, even though I have a lot of stuff in my life, I don't think I would be devastated by losing it all in a fire. I'm more upset that my poor wife is burdened with disposing of all of the books in my library and the bicycles I rode and my motorcycle, and art supplies. I hope she just hires the used-book store to come and make her an offer on the whole lot of books. She's definitely not going to read my copy of the Qur'an or the Kabbalah or even the dozens of science-fiction fantasy books I have read.
"John, John," the voice interrupted my thoughts. "It's your time to board," she said.
"Ok," I said, feeling kind of silly for wanting to ask where this plane was headed. I am not one to shy away from adventure anyway, and love the process of discovery, so I guess it didn't really matter if I knew for sure. Besides, I was dead, so I could guess where it was going, although I questioned the mode of transportation. I stepped confidently forward and walked down the tunnel to board the plane. I was curious if the five people I'd meet in heaven would be on this plane. It seemed logical to me. I was also curious who they would be.
The first person I met was the Captain. The captain was definitely an angel. There was a radiation of love and energy coming out of him, engulfing me as I came close. I was not worried about the safety of this plane. Once, I was flying back from California on a work-related trip and was reading the novel Airframe by Michael Crichton. That was a bad choice. I was worried about my safety on that trip! But now I knew beyond all imagination and fear, that this flight was in good hands and that the plane must be held together with more than a few rivets.
By the number on my boarding pass, I would be somewhere in the middle of the plane. There were dozens of people already seated, some I recognized and some I did not. The plane was nearly full! I did not expect this; Probably because the last thing impressed on my mind was the number five. I walked down the aisle, nodding and smiling at the people making themselves comfortable, settling in with pillows and blankets as if going on a long flight from the Middle East to the Midwest.
In one of the seats I saw my grandma. She looked just like I remember her and I wanted to stop and give her a big hug and talk to her. But I felt compelled to go find my seat before the plane took off. She smiled and nodded at me, "Go ahead Johnny, we'll have plenty of time to catch up." Her voice instantly brought back a flood of memories.
And right behind her there was my Aunt Jan, grinning at me. "Hey freckles! Welcome aboard!" I laughed. I haven't heard that nickname in a long time!
Boarding this plane was a very surreal experience. It's a very strange thing to be seeing these people again and conversing with them. I pinched myself and felt the slight twinge of pain. No, I am definitely still aware of myself here, and have not disappeared into nothingness.
Walking past all of these people that I knew and loved throughout my life, made me wonder who I'd actually be sitting next to. My seat was just ahead.
I looked at my boarding pass and the number above the seat. It was an aisle seat. I prefer window seats when I fly because I love to watch the plane take off and seeing the tiny specs of our civilization far below. But evidently I was not here to witness what I was leaving behind. I was here to talk to some important people in my life. With all of these people on the plane, it was going to be a very long flight, I thought.
I looked at my boarding pass and the number above the seat to make sure again that I was in the right place. The number was right. Sitting in the seat next to mine was a Native American man with a wizened, darkly tanned face. He was dressed in full regalia, with feathers sticking straight up from his head and bells wrapped about his knees. They made a slight jingling noise as he shifted in his seat to face me. He just looked at me until I was seated. I sat sat down, intimidated by his deep stare. I glanced out the window and saw the darkening skies and the rain beginning to fall. The wind was blowing a piece of paper across the ground, whipping it up and down.
"Have courage," he said to me in a low, soft voice. "Your grandfathers have all gathered together to have a council. They have called you here to teach you."
"Thank you," was all I could think of to say. He was obviously the oldest and wisest looking person on this plane. His deep penetrating and knowing eyes were pools of wisdom beyond my years of experience. His was the power of the world that I did not understand.
"All of the gifts of earth you drew strength from. Now from the same great spirit you will find another strength."
As I sat contemplating that, the fasten-your-seat-belts light flashed on and the chime interrupted us.
"Please fasten your seat belts," came the voice. "We are preparing for take off."
We both fell silent as we buckled up and waited for our safety briefing. Somehow in my mind I knew the wise man sitting next to me. His words echoed over time to me from a different century, telling me of the division of people, it's food and the earth. Without speaking he showed me how the lust for possession and wealth had swarmed over the planet and severed the chords of human and earth connection. I was powerless to stop it. I was watching as people lost their partnership with the earth and each other. It was a very depressing series of scenes that brought tears to my eyes.
"Have courage," he told me. "for you have the power of the cleansing wind." He pointed out the window.
Nicholas Black Elk, a Lakota Sioux visionary, holy man and healer who's words I greatly respected in life, shared the silence with me as the plane took off, pressing us back into our seats. It gave me a definite feeling of moving on, with no return. Although we had never met in real life, I was suddenly overwhelmed by the opportunity to sit next to him on this flight. I trembled in spite of his comforting words. Maybe I trembled with respect, or with fear that I would not measure up to those words.
Soon the plane leveled off and the fasten-your-seat-belt light turned off again. He nodded to me with a warm smile and motioned me to get up and find another seat. I had so many questions for Black Elk and wanted to sit and talk with him much longer. But he looked around the plane at all the people and motioned again without speaking. I did as he wished and got up, looking around.
The only empty seat I could see was back about five or six rows. I started to walk, but the plane was now buckling under the turbulence. At first I could not see anyone in the seat next to the empty one. The plane lurched again and I fell, stumbling toward my new seat. The fasten-your-seat-belt light came on with a ding and in the distance I heard the voice announcing the turbulence.
"Tell me something I don't know," I muttered as I grabbed the seat arm before hitting the floor with a thud.
I crawled into my seat and buckled up. Sitting next to me was a diminutive, exceedingly old-looking woman with wrinkles as deep as the ridges. She was praying and thumbing the long string of beads in her hands. There was radiant glow of warmth and comfort all around her and I felt it deep in my bones. I could not interrupt her prayers so I sat patiently waiting. But somehow I did not mind. I liked her intensity of concentration and calmness during this turbulence. It seemed like nothing would bother her.
Then, just as I was thinking that, she laughed and patted my hand.
"John. You have done some important work. See these beads in my hand? These are the people who's lives you have touched. Each one of these, a person you gave dignity to. Each one of these people you helped to stand, even when you stumbled and fell!"
"Mother Teresa?" I asked sheepishly.
"Yes, dear child. Now pay attention."
Mother Teresa began to tell me passionately about my responsibilities. Our responsibilities as human beings.
"Including you, every person on this planet is responsible for the welfare of your brothers and sisters, all men and women on this planet. That has always been God's message to you. And you know, because you have experienced in these," she paused, thumbing the beads that represented those whose lives I have touched.
"That there are two kinds of poverty. The poverty of material, which is easy to cure. And the poverty of spirit, which is not so easy to cure. The problem is being able to see the difference. Open your eyes and see."
These words rang in my ears like a command. I sat back and closed my eyes visualizing the people she was talking about. Each one paraded before my eyes. I remembered.
"Now, go back and see these others." She was thumbing a long line of beads in her right hand. Her warmth radiated through me again and I felt her compassion and understanding.
She patted me on the hand and repeated, "Go. There will be another flight. You were just on standby." Then she laughed again.
I laughed too. She really had a good sense of humor. I was going to thank her, but when I began to speak again, she was praying the beads in her right hand, one after another. I heard her call their names one by one. Some I had met and some I had not. I sat in silence listening as attentively as I could.
The loud speaker came alive again and startled me out of my thoughts.
"Please return your seats to the upright position and fasten your seat belts. We will be landing shortly."
I braced myself and popped my ears as I felt the rapid descent. After we landed, there was a slow taxi to the terminal so I sat there, half listening to Mother Teresa, still listing off names in prayer, one bead at a time. Another part of me was anticipating the other part of this journey. What was to happen to me once I got off this plane? Where did we land? What about all of these other people on the plane? I did not get a chance to talk to any of them.
Slowly my eyes opened and the pain subsided. I don't know what happened, but I was not feeling the same. My whole body was trembling and I was disoriented. I heard the captain's voice in my mind.
"Thank you for flying with us. Come again."
Then I remembered the flight and the two people I sat next to. My mind and body were filled with love and a strength I have not felt in a long time. Their words remained in my heart. I have the power and the responsibility to make a difference. I am alive.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:47 PM | Journal in a Jar | Life | Love your Neighbor

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February 24, 2010

My first child

Before I start telling about my son, I'm prefacing it with the idea that there is no experience like raising children. It's a wonderful, amazing process that takes at least twenty years, and some say a lifetime. And sometimes it gets interesting because children develop a mind of their own. And frankly it has to be that way. Our objective as a parent is to have our children grow up safely and make it on their own. It doesn't always happen that way though.
When I was a scout leader I experienced many broken families and parents who didn't really get what it means to nourish or help a child grow and develop. Some of those kids had some serious issues and not much help. One boy threatened to commit suicide the night before we were supposed to be going home after camp. I, along with others, stayed with that boy all night long, not sleeping a wink. When we delivered the boy back to his parents, his mom informed us, "Oh he always says that, just ignore him."
For the rest of my life I will never forget the impact we have on our children's hearts and minds and mental health. I tried to get help for that boy, and I hope he made it. I was thankful that our son was not in that position, and thankful that he had a lot of family members that cared about him. It does make a difference.
It always amazes me how easy it is to become a parent. There are no tests or training, and in many cases it just happens. Then you figure it out or you don't. In most cases the child grows up and moves on.
Back at the beginning when we realized we were going to have a baby, my wife and I were really excited. And yet, we did not have a clue what we were getting into. I was 20 and my wife was 18 when we got married and two years later our son was born. What we knew then was that we knew we would somehow figure it out. What we didn't know was what that meant for our lives. So we began a journey that we knew nothing about.
Our son was born prematurely in an Army hospital, 1300 miles away from our home-town and our families. He had jaundice and had to wear a heart monitor and stayed in the hospital until he regained 5 pounds. He was the size of a football. I'm serious. So tiny and fragile. And I'm still thankful that he was born where he was. It turns out that Ft. Hood had one of the top two premie intensive care units in the country at the time. He was in pretty good hands.
It was hard for both of us to leave him in the hospital before he was able to come home. But we soon found the real challenge came after they let us take him home. He developed colic. If you don't know what that is, imagine his miniature intestine tied up into a knot allowing gas buildup until it's unbearable. The poor baby cried and screamed almost non-stop day and night. None of us could sleep for weeks. But we all lived through it.
Then we left the Army about five months later and began a different kind of life. I went to college, worked a part-time job and my wife also worked. We were hardly prepared for life. But we had most of our family around us so that helped. And it made it better for us because growing up, our son was nearly a perfect child. He was so happy and full of love. And he still has a great sense of humor.
I have to tell this story, because it's funny. One day he came home from school and informed us that his teacher told his class that until they were thirty they were not adults. My wife and I looked at each other and laughed. We were both under thirty with a child in elementary school.
So where does the bad stuff come in? As I remember it, there were not really bad times with our son. There were growing pains, mostly in his late teens. There was a rough period before he left for college, but luckily we survived it. And I'm happy with the way he figured out how to move forward after college. All in all, my pride is not so much in being able to tell some miraculous success story, or brag about what he has done with his life, but it's really that he's a good man able to live life on his terms and able to figure things out.
Now our son is married, and who knows, they may have children, and I hope I get to be around to enjoy their first child. I do believe that he'll make a great father, just because I know my son's nature and what he's capable of.

Posted by carl1236 at 8:27 PM | Journal in a Jar | Life

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February 23, 2010

How my parents dressed compared to how I dressed as a parent

I know fashions change like the wind changes directions. And there are some fashions that are peculiar to one generation, like powder blue, polyester, bell bottom tuxedos with ruffled shirts, or zoot suits. Sometimes those fashions make brief comebacks in following generations. But thankfully my dad did not wear clothes like that when I was a kid. I might have been mortified in front of my friends.
I don't knock anyone's fashion choices, but when I was a kid I might have. My dad wore jeans and t-shirts, or button down shirts. He went through a period wearing western shirts, boots, and hat, but a lot of people did that. And it wasn't over the top. I even had boots, large belt buckle. The western style has been around for a while, I guess since it came into fashion in the old west. Even so that style is not for everyone, but to me it was ok and I never felt embarrassed. And of course when not wearing the dress cowboy hat, most people I knew wore baseball caps. It kept the sun out of our eyes, in a casual way.
Since I had an office job most of my career while my children were growing up, my attire was khaki pants (like the docker brand) and button shirts. I also wore jeans and t-shirts when not at work. As part of my recent clean-out of my clothing heap, I got rid of thirty t-shirts that I no longer wanted to wear. Or put it this way, I used to by event t-shirts, like scout shirts, running shirts, triathlon shirts, etc, and then wear them and never get rid of them when I bought new ones. Oh, don't worry, I still have one box of shirts I like.
I think that with the trend toward casual wear in our country also standardized men's clothing fashion here, to a general casual look. Ties pretty much went away in the workplace, and people seem to have siimilar clothing styles. Maybe it's related to the mass-produced clothing marketplace. Maybe it's that most men were never really very fashion-minded. At least not the common man like me.
Recently we went to the Science Museum to see the Titanic exhibit and there was one photo in there of thousands of workers going to work on the huge ship and almost every one of them had a flat-cap-style hat on. I remember also my grandfather's generation, almost everyone wore a hat. But the styles changed to derbys and fedora's and other taller, formed hats. I remember my great grandfather and grandfather never leaving the house without their hat.
So, because I liked that look and it brought back good memories, I'm now sporting a nice, casual fedora-style hat. And I kind of like it. Should I bring back my bell-bottom jeans and tie-died t-shirts to go with that?

Posted by carl1236 at 8:01 PM | Journal in a Jar | Life

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February 22, 2010

The most exciting place I have ever been?

I guess this is relative to the experience I've had in each place. I've been to the east coast, west coast, Florida, Texas, Canada, Germany, and to multiple states visiting attractions and working.
I really enjoyed biking, kayaking and swimming in Lake Superior. I also really enjoyed hiking at 9000 feet in the mountains of New Mexico. I also really enjoyed running on the beach in California. And when I went to Germany I really enjoyed the thrill of speaking in German and seeing centuries-old castles.
What makes all of this interesting to me is not necessarily the place, but the experience. I've also traveled for work and found some of those places less than exciting because I was too busy working and had no time to enjoy the beauty of life in that location.
One time last summer, however, I was working in Sioux Falls, a city I don't remember ever visited before. There was a delay in work and I ended up staying over a weekend with no work to do. So I looked up events and attractions in the city. I found out there was an art fair going on and a German Octoberfest celebration. So I made my way downtown, found a parking place and spent the whole day talking to artists, eating german food and listening to german folk music. It was awesome and stimulating. That experience, though it may not sound like much, ranks right up there with doing back-flips off the rocks into the icy cold water of Lake Superior and having my breath taken away. And I got to know a little more about a place that I've never seen up close. If you are from Sioux Falls, I love your city! nice downtown area.
Another experience that ranks high on my list is taking in an orchestra concert on Harriet Island in St. Paul, laying on a blanket with a sea of people just hanging out and chillin' to classical music. And it was free!
So, my next question I ask myself is, what is the most exciting place I will go to and what will make it interesting? It could appear anywhere, depending on the experience.

Posted by carl1236 at 9:39 PM | Attitude | Journal in a Jar | Life

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February 21, 2010

What do books mean to me?

Irrelevant as some material may seem, it's still something to read. Why do I read anyway? Today I am writing about what books mean to me. I read because there is relevancy in the words we write as human beings. There is relevancy in the act of expressing ourselves because we are relevant. The book, the paper, the font, and the language used are not the relevant part of the story. Susan Weinstein wrote in an article, "We are English because English isn't about books; it's about us..." It's about our conversations, debates, stories, beliefs, criticisms, poems, loves, losses and joys. Our books reflect our human lives as we see them or can imagine them. Books are relevant to me because people are relevant.
Sometimes insolent is a better word to describe some of the books I read. The author's contempt is so thick it can be cut with a knife. But that comes from somewhere and that author may be coming from a position of fear, anger or a belief in something so strongly that it is expressed with insults and force. Do I have to read this kind of material? No, but sometimes I do and I find it relevant to the human experience. Maybe if I am too shocked or insulted by the writing it is my own insolence that is preventing me from seeing the source of it.
When books, irreverent or praising march before my eyes, they are useful to me. In the case of satire pieces, paying proper respect is not desirable and rather inhibits our sense of humor. I am a big fan of satire because I think we take ourselves too seriously sometimes. I love comic strips because of this. I love reading the Onion newspaper too because they don't hold any idea or person too high to laugh at. And I don't want to take my ideas so seriously that I cannot laugh about them.
Digging into my ideology is a key endeavor for me. Books are like mirrors on what I believe and don't believe. We all form our own ideas about human life around us. Sometimes our ideology is the same as what we are taught by our religions or teachers. But I own my own beliefs because I have systematically built them over my lifetime. When I read a book I get a chance to see what I believe about how things are and how I came to where I am at.
And digging leads to introspection about my life. I am a very reflective person and I meditate on the thoughts presented in books and on my own attitudes. Books are great for bringing attitudes to light so I can look at myself. I definitely feel a certain way and react a certain way to the things I read. I experience emotions like anger, sadness, joy and surprise. Books help me to see what I believe and think about and then examine my beliefs.
All that thinking can be insightful. It can lead to solutions to my perceived or real problems. Especially when I read something that changes my mind. For instance, when I'm struggling with how to approach a problem at work or with the people in my other activities, I find that reading helps me understand and solve my problems. I recently read a book about organizational structure and it helped me understand why the top-down hierarchical model was unsustainable in our type of non-profit organization. This was a change from my normal way of thinking about leadership and decision making. Seeing and understanding why something works the way it does is a key to solving problems.
And there can be such good information available to us in books, coming out of people's real experiences. It would be a shame if the flow of information is somehow turned off, inhibited, directed or restricted. That's one thing that happens in dystopian books like Fahrenheit 451 and 1984. The internet also is a huge source of new and old information. More and more information is being put online with greater access by a broader range of people. And the format of information is changing as I type this. The time it takes new information to get to the masses is decreased to milliseconds instead of months. And this also leads to greater collaboration and better information.
As a result of reading books, my intelligence is greater than it was last year and certainly greater than it was as a child. I credit books with that. I learn a great deal from books. How could I not learn if I continuously read?
Whether a book proves good, bad, or ugly, inspiration can be sparked and I will be on fire. I wrote two novels using bits and pieces of things that I have read. And the material presented in arts and crafts books invariably weaves it's way into my creative new work. I don't believe most of the conspiracy theories I read, such as those in books like the DaVinci Code, by Dan Brown, but that doesn't stop me from being inspired by that book.
After all, my world reflects my vision and my imagination. What I create in life comes out of me. And in every paragraph and step in my life, my eyes give me meaning.That is what books mean to me.

"A room without books is like a body without a soul."
Gilbert K. Chesterton

Posted by carl1236 at 9:54 PM | Art | Attitude | Journal in a Jar | Learning | Life | Writing

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February 20, 2010

If I could spend one day learning to do something I've never done before...

I would like to spend a whole day learning how to play games I've never played before. Tonight I was at a Korean New Years celebration and dinner and I learned about some games I have never heard about. I played Jegi-Chagi - like hacki-sack and Yut Nori, a traditional Korean family game. There was also Gong-gi Nori - a five marbles game. And I arranged to play a game of Paduk or Go with a teacher there. I am excited. That is an interesting game that is full of strategy and mental challenge.
I've always loved games and still like to play chess and other games. I'm not much of a fan of gambling games though, but like to play for fun. And I realized that there are a bunch of other cultural games I have never played before. It would be fun to just take a whole day to play and learn some new games.
When I was a scout leader we did something very cool and fun with the boys. We held an overnight sleepover at the church that hosted us. It was an all-night game night and pokemon tournament. We had plenty of cards there for everyone and even those boys that did not have their own cards learned how to play in little mini-workshops and practice rounds, taught by their peers before the tournament. Then we had the tournament and prizes. We also played risk, monopoly and Pogs! There was no sleeping going on at that sleepover!
Playing is essential in life. How easily we can forget how to play.

Posted by carl1236 at 9:33 PM | Journal in a Jar | Life

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February 17, 2010

Our House, In the Middle of the Street...

I am a product of the eighties when This Talking Heads Song pops into my head when thinking about the house I grew up in...
Like the song, our house was in the middle of the block and it was a non-descriptive stick house just like all of the other houses on the block. We wanted to get away from home and my mom worked hard and needed a rest too. Maybe my house was white, or a tan color, or maybe something else. I remember helping to paint it and it took a couple of years. I also remember having to mow the two acres of grass with a push mower. It took one person about eight hours, including trimming around the trees. I remember the small bedrooms and how confining that felt before I graduated from high school, but I don't remember the color of the rooms. It was most likely white, or plain. We had a living room and family room too, but I don't remember the color of those either. There was paneling in the family room. And I think pretty much everyone's 1970's to 1980's ramblers could be described in similar fashion.
But I can say that I liked one feature of that house. It had the garage tucked up underneath the one end of the house with another garage door leading right into the basement. You could not even see the garage from the street. Above the garage was our family room where we spent most of our time watching TV and playing games.
Sometime after that era, houses were being built with the garage stuck way out front, so the garage became the focal point as you drove down the street. Our house was the focal point sitting way up on a hill of grass with flowering trees and shrubs. A half-painted rambler focal point on a beautiful lot with a park across the street that was later razed to the ground to make way for commercial progress. Our house was demolished sometime after we all moved away.
But select photos in my mind still remain. I close my eyes and I can see the rooms, the shapes, the same furniture we had, and the floors. The carpeting in the living room, the wool-like carpet tiles in the family room that we ripped up and replaced with a shag. I remember fighting with my brothers in our house. I remember getting ready to leave for the army after high school and being excited to go someplace else where the rooms were not so confining. And later, I remember helping to move my parents out of that house. I do not remember the color of our house, my bedroom or the living room. Curiously there is no color to those memories.

