Saturday, August 29, 2009

Forest Acres Memories

Inspired by "I Remember" discussion board topic, in Facebook group "Forest Acres Friends"

...walking to Richland Mall (RM) for lunch in 9th grade. Flora had an insanely long lunch period! We would often go to the Hardees on Forest Drive! (Can you imagine how popular the OLD (RM) would be today! It would be awesome! And busy.)
...taking Nanny my grandmother to the cafeteria at RM
...looking at albums at that music store in the middle-corner at RM - what was it called?
... losing my super ball to the roof of Whites between Whites and the cafeteria at RM (I cried)
...buying my first stereo receiver (it's playing Steely Dan Pretzel Logic as I type), my Sherwood S-7100A, in the cool hi-fi shop second floor of Whites
...tubing the creek with Phil Owens running from Deerfield, across Foxhall, behind the old brick works, across Covenant all the way to Atascadero!
...riding my bike as fast as I could down Chinaberry Drive!
...buying ICEE's at the Magic Market at Forest Lake Shopping Center (FLSC)
...riding bikes down the long stairway behind Campbell's drugs at FLSC at the Red and White at FLSC (bad memory of stealing gum and being taken back by my mom!)
...getting my hair cut at Humphries Barbershop at Trenholm Plaza (TP)
...buying shoes at Garber's Shoes at TP (and beating Garbers for Satchel Ford baseball Championship!)
...going dirt riding in the sand hills behind Piggly Wiggly across Gill's Creek, and in Wheeler's Woods behind Deerfield
...hanging out with Nanny at her Norge Village on Trenholm (the big ball sign)
...playing baseball in Marshall Moore's back yard on Meadowood games at Trenholm Park (and catching passes from Mike Wiggins (Go Colts)
...going to Mrs. Salley's house after school for piano lessons on Shannon Springs
...riding bikes down Satchel Ford Road with David Hollis, Debbie Carawan, and Marjan Smith in 6th grade, baseball, baseball at Satchel Ford - go Custom Cleaners!
...the 100 year flood behind FLSC
...playing pool with Phil Owens and Gregg Busdicker at Gregg's house on Sylvan, listening to Led Zeppelin
...playing hundreds and hundreds of pick up basketball games at Trenholm Park
...buying clothes at The Men's Shop - FLSC, Mr. Bob Moore
...late night date picnic in field behind FLSC
...working at Gillespie Cleaners on Trenholm Road
...eating at Flintstones in the Piggly Wiggly parking lot on Covenant Road
...playing third base next to either Ray Derrick or Levon Lee at short, pony league, Trenholm Park - those dudes could play
...the old Red and White grocery at FLSC
...having the best baseball coach a kid could have - Mr. Chavous, Satchel Ford Baseball
...the one and only Irene Neuffer , ump, substitute at SF, friend - Pierre's birthday parties
...throwing up tomato juice all over Mrs. Hampton's desk in third grade - and getting to go home sick as a reward!
...The post oak by the bridge over creek behind FLSC
...Mechanical Drawing at Crayton
...Mrs. Graves
...the corner post office, TP
...finding a huge eel in the ditch across from Hank Gaddis's house on Pinebranch
...Bell's (19 cents) Hamburgers on Forest Drive (and getting free burgers for reading lots of books)
...getting my first (and last) speeding ticket, pulled by a Forest Acres cop, going 55 mph through intersection of Forest Drive and Beltline, with Ron Crossland, after a Flora football game
...going to the dentist (Dr. Salter) at TP, getting a filling without Novocaine (very bad idea)
...endless ping pong games at Trenholm Park
...wasting whole days scoping out girls at at RM
...awesome fights at Crayton back when they let 'em fight a bit more...
...being dropped off by Crayton bus driver at corner of Trenholm and Forest Drive in snow storm, having to walk two miles home across Forest Lake Country Club, getting lost, with Billy Holmes
...hanging out at the Marshall's place on Citadel Drive
...riding bikes as kids from Bridgewood Road to Spring Lake, across gold course, down Country Club, through woods to duplex apts., across bridge to get ICEE's at Magic Market
...waiting (forever) for my mother to buy fabric at that fabric store on the back side of FLSC
...eating breakfast with my dad at the diner in the back of Ligget's at TP
...Happy Bookseller
...throwing up in field behind FLSC with date in car, after having eaten at The Shrimper
...riding the bus to Fairwold in 8th grade
...buying my first LP with my own money (Best of Hank Williams) at Roses, TP
...rowing in an inflatable rubber dingy with Susan Larmon  to island in middle of Forest Lake
...sitting on the first limb of the post oak tree behind the bridge at FLSC
...memorable evenings in field behind FLSC on Lakeview Circle
...playing ultimate Frisbee by moonlight with people from TEAM on fairway at FLCC
...walking to Satchel Ford, 6th grade, with David Hollis, via Briarfield
...Kirby Higbe
...riding bike at night with no hands down long slope of Satchel Ford Road and Fernwood
...getting drunk only time in life at Mark Kaffee's house with friends on 17th birthday
...A.C. Flora
...many many trips to community grocery, for many reasons (Joe...)
...Hanging out at Mackie Tompkins house with Phil Owens and other friends
...working as a bar back at some restaurant behind Richland Mall Theaters
...waiting endlessly for "mofo's" to finish all their BS behind Flora so Johnny Suggs could drive me home in 9th grade
...eating lunch with Nanny at diner at Campbell's drugs in FLSC
...Mrs Henry in 4th grade - Anne Atwater, Harry Lancaster

