Category "Attitude"

Category "Love your Neighbor"

March 22, 2012

Some thoughts on food justice

Many people don't understand what food justice is. Several conservatives I've talked to don't think there is a food justice problem, just like they don't think it's a problem if there is a huge and rising gap between poor and wealthy. Here is a food justice history lesson for us from 1987. West Siders (where I live) in St. Paul, down along Concord Street had a food justice problem. The residents had to go more than a mile to buy food. That might not seem like a problem for someone who doesn't think twice about hopping into their gas guzzling SUV to drive 3-1/2 miles to one of the massive super markets like Cub Foods or Rainbow or now Super Target and Walmart. But in a low income area with transportation equity problems to compound the task of just zipping out to the store to get a few things for dinner, even one mile is too far. Try pushing a baby stroller a mile and getting groceries and getting back home. What they really needed was a quality local, neighborhood grocery store or market that carried the things they all needed. But here is the catch: Those with the means to do so didn't want to invest in opening stores in the poorer areas of town. Access to quality food was not the same for everyone then or now. In current times, there is a trend of local farmers markets and urban farms springing up all across America in different neighborhoods, which is a way to level the playing field and provide access to healthy food for everyone at affordable prices. Most of these kinds of local markets existed in the past if we remember history, but were driven out of business by larger supermarkets. But in the case of the West Side neighborhood, all of the local markets were destroyed in the early 60's when the river flats were torn down and redeveloped for factories and industrial purposes. What was the solution in 1987 to the food justice problem? The neighbors banded together to create their own market. The 5 Corners Coop started and the spirit of neighbors helping neighbors triumphed. The 'West Side Voice' paper stated, "Democracy works only if citizens take the initiative to know one another and together plan the future." This is scary territory for most Republicans whose focus is on profits for the superstore instead of solving the food justice problem. What happens to food justice problems when natural organic food is available at a lower cost or even traded with neighbors and the profits stay in the neighborhood? Food inequality disappears. This is not a myth or a communist plot to take over the world, like some Conservative politicians would have us believe, but history proving what really works for sustainable neighborhoods. Human cooperation and involvement in each other's lives is the answer for a better life on this planet. The model of the isolated, gated community where people shoot innocent strangers walking through their neighborhood is the exact opposite, and the model of community that is being sold to us. When one of those neighbors can no longer sustain their lifestyle they have to move out of the neighborhood. In a real sustainable neighborhood, there is no food inequality in neighborhoods, everyone has access to the healthiest foods and there is no reason for being forced out of your home because you lost your job. History repeats itself because we don't remember the struggles of real people against power and injustice. Something to think about.

Posted by carl1236 at 5:13 PM | Attitude | Love your Neighbor

Category "Journal in a Jar"

Category "Love your Neighbor"

March 24, 2010

Changes I have seen in my lifetime

The actual topic for today is, "Tell about the changes you have seen in your lifetime: Society in general, technology, fashion fads, morality, politics, etc."
Wow, that's a lot of things to write about. In a few minutes though, I'm going to bed, so this topic will have a short answer. Nothing. Even though we have built bigger and better machines, can move faster than sound and can compute just about anything, we have not fundamentally changed as people during my lifetime. I think we should all practice a little CBT on ourselves and see what changes in the world. We as egos still love to be the victim. And we love to control others. What we need in this world are some new responses. The old ones are worn out and tired. What has to change is not the wealth of nations, or the wealth of individuals. What has to change is the minds and hearts of people. The first thing we realize is that there is enough of everything on this planet so not a single person should have to suffer or go without the basics of food, shelter, and love. Fundamentally as a human race we have not figured out how to love our neighbors more than ourselves.
The next thing we realize is that many people don't want that to change. People have been acting like food aggressive dogs for centuries.
But that doesn't mean that as a human race we can't change. Because individuals can change their minds about what kind of a human being they are. Compassion is being aware there is a problem and having a desire to do something about it. I can see a more compassionate world in the future. One person at a time. That's fundamental change that will ripple into everything else, including the wealth and health of every single person on this planet. We can retrain our thoughts. After all our thoughts are learned, so they can be relearned. If I see a piece of paper on the ground, I can leave it on the ground or pick it up. If we all picked it up individually, it would change the world.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:04 PM | Journal in a Jar | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

March 23, 2010

Unscientific but interesting poll on healthcare at my office

At my workplace over the past few weeks, there has been a lot of discussion in the break room about the national health care coverage issue. It doesn't take long to realize where people stand on the issue. Without an exception, the twelve other people in my office were adamantly opposed to any kind of national health care. Their reasons were many. Here are some of the more 'less-than-compassionate' statements I actually heard:
People should get a job.
I don't want to pay for lazy people who don't go out and work for what they get.
There is nothing wrong with the health care system we have in our country.

Is this a case of the haves vs. the have nots? Or just coincidence. I don't share their views.

Posted by carl1236 at 6:26 AM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Journal in a Jar"

Category "Love your Neighbor"

March 18, 2010

The Religious Practice I grew up with

One of the greatest gifts my parents gave me is to be able to choose whatever religions I wanted to. I went to Sunday school as a child. I've been Methodist, Luthern, Baptist, New Age, Buddhist, and Atheist.
One of the greatest gifts my parents gave me is freedom of choice. My life is full of exploration and learning. I am thankful that they did not force a religion on me. I am thankful that I did not force my children to follow one religion. As parents my wife and I did go to church and my kids attended Sunday school and confirmation. But they were always free to choose what to believe.
I've read the entire Q'uran, I've meditated and practiced Yoga. I have had visions and dreams and epiphanies. But none of that matters really. How fervently or precisely I practiced them, doesn't matter. How they transformed me to love others has significance. I am still choosing to believe what I believe, just like the billions of other people on this planet. The Dali Lama once said that there are as many religions on this planet as there are people.
But the bottom line is free will. Free will is the ability to choose for myself. To choose for myself, I have to learn what I believe, and fortunately I was allowed to explore and experience what I wanted to.
And the ultimate bottom line for me is that I choose. And my choices lead me to believe that religion is not salvation, it is an organization that supports a system of beliefs. There are many religions on this planet. I'm not saying religion is bad. A system of belief can be very helpful to many people. Religion can help many people by teaching lessons they need to learn.
Does this mean I have no religion? No. It means I have all religions. It means that I have My religion which moves me and motivates me. I do not reject other religions. My system is one of service and love for other people. So for that I am thankful to my parents.
Now I'll say something irreverent and truthful at the same time...
"Peace, Love and Kimchi." I have a T-shirt that says that. I love you. Peace out! Don't be mean to others, have compassion. Love your brother MORE than you love yourself. It's all good.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:02 PM | Journal in a Jar | Love your Neighbor

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Category "Love your Neighbor"

March 9, 2010

When the Walls came tumblin down, when the walls...

Came tumblin, tumblin...down. It was November of 1989. I was beginning a new career as I watched my old career crumble into history. As I sat at work listening to the radio, I could not concentrate. I sat mezmorised, almost shaking. It was a Thursday. When I got home from work I turned on the news and spent the rest of the evening watching in awe. People were crying and hugging each other and talking and piece by piece, dismantling the Berlin Wall.
My connection to this history is probably in my blood. Historically, I am part German. My ancestors on my mom's-father's side of the family came from Germany. My great grandfather's name was Rudolph Donnerstag. If you know any German at all, you know that Donnerstag means Thursday in German. Or Thunder Day, Thor's Day. But it wasn't the sound of thunder that shook the earth. It was the silence as the East German Guards stood there at the ready, but not shooting as one person after another began tentatively walking forward, climbing, and then picking at the wall.
That Thursday in November as I watched the tv, I thought of my Grandpa, when East and West Germans were allowed to crawl all over the wall. I remember the feeling of exileration when I saw the sillouette of a man standing up on the wall for the first time, looking out over the crowd that was quickly gathering. It was surreal.
Shortly before I was born, the wall went up to prevent more East Germans from escaping through Berlin. By 1961 millions had already done so, many of them young people. It had been fairly easy for them to escape through the city. The East German government wanted to stop the bleeding.
When I was In Junior high school I began studying the german language. I was even more connected my ancestors. When I graduated from high school I decided to make a career of using the german language, in hopes of going to germany. I did go once. I was enthralled with the beauty of the country. I read it's books, I listened to it's music. So, when the Berlin Wall fell, it meant a little more to me than it might have, had I not had these connections to Germany. In more than relation, Germany was in my blood. I was emotionally connected to Germany.
So, now I sit here looking at this little piece of wall in my hand, a gift from a friend who was there when it happened, a remnant of a artificial political division that separated families, and I think about the values those millions of East German people believed in when they decided to leave their homes to escape to the West. I remember the emotions I felt when the Wall came down. I believe in that same value of freedom to choose my destiny, just like my ancestors did when they came to this country.

Posted by carl1236 at 9:05 PM | Journal in a Jar | Love your Neighbor

Category "Attitude"

Category "Journal in a Jar"

Category "Love your Neighbor"

March 5, 2010

My Greatest Accomplishment

What I consider my greatest accomplishment may be so totally foreign to most people. An accomplishment like this is hard to match until the right moment comes along. Then it's like the heavens open up and love starts to pour down on us.
Quite a while ago, I was riding the bus home from work and a lady that appeared to be homeless, with really ragged and dirty clothes, who was also drunk or stoned or something, got on the bus. She asked the bus driver several times which bus she needed to take to get to the East Side. She was on the wrong bus. The driver attempted to tell her several times too, that she had to get off this bus and walk over another block. She was so confused, and I was moved by her genuine plea for help.
I stood up and went to help her. She could hardly stand, so I helped her off the bus. She could hardly walk so I motioned the bus on and began to walk with her. She asked me to hold her hand. So I did and we walked safely to the correct bus stop. While we were walking I asked her what her name was. Then I said I was happy to meet her. She got a look of surprise on her face and smiled. She asked my name and I told her. Then I looked up her correct bus on the schedule and told her which bus it was and how long it would take. She turned to me, thanked me and said, "I love you John." And I replied, "I love you too." A warmth ran through me as I said that. I was so far out of my comfort zone on this that I felt amazed by it all. Then I told her to be careful and slowly walked back to my stop to wait for the next bus.
The author of the Red Suit Diaries said that no one really chooses to become Santa. It starts with a desire to make others happy and to give them hope. His transformation of the heart started one day when he changed a light bulb for a man in a wheelchair. It felt very good to him to do something that was so easy for himself to do, yet nearly impossible for this man in the wheelchair to do. It was a simple task that made a huge difference in another person's life. He discovered that the real gift was not a present or something we buy in a store, but the gift of our self. This is one of many experiences that have profoundly changed my life.
So I consider my greatest accomplishment in life has been learning to give my self to others and developing a desire to make others happy and give them hope. How can I ever weigh a personal accomplishment or achievement against giving another human being a friend for a block? In another lifetime I might not have done that. This time I got out of my comfort zone and connected with another human being and I changed.

Posted by carl1236 at 9:05 PM | Attitude | Journal in a Jar | Love your Neighbor

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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

Category "Attitude"

Category "Love your Neighbor"

February 15, 2010

A humble beginning to Clean Monday

I am not Roman Catholic or Orthodox but I can stand behind this prayer and even bow down to the floor and lay on my face in appreciation. The Prayer of Saint Ephrem the Syrian is repeated often during lent, mostly by Eastern Rite and Eastern Orthodox Christian's, I believe, has a relevant message for all people today, it resonates in my heart. One version that is easy to read follows:

O Lord and Master of my life, keep from me the spirit of indifference and discouragement, lust for power and idle chatter.

Instead grant to me, your servant, the spirit of wholeness of being, humble-mindedness, patience and love.

O Lord and King, grant me the grace to be aware of my sins and not to judge my brother; For you are blessed now and ever and forever. Amen.

Regardless of religion, a little humility and love for our brothers and sisters in this human life would be welcome. Not to mention the indifference and discouragement people face in our poor economic times. And what's that about lust for power?

Now let's all join our hands and live a prayer like this

Posted by carl1236 at 12:01 AM | Attitude | Love your Neighbor

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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

Category "Attitude"

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Category "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 "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 "Love Yourself"

Category "Love your Neighbor"

May 24, 2008

What we really want

You know, it's not hard to see this or understand. What we really want is to just be ourselves and be accepted and recognized. And so it's also not hard to see why our society can get so screwed up and stressful. D...The other day when we were talking, I heard you. And I listened. I saw the real you, the sparkle in your eye when you talked about what you love. The energy you gave off was totally awesome when you realized that I was really interested what you had to say. And to tell you the truth, you made my day!

Posted by carl1236 at 12:45 AM | Love Yourself | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

Category "motivation"

May 20, 2008

The true purpose of competition

I was out running in the beautiful sunshine at lunch today with one of my coworkers. As we jogged along, we got on the subject of athletic ability and being an athlete. I recently ran the cinco de mayo menudo 5k benefit run in West St. Paul and felt like it was a great race. But I didn't win, nor did I place in the top ten. I was close, but not quite there. Two people passed me close to the end but I just couldn't match their pace. My goal at that point was to just "not slack off" my own hard pace.
So our conversation today drifted toward 'gifted' athletes, like Lance Armstrong. Lance is a good one to use for an example because he has a heart of a bull and can pump oxygen through his veins at an astounding rate. Granted he's younger than me, and youth should be able to out-perform older people, if training properly and motivated, but his times at the recent boston marathon were much faster than my 5k run. He ran about 6.5 minute miles for 26 miles! I ran 7:40 miles for 3.1 miles and that was about the max I could do on that day. I once ran a two-miler at 10:24 but have never been able to quite repeat that stellar performance. I came close a few times, but gradually over the years my times crept up to around 8+ minutes per mile. That was when I was in the Army, training regularly. And this is now, after two kids, work, school, and countless other obligations and hobbies to take up my tiime. Even if I did train constantly and consistantly and properly, I don't think my heart or lungs would ever reach Lance's capacity. I'm just not wired that way. That doesn't mean I couldn't beat him some day if I worked really hard. Because he could have an off day, or not be as motivated or heaven forbid, stop training and take up knitting. Many less-gifted athletes have beaten the 'naturals' in races.
I have found though that I don't compete to beat other people. I race to motivate myself. I race to beat my best time at this stage in my life. I race to push my boundaries and feel the exhilaration of pushing my limits. I race to see what I can do. In my experience trying out the athletic lifestyle, competition is not really useful or meaningful if it's just to beat the other person.
Recently another person came into the bike shop and was scoping us out. He runs a business selling used stuff, including used bicycles. He admitted to me that he viewed our bike shop as competition. And that he would be looking for ways to beat us. He didn't come right out and say that last line, but it was strongly hinted. I had to chuckle because, we are not competing with anyone. We are simply creating something really cool. And honestly, beating us at our own game would not deter from our mission, just make it easier. Besides, monitarily, who can really compete with dozens of volunteers selflessing giving to the community? And if that person found a way to shut us down in the spirit of 'competition' would that make his business any better? I don't think so. In the end what he has to offer will sell itself.
In life we do not have to 'beat' others in order to win. If we use competition to better ourselves and our output, then we are benefiting ourselves and others. If we use competition just for the sake of winning, there is always another Lance Armstrong to come along and put us in our place. Even Lance did not win the Boston Marathon or set the world record. Maybe he could do it, but in the end old age will wipe that clean. In that light, winning, just for the sake of winning, could do more harm to us than help. Why not do what you can to stretch yourself and see what you can do. Be creative, be concious in life and use competition for it's true purpose, to better yourself and others.

Posted by carl1236 at 6:07 PM | Love your Neighbor | motivation

Category "Love your Neighbor"

March 17, 2008

Boycotting the Olympics

I am boycotting everything to do with the olympics in China. I won't even watch it on TV. When it comes to Tibet, China is a typical bully who took something by force and claims the victim is the terrorist.
So, basically I think the Chinese government has no real character. They are hollow and full of lies. Let them pretend to others that can't see what they have done.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:57 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

December 19, 2007

Someone else is wearing my skin

It feels kind of weird. Like someone else is wearing my skin without me there. I hope they do something really cool in it. Maybe something good even; And not commit a crime or do something obscene. I hope they don't damage my skin.
But mostly I hope they have fun in it. I hope it transforms them like it did me.
I loaned out my skin at this particular time of year, because,
I haven't felt much like being me. It's gone unused for a few years and I kind of liked the idea of the magic of usefulness coming back in it.
So I loaned it out and then, almost as an afterthought, I asked for pictures. I want to see what I did while on loan to someone else.
So, we'll see what happens. After Christmas I'll post the photos here.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:05 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Attitude"

Category "Love your Neighbor"

February 9, 2007

It's not that I'm open minded, but...

I am not closed-minded. It's different now. I'm not so closed minded that I cannot see the forest through the trees. I'm not so closed minded that I can hate and still call it love. It's different now. It came over me slowly, and all of a sudden I realized that I am not the same person now as I used to be. I remember being someone who bashed gay people, for instance, but somewhere along the line, I stopped needing to do that. I also used to reject other religions. I stopped needing to do that. I don't remember when and can't pinpoint any exact moment or incident that made me change. But I no longer reject other people like I used to. I am also not as insecure as I used to be. I remember how insecure I was. But that is not who I am now. It is different now. I don't exactly remember why I was so insecure, but I was. I guess you could call me open minded. But really I feel like it's not the open-mindedness that matters, but the 'not-being-close-minded' that does. So closed-minded that I could not see how to love other people like I want to be loved. I realized at some point, that I do not have to agree with other people and more importantly, that I don't need them to agree with me. Well, guess what, I have an open mind and my brain did not fall out! Mainly because I stopped having a closed, needy, controlling mind and started listening to my heart. I don't exactly know when it happened. But I'm thankful that it did.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:24 PM | Attitude | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

January 31, 2007

The answer is not always what we think

Yesterday and today I was meditating on a challenge I am going through and a very loving solution was presented. So, now I will work on it with the others I'm working with. Easily things could have spiralled downward and out. Anger between coworkers creates walls, and walls create fear and fear destroys from the inside out. So, the best solution is one based in love and understanding.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:37 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

January 4, 2007

I need friends

I get notifications from a few "meetup groups", which I signed up for recently. This is a cool concept, connecting people with like interests. This particular softare sends notices of new members who recently signed up. When you sign up you state why you joined the meetup group. Today I got a notice about a new member. By chance maybe, it was one of my friends. His reason for joining? "I need friends."
Good reason for meeting up with others.

Posted by carl1236 at 8:45 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Attitude"

Category "Love your Neighbor"

December 22, 2006

Co-writing a book, aka, working with others

Whenever considering a joint venture with other people it's a good idea to see what you are getting into first. But unfortunately much of the wisdom we need in working with other people is hidden from us until we experience the interaction between our self and the other person. I have a plan, the seeds of which have been planted many years ago, and fertilized by Sui Generis and other friends who write, and inspiration from the successes of many other authors. I don't just want to write a book, I want to co-write a book with another person. So this year I am gong to make it happen. It doesn't really when or if it is even published. But writing it willl be a lifetime experience. To do it together will be an experience in closeness of the mind and heart. How do you generate an atmosphere of collaboration and mutual support and love?
The fun is in the struggle.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:09 PM | Attitude | Love your Neighbor

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 "Love your Neighbor"

Category "Winter-Biking"

November 8, 2006

Bicycling Mayhem

Well, it's not winter yet, according to the current weather conditions, but it was cold for the last few weeks. I've seen a lot of people still out riding their bikes to and from school or work, in the dark, like me. It's been interesting doing about a 26-mile round trip three or four days per week. I'm starting to get used to it now and it's not a struggle. But yesterday and today were really bad bicycling days. Drivers have forgotten how to drive. Yesterday I got hit by a car that was zooming around the right side of some left-turning cars. It spun me around and bent my rear fender in so it was rubbing on my back wheel. With a hefty amount of force, I yanked it back out and my wheel was no worse for the wear. But it did shake me up quite a bit. I continued my ride to work and got a flat tire. The culprit was some kind of a weird hooked spike thing that penetrated deep into my tire. I patched it up in about ten minutes and was on my way again. Luckily it was fairly warm outside to do that in comfort.
Then today I was yelled at, spit at, had a young person fly through a stop sign nearly hitting me, without even seeing me and had something thrown at me which struck the back of my neck. It's odd to me that all of these cases were in Roseville and all three of them were driving big gas-hog vehicles: An SUV, a full-sized conversion van, a king-cab type pickup truck and a huge old boat-style car. Oh the power that gives to harrass bicyclists! They must feel so big in those things. Then tonight I heard about a friend who was sitting waiting for a stoplight to change and the car driver behind her was laying into the horn, yelling, "Get on the sidewalk!" and cussing. Evidently they were in a hurry and wanted to make a right turn. That made my friend more adamant about waiting for the light. She had a good point. It wasn't a right turn only lane and if there was a car there going straight, the driver behind would have just waited their turn. Nothing can be done about it when it's a car in the way, but if it's a bicycle then it's fair to harrass the driver waiting to go straight, right? Is this any way to treat fellow human beings? Come on people, is the extra few minutes gained from driving around recklessly worth a human life?
I put more reflectors on my bike tonight hoping to be a little more visible, but given the drivers out there, I think that's a false sense of security. Reflectors won't help their driving skills or their love for other people.
If you are in a car here are some lessons:





Posted by carl1236 at 11:16 PM | Love your Neighbor | Winter-Biking

Category "Love your Neighbor"

November 4, 2006

The disturbing news about being "Liberal"

It's sad how political ads are using the term "Liberal" as a smear word. As if it's bad to be "Liberal." It's sad that people think it's bad to give to others, even if it's expensive and it hurts our accumulation of wealth. We have some serious problems in our society and the answer is not to give less. We should be giving until it hurts. Until there is no human being left behind. Anywhere on the planet. The answer is not to cut the funding from social programs for the cause of putting more money in the pockets of the wealthy. It doesn't make a very compelling argument to do that and say at the same time how compassionate we are. But then again, compassion is a sign of weakness when it comes to wealthbuilding. It's so easy to not be compassionate for others in less fortunate situations when we are the ones who have. Try going without, putting yourself in their shoes for a week, month, year, a lifetime and see how you fare. Most people who have everything would not give it all up to do such a thing, because well, they have, and don't want to give it up. Yes, it's important to give to the less fortunate. Even if it hurts. It's the compassionate thing to do. If that makes a person bad I'd hate to be the alternative.

Posted by carl1236 at 9:45 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Attitude"

Category "Love your Neighbor"

October 19, 2006

When does Karma take effect?

I believe it's not some ultimate retribution we face, but a little-by-little erosion of our humanity. We do get what we give and we give according to our humanity. When we can no longer love each other, we are essentially blind and empty.

Posted by carl1236 at 8:15 PM | Attitude | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

October 13, 2006

Now that I have "Captcha" installed...

I can now tell the difference between human and 'inhuman.' for instance... Today was my last day of work at my previous company. I turned in my ID badge and said all of my goodbyes.
My boss left early today and as he was going out the door, he spotted me and came over to me. I shook his hand and he told me "good luck on your new job. I wish the best for you." I felt like telling him HE is the reason I'm leaving. He is really clueless I think. OR maybe he feels guilty. Then he gave me hug! I almost withdrew, like backing away from him. A hug? what was that? This is the guy who went out of his way to punish me because I stood up for one of my coworkers.
I hugged him and told him I look forward to a new working relationship with him. I don't know, I just felt he felt sorry for everything but didn't know how to express it. Somehow he felt he needed to hug me. So I did. And he left. I spent the next several hours at work wrapping up my work, packing up my few remaining things and left quietly. no fanfare. Just turned my badge in at the front desk.
Everyone makes mistakes and everyone deserves a chance to change. It doesn't mean I will support abusive behavior, but I can spot a human being when I see one. Now that I have captcha installed I think it's easier. ;-)
And since my blog has been inundated with spam, which I remove almost daily whether I post an entry or not, I'm happy I am entering a new phase in life.
Anger must be replaced with forgiveness and with compassion. At some level I know that I cannot hold a grudge and I cannot hate other human beings for their faults. Otherwise I would hate myself too. So a hug is a good thing.
Regardless of the reason I am leaving my job for another one, I have a new adventure in front of me. And I left an opening to recognize a fellow human being and find a way to love instead of hate. Maybe leaving on these terms will be a catalyst for change.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:11 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

October 12, 2006

Free Haircut

Just over a year ago I made an offer to cut hair for free with my new Wald Hair Clipper with attachments. Nobody took me up on my offer until tonight! Today someone asked me if I would cut his hair and I did. I finally had the opportunity to make good on my offer! And it turned out ok. He was appreciative and thankful for the haircut.
I also learned a few things. For instance, now I know why barbers/hair stylists like to wash your hair first. It's nearly impossible to get a good even cut when hair is going in all directions, is oily or dirty. I started the haircut but then made him go wash it.
It was fun. Kind of like sculpting, haha. Not only have I saved a lot of money but now I got to save someone else some money. I am amazed that I have now been cutting my own hair for about a year and a half already! very nice.
Haircuts! Haircuts! Haircuts for free! Just send me an email and I'll happily hack it off, with style.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:23 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Knowing God"

Category "Love your Neighbor"

September 30, 2006

Blessed are the peacemakers

God is Love. Sometimes I wonder at how easy it is to get so far away from God, and how quickly it happens. So far away from Loving other human beings. Many of our modern ideas about peacemaking don't get at the root of the problem. The root of the problem is a lack of love for each other. Which means a lack of God. We need the application of God. Blessed are the real peacemakers. The one's who love in the face of modern ideas that look more like hate than love. Maybe not so modern, but re-hashed, over and over the centuries. Ideas that look more like a lack of love than love. The bible says, "Blessed are the peacemakers..." because it's a good thing. It's how we love each other. That's God.

Posted by carl1236 at 9:26 PM | Knowing God | 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 "Love your Neighbor"

August 22, 2006

President Bush is straining the psyche of our country.

President Bush is straining the psyche of our country. He talks about our country losing it's soul if we don't support people who want to live in freedom, but our country has already lost it's soul as we use power and control over other human beings for personal financial gain. Our government uses words like this to convince you that you are not patriotic or don't love freedom or you have no soul if you don't support their decisions and actions. Does President Bush really LOVE the Iraqi people? Does he really LOVE The Lebanese? His answer is more
military power. It's because he doesn't really understand what love is. President Bush is about as Christ-like as a terrorist. President Bush is straining the psyche of our country, not his war in Iraq.

Posted by carl1236 at 12:26 AM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

August 19, 2006

Fifty things I want the world to know - 2

2. Whenever we think we are better than someone else because of our skills, brain, muscle, talent, position, etc. we are already rotting flesh with propultion, moving around flapping our lips, gone from the inside out. Except we cannot smell the stench yet. If we make it long enough , we have an accident or get older and have kidney problems, or cancer or lose our hearing, we will smell it. As we are forced out of our career and livelihood by a younger, more talented, more beautiful, stronger, better connnected, faster person, we will smell it. It's good not to treat other people like the rotting flesh, plugging our noses when we are the ones who stink. Is there a more repugnant smell than treating someone else like shit? If we are somehow better, just wait a while, we'll be no different, but by then we'll have wasted our opportunity to love another human being. We'll have wasted our gifts by hoarding. When we look at other human beings, it's good to be humble.

Posted by carl1236 at 9:24 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

August 16, 2006

Fifty things I want the world to know

1. I want the world to know that people count. People may not seem equal in skills or talent, but each person has an equal value. If we cannot see that value, we are the one's who are lacking.

Posted by carl1236 at 7:34 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

August 15, 2006

Hit and Run

Yesterday my dogs made a way through the fence and escaped. They went on a little neighborhood tour. My daughter discovered they were gone almost right away and started driving around the neighborhood to find them. She was about four blocks from our house when she saw one of the dogs so she pulled up and called out to her. She didn't come at first, but then when my daughter opened up the door she ran and jumped in. Then my daughter saw the other dog, laying in the boulevard whimpering. He couldn't walk and he was in a lot of pain.
Well, the looked him over and determined that he was hit by a car. His hip was dislocated and he had bruises all over. The vet reset it, but it's all bandaged up and difficult to tell yet if it will heal or if it will pop out again. I'm hoping it will heal. We'll know in about a week I think.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:05 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

August 11, 2006

Doing good things

It's good to do good just because it's good. We don't need to have an alterior motive or wait for something to gain if we have a mind to do good.

Posted by carl1236 at 7:08 AM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

August 5, 2006

How will you see me?

How will I see you? I keep looking into your eyes, listening to your cries, hearing what I've already heard. Seeing what I've already seen.
So how can I see you, for who you are until I can be what you see in me? I'm trying my friend.

