Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Sex and it's meaning.
Ever insightful and eloquent, Frederica Mathewes-Green wrote an article in the latest Touchstone magazine titled Bodies of Evidence where she explores the meaning of sex.
Whether we attribute extra meaning to humans or not, we are at least animals, sharing this planet with many other kinds of creatures. . . .From that perspective, the “meaning” of sex is pretty obvious. It’s reproduction. . . .But there are some interesting ways that humans are different from other mammals, even from other primates. For us, sex feels good at any time in the fertility cycle. Other mammals mate only during fertile periods. . . .What’s more, researchers suspect that only among humans is the female capable of orgasm. . . .It looks like the “meaning of sex” for humans is something broader than simply reproduction. . . .You can see the same analogy with food. . . .We don’t eat solely for nutrition. Likewise, we don’t have sex solely for reproduction. . . . another way humans are unique. We’re one of the very, very few mammals able to have sex face-to-face. Seeing each other’s faces means something—not just during sex, but all the time. . . .Sex is, if nothing else, about making a connection with another person, and that seems to be something that humans have trouble with.
I recommend reading the whole article. She makes some great insights about sex and at the same time you'll see someone doing really great Natural Theology. At the end, she has a couple of sidebars, one of which is on "Old Married Sex". My favorite lines from there (she's writing about her and her cohorts views as young 60s radicals):
We made fun of old married people, the ones who got hitched, settled down, had kids, had mortgages, and thirty years later were having old-married-people sex with each other. It turns out that, even if you make fun of people like that, you still get old anyway. The alternative is not staying young forever; the alternative is being just as old, and not having formed any lasting relationship, and going to bed most nights by yourself. You’re not having old-married-people sex; you’re not having sex with anybody.
Movie Links
This originally was written after Episode II came out, which was when I read it the first time, but Jaquandor linked it recently and I re-read it. I find it to be an interesting and thoughtful apologia for why we should root for the Empire and not the Rebel Alliance.

Jaq also writes a review of two of Dad's favorite movies, Before Sunrise and Before Sunset. Dad gave Before Sunrise to Kellsey and I a while ago, but we hadn't gotten around to it yet. After reading Jaq's post, I think we'll watch them as soon as we move to Austin (and are re-united with our DVD player and DVD collection). I wonder, those of you who've seen them (Mom, Dad, Mary?), do you like them for the same reasons as Jaq?
Art of Demotivation review in The Financial Times

"The Art of Demotivation is the most daring, funny, and subversive management book ever written."

Read more here.
I went to our now-local Starbucks coffee shop to pick up drinks for Kellsey, Robert and me for our weekly 8:30am coffee time. (Our reliable and well used french press has already taken up residence in Austin.) Sbux was full of folks on their morning commute to work and I thought of an update to a Nita-ism: "Busier than a one-armed barista." As it was, the barista had two fully functioning arms, and was barely keeping up.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Dumbgunowners.com. I think I will start a blog on this subject. This will be my first post.
King James Version and the Second Mile. When I was growing up, the KJV was the translation of choice. The RSV came out in 1952, when I was 6 years old, but it never took in our Baptist church. Among other things, the RSV translated "virgin" as "young woman" in Isaiah 7:14, although the translators conceded in a footnote that the Hebrew word could also mean "virgin". That wouldn't do. Besides, if the KJV was good enough for Paul and Silas, it was surely good enough for us. (Just kidding, we weren't that ignorant.)

Anyway, it was very confusing to a six-year old to hear our minister, Dr. C. Roy Angell, preach on the second-mile, as he often and even famously did, using the KJV text: "And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain."

I knew all about twains. There was a big station just a few blocks from the church. But I couldn't figure out just what was the point of these sermons.
The Roman Soldier in Your Life. Tom points out that in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus describes a standard of behavior that is impossible. And it's true. Jesus sums up what he has to say in Matthew 5:48: "Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly father is perfect."

Right, Jesus.

What do we do with this?

If we are theologians, maybe we think up a period of history not the present, and assign that sort of talk to that period.

If we are a parish minister, maybe we just preach from some other text.

But maybe not.

I like what the editors of the NIV Study Bible say in their introductory note at Matthew 5:1. They say, in part:

"The SOM's call to moral and ethical living is so high that some have dismissed it as being completely unrealistic or have projected its fulfilliment to the future kingdom. There is no doubt, however, that Jesus (and Matthew) gave the Sermon as a standard for all Christians, realizing that its demands cannot be met in our own power. It is also true that Jesus occasionally used hyperbole . . . "

Hyperbole. I can deal with that. We don't, for example, gouge out our right eye and cut off our right hand, as "commanded" in 5:29 and 30. (That's a good thing too, given what there is to see on the internet.) But in this case, hyperbole is not a thing to be recognized as such and then dismissed. It is to be recognized for what it says about where we are on our journey and where we need to go. There are deep meanings in this hyperbole that are worth addressing.

