Sunday, July 31, 2011

Today's Sermon

The Weight

You must prepare to carry nothing

where you walk,

a God who cannot be seen,

a name you cannot speak—

therefore gather

the most precious of what you have,

and build me something heavy you can carry,

heavy as you want.

I will be weightless in it,

an idea, a promise,

among you, within you—

I will be unbearable. You can bear it.

Over and over you will pick it up

and set it down,

and as you wander

you will lose what you brought forth,

the ark will collapse in your hands,

the stones of the law will break.

Then you will carry me in your minds,

in your mouths—

unbearable as you want. You can bear it.

~ Dan Bellm, 1956 -

Friday, July 29, 2011

Vintage Postcards of New England Cities

More wonderful vintage postcards of summer from some of the places I've visited. This time I move from the Midwest United States to New England. We have a great nation.

Tsumani Graphic

When I saw this annotated map in a recent online article (I forget where....), I wondered how it translates to actual water depth.


I took the image of a typical house, chose six of the cities on the map and over-layed the house on the depth of water that inundated those places. Made it more real to me.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Today's Sermon

Southern Gardens, 1919, Paul Klee (1879-1940)


I learned from my mother how to love
the living, to have plenty of vases on hand
in case you have to rush to the hospital
with peonies cut from the lawn, black ants
still stuck to the buds. I learned to save jars
large enough to hold fruit salad for a whole
grieving household, to cube home-canned pears
and peaches, to slice through maroon grape skins
and flick out the sexual seeds with a knife point.
I learned to attend viewing even if I didn’t know
the deceased, to press the moist hands
of the living, to look in their eyes and offer
sympathy, as though I understood loss even then.
I learned that whatever we say means nothing,
what anyone will remember is that we came.
I learned to believe I had the power to ease
awful pains materially like an angel.
Like a doctor, I learned to create
from another’s suffering my own usefulness, and once
you know how to do this, you can never refuse.
To every house you enter, you must offer
healing: a chocolate cake you baked yourself,
the blessing of your voice, your chaste touch.

~ Julia Kasdorf, 1962 -

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Earthquake Hot Spot

After another significant quake in Japan just moments ago (6.4) on the north east coast, the earth is a shakin' still. In Japan, it hasn't stopped since the major quake of 11 March 2011. And it's shaking in major ways in new places, too. There have been a huge increase in notable small quakes around the island of Puerto Rico, and in the Western U.S. all around Yellowstone N.P. in Wyoming. A recent rash of larger activity has shaken the ocean floors along the Pacific coast of Central America.

And a much more noticeable set of quakes has begun to occur along a fault line near the remote island of Raoul in the southwestern Pacific between Fiji and New Zealand. The image only shows the activity for the last week, altogether there have been dozens of quakes the strongest registering 7.6 on July 7, 2001.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Random Quote 130

"I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish small tasks as if they were great and noble."

~ Helen Keller, 1880 - 1968

Some Like It Hot!

For The Record!

It's hot but how hot? Let's put Friday's heat into perspective.
Friday Afternoon Heat Index Values

Newark, NJ: New all-time record high of 108 degrees. Breaks old all-time record of 105 degrees set on August 9, 2001.

New York, NY: Central Park topped out at 104 degrees. Second hottest temperature on record. Hottest temperature since 1977.

Dulles International Airport, VA (IAD): New all-time record high of 105 degrees. This breaks the old all-time record high of 104 set back in 1988 and 1983.

Baltimore, MD: Daily record high of 106 degrees. All-time record high is 107 degrees set on July 10, 1936.

Trenton, NJ: Daily record high of 106 degrees.

Philadelphia, PA: Daily record high of 103 degrees.

Atlantic City, NJ: Daily record high of 105 degrees. Old record high for July 22 was 98 degrees set in 1998. Second hottest day on record. Max heat index of 120 degrees. Hottest temperature recorded since 1969.

