Let the Sun Shine Down on Me!

Today in SF it was a beautiful, beautiful day!

I finished work by 1:15pm, and came home to let the dogs out. I went for a great run in Golden Gate park – out past the bison, the casting ponds, the picnic meadows, past the perverts at the windmill, and out to the ocean.

It was the first day of the year that it has been warm enough to run shirtless!!!!! Yay!

On the way back, as I was running along MLK, at the bottom of stow lake where the cars exit, there was an older man with an early 90′s buick regal (metallic blue). He said something to me as I was running, which I didn’t hear, since I had my headphones on. I took them off, and he said, “can you push my car over there” gesturing to the other side of the street.

I couldn’t really think of an excuse not to – I felt kind of bad for him, and traffic was backing up behind him. So I got behind the car, and pushed. When he first asked it, I’m thinking to myself, “you want me – me? to push your 4,000 lb. lunk of american junk over there? all by myself?” But like I said, it just seemed plain unfriendly not to help. Besides, I was kind of flattered that he thought I could push his car across the street and up a gentle incline.

But I did. He steered, I pushed, and we got it across the street. He hopped in, said thanks, and I went running on my merry way!

Now that’s what I call cross-training!

As I’m running along, I see the old man go by, coasting along in his car. And he coasts through a stop sign, and keeps going. But the decline has turned to incline. He’s now in front of me, and I’m thinking “oh, shit, I hope he doesn’t see me again, I don’t want to push his car again.”

!indeed, the incline is too much, and he pulls off to the side of the road again. So I run across the street at the next ped. crossing, and run on the other side of the trees until I’m past his car. I feel vaguely guilty about this, but hey, one free car push is all ya get. I wonder how my legs will feel tomorrow.

After arriving home, I tossed all the dogs in the truck with Britton and we headed off to Ft. Funston. It was freaking perfect. Sunny, not windy, tide was out, dogs were friendly, waves were great, international flights were taking off across the pacific. It was perfect, just perfect!

I can still feel the sun on my face.

Nothing beats a great day in SF.

The War Prayer by Mark Twain

Today at church the main body of the sermon consisted of the reading of The War Prayer by Mark Twain.

My Minister said it was written in the 1800′s, but not published after his death at his request. However, according to this site, Mark Twain submitted it to Harper’s for publication in 1905, when it was refused. Either way, his rejection lead to some interesting thoughts about free speech. Read about them.

Here is the poem in it’s entirety:

It was a time of great and exalting excitement. The country was up in arms, the war was on, in every breast burned the holy fire of patriotism; the drums were beating, the bands playing, the toy pistols popping, the bunched firecrackers hissing and sputtering; on every hand and far down the receding and fading spreads of roofs and balconies a fluttering wilderness of flags flashed in the sun; daily the young volunteers marched down the wide avenue gay and fine in their new uniforms, the proud fathers and mothers and sisters and sweethearts cheering them with voices choked with happy emotion as they swung by; nightly the packed mass meetings listened, panting, to patriot oratory which stirred the deepest deeps of their hearts and which they interrupted at briefest intervals with cyclones of applause, the tears running down their cheeks the while; in the churches the pastors preached devotion to flag and country and invoked the God of Battles, beseeching His aid in our good cause in outpouring of fervid eloquence which moved every listener.
It was indeed a glad and gracious time, and the half dozen rash spirits that ventured to disapprove of the war and cast a doubt upon its righteousness straightway got such a stern and angry warning that for their personal safety’s sake they quickly shrank out of sight and offended no more in that way.

Sunday morning came-next day the battalions would leave for the front; the church was filled; the volunteers were there, their faces alight with material dreams-visions of a stern advance, the gathering momentum, the rushing charge, the flashing sabers, the flight of the foe, the tumult, the enveloping smoke, the fierce pursuit, the surrender!-then home from the war, bronzed heros, welcomed, adored, submerged in golden seas of glory! With the volunteers sat their dear ones, proud, happy, and envied by the neighbors and friends who had no sons and brothers to send forth to the field of honor, there to win for the flag or, failing, die the noblest of noble deaths. The service proceeded; a war chapter from the Old Testament was read; the first prayer was said; it was followed by an organ burst that shook the building, and with one impulse the house rose, with glowing eyes and beating hearts, and poured out that tremendous invocation — “God the all-terrible! Thou who ordainest, Thunder thy clarion and lightning thy sword!”

