Archive for June, 2013

Pink sneakers

June 29, 2013

They are in the news, of course, as the footwear of Texas State Senator Wendy Davis during her recent eleven hour filibuster.

I took a walk just now and passed a pair of pink sneakers on some grass near the parking lot of the local middle school.   I suspect they are a casualty of end-of-year locker clean-out.

What I don’t know is how popular a fashion choice pink sneakers are this year.


Help or deception?

June 29, 2013

There’s an old spiritual story I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, in which the adult male tells the young girl he’ll be back, she should keep the household going until he does.  And he doesn’t.

He thought he was giving her hope that would buoy her through hard times until she was old enough and experienced enough to perform her role comfortably, to survive on her own and care for her younger brother.

I now wonder whether the adult male was engaging in a distorted version of attempting to provide a “flight control system” that would disguise the difficulty of the situation.

In the case with the young girl, the device did not give her something that made her tasks easier, and once she became overwhelmed and/or realized he was not coming back, she succumbed.  It was an inadequate version.

But it could be made to work in other circumstances — an older person in her role, for example, would help, even if that person lacked other elements needed to go it alone.

And when enough of the factors that led to the original scenario’s being unworkable were adjusted, she survived her ordeal long enough to be able to find the man who made the false promise and tell him, “You didn’t capture an important element of the technique.  It’s not about fooling someone in the sense of a deceit that is convenient to the deceiver, it’s about figuring out a help that actually makes the tasks easier for the other person.”

Flight control systems

June 29, 2013

My father was an electrical engineer by profession, worked for Bendix Corporation his whole career (it got bought by Allied and then Honeywell, so the name changed, but his place of work didn’t).  He worked in aeronautics.  He designed flight control systems for commercial and military aircraft.

That’s about the extent of what I know about what he spent his time doing.  He didn’t discuss it at home, I think largely because some of it he couldn’t, because it involved classified information.  I doubt the flight control systems for commercial aircraft actually did, but I think he dealt with the classified information issue by just having a blanket policy of not discussing his work.  And there was really no reason for him to.

But the concept of flight control systems is something helpful to me.  It helps me understand something I experience in my spiritual life.  (It was also a neat thing to learn about in the aeronautical context, and I was proud and fascinated that my father knew how to do what he did.)

My father once explained to me that what he designed allowed a pilot to steer a jumbo jet with he same ease with which the pilot steered a small plane.  My difficulty is not the same sort — mine is more like needing cross a deep gorge on a bridge without rails.  It can be done, but I can get in my own way if it’s too clear to me what I’m doing.  So I have help that just gives me what I need to know — what I need to know to do what I need to do to walk across that bridge — for all I know I’m walking across a lovely parquet floor in an expansive ballroom while I do it.

My talent is not bridge-walking, it’s trusting, it’s willingness to be guided, and it involves surrender.

When I’ve gotten to the other side, I come to know that I have crossed a gorge, when I am encouraged to learn to modulate my trust with the free will I had largely suspended.  That process leads to an understanding of what I’ve done, as if a curtain is being raised or a veil removed.  It’s kind of like the pilot deplaning and for the first time seeing how big the aircraft he was flying actually was.

I think my father’s job was something important in its own right, but I also like that what he did helps me to interpret what I do.






June 27, 2013

My mother got herself a new pair of glasses, a cell phone, a room fan, and a couple of pairs of slacks and a few blouses, some socks, etc.  This morning she’s got her second hair-dressing appointment in about a month.  Two ladies will come to her home in the afternoon to play a card game and enjoy refreshments.

It’s an amazing turn-around from where she was a year ago.

She hadn’t bought new clothes for years.

The makeover in my house is going on in the back bedroom in which Willy died.  The plasterers are here.  The ceiling has been replaced, the eave wall, too, the other walls repaired.  They’ll come back and paint another day.

My mother and Willy had a connection.  He did a very sweet but funny imitation of her.  Their birthdays were about a week (and 30 years) apart, and we once celebrated two milestone birthdays of theirs together.  She struggled terribly when he got sick and died.

So maybe there’s some connection between the makeovers, I don’t know.  I just saw too many new cracks in the walls and called the plasterer, was my perspective.