Posted by carl1236 at 9:26 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Bicycles"

Category "Love your Neighbor"

June 4, 2006

The Scrapper

My life gets kind of interesting sometimes. I go down paths I never would have imagined traveling when I was younger or even just a few years ago. In the last few years I've had many opportunities to go WAY beyond my known boundaries and limits, physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually. I have learned to love people and respect people that I would have judged and condemned in the past.
Recently I've met Lester the Scrapper. He makes his living by scrapping metals such as steel and aluminum. Our meeting came about because we at the bike shop are being forced to change our mode of operation. We used to scrap our own metal. We recycled bicycles that were in too rough of shape or too junky to repair and salvaged parts that could be used on other bikes for repair. We had a huge pile of steel outside of the shop and when we got over 500 pounds of it we could go turn it in for cash at the recycling company. 500 pounds is the minimum they wanted to deal with and would only pay you for loads over that amount. General we made about 30-50 dollars per load, depending on the price of steel. Aluminum is more valuable and break that down into smaller pieces and save it in bins until we turn it in for the cash. We have to save the parts for reuse anyway, so scrapping the old steel is another source of revenue to help pay the shop rent.
But since the new condo owners all around the bike shop started complaining about a salvage operation in their backyards, we were forced out of the scrapping business. It was too unsightly. So for us it was a great deal to just give the steel to a small-time scrapper who made his living by scrapping metals. These people are feeding off the bottom and providing a vital resource recovery function in our society of waste. I know a couple of these guys now and both of them are receiving the same kind of scorn and pressure from neighbors who don't like scrapping operations going on in their neighborhoods. It's a messy business by nature. It's junk collecting. It's the collecting of other peoples refuse, saving the good stuff and recycling the rest. It's amazing what people throw away! Someone made a comment the other day that scrapping is like being a catcher at the pooper end of the consumer lifestyle. People around the neighborhood like the idea of cheap repairs and cheap recycled bicycles, but don't realize that those are made possible because we RE-USE parts that come off old-discarded bikes. So at the bike shop we still do the scrapping, but we no longer make any money from it. We have Lester pick up the scrap weekly. We tear the stuff down, save the good parts, make a smaller pile in the shop, which we don't really have the room for, then Lester comes and gets free steel which he then adds to his other steel to make money. It's a great relationship given our circumstances and our need to "clean up our act," so to speak.
But now Lester is facing the same problem in his neighborhood. He has a junk-pile yard and the city is forcing him to clean it up, which basically will mean he cannot do his sorting and recycling operations on that property anymore. This is where I came into the picture of this story. This is where it's heading. Today I became a substitute scrapper. Lester came to us at the bike shop and asked if we could take the load of bikes he had in the back of his pickup truck because he had to clean it out of his yard or get fined by the city who was inspecting the following day. We were already overwhelmed with piles of bikes at the shop and had no room. We are under strict rules to not have any junk outside anymore. So we had to turn Lester away from the shop. But I felt sorry for Lester and his situation. I like helping the underdog who is being forced to "clean up their act so they are socially acceptable." Lester is one of the nicest men I know and trying to make an honest living off of everyone elses crap. Except society tells him, you can't do that in my neighborhood, it's too messy! haha. So I told Lester to drop it in my driveway and I would strip it down and take the rubber off the wheels and call him when he can pick it up again. So that's what I did today after I got home from the shop. I started with a pile of crap in my driveway and ended up with two good lightweight-steel frames which I will turn into custom-painted fixed-gears. I also extracted some other valuable parts from wrecked frames. I sorted and restacked the steel. So now I call lester to come back and get his steel. Today I was the scrapping operation. It took a lot of time to do this. Is it worth it? According to my day job pay scale, no, it hardly scratches the surface of what I could be making doing something like computer programming or web design or software training. Scrapping for money is not a high-profit business for small operations. It is something to do. And it's kind of fun tearing things apart and fun making new things that work out of junk. It feels good to know that some of this refuse will be put back into use and the steel will eventually get reused instead of coming out of the ground.
My day was very interesting and I learned a lot about bikes and how they go together by taking them apart. I also did a little research on the couple of parts I pulled out for salvage. My scrapping day is over, but now I have to get the steel out of my driveway before the neighbors complain! I don't think Lester will complain that I took all the rubber of the wheels and made his pile more compact. I don't think Lester will complain that he was spared a citation because he was able to haul his pile to some other location while the inspectors were there. The pile in my driveway is probably worth 30 bucks to Lester which will probably pay for a few days worth of gas for him, or buy groceries for a week or something. So It's worth it to me to help him out when he's in a bind.
In our society I think we try to hide the ugly, unsightly aspects of our consumerism and we don't like to talk about the pooper end of our consumption. One of my neighbors was observing me today and said that when he was a kid and his bike broke, he didn't get a new bike, he had to find a way to fix it. When a frame bent or broke, someone in town welded it back together. There were other interesting fixes he told me about, but the point was that his bicycles did not get replaced when they became unsightly or damaged. They got fixed not disposed of. Now days, we dispose of things just because we want the newer model, even if the old is still useable and in good condition.
And we push people like Lester out of the scrapping business because of the unsightliness of it all. Don't poop in MY neighborhood! MY Property Value will be Lower! Lester is a beautiful person. He is kind and gentle and friendly. What is the value of his life and livelihood? Does it mean less than appearances? This is our society, we make these kinds of choices all the time.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:31 PM | Bicycles | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

May 27, 2006


I was riding my bike home from the bike shop last night, shortly before
the rain came, and I saw this man rummaging through some stuff with his
bike leaned up against a low-concrete-divider wall. I almost rode on by
but was compelled to turn around and see if he needed help with his
bike. He didn't. What looked to like a problem with his bike was
really Terry Mack stopped to untangle the cables of his CD-Player
headset. He thanked me and told me I get 200 points for stopping
though. He said that most people would go right by and not care whether
someone needed help or not. Then he told the story about what happened
a few weeks ago to him. He was walking along the sidewalk on West
Seventh and a very drunk man was lying in the middle of the street, face
up, not moving. In all appearances, he looked dead, and in practicality
he was dead to the world and oblivious to where he was. Terry witnessed
car after car drive around the man. One even honked but kept driving.
So Terry went out into the street as fast as he could and found the man
still alive, but reeking of alcohol. Terry shook him and the man kind
of snapped out of it, looked up at Terry and said, "Do you got a
Somehow Terry got him out of the street so he wouldn't get killed.
What shocked me is that out of a dozen or so people that drove around
the man lying in the middle of the road, not a single person stopped to
render aid. Terry told me, "This is not the world I enrolled in."
And I had to agree. I'm happy to have met a man like Terry Mack. It
reminds me that yes, it's still good to pay attention to those around
us and render aid when we see someone in trouble. This is the world I
enrolled in.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:42 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

April 24, 2006

The new cubicle

Today I moved into my new cubicle at work. Here is what I discovered:

1. I like a brand new environment. Sure there are problems with the design and layout that I think were a result of poor planning, but overall the new environment is refreshing.

2. My cubicle is directly across from my boss and I can hear every word he says, and I imagine that he can hear every word I say. I discovered today how frustrated my boss is. I heard him cursing himself over and over about the amount of 'crap' he had, and mumbling how "I haven't made any progress at all!" He was obvioulsy agitated and frustrated and upset. Unpacking for him was very stressful.

3. It was a good thing that I spent so much time and effort purging all the old, outdated stuff in my office before moving. Today I simply unpacked and filed everything in it's place. It was cool.

4. Our whole division is now on one floor, instead of several. I like this because many of the people I work with are now much closer. This is a good thing.

5. Even though our office is only two blocks away from our old office, it feels like it's in a better location for bicycling. One of the major streets coming south toward our new office has a bike lane and I rode it twice today and it was very convenient. I liked that. I also like that our new building has quicker access to the skyway system. We are not connected to it, but the entrance is only about 15 feet from our front door.

6. I am more organized in the new space than the old. Mainly because I had a chance to plan how I was going to arrange my cubicle before moving in. Moving was a great opportunity to rethink how I was doing things. Some of the things I was doing was because that's the way my predecessor was doing it. For example, my file cabinets were already labeled and contained past information. I redid the whole filing system in my new office.

Well, anyway, it's hard for me to be angry at my boss when I overheard him being so angry and down on himself. I did not have a chance to see this side of him before. Before all I experienced was his anger at others. So I consider myself fortunate. Today was a good day.

Posted by carl1236 at 9:56 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

April 15, 2006

A wonderful, exciting, full bike day

I have to tell you, it is very interesting dealing with different personalities. There are some people that should not be 'in control' of things. There was another incident this morning, but with a different person. So, when I later talked to the others who were involved, the story was way different than I heard originally. Anyway, finally I got the whole story and not a skewed alternative version and I feel much better and less concerned.
Then today I went to the TCBC Swap meet and sat at a table talking to people. It was really cool. Then after the swap meet I went back to the bike shop and it got really busy. So I got sucked into working the register. I was very busy for about an hour, then I had to go, but it was ok.
Overall it was a great day. The main lesson for me today was in 'how I talked to other people.' Real communication can get muddled when we are not sharing all of the information with each other or when we put our own agendas ahead of the other person's needs.

Posted by carl1236 at 9:56 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

April 13, 2006

Design Flaws

Are there design flaws in other people? I think it's an attitude we have that prohibits us from seeing the true, beautiful design of each individual.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:03 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

April 8, 2006

Consider Supporting My Friend Terry Sainio

Terry needs help raising money for a good cause and he has a good heart. Please consider giving support to terry. He's a long way from reaching his goal. Check out his reasons for riding in the Red Ribbon Ride:

On top of all of his other issues, Terry is one of the greatest volunteers I've ever seen. He shows up for others. Please show up for him and make a difference in his life. I am supporting Terry.

Posted by carl1236 at 12:10 AM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

April 6, 2006

A nice night relaxing and talking

Tonight I had a great chat with a friend. Even though we were closed, I opened up the bike shop for someone to work on his bike. I sat there and stripped down a few bikes for scrapping while he built up his radical touring bike, all the while talking about life, bikes and the bike shop. And what made tonight extra special is that it was pouring-down rain outside. It was just the two of us working on bikes and talking with the sound of the rain outside, flashes of lightning and Peace inside.
This is a point I never really understood in life until the past few years. There are many people effected by the effect we have on just one person. We don't have to love the whole world at once. We have to love one person beyond the whole world. This is also called the ripple effect. One drop of water on a still pond sends out ripples in all directions moving great amounts of water, creating movement far out. I would assume that the size and distance of the ripples is directly proportionate to the velocity and force of the one drop as it hits the pond. The love we show one other person uses the same ratio. Except unlike a ripple in one direction outward, Love has the effect of also sending ripples inward. The power and force of loving another person flows both ways!

Then on top of all the great things that happened tonight, I got to ride home in a beautiful rain that felt so cool and refreshing and exhilarating! I can't beleive what I would have missed had I not opened up the bike shop tonight for this one person! And to make things better, I got to ride alongside him half-way home as he was riding the bike he just built. It was a great night that I feel has led me to a deeper understanding of another human being and made us better friends.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:38 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

March 30, 2006


In chess this is when neither side can win. Each side can move around, back and forth, but neither can Kill the opponent. There can be no clear victory for either side. Part of the problem with life sometimes is we think we are in a stalemate with an opponent. Too often our own arrogance and pride backs us into a corner, unable to get away, unable to solve the problem, unable to find solutions. There should never be a stalemate in real life, because we have minds and hearts and can reason and compromise. We can love each other instead of fight each other. If we are not fighting each other, then we can work out a solution do our differences. Pride and arrogance are often too tough to get by. But not impossible.

Posted by carl1236 at 7:01 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

March 27, 2006

Abusivesness is not a good theology

Being abusive toward our more vulnerable members of society is not a good theology to have. No matter how right we think we are, there is no justification in mistreating other human beings.
Due to an incident on Saturday, Today we lost two vulnerable volunteers who we were working with and two customers who overheard what was going on. They turned around and left. Thankfully the person who lost their temper was not our staff or a board member. That still won't bring our two volunteers back. Tonight they told me they no longer feel safe in our environment.
I tell you, regardless of how smart you think you are, no matter what your IQ or vast amount of knowledge, it's pretty ignorant to treat people by swearing and yelling at them. There are better ways of doing things. Now I have to clean up the mess and try to repair the damage done. Don't have a theology of hatred and anger. It's not a good theology. It sucks to be at the receiving end of that theology. Theology is our beliefs in action; how we live our beliefs.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:24 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

March 13, 2006

Melvin's New Pedal

Finally I got to give Melvin a new pedal!!! Saturday he came into the shop for something else and I noticed he STILL did not have a pedal on his bike. I offered him a free pedal and he didn't want to take one. So as he was chatting with one of the other guys, I went and dug out a matching pedal. It took me about 15 minutes to find a right pedal that matched his other pedal, but I found one that did not have a mate. I brought it out and instead of arguing with him, I told him I needed to see if it fit, and then proceeded to put it on for him. He said, "Oh that's what you were doing back there!" then he laughed and said thank you. I told him I had to do it. I last saw him on January 10th I believe and he's been riding around like that since then!!! Melvin is one cool dude! And I finally got to give him a pedal!

Posted by carl1236 at 8:00 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

March 12, 2006

Heart to Heart Talks

I've had a couple heart-to-heart talks lately, one with a friend and one with another friend and another with my wife. Sometimes we need this kind of long, unubstructed, uninterupted, honest talk to get to some real meaning. Often we hold things inside and don't ever get to the feelings we really want to express. But taking some time alone with another person and really being honest and open with another person and with ourselves, is important and valuable in life. It can deepen our relationships and our love for each other. If there is a conflict we can work it out. It can also increase our understanding and appreciation of another person. So I'm thankful for the opportunity to chat with my friends and wife in this way.

Posted by carl1236 at 8:15 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

March 8, 2006

A hug

A hug has many forms, not just a physical act of puttting our arms around someone and squeezing. It is a rare case when people in our modern society really reach out and embrace another human being. Ther is no reservation or alterior motives in a hug; just a genuine happiness and acceptance of each other. Today was a hug day. When we have the opportunity to give hugs and we do it, it is a good day in life.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:50 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

February 12, 2006

Sometimes I don't know If I'm making a difference

I sometimes feel so helpless when it comes to the problems of other people. My natural tendency is to want to help solve the problem. I care about people and don't like to see people suffer. But I can't always do or say anything that helps. But I may not always know the impact I have on others. I just told that to a friend tonight. She may not know how she effects other people or what choices they will make because of her interactions with them. I was trying to help her feel better about her friendships with some other people she knows. But I'm in the same boat. I don't always know. If we are lucky we see and know we are making a difference. I'd like to say I always see the light at the end of the tunnel, but I can't. But maybe it's not the result that really matters, but the process of going through the tunnel that makes the difference.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:56 AM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

February 9, 2006

House of Flying Daggers

I don't really care for movies that have sad endings. The man who said he loved Mai, killed her twice. The man who really loved her had her die in his arms. I'm not buying it. In our world there are too many people willing to kill the people they love, proving they don't really love them. If they really loved them they would not kill them. They would rather kill themselves than kill the person they love. Because to love someone is also to want them to be happy. Do you want your children to be happy? Or your mom? Of course. Even if we lose our love, we gain by our love being happy. If it were not so, it would be possession. If we possess what we love, we have already lost, because it is not free like the wind. In holding on to the wind, it slips between our fingers. We cannot possess the wind. In possessing the wind we are thinking of our own happiness, not the happiness of the wind. And the wind dies at our hands. Is this love?
As the dagger flew, we see that Mai lost her life because of someone else's greed and pride. He would have rather seen her dead than with someone else. So he killed her. He could have walked away. It's tough for an ego to do that, but he could have given her life instead. Instead he killed her. Where is the love in that?

Posted by carl1236 at 1:25 AM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

January 22, 2006

Fuk the Photograph Smile

Today I was reminded of the Julian Lennon Song, Photograph Smile. I went to see my old Russian friends who I met 5-1/2 years ago when they first arrived in this country. For the last few years we've been meeting only once per year around the New Year. He told me that once per year was not enough. He needs a friend in this country. Yes, he's right. I had basically sent them a photograph of me smiling and waving goodbye when what they really wanted was a friend to share their lives with.
yeah, in all my relationships, I want you not the photographs with perfect smiles.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:37 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Attitude"

Category "Knowing God"

Category "Love your Neighbor"

January 10, 2006

The sudden urge

Tonight at about 7pm or so, I was riding my bike through downtown St. Paul on my way home. I was just passing by an intersection and the Aroma's Cafe sign caught my eye. I've seen it before, but never had the need to stop in. Tonight however I had this sudden and urgent urge to take a detour and stop in for a treat. This coffee shop is not right on the corner and I couldn't see in from where I pulled up to the stop sign, so I didn't know why I was being 'pulled' in that direction. I parked my bike and looked in the window and to my wonder and surprise I saw my friend Kurt! I haven't seen him since November I think. So I parked my bike and went in and said hi. I ended up staying and eating a bite and having some coffee. We really enjoyed talking and made plans to meet again next week on Tuesday in the same place to play some chess and watch some student films they'll be showing.
Then when I began my journey home again, I was feeling pretty good. I was happy. But as I was passing the street where my bus runs, I felt this huge pull to go to the main bus stop and see when my bus came. It's several blocks out of my way, so I had to make a concerted effort to go that way. I kept telling myself that it would be a pain going back up the hill from that location, but I did it anyway. There at the bus stop I saw my friend Melvin with his bike. His bike was missing a pedal but he was riding it all over like that! I told him to stop by the bikeshop for a new pedal. He was happy to see me, and I was happy to see him. I ended up riding the bus home just to keep talking with him a little longer. Melvin's a good guy. We made plans that he would come into the bike shop on Saturday for a new pedal. Both times tonight I had this sudden urge to detour out of my normal course. I listened and it was amazing. It was totally worth it! Oh the mysterious, amazing thing this life is.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:59 PM | Attitude | Knowing God | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

January 4, 2006

Resolving problems

Tonight at the bike shop one man became frustrated with his brakes and began yelling at us and calling us names. He had reached his limit and his frustration was overwhelming. So I talked to him, and asked him how his broken brakes were our fault. He said it wasn't our fault his brakes were broken. Then I asked him if it was his fault his brakes were broken, and he said no. Then we talked about how frustrating it was and that I understood that. But at the same time, he could not take out his frustrations on us. In the end, he got his way by having someone drop what they were doing and fixing it for him. But sometimes, things become overwhelming and we just need relief from it. Like this man and his brakes. He told me that he would have thrown the whole bike outside over the railing if he didn't get it fixed, that's how frustrating it was for him. So, Dave fixed his bike in about 20 minutes and he was happy and had brakes again. And he apologized for taking out his frustration on us and we shook hands. Then I rode through downtown with him and another guy on the way home. You know, I really understand frustration, and I don't know anyone who likes to be the receiving end of it. We cannot take out our frustrations on other people. And it's helpful to try to see the source of frustration in other people. Usually there is a good reason for their frustration and it's a start in finding a solution. But first we have to be willing to face the insults, see beyond them and hear what the diffulties are. I think sometimes we cannot resolve some problems with other people, but sometimes we can. But we must be willing to hear and listen. I'm glad we shook hands and made up and rode off together.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:36 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

December 24, 2005

Running into Mr. L.

Tonight it was so strange I saw Mr. L. at my church for the Christmas Eve service. I haven't seen him in probably a year! I met Mr. L. in a coffee shop downtown and that was the circle I knew him from. That's the only place I've seen him. And now here he was at my church. It turns out he has a neice that goes to our church and they were having a special function afterward, so they went to church together. It was cool. I went over to him and talked to him and told him how happy I was to see him after so long. I don't think he was expecting to know anyone else at our church but I made sure to give him a warm welcome and hello. It really was good to see him.

Good night to all, and to all a good night. Merry Christmas. God bless.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:27 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

December 21, 2005

A Positive Word goes a long way and it doesn't hurt to throw in a pen

Today I was talking to a friend who told me a story about a pen. She was working as a cashier at a busy store and there was this old man who came through her line. He was a little crabby and short with her. She tried to make pleasant talk, but he wasn't very helpful. When the transaction was rung up, he was going to write a check but couldn't find his pen so asked to use one. She handed him a pen and said, 'sure.' As he was writing the check and signing his name she noticed how nice his handwriting was. After he signed the check he mentioned how nice her pen was and asked where she got it. She said she got it at Target and then she complimented him on his nice handwriting. The ice was broken. Then as he was handing the pen back, she told him to keep the pen. She said she thought handwriting like that deserves a good pen. He was astounded, thanked her over and over and smiled from ear to ear. He walked out with a pen and smile. Here is a person who can see the beauty in other people. It's a good thing for everyone. It turned a person having a rough day into a smiling, happy one and there is great beauty in that. My friend is an "Everyday Hero" for whom there is seldom praise. So here is some appreciation. Thank you for being you.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:16 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

December 20, 2005

What a kind act will do for morale

Today one of my coworkers brought in a pair of old ski goggles that he's not using for me to use while biking in the winter. He remembered a conversation we had about someone I knew who was using ski goggles and thought I'd like to try them. I was excited and I did wear them home tonight and yes, they do work as long as I can keep my breath going out of my ski mask instead of getting trapped inside. But the ventilated goggles clear up pretty fast with the ventilation on the sides and my eyes don't water up from the wind.
We all know how good it feels to have someone think of us and do something special for us. It feels great and it lifts our mood up doesn't it? It's a good way to treat others. Most of the time it doesn't cost us anything at all except giving someone the time of day.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:59 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

December 17, 2005

What is Good for you.

What is really important in life? In today's New York Times there was an article about two people who developed a serious-life-threatening illness, one was a VP of sales for a company and one was a school teacher. The VP of sales received a lot of support from his company and the school teacher was basically screwed. The article talked about how health insurance in our country is mainly tied to our jobs and when we become seriously ill, we need our health insurance the most, yet many people lose their jobs and their insurance. Something has to be done about this. We can see all over our country how the decision makers in companies are pushing more of the healthcare costs onto their employees. The author of the article in today's paper, Lisa Belkin quoted Robin Bond, who runs an employment law firm in Wayne, Pa., and represents individuals with claims against employees. Robin Bond brought up a significant point about the nature and purpose of a business: To make money. She said, "But no law changes the basic fact that employers want to do what's good for business. Their job is not necessarily to do what is good for you."
Yet, how can we say we love our neighbors if we are only looking at the bottom line. Most American Companies are driven by profits. A new wave of Co-ops are cropping up because some people do get it. It's more important to benefit the employees than just to make money. But my guess is that even co-ops have to do what is good for the co-ops eventually or the co-op goes out of business, at the expense of a member who can no-longer function as a member. But I think it's a better idea than what many businesses offer it's employees.
And then we think deeper about this...
She said, "Their job is not necessarily to do what is good for you." Who is they she refers to? Every company is run by people. I contend that a company isn't real at all. It's and illusion that we create and only has life if there are members of the company. In other words, people have to make the decisions at a company. Human beings have to animate it and make it's decisions. Every person's job is to do what is good for others. If we are in charge of a company, we are torn between making money for ourselves and taking care of our employees needs. People making decisions in a company are still human beings and should do what is good for other human beings. It's a tough road to walk. We can't blame companies, because they are inanimate. WE are responsible for how we treat others in work and outside of work.
People run companies. People do jobs in companies. People make decisions in companies. People are responsible for making the company comply with our spirits verses making our spirits comply with the company. What is really important in life?

Posted by carl1236 at 9:59 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

December 13, 2005

Absurdity and Audacity

Frankly, some people will not 'get it' until they are put in a position of being ridiculed and driven down. Bullies are bullies and always justify their position by attacking others. Make others look bad to make themselves look better. Tonight at the board meeting two members showed their true colors. While one sat their and ridiculed what's been going on in the shop and what's been done, the other one sat there saying, "Just pay me and I'll fix it." The first one said that our shop drives people away because of the 'clutter' and mess. But he's so oblivious to his own attitudes to realize that the whole organization is in crisis because he drove away all of the board members and volunteers. His personality is so abrasive and controlling that he can't see the problems are his not the shop. Rot starts at the top. And he has the audacity to blame others, while taking credit for saving the organization, when he really drove it to the brink of extinction over the past few years. I've talked to three former board members now who say they left because of the current president. Is this insanity or what? I'm not trying to tear people down, I'm just expressing my frustration over what I stepped into. I've only been actively involved since early summer, and more so in the fall. What I look forward to in January is a cooperative, team-oriented, rational board that is not in it for their own egos, and don't throw temper tantrums. I still see a lot of potential in this organization, but not the way it's been run in the past. Again, it's not the shop's fault, because the shop kept the organization alive. The Shop Manager and all the volunteers kept it alive. Without it, there would be no organization!
Tonight's board meeting was a huge energy drain. The real meeting happened after the two bullies left. A lot was planned and accomplished with rational discussion and actually looking at the shop and making some informed decisions. Let's not drive people away with our bully attitudes. There are always better ways to handle things. Being a jerk is not the way to love your neighbor.

Posted by carl1236 at 9:50 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

December 11, 2005

Nobody Cares About Me So Why Should I?

One of the strangest things in this world is the idea that we are ever alone. We can be surrounded by people, insects and animals, have God in and all around us, and still feel like we are alone. Isn't this wierd? One thing that God has been trying to tell us since the beginning of our existence, is that we are not alone. We all want to be loved yet we are afraid to share our love with others. We isolate ourselves from others and God. When we are a baby we begin the process of separation from others. As we strive for our independence we go overboard and lose sight of the fact that we are all co-dependent in life. We cannot do anything without effecting someone else. We cannot exist without God and each other. With God and all of these billions of people around, isn't it strange that we feel alone? Isn't it strange that we don't feel loved?
I read in the paper recently that when the european astronauts first went into space they were thinking very much about their identities such as German or British or French, but as soon as they saw the globe they thought, wow, we are all on that spaceship called earth. When Earth is seen from a distance with a backdrop of infinite space, we realize just how much we are all in this together. Hey, if we destroy that planet, then it will effect everyone! If we deplete the natural resources, it will effect everyone! If we pollute the planet so we can't breathe it will effect everyone! If we treat each other poorly everyone on the planet suffers. It's because we are all in this together and we are not alone.
When we feel alone and unloved, we are missing something we crave and need. We are missing it. We wish we had it. As strange as it sounds to feel unloved and alone surrounded by billions of people, isn't it stranger yet when we attack ourselves and sabotage ourselves because of it? When we don't feel loved by others we often don't love ourselves. Let's see, it goes something like this, "No-one cares anyways, so I might as well get messed up!" or "My parents don't care if I'm home anyways, so why should I?" or "Nobody likes me, I'm stupid and ugly! It's not even worth living." Stange isn't it? Not only do we feel unloved by others, but we turn against ourself. The logic is illogical: I feel alone and unloved by others so I'm going to isolate and not love myself! That'll show them! That'll fix them! But it doesn't fix anything, it just makes my condition worse. I not only still feel alone and unloved, but I also hurt myself.
When we are feeling unloved and alone, doesn't it make better sense to love ourselves? If we are all alone and we are all we've got, then wouldn't at least loving ourselves be something? Why should I care when nobody else does? Because it's healthy. Because it's good for me. Because it helps instead of destroying me. That's why I should care.
Now the flip side of this is when we can see or feel the need of another soul to be loved and connected, given that we are all in this life together and what effects one person effects everyone, isn't it in our best interest to love and connect with that person? That can be as simple as saying hello and aknowledging their presence. Of course it could also mean we have to go way beyond our current comfort level. I cannot even count how many times I have went beyond my own comfort level with other human beings! Hearing a soul's need is like walking by a car wreck; we have to stop and make sure everyone is ok and offer our assistence. That may mean getting the proper person, like a paramedic involved as soon as possible. When giving CPR the very first step is to always call for help! While the ambulence is on the way we start pumping the chest and listening for breaths until we are relieved of that duty. Yes it's our duty to help souls in need! If there is someone reaching out for love and acceptance, there is a reason. That person is missing something. Therefore we are missing something.
Love yourself like you want others to love you. Then love others like you love yourself. Love others like you want others to love you. Love yourself like you want others to love theirselves.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:16 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

December 9, 2005

Are you ashamed of Jesus?

"Are you 'ashamed' of Jesus? Then why don't you 'tell' people how they can be saved?" For anyone who has this mentality toward others, I tell you this, "Don't sell the bearskin before you've killed the bear."

Posted by carl1236 at 11:25 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

December 4, 2005


The President cannot be 'Christ-like' and consider torture acceptable treatment of human beings. In the name of power and control, I bow down my soul to the power that controls. This is who I am, this is Christlike? More like those who nailed Christ to the cross.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:36 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

December 3, 2005

When Tragedy Strikes a Family

I don't know what to say. I just heard that a very good friend of mine had a terrible tragedy in their family. She had her Mother-and-Father-in-law visiting for the holidays. Yesterday they were driving on the highway and were in a terrible accident and both of them died. Evidently the killer was filled with road rage and ran them off the road. I'm praying for my friend, her husband who lost his mom and dad, for their children who are now missing one set of grandparents and for all of the relatives who now have to deal with such a tragedy during the holidays when everyone's spirits are high and full of thoughts of giving. Instead they are feeling a great loss. It's tough at any time of year. There is no replacement mom and dad. But when the family sits down and opens gifts this Christmas there will be some presents there that will make them cry when they open them. The receivers won't have a chance to say thank you.
When will people get their priorities straight and slow down, have a little patience and control their rage? Life is way too short to be so ignorant and unloving toward other people. Road rage is so unneccessary and in this case, deadly.
I can not say anything to my friend that will help their family through this tough time. All I can say is "I love you and hope you make it through this. It'll be rough for a while so hang in there! I'll keep praying for all of you." When tragedy of this scale strikes we can just be there for each other.

Posted by carl1236 at 6:07 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

November 27, 2005

The work I love to do

This is really the key to success. Success is defined in many ways depending on our perspective. Success doesn't necessarily equate to money. I've been in the same field since 1989. But it is not really the technical or computer stuff I love about it. It is working with people; teaching, enabling, empowering people to be able to solve problems and help themselves. The work I love to do is really tied to helping people succeed. When I'm not doing that, I'm not really happy with the tasks I'm doing. It's meaningless. I am at a crossroads now, deciding how I can best do the work that I love to do. What is the best use of my gifts, talents and resources? I don't know what form it will take yet, but some change is coming.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:42 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

November 25, 2005

A Thai Chi moment

It's kind of funny, but through a misunderstanding, and the kindness of a coworker, I received a Thai Chi movie. He thought I was studying Chinese Mandarin and thought about me when he was in San Francisco and bought it. I'm studying mainly Korean, but the thought was very kind. And I watched the movie Wednesday night and really enjoyed it. The characters were using a fighting style of Thai-Chi, but covered both 'soft' and 'hard' techniques. And they really showed some of the aspects of Chi. For instance when one person repulsed 4 attackers at once with a 'push' from the center, or full of energy.
One thing this movie brought up is that the original Thai Chi was very spiritual and not just a fighting technique. It was more about not 'attacking' or 'resisting' but allowing the opponents forces to go through and be their own downfall. In a sense, the opponents' energy is turned against themselves.
Another cool thing they showed in the movie was the idea of conserving our own energy and using it most efficiently. This is a challenge in life sometimes. I still find myself expending energy in places that have little effect and not enough energy in other places where needed. But all things work out, I just could be more efficient with the use of my gifts, talents and resources.
The third thing I got out of this movie was repeated over and over in the movie. Many people in the movie criticized the star because he wouldn't fight the 'enemy' even after he brutalized and hurt many people. They said things like, "You studied martial arts for over 10 years and you won't use it. What good is it!!!??" The word 'tolerate' kept flashing in his mind (and on the screen). Part of the training in Thai Chi is tolerance and not to use force just because we can. The idea of tolerance is not to think of people as enemies and kill them but to use only the force necessary to deflect and dissolve their negative energy. I think 'tolerate' does not mean 'don't stand up for yourself and others,' but to use wisdom and understanding when dealing with other people. Sometimes there are many root causes to people acting out against others that we do not see. Many times it is some kind of fear that they have. Force does not resolve that fear.
I think I could have changed my situation at work before it happened if I had practiced Thai Chi and was thoughtful of these things.
I see in the past I have not learned true tolerance. It doesn't mean tolerate cruelty or abusive behaviour, but it does mean to tolerate the human being and understand where the aggression and force is coming from and find a solution that heals both parties. They are not our enemies, but friends that have not learned to love yet, and the best way to get someone to love you is by loving them, not beating them to a pulp. Using force against force is not good because what we resist, persists. It has to persist because our force requires an anti-force. So the Thai Chi lesson is really a lesson in how to love other people.
Another way to look at Thai Chi is the health and strength it brings us, which makes us strong in body and mind, keeps us centered on what is important and able to handle the challenges that come against us regardless of what those forces are.
More tolerance is actually more involvement in other peoples lives and getting to know them. That's an interesting and challenging practice to follow sometimes. It requires us to use our energy for good instead of resisting the forces of others. Thank you Craig for the movie and the timing of it. In this Thai-chi moment I understand something I did not before.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:19 AM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

November 23, 2005

Is it ok to hate people that do bad things?

Today I heard an interesting view on this. She said it was unnatural and unreal to hide our hate for someone who does bad things. Because if we hate them, and admit that we hate them, then we can also forgive them. Without hating them we don't have anything to forgive. I can kind of see her point. Of course we don't want to carry hate for a person around with us forever either, because that's not good for us. Admitting that we hate someone who did something bad allows us to forgive them and move on with life.
Becaue of my abusive boss, I've been thinking about this a lot lately. How do we love someone who is abusive? Or in the case of the man from Wisconsin who raped and cut up a young female reporter in his salvage yard, how do we love him when he commits crimes so horrible that we cannot even stand the sight of him? To the victim's family, this man is pure evil. They probably hate him and what he did. How could they forgive him, ever?
I believe now that to love someone that does evil or bad things, we should follow a code of "hate the actions, love the person." Yes, I hate the actions of my boss. He lies, is abusive and is petty, controlling and intimidating. I hate what he does to the people around me and to myself. No I don't really hate my boss, but I do hate what he's doing.
So, one way to love my boss is to not let him get away with the actions I hate. We should not let abusive people continue their abusive behaviours. I don't really want to hate my boss either. It's not healthy or a solution to the problems. But I also don't like what he's doing to me or my coworkers. I think I will be able to forgive my boss and already have in a way. I do feel bad that he is oblivious to the pain he is causing his employees. I can love this man and still hate his actions and attitudes.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:23 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Bicycles"

Category "Love your Neighbor"

November 20, 2005

Can you fix my bike, for free?

