Monday, March 31, 2003


Saturday was cold, but it warmed at bit on Sunday. It warmed up enough to open windows and open doors and sit in the sun and work in the yard.

On Sunday there were hoses running and brooms sweeping and shovels shoveling and grass to mow and blankets strewn on the lawn with napping bodies on them lying in the sun. And in the afternoon there were bikes to ride down to the park, to ride on the trails thru the Oaks and Cedar and Yaupon and Possumhaw, to ride down to where the cool air blows out from the caves hidden in the undergrowth.


This morning his mother came to pick him up after school. He hugged his father goodbye with the sincere hug he always gives, and he picked up his lunchbox and his trombone and his backpack straining at the seams and walked out to the car with her.

As they walked up the drive he said to her, I had a good day yesterday. We laid out on blankets in the backard in the sun. And we rode bikes!

So what about the cold on Saturday. Sunday was plenty warm enough.

10:50:18 PM   permalink: []   feedback: Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.   comments: []  

 Sunday, March 30, 2003

Poaching Prairie Verbena

It was thirteen years ago or so. I pulled off to the side of the two lane road by a sunny patch of prairie on the other side of a barbwire fence strung between old cedar posts. I pulled over and hopped out of the car.

The land was for sale: a large plot obviously destined for bigger things. When that happened, the oaks and juniper and grass and wildflowers would be gone, the prairie would be bulldozed, and the two lane road would be four or six with left turn lanes and stop lights and parking lots.

So I hopped out of the car when I saw the patch of prairie, when I spied those prairie verbena exploding in gentle lavender against the green of the grass under the blue of the sky. I hopped out with a garden trowel in my hand and dug up a plant or two, a poacher stealing a piece of the wild.

Prairie verbena don't generally transplant well, so I dug wide and deep, capturing grasses and weeds and other things in addition to the verbena themselves. And then Mother Nature got even with me.

Within seconds a flash of itching, stinging fire went racing up my arms. A rash broke out on my forearms, and it was all I could do to keep myself from scratching them raw. I dropped my specimens in a box in the back of the car, and raced home to a shower. It took days for the itch to go away. And I have not poached a single wildflower since.


Today I drove by that corner thirteen years since the scene of the itchy thief. It is one of the last places in this part of town to remain undeveloped. But the land has been platted, and the developers have long had their plans for Home Depots and grocery stores and more strip malls and more parking lots. The bulldozers are coming any day.

I drove down that road that is only two lanes still, and I came to the corner and looked at that same patch of prairie on the other side of the same fence still strung between the same cedar posts. I looked and there they were: offspring of those very verbena, thirteen years later exploding with the same gentle lavender against the green of the grass under another blue springtime sky.

The bulldozers are coming any day, but this time I left the verbena alone.

2:13:33 PM   permalink: []   feedback: Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.   comments: []  

 Saturday, March 29, 2003

You Have to Wonder

We like to pat ourselves on the back when we think of the demise of (most of) the communist world, on how the war was won with better technology and a superior political and economic model, on how we spent them into oblivion.

We spent them into oblivion, we like to recall, and emerged into the sunlight of peace dividends and a brave new world. Our economy blossomed. And our technology, rendered even more potent as the chains of military spending were loosened, our technology brought us into a bright digital world with previously unimagined vistas.

And in our reveries of the boom and the certainties it presented that our social and political and economic model is necessarily paramount, we write off the .com bust as but an anomaly.

But should we see it so?

But where has it all gone? Where is the fruit? What has happened to the flowering of our political and economic systems? Look at the telcos. Look at the airlines. Look at the unemployment lines. Is this the triumph into which we have marched as the victors of the Cold War?

You have to wonder.

Wonder about our own economy now on the skids. Wonder about the overnight transformation of those miraculous surpluses into record deficits once again. Wonder how the blossoming of "free markets" in Uzbekistan (aka, pipelines transporting Caspian Sea oil to western markets) leads to the "blossoming" of political freedom there. Wonder about generally accepted accounting principles. Wonder about PATRIOT II.

You have to wonder.

Wonder if we're about to land -- we the champions of that great struggle of the 20th century -- in the same slag heap as where those miserable communists landed just a few years ago. Wonder if we interpreted the events with just a bit too much self congratulation. Wonder about our sense of importance. Wonder if the down trodden masses in miserable poverty or the seething hoards of religious fanatics kindling their flames of hatred might just have a different view of things.