Friday, August 28, 2009

Why I Support Private and Non Governmental Universal Healthcare

I would like to take the next 45 minutes to write a stream of consciousness case for why I support universal health care. This is a quick draft, and I will edit as I get feedback. I wanted to put these thoughts out there while I was thinking them.

Let me say up front that I oppose nationalized health care, any sort of single payer plan, and Obamacare at least as far as I understand it so far. I am also, for the most part, a political and fiscal conservative.

Neither do I have a good working definition as to who gets to be included in the word “universal.” This in itself is a minefield. However that is resolved, I cannot see us turning our backs on the “strangers and aliens and sojourners” amongst us.

So how can I support such a notion? When I look around and see some people who live in huge houses in gated communities and others who live in relative squalor, it bothers me. Yet I know that “the poor will always be with us,” and, that pretty much any attempt to equalize things is doomed to failure, the cure being worse than the disease. I am OK with the fact that I live in a small house and one neighbor lives in a giant house and another rents a tiny apartment.

But when I look around and see that most people have some reasonably decent measure of health care and some people have none, and that many people are terribly sick and dying because of the lack of it, then I stand back and think, “wait a minute, this is just not right.” It is not unlike how I would feel going into a church,  with people who are poor and sick and dying on one side, and people who are healthy and well on the other side. I would be going into Amos mode if I witnessed that state of affairs. It would not be pretty. The very idea that the well-to-do side of the church could tolerate such a state of affairs would be evidence of deep and profound moral failure.

The city is not the church. The community is not the church. Yet it bothers me only a little less that the middle and upper classes (struggling as they [we] may be in their [our] own way) can sit back and be OK with the present state of affairs.

I am not a liberal and I am not of the mind to force the more well to do by governmental fiat to make this right, but it bothers me that WE, those that have healthcare, and who have some means, and WE, all us groupings and organizations of people who have a stake in this matter, aren't voluntarily offering solutions, solutions whereby each of us bears part of the load. That bugs me - a lot. And to the insurance companies, medical associations, the AARP, health care workers unions, hospitals, doctors offices, tort lawyers, pharmaceutical companies, pharmacies, and every other group, I say, get your butts to the table. You’re going to make less – profits, wages, down the line. Accept it. Start offering solutions. What can YOU do.

To my fellow insured Americans, let me say this. If you’re OK with all your neighbors standing in line at the emergency room to deal with flu and minor injuries and other common sicknesses, then shame on you. You should not be OK with that.

If we are NOT OK with that then we are going to have to give up something. What are you willing to give up so that our neighbors have some level of decent medical care? We’re going to have to have higher deductibles or higher co-pays - OR - someone is going to have to triage all the various needs somewhere somehow. We can’t keep the current state of affairs going. It is not just.

And to you cigarette companies who deal in sickness and death, how do you feel about all this? Do you sleep well at night? And you companies pushing soft drinks to our kids in schools, and any number of other things bad for their health, are you OK with things?

Just because a person is willing to buy something if you sell it doesn’t mean you should sell it. And it certainly doesn’t mean you should push it. How are you different than the drug pusher down at the corner?

And to all of us knowingly and willingly living high risk lives smoking, eating crappy food day in and day out, drinking too much, etc., how is it exactly that we have any “right” to have other people bail us out? How is it fair for a health insurance company not to “rate” us, and charge us more?

And you pharmaceutical companies, health insurance companies, hospital conglomerates, and so on, is your world really going to come crashing down if your margins are a little tighter.

The issue of health is a public issue. How we raise and feed cows and pigs, how we grow crops and bring them to market, what sort of poisons we put into the air and water, what sort of cars we drive – all this impacts the cost of medical care. The ground level ozone created by inefficient and gas guzzling and pollution spewing cars and trucks, and by industrial emissions, do you not think this is a health issue? Duh, it is, and it is driving up the cost of health care everywhere.