Coordination of powers

June 26, 2013

The Roberts court sort of chided Congress for doing their job inadequately, in their opinion on the constitutionality of section 4 of the Voting Rights Act as it was reenacted in 2006, in my opinion.  I’m no fan of the Roberts court, but I would see the behavior of Congress as a significant contributing factor to where we find ourselves now on this issue.  If nothing else, they left an opening the Court could drive a Mack truck through.  And why didn’t they want to revise the coverage formulation when they reenacted the legislation?  Because it would open up a can of worms?  Because it never occurred to them?  I’m not following the story closely enough to know, but it reminds me of obvious gaps in other legislation:  these folks ought to be less self-congratulatory and sure that they are as elite as they seem to think they are.  Maybe we should crowdsource reviewing pending legislation for problems.

Paying one way or another

June 26, 2013

Got an email recently about a hacking into the database of a ticket sales vendor whom we apparently used.

You buy a ticket on line and it’s so easy and convenient (assuming the software is well written).  Then months later you have a potential credit card fraud issue to deal with.  Some stress involved there, even in just deciding how concerned to be.

What really has been gained?

Innocent missteps

June 23, 2013

I’ve seen this happen in a couple of versions.

I had a roommate who forgot we were of different races when we were filling out law school applications, I once told an interlocutor that my kid’s hair was brown (like my own), when it’s actually black.  The situation can be more difficult when the oversight puts the other person in an awkward spot; an innocuous example might be when I take a walk with someone and expect them to keep up with my pace, or vice versa.

But the thing I think that is helpful to remember in navigating all these situations is that the oversight is an indirect compliment — the other person’s glossing over a difference between you reflects a kind of acceptance of you, of not seeing you as different, even if others might.  Doesn’t mean you can’t call to their attention that some adjustment is necessary in light of a real difference that needs to be taken into account, especially in light of how other people see things and react, but I would see such an oversight as a kind of an unwitting faux pas and try not to take offense.

Touchy subjects

June 23, 2013

Today’s daily meditation from Richard Rohr quotes John 20:17’s “Do not cling to me” and interprets it in the realm of mysticism:  “Why? Because you can’t! He is no longer bound by this one body. Christ is consciousness itself pervading all things—waiting and hoping for its inner yes!”

But how about a more literal interpretation, as well, here:  Don’t cling to the souls of people who have died.  And if you die, don’t cling to people left behind.

I suspect we leave behind pieces of ourselves in our loved ones whether we’re aware of it or not, and that state of affairs can make it difficult enough after the death, but clinging wholesale to the whole person — that really gums things up, I think, and that situation I think we can be more aware of and do something about.

[An aside here is that I think a very well-developed soul will leave whether we cling to them or not — their more rarefied substance slips through our grasp willy-nilly.  They’re just “Gone, gone, gone, really gone.”]

Yes, to answer Art Garfunkel’s question, space men do pass dead men’s souls on the way to the moon, so to speak — the ones that have not made their journey.

So I think it’s a good idea to disentangle ourselves from our loved ones before death and to keep ourselves from emotional behavior that would lead to a re-entanglement after their death until the dust has settled.  I suspect it takes about a year for the dust to settle in that regard.

Morning calls

June 23, 2013

Much better this morning:  birds, and then, after I was already up, Jordan’s friend, making sure he’s awake to go fishing.  (I did wonder for a moment whether it would be the broker, but the phone said MA and the broker’s in NJ.)

Calls in the morning

June 22, 2013

Last night I wrote a comment in connection with dueling.  I was joshing David Brooks about his predilection for codes of behavior — he was decrying his hero Hamilton’s death as being the result of uncivilized behavior — sort of — and yet, as I understand it, dueling was a highly structured and accepted mode of interaction with its own etiquette.  For me, it is an opportunity to point out the limits of championing adherence to codes as David Brooks often seems to do.

I was trying to reference the scripted nature of the behavior, quoting, “My seconds will call on you in the morning.”

So this morning, I was awakened by the phone ringing.  The one in my bedroom doesn’t have a caller ID screen, so I picked up, having been trained for years to receive phone calls at odd hours regarding family emergencies.

It was the investment broker.  On a Saturday morning.

The coinciding of the comment and call is allowing me to find some humor in having been unceremoniously awakened (this was hours ago).  It triggered my internal emergency response system, which I am not happy about.  It resonated with past unpleasant phone calls, some of them emergencies.  The humor gives me a way to create a little distance from my reaction.