What is hyperbolic about the second mile statement? It is surely not always impossible to go a second mile, carrying someone else's burden. What is hyperbolic about this statement is the person for whom the Jew is carrying the burden a second mile, the Roman Soldier. We probably cannot begin to appreciate how outrageous this must have been to the young Jew who was listening in the crowd. Of all the relationships that were the most dangerous, resented, and aggravating, it must have been the day to day relationship between the common Roman soldier and the common Jew.

I think Mel Gibson probably got it right about the Roman soldier.

Is there a Roman soldier in your life? I hope not.

But if we are to afford second-mile treatment to the Roman soldiers in our life, how about those relationships in our lives where it is not so full of danger, resentment, and aggravation. In many of these, second-mile behavior is completely attainable. In the relationships we have with our friends, our employers, people who serve us, our spouses, our parents, our children, it is not outrageous to command that we move beyond obligation to something like grace and even love. Let's not worry about doing the impossible while there plenty of possible things to do in response to Jesus' love-one-another injunction.

(Thanks for letting me try these thoughts out on you.)
Fruits and Vegetables. As one embraces middle age, one is rewarded by insights that surprise, ideas that one never had before, ideas that clarify. Suddenly the fog lifts, and there is truth. As I was putting a tomato back into the fridge after slicing off a piece for a Memorial Day sandwich, I realized that I was placing it into the vegetable drawer from which I had removed it to do the surgery.

The vegetable drawer.

It popped into my head that the tomato is not a vegetable, it is a fruit. I had always known that intellectually, but never in my heart. We have a fruit drawer in the fridge and have had one since the beginning of our marriage. "Carol! Do you realize that we have been putting our tomatoes in the vegetable drawer when a tomato is a fruit? We have a fruit drawer."

Carol immediately grasped this epiphany-like insight. And she said what daughters always say when they are confronted with an uncomfortable truth about their behavior. "Well, my mother always put the tomatoes in the vegetable drawer."

"And we always treat tomatoes like vegetables, " she continued, defensively.

How do you treat a tomato like a vegetable?

You put it in the vegetable drawer.
"If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles." The note to Matthew 5:41 in my NIV Study Bible says that the word for "forces" means "pressed into service" and that the same verb is used in Matthew 27:32, where the Roman soldiers press Simon into service to carry Jesus' cross. This idea reminds me of what Jesus says in Matthew 11:28-30:

"Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest upon your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

Is there some connection between not simply doing what you have to do, but doing that obligatory thing beyond its obligation, and finding rest? Going the second mile sounds a lot like extra work to me, not rest. But not so, according to the physics of the Kingdom of Heaven.

I read where, during Jesus time, people would mark with stakes from their doorstep or the village limit the beginning and the end of a mile. That way, if one is "pressed into service", he and the soldier know just how far the civilian need carry the soldier's burden. The Roman soldier's own command structure forbade his forcing anyone further. So there would be no second mile mile-marker. The second mile was endless, infinite. Or, at least, the second mile was whatever the relationship seemed to require. It was a complete journey. Like forgiving "seven times seventy". The injunction to forgive doesn't mean we stop forgiving at 490 times, it means we stop forgiving when there is nothing further to forgive.

We put our burden down, then, when we reach with that "other", whose burden we assumed under obligation but then carried further out of a sort of love, the end of the journey. Perhaps by then it is no longer a burden. The rest Jesus promises does not begin at the end of the journey, but some time during the journey. Probably it begins to develop at the beginning of the second mile, when the relationship with the one to whom we are obligated starts to be transformed by our service.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

The Mapes

Here's an article on Milton Mapes from this month's issue of No Depression:

MILTON MAPES: A Little Bug Music
by Scott Brodeur

There is a shadowy cloak to the music of Milton Mapes. It’s the kind of dark, seductive veil that invites guesses about the people behind it, especially after you listen to The Blacklight Trap (undertow), the group’s cryptic and captivations third release, which happens to be named for a device that attracts and captures insects.

But be forewarned: trying to read into this band’s music can be as alluring and as precarious for the curious as, say, approaching that bug-zapper.

For instance, the band is named for singer Greg Vanderpool’s grandfather, who is exactly 51 years his senior. So you figure Milton Mapes was an inspuirational musician, someone who introduced Greg and his family to the joy and splendor of music.

Good guess. Wrong, thought, Zap.

“No, my grandfather’s not a musicians. He’s not musical at all,” say Vanderpool, the band’s songwriter and chief architect, chuckling at the mere thought. “During the period for a band where every word said is a potential band name, his name came up. We were all kind of laughing about it. Then it stuck. Nothing else ever topped it. He likes it. And I still get a kick out of seeing his name all over the place. Not too long ago, we were opening a show for Willie Nelson, and there were posters all over with Willie Nelson and my grandfather’s name side by side. The was just great.”