This morning I spent some time at the coffee shop reading the paper and talking to some people I've met there before. There is this one man who comes in regularly but I haven't been around there much in the past few months so we haven't talked in a while. The last time we talked I was seriously training on my bike and would stop by the coffee shop after my rides. He was looking for a bike then, but I wasn't really involved in the shop much at that time. Today he told me he got one for free because he was helping someone move and they were going to throw it out. He asked them if he could have it and they said, "Sure!" Then he told me that the back wheel was off and the back part of the frame was bent. hmmm. Maybe free is not so good. But it's a dumpster bike and he rescued it from the heap. Then he asked me if I could fix it. I said yes. Then he asked if I could fix it for free. I know this man is on a limited budget and has limited means, so I took a deep breath and then said, "yes." But then I added that it would have to be after Thanksgiving. So I have a free repair to do at the end of the week. He said he was inspired by me riding my bike so he wanted to use his to run short errands and not use his pickup truck so much. His truck is an old rust-bucket that probably doesn't get too great of mpg. So, anyway, I'm happy to try to fix his bike, but if the frame is bent, I'll have to help him pick out a different bike. Maybe he could help me reorganize the shop (or continue what I started a few months ago) to earn a bike.

On other bike news. my dumpster bike is sitting idle right now. I bought an old brown Schwinn Suburban to replace the one that was stolen from me a while ago. I love that bike! It's a such a smooth riding, comfort commuter bike, the cadilac of street machines. It's long and tall and has full fenders, 10 speeds, rack AND a generator light and taillight set! This one is a 1973 instead of a 1971 like my old one. So I'll use that bike for commuting when there is no bad snow on the ground, otherwise my dumpster bike is getting 27" knobby tires. That's a Schwinn Continental. I went out and bought new bulbs for it today since last night they both burned out. I rode over to Minneapolis to Spokes Pizza to deliver a couple of parts to someone there and about a mile-into my ride, the taillight burnt out. Then a block later the headlight went out. Good thing I had my backup systems with me. I found the bulbs at my local Ace Hardware, so I was happy to be able to give them some business.
Now I'm set. But I'm accumulating too many bikes. It's so easy to do though! Especially since they are such a convenient and useful mode of transportation.
Anyway, I'm happy to help my acquaintance from the coffee shop get going on a bike. There is no reason he can't be out riding that two blocks to the store instead of firing up that gas burner.

Posted by carl1236 at 4:36 PM | Bicycles | Love your Neighbor

Category "Attitude"

Category "Love your Neighbor"

November 19, 2005

Bicycles and Pedestrians

I got to experience something very interesting and fun again today as I was riding my bike to the bike shop. I pulled up to a crosswalk at a red light and a man was walking by in front of me. He turned and looked at me and I said, "Good morning!" He was genuinely startled, then then he managed a head nod before turning and walking faster. I guess he wasn't used to having traffic talk to him. I don't know. We were the only two people around and the streets were pretty quiet. Maybe he was lost in his thoughts when I spoke to him. I sometimes forget when I'm on a bike that I do have a voice and can speak to people. Have you ever only nodded or felt speachless when someone talks to you while you are on your bike? How about in the skyway? In skyways people go out of their way to avoid eye contact or make conversation. Anyway, I think there is something very nice about bicycle riders and pedestrians talking. It's a very humane way to live. It's not isolated or shut off from the outside world and each other. It's very close and personal.
It's a new, brave way to live. I like it. And just saying 'hello' out loud is a step in that direction.

Posted by carl1236 at 8:57 PM | Attitude | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

November 14, 2005

Human lives at work

If you really love your neighbor as yourself then you are not seperate from that love just because you are at work. There is no seperation of Church and State when it comes to doing God's will, which is to Love God and Love your fellow human beings. There is no room for greed or selfishnish or building our own little kingdoms in this equation. We cannot pretend to be good in Church on the weekends or evenings then go to work and treat others like they are property, as less than equal, or having less 'value.' Many people think the focus and purpose of this life is to 'get what we can out of it,' no matter what it does to others. Life at work should be no different than life at home. How we treat others is just as important at work as anywhere else, including church. What does it profit us if we gain control of the sandbox and lose our soul?

Posted by carl1236 at 11:49 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

November 13, 2005

Gertrude Stein Reads Franz Kafka

I know what I know because it is all that I know. I know that Franz Kafka wrote a story called Metamorphosis. I know that because I have read it. I can know that I know that because I have read it. I read it and I know it. It is all that I know because I know it. I have heard this story before before. I heard it before I have read it. I knew it before I knew it.
The story is about Gregor Samsa, a traveling salesman. A traveling salesman who turns into a Dung Beetle, an insect. An insect that is repulsive to his own family. A traveling salesman that is repulsive to his own family. A Dung Beetle is evidently repulsive. I know that it is repulsive to some people because I have seen how they react to large insects. It is repulsive because they are huge insects and cling to you when they get on your clothing or hair. I know this freaks people out because Iíve been freaked out before. It is something I can relate to. I knew it before I read it. Now I have read it and know that I know it. Repulsive. I know.
Gregor lived with his parents and sister. His parents and sister were poor and Gregor took care of them. His parents and sister were poor because Gregor took care of them. Gregor made sure they knew they were poor. And made sure they knew he took care of them. They knew they were poor because they were told they were poor. They knew they could not take care of themselves. Gregor took care of them because they could not care for themselves. They knew this. Gregor knew that they knew this. That is why they could not take care of themselves and they knew it.
When Gregor became an insect and no longer took care of his family, his family took care of themselves. They took care of themselves because they had to. They took care of Gregor. Gregor was living off the labor of the poor. The poor family who could not take care of themselves but now could. They could take care of themselves but were told they could not. They could not because they knew they could not. But now they knew they could. Without Gregor. This was liberating. Oh, I know itís liberating because itís liberating to be free of a Lord of great self-importance. Gregor was a Lord of great self-importance who lorded it over his family. He lorded it like a great benefactor whoís only purpose in life was to lord it over them. They knew this because Gregor told them. Gregor told them because he was an insect. Then he became a real insect and could no longer take care of them. And they took care of themselves because they knew they could. They knew they could after after. After Gregor no longer could and after they knew Gregor no longer could, they could.
After Gregor died, and he died of starvation because he wasnít eating, they moved away from the house Gregor had chosen for them. The Father, Mother and sister all moved away into a smaller, more affordable house that they knew they could afford. They managed their own affairs at that point and they knew they were able to care for themselves because they were doing it. They knew it. The insect was dead and they knew it and were liberated.
There is a good story in here, I know it. I have heard it before I read it. I know it because I have heard it and I have read it. I know it because I have met insects like this. I have met insects like Gregor and know how they are being insects even while they donít know they are insects. When they know they are insects then they know they have been insects are being insects and they die. The insects die as insects. I know it. They know it. But it is too late to take back the metamorphosis. They are already insects and are used to it. They are used to being insects and donít know how to transform back. They donít know how because they are used to being insects and know it. We know it. We know it before they know it. They do not know we know it before they know it, until they know it and itís too late to know it. Then they know it and we know it. Know what an insect is and know it before becoming one. Know it because you don't want to be one. Know it before before. Know it before becoming and before we know it. It's better to see one than to be one and know it. Do you know it.

Thank you Gertrude Stein (1874-1946) for the interesting review of ďMetamorphosisĒ by Franz Kafka, (1883 Ė1924). Stop by anytime Gertrude, it was fun. Hehe.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:25 AM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

November 11, 2005

People are not really evil, but we do make bad choices

This is a difficult topic for many people. Good verses Evil is almost always spoken of in terms of 'opposites.' But instead of labeling actions as evil, we tend to think that a person capable of actions that are evil is really an evil person. An evil person can be judged and condemned for 'being' evil. Being is a state of existence. The problem with evil as a state of existence is that it precludes any act of love. Many people that do evil things also love and want to be loved. So it is not the case that we are one or the other. We can however make bad choice.

Posted by carl1236 at 3:25 AM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

Category "ZINE"

October 31, 2005

Writing about Life

Words about life tend to be like photo snapshots of life. I like writing. But sometimes I feel that words written down on a page are not real. They especially don't feel alive anymore once put out there to read. I think it's because words, just like a snapshot can never show the entire picture. There is so much to life that to begin to describe it is to fail to describe the rest of it.
When I have an experience and write about it, there are hundreds more experiences I am not writing about.
This is one reason why it's so important to not judge other people based on one impression, or even two impressions, or three. This is why it's important to get to know people before coming to any conclusions. We often discover that the 'other person' really is just another human being trying to figure out life, just like we are.
When I sit down and write about a situation, it is also just one situation out of many that might be going on in my life or someone else's. It's not a complete picture. I can pick out one bad event each day for two weeks and complain about them in my blog entries and it would seem like I've had a horrible two weeks but still go home each day and watch movies, work in the garden, play with my dog, eat great meals with my family, read a good book, write and have all kinds of wonderful experiences. A snapshot is not nearly lifelike, though it may be a good picture of a moment in time.
Today I was looking through old blog entries I've written, trying to pick out a few good ones to rework into my next issue of the "Attitudes" Zine. I'm looking for things that might be interesting to read that convey a sense of purpose in life, of love and hope. Then I realized that many of the things that I've written about seem empty and hollow when I am so distant from the experience that prompted the writing. I believe it's because once I put the words down, they are no longer alive. This is kind of the meaning of the 'Living Word of God.' God's words are life and love and hope in practice. We put the words to paper and it's a snapshot of the real thing. Our love for each other cannot be in word only. It has to be in action. This is the living word that is not hollow and empty. Because it's life, not just writing about a part of life.
I don't have anything magical or insightful or full of wisdom to teach anyone that they don't already know about life. For one thing I cannot live life for another person and their experiences are not going to be the same as mine. But I can tell you that your experiences are as real as mine. I love life and love other people. That's who I am. To me that is very hopeful. I like this part of my life.
When I went to the movie the other night with Tom, that was equally interesting to me as the movie itself. I didn't write too much about my experience with Tom mainly because I have limited time and can't write about everything that happens in a day. But to me it was equally important part of my day and maybe more meaningful than the movie. For instance when we saw the part of the movie where the kids were being abandonded and abused, Tom started growling. No kidding. I asked him what was wrong. He was just reacting to the movie in that way and was feeling the impact of what was going on. It was deeply effecting him. He was reacting in a very primal way. At other times he was lost by the movie, and it meant nothing to him. Tom lives in a tent and only has a few posessions. He gets around by bicycle or bus. He doesn't even have a driver's licence. Tom may have a rough exterior but I know his heart is in the right place when it comes to abuse. His heart growls in displeasure and it escapes through his lips. My words about the movie almost meant nothing compared to Tom's reaction at that moment. Living life and experiences it is much more real and vivid than any words can be. It's like that with the living word also. We can say whatever we want and even mean it, but living the words is so much more real and vivid. Alive.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:01 PM | Love your Neighbor | ZINE

Category "Love your Neighbor"

Feeling down

Right now a few of my friends are feeling a little down. I even get that way sometimes and it seems that nothing is helpful, especially someone else telling us it'll be ok. Sometimes just being a friend and listening is all we can do. I found this little bit of 'Old Irish words of encouragement' that David posted on another blog. We are never as alone as we feel sometimes:

May you see God's light on the path ahead
When the road you walk is dark.
May you always hear,
Even in your hour of sorrow,
The gentle singing of the lark.
When times are hard may hardness
Never turn your heart to stone,
May you always remember
when the shadows falló
You do not walk alone

To all my internet friends who are feeling kind of down right now...

Virtual Hug >:-)< Real Love.

Posted by carl1236 at 4:55 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Attitude"

Category "Love your Neighbor"

October 20, 2005

Bikes as a Second Language (BSL)

Sometimes inspiration comes to us in a chain of events or encounters. On the Bike ship, we were sailing along doing things as usual. I have a good friend who owns a Duplex in St. Paul that he was rennovating. He lives in the upstairs and now rents out the downstairs. When he was looking for tenants to occupy his duplex the Hmong refugees were just arriving from Thailand to this country. Someone talked him into renting to these new immigrants. As a community service I fixed up and donated six bikes to the children of this family a week after they arrived. This was great but then the other refugees wanted bikes. My friend put together a list of ten more people who wanted bikes, but we didn't have the supply of used bikes to give to them at the time. I've been collecting the shorter bikes for them in the shop.
Then I met my hero Dot the teacher, who teaches English for Hmong immigrants. She had been buying bikes at garage sales and giving them to her 'English as a Second Language, or ESL' students. (They call it something else now, but I forget what.) But most of those bikes were in need of repair. One day Dot showed up at our shop with two bikes, asking if we'd fix one if she donated the other to us. I said ok and she was ecstatic. So now she gave me a list of bikes she needs for students and she's bringing me tall bikes in exchange for shorter bikes. haha. It's a cool community relationship.
But then I was talking with my friend about some of the other people and the bikes they wanted and how it would be great if they not only got bikes but learned how to fix them. I've been working on curriculum for our earn-a-bike program from material I downloaded from 'Bikes-Not-Bombs' and thought this would be a great opportunity to practice teaching it. So tonight is the grand opening of our new "Bikes as a Second Language Program (BSL)" I made up some handouts with language tips related to bikes. This will be fun! They will learn to fix bikes, improve their english, work on our bikes and earn adn fix one of their own!!! Inspiration is even cooler when it's put into action. We have four students and two instructors. Tonight is fixing flats. Thursday nights are gold now!

Posted by carl1236 at 4:58 PM | Attitude | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

October 16, 2005

No play tonight

Tonight I gave up my ticket to the play at the Walker Art Center. I was on my way to the bike shop to pick up my headlight I left there, then planning on going to the play in Minneapolis, but as I was riding through downtown St. Paul, a few blocks from the shop, I saw some kids stranded with their bmx bikes. I brought them over to the bike shop and let them use the tools to fix the broken chain. It was cool, and they thought it was cool and they were happy. But it took too long, and I had only fifteen minutes before the play started. No way could I ride to MPLS in fifteen minutes and pick up my ticket. I didn't want to arrive late so I skipped it. I ended up cleaning for a little while, then going home. I must really love my neighbor when I do stuff like this. Actually I was happy to help them but felt really sad that I missed the play. It's a contradiction between what I wanted and what was good for others. I could have blown them off, but then I would have missed a great opportunity to connect with these kids. Who knows if I will ever see them again, but it was worth it. I'll get over my sadness at missing the play. That's human nature I think. I do love my fellow human beings more than my own entertainment. I guess this was an opportunity for me to experience that.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:37 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

Sidewalk Riders and Dumpster Divers

This weekend was the St. Paul Art Crawl. Besides displaying artwork and helping my daughter and her friends get into their display space, we had an open-house at the bike shop. I'd say about 50 people who had never been there came in to chat and see what our community bike shop was all about. Everybody was really positive and in a good mood.
Because of a chain of events, I was busy the whole time and dead tired until about 9:30am this morning when I got up. Haha, it's hard to be a morning person when you don't get in until 3:00am! I'll probably need a nap this afternoon too, but I'm going to resist.
Today I have to go clean up from the art showing then tonight I'm going to see a play at the Walker, so it should be a good day.
Last night the Art Crawl officially ended at 6pm, but there was a special event going on next door at the club so I hung around and saw that. There was a fund-raiser and preview of this movie about Urban Exploring, this group of people who go to unusual places and take photos. For instance down in the sewers and in the depths of abandoned munitions plants. The photos were cool and they talked about the adventure of trying to get these photos. They all were really good photographers and the film was well done.
Also, I kind of wanted to hang around to see how Terry and Tom did while driving the Pedal Taxis. They were running people around for the whole Art Crawl, plus at this party to drive people to and from their parking spots. It was cool. They had fun driving and made a little bit of cash. In this city it would not be a good way to make a living because I don't think it could generate enough income. Not bad though for a part-time gig.
About 1:30am they packed up the cabs and called it a night. Then we hang out and talked until about 2:00am. Tom and I rode together part of the way, since we were going the same general direction. First we stopped at SA to pick up something to eat. He bought a shrinkwrapped he-man sandwich, because he said it's the only one that had enough stuff on it. Evidently two of those can last him all night. But tonight he only bought one. I got two-hot dog for a buck special and a juice and we sat outside by the dumpsters eating. That's when Tom noticed the bag of food sitting next to the dumpster torn apart. He informed me that it was from dumpster divers getting something to eat. The station/store owner threw out the old food from the sales cases and someone had come to pick through it to find something they wanted to eat. The sandwiches and salads and other items were still all wrapped and all of them were in a white plastic garbage bag so it looked like it would make a feast, but I don't know. It seems if the store threw them out, they must have been past their expiration date and sitting outside in a dumpster unrefrigerated didn't apeal to me. Maybe if they got there right after the food was thrown in the dumpster. It's funny because I met a guy at the party who told me that he lives like that and never pays for food. He must know all the good spots to get thrown-out food. He looked pretty healthy to me. Now I had a visual refrerence for what it's like to dumpster dive for food, this white plastic bag laying on the pavement torn open, wrapped food spilling out and looking like a deli. We finished eating and then rode on.
I let Tom lead and he proceeded to ride up on the sidewalk downtown, on the left side of the road. This went against all that I know about how I should ride my bike. But I just followed and experienced night-time sidewalk riding. There was nobody out there besides us, we could have ridden our bikes down the center of the road, but both Terry and Tom like to ride on the sidewalk to avoid cars. In the dark it's especially interesting because you have to watch for obstacles like poles and building pillars and benches. And we were moving along at a pretty good clip, not even stopping for the red lights at intersections (there was nobody around) The rules for sidewalk riders are different. It's an attitude of not only owning the road but also any rideable surface. They must have gotten that from the skateboarders ;-) And Tom was very proficient at sidewalk riding.
We got to my turn-off and I headed home. Tonight I got to know Terry and Tom better. I also got to know a few other people while hanging out waiting for the end of the festivities. So it was a good night. Now it's time for coffee.
Have a great day!

Posted by carl1236 at 10:30 AM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

October 8, 2005

Distorted realities

Last night was very interesting. I didn't blog last night because I was gone until after midnight, then was too tired to try to write. I was spending the evening with three friends talking.
During our conversation I heard an interesting story about something that happened to one of them. He was mistreated once and the perpetrator had no clue what he did. Without going into details, my main lesson from this was this:

We can have attitudes about other people and distorted views, based on what we are trying to 'accomplish.' We can treat people like dirt when they don't fit into our plans and not even realize we are treating them like dirt. I see a lot of this going on these days.

Posted by carl1236 at 9:54 AM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

October 5, 2005


Sometimes I feel inadequate when I see all the trouble in the world and I want to help. I want to make a difference. I used to think thoughts like, "Why doesn't someone do something about that?" But that someone is me, and you, and anyone else who cares. It is all of us enrolled in the school of life. We're ALL trying to figure it out. Though some claim to have all the answers, it's still a matter of faith and personal experience. I've said it before, No person can live for another person. We each eat, breath, feel, choose and think for ourselves.
We each do what we can. We have to. If we are blind and cannot see the troubles in this world, in our own backyards, we cannot help. But if we see something wrong, we are obligated to do something. We are guilty of walking by if we don't. It's very harsh, I know. But sometimes I see problems and know I am underqualified, unequipped for what I find. It can be overwhelming and sometimes disheartening. "Can't someone do something to help?" I'm often searching for the answer to the question, "What am I capable of doing right now?" Why can't it be easy. I guess if it were easy I would just do it. I would not bother working with other people and would trivialize it and probably pretty soon abandon helping at all. I guess if there is a struggle or challenge involved, then it's all the more worth doing. Lord have mercy on me, I'm really doing the best I can.
By myself I am a small rain gatherer, bringing water to those that are thirsty. One cup at a time. But together, we can bring a lot of water to a lot of thirsty people.

by Franklin Brainard

I have said, "Dear God," under my breath a thousand times.
Rolling I have wrapped the thousand night sheets around the days
I could not reach, could not hold.
Each day is just beyond my fingers:
my madness, my family's madness, the world's.
Our Father have mercy on me
one of these the least of Your raingatherers.
In a world of earthenware I come with a paper cup.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:17 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

September 19, 2005

Do you know why I like you?

This one drunk guy started talking to me and said, "Do you know why I like you?" I looked at him, trying to figure out what he was going to say. He's an interesting character so one never knows. But he answered before I could respond. "Because you care more about people's feelings than what other people think about you." We'll yeah, I do care about people's feelings and no, I'm not too concerned about what other people think of me. I just keep doing my thing the best I know how. Then I had to give this guy a hug, because he wanted one. And no, he did not pickpocket me, because i don't carry anything in my pockets. But he felt better and when I left he said, "See you later. Have a good night." And I replied the same back to him. So that was the final event of the night and I'm glad he felt good about chatting with me and finding a buddy for a few minutes.
You know why I like you? Because you care about other people. Well that is one asset I feel is worth more than brains or money. The heart of it is how we treat others.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:34 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

September 8, 2005

What a waste!

I was sitting on a park bench watching the world go by. I observed a man smoking a cigarette. He seemed to be enjoying it. By my observations this man obviously had very little to his name. His clothes were ragged, his hair was sticking out in all directions, and he smelled. I could smell the smell of no showers, like I smell myself after a hard workout, followed by cooling off then working in the yard, followed by cooling off and repeatedly sweating. Iíve done it for a few days before with no shower. I smelled like this guy. But I could also smell his cigarette, which probably contributed to the smell of no showers.
Regardless, he seemed to be enjoying his cigarette, contemplating life and looking around. I wonder what his thoughts were. He was probably not wondering about me or why I was sitting on that bench watching people. Maybe he was thinking about when he would go take a shower and where. I like observing people because it reaffirms a lot of what I know about life. Then he finished his cigarette and left. I sat there for a half an hour and thought about this man a little, then he drifted out of my mind, like the smell of his cigarette eventually left my nostrils.
Then he was there again, lighting up another cigarette. I couldnít believe it. I observed this man again, seemingly enjoying another cigarette. I thought, doesnít this man know that itís killing him? How smart can he be if he is willingly and deliberately killing himself!? And by the looks of him, he doesnít need to be wasting his money on cigarettes when he obviously needs new clothes! Cigarettes are so expensive! I thought, ďDoesnít this man realize that he could buy a whole new wardrobe that didnít have holes in it with the money he would save by not smoking!?Ē What a waste of money! Thatís one reason I donít smoke. It is a waste of money and a tool for self destruction. Smoking cigarettes is suicide and a waste of life and money that could be used for a better purpose.
As I was thinking these thoughts, it began to occur to me that I should say something to this man. His life depends on it. He is ignorant about life and needs my help. Obviously he could use new clothes and a shower and a place to live. If he would only make better choices, he could have all of that. Smoking is not a good choice in life and I thought it was important enough to let him know. It doesnít help people to be soft on them. Sometimes they need to know the truth for their own good. So, I went over to him as he was stubbing out his cigarette in the dirt and told him how foolish smoking was. He just looked at me, like he was shocked that I was even talking to him. I donít know what I was expecting for a response, but he could have said, ďFuck you!Ē by the look in his eyes. He just said, ďyeah I know.Ē Then he went on with his business, leaving the cigarette butt on the ground. I wanted to tell him to come back and pick it up. Even after I pointed out the error in his ways, he created another error by leaving his poison on the ground to pollute the earth. Not only is he killing himself, wasting money better spent, but also destroying the environment that I share!
After he left I sat back down on my park bench and my eyes kept being drawn to that cigarette butt on the ground. It was a great focal point and kept reminding me of everything that the cigarette-smoking man was doing wrong and how I wished that only he would realize what was happening to him and to everyone around him that had to smell his smoke and look at his butt. I thought, ďNext time I see this man, Iím going to have to be more forceful to get my point across.Ē He did not come back to the park though before I had to leave.
This did get me thinking though on how I could get people to realize how stupid and wasteful they are being. Their money would be better spent on health foods and clothing and other more important things. From now on, Iím going to show people pictures of dying people and blackened lungs then compare that with pictures of clean-cut, healthy, athletic people riding bikes and climbing mountains and living in decent houses. That will obviously teach them a lesson about life and how to better spend their money.
Now, Iím a fairly decent person, well educated, and I care what happens to other people. If I didnít what kind of a person would I be? I know you think I am being judgmental toward this person, but in the end, I know I am right. I have seen people destroy themselves by smoking and cut 10-20 years off their life when their lungs collapsed and had to go on oxygen, then die of pneumonia in the hospital. And to think of how much better their lives could be if only they would see what I see. In a way I am so thankful for the enlightenment I have gained so I donít make these kinds of poor choices in my life. I owe a lot of that to my broad education and my willingness to look at myself. That is why I donít smoke. I am willing to admit when I am doing something self-destructive and foolish and have the ability to fix my errors in thought. This is the product of years of study and hard work and life experience! So even though I might have been a little harsh when I talked to that man about smoking, telling him how bad it was for him and how he was wasting his money and his life, I knew it was for his own good.
Then God spoke to me and said, ďFuck you,Ē and walked back inside, throwing his cigarette butt on the ground, never to return. ďWhat a waste,Ē he muttered to himself.

Posted by carl1236 at 1:57 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

September 6, 2005

intellectually and brilliantly Ďdissingí each other

I met a person the other day who believed he had all the answers and everyone else was wrong and he let everyone know. Then when someone pointed out his hypocrisy he qualified his statements with a handy phrase like, ďOh Iím the worst. Hell, donít look at me. I admit that I am a fool.Ē This could have just as easily been me or any number of people I know at different times in our lives. One of the first stages in awareness is to recognize things are screwed up. Often this is accompanied by finger pointing and blaming others for the mess. Itís easy to point the finger at the Republicans or the Democrats or the Religious institutions like the Catholic Church, or the Fundamentalists or the immigrants or the Natives. Itís easy to say other people have it all wrong and thatís why our society is so screwed up. Itís an easy way out. Intellectually we can know all the great quotes and be able to justify our rightness, bolstering our position with the words of the dead and respected. But this brings me to a great point about judging others. Too often we are willing to use anything, even respected and Holy Scriptures to cut others down and lift ourselves up. Itís like the idea that the world will see my brilliance because I am right and I have the intellectual knowledge to back it up. The problem with this by itself is that it is only partial knowledge. It lacks love for the republicans, the democrats, the Catholics, the Fundamentalists, the immigrants or the Natives. We can so easily forget to love each other in the name of being right.
The next stage of awareness is seeing through the screwed up-ness of a situation and seeing the real people involved and finding a way to love them. Often in this stage we are confronted with our own hypocrisy because we find it conflicting to condemn and judge the very people we love, like our mothers, brothers, sisters, friends or lovers. This is one reason we are told by God to love our neighbors as ourselves. Itís much harder to condemn and judge someone we really love.
I think the next stage of awareness is action based on love. When we witness a car accident, itís not enough to sit by and watch the victims die. Even if they are a drunk driver and Ďdeserveí what they get, we still have a responsibility to try to do something. If we see someone getting sucked in on a moneymaking scam or taken advantage of by someone with less than scrupulous motives, isnít it our responsibility to try to do something? On a more subtle level our own actions are models for everyone else. We create change by being what we know is right and good. When we see a screwed up world it does help the world if we are not co-creators of the screwed-up-ness of it all.
Our intellects can be truly brilliant at convincing ourselves that we are better than everyone else, while we are still part of the problem. Awareness and enlightenment is not the same as being Ďright.í Being Ďrightí is not enough. It is only partial knowledge that has not led to true wisdom and healing. This is the difficult and narrow path. Jesus walks in our midst all the time, challenging our intellect. Today it was an older woman pushing a stroller, followed closely by a very young boy. I was eating a hotdog and drinking a soda when she looked at me and said, ďCan you help us get something to eat?Ē I replied with the fact that I had just spent my last three dollars on this food, which I was eating while walking. She said, ďOkĒ and kept walking. Then the truth hit me. Yeah, I had just been challenged. Technically I did spend my last three dollars in cash, but I could have bought that entire family lunch with my cash card. It was not my last three dollars, though spending money on her would have been an interruption in my planned lunchtime activity and destination. I did not see through the situation to the real person until after the opportunity was missed. I did not apply the knowledge of Ďlove your neighbor as yourself.í In this case I was being inconvenienced. Hopefully I will be more aware next time instead of standing by and watching the wreckage and blaming someone else or saying itís someone elseís problem. We are all more beneficial to the world if we stop intellectually and brilliantly Ďdissingí each other and apply the love that comes with complete knowledge or wisdom.

Posted by carl1236 at 8:45 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

August 25, 2005

She has her work cut out for her

From the AP news today:

"The Bush administration will be represented at the ISNA (Islamic Society of North America) meeting by Karen Hughes, a Bush confidante who recently was confirmed as undersecretary of state for public diplomacy. Her tasks include improving the U.S. image in Muslim countries."

I find it hard to believe that a Bush confidante could accomplish the task of improving the U.S. image in Muslim countries. I find it even harder to believe that the Muslim countries in the Middle East would buy any rhetoric that comes out of the mouths of our current administration. Our country is not on a 'peace keeping mission' in the Middle East. It's an exercise in Power and Control over other people, bully-style. When the most powerful nation in the world wants something it takes it uses force. Instead of looking at our bully-ish attitudes and corrupt moral values, our government uses lies to appease the nation and force to carry out it's greed.

Good luck Karen Hughes. You have a job that your own administration fights against.

