Sunday, August 31, 2003

Miraculous recoveries

I was all set to link to an article in the Calendar section of today's LA Times, when, lo and behold, not only do you have to register to read the articles, you now have to pay to read the Calendar articles online if you're not already an LA Times' subscriber. This is quite annoying because I buy the paper when I have time—and want—to read it so paper doesn't accumulate unnecessarily. (I finally figured out how to link to the story without actually going there, in case you're an LA Times' or Calendar Online subscriber.)

Instead I'll just quote an excerpt from the (paper) article "Going Solo in a Man's World." Jennifer Leitham (who played at our Easter service this year) said this about playing jazz bass:
A lot of the fear has left me. I don't care what people think. If you screw up, you screw up. It's been said jazz is a series of miraculous recoveries. And you work yourself back out of it.

Saturday, August 30, 2003

The soil of the Spirit

The invitation to prayer each Sunday in this green Pentecost season begins:
Growing in the soil of the Spirit, let us pray for the church, the world, and all who seek the richness of life in God.
What a wonderful metaphor of the spiritual—and every day—life. But perhaps "growing in the soil of the Spirit" is more than a metaphor.

I picked up Soul Gardening: Cultivating the Good Life by Terry Hershey today, a contemplative book on the seduction of gardening and gardening's cure of the soul.
You are compelled to meander, if only in the garden of your mind. Better yet, the process demands putting your hands in the soil, letting the sun sedate your disquiet and warm your face, feeling your lungs fill with the honeyed sweetness of winter jasmine, or the rambling rector rose, watching a red-tailed hawk surf the currents, savoring the chamomile scent of crushed cedar leaves, allowing the garden to render its power and magic. In a world where we are enamored with image, it is in the garden we are slowly weaned off our steady diet of the spectacular, and the "real story," in order to revel in the daily, the ineffable, the sacred, the surprising. In other words, the garden is a place where it feels good to be alive. (pp. 12-13)
Hershey writes of his move to gardening and writing from a successful career as a preacher.
[T]here is no doubt that I was a success. The bigger the church, the bigger the crowd. The bigger the crowd, the greater the applause. . . .

[But] [t]o find success doesn't necessarily mean that you gain health. . . .

I did not set out to find answers, health, the good life, or even God. In fact, I did not "set out" at all. I knew only that my soul felt malnourished. Then one day I found myself in the garden, and quite without fanfare, the journey began.

Soul gardening is not a cause-and-effect proposal. It happens when you least expect it, germinating when the ground is fertile and primed. (pp. 13-14)

Friday, August 29, 2003

The Sacred Balance

I just watched an interview with David Suzuki by Bill Moyers on NOW. Very sobering and inspiring. Starting on Wednesday, a 4-part series by David Suzuki, "The Sacred Balance: A Vision of Humanity's Place in Nature," will be shown on PBS.

Thursday, August 28, 2003


Dervala's post on Myers-Briggs types reminded me of a series of aptitude tests I took through the Johnson O'Connor Research Foundation a few years ago. (Click here to go directly to their website.) The program was started in the 1920s at GE and is now a separate, non-profit organization.

Here's a description from their website of the aptitude tests:
Aptitudes are natural talents, special abilities for doing, or learning to do, certain kinds of things. Manual dexterity, musical ability, spatial visualization, and memory for numbers are examples of such aptitudes. In a comprehensive battery of tests available only through the Foundation, these and many other aptitudes are measured. These measured traits are highly stable over long-term periods. . . .

You will be asked to do a wide variety of tasks during the program, such as assembling blocks, remembering numbers, solving puzzles, and listening to simple tunes. Paper and pencil tests are kept to a minimum. Many of our tests are given individually; some are given in a small class setting using audio-visual equipment.

It is important to understand what our aptitude measurements are not, for there are many different kinds of tests and testing programs other than those offered by the Foundation.
  • Unlike an IQ score, which is of little value in career selection, your aptitude test results form a pattern showing your various strengths and weaknesses. Two people can have identical IQ scores but very different aptitude patterns.

  • Our tests do not consist of questions. It is too easy to answer a question as you feel inclined at the moment, or as you feel it ought to be answered. You learn very little new information about yourself after having answered in this fashion.