Describing the band musically can be like a game of pint-the-antecedent-on-the-artist. Most often, Neil Young & Crazy Horse, Pedro The Lion, Uncle Tupelo, and Sun Kil Moon come up. But there have also been comparisons to Bruce Springsteen, Counting Crows, Richard Buckner, and Damien Jurardo. “I’m pretty much fans of a lot of these people we’ve been compared to,” says Vanderpool. “And sometime, if a name comes up enough and I don’t know them, I can check out their stuff. This happened with Mark Kozelek [Red House Painters, Sun Kil Moon]. I check it out and really like it. I don’t hear us sounding too much alike, but maybe we have the same set of influences or something.”

Ah, influences. That means even though grandpappy Milton Mapes, the World War II Marines veteran, wasn’t’ musical, the Vanderpool home was still brimming with good tunes, exposing Greg to an eclectic but sturdy foundation of sounds to build on.

Hope. Zap.

“I didn’t grow up in a real musical household,” Vanderpool says, “Christmas music was big in my house. That was the time of year when we listened to a lot of music. Church music was big, too. So it was traditional hymns and Christmas songs.

“My dad used to listen to the Kingston Trio and the Everly Brothers and stuff like that, some country & western tunes. He also used to sing that song ‘Tom Dooley’ to me all the time. It’s kin of funny. Here I was, 3 years old, and my dad was singing to me about some guy getting hanged. I guess the darkness was already seeping in.”

OK, now we’re getting places. There is plenty of darkness on The Blacklight Trap. There’s the deadly tale of substance abuse on the title track, told in both the second and third person from a brother’s point of view. There’s the wounded lover refusing to let anyone get too close in “Waiting for Love to Fail.” There’s the bloody carnage of war on “”Underneath The River Runs.” Any there is the apocalyptic allusion to Rudyard Kipling’s poem “L’Envoi,” which Vanderpool expands and set to music under the title, “When The Earth’s Last Picture is Painted.”

This is a bleak but powerful landscape painted by Vanderpool and band, which includes Roberto Sanchez on drums, Britton Beisenherz on bass and piano, Cliff Brown Jr. on organ, keys, guitars and background vocals, and Jim Fredley on guitars, mandolin, and background vocals. Vanderpool’s vulnerable vocals are set amidst layers of acoustic guitar, raunchy electric guitar, swirling keys and thunderous drums.

Dark, dark stuff, it would seem. Well, not really, say Vanderpool. Zap.

“I don’t consider myself a morose person or anything,” he counters. “This album is a little darker than our others. But it’s not dark without a light at the end of the tunnel. The Blacklight Trap is a metaphor for society or for anything that is feeding us a lie. As a species, we’re inherently flawed. But we’re also capable of doing good. Right now, I’d say we’re set to self-destruct without some intervention from somewhere. But you look at the glass as half empty or half full. Sure, much of the album paints a dark picture. But the other message on here, the more spiritual message, is that not all hope is lost.
Living the Good Life

Why move to Austin? Because we're all fashion models here and you should want to associate with us.

Morgan and Jim celebrating Bob Schneider's new shirt designs.

Coming soon, my debut, living strong, as a shorts model. Thank you kettlebells.

I was chewing some ice back in that hot summer of 2000 and chewed a bit too hard.
I spent a few days having a root canal. Then I moved to Dallas before the permanent crown was ready, so I had a dentist in Dallas put the porcelin crown on.

A few years passed. I married and settled down in the UT student housing. Halloween came, and I sat on the couch to chew some Now and Laters and soon was chewing Now and Laters and loose porcelin crown.

So then I went to my man, Dr. Sonier, and he set me up with the gold bling.

I've been sporting the precious metal for about 2.5 years now, but now it's hurting again. I think the tooth beneath the shine has reabcessed.

The good doctor called in some antibiotics and pain meds for me this morning. I'll go in to see him on Tuesday.

I might be going from solid gold to toothless.

Like so many before me....

And I still don't have Tom's address for the mix CD.
Jackson's Junction. Here's a neat site that has video clips of politicians, journalists, and other celebrities saying very interesting and, sometimes, outrageous things.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Reflections on the last day of school.

In my masters program last year, reflections were big. We had to reflect on our course work; we had to reflect on our student teaching; we had to reflect on what kind of teacher we wanted to become; we had to reflect on what we still wanted to learn and know. As you might imagine, I came to rather loathe this prescribed reflection. It became as meaningful an activity as those role plays we had to do back in girl scouts. I'll reflect on what I want to, when I want to, and maybe not ever, thank you very much. I process things as they happen and want to move forward; please don't make me pause to think about what has transpired when I'm ready for the next thing.