Posted by carl1236 at 6:36 AM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

August 21, 2005

Real Voices, Real thoughts

Yesterday I worked all day fixing bicycles and then went to the Bell Museum for the 'Bike-in-at-the-Bell' event. It was cool. A lot of people showed up. I spent a lot of money eating two dollar slices of Spokes Pizza. I bought some for my friends too. They brought it by bicycle of course. Maybe they didn't expect it to be such a huge event because they only brought two pizza's the first time. It sold out quickly. The second time they brought six pizzas. The line was huge and they were quickly out again. Who would have thought? Their pizza is really good though!
Then I checked out all of the tables there, with various people representing their group. I chatted with them and grabbed some literature off their tables and made plans to contact a few of them later. Good stuff. In the middle there were a few people selling their home-made CD's and other things. I bought Katey and Gordon's greatest hits. Why them out of all the ones at the table? Energy. They had it and there was a reason I needed to hear and read their words. Katia had also written a few 'zines.' which she gave me to read. This morning that's what I did. I read them. I'll talk about this more in a minute because it relates to the subject of this blog entry: Real Voices, Real Thought.
They had live music there, which was both amusing, sad and good. I heard one person describe some of the music as "Fresh." It was fresh. I ran into other people I knew there. I saw a lot of bicyclists I've met over the past year-and-a-half. We were all sitting around on the lawn, getting our butts wet from the grass and listening to music, eating, talking. Then between 9:40 and midnight or something we watched bicycle movies made by local independent film-makers. Very cool and interesting.
We tore down our display and took it back to the bike shop and I decided to hang out at the Bobo club for a few and chat with some of the 'community' people I've met around there. It was fun. I showed David the 'Zines' I got and the CD, and he got all excited and talked about the 'Zine' stands in New York where they sell hundreds or thousands of these or whatever. He liked them and enjoyed reading them. I happened to mention I thought they were like blogs. That's when we dove into a murky pool of thoughts and anti-thoughts about the internet. David can't stand the internet and sees it as a cesspool of unliterates pretending to write and being phony. Don't judge David yet or get defensive about your blogs. It's all in a discussion that happened on the deck of a night-club after midnight when morning people like me should have been in bed, resting my athletic muscles. Instead I was there listening and trying to figure out logically why there was such a contradiction in his head. Not just one contradiction but many contradictions. And not just contradictions, but also sweeping generalizations where made and used for argument's sake to bolster his beliefs. For instance, people on the internet are poor writers and would never be published in a book. People on the Internet steal writers ideas and publish them for the whole world for free. The internet is filled with people looking at porn. The internet is full of 'garbage' and you can't find the 'real,' 'valid' information. People are hiding behind their anonymous screen names. I say, "Whatever!" It's too easy, just like these statements to commit the crime we detest so much: Not seeing the person behind the pseudonyms and the screennames and the rantings and the type-style, the network, monitor, keyboard the fingers that typed them, the minds that thought the thoughts. Who are these people posting their thoughts for the world to see or for themselves to read? No matter what medium, it's still real people and the internet is no less real than the real-life drama we see all around us. The drama unfolds at the bobo club as people hook-up, push each other away, celebrate each other's birthdays while drinking their fears under the table, with candles that relight when you blow them out. People laugh, and people cry. It's all about finding our voice and living. People want to be heard, recognized, treated like a equal human being that is alive, not marginalized, generalized, or classified.
Katia said in her 'zine,' "To everyone I say, 'you don't know me, you don't know me.'"
I'd say that's a real voice, a real person. yep. Loving each other is a willingness to look at people and not marginalize or talk down to them or classify them. You can rant all you want, but there you go. That's your voice. You want to be heard. You are a real person too, trying to figure out your life, or maybe you think you know what life is all about and everyone else is on crack. It's life. It's your life and you are speaking. It's a real voice and you have real thoughts. let 'em rip. I love you for who you are David.

Posted by carl1236 at 9:47 AM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

July 31, 2005

Wedding Crasher

Yesterday morning my Father-in-Law got married again. (I got home really late last night, so I couldn't blog, sorry) It was a beautiful ceremony with just the immediate family present. Then after the ceremony we went to his house where friends and extended family were invited to have food and drink and enjoy the special day. It was really low-key but special I think.
I think it would be tough to get remarried. I've been married for 22 years, and honestly can't even imagine what it would be like without my partner. We have done a lot of growing together and form a team. One cannot live without the other. At least that's the way it seems. I'm sure if forced to separate, we would cope. My wife's mom passed away a few years ago and it was really hard on all of us. But even harder, I imagine is to go on without a person's true love. I don't know how he managed. So empty life would seem.
But his new bride is elegant, witty, smart, gracious and loving. From what I've seen she's a great mom and grandmother. She said something really cool that I wanted to capture here. I can't remember her exact words but it was something like this, "I've heard that when we lose the love of our lives, it's very difficult to remarry because no-one can measure up to what we have lost. I used to believe that. But then someone told me that it is those who have loved the greatest that know how to love and will love like that again. I believe this is true now."
We are all thrilled for both of them and are happy for them. We are also happy that we are gaining another family for holidays!
Yesterday was a perfect day. No sour notes or wedding crashers could detract from the beauty of two people coming together.

Posted by carl1236 at 7:27 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

July 28, 2005

Spit on me

Tonight as I rode home, I must have had a sign on my back that said, "Spit on me," because someone in an SU-type vehicle gunned it's engine and zoomed by. When they were level with me I saw a person throw something at me and felt water splash on my face and mouth. Then they gunned their engine and zoomed away.

As they were speedng by I felt the splash. Who knows what it really was. Now I know what that feels like.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:26 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

July 17, 2005

The heat of the day

This morning I went with Dave and Katherine to the Riverview Theater in Minneapolis to watch the Tour de France broadcast live on the big screen. This weekend and next weekend they have opened their doors to the public to watch OLNís coverage of the Tour de France for free. It was really awesome to see the action larger than life and to see the theater packed with people! It was a whole new experience when the crowd in the theater started clapping when George Hincappie won the stage.
This stage in the Tour de France was brutal for the riders, with so many steep climbs and high temperatures wear them down. As the pace picked up and the miles went on and the hills got steeper, the riders grabbed for whatever water they could get, even taking water from the spectators who were trying to help them. Normally they donít do that because of the danger of taking something from a stranger. Today I saw many of them taking water and drinking it as well as pouring it over their bodies. On the mountain climbs the speed kept going up as Lance Armstrong and the other overall contenders tried to narrow the gap between them and the breakaway, and soon the peleton exploded into a lot of smaller groups and individuals struggling forward. As they were trying to survive the heat of the day, they were dropping like flies and just trying to survive the race.
After we left the air-conditioned theater we were hit hard by the heat of the mid-morning sun and it brought back the misery of the past few days of our heat wave. The temporary relief of the theater felt good. But Dave and Katherine donít have air conditioning at home so it was right back in it for them. We were talking about how we were all coping, or not coping, with the heat. I was saying that riding my bike yesterday wasnít too much of a problem, but when I got home I was treated to A.C., a glass of ice water and a cool shower. Katherine was telling me how itís almost impossible to get anything done at home right now and itís been miserable sleeping at night. I remember that up until two years ago, we didnít have AC either and my wife got so miserable that she started crying. It was hot we were exhausted. One of the worst things about the heat is not being able to sleep. Katherine was saying that itís been so hot that the sheets of the bed feel like they are on fire, and when itís this hot we stick to everything. We start to become delirious and grouchy and lack the desire and energy to do anything but escape the heat. I think itís really not the heat that eventually gets to us, but the lack of proper sleep. We can handle a few days without too much sleep but when it drags on we start dropping like flies, wondering if weíll survive the heat of another day.
Downtown, many of the homeless guys Iíve met have been searching for shelter; anyplace that has AC that will let them hang out for a little while. They go to the grocery store and shop for an hour and buy one thing. They go to the mall or store or library until someone tells them to move on. And how do they sleep at night? One of them told me heís getting about 3-4 hours of sleep at a time. Without a ready shower, the dirt and sweat of the day compound the problem over a few days. A couple of the guys were starting to get a little crabby in the bike shop yesterday. It didnít escalate into a problem, but some heated words flew back and forth. In a bike race, like the Tour de France, the riders can have as much water and energy drinks they want, with food along the way to maintain their strength in the heat, but these guys donít eat very well, often eating only the one free meal at the church in the evening. All they wanted to do was find a cool place to sit and crash for a while. Even a few hours of relief would be heaven.
Iíve felt like this off and on throughout my life too, drained of energy and desire to go on. When lifeís troubles hit us like a heat wave, we handle them one at a time, until they keep coming at us. Itís easy to say, ďOh I can handle the heat,Ē when we can go home to the AC and sleep at night. Itís often easy for us to give words of advice to others when we donít have a mental, emotional or physical disability. We often forget what itís like even if we have experienced the ongoing heat of everyday life. Try not being able to find meaningful work for years on end. Try being kicked out of grocery stores because we are not really shopping, but ďloitering.Ē When the pressures and struggles of life get steeper and faster and our family is dying of cancer around us, or our children are born with birth defects that require a lot more work of us, or our children steel from us and lie to us and we get laid off from our jobs because the company wanted to boost their profits, it can wear us down. We get sick and have to miss work and have to give up our dreams to pay our medical bills. Those are just examples, and each of us has our own struggles and mountains to climb, but when they keep coming and we donít have the fuel and hydration and relief, we start to fall off the back, drop out, bonk from lack of energy, until we are just struggling to stay in the race. We can easily be demoralized and lose hope. We say, ďOh I can handle it,Ē when we are on a roll. But I know, Iíve been there a few times, and no we donít always handle it, we melt and become delirious and depressed.
One thing we can all do is give each other a little relief from the heat, the struggles and rejections and hassles of life, whether thatís being a friend, listening, sharing our lunch, doing an activity together, giving a word of praise where deserved, or helping someone maintain their dignity. Even a smile can be a moment of relief, like those guys along the Tour de France race route giving the riders water bottles when they need it the most. One thing I find very sad is the lack of hope that comes from grinding away in misery. Life doesnít have to be that way, especially when we are blessed with the emotional strength, resources and time to make a difference.

Posted by carl1236 at 8:07 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

July 12, 2005

Crappy Attitude

Here is a crappy attitude by a citizen of this fine country made up of mostly immigrants, refugees and their decendants. (from a letter to the Star Tribune) :

"We have separation of church and state in this country. Why not separation of church and work? Why should employers be held ransom to ridiculous claims of religious persecution by a group of people whom we never asked to come to this country?

I have a simple solution: If you feel you are being persecuted, go back to where you came from and leave us alone! We have many larger problems to deal with than to cater to you.

Al Heinle, Maple Grove."

Where is this guy's love? It's downright ugly and embarrassing.

Posted by carl1236 at 3:31 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

July 11, 2005

Stone Soup

I've heard the story told a few different ways, but the premise is that someone without any food makes a show of making soup out of a pan of water and a 'magic' stone. Then it gets the best of other people and they add something to it to give it a little flavor. Pretty soon there is a real pot of stew that everyone who contributed shares.
There is a principal in this story that's applicable to a good life for everyone. In today's age of wealth and prosperity for some, there are still people living in abject poverty. There are also problems in our society like starvation, fraud, theft, assault, vandelism, etc. If everyone committed to contributing something useful and positive to solving the problems, instead of just complaining and pointing fingers, pretty soon we'd have a real pot of stew that everyone can share; nourishing and fulfilling for everyone.
Whatever small thing you can do to make a difference in this world or your corner of it, do it. Even if it's a very small thing. It all adds up and builds on itself, like stone soup until we have a whole that is greater than it's ingredients and the burden is not heavy on any one person.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:53 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

July 10, 2005

The Gateway

Today I rode the entire Gateway trail with 9 other people. What a beautiful trail! It's almost all flat and is about 18-19 miles long. It's kind of difficult finding the start of the trail but once you're on it, it's awesome.
Really, the trail is nice, but that's not really the story that's worth telling. The story is really in the interesting, nice people who went on the ride. 2 of the guys are living at the Dorothy Day Center in St. Paul. One guy lives in his van with his wife and two live in a tent in some wooded area a little ways away from Downtown St. Paul. I'm bringing up their living conditions for a couple of reasons. It's not so I can class them as a subgroup of society but so I can tell you about a few dynamics of the ride:
One of the planned stops was DQ. One of the guys told me that he wasn't going to come because everyone was planning on stopping at DQ and he didn't have any money, but then he decided to come anyway. I'm glad he did. He really enjoyed the ride!
Another guy was borrowing a bike because his old Schwinn Caliente (A really heavy 10-speed, I used to have one) was broken. He was telling me how he uses it to get around and how useful it's been. Over the last few months I've seen a lot of the guys who live at the Dorothy Day Center. Many of them have 'earned' a bicycle at the Bike Depot by doing cleanup, fixing bikes, sorting parts, or other odd jobs. Some of them are regular customers for used parts now because they commute all over by bike. Tomorrow he's going to 'trade in' his old bike for one I have in my garage.
When we got to the park at the end of the trail, I could see a difference in people by what they ate. A couple people broke out their trail mix or nutrition bars and drank some energy drink to rehydrate. But these guys broke out a bag of day-old rolls, bread and muffins from the thrift store, which they put in the middle of the table for everyone to share. Nutrition for them is really about what they can afford to buy at the time or what someone shares with them.
Another interesting thing was that all 5 of the 'homeless' guys smoked cigarettes. And along the ride they made a few 'smoke break' stops. 3 of them even smoked while riding.
For 3 guys, this was their very first ever group ride and they definately said they were coming back for next month's ride.
One thing we all had in common though was a bike. In fact 8 of us use a bike as our primary means of transportation. But the one guy who lives with his wife in their van drove that to the bike shop and unloaded his bike from his living room. He usually drives his van everywhere, then uses the bike for short rides from his base of operations.
On the way there I rode with the heavy smokers so that no-one was left behind. I was reasonably sure on the way back that they'd all make it back ok so I rode with three people who were going at a faster pace. The Gateway trail runs really close to Lake Phalen and one of them had the idea to ride over and take a quick swim in the lake. Wow, what a great idea. We went for it. We found the beach and took everything out of our shorts pockets and had one person watch the bikes while three of us went for a swim. It was awesome. Then I came back out of the water and let the other guy go for a swim. It was very refreshing! After that we hopped on Arcade and rode down to the Swede Hollow trail back to downtown. We pulled up and the rest of the group was already there, sitting on the steps chatting and chilling out. They had been there for about 20 minutes when we arrived. Not bad for a major detour. By the way, we were almost completely dry by the time we got back. They didn't know we went for a swim and said, "I thought you guys were ahead of us!" Haha, we had to tell them we went swimming.
I am really glad I went along on this ride. These are a great group of people.
Next month, I think on the 23 of August they are planning a camping-overnighter-bike trip. That will be an experience I don't want to miss.
I have a lot more to talk about, but unfortunately I'm tired from spending all day in the sun and am headed to bed now. I'm thankful for my shower, good meal, house with AC and bed tonight. I'm also thankful I have a full-time job. I'm also thankful for the new friends I'm making who share their bread at the table.

Posted by carl1236 at 9:54 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

July 8, 2005

Street Racing with the Neighborhood Boys

As I was riding home in the dark a few nights ago, I turned a corner and found myself surrounded by a group of neighborhood boys on bikes. One of them yelled, ďHey, letís race!Ē and he took off pedaling his little wheels like a hummingbird. I said, ďOK!Ē Then I told him he is really fast. His buddies dropped off pretty quickly but this guy picked up speed. I kept his pace, slightly behind and about 6 blocks down the road he pulled off to the corner. I waved to him and said, ďCool! See ya later! Good job!Ē I didnít know what to say to him really. Whatís an encouraging word to a kid who could spin so fast? Those 20Ē wheels were smoking! Well, it was dark and I couldnít see them actually smoking but I thought for a minute I smelled burning rubber ;-)
For me this encounter was a highlight of my day. Itís real life. Like the little boy hanging out by the bike shop looking for something to do, these boys were no different. They beg to be occupied by something interesting and challenging. They also want to be recognized, treated with respect, like real people. Too often we marginalize certain people in our society. We donít know we are doing it to them usually, because weíre not the ones watching them go outside with their heads down. Iíve seen it happen now with the homeless guys Iíve been working alongside at the bike shop. Some people are very critical of them and use degrading comments. They also distrust them and think automatically that they are going to steal things. Iíve seen one homeless guy walk away with his head down, not looking the person in the eye. I tell you, what is a guy going to believe when heís constantly told how crappy he is?
What would the outcome have been if I told those boys to beat it, get away from me, or if I mocked them and told them they were too slow to keep up with me? They might have just blown it off but they might have also hung their heads. They probably get put in their place enough the way it is. So it would be nothing new for them.
I doní t have the expertise to design and put in place new youth and homeless/people out of work programs myself, but I feel myself being drawn in that direction. I wish I could find a good volunteer to head up something like that. There are examples to follow throughout the U.S. of earn-a-bike programs and youth education programs. So I wouldnít have to start from scratch. Evidently the Bike Depot has even been part of starting neighborhood bike clubs with a set of bikes and training on basic maintenance, safety and riding activities. Itís a good idea. There should also be follow-up and ongoing work to continue what was started.
Besides full-blown organized efforts to get people engaged, being aware of and recognizing the curious boy who wants to help and the neighborhood boy who spins like a hummingbird is a good start. And itís good to comment on the things the homeless guy is doing right, rather than finding fault and making sure he knows itís his fault. Even if we are too busy to work with them or participate in something with them at the moment, there is always a respectful way to treat other people and allow them to maintain their dignity.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:44 AM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

July 7, 2005

Today's volunteer from Hell

Today a couple of volunteers were putting something together and were trying to figure out how it worked. A little neighborhood boy came by and was interested in what they were doing. He wasn't being rude or disrespectful. I picked up the photograph of the finished product and studied it to see if I could help them figure it out. After we decided to assemble a few pieces one way, according to the photo, I handed the little boy the photo and asked him to hold it. Then one of the volunteers realized he was there and told the little boy to put down the picture and get out. He said, "We don't need your help, get out. Put down the paper and leave!" The little boy did what he said, but afer he left I told this guy that that was not a good way to treat another person. He replied, "We don't need someone telling us how to do something, especially when they don't know what they are doing."
I was stunned. After the boy left I told this volunteer that was pretty rude and I walked outside to catch the boy. I told the boy who was moping around out there that it was ok, not to take it personally, that the guy who said that to him was frustrated at his project and didn't know how to deal with it so he took it out on him. The boy said, 'yeah,' with his eyes down on the ground and then started playing around with a couple of other kids outside. Nothing gives us the right to treat other people like crap.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:59 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

July 3, 2005

A bike ride with my neighbor

Today was the second time I've gone for a leisurely bike ride with my neighbor. He cleaned up an old Free Spirit 3-speed and has ridden it a couple of times before. There is one thing my neighbor and I have in common: Neither one of us like to see things go to waste and think our society has become so used to disposing of things and buying new ones. Just like my 3-Speed bike, his was full of rust when he started. He did a good job of making it into a new bike. I also commend him for his every-day maintenance habits to extend the life of everything he uses. He cleans his shoes and polishes them, he sews his own clothes and stretches his budget when shopping. Some people call it being cheap, but I call it being a good steward of what we've been given. I haven't lived up to that ideal for most of my life. I once totaled a car and had to have my dad and brother replace it's engine because I hadn't changed the oil or even checked it like I should have. I learned an expensive lesson. And I complicated their lives because I couldn't afford to buy a new car and my dad and brother are good mechanics. My neighbor has a 1989 buick that looks and runs like a brand new car. His wifes car is equally as old and like-new. His philosophy is basically to take care of the things he owns so he's not wasting anything. I like this attitude. I can try to emulate some of that by taking better care of the stuff I own. It's just stuff, but is it making the best use of what we've been given by letting them get run down and having to replace them? So tonight when we went out for a bike ride together I grabbed a rag and polished up the chrome on my 3-speed and wiped down my chain and put a fresh coat of lube on it. The chain is still really clean from the last time I rode it and did a thorough cleaning. It didn't take long, and it will help this bike last as long as I own it. It's just stuff but it's not cool to abuse it.
Today after working on my Library shelves some more, I cleaned up and put away my tools in the right spots. I have been guilty in the past of letting my tools lay around outside until they got all rusty. The 'screw it' attitude or simple laziness is really an attitude of waste isn't it? I told my neighbor today that I liked his attitude of good stewardship. I told him he takes good care of his stuff and that I admired that. It's a good trait to have. You know it took me only a few seconds to tell him this, but he really appreciated it. Sometimes it's nice to have feedback on how were are doing. He didn't expect that someone would notice his hard work. But I did. And it has motivated me over the years that we've been neighbors to do better.
Today as we finished our very leisurely ride around the neighborhood on our 3-speed bicycles I asked him to go for another ride tomorrow if he was going to be around. He got all excited about it and said, "Good Idea!"

Posted by carl1236 at 10:02 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

July 1, 2005

Look at those smiles!

I just loved this picture. Curt posted a comment on my blog entry and I followed his email to this site:

Partners in life do make a lifetime difference.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:53 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

June 16, 2005

Building Fences together

tonight I gave up my bike ride to continue building a fence with my wife. She had started earlier today and made a couple of mistakes putting a few pieces together. When I discovered the mistake she got upset because it meant we would have to undo what she did to start over. She got really down on herself and said something to the effect, "Why do I even try these things!?" But I reassured her that it wasn't that big of a deal and not to worry about it or get down on herself. We could fix it fairly quickly and get it done.
One of my base philosophies is to never be too hard on oneself. We can be our own greatest enemy sometimes.
So then I proceeded to put the fence together with my wife's assistance. I made three big mistakes, each time having to tear apart what I just did. I didn't do it on purpose, but I felt my frustration level rising. Then I realized that I just got to experience the frustration my wife felt. What a gift! This is another good reason to not be too hard on others either. It's better to look for solutions than to find fault. That's how we build fences together.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:43 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

June 11, 2005

What I'm reading right now

The mugging of America
by Bill Moyers

The edited transcript of Bill Moyer's speech, delivered June 3 at the Take Back America conference in Washington, DC.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:52 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

May 24, 2005

The Illusion of A to B

In the big picture of what we call life, what are we in such a hurry for? We all seem to be trying to get somewhere, whether that's a physical place or a certain job or title or status. Point A to Point B, Point A to Point B, Point A to Point B. Billy Joel sang out, "Slow down you crazy child, you're too ambitious for a juvenile!" And where are we when we get from point A to Point B? And who's Point A and Point B are we travelling through? And what's with this need for speed to get to where we are going? And what do we miss by zooming around to get somewhere as fast as we can?
This weekend I went on a bicycling event unlike any other I've been on. The greatest part of the event wasn't the 3-Speed bikes we rode or the ride from Point A to Point B, Point A to Point B, Point A to Point B. Even though we did have a tour book and a map, it wasn't the destinations that mattered. The woman riding next to me talking about her children and me talking about mine, and the bicycling author that's sending me informaton on his books talking about his cycling adventures across the country, mattered. The illusion is that we have to get somewhere or be someone special to make the journey worthwhile.

Posted by carl1236 at 9:21 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

May 15, 2005

Numb Lips

Today I was at church and heard a song on a flute that sounded really cool. I thought it would sound good on my trumpet also, so after the service I talked to the music director and found out what the song was. She gave me a copy of the sheet music they use in the music program and I brought it home to try out on my trumpet. It was like that song, ďIt was the summer of 69...I bought my first real six string...played it til my fingers bled..Ē except it was today and I played a trumpet until my lips were numb. It was fun though, and I was right, this song did sound good on my trumpet! What felt really good though was the spontaneous rekindling of my love for playing music. I actually got out my trumpet after a long break, oiled it up and played.
I like the image of trumpet playing as a model of how to treat others with love and compassion. Like trumpet playing, we have to build up our strength to be able to do more, play longer and hit those high notes. When we first start practicing we are not conditioned to it and we have little stamina to keep playing. Today my lips got to a point where I just couldnít play the note anymore. But the more we do something the easier it gets. Thatís kind of the idea behind the Ďpractice random acts of kindnessí philosophy. If we do one random act of kindness each day, then it becomes habit and easier to do. After a while our fingers donít bleed anymore and our lips donít get numb. And itís beautiful music.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:47 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

May 13, 2005

the Trailer guy

Tonight on the way home from work I saw a guy bent over his bike trailer trying to use some tools on the back wheel. It looked like he things under control but my heart told me I should stop and make sure he had everything he needed to fix it. He answered, "Do you have a nut for this wheel?" The problem was that he had this old Burly trailer that was all beat up that no longer had the original wheels and the right wheel had two issues: The cones were loose and the wheel hub was too narrow for the frame mounts, so he could not tighten the wheel in place. He needed another nut on the axel bolt to tighten against for the bracket. I saw his problem and offered to take the nut off my old Schwinn front wheel since I was so close to home anyway. I know I have some spare wheel nuts at home so it was no big deal. I checked out his wheel and showed him how to tighten the wheel cones and he was appreciative about that, then he showed me the way he rigged up the hitch because the original piece was missing. Then I was holding his bike upright for him while he put his tools away in his bag and felt the back wheel wobbling. I shook the bike back and forth and saw his back wheel cones were loose also. I told him he would have to get that fixed soon or it would wreck the wheel. He got his wheel back on and looking at his trailer, rode off nodding approvingly. Sometimes regardless of the appearances or what our physical senses tell us, it's good to listen to our hearts. In all of my experiences I've usually found a good reason for doing so. At the least it's a considerate act and generates a positive feeling in both people.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:16 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

May 12, 2005

Sharing a cookie

Today was another rainy day. In my email I was having a deep philosophical conversation with a friend. I thought I might go for a run at lunchtime but didnít feel like getting drenched again. It was warm and stuffy in the office and I was sleepy. Everyone seemed a little out of it today and quiet. By about 3pm I had to get out of there and take a break, so I walked over to the bike shop and talked with a few people. I bought a hot cup of mocha and two peanut butter cookies, one for me and one for Terry at the shop. He recommended the peanut butter because thatís his favorite. It was really good too.
Then the inventor was there trying out tires on his rim. I talked to him about working on bikes and things. Then the possible new bookkeeper came in and was looking at the shop. He offered suggestions on how to make it more efficient and to keep track of our parts better. I soaked it in and thought about what he was saying. I think now that big changes are in store for the bike shop. It felt awkward to me talking to him, mainly because he was talking about changing everything before he was even sure if he was going to be doing the bookkeeping there. He talked about getting all of the parts in an inventory and being able to pull up parts on the computer and making hanging racks on rollers for the bikes and labeling major parts that come off bikes and entering them in the database and accounting for inventory. And he was talking to me like I was in charge of the shop and expected me to tell Andrew all of his ideas. I was just there having a cookie and coffee with Terry.
There is one thing I have to mention. There are a lot of people who would like to run that shop and they talk about how it should be run when no one else is around. A lot of places are like this though. Once you get to know who the people are you start seeing the quirks and weirdness of it all. In this case almost everyone is a volunteer. They hired a good bike guy to run the shop, but heís the only one getting money for this. But the volunteers that have been around a while seem to have strong opinions about how things should be done. I just want to fix bikes and help out where I can. But this is one reason I didnít volunteer for the board; I wanted to get to know the whole operation and who was involved. Things will change, I can feel it. People on the board are making decisions about the bike shop that the volunteers donít know about. One thing I can see coming is that the homeless people this shop serves will be left without a bike shop resource like this. Iíve heard people say something to the effect that itís not the mission of the bike shop to be a homeless shelter. But to me thatís one of the worthwhile things they were doing. Homeless people could volunteer and earn a bike. And several have. Terry is homeless and heís there every day working on bikes. Listening to Terry talk is exciting because heís getting excited about something. Heís organizing and leading rides now. Heís bringing in donated bikes. Heís getting people to bring their bikes in for repairs so he can earn bike parts. Heíll be riding in the Grand-Ole-days parade and heís excited about it. So what would happen with Terry if this shop should happen to close? I think building a comfort level, trust and community takes a long time. This shop has itís own community. But the mission may be different than the board thinks. I see that they want to expand and increase in size, opening another location in higher biking areas, catering to those who are wealthier and already bike. Teaching classes to kids in schools and to whomever else will pay for biking education. Weíll see. Iím just observing and helping where I can. And to tell you the truth, eating a cookie with a homeless guy and listening to him get excited about doing these things is a lot more interesting than getting a new shop on the greenway. Itís like spotting a flower that found a way to grow up through the cracks in an urban sidewalk. The busy city people rush by in their all-important urban daily missions and fail to notice the beauty of what is at their feet.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:09 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

April 22, 2005

ďEven we have our standards!Ē

What is an abandoned girlís Murray 3-Speed Bike worth? Today while running I saw another abandoned bike! I found out from another guy later that it had been there for a few weeks. Itís been a few weeks since I ran by there so I didnít notice it until today. I decided to pick it up and take it back to the bike depot to put it back into use or recycle. So I ran, wheeling the bike along on my right side, holding onto the handlebar. The tires were flat but it coasted ok with no weight on it.
When I got to the Sibley Bike Depot, they all looked at me like I was crazy. Dave looked at it and said it was junk, to scrap it. He might know something about the value of bikes, and what people would pay for them. But this bike seemed to be in pretty good shape other than two flat tires and it seemed to be a shame to scrap something that was working. They didnít really want it so I made a snap decision to clean it up myself and find a rider for it. Is there any reason this bike shouldnít be out on the road being ridden? So I pumped up the tires, they even held air! I then rode this bike back to work from the bike shop and it was a smooth ride. It needed a little adjustment on the brakes to make them grab properly, but that only took a few seconds.
Old steel can get rusty if neglected. Then we want to throw it away for a newer model. People can be neglected and devalued and then we want to discard them also for newer, better models. It would be a shame to scrap something that is working even if some people determine there is no value in them.

Posted by carl1236 at 5:20 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

Changing Light Bulbs

Last night after my bike ride I got home, ate dinner, watched a little TV, talked with my wife and by the time I decided to get to work on the computer it was dark outside. I went into the library and turned on the light and there was a quick flash, a popping sound and then it went dark. The light bulb had burnt out. Actually that ceiling fixture has three bulbs and evidently they were all burnt out.
Obviously this didnít happen all at once. I wondered how long the other bulbs had been burnt out! After I changed them it seemed so bright in there! I must have gotten used to only one bulb after some time.
As I screwed in the first of the three light bulbs, the light came on. Just a few minutes before this my wife and I had been talking about neglected friendships and how itís easy to get caught up in life and get too busy and before we know it, months or years have gone by without any contact. Sure it happens and we donít always realize itís happening until itís dark. We even get used to being without them after a period of time as one-by-one they go out of our lives.
I had this thought that it would have been better for my eyesight if I had kept all three bulbs in the library light fixture. And I could certainly think of a few friends I have not talked to in ages, just because we are all too busy. It would be better I think, to keep the lights on and have friends to love and interact with during our daily lives than to be in the dark.

Posted by carl1236 at 5:18 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

April 21, 2005

The St. Paul Art Crawl

It's that time of year again! Every Spring and Fall there is an Art
Crawl in Downtown St. Paul where over 200 artists and galleries open
their doors to the public. For the past several years I've been
volunteering in the Lowertown Lofts as a door greeter, giving out maps,
talking to people about the artists, giving directions, telling them
which floors of the building are open, etc. It's been a lot of fun for
me and I've seen a lot of old friends come through that I haven't seen
in a long time.
Because of my weekend job, I can only be there on Friday night. So
tomorrow night I'll be sitting at the door greeting people. In my
opinion, the Lowertown Lofts is one of the greatest artist's buildings
downtown, partly because they have a 3-story atrium gallery in the
center of the building with the artist's studios surrounding it. The
studios are really cool also, with large windows and ceilings.
Also, somewhere in Lowertown, one of my co-volunteers at the Sibley
Bike Depot is going to be selling bike jewelry that she made from old
inner tubes and bike chains. She showed me the bracelet she made and it
looked really interesting, like braided leather with the chain parts woven in. She's using the money she makes to buy a nice bike frame for herself. What a cool way to recycle old junk.
I hope she sells some of them.

Check out

Posted by carl1236 at 10:57 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

April 7, 2005

Who's my neighbor?

God says, "Love your neighbor." That's not just the person next door but everyone we come into contact with. That's difficult because of the way some people treat us. And when God says, "As yourself," it's treating others the way we'd like to be treated, especially when we are mistreated.

Posted by carl1236 at 5:56 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

April 2, 2005

Less value as a human being?