How can it be in our national and economic self interest to have so many people unable to be productive because they are sick, uninsured, victims of bad habits that decent preventative care could reduce, unemployable, missing days and days of work? How can that be good?

So what do I want? Do I want to see the government in charge of health care? No. Do I want our system to look like the one in Canada or Great Britain? No. What I want to see is groups and people voluntarily addressing their share of responsibility in the whole issue, and their share of responsibility in looking after their neighbor’s well being. Everybody needs to give up some “privilege” in order for the whole to be just and right. In the end I believe that we will all gain and live in a more healthy and just society.

As a postscript to my fellow conservatives. Obama is not correct about one important thing. This is not the last chance for a generation to pass health care reform. The tide is moving inexorably toward some sort of universal single payer plan in the absence of a private solution. If you don't want a universal single payer plan, then quit wasting your time screaming and yelling about socialism, and use your influence instead to get the private interests to the table. For if we cannot do this voluntarily it will be imposed, and through that imposition the very socialism you so abhor will become the status quo. Enough of the red herrings and scare tactics. Do something positive.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Networking for Introspective and Introverted People

from a comment I left on The Brazen Careerist blog...revised a little...

As a shy, introspective and introverted person who has been in two careers that require lots of group time and focus-on-others time, my primary advice is this: make it about them. If you are introverted you do not draw your energy from the crowd or from others. You have to know that as you consider and approach networking. Your instinct will always be toward anti-networking, or networking in an anti-face-to-face manner. Base level anxiety can over come that, but the process will be excruciating. Likewise introspection will have you analyzing everything you do and say. Did I come off as self serving? Am I just "working" the crowd? As an introspective person you will not be able to live with yourself if you answer "yes" to those questions, which you likely will. Thus, for you your networking needs a different purpose, a purpose that has meaning for you and that you can live with. Embrace the purpose that you are not the real point of your networking. In motive and in action network in order to get to know other people for their sake, to offer ways to connect other people to each other for their sake, to celebrate the myriad ways people are trying to make it out there. Do that and you will have slain the number one most deadly stench of networking, the thing others can smell a mile away, and the thing from which others run unless they see their own selfish angle, and which you would hate to see in yourself - and that is the stench of self promotion.

Richard Dawkin's God Delusion

I have just skimmed through Richard Dawkin's God Delusion (and please note, I am not a young earth creationist). Anyway, I shall now begin a careful read. At first glance it seems that Dawkins is a worse philosopher than I am a singer, is mightily ignorant of basic Judeo/Christian theology, and is giddy (like a ten year old Hannah Montana fan) over the indisputable nature of his own ideas. I think the title is appropriate, except that Dawkins is the one deluded, deluded into thinking he knows more than he does about philosophy and theology, and deluded into thinking too highly of himself and his materialist assumptions. It seems like a particular type of delusional disorder, as in delusion of grandeur. I relish the close read.

I am also reading E. O. Wilson's "The Creation: An Appeal to Save Life on Earth." I much prefer him to Dawkins.

A Prayer/Blessing for the New School Year 2009-2010

Every new school year I am reminded how time flies. The new school year is like, as Wikipedia says of Pink Floyd's "Time," "a memento mori describing the phenomenon in which time seems to pass more quickly as one ages." It's always kind of hard for me.

But here is my blessing for the new school year – it’s a prayer in the form of a blessing or benediction:

O Father:
May you keep our children safe from harm as they get to and from school each day by bus and by car
May you energize and excite our teachers for a new year of teaching, and give them a renewed love for their subjects, a love for their students, patience with central office edicts and low pay, and a renewed sense of their great calling
May you give the students a true love of learning new things in each of the areas they are called to study this year
May you moderate their homework so our students can get enough sleep
May you give wisdom and courage to the school board as it oversees the central office staff
May you give principles and assistant principals wisdom, strength, and energy to maintain order, motivate students and teachers, intervene rightly in crises, and address difficult issues each day
May you suppress gossip in the classroom and teacher’s lounges, and may you give our students respect for their teachers, and teachers for their principals
May you provide help for the overworked and underpaid throughout the system, particularly the support staff, and cause both students and teachers to show their appreciation for hard work done
May you protect each and every school from violence
May you suppress bullies of all kinds
May you give each student a growing and exciting sense of how you may use them and their gifts in serving others in this broken and fallen world
May you give those you are faltering, failing, and dropping out, new strength and vision to see a better future
May you cause students to reject drugs, sex, violence, and meanness and give help to those who are trapped in any of the above
May you help our guidance counselors, overwhelmed by so many students, have wisdom and strength to see and know and understand each person under their charge
May you give our superintendent every blessing of life, renewed purpose and vision, and primary concern for the students of Guilford County
May you call many new and talented young men and women into the great calling of teaching
Into Your hands I commit the school year, 2009/2010.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Today's Lyric: Road and Sky, Clemson Inspired

"When we come to place where the road and the sky collide
Throw me over the edge and let my spirit glide."

