Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Fifty-Two


Ten years ago this week, I turned forty-two (42), the age of the "the Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything." This week, I shall turn 52. There is nothing particular about this number in the H2G2, but Facebook keeps reminding me to setup a charity through them. Well, screw them. While I regularly engage with their platform, I won't use it to guilt my friends into donations, particularly when Facebook charges high fundraising fees (for anyone not a verified non-profit). And FB can delay distribution of funds to the orgs.

No, in recognition of the questionably auspicious occasion of another orbit around the Sun, I will not have a party (not even a virtual or physically distanced one), nor will I seek presents. But I do have a request. If you choose to participate in celebrating my Born On date, I ask that you donate time or money to your favorite charity or not-for-profit organization. If you do not have a favorite, I happily suggest a few of my own:
  • School of Sacred Ministries -- Independent divinity school that offers a 27-month program of spiritual training with ordination as an Interfaith Minister upon conclusion. I was ordained here, I continue to work with them, and they can always use money to continue their programs and further the cause of interfaith dialog.
  • Montgomery Theater -- A small professional theater in the suburbs of Philadelphia, Montgomery Theater is my home-away-from-home. Like many not-for-profit enterprises operating in the arts, they are in a budget crunch. Donations can help pay actor salaries or utility bills, or keep the education programs running.
  • Cat Tales -- This is the animal rescue where we got Milo and Otis. When we are ready for more fur-babies, we will probably go back to them. 
  • Leukemia and Lymphoma Society -- My father-in-law would have celebrated another birthday on Monday (4/26) -- if he had not succumbed to cancer in March 2005. My own father was diagnosed with a recurrence of Myelodysplasia syndrome (MDS) in November 2009. He is currently recuperating after a successful mini transplant, but eventually passed in 2013 due to complications from a recurrence of cancer. So, yeah, I'm all for funding cancer research and treatment.
  • Cleveland Clinic -- My father had his bone marrow transplants performed here. They also treated him in March 2013. This clinic has an excellent medical staff and wonderful family support programs.
  • Philabundance -- The Delaware Valley’s largest hunger relief organization. Working to end hunger and malnutrition since 1984.
  • KidsPeace -- Top notch (and kind of local, for me) facility helping children and their families. Founded and headquartered in PA in 1882, they have services in "Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia and the District of Columbia."
  • CBLDF -- The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund is "dedicated to the protection of the First Amendment rights of the comics art form and its community of retailers, creators, publishers, librarians, and readers." They fight on behalf of all sorts of banned books
  • Hero Initiative -- These folks help comic book creators in all sorts of situations: emergency medical aid, financial support, help finding work, etc. Much of their work is in the sales of merchandise or features whose proceeds benefit creators in need, but they also have several donation options
  • poets.org -- A trio of groups dedicated to poets, poetry, and poems (Academy of American Poets, National Poetry Month, and American Poets Magazine). While April is National Poetry Month, they also have an ongoing poem-a-day service, and they have posted special Shelter In Poems options during the COVID-19 stay-at-home orders. 
  • EDF and EarthJustice -- Two organizations working for environmental protections and justice. 
  • Americans United for Separation of Church and State -- With that name, it's probably fairly clear what Americans United (or AU for short) does. Help them fight theocracy in the US. 
  • Planned Parenthood -- This group is about so much more than access to safe abortions. They provide vital health care, sex education, and information to many people who otherwise could not get they help and attention they need.
  • Life After Hate -- People who have spent much of their lives indoctrinated into hateful, dangerous lifestyles need help rejoining the compassionate, humane communities. And that's where Life After Hate picks up their work.
  • Planetary Society -- Education, advocation, and exploration! Join CEO Bill Nye and the Planetary Society in their mission to "empower the world’s citizens to advance space science and exploration."
  • A Woman's Place (AWP) -- Providing emergency shelter, counseling, legal advocacy, legal assistance, and more for victims of domestic violence in the Bucks County, PA, area. 
  • Human Rights Campaign -- More than ever, advocating for equal rights is necessary. Particularly with the current administration seeking to undermine hard-won LGBTQ+ protections. 
  • Congressional Dish -- Operating under the value-for-value model, Jennifer Briney accepts no advertising or sponsorship for her twice-monthly podcast She works for you, not the corporate bigwigs, in covering bills, hearings, and more goings on in the US House and Senate.  
Thank you in advance!

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

A moment of grief, and of love remembered



So, during my evening commute today, I was going through some playlists on my phone. I came across "Always" by Tony Lucca from the NoiseTrade Summer Mixtape collection.


I've had this collection for a few years, and this wasn't the first time I'd listened to this particular tune. But this evening, it hit me quite differently. Lyrically, it really felt like a message from a parent to a child. Specifically, from my parents to me and my sister.

