Further Musings

Beauty smote his heart, he looked up from the forsaken land & hope returned to him

Archive for October 2005

A Welcome Laugh

with 5 comments

Tonight I am in the throes of grading the second exam of my teaching career. It’s interesting to learn how many directions students can take the same question, many of them valid. The essay question basically asks the following: If Germany was out of the picture in 1912, unable to draw the US and the British into an alliance in WWI, would the US and the British conflict? Some political scientist say that as a rising power on the world stage (the US) is highly likely to conflict with the dominate power (Britain).

On essay 34 (out of 45) I found the following answer, the only one to make me laugh with mirth instead of despair.

“The US and Britain both to a certain extent are democratic and benefited mutually from trade with each other. Their relationship would grow more beneficial and with time blossom into a beautiful rose with petals of peace, interdependence and intergovernmental organizations and democracy.”

By far the most poetic response so far.

Written by furthermusings

October 27, 2005 at 9:44 pm

Posted in Political Science

Thoughts from a Concert

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A couple of weeks ago I went to a house concert given by a former roommate, Jason Harrod. The concert was mostly a church affair, filled with the people that have comprised much of my life here in Chapel Hill. It was the first house concert I’ve been to. It was full of friendly smiles, good food and music that resonated as Jason sang out stories about his life, his dreams and his musings. During the concert I sat in the back row, sunk into a couch with my wife with the host’s children piled on top of us and I got lost in the music.

I don’t know what it is about concerts but, be they performancces of full symphonies or folk musicians, my mind wanders. Eventually the music and words begin to drift past me as I’m caught up in their spell and then I float away in my thoughts. I remember that that night was full of thoughts: about being from the mountains, about living in strange places, about the costs of pursuing dreams. Most of the thoughts have fled beyond my recall or been blurred back to the edge of conscious thought. They will only return during the next concert or along the next long drive where I cruise towards a destination with the music turned up loud and the windows down.

One thought has stuck with me though, and I’ve been meaning to blog about it. Really more than a thought, it was the noticing of an absence. As Jason sang out his ballad, Messed Up Everywhere Blues, I felt the absence of the piano that accompanies his guitar and harmonica in the studio version. Of all Jason’s songs I probably know this one the best as he was still mixing it when we moved in together. I’ve heard it enough that I during the concert heard the music and I also heard the absence.

As I noticed this absence I noticed for the first time the absence of an old friend among this concert of friends. I peered between the people sitting in front of me towards Jason and as I listened to the harmonica the empty space to his right seemed the perfect place for my piano playing friend. I don’t know that he would really fit there but I wished that he was there. There seemed to be a space of just his size and talent in that moment.

And so his absence, and the piano’s absence, have me thinking about absence, about spaces that should be filled. As I’ve thought about death over the last year I’ve thought that absence must be the hardest part. The moments that are perfect for the person who’s not there stand out because of the absence: as I walk around Asheville the conversation that should be around the corner is not there; the story that should be told at just that moment is not but the silence stands instead; the comforting presence and peace of a figure, bathed in sunlight and reading a book in the corner, is replaced by the outline of a chair that now sits clean and empty.

I don’t know much about death, but I do know about missing friends, missing people. I miss them, their laughter, their passions, their wisdom and their companionship.

Written by furthermusings

October 13, 2005 at 12:40 am

Posted in Reflections

Rain in the News

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As I have been trying to figure out how long the rain will last (and consequently whether or not I should take the bus or ride my bike) I am struck by the way that most newscasters disparage rainfall.

Their voices are perky when describing clear weather in Nashville but they undergo a noticeable, sad, so-sorry-for-you change when a forecast a soggy day in Chapel Hill is forecast. This is a somewhat puzzling attitude towards a phenomena that enables us to eat, to drink and nourishes the plants and trees that surround us.

It is, however, a less strange attitude than some local newscasts where rain talked with a graveness that implies a remarkable event is going to occur today and important, negative, changes from our everyday routines are in store. I’m left wondering: is taking your umbrella to work worthy of such dramatic language?

I wonder why this phenomenon happens. It could be because drama keeps people tuned into the TV and therefore rain becomes a dramatic event for newscasters even if its not. I wonder though if the reminder that we can’t control everything is somehow offensive to our sensibilities and therefore draws our ire in a special way that newscasters tap into.

I wonder if we would give our TV sets funny looks if newscasters were peppy about the rain.

Written by furthermusings

October 7, 2005 at 9:22 am

Posted in Reflections

Inflexible Synonyms

with 3 comments

Ellen and I recently debated whether or not the word “unflexible” exists. True to her word she has emailed me and stated that it does not exist. As a supplement she provided a definition and a most excellent list of synonyms from Bartleby.com that I thought was excellent enough to blog. I think the nuances and differences are really interesting.


1. Not easily bent; stiff or rigid.
2. Incapable of being changed; unalterable.
3. Unyielding in purpose, principle, or temper; immovable.

OTHER FORMS: in·flexi·bili·ty, in·flexi·ble·ness —NOUN
in·flexi·bly —ADVERB

SYNONYMS: These adjectives mean not capable of being swayed or diverted from a course.

Inflexible implies unyielding adherence to fixed principles or purposes: My boss is inflexible on many issues.

Inexorable implies lack of susceptibility to persuasion: “Cynthia was inexorable—she would have none of him” (Winston Churchill). It also describes things that are inevitable, relentless, and often severe in effect: “Russia’s final hour, it seemed, approached with inexorable certainty” (W. Bruce Lincoln).

Adamant implies imperviousness to pleas or appeals: He is adamant about leaving right now.

Obdurate implies hard, callous resistance to tender feelings: The child’s misery would move even the most obdurate heart.

See also synonym: stiff.

Written by furthermusings

October 5, 2005 at 5:06 pm

Posted in Reviews

Colors of a Shot

with 3 comments

This is my attempt to blog in the same genre as my wife and my sister. This shot is not as cool as their series of photos but I thought the picture had some interesting visual details. It’s cool how a digital camera can capture details more finely than the naked eye.

No Link Here

Next One Down


Written by furthermusings

October 3, 2005 at 11:01 pm

Posted in Pictures

Different Points of View

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The other day I noticed that I had tracked some dirt into the kitchen. In my previous life (as a bachelor) I would have left it but now being a married man I wanted to keep it from being driven into the floor. So I perkily took out the broom from the closet and proceeded to sweep.

As I walked back to the closet to return the broom I heard an incredulous “What are you doing?” come from Charity in the kitchen. To my surprise Charity wasn’t pleased with my actions.

“Putting the broom away?” I answered timidly.

“Are you going to sweep to just sweep the dirt to the side and leave it?” she demanded, still incredulous.

“Ah . . . yes?” . . . .

In case you should find yourself in a similar spot it turns out the proper response to dirt in the middle of the kitchen floor is not to sweep it under the counter but rather to sweep it up and put it in the trash can. Who knew?

Written by furthermusings

October 3, 2005 at 10:43 pm

Posted in Laughter