Today I showed my motorized vehicle to someone who was interested in buying it. I wish I could say that I no longer own it, but I talked him out of buying it. Somehow during the conversation he told me that he wants it because for him it would be a higher status than driving around his old beat up pickup truck. (My car is an SUV by the way). I have a 1989 Jeep Cherokee. As we were talking he basically said that he wasnít as good as people who drove SUVís. I told him that he was just as valuable as every other human being on this planet and no one was greater or less.
Then I proceeded to list the things wrong with my car and showed him how much money he would have to put into it to get it up to ĎFair conditioní (more than the Jeep is worth). The bluebook value of my jeep in fair condition is $1000.00 but this is far from Ďfair.í I compared his current pickup truck with my vehicle and told him all the good things about what he was driving. (He doesnít have to put any money into it to make it into Ďfair conditioní) Plus I told him that if a person could do all the mechanical work themselves it might be worth it, but he has to take his vehicle to the shop to have it fixed. That would cost him more than 1500 dollars I would guess and thatís more than the car is even worth. So finally he said that he might have a mechanic friend who might be interested in it. I told him to have his friend give me a call.
How does someone get the mentality that they are less of a person because of the car they drive? Gee I wonder. Thatís what marketing is all about isnít it. Sell an image and it drives sales of the product. People want to ĎBeí something and advertising plays on fears of Ďnot beingí something. But being the good used-car salesman that I am, I talked him out of buying my car. I told him he doesnít need my car to increase his value as a human being.
So then when I got to work today, one of my coworkers suggested that I donate my car. Someone else on here suggested the same thing. So with one buyer down, and the other one dragging his feet, I may just do that. Iíve already determined that even if I am going to sell my car, Iím going to give all the money to a charity. So whatís the difference? So my intention next week is to find places that want it.
Once I get rid of my SUV, I will have a lower social status than I did, and thus less value as a human being, right? Will I be treated differently because I have no car? Or thought of as less of a person?
I will be so happy when I get rid of it!

Posted by carl1236 at 11:05 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

March 21, 2005

King Boss

This morning started out ok, but after I got to work things turned worse. We had an incident today of abuse by our boss toward one of my female coworkers. He was yelling at the top of his lungs at her in a closed conference room and everyone within 20 feet of the room heard it. We could even hear our coworker crying and saying, "I didn't do anything."
After this went on for a few minutes I had to do something. I went and pounded on the door then opened it. I told my boss that this was unprofessional and that everyone could hear what he was doing. He basically told me to get out, that it was not my place and I didn't understand the circumstances. Then he forced the conference room door closed. I saw my coworkers face covered with tears, face and eyes reddened.
He calmed down after that, but continued to meet with this woman. One of my coworkers called our Human Resources department, who called my bosses supervisor, who came and talked to me about what was happening. I explained what I experienced and heard and told him who else heard it and expressed concern. He reassured me that he was going to talk to my boss after he was done with that meeting.
That's not the end of the story by far because now the union is involved and a report is being filed for workplace violence against my boss. I did not see my boss the rest of the afternoon, but everyone in our department was shook up about it and was having trouble concentrating. I tried to focus on my work but as the day went on, I developed a headache. Finally the day was over and I rode my bike home. Thank God it was nice outside and I was riding my bicycle because the fresh air really helped clear my mind from what happened today. What my boss did was inappropriate. Nothing we do at work is so critical that it's worth bringing an employee to tears over.
I had to step in and stop what was going on, and my coworker thanked me several times today for helping her. She told me she wouldn't have made it if it wasn't for me opening that door. She didn't know what she was going to do. But now as I'm going to bed I wonder how my working relationship with my boss is going to change. They won't fire him. They'll probably repremand him, and tell him not to do that again. Or something. I'm not sure what will happen actually, but I have a strong feeling that our whole department will have to continue to work with him.
So now with my headache, I'm going to bed to try to get some rest. Maybe that will help me think clearly tomorrow on how our team will carry on from this point forward.

On a lighter note, tonight I put two new tires on my old Schwinn 5-Speed bike and oiled up the chain for my retro-commute to work in the morning.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:30 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

March 17, 2005

Palagummi Sainath revisited

On March 1st I wrote about the Journalist from India that was speaking at the U of M, Palagummi Sainath. I first saw an article from an Asian news source, then did a search online for his name and found an article by Brian Kaller in the ĎPulse of the Twin Citiesí newspaper.
Yesterday morning I had a meeting close to the UofM with one of our consultants. As I was walking out of their office building I saw some racks with most of the Free papers and magazines in the Twin Cities, like the Rake, City Pages, the Pulse, etc. I thought it was cool because I really enjoyed that one article by Brian Kaller, but had not had a chance to read the Pulse before that and this was a good opportunity to try it.
My first impression of this newspaper is that I can really identify with many of the things they write about and the way they present them. For instance in this issue, March 9th, they had an article about Virtuous businesses ďwhose success is measured in more than profit.Ē For the bicycling fans reading this, they talk about Peace Coffee, which delivers coffee by bicycle and Spokes Pizza, which delivers pizzas by bicycles. Also they highlighted other good businesses like the Grease Pit Bike Shop on Cedar Avenue in Minneapolis, a nonprofit bicycle collective that provides free bike repair lessons and a public shop with the tools and the facilities to fix and build bikes from salvaged materials, like the Sibley Bike Depot in St. Paul. Then I saw the letters to the editor section and I got sidetracked. I still havenít read the whole newspaper, because there was a letter from someone responding to Brian Kallerís article about Palagummi Sainath. And the writer of the letter, Doug McGill from Rochester, provided a link to his blog, Local Man where he also wrote about Palagummi Sainath. I followed the link and behold, a brand new viewpoint. I found it interesting.

Oh, and Brian, I loved your section in the Pulse, ďIn case you missed it...Ē I did miss hearing about the Department of Homeland Security experimenting with making immigrants who are applying to remain in the United States wear electronic monitors 24 hours a day, like rapists and other convicted criminals wear on parole.
And I especially liked that you put the link in there to the story by National Public Radio. I havenít had time to read it yet, but Iím already appalled at what I just read about. Imagine if we went to another country, like France, Germany or England and their government made us wear those! We would think Hitler won the war.

Posted by carl1236 at 9:23 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

March 16, 2005

A gift from a friend

A long time ago I became friends with a sculptor. His work mostly is meant to make a statement. He has done a lot of work related to slavery and equal rights and issues related to discrimination. When I first met my friend he was working as a security guard at my office building. Several years ago he was working on the piece that he gave to me today as a gift. I would stop by the guard desk and chat with him and see how the work was progressing. It was very interesting to see his whole process from beginning to end.
Over the years I have helped him in different ways, like photographing his work and editing his letters and grant applications, cleaning up his computer, getting his scanner to work, helping him to create brochures, helping him move his sculptures into showings, etc. And because of my friendship with him I also helped out his studio building during the St. Paul Art Crawl by volunteering as a door greeter. Iíve hung out at his studio having long discussions with him about life and family as he was working on his projects. He is a statement artist. Most of his sculptures are related to the plight of the African Americans from slavery to the present. His work has been shown in the Minneapolis Institute of Arts and other prestigious places. I can really relate to him as a sculptor because Iím a sculptor at heart. Except my sculptures are done in wood as a woodcarver. I can see his vision as he is creating a piece and appreciate the composition as itís revealed during the sculpting process.
When he gave me this gift today, I didnít really know how to react. I am not really a good gift receiver. I love to give things to other people, but I donít need anything. I donít crave things or desire things for myself. Iíll buy things myself, but when someone asks me what I want or need, itís hard to say, because I usually donít know I want it until I see it. Iím really a poor consumer because Iím much too content with life without things and I donít crave anything. My friendís sculptures made me think. I appreciated the craftsmanship and vision in his designs. But I didnít particularly have a burning need to have one. Now I received a piece I consider to be one of his best. I tried to refuse, but he said, ďI know I donít owe you this, and that you wouldnít ask for anything in return, but youíve helped me so much I want you to have this. I know you like this piece so I want to give it to you.Ē So I accepted. He wrapped it up in bubble wrap for me and I carried it back to my office. I still donít know how to take this gift. I am thrilled to look at it, because itís a very interesting relief sculpture that tells a good story. I like the bright color and it has a hopeful message.
On the way back to my office two people stopped me to see what I had. They were stunned to see I had one of my friendís sculptures. This sculpture would sell for about 450 dollars. But I didnít buy it, so I had to explain that I didnít buy it. This compounded my guilt in receiving a gift of such value. And I certainly donít want to incur any special favors because of things Iíve done. All I was trying to do was be a good friend to someone who needed a friend. And thatís what I did. Thatís what friends are for. I listened, I helped out where needed and I gave advice when asked. I never expected anything in return. Just because friendship doesnít really expect a return. I think thatís why I have an easy time giving gifts but a hard time accepting them. I donít want anyone to think I have expectations of a return. In my view, friendships are about giving to and uplifting another human being, helping them to live to their potential. I believe in my friend to keep creating his artwork and doing what heís doing to help people see a different view on life and reveal how we often treat each other as human beings. So I accepted his gift and now am wondering what I should do with it. Itís either going to hang in my cubicle at work or in my new library. My friend suggested I hang it in my library because itís new. And this piece talks about the value of life and friendship and lifting up our friends when they are down or downtrodden.
To me, this piece of work as a collectorís item has no value, but as a gift from a friend that shows his appreciation and that he values our friendship, itís priceless. I think before I move it to my new library at home, Iíll display it at work so everyone can see the message of hope in it. Then after a while, Iíll bring it home and keep it by my computer to help me think of my friend and his lifeís mission to get people to think about racism and itís effect on our fellow human beings. Regardless of where it hangs, his gift to me is really his declaration of friendship, which I will never forget. Here is my friend Frank J. Brown's sculpture:
P3170004.JPG Copyright Frank J. Brown

Posted by carl1236 at 11:17 PM | Love your Neighbor

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March 15, 2005

Friends helping friends

I always believed that I should help my friends whenever they were in trouble, whether that was needing encouragement or a few extra dollars to make it through the month. I never looked at my friends as Ďneedyí or having any less value because they asked for help. I felt the opposite because I know how hard it is to ask for help.
I did have to turn some friends down for financial help in the last six months and I felt bad about that. But I really didnít have the resources to give at the time. Now someone has asked for my help, and itís not much, but still it will be inconvenient. So, do I sacrifice a little and help or turn my friend down? The answer for me lies in the meaning of friendship for me. Itís not really about the money.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:51 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

March 11, 2005

Event of the day

My most significant event today was finding a cellphone on the road while riding home and managing to find out who's it was and returning it to the owner. I never found out how it got there but the owner seemed to know how it happened. In any case he was happy to get it back. It was a good day.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:26 PM | Love your Neighbor

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March 1, 2005

ďMcJournalismĒ of the elite media

I am sad that I missed the talks given this last weekend at the University by Palagummi Sainath, one of Indiaís most respected journalists. If any of you saw him in Blegen Hall this weekend, let me know what you thought. Since I missed his talks, I went online in search of information to share with you about what Palagummi Sainath has to say.

Brian Kaller, in the ďPulse of the Twin CitiesĒ magazine, wrote and excellent article about Palagummi Sainath that I thought was worth reading. Some people who read this will be outraged at the light it puts the wealthy in, and some people who read this will be outraged because they did not know this kind of poverty existed. And some people who read this will probably think the poor deserve what they get. Or maybe we agree with everything said, but feel like there is nothing we can do. But as Palagummi Sainath said, Ďseeing it is a choice.í Itís easy to pretend poverty and abuse doesnít exist when we live in our society, where the trend is moving toward shutting out the harsh realities of life.

In this article there is a good interview, so if you missed the talks at the University like I did, see for yourself what Palagummi Sainath has to say:

ďPoverty is not a natural state. It is not a disease. It happens because of what human beings do to other human beings.Ē

ďTake the gap between the richest fifth of the world and the poorest fifth. In the last 20 years, the gap between those groups more than doubled. In 1998, the top fifth consumed 86 percent of all goods and services. The bottom fifth had to make do with 1.3 percent.
Itís very simpleówhen you have gross inequality in any society, you do not have democracy. You cannot have democracy when a huge section of societyís best hope is to become the servants of another group. If you are absolutely poor and absolutely incapable, people stop treating you as a human being. You are a subspecies.Ē

The Excellent PULSE Article by Brian Kaller

I wish we had more reporters like Palagummi Sainath, and Brian Kaller. I especially liked this sentence, ďIn articles and lectures he has harshly criticized the ďMcJournalismĒ of the elite media, urging his colleagues to instead get out among the people and focus on giving a voice to the voiceless.Ē

Posted by carl1236 at 8:24 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

February 27, 2005

Never a lack of things to talk about

This evening we hosted our discussion group for dinner, dessert and conversation. It was also my turn to prepare the discussion topic. Usually the person hosting doesnít have to do the topic but somehow I volunteered for both at the same time, maybe not fully conscious of what I was doing. So tonight my topic was going to be Ďcompassion for others by those in positions of authority,í but my topic got shot down by the committee (my wife). She said I needed to pick a lighter topic. So my plan changed to be much lighter: No topic, just see where the conversation led.
Iím happy that I did that, because we had a very good conversation about crankiness, as people get older, about relationships and problems that happen in relationships with others, and about children. All of us are parents except one woman, but she was talking about her nieces and nephews and friends children. I did notice that even without a set topic we really had a great discussion and we never once lacked something to talk about.

Posted by carl1236 at 9:59 PM | Love your Neighbor

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February 23, 2005

Mobbing: Awareness is the Key

Tonight I'd like to highlight an interesting and excellent person who is working to promote dignity and respect in our schools, workplaces and society. As Gail Pursell Elliot, the dignity and respect lady says, "No exceptions."

Every so often I get an email like this and I thought this one in particular was a good message worth sharing. It talks about mobbing, which is something I was only vaguely aware of and never gave much thought to. Since reading this though, I can recall several incidents at work that would be considered mobbing. Those were really incidents where awareness could have helped stop mobbing before it happened. Here is the whole article, which is really good food for thought:

Food for Thought - Mobbing: Awareness is the Key
©2005 Gail Pursell Elliott

Are you a mobber? Have you ever made fun of people behind their backs? Spread rumors? Played practical jokes that weren't really funny and got others to join in your laughter? Have you joined in some of this behavior thinking you were right or justified, or perhaps because you didn't want to be excluded from the group?

If you have, be aware the next time you are tempted to treat another person in this way that this is mobbing and mobbing is group bullying.

Mobbing has no age, gender, race, or work preference. It can happen to anyone. It is a 'ganging up' on someone using the tactics of rumor, innuendo, discrediting, isolating, intimidating, and above all, making it look as if the targeted person is responsible. As is typical of many abusive situations, the perpetrators maintain that the victim 'deserved it.'

Mobbing is emotional abuse that can result in depression, isolation, paranoia, physical and/or emotional illness, suicide, or violent acts of retaliation. At the very least, it leaves permanent scars. Many targets suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). There is always injury.

Mobbing has been a household word in German-speaking countries for years. The original research on workplace mobbing was done in Sweden, beginning in the early 1980's, by industrial psychologist Dr. Heinz Leymann.

Insight and awareness play a major role in change because many people engage in this type of behavior without thinking. Prevention includes paying attention not only to what we're doing but also to what is going on around us. Most people don't intentionally abuse someone.

While the media showcases big stories, our lives are full of little stories that are never broadcast. We don't hear about the child who is afraid to ride the school bus because no one will sit with them or because of what others say to them or the worker who dreads going to work and suffers from nightmares because of the work environment. We don't hear about people who are so distracted by this type of behavior being directed at them that they are involved in an auto accident.

Here's an example of how insight and awareness can make a difference. A woman had read about workplace mobbing and was telling someone about it. These two attended an aerobics class together. There was a relatively new member of the class who was rather uncoordinated and as a result was throwing everyone off of their rhythm. Although she was friendly, the other class members talked about her, made fun of her behind her back and wished she'd just drop out and leave. Suddenly one of the two chatting about mobbing said, "'Oh my goodness! Are we mobbing this woman?"

It was a revelation. They decided to get to know the woman better. They found that she was an intelligent, professional person who did a lot of good work with teens. They found that when they looked past her loud voice and her uncoordinated movements that she was a person who they could like and respect. That's what the word respect means as I interpret it. To 'look again.'

The woman is still in the class. She stands in the back row. And the others have stopped their mobbing behavior simply because they became aware of what they were doing, and the implications and potential result of their actions.

Most of us choose to believe that we are basically good human beings. And we're right. The more aware we become of the fact that others are good human beings also, worthy and entitled to be treated with dignity and respect without exception, the closer we will be to recreating our world and helping to heal it. Awareness is the key.

Have a great day and be good to yourself. You deserve it!


©2005 Gail Pursell Elliott All rights reserved.
Food For Thought is part of the Dignity and Respect message that is Innovations. If you enjoyed this Food For Thought message, please share it with others. Honor the copyright and forward this email in its entirety.
Reprinting or re-distribution in any form for commercial use, including reproducing or displaying on your website, requires permission. Contact Gail at or at 515.388.9600

Gail has more food for thought articles on her website as well as books, posters and other tools to help promote dignity and respect for everyone. I am interested reading those books sometime. They look very useful and thought provoking. Check it out. I think she is providing a useful service to our businesses and society. If we really want a better society, this is a good way to start changing it, with love and dignity and respect for each human being, no exceptions.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:12 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

February 19, 2005

Generalizations and Stereotypes

Are usually wrong.

Reduce the world down to the size of a pea
and what do we see?


Usually we find that when we stereotype someone we really havenít gotten to know them. And this is sad.
We usually don't like this done to us.

Posted by carl1236 at 7:55 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

February 13, 2005

NASCAR Fresh Air

Today at the group home, I had the NASCAR Daytona 500 qualifications on the TV for one of the guys who likes to watch racing. It was just a coincidence that I was flipping through a men's fitness magazing and saw a little table with statistics about two of auto racing's hottest stars, Kasey Kahne and Dan Wheldon. Last year Kasey Kahne earned $4,759,022 and Dan Wheldon earned $1,640,790 for racing cars. And I think others like Dale Earnhardt Jr. or Jeff Gordon probably earn more than that with all of the endorsements they do.
What struck me as really odd, was that all around me, I'm reading about people like Jim who gave up his car to fight pollution and reduce dependency on oil and I'm even working on that myself. This idea of fighting global warming is important. But obviously not important enough when money is concerned. Auto racing is big money! It's kind of interesting that while one person is giving up their car on a daily basis, which in our society can sometimes be a sacrifice, another one is driving at speeds of 205mph to 220mph, consuming more fuel and releasing more toxins into the air than many normal cars, and getting paid millions of dollars to pollute the environment. I don't think any of these professional drivers will be giving up their cars or careers any time soon. I'm sure there are millions of ways to justify why this is ok. They most likely don't think about the environment and most racing fans probably don't consider the impact on our environment either. And if they did, would they still watch racing and buy their products? If the fans thought that this was an environmentally unfriendly human activity, and they stopped tuning in, then the advertisers and sponsorrs would have to drop their sponsorship for something that reaches the consumers. But as a consumer society our mainstream thoughts are not on the Environment. They are on things that bring us more power more control over our environment. So it's ironic that as we tune in, we are losing control over our environment and paying millions to do it.

Posted by carl1236 at 9:02 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

February 5, 2005

Whatís in the goody bag?

Today I ran the Frozen 5K in downtown St. Paul. It was really fantastic! I was amazed at how many people were there. This is just a guess, but I think that there had to be at least 1000 runners there. I met my goal of running 8-minute miles. I ran the 3 miles in 23:38. After we finished the race there was a table set up to get a free banana, a coffee mug that said Frozen 5K on it, a bar of some kind and a goody bag with some things in it.
Letís see, in the bag there was:

Old Dutch New Baked Potato Crisps, touting only 2 grams of fat per serving. They were ok. They tasted kind of like Pringles to me.

Free bottle of Propel Fitness Water. Itís water with vitamins in it.

Midwest Events January/February 2005 Running, Tri, Du, XC Skiing, Cycling, Paddling, and Inline events catalog. See also

A coupon for a FREE whole grain cookie from Great Harvest Bread Co.

A brochure for the St. Paul Inline Marathon on Sunday, August 21, 2005

A 2 dollar off coupon for Road ID personal identification tags. See

A free mini-tube and 1 dollar off coupon for Eucerin Aquaphor Healing Ointment

A subsription coupon for Runnerís World magazine

An advertising info-booklet on recovering from a race, using the Sunbeam heated Sports Wrap and 5 dollar off coupon.

Two mini Pearsonís Salted Nut Rolls

One Hersheyís Smart Zone Peanut Butter and Chocolate flavored Controlled Release Nutrition Bar.

And on the back of my race number, a 20% off coupon for New Balance running shoes at Run N Fun store on Randolph Avenue in St. Paul. Actually one of the guys at work recommended this store when I told him Iím looking for a pair of good running shoes. He said the people who work there are runners themselves and are very knowledgeable.

They had a captive market, and we took the bag of goodies as they put our souvenir Frozen 5K coffee mug in it. What should I do with this paper? Buy the products or recycle it? I canít possibly use them all. I ate the chips, candy bars, banana, the bar and drank the water with vitamins. Iíll save the smart zone bar for another workout. The rest is a waste of resources.
I think the reason this kind of advertising strikes me as a waste is because itís just like the things I find in my mailbox every day. Mini-sized product samples, Free AOL startup CDís, Coupons for magazines, product catalogs, coupons that I wonít likely use, etc. I have to throw away or recycle most of it. Many of the samples get thrown in a box, thinking Iíll some day try them, and I forget about them. Eventually those end up in the dump. I didnít ask for any of it. They just gave it to me and I took it like a goody bag. I could have refused the goody bag today at the race if I had thought about it. I donít know what that would have proved though, except I wouldnít be the one throwing it into our dumps. They probably wouldnít even recycle the paper like I would. I heard of one guy once that took all of his junk mail and sent it back to the companies that produced it, and another person who made fire starters by rolling up his junk mail and dipping it in paraffin and another man in California who purposefully got people to send him as much junk mail as he could possibly get and used it to burn and heat his house with. At some point in our human history we have to think differently to reduce our waste and consumption. I donít know what the catalyst will be but wasting paper and plastic and other resources on advertising that people arenít buying the products is not a good use of resources. I suppose some people do buy the products so companies think itís justified. They get a few sales from it and it makes up for their marketing dollars, but it doesnít use our resources any more wisely. Paper comes from trees. Plastic comes from petroleum products. It becomes a waste fest. Our planet and atmosphere will eventually need a break from us.

Now, unlike handouts that we get without asking for, there are some free things made available to people by choice. Like this blog. Itís free and you get to choose if you want to read it. Today after my race I went to the coffee shop to relax and hang out and read the paper. While I was there, I found this interesting little book on the ĎFree, take oneí table. Itís called ďThud, the FelineĒ Issue number 1, by Keith Allen Webster, Copyright 2004. Itís like a little poem sketchbook with the cartoon cat figure, Thud, speaking sometimes-obscure little lines of life, like ďAnother morning to work. I trudge pedantically. I try to remember my dreams. The dulling lullaby of work sedates me.Ē
I picked it up and brought it home. Iíll keep it around and read it a few times then add it to my library. Itís an interesting self-published little book that Keith put out there for someone to choose to read. I took the goody bag and now am interested to watch for issue number 2. Thereís and email address in the booklet too, maybe to give him feedback on what I thought of the book or maybe to order a copy for a friend? Then youíd be junk mailing your friends and theyíd have to keep it or recycle it.

One final line from Thud the Feline issue one, talking about relationships: Talking about their relationship, a girl cartoon figure tells Thud, ďI see the present. The mileage is piling up. Then she asks him, ďWell, what is our relation to each other?Ē I think itís a relevant question we should all ask ourselves about each other. We get deeper into relationships with everyone around us with every contact. Some of us keep our distance, and some are open, and some are closed. The mileage is piling up and we get to choose.

Posted by carl1236 at 8:45 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

February 2, 2005

Impact of human beings on the environment

This morning I attended a ĎVirtual Tourí of the Metro Wastewater Treatment Facility in St. Paul, MN. It was fascinating to see how much wastewater is treated per day and the impact it makes on the environment. Did you know that the Metro Plant treats approximately 200 MILLION gallons per day? Thatís 73 billion gallons per year! Before the treatment plants, that was going directly into the river. When I think about the impact of human beings on the environment I have to keep the big picture in perspective. That is:
1. That prior to human beings living here, Nature took care of itself and water was as clean or dirty as Natural events allowed. Basically water in the ground, rivers and lakes was as clean as it would be by natural processes of the environment, like filtering through the rock, rain, runoff, evaporation, etc.
2. As population increased in any one location, pollution of the water and air increased and has reached critical pollution levels during our history. At one point in Germany the Rhein River was classified as ďDeadĒ with no life forms. Other rivers, like the Mississippi and the St. Louis River also have reached critical states because of the presence of human beings. Our impact created a situation that needed to be cleaned up.
3. After human beings made a mess, efforts have been evolving to increase cleanup to achieve water quality levels prior to our interference with the natural processes of the environment, thus reducing our impact on the environment. As population increases in any one area the methods of water treatment have to evolve to keep up with the demand.
4. Our wastewater treatment success is measurably better than it used to be when we were just dumping our wastewater and other contaminants directly into the rivers and lakes. But it has to continue to improve, because we have not eliminated our impact on nature as manufacturing other business and residential use of chemicals and water increases and as population increases.

We should all care about the environment because as I stated before, as human beings, this planet is our home. We donít want to pollute our homes or we will destroy ourselves, as we are capable of doing. The example of the Rhein River is a good one. Itís funny, but sad that another word in German that sounds the same, ĎReiní means Ďclean, pure; not mixed with anything else, but we managed to convert that to Ďdead.í We have to care enough to reduce our impact on the environment or it will impact us in a negative way eventually. Our impact is cumulative and the untreated problems get worse with the higher concentrations of human beings.

Also as I said before, RESPECT and care for all living things is a spiritual attribute, just as we respect and care for our own lives. A lack of respect and care for all living things is spiritually hypocritical because all life is connected. We eventually kill ourselves by our own actions and attitudes. Itís saying we care but doing the opposite.

Just out of curiosity, I did a quick search on the internet to find out more about the history of wastewater treatment in Minnesota. Here are some very interesting links. Also, itís interesting to me to ask, that since my house was built in 1936 and the wastewater treatment plant in St. Paul wasnít built until 1938, what happened to the waste from the first residents of my house? Iím guessing it went straight into the river.

History of Stormwater and Wastewater Drainage Systems in Minneapolis

What happens outside of the Twin-Cities Metro area

Minnesotaís efforts toward the 1970s cleanup of the St. Louis River

Wastewater treatment history of Mankato, since 1994

The Rhein River pollution continues even today. The (German Rhein, English Rhine, French Rhin, Dutch Rijn) is one of the longest rivers in Europe. Its name is derived from the Celtic word "renos" (meaning "raging flow"). Together with the Danube it formed most of the northern frontier of the Roman Empire and since those days has been a vital navigable waterway, carrying trade and goods deep inland.

Wastewater treatment is only one aspect of reducing our impact on the earth. My hope is that you care about the environment and are willing to cross all political and ideological boundaries to reduce our impact. After all, we are the cause of our pollution.

Posted by carl1236 at 5:34 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

February 1, 2005

Second hand particles

With the smoking ban imminent in public buildings because of the harmful effects of second hand smoke, smokers move outside. In an ironic twist, now they get to breathe second hand particles from automobiles and factories.
Something for all of us to consider is that when we pollute we are not just taking a risk for ourselves, we are affecting everyone.

I received this in my email today, just after I went for a heart-pounding 3 mile run at my fastest pace yet:

Air Pollution Alert
February 1, 2005

The MPCA has issued an "UNHEALTHY FOR ALL" Air Pollution Alert for the Twin Cities metro area for Tuesday, February 1.

AQI: at 11 a.m., the Air Quality Index was 154. From 151 to 200 is
considered unhealthy for everyone.

POLLUTANT: fine particles (soot), which come primarily from combustion
sources, such as car exhaust, fireplaces, factories and other sources.
Fine particles are as small as one-fiftieth the width of a human hair.
Fine particles have been trapped near the ground for several days by
moist, stagnant air, and additional particles have moved into Minnesota
from the south. Changing weather by Thursday should clear the air.

HEALTH: Everyone should take it easy. People with heart or lung
disease (including asthma) and adults over 50 should avoid vigorous or
prolonged exercise. Others, including athletes and other healthy
adults and children should reduce or postpone heavy exertion (play
shorter games, walk instead of run, rotate players more frequently,
etc.) People with heart conditions are especially vulnerable to fine
particle pollution. Note: fine particles are so tiny that they can get
indoors, so take it easy indoors, too.

* reduce driving when possible and don't idle your vehicle engine
(vehicle exhaust adds fine particles to the air)
* postpone activities with small gasoline or diesel engines, which
also produce particles
* postpone fires in your fireplace and outdoors, which add soot
particles to the air

To learn more check hourly updates of the AQI, visit:

Posted by carl1236 at 4:04 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

January 12, 2005

Nothing to say

Except stop arguing and find ways to resolve our differences and love each other.

Posted by carl1236 at 9:30 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

December 30, 2004

My dear Friend,

I am writing to tell you how much I appreciate you. I'm thankful that you are in my life. In what ways? You are always willing to chat with me, and we both seem to enjoy each other's company. When I'm lacking for words you find a way to inspire me.
I trust you with my secrets because I am an open book to you. I know that you will not judge and condemn me but always accept me for who I am. I know you are going to read this as I post it here, because I told all my friends about my blog and am not ashamed of anything I write here. This is another way that I show you that you can trust me, and that I am truly your friend. What I say about you in other circles is what I would say to your face. If it were not that way, then you wouldn't truly be my friend. I would be a fake friend. insincere. This is the same reason I can trust you, because I know you are not talking about me behind my back and we have earned each other's trust. I believe that is a key ingredient to our friendship.
Another thing I appreciate about you is that you don't judge and condemn me for my faults. But you are sure there to pick me up when I fall. Although we probably would not be friends for very long if I treated you badly, because in all friendships I realize we have to have respect for each other. I respect you and what you do and think you are doing a great job. Sometimes life gets tough and the world is a much better place with friends like you to share it with.
So, thanks again, and let's keep in touch, May you have the best new year of your life.
with love,

Posted by carl1236 at 11:15 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

December 26, 2004


Today was a long, but fun day. I got up, took my daughter to work, went to work myself, went to the store to buy a new battery for my old camera, went to my Auntís house for the family gathering, then came home. Now itís already 11:25pm and Iím writing my blog entry. Haha, time flies when we are having fun.
Now I have to think about work this week. Tuesday I have to go in early, at 6:00am because Iím teaching a class for the night shift at work. Thatís the end of the shift for them but way before I normally start work. But thatís good because I will get to leave work early Tuesday. Iíve been invited back to my Auntís house on Tuesday night for cards, so thatíll work out great! If I have a headlight by then Iím going to try to ride my bike there.
One fun thing that happened at this party tonight was the live web cam conversation with my brother in Albuquerque, NM and the rest of the family here. My Aunt has a wireless Internet connection and she had the web cam hooked up to her laptop, which they carried around the house, giving my brother a tour of my Auntís new house, and allowing him to say hi to everyone at the party. It was an interesting use of the technology and something that wasnít possible even a few years ago. This technology is so much more mainstream than it was then. I thought I was ahead of the technology curve by having a home network, but while weíve been computing by cable, newcomers to the game, like my Aunt, jump in with the newer technology and Iím stuck on the old. I may be stuck here for a while too. But it was nice for my brother and the rest of us because he could not be here this year. Travel to family gatherings is a much bigger deal when you are on the other side of the country. Now my brother stated that he almost felt like he was here.
As I was reconnecting with my relatives, many of whom I havenít seen in a few years, I thought about how lucky I am to have such a wonderful family. I love them all dearly. I know there are many families that are not so lucky and have bad memories and experiences. I canít recall any problems dealing with my relatives and have only good memories. Iím really thankful for this kind of a family. But one thing Iíve noted about my family is that almost all of them have an attitude like theyíd do anything for any of us. Itís an attitude of total acceptance and an unspoken rule that they donít think about, they just expect to be helping each other and really get into it. I think this attitude is what makes this family so great.
Now itís time for bed and another Christmas holiday is over. Iíve had a great weekend and itís back to work in the morning. Iím ready for my bike ride into work tomorrow morning and Iím looking forward to it. Tomorrow I have to figure out how to use this camera so I can take some photos of my family Tuesday night. This camera is much more complicated than I remember it from my previous lifetime so many years ago, haha. I think I might need a class or something!