And you have to wonder if there is a .gov bubble about to burst -- as our economic nose dive has suddenly been rendered insignificant next to the train wreck our government is bringing to the world at the dawn of the 21st century.

11:58:33 PM   permalink: []   feedback: Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.   comments: []  

 Thursday, March 27, 2003

The Wireless Experience

They wired their house. Or rather it's wirelessly wired. They've got a hot spot, you see, a base station. They've got this box sending out radio waves to their computers -- wired without the wires. And in this fashion, the computers can move around.

Surfing the web while sitting on the deck with my laptop in my lap is quite the experience! he exclaimed.

It was easy to imagine: blue skies, dogwoods a-bloom in the woods, a hillside alive with the promise of spring, and a laptop to boot. What more could you want? As I sat in my wired office looking out at the grass and the sun from behind my window, it was very easy to imagine, too easy.

I wondered, Is the screen readable outside in the sun?

To which he responded, I never said I could read it!

Blue sky. Bright sun. Green meadows on the hillside. And a laptop on your lap that won't get in the way can't bother you with work. Quite the experience, indeed!

1:35:55 PM   permalink: []   feedback: Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.   comments: []  

 Wednesday, March 26, 2003

Everything's Relative

They sat there at the table with pizza and pepperoni rolls arrayed before them. Periodically one of them would get up and refill his plate. Behind them, a couple was talking quietly. Around them, TVs blared, four or five of them -- one with basketball, two with CNN updates on the war, the others with advertisements or something equally meaningful.

They looked up at a map on one of the screens. Najaf on one river. Baghdad on the other.

You know what the problem with the elections is, Dad? the younger one said.


It is so long before another election comes. There's nothing you can do for four years.

The dad smiled. That's what separation of powers is for.

Yeah, but still there's nothing you can do -- for four years.

The dad didn't think four years was such a long time, but the son did not relent. Everything's relative.

11:48:41 PM   permalink: []   feedback: Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.   comments: []  

 Tuesday, March 25, 2003

Falling Asleep Last Night

I couldn't fall asleep in the dark last night, my mind racing, thinking, worrying. I lay there in the dark next to you, eyes wide open, unable to sleep.

And you talked with me. We talked about many things, about people and places and worries and plans, things to stop a mind from racing, I guess. We talked to each other as we lay there next to each other in the dark of the night.

And then you said in a matter of fact tone that was utterly unfazed by what we had said, But you don't think like most people do.

And your words washed over me, for coming from you I knew them for what they were. And my heart smiled to itself. And my anxiety receded. And I let out my breath and fell fast asleep.

Because you said it in such an unflappable tone, I finally fell asleep.

8:09:50 PM   permalink: []   feedback: Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.   comments: []  

 Monday, March 24, 2003

Illusion Of Spring

I still have an illusion here, sitting by a window looking out on sunny skies and southerly springtime breezes and bright green leaves just coming out...

I still have an illusion here, listening to the morning doves and the cardinals and the sparrows and the mocking birds and the wrens and the redwing blackbirds singing in the trees...

I still have an illusion here, with glistening water lapping against the roots of the Cypress trees by the river's edge in the afternoon...

I still have an illusion here, protected as I am by the absence of television in this house...

I still have an illusion of spring.

But I know better than to trust it all. I know that far away, under billowing clouds of burning oil, in the blowing sands in the desert, in the stifling cockpits and hand-dug trenches of Iraq, people are dying.

No illusion of spring can change that.

And no promises of overpowering shock and awe, no presentations of precision munitions being efficiently delivered to their targets, no pictures of presidential palaces bombed and burning, no number of journalists broadcasting from their embedded positions with the northward marching forces, no announcements of cities and chemical plants captured or of enemy soldiers surrendering can hide the fact that this war like all others will be ugly and painful.

And in spite of the efforts of American bureaucrats and political pundits and media magnates to glorify the cause and sanitize the war for mass consumption at home, the fact remains that many men and women and children will never see blue skies or glistening water or live to see another spring.

This is the cost of the decisions we have made.

12:32:33 PM   permalink: []   feedback: Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.   comments: []  

 Friday, March 21, 2003

His Morning Secret

The plum tree blossoms are white and pink and reddish-magenta by the lake downtown. The Blue Bonnets and Indian Paintbrush are blooming by the sides of the roads. The hills along Barton Creek are a patchwork of greens: spring green on the Cedar Elms, dark forest evergreen on the Hill Country Juniper, and orange-reddish-brownish green on the Live Oaks.

