Further Musings

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

Archive for November 2005

Who needs experts?

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In my morning reading I found this blog entry fairly interesting . It is a review of a book that seeks to explain why the talking heads on TV are so often wrong.

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November 30, 2005 at 8:51 am

Posted in Reviews

The Worst

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Over the last year Iíve flown through Chicago’s OíHare on many different occasions and I can safely say that the toilets are its worst feature. Itís interesting to have such terrible engineering so prominently featured in one of the countryís biggest airports. I chalk it up to Chicago corruption and the local phone number listed (but rarely called Iíll wager) to purchase them as confirmation of this conjecture.

oharejohn.jpgWhile it is a nice thought that you would never have to line the seat with tp, the people who chose to purchase them in clearly never sat on them. If they had they would know that the high back has no rotating plastic sheath and instead provides a large unkempt area that forces you to sit towards the front. Combine this with the optical sensor that flushes while youíre on the can and youíve got a poor toilet. It’s enough to make me wish for the traditional Bosnian version!

Youíd think the airport authority would have swallowed their pride and replaced them by now with a normal and more sanitary toilet. But they havenít. I suppose they enjoy paying for the trademarked replacement roles.

(Whew, been wanting to rant about that for a while!)

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November 29, 2005 at 10:02 pm

Posted in Reviews

Meditating on Iraq

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IÔŅĹve just finished reading a NYTimes Magazine feature article from several Sunday’s ago titled “The Fall Of the Warrior King” (or What the War did to Colonel Sassaman). It was a hard article to read as it described the realities of the US military occupying Iraq. It told the story of the attempts of a particular army unit to rule an area of Iraq that is a mix of Sunni and Shiite residents. It told of brutal tactics on both sides, the ruin of both on Iraqi lives and US soldiers. It seemed an honest and difficult article about the realities of occupation.

Reading the article is the most connected I’ve felt to the war since Brad Arms, who my parents knew since he was boy, died over a year ago. Although I’m regular news consumer, the mental file I keep on the war is one of facts, figures, and trends that I think are important to note. So while I am informed, I am not usually emotionally engaged.

cover.jpg This article did engage me though, with its story about two Iraqi men out past curfew and the soldiers who met them. It made the war seem very hard and very near. So even though I don’t usually write about political topics, I am writing here, more because I don’t know what to think that because I do.

I wonder what my responsibility is regarding the war. I don’t have any good answers. The situation seem difficult at best, a hard and grief filled mess. Will the war bring democracy to Iraq? Should it be a federal state or more centralized? Should the US do this or leave the Iraqis to their own devices? What is it like to be on the ground? Should we stay or pull out? Should we blame someone for the lack of planning for a post-war environment?

But here is what I wonder: since nobody is going to make decisions based on my opinions and I don’t know much about the reality of life in Iraq should I have an opinion? On the one hand I think that being a citizen in a democratic country demands that I have an opinion. But on the other hand, I honestly don’t think I have the information (or the time) to make a good decision on what my opinion is.

Does it really matter what I think? I’m not a policy maker. I won’t be asked for my input via referendum. The next election will be the next time I have a direct say in who is in the government. Tonight thinking about Iraq makes me weary and leaves me with little interested in staunchly defending the Bush administration or in being rabidly against their policies, despite the gravity of the situation.

Instead, as I meditate on this article, I want to grieve for the brokenness of the country, for the war that is taking place, for the violence that is engulfing both our soldiers and the land they occupy. It may not be response enough for the critics or supporters of the war but for tonight, as I gaze out at the twinkling lights of the Midwest below my evening flight to Lincoln, it seems only thing, the proper thing, to do.

Written by furthermusings

November 23, 2005 at 10:17 pm

Posted in Reflections

Things You Can’t Do

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In addition to the microeconomics I learned in studying for my test on Thursday I also learned a number of lessons that fall under the category “reasons to remember your keys.” Somehow when leaving that morning I skipped the part of my morning routine where I put my keys and wallet in my pocket. I did however remember to check for them immediately after I shut the door!

The lessons learned are that without keys I cannot do any of the following:

1. Get back into my house to get my wallet has my spare key.
2. Drive my car to my wifeís work to get her key.
3. Lock up my bike outside the building instead of bringing into the test.
4. Lock up my bike in your building instead of wheeling it around the department trying to find a key to your office.
5. Open my office door to put my bike inside.
6. Lock up my computer.
7. Open your mail box to retrieve my paycheck.
8. Buy lunch without my wallet.
9. Get back into the house once I’ve biked home.

I could, however, read the mail while I was sitting outside waiting for Charity. Via this empirical study I can now recommend that keys and wallet are important and should be carried when leaving the house!

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November 11, 2005 at 5:15 pm

Posted in UNC

From My Parents

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Helen.jpgMany of you have asked about my parents over the last 9 months. Today they sent out an update letter complete with pictures of my Mom’s hair which has begun to grow again. It’s good to see her with more hair than I have. It has grown back after a full baseball season of surgery, chemo, and radiation which we pray has killed the cancer cells in her body.

I’ll tack my name on the bottom of my parentís letter and say thank you for your prayers and thoughts: thank you.

As Dad says the specter of the cancer returning (and being fatal) will be before us for many years (hopefully). I’m not sure how to live with this constant fear. It’s hard to hold a balance of acknowledging that the threat of death is constanat and real and yet to not be overwhelmed by it.

I’m hopeful I’ll wonít live in denial of the very real possibility of the cancerís return. Itís much more difficult and yet much better to acknowledge the specter of it than it is to ignore it. I’m anxious to have many years to try to do this. Your prayers are still coveted.


(To read Steve and Helen’s letter click below.)
Read the rest of this entry »

Written by furthermusings

November 9, 2005 at 9:24 am

Posted in General

Two Hedgehogs

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hedgehogs.jpgThis past weekend Charity and I went to my grandparents house to visit my grandfather, Pop, and his trusty dog, Monday. We ate a quick dinner out with them on Sunday evening and spent an even briefer time visiting in the house.

Over dinner the subject of the crystal figures kept by my grandmother, who died about a year and a half ago, came up. She collected small prisms and crystals and ensconced them in a sunlit window over the kitchen sink where they nestled among African violets and cast rainbows across the kitchen, sparkling in the sunshine.

I asked what had become of them and Pop said he had moved them to a shelf in Gran’s bedroom. When we returned to the house I found them and showed them Charity. Pop asked if I would like to keep them, I said yes and now they reside on my dresser where their sparkle in the morning sun has caught my eye throughout this week.

During my afternoon breaks as Iíve gotten up to stretch from my grading and reading I’ve wandered into the bedroom. Iíve picked them up and turned them over in my hands, gauged their weight and pondered their missing points. I’ve taken pictures and fussed over whether or not I could accidentally dislodge them from their perch.

Since my grandmother died my grandfather has given away most of her belongings. As Iíve thought about this process Iíve decided that I wanted three things: these hedgehogs, this book, and a set of Time-Life World War Two books that I always seemed to be reading on our visits to Atlanta growing up. They seem random, but these were things that always caught my eye in the quiet moments that characterized the peace of our weekends with them.

I know other people have similiar things from their grandparents or parents or friends. I wonder what it is that they see when they the things that were owned by them. These two hedgehogs are beautiful and I can’t help but remember Gran when they catch my eye. I wonder about who she was, about what I missed from not knowing her well as an adult. And Iím wondering what to think about these two hedgehogs being my strongest connection to a relationship that stretched from my birth to last summer.

Written by furthermusings

November 3, 2005 at 9:58 pm

Posted in Reflections