  • Aptitudes are not interests, and unlike aptitudes, interests can change. For that reason, if your interests don't correspond with your aptitudes, we encourage you to develop new interests that match your natural abilities.
The Foundation also emphasizes the importance of vocabulary acquisition, which is not an aptitude but is important for many endeavors.

I scored highest in Ideaphoria, "the ability to produce a flow of ideas." (They stress they do not measure the quality of the ideas!) I also scored high in Inductive Reasoning, "the ability to reason from the particular to the general, to form a logical conclusion from scattered facts." My lowest scores were in Finger and Tweezer Dexterity, so I hope I never have to make a living assembling electronics—and aren't you glad I didn't become a surgeon? The person administering the tests was amazed that I enjoy handwork, but I realize now I probably enjoy it at a slower pace than others.

All this to say, part of the reason I spend so much time online is that the web is a marvelous place to make connections and feed my brain. And my weblog provides a space to dump all those ideas rattling around in my head (again, with no guarantees as to quality of content or whether I ever DO anything with the ideas).

I would recommend the Foundation testing, although it is a bit expensive. It can be helpful to those thinking about vocational options. The website lists the locations of the Foundation offices.

Wednesday, August 27, 2003

Gardening therapy

Yesterday's WSJ (paid subscription required) ran this article, "The Leafy Green Road to Good Mental Health: New Science Points to Benefits of Weeding, Watering Gardens" by Michael Waldholz.
Common sense and experience tell us that hiking in the wild or working in a garden can be emotionally restorative. Now, scientists are beginning to understand why: Gardening -- or simply observing a lush landscape -- holds a powerful ability to promote measurable improvements in mental and even physical health. . . .

One study published in June found that people who were exposed to nature recovered from stress more quickly than others who weren't; what's more, the positive effects took hold within just a few minutes. Dr. Ulrich's research has showed that hospitalized patients whose windows looked out at landscape scenery recovered from surgery more quickly than those without such access. Other studies have found that simply viewing a garden or another natural vista can quickly reduce blood pressure and pulse rate and can even increase brain activity that controls mood-lifting feelings.

A growing body of evidence suggests that humans are hard-wired not just to enjoy a pleasant view of nature, but to actually exploit it, much like a drug, to relax and refresh after a stressful experience. Our earliest ancestors, Dr. Ulrich theorizes, likely needed a way to swiftly recover from a traumatic experience such as a hunt, a battle or an attack from a wild animal. "You can imagine that those who could look out at the open savannah, seeing its safety and tranquility, and quickly feel calm but also alert to their environment would likely have a survival benefit over others," Dr. Ulrich says. . . .

"The gardens of the ancient Egyptian nobility, the walled gardens of Persian settlements in Mesopotamia, and the gardens of merchants in medieval Chinese cities indicate that early urban peoples went to considerable lengths to maintain contact with nature," according to Texas A&M's Dr. Ulrich. More recently, Harvard zoologist Edward O. Wilson has written extensively on this natural affinity, which he calls "biophilia" and defines as a partly genetic tendency by humans to respond positively to nature.

The latest research and writings are serving as the intellectual basis for the relatively new practice of horticultural therapy. Practitioners say their experience shows that gardening can have an especially beneficial mental-health impact because it provides a sense of control, a psychological counter to stress and anxiety. This is especially important for patients who are recovering from stroke or other traumas or are learning to live with a physical or mental disability, says Teresia Hazen, who oversees horticulture-therapy programs for Legacy Health System in Portland, Ore.
Once again, the old ways, bolstered by new science of course, are being taken seriously.

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

People get ready

This morning on the way into work I listened to a story on NPR about the song by Curtis Mayfield, "People Get Ready," that is part of civil rights' history here in the U.S. I first heard about the song earlier this year when I was asked to play it for a funeral. I appreciated today's NPR segment and learning more about the song's history and influence. On the NPR story site linked above, there are excerpts of various singers' renditions of the song. What an inspirational way to start the day!

Monday, August 25, 2003

Buying books

[Written Sunday, August 24, 2003, St Bartholomew's Day]

I was given a gift certificate (well, electronic credit-card type thing) to Borders in payment for playing at a wedding yesterday. A gift certificate that obligates me to buy books (or music) is much more exciting than a plain old check. . . .So this afternoon, in a bit of a downward spiraling state of mind, I went to Borders, partly as a salve for my mood and partly for the air conditioning.