From "The Road and the Sky," by Jackson Browne, on Late for the Sky

That's just a really cool lyric.

The Clemson connection: During home games at Clemson the Tiger band would always warm up and get the campus excited by marching around playing "Tiger Rag." They always passed just below my window on Johnstone F-4 about 8:00 am. For some reason I also had developed a tradition of playing Jackson Browne's The Road and the Sky" as loudly as I could at some point on game day morning. My roommate in the fall 1977 season Bill Marshall and I would do a kind of hoe down dance with a broom in the middle, standing end to end handle down, doing spins and such and never letting the broom fall. It sounds really stupid and I suppose it was, but that's what we did.

I have posted a few pictures over at which have gotten a lot of views and comments and which have me thinking ORANGE big time!

Go Tigers!

Today's Quote: Always More to Know

"Like the human soul, an irrational number is only partly known, and however more is known of either there is always infinitely more to know."

David Berlinski, "A Tour of the Calculus"

Friday, August 21, 2009

In Defence of Health Insurance Companies

I just got off the phone with my insurance company. I spend a lot of time on the phone with them. Somehow earlier this week there had been a miscommunication between CVS and Blue Cross/Blue Shield of SC, and CVS's computers keep telling them that I’m not insured anymore. It might have something to do with the switch to COBRA, I’m not sure. I’ve called four times this week about it.

I wish I had a dollar for every hour I have spent on the phone with health insurance related matters over the years. A lot of it has centered around my children. With my policy, Blue Cross only includes children over 19 in the family policy if they have proof of being full time students. We have had to provide that proof many many times. Half the time the letters get lost in the bureaucratic haze. It can be a pain.

Not only that but we have had to be very very careful during coverage transitions to understand and play the system right in order not to get stuck in the “pre-existing” condition limbo. I am very glad for laws which guarantee continued coverage during certain kinds of transition, but there is a life fear of being cast out into the “pre-existing” darkness. I feel deeply for people stuck there.

And we would certainly qualify as a family whose financial struggles have had more to do with medical costs than anything else. Some years it has been almost crushing. We’ve helped a lot of doctors make a living over the years. And now, in between careers as I am, medical insurance remains one of the most important things on my mind day to day.

But I want to speak up for the health insurance companies.

First of all in all the years of calling and holding and waiting the customer service people at Kanawha and at Blue Cross have been courteous and helpful. I would think that my family would be an insurance company’s worst nightmare. Nonetheless I have only ever had good service.

Second, my insurance company has helped to keep down health care costs more than my doctors have. Blue Cross is always rejecting the number submitted by the doctors’ offices and hospitals and such. If I were a doctor I don’t think I’d like insurance companies at all.

Third, though we have had more medical expenses than average, we certainly have paid a whole lot less in premiums (well, actually, until recently my employer paid the premiums, but the idea is the same) than has been paid out to us in coverage. Faced with several surgeries (mostly athletic) along the way, baby deliveries, wisdom tooth removals, prescriptions, physical therapy,, braces, contacts, dental costs, plus my recent stuff, well, we’d be out of luck and out of money for sure by now.

Fourth, I am often surprised that the insurance companies cover as much as they do. I do wish that we as a society had some sort of universal basic coverage for everyone, and this reflection is not (yet) addressing the issue of the uninsured. But we as individuals and as people do have high expectation that we should be able to have this and that treatment or procedure or medication and that it shoudl be convered. But do we really have any sort of fundamental right to “covered” medical care? Many of the things our family has paid for, and to which insurance has contributed, well, we could have lived without, suffered without like people have all through history. We simply cannot have the medical care expectations that we do and expect medical expenses not to be significant.

I think that most of us except perhaps the chronically uninsured and under insured have unrealistic expectations. It amazes me that the system can absorb as many of these expectations as it does.

I am grateful for the health insurance we have had. I don’t think health insurance companies are uniquely evil as compared with everybody else, including those of us who are insured. There is plenty of darkness to spread around.

I just don’t see the point in demonizing the insurance companies, doctors, the pharmaceutical companies, lawyers, hospitals, the insured, those that are expensive to care for because of bad habits, or anyone. We’re all in this mess together and most every participant has a mix of good intentions/expectations and bad intentions/expectations, including me, and probably you too.