Posted by carl1236 at 12:01 AM | CHANGE | Journal in a Jar | Life

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February 16, 2010

The Smell of Mummy Dust

The question for today is, "What was your grandparents' home like? Did it have a certain smell or look?
I'm happy that it didn't have the smell of mummy dust, as described in the book I'm currently reading. In Main Street by Sinclair Lewis, Carol goes to visit one of the queens of the small midwestern town. Sinclair Lewis uses such vivid thought-words in his writing, that even if I don't know what the smell of mummy dust smells like, I know it's old and dusty and stale.
He writes, "The age of houses, like the age of men, has small relation to their years. The dull-green cottage of the good Widow Bogart was twenty years old, but it had the antiquity of Cheops, and the smell of mummy-dust. It's neatness rebuked the street....The hallway was dismayingly scrubbed; the kitchen was an exercise in mathematics, with problems worked out in equidistant chairs."
The only smell I can remember from any of my grandparents houses was the unique smell of mothballs which seemed to hang in the air, seeping out of the closets and the clothing it was meant to protect. But even so, that was not at all times. If we ever got to venture into the attic and snoop around with grandma or grandpa at all of their safely kept memories, the smell was stronger.
And then there was the neatness. My house as a child was never as clean and neat as my grandparents houses, even though my mom seemed to work at it constantly. Later when we had our own children, we discovered that there really were not a lot of hours in the day. When we visited our grandparents their houses were ready for drop-in guests.
I am not a grandparent yet, but I can almost guarantee that my home will not have the smell of mummy dust. No matter how old our house or we become it will have a gritty smell of earth ready to sprout new life in the corners where the dust rhinos gather to attack. There will most likely be incense smells lingering in the furniture and books, and pear-smelling candles burning in the kitchen. There might even be the lingering smell of the fresh, home-made italian spaghetti sauce from last nights dinner.
What I remember most about my grandparents houses though was not the smell, but the warmth and unconditional love that our grandparents lavished on us. For me that is a memory more vivid than a picture, orderliness or the smell of mummy dust. It's a memory of life being lived in a house of people that cared about each other.

Posted by carl1236 at 8:33 AM | Journal in a Jar | Life

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February 15, 2010

Games without frontiers

When I was a boy growing up in the late sixties and the 70's we played a lot of games. There were indoor games and outdoor games, and many of those games have been played by generations of people already.
You might recognize some of them...
Parchesi, checkers, chess, chinese checkers, yatze, risk, monopoly, life, sorry and various card games such as go fish, war and rummy.
These games had rules and boundaries that we had to learn in order to successfully play the game. I was in elementary school when I learned how to play chess from my older brother. I remember once getting so mad at him for so easily beating me that I tipped the board over. Even though the game had definite rules and boundaries, I obviously did not.
The outdoor games we played in our neighborhood were a little more free ranging and the boundaries not quite as defined, especially in the summer when we were off school. The image of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn come to my mind as I think about it fondly. We played all of the standard outdoor group games like kick the can, capture the flag and hide and seek. These games had rules that had to be constantly group enforced, because the whole neighborhood was our playground.
"You have to hide only in these four yards!" or "you can't stand that close to the can!" we'd yell. But other than that, we decided what to play and we ran all over the neighborhood. In other games without defined rules or boundaries, we scaled fences, crawled under fences, crept through hedges and hunted each other with toy guns and flashlights. And mimicking some of our favorite heroes that we read about in books, such as the hardy boys, we hunted all over the neighborhood for clues to a mystery we made up. We also built a raft and floated on the mighty Mississippi River and built a treehouse on an island. The only real rule we really worried about during those unbridled years of imagination and freedom was that we had to be home before dark. And on several occasions we discovered there were strict consequences for breaking that rule. Being grounded was a horrible limitation to our ever-expanding universe.
As I was thinking about how to write this journal entry, I thought of the lyrics to a song by one of my favorite artists, Peter Gabriel. Games without Frontiers...
"Hans plays with Lotte, Lotte plays with Jane. Jane plays with Willi, Willi is happy again. Suki plays with Leo, Sacha plays with Britt. Adolf builds a bonfire, Enrico plays with it..."
In our youth some of the games we played were about expanding our boundaries. That was true with how we played with our toys and how we began to play with girls. With our bicycles we built ramps and spread them further and further apart to see who could jump our bicycle the furthest, like Evil Knievel, another one of our childhood heroes. With girls, we wrestled with them and teased them, and found new excitement in teaching them our games.
"Jeux Sans Frontieres" Games without frontiers.
As life progressed, we found more and more that even the games that made us feel free and stretched our imagination, had their limits. Especially when caught doing something that adults didn't approve of. And when the girl we so seriously considered our girlfriend was mad at us for something we learned new rules. We did not understand all of the rules, but we were willing and ready to explore without frontiers.
"If looks could kill, they probably will, In games without frontiers - war without tears. Jeux sans Frontieres."
The older I got the more I also learned that even in games like chess and go with very strict boarders and rules, I've discovered that the limits are in our imagination and knowledge. The more I learn to play those games within the rules, the more I learn that the outcome is not guaranteed and it's often the creative, out of the square solution that wins the game. For instance once I played and beat an early computer chess game and discovered a glitch in the programming. It did not understand anything outside of it's pre-programmed strategies. When I moved my pawn all the way down on the right side of the board, it reacted very strangely and left it's defenses wide open.
It got me thinking, what games are there, that I can play as an adult that expand my mind and challenge the limits of my imagination? I can write, challenging my own thoughts and conceptions and arrange words and ideas on a page to convey a meaning. I can look at design problems with a 'what-if' attitude to find solutions that might not have occurred to me or others. When we were kids playing with our action figures, we were constantly making up the play we were having them act in. In games without frontiers, it's our imagination and known limits we are stretching. It's exploring and testing the waters of the unknown. Learning the unknown rules and how to apply them in unique and challenging situations.
"Jeux Sans Frontieres"

Now I'm going to have that song stuck in my head all day ;-) Thank you Peter Gabriel.

Posted by carl1236 at 7:32 AM | Journal in a Jar | Life

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February 14, 2010

How did your father support your family?

This is an interesting question for me, since once again I have the hindsight of growing up with my father and of having been a father myself supporting a family. And the question for me really should read more like, "What did you do to survive while trying to pay your bills and still strive for some meaningful career and life?" One of my favorite quotes is from John Lennon, "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans."
Without actually asking my father to recount his life story here, I may leave out some important endeavor in his life, but here is the general idea. Before I was born, my father was in the Air Force, stationed in Hawaii and worked as an Airplane mechanic. I believe that set the stage for future work. He's very mechanically inclined. After active duty in the Air-Force, he was a mechanic with a small airline company in southern MN. I also remember stories of operating an automobile service station with his brother in St. Paul. And when I was very young, before elementary school, he also drove milk truck in our rural farming community. At some point he joined the Air National Guard and became a sheet-metal mechanic, which is basically airplane bodywork. My dad successfully retired from the Guards after more than 20-some years. But that's not the whole story as I knew it while growing up.
My father also had an eclectic entrepreneurial spirit to try to get ahead and pay for his five children. He had a taxi-cab service, was an over-the road truck driver, was a household product salesman, a real estate agent, a volunteer fireman, policeman, and even a local politician. And my mom and dad even owned their own craft and hobby shop. Now I'm almost sure I'm leaving something out. My father was into a lot of things, and it is not surprising to me that I inherited some of that from him. Because basically my father believes in his own two hands and hard work and that he is capable of doing anything, given the opportunity. He's definately smart enough and mechanically inclined enough. And he's a problem solver; a fixer.
As I got older, moving through my school years I heard more of the discussions that took place behind the scenes, between him and my mom and others. My dad had dreams and goals, many of which panned out enough to make a life of it and have some fun along the way. A stock-car racer? He also took opportunities that came up, because that was all that was available for work. And that is how I answer this question when looking at how my father managed to survive a lifetime of paying for kids, mortgages, automobiles, insurance and all that food we consumed. "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans."
Looking back at my career, trying to raise a family I see a lot of similarities. Circumstances play a big part of a persons life and how it proceeds. I think a key for young people just starting out would be to set themselves up as soon as possible with a good education and the ability to learn. So then there are more possibilities open to them as life situations play their tricks.
I had big plans for my future, all of which detoured and morphed into something else, due to circumstances, availability of funds, or my ability to follow through with something at the time. I did have one key turning point in my life and career that took me down a path that has been very rewarding and challenging for me. It fully consumed and engaged my problem solving genes.
Like my father I also served on active duty military right after high school. Unlike my father, when I came off active duty I attended the U of M to study business. I also had a new-born son who was born on the military base that same year. I made it just about two years in college, as I saw my grades deteriorate and the pressures of earning income to support my family increased. My wife also had to work, as most people do now. After finally dropping out of college I had to find full-time work. And I did not have any marketable skills. Luckily for me, my wife's best friend and her husband worked for a manufacturing company that was hiring production workers. This actually helped in more ways than one. It gave me a year of steady work and income while I tried to figure out what I would do with my life. That production job also made me realize that I needed an education of some kind for more opportunities to open up in the future. More importantly, I needed to find an occupation that engaged my mind. Something that had meaning for me personally. I was busy making other plans.
I think I saw an ad on TV for a local technical school that focused on Architectural drafting and design. I had taken drafting in high school and remembered how much fun that was. That one idea became the spark. I could do that. When I started that school the next Fall, I was further stimulated by hand-drawing Frank Loyd Wright designs on paper. At that time in the mid 80's we had one class in computer-aided drafting. That was a spark that ignited a full-time career for me for the next twenty plus years. And I have found it continuously changing and growing with technology advances.
I've attended the U of M a couple of times, and part time while working full-time. The last time to study linguistics and the Korean language. Language is the other thread of passion woven through the fabric of my entire life. And this really has nothing to do with supporting a family, but has everything to do with being engaged in life and having a passion for something. I hope my father's life was as engaging and fulfilling as mine while raising children. It was certainly stressful at times and challenging. My father did some interesting things in life and is one of the most well-rounded, do-it-all problem solvers I know. And in my humble opinion, it's a good life to make plans while life happens.

Posted by carl1236 at 6:11 AM | Journal in a Jar | Life | Purpose

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February 13, 2010

On becoming engaged

This is about becoming engaged, which to me is the same as saying, 'We are going to commit to each other and get married.' This is not about the actual act of proposing. Who proposes or how is irrelevant in this story. What is relevant is the change in a relationship from testing the waters, learning who that person is, and why we spend so much time together, to saying, 'I want to spend the rest of my life with this person.'
In My generation and prior to that, becoming engaged meant committing for life. Now days it seems that becoming engaged, means, 'for now I'm saying I want to be with you, but I won't promise that I'm going to stick to a bad relationship just because. It's not worth living in hell.' And maybe that's a good thing.
The old man who used to live next door, before he passed away, was kind of a cranky old guy. Him and his wife slept in separate bedrooms and argued all the time. And they each had their own activities and lives. I wondered what the reasons were that they were still in that relationship. Convenience, obligation, familiarity, routine, fear of being alone, lack of resources to move on? Love? It didn't look like love to me, but as I have found, commitment is a form of love too and one part of the package of Love. I care enough to have an obligation to you.
When I became engaged, that was one of the things that ran through my mind. I asked myself, 'Do you care about this person enough to want to be obligated to her?' And I answered yes. Even today I feel a sense of commitment and responsibility that no matter what happens, I cannot abandon her. Over the past 26 years we've had our share of arguments, and had our relationship to the breaking point, but that commitment was there. We had become engaged with each other. The marriage then was a matter of making if formal and official. Luckily for us, both of us had the same ideals and engagement to each other. Sometimes in a marriage one person is engaged, while the other is not. A marriage can still fail when one person abandons the other, emotionally, mentally, physically. I guess that would be called disengagement.
We were both very young and thought we knew everything, but we did not.Here is what I remember the most about becoming engaged to my wife. I had graduated two years earlier than her from High School, and came home on leave from the Army to attend my brother's wedding and her graduation. That made me think a lot about the relationship I was building with my girlfriend. Before coming back to MN, I told a good friend that If my girlfriend accepted my proposal, we would get married. I had already made up my mind that I wanted to marry her. So to me the act of proposing was making that a formal agreement. I don't think a person should necessarily propose without first becoming committed to the other person.
So there I was, not knowing what I was really in for, but plunging in anyway. I did not think about the challenges of the future. I did not worry about if we would make it or not, or if that was even in question. But I knew this person was someone I could trust with my inner secrets and fears, and someone that I could count on to be as committed to me as I was becoming to her.
This topic is especially relevant to me as Valentines Day is tomorrow. Something to think about. I can honestly say that I am still engaged. And although it's not always easy working out that commitment to each other, it's totally worth it.

By the way, I dug deep into the center of the jar for today's topic, and this is what came up. Happy Valentines Day!

Posted by carl1236 at 8:30 AM | Journal in a Jar | Life | Love your Neighbor

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February 11, 2010

The Most Significant World Event that has taken place in my Lifetime

I have been alive for 47 years and It's possible that I'll live another 47. Or maybe not. Regardless, 47 years is enough time for something significant to happen. But if I have to choose the MOST significant world event, I'd have to say it is...
Well, I'd have to think about it a little first. There are so many to choose from...
1963...I was born - only significant on the local scene
1963...John F. Kennedy was gunned down - Certainly that was broader than the local scene and was significant. And it had significant implications in our society for the rest of my life.
And not long after that came 1968, the "year that changed the world." The war in Viet Nam, multiple assassinations, including the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and Senator Robert F. Kennedy. There were riots in the schools and in the streets. The Soviet Union rolled over Czechoslovakia and Saddam Hussein took a position of power in Iraq after a coup. And of course the Beatles were in high form. Hey Jude, don't be afraid...1968 ended with hope that was out of this world. Images from Apollo 8 beamed to households throughout the world.
And since we are talking about space, during my lifetime, we went from orbiting in a fragile eggshell, to routine flights via shuttle, to robotic mars landings and space tourism. New technology enabled the exploration of black holes and supernovas. Space stations were built and telescopes launched into space to record the far reaches of the galaxy.
Stay with me here because I'm blurring the years and mixing them all up until I get to my favorite most significant event in my lifetime. In the late 1980's new ideas were exploding all the textbooks. The Chaos Theory made it all unpredictable. The more we learned, the more we discovered that some things just did not operate within normal parameters and were downright unpredictable. And who knows what the results are going to be when we are through manipulating the gene pool. I'd say those are significant world-changing events.
Ok, you choose. I've already made up my mind. Can you guess what I think is the most significant world event in my lifetime? I'll pause while you think about it. All right, that's enough.
In the blur of human activity, natural disasters, political upheaval, environmental and human rights and rise of technology during my lifetime, I might have skipped right over it. It doesn't really matter what I think is the MOST significant world event, because on so many levels, they are all significant. The idea that a butterfly flapping it's wings can cause a typhoon on the other side of the world is significant. I see this more as a huge network of significant events that all tie into the fabric of our lives and change the world for our children and their children.
Back in 1993 a little blinking-underlined phrase was about to change our world. It was about to make it smaller and bigger at the same time. Mosaic became Netscape and it was anyone's guess what carts in our world that would upturn. The internet was born alongside of the PC revolution, which started with 286's and dial-up modems. In the early 1990's we made the switch from engineering on paper to computers. And then there were 386's and Pentiums to fuel the revolution that would connect voices across the globe. The Internet, for whatever else it is, is a connection of human beings. Even before Windows came along, I relished in the bulletin boards that allowed me to write a story together with people I had never met, each taking a turn at writing a small part. The results were fun, creative and surprisingly exciting. Then I invented the Internet. No, that's not right. That's a bad joke. But the Internet Revolution did happen, and I was there. I still am here, and it is still revolutionizing the way we think about our world. And I've heard some people say the revolution is just beginning; that there is a correlation between the millions of butterflies flapping their wings throughout the world and the significant events that happen in our world today. The next 47 years is anyone's guess. Self-cloning robots? When you are 47 what story will you tell together?

Posted by carl1236 at 12:45 AM | Journal in a Jar | Life

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February 10, 2010

How children were expected to behave

When I was a young boy there were certain expectations on how I behaved around other people and at home. Obviously it's different within each family, depending on circumstances and the parents own experiences. I think there are some generational influences on our expectations of our children also. For instance, me and my friends simultaneously were not allowed to interject ourselves into adult conversations without being addressed specifically. We also were not allowed to eat with our elbows on the table, or swear and had to take our hats off in the house. The consequences were a good scolding. And I recall several of my friends who experienced getting their mouths washed out with soap because of mis-behavin' language.
When I became a parent my expectations of how my children should behave grew out of what I knew and what I learned from other people. I can't say I was the best parent. I had a thing about my kids being disrespectful or cruel to other people. I came down harder on my children when they displayed negative attitudes towards others. I don't think I was always fair. But like all parents, we were never formally trained in parenting and we did our best with the knowledge, skills, attitudes and wisdom that we had at the time.
I read an article the other day about youth acting out or being rebellious, and it made me reflect on my own my childhood and on my children's childhood. Basically the article stated that when kids act out, there could be underlying causes that we should be aware of, like abuse, drug use, hormonal imbalances, stress or being bullied at school. And it could mean that they are really looking to belong.
When I was young and acted inappropriately, according to my parents, It was usually to get the attention of my parents or my friends. When my children were young, they might have experienced the same desire to belong. I can recommend to new parents to stay emotionally connected to their children. By connected I don't mean controlling their behavior, which never worked very well for me. Being aware of underlying causes of behavior would have been extremely useful to me. The other thing that I believe in now, is that a sense of purpose and meaning in life at a young age effects behavior in a positive way.

Posted by carl1236 at 7:53 AM | Journal in a Jar | Life

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February 9, 2010

Meet your mate and tales of dominos

Sometimes you know when something is right. Maybe not at first, but as you push over the first lined-up domino, they all start to fall in order. I'm going to tell my view of the first domino that I, or she pushed over. Maybe I can't tell who pushed it, but it fell anyway, and here we are married for 26 years.
My wife and I both attended the same High School. She was in tenth grade when I was in twelfth. But we never dated in High School. In fact we were both dating other people. But we did know each other. We were both in the Declamation Club, which was a public speaking/performance-type of club. Our meeting in High School wasn't the first domino. We did not experience our first spark through this club.
In my senior year of high school, I was going through a rough time myself, trying to decide what to do with my life after high school. I faced the situation of not having good enough grades for scholarships (A's and B's), and no money in our family to go to college. So in the Fall of my senior year, the US Army came recruiting for students. I had no plan for my future and they offered a good school, a steady job and an adventure, followed by money for college. So I enlisted in December of that year, to enter the military right after I graduated. For better or worse, I broke up with my girlfriend at the time. I did not even understand what I was doing, let alone be able to explain that to anyone. Like many people in the last year of High School, I was scared. And I was afraid I might ruin another person's life, so I pushed her away. The rest of my senior year I did not have any plans of marriage. I knew where I was going and what I'd be doing for at least the next four years.
When graduation rolled around, a lot of people I knew came to my graduation party. My wife and her friends were there also. She was not on my radar, and of course nobody was at that time. But this party was a key event to get things rolling. I got a dozen or more addresses from people who wanted to write to me while I was in the Army. And my wife was one of those people.
I graduated from High School and went to basic training at Fort Jackson, South Carolina in the heat of July. It was hot and miserable and I was busy getting my butt kicked in training. And I discovered the huge value in writing and receiving letters, so I wrote and received mail. It was really good to hear what was going on back home and tell people what I was going through. But I wasn't that great at keeping up with the writing so I lost a few pen-pals by not being responsive enough. A few survived and I continued corresponding. My wife kept writing and I got to know her better.
I did not know it at the time, but words in letters are very powerful when inner feelings are shared. Sometimes it's easier to be yourself when you are not face to face. And I liked the person I was reading about and writing to.
Those letters were the first domino. In those letters we created a comfort level with each other that led to the ability to make a commitment. Two years later we took that step when my wife graduated from High School, and I came home on leave. This time I went to her graduation party and I asked her to come back to Texas with me, where I was stationed. Obviously there are a lot of details left out, and I won't go into the rest. But I'm thankful that she kept writing to me. So, haha, with Valentines day coming up, get out your pens and paper and put it in the mail! It may start something you can't stop; Or won't want to stop.