But here I am on the last day of school, and I suppose I can't help but reflect on these last 10 months of English teaching. I am so excited that school will be out this afternoon, but it really doesn't feel as if anything will be over. I think that's because life is not over for the 100 students I had this year--they will, I hope, go right on living through the summer and into the next year and into the future. And I probably won't see many of them again. And so the questions begin: did they learn anything this year? Will they remember anything good from our class? What if they failed--will they make it next year? What if I was too easy on them, and they fail next year when a real teacher gets a hold of them?

I feel as if God blanketed me in protection this year. I did not have any problem students, though my students certainly had their share of problems. More significantly, I did not have any problem parents. Maybe that is because I was teaching standard-level students, and their parents are just generally less involved. But probably it was because God was protecting me in my first year of teaching, and he provided such great support from my fellow teachers and encouraging feed back from my superiors. He provided a community of friends outside of school and a wonderful home to return to at night.

At the start of the school year and during several sleepless nights, I meditated on the following challenging and encouraging verses from Isaiah 58; I return to them now at the end:
6 "Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?
7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe him,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you,
and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.
9 Then you will call, and the LORD will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.
"If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
10 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday.
11 The LORD will guide you always;
he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail.
12 Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins
and will raise up the age-old foundations;
you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,
Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.
13 "If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath
and from doing as you please on my holy day,
if you call the Sabbath a delight
and the LORD's holy day honorable,
and if you honor it by not going your own way
and not doing as you please or speaking idle words,
14 then you will find your joy in the LORD,
and I will cause you to ride on the heights of the land
and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob."
The mouth of the LORD has spoken.
Net-Based To-Do Lists. Yesterday's "Personal Technology" column in the WSJ addresses the subject. I have already signed up for Backpack, just to see how it works.

I mean, really, I should figure out how I can spend more time on the Internet.

The column also refers to a number of personal organizer websites and blogs, even a couple that deal with David Allen's GTD. The sites that the column identifies are:


43 Folders


Thursday, May 26, 2005

So Now I'm Back (from outer space)
Two weeks is a long time to go without reading Kith&Kin! But now I'm back from InterVarsity Chapter Camp, and a weekend at the beach with the McClintocks and am all caught up on my K&K reading. (And Interact, too!) (Oh, and National Mustard & Crawford House, too.)

Now there are only 3.5 weeks left before we move to Austin, TX. What a strange thought.

Changing the subject, here's an article about a computer security professional switching to Mac.
In the coming weeks I'm going to keep a diary of an experiment my company began at 6 p.m. April 29, 2005 - an experiment predicated on the hypothesis that the WinTel platform represents the greatest violation of the basic tenets of information security and has become a national economic security risk. I do not say this lightly, and I have never been a Microsoft basher, either. I never criticize a company without a fair bit of explanation, justification and supportive evidence.
He and his company also have a blog ("Security Awareness for Ma, Pa and the Corporate Clueless," what a great name) where, among other things they'll be documenting their Switching journey.

And speaking of way cool Mac functionality, I figured out today how to use the new Tiger Safari browser to aggregate RSS feeds. It's as straightforward as clicking the "RSS" button that appears whenever I visit a site with such a feed, then bookmarking the RSS page that appears. Now I have a Toolbar Bookmark that constantly updates whenever one of my beloved sites updates. Below are pictures that demonstrate the ease of this. (Yes, I know that I could have used Bloglines, or 3rd party program to aggregate these, but that always seemed clunky to me. I really apprecate the elegance that the Mac powers-that-be built into the system. I'm sure that the other browsers won't be far behind.)

The blue "rss" is the button that appears when there's a feed.

This is what the feed looks like. Note that Safari has built in the controls to adjust how much detail you see in the feed.

Gather them all up in a bookmarks folder. Note that the parenthesis indicate the number of new posts.

Drop the folder in the toolbar and, voila, you can quickly check if Sean's updated Interact!
More "Second Mile" Thoughts.

As a rule, to the obligor the marginal cost of the second mile is far less than the cost of the first mile.

As a rule, the benefit to the obligor of the second mile exceeds the marginal cost and, probably, the cost of the entire distance. The combined benefit of the second mile to the obligor and the obligee is exponential.

Matthew 5:41.

Matthew 5:5.
Question Authority. Instapundit pointed me to this article in Wired about the people who survived the World Trade Center disaster.

I especially liked this statement:

This is the real source of homeland security: not authoritarian schemes of surveillance and punishment, but multichannel networks of advice, information, and mutual aid.

Sounds downright Christian.
Good Times

Today, I've bene married 3 years(EST).

I would recommend this way of doing things to whomever should ask.