Each and every one of us who has had the privilege to participate in the benefits of our medical system needs to be willing to carry a portion of the burden in insuring the uninsured. I personally would rather see this shared burden take place through mutual agreement by all concerned. I am open to considering various plans as long as I am given reasonable chance to understand them. I wish Obama would quit demonizing the health insurance companies. I don't think that helps. If we really as a society want to see medical care extended to more people we will all have to pay for it one way or another, so let’s go into the process thinking and knowing that up front. Let’s spread the burden around as evenly as possible without making demons out of the other participants in the system. We will all have to pay a little more or make a little less. It's not very complicated.

That’s what I think.

Clemson in Snow, 1977, Old Hotel Hill

I posted this in honor of a few new Facebook friends who went to Clemson. This was a great snow fall, and we had a blast. I think I just happened to have B&W in my camera. More B&W Clemson in the snow pictures here (along with Clemson football pictures, Downtown Clemson at night, Issaqueena Dam, etc).

Monday, August 17, 2009

King Cat Receives His Kiss

Over the last few days our orange male in-door-out-door cat Curdoroy has taken to sleeping on top of the piano. He had been sleeping mostly on a towel or blanket on the living room couch. I am thinking that the surface of the piano is cooler. He sleeps in between the lamp and the metronome. The latter is as light as a feather and close to the edge of the pianotop, but Corduroy hasn't knocked it over yet. That has always amazed me about cats. Can you imagine a small dog on top of the piano? There would nothing left up there.

In the picture above Corduroy is sleeping on the carpet by the back door in winter. I just wanted you to have an image of Curduroy in your mind.

Corduroy makes many interesting vocalizations that I have learned to understand. There is "I want out," "I plan to jump in your lap," and "come overt here and rub my ears" etc.

I like rubbing his ears and head and talking to him. I think my voice is soothing. This morning he did manage to kick over the stand that holds the piano music. It is very light and is on a delicate pivot. He must have stretched and bumped it and it pivoted and fell flat with quite a bang. It startled me, and when I looked over at Corduroy he was sitting up wild eyed, like, "what was THAT!" So I started talking to him in the soothing "good boy" voice I reserve for animals, and it seemed to settle him down.

When I got up a few minutes later I walked over to pet him, and I noticed something kind of cool. The usual routine involves rubbing his head and scratching under his chin. Sometimes he rolls over, the command to rub his tummy. Anyway, I usually talk to him in that voice reserved for animals, and pretty much always give him a kiss on top of the head before I leave.

I noticed something today. As I was bending over to give him the kiss on the head he slightly lowered his head and extended his neck giving me a clear target. I thought that interesting and ten or fifteen minutes later before I left the house I went through the same routine, and again he made that slight motion with his head. Clearly he understands that there is a routine.

I wonder why he does that? Is it to make the whole thing less annoying? Is he trying to make sure I don't contaminate his head except right on the very top? Does his cat brain have some sense of this as a gesture of something - does it mimic an action in the cat world or in cat families? I have noticed on occasion our other male cat Socks licking the top of Corduroy's head. Now Corduroy is the numero-uno cat in our cat world. He is the boss. Is receiving a lick (from another cat) or a kiss (from a person) on the top of the head a way of acknowledging his role as head cat? As King? From his standpoint is my kiss on the head an act of subservience on my part?

Animal behavior never ceases to amaze me.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

It's All About Me -- Reflections on Social Networking

The other day Kim Burgess and I were talking in a Facebook thread about the great music of the 60’s and 70’s. I think we both feel privileged to have grown up during such an explosion of creative popular art. I have realized recently that there was SO much great music coming out SO fast during that time, that it is simply taking a lifetime to process it. That doesn’t mean the music in the present isn’t good. Nor does it mean that there is not great music to look forward to. It just means that there is ongoing processing yet to do, trying to wrap minds around a culturally unique chain of events and the art it left behind.

Such sharing is one of the blessings of social networking.In making mention of Steely Dan I have made a ”connection” with someone whom I may never meet but with whom I have much in common. And that is just the point of saying anything in this medium really – to make connection.

Someone was on my case about the pictures of younger days I had put up recently, thinking it weird, like I was stuck in the past. I don't think so. In fact, I had recently had a chance (finally) to finish one of a hundred life projects – going through my old slides, this time with the extra “eyes” of one of my daughters. When we looked at them we tried to discern what had merit as a photograph, what had merit as a record of events, what had merit as encapsulating a moment in time, and what had merit in potentially making a connection with or bringing blessing to some other person or people. I posted a few pictures of Clemson football games in 1977. There is historic and aesthetic value in such things, but also shared memories with many people. These shared memories are a connection point between me and them. It's really cool.