Posted by carl1236 at 12:36 PM | Journal in a Jar | Life

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February 8, 2010

Something I'd like to do before I die, that nobody knows yet

There is not much that my closest friends and family don't know about me, and I'm not harboring any secret unfulfilled wish or desire that I will suddenly unveil when I'm sixty. I have no desire to jump out of airplanes or bungee jump or sail around the world.
I did have a dream once that I was standing in the mountains in Nepal, in the Mustang Kingdom, looking up at the sky. I had a long white beard and hair, blowing like sails in the wind. I heard the noise long before it reached me, and knew what it was. I know that sound because I used to be in the military. As I stood there like a statue watching hundreds and hundreds of Chinese helicopters flying over me toward India, tears flowed down my cheeks. The next world war was in motion.
Although I'd like to see these regions of the world, along with many other places where people I have met are from, I don't need to travel before I die. I won't have unfinished business and come and haunt you as a ghost because I didn't get to do it.
Many people may not know this about me, but I would like to see Tibet relieved of occupation and colonization before I die. I don't really want to be standing on a mountain with swarms of helicopters flying over my head in a deafening roar. I would like there to be no need for those helicopters. In that light, before I die, I'd like to make a difference in bringing peace to the world.

Posted by carl1236 at 7:44 AM | Attitude | Journal in a Jar | Life | Love your Neighbor

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February 7, 2010

The personality traits I most admire

I'm going to start at the top, being this is a list of what I admire the most in people. I'm not saying I have all of these traits either, but think that I try, and that I value them highly. I also hate to omit things from the list, because I know that I like a lot of things about a lot of people and some of the personality traits I omit, are more important at different times. So here I go, My top five, what I admire the most in you:
Your compassion. When you are aware of others around you and aware when they have issues or problems, and then you actually have a desire to help, then you are probably already my best friend. I would call you a very warm person, interested in other people, enough so that you will make time for them.
And right along side this, I really admire friendly people. Last week I went to a meetup group, with people I have never met before. There was one person who came and sat next to me and started chatting and asking questions. She was open, comfortable to talk to and was happy. She was pleasant and memorable. She was genuine and friendly.
A cooperative Spirit also ranks highly with me. I really admire people who try to resolve conflicts, who treat others with respect and love to collaborate vs. compete.
I admire creativity. Creativity is problem solving. A creative person knows how things work and can imagine possibilities. You know how to daydream, you like art, you like poetry, you like to ask questions and see different points of view, and then put them together in a way that others might not have thought about. Creative people are constantly challenging my own perspective.
Openness, or being forthcoming. When you volunteer information you are earning trust. You are obviously not hiding anything or withholding anything and people know it and feel it. I naturally feel more at ease around you because I know your motives are good. I can see them. It's in the emotions you share and your willingness to disclose your inner thoughts.
I'm going to throw in Integrity and honesty also, because it makes you genuine and real. And I highly admire that in people. You are not trying to look for loopholes, you are not scheming, you don't do or say things at the expense of others, you are not lying to make yourself look better. You prefer to obey the laws, and value and respect truth. I know I can trust you because your actions match your words.
Oh, ok, One more...A little humility is good too. Some serious walls crumble between people with a little humility.
It's interesting and meaningful to me that when I asked my friends what personality traits they admire most, many of them answered with some of the same personality traits. I shouldn't be surprised, because I have great respect for my friends and like their attitudes.

Posted by carl1236 at 8:53 PM | Attitude | Journal in a Jar | Life | Love your Neighbor

Category "Journal in a Jar"

Category "Life"

February 6, 2010


Can I say that Sundays are different? Sundays are not really any different than they have always been as an arbitrary, moving time measurement. But what I do on my Sundays has changed. Of course I have the luxury of being able to look back on a lot of Sundays in my life and see in retrospect that there was a change; in activities.
Sunday is called the beginning of the week, on our calendar at least, but for most of my adult life Sunday was the end. Many people call it the day of rest after six days of labor. I used to labor every Sunday too, for many, many years getting up early and getting ready for church. I even taught Sunday School for a year, which was a lot of work. But eventually I stopped struggling over church, and at first even treated Sunday as a day of rest. I would sip coffee and read, or meditate. I've also spent Sunday's hanging out at the bookstore or studying at the local coffee shop.
Church can be wonderful though, and I do enjoy it when I go, especially the singing and thoughtful meditations. But I wonder how many Sundays I attended church and did not remember anything, was uninspired, tired and going through the motions. At some point I decided that I was no longer going to make myself do something just because I thought I had to do it. So I ended the routine by attrition.
Has that made my Sundays different? Yes. I found other inspiring and thought provoking activities to do on Sundays, trying to get one more thing in before having to go back to work. I have to finish this project, I tell myself. Or the lawn needs mowing, the house needs repairs, and oh, I have three chapters left to read in this book. Then 11:00pm rolls around and Sunday is over. It is the end of the week.
Last Sunday I went to the Weisman Art Museum to see the exhibit on 19th Century Korean furniture, met some new friends, and ate an early dinner at Hong Kong Noodles restaurant. This Sunday I will be studying, reading, joining a book discussion group and preparing a presentation for Monday. If I were standing still, I'd say many Sundays go by in a blur, especially when I look back on them. But I think Sunday is standing still and it is me that is moving through it. What was I doing on all of those Sundays? The day is the same, end of the week or beginning of the week. The change that I can only see over time, is in my willingness to commit to any one thing on Sunday. My Sundays are days of motion. Maybe at the end of my life I will rest, but perhaps Sunday I will discover something new to do.

Posted by carl1236 at 6:11 AM | Journal in a Jar | Life

Category "Journal in a Jar"

Category "Life"

February 5, 2010

One of my favorite childhood vacations

I'm not content to just write about a fond memory it seems. Is it the period in my life, age, that makes me analyze my past and question why I have a fond memory of that experience? Maybe everyone does this at all ages, but when I stack up memories over so many years, I begin to see a pattern in what makes me happy. And that seems to be why I've unknowingly sought out similar experiences throughout my life.
One of the most fond memories I have as a child is attending summer camp at Camp J.I.M. (Jesus Is Mine) by Brainerd, MN. And yes, the wooden water slide was a thrill at that young age! It was like riding a long wooden roller coaster on a board with metal wheels down into the water. One objective was to see how far we could skip across the water on the board.
As a young boy in elementary school, this place had special meaning to me. After the first year, I wanted to go back again and again. Why? Because it was an adventure away from home. Because It was an experience of independence from my parents, and from the routine that had established itself at home; going to school, doing homework, playing in the already familiar settings. But familiarity wasn't bad, because I loved the familiarity of the place. After a couple of years attending the week-long camp, it became like a second home, and that made it more special.
Summer camp was also where I learned how to swim. Obviously at a summer camp on a lake in MN, swimming is a big part of the daily activities. The older kids were models of what rewards came with learning to swim. The swimmers who could swim well enough and pass a test, could also swim out to the diving tower, anchored not to far out, but far enough that you had to know how to swim. By the end of the first week, me and my friends all managed to get out to the tower. The motivation was to be one of the one's who met the requirements, passed the test, and seen as a swimmer, not a non-swimmer, confined to the shallow end.
I also learned about many other interesting things, like the value of working hard, no matter what the job. We all had to do kitchen duty, which meant scraping the plates into the slop bucket. Even almost 40 years ago, I was thrilled to know that our scraps were not going to waste, but being fed to the local farm pigs. Somehow that made the job more fun for me and gave it purpose. My history has shown me that I am way more motivated by things with purpose. When many kids tried to get out of their duties, I even volunteered.
At Camp JIM, I also had my first exposure to a blind person in a wheel chair. He was an amazing man who played guitar and sang and had the spirit of God in him like nobody I ever knew. His awareness and smile made me feel special and alive. I learned that physical handicaps did not have to be a barrier to happiness. One day I was playing shuffleboard by myself and he came rolling by. I'm sure he heard the whir of the little clay disk zipping across the concrete, because he stopped to talk to me, his head cocked, smile wide, as if he was seeing me with his ears. He didn't ask me if there was anyone else there. He asked me my name, and if I was having fun.
I also learned compassion for other people and the value of friendship. At summer camp the pranks were never ending it seemed. I learned did not want to participate in pranks that embarrassed other kids. I did such a prank exactly once and my best friend was so mortified he would not talk to me. I spent the rest of camp and my life remembering the trust that friendship requires. When we reveal our inner fears and dreams to others, we need to feel like we will not be betrayed to those that would take advantage of us or mock us. Real friendship implies a deeper level of trust than we have with people we work with, go to school with or meet in our daily lives. Perhaps more than anything it was the friends that made summer camp so special.
There are many more experiences at this camp that are good memories, like the campfires, the singing and the learning. Someday I should write down all of my memories of summer camp. Maybe I should revisit this camp some day, since it is still there, giving kids memorable lifetime experiences. I have a feeling many of my favorite memories will be felt by other kids in the same way.

Posted by carl1236 at 6:51 AM | Journal in a Jar | Life

Category "CHANGE"

Category "Life"

Category "Love your Neighbor"

January 5, 2010

Facebook fun

I am now on Facebook and it has presented some interesting interactions and discoveries. It all started when I decided to upgrade my phone shortly before Christmas. Is anything by chance? I saw an ad for free internet-enabled phones and the expiration date was in two days. I checked my current contract and it had already expired months ago. I switched phone companies, got a new HTC droid and verizon wireless. Once I got it and set it up, I discovered what the real power of this phone is...connectivity. Instantly I was amazed at how connected with people I can be. Because it's easy to access google, I decided to switch email to gmail so I could get that on my phone. I then set up google docs so I could read and edit those on my phone.
Then a friend told me how she connected with so many old friends on facebook. I never had a desire to be on facebook, but then a couple other friends said they were on facebook too and I decided to try it. And of course, I had to try searching for old friends I might know.
A couple names later and poof, there they were. Two of my oldest and best friends from when I was in high-school. I contacted them and it's been fun finding out how their lives turned out over the past twenty five years. It is fun and interesting and I am thrilled to be able to reconnect after so long. I also have a lot of observations about this experience.
Number one, is that some mannerisms never change in people. But People do change. And I have changed. I see it in my reactions and my attitudes. I am more accepting of other people and compassionate. And I see that in my new-old friends too.
Facebook is the beginning of a new adventure for me in being connected with other people.

Posted by carl1236 at 5:21 PM | CHANGE | Life | Love your Neighbor

Category "Life"

January 19, 2009

The Bubble

I hurried in from the cold rain, soaked, shivering.
The entire place was empty but the waitress seated me next to your group;
Loud, boisterous laughter, sipping coffee or tea, pontificating.
I really had no particular place to go that night, or any night.

As I listened to your stories, I was slowly drawn into your web.
Maybe you noticed me listening with my glances and expressions.
Then you asked me my opinion and it seemed natural to roll right into it.
I had already been thinking about my thoughts on your subject.
I was already snared but did not know it yet.

As the night unfolded, I was wrapped in your bubble of warmth and laughter.
It had long ago stopped raining and the shivers were forgotten.
My clothes were almost dry by the time I left!
Many memories may fail me, but that evening was one of those permanent memories,
Like sticky notes on life. The one on the fridge that says, I am not alone.
You heard my stories too.

As we changed over the years, aged, many of us had the same stories to tell.
Our lives were forever changed by each other. We were in a bubble together,
sheltered from the rain. What I did not know then, was how these bubbles are made. Life is full of them. We are part of them. We are in and out of them and in several bubbles at once. But then the bubble is larger. Warmer. More humane.

You told a story the other day and we all laughed so hard. I realized that I knew this story before the punch line, because I was there. But I still anticipated the ending, reveling in the knowledge. But it wasn’t just a story. It was lives we were talking about. Our lives. And then I realized that it wasn’t the individual stories that mattered so much. Oh they should be heard. Like you, I am an individual in my own individual ownership and responsibility for my own life and experience, and I have a unique view. But these were shared experiences. That means that I was there also and had responsibility to each of you for your experience, not just for mine. It always became much bigger than the me, myself and I. And that meant something. That mattered.

I don’t have a clue what I was doing out in the rain that night long ago. When I came in to get out of the rain, and dried out in your bubble, you were all there too. That you remember well. You told this story many times since, from other perspectives. But, it’s not the stories of individual that I remember, it’s the shared ones. Stories are always better when experienced. Because those are memories of our shared lives, how we pass through changes together. We were there on that rainy night, in our bubble, together. I remember it well.

Posted by carl1236 at 7:08 AM | Life

Category "Life"

July 30, 2008

Time again

I always say, I need more time to do the things I want to do. But I don't really need more time, I need to choose to do the things I want to do. Then my answer is, But if only I had more time to do more things that I want to do. I should devote more time to my friends and family, gardening, art, music, career goals, etc. But what happens in the span of a day, hour or minute while I'm doing something I have chosen to do? My cells change, I breathe, my muscles contract and relax, my mind thinks up stuff, my body carries out actions, etc. What we call 'aging' happens to my body. In the next moment my body is closer to reaching it's natural end. Most of the time those changes are not visible to me, but over a longer period of measurement, I notice the changes. Not only my body changes, but my attitudes and thoughts also change. Hopefully I get wiser instead of spinning in circles, stuck in a whirlpool.
Many people ask, when are we going to experience world peace? The answer is simple. It's not a date or amount of time we are looking for, it's CHANGE. We will experience world peace when the change in human attitude and spirit is complete.

Posted by carl1236 at 7:53 AM | Life

Category "Life"

May 20, 2008

Where is the revolution?

Is society fragmented and unable to rally behind any one issue? Or are there just too many problems in every area of life to focus on one? It's been fourty years since the revolutions of the late sixties. I think it would be difficult to reach a critical mass these days. Civil rights? Freedom of Speech? Maybe other countries will soon have their revolution, but ours is more of an ongoing struggle of special interest groups and fragmented individuals, trying to be heard in the roar of images and sounds of conglomerate media. And the voices that do speak are relatively quiet, as if apathy steals the air. And the kids go back to their wii's, the spin machine plays all sides, and the revolution quietly stares in disbelief.

Posted by carl1236 at 7:42 AM | Life

Category "Life"

May 18, 2008

Back from the wedding

You ever see a grown man cry? Just try seeing your son get married. I was so happy and proud of him. What I said the other day is so true. Love is what makes life meaningful. That includes the love between lovers, friends and family. We saw it all this weekend and couldn't be happier for our son.
and let me tell you, this was a good wedding that went off without nearly no problems, thanks to our new daughter-law's planning and organization skills. Absolutely fabulous! I was crying all weekend. Seeing my son getting married was a very emotional experience for me.
Now I'm burning a wedding candle in their honor while my wife and I settle into dinner and remember the great weekend.

Posted by carl1236 at 7:18 PM | Life

Category "Life"

May 14, 2008

A toast to my son

When we dropped off our toddler at daycare, we worried if they would take good care of him.
When we watched our little boy get on his first school bus, we worried that they would get him there safely.
We worried about the bullies at school, the grades he made, the friends he hung out with.
We worried about the transitions from one grade to the next, from one school to the next.
We couldn’t wait until he grew up so we could stop worrying.
But then our young man moved out of our house, and we worried that he would never return.
There is a lot that can happen in life, and a lot of things for parents to worry about,
But there is also a lot to be sure about, like when we first set out on our own to find the world, to find the love of our life and reach for our dreams. Even when our parents worried about us, we had the world at our feet and the power to make it all work out.
We discovered that life’s not always easy and things don’t always work out as planned. But the love we find in life makes all the difference in the world. When we have someone to share the struggles and the joys with, our lives seem just that much more meaningful. Love enriches our lives. It makes us happy. When we look at this grown man and think about the love he has in his life now, and what that really means for his life, we don’t have to worry any more.

Posted by carl1236 at 7:29 AM | Life

Category "Life"

March 23, 2008

Castles in Castles in Castles

Why do we build castles? And rows upon rows of castles inside of our castles. With gates and moats and walls to defend against the neighboring castles, we create our kingdoms in the sand. I do it too, but forget why.

Posted by carl1236 at 7:01 PM | Life

Category "Life"

February 22, 2008

A cup of coffee, a cat on the monitor

What a simple, peaceful, quiet time it is to sip on a cup of coffee in the early morning, the cat laying on top of the monitor while reading and typing. The only problem is when the cat decides to jump off the montor onto the keyboard to get to my lap. Then this happens lsdfna;sdvn alvk 'andvpbja9bj aldsgjadfob n 09u4t0
She has five toes you know. but sometimes she hits the delete key.
What a beautiful thing it is to have a cat sitting in your lap while reading and sipping on coffee.

Posted by carl1236 at 6:31 AM | Life

Category "Life"

December 7, 2007


I know I've talked about time before. As if time is something I really understand. Over the years I've come to realize that I really know nothing about time. I feel like I should though, considering I'm getting closer to the end of my physical life than the beginning.
I will just start this by saying, "I don't have tiime to do everything I want to do."
It seems I have to either want to do less or do less than I want.
Of course time is a constant in which change happens. So what is the change happening in me? I am aging. I'm learning. I'm working out, exercising my muscles, I'm doing stuff.
And recharching my energy levels by sleeping and relaxing. So why do we have to change? I wonder what would happen if we stopped changing? Would we be dead then?

Posted by carl1236 at 12:47 AM | Life

Category "Life"

September 29, 2007

Arcosanti near Scottsdale, Arizona

I haven't been there and will probably forget this place before I am able to venture to Arizona, but it is interesting. On September 16th the New York Times had an article describing Arcosanti and Arcology, a made up term to describe this style of eco-design/living. Cosanti is an experimental city in the Arizona desert, designed by Italian Architect Paolo Soleri. It was started in 1970 and still in construction. It was designed to redesign the 'City' and our relationship to the planet.
I don't want to be critical without first understanding the principles behind it, but I will be critical with the caveat that this is just a feeling i had...
How can you design a city without people first? This City will consist of all people who buy into the architects dream of what the city should be like. Like-minded people all in their own cultish way supporting someone's vision. And that may work for a designed culture, but how about for existing urban centers that are dying? Maybe some of the ideas can be transferred, but more likely they are filtered because they probably wouldn't let joe schmoe move in and start an adult sex toy shop, or let a messy recycling operation co-exist with the chamber orchestra. People's individual dreams and the striving to reach them really seem to fuel a thriving community. Those dreams are chaotic and extremely diverse. Not so in a utopian vision of architected lifestyle. I should really learn more about the experimental city, but this feels like to me to be just like so many other architectural/social constructions, where the design is created and then the people are found to live the vision. Seems backwards to me. I would like to see planners and architects find a community and redesign it to meet whatever the community needs and want's, to bring them closer and help them all fulfill their own dreams, no matter how chaotic and vibrant that gets. Is that possible?

Posted by carl1236 at 5:26 PM | Life

Category "Balance"

Category "Life"

Category "Triathlons"

Category "Writing"

September 24, 2007

A trilogy of obsession

I will be doing the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) beginning in November. 50,000 words in 30 days. Enough said. I'll blog about it here when I'm going through it, beginning November 1.

I have begun to use a cool new cataloging system online to catalog all of my books in my library. Let's see, if I catalog a book a day...over a thousand books I'm sure...I might get it done before my children have to get rid of it all when I pass away. I have a whole room full of floor-to-ceiling shelves stuffed with books, containing all kinds of things that I'm interested in. I'll share the link to my Library Catalog here as soon as I can.

I ran seven miles on Sunday. I don't feel like it's enough. Enough said on that.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:27 PM | Balance | Life | Triathlons | Writing

Category "Life"

August 15, 2007

Magic Kingdom For Sale

I just finished reading all five of the Landover series of books by Terry Brooks. The premise is simple: The grass is always greener on the other side. So what happens when we take the bait and go for the greener grass and find out it's not what we expected? Make the best of it and discover that making the best of it makes us feel more alive. The fun is in the struggle.

One funny thing about the stories in these books is that many of the evil, bad characters were exiled from Landover. To where? Here in the U.S. of course. That explains a lot! haha.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:29 PM | Life

Category "Life"

June 12, 2007

Busy, busy

My training is ramping up, I've just completed my first sprint triathlon of the year, I'm taking a Russian refresher class, I'm working at the bike shop, working on vehicles, repairing my house... I'm busy every day of the week now it seems.

Posted by carl1236 at 9:05 PM | Life

Category "Life"

May 30, 2007

New Old New

I bought a motorcycle. It broke. I fixed it. It took three weeks but I had to wait for parts, twice. So I've been driving my motorcycle back and forth to work every day this week, relearning how to drive one. I had a motorcycle a few years ago and gave it away. Now I have one again. It's a fun to drive. It's almost the same kind of bike that I had before, only one year newer. So instead of a 750 - 4 Honda motorcycle made in 1978 I'm driving a 1979 Yamaha 750 triple.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:06 PM | Life

Category "Life"

May 3, 2007

The excitment of Dogs

When we come home, the dogs go wild. They spin around and wag their whole bodies! It's so funny and cute! All of life should be like this, don't you think?

Posted by carl1236 at 8:30 PM | Life

Category "Life"

April 15, 2007

Working on Bikes is Fun!

Today I cleaned and organized the bike shop, and did some basic bike maintenance on my own bike, then taught a bike class to a group of 8 ten year old boys. It was fun!