First, I surveyed the knitting books, which were in a more orderly state than usual. Not seeing anything I'd not seen before that interested me much, I headed over to the Farming/Ecology/Nature shelves. I found a book and author I'd not heard of before, You Can Go Home Again: Adventures of a Contrary Life by Gene Logsdon, a story of living fairly self-sufficiently on a farm. The Wendell Berry endorsement on the back cover got me leafing through the book. The author's early training to become a monk intrigued me, as well as his attraction to Martin Luther's understanding of the Eucharist versus what he was being taught at a Catholic school.

Then I read these sentences at the beginning of Chapter 6:
More than anything else, the degree of satisfaction to be gained from a life rooted in home depends on the strength of one's conviction that there is nothing better down the road. Betterment comes from within a person, not from within geography. But I believe that had I not left home for a while, I would not have been completely convinced of that.
I tucked the book under my arm and headed upstairs to the Religion/Inspiration section. Browsing that section in Borders is quite different than browsing religious books at a Catholic or evangelical or New Age or Episcopal or Judaica bookstore. At Borders, the "Inspiration" books are all jumbled together—Rumi next to T. D. Jakes next to Henri J. M. Nouwen.

I zoomed in on Nouwen because an excerpt from his writings had been printed on the wedding program cover yesterday. I have some of Nouwen's books but none of his journals.

The blurb on the back of The Road to Daybreak: A Spiritual Journey begins:
When Henri Nouwen left the world of academe and headed for the village of Trosly in France, he sought a place that would lead him "closer to the heart of God." Arriving at the L'Arche community in Trosly, he felt as if he had finally "come home."
So I have some thinking to do on what it means to "come home." Even the paper I've been working on (forever) is about the experience of coming home after being in exile. (Also, both Logsdon and Nouwen left academia, Logsdon before he finished his Ph.D. but Nouwen after a long teaching career.)

Nouwen's journal entries begin in mid-August. I stopped at the entry for August 24 in which Nouwen muses on the Gospel reading for the feast of St Bartholomew. My pastor, too, chose the readings for St Bartholomew's Day rather than the option of the 11th Sunday after Pentecost readings. More on John 1:43-51 another time.

[Edit 8/24/03: I was just over at Lisa B-K's website and saw that she is reading The Contrary Farmer by Gene Logsdon. Then I saw she has a picture of him, which I'd seen on her site before, in the right-hand column. So why didn't I recognize his name when I saw his book in the bookstore yesterday??]

Thursday, August 21, 2003

Interesting tidbits

Some of my favorite sites for finding interesting articles on the web are:

Mirabilis dot ca. Great entries on archaeology, food, religion, language, environment, and generally interesting things. Plus Christine highlights "how-to" articles for those of us who are a little behind on this whole web technology thing, e.g., what is RSS and why might one want to put an RSS/XML feed on one's site.

dangerousmeta. For example, "The Monasteries Mean Business", an article from the Telegraph about how religious houses are taking advantage of people's desire for organic and natural products:
There are Monastic soaps and shampoos, body cleansers and herbal remedies. "Everyone wants natural products these days," says Brother GĂ©rard, his eyes aglow at the commercial opportunities, "and we provide them."

The label - motto "Quality is not a mystery" - is applied only to products made by monks and nuns themselves.

The Cistercians of Begrolles sell apples from their orchards and produce fruit jellies. Among the 500 other products in the abbey shop are cheese made from sheep's milk by Dutch Benedictines, biscuits from La Joie de Notre Dame in the Morbihan, coffee from Cistercians in the Cameroon and embroidered pillows from Parisian Carmelites.
Finally, a long-time favorite, Rebecca's Pocket. I was intrigued by a site she linked to last week, Tumbleweed Tiny House Co., a company which builds houses from 50 to 500 square feet, some of which can be towed.

Wednesday, August 20, 2003

Misc. notes

Eating: Yummy green and yellow string beans from the Path to Freedom garden. I like how they squeak against my teeth as I chew them.

Buying gas: Paid $2.05 / gallon today.
Obligatory comments about the medium

Here are a couple quotes I found interesting re: the use and influence of the Internet.