Then came the “long” prayer. None could remember the like of it for passionate pleading and moving and beautiful language. The burden of its supplication was that an ever–merciful and benignant Father of us all would watch over our noble young soldiers and aid, comfort, and encourage them in their patriotic work; bless them, shield them in His mighty hand, make them strong and confident, invincible in the bloody onset; help them to crush the foe, grant to them and to their flag and country imperishable honor and glory -

An aged stranger entered and moved with slow and noiseless step up the main aisle, his eyes fixed upon the minister, his long body clothed in a robe that reached to his feet, his head bare, his white hair descending in a frothy cataract to his shoulders, his seamy face unnaturally pale, pale even to ghastliness. With all eyes following him and wondering, he made his silent way; without pausing, he ascended to the preacher’s side and stood there, waiting.

With shut lids the preacher, unconscious of his presence, continued his moving prayer, and at last finished it with the words, uttered in fervent appeal,”Bless our arms, grant us the victory, O Lord our God, Father and Protector of our land and flag!”

The stranger touched his arm, motioned him to step aside — which the startled minister did — and took his place. During some moments he surveyed the spellbound audience with solemn eyes in which burned an uncanny light; then in a deep voice he said

“I come from the Throne-bearing a message from Almighty God!” The words smote the house with a shock; if the stranger perceived it he gave no attention. “He has heard the prayer of His servant your shepherd and grant it if such shall be your desire after I, His messenger, shall have explained to you its import-that is to say, its full import. For it is like unto many of the prayers of men, in that it asks for more than he who utters it is aware of-except he pause and think.

“God’s servant and yours has prayed his prayer. Has he paused and taken thought? Is it one prayer? No, it is two- one uttered, the other not. Both have reached the ear of His Who hearth all supplications, the spoken and the unspoken. Ponder this-keep it in mind. If you beseech a blessing upon yourself, beware! lest without intent you invoke a curse upon a neighbor at the same time. If you pray for the blessing of rain upon your crop which needs it, by that act you are possibly praying for a curse upon some neighbor’s crop which may not need rain and can be injured by it.

“You have heard your servant’s prayer-the uttered part of it. I am commissioned by God to put into words the other part of it-that part which the pastor, and also you in your hearts, fervently prayed silently. And ignorantly and unthinkingly? God grant that it was so! You heard these words: ‘Grant us the victory, O Lord our God!’ That is sufficient. The whole of the uttered prayer is compact into those pregnant words. Elaborations were not necessary. When you have prayed for victory you have prayed for many unmentioned results which follow victory-must follow it, cannot help but follow it. Upon the listening spirit of God the Father fell also the unspoken part of the prayer. He commandeth me to put it into words. Listen!

“O Lord our Father, our young patriots, idols of our hearts, go forth to battle-be Thou near them! With them, in spirit, we also go forth from the sweet peace of our beloved firesides to smite the foe. O Lord our God, help us to tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells; help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale forms of their patriot dead; help us to drown the thunder of the guns with the shrieks of their wounded, writhing in pain; help us to lay waste their humble homes with a hurricane of fire; help us to wring the hearts of their unoffending widows with unavailing grief; help us to turn them out roofless with their little children to wander unfriended the wastes of their desolated land in rags and hunger and thirst, sports of the sun flames of summer and the icy winds of winter, broken in spirit, worn with travail, imploring Thee for the refuge of the grave and denied it-for our sakes who adore Thee, Lord, blast their hopes, blight their lives, protract their bitter pilgrimage, make heavy their steps, water their way with their tears, stain the white snow with the blood of their wounded feet! We ask it, in the spirit of love, of Him Who is the Source of Love, and Who is ever-faithful refuge and friend of all that are sore beset and seek His aid with humble and contrite hearts. Amen.

(After a pause)

“Ye have prayed it; if ye still desire it, speak! The messenger of the Most High waits.”

It was believed afterward that the man was a lunatic, because there was no sense in what he said.