Posted by carl1236 at 9:21 PM | Life

Category "Life"

April 3, 2007

The Fat Cat has left the building

Our empty nest just got one 19-pound cat lighter. This is the same cat that we put on diet food and then found out later he was still gaining weight! After installing the secret night-vision spy cams with motion detectors, we discovered he was eating the dog's food too!
Really at 19 pounds this cat is bigger than some dogs. Kind of like a R.O.U.S. (Rodent of Unusual Size). But our cat looked and walked like a racoon instead of a giant rat. He was kind of lazy too. When he ate his food he laid by his bowl and pulled up under his chin to eat! But now he's gone. He left home with one of our children. I'm wondering if he'll miss picking on the other cats. He was kind of a bully. In fact our oldest cat now can be seen out walking around in broad daylight! So, that's it. One more departure from the family zoo. The Fat Cat has left the building, let the singing begin.

Posted by carl1236 at 8:30 PM | Life

Category "Life"

March 20, 2007

Empty Nest

It finally happened. This past weekend our nest became 'empty.' So this coming weekend we are going to totally clean and repaint that bedroom and turn it into a guest room. I'm sure we'll see more of our children then. haha.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:49 PM | Life

Category "Life"

January 21, 2007

Falling in Love

What does it feel like to fall in love and how does it start? One exercise in a writing book gives themes and has you write first lines for each theme. One of them is falling in love. I think being in love is like living life verses being born. I don't know, maybe I've forgotten what falling in love was like. Falling in love was so long ago. I must have fallen in love and not just lived in love. I must have gone through a stage when I was not yet deep in love, but getting hooked on love. Several times in my relationships I've discovered new-found appreciation or saw my significant other in a new, exiting light. Was that falling in love again? It could be. Can people fall in love again and again? Maybe instead of falling in love, we are living in love and renewing the excitement and energy of falling in love. Either way it's ok with me.

Posted by carl1236 at 8:11 PM | Life

Category "Life"

December 15, 2006

Where do dreams happen?

The happening of a dream is in the struggle for it. In a dream I studied Korean for dozens of years and woke up one day in Korea and realized that I have never left, but my flight for America leaves in two hours and I still can't remember the phrase for "Where is the hotel?" Then on the flight to America I pulled out my RUSSIAN phrase book and began rehearsing the lines. It all seemed so natural, until the plane landed in America, the jolt startled me and I woke up in my bed in St. Petersburg. Wow, what a strange dream I thought. I must have drank a little too much the night before. I shook it off, made a cup of turkish coffee and began to read the newspaper. I thought there was something odd about the paper but couldn't place it. I just kept reading and enjoying the words as if they were old friends. I looked at the date on the paper and realized it would soon be Sylvester and I was expected to go with Tomas to a party. I really didn't feel like it. I stil felt hung over, and a little rattled by my dreams. Everything seemed to be going in slow motion.
I thought that I should really get out of this rut i'm in. Maybe take a trip across Russia to Korea or something. That would be fantastic! But I would have to study Russian and Korean first in order to get along in those countries. Where would I even begin? Then I remembered the Russian phrase book in my pocket. When I reached in I pulled out my passport and the phrase book. I didn't remember getting my passport to Russia and Korea but there It was. I began feverishly studying every word in the phrase book. I was devouring the words like they were my only source of sustenance. And I was still hungry for more. After a while, not even realizing how much time had passed I was gently awaken by a steward. Sir, we are almost about to land, please buckle your seatbelt. I felt a sickening feeling in my stomach and sweat was beading up on my forhead. About to land? Where? The last thing I knew I was in my hometown of Muenster, Germany, reading the paper. I tried to call for the steward but they all seemed to be gone. For an extremely long time, the plane circled preparing to land. I waited, I looked for clues, but nothing helped. I asked the passenger next to me what was going on and she responded that I must be crazy, and how could a person get on a plane and not know where they were going? "It's a long flight to Korea, you'd better get some sleep, she said." Somehow I was on my way back home. I didn't even remember the trip to America. I remembered some weird dream about drinking vodka and waking up with a hangover. The plane circled around but wasn't landing. I was beginning to worry. When the plane finally landed I saw the familiar sights of Seoul. I could smell it, and almost taste grandmother's kimchi. I thought, some day I will have to go back to America, but I'm glad to be home. The sun came up and I slowly woke up. Shaking my head I shut off the tv and went to bed. The TVK, Korean news had just ended and my Korean flashcards had fallen all over the floor. I had stayed up studying too late and now I was really tired. Good thing it was Saturday. I have the weirdest dreams when I eat too much kimchi. But it tastes so good!
In life sometimes we don't know where we are going to land so it's best to practice our dreams every day. Then it won't matter which flight we get on, we'll be ready when it happens. We cannot feel unprepared for the future because we are making it as we live the present. The plane will land just the same and the flight will already be done. Life is a process and dreams happen as part of the process of living. One day we wake up and realize that, yes, we really had a good life. There was nothing to fear after all. Wow, but it was fun!

Posted by carl1236 at 10:56 PM | Life

Category "Life"

December 13, 2006


There are a lot of things we can do in life. And a lot of things are worthwile to do. Well, practically anything we can think of can be worthwhile. We have a lot of energy to put into things in life. Usually we have much more energy than we think we do. Consider what we go through at some of the jobs we do. Or the volunteer work we do on top of our jobs. Or the family activities we do. Or the 'fun' activities we do. We put a lot of energy into things. Do we have an unlimited supply of energy or do we use it up? I think we have renewable energy. We can recharge ourselves. Sometimes it's one spark that ignites our interest and enthusiasm.
It makes sense then to look for those sparks and be aware of what it is that sparks our imagination and passion.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:19 PM | Life

Category "Life"

November 21, 2006

A meaning of life

I was thinking about why we are here, in this life. Most people ask why at some point in life. Many people create elaborate theories about the meaning of life. But one of the most fundamental reasons we are alive is to carry on the species. We are living creatures like all of the other living creatures of this planet and we are wired to survive. To propogate the species and help it survive. Though we may not create offspring ourselves, we were created as offspring and will have some impact on this world and the lives of others. In this way the world goes around and around, generation after generation. We exist to continue existing. A lot of our behavoir in life stems from this basic purpose of life. This is A meaning of life. How do we proceed from there? We could start by not destroying our chances for survival.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:36 PM | Life

Category "Attitude"

Category "Life"

Category "Love your Neighbor"

November 18, 2006

The experience of giving a haircut for free.

Today I gave a haircut to a friend, using my Wald haircutting equipment which I bought to give myself haircuts. After giving myself enough haircuts to pay for the clippers, I decided it would be fun to share the wealth with others. So a long time ago I made an offer to give haircuts for free. It was kind of a funny, quirky thing to do, but I did it. No one took me up on the offer until recently though when my neigbor and then my friend Eric decided to do it. Haha, this one was an easy job though because he has short hair like me and just needed a cleanup. Thanks for the great evening Eric! That was fun hanging out and chatting and having dinner and talking bikes, computers and food stuff.
Now that makes haircut number two for someone other than myself. Anyone else want a free haircut? I'm sharing my wealth. Come on. It's free. Actuallly, it was really fun to touch base with Eric and see what he was up to and to just chat. Life can be fun and interesting when we treat each other well and with respect.

For reference here are my orignal posts concerning my haircutting adventures:

Posted by carl1236 at 9:19 PM | Attitude | Life | Love your Neighbor

Category "Attitude"

Category "Life"

Category "Love your Neighbor"

September 26, 2006

Why do we need usless things like this?

One commenter on SENSELIST asked why we need museums like those listed here and called them useless. At some point there was a statement that implied these people don't have a "life." Haha, define "Life." Why do we have any kind of collecting? Many people can't see the point in stamp collecting or bug / butterfly collecting. I can see the point. Someone gets a fascination with something and becomes an expert on that one micro-facet of life. Isn't a museum some sort of collection, but open to the public? Art Musueum. There is certainly some really weird art in some of those collections. But it's still called art. Some whole art museums are dedicated to really weird art. I'm sure there is a Hocky museum and plenty of baseball museums around. What if I don't like baseball or hocky. I probably wouldn't go there. But If I did I'm sure it would be fascinating to me, because any kind of highly focused exhibit like in a museum is bound to go into way more depth than my general education would provide about these subjects. One commenter pointed out that it was definately worth 20 minutes of his time to visit the "antique washing machine museum."
I thought it was interesting that while almost all of the other commenters were jumping in with names of other museums they thought were weird, one commenter felt it necessary to critizice the need for these museums and critize the people involved in them. It's not exactly a loving attitude toward other people who have found something fascinating to occupy their time. It seems to me they are living life they way they wish. Aren't they?
Hey, Andy, Wilbur, did you see comment number 30? There is a Mushroom museum in the U.S!

Posted by carl1236 at 10:13 PM | Attitude | Life | Love your Neighbor

Category "Attitude"

Category "Life"

Category "Love Yourself"

Category "Triathlons"

September 19, 2006

Asthma and Allergies, Oh my!

Today I went to the doctor, twice, in order to get to the bottom of all of my recent health problems. I found out I am allergic to Ragweed and dust mites and that I have asthma. That explains a lot. Now I understand what I've been feeling. And like a stereotypical guy, I didn't bother going to a doctor until my friends and family got tough on me. So today I took some time to look into it by seeking professional help. And I'm glad I did. Now I have an inhaler I'm going to test and some nasal stuff for the allergies. And I have to vaccuum with a dust mask on.
My day was good overall. After my morning doctor's appointment, I got to go to the coffee shop and play a game of chess with a regular who I've only heard about. It was fun playing again! Then I picked up my prescriptions, ate some lunch and went to my next appointment. Then I ate dinner and went to a job interview. That felt really good. It's my third interview and it lasted two hours! The funny part is, I have a fourth interview with the same company! haha. Now I'm getting excited! And I feel like I really want to work there. It will be good for me I think. (for myself and others) For a while I thought I would do more good by staying, but now feel I'll do more good by leaving. make sense?

Posted by carl1236 at 8:52 PM | Attitude | Life | Love Yourself | Triathlons

Category "Life"

September 6, 2006

Fifty Things I want the world to know - 3

Everyone has heard the expression that "Life is short." And the advice goes something like, "Live it," or "So don't waste it..." It's true, our physical lifespan IS short relative to eternity, but we are each given an unknown amount of time and when it's gone it's gone. Generally when it's our time to go we go.
In this light, look at ambition, wealth and power. Why is it we work so hard for these when it's all going to vanish on us in a heartbeat? I think we forget our mortality. Like when we are children we think we are invincible. We think we will live forever and we can't wait to grow up to be like the adults we respect.
My great Aunt just passed away and my mom has cancer. As we get older we start to realize what is important, like our families. And we realize that these bodies are all going to become obsolete. Life is not really short, but exactly as long as we have. And that could be tomorrow. So today should stand on it's own merits. As I set my goals and plans for the future I'm always thinking, 'why am I doing this?,' what's most important in life?' I'd like to see everyone take a breather, slow down, think about what is really important in life. Ambition, wealth and power seem shallow and hollow when compared to losing my greart aunt and my mother.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:04 PM | Life

Category "Life"

July 28, 2006

I'm Bike Free!

Until the morning when I do something crazy like two-mile time-trial repeats, four times. But it was interesting and eye opening to ditch my bike for two days. Yesterday I walked from Har-Mar Mall to University Avenue and actually saw a lot of people out walking.
I discovered what a super highway Snelling Avenue is. It was ugly. And it's a very unfriendly pedestrian atmosphere. I had no problems walking the walk though since I've been working out. It actually felt kind of good and gave me a chance to think. Today I rode the bus. That was nice also. I got to hear a young girl with one the foulest mouths I've heard. Kind of like the stereotype of an old sailor. Except she must have been about 15. When she got off the bus the whole bus was quiet again as if everyone went back to sleep. It was a little tense in there before that as she kept trying to provoke another young lady on the bus in front of a boy. As soon as the girl got off the bus I saw her light up a cigarette. Then the other girl in the back of the bus started talking about her. She said, "I don't really like her." And the boy agreed.
So, tomorrow it's back on the bike. I'm going to miss the bus with that kind of excitement going on. Today I ran seven miles. It was fun but it almost wiped me out. Now I'd better get some sleep so I can ride in the early morning.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:15 PM | Life

Category "Life"

Category "Triathlons"

July 15, 2006

A day in the hot sun is tiring

But I didn't have to race today like about 2300 triathletes in the Lifetime Fitness Triathlon. I had it easy by going to watch instead of compete. I thought it went well and I learned a few things about Triathlons that make me feel better about trying it. I'm officially signed up for two this summer and one in September. So I'll get my chance. I hope it's not as hot as today though.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:13 PM | Life | Triathlons

Category "Life"

June 30, 2006

Clearing out the old only to refill the hole

I don't know if it's supposed to work like this but it did. I had to clean out my garage and throw out a bunch of stuff in order to make room for some more things I brought home. So now my garage is neatly stuffed full again. Part of the reason is that I cleared out my art studio and brought everything home. Craftstravaganza is coming up on July eighth so I have to get ready for that this week.

Note to self: Bicycles and Bicycle stuff seems to be accumulating in the garage. I had better purge and organize.

Posted by carl1236 at 9:23 PM | Life

Category "Life"

June 25, 2006

Frantic Lives

Time and Life. Very deep subjuct. I noticed how frantic my day was, and how much stuff I did and didn't get done. For instance, I spent all day doing bicycle related things and didn't mow my lawn. Now tomorrow night I am doing cycle training and that will take up my time. Maybe if I'm lucky I'll get home early enough that I can still mow the lawn, but I'm sure I'll be exhausted then. So then it'll be Tuesday night for mowing lawn and doing some gardening.
I keep thinking about my reflections on time and still feel like I've had it all backwards my whole life. Society teaches us that time can be manipulated. Like we can "Save Time," "Take back our time," "Gain more Time," or "Not have enough time," "Lose Time," and "Run out of Time." But my time is always the same. I don't get any more or less. I only get choices about what to do with it. So basically it comes down to what I chose, not how much time I have or don't have. The real problem in life is how to choose so we are happy and healthy and love each other and ourselves. Tuesday night I'm choosing to do something good for my family and my home-life by doing the yard and some gardening. Now I just have to stick to that choice and not schedule anything else.

Posted by carl1236 at 9:47 PM | Life

Category "Bicycles"

Category "Cycle Racing"

Category "Life"

June 18, 2006

The Bike Race in Stillwater

Today I went to see the pro bicycle race in Stillwater. It was really interesting and fun to watch. It was difficult to know who the riders were, with only a general idea based on their team colors. But the announcers down below the hill did a good job of announcing the race and filling us in on who the fast riders were, who was favored to win and who was keeping their overall lead even if they didn't win today's stage.
This race FELT brutal just watching it. I had trouble walking up that hill. I did get a chance to get all the way around the course during the woman's and men's races to watch it from different angles. The speeds on the downhills and cornering were incredible and the raw power going up the hills was impressive. I had greater respect for the bike racers after seeing this race. Even the ones that got dropped from the race have my respect. An hour-long ride at those speeds on this course would have killed me, haha. Well, actually, no, it wouldn't have killed me, I would have been dropped before that happened. Not saying I'm not a good bike rider, but I just know from trying bicycle racing myself how hard it really is and how well-prepared the the athletes have to be for races like this.
Then after the fun of seeing pro bicyle races, I got to ride my bicycle back and join my family for a Father's Day dinner. What an excellent day!
Oh by the way, bicycling the Gateway trail is a cool way to get to Stillwater. There were hundreds of bicycllists out there. It's almost exactly 6 miles from the end of the Gateway trail to downtown Stillwater at highway 36. Pretty soon though they are going to have to widen that bicycle highway to accomodate all the traffic, haha. I think the roller-bladers had the roughest time avoiding the bicylists that weren't sharing the trail very well. I don't know any statistics, but I've been on that trail several times in the past month and saw the same levels of use. Of course those were all during the weekends, but it's a hopeful sign to me that people really really like and use this trail.

Posted by carl1236 at 8:44 PM | Bicycles | Cycle Racing | Life

Category "Life"

May 27, 2006


I'm not talking about physical playing, but spiritual playing. Last
night I was delayed in getting home because I stopped to chat along the
way. The storm clouds were getting darker and moving in fast. As I was
riding my bike I overheard a few guys on the street corner talking
about it. One guy said, "Man, it's going to be a rough one!" The
sky looked ominous and the wind was picking up speed. That's when it
dawned on me that I might have to pull off the road and find a place to
hide from the downpour.
I rode past all of the structures that might provide a quick shelter
but the rain was holding back. I started up the Smith Avenue Bridge and
the clouds winked at me and flashed a smile. I rode on hoping it would
hold off a little longer. I kept pedaling faster, hoping I could still
make it home before it rained, hoping that it would blow over me and
rain on another part of the city. I felt a few drops, then a steady
sprinkle. I thought to myself, "This isn't so bad, It's like a
mist to keep me cool while I pedal harder." Then it rained a little
harder, but by then I had crossed the bridge and was riding along a
tree-lined street and was sheltered from most of the rain. I was nearly
home and I had hopes I could make a mad dash and avoid getting too wet.
I rode on. I rode out to the middle of the street to make a left turn.
That was my street and I was on the home stretch. The clouds let loose
with a thundering laugh and within a block I was totally soaked. I
backed off from pedaling, throwing up my arms, embracing the rain. It
felt so good! It felt like I was a kid again playing in the rain. I
remember how we used to rush outside when the rain came, on purpose!
That was before the acid-rain and the fear of getting our shirts or
shoes wet. That was before responsibility took hold of our senses and
taught us to walk, not run, stay dry at all costs, and to set aside play
as we work like adults are supposed to. The clouds and I chuckled a
little at my memories. I leisurely rode the last block to my house,
enjoying every drop I encountered, enjoying the wetness surrounding me,
flowing over me, rinsing my face and eyes, waking my senses, making me
feel alive and fresh. I was playing in the rain again.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:47 PM | Life

Category "Life"

May 2, 2006

Time does not move or march on

What if Time doesn't really move as we think? We say things like "Time marches on," "Time waits for no-one," and "Time flies when you're having fun" to describe our view of time. But more and more I've been thinking about these shooting stars flying through life. A shooting star wishes to stop moving just once to be able to savor time in one spot. But instead we march on as time beats a drum for us. Time stands still and observes us keeping track of our movements and achievements and creations. Time always was, is and always will be the same Time. There is no change in time, just changes in those who experience time. We move through it as if we were the ones standing still and time is the one moving. Time waits for everyone because time has all the time in the world. It is we who move on and cannot wait for time. Time doesn't ever catch up to us, because we move faster. Time is not lost but we lose sight of time because of our speed. If we could only slow down and savor time in one spot. Oh Time where did I lose sight of you? Was it this morning when I rolled out of bed to an alarm I set to get more of you, as if grasping at air? There is no more or less Time allotted to anyone. There is only more or less awareness of Time, more or less savoring of time, more or less movement through time. It is a Time that doesn't keep track of itself. Time doesn't mark the seasons or months or hours. We run through changing our form, our minds, our hearts. When will I slow down and savor the moment? Tomorrow morning I think as I stop my movements long enough to see Time in it's natural, unchanging form. In that moment I have all the time in the world.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:55 PM | Life

Category "Life"

April 27, 2006


Today I was filing and organizing. I learned the korean word for 'file folder' while I was sorting papers into them. I don't know if I'll ever use this word in the future. This is anj issue with learning a foreign language. The object is to communicate in someone elses native language in any given situation. So I have to learn every word that a native might know. I know the word for file folder in my language. I guess I learned that word sometime as a young teen. I never had a need for it before then. But now I do.
So I really believe I am the most organized now, just after the move to the new building. I was only this organized when I first started the job. Then the pressures of time and volume of work caught up to me and I lost my motivation for being so detailed and clean. I did what I had to get done. But it wasn't enough. Now I have a chance to start over and it feels good. Starting over does feel good, because I threw out a lot of stuff (recycled a lot of stuff).
Tomorrow is Friday and I'll have spent one whole week in my new office and I think I'm getting used to it now. I already like having the larger, shared lunchroom. I see more people from different departments that I've worked with than I did in the old building. It's kind of fun.

Posted by carl1236 at 8:49 PM | Life

Category "Life"

April 18, 2006

Some woman warriors in history

Hua Mu-Lan, China's most famous female warrior, fought as a man for more than ten years. In battle, Hua Mu-Lan (5th century A.D.) used her father's name as well as his armor.

Fuhao, China's first female general, wife of one emperor of the Yin Dynasty, woman general during the Shang Dynasty (1324-1265 B.C.), a wealthy ruler and military leader, led armies of some 10,000 troops.

