25 October 2007

It's The Little Things...

A productive day today. The usual stuff at the gym, but on the scale I finally got back below 185, albeit only slightly, after creeping up on 188 on my trip back east. (Not that I ate all that much on my trip but my activity level was low and my eating level was high. An extra drink or two did not help either.) Anyway, then I tried to fix my crank wireless network again failed, but hooked onto the neighbor as I have before and then went to work.

Most Thursdays I do not head to the office, but annual reports are due, and I have two to write, and someone really needed a pastoral conversation. Originally I was going to paint more of my garage, but it was cold today, especially in the morning. (Last week it was wet and I was also busy, but wet is harder than cold.) So I switched order and went to the office where I finished one report, helped my new assistant stock her task list, met with the member, played a bit of Beethoven to clear the brain, and then came home to paint the garage.

I am finishing the front, where I had the doors re-hung and some repairs done this summer. Did not think it would take two months to get to painting, but here I was. It’s a two tone job, and there was only time to do half of it – one door and part of the surround that is usually hidden when the door is open. I’ll do the rest tomorrow, I hope.

Then I fussed with the wireless net again, still to no avail, finished the other report, started a load of laundry and will iron a few shirts when I finish this.

Samuel Johnson, famous 18th English belle lettrist and wit, was also a depressive. He realized he needed do be active to avoid melancholy moods. There is a part of me that is like that. Only I want my work to be “meaningful” all the time. But now and then some small “meaningless” tasks like painting and cleaning brushes, putting clothes in to clean, ironing a shirt, sweeping up leaves, can do the trick as well.

Hope I am as smart tomorrow as I was today.

20 October 2007

Dwindling Light...

Whoops, it’s been a few days again. Preparing for a reception at the house tomorrow, part of our annual pledge drive. Would have been a lot easier if our 16 year old had cleaned his room in the past year. It was so messy that he was using the second floor landing for clothing storage. Since we need the landing tomorrow, his clothes had to go back in his room, and so on…

Daylight has been vanishing like water down a drain. Three weeks ago the sun was up before 7:30 and went down shortly after seven. Today it came up around 8 a.m. and went down around 6:30 p.m. We are at the same latitude as Boston and Milwaukee, and at the far end of the Eastern Time zone (yes we are in the Eastern Time zone for those I have met who think those beyond the Appalachians are all on Chicago time). That may explain a nagging note of depression in my mood. My elder son and I share a tendency toward SAD.

I am thinking of closing my other two blogs, having not posted to them in weeks. As I focus more and more on a book length text, which has yet to come into focus but I have made some sorties, maintaining three blogs plus a weekly sermon is obviously beyond me.

Something that’s eating at me is how few young people I know. My church is large but very old, demographically. Now, I am closing in on 55, but dealing only with people my age and older is taxing. It’s especially hard as this town is younger than average, on average barely above 30. It’s almost as if there were two towns – one old and one young – and they share the space but are not part of the same city.

In fact, I could say that about class, race, politics, and more. People seem to hang with their own kind, whatever that is. Over the last two years I have tried to connect with clergy around town, other churches as well. Folks are very nice, even friendly, but it never seems quite to go to the next level with relationships and all that. I sense a contentment with the enclaves people live in. That was true in NYC as well, but there and in other larger cities once cannot wholly live apart from other enclaves.

Some evenings, when I am tired, those walls feel less like a home and more like a prison.

But one can live here, and I suspect in other cities of this size and type. Child development experts talk of a period of parallel play, when toddlers do not so much as plat together as alongside, each on their own. Communities here engage in parallel play, living alongside but not actually interacting. There are walls between them, invisible, but very real and very tall.

13 October 2007

Ten Days Without A Post?

Yes, and today is my anniversary so not much today either.

I was away for a few days, business and pleasure back east in NYC and Boston.

There's a phrase: back east. Those from there say it. Those from here or elsewhere west of the Appalachians say 'out east.'