Jud and I were sitting in the hot tub here at the complex on Saturday evening heckling the Morgan and Eugenie, who were in the pool. We offered them some Tecate, also.

Some goon bystanding thought we were pitiful. Little did he know, we had those ladies spoken for. It's a good way to be.
Is my face red

Some of you may recall my post last month where I confessed my inability to locate the OK Corral in Dodge City, KS.

Well, it turns out that I was in the wrong state. There's a reason that movie is called Tombstone as in Tombstone, AZ.

I did see a pretty wicked wolf, though, walking along a fence in the middle of [nowhere] Kansas.

Allow me also to confess that I paid a dollar to go see Abba - The Movie on Monday night at the Alamo Drafthouse. I paid $2.75 for a root beer float at the aforementioned event.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Juan's Blog. My colleague, Juan Antunez, has put up a blog that connects to our firm website. Check it out.
Latin, the Undead. Book review on Christianity Today talks about Latin and Greek. Our Classics majors will appreciate it for sure.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Mark Your Calendars

Headphones w/ Milton Mapes

June 6
The Parish
Austin, TX
New Antenna for Camping. Father's Day, Birthday, Anniversary: all in one gift, the "buddi-pole". Came in the mail today! Another picture.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Leaving the Left...

INSTAPUNDIT links to a column by Keith Thompson in the San Francisco Chronicle. It's an excellent presentation on how his views have diverged over the last 30+ years from those he agreed with back in the 60's. Because my political views have changed significantly since those days, too, I found it very compelling.

(This post is from Carol, not Paul.)
More on the "Exceedingly Seedy" Man and Friday's non-incident. Coming in to work today, I got off the MetroMover at the Second Street station, came down the steps, and there, fast asleep at the base of one of the columns on which the MetroMover track perches, was the "exceedingly seedy" man on whom I reported Friday. He did not awaken as I passed by.

The point of Friday's report was, at least in part, to demonstrate that, regardless of one's self-defense preparation, one avoids confrontation. Florida's new law, the one that seems to provide that one need not back down from a deadly confrontation, is of no interest to me.

Over the weekend I again read the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5, looking toward a Sunday soon when I am supposed to deliver a sermon of my own in the pastor's absence. What does one do about exceedingly seedy men and Matthew 5:42, not that this particular man has asked me for anything. One dispensationalist I knew said that the Sermon's imperatives do not apply to "this age". What a relief.

(For a discussion of the Sermon on the Mount, Dispensationalism, and the Mennonites, see this link.)
Defrauding Subway. A sign at the Subway I frequent announced that the company had terminated the coupon program that I have enjoyed for years. The owner, a Pakastani who mans the cash register and who could not be a more effective salesman for Subway, told me that ebay fraud had resulted in the termination of the program, but that Subway is establishing some sort of internet substitute. Here is an article on the fraud. If one has Subway coupons, one can redeem them through a date in August of this year. Defrauding Subway? That is really a shot at middle America.
Because I knew you would want to know. There is an active amateur radio club in Winston. They have a hamfest coming up. Go for it.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Cheap Gas! Over on Sean's blog, he put me on to this site to locate a gas station with cheap gas near you.
Where's the Calvary? Here's another blog that reports on citizens defending themselves and related matters. I like this graphic to which the blog links. Here's a story on that blog about Hurricane Andrew.
Being Watchful and Alert. Carol and I climbed up the stairs to the platform of the Bayfront MetroMover station coming home Friday about the time an exceedingly seedy man walked out of the elevator onto the platform. (I had seen him enter the elevator at the ground level as we started up the steps, and he concerned me a little bit, so I was looking for him when we got to the top.) He walked onto the platform ahead of us, and I saw that he had some sort of sharp instrument in his left hand.

Two MetroMover cars soon rolled up, and Carol and I walked into the second car. We prefer the second car, when there are two, because, when a two car train reaches the MetroRail station, the rear door opens exactly where we need to be to catch the stairs to the MetroRail platform at the end of our ride on the MetroMover. (When you ride public transportation like this day after day, you learn precisely where to position yourself at every step of the way to maximize convenience. Or maybe its just Carol and me. Who really knows.)

(Are you getting this? The MetroMover is a little elevated train that makes a loop in Downtown Miami. It has no operator. It usually has just one car, but sometimes two. The MetroRail is Miami's idea of a rapid transit. It is also elevated, but it is more like a real train - several cars, an operator. It has a stop about a mile from our house. We ride the MetroMover from a station near our office to the station where MetroMover and MetroRail link.)

The seedy man had walked onto that car in front of us. By force of habit, we followed him. Inside the car, I reconsidered that decision. I took Carol by the arm and we walked out of the second car and got on the first. As we got on the first and the doors were closing, two security guards came across the platform to enter the second car, the one with the seedy man. It appeared that they were going after him. But the doors closed before they got there and the train left. They didn't get him.