Wu Zetian The only woman in Chinese history to rule as an emperor (625-705 A.D.):

Treiu Au, resistance fighter, female warrior (222-248 A.D.):

Posted by carl1236 at 8:37 PM | Life

Category "Life"

April 16, 2006

The world of food

Food is very intesting. People have as many varied tastes as there are foods available. Different foods come from all over the world. Food is something we could spend a lifetime learning. Human beings do not eat just for physical sustenance, otherwise we would all be satisfied with the same foods all the time. We are creative beings and our food preparation becomes creative. We flavor things to our taste. We flavor life to our taste too.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:18 PM | Life

Category "Attitude"

Category "Life"

April 14, 2006

Running a volunteer non-profit corporation

Running any business takes a lot of time. We have a non-profit 501c3 organization with a board of directors who are responsible for the welfare of the corporation. I'm the President of the corporation. It's a real business but none of the board members get paid. We are a volunteer run, non-profit. So what volunteer would be crazy enough to run a business on the side with no compensation? Because most of us have to have real jobs also. We do it because we believe in what we have here and feel like it's a good thing to keep going. We're not generating a lot of revenue but we are touching a lot of lives and making people more self-sufficient and empowered. The low-cost services and products we provide are only part of the benefit of this organization. A major benefit is the learning that goes on inside our walls. But it's still crazy because it takes a lot of time. Volunteering is like that. Sometimes we put in a lot of our life's energy, passion and time into a volunteer activity, not to mention our own resources. Why do we do it? Maybe it's just because it's a good thing to do.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:58 PM | Attitude | Life

Category "Life"

April 8, 2006

Return of the missing kitty

I got to experience another one of life's lessons over the past few days. I know I've complained about having too many pets in the house and the work and responsibility that entails, but when one of our cat's left home the other day and there was a big rain storm and she wasn't seen again, yes, I was sad and worried. I wasn't happy that she was missing. I have secretly thought that it would be nice to get rid of some pets and not have to have that burden at this time in our lives, but when it comes down to it, I don't want to lose a pet by having some tragedy befall it. It's just sad. No, I think it will be a sad day when our older cat passes away too. Tonight our cat was found in the neighbor's yard wandering around meowing. She seemed happy to be inside and came running to me and rubbed up against me and wanted snuggling. Yes, I have to admit she's a good kitty. I still wonder how she survived the rain storm and was sad to think we lost her, she returned. I'm sitting here at the computer looking at some posters my family just made up with our cat's picture, "Help me! I'm Lost..." well, it seems she found her way back home, thankfully in one piece. For an indoor cat she must have had quite an adventure. But it's good to have her back. Isn't that the way it is in life sometimes? When we lose something it brings us a different perspective. We have the opportunity to think about our attitudes and our feelings. I didn't feel jubilation over losing a pet, but sadness that something terrible could have happened to her. I don't think I will be complaining any more about having too many pets. I won't be adding any either but I won't be complaining. I think I learned a lesson about griping about something that I would not act on. I wouldn't get rid of any of our pets and they are good pets, without causing us troubles. They are affectionate and all get along pretty well with each other. Well, the rabbit gets a little amorous with the cats sometimes and we have to intervene but other than that it's a peaceful zoo. Here is the rundown: Two large dogs, three cats , one bunny and four goldfish the size of a human hand. The fish come inside for the winter but usually live outside in our backyard pond. That's how they get so large; Lot's of space to swim around. The zoo is all together again and I have to admit that I'm happy it turned out this way.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:51 PM | Life

Category "Life"

April 3, 2006

Baseline Rules

Sometimes there are baseline rules that people must follow to live in a civilized world and in harmony with each other. For instance, two high-school students in our week-long bike class were fighting and spraying chain-lube into each other's faces today and lost their priviledge to be in the class. They are lucky they didn't damage each other's eyes. And this was on their first day of class! It's a great deal for these students to be able to take a week-long bike repair class and even get a free bike out of it. But to ruin it on the first day by fighting and spaying chain lube into the face of another student? Sometimes there has to be a baseline of behaviour in our society to just get be able to participate. Many programs for youth end up being programs for the good kids, unfortunately for those that fall through the cracks. I know there are other programs that deal with kids like these two, but again, unfortunately we are not prepared to deal with them, so they cannot return. I think the rest of the week will go very well. In life how much do we miss out on when our attitudes prevent us from participating? Maybe they didn't really want to be there. Their director of the school program was notified and they may or may not have consequences beyond not being allowed to come back to our shop for our class. I think we need some baseline rules of behavior in society to get along. It doesn't mean we need to follow all the rules by the letter, because creativity often comes from breaking the rules, but there are rules of safety and respect for others we should follow as a minimum. Otherwise many things break down and people get hurt or it detracts from ours and other people's ability to learn and live and persue happiness. Then it's not just about us.

Posted by carl1236 at 9:10 PM | Life

Category "Life"

March 2, 2006

Good Blood Pressure

I guess riding bike all year round helps, because today I had my blood pressure checked and it was low and in the good range. As it was last year at this time. Good news for the continuance of my body.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:59 PM | Life

Category "Life"

February 26, 2006

Amelia Earhart

Imagine knowing that you are going to die. Imagine knowing that you are lost and your fuel is running low and you may never find the tiny island you are supposed to land on to refuel. Well, now imagine all of our lives as crossing the Pacific, with a tiny island to land on, but being lost, realizing we are going to die. Life is like that. We are going to die, but it's not until we realize that we are lost do we realize it's imminant. Until then we think we are alive and are going to make it. The fear she went through at first was like being more worried about the loved ones she was going to be leaving behind. Then hoping that people might find her, if only she could survive and they would look for her. Then acceptance that she might die. Then a prayer that it's not painful. Then just "Oh crap, here it comes. Then unconcious. Then witnessing what happened and all the reactions and how it effected specific other people what it meant.
You know, it's really difficult to predict how or when we are really going to leave this body. But it will happen. Not to be pessimistic here, but realistic. Whenever we get too self-important or lose our way, it's good to remember that this life is very temporary. If we are lucky we can have this realization before that moment right before our death is imminant. I know I will run out of fuel and I will crash in the sea, never to be seen again. But I'm still going to take that flight, because I will inspire millions of people to fly. Being the first woman to cross the Atantic has made a difference in this world. I am not there to take the glory, but to inspire. This is my legacy. So being alive still and realizing I have a legacy to leave, and that my impact is not determined by how I die, but by how I lived my life, what will I do? What will I do with my life knowing that it's limited? But I'm still going to live like Amelia. I'm going to ride my bike and fly in the sky and explore life to the fullest, and help people wherever I see the need. And it will be enough. As I crash into the ocean, I will accept that I lived and have no regrets. It's not about self-pleasuring, but being true to who we are and living according to our inner-compass. It always leads the way. And in the end, the pacific ocean doesn't scare the death out of us.

Posted by carl1236 at 8:40 PM | Life

Category "Life"

February 25, 2006

The End of Spokes Pizza, R.I.P.

I like the people and the concept of Spokes Pizza. And their pizza is good too. But sadly, tonight was their last night of business. There were a lot of people there tonight! I invited a friend to meet me there and I ran into several people I know. It was fun. I was happy to see this kind of crowd there. But now sadly, Spokes is a cool idea is down the tubes, for now. Maybe it will spring up again somewhere else. We'll see. But for now I'm going to miss it. too bad.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:32 PM | Life

Category "Life"

February 24, 2006

Spokes' Demise

Well, I'm sorry to report that Spokes Pizza is closing shop. They had awesome pizza and a great, green delivery style. So, what happened? I don't know, but I still like the idea of collectives and shared ownership. Our world is full of kingdoms and empires where the few reap the profits at the expense of the many who make it all possible. There is no justification for millionaires in this world. That is simply someone taking more than their share. Sharing in the wealth is a better idea.

Today I read an interesting related idea...In the St. Paul Pioneer Press today an ignorant woman, Kathy Vittum of North St. Paul said, "Reservations no longer a benefit to Indians. Indian reservations have outlived their purpose and ar doing mor harm than good for today's indians. The Feb. 19 New York Times article "Drug rings find havens on Indian reservations" illustrates everything that's wrong with them. They are isolated and economically unsustainable, which breeds corruption, crime and government dependence. In this era it is not acceptable to have large tracts of land where criminals can operate with impunity, especially near the borders. And with extremely limited financial resources and ever increasing government entitlement costs, we can no longer afford to subsidize them financially. There should be an expiration date for these treaties. American Indians are entitled to the same government resources as every other citizen, and in today's world that should be sufficient."

Haha. Reservations were never a good idea and never economically sufficient. That wasn't their purpose ever. their purpose was to encapsulate and make the Native American's insignificant and out of sight and out of control. Reservations were obsolete and not sufficient right from the beginning. Yes, let's expire the reservations, dissolve them and return this country to the Native Americans, who are the rightful owners that we stole it from by making treaties and lies. American Indians are entitled to their land back. That should be sufficient. Ignorance is ugly and self-centered. Yeah, you may be compassionate and see that Reservations are not self-sustaining, be we created them to take what we wanted. The guilt is all ours. We cannot repay this ever except by getting rid of reservations and letting the Native American's have their country back. Will we do it? That would be sufficient.

Why are we so arrogant and ignorant? Yet we claim to be Christ-like and truthful. It comes down to greed and power. We take what we want. This is why I love the concept of collectives where everyone shares in the profits and the losses. No-one is greater in ownership. I'm sad to see Spoke's Pizza go and sad to read things like this, ignorance and self-centered greed. Reservations were NEVER a benefit to Indians. They were a benefit to those who wanted to take power and control and ownership of what never belonged to them.

We need to figure out how to live together and share everything!

Posted by carl1236 at 9:53 PM | Life

Category "Life"

February 3, 2006

Power outage, perfect timing

Haha, tonight as I was blogging, I had my entry half done and the power went off and I lost everything! We have a little space heater by the computer and it overloaded the circuit. So, you were all spared the dribble I was writing. Now I realize it's not worth repeating.
Now I'll tell you about my plans for tomorrow. I'm going to the Bike Depot in the morning to teach a young man how to rebuild a bottom bracket and headset. Then at 1pm I'm riding over to Minneapolis for the Stupor Bowl. I don't know, it seems like fun and I hope to meet a lot of down-to-earth cool people on bikes. Registration starts at 1pm at One On One Bike Studio.

Posted by carl1236 at 9:19 PM | Life

Category "Life"

February 1, 2006

A lost and found

Sometimes we cannot explain how things happen. But we should be thankful sometimes. Yesterday I lost my cell-phone and hunted all over for it. Tonight when I came home I was walking in the living room and some silver glimmer caught my eye under my recliner. I got close to the recliner and felt this urge to search under and bihind the seat. I did and found the cellphone I was missing. It evidently fell out of my pocket and landed there. I had no idea that I even should loook there, but I followed my urge to look and there was my phone! Amazing huh? Now I have my cellphone back. Sorry if I missed your call! Talk to you soon.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:04 PM | Life

Category "Life"

January 25, 2006

Sun, Moon, Fire, Water, Trees, Gold, Earth

A Star falls past the moon,
A fire probes depths of baren womb,
A watered tree begins to bloom,
reaching up to air and sky,
to breathe and live and fly,
yearning the fire of birth,
with aching veins of gold,
longing to melt and flow,
while roots are wed to earth below.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:42 PM | Life

Category "Life"

January 16, 2006

Tread Lightly

You know, in all of life we can choose anything we want to do and have any beliefs we choose. We are changed and influenced by our environment and experiences. And one common thing in life with most people is that aging effects us more profoundly than most other experiences. We are mellowed by age or gain more wisdom, hopefully, and we begin to fall apart physically. Friday was my 43rd birthday and actually I'm in better shape than I was a couple of years ago, but the process of aging is definately taking place. When I cut my hair on Friday, I noticed a distinctive grayness to it. Then I overheard a young woman talking about men, relaying to her friend about how she would never date anyone over 40! It's a simple rule and probably a good one for someone so young. I'm not in the dating scene but you can imagine how I felt for a brief moment that I was viewed as 'Too Old.' As we grow older, we don't really see ourselves as 'too old.' We see ourselves more as we were when we were young men and women, but hopefully wiser and more intelligent.
This post is taking on a different angle than I originally intended by the title, Tread Lightly, but I think I've included a good bit of background on why I think we should 'Tread Lightly.' Treading lightly means to leave as little damage in our wake as possible. In camping terms it would mean to leave our environment better than when we moved in. Treading lightly in life and with other people usually only comes with experience and a certain amount of humbleness and respect. If we don't have that, have we really learned anything in life?

Posted by carl1236 at 2:43 AM | Life

Category "Life"

December 27, 2005

The Chronicles of Narnia

As a gift of time for myself, I bought the Chronicles of Narnia compiled in one book at the Bookstore yesterday. Actually it's not a gift of time, but a gift of the use of time for pleasure reading. There are so many choices in life and activities have to be given priorities. We can't do it all. I've discovered it is one of my missions in life to learn to make better priority choices. I don't have time to read this huge book, but it will be a good read and I've decided to dedicate a little time every night right before bed to read. This will help me wind down and relax before going to sleep also.
So to myself I give the gift of allowing myself read for pleasure. Then I'm going to see the movie. It should be really engaging, especially knowing the story and characters, like old friends. Now I'm off to Narnia. Sleep well. Sweet dreams.

Posted by carl1236 at 9:15 PM | Life

Category "Life"

December 12, 2005

Sudoku and all that spare time I have

Hehe, yesterday I discovered Sudoku, the number puzzle. It eats up a lot of time, but I can solve these puzzles now! Well, at least on the difficult level. I haven't tried the super-secret, ultra-indecipherable, ultimate-brain-twisting sudoku with one number given in each square. But that would just be evil.
Yeah, with all that spare time I have, I here there are over a million combinations. I could do them until I die, which could be tomorrow when I'm 98. I would never run out of challenging puzzles to do.
With the rest of my spare time, I have started working on some woodcarving again. Tomorrow I'm carving spoons. After those, I'm back to the eggs, then I plan on painting. And I'm practicing my trumpet again, almost daily. Fun huh? My lips are weak still but getting stronger, making the notes more clear and allowing me to play longer. That's cool. With trumpet, frequent practice is necessary to keep the muscles in shape, just to be able to play. And here it is almost midnight and I'm blogging. I have to get up for work tomorrow. haha.
dratted Sudoku!

Posted by carl1236 at 11:39 PM | Life

Category "Life"

November 10, 2005

Many Possibilities

There are many possibilities in life. It is good to dream and experiment and find what is possible. Possibilities are hopeful. It's when we feel like there are no possibilities that we feel hopeless. I hope to see possibilities in my daily encounters.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:59 PM | Life

Category "Life"

November 8, 2005

Talk to anyone who has committed suicide

From a news article about the astronauts working on the space station, to help put life in perspective:

"Some of the bolts holding the instrument in place were missing and engineers were concerned it could break free and hit the station. McArthur removed it and hurled it off into space, pretending to throw a football.
"Pretty impressive," replied astronaut Rick Linnehan from Mission Control in Houston.
Engineers expect the instrument to fly freely for up to 150 days before being pulled back and incinerated in Earth's atmosphere."

I repeat that last line... "Engineers expect the instrument to fly freely for up to 150 days before being pulled back and incinerated in Earth's atmosphere."

Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. In the grand scheme of things we are all pulled back to mother earth. Incinerated, obliterated and used as fodder or fuel. That is one of the natures of this physical lifespan. I accept that. I know it's truth. But the total picture, or whole truth is in life and love. What is deceiving to us is that we are done when we are pulled back to the earth. Of course we would fear death when we believe that deception!

Talk to anyone who has committed suicide and they will tell you. Life does indeed go on and suicide is not a solution. Immediately after the physical death we get to ponder and know the truth of what just happened. It's not over and we realize what a shame that was. Still I don't blame the football that is tossed into space when it discovers that it is not truly free and is going to burn up in the atmosphere. It has no choice but to accept it's plight. Still I don't blame the thrower, because in this case it's the self who believes that they are relieving their own suffering by escaping. There is a deep, deep sadness surrounding suicide. It is like a waste of a great gift. And we do realize it. There is an "afterlife" and we become fully aware of what we have done. It is just that way. Philosophers can debate all we want about the after life, but we all experience it and it's what comes next. The physical body returns to the earth, sucked back by gravity and the need to fertilize and replenish what was taken from it. Life goes on in the form of nourishment and renewal. So life goes on after the physical death. We can debate all we want but we all will find out. Houdini claimed that he would cheat death and send a message back from the other side. As far as I really know he has not found a way to do that, at least publicly like many of his stunts. But there is this thought to ponder: "Sometimes death happens before we die." Many people believe in life after death but still are afraid of it and don't really believe it. But when it happens we not only believe but we understand more about life. Death is a great equalizer I've heard, and we all will die, but we have not yet experienced it. We are flying footballs in space, thinking we are free, but eventually we are pulled back in to return to mother earth. That is the way of things. So eventually, with technology and flu vaccinations we may slow or stop the aging of this physical body. But sometimes death hapens before we die and life seems like more of a hell than we can deal with. Still if we try to escape it, we miss something great and feel the regret. One thing we will miss is the 'opportunity' we had in life. There is opportunity in life. Opportunity to gain wisdom. In fact that is a good goal in life. "Opportunity to gain Wisdom." That is life. It's better to gain that wisdom to now than after the fact. After we are dead and can no longer change the outcome. Missed opportunity.

Life is worth living.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:26 PM | Life

Category "Life"

Category "ZINE"

October 30, 2005

Lost and Found

Haha, I don't really know what category this belongs under, as if we can really classify and lump our life experiences into one category anyway. As I was cleaning out some old boxes of junk from ages ago, I found some pieces of history. My history from early teens through the birth of my first child was contained in pieces of paper, folders and envelopes all in a big cardboard box. When I discovered this box I was mezmorized. There were old photos, report cards from high school, get well cards, an old scrap-book filled with cards, pictures and handwritten notes about my life, and there were many other treasure objects so long forgotten. Now it's 1:40AM and I'm writing this before I collapse. It's late but I lost all track of time digging through this box! Here are two things I will share with you:

1. I found my Linoleum Block Print that I made in 1976, which I wanted to use as the front cover of my next Zine issue but couldn't find before. I was thrilled to find it. For some reason I felt like I should use this picture and knew that I had it somewhere. I stopped searching for it a few weeks ago, but here it is! Now I proceed with the project.

2. A High-school Newspaper written I believe in 1980 had an article about the gas prices. This one you have to read! It sounds like it could have been written today but these thoughts by a high-school student were penned 25 years ago!
For your reading pleasure I present you with "Cottage Grove gas Shortage" by J. O'Boyle

"In the last six months, we were led to believe by the big oil companies that there was a very serious gas shortage and that if we didn't change our driving habits and lower our rate of gas consumption we would face the possibility of a severe gas shortage.
By June, proof in the form of gas lines, rationing, gas at over $1 a gallon, stations shutting down their pumps earlier and earlier, killings in New York and California over positions in gas lines, convinced the public that there was indeed a shortage, and people tried to conserve whenever they could. By August and September, the gas situation "mellowed" out somewhat and gas was plentiful again, prompting people to return to their old driving habits.
After the increase to over a $1 a gallon, people said the "Hades" with the gas shortage, they called it an excuse for the oil companies to jack up the prices and increase their profits. Now, due to the Iranian situation, we face the same situation again, only this time it could be for real.
The gas shortage may be an illusion created by the oil companies, but it is here to stay, and there isn't much that anybody can do about it, except to live with it and try to conserve as much as possible."

Ok, now I'm delerious and going to bed. Enough archeology for one night. Those fossil fuels are not quite enough to keep me going all night! Sweet dreams. ;-)

Posted by carl1236 at 2:01 AM | Life | ZINE

Category "Art"

Category "Life"

September 25, 2005

Ukranian Easter Eggs

Today I went back to the bike depot to clean more and reorganize. It's looking much better but I kind of lost steam. Besides, I had a date with my daughter to make Pisanka, Ukranian Easter Eggs. I had to be home by four oclock in order to have enough time to do them. I got out all of the dyes, the kistka, the bee's wax, candles and some paper towels and together we began to draw on the eggs. It's interesting to note that my daughter veered away from the traditional Ukranian designs in order to do a couple of scenes with hand-drawn characters.
What are Ukranian Easter eggs? They are eggs; either chicken, duck, goose, ostrich, etc, brown or white. Brown eggs simply add a muted tone to all of the colors. The eggs are drawn on first, then using the kistka, beeswax is drawn on the egg in a pattern. The egg follows this process: Draw more lines on the egg with wax, dip the egg in the dye, wax over some more spots, then dye again. Repeat this process going from light colors to dark colors.
Traditionally the eggs mostly ended up with a black background, but I've seen hundreds of eggs that have some kind of veriation to that. At the end of the process the wax is melted off to reveal the colorful egg. The whole process takes about 4 hours. We each decorated two eggs. I did similar designs so that did cut my time down considerably.
We are setting up a display in the Ren Box for the Art Crawl in a few weeks so it's going to be a challenge getting enough of them done in such a short time. Guess what I'll be doing this week almost every evening? Yes. I need to do about 10 to 15 more eggs before October 15. It'll all work out ok. The main thing in my opinion is the chance to do some artwork with my daughter. I don't care what the end results are. The process has been great so far. The next few weeks will be very good I think.