Posted by carl1236 at 11:47 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

December 20, 2004

Are Gayís Godís Children too?

Are Gayís Godís Children too?

There are some very relevant articles in the Lavender magazine this month on Spirituality. I found these articles very well written and worth reading. You can read the articles at

My answer is emphatically ďYES.Ē We are all loved unconditionally and constantly. Human beings though, still are not free from fear. We still want to use any excuse to kill our fellow human beings instead of love them. God tells us plainly that there is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love. (1John 4:18)

The definition in many religious organizations of what acceptance means is interesting. The article in the Lavender says this falls into two categories: Reconciling and Transforming. In the reconciling organizations Gays are accepted for who they are, and in the Transforming type, Gays are accepted only as a means of helping them to transform and renounce their sins. Iíve said before that we are all spiritual beings on a human journey. Each of us has to have some meaning, purpose and connection to the divine and we look for it. Gay people are no different. Our spirituality is a part of our design. We will all continue to seek happiness. Our religious organizations and doctrines can either help us or be used against us. How we are transformed by them is really the ultimate goal. Otherwise our love is not yet perfected.

How we reconcile homosexuality with our faith and doctrines will be debated hotly for a couple generations according to one person quoted in this article. Regardless of what is accepted by any organization, we are not relieved of our underlying responsibility to love each other as we love ourselves.

There is no fear in love.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:28 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

December 12, 2004

Real Love Is...

My Korean Language partner meeting with me from 7:00pm until 11:00pm tonight to help me with a speaking project that is due on Tuesday.

My Korean Language Partner meeting with me this coming Tuesday before class to help me finish my project so I can turn it in, and on Wednesday night to help me study for the final Exam.

he's helped me a lot during this Semester and I'm very thankful. My help to him with the English Language has been minimal, since his English languages skills are much better than my Korean Language skills. In many of our meetings he has not been getting much english practice, and has worked hard to help me overcome my difficulties in learning Korean. He has told me it's because he feels an obligation to help me and that he want's to see me succeed at this. He certainly didn't even have to participate in this Language partnership.

But this is an example of what real love is all about. It's people helping other people just to see them succeed. There is often mutual benefit to helping others but not necessary. Real love is lifting someone else up to help them achieve their best.

As the end of the Semester gets closer, I'm even more thankful for people like this. And it encourages me.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:59 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

December 11, 2004

It's Real Love

Real Love
John Lennon

Around 1997 shortly before his death, John Lennon recorded a basic demo of this song in his apartment in New York. In 1995 Paul, George and Ringo completed the song and it was included in the Beatles Anthology:

All my little plans and schemes
Lost like some forgotten dream
Seems like all I really was doing
Was waiting for you

Just like little girls and boys
Playing with their little toys
Seems like all they really were doing
Was waiting for you

Don't need to be alone
No need to be alone

It's real love
It's real, yes it's real love
It's real

From this moment on I know
Exactly where my life will go
Seems that all I really was doing
Was waiting for love

Don't need to be afraid
No need to be afraid

It's real love
It's real, yes it's real love
It's real

Thought I'd been in love before,
But in my heart I wanted more
Seems like all I really was doing
Was waiting for you

Don't need to be alone
No need to be alone

It's real love
Yes it's real, yes it's real love
It's real, yes it's real love...

( Lyrics from )

Donít we all at our deepest level want to find real love? Tonight I was talking with a friend that hosts a chat room in Yahoo chat rooms. Heís been doing it every day since 2000. Heís seen hundreds of people come into his chat room. Some stick around for a few months and get to know everyone and some only visit once. But one thing that my friend discovered is that everyone is looking for something. By his comments about these chatters, it seems that they all have this in common, that they all want real love. They are looking for love. To be loved and accepted is what weíve been waiting for. And in this chat room, at least for a while, they find someone to talk to.
John Lennon sang, ďDonít have to be alone. No need to be alone.Ē This is true. With so many billions of people in this world, how could anyone feel alone? Everywhere we turn we are surrounded by people. Yet many people feel alone, like something is missing. I think this is something we can all change. There really is no need to be alone if itís real love.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:43 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

December 9, 2004

Pennies in my Pocket

Every once in a while the change builds up in my pocket and it gets bulky, so I thin it out by removing the pennies. I usually save all of my pennies for about a year then go to the bank and exchange them all for paper cash. Thatís kind of a fun treat and feels like Iím getting some free spending money. Although I have these pennies available to spend at any time, usual they are not enough to buy anything useful while we are carrying them around in our pockets. Even a soda or candy bar in a vending machine is more than 65 pennies worth, which Iíd never carry in my pocket at once. So I save them and they add up over time.
When I pull the pennies out of my pocket I always scan for wheat pennies and save those so I donít spend them. They are worth about 3-5 cents apiece I think for collectors. But I just save them because they are kind of unique and itís fun to see them. I still see a few of them in circulation even though they are so old, but now days there are a lot less.
Today when I pulled out my change I decided to take a closer look at these pennies. Here are the facts related to my pennies, from my observation:
1. I had nine pennies in my pocket, which Iíve accumulated since last Friday. Thatís seven days worth of spending money and receiving change.
2. None of the pennies had the same date. The dates were 1964, 1970, 1973, 1974, 1976, 1978, 1981, 1985 and 1993.
3. Three of the pennies did not have the letter ďDĒ stamped on them. This I believe is for the Denver Mint, where they were created. The three without the letter ďDĒ are the 1973, 1976 and 1981.
4. The three middle dates are even numbers, 1974, 1976, and 1978.
5. All nine pennies were made after I was born (barely)
6. The largest gaps between dates are between the first and second and the eighth and ninth.
7. All of the pennies appear to be made of copper however every penny after the first two, 1973 and later, appear to have a slightly more reddish tint to them. The first two, 1964 and 1970 are worn the most. All of the other ones appear to have very similar wear.
8. The shiniest and the darkest penny are the last two. For some reason, the 1985 is the darkest of all of them, and the 1993 is the shiniest.
9. All of the coins, even though minted at different times, appear to use the same font and text size, even for the numbers which change.
10. One side of the Penny has a right-side profile view of President Abraham Lincoln from the chest up. Also on this side of the coin are the date and the Mint location if there is one. The letter ďD.Ē
11. On the other side of the coin is an image of the Lincoln Memorial, which is located in Washington D.C., and the denomination of ONE CENT.
12. There are 15 or 16 words on the penny, including the Date and the Mint Mark, ďDĒ for Denver.
13. The words on the coins are: IN, GOD, WE, TRUST, LIBERTY, UNITED, STATES, oF, AMERICA, E, PLURIBUS, UNUM, ONE and CENTS. Then also there is a date and if it has the Mint Letter, the letter ďDĒ
14. All of the letters are capitalized except for the letter ďoĒ in ďUNITED STATES oF AMERICAĒ
15. There are two languages on the pennies, English and Latin.
16. No word is used more than once.
17. There are nine words on the side of the penny with the Lincoln Memorial.
18. Abraham Lincoln has short wavy hair and a beard with no moustache.
19. Abraham Lincoln is wearing a suit jacket with a shirt that has a collar on it and a bow tie.
20. Abraham Lincoln is not wearing glasses or a hat.
21. The edge of the penny is smooth with no ridges.
22. The edge of the penny is raised slightly from each face of the coin. (the images are inset slightly)
23. The picture of the Lincoln Memorial is more horizontal, going from the left edge to the right edge, while the picture of Abraham Lincoln is more vertical going from the top the bottom.
24. Abraham Lincoln was not smiling or frowning in this image. It appears to be a straight face.
25. The 1978 penny had grease caked in the letters, ďONE CENTĒ. The other eight pennies were clean of debris.

Wow, I never knew I could make that many statements about a penny, and that doesnít even include what I could say about them if I compared them to other change in my pocket or to events that happened to me during the years these coins were put into circulation. Also, I do not know where these pennies have been or for what they have been used. I do not know how long they had been saved by someone else or when they were cashed in and put back into circulation. I do not know why these facts are the way they are or how they came about. I probably could learn a lot more about the penny if I did some research. For instance, who designed it and why Abraham Lincoln was chosen for the penny? I do know that each penny has a value that I can use to purchase something.

Often we make observations about people, and there is a lot we can know about them just by looking closely. Look at what I did just looking at nine pennies in my pocket! And people are much more complex and unique from each other than pennies. There are probably millions of observations we could make about people. But there is also a lot we do not know from just observation. We should get to know each other better. However, we donít have to know each other in depth to understand that we all have a value, like these pennies. Like the penny, our value together is greater than an individual penny. If we are more valuable together than individually, isnít it a good idea to stop separating ourselves and find ways to bring people together for the greater good? Unlike pennies, which are the smallest denomination of currency in this system, People are the largest denomination, with the most value. Just think what we could do by all working together!

Posted by carl1236 at 4:30 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

December 7, 2004

The TAO of Loving others

When I first saw you in my class I saw a student, with clothes and hair and eyes. But when I looked into your eyes I saw the surprising depth and wisdom that looked like me before I was born. And now I see it will take me a lifetime just to remember who I am.

Posted by carl1236 at 3:33 AM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

December 6, 2004

The Magic Mirror

Once upon a time in a remote feeling but not so far away kingdom there lived a troubled married woman. She was overworked, oversexed and verbally abused at any opportunity. Sometimes at night she cried silently until falling asleep while lying next to a man she no longer knew. Her existence seemed to fall somewhere between death and life, not quite dead but not quite alive.
One day she was at the market and she saw a nice looking mirror. Oh it was way too expensive to purchase and bring home, but when she looked into this mirror she somehow looked beautiful. Gone were the bags under the eyes and the worry wrinkles. Gone were the perpetual frown and the tear-streaked face that seemed to greet her every morning when she looked in the mirror at home. So, as days and months passed, she kept going back to this market to see herself in this beautiful mirror. Every time she looked, she half expected to find it was all a dream and that she was deluding herself. But there she was, more beautiful than ever before.
After a while she started feeling guilty about her trips to the market and even went at times she did not need to buy anything. She had to hide it from her cruel husband who she was sure would pop a bolt and tell her she was wasting her time. But she kept going, because in this mirror she saw the woman she thought she could have been. In this mirror her dreams and hopes were alive and seemed to be something still attainable. She felt really good. Once she was half-muttering to herself in amazement, while gazing into this magic mirror and it spoke back to her! Now this mirror could have said anything, and probably had a lot to say to her, but it simply mirrored the simple questions that she had been thinking for a while. ďIs there a future for me and my husband? Is there hope of being the woman I see in THIS mirror?Ē She stood there for a while stunned, then looked around sheepishly to see if anyone else had heard this mirror speak her thoughts. No one seemed to notice. Then as if in answer, the magic mirror spoke again.
ďYou ask if there is a future for you and your husband. I ask is there a present?Ē There was a long silence as she pondered this question. Her marriage certainly didnít feel like she thought it should, and at home she certainly did not see this bright, successful, hopeful woman in her mirror. It spoke again softly, ďThis might be obvious, but the present creates the future. Unless something changes in the present, the future will proceed as it has in the past.Ē
Yeah, she knew it was true. She could not remember the last time she was really happy. Her life seemed to be a perpetual nightmare, slogging through a slow-motion grayish, anguishing dream. ďI guess I did not need a magic mirror to tell me that something has to change,Ē she replied, ďBut now what?Ē The mirror was silent, but in it she kept seeing herself from different angles and views that all believed in her. She saw herself having a life, and having ideas that mattered. She saw herself succeeding at what she wanted to do in life. She saw a woman she could respect and love and she liked what she saw.
So she stole the mirror and took it home with her. Now, Iím sure there are laws against that here, but in that kingdom, the owner looked the other way with a sly grin. She wanted to put the mirror in a prominent place in her house so she could see herself in it often. She found herself moving it from room to room, wherever she spent the most time.
Her husband began to notice something different. She did not tell him what it was. He did get on her case about wasting his money on an ugly old mirror that ought to have been thrown in the dump. But he didnít take it away soon enough. She started to believe in the woman she saw in the mirror.

This fairy tale is based on a true story. The names have been omitted to protect the identities of the husband and wife that now live in a fairytale better than the truth she experienced. Did they get a divorce? No, because eventually he looked into the mirror himself and saw something uglier than he ever imagined. He began to wonder if thatís what everyone saw.

Posted by carl1236 at 5:39 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

November 27, 2004

Who are we supposed to love?

Someone tried to tell me today that we are supposed to love only those that believe exactly like they did. And then they proceeded to tell me that God loves only those that believe exactly like they did. Then the proceeded to tell me that God would punish those that did not believe exactly like they did. In arrogance and a certain amount of self-righteousness this person had plenty to say about their own safety because of their Ďrightí way of thinking. Furthermore, unless others came around to their way of thinking, they were doomed.
One person I met a few years ago started attending a hard-core fundamentalist church. At this church he learned that couples should not be unequally joined, believers with non-believers. He learned that this was a recipe for disaster and that it would only lead to ruin. Before that he loved his wife. They both had been attending a modern spirituality church before this and they were starting to deepen their spiritual lives. Then he was introduced to another church. Then their relationship started changing, because this man was changing and he discovered that he could not love someone who did not believe like he did. He divorced his wife on the grounds that she was going to hell and he wasnít about to go there. In his mind, her un-belief was the cause of all of their problems. At the time he told me about this he was in anguish about doing this, but he felt it was his only choice. She didnít stop loving him though, and she begged him to stay. He could not.
I donít want to condemn his choices, because everyone makes their own choices and faces the consequences of them. Thatís the way it should be. Life goes on no matter what our choices are and we make mistakes, we have successes and failures, and hopefully we learn from them. We often suffer, but we can also have great joys in life. Iím sure she will get on with her life too, although it is tragic that it came to divorce, it will all work out for both of them, because there is no other choice but to work out. Life has a way of working out.
Now Iím going to point out a fundamental misconception about the nature of love and whom we should love. Many people get the wrong idea about whom we are supposed to love. And they have ammunition to justify it. The person I talked to today had similar beliefs as the man who divorced his wife because of their new differences in religious beliefs. Today, basically I was told that we could only love those who believe exactly like this person. But unfortunately the truth is that we are supposed to love everyone, not just those that are in our own inner circle.
God tells us clearly that she loves EVERYONE. There are no exceptions. ďFor God so loved the world...,Ē means everyone. And we have been told, in very simple language, ďlet us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loves is born of God, and knows God.Ē ďThis is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.Ē We are also told that ďGod IS love.Ē
Love overcomes a lot of things. Love overcomes fear. Think of any bad situation in our world. Wouldnít it have been made better by love? Love is a powerful thing. It brings powerful, ruthless people to their knees and it lifts those that suffer up off the ground. It does it by transforming our hearts. Love transforms. This is how the world is going to change for the better. We need to apply our love toward everyone else. Anything less is, well, less than love, and is not solving the problems we have.
Part of the problem with truly loving others, is sometimes there is an element of self-sacrifice. We sometimes just donít like the idea of self-sacrifice. The other problem is that we like to place conditions on our love. For instance, that we can only love those that believe exactly like we do or that we will love only those that first love us.
I have children. I know what itís like to love them, more than I love myself even. There is almost nothing that I wouldnít do for them if I thought it would benefit them. I would never wish evil on them or take anything from them. I try my best to help them succeed. Sometimes in the past they did not always think highly of me, especially when I had to punish them for something they did wrong. Speaking of wrongdoing, I know in my heart, that I never loved them any less no matter what they did. My love for them doesnít contain any conditions of reciprocation. They donít have to love me in order for me to love them.
This is a model for how we are supposed to love other human beings. All other human beings, not just those within our inner-circle of family, friends, and like-minded. Lacking the wisdom to know whom we are supposed to love, we exclude certain individuals or groups of people from our love and then justify it. It is sometimes easier that way. Anyone can love only those who they want to love, but to love someone who has wronged us in some way or those that do not believe as we do is often too much to ask and seems way beyond what we are supposed to do. Yet thatís exactly what will heal the pain and suffering. Jesus clearly told us to love even our enemies when he said, ďyouíve heard it said Ďlove your neighbor and hate your enemy,í but I say to you love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you and pray for them that despitefully use you, and persecute you.Ē We are told basically that if we only love those that love us, then our love is not yet perfect love. Itís still conditional.
This is pretty radical thinking, I know. Itís hard to swallow if we think about the implications. It means we have no excuses or justification for not loving EVERYONE. Much of the problems of our world would very simply go away if this were the kind of thinking we all had. It seems kind of impossible in todayís world, but consider again, what problem in our world would not benefit from love? What can love do to peopleís hearts?

Posted by carl1236 at 11:46 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

November 26, 2004

Attacking others

Why do people attack others to justify their own positions? Canít people BE who they are without denouncing who others are? We saw enough of this during our elections this year. Weíve also seen it in our youth as an immature view on the world. For us at a young age, it was insecurity. We might have needed to cut others down to build ourselves up. I see it in the Anti-Religion crowd. They get very defensive and often do exactly what they hate, attack someone for their beliefs. The Anti-Religion crowd doesnít offer any alternatives, just that they hate organized religion. I always wondered where this hatred came from. People in churches and other religious organizations have abused some people, but for the most part, from the people Iíve met, itís just an attitude.
I know a lot of people who are gaining a lot from the fellowship and worship in church. They also participate and organize many wonderful volunteer programs that make a difference in our communities. Within organizations, these people can pool their time and resources to help others, where alone, they could only do things on a smaller scale. Most people I know who go to church are good people just like the rest of us, just trying to make it in this world the best way they know how. It works for many people and helps them.
We all have to right to reject or accept whatever we want. We have the right to believe in whatever we want. But canít we be it without the need to attack others? In our society this is something we need to work on. Itís a real problem. But of course none of us see that we are doing anything wrong. We all try to justify our positions and who we are and why we do the things we do. But isnít it better to be the things we are and show the world?
Whether we believe in Jesus or God or Allah, Muhammad, the Buddha, the Tao or the Sun God Re, we can all understand this concept and use it. Iíll borrow from something in the bible but the idea is universal:

ďIf I have all the eloquence of men or of angels but speak without love, I am simply a gong booming or a cymbal clashing. If I have the gift of prophecy, understanding all the mysteries and knowing everything, and if I have the faith to move mountains, but I have not love, then I am nothing at all.Ē
ďLove is always patient and kind. It is never jealous. Love is never boastful or conceited. It is never rude or selfish. It does not take offense and is not resentful. Love takes no pleasure in other peopleís sins (or problems); it delights in the truth. It is always ready to excuse, to trust, to hope, and to endure whatever comes.Ē
Jesus said, ďYou are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. People do not light a candle and hide it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it gives light to all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before others, that they may see your good works and glorify your God.Ē

We can all go out and attack others, but what we really want is to live our lives the way we want, to the best of our abilities, and to be who we are. If we disagree with someone, we can attack them or we can show the world a better way by doing and being that better way. People will see the light of truth where it shines. Letís work together to lift people up when they fall and to be more mature than the others by living what we are, letting our light shine in this world and contributing something lasting.

Posted by carl1236 at 7:59 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

November 19, 2004

Listening Comprehension

Today I decided that whatever time I thought was enough listening comprehension practice for language learning, I have to quadruple it! I found that when listening to normal conversational speed Korean, I often cannot even hear things that I do know and understand. Itís because the words and phrases I know sound different in my head than what I am hearing. So I intend to spend more time on listening comprehension practice until the end of this semester.
On a deeper level, listening comprehension of the heart is a skill that also needs to be practiced. Sometimes we do not really understand what people are really saying because we are often not as observant as we think we are. Tonight my daughter and I had a really good discussion about her computer needs and the problems she has been having. She brought it to my attention that I wasnít really listening to her before. She What she was really saying to me was that she tried to communicate with me that she needed my help but what I was hearing was that it wasnít a big deal. She ended up taking her computer to a friend to fix. I can handle troubleshooting and resolving many computer problems, but truly understanding another human being escaped me. Now I have to work harder on listening comprehension. To fully understand another person, we have to practice looking beyond the spoken words. My daughter needed her fatherís attention and needed me to place a high priority or importance on her. Instead what I was hearing in my head did not match what her heart was saying. Whatever I thought was enough practice truly hearing and understanding another human being, I need to quadruple it. Itís a lesson in awareness.
After our conversation tonight we both agreed weíd work harder together at our communication skills and at the same time, set some priorities for fixing her computer problems. I wondered how much I have missed in the past because what I was hearing was not the same as what was being said.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:35 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

November 16, 2004

Hold my hand, walk with me

Tonight I walked with a homeless person two blocks to her bus stop to help steady her. She was pretty wabbly. When we got to the bus stop she looked me in the eyes and said, "I love you." I said, "I love you too."
She said, "Thank you," and then I went on my way. But for two blocks she had a hand to hold and someone to talk to.

Posted by carl1236 at 9:45 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

November 14, 2004


The Lakota people have an old story about the re-creation of the two-leggeds, human beings. The story goes that there was only one human woman left alive on the planet and she was friends with an Eagle, who kept her company and kept her from becoming too lonely. But in the end her greatest wish was to be with other two-leggeds. The Eagle asked the Great Father if he could change into a human man to dispel her great sadness and loneliness. The Great Father told him that he could do that, but it was irreversible and that he would never be able to fly the skies again. The eagle gave up his life as he knew it to be with the woman. In this story about compassion the eagle cared more for this woman than his own life. He was willing to do whatever it took to relieve her sadness. He was a true friend.
Compassion is really caring about other people, enough to change ourselves in order to reach them. There is nothing like love for this kind of transformation. Often in our society our compassion for others is half-hearted at best, for one because we donít want to become too deeply involved. We donít want Ďtoo much information.í We want to remain inside of our comfort zones. Another reason is because we are afraid of being taken advantage of or being lied to or worse. Yes, there are a lot of problems in our society and we might think itís much cleaner to just not deal with them. And sometimes the cost to us is too high.
But the eagle didnít ask what the woman did to become the only human left on the planet. He devised a plan and asked, can I be the one to help her? Just as the eagle changed the world by his caring, we can all change the world by caring about another person as much as or more than we care about ourselves.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:55 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

November 12, 2004

Up on a Pedestal

We often put people up on pedestals and have expectations about how they should behave. Itís not just with people in highly visible positions of responsibility, we also do it with our friends and family. As I was growing up Iíve seen people rise to sainthood only to be brought crashing down in scandalous affairs or bottles of booze. Most families know about problems.
Usually the problem of putting someone up on a pedestal has little to do with who they are or what position they hold, but more commonly our expectations of someone put them there. When they donít live up to our expectations, we lose our respect for them. Sometimes people do put themselves up on a pedestal by condemning others. But being human is part of life and even if we want to hold people to their claims of sainthood, they may disappoint us. What is it that is disappointing to us? Is it disappointing because somehow it feels like they have lied to us? Yet, it should come as no surprise to us that all human beings are still human beings. But when someone doesnít live up to our expectations is it truthful to say that they are lying to us, or is it our expectations that are lying to us?
Our expectations of other people often make them into Superman. Each of us come into this world in the same way and we leave the world by death. During out lives we all have to choose how to best live. Life is a series of choices and a process of growing. We learn from teachers, examples, experience, failures, successes and circumstances. Each person has to live their own life and have experiences.
Jesus talked about condemning others. He often confronted attitudes of self-righteousness with a mirror. He said something like, ďHey buddy, look into this mirror. What you are condemning is your own heart.Ē During his life on earth Jesus confronted the attitudes of the Pharisees and Sadducees and hypocrites who held others accountable to their high standards, but did not live it themselves. Some would condemn others for being lustful toward women at the same time they were being greedy with money or wallowing in self-pride. Jesus tells us to first hold the mirror up to ourselves and see if we can change what is revealed to us.
How do we bring people down from their pedestals? Mainly by not expecting them to be up so high in the first place. Doesnít it make sense that they will find out on their own what works for them and what doesnít.? In the case of my friends, I try not to hold them accountable for my expectations. Just as I hope that my friends let me live my life and experience what I need to. But thatís not saying I donít want my friends to help look out for my well-being. Iíd just prefer that they donít have false expectations of me.
Another way we bring people down from their pedestals is by getting to know them really well. Some of our expectations of people dissolve when we know them better. We often realize that they are human just like us. Really getting to know someone is a process. Can we really know someone without going through that process?
John Ondrasik of Five for Fighting has a song called Superman (Itís not easy) that talks about the problem of expectations of others. In the song heís saying something like, ďman, donít put me up on this pedestal! Life is hard enough without you making me feel like I have to live up to your expectations!Ē And in another superman song the Spin Doctors ask, ďwill you still love me if I have a pocket full of Kryptonite?Ē I think the answer to both of those songs is the same, in order to truly love someone we first have to get past our own expectations of them. Then instead of condemning others we can help each other in the process of living life.
When I first wrote this I started to list examples Iíve seen of people that have been brought crashing down from pedestals of expectations and then pushed out of sight, but there were too many examples. We can try to keep people on their pedestals but sometimes life can be messy. Those people I was referring to all went on with their lives and made other friends and got into other circles and had other successes and failures; All according to their own choices, just as we are choosing our own lives.

So here is my new anti-pedestal credo:
I hope you know that I will not hold you up to any set of standards. You define your own standards. I will not be your judge and jury but I will encourage you to be the best you can, to do your best, to exceed your known limits. And at the same time I will continue to get myself into situations where I can truly see other people and discover how I can best help them. Itís part of my definition of who I am. Life is too short for all of us to play games with each other. True love looks beyond my expectations of others and takes action where there is need.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:53 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

November 3, 2004

Sa-wŗt dee

The Thai Language

Sa-wŗt dee is the general all purpose greeting in Thailand, the English distinctions of "Good morning", "Good afternoon" etc.. do exist but are almost never used. It's also almost always followed by krŠp (for a man) or k‚ (for a woman) to be polite.

Today I ate with my friend in the Thai restaurant Sa-wŗt dee, downtown Saint Paul. It was very good. I enjoyed it. The soup was very good! I have never looked at the Thai Language before, and I was curious about the name of the restaurant so I searched the internet and found this great link. I think Sa-wŗt dee is a beautiful welcoming name for a restaurant. If I know what it means when I go there.
While we were there my friend struck up a conversation with the waitress in the Thai language. He is Hmong, but also speaks a little Thai. It was really nice, because she was really happy to speak with him and we all enjoyed talking about Thailand and where she was from. In the process we gained a new friend and enjoyed our food.
I think languages are a beautiful way to connect with other people also. Sometimes it just takes a friendly, all-purpose greeting.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:03 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

November 1, 2004

For a Good Cause

Iíve seen this over and over and over: Those with good hearts are the same ones giving again and again. This is why we see the same people volunteering for the majority of work in our churches and organizations. Those with good hearts often the first ones involved and the last ones to leave. I believe itís because when they see a problem itís hard for them to ignore it, just as if an off-duty paramedic comes across an accident where someone is in need of critical care. Itís in the good personís heart to do so regardless of the personal cost. They do it just because itís the best thing to do at the time.
Today I find myself reflecting on the meaning of life again and why we are here. I know that all of our time here is limited. We age quickly and we leave these bodies. I know we cannot stop this process yet. In the mean-time, each person has to choose how to best live their brief moment of life in this body. Here are a few scenarios to think about:
1. We blow through life grabbing what we can, enjoying what we can, then losing it all to the ravages of old age and death. Then what are we left with? Maybe the knowledge that yes, we did make it through life and wore a nice Rolex, drove a fast car, and had the biggest house on the block. We remember that it was a darn good party while it lasted. But then our eyes are opened and we see all of the suffering that went on in the world and we missed an opportunity to do something. We passed right by the accident and didnít see the injured.
2. We each have been giving gifts, talents and resources in life and itís ours to choose what to do with. There is purpose to being here. We know itís a short life so our time is limited. We have to do what we can with what weíve been given before itís our time to go, which could be tomorrow. When the lights go off for the night we ask ourselves if today weíve done all that we could. This is a mindset and heart set on giving.
3. We are undecided. We come into life not knowing why we are here. We think we know, but then are confused and wandering. We get to the end of our lifetime and wonder where the time went and what we did with it.

I am happy to know at least one person who is here with a purpose. She is one of those that we see giving and volunteering over and over and over again. She is one who asks not what life can give her, but what she can contribute to life. Today she chose to give when she could have walked by. This is a person with a good heart. If no-one else sees her contribution to life, I do and I appreciate it.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:52 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

October 29, 2004


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by carl1236 at 11:31 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

October 25, 2004

The bottom line

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

Posted by carl1236 at 11:11 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

October 20, 2004

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

Posted by carl1236 at 9:34 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Attitude"

Category "Knowing God"

Category "Love your Neighbor"

October 7, 2004

A sign of the times

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

Posted by carl1236 at 11:59 PM | Attitude | Knowing God | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

October 6, 2004


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

See an interesting post in the Philosophy blog called ďTWOĒ

Posted by carl1236 at 10:36 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

October 4, 2004

Some things are more important

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by carl1236 at 4:24 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

September 26, 2004

Thank you

I wouild like to take this space and time to thank two special people in our society. These are the ones that are truly alive, living with love and compassion.
First, I say thank you to the nice woman on East River Road on a Tandem bike with a cute little girl on back who stopped to ask if I needed help. My bicycle had a flat tire and I was trying to fix it. Today you are blessed because you have a heart that will help others in need.
Secondly, I thank the young man in the blue pickup truck who stopped to give me a ride when my tire went flat again on Highway 13. This time the stem broke and I had to call for a ride. I'm sorry I dissappointed you by telling you I already had a ride coming. I know you too have a good heart and will help others in need. You are blessed because of it.
Life without people like you would be a dismal place. You are proof that the spirit of God is at work and that love and compassion is not dead.
Thank you to both of you for a great bike ride! I really appreciate it!

Posted by carl1236 at 9:04 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

September 22, 2004

Taking it to heart

President Bush offers ďa brighter vision of a planet with less hunger, disease and oppression.Ē Itís ironic that itís By Force!
UN secretary general Kofi Annan said the invasion of Iraq was an "illegal" act. President Bush was unapologetic and said that his decision ďhelped to deliver the Iraqi people from an outlaw dictator.Ē But many of his critics worldwide are asking who will deliver the world from an outlaw President?
There is also an old saying in Proverbs 16:32 that says ďHe who rules his spirit has won a greater victory than taking a city.Ē
Jesus tells us to ďLove your enemies, do good to those who hate you.Ē Luke 6:27 The Tao Te Ching, 63 tells us to ďrespond to anger with virtue.Ē

Speaking to the United Nations, the leaders of France and Brazil asked the international community to come up with ways to narrow the growing gap between rich and poor. They said there were more than one billion people living on less than $1 per day. This gap is also a problem in the United States where affordable housing is becoming scarce.
The quote I posted yesterday was written centuries ago, but is equally valid now. We still have the same problems and canít seem to figure it out.

