Monday, August 29, 2005


Okay, so I know that there are a million quizzes to take on the internet, but this one was fun and didn't take very long. Take it - maybe it's that world view that's really screwing up your life! Or maybe (and more likely) it's that not being true to your world view is screwing it is up.

Simplistic? Yes, but it's still fun.

You scored as Idealist. Idealism centers around the belief that we are moving towards something greater. An odd mix of evolutionist and spiritualist, you see the divine within ourselves, waiting to emerge over time. Many religious traditions express how the divine spirit lost its identity, thus creating our world of turmoil, but in time it will find itself and all things will again become one.

Cultural Creative
















What is Your World View? (updated)
created with

Friday, August 19, 2005

If You Can't Say Something Nice

How many of you grew up with some adult admonishing you, "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all"? I daresay quite a few of us did, but very few of us seem to take that adage to heart.
Now I'm not talking about the critique you actually asked for from a close friend or family member or even some professional. I'm talking about how many times we choose to say something negative when we're better off just keeping our mouths shut.
This brings me to another point---what is actually negative? Many people would say that they aren't negative when they are really perceived as being so. If someone shows you his/her new car and your comment is, "My God, I'll bet your gas mileage is going to be awful!" That is not a statement of fact: That is a negative statement. And it's just as bad if you say, "Wow, what can of gas mileage are you going to get with this?" (When you know that it isn't going to be very good).
Shut up. Tell him/her the colour is beautiful; the interior is luxurious (if it is; you don't have to lie). I guess the root of what I'm getting at is this: if you would love to own this car yourself, but don't or can't and that makes you feel bad for yourself or makes you feel jealous---stop! This is the difference between a child and an adult.
The child says, "Hmmm, there's got to be something wrong with this car that I can find because I'm worried about feeling bad myself about not having one."
The adult admits to some pangs of jealousy, then thinks, but my friend/relative /colleague/acquaintance is happy; by telling them how wonderful this is I can make them even happier (almost everyone likes to be admired and by extension for his/her possessions to be admired). The adult says,"Wow, this is great. You are one lucky so-and-so. How about taking me for a ride?"
We make the world better every day by little things.

Monday, August 15, 2005

The Crawling Fear

I saw a snake the other day, and I have been thinking about it ever since. In the 20+ years I have been living in this house, it is only the second snake here that I've ever seen. This was a baby snake--maybe I should say a toddler snake. He was on my patio between me and the pool and I almost walked out barefoot when I saw him about 3 feet from the door. I took a glass of water and splashed it on his tail until he crawled away (he was probably living next door in my neighbor's jungle which he cleaned out the other day for the first time in years). The funny thing is that he did not send a chill down my spine.
I have always been deathly afraid of snakes. I grew up in the country with them. Seeing garter snakes and especially king snakes in our yard was commonplace. But in the roads and around the creek we also saw rattlesnakes and cotton mouths or water mocassins. My fear of snakes has always been so great that I put off taking Biology in college until the last year and took it in summer school because I didn't have to have a lab. Being in the lab meant being in the same room with a snake. I took the other semester of Biology by correspondance course. In high school, I had a friend find the place in the science book with the snake pictures (there were always snake pictures) and had him or her paper clip those pages together so that they wouldn't fall open accidentally and I'd have to look at them. When I was about 12 my brother chased me around my aunt's house with a realistic rubber snake that I knew was rubber, but I still screamed and ran hysterically from him. I shook for hours. I seriously considered at one time going to a psychiatrist for desensitization---that's how bad my fear was.
I hope I don't see the little snake's parents, but I would regret greatly finding him dead in my pool's filter also. I want the little snake to live, and he can live around my house as long as he keeps out of my way. I don't mind knowing that he's there somewhere. I hope he moves away when he is grown.
Now, the mysterious thing here is why do I feel this way? Why don't I want the snake dead (he didn't look like a poisonous kind by the way)? What has made me develop this sense that I don't have to run screaming from him with a cold pit in my stomach?
Another mystery of age?

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

The Awful Everydayness of Evil

I have been thinking a lot about evil in the last few hours; actually, I have spent a lifetime thinking about it, but usually from its flip side of goodness. I think that St. Augustine said that evil was the absence of good, a definition that always felt strangely lacking to me, terribly insufficient when I was in my twenties. Now I know that the problem with an absence is that anything coming along can fill it; if there is no goodness in that void, the chances seem rather high that what falls in and gets caught there may not be very good at all. And surely Nature, being Nature, must abhor a void as much as a vacuum, so that the void fills very quickly, and indiscriminately.
How much evil comes though from the most mundane and everyday actions, thoughts that pass by unnoticed perhaps, until collecting like water from a slowly dripping faucet, these thoughts and actions that are spiteful and petty, but minor, these little digs, little selfishnesses, drip by drip drop into that void where there is an absence of goodness until the level rises and the container is a vessel of evil, until the contents define the container?
Someone else said that all it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing. That rang true from the very first time that I ever heard it; I have always known instinctively that one must fight evil the best one can.

In India, according to the asramas or stages of life, one first is a student, then a householder who rears a family and provides, then as family obligations are met and the next generation is rising , one gradually retires in study and prayer living the life of the anchorite, a person who has properly focused his attentions away from the Things of the world and turned (inward or outward as the case may be) to higher Truth, to God. A renunciation of the material is the start of the journey toward the sannyasin stage where one has risen above the mundane, material, and (my take)one sees what is really important. Here is a culture that sees that one must attempt a natural progression toward goodness.
Hannah Arendt wrote of "the banality of evil", a phrase that makes me shiver and think of the everyday practicality of Nazi Germany's extermination plan. The words that caused dreadful deeds were ordinary words: "Board the train." "Take a shower." They still are: "I want that." "I want more." "I want it all." "That should be mine."
Evil usually doesn't carry a chain saw---just orders from someone else.

Friday, August 05, 2005

In Memoriam: Simon

This post is to celebrate the life of Simon and mourn his passing.
Simon was my sister's cat, a healthy white and beige male, muscular, light on his feet, quick to curl up next to you, turn on his back, and swivel his head around to see if you were ready to pet him yet. When he purred, he could be heard for miles. He loved to play, but was a gentle cat who never scratched or bit me. I could pet him until my arms were tired.
He caused acute jealousy in the heart of Darcy, the black Scottish terrier who lived with him because his winning ways would often have me petting him instead of paying attention to her. But I'm sure she wonders where he is.
I think he has been chasing imaginary mice today who run from him in a most satisfactory way, skittering across the floors of heaven while Simon proudly feels his catly prowess undiminished by his recent journey.
In the evening, I think that he sits in a welcoming lap while St Francis smooths his fur and tirelessly scratches underneath his pointed chin.
We will all miss him tremendously and miss his affection and furry presence.
There will never be another exactly like him.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005


We just got back from Chicago where Jeff attended a bankruptcy conference (new bankruptcy rules!!) along with, I think, about 10,000 other lawyers, and everyone of them was trying to get on the elevator to go up at the same time we were.
I've enjoyed Chicago before, but this time there was either an inordinately large number of people vacationing in the downtown area or I'm getting really old. The last time I remember feeling so crowded in a city was in 1996 in Tijuca (Rio de Janeiro) Brazil at 4:30 in the afternoon. I like lots of people around, but I don't like to feel their breath on my bare skin as I walk down the street.
Kitties were glad to see us, I think, they're still behaving snobbishly because we've been gone. Their overall attitude is: "Well, I'll let you pet me some even though you don't deserve to."

Many pardons, Mr. Browning.
A cat's reach should always exceed his grasp, else what's an owner for.

Tchau por agora.