Back means return, to 'go back to where you once belonged.' Out means to venture forth, as in 'out there,' away from where you from to a new place.

As an easterner, not only personally but genetically (Even my Utah roots first grew in New England, Ireland and the UK, but ultimately that's true for every European in America) I go 'back east.'

I'll note some details later, like the unseasonable warmth, a vast collection of Dutch paintings at tghe Met, the unique odors of NY City and a cup of espresso, why Cav and Pag are such cliches, on creating a temple of memory, and the sense of death and sadness that makes Boston so vivid and precious.

Right now I am going to bed, and remember the pleasure of being beside someone after being alone for a week. I know it sounds hokey and wheezy, but just sleeping with someone really is wonderful. In lots of ways it is even better than 'sleeping with' someone.

But I'm almost 55, so maybe it's the dwindling testosterone talking.

03 October 2007

Digital or Digitalis?

I read recently that the way to get famous these days is to read lots of blogs and comment on them. Well, I guess my fifteen minutes passed a long time ago. Clearly, I do not have time to write one blog much less read a bunch and then post witty comments on them.

But it does make me wonder if people my age should even do this sort of thing. Not that the technology is a problem. Aside from a flaky modem that needs to be rebooted everyday, though the tech folks tell me there is no problem and it must be in my router (see previous post) the computer thing is not that difficult. Even my mom, rest her soul, had one and used it often.

The question is how technology changes the way people communicate. And again it is not what you hear, but something far more subtle. The sort of thing being older helps you to notice because you can look back and see the evolutionary arc.

The best way to explain is to describe it in real time (a retronym that is also a product of the age). I go to a gym which has personal tvs attached to all the treadmills and such. Every one except me and the staff has earbuds or ear phones on, plugged into the jacks. Notwithstanding that, there is ambient music that I can tell cycles because the many songs repeat over a period of days, with new ones (meaning new to the cycle not new in reality) appearing at a regular interval.

Anyway, because I do not wear earphones (silence is the most precious music these days as it is so rare) I occasionally peek up from my book (Thucydides still. Not a fast read. The second Athenian foray to Sicily has ended disastrously and portends the collapse of the empire) and see some screen close by. About half of them are tuned to some sports channel which means nothing to me. (Talk shows about sports are like talk shows about music, a waste of time. One should attend and appreciate them not yammer on about them.) The next largest portion are on MTV or VH1, which oddly enough do not show music videos much any more, except in the morning.

Watch these without the sound sometime. You’ll notice something. No shot lasts more than 2 seconds and most last one. A four minute video has upwards of 400 separate edits. Now think back to Judy Garland, pigtails and gingham singing “Over the Rainbow.” It lasts about as long, maybe longer. There are maybe 10 edits in the whole song, including some panning shots that take a long time.

That older style of longer shots was the norm forever. Dig out the Beatles on Sullivan, Steppenwolf on Dick Clark, even LL Cool J from the late 1980s. It does get more complex, but nothing like it is now. That takes digital precision, something only possible in the last ten years.

What has this to do with blogs? Those under 25 think this is how communication happens – in bits and bytes of image and sound. Paragraphs have given way to buckshot phrases and epigrams, epigrams highlighted at first by emoticons to take the place of vocal or visual cues and even these are now reduced to texting shorthand (a frantic version of a game from my youth - mnxrlt4u, get it?)

I daresay this post is as long as a week’s entries for devoted bloggers (maybe 2 or 3 weeks) and you know I wish I could do that. It would make me far more readable and far more often read. I might even get some time to read other blogs. But try as I might, the prison of grammar and graf will not let me. I think long thoughts, and when I do see a blog or two they are mostly snippy, flippant, cute, snarky or coy. They don't say much, so why comment?

You see what I mean. I hope you do. If you read this far you did. If not, you clicked away long ago and have moved on, editing your life as rapidly as a music video.


I think I’ll grab my walker and crawl upstairs now. It’s nearly ten and that warm glass of milk is making my mouth water…