And, lo, the tears did come.

I might never hear this song any other way again. And that's perfectly all right.

Here are the lyrics:

// I wish I could tell you what's goin' through my mind I wish I could promise it's gonna be just fine one thing's for certain: till the end of time I'm gonna Love you like no one will ever Love you I'm gonna Love you always I wish I could tell you dreams always come true that Lovers and strangers won't ever get the best of you for better or worse now, we always get what's due so I'm gonna Love you like no one will ever Love you I'm gonna Love you always I'm gonna Love you more than words and stars and tears and grains of sand, best I can for good. I wish I could hold you and never let you go I wish I could show you everything you'll ever need to know best I can do is give you freedom to grow and I'm gonna Love you like no one will ever Love you I'm gonna Love you always //
#grief #love #parents #GoodbyeMom #GoodbyeDad #StillSayingGoodbye

Thursday, May 03, 2018

On the Fifth Anniversary of My Father's Death


Dad crossed over at 3:07am on 5/3/2013. In my eulogy for DadI quoted Deng Ming-Dao's meditation on death. On this, the fifth anniversary of Dad's passing, I still find solace and wisdom in those words:
We give death metaphors. We cloak it in meaning and make up stories about what will happen to us, but we don't really know. When a person dies, we cannot see beyond the corpse. We speculate on reincarnation or talk in terms of eternity. But death is opaque to us, a mystery. In its realm, time ceases to have meaning. All laws of physics become irrelevant. Death is the opposite of time. 
What dies? Is anything actually destroyed? Certainly not the body, which falls into its constituent parts of water and chemicals. That is mere transformation, not destruction. What of the mind? Does it cease to function, or does it make a transition to another existence? We don't know for sure, and few can come up with anything conclusive. 
What dies? Nothing of the person dies in the sense that the constituent parts are totally blasted from all existence. What dies is merely the identity, the identification of a collection of parts that we call a person. Each one of us is a role, like some shaman wearing layers of robes with innumerable fetishes of meaning. Only the clothes and decoration fall. What dies is only our human meaning. There is still someone naked underneath. Once we understand who that someone is, death no longer bothers us. Nor does time.
-- Deng Ming-Dao (from 365 Tao: Daily Meditations)

Although he is gone, there are tangible reminders of my father. For example, I usually have at least two of the following items with me on a daily basis:

  • one of Dad's pocket watches
  • some of Dad's ashes in an old film canister
  • Dad's ring


Sunday, April 01, 2018

Remembering 4/1/2013 on 4/1/2018


I haven't been to Prophet or Madman since June of last year. Since then, I've done most of my posting at Bookended by Cats or directly on Twitter. But an anniversary like this moves me to reflect. Five years ago today, April 1 was on a Monday. Easter Monday. It was also my 19th and final day at the Cleveland Clinic with my folks. I would leave on Tuesday (4/2) and return to work on Wednesday (4/3). Dad was stabilized, the doctors were no longer looking for a proverbial silver bullet, and there was a plan to move Dad from the ICU to a Clinic rehab unit and then ultimately to a care facility closer to home. At the time, this felt like a good outcome. It felt like progress. As I look back upon this event with the ... benefit(?) ... of hindsight, knowing what was to come in just over a month, it might be easy to take a darker view of this memory. It can be tempting to connect the news received on that day with the supposed nature of the calendar date itself. So, yes, the irony of receiving hopeful, yet ultimately false, news on April Fools’ Day is not lost on me. But no one, whether in the Clinic or beyond it, was conspiring to deceive us on that day. There was no endgame or "gotcha" moment in mind. Everyone involved was dealing with the best information they had at that time, and there was cause to be hopeful. There was a very real possibility that Dad would make at least some kind of recovery. In the wake of what happened, was that false hope? No. What came later cannot mar the hopefulness and slight relief I felt on this day five years ago. Even though I'm still saying ... #GoodbyeDad. (If you want to read my 4/1/2013 FB post that sparked this reflection, the full text is posted after the jump.)

Friday, June 02, 2017

We'll Always Have Paris?

Justin Trudeau, Canada's Prime Minister, was already trying to recruit tech companies out of Silicon Valley (in the wake of DJT's Muslim, er travel, ban).


 French President Emmanuel Macron is now openly recruiting scientists and engineers who are disappointed with the US withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement.



 Do you have any idea what happens to the US economy if a critical mass of those sci-tech folks leave for, ahem, greener pastures? Hint: It's not good.

 Business itself doesn't "make America great again," which is a BS tag line anyway. It's the people who innovate, disrupt, and build upon bold ideas ... well, they LITERALLY make great things! And people who work on great projects are able to recruit more great people.