Last night I finished two eggs completely. Tuesday night we are doing it again. I learned how to do these the traditional way using a handmade tool and candle from a very nice old Ukrainian woman who was teaching me Russian. Except I now blow the eggs out after they are decorated so they don't have a chance to explode, sending everyone running from the house. It can take years for an egg to dry out inside and many of my eggs were destroyed during the heat of the summer. Here is a photo of some of the first eggs I created years ago...


Posted by carl1236 at 11:50 PM | Art | Life

Category "Life"

September 9, 2005

Up and down

Today Im really tired physically. I have to go home now and rest. Saturday Ill be working on bikes at the shop, then doing some remodeling in my house. On Sunday Ill be sitting at a table at the St. Paul Bike Classic. Huge event! Lots of people there. Im really looking forward to it and cant wait see all of the strange and cool bikes (and people) that are there.

My energy levels are way down right now, most likely due to lack of sufficient sleep, but its always important to treat other people with love and respect. Its also important to treat ourselves with love and respect. We are more vulnerable to self-criticism when we are exhausted. Another reason I feel like I do might be because I'm sad that I cannot afford to take a class at the U this semester. I have to wait until January now and save my dollars. It's ok, but still I was looking forward to this semester. At times like these I just have to roll with it and get the rest I need and try to be extra aware of how Im treating myself and others. Life is sometimes up and down, happy and sad, heavy and light, but with a good heart filled with love, nothing is insurmountable and the dark times will pass.

On a positive note I am saying thank you to everyone who is reading my blog and who have made comments and suggestions and have been part of my life in other ways. I appreciate it. It's fun writing and meeting new friends.

Oh, yes, I meant to ask, if any of you bicyclists feel like you could help me out with an essay on anything bicycle related for the bike depot, please write it up and email it to me. I'd like to get some fresh voices on the web page. I have committed to writing 12 of these, one each month, so I'll write one anyway. I'm currently working on one called: "What it takes to commute by bicycle in the winter." If you have some favorite stories or tips you want to share on winter commuting, I can include a blurb or quote from you in my essay also.
I know there are a lot of good writers out there who read this so what do you say?
See previous essays at : and scroll down toward the bottom of the page. You can email me at either one of these emails: carl1236 or I'd love to hear from you bicycle enthusiasts, especially the ones that ride your bike in cold climates all year-round like I do.

Thanks, and have a great night!

Posted by carl1236 at 4:24 PM | Life

Category "Life"

September 5, 2005

Extending my vacation - I'm back but in denial

Labor Day weekend is over and I'm back from Lake Superior. It was beautiful there and that lake is awesome! As I said before I'm going to go to Acadia Cafe tonight so today's blog entry is about that.
I met Katey and Gordon at the Bike-in-at-the Bell and bought two copies of their CD. I gave one to my daughter, who loved it, and I've been listening to the other one. Then I found out that Katey and Gordon are leaving town and travelling around the U.S. In an email from Katey, I was told that tonight is their farewell evening in the Twin Cities and also that this unique thing they had going, Pedalling Records is being passed on to someone else. I look forward to going to Acadia Cafe tonight for a couple of reasons. First, to get to hear Katey and Gordon live. Secondly, to experience something I haven't before. It will be an extension of my vacation. Tomorrow I'll be back at work.

As a quick summary, I had a great 5 days and did some good hard workouts. It felt great! I came within 15 feet of two bear cubs but luckily no mama bear. And I did backflips off the cliffs into Lake Superior. It took my breath away.

More about my vacation tomorrow! Right now I have music to experience.

Acadia Cafe
Monday, September 05, 2005
Time: 6:00 PM to 11:00 PM
Cover Charge: $3.00
Ages: All Ages

Peddling Records Showcase presents a "Fine Engagement" Featuring: Your Loving Tiger,
Wallace Wyllie, Rick Ross (of RAWBEAST), Allen Moore, Katie and the Chicadees plus special guest appearances.
This event doubles as a send-off for Gordon and Keteya and Triples as we christen a new era in Peddling Records History as the label changes hands.
A warm welcome is extended to all.

Posted by carl1236 at 5:43 PM | Life

Category "Life"

July 14, 2005

I found my helmet

Today while sitting at work I was tired so I stretched my legs out really far, leaning back in my chair and I accidently kicked something under my desk. I swear I looked under there for my helmet yesterday when I couldn't find it. I even came back later and looked again. But it was too dark under there. I had to crawl under my desk to find out what I bumped into. There it was and I'm happy I don't have to go out and buy a new one.
But this whole thing with losing my helmet might be a sign that I've got too much going on. Now I'm paying attention to that. It happens. I'll slow down a little. Life is really not a race, though it's easy to forget that.

Posted by carl1236 at 9:57 AM | Life

Category "Life"

July 2, 2005

Too many fun things in one day

Today was a great day. I rode with the TCBC on their "Morning Glory Ride." It was a really nice 41 mile ride. We were supposed to stop at the Morning Glory bakery/cafe but it was closed. Too bad. But the people were nice and it was a beautiful route and I got a good workout in.
After returning home I watched the first stage of the Tour de France, which I had taped so I wouldn't miss it. It was interesting. But it almost brought tears to my eyes when Lance Armstrong caught and passed Jan Ulrich. It was a time trial and they started each rider one minute apart. That had to be demoralizing for Jan. Lance came in second overall, only 2 seconds behind the leader. This sends a message to the competitors I think that Lance showed up and is in good form.
Then I mowed the lawn, took a nap, rode to the grocery store on my bike to pick up some stuff to grill for dinner, worked out in the yard more and then ate. We had company come over for a couple of hours to sit on the patio and talk so that was really fun! Now I have to get to bed so I can join Jim's Sunday morning ride and eat a Cuban breakfast!
Oh, I thought this was funny: earlier in the day my daughter was driving to the gas station close to our house because she knew it was low. But she ran out of gas and called me. I rode over there with a gas can on my bike and put a gallon in. Bicycle Rescues Car. How cool is that.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:48 PM | Life

Category "Life"

June 25, 2005

The Amazing, Incredible Greenway Getaway

Today I went to the Grand Re-Opening of the Greenway Bike and Pedestrian Trail. It was simply amazing. We brought a few artbikes there to donate, listened to the opening speaches, saw the cutting of the ribbon, then rode back and forth on the Greenway a few times. We stopped and looked around at the lake for a little bit and used the restrooms. We would have had a hotdog or something, but they were charging 2.95 for a plain hotdog! Forget it. We went back on the Greenway and had some free cookies. Peace Coffee was there giving out samples and showing off their trailer that they make deliveries in. That was cool. I stopped and talked to a lot of people. They had music there also. One of my favorites was a group playing various home-made instuments. I had met one lady from the group before in the bike shop and she told me about some drums they had made from old bicycle wheels. It was very interesting to me but after that discussion I had not seen or heard anything about them. Then today I saw them in action. Very cool. Today my heart beat in rhythm as they played.
I met another guy who builds wind chimes out of old discarded bicycle frames. He's trying to get that business going but so far no-one is buying. I talked to an old guy with a big white beard riding an ancient JC Higgins single-speed, coaster brake bike. He loves it. I liked him too. He was cool. He said he's going to come and visit me in St. Paul at the bike shop sometime.
I really like the Greenway. I can't wait until they connect it to St. Paul. It will create a great network of trails.

Jim has organized Sunday morning rides so I'm going to head over to Lake Nokomis by 7 to enjoy his company again. But thanks to his great idea, I'm bringing my brand new flat-bed bikego trailer along to do some garage sale bargain shopping. After breakfast that is. I just finished my trailer right before I had to leave for the Greenway grand opening and the bright yellow paint was still wet, so I couldn't bring it along today. I'm excited to try it out for something practical. I'm going to hunt for bicycles and books and if I find something I like, I'll be able to haul it back. This trailer is 2.5 feet wide by 6 feet long and attaches to my seat post. I'ts all made out of lightweight wood, with a couple metal braces and cables and screws. It has 16-inch wheels. The whole thing only cost me about 25 dollars to make. It was worth the time!
Speaking of trailers, I saw someone in my neighborhood twice today hauling around a BOB trailer. Interesting. We had a neighborhood wide garage sale today, so he must have been looking for bargains also.

Sunday is our 22nd Wedding Anniversary so in the afternoon my wife and I are doing something special. We're going to see the new Star Wars movie. We can be pretty romantic huh? At least we didn't have a costumed-Star-Wars wedding like some people we heard about. What geeks! ;-) We have come pretty close to the Dark Side a few times, but never gave in totally to our anger. There was still good in us. We could feel it. The force was strong in this marriage. The phantom menace was exposed and defeated, balance has been restored to the Force and there a New Hope for the future.

Have a great Sunday!

Posted by carl1236 at 11:50 PM | Life

Category "Life"

June 10, 2005

A night out

Tonight we went to a dinner and one guy had a few too many drinks. It happens sometimes. The host felt it necessary to apologize for this person's behavior. I told her that it wasn't necessary for her to apologize because she was a perfect host and everything was wonderful. I know how it goes. Sometimes we get over nervous in new situations and over do it. Actually tonight I overdid it too. I ate two large plates of food and drank way too much alcohol. I don't think I made a fool of myself thankfully. I'd hate to have the host make excuses for me. She was a wonderful host and the food was great and it was a fun little party. The guy wasn't really that bad underneath.
I'd better get to bed soon though, because tomorrow I'm doing a hard training ride. Actually I've been getting between eight and nine hours of sleep all week and I can't believe the energy I've had, even when increasing my physical activities. I think the combination of heavy exercise, eating a lot of calories and exercising hard feels really good.
Saturday's ride:
"Time: 7:30 AM
Location: At the Grand Performance shop
Description: A 2.5 hour ride, including several sprints. Generally Summit to the High Bridge, winding south to Cliff Road, back through Eagan to Hwy 13, west over the pedestrian bridge along 494, up 34th in Bloomington to Post Road, through Ft. Snelling State Park to Minnehaha Falls. Up the West River Road to the Franklin Avenue Bridge. Back down the East River Road to Summit and back to the shop.
This is a hard ride, sometimes with up to 40 riders. Occasionally, the ride will break into two groups."

Then at one o'clock I'm doing a group ride from the Sibley Bike Depot to Minnehaha falls. That will be a fun, pleasant social ride. No stress. I'm looking forward to chatting with everyone and hanging out.

My brother is here from Albuquerque, NM, so we are spending about 5 hours at my Aunt's house visiting with relatives. I'm really looking forward to seeing all of them again!

It's going to be a full day tomorrow so now I'm off to bed.
Sweet dreams!

Posted by carl1236 at 9:53 PM | Life

Category "Life"

May 30, 2005

Another Emergency

I don't know, I don't really have a category for traffic accidents. Tonight when my daughter was coming home, two kids ran out in front of her so she had to slam on the breaks. One kid ran off scared and the other stood in the middle of the road like a deer staring into the headlights. My daughter stopped in time, but the guy behind her swerved and hit a sign, missing her car. The car following him swerved around his tail end and slammed into my daughters car. Her car sustained a lot of back end and rear quarterpanel damage.
After this accident my daughter felt a lot of pain in her neck and was having trouble moving without hurting. So we took her into the emergency room to be checked out. I guess there was no bone damage, and they said that her muscles were strained but she would be ok. She got some pain killers and was sent home. I'm just thankful that everyone involved in the accident is still alive.
That was my adventure for tonight.

Prior to that I had talked my neighbor into going for a bike ride with me around the neighborhood. That was fun, but how much fun should a person be allowed to have in one day. Now I'm off to bed exhausted.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:58 PM | Life

Category "Life"

May 16, 2005

Miscellaneous ramblings

Today it rained again during our Beginning Racing Program class, but this time I had a new rain jacket and I covered my shoes with plastic newspaper bags. Several people commented on my baggies but they worked fairly well and were free! They ended class early because of the rain. Ive been riding in the rain every day since last week on Monday. How about that? That also means Ive been spending a lot of time cleaning and lubing my bike. Oh boy.

Yesterday I spent several hours working on my 1960s Armstrong British-made bike. I was still removing stickers! What a pain! Now Im basically out of time. Ill have to work on it Wednesday, Thursday and Friday night.

Tomorrow night is the wheel-building class at the Sibley Bike Depot. Im looking forward to that and I hope it gives me more confidence in fixing and building wheels. It seems weve been getting a lot of wrecked bikes in as donations and mainly the only thing that is beyond repair is the wheels and maybe the fork like the one I saw today. So the skill will come in handy right away.

I heard some disturbing news today, that the president of a certain non-profit organization blew his top on Saturday at a volunteer and started throwing things around, and he did it in front of a couple customers who turned around and left. He also reportedly threatened them that he was going to open another shop for sure now and close this one down. I dont care who you are, position doesnt give anyone the right to treat another human being like crap. It truly shows his contempt and lack of respect for these other human beings.

Last night at our discussion group several of the people mentioned a book they were reading. Evidently they belong to a book reading and discussion group also. I was curious about it and the host of this meeting went into his office room and brought a stack of about 6 books that they had read and discussed since last Fall. I looked at the titles and authors and they all seemed interesting. Ive even read other books by some of these same authors. The way they described their meetings and discussions, it sounded like a lot of fun to me. I thought it was a cool idea so I might try this sometime.

I just read the 2005 Briefing on Gambling by the Joint Religious Legislative Coalition (JRLC), made up of the Jewish Community Relations Council, The Minnesota Catholic Conference, The Minnesota Council of Churches and the Islamic Center of Minnesota. Their official position is: JRLC opposes state authorization of casino gambling or other new forms of gambling and we oppose the state increasing its reliance on gambling revenue.
I assume that these organizations represent the majority of the population in Minnesota, since I think this is a fairly religious state. Im also guessing on this statement, but I think that many of the proponents of state-sponsored gambling, like the Governor, legislators, track owners, mall developers, bar owners, and others promoting gambling schemes are members of one of the churches that are represented by the JRLC. It seems to me that all of these religious organizations are wrong or there are a lot of hypocrites going to church on Sundays, hearing the message of oppose state authorization of casinos because it will create more addicted gamblers, cost millions of dollars of social costs, ruin thousands of families, and corrupt our state. and then go out the doors and do just what they were told not to do. I wonder if the church Pawlenty goes to is part of this coalition. I wonder how he justifies it to his priest or pastor who is lobbying against him. I wonder if they care as long as he keeps donating money to the church.
I like one quote from this 2005 Briefing on Gambling, which says, What do we teach our children when our state government authorizes, operates, promotes, and advertises gambling as a way to get ahead?

I played my trumpet again tonight for about 15 minutes trying to get the timing right on that song I got yesterday. I can read and play the notes, but thats where I really need practice!

Today at work we got a free fitness stretchy-band if we signed up for a 10-week upper-body muscle development program. We have to track do a set of exercises using this band 3 times per week, log it in for 10 weeks and then turn in the form for a prize drawing. Three of us in my workgroup are going to do them together at work on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. That should be fun. Well see what these simple exercises will do in 10 weeks.

Yesterday I bought some Fair-Trade Coffee and Green Tea. Tonight I tried the green tea and it was good. I also read about the Fair-Trade thing and like it.

Im going to go to lunch with my friend tomorrow and have Vietnamese Pho. I love that! That will hit the spot and warm me up after a week of getting wet every day.

Tomorrow is another day.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:49 PM | Life

Category "Life"

May 14, 2005

The Self-Sufficient Rider

My motto is Semper Gumby - always flexible. Here is a summary of today:
I got up and rode 11.99 miles on my way to the starting point of my 127 mile ride.
I got a flat tire about a mile away from the start of the organized ride.
I put a new tube in, put the tire back on and began to pump it up.
My pump broke.
I was stranded.
I carried my bike a quarter mile to a gas station.
I called my wife for a ride home.
After standing in the rain trying to fix my tire, I was cold and wet so I bought a cup of coffee and an apple fritter, then waited.
As I was waiting I talked to this wonderful old lady named June who just came into the gas station for a cup of coffee. I really had a good conversation with her and it felt like a warm, sunny June day.
My ride showed up and I went home.
I tried to fix my tire pump.
I took an hour-long nap.
I went to the recycling center with my wife to get rid of some stuff from the garage.
I went to the bike shop with my wife to buy a new tire pump, but they had a part kit for it so I bought that to fix it.
My wife saw a bike she liked and she test rode it and liked it. We bought it.
She was excited. I was excited.
We stopped at the book store on the way home, hehe. I bought a good bicycle book and my wife bought some cook books.
We had a snack and then came home.
I worked on my retro bike for one hour. (more on that tomorrow)
We ate dinner.
We went for a 2-mile bike ride (TOGETHER!!!) :-) My wife loved it.
We watched the movie, Romancing the Stone.
I had another rootbeer float.
I typed my blog entry.
I'm going to bed now.
Tomorrow I'm going to church (no work on Sundays anymore!)
In other words, it was a perfect day for a self-sufficient rider. I didn't get my long ride in but the day sure turned out great! If not for a flat tire and a broken tire pump, none of this would have happened! Amazing how things work out.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:22 PM | Life

Category "Life"

May 5, 2005

That's life

Last night I stayed at the bike shop working until 10pm. Well, some working and a lot of talking, hehe. After that I made my way home and promptly fell asleep thinking I was just resting my eyes. I woke up at midnight on the couch and decided it was too late to write a blog entry so I went to bed. That's life sometimes.
Today was a long day and I put in about 36 miles total on my bike. I went to a party in NE Minneapolis and ate so much Korean food that I thought I'd burst! Riding home after that was difficult for the first few miles. It felt very uncomfortable! But the food was sooooooo gooooood! That's life sometimes.
Tomorrow I have off from work and I was planning to go for a long ride, but now I'm changing my mind. At least if I do, I'll get a later start and do a shorter ride because it's now almost midnight. That's life sometimes.
I just read this passage from the bible, and it is amazing to me to think it was written so long ago, and we still have a problem with this in our society.
Eph. 4:31-32 - "Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other,..." Well, it's difficult to state this in more simple terms that it's written here. What part of this don't we understand?

Posted by carl1236 at 11:52 PM | Life

Category "Life"

April 28, 2005

No Plans are complete without...

It seems that no matter what our plans are, they can change. Just like the weather in Minnesota, haha. Tonight my plans were to work on my bikes, but instead we went to Home Depot to buy materials to fence in the rest of our yard so the dogs can run free and play back there without us having to watch them every second while we're working out there. It'll be nice. But I wasn't planning on doing that tonight. That was about 4 hours worth of time, including going out to dinner. hmmm. But I think all plans have to be flexible. One of the items on my to do list should be "Change plans" Haha.
After Home depot I bought two rubbermaid-like bins with covers to use as paniers for my bike, haha. Pictures will follow soon. Total cost for these water-tight grocery haulers? about 15 dollars for both. They will hook onto my rear bike rack that I installed for 5 dollars.
More tomorrow.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:25 PM | Life

Category "Life"

April 14, 2005

Going to the Emergency room

This morning I was having chest pains and I thought I was having a heart attack. The excruciating pain lasted for about fifteen minutes and as soon as I could move we went in to the emergency room. It turns out my lungs and heart and whole cardiovascular system are in excellent condition and I had some swollen, inflamed muscles and torn inter-connecting cartilidge in my lower three ribs right above my heart. The doctor gave me some anti-inflamatory medicine and sent me home to rest. Probably caused by doing too many push-ups at once yesterday, without building up. I think I will pay more attention now to how much Im doing, especially if its a new routine.
Anyway, the doctor said he wished he had my lungs and heart and veins and I suggested he ride his bike to work. He laughed and said the only bike he was going to ride was his harley. His choice.

During this emergency trip this morning, my wife, my daughter and I had a lot to think about. Often we dont think about it so seriously until we are going into the emergency room. Im thankful its not my tirme right now to go. So is my family. Even though I accept death as inevitible, its difficult to plan future things and think about what if at the same time. Today we were forced to think about it.