The orange-reddish-brownish Live Oak green means they are dropping their leaves and pushing out pollen. It means he wakes up stiff in the morning and waits for an hour for the shower and coffee to have their effect.

But before the shower and the coffee can banish the stiffness of allergies away, the other two must leave, and he must walk outside to say goodbye. In his stiff, pollen-stricken state with sandpaper muscles and swollen face, he must walk outside.

So there he stands saying goodbye, puffy and stiff, looking like he is new-come out of bed, which he is. He stands there and waves and tries to make himself smile. He stands there with tassels of Live Oak hanging over his head, in his pajamas and T-shirt.

He stands there like this, in full public view. And the neighbors all see him puffy and swollen and creaking and stiff, standing in the morning sun while they drive off to work or school. They see him standing there in his pajamas at 7:15 and again at 7:50.

His morning secret is out.

10:42:34 AM   permalink: []   feedback: Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.   comments: []  

 Thursday, March 20, 2003

Senator Byrd

Who is this man, this white-haired veteran of many years on years as Senator? Who is this man, a former member of the KKK, having pushed away his racist past and now speaking of tears?

We flaunt our superpower status with arrogance, he says. And he bemoans the years it will take to fix our shattered image abroad.

Who is this man who speaks so clearly from the unpopular side of the fence while those on the other side wave their flags and mock any who said no to war?

Who is he that he can still say no even though the point is now moot?

Today I weep for my country, he says.

Why are the Senate chambers so empty while he speaks?

12:26:07 AM   permalink: []   feedback: Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.   comments: []  

 Wednesday, March 19, 2003

Don't buy into their game

In a comment following this critique of the Bush doctrine by John Robb, George Ma says:

Don't buy into their game in which we are merely tools to achieve their ambitions. The day we realize we don't need these larger than life figures to tell us how to live or die is the day we free ourselves.

8:43:49 PM   permalink: []   feedback: Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.   comments: []  

Tree and Leaf

Irene likes to keep things just so: her lawn meticulously trimmed, the leaves safely raked, her flower beds freshly tended with Marigolds lined up in a row. It is the way a lot of people like things, I suppose, neat and tidy, Alles in Ordnung.

So she was out in the front, talking to Ron about the leaves in her yard -- his leaves in her yard. She had a smile on her face, and there was a bounce in her voice that suggested good nature, but she clearly was complaining. She didn't like that his leaves were in her yard. Ron took it well.

The mailman came by. It wasn't difficult for him to hear their animated conversation.

We're not at war, yet! he announced from his truck at the curb.

We walked up and chatted with him. Irene explained the thing with the leaves. The mailman smiled and turned off his portable radio.

I had a neighbor once, he said, who didn't like my Cottonwood tree.

Right there, we knew where the story was headed.

She didn't like the leaves from that tree always falling on her lawn, and she complained about it often. After five years of complaining I'd had enough and got out my chain saw and cut the thing down.

He paused. We all knew where he was going next.

No sooner had I cut the tree down than she came out and complained that it had been the only shade in her yard.

With that the mailman, still smiling, turned his radio back on and pulled away. We waved as he drove off.

Ron looked up at the Cedar Elm next to his driveway. He had just explained to me earlier about how Irene was always complaining about it. Fortunately, Ron likes his trees.

1:59:07 PM   permalink: []   feedback: Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.   comments: []  

 Tuesday, March 18, 2003

Big Brother

Cisco is happy help the Chinese government filter the web. [1] Google is happy to quietly delete search results if local governments instruct them to. [2] And today we learn from The Business Journal that ClearChannel, the giant that devoured American radio, is happy to delete the Dixie Chicks from their playlists for speaking out against the coming war, Smothers Brothers style. [3]

Welcome to the machine in which the engines of commerce do for the government what the government is not allowed to do to you, in which your rights to freedom from unreasonable search and seizure and your right to privacy and your right to free speech are academic anachronisms.

Welcome to the 21st century, in which the Constitution is irrelevant, because big brother has been privatized.

[1] http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/2264508.stm
[2] http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/filtering/google/ (I must say, in all fairness, I was able to rediscover this link by searching Google for keywords: Google filtering!)
[3] TBJ link and Smothers Brothers reference by Eschaton
4:14:21 PM   permalink: []   feedback: Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.   comments: []  

 Monday, March 17, 2003

On Domino Theories

The nice thing about a domino theory is that it offers an intuitive metaphor for change, for inevitable propagating effects, for explaining why one thing must necessarily lead to another. If you advocate change, you'd be well served to find a domino theory to advance your cause. It will make your ultimate objectives appear unavoidable and the challenges mild.