– Mark Twain

Housekeeping…

Making some changes to the blog. The goal here is to eventually redesign the layout, but in the interim I’ve made the following changes:

I’ve gone to short entry’s on the home page to decrease load times, and put the rest of the blog entry on it’s own page. I’ve also changed the title of my entries from all caps to “normal case.” I already feel like the yelling has gone down :-)

Anyway, comments always appreciated. Any HTML geniuses or people with a good knowledge of CSS, links to helpful tutorials would be appreciated.

[updated on 3/23 - I decided not to split blog entries. I undid that.]

How to Watch a War

Step one: Make yourself some tasty comfort food. Last night, I chose chicken pot-pie. Oh yeah, mmmmm good.

Step two: Pick your favorite news channel. CNN seems a little self-important this go round, Fox is too republican for me, Dan Rather is a dork, Tom Brokaw has bad hair, so for the moment I’ve settled with Peter Jennings on ABC.

I mean, after all, who can safely bring you a war than those loveable folks over at Disney? I need to check out the international news TV channels, I keep forgetting they exist. It’s so American of me, eh?

Step three: Turn the volume on the TV down to zero. Turn on the radio. Flip between the dance music station and KFOG as needed.

Enjoy!

and finally, I’d like to say “the war” just isn’t a very catchy tv-show name. “Attack on Iraq” rhymes nicely, but just doesn’t grab me. Suggestions?

What a random day…

This morning and through out the day war protestors have blocked major SF intersections and disrupted traffic. I’d like to say I took a stand and hung with ‘em, but instead I watched them on the morning news after getting back from the gym.

I’ve had CNN on today in the background with the radio on. Now I remember why I stopped watching network entertainment, er’, I mean news. They’ve all got such a hard-on for making news out of nothing. Instead of asking questions like, “how many civilians will die?” or “should we be having this war?” or “have you bought the latest Dixie Chicks CD because they aren’t afraid to speak their hearts and minds?” we get questions like, “where’s shock and awe?” or “something went boom 20 minutes ago that I know nothing about so I’ll sit here and blather and pretend to say something relevant, something meaningful, something that will elevate me above my role of selling toilet paper, sanitary products, and pre-packaged-individual-serve-puddings on a cable channel.”

This “war” is the ultimate reality-tv show. It’s better than any pilot a network exec. could cook up. We’ve got a real-live villian, with documented atrocities against his own people! Yeah, and we’ve got Saddam too. We’ve got millions of innocent civilians, caught in the middle, “victims” of historical and geopolitical trends. We’ve got rugged, hearty, brave young men and women putting their lives on the line for their ideals! We’ve got technology for even the geekiest of geeks – stealth planes, smart bombs, computerized rifles, advanced radar systems, oh yeah, we’ve got all the toys that even you jaded and cynical yuppies can’t buy at Brookstone or The Sharper Image. All we need now is Paula Abdul.

Journalism is no longer journalism. It’s a joke.

I turned off the TV this afternoon, managed to get some work done, and vowed that I wouldn’t tune into broadcast news again.

Like shopping, but free

Yesterday I spent a solid couple of hours unpacking more boxes from storage. It was kind of like going to the mall, but everything was already paid for. Among the highlights:
- Copper knick-knacks from Brian’s grandma that have been in an unopened box since before we lived in Virginia (moved there in 1997/8).

- The keys to the roll-top desk I had as a child.

- My lucky rabbit-feet, hope stone, and stone carvings from my childhood.

- Oodles and oodles of books, including The Hours by Michael Cunningham, which I dropped in the mail today. Other fun books: middle school yearbooks, Brian’s childhood scrapbook, an Alexander Rodchenko book from an exhibition we attended… the list goes on and on

- a 100MB USB zip drive. We’ll probably never use it, but hey, it’s fun to have.

- the power cables that go from a monitor to the back of the computer. I’ve been looking for them for years!

I also found all of my Franklin Covey day-planner notes from as far back as 1995. It was a riot to read them. I’d like to go back and meet my 1995 self, I think it would be a riot. In April 1996 I had a t-chart comparing the pro’s and con’s of going to work at Apple or go live with my grandparents. My 1995 to-do lists often included “get out of bed at reasonable hour” and “go to class” – neither of which I was very good at.

But with the spirit of letting go of the past, they are all in the recycle bin now!

I think we are down to about 8 boxes of storage stuff left. Some of it is seasonal – winter clothes, christmas decorations, stuff like that. 2 or 3 of the boxes are random CDs and data files from Brian’s previous employer, HumanCode. But basically, for the first time in almost 3 years, we’re finally unpacked.