Boston, MA: Tied for 2nd highest temperature on record at 103 degrees. Hottest day in exactly 85 years!

Washington, DC: No daily record high set. However, peak heat index of 121 degrees.

Hartford, CT: New all-time record high of 103 degrees.

What I'm Watching #273

"Fashion Victims" is a German film billed as a comedy. Really? This is what makes Germans laugh?

It's an outsized story of a beer swilling, inflexible and pathetically wimpy, patriarch who has mismanaged his life away and spends the time we're together in the movie alienating his wife and degrading his son. Now, I know, this stuff is just Comic manna! I mean how can it fail to be anything but funny, right? And yet it does, I swear I didn't even giggle.

The crux of it's redemption is the role of the son, Karsten, played by up-and-coming heartthrob, Florian Bartholomäi. (The slightly out of focus man on the right. The actor on the left is Roman Knizka) Not only is he beautiful, but he manages somehow to navigate this ridiculous film and end up it's redeemer.

Not a must see, but a could see and survive.

What I'm Watching #272

This is the first full length feature by the Bahamian writer/director/producer Kareem Mortimer. It's actually an expansion on his previously acclaimed short "Float" that is included in the compilation DVD "Not|Gay".

I'd seen the short film a couple of years ago, and immediately realized that this was the same story. However, rather than disappointed, the additions and changes in casting took a nice short film to the status of a very moving feature. I would think that the pair would be a great lesson for any filmmaking class.

The nuances and messages in the this film are for more powerful. I really recommend it.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

My Own Aquarium, part 3

The new "man" in my life... After first establishing my new aquarium in early June, I introduced some new members a couple of weeks later--and with it the plague. Before I could do anything all the newbies died and with them my original male Beta, 2 of the 3 zebra danios, and the male sunburst platy. It was a dark time.

Wonderfully, the four Harlequin Rasboras remained utterly immune to the contagion, as did the tiniest zebra danio and the female sunburst platy.

My next attempt to repopulate came with the purchase of a new pair of sunburst platys. I understand that the gender distinction in the fish is by their fins. I don't think that the young woman who was distractingly interesting with her face full of metal piercings did. She was rather snarky and intimidating and so I let it go. To the end that I have three very happy female sunburst platys! Was that the sales person's hidden agenda?--if so, well, I couldn't be happier cuz the fish are so happy.

One of the new "sisters" arrived with a wounded split tail, and it has since healed/grown back together beautifully. I know it's only a fish, but an injury that would have sealed her death in the wild is healing in my little aquarium, so....

And then last Sunday I made purchase of two more members of the community. A little spastic Chinese catfish; I swear to Mao, it never stops moving at a rate that would kill a lesser creature--and this new male Beta. Isn't he intriguing? I love his mixture of colors. And he has a very calm and understated personality. Don't get me wrong, he likes to posture with his reflection in the glass, but he doesn’t react to the other fish with aggression, even when they cross into his space.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Dumbarton Oaks

Went to Dumbarton Oaks estate and museum with a friend on Wednesday. It's a little hidden treasure in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D.C. The museum is free. To walk in the gardens costs $8.00. We'd planned to do both, but mother nature surprised us was a sudden, protracted and rather rambunctious thunder storm, so the garden tour got nixed.

The museum is not large and it's know for two areas of interest, the Byzantine Christian Empire and the Pre-Columbian artifacts of the meso-American civilizations.

There is also a smattering of Antiquities (mostly mediterranean) and Renaissance (mostly Italian).

Here are three images to give you a flavor of the offerings, The central panel in ivory of a Byzantine triptych, A mosaic from a Roman villa in Turkey, and a Renaissance cabinet. All exquisite.

Being a museum, they also mount special exhibitions from time to time and the show currently taking up the lion's share of the Byzantine galleries was an exploration on the history of the cross as a religious symbol through art and how its depiction has evolved. Most of the works are from the Byzantine era, but in one gallery a display included works by Andy Warhol, which was an odd surprise.