So it goes, we are told, with the upcoming blossoming of democracy and freedom in the Middle East, thanks to a little initial push offered by the United States. It's all about dominos, they tell us.

But the problem with domino theories, is that they are destructive. The dominoes fall, and in falling they bring further destruction. The established world of upright dominoes comes crashing down as the falling of one and then another advances across the floor.

And what about the Middle East? It might be true that defeating totalitarian regimes like that of Saddam Hussein is a destructive process, and to that extent a domino theory might indeed be relevant. But what comes next?

Do I understand correctly that we are to believe that instituting free and open institutions of government where none have existed before, that replacing brutal autocracies and privileged monarchies with elections and due process is as easy as the pushing over a domino? I think not.

Toppling regimes might perhaps be the stuff of falling dominoes, but replacing them with something new is not. It is an act of creation. For something like that a theory of dominoes offers no hint as to the real efforts required, and we'd best beware of snake oil salesmen who tell us otherwise.

9:54:08 AM   permalink: []   feedback: Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.   comments: []  

 Saturday, March 15, 2003

It warn't no crescent moon!

At the beginning of the week, I wrote about the moon. It struck me yesterday that I got one detail wrong, horrifically wrong for someone who professes to know something about things that fly around in the sky:

when I gazed down at the dark water in the rain barrel outside, I saw the thin crescent moon reflected there

Read that again and picture the scene. It was night. It was dark. The water in the rain barrel was blacker that the sky above. I stood over that black water and looked down. Reflected in the black water, I saw the moon.

I said I saw the thin crescent moon, but think about it. The moon was directly overhead. The sky was black. So the sun had long since set. What's wrong with this picture?

David. When the moon is a thin crescent, that's because it's showing mostly its dark side. That in turn means that its light side is facing that other way which means that the thin crescent moon is almost in between the Earth and the sun. A thin crescent moon will always hover close to the sun, either in the dawn sky just before sunrise or in the early evening sky just after sunset.

David. There never is a thin crescent moon directly overhead when the sky is black! For shame.


2:15:52 PM   permalink: []   feedback: Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.   comments: []  

Political Reconstruction?

Bill Moyers interviews Jessica Tuchman Mathews:

[...] the problem is not that Arabs don't recognize the end point that they want to get to; the problem is getting from here to there [...] from an autocratic retrograde repressive government and the only public opposition, organized opposition being Islamist.

So what are we offering as the model for how to get from here to there? A U.S. invasion. Well, if you're sitting in Cairo or Algiers or Damascus, that does not look like a particularly attractive model.

[...] I find it hard to believe that anyone seriously thinks [...] that there is a way that this war could lead to, no matter how successful in its military phase, could result in a democratic transformation of the Middle East. I think that the sort of facts on the ground tell you that it's likely to be the opposite. [...]

right now the US plan is a plan for military occupation; it is not a plan for political reconstruction. It explicitly forbids, for example, the participation of political groups in Iraq

2:45:56 AM   permalink: []   feedback: Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.   comments: []  

History Lessons

I never learned my history lessons well. The dates and the kings and the wars and the manifest truths never sunk in in any meaningful ways. And I never learned the "stories" of history.

Yet here and there, a few simple things stuck, not great profundities, rather mostly the stuff of victor-ideologies, but nevertheless even these periodically provide a "framework" for thought.

What did we all learn about post World War I Europe in our history classes? For heaven's sake, didn't we learn (if we learned anything) that it was the deprivation and humiliation of Germany that inevitably led to the rise of Adolf Hitler?

So here we are with a unilateralist cowboy and his salivating corporate henchmen [*] fanning those same flames and proclaiming the act to be in the interest of long term peace!

Didn't we all sit in class and learn that lesson!? Where were these guys then?


[*] Is this pure polemic? I don't think so. It strikes me that (a) the rewards Cheney's Halliburton reaped from rebuilding after Cheney as Secretary of Defense defeated Iraq, (b) the rewards Rumsfeld's ABB reaped in selling nuclear technology to the North Koreans, and (c) the rewards that Perle's Trireme Partners stands to gain by investing in homeland security in an era of brutal war, perpetual hostility, rejuvenated hatred and the coming boom in terrorist recruiting ... it strikes me that these rewards qualify these men as corporate henchmen. Perhaps I exceed the bounds of discretion when I insert "salivating," but I bet they did and do.