First, near the end of an essay in The Atlantic, "Four More Years? The Invincibility Question," by Patrick Buchanan:
Bush . . . has something Nixon and Reagan never did: what Daniel Patrick Moynihan called "second and third echelons of advocacy." Conservatives, libertarians, and populists of the right dominate talk radio, the Internet, and the cable-TV channels that are nibbling the network news to death, and they are fully competitive on the op-ed pages of the national press.
Second, a piece in Sunday's Opinion section of the LA Times by Kevin Starr, California's state librarian and an author of many books on California's history, "Politics, Wired: Recall may be dizzying, but it portends a revolution in governance."
As Marshall McLuhan foresaw some 40 years ago, the media revolution has expanded the bandwidth of politics. We live in an around-the-clock information environment in which radio, television, the Internet, newspapers, e-mail, instant messaging, entertainment, blogs, etc. are continuous and interactive. This situation has four major political effects.

First, people are becoming increasingly high-speed and interactive in the way that they absorb and process information. This is especially true of younger people, whose dexterity and speed in navigating the Internet can be breathtaking. Even Californians who came of age in the pre-Net world have broadened their sources of information. Just consider how often you acquire information by word of mouth from someone who picked it up on the Internet, hours in advance of radio, TV or newspapers. . . .

A continuous multimedia environment, secondly, has expanded the universe of governance to include entertainment celebrities, radio talk-show hosts, sports figures, electronic and print pundits, blogs and mega-wealthy activists. One doesn't have to hold office, in other words, to participate in governance. . . .

The high-speed Internet- connected multimedia culture, thirdly, cannot be controlled at any one point. It is open, unfiltered and rabidly democratic. Now it helps spawn political candidacies. For example, Huffington said that one reason she's running for governor is because of all the e-mails she'd received urging her to run. Candidates open Web sites, not headquarters. The political debate is conducted in cyberspace, with blogs of virtually all political stripes and voters providing the dialogue — and it's instantly accessible. . . .

The new environment, finally, demands a personal connection. In the early 1900s, pioneering film theorists — Hugo Munsterberg, Vachel Lindsay and William Dean Howells among them — contended that motion pictures offered audiences a form of collective dreaming in which contact between individuals on screen and in the audience was of a direct and personal kind. We do not merely watch our favorite film actors. We enter into subliminal dialogue with them.

Californians seem to be demanding a similar connection with their political leadership. This doesn't mean they want to press political flesh, though physical contact always seems to help. Rather, they look to media to provide the contact, as Franklin D. Roosevelt did with his fireside chats. Roosevelt exploited what McLuhan later described as the vivid intimacy of radio, second only to the telephone as a mode of person- to-person subliminal contact. Seen in this light, the "Arnold" phenomenon seems more than mere celebrity worship.
Read the full piece for Starr's conclusion that "[g]overnment is just too slow compared with the ways other sectors of society go about their business."

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

Knitted lace patterns

Wendy recently collected links to free knitted lace patterns on the internet from her many readers and posted them on her website.

Sunday, August 17, 2003

Good mood

I'm in a really good mood tonight. I think it's because of music. I substituted for the substitute musician at church today. Playing occasionally is more fun than trying to come up with new music every week. For the offertory, I played the accordion! This is the first time I've ever solo'd on the accordion. At the Spanish service, I also played it for the congregational song right after the offering was received. It went OK. I really do need to take formal lessons, though, to learn how to play the bass buttons properly.

Then, after church, I had a two hour rehearsal for a wedding next week. I'm playing piano and organ with a violinist, saxophonist/flutist, and bassoonist. It was really fun going through the music. They're all professional musicians, but the music wasn't too difficult for me. They'll make sure the tempo is correct, the bassoon will fill in the bass for the organ pipes that aren't working, and they'll have a direct line of sight to the back of the church to keep track of how many more times we need to play a piece of music before everyone's down the aisle. So I don't have to worry about quite as many things as I do when I play by myself.

Tonight, just to reinforce the good mood, I went for a walk, something I've been neglecting to do recently. Right now the crepe myrtles are in full bloom—pinks, purples, and white. So there is color around, in spite of the heat.