Physically the museum uses the back section of the original estate house with one wonderful exception. The orange extension on the map is the Pre-Columbian galleries which opened in 1963 and were designed by Philip Johnson. They are amazing.

The Pre-Columbian Galleries combine so harmoniously the interior with the exterior using travertine and wood and glass and bronze, on some level you feel like you are experiencing the art as though in the actual jungles of Central American. While my friend and I were there this glorious electrical storm was also occurring just beyond the safety of the glass. A special effect that elevated the experience.

The following are all from photos I took of some of the wonderful objects to be found there.

Good Bye, Old Girl

Purchased back in 2003 from an elderly Jewish women who only drove it to synagogue once a week--and it was downhill both ways!--my 1995 Honda Civic came to me with only 15,360 miles on it at a time when I desperately needed a car with an automatic transmission. Whew! (There's a movie pitch somewhere in that sentence!).

And here I am--eight years later--having driven the odometer to 98,938 miles, and without any great need for her anymore. On one level it's a mental comfort to own two vehicles, but on another for me it's also a luxury that just doesn't make any sense. Not because she is costing much. I own her out right, and the insurance is minimal. But for her sake, not being driven is a waste of her potential. It's time that someone get her who will use her while her usefulness remains valid.

Mentioning this burgeoning idea to my mechanic's grandson recently sent him into an animate flurry of an imagined conspiracy between us. He assured me that he could get me a great deal on it's sale...his sweet Thai eyes wide and glistening with thoughts of his own finder's fee. She's a great car. Selling her was never the issue. The hassle of selling her was what I was not interested in. My solution?


So I have donated her to WAMU FM, my local NPR station. It was (IS) surprisingly easy. All the paperwork is done. All that remains is for her physical transfer and introduction to her next owner. I will get up-dated paperwork upon her actual sale that will present my tax deduction, and that makes me a lot happier than selling her and deal with my tax burden.

Bon Voyage, mes amie!

I SUPPORT The Dream Act

In this past legislative season in Maryland a law was passed called "The Dream Act." It allows for the children of foreign born undocumented residents of Maryland the right to attend state institutions of higher education at in-state tuition levels. Young adults whose families participate, work, contribute, sacrifice, invest, pay taxes, and live within the expectations of our laws. To deny them benefits that otherwise would come to them if only their parents had also been born in the United States, is NOT the kind of neighbor that I want to be.

Those who oppose the "Dream Act", have gathered enough signatures to place the law before a public referendum. Fair enough. So be it. Bring it on!

I, for one, will not sit back idly and allow this law to be repealed when I completely support it. My support is firm. My support reflects my belief that it is an investment in our collective future. My support is because I refuse to allow the mean-spirited, small-minded, self-absorbed xenophobes to prevail, when even they will benefit from it's enactment.

Paper Wasps Amaze Me

I looked out my living room window this morning looking for the arrival of my friend, when I noticed this. When did they create this? I've been working in my yard on and off for weeks and never noticed it before.

I'm guessing that was part of their amazing little plans. Create a "death star" and hover stealthily. It's absolutely one of the most beautiful and amazing things I've ever seen.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Let's Go To Church--It's Wooop Ass Time!

Random Quote 129

"A life is unimportant except on the impact it has on other lives." ~ Jackie Robinson, 1919 - 1972

Pray The GAY Away--FABULOUS!

THANK GOD, indeed! Grrrrrrr.....

"For nothing is hidden that shall not be disclosed. Nothing concealed that shall be known and revealed." ~ Luke 8:17

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Vintage Postcards of Midwestern Cities

I LOVE these vintage postcards with the illuminated bubble letters of the place names. In this instance these are all cities that I have visited in my life.

Perhaps I'll keep up the theme and share postcards from other regions of the United States that I have had the privilege to enjoy. Hope your summer has given you some time to get away and enjoy the wonders around you!