China

For Christmas, my parents gave me one of the family china sets. I’ve been lusting over it since about the time I was 5 (that’s not a joke). I’m pretty sure the exact words I used at Christmas when opening the box, were “Holy Shit!”

Anyway, here’s the pattern at replacements.com. Ain’t it pretty? Dat’s right!

So I could find lots of replacement information, but I wanted to know about the folks that made the China. It turns out Castleton china was owned by the Shenango China company in New Castle, PA. They produced China from roughly the turn of the 20th century to the 60′s or 70′s. China produced after 1950 has a date code on it, and my plates don’t, so that would mean the china was made before 1950. If you want to read the detailed history, click here. According to the web, Castleton china started being made in the 40′s and was produced until 1974.

I’m going to guess my dad’s family bought it sometime in the late 40′s, but I dunno for sure. Dad, any guesses?

More china history… they were once the world largest maker of vitrified china. And if you were curious, vitrified china is glass-like china, where the ceramic is non-porous, and this results from the silica turning to glass when fired at super hot temperatures. In case you were curious, all fine china is vitrified. Now you know :-)

Most presidential china appears to be made by Lenox, but LBJ commissioned a set from Castleton that I think is pretty damn ugly. The white house doesn’t have photos of it, but they also made a design for Eisenhower.

October, 1988

In October of 1988 my family moved from Thornton, CO to Big Rapids, MI. On one of my last day’s in Denver, my elementary librarian (who I still chat with) took me and my best friend (Mike) to the Dairy Queen for a little good-bye party.

Below is the photographic evidence that I, too, was a victim of 1980′s fashion trends.

Giggle on!

Friday

Friday evening we went and saw Bringing Down the House with Pete, Kevin, and an Apple guy out training to become a Mac Genius, Bill.

Schedules were tight so we ate at Chevy’s at the bar. It was wet and windy last night, but we made it to the theatre in time to get relatively decent seats. It was a fun movie. Stereotypes were made fun of on all sides. I’m not sure if it makes the stereotypes okay, but at least it didn’t feel like a republican convention where they were picking on the poor, the gays, and the minorities.

After that we headed off to the Castro, as it was Bill’s first time in SF. Actually, Pete and I wanted a cocktail, but it sounded like a good excuse. We started at the Cafe. Let me say, I hate the Cafe. I hate that bar. I hate that bar. I’ve only been one other time, and God do I hate that bar. For starters, most people are younger than me at The Cafe. And that, my friends, is seriously annoying! Actually, it’s more than that. But anywho…

Plus, there seemed to be a ton of people smoking. And the Cafe has a bunch of deck space, so the smoke kind of wandered back in to the building a little bit. Plus, it felt like all the people there were too young to have learned their bar manners yet. They hadn’t yet mastered the way of slithering through a crowd without harshly knocking into you or spilling their drink, or worse yet, spilling your drink. They all needed to go to Mrs. Manner’s bar ettiquete class.

Then we went to the Badlands. I protest paying cover for the Badlands, but at least this crowd had their bar manners! We stayed for a while, and then headed home.

It was kind of funny watching Bill soak in all of homoville. I forgot what an intimidating and strange place it can be to outsiders. As we walked down the street, he exclaimed, “look at those guys holding hands.” As if it wasn’t completely normal and guys don’t hold hands all across the country. Whoops, oh yeah, I guess that’s right – they don’t.

It leads me to my two lists for today:

Things I take for Granted:
- Gay rights in San Francisco
- My youth
- No smoking laws in California (God bless them!)
- Brian
- The boys
- My family
- Google
- civil rights
- Domestic Partnership laws
- A welcoming and cool church community
- Life
- Great friends
- cell phones
- indoor plubming and hot water
- Healthy home cooked food
- My sight

Things I remember to be appreciative and aware of:
- Brian
- The boys
- The Weather in SF
- The location of the sun at any given point during the day in SF. I never really noticed or appreciated weather until moving here, it was also something to be artificially regulated most everywhere else I lived.
- My health
- Life
- Great friends
- My sight

This list was so much longer when I was writing it in my head last night, but I seem to have forgotten a few of them. And what do you take for granted?