Saturday, August 16, 2003

Preaching to the world

I am so proud of my pastor, Rev. Dr. Peg Schultz-Akerson, who preached yesterday at the Churchwide Assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

She was assigned to preach on the day of Mary, Mother of our Lord, for which the Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55) was the Gospel reading.
My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. (Luke 1:46b-48a)

Fourteenth-century mystic Meister Eckhardt preaches that the essence of true humility isn’t how little one has; Queen Esther is lifted up as a humble person. Nor is true humility about putting one’s self down, or putting others down. Eckhardt teaches that true humility despises being despised. True humility wants more than anything to be like an instrument– like a flute, a reed – like an artist, a musician, a dancer, a lover, a father, a mother – some way of being a means of grace. True humility knows that it’s not about us, but about what or whom we are called to birth into the world through the particular means of our lives. True humility is about breathing in God so that we can breathe out not ourselves but God for the healing of the world – claimed, gathered and sent. True humility knows this process, this dance of receiving our identity in Christ and contributing out of it. True humility is the yearning to do this, and it’s not all selfless. It’s for the sake of the world, as Bishop Hanson keeps reminding us, but the mystery is that the more we dance our part in this turning – however major or minor the part – the more we dance our part, the more healed we become. True humility despises being despised, despises being dismissed, because those acts violate our baptismal calling. . . .

Mary’s vocation is that of God-bearer for the sake of the world, but it is a healing that heals her as well. True vocation as we see it in Mary delights to be asked; delights to be invited; is moved to praise when taken seriously as one who has a song to sing, a gift however small or great to offer. The radical witness of the Magnificat is that God causes the voiceless to burst into song. The disregarded become the bearers of God. The healing of the world draws near in the empowerment of the voiceless. Mary models God’s unexpected ways of bringing all of us – all of us – to song. The dawn draws near when a peasant girl becomes the mother of God. How radical is that?

Friday, August 15, 2003

HTML for blogs

Via clicking on a name in a comment box on somebody's site, I found Mandarin Design Daily, a site with all sorts of html and css help, code, and ideas for jazzing up websites.
Pondering electricity

With all the stories and news coverage about the electricity outage on the other side of the continent, I've been reminded of my growing up days with limited electricity.

The generators came on from 6:00 PM to 10:00 PM, as well as two mid-mornings a week so that people who had electric washing machines could wash their clothes. When we went into town where they had 24 hour electricity, I would get up early in the morning so that I could turn on the light and play.

Later, when the Zambian government was given antiquated Soviet generators, we had quasi-24 hour electricity. It wasn't always reliable, however. We had a voltage meter on the wall, and when the voltage dipped too low, we made a mad dash to unplug first the freezer and then the fridge.

I enjoyed visiting friends who lived about 100 miles away and who used paraffin (kerosene) lamps at night.

My kitchen is fairly electric appliance free, although I do regularly use a blender and, of course, a refrigerator. I have an electric breadmaker, about which I debated with myself before finally purchasing. I occasionally use an electric hand-held mixer, too.

I sympathized with Amanda's coffee deprivation ordeal due to the electricity outage. My coffee contingency plan has been in place for a few years now—spurred on by living in So Cal and the Y2K survivalist emphasis around the time I moved into my current house.

I have a gas stove, which I light with matches. And if the gas is cut off, I have a small charcoal grill on which I can boil water. I use a manual coffee grinder, so I can even have freshly ground beans. And I have both a stove top percolator and a recently purchased filter cone that sits on top of a mug into which I pour boiling water over the ground coffee.

Wednesday, August 13, 2003

Reading good writing

I really need to move to a more productive stage in my studies. It's so easy only to read what everyone else has written instead of doing the hard work of writing my own stuff. Even this weblog reflects that attitude. I link to and enjoy reading other people's well-written, interesting posts but haven't been spending much time composing my own or even commenting with wit and insight on the posts to which I link.

Well, the weblog probably won't be changing too soon. But hopefully the output of my studying will.

Meanwhile, go read the excellent writing at dervala dot net. Try an entertaining story about jogging and bears or an essay about shedding stuff.

Tuesday, August 12, 2003

Fools Crow

Upon the recommendation of—no, at the imperative of—Charlotte at LivingSmall, I picked up the book Fools Crow at the library before leaving on a quick trip. I had plenty of time whilst waiting in airports and on airplanes almost to finish the book. It is a wonderfully descriptive story of the Northern Plains Indians towards the end of the nineteenth century.

The author, James Welch, died recently. Charlotte linked to an article about his life and writings. I was struck by a quote from one of his neighbors:
His presence was a lovely thing.