As it turns out, there were many other people in the emergency room that had far worse problems than me. One was a severely injured bicyclist who was hit by a car driver quickly backing out of his driveway without seeing the bicycle at all. Something else for me to think about as a bicyclist.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:58 PM | Life

Category "Life"

March 22, 2005

Living with Death

There are a lot of ways that people deal with death. Most often what we are feeling is a loss of someone close to us. Or anger at the way a good persons life was taken too soon. When we are not going through it ourselves its easy to say what a good, bad, right or wrong way to deal with it is, or even if dealing with it is an appropriate word to use, as if something is wrong with us and needs to be fixed.
I know in my mind that when people die from this physical life, they dont just disappear but are transformed into another state. The body is dissolved and the spirit or soul goes on. But thats not always comforting to us when we continue to live without the person that died. All kinds of thoughts go through my mind, like recognizing my own mortality and how I dont really know when my time will be up.
Sometimes the way people die is very tragic to us and seems unfair. Young children die of a disease, or a mother in her 30s gets breast cancer and dies, leaving her children behind or a kind, gentle man who is really doing wonderful things in the neighborhood gets gunned down a block from his house by a person in a neighborhood gang. This week a young man shot nine fellow students in Red Lake. It is tragic because it seems like they should have their whole lives ahead of them yet. But we dont always get a full life, whatever that length of time is supposed to be.
I dont know why death happens, can anyone really explain it? Can we really understand it until we go through it ourselves? Many people have tried to explain it. Sometimes these explanations can be a comfort to us. For instance, understanding that its all part of the circle of life is one way of explaining it. All living things are born, live and grow, then die and become the seed for future life. We see this in the way plants grow from a seed, then reach its maturity, releases its own seed, then die away, become mulch, which fertilizes future growth or provides food for other living things. It all happens so naturally.
But sometimes even if we can grasp and understand the meaning of life, or the intricacies of all living things in the galaxy its not comforting at all because we are experiencing pain from a loss.
I do know that we are designed to have feelings. We bond with other people, we love, we hate, and we overflow with happiness and sometimes with sadness. This is also natural. We are certainly capable of emotions and do experience them, whether we admit it or not. In my experience, its not healthy to deny our emotional experiences. That to me is a lie, which leads to more pain and suffering although we may not recognize that pain and suffering as the consequences of not living truthfully.
Up until a few years ago I did not recognize or allow for this in my life. I never made the connection between living truthfully and allowing myself to have emotions, especially sadness, grief, loss, anger, and so on, which many people often consider negative emotions that need to be eliminated. There was a trigger event that led me to my way of living with death.
I might have told some people about my experiences with being a Scout Leader or a youth leader. But I have mostly kept it to myself. For about 7 years I put my heart and soul and resources into running the program and working with the boys and their parents. This was a great experience, but also overwhelming. Even with the few others that were true hard-chargers, we couldnt maintain a quality program without sacrificing something. We kept trying to get the parents involved, but it was difficult. As a result all of us leaders put in heroic efforts to keep it going. By the time I stopped doing it, I was dedicating 3 or 4 nights per week working on something Scouting related, plus monthly campouts and a weeklong summer camp every summer. When I finally stopped doing it I wasnt relieved. I was sad. I was worried what would happen to these boys, and I was feeling guilty for stopping. When I told the few dedicated leaders that I was going to stop leading this unit, they were also devastated, but realizing the short-staffed situation we were in, no-one wanted to take over my position. The whole unit folded with about 40 boys losing out. But I couldnt continue working the way I was, and I saw the deterioration of the quality of our program so I did what I had to do. It was very sad. I was so involved, then it came to a stop. All of it. I didnt know what I was experiencing until one of my coworkers said to me, You have to give yourself time to mourn. That hit me like a ton of bricks. That was it, I was mourning my loss. When we pour our love into other people or things, we feel a loss when they are no longer part of our lives. I lost about 40 members of my family at once. I went through depression, anxiety, sadness, grief, whatever you want to call it, and didnt understand why I wasnt relieved to be done with it. I had to go on living with a large part of me missing.
Mentally I knew that these boys and their families would all move on. Some would find other programs to join. They would all grow up and become adults without my aid. But emotionally I was mourning. When I finally allowed myself to mourn and recognize and feel the loss, I eventually accepted it and was healed of my pain. And the healing process was probably faster and more complete than if I tried to deny myself this loss. I didnt just deal with it; I learned how to experience loss and to live with it.
And just as I experienced a deep loss, those boys did also. They all handled it in their own ways. I still think its an unfortunate and untimely death, maybe even unfair to the boys. But it happened. It takes time to heal hurt like that.
About 3 years into the program as a leader, an old-time scouter named Bob Plant passed away. Everyone knew him in the scouting world and I could hardly claim I knew him better than they did. I was only involved in scouting for a short time, but he was involved for something unbelievable like 30 years. Maybe Im forgetting the actual number, but it was a lot. He was well respected and helped to mentor a lot of boys and adult leaders. Bob was a woodcarver and he gave me my first woodcarving knife and took the time to show me how to use it, which I still use. But now his handwritten name is worn off the handle and the blade is worn down slightly from keeping it razor sharp as he taught me. He was also the man who got me into Scouts by telling me that he believed I would be a great leader. I spent the next seven years trying to improve my skills and myself, and be able to show him he was right. When Bob passed away, I was very sad. I felt the loss of a close friend and mentor, which he was to many people.
The boys in our scouting unit had to learn about death also. I had to set an example. Often at the same time we are trying to cope with loss and continue living our lives, we are expected to comfort others who are also experiencing a loss. What do we say that can comfort them, when we are not comforted ourselves? As far as I can see, the best answer is, its ok to feel sad and cry about it if we want. We cant always explain why people have to die at any specific time, but we can allow ourselves to recognize and feel our pain as we begin the healing process. It helps to allow ourselves to mourn while we continue living.

And then there is the recognition of our own mortality. When we see someone close to us die, we recognize at some level that it could be us. Especially if we are older and see someone younger die. I have taken this to heart. I realize Im lucky to be alive. I could have been a victim of a shooting or have been hit by a car, and I still could get cancer or have some other complications like heart disease. When I see someone close to me die, I know its real and inevitable. But thats not always easy to digest. When I was younger I had a mentality that I was invincible. Life was an endless summer. But experiencing the loss of someone we love is a rude awakening. I remember when my Grandmother died of Cancer. It was a traumatic experience for me. I was in elementary school when it happened and I had to help take care of her when they moved a hospital bed into their house. I didnt realize at the time that she was home to die and that the cancer would never be cured. I did not know how courageous my grandmother was facing that and not being able to tell me that she was going away. I cried a lot then. When we face our own mortality, most of the concerns of this life seem to be a little less important. My grandmother tried to spend as much time with us as possible, but she was so sick and weak and the radiation was killing her. When she was at home in that hospital bed, I helped feed her and helped change her bedpan. I think in retrospect that was one of the most difficult times of my life. I did learn something about helping someone maintain their dignity while dying. My grandmother was embarrassed to have her grandson help her eat and use the bathroom. And she didnt want to be remembered that way. I also learned that I would die someday also. But at that age I didnt think it would be for a long time, at least until I was old like grandma. But later as I grew I realized Grandma wasnt really that old when she died. My parents started having children when they were really young, right out of high school basically. But my older brother and I spent a lot of time in those younger years with my grandma and grandpa. I have a lot of favorite memories with my grandma. After my grandma died, I spent a lot of time with him learning how he carried on without grandma. He taught me how to make malto-meal, because that was one of the meals he could make on his own and it became one of our favorites together. I wonder how many meals he ate with Malt-o-meal and buttered bread. He also made a lot of oyster stew because he loved it and knew how to make it. I learned to love that too. Grandma used to make that.
Over the years Ive experienced other losses and have lived on without someone I loved. I know that even with the medical technology advances of today, that I could still have an accident on my bike and die, or get shot by some crazed gunman, or get caught in a building that a terrorist decides to use for a statement. But unlike before when I was afraid of my own death, a subtle acceptance has crept over me. Before, fear made me handle death more like something to be avoided at all costs. Now I have learned how to make Malt-O-Meal and Oyster Stew and get on with life. That doesnt mean I dont miss that person, it means that I accept their death as part of life and know I dont have to fear it. I only hope I can be courageous like my grandmother when I go. Or if I die from a freakish accident or act of violence, then let it be quick and painless. I would still like to maintain my dignity I think, and not be remembered as weak and unable to care for myself. In the mean time, I know that life in this form could be very short, and how I live with death is just as important as how I lived with the people I loved when they were alive. I accept it but still cry and allow myself to mourn. I miss them and keep memories of them in my mind and heart. I dont stop loving them but I realize that we wont be interacting in the same way anymore. I no longer fear their death as I did before and I have learned to appreciate the time right now that I have to live my life and try to make the most of it.

Posted by carl1236 at 5:54 PM | Life

Category "Blogging"

Category "Life"

February 25, 2005

Have no fear

Im having too much fun with my daughter's Journal Topics. Since I started doing this she keeps giving me more sheets with more topics. This last one the instructions say, If you write more than one response, you will receive BONUS POINTS! Note the emphasis on bonus points! The bonus for me is in sharing an interest with my daughter. We are having fun with this together. But she still has not shown me what she has written. I asked her recently if I could see her Journal topic responses so I could see and compare what she wrote with how I approached it, and then she informed me that she always chooses the last topic which is, Topic of your choice. haha. I so much enjoy my daughters company. I can already feel like something will be missing when she does leave home. Is this like this for every parent when their children grow up? It was like this with my son also, and its still strange not having him home, and not being able to talk with him every day when I come home from work. I know this is the empty nest syndrome and I know that we have to let our children grow up, but going through it and experiencing it is different than hearing about it. Even though it was hard for me when my son left home for college two years ago, it feels even stronger of a pull on my heartstrings having my daughter grow up. In a lot of ways, I can really connect with her. She is an artist and creative thinker. As an example of this connection we have, when I was leading some art workshops with some friends, she wanted to be there and paint with us. I was amazed at the cool things she made. She also volunteered to play some duets with me at Christmas, her on clarinet and me on trumpet. We performed for our family, but the practice together was the most fun. Well, I have to keep reminding myself that my children never really leave my heart. Things will just change and they will be doing what they dream of doing, which may take them to the other sides of the world. It also reminds me that we have to really make the most of every minute we are with the people we love.

1. What would it be like to have no fear? How so?

I feel like we have two kinds of fear. One is called respect and the other is the lacking of love. A certain amount of respect is necessary to keep us from doing stupid things that could kill us. But the other fear is not the opposite of love, but its like Hot and cold water. Its all the same stuff that we are made out of, but Fear is colder water, lacking heat. So having no fear in that sense is being full of love and we can be that way if we choose.

After writing this I realize that I dont really have to fear losing my son or daughter because I know that we are not lacking in love, so no matter what situations come up we will still love each other and life will take care of itself the same way it does now. There will just be new experiences and adventures for all of us to share.

2. If you were to adopt a different name, what would it be? Why?

Ive already been there and tried that. After I graduated from high school I adopted the German name, Johann and all my German-speaking friends called me that. Its just the German equivalent of my current name John. My Korean Language partner gave me a Korean name, but I forgot it already because it did not mean anything to me. But just the other day I saw the Russian spelling for John, which could be Ian or Ivan, but in this case it was just two letters pronounced Yan. So my adoption of a different name would really be just another translation of who I am.

Ding ding ding ding. BONUS POINTS!!! ;-)

Posted by carl1236 at 11:59 PM | Blogging | Life

Category "Life"

February 24, 2005

The Library takes on a new life

Tonight we took a major step in creating my new in-home library. We consolidated all of our cookbooks onto two shelves. 59 cookbooks and a stack of cooking magazines with all the pages tabbed. :-) mmmm. But the major accomplishment tonight was that we moved my computer into the library room, drilled a hole in the floor and relocated our network router and cable modem into the closet. All of this took 4 hours. Ouch. Now Im dead tired. Its mostly my legs though because I ran 5.5 miles today at lunch, plus rode my bike. Tomorrow night I have to clean out my old office completely, which was the dining room. Then we can have a real dining room again! Just in time for company on Sunday. haha. Nothing like deadlines to breathe life into a project!

Posted by carl1236 at 10:42 PM | Life

Category "Life"

February 16, 2005

Im gonna run to you!

Im gonna run to you
Oh when the feelings right
Im gonna run all night
Im gonna run to you"

Inspired by this blog entry on RUNNING ERRANDS and my January 24th post RUNNING OUT FOR DINNER , I decided to Run to my wife at lunch time. I ran 6.2 miles and as a reward I got a kiss and two chocolate chip cookies! How sweet. When I got back to my desk, every muscle in my body was exhausted. It was the longest run so far since I started running this year, but I did not die and actually felt ok.
Going across the bridge was really windy and cold, and my face got cold but other than that, I was warm from the exertion. When I got to my wifes workplace, I was tempted to hop on the bus and ride that back to my office, but I resisted, thinking that I will never improve if I give up so easily. So I ran back, and it was ok. Im glad I did. But that dang Brian Adams song was playing in my head the whole time I was running. I had to laugh at that. My wife laughed too and told me I was crazy. But later she told me, good for you!

Now Im off to another adventure (that I discovered while running!)

Posted by carl1236 at 5:36 PM | Life

Category "Life"

February 6, 2005

Comfy Computer Chair

I had a long day at work today, and when I got home had some great French Onion soup, did some dishes and worked on Korean studies. Then I was writing my blog, and fell asleep at the computer, haha, so this is a short blog entry before I go to my real bed. Have a great day!

Posted by carl1236 at 11:57 PM | Life

Category "Life"

February 3, 2005

Get a haircut and get a real job!

My Checklist for today

Take the old carpeting to the garbage
Take the Russian books to the University
Pick up something from the Korean professor
Buy a Korean book at the bookstore
Go to the Reuse Center to look for bookshelves
get a haircut

Things not on my list that I had to do

Go back to the Reuse Center to pick up my 8 bookshelves
Go to Menards to buy some spraypaint to paint the bookshelves
Patch the hole in my ceiling where the hanging plant used to be
Eat dinner
write my blog entry
Fix the flat tire on my bike
Work on book editing
Study Korean

Things I did not have time to do

Get a haircut
watch the new CSI episode on TV

Things I want to do but have to wait for

Read more of How to think like Leonardo da Vinci
Look at the cool german language picture book I found for 97 cents at the bookstore
Do research for an upcoming project
Watch the cycling movie American Flyers

Things I have to do tomorrow

paint my shelves
prime and paint the ceiling
make another list

Isn't a day off work fun? I'm going into work early tomorrow so I can leave early. It's going to be soooooo nice out! :-) I'm getting spring fever!

Posted by carl1236 at 9:17 PM | Life

Category "Life"

January 27, 2005

Closing time

Tonight I saw some broken down bikes in the bike Rack near Walter Library. I really cannot understand why someone would just leave his or her bike there. Maybe its too much of a hassle or they dont know what to do with it. Maybe its just not valuable enough to worry about. They walked away from them and didnt look back.
Also, I found out tonight that liquor stores close at 8pm. I dont usually go to liquor stores because I rarely drink alcohol but my Korean Language Partner had to buy a farewell present for someone and wanted to buy a good bottle of vodka. We tried the liquor store in dinky town, but they must have closed a few minutes early so we rushed over to the one by Hong-Kong Noodles and they were just about to close but we made it with about 15 seconds to spare. They locked the door behind us. It was very kind of the woman working there to let us in. Why do liquor stores close at 8pm on weeknights? Its some city ordinance. We got the bottle gift wrapped and headed back to the U. I guess I never knew that we had such a law. I knew about the state law that keeps them closed on Sundays.
My Korean Language Partner is leaving on Tuesday. Hes going back to Korea. Its a sad day. I know I am better for having known him. So he kept asking me when I would visit Korea, and I had to tell him I wont be able to go this year. Now we are planning on it for the summer of 2006. Ill have to make a commitment to it if I ever expect to go. That will be an expensive trip. Also, since he is leaving, Im going to miss the Korean conversation and having dinner with him weekly at various restaurants. I really enjoyed that time with him. Now I wont have a weekly dinner meeting with a friend. So yes, that does kind of make me a little sad. If there are any Koreans reading this, I wouldnt mind having another language partner to practice with. If you are interested, send me an email.
I promised my language partner I would send him an email at least once a month. I dont know if hell really miss my company, but while we were meeting, he worked really hard to help me with my language skills. He really wanted to help me learn and it shows what kind of a character he has. He graciously offered to let me stay with him when I go to Korea in 2006 also. I think going there will be a great motivation for me to keep learning Korean.
Tonight I talked to him about my lack of motivation for learning Korean and we talked about what it is I really liked about Korean. Contemplating this, I came up with a few things that I really liked about Korean. Some of the things that turned me on about Korean in the first place were, King Sejong the great, the ingenious Hangul Alphabet, Korean art, pottery, Pan-sori storytelling, traditional drumming, traditional Korean houses with the heated floors, the rich religious and scholarly history and the idea that Koreans had moveable type before Gutenberg. That is interesting to me. So, Im going to find some Korean history and architecture books and read more. Next week when Im at the U, Ill have to see what is available at the library.
Closing time. On Saturday morning hes coming to see me race my bike on ice. Thats one last meeting with my Korean friend. The Vodka wont ever be enough to say goodbye. Keeping in touch via email wont be the same, but all things change and in the end we are changed.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:49 PM | Life

Category "Life"

January 13, 2005

Happy Birthday

Today is my birthday. I had a really good day so I'm thankful for that. The day I was born it was 13 degrees outside. Today is a bit colder than 13, but inspite of that I rode my bike to work and I did my exercise routine and my wife and I went out for dinner and to the bookstore.
I got a little chuckle at the bookstore tonight. My wife saw a book on how to cure your procrastination and said, "I'll come back and get that book tomorrow." Then a little later I found a book on addictive behavior to help me stop buying books. We laughed at that too.
It was really cool though, because I had a 50 dollar gift card to spend at Barnes & Noble's. That was fun! Do you want to know what I bought for 50 dollars? Almost everything was on sale.
1. A book on Addiction
2. A book on books
3. An Italian cookbook with little stories - Si Mangia?
4. A book and CD on Meditation
5. A book on designing and building your dream home
6. A very large book on Painting
7. A 2005 Dog calendar
8. A novel for my wife
9. An exercise book
10. "How to think like Leonardo da Vinci - Seven steps to Genius every day.
(I'll let you know if either book number 1 or number 10 works.)

Tomorrow I'm going to ride my bike to work to show everyone it can be done safely even in negative 30 degree weather. The key is really in having NO EXPOSED skin. If you are walking or riding your bike on Friday make sure you dress properly. Frostbite happens in seconds and can effect you the rest of your life.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:15 PM | Life

Category "Life"

January 3, 2005

We are a team

Whether we like it or not we are all on the same team. Its like a cosmic joke that we should all be put on the same team with so many incompetent players along with the incredibly gifted players and all ranges of players abilities in-between. The Native Americans called Earth Turtle Island. They believed that everything is related. In the Sioux Lakota language Mitakuye Oyasin means we are all related or to all our relations. (1) The Native Americans believe that all things are alive and that we are all part of one Circle of Life and our individual well-being relies on the health of the whole. Scientifically when we dig deep into the nature of everything we see that everything is made of the same building blocks arranged in different patterns. We are all the same source of energy combined into a tree, a rock, and a person. Some people believe that no energy is ever lost, just converted into another form. Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, we all return to our creator.
When we consider the common plight of all human-beings we see that we are all in the same boat, so to speak. Until we find a way to hold off aging and death, we all eventually go through the same process. Each person on this planet is born, grows, ages, and dies.
We are all dependent on each other. No one on this planet can truly say that they live their life independent of other human beings or this planet. The food we eat contains minerals from the earth, which is fuel for our bodies. Even the sun provides life and energy for every living thing. We cannot live without it. We are dependent on the earth, the wind, the atmosphere, rain, sun, etc. We are also dependant on each other. Look around us at the objects in life. Other people made our houses, and even if we built our houses ourselves, others made the materials. Others made our clothing, and even if we sew our clothes ourselves, others made the material. Someone made the pencil we write with and others manufactured the computer we type on. Someone designed the things we use. If not for their inventions we would not have light or electricity. We did not all invent these things. We are all dependant on each other for life. We dont admit it and like to think we are independent and self-sufficient but we are deceiving ourselves if we think we are not dependent on others. Even self-made billionaires are dependant on their workers, on their lawyers, on the manufacturers of their cars and houses and jets. Take away everybody that had a hand or idea invested in everything around us and we are left with nothing but nature. We are dependent on nature. Without it we dont have the raw materials of life.
What we do affects each other. In the age of global warming and global networks and a global economy we can see the effects of this. We each think we are individuals and what we do is isolated from everyone else and it only affects our self. But this is shortsighted. When we consume natural resources we are draining the supply of those resources from someplace on the earth. When those supplies are depleted, they have to be found somewhere else, which affects other people. Our buildings are constructed of concrete and steel, which is mined from the earth. Our cars are driven on fuel. The bikes we ride are made of aluminum and steel and rubber, which are taken from Nature. The supplies are not limitless. Some are renewable. Our waste products affect others. Our air is polluted with exhaust from our factories, our automobiles and our airplanes. Our waste products fill landfills. We are running out of room to store our nuclear waste. Some effects of our actions are not seen for many years or even after our lifetimes. The way we affect others can also be positive. I used the example of the invention of electricity before. How did that one idea brought to fruition affect the rest of humanity throughout the generations since? The printing press is another example. People put their knowledge and experience into words. We all learn in schools. We are affected by what we learn. We put the information we learn into practice and it becomes knowledge. We in turn try to pass on our knowledge as information to others. Humanity is sharing this information and building on it. We all are adding to this whether we realize it or not.
In every part of the earth the struggle for power and control of territory through the history of humankind has affected other human beings. Lives were lost or spared or used. Families were affected. Everything anyone has ever done has contributed in some way to the state and conditions of our lives right now. If not for that one soldier who served the emperor in China by fighting bravely, China might have lost a key battle and another group of people like the Mongols, would have been dominant and China would not be a world superpower now. Explorers and settlers from our recent past conquered this territory, which is not the United States. Without those immigrants and settlers there would have been no westward expansion and no need to conquer another people. Each of our actions affects someone, somewhere, at some time.
The idea that we are all a team is kind of hard to imagine if we think they are self-made and self-sufficient and isolated from each other. There is a cause and effect for everything and we affect everything around us, which affects everything else. Like a chain with links, our team is only as strong as the weakest link. So when it comes to humanity, we are only destroying ourselves when we destroy part of our team, whether that is Nature or other human beings. When others suffer, eventually we suffer. The chain breaks. Our current situation in the world can only be attributed to the actions and thoughts of human beings. We do to ourselves what we do to others.
At some point hopefully we will all become more aware of our true situation and change for the better. If we want peace between people then we need to be peaceful. If we want to end poverty, we need to find better uses for our resources. Human greed and pride and jealousy are not part of this kind of change. Its our choice. If we dont do our part as part of the human race, we are letting down the whole team. We will either destroy each other or find a way to help each other survive.

