Monday, February 28, 2005

Wild Sunflower

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I took this on our last camping trip of 2004. I think it was in September. Reason No. 143 for living here - camping in September. We were at Caprock Canyon State Park.

I am sooo ready to pitch the tent this year! Mindy got new lights for Christmas! Jackson got a couple of cast iron dutch ovens and a tripod. I'm hoping for a new sleeping bag. All of the Justice Squirrels should be getting new t-shirts - if we get to work on them. Can't wait!

Nobody brought Tuna Casserole...

If I were a preacher, this Sunday's sermon would have been about faith.

I live in the South. In the bible belt. In a place where the frequency of your actual Sunday attendance may not matter so much, but you damn well better be able to roll the name of your church off the end of your tongue when asked. And you will be asked. Hell, I've been asked in a job interview.

So, in the face of all this religiosity - why don't you have faith? I'm not talking about big, scary faith: mountain-moving, risk-taking, societal warrior kind of faith. I'm talking about Pot Luck.

We had a pot luck dinner scheduled last week following our quarterly staff meeting. Pot luck - the staple of church fellowships and tupperware parties for the past couple of centuries. And yet, people began to freak out. "What are you going to bring?" "I don't know if I should bring potatoes or dessert?" "Meat! Who's going to bring meat?"

Finally things deteriorated to the point where people were clamoring for a list! A list so they could sign up for what to bring!

Shocking, isn't it? These are all, every one of 'em, church-going people. Have any of them ever witnessed a pot luck dinner that didn't work out? No, of course not. Pot luck is one of the most concrete proofs of the existence of the divine - it never fails. Who says God doesn't perform miracles any more? The loaves and fishes were a pot luck success if I ever saw one! Have some faith, people!

Naturally our dinner worked out. Plenty of loaves. Plenty of fishes. Several baskets of left-overs. So that would have been my Sunday sermon. Stirring stuff, eh?
This guy spoke at our church on Sunday. Appropriately enough, it was about the loaves and fishes. He didn't mention pot luck, though. Too bad.

Monday, February 14, 2005

St. Valenwhosis Day?

"Well, sir, what do you suggest? We stand here and shed tears and call each other names, or shall we go to Istanbul?"

If you listened to NPR this morning, you too know that today is the 75th anniversary of the Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett. Read a few pages and you will be ready to pack up and move to San Francisco - if for no other reason than to wander the streets at night in the mist and the rain, watching the shadowy figures behind the drawn window shades of the upstairs apartments. (Never mind that this would get you a. arrested, b. assaulted, or c. worse.)

I love Sam Spade. I love Humphrey Bogart and Neil Simons' versions of Sam Spade. I spent way too much time reading and watching this stuff as a kid. That's not to say it didn't pay off. It did. When I first started working as a probation officer, I had no idea what I was doing or what to say to the people sitting expectantly across the desk from me. I found that you could bend a few Sam Spade lines to meet just about any situation. If you throw in a couple more lines from the movie Casablanca, you got it made.

As time went by, I got better at the job and didn't have to rely on Spade and Bogart for filler material. But, every once in a while, especially on rainy, foggy days, I break out the Spade-speak with some of my people. Nobody gets it and it doesn't really help matters any, but its fun. And fun, well, 'that's the stuff that dreams are made of. '

Monday, February 07, 2005

Today's Horoscope Says:

"Your friends will definitely not recognize you for a while, maybe even a long while. You've already changed, seemingly overnight, from being reticent and polite to being bold and brazen -- but today you'll be adding a touch of rebellion into the mix. This is just not your usual style -- but hey, don't rein it in. Not one inch. It's good to keep 'em guessing. And fun, too!"

HAAAAAA! HA HA HA! "This is not your usual style" - HAAAAA!

Sorry. Going back to work now...

Friday, February 04, 2005

Tonight's Forecast: Partly Stary with Widespread Darkness

Being the weather-face on a national news morning show must be just embarrassing. You stand in front of a map and tell a camera what the smiley-faced symbols behind you imply about the day's weather. You have to do this in the most general and benignly non-specific way possible. Your co-workers try oh-so-hard to make you seem significant and necessary. No one really buys it though. After all, you are imparting information that even the densest among us could improve upon by investing in a glance out the nearest window.

The smiley weatherguy's job reminds me of a story I heard several years ago about the Border Patrol.

Politicians were grousing about our borders once again. They seemed certain that if we prevent all those undocumented aliens from strolling into this country to work at minimum wage jobs, then we will have solved America's drug and welfare problems. The powers that be wanted to increase the presence of security types along our open border with Mexico. But God forbid we spend any money to hire actual people and then give them actual training for this job.

It was decided instead to hire someone's brother-in-law to manufacture a large number of cardboard border patrol agents. The pasteboard patrol, as it were.

These low-pay, non-union, agent substitutes were placed in official-type green vehicles and stationed along the border. Every few hours a three-dimensional border patrol employee - college-educated, linguistically trained and tactically prepared - came along and moved the vehicles a bit so it looked like they were actually patrolling the vast wastelands of the American southwest.

This continued for several months until an especially bright bureaucrat connected los carton verdes with the astonishing drop in morale and performance that had occurred in the border patrol. Seems that it is hard to put much effort into a job that could be performed just as effectively by a cardboard cutout. The cardboard agents were sent to recycling.

So what does this have to do with the continued existence of the network weather-reader? Nothing, really. Its just when I am forced to sit for long periods of time, with nothing to do but watch network television, my mind starts to wander. And wonder.

I gotta get a new book to read.