Thursday, August 07, 2003

Canadian homestead

Yes, I'm taking a break, but I couldn't resist a final (?) post from dervala dot net (via Reading and Writing). Dervala writes about a wealthy, well-educated family who came to live in the Canadian wilderness in the 1920s. She begins her post with a quote:
'Few men had so rational a grip on life as he; few women knew its circle of vicissitudes as she. For three days I lived with Adam toiling and Eve spinning, talking of the poetry of Meredith and getting their reactions on Robert Frost. Enthusiasm, joy, ambition, suffused the hours. Whatever of high things their breeding had begotten, their life had accentuated, and the bush had not broken them to laziness or low ends. They, who enjoyed music, who kept posted on politics, and were determined to see their sons wisely educated, were no malingerers of society. They had decided to know life first-hand, that is all; not to enjoy it vicariously as from a grandstand but to live it wholly, and the fundamentals first.'

From The Lake Superior Country by T. Morris Longstreth (1924) [emphasis mine—jbb]
Dervala then describes in detail the life of a frontier woman:
Catherine was more stout-hearted pioneer than simpering debutante. She quickly learned to feed eight hungry men from a lean-to kitchen with shelves made from wooden packing cases. Her reminiscences still carry the tang of a city girl's shock. She had to knead 36 loaves of bread a week, and split the wood to bake it in the oven too small to hold more than two loaves at a time. She lists with wonder the breakfasts these woodsmen required every single day: eggs, bacon, pancakes, porridge, as much toast as she could feed them, syrup, and fruit. Then there was butter to be churned, water to be fetched from the lake, and boys to be schooled. Sometimes she was so tired she would set her alarm clock for a twenty-minute nap while the bread rose. Eventually Fanny the Finnish cook was hired, and was so indispensable that Catherine chose to overlook her tendency to get very drunk on beer and run off with strange men on the Algoma Central Railway.

Wednesday, August 06, 2003

Sunday, August 03, 2003

Shakespeare on CD

All of Shakespeare's plays—unabridged—have been recorded and are now available for purchase.

From today's LA Times calendar section: "To the Last Syllable" by David Gritten.
In this mammoth undertaking, all of Shakespeare's plays have been produced on CDs in their entirety, without a single word of the Bard's being cut. The plays are now available as a boxed set; it is the first time in audio publishing history that one creative team has achieved such a gargantuan task.

How gargantuan? The set consists of 98 CDs, with a total playing time of almost 102 hours. All of the plays were recorded in studios in London, and almost 400 British actors — many of them members of the Royal Shakespeare Company or the Royal National Theatre — were employed. . . .

Listening to a selection of the plays, one is struck by the clarity of the recording and the precise, thoughtful delivery of Shakespeare's verse. Brill has gone to great lengths to encourage his casts to bring out the meaning of the Bard's words. It's also notable that even actors in minor roles are hugely competent.

Another remarkable aspect of these recordings is the music. Brill was not the only talent who stayed around for all the plays; so did composer Dominique Le Gendre, Trinidadian-born, classically trained and a musicologist who studied at conservatories in Paris.
Growing up at boarding school, we listened to some of the older recordings of Shakespeare, as well as all sorts of other records. Wednesday night was "record night" when we gathered in the sitting room of the dorm parents in our pajamas and dressing gowns and listened to a recorded story.

Saturday, August 02, 2003

Cleaning hints

I just turned on the TV to KCET and am watching a program I've never heard of: Haley's Hints. It's pledge drive time so I don't think it's a regular TV show, but here's the website: Haley's Hints. He has a lot of great ideas, e.g., cream of tartar and vinegar to clean stoves; Epsom salts to help set the dye in cloth. And I can hear the phones ringing as people call in to pledge to support public TV.

Friday, August 01, 2003


After nearly two years posting here, I finally decided to upgrade the site a bit and add comments. I'd been looking around for a basic commenting system that was still accepting sign-ups. I noticed the HaloScan button on the Pioneer Woman site and thought I'd try it out.

Please bear with me as I try to figure this thing out. My coding "skills" have not advanced much in two years!
What I am going to do this morning

Having just finished my coffee and toast, quickly scanned a few blogs, and deleted all the "Received" notices from two e-mails I sent out at work yesterday, I am now going to clear my desk of its fecund piles of papers and books.

It recently struck me that the reason it's so easy to sit down and spend hours on the internet is that my computer monitor screen is a vertical surface, and, thus, I cannot pile anything on it, obstructing my "workspace." (Which doesn't mean I can't pile things on top of the monitor, but those things don't clutter my view of the screen.)