1. Thorsons Principles of Native American Spirituality

Posted by carl1236 at 10:43 PM | Life

Category "Life"

December 22, 2004

I got an A!

The results are in. I got an A in my Korean Language Class. I had 93.6 percent, where 93 percent was required for an A. I am really happy about the grade, but Im not really happy with what I learned this semester. I didnt do as well on the final as I hoped, but my other work made up for it. Honestly I dont really know how I can improve on what I did, except by putting more time into it.
Im going to try blogging in Korean next semester, that will help.
Other than that, Im glad the Semester is over and glad I did well. It makes up for the agony I had staying up all night to finish homework and study. Thats rough on me at this age.
I completed it and did better than I thought I would. Now I can take a deep breath, sigh and take a rest.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:59 PM | Life

Category "Life"

December 21, 2004

More Haiku

"Now the New Year draws on,
But soon, alas! The coming year
Will be the year that's gone.

- Rosen

From the book, Haiku - Seasons of Japanese Poetry.

I specifically waited until after midnight to post this one. This could have just as easily said,
Now the new day draws on,
But soon, alas! The coming day
Will be the day that's gone.

no matter how quickly time flies, or how slowly it goes, it still goes by. It's significant enough to observe it's passing. But once something is observed, what do we do with it?

Posted by carl1236 at 12:18 AM | Life

Category "Life"

December 16, 2004

Its over!

For me this has been a horrendous semester! I finished the final exam about an hour and a half ago. All I could think when I finished was, wow. Its over. All that stress and worry and lack of sleep (doing homework late at night) has taken its toll. Now Im relieved but also so exhausted I dont know what to think. I do know that now that its over, I have to plan for next semester.
I already know Im planning on taking the fourth semester of Korean, so I had better keep practicing and reviewing during the break. Thats my strategy. Review, review, review.
Besides that there is a certain amount of freedom now to do other things. (More time!!! yay) What else will I do? Heres my list:

Tomorrow night I plan on going out to listen to live music.
I also plan on working on that BIG project I put on hold to try to complete it before class starts again.
Build a winter snow-bicycle I can ride to and from work. The racing bike wont cut it.
Get another exercise routine going so its regular.
Make a few more gifts before next week.
Talk to my friends online.
Spend more time with my family.
Write more on my blog.
Set up Korean and Russian fonts to display on my blog. I know there is a simple solution to this. Ill figure it out.
Start another blog leading up to my bike racing adventures in the Spring dedicated to cycling and the old guy, or just add a category. Not sure.
Read some books Ive been meaning to read.
Practice my trumpet more.
Haha, add to this list and not get it all done.

And the beat goes on.

So, going back to my class and final exam. I overheard many of my classmates express their worry about how hard the exam was and how poorly they thought they would do. I really felt their agony. I was worried also until the minute I turned it in. Now its wait and see. Ill know the results by next week on Wednesday. If I got an A in the class Ill be shocked but really happy. Well see. The main question I have for myself though is, What did I learn this Semester? I learned a lot I think. But not all of it was related to Korean.

I hope all of you do well on your finals! No matter what the results, dont kill yourself. Life is too short to beat yourself up. Learn from it and move on. If it was good, then pat yourself on the back. You deserve it. I know what a struggle and balancing act it can be. Good job!!!

Have a great night. Tomorrow Im planning on writing about a real-life Santa on Hopes, Dreams, and Childlike Faith The Red suit diaries, by Ed Butchart.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:08 PM | Life

Category "Life"

November 28, 2004


Well, the long weekend is winding down and in golfing terms, I hit par. Everything turned out exactly as it should have. We had a good dinner with family, and I worked Saturday and Sunday at the group home, and now it's Sunday night. It's back to work in the morning and class at night.
On Satuday night I saw a band perform in a Cafe, and it also was Par. Literally, his name is Par. He's not too bad. I got lucky though, because I didn't see him selling CD's so I thought I'd ask, and he happened to have one with him that he gave to me for free. I like bringing the music I see and hear home with me. I liked his CD also. Very nicely done.
Now, I hope this week will be below Par (better). It will be tough after a four-day weekend, but maybe it won't be so bad, because everyone will be in the same position. On Monday we'll be lucky to hit par.
So to start things off right, Have a great week everyone!

Posted by carl1236 at 9:32 PM | Life

Category "Life"

November 20, 2004

Spiritual Journey

Tonight I was browsing blogs on UThink and found this one:
This is a blog that supports a class on Spirituality, and is aimed at the acedemic study of Spirituality. The author does not limit the references to one Religion and has some good commentary and thoughts regarding some books and historical figures in various religions.
I added this to my links list on the sidebar because I read a lot and haven't read some of these listed here. I'll be able to refer back to this site as I'm reading the books and studying.
We are Spirits on a Human Journey...

Posted by carl1236 at 11:21 PM | Life

Category "Life"

November 18, 2004

A Reprieve

I'm very thankful because a lot of great things happened this week. Even when things are tough, like they were this week, some bright lights were shining and the stars aligned in just the right way it seems.
First of all, there was no class on Tuesday night, but I went to school anyway. Then on my way home, I was able to help that nice woman. Then tonight at class, we were supposed to have a large test, but the teacher took pity on us and postponed the test until Tuesday. So our whole class has been granted a reprieve! I was happy about that, because it gives me a few more days to study.
Then tonight I talked with an old friend I haven't chatted with in a long time. That was really nice. Sometimes things have a way of working out to be really good even when things look dark. Have patience and things will change. Be observent and see the possibilities, and above all that be thankful for small miracles and postponed tests!

Posted by carl1236 at 11:51 PM | Life

Category "Life"

November 13, 2004

The Unintentional Plan

Have you ever had such a perfect day that you could not have planned it any better? No matter what I planned tonight, it did not work out as I planned, but turned out even better. After work I was planning on doing work on a project. But when I got home my son had a bunch of friends over and they were all playing a game called, Catch Phrase, and they invited me to play. So I played one game with them. That was fun! Its like a cross between charades and hot potato. Then I was planning on eating a bowl of leftover Chile, but my wife said she brought a frozen pizza up for me, so I threw that in and it was great. Next, I intended on getting back to my project, but my wife got called into work at the coffee shop, so I decided to go see what all the commotion was. As soon as I finished my pizza, I was having second thoughts about going, but my daughter talked me into it. She said there was a good musician playing tonight that I had wanted to hear. But I was feeling reluctant to give up that much time tonight. I took her advice though and went. But when I got there, they were just setting up and the place was extremely crowded and hot. I got a coffee and stepped outside. I saw two people I knew there, one of them I had not seen in a long time. That was cool. Then I ended up talking with the other guy for a while outside. As we were talking he brought up another band he had seen play there that used a clarinet in their music. He said they played it in a way he had never heard one played before. So we went to his apartment so I could check it out. We got into a discussion about playing music, which brought me back to my CALL OF THE TRUMPET, haha.
He plays guitar and I listened to him talk and enthusiastically explain all of his guitar paraphernalia. He was really excited about it. It kind of rubbed off on me.
I brought the CD back home with me, and never did hear the band I went to see in the first place. Instead I listened to the CD I borrowed and loved it. (Rick Risch
Then because I was inspired by my friend and his music, I pulled out my trumpet and started warming up. My daughter heard me playing America and she comes running in with her clarinet and started playing along with me. We ended up doing an impromptu jam session! That was too cool for words. Now, you must understand, I havent played my trumpet in at least 6 months and I never was a pro at it, and my daughter had a broken reed, so my wife was snickering a little at that scene.
I PLAYED MY TRUMPET TONIGHT!!! :-) Do you recall me talking about it on August 11th? I discovered I needed a music break tonight. I played it til my lips were numb but inside I felt great!
Some days, no matter what we plan, listening to our hearts is a better plan. Two weeks from now my friend and I are planning to get together at my house for our first ever Electric Guitar / Trumpet jam session. Plug your ears!

Posted by carl1236 at 10:52 PM | Life

Category "Life"

November 11, 2004

A definitive slice of pie

I didnt eat any pie, but I used this expression because life is sometimes like a pie; many pieces and oh so flavorful. And in the same manner as one song written by Paul McCartney, Flaming Pie, these posts were written in one sitting with the speed that the Beatles often worked. According to the story Paul gives in his Flaming Pie album, the name of the Beatles came from a vision that John had of a man on a flaming pie coming to them saying, you are Beatles with an A.
From the song that came to Paul while riding along on a horse, I say to you, Everything I do has a simple explanation ... Go ahead, have a vision, Im the man on the flaming pie.

You are a soul with purpose and meaning and something to give to this world.

Index to the slices of pie:
The fish come in and other pieces of pie
The Fish come in
Learning Vocabulary
Learning Chin Falam
The loss of an hour
Leonardo da Vinci
The music Im listening to
A gift for my brother
Visiting Thailand
The call of the trumpet
Technical Support
Love Letters
A walk in the park
A definitive slice of pie

Posted by carl1236 at 6:52 AM | Life

Category "Life"

A walk in the park

Every day I walk several times with my co-workers through the park. It doesnt matter if we are busy or if its cold out, within reason, haha. We walk because we sit in front of the computer all day and the fresh air and exercise is refreshing and because its a chance to bond with each other. Over the last five years that Ive been working there, I feel like its made us a better team and more tolerant of each others mistakes. Really knowing people helps us to relate to them and to appreciate them. Walking alone helps us get fresh air. Walking together accomplishes the same thing. Even though several walks a day is beneficial to me, sometimes I give up my walk when its just me, but rarely pass up a walk with the group. That tells me its much more than just a walk in the park.

Posted by carl1236 at 6:46 AM | Life

Category "Life"

Love letters

Tonight I wrote a letter to a young college student I am helping in India. She is working on her bachelors degree. She sent me an email recently that was very heartwarming and thoughtful. I was thinking about how we effect other people in life. I hope that other people are effected in a positive way by my presence in their life. I dont want to leave a legacy or make a name for myself, I just want to write love letters. Love letters, not in the sense of romance, but in the sense of loving everyone I speak to in a way that positively effects their lives. I would like to be a person who does not damage or destroy what is in my path through life, but instead leaves people better off for having known me. So with love, I wrote back to this girl with encouragement on writing her thesis, thankfulness to her for sharing her life with me, money to help her through the rest of her school this year (she graduates in February), and I shared our family life with her, as if she were my own daughter. She has no parents and one of the ways I can positively effect her life is by giving her however much love I am capable of. Today was another good day for writing love letters.

Posted by carl1236 at 6:41 AM | Life

Category "Life"

Technical Support

One of my primary job responsibilities at work is technical support for CAD/Engineering software. This is also one of my favorite parts of my job. It comes from the pure joy of solving problems. In doing so it helps people dispel their misery. Most people dont turn to help until they absolutely have to and by that time are already frustrated. This is one way I can make a difference in life. Its a way I can use my gifts, talents and resources to benefit others. I treat technical support like training, which when approached this way is empowering to the user. Today I helped someone refresh their memory on some software they havent used in a long time and she was happy to be able to do these tasks. It also helped make this day a great day for me.

Posted by carl1236 at 6:35 AM | Life

Category "Life"

The call of the trumpet

Over the last 6 months Ive been hearing my trumpet call to me from inside its case, from inside the box I keep all of my music in. I put the trumpet aside last year for a break, and somehow never got back to playing. Busy life, other priorities. But the call is getting stronger to dust it off. Maybe since I have a couple days off from work, Ill pull it out and see if my lips can still blow a tune. Once a long time ago, in another lifetime, when I was in Junior High School I played the drums. But unfortunately I gave it up after one year of band. I used to think my older brother inherited the musical talent in our family, but now I realize that I inherited a love of music that transcends any lack of talent. I may never perform anywhere but I will certainly enjoy making music. To that end, my family doesnt always appreciate it when I get into a mood to practice the trumpet in the house. Thats why I have an electronic mute, hehe. When the call gets loud enough Ill call back.

Posted by carl1236 at 6:28 AM | Life

Category "Life"

Visiting Thailand

Tomorrow Im having lunch with my friend again at Sawatdee. Im excited not only because of the good company and the good food, but also because I get to use the first Thai language phrase I learned and the new phrase I added to my vocabulary since last Sunday: Sawatdee krap, Hello, and Ko`rp kuhn ma^hk krap, Thank you very much. One thing I find interesting in Thai is their politeness and levels of formality which is indicated in one way by adding the words Krap or Ka^ at the end of the sentence. In Korean honor and formality is appended to nouns and verbs as suffixes and infixes. There are also honorific forms of some words. Like the word for name, i-rum and song-ham. I think as an exercise in multiple language acquisition I will try to pick up Thai in the background by learning one new phrase before each visit to a Thai restaurant and trying to use them. There is no goal in mind for being fluent, just being able to use what I can learn.

Posted by carl1236 at 6:22 AM | Life

Category "Life"

A gift for my brother

Speaking of local music, Im rounding up CDs from local artists and Im going to make a package of them to send to my brother in New Mexico. It will be something he hasnt heard before. My brother is a good musician himself and had a band, plays several instruments, recorded his own demo tape, and still loves music. If anyone has some suggestions for me on good local artists, that have CDs for sale, please let me know. Hmm. I hope hes not reading this. haha, itll spoil the surprise. Or itll increase the anticipation. My plan is beautiful. I get to enjoy them first and then pass them on. At the same time, these local artists get to have their music go on a journey to the other side of the United States. Spread the joy.

Posted by carl1236 at 6:17 AM | Life

Category "Life"

The music Im listening to

Tonight I was listening to Justin Bell & Lazy Suzan, a local band. Their bass player works at my company and sold me both of their CDs for 10 dollars. What a deal! And I enjoy their music! Now Im going to have to try to find them playing somewhere so I can see them live. I like live music and local artists. Ive been finding there are many very down to earth, real people around here with a lot of talent.

Posted by carl1236 at 6:12 AM | Life

Category "Life"

Leonardo DaVinci

Im still looking at my new books about Leonardo Da Vinci. Very fascinating person. Leonardo was born in a little Tuscan hill-town of Vinci on April 15th, 1452. He lived there until he was about 13 to 17 years old, then later went to Florence. One quote I found interesting is, He is a poor disciple who does not excel his master. referring to his Florentine mentor, the famous sculptor and artist del Verrocchio. It appears he did not say this in boastfulness, but in a humble way that reflected his underlying attitude toward learning. This reminds me of one of my all-time favorite quotes, One is taught in accordance with ones ability to learn. Some people have said that the pupil can never exceed the master, but I think history has proven that wrong. Much of it might be the difference in attitude between the Master and the Pupil. A pupil doesnt think they have mastered the art and continues to learn, while the Master by definition thinks they have arrived so may slow down or discontinue seeking after mastery. Excelling our masters in life has nothing to do with the skill level of our master but everything to do with our own attitude and willingness to observe and learn and grow.

Posted by carl1236 at 6:06 AM | Life

Category "Life"


Im finally listening to my VocabuLearn CDs I bought last Friday night. All they are is a bunch of random words spoken first in English then in Korean. Before I did not think this was a good way to learn, but now I think this is a great way to review. Since my vocabulary knowledge is greater now than when I first started I recognize many of the words and when I hear a word I cant remember how to say, when they speak it I think, oh yes, thats it! and it sinks in a little deeper

Posted by carl1236 at 6:01 AM | Life

Category "Life"

The loss of an hour

Daylight savings time. Sure we have more light in the morning but its dark when I get off work! Ive heard many people say they are affected by this darkness. Shorter days, less light, a little depression. I dont think Im really effected by that too much, otherwise I wouldnt have so much fun riding my bike in the dark, but its a serious thing for some people. If you find yourself a little blue lately, maybe get some grow lights or try a tanning booth (not overcooking yourself).
The other loss of an hour that happened to me tonight was in writing this blog. I made the mistake of typing it right into the editing form instead of in Microsoft Word like I usually do. After an hour of typing, my browser crashed and I lost it all. At least with Word, if the computer crashes, word saves the text that you were typing. But the good news is that I was able to rewrite everything much more efficiently the second time around, haha.

Posted by carl1236 at 5:55 AM | Life

Category "Life"


Tonight I rode my bike with Dan again. Dan is a super athlete and a great guy. I talked about the concept of drafting in cycling before. The literal meaning of that term is to follow closely behind someone so they block the wind and you get pulled along in their draft. Its easier riding for sure. Ive tested it many times and it works. To me there is a metaphorical meaning also. When I was riding tonight with Dan I was reminded of this again. Dan is a very encouraging person. He always has a good attitude about cycling and is encouraging to those around him. Looking back over the past 8 months, I see Ive been drafting behind Dan in this sport. And now its fun riding 23 miles with a friend. Hanging out with someone who is encouraging to others is like drafting in life. It can make the rough spots a lot easier to handle. This is something thats within our immediate capability and can make a difference in someone elses life. Want to make a difference in this world? Be encouraging to others.

Posted by carl1236 at 5:48 AM | Life

Category "Life"

Learning Chin Falam

Did I ever mention the other languages Im studying? One of the most interesting is the Chin Falam language, from the western side of Myanmar (Burma). Its interesting because very few people speak it compared to the rest of the world. Someone once asked me why learn such an obscure language when a language like Chinese or Spanish would be more practical in this world. My answer is that to me, Chin people are not obscure. I see them clearly with my heart. Im learning it because I have friends that speak it. They are living in India because they had to flee their own country. Will Myanmar find democracy some day? The country is run my a military junta. Why does a country that small need one of the largest militaries in the world? Anyway, its nice to be able to ask my friends in their own language, how are you? Na dam maw?

Posted by carl1236 at 5:43 AM | Life

Category "Life"

Learning Vocabulary

Why is it that some days its easier to remember the vocabulary Im studying and some days its nearly impossible. Id like it to be easy every day, haha. Today I memorized about 20 words in about an hour, and can still recall them several hours later. Yesterday, I had trouble with half as many and could only recall them for about 15 minutes after I learned them, and I had trouble with the quiz also. Im pretty sure there is a technical reason for this. The night before I did not get very much sleep. Last night I got enough sleep. I woke up this morning without an alarm and I felt good. See my post about memory a couple of days ago? This is worth studying more. When we talk about life and how to live a satisfying and fulfilling life, it sure helps if we are physically functioning as effectively as we can. In retrospect its easy to see how my choices have actually been counterproductive to really living life. For instance the self-destruction of smoking cigarettes. Thats not a practice that enhances our mental capacity and detracts from our physical well-being. Now I think about this idea: Smoking is actually cutting off the oxygen to our brains. I would never set out to cut off the oxygen to my brain. But thats what I was doing to myself. That alone cant be good for efficient functioning of the gift weve been given. Thats why I quit smoking a long time ago. Haha, but tonight Im staying up late again. The difference is, I have the day off tomorrow and can sleep in! Then Ill study my words some more just to make sure I dont ever forget them.

Posted by carl1236 at 5:37 AM | Life

Category "Life"

The Fish come in

Tonight my wife and daughter brought the goldfish in from the backyard pond. Wow, they are huge! Each one is about 4 inches long! When we bought them last Spring they were about the size of a nickel. There were two missing though, which I call a contribution to the neighborhood backyard buffet. Why eat cat food when you can have fresh fish? haha. The fish all have names. There is Jack, Breve, Skid and Sushi. Yes, there is a story behind those names. My wife was happy to have them inside for the winter. The pond isnt really deep enough to leave them out all winter since it will freeze solid. Even goldfish cant handle that. They look happy now swimming around our 20 gallon aquarium, even though its a much smaller space than they are used to. We placed the aquarium in a central spot between our dining room and living room and our cats seem to like watching the fish too. They probably think its a buffet also, but havent figured out how to open the lid on top yet. haha.

Posted by carl1236 at 5:31 AM | Life

Category "Life"

The Fish come in and other pieces of Pie

Tonight Im writing a little differently. Instead of one story picked out of the events of my day, Im writing many small pieces. Together they will form some kind of a picture. To me just living is a very beautiful thing. No matter what happens in life, Im thankful for the brief time Im allotted. All the pieces add up to life. We all do the best we can in life and have joys and sorrows. We all look for happiness. Sometimes we are happy and sometimes we are not. But overall Life is a beautiful gift and we are designed to live it. Go ahead, have a vision...

Index to the slices of pie:
The fish come in and other pieces of pie
The Fish come in
Learning Vocabulary
Learning Chin Falam
The loss of an hour
Leonardo da Vinci
The music Im listening to
A gift for my brother
Visiting Thailand
The call of the trumpet
Technical Support
Love Letters
A walk in the park
A definitive slice of pie

Posted by carl1236 at 5:26 AM | Life