Sometimes I write about more personal aspects of my life – my job search, my health, my musical interests, my religious faith and so forth. I actually don’t find my life terribly interesting. I am a pretty dull average middle class southern boy. What I do find interesting is the portion of the human experience in which I get to share, and the connections to history and to other people that such experience gives me. I have a list of 150 story topics based on events of my childhood that I hope one day to turn into memoirs. The point of such memoirs would not actually be me at all, but the era and the slice of history that is revealed in the life of one average person. It may seem indulgent to some, and if I ever write the book they would not need to read it. The ones who will enjoy it will be the ones who either see themselves in its stories, or who appreciate the chance to step back and understand a period of history through the experiences of one minor participant.

I've just left one twenty year long year career as a pastor (Oh dear, there I go again, talking about me). The pastoral ministry is pretty all-consuming. There are a lot of things you must simply put aside to be able to do it, There are many rich things you gain, most importantly the privilege of studying and teaching the Scriptures, and even more for me the amazing privilege of being with dear people at some of the most significant moments of their lives.

But coming out of that world for me has involved a kind of re-engaging in aspects of life I had laid aside, of taking things up that I had set down, of doing things I hadn’t much been able to do and seeing people I haven’t much been able to see. One of those things is live music. In case you missed it, I LOVE live music. I hope I get to go see live music on a regular basis until the day I keel over. In fact, right in the middle of a ripping guitar lead would be a great time to keel over. They could just carry my body to the back of the building mosh pit style and keep on rockin’ as far as I care. I don’t much see the difference in a fifty year old guy liking life folk-rock music than a seventy year old female liking the symphony. Whatever.

Ailments provide great connection points! Whether it is migraine or plantar fasciitis or foot in mouth disease, nothing connects with other folks like common suffering. It’s kind of fun to see how different people deal with and process ailments that are “common to man.” I find the connecting points fascinating. I find the ways that people talk about and process and handle different life challenges fascinating. Life is rich. Snippets of life-richness leak out all the time in this medium, which is one reason I think people engage in it.

Pets, oh my, do they ever provide a platform for human connection. When I was a kid and a teenager I used to walk with my dog all over the place. Well, I walked and he ran, up and down and in and out of yards and creeks. The cool thing was that I could hardly ever get through a walk without stopping to talk to people. Inevitably Algeber or Clancey would sense their cue and run over and say hi to the neighbor and the neighbor's dog. I knew almost everyone up and down several streets, just because of my dogs! I also mowed half the yards in my area – guess where I met most of those people? Going on walks with my dog. You might see an analogy here - I hope you do.

Facebook and Twitter and Flickr are no substitute for “real” face to face conversations and community. I put “real” in quotation marks though because some face to face relationships/community aren’t real at all (they can be very superficial and phony), and some online relationships/community can be quite “real” (and not superficial and phony). Yet one of the factors that can make online presence more authentic can also make it more irritating and upsetting. Many of the normal real life cues, such as facial expressions, body language, and tone and volume of voice just aren’t there online. It’s easier to be a jerk. So, on balance, I think people should probably spend at least as much time with people in the flesh as they do online, well, if they can.

Maybe all this is just an “apology” for confessional writing. There are many other kinds of writing. I am probably best at arguing and debating, but I’d rather do that on a blog, or, actually, in person. I find a good argument very stimulating and fun as long as people keep their cool. But just not in the social networking medium.

Well, life to live. Got to go. Thanks for reading, and if it annoys you, hey, just don’t read my stuff.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Clancey - One Beautiful Dog

This is a picture of Clancey, our Irish Setter back when I was in high school and college. Clancey and I were down at the spillway between Spring Lake and Forest Lake in Columbia SC, and he had been for a swim. I have no idea what he was looking at.

I can relate to the one stanza of Mr. Bojangles, except I guess I would have to say "after thirty years." Clancey was a great dog.

Of Mr. Bojangles, the song says:

"He danced for those at minstrel shows and county fairs
throughout the south
He spoke through tears of 15 years how his dog and him
traveled about
The dog up and died, he up and died
And after 20 years he still grieves"

Check out my photostream, including more recently posted pictures of Clancey

Looking for Work in All the Right Places (I Hope)

Dear Friends

I thought I would go ahead and post the basic content of a letter I have sent out to several friends and also posted on FaceBook. Basically I am seeking the help and prayers of those who are so inclined as I continue to look for work.