At the next station, Knight Center, we stopped, the doors to both cars opened, and I saw a woman walk across the platform toward the second car. I almost stepped out of our car and suggested she get on ours, but I didn't. But in just a moment, before the doors shut and the MetroMover resumed rolling, she hurried out of the second car and into our car. She said that there was a man in there with a razor blade in his hand - our seedy man.

It was hard to see into the second car from the first car, because the glass is tinted, but I keep an eye on the car anyway, as I had been doing. When we got to the next station, the seedy man got out. He glanced over at our car - its doors were open - we made eye contact, but he just continued moving to the exit turnstiles.

I wasn't alarmed. I was just very watchful.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Wal-Mart to Sell Out to Netflix. I couldn't stand being without the mail-order DVD service at Wal-Mart, and rejoined several months ago. Now Wal-Mart is selling out to Netflix. Ah, capitalism!

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Letter from Dr. Kuykendall. The Davidson website has a letter from Dr. Kuykendall to Bobby concerning the recent action of the Board of Trustees. The letter supports the action of the board.
Psalm 15

1 LORD, who may dwell in your sanctuary?
Who may live on your holy hill?

2 He whose walk is blameless
and who does what is righteous,
who speaks the truth from his heart

3 and has no slander on his tongue,
who does his neighbor no wrong
and casts no slur on his fellowman,

4 who despises a vile man
but honors those who fear the LORD,
who keeps his oath
even when it hurts,

5 who lends his money without usury
and does not accept a bribe against the innocent.
He who does these things
will never be shaken.

We considered this scripture last night at our session meeting. Its a challenging passage. I focused on verse 4. Who may dwell with the Lord in his sanctuary? "He . . . who keeps his oath even when it hurts." The KJV says, "He that sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not." And the NASB, "He swears to his own hurt and does not change".

But if I hurt, don't I get to do something about it? If I hurt, that can't be right, can it? God is a good God, he wouldn't want me to hurt. I am entitled to a hurt free life, to a hurt free law practice, to a hurt free marriage, to hurt free parenthood and hurt free sonship. What good is an oath that works to my hurt? I am about pleasure, my pleasure.

But others with whom I desire a relationship want my oath, they want my committment, they want to know that I will be there, even when it starts to hurt. And why shouldn't they?

I begin to see where the Cross fits into all of this.

Monday, May 09, 2005

"Thank heaven . . . for little girls". Recent study confirms something I began to suspect in Mrs. Peavey's nursery school.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

"An Armed Society is a Polite Society". Miami, as an intensely urban place, is not particularly friendly. But I have noticed something about the gun ranges that I have visited over the last several months, following my 2nd Amendment "conversion". People are very polite at gun ranges.

The gun ranges to which I refer are establishments connected to a gun shop. (I haven't been to a range that is part of the county park system.) The shooting range is not out in the open, but inside a building, usually in an industrial area. The people there are predominantly men, younger men, but some middle aged and older. If there is a woman there, she is with a man and is usually a younger woman. There may be professionals among these people, but none of them look it. Some of them look pretty tough, but most look pretty normal. Everyone is serious about what he is doing. Everyone is polite. No one ignores anyone; you are definitely noticed and appraised; people deal with each other with respect, they speak, they move aside, they are patient with one another, they are careful to clean up their spent shells and their empty ammo boxes when they finish. This kind of polite behavior is not what you see day to day on the streets of Miami - or even of Miami Springs.
This columnist will not last long in the Knight-Ridder Empire.

What a surprise to read this article on Florida's recent "Stand Your Ground" legislation in a newspaper published by Knight-Ridder, which publishes our beloved Miami Herald.

I found particularly interesting the columnist's suggestions for further legislation.
Another Nita-ism.

Juanita, about a friend of hers at Epworth Retirement Village:

"She could talk the horns off a billy-goat."
More on Family.

Egerton (sometimes "Edgerton"). Carol's maternal grandmother was an Egerton.

Gross. Barbara Gross married Young Stokes. (see below)

Dykes. Virginia Ann Dykes married Greenberry Jefferson Stokes. (see below)

Aidan's male ancestors down to him on the Stokes side: Young Stokes (b ca. 1811), the father of Greenberry Jefferson (1839-1912), the father of Walter Levi (1877-1949), the father of Walter Johnson (1912-1996), the father of Paul Mason (b, 1946) , the father of Walter Ashley, Mary Juanita, and Macon Lanford, the father of Aidan Walter.