Jesus was against violence, even at his own defense when they came to take him away. Jesus tells us, ďBlessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.Ē (Matthew 5:9) Jesus said, ďAll who take the sword will perish by the sword.Ē (Matthew 26:52) And when he talks about love, we are told to love our enemies and to love others AS ourselves. (Matthew 22:35-40)

Many people in this world speak the words and claim their goodness, offering a brighter vision of a planet with less hunger, disease and oppression, yet they donít take the words to heart and apply it in their thoughts and actions. Maybe politicians donít have to live it, they just have to say what people want to hear and we will vote for them. Maybe we don't have to live it either. We can just mouth the words and call it good.

In Mark 7:6 Jesus says, "Isaiah prophesied rightly about you hypocries, as it is written,
This people honors me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me;
in vain do they worship me,
teaching human precepts as doctrines.
You abandon the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men."

In Matthew 23:14 Jesus says, "Alas for you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, for as pretext for your piety you pray long prayers, yet cheat widows out of their houses."

And for good reading on today and yesterday's topic, try Luke 16:13-15. And Matthew 6:21, and finally, for President Bush, Luke 9:25

I'm still looking for a good man of Tao to vote for.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:59 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

September 21, 2004

The Tao of Elections

In the Tao Te Ching, 77, Lao Tzu said, ďThe Tao of heaven is to take from those who have too much and give to those who do not have enough. Manís way is different. He takes from those who do not have enough and gives to those who already have too much. What man has more than enough and gives it to the world? Only the man of Tao.Ē

I vote for the Tao of heaven. Is there a man of Tao running for Election in November?

Posted by carl1236 at 11:01 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

September 20, 2004

Agreeing to disagree

With a lot of talk about elections and politics right now, Itís hard not to cross paths with someone who disagrees with us. With politics people can become very heated and we can find out quickly that arguments really donít solve any problems, but often create more division between people. Youíve probably heard people say that itís not a good idea to talk about Politics in a group of people who may have differing views. But thatís not very conducive to solving the problems of our society. Interaction and dialog about issues and candidates can be a great thing. It opens our minds and makes us more aware of views we might not have thought about, and helps us to formulate more ideas.
Here Iím defining an argument as one of those conversations where someone has to be crowned Ďrightí and the other person Ďwrongí in order for it to end. Since arguing is not really helpful, what is a better way to handle someone who is obstinate and belittling towards people with differing views. Many people just like to be opinionated and argumentative also. Staying calm is one good suggestion. Donít let them get to you. Donít take it personally. Their arguments are not really meant to hurt you, but to try to convince you into changing your mind.
This can be frustrating to the point that whenever a topic like politics comes up we just shut up because we know how heated it can become. People can be very opinionated. Along with that, some people are well armed with facts as they see them and information to support their views and often it seems like we know too little. Itís hard to discuss something rationally when we know nothing about it. So another good way of handling people who love to argue politics is to know some facts yourself At least knowing why we feel or think a certain way and being able to articulate that is a good way to keep things civil.
Itís not easy knowing the true facts though, because the political arena tends to get muddied. Lies are used to discredit the opponents and facts are twisted to make one candidate look better at the expense of the other. Generalizations are made and stated as facts. Another problem seems to be time. Who has the time to get to the bottom of it and wade through the muck to discover the truth? We all have lives and activities and responsibilities to take care of and cannot all devote a significant amount of time to politics. But ignorance of the issues is not helpful either. So we have to find a way to balance our local views with an understanding of the world around us. Reading or watching the news on a regular basis can help with at least having a rudimentary knowledge of things. Basically we have to care about what is going on and invest a little time into understanding it.
Iíve discovered throughout the years that political subjects are not always night and day. Itís not always a matter of one political party or one candidate being absolutely right and the other one wrong. Sometimes Iíve found myself agreeing with a different point of view on some subjects than what the person Iím supporting does. Itís because of how I feel about the issues. Sometimes I believe there are better solutions to our problems than the ones being offered. To someone who looks at things as polar opposites this idea may be infuriating. A good way to deal with that is to stick to the issues and how you feel about them. This also makes for a better discussion. Sticking to the issues doesnít usually allow for broad generalizations or going off on tangents.
Keep a sense of humor. Having a discussion is different than having a heated argument. When someone takes themselves too seriously they can easily get heated up over a topic. Interjecting some humor helps us and others keep things in perspective. We usually are not solving the worlds problems with the arguments. That typically requires action. The debates will go on until someone does something about an issue.
Sometimes a person arguing does not intend to be hurtful towards others, but just wants to be heard. Listing to their views and asking questions can help them be heard. That does not always have to turn into an argument. If we have differing views, we may or may not have the need to counteract what they are saying. We can acknowledge that the other person has their opinions and itís ok. We can agree to disagree. We can differ in opinions and still treat others with dignity and respect and love.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:59 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

September 19, 2004

Picking up Jesus by the side of the road

Today as I was driving home from work I saw a man sitting by the side of the road with a backpack and a duffle bag, holding a sign that said, ďNeed a ride.Ē His beard was long and white. After he got into the car I asked him where he was going and what he was up to. We had a nice conversation.
I ended up driving him from the southern side of the Twin-Cities to the eastern side of the Twin-Cities, on his way to Milwaukee. It was out of my way, but I did it because I wanted to give him the best chance of catching another ride that could take him to his destination. Also, partly because I wanted to chat longer with him and was interested in what he had to say.
One of the things we talked about was the opening up of the words in the bible to reveal the truth inside. The words and phrases in the bible could be misinterpreted and misused. And they frequently are. One possible reason is self-justification. We try to justify our thoughts, actions and beliefs and utilize what we can as evidence that we are right.
But, the truth is really found in the Application of the teachings, not in the knowledge of them. This is what it means to Ďopen upí the words to reveal the truth. Without taking them to heart, they are just random words and trivia that we learn to recite when needed.
When I got home tonight I was talking to my wife about my experience, and she asked me, ďDonít you think thatís a little dangerous?Ē I said, ďMaybe, I suppose it could be. I didnít feel like it was at the time though.Ē I know my wife was just concerned about my safety and doesnít want to see anything happen to me. I guess I donít want any thing bad to happen either, but at the same time, Iím happy that I picked him up and got him further along his way to Milwaukee. I am also happy to have been able to talk with him. It was an interesting conversation and very meaningful.
To some he might have appeared to be a homeless man begging for a ride. His appearance along might have turned many motorists away. I donít know how long he was sitting there waiting for a ride, but I felt compelled to stop and give him a ride. Jesus tells us, ďWhatever you have done for the least of one of these, you have also done it to me.Ē Then just to make sure we were understanding what he was saying, Jesus added, ďWhoever isnít doing something for the least of one of these, is also not doing it to me.Ē
(Matthew 25)
Even though I did not get my passengerís name, Iíll call him Jesus, because Jesus was definitely in my car and I gave him a ride. We had a wonderful conversation and he got further along his journey. As he got out of my car he said thank you, but I canít help but to feel that I am the lucky one and the one who should be thankful.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:36 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

September 18, 2004

The Great Spirit

Tonight I revisited a book called, Native American Wisdom, which is a compilation of quotes organized into topics. I will start and end with quotes from the book, and fill in with the Great Spirit.

ďI have been among the French at Quebec and at Three Rivers; they taught me the foundation of their doctrine. But the more I examined their mysteries, the less clearly I saw the light. They are tales invented to inspire us with true beliefs of an imaginary fire and under the false hope of a good which never will come to us, to engage us in inevitable unhappiness.Ē Agouachimagan, Algonquian

ďYou are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. Neither do people light a candle, and put it under a basket, but on a candlestick; and it gives light to all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before other people, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.Ē Jesus

ďWhen I was in the other world with the Old Man, I saw all the people who have died. But they were not sad.... It was a pleasant land, level, without rocks or mountains, green all the time, and rich with an abundance of game and fish. Everyone was forever young.
After showing me all of heaven, God told me to go back to earth and tell his people you must be good and love one another, have no quarreling, and live in peace....Ē Wovoka, Paiute.

ďIt is no longer good enough to cry peace, we must act peace, live peace, and live in peace.Ē Shenandoah proverb

Posted by carl1236 at 10:53 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

September 11, 2004

Nothing Mediocre about it

I just popped over to another blog page to check it out and discovered that Librarians are like action heroes in movies and not meek at all. ;-) Oh, wait, the meek Librarians LIKE action heroes in movies! I see now. Just kidding Stacie!
Check out Stacie's blog, Shades of Mediocrity, assorted thoughts on life, work, and culture. It's anything BUT Mediocre. Good thoughts and stories about life and movies and our culture.

Tonight I'm off to the Old Man River Cafe on Smith Avenue to see Jeff Ray play again. (7-9pm) Right before my vacation last week I ran over to Dunn Brothers on Grand Avenue to buy his new CD, June Generation, which he had just released. I enjoyed it during my entire vacation. Once when I was listening to it, my sister-in-law commented on it. She said, "Who is that John? Very cool music! I like it!" I replied, "It's Jeff Ray, a local guy. I think he's really good too" And even better...I get to hear him play live frequently. See my June 25th Post, SAMADHI.

Life is really good when you share it with others. That is one thing I like about live music in small settings, and blogs. Both are a way of sharing life with others. I guess they could both be called a medium to bring people together.

Posted by carl1236 at 6:47 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

September 4, 2004

When they look at me, Lord let them see you

Saturday, September 4, 2004 PLOG Entry Six.

Highlights of the day:

31 mile bike ride in the early morning. I had all the roads almost to myself. But I had the fortune of seeing a fox run across the road in front of me on the SW corner of the island.
When I was finished with my ride, I saw that my wifeís car was gone so I hurried the 1.2 miles into town and met them at the local coffee shop. There I met my wife, daughter, sister-in-law and her daughter. That was fun sitting outside the cafť talking.
Napping on the couch after riding home.
Eating leftover cheese and bread and talking with my wife and her father.
Napping again! On the couch and doing some reading. Little Jerry woke me up to go outside by jumping on my chest and giving me kisses.
Listening to music.

When they look at me, Lord let them see you

I have often prayed this, ďWhen they look at me, Lord let them see you.Ē No matter what our spiritual practice is, there is a difference between Ďwalking the talkí and Ďtalking the walk.í Really my prayer reaches deeply into the practice of living with God every moment. I wrote before that God is available to us every moment but do we reach into God and live every moment in the energy and spirit of God? My prayer is that I do.
When we look at others can we see God in them? God says that we are all created equal. When we look at the beautiful trees, flowers rocks and animals, can we see God in them? If we look closely enough we can.
Today before lunch we were just sitting around the deck talking about random subjects. Out of frustration over a controversial situation facing our city these days, my father-in-law expressed a political view that I happen to disagree with. I started going off on an argument that I have rehearsed in my mind. At that point I didnít care about who they saw in me. I just wanted to make my point.
But my father-in-law didnít argue with me. I was alone on my soapbox and when I looked down, they were all looking at me. My father-in-law gracefully acknowledged my passion and concern and said he didnít intend to start an argument. Though we did not agree on the topic of discussion, he offered me a symbol of peace.
I looked deeply and saw God in him today. It is because he put into practice something that I believe. Some things are more important than being right. God is Love. God is Peace.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:02 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

August 26, 2004

Universal Language

Today I was talking with someone in the park and we were laughing and talking about paying bills and working and being responsible. Really though we could have been talking about anything.
What was really happening was a connection that went beyond the words. Each of us was engaged with each other in a way that transended the topic of conversation. We felt good, we were happy.
Today I was reading some articles on Natural Language Processing (NLP), which is a phrase used to describe a machine language or program that interacts with human beings by following a set of rules in a way that makes it seem human itself. I wondered how I could write a program that would detect the connection I had with this person in the park, that went beyond the words. If such a program existed it couldn't just process the nouns and verbs used in conversation and extract a meaning from that. The program would have to have a way of detecting feelings and emotions.
A lot of times we can't even detect our own true feelings and emotions unless someone points them out to us. It is helpful for us though to try to be more aware of our true feelings, emotions and underlying motives. Sometimes we have to move beyond our own NLP program inside our heads to detect the human emotions involved. We need to experience the joy and the connection with other people in order to understand it.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:11 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

August 21, 2004

St. Paul Saints

Tonight my whole family went to the Saints game. My dad, my mom, brothers, sister, Aunts, Uncles, cousins, second cousins were all there. It seemed like we had about 10 carloads full. We went early to have a tailgate party and then watch the game. That was the best part! Itís really a festive atmosphere and a nice excuse to get together with family.
We were all there at or a little before 5pm to get parking spots next to each other. One of my uncles brought a gas grill and was the grill master for the evening. Each family brought food to share, so it was easy. Sitting around in our lawn chairs and folding camping chairs, we ate and talked for an hour and a half before the game started.
At 6:45 we went into the stadium to find our seats. We had pretty good seats close to first base with a good view. It was nice because my sister bought all of the tickets in advance and we were all sitting next to each other in a big rectangular section of the bleachers.
As I was growing up, these are the same Aunts and Uncles I remember playing softball with as a large extended family. I remember going to sporting events and the state fair with them. It seemed like we saw a lot of them. The greatest part of having this large extended family was spending time with them. Itís still true today. We find it difficult to pass up family gatherings and always look forward to them.
Like every family there are always difficult and dark times, like when one of my Aunts got a divorce, and when my Grandparents passed away. But those are things that happen in life and during those dark times itís much better to have a strong supportive family than to be going through it alone. Life is about sharing and loving each other. There is a great value in having families like this.
As we go through the years we are all facing challenges of our own. Is it better to face them alone or to face them and know we are not alone? Iíd chose a good support network of family over being alone any day. Because not only do we receive from them, but we also give to them.
One of the great mysteries and truths in this life is that we are all related. We are all one family. Just like some dysfunctional families though, we have our rough spots. We donít always have the best relationships with some of our Aunts and Uncles or cousins. Why is that? We are all equal in Godís eyes and all loved equally. Out of everything we do in life, one of the most important is taking care of our family. We can use any excuse to get together with each other. We can look forward to it too! As a part of the global family, the human race, which is all part of Godís family, life could be so much better if we learned to share with each other and love each other.
The baseball game? Oh I forgot about that. That was part of the intermission entertainment I think. ;-)

Posted by carl1236 at 9:41 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

August 15, 2004

The Poseidon Adventure and Armageddon

We just watched two movies in the last week and it struck me how similar they were. Both of them had tough leading characters who sacrificed themselves for the good of the others.
In the 1972 movie, Poseidon Adventure, Gene Hackman playing the Reverend Frank Scott led a small group of people almost to freedom from a sinking ship. He spent the entire movie riding another character, Mike Rogo, a police officer who has had a rough career up to that point. Shortly before he died, Reverend Scott told Mike Rogo that maybe they were two of a kind. He motivated Mike to lead the others on to safety, then he prayed to God for help and sacrificed himself to open a passageway they needed to go through.
In the 1998 movie, Armageddon, Bruce Willis playing the Texas well driller Harry S. Stamper, led a small group of people to an asteroid headed toward the earth in order to drill a hole in it, fill it with a nuclear bomb and split it in half so it would miss the earth. He almost made it but not quite. He spent the entire movie riding another character, A.J. Frost, who was in love with his daughter. Shortly before Harry died he told A.J. that he was like his own son. He motivated A.J. to finish the job and to take care of his daughter. He also prayed to God for a little help, and then sacrificed himself for the good of mankind.
In these stories both characters prayed to God for help. Then they proceeded with determination in their missions and came to the realization that they had to sacrifice themselves to save the rest. The solution to the problem at hand might not have seemed like a very good one to the main characters in these movies, but they did it anyway. They were resolved to do it and were at peace with their decision.
Iíve experienced something similar to the characters in these stories, although not in life or death situations like in a disaster movie. Many times in my life I have found myself in a situation where I prayed to God to ask for a solution to a problem, only to have God tell me that I was the solution. For instance, once I was walking down the sidewalk in Downtown at lunch time, and there was a drunk man who appeared to be homeless. He was throwing up on the sidewalk. I said a quick prayer to God to help him. The answer I got back was, ďSo what are you going to do about it?Ē Thatís not exactly the answer I wanted to hear at that time. I ended up stopping and talking to this man for a half an hour, buying him some coffee and listening to his story. As we parted, he said he was going to go get some rest and sober up. I was late getting back to my office and had to make up the time lost at work, but to me it was worth it.
Iíve found that the answer often involves a self sacrifice. When our eyes are opened to a problem, we have a choice about what to do about it. Itís much easier to close our eyes and hope someone else takes care of it. But to me thatís kind of like coming across a car accident, seeing the injured people, knowing they need help, and then running away because itís too much for us to bear or too far out of our comfort zone or requires too much involvement. Now when I pray to God for a solution, I approach it with a sense of peace and determination. I still pray for help, but I also pray for my willingness to be part of the solution.
Unlike the movies there are many every-day heroes in this world that go unnoticed for their sacrifices, like a single mom I know who gave up her weekend to work because she only had half of her car payment for the month. They donít ask for recognition or compensation. They just do what they know in their hearts is the right thing to do regardless of the personal cost or level of involvement. They all share something in common: A willingness to be part of the solution.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:15 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

August 12, 2004

Security Update

On July 22 - "IT'S A BEAUTIFUL LIFE" I told you about the problem with our Security Guardís vehicle. Problem resolved! And it only took 21 Days! I want to take this moment to thank the Mechanic who helped him out:

Thank you, you are a blessing to this world!!! With your good heart and creativity, you solved many problems at once. First by coming up with a good barter for your services that everyone was happy with. Then by going the extra mile to make sure the car was running in top shape! You even troubleshot the idling problem and changed the fouled sparkplugs!

Even this thank you is not enough, because you have helped to save a manís livelihood and lifted his spirits to the stars.

And to all of you who had sympathy and compassion for this man and his troubles, thank you too. I appreciate the prayers and the thoughts. Life is so much better when we do it together!

Posted by carl1236 at 5:13 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

August 5, 2004

Home-made Kimchi

Today I went to see a Korean friend downtown, because her mother had made some delicious home-made Kimchi for me. Yesterday I was there and I tried some and it was very good. Her mother was thrilled that I liked it and sent two containers of it for me. Then I was thrilled. I love Kimchi!
So, to me it was a wonderful day to receive a gift like this. Itís another thing that I am thankful for in life. Life is meant to be shared and we are meant to be giving, caring people. This woman who made Kimchi for me sets a good example for all of us. To give without expecting anything in return and to do it with joy in a spirit of sharing is worth taking a look at. Life is so much better with people like this in it.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:42 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

August 2, 2004

The need to control others

Why is it that some people feel the need to control others? For some people it's the desire to be thought of as an expert, to feel more important. Often we don't realize when we are being controlling. But when we are like this, we are not truly respecting and loving that person. Then we are trying to be the boss.

When I run into people like that, I can hear those words that young children say, "You're not the boss of me!"

It sounds kind of funny, but sometimes we have to take back our own control. If we are the controlling one, well, hopefully we'll wake up some day before it blindsides us.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:48 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

August 1, 2004

A drop of water in a still pond

Iíve heard that a truly good and selfless act is like a drop of water in a still pond. When the drop hits the still water, ripples extend outward in all directions. Today I felt a ripple.
I went for a bike ride today with a friend. I rode 10 miles to get to her house, then we rode 19 miles together ending back at her house. Then I rode another 10 miles to get home. I did it to encourage her to start riding her bike again. She kept saying she wanted to but hasnít. She used to love riding her bike and was good at it but over the years she just stopped.
When I finished the ride today, It hit me. My friend Dan did this for me. Heís a much better rider than I am and in a lot better shape, but he took the time to ride with me. I remember thinking that Dan is such a cool guy and heís genuine. I really appreciated what he did for me. His encouragement propelled me to a much higher level of physical fitness.
When we finished the ride my friend was talking about starting to ride back and forth to work. She was excited about it. Dan did this for me too. His enthusiasm and his kindness helped to motivate me. When I realized that I had just done what he had done for me, the ripple moved through me with a surge of joy.
What happens from here on out with that ripple, I can only guess, but I know that itís pushing outward and there is a calmness in my heart.
When you give to someone else, sometimes you donít know how it will effect them or others they come into contact with, but remember the drop of water in a still pond. The ripples go on. Now imagine a lot of drops with ripples intersecting, like a light rain on a still pond. Itís quite a sight. If we each do our parts we change the world.

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

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July 29, 2004

The great pretenders

Iíve been reading a new book thatís very interesting. Since I started writing this blog about 90 days ago, I started wondering just what blogs are and why people make such a big deal about them. So I went on the internet to educate myself. After looking through a plethora of information on blogging I found two books that looked promising.
The first book, which Iím reading now is titled, Weíve got blog, how weblogs are changing our culture, with introduction by Rebecca blood. The second book is, The Weblog Handbook, by Rebecca Blood. Iíve skimmed through both books and was captivated by the story of weblogs presented inside these pages. Then I settled down and started to read from the beginning.
Weíve got blog is written by bloggers and has great insight into just what this phenomenon is and how it started. I just finished chapter 14 and I wanted to share it with you. Itís the Kaycee Nicole (Swenson) FAQ Version 0.7 by Adam Geitgey, May 22, 2001. It brings up a very good point about the internet that I have felt ever since I was introduced to Instant messenger many years ago; There are some great pretenders on the internet.
The Kaycee Nicole Cancer Hoax was all about a person who made up a fictional female college student, created personal webpages and blogs for her, pretended she had cancer and then faked her death to end it. Over a two year period she fooled nearly everyone. Many people became friends of Kaycee Nicole (who really did not exist) and even sent her cards and gifts. Finally a group of Bloggers at uncovered the scam. The perpetrator was the mother of a high school student who started the fictitious character. The mother, Debbie Swenson, took over and started writing a blog as Kaycee Nicole. It became very popular and many people felt compassion for her. After she was found out, Debbie Swenson claimed she did nothing wrong. You can read about it at
Iíve met many people on the internet all over the world. One thing we have to remember is that the internet is really not a real entity in and of itself. It takes real people just like you and I sitting at our keyboards to animate it. When we are chatting with people we are chatting with real people who are sitting at a computer across whatever distance and time. Adam Geitgey in his FAQ very astutely said, ďRemember: the Web isnít evil, evil people are evil.Ē
One of the problems and the blessings of the internet are that people can be anonymous. We can know someone by their nicknames and never learn who they really are or where they live or what they do for a living. We often think we know and can read the real person behind the persona. But all those people who got to know Kaycee Nicole were really getting to know Debbie Swenson, and Debbie was pretending.
One of my friends was being stalked by a man who used over 20 different IDís on her MSN group site. Eventually after a lot of harassment and fear, my friend would find out the truth. She had to shut down her sight finally and only readmit the oneís she knew and could verify.
Another one of my friends worked for a law enforcement agency and was tracking down sex offenders on the internet. It was scary hearing about how many of these people operate. It made me think twice about giving any personal information over the internet.
Another friend was taken for a ride by someone she thought was her Ďsoul sisterí They met on the Internet and became friends. Her Ďsisterí moved in with her and then started to get controlling and manipulative. She ran up the long-distance charges on her phone, stole from her and repeatedly lied to her. Finally my friend had to have her Ďsisterí taken away. It was a horrible experience for my friend.
If you follow some of the links at the sight I listed above you will read other examples of people pretending online. ĎSteven Den Besteí concluded that we must, ďTrust but verifyĒ Having been fooled himself, heís now a little more jaded. He said, ďNever gamble more than you can afford to lose.Ē See his entire commentary on this subject at :
But in contrast to all of this, I can say that Iíve met some amazing and loving people on the internet, who live all over the world. Iíve shared in sorrows and love with people I have formed relationships with. I didnít write any of this with the intention of generating more hype and fear about the internet or the people we meet online.
All of this does highlight this thought I had: A good person will be genuine and truthful with or without a mask. My father used to say that itís not so important what someone does when they are being watched as it is when they are not being watched. That is a true judge of character. When people on the internet think they are anonymous and no-one knows their true name, sometimes they become bolder and pretend to be what they are not. They are great pretenders. Eventually people see through the lies and they are left empty.
We need to have trust and truth between human beings to function together properly. There is nothing wrong with protecting our true identities for security reasons, but if we are being genuine and truthful on and offline, that will show in everything we do.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:05 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

July 28, 2004

I have a pulse

One night last week I tried on my new heart rate monitor. I picked one up on sale at one of the fitness stores so now I can see what my heart is doing when I work out. Of course I didnít need that to tell me I have a pulse, but it is interesting.
Throughout every day of my life I am measuring my heart. My heart rate is only one of the vital signs that tells me I am alive. How I treat others is a vital sign I canít ignore. If Iím treating everyone with love, dignity, respect and compassion, my heart is beating strong and healthy.
How we treat others is often hard to measure though if we are unwilling to look at how we are treating others. Today as I was walking around the park I saw a man crossing the street at an intersection. He was half-way across when the light changed. He didnít hurry up and finish his crossing, but continued in a calm manner toward the curb. Then I heard a few loud rapid blasts of a car horn. One of the drivers waiting to go was impatient and honked at the man. The man did not look back, just raised his arm halfway up as he was walking and gave the driver the finger. The next thing I heard was some expletives coming from the car window. The walking man muttered some profanities back as he strolled by me. In that interaction between two people itís hard to say if either one of them were willing to look at how they were treating each other. It didnít appear that they were too concerned about it.
Yesterday when I took my friend to the hospital it wasnít convenient or easy. But I did it and it all worked out ok. First my friend called me at 9pm on Monday night to ask if I could drive him the next day. I told him I wished he had called earlier so I could ask for the day off from work, but I said I would call my boss and ask. What was I supposed to do as a friend? I wanted to help him even if it was inconvenient.
I called my boss and he was fine with me taking the next day off. The next problem was transportation. At the moment my car was having a problem, so I had to ask my wife to borrow her car for the day. Now Iím implicating others in my charitable actions! But she happened to be off from work that day and was planning on doing some gardening at home anyway. She was happy to help.
The third problem came when we were driving from my friendís house to Rochester. Itís about an hour and-a-half drive. We got about 20 miles from his house and he realized that he left the directions and the appointment information on the table at home. Well, he knew the Hospital name and the doctor he was seeing so I assured him that weíd be able to find it. There are always signs for hospitals when you get close and Iím not afraid of asking for directions. But he was worried.
As it turned out, we entered Rochester on the freeway and saw signs pointing straight ahead, but then no signs telling us where to exit. I had this feeling I should pull off at the next exit to ask for directions. We were both amazed to find out that we were less than a mile from the hospital and that was the best exit to take. So we drove right to the hospital. I dropped him off at the front door and parked the car.
There were no more problems. There was an information desk right inside the hospital entrance and they knew right where he was supposed to go. He was on time for his appointment so it was all good.
It was a peaceful morning while I waited for my friend. I brought along one of the many books on my reading Ďwaiting listí since I knew Iíd be sitting around while he was at his appointment.
Some people would view this whole thing as too inconvenient or even a nightmare. But it wasnít like that. It was much more than that. It was a measure of the condition of my heart. I had offered the previous week to help him in any way that I could. It was a genuine offer from the heart so I was already committed to doing whatever I was able to do.
Life is very short and by consciously choosing to help others we are contributing and creating, verses taking and using. It really has nothing to do with the condition of the receiverís heart. It has everything to do with our own compassion and love for other human beings. Then we know that our hearts are beating strong and healthy. We know we are alive.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:26 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

July 25, 2004

Daggers in their backs

I was talking with some friends tonight and remembered an incident that happened on the bus. During the winter I usually ride the bus to and from work. Along my route there is a man who rides frequently. He walks with a slight limp and uses a cane. When he does ride the bus he usually asks the bus driver to lower the wheelchair platform so he can ride on the lift. This process takes a little time and everyone on the bus tends to stare at the person using it. The bus has to sit there while it unfolds and moves itís passenger along. Then if folds back under the bus steps.
One day people were particularly irritated by the delay. I could hear them talking to each other under their breaths, ďHe can walk, why does he need to use that!?Ē Even the bus driver gave him a look of disbelief when the man asked to use it to get on the bus. Then the man explained that he had a brace on his leg and it hurt him to go up and down the stairs because of the stiff leg. It didnít bend too well. Then the bus driver muttered, ďok, ok.Ē and gave him a snotty look, but did it.
I could tell that the man could hear the comments being made by the people on the bus. When he sat down in the front of the bus next to me, he did not look around. He just looked down at the floor. Everyone on the bus was silent. But I reached over and put my hand on his back. It was like I removed a dagger from his back and he sat up straight and smiled at me. Then we started talking and I found out what he did for work downtown, and that he was going to the store to get some things. I found out about his leg and how it has changed his life. Also, how much courage it takes sometimes to use that lift.
Sometimes our attitudes are like daggers that kill a personís soul. We can drive them in their backs without even realizing it. We stare, we mutter things under our breath, we are irritated, but we seldom get to know the person that we are condemning. Our eyes and attitudes are daggers in their backs that they have a very difficult time removing on their own. That takes another hand. It takes another person who is willing to love and have compassion.
We can all free others of their pain or add to it. Itís always our choice.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:50 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

July 22, 2004

It's a beautiful life

But How beautiful it can be is a matter of perspective. Tonight I decided to push myself a little harder and went for a ride with the Saint Paul Bike Racing Club. ( It was a lot of fun. This was my first time riding as a group. The hills were not too bad and the pace was slower than I normally ride, but the distance was much longer than Iíve done during the work week. But even that seemed ok. I must be doing something right in building up my endurance and overall conditioning.
Before the ride, I decided to leave my backpack at work, ride to the starting point of the group ride, do the ride, then return to work to pick up my backpack. As it turned out, that was the perfect choice to make. Isnít hindsight usually more revealing? So, 36 miles later I was back at work. As I pulled up to our building, I saw the security guard outside with the hood of his car opened. He was having some problems with his 1986 vehicle. It looked like it needed a little help on the outside too. I pulled up and said a cheerful hi. We talked for about a half an hour. He showed me the problem and said that the local garage wanted to charge him 400 dollars to fix it. He also told me that he had only 75 dollars to last him another week. Then I found out that he was taking care of his mother at home, who is 80 years old and barely able to walk.
But he wasnít complaining, just telling it as it was. He said he might be able to borrow a car from his buddy for a little while. Itís the same car he sold to his friend a few years ago for a few hundred dollars. It doesnít have headlights. Do you know what he told me? ďAt least this car has working headlights, so I can get home from work at the end of my shift.Ē
Now Iím looking for a car mechanic in the twin cities who can do a 400 dollar repair job for almost nothing. It really needs to be done soon or this man may be without transportation. His 75 dollars wonít go very far if heís not working.
My ride was beautiful, and when we can help another person, life is beautiful. It helps to keep things in perspective and remember that we are all in life together. If any of you are mechanically inclined or know of a good hearted mechanic or want to help this security guard out with a buck or two, please email me (or reply to this post)
Iíll continue to look for the best way to help this man out in a time of need. I know itís there because life is beautiful when we share it with others.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:47 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

July 16, 2004

I love

I love simple things,
the flowers and trees,
the bird as it sings,
and honey and bees.
I love that which loves,
the friendly creatures,
the rabbits and doves,
all life's great features.
I love simpleness,
like inner beauty,
and your faithfulness
beyond your duty.
I love those who love,
you with your warm smile,
sending me thoughts of
everything worthwhile.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:46 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

July 15, 2004

Learning a foreign language

I know many of you have tried to learn a foreign language. You know what itís like then to spend a lot of time learning, feel confident in the material you are learning and then be in a situation with a native speaker where you feel like you did not learn anything. The mind just goes blank and the person you are speaking to seems to be speaking some other language than the one youíve been working so hard to learn.
I felt that way today and have felt it with other languages also. When I went to Germany my German language skills were pretty good by testing standards, but speaking and listening to German in Germany was kind of overwhelming. Iíve seen it in class when the teacher asks someone a question at normal speaking speed. Tonight I met with my Korean language partner and it was difficult. Even words I knew, I could not understand when he spoke them. It can be frustrating but at the same time it lets us know we need a lot more work.
A positive thought that came out of my meeting tonight was this...when two people cannot understand each other very well, or even not at all, somehow we manage to communicate. It is the willingness of each of us to keep trying and to learn from each other. If people of foreign languages who barely understand each other can come together and learn each otherís language, share each otherís culture and thoughts, then in the realm of world politics there is hope. As long as there is a willingness to come together and understand each other, it can happen. We may realize we need more work and it can be frustrating, but isnít it worth the effort?