I am very thankful to have had the privilege of tutoring several students from Caldwell Academy in physics over the last six weeks or so. It was a joy and blessing and reminded me of how much I like teaching and working with young people in that setting. I also have had the opportunity to help a local company redesign their web/blog site and integrate social networking into their overall web based presence. I’ve learned a lot and think I have been helpful to that company.

I continue to network, talk to people, wait, and pray as to my "third career." Given the state of the economy and the inherent challenges transitioning out of a career in pastoral ministry, I am taking a patient and longer term approach. Meantime I must pay the bills of course so I am concentrating more on finding work in various areas where I have skills and can be of service. I am open to teaching being that third career (or first career reprised), but this isn’t the greatest time to re-enter that field.

So, here is a list of things I am competent to do. If you are a praying person your prayers would be appreciated. Feel free also to disseminate the list to others who might have interest in these services. I would appreciate it. Oh, rates vary according to the nature of the individual task.

Tutor – Physics, Chemistry, Biology, Physical Science, Algebra, Calculus, English Composition

Teach – most of the above (though I am only approved at GCS for Biology and general science)

Edit – Pretty much anything – technical documents, essays, work proposals, difficult personal letters, and research papers, etc.

Write – Pretty much anything except fiction -- technical documents, essays, work proposals, difficult personal letters, research papers, syllabi, etc

Integrate – web/blog with social networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, LinkedIin, etc. Testimonials or recommendations are available upon request

Digitize (and edit where needed) – slides, negatives, prints, old pictures, albums, and cassettes (videos soon)

Digitize (and edit where needed) – documents of all kinds and all lengths (such as medical records, legal documents, family letters and documents, old typed papers) from one page to hundreds of pages

Build – a Blog/Web Site using the WordPress platform (I have to subcontract complex graphic customization)

Mediate -- all sorts of personal and professional quandaries (pre-lawyer)

Consensus Build – with all sorts of groups that strive toward unity of vision

Speak – advocate, teach, sell, articulate, explain, officiate, guide group meetings, etc.

Take Pictures – of anything you want (not weddings or people portraiture), by the day or hour or subject, handing over the memory card to you, or processing the photos for a fee.

Degunk - older or slower computers equipping them with free utilities for ongoing maintenance

That should be enough for now

Thank you,


PS - Please feel free to follow me on Twitter (I'll follow you back), subscribe to my Blogger site, or visit me on Flickr. Links are below.

Joel Gillespie
301 S Elm Street, Suite 516
Greensboro NC 27401
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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Obama Natural Born Citizenship Qualification

There has been a lively discussion over at Jeffrey Sykes’ Facebook page about the Obama citizenship question. Jeffrey wanted to know whether any of his readers actually knew personally any other people (especially Republicans) who did not think Obama was born in Hawaii and did not thereby meet the Constitutional qualifications to be President. Polls say that such people exist, but Jeffrey (a Republican) doesn’t know any. I don’t know any either. Do you know any?

Jeffrey thinks (rightly I believe) that the issue is a distraction from the much more important issues which we all face.

As for myself I am quite satisfied that Obama was born in Hawaii and meets all constitutional qualifications to be President. I do not believe for a minute that the posted copy of the certified birth certificate is a forgery.

I do think however that Obama should take the initiative and release a scanned copy of the original birth certificate. As far as I can ascertain (based on what I have read and on my own experience) the “certified” copy is an official document certified to be true to the original. Original birth certificates around the time Obama and I were born were often messy affairs with semi illegible writing and more information than is needed for a legal certified copy. If I am correct about this then it interests me why Obama does not allow release of a copy of that document.

OK, I realize that some people hell bent on being a pain in the neck will say it’s a forgery; I just think the number of people who have nagging concerns would go way down.

So the question of why Obama won’t call for a release of a copy of the actual original birth certificate interests me. It must be either that he thinks the ongoing issue works in his favor, or that he has concerns about some of the other information on the original certificate.

All this gets me to my real point. I think the “natural born citizen” requirement in the Constitution needs amending, again. First, it is vague on the surface of it. After two amendments and several Supreme Court cases it is still unclear exactly what it meant or means. Second, its original purpose seems dated. Do we really think for example that a person who moved to Ohio as a child from Poland is going to be a Polish spy or more or less likely to uphold/undermine the Constitution than a person born in Ohio to Polish parents on the same date? Do we think that a child born to an American citizen living briefly in England is more or less likely to uphold/undermine the Constitution than an older or younger sibling born in the United States or in a US territory or at a US military base?

My third daughter was born in Vancouver. That makes her a natural born Canadian citizen. She also was granted U.S. citizenship by virtue of the fact that she was born to an American citizen. But she does not meet the qualifications to become President. Laurel would make a great President, at least as good as any of her two older or two younger sisters – all born in the US.

