Saturday, September 28, 2002

Catch-up entry

Sometimes when you don't do the things you should do on a daily (or even weekly...) schedule, you have to cram it all in 45 minutes when you're on your way to somewhere that takes 45 minutes and you've left yourself 45 minutes to get there. So this morning, when I was heading out the door at 9:15 to get somewhere by 10:00, my landlords, who live next door, said they wanted to install an overhead fan in my bedroom TODAY, and that they didn't know until last night that the installer would be available, which was why they were asking permission to go into my duplex today, as I was on my way out the door. Well, my house was in its usual chaotic mess, including a sink plus counter of unwashed dishes and a bedroom of heaped up clothes, not to mention a kitchen floor liberally sprinkled with cinnamon to discourage the ants who were attacking my unwashed dishes. I told them I was very unhappy for the short—no, non-existent—advance notice, and harumphed back into the house to tidy up at least a little. The clothes got picked up, many of them just thrown into the dirty clothes' basket because it was quicker than hanging them up. And then I washed most of the dishes. I was truly embarrassed by how long I'd let the dishes stack up. A good part of my irritation was at myself for being such a housekeeping slob; if I kept things tidier, I wouldn't have to worry about the landlords dropping by with no notice.


Forty-five minutes later, fuming because I was so late, I drove the 45 minutes to Torrance (only possible when you can drive 65 mph on the 110 freeway through downtown LA) to a Lutheran church that was holding a forum as part of a multi-year study in the Lutheran (ELCA) church on homosexuality. One question being debated is:
Should North American Lutherans ordain gay and lesbian persons to the ministry of Word and Sacrament; and if so, should gay and lesbian pastors be required to be celibate?
The second question:
Should North American Lutheran clergy bless committed relationships between gay and lesbian persons; and if so, should these relationships be recognized as marriages?
I was particularly interested in how the presenters (one of whom is a Hebrew Bible [Old Testament] professor at a local Lutheran university) addressed the issue of scriptural authority within the Lutheran tradition. Lutherans, following Martin Luther, clearly have a "hierarchy" of scripture in which certain parts of scripture take precedence over other parts. How is that hierarchy determined? What is the "governing principle"? Does the principle come from scripture itself or from outside scripture? For Christians, what is the place of the Hebrew Bible? These are very basic, long-standing questions that have been investigated by others much more profoundly, but which I want to explore and formulate myself.


Today it rained for the first time in months. It was a very happy event. Last Sunday a huge fire started in the foothills east of where I live and that I drive by on my way to school. Coming from work from the opposite direction on Monday, we could see the thick layer of smoke that had blown westward. That night and next morning the light from the sun was red from being filtered through the smoke, and my car and plants were covered with a dusting of ash. Tuesday afternoon I drove out to Claremont past the huge cumulus tower of smoke that had not yet been disbursed; the rest of the sky was much clearer than at home. Tuesday night the hills were red with flames in my rearview mirror as I drove home. Wednesday I drove to Claremont again; the smoke had been disbursed into a low blanket over the entire sky, and the hills were difficult to see. I watched a water-dropping helicopter land not far from the freeway, to re-fill with water I suppose. Driving home, the nearby foothills that had already burned were pockmarked with greyish ash. On TV I saw pictures of firefighters climbing up the steep hillsides carrying firehoses, arranged like the firehoses in those glass boxes in public buildings, strapped onto their backs. The first days of the fire it was over 100 degrees in that area. Thankfully, the weather is much cooler now, and the fire is reported to be nearly contained.


On Tuesday night I was a substitute lecturer in a Hebrew class (which was why I drove out to Claremont at the height of the fire). On the drive out, my alternator decided it was just too hot, and it didn't want to function any more. Fortunately, I was fairly close to the mechanic I'd located in Claremont for the occasions my car can't make it home to my regular mechanic, and the engine didn't quit on the very-crowded-with-no-shoulder street. Fortunately, too, the mechanic was able to replace the alternator in time for me not to be late to my class. The class went OK in spite of the fire raging close by and my car trouble.


Thursday evening we went out for dinner at Yujean Kang's with some business partners and our former colleague. It was an evening of excellent food and fun company. We had three appetizers and a number of main dishes including—my favorite—ants on a tree, crispy beef, chicken with squash, duck, Blue Lake green beans, and probably something else.


I am tired of writing. This is why I should post on a regular basis, so I don't have to cram a week's worth of writing into one session....

Monday, September 23, 2002


As my cube-wall partner says, Throw a question out into the universe and an answer will come back. Well, I suppose you have to be listening for the answer and then willing to take the step of at least provisionally identifying what you hear as an answer.

On Saturday I drove out to Pacific Palisades to walk a labyrinth built into the hill behind St. Matthew's Episcopal Church. I had never walked one before, and, no, nothing earth shattering happened. But I am intrigued by what could happen and why such a simple act could be profound.

Labyrinths have recently been "rediscovered" as an ancient practice that can help people cultivate a deeper inward life. The Episcopalian Grace Cathedral in San Francisco is a center reviving the use of labyrinths. Dr. Lauren Artress, who directs the program, has written a book, Walking the Sacred Path: Rediscovering the Labyrinth as a Spiritual Tool, describing her uncovering of the labyrinth at Chartres Cathedral, replicating its pattern and measurements at Grace Cathedral, and then inviting people to walk the labyrinth.