2:03:33 AM   permalink: []   feedback: Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.   comments: []  

 Friday, March 14, 2003

Left Behind

We like to think it was a bubble that burst. We like to think that it was the folly of the dot-commers and venture capitalists and lemming investors. We like to think it was an anomaly. We like to think that it's just a matter of time, after perhaps the war has passed, or that awkwardness in North Korea has been ironed out, or the terrorists have all been locked in Guantanamo and left to rot. We like to think that then the world will be happy and safe again.

We like to think that the economy will bounce back, that the jobs will return, that all it takes is a long view and the boom times will eventually return. They all tell us we only need to hold on for twenty years at most, and patience will always pay off.

Well tell that to the textile workers in the east. Tell that to the steel workers in the midwest. They will set you straight. Or maybe they won't, because they can't, because there are no textile workers, and there are no steelworkers left to speak of. We cast them aside a long time ago.

And now, as the tech workers in the west and southwest wait for the good times to return, biding their time making far less than they did, satisfied just to have insurance, the blight is coming.

And while we wave the flag and poke fun at those lunatic Frenchies and lambast the UN and lampoon the peaceniks and their naive notions of right and wrong, we don't see it. We just cling to our memories of the past, unable to acknowledge that in their race to the bottom the captains of American industry are leaving us all behind, taking the last of the boats for themselves.

4:21:45 PM   permalink: []   feedback: Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.   comments: []  

 Thursday, March 13, 2003

Many Things

The man was kneeling on the ground coaxing a reluctant screw to turn. He was always coaxing reluctant things: corroded screws and bolts, stubborn piles of dirt or sand, brambles and undergrowth choking out the low-bush huckleberries, sulpher scrubbers on coal-fired power plants. The man and his tools were master coaxers.

His grandson squatted next to him, hoping to sneak some time alone while everyone else was somewhere else. It seemed to the boy that he never spent enough time working with his grandfather. He sat next to the man's left shoulder listening and watching everything the man did.

And the rusty screw began to turn.

Hayow bayout thayat? his grandfather chuckled half to himself, half to the boy in his way of demonstrating persistence and of demonstrating the value of using the right tool.

A spider walked across the ground. The boy watched it nervously and moved closer to his grandfather's coaxing shoulder.

What kind of spider is that, Bunka? he asked, trying to sound merely curious.

Haenh? his grandfather asked in his nasal what-did-you-say voice, and he looked down at the crawling spider and flicked it away -- much to the boy's relief. Not only was his grandfather a master coaxer, but he had no fear.



What, Davy?

Was Bunka a ever a boy scout?

A boy scout?

He knows how to do so many things.

Yes. Your grandfather can do very many things.

1:07:56 PM   permalink: []   feedback: Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.   comments: []  

 Tuesday, March 11, 2003

The Garage

And now that I've shown you the rest of the house, he said somewhat reluctantly, Let me show you the garage.

Before we go any farther, let's make a couple things clear. I am not alone in the way I perceive garages. Drive down any suburban Texas street on a warm weekend day, and you'll see plenty of garages infinitely worse than mine. It's the lack of basements that's the problem. It has nothing to do with me.

Let me show you the garage.

They smiled slightly and followed him thru the door. He turned on the light and held out his hands. I must say that this is substantially improved over several months ago.

Their eyes widened as they gazed around. Wow, they said in obvious disbelief.

But, but, he stammered, this really is better than three months ago!

They didn't seem to appreciate the fact that where there used to be boxes to the ceiling, the wall was now clearly visible. And evidently the aisles running between the piled computer boxes on one hand and the camping gear were insignificant.

They just said, Wow.

9:30:03 PM   permalink: []   feedback: Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.   comments: []  

 Monday, March 10, 2003

The Moon Said It

It was dark outside. The air was cool. The stars began to come out one by one. A Live Oak leaf fell from the branches above, spinning as it fluttered past my shoulder and onto the stone path beneath my feet.

I think this time spring has come.

I think it not because of the Plum tree blossoms by the lake, pink and red. There were, after all, Redbud blooms starting to come out when the ice descended from the north a week ago or so. No, I think spring has come because of the feeling in the air and because when I gazed down at the dark water in the rain barrel outside, I saw the thin crescent moon reflected there.

And the moon said that spring has come.