Greenberry Jefferson Stokes, according to a family history, was born in Tennessee [on a mountain top?]. "He enlisted in Company D, 6th Regiment, Alabama Infantry, April 25, 1861, and was a member of the famous "Raccoon Roughs"; the Company organized by the late General John B. Gordon and served with distinction throughout the Civil War as a Confederate soldier. He was wounded in Sharpsburg, Maryland (Battle of Antietam) September 17, 1862, and was captured September 21, 1863. Sent to Camp Chase, Ohio, to Rock Island, Illinois, and then to Louisville, Kentucky to be exchanged."

(For more on General Gordon and the Raccoon Roughs go to this webpage. It not only has a photo of Gordon, it also has a photo of a reunion of veterans. Among them is Greenberry Jefferson. The reunion photo, according to the webpage, was supplied by Shirley Denny of Akron, Ohio. Shirley is my second cousin. She is a daughter of my dad's first cousin, Judson Walker Stokes, who went by "JW".)

Young Stokes married Virginia Ann Dykes, who would be Aidan's great, great grandmother, on his father's side. Barbara Gross on that side would be his great, great, great grandmother.

Saturday, May 07, 2005


"--Thank you, sir, Stephen said, gathering the money together with shy haste and putting it all in a pocket of his trousers.

--No thanks at all, Mr Deasy said. You have earned it.

Stephen's hand, free again, went back to the hollow shells. Symbols too of beauty and of power. A lump in my pocket. Symbols soiled by greed and misery.

--Don't carry it like that, Mr Deasy said. You'll pull it out somewhere and lose it. You just buy one of those machines. You'll find them very handy.

Answer something.

--Mine would be often empty, Stephen said.

The same room and hour, the same wisdom: and I the same. Three times now. Three nooses round me here. Well. I can break them this instant if I will.

--Because you don't save, Mr Deasy said, pointing his finger. You don't know what money is. Money is power, when you have lived as long as I have, I know, I know. If youth but knew. But what does Shakespeare say? Put but money in thy purse.

--Iago, Stephen murmured.

He lifted his gaze from the idle shells to the old man's stare.

--He knew what money was, Mr Deasy said. He made money. A poet but an Englishman too. Do you know what is the pride of the English? Do you know what is the proudest word you will ever hear from an Englishman's mouth?

The seas' ruler. His seacold eyes looked on the empty bay: history is to blame: on me and on my words, unhating.

--That on his empire, Stephen said, the sun never sets.

--Ba! Mr Deasy cried. That's not English. A French Celt said that. He tapped his savingsbox against his thumbnail.

--I will tell you, he said solemnly, what is his proudest boast. I paid my way.

Good man, good man.

--I paid my way. I never borrowed a shilling in my life. Can you feel that? I owe nothing. Can you?

Mulligan, nine pounds, three pairs of socks, one pair brogues, ties. Curran, ten guineas. McCann, one guinea. Fred Ryan, two shillings. Temple, two lunches. Russell, one guinea, Cousins, ten shillings, Bob Reynolds, half a guinea, Kohler, three guineas, Mrs McKernan, five weeks' bard. The lump I have is useless.

--For the moment, no, Stephen answered.

Mr Deasy laughed with rich delight, putting back his savingsbox.

--I new you couldn't, he said joyously. But one day you must feel it. We are a generous people but we must also be just.

--I fear those big words, Stephen said, which make us so unhappy.

-James Joyce
Kung Fu Hustle

Morgan and I saw Kung Fu Hustle this afternoon. It was so good.

Obviously, these guys have been working out with some kettlebells.
More 'Nita. I took Juanita to breakfast this morning (busy morning), and listened hard for more Nita-isms. I got no metaphorical gems. But I picked up things she says that are uncommon these days:

"Not hardly". This is an ironic way of saying "no". As in, "Mom, are you going to run in the Orange Bowl Marathon with Mary in January?"

"Over yonder". Pronounced "O-vah Yahn-duh". Could mean "over there", where "there" is usually some distance away, and that's the way she uses it. But it could mean "beyond the grave", which locus may not be as far away as we think, so that the use of "yonder" is a hopeful reference: we hope that beyond the grave for ourselves is quite some distance away, unless we are the Apostle Paul.

I have never heard her use "over yonder" to refer to the place where we go after death, but she certainly would understand that meaning because it occurs in many old Southern hymns.

She knows I'm posting this, so I am not betraying any confidences.
Ready. Concealed Weapon or Firearm License, State of Florida, No. W 2506050. Smith & Wesson 38 Special ("Airweight") Model 642, SKU 163810. Uncle Mike's pocket holster. Federal Premium Hydra-Shok JHP ("jacketed hollow point") 38 Special (+P) 129 grain ammo. Bianchi speed strips. Still registered Democrat.