I think that there should be a citizenship requirement, an age requirement and a significant residency requirement. I think we should get rid of the “born citizen” requirement altogether. Again, a citizenship requirement, an age requirement and a significant residency requirement should be enough.

And then there is another matter: no current statute as far as I know specifies what kind of documentation is required to meet whatever birth or citizenship requirements that are there. If we keep things as they are in terms of that article of the Constitution at least there needs to be a uniform documentation requirement.

Well, that’s what I think anyway

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Escape to a Beautiful Place

So, you're stuck there at your computer, and you're tired, and you want to get away and rest your mind and heart, and you need to take a deep breath and feel like you're in a different place and space. Well, if that describes you then check out a web site called Luminaire Images. Luminaire Images is meant to highlight the photographic work of it's author, Molly Ann. I do not know Molly Ann - she lives in California. I came across her site via a link on Twitter. I have found it to be one of my favorite places to stop in for a "rest." Her photography is beautiful, and she has arranged slide shows with music that together are both beautiful and soothing. I hope you will check it out. Oh, and she is available for weddings and such - just a short plane ride away.

What If...Oragantans

I was looking at the web site of an organization devoted to the preservation of orangatans when I had the thought...what if the Creator's most special treaures were His creatures like the organtans and we were placed here to look after and take care of them, and given the special and necessary gifts of rationality, creativity, and conscience ((being created in God's image) in order that we might do so... I mean, maybe we look at things backwards. I don't know, maybe...

Twitter Down

I have been trying to get on Twitter off and on all day. Are they having a crash? Anybody know?

Monday, August 10, 2009

Today's Picture: Clemson Team on The Hill, 1977, Joe Bostic, Jeff Bostic, Charlie Pell, Archie Reese

I took this picture on "The Hill" at Death Valley in the fall of 1977. This was year of Clemson's ascendancy to national prominence under coach Charlie Pell. That is Pell in the white dress shirt. Behind his left shoulder is Greensboro's own Jeff Bostic. In front of Pell is Archie Reese. Behind Pell to his right is another Greensboro native - Joe Bostic. Archie Reese, Jeff Bostic, and Joe Bostic went on to NFL careers, Jeff winning three Super Bowl rings with the Washington Redskins.

By good fortune I have been able to find and scan some really cool stop action shots, including a couple of the well known game between Notre Dame and Clemson in 1977. The detail is amazing. Go to my flickr site, click on the picture you like, and then click on "All Sizes." I think you will find it pretty cool.

I even have a picture of North Carolina in a pre game warm up.

If anyone knows the Bostics send them the link - they might like the shot with Coach Pell

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Today's Lyric: Old Friends (Today's Theme)

Can you imagine us
Years from today,
Sharing a park bench quietly?
How terribly strange
To be seventy.
Old friends,
Memory brushes the same years
Silently sharing the same fears

from "Old Friends," Simon and Garfunkle (By Paul Simon), from Bookends, 1968

Today's Picture: Old Friends - a Moment in Time

Arlene, Margaret, Grace, Calvin, and Kathy, in a field in the NC mountains, November 1977. I love this little "moment in time" capture. There were nine of us on that trip - not shown are Sherb, Bill, Van, and myself. The links are to pics taken on that same day in black and white.

Today's Quote: "You only get one set of old friends"

Today's Quote: Only One Set Of Old Friends

"You only get one set of old friends" An old friend of mine's husband. July 2009

Monday, August 03, 2009

Today's Picture - How I Wish I Still Looked :-)

Me, On Train in England, from Oxford to London to Liss, June 1978. I was 20.

Helping Allison move from Oxford to a flat near Greatham near Liss. Scanned from a 3 by 5 black and white print. Taken by my Allison with my Fujica ST 801.

We'll call this a combination of birthday nostalgia and narcissism. Wish I still had the hair.

Today's Lyric: One Day Closer to Death. Gee, Thanks -

Today's Lyric: One Day Closer to Death - Gee, Thanks!

I love this Facebook Happy Birthday from Rock 92! Cheery, eh? I do like the song...

"Happy Birthday To Our Favorite P1!

'The Sun is the same in the relative way, but you're older
Shorter of breath and one day closer to death.'

(Pink Floyd - "Time" from 'The Dark Side of the Moon', 1973)

Have a great birthday!"

Today's Quote: Not a Toilet Head

"She's not a toilet head" The boss of a friend's daughter about his daughter who remembers things from one day to the next - i.e. no brain flush

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Driving back from the homeland. Sunny and green on 85. Cooler too. No backups so far. Goodbye for now SC.