At the Grace Cathedral site there is a directory of registered labyrinths, many of which are open to the public. Or, if you're driving on Pacific Coast Highway, stop by St. Matthew's and take a walk!

Tuesday, September 17, 2002


The lack of activity here is a reflection of the lack of focus in the rest of my life. Once again, changes are afoot, and I'm trying not to be distracted, but without success. So I continue to retreat to my knitting....The vultures are circling here at work—in fact two of them are sitting in the office behind me as I type. I've been ignoring my studies, but next week I have to teach a three-hour Hebrew class (on irregular verbs, no less) for a fellow student who will be absent so need to gear up for that. I also need to find some more music for my (long-term) substitute musician gig at church. People have heard my preludes, offertories, and postludes more than a few times now.

I will try to post more regularly; maybe writing here will help sharpen my perception and grasp of what's happening and what I need to be doing.

Tuesday, September 10, 2002

Knitting fun

My recent (old) distraction is knitting. I ferreted out two semi-local knitting shops I'd not been to: Skein and Velona Needlecraft. Velona is quite a trek on traffic-infested freeways, but what a treat to walk into a store with aisles of floor-to-ceiling shelves shoved full of wool (or yarn, as they call it here)! I am working on my first pair of socks. I'm made the error of working from an English translation of a German pattern in this Inspiration book. After much frustration, I found a proper English pattern in the current Vogue Knitting magazine based on the pattern I'd started with. I'm using a blue-brown mix of Regia wool/cotton yarn.

One of these years I am going to start organizing my links into categories on this site. Until then, here are three favorite knitting sites:

Friday, September 06, 2002


I've been wanting to write about this subject for a while: the cult of being organized. I'm strangely, strongly attracted to concepts and products that promote living an organized life, but I'm often not organized and seem to live deliberately in rebellion of being organized. An organized life covers many areas: daily homemaking tasks; work-related duties; a Ph.D. course of study assignments; long-term plans for supporting life after income-earning years are past; and then the social, familial, and spiritual sides of life, if indeed such can be "organized."

To state the obvious, for me the desire to be organized is the desire to have things under control. I think, too, I sometimes confuse organizing something (or even only thinking about organizing something) with actually getting something done. And for me that's the seduction of the cult of organization. The catalogues promoting Daytimer or FranklinCovey products, for example, show calendar pages with notes such as "Write budget" or "Pick up dry-cleaning" or "Order tickets for the opera." Somehow the painful experience of hours trying to figure out a budget for the next year will be reduced to a tidy line if only I buy the cream and black leather desk-size stuff-your-whole-life-in-this zippered planner. And, of course, I'll be the sort of person who regularly attends the opera.

Today I was set off by an article in the WSJ, "Teens Trade Assignment Books for Time-Management Tools" by Nancy Ann Jeffrey (paid subscription required). The article points out how teenagers (and younger children) are being encouraged to take time-management courses and use corporate-type tools such as electronic planners and spreadsheets.
From his color-coded filing system to a date planner marked up with deadlines, Edmund Holderbaum is equipped with all the tools a busy executive needs to juggle big projects. He even met with one of those pricey time-management consultants, getting tips on keeping his paperwork straight.

It should all come in handy -- for his next geometry quiz. The 14-year-old Mr. Holderbaum has just entered the 10th grade, complete with an arsenal of organizational strategies for that extra edge in class. All the schedules, charts and files, he says, give him "a chance at competing."

Meet the new buttoned-down, ultra-organized CEO: your teenager. If it looks like kids are growing up even faster than usual lately, one of the reasons is they're getting a big push -- from parents and teachers seemingly intent on raising a new generation of Organization Kids. They're getting help from an industry that's deluging kids with MBA-style strategies for success, from books (a teen-tailored version of the blockbuster "Who Moved My Cheese?" hits stores this fall) and $400 Palm organizers to workshops and tapes that push go-getter mantras like "sharpen the saw." Schools across the country are buying into the idea big-time, shelling out thousands on journals, workbooks and other classroom materials intended to teach organizational skills.
Other teen editions of the current popular books on the subject are being published—some by the children of the authors of the adult versions! For example: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens: The Ultimate Teenage Success Guide by Sean Covey or Organizing From the Inside Out for Teens: The Foolproof System for Organizing Your Room, Your Time, and Your Life by Julie Morgenstern and Jessie Morgenstern-Colon.

The article writes about Jessie Morgenstern-Colon:
The high-school senior credits her organizing prowess with helping her get good grades -- while simultaneously practicing dance several hours a day, doing community service and staying in touch with friends. Her secret: A computer spreadsheet in which she logs activities for every hour of every day, clearing space for her one "leisure" activity -- a weekend night out with girlfriends -- and "keeping in touch" (a weekly phone call to a friend from camp). "I'm a very goal-driven person," she says. "To know that at the end of the day I've accomplished a billion things because I've time-mapped well is the most satisfying thing in the world."
To be continued (lunchtime is just so rushed...).

Wednesday, September 04, 2002

Adventures in flying

Here's a picture of me with my dad's plane after we landed at the family farm in NW Washington.