Went to the range today with Jack, and for the first time shot 100 rounds with the Airweight. Tough on the hands and not all that easy to shoot. For relief, I shot a clip's worth with Jack's Glock (Jack is a policeman), and it was like riding a Cadillac on the Florida Turnpike as compared to a pick-up truck over a dirt road. But that's what you get with a small, lightweight revolver. Its really not suppose to be fun. It isn't. All of this is, obviously, is very serious business.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Family Names. While we are on names, here are some of our family names. As I think of more, I will post them. Do we have some family names common with any of yours?

Stokes (English)


Johnson (Scots-Irish)

Hemperley (from "Hemple", a German family. It got "Southernized" into "Hemperley", because it sounded like "Hemplee")

Travis (yes, that Travis, my Texas friends) (Norman -English)

Jordan (pronounced "Jurdin")



Macon (Huguenot)

Michaux (Huguenot)
'Nita-isms. In celebration of Mother's Day, I am initiating an occasional series of posts on 'Nita-isms. 'Nita is the diminutive of Juanita, my dear mother's name. Her father, Carlos, named her "Juanita" when she was born in Atlanta in 1920. Not an ounce of Latin blood there. I have no idea from whence the name "Carlos" came for my grandfather. "Juanita", my mom tells me, was the title of a song popular at the time she came into this world.

A 'Nita-ism is something that my mom is fond of saying. I can think of two of them right now, but other's will come to me and I'll post them when they do.

"Busier than a one-armed paper hanger." This -ism has a pretty obvious meaning, though politically incorrect.

"Lower than a snake's belly". This refers to a state of melancholy.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Another testimonial to the superiority of WordPerfect

I was interested to see that Glenn Reynolds at InstaPundit is also a WordPerfect fan:

"I'LL GIVE UP WORDPERFECT when they pry it from my cold, dead hard drive. Randy Barnett seems to agree."

(This post is from Carol, not Paul.)
Oh, Dad! The Atlantic Monthly for June is a treasure-trove, and I recommend that you pick it up. The cover story "How We Would Fight China" is fascinating. Sean would particularly like it, but it would be very useful for those of us who think that we did the right thing when we went into Iraq.

I read that article yesterday, and then Carol and I went to TWT last night, which is the weekly, community youth group event that our church sponors. We are volunteers. About half way through the event the "large group" breaks up into "small groups", and we lead a small group. The topic was "the future": where will you be in ten years? where would you like to be? God has a plan for you, do you want that plan and, if so, how can you be sure to live within it? (Jeremiah 29:11 is the key verse; it is scripture to which I seem to return again and again.) As I thought about where I would like to be in ten years, I thought about the article on China.

Maybe I would like to be in China in ten years. I am pretty sure that when the current lease runs out (which will be in 9 years), I will want to do something else. (That assumes that the firm will continue to enjoy its moderate success until then.) Why not go to China and teach something? Having just finished teaching the seminar at the UM Law School, I discovered again how much I enjoy teaching.

I'm not sure Carol sees herself in China in 10 years. But, then again, she didn't see herself in Miami either or helping run a small law firm or moderating the Board of Deacons or dozens of other things with which God has challenged her. She is amazingly adaptive, patient, and smart.

But maybe this is just another of the enthusiasms that seem to afflict me periodically. I am, however, looking into Mandarin studies. Check out this student's essay on his first year learning Mandarin.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

More deep thoughts from English III.
Ms. Stokes: "So William Faulkner..."
Student:"hehe, William Fokker, like Meet the Fokkers?"
Ms. Stokes:"FauLkNer...William FauLkNer is best known for his novels: As I Lay Dying, the Sound and the Fury, Absalom, Absalom..."
Another student: "Those sound like names of emo bands!"
"Runaway Bride" Confusion. I know I am old fashioned, but maybe someone can explain this to me. The young Georgia woman, the one who got on the bus and left town before her 14 attendant wedding, was living with her fiancee, right? This is a Baptist church where they were to marry, correct? And people in that church, including the pastor quite prominently, are saying all sorts of Christian things about the situation. So what is this pre-marital, living together business? No one seems to have mentioned this.

And if you been living with a guy like that anyway, what exactly are you running away from?

Monday, May 02, 2005

*GASP!* After over a week (a week!) of being without broadband, I'm back online. (Switched providers, and our old dsl modem didn't work with the new provider, even though their sales people told us it would, nach. We had to wait while they sent us a new modem.) I've gotta say, dial-up is. not. fun.

What is fun: Tiger, iLife05, iWork05. That's what I've been playing with while I waited hours (hours people!) for my data to go hither and yon in the Ether.
Crazy Cuban Blog. Adrya Acosta Kustra is our IP genius at the firm. She started a blog and I have listed it on the blogroll. God blessed us with Adrya not long after we started our firm. So, Adrya, welcome to the blog world! We'll enjoy keeping up with your family.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

The new digs.
We moved this weekend; here are some shots of the new place. Notice the brand new bookshelf, housing what was once in stacks. Please come and visit.