Posted by carl1236 at 10:47 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

July 14, 2004

And the Fork ran away with the Spoon

As odd as it may be, I was riding along, not even in a residential
area, when I spotted a spoon in the road! Now why would a spoon be in
the road? It's an odd place to find an eating utensil. I laughed as
I thought of the connection to the forks we had found previously.
Sometimes we find things in the most unexpected places. A fork and a
spoon should not normally be found on the road, but there they were.
And not just one of them. This applies to people also. We look at
other people and expect them to fit into our stereotypes.
Yesterday in the park I saw an insurance business representative
playing with a band. He really has a good voice and a lot of talent.
If I did not know what his day job was, I would never have guessed that
this man did both. I'm sure many people at his office and many of his
clients would never guess that he's a fabulous musician and
How we look at other people is important because stereotypes can be
misleading and cloud our vision. But we could look at people from the
inside out. To do that we really have to look, and be willing to get to
know them and let them get to know us. We cannot do this by
generalizing and making assumptions and leaving it at that. We have to
be more aware and look deeper. When we do we often find things in
unexpected places, and realize that inside we all have value.
On June 8th I wrote a little verse about the value inside of us all. What we see on the surface is temporary. June Blog Entries

Reduce the world down to the size of a pea and what do you see? Nothing.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:58 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

July 8, 2004

One River - Two thoughts

What you do not want done to you, don't do to others. - Do no harm
What you want others to do to you, do to them. - Do what is good and helpful to them.
Tonight when my supervisor asked me if I could work 11 hours on Saturday I said yes. There was an emergency and one of my coworkers couldn't do her shift. I know that the circumstances warrant the extra effort and it will be helpful to the person who's shift I'm taking. We need to not only do no harm, but also if we know what is right we need to do it.

Posted by carl1236 at 12:00 AM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

July 7, 2004

Around the Block

Last night we had a block club meeting. Each family brought some food to share and it was fun. Many of the neighbors showed up, but still there were a lot missing. It was nice outside and we ate and talked for a few hours.
I had some great conversations with some people I have never met. During this past winter some of the houses around us were sold. Of course in the winter, people tend to go from their heated houses to their heated cars to a heated workplace and rarely see their neighbors. So we did not see the new neighbors until now.
A neighborhood picnic is a great way to meet people and to get to know them. I already found someone who said they would like to go cycling with me. I also met a young couple who just moved in a month ago. One is a school teacher, the other is a computer repair specialist.
Block Clubs have proven to be good deterrents to crime and make neighborhoods safer and better to live in. Neighbors that know and understand each other look out for each other and are less likely to complain. Getting to know our neighbors helps build communities that work. Isnít this the direction we want society to move in instead of isolation and segregation?
This summer as we walk around the block, weíll have some more familiar faces to greet.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:23 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

July 5, 2004

The Kindness of Others

I said thank you to the man who helped me and he said, ďItís ok, some day Iíll need a hand too.Ē He was nice and pleasant to talk to as we drove toward my house. He told me that he was on his way to go roller-blading along the river trail when he stopped his pickup truck to see if I was all right. I was ok but my front tire was all mangled up like a pretzel. I received a few good scrapes on my shoulder, both of my arms and my shin. My head went Ďthunkí on the ground as I skidded to a stop. Within about 10 seconds I went from 30 mph to zero. I had just had the worst accident on my bike this year.
I was riding down a steep, curvy road that had no shoulder. There was a steep drop on the right of the road so in this particular spot there was a curb and a guard rail. A car was passing me a little too close and I moved over, but didnít realize I was coming too close to the curb. My tires skidded along the curb and I wobbled and leaned into the railing. Then my front tire caught and my bike twisted around using my body as a shock absorber. My left shoulder was really bruised and sore. Iím lucky I did not break bones.
As I stood up to take stock of the situation, I looked around and pieced together what had happened. My bike was laying there with the front tire all twisted. I picked it up and leaned it against the guard rail. A few seconds later a pickup truck came up the hill going the opposite direction and stopped. He asked, ďAre you all right? Kind of still stunned by the whole thing one of the first thoughts that came into my mind was a line from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, ďItís just a flesh wound!Ē Laughingly, I said, ďYeah, Iím ok, my bike is a little mangled though. Then he offered me a ride, and I was really thankful that he stopped.
I was wondering how I was going to get to work, since I was already 4 miles away from home and 9 miles from work. I was very fortunate and Iím thankful that I wasnít more severely injured, that I had a helmet on and that a man with a pickup truck stopped to help me..
Sometimes we rely on the kindness of others and when things are going good we often forget these moments. But even this moment is a teaching moment for my heart. It is the kindness of others that keeps this world a sane and decent place.
This type of kindness is like a drop of water in a still pond. The ripples go out in all directions. So I try to help others where I see a need, as this kind man did to me. The effects of one small act of kindness go out in all directions like ripples in the water, and we may never know what we have created, but it comes back to us. Someday when the man with the pickup truck needs a hand, I have hope that there will be someone just like him who will stop to help.

Note 1. My accident happened two weeks ago and Iím ok. I only have one bandage left on my shin and I can finally move my shoulder around without pain. Iíve been riding every day since and today I rode just over 15 miles from the University along East river road, then home. It felt great!

Note 2. Today in the Tour de France, Gian Matteo Fagnini crashed and was taken away in an ambulance. The Domina Vacanze rider fractured his collarbone, most likely ending his Tour de France. If youíve never seen one of these bike races, itís amazing how fast and close to each other they ride. I think there were 3 or 4 accidents throughout todayís stage, but unlike Fagnini, the others were able to rejoin the race.
Sometimes we do everything right and then have days like that. It has to be very disappointing to come that far and then be finished just 3 days into the 23 day race.

See Tour de France coverage online at:

Posted by carl1236 at 9:40 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

July 4, 2004

What's so funny?

What is so funny about humor at the expense of others? Today I heard a joke that poked fun at one particular ethnic groupís customs. I guess I donít get whatís so funny about it. In my heart I know that itís not based in love or respect.
When I was a young boy I heard a lot of Polish jokes. I cannot imagine that polish people are as dumb as the jokes made them out to be, yet everyone laughed. I even laughed and told those jokes until it hit me that I would not like it if I were polish.
We imagine our principals and morals and values being tested under great challenges but isnít it how we live day in and day out that provides the true test? How we live day to day, minute by minute is a testament to who we are isnít it?

Posted by carl1236 at 11:58 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

June 18, 2004

Seeing a Fox

Today I was riding my bike into work along the river. There were a lot of cyclists out this morning. There is one spot along the trail where the grass widens out in front of the woods. There standing in the grass was a beautiful fox. Iím lucky that I didnít crash. I had to stop and admire the fox. It was the highlight of my ride. It is not often that we get to see these creatures up-close. Our society and theirs donít usually mix.
We have come a long way in technology and convenience in our society but it often means isolation from nature and the elements. We drive in our cars with the air conditioner running to shield us from the heat and humidity. We close up our homes in the winter and summer to shield us from the cold and heat. We build fences around our yards to shield us from neighbors, and walls and gates around our communities to shield us from the rif-raf. We can isolate ourselves for convenience and comfort but when we do we often miss out on a major portion of life around us.
I think I am very fortunate to have seen the fox today and I learned that itís easy to take for granted and forget about everything, and everyone we have shut out or set aside in our society. When we come face to face with it though, itís a good reminder that we are not alone and that we are all part of the whole.

Posted by carl1236 at 7:20 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

June 11, 2004

Not just another tourist

This morning someone came into the coffee shop and was talking about a history tour they signed up for, through Community Ed. We talked about how itís funny that we can live in a place for so many years and donít know the history or recognize the monuments and other tourist attractions.
Itís not really that surprising though. For us, living in any location is just part of our lives. We go to work, we shop, we worship together, we go to entertainment venues, we picnic in the parks, we exercise, we talk with our neighbors, we spend time with our families, we work in our gardens, we play at our hobbies, we read books, and the beat goes on. Itís pretty much the daily beat of our hearts; the actions of living life the best we know how.
When we go to other places we tend to look for the tourist spots, to see the sights. How many people here take the Mall of America for granted? Tourists come from all over the world to see it. If we looked into the photo albums of everyone who visited our city, what would we see? Probably the same sights, with different people.
Julie Roberts had a great line in the movie, Pretty Woman. She was asked by Richard Gereís character to be his Ďbeck and call girlí and to move into his penthouse apartment. He said it was to get her off the streets. She replied, ďItís just geography.Ē When we interact with other people isnít it how we treat them and how we are treated that makes a difference?
A few years ago we had a big family reunion, with relatives coming from all over. Some from California, some from Toronto, some from Ohio and some from Norway. It was a great experience. There were over a hundred people here. Some stayed in our homes and ate with us. We planned this event for a whole year, which included some tourist attractions and activities. But the main thing everyone remembers is the great conversations we had as we retraced our roots and caught up on the generations of changes and challenges in everyoneís lives.
A while ago I read an interesting article by a very inspirational woman, Han Bi Ya, who is a travel writer, among other things. She visits a lot of exotic places and writes about them. She said that part of the reason she is so successful is that she doesnít focus on the tourist attractions, but on the people and their lives. In essence, if a person is visiting a place, what they want is to connect with the heartbeat of that place, and that is in the people who live there.
That also goes for the people we travel with. Vacations are not just about changing geography. Itís about relaxing together, laughing and talking. Taking the time to share in each otherís lives. We can do that whether standing in front of Old Faithful or sitting on the patio in our back yard. Itís just Geography otherwise. Iím looking forward to our annual family vacation before school starts again in September.
Keeping things in perspective, we can be more than just another tourist wherever we go. The photos we take may have some family and friends and scenery but the memories wonít be in the tourist attractions, but will be in the sharing of our hearts with those around us.

Posted by carl1236 at 9:28 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

June 8, 2004


Rust on the hinges,
worthless it seems.
But treasure's hidden,
by worthless means.

Posted by carl1236 at 10:51 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

June 7, 2004

Working Together

I talked to my new supervisor at work today about some problems that I had at work this weekend. She was frustrated with what happened partly because of a mistake on a form she filled out incorrectly and partly because no-one told her about it until I came to work almost a week after she did it. Every staff person has to look at this form and do the work instructions according to the form. So, theoretically someone should have caught the mistake and told her about it.
One thing my supervisor said out of frustration was, ďWe all have to work together. Someone should have told me about this sooner.Ē It was kind of a critical task and I agree with my supervisor. Part of the problem was that no-one wanted to fix the mistake, they just wanted to place the blame on the new supervisor, as if they were absolved of all responsibility. We all have to work together is a truth that eludes many workplaces. Teamwork requires effort and an attitude of looking out for everyoneís best interest. Keeping the team functioning requires good communication between all members of the team.
I once taught a computer class at a technical college with another person. The class ran 3 nights per week and I taught on Mondays and Wednesdays. My co-teacher taught on Tuesday nights. We were both working out of the same syllabus for the whole semester.
We discovered right away that we needed to agree on what we were teaching and communicate to each other after every class period so the other teacher knew what was covered and what the problems were. The students invariable asked us both the same questions. We needed to have a unified and correct answer for them.
Some of the students even tried to blame the other teacher for teaching them something that wasnít working correctly. We had to have a level of trust and professionalism with each other. So we emailed each other every day and copied our supervisor on our communications. He was grateful for the updates and the school used our communications as a model for other courses with multiple teachers. It works really well as long as we are working together.
Teams work better when everyone is working together for a common cause. Having attitudes against other team members doesn't help. Life is like this. When we work together in life and help each other out then humanity works better.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:12 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

June 4, 2004

What a difference a Smile makes

All day today I became aware of smiles. When I smiled at people and was genuinely happy to see someone, they would smile back. Not just any smile but a big ear to ear grin. It feels good. You know the feeling when someone you know smiles at you. You cannot help but smile back. Why do people have this effect on us? This is real power! Light bulb: If they can make us smile with a smile, then what are we doing to others?
A smile is something we all have that we can use to improve the lives of other people. And it works. We can feel the difference a smile makes.

Posted by carl1236 at 9:12 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

June 1, 2004


My friend sent me a resumeí cover letter to proof-read this morning. I thought it was fairly well written. I only made a few small changes and sent it back with a description of why I changed those sentences. He was really happy with the changes and called me on the phone. As we were talking about it, he also brought up another concern about one sentence. This one sentence seemed a little disjointed from the rest of the paragraph. After discussing it I had an idea that made the transition better. He was really excited and I could feel his emotions. ďYou always help me. You are a wonderful friend!Ē he said.

How do we define friendship? In the Merriam-Webster dictionary it says friendship is the state of being friends. A Friend is defined as:
Main Entry: 1friend
Pronunciation: 'frend
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English frend, from Old English frEond; akin to Old High German friunt friend, Old English frEon to love, frEo free
1 a : one attached to another by affection or esteem b : ACQUAINTANCE
2 a : one that is not hostile b : one that is of the same nation, party, or group
3 : one that favors or promotes something (as a charity)
4 : a favored companion

Most of these definitions apply to my friendship with this man. I find the sources of the word friend to be very interesting. Old English fr Eon to love, and fr Eo free. It could be a free association of people, who share a common love for each other. Or free love that is given without expectation of return. I feel like all of my friendships have a base in mutual love. When a friend sends their resume cover letter, I do the best I can to help them look good on paper. I feel that what is in their best interest is also in my best interest.
I first met this friend about eight or nine years ago. I was working at a software vendor, doing training, technical support and programming. He was one of my customers. He called with many questions, and came to some training classes our company offered. I got to know him better and enjoyed helping him. And I could see his learning progress and enthusiasm grow. Then something tragic happened. Our company was sold, and then involved in a lawsuit pertaining to the sale of the company. It eventually had to be shut down and I moved on to another company. But when I did, I gave my friend my new contact information. I didnít want him to be left without a person to talk to and get help from.

I cannot explain how this friendship was created, except that it has to do with helping another human being succeed. We can always find faults in other people, but can we find a friend in the people we interact with?
He has since helped me re-roof my house, and we play golf and tennis together and enjoy each otherís company. Too often as human beings we are afraid of attachments and think we have to go it alone. This kind of conventional wisdom only leads to feeling alone. We get our wish.
A long time ago I received an email chain-letter with the following poem in it. I have it hanging up by my desk:

There are no conditions placed on true friendship,
No hidden agendas or expectations of a return on investment.
Friendship has needs that are not met with greed,
Not furthered with pride, not put aside by shame,
Nor are Friends jealous or afraid to confide,
But filled with giving, and sharing of life.
Friends are mirrors into our own souls, but the reflection
We see is somehow better than we thought of ourselves.

To me Friendship is about what we can bring to it. Itís about what we give, not about what we expect to get out of it. Whether itís an ear to listen, or a hug, or a resume revision, each of us has what it takes to make and keep good, strong and lasting friendships. When we look back on life isnít it our friends who seem to be in most of our memories?

In appreciation of my Friends who make life better, I dedicate this thought to you and want you to know I appreciate you, ďThank you!Ē

Posted by carl1236 at 2:48 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

May 31, 2004


A friend asked me, ďAre there such things as Messengers?Ē The first thought that came to me was, ďYes, Angels are messengers.Ē But then she went on to explain her experiences and involvement with other people. She said her life was becoming very strange, because she kept getting involved in strange situations, even with complete strangers. She felt in her heart a need and followed it. She began seeing a pattern because in each case there was a specific thing she was able to help with. In a sense she was awed and questioning what it was she was feeling.
I was walking through the skyway between buildings in downtown and I felt this need to turn around and go a different route. I didnít argue I just went with it. I just knew that I was going to go the other way. Thatís what it feels like when God speaks to me. I then started to wonder what was up ahead. Then I ran into a friend who was very frustrated by a computer problem she was having. Her supervisor was pressuring her to get something done and was almost belittling her because she couldnít do it faster. I took some time to work through the problems with her and see if we could find a solution. We did not really resolve the problem with the software but we exhausted all the alternatives. Eventually she got it done the slow way, but the main benefit was that she no longer felt alone. Her confidence was back and she knew that it wasnít just her incompetence. She is pretty knowledgeable with computers so I didnít think that was the case but her supervisor made her feel incompetent.
My conclusion is that we are all messengers but sometimes in our interactions with others we deliver the wrong mail, we forget we are messengers or choose not to deliver. Our biggest and most important message is that we care about and love each other

Posted by carl1236 at 11:29 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

May 30, 2004

Use the Sidewalk!

The other morning when I was biking into work it was beautiful. It was cool but not cold, sunny and quiet. My ride was about 7 miles and it felt good. As I was riding I could see the river and birds flying along and a few cars passed me. I had just ridden across a bridge, and there was no shoulder. Although this road has a bike trail along most of it, there are places like this where there is no bike path. I was biking along and a few cars came up behind me on their way to work, I presumed. There was one person driving a truck who was tailgating the others. One car after another swung out around me and passed by. When this truck passed me, someone rolled down the window and shouted, ďUse the Sidewalk!!!Ē
My first reaction was surprise, then I thought, ďwhat a jerk.Ē Regardless of whether there was a bike path or not, unless itís posted bikes are allowed to ride on the roads. At that moment I thought that it would be interesting to have a tape recorder and play back his voice to him some day when heís sitting in church or just after someone was rude to him. The funny thing is, other than these few cars at this time of day, there was almost no traffic on this road. Going toward downtown there was no traffic coming at us either, except for a few more people on bikes enjoying the morning.
I can understand that commuterís frustration and impatience. Traffic stinks sometimes, itís dangerous, and people drive like maniacs. When we are running late it causes us to be tense. Road rage seems to be increasing all over the country. Iíve been frustrated by delays in the past also. In todayís society we too often donít leave ourselves enough time to get where we need to be. But this is not a problem I can help that driver with. I can only keep biking and hope that he has a change of heart. I can also choose how I react to people like that and what it does to me.
I bike for exercise and for clean air. I combine commuting to and from work with my exercise and at the same time Iím reducing pollution and helping our environment. One personís negative attitude does not negate the benefits of biking for me.
There is an ancient belief that says each of us gets to experience all of our actions and attitudes, from the recipients viewpoint. Indeed! What if thatís already happening? That guy yelling at me was probably the attitude I gave out many years ago toward a biker that was holding up traffic and making me late. My attitude toward bikers didnít change until I became one and saw how dangerous it is on our streets. It helps to Ďput yourself in their shoes,í before yelling, ďUse the sidewalk!Ē

Posted by carl1236 at 9:04 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

May 27, 2004

Toys to play with

Today I went to the Post Office to mail a package to my friendís daughter who lives in India. He has a little girl who is 3 years old that almost died when she was 1 from TB. At that time I made a decision to help them buy medicine for their little girl so I began sending a small amount of money to India each month. That saved her life, which is good, but to me there was something else needed. A great reward came to me when I received a picture of her holding a large pink stuffed elephant toy that was almost as big as her, which I had sent last year. She was grinning from ear to ear and squeezing the elephant with her tiny arms. Everyone is a human being. That little girl had no toys, and had spent her entire life to that point, sick. She did not just need medicine, she needed joy and hope and toys to play with.
When I was at the post office mailing a package today, I talked with the cashier about the cost of living in different locations in the world. She was from Ethiopia and said that 100 dollars there is like 500 US dollars here. I told her that 100 dollars in India is two months rent plus groceries for a family of 3. My friend and his wife and daughter live in a house with a dirt floor and a grass roof.
This helps us keep things in perspective. Especially when we complain about trivial things. That little girl could not help where she was born. It was not a personal choice gone bad. Often people who are not suffering have the attitude that those who are deserve it. I once heard a good phrase that went something like this: ĎWe are not giving something of ours to them, we are giving back what belongs to them.í
It doesnít have to be India or Africa. It could be right in our own neighborhoods. Instead of insulating ourselves each of us can open up and see the problems and suffering around us and do something. It doesnít even have to be a lot. just something.
One of the greatest deceptions in this world is that there is not enough for everyone. There is enough of everything for the entire world if we stop taking more than what we need and share what we have. The toys I sent were used by my daughter when she was little, so it cost me very little to make a little girl smile from ear to ear. That is priceless.
Each of us has the potential to make a difference in this world and can find our unique way to leave it a little better than we found it. In this case it was toys to play with.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:35 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

May 20, 2004

No-one wants to be lonely

Many people have a fear of Nursing homes. Many people have problems adjusting when their Spouse dies or when their children grow up and leave the home. During crisis we often feel like we are the only ones who are facing those challenges. I read yesterday that one of the biggest problems in marriage is loneliness. People can be lonely even when surrounded by others.
This morning as I was getting ready to leave for work, I observed our dog. She likes to be close to us and get attention from us. Itís kind of funny, sometimes I canít even type on the keyboard because she sticks her nose under my arm to get me to pet her. This morning she was following me around from room to room and when I went outside to get my bike out of the garage, she came out with me and was over by the garage with me, watching me. She followed me back into the house and sat next to me while I was making my lunch. When I was ready to leave, she went into the bathroom and laid down on the rug. I think she feels safer in there. She always goes there when itís thundering outside. You might think Iím going to tell you how lonely she is and doesnít like to be left alone. I think thatís part of her personality, but where Iím going with this is really about my relationship with my wife. After I arrived at work I called her to chat. We talked about the dog and what my observations were. She was happy to hear that someone else noticed the same things. We talked about how our dog has changed since we got her from the humane society 6 months ago. We give our dog so much love and attention that she's probably getting spoiled now. haha.
We all want to be loved and accepted and have someone to share our thoughts with. We donít feel alone when people can really see our point of view. Just sharing our observations with each other and finding out that someone else feels the same way is a big part of feeling together.
No-one wants to be lonely. We can really listen to each other. This is something we can do. In the process we feel a little more connected.

Posted by carl1236 at 9:44 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

May 17, 2004

We are all in this together

There are about 5.7 billion people on this planet. We are only one. So life cannot be just about our self. When we are born and growing up, we are dependent on others and when we are very old we are dependent on others. Between that time we often forget how dependent on others we are. We are even dependent on the Earth and the atmosphere and the air we breathe. Chief Seattle said, ďThis we know: All things are connected. Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons of the earth. Man did not weave the web of life: he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.Ē Take a look at who makes the clothes you wear. Where was it produced? Who worked in that factory, who built the machines to produce the clothing? Who harvested the cotton or wool or made the materials? Who transported the materials to the factory? We can ask ourselves if we did any of that. In most cases we have to answer no. Someone else did. We might have paid for the clothing but without all of the others that produced and sold it to us, it would not be on our bodies right now. Why do we forget our dependence on others? We are all in this together yet we often pretend we are alone.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama said, ďAll living beings, starting from insects, want happiness and not suffering. However, we are only one, whereas others are infinite in number. Thus, it can be clearly decided that others gaining happiness is more important than just yourself alone.Ē
Our happiness is important and equal to that of all others, and we are not alone in this desire for happiness. Since we are all dependent on others and others depend on us, we can contribute to our interconnected lives by giving to others happiness. We can truly say then that when we do that we are giving happiness to our self.
One of the surest ways to find happiness is not by seeking self-pleasure, because it does not last, but to give it to others. What do we really have that we can offer others? Ourselves. We come into this life as one small part of the whole, but each of us has our own unique gifts, talents and resources. How we contribute ourselves is up to us. We are all in this together.

Posted by carl1236 at 11:38 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

May 10, 2004

Lighten up! Or Light up?

Over the weekend I was reading some posts in a web group I belong to. One person posted a cartoon joke that seemed kind of offensive to me. It doesnít really matter what the joke was, it could have been anything. To me it was similar to racial jokes, to ethnic group jokes, to sexist jokes. In our society, we have heard many of these jokes, which seem innocuous enough and we often find ourselves laughing at them. But what are we laughing at and why? Too often jokes like this are at the expense of someone else. And, we often do it when we are not part of the culture or group we are making fun of.
So, I posted a note explaining how I thought it was offensive, and I even put a caveat on the end, saying I wasnít angry and that I knew that someone would tell me to lighten up but that I was speaking from the heart. If I put myself in their shoes, I probably would not like a joke like this. The very next post was someone telling me to lighten up, that it was just a joke, and no harm was intended.
When I was a child, growing up it was nothing to hear jokes about how stupid polish people are, or how lazy blacks are, or how dumb blondes are, or how untrustworthy Native Americans are, or how they are a bunch of drunks or Indian givers. Iím sure my parents and Aunts and Uncles didnít mean any harm to others and overall they are good, loving people. But they are jokes that now donít seem as funny. Probably because they arenít really funny when we realize what we are laughing at and why.
Many times when confronted about the jokes, Iíve heard Ďwhiteí people tell Ďblacksí that they should lighten up and have a sense of humor. But then again, those telling the jokes arenít on the receiving end of them and donít see any problem with them. Itís all in good humor right?
At a time with so much conflict, violence and hatred between people in our world, we can ignore the meaning behind these seemingly harmless jokes, and lighten up, as someone told me to do, or we can light up, and speak from our hearts. If we donít speak what is in our hearts, who will? I tell you that Iím not against laughter and humor, which is incredibly healing and helpful to us. Just not at the expense of others. Have a heart, light up, show others you walk the talk. We are all in life together.

Posted by carl1236 at 8:50 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

May 5, 2004

How are you?

Almost every day we use the expression, ďHow are you?Ē Sometimes we ask with genuine concern and care, sometimes itís just an expression we use as a greeting. The responses are also sometimes just an expression we use as a greeting, such as, ďIím good, how are you?Ē
Today one of my coworkers said, ďHow are you?Ē and I felt like launching into an explanation of how things are going. Iím really busy these days, and have a lot of commitments that Iím struggling to keep up with, and physically Iím tired. But I donít confuse that with my spiritual well being. Overall Iím doing really well and am happy. My reality is so different from many others. I donít suffer from many problems in life. They bless me and I grow and learn from them, and Iím thankful for everything. So my standard answer could be, ďIím good,Ē or as one of my former neighbors and one of my co-workers used to always answer, ďIím perfect.Ē
Whenever he would answer with, ďIím perfect!Ē I could sense it was an affirmation for him, an attempt at positive thinking. I would not choose to answer with ďIím perfect,Ē because it seems a little conceited. But I canít complain about life either. Itís more of a state of acceptance of who and what I am.
The bottom line for me is that in my heart I should be genuinely interested in other people, and willing to really know how they are doing. Many of us are going through life avoiding too much detail and too much connection with another person. We think that if we get too personal, we might be obligated to help them, or to spend our time with them. I have found that ďHow are you?Ē is not about just exchanging some greetings with each other in a polite manner, but about being genuine. When we do that with each other itís really a way to be more real, more alive and more connected.
How are you?

Posted by carl1236 at 12:24 PM | Love your Neighbor

Category "Love your Neighbor"

April 30, 2004

On the Attack

Today I was talking with a friend about the laws concerning Gay marriages. She was criticizing those who wanted to see gay marriages made legal. In her belief system, it is immoral and violates the Laws of God. I began to think about what she said, and dig a little deeper into my soul, and I asked God to show me some rays of truth and love in all of this. The debate outside rages on. People have polarized into two groups, one supporting Gay marriages and gay rights, the other directly opposed. One group attacks another, and then there is retaliation. Attacks and condemnations are made on both sides. Truths are manipulated to support each groupís view on life. One group claims the other is too narrow minded. The other group claims the other has lost their mind. This kind of Mob mentality creates and breeds a kind of hate toward others who do not believe the same things we do. It is also based in Fear.

I heard once that most people do not purposely attack another person. That those that feel like they are being attacked begin to go on the defensive, and then become offensive. If someone attacks our beliefs, our moral codes, our view of life, we naturally want to support our own view. We also want to belong to the group that is right. When we finally settle on a truth, and accept it as truth, we want others to accept us and our beliefs. Whether it is moral or not, or whether it is good for the other person or not, often is not the underlying motive behind our attacks. Often it is our own defense that motivates our attacks, and fear that what we believe in is being challenged and could be stripped from us.

This thought can be applied to all of us. We are all guilty of going on the attack when we feel like we are being challenged and coming under attack. Looking beyond the attack of the other, and trying to see their fears and frustrations is more challenging. Really seeing other people requires us to recognize our own fears and get beyond them to a place where we can love each other.

Today when I talked to my friend about Gay marriages, I might have just been ostracized from the group of people who are polarized against Gay marriages or even being gay.
Because I oppose any kind of government regulation on who can and cannot be considered married, I may be considered Ďone of themí or worse yet going to hell because Iím supporting and defending sin. But thatís missing the point. And it is an attempt at attacking my beliefs because my beliefs donít fit into her belief system. I could respond by calling her narrow-minded. I could respond by saying she is blind and ignorant and attack her religion. I could try to get others to see that her religion promotes hate and bias against other human beings. I could attack her to make my views known, and try to convince others to get onto my side, to support my views.

But I love her too. And I know how much her beliefs help her find meaning and purpose in her own life. I also witness the good work her church and others are doing in our city. I also know that she deserves to have her beliefs just as I do. We all eventually figure out life for ourselves and form our own opinion about things and that others really canít change us unless we change ourselves.

What we can do if we find ourselves going on the attack:
Recognize the source of our attack. Is it fear of losing something, or having our beliefs taken from us?
Recognize the other person as someone we love. Jesus said, love our enemies. If we turn those we love into enemies we are still obligated to love them. If we recognize them as a human being just like us, we can see their fears and their basic need to be loved and find meaning and purpose in their own lives and we can love them.
We can stick to our own truth for our own life. Our life cannot be lived by anyone else. Ultimately we are each responsible for our own attitudes and actions. If our way or belief is challenged, then it is up to us to use that challenge or discard it. If we are a light, and our way is the truth, then others will see it. Our actions will prove it. Build our house on a solid foundation of Love, and we will not be washed away by the rising sea of hatred. Stick to our own truth and use everything as a teacher. If we need to change ourselves and are willing to, then we will. If we are doing this, then when other people condemn us we can walk our talk and know itís the best we can do without fearing that someone else is going to change our minds or hearts.
We can believe that there is always a way to love each other. If we expend our energy in trying to find that way, and not on the attack, we will be investing our energy for a greater return.

I remember back to December this year, at our Christmas day family gathering, sharing gifts and our love for each other. If I were to go on the attack, I would never have had the opportunity and experience of sharing our family and true, unconditional love with the two Gay men who came to our table that did not have family to share it with. I would not strip from them their need to love and be loved. I never would have experienced what sharing of this kind could do for the soul of another human being. When they left, we were all thankful for the God that created us and loves us.

When we find ourselves going on the attack, or being attacked, we can choose to look beyond our fears, and beyond the attack and come to a place where we can love each other.

Posted by carl1236 at 12:02 PM | Love your Neighbor