 So, look at what Canada, France, and Germany are doing. Look at who they are recruiting, and the technologies they are investing in. They will begin to leave America in the dust.

The US is no longer a world leader. World leaders move forward. Not backwards. Hell, you cannot even describe what DJT and the US Congress are doing as "leading from behind." It's choosing to be left behind.


Links:

http://www.cnbc.com/2017/03/02/trudeaus-plan-to-lure-silicon-valley-investors-to-canada.html

http://betakit.com/pm-justin-trudeau-using-quora-linkedin-to-sell-canadas-innovation-agenda/

https://qz.com/846857/tech-jobs-in-canada-foreign-workers-could-flock-to-vancouver-victoria-and-toronto-for-careers-in-technology-to-avoid-brexit-in-the-uk-and-trump-in-the-us/

https://twitter.com/EmmanuelMacron/status/870404892657156101

https://www.vox.com/world/2017/6/1/15727140/emmanuel-macron-trump-paris-agreement-make-our-planet-great-again

https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2017/6/1/15726656/pittsburgh-mayor-trump-paris

http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/06/01/why-trump-actually-pulled-out-of-paris-215218 (Troll is gonna troll)

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Quotable | Patriot (Election 2016 Edition)

A Patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government.-- Edward Abbey, authoressayist, and environmental advocate (1927-1989)


I posted this Abbey quote at the height of the 2008 election season and on the eve of the 2010 mid-term elections. And it is still relevant today on Election Day 2016. I am not, however, advocating a form of "tea party" patriotism or some progressive agenda. I use the quote as a warning that the "government" is not a monolithic entity. It is comprised of all the following:
  • Elected persons who are members of both major political parties
  • Candidates who are trying to become elected for the first time
  • Candidates who are trying to keep (or regain) political office
  • Lobbyists who work for, and against, parties and candidates
  • Think tanks who examine citizens' behavior and then attempt to mold it toward a certain purpose (without letting those same citizens know they are being subtly manipulated)
  • Members of the media who try to tell us what the government is doing, and sometimes chastise elected officials and candidates, even as they try to court favors and money from those very same officials (or promises from up-and-coming candidates)
  • Individual citizens who vote -- and voting is done directly at the polls as well as indirectly with every dollar a person spends or choice they make.
  So, what exactly is Abbey's patriot defending against? Well, in a word: "us."

Sunday, September 11, 2016

They Crashed the Planes and Changed the Rules

[This my 2010 reworking of a blog entry I originally posted on September 11, 2008]
"They crashed the planes and changed the rules." -- GrooveLilyLive Through This (Are We There Yet?)Are We There Yet?. QMR, 2003

Nine years ago the world changed. You may take that as an overstatement, or, conversely, as overly simple. But wherever you lived at the time, a shift in perspective occurred. That shift was all the more dramatic and palpable if you were a U.S. citizen. I don't want to dwell on the attacks themselves. But I do want to take some time to recall what happened in the wake of that dreadful event. Forget -- if you can, even if for only for a moment -- just forget how you feel about the war in Iraq, conspiracy theories, and Republican versus Democrat (or any other "them versus us" political division). Recall, instead, the great communal sense that slowly seeped into our national fiber even as the weight of sorrow and shock seemed all too powerful and crushing. Remember neighbor comforting neighbor, even in cases where those neighbors had not known each other very well prior to that morning. Remember the outpouring of support and sympathy from around the world. And remember that shared conviction that, although we would never forget the tragedy, we would recover ... grow stronger ... and become ever more connected as a nation.

Are we there yet?

Friday, June 24, 2016

Flashbacks Have Moved!

80s Flashbacks
Are Now At



Well, folks, after a bit of a break -- OK, a nearly two month long break, but a break nonetheless -- I'm back with the 80s Flashback. But I'm moving the Flashback posts to Bookended By Cats which I co-author with @dangrdafne.

The Flashback Archives will stay here for the time being. But if you want new Flashbacks, scamper on over to the other blog. And, if you like geeky, nerdy stuff, then you might want to stick around for some of the other content over there, too.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Friday 80s Flashback for April 29, 2016





[Guilty Pleasures - Redux] -- This Flashback was originally posted on 4/12/2013 at 06:54 PM. We all have guilty pleasures, songs we like even though we feel a little embarrassed about it. I'll bet you just thought of two or three of your own guilty pleasures, right? Now, I count more songs post-1990 among my guilty pleasures than within the 80s. This probably seems obvious: It is easy to estimate that more songs were released in the last 20+ years than between 1980 and 1989, and more songs means more candidates for guilty pleasures. So, yeah, there's that. But mostly, if I like a song from the 80s, I'm not embarrassed about it.

Well, mostly.

If you want to know some songs that rank on my list of guilty pleasures, you can read and hear more after the break.