7:37:31 PM   permalink: []   feedback: Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.   comments: []  

 Saturday, March 8, 2003

Fallen Fence Finally Fixed

I built a workbench once.


Yes. There's no need to look at me like that. Contrary to common belief I do know what a hammer and saw are for.

So why has that section of fence been down so long in your backyard? Why does your poor wife have to fret about her dog high-tailing it around the neighborhood? Why don't you use that hammer and saw!?

I built a workbench once. Really I did.

And the fence?

It's fixed. (You know there's no need to be nasty about this.) I just figured there wasn't any real rush. I was waiting for the right day. And after all, it was on the other side of another fence, a chain link fence that kept the dog at home (most of the time). The dog was just fine.

And your wife?

Well funny you should ask, she just sat there and watched the whole thing without saying a word. She sat there with her dog in her lap while I removed each nail from the old pickets and put up the new 2x4s and then pounded the old nails into the old pickets and put it back together again. Without any new pickets, ok only two, but without a single new nail.

And your wife's reaction?

About the nails?

No. About the fence.

Um... she said she was "proud" of me.

Proud!? You've got to be kidding.

Yes, ... proud. I don't think she knew that I had built a workbench once.

8:15:14 PM   permalink: []   feedback: Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.   comments: []  

 Friday, March 7, 2003

Hard Times Goodbye

Dear Alison,

This is a very sad day.

I will miss your cheerful voice and infinitely resourceful help (upon which I have regularly relied). Your departure is a big, big deal for me. You were part of what made working at this office a joy.

I am sorry that I missed your goodbye lunch. I hope the food was good, and I hope that people there had kind things to say. Had I been there, I would have had a few words to say myself. You deserved more than a few, but there are at least several I might have spoken then that reflect my thoughts of how important you have been to all of us and what a joy it was to work with you.

Thanks so much for everything. Thanks for your cheerful voice on the phone. Thanks for your patient, smiling face at the front desk. Thanks for helping with insurance and travel plans and with travel reimbursement and timecard woes. Thanks for sticking up for me when the county called and accused me of being a deadbeat dad. Thanks for sending me the same forms over and over. Thanks for reminding me to open (and fill out!) my timecard (over and over!). Thanks for your never-ending sense of humor in the face of absolutely everything. And finally thanks for being so dang good at everything you do.

I wish you good luck and much joy. Though your departure is a painful thing for me as perhaps it is for you, I hope that the day will come soon when you will look back at it with a light heart as just another step in your adventure of life.

Remember us well. We will certainly remember you. The place will seem quite empty without you.


11:08:39 PM   permalink: []   feedback: Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.   comments: []  

 Wednesday, March 5, 2003

What About Teachers?

I am astounded to think that she would be that thoughtless, she said talking about a girl and the way she thought (or didn't think) about her grandmother.

They sat thinking about the girl and the grandmother who had recently passed away. Each had their own thoughts. Then he barked his out.

Kids today! They are thoughtless, all of them. They are rude, self-absorbed, loud, violent, and profane!

He didn't wait for a response.

Maybe it has always been this way. I remember a profane time I went thru when I was young. And I remember treating my aunts very badly and growling at my grandmother. I remember breaking an antique couch and trying to cover it up. So maybe I'm being a little harsh. Maybe it's not kids today. Maybe that is just the way they are.

He stood a while in uffish thought.

You'd know far better than I, he said, acknowledging that she was a teacher, that she knew kids, that she had perhaps some expertise in this area. And then he continued in another direction without missing a beat.

But I look around and see nothing that suggests we have anything in our culture that establishes any sort of models for behavior kids can return to when they begin to grow up. TV? Hah. Movies? Hah! Musicians? Right. Politicians? Don't make me laugh.

Parents. That's it. There are only parents. And many are too busy to spend time with their kids over the years. And many are criminally irresponsible. And many are rude, self-absorbed, loud, violent, and profane. And they drink to excess. And they buy lottery tickets.

Oh what a fine mood he was in that evening, dishing out his uninvited bitterness as she sat there listening.

Oh well, he quipped. I gotta go. I'm starving.

She sat there as he walked away, the echoes of his words ringing her ears -- or the echo of what he didn't say.

Role models? What about teachers after all: teachers who slave in the pits and work for the love of the backbreaking work. What about teachers who show up early with smiling faces and plans for the day and stay late preparing for the next.

What about teachers? she wanted to say, but he was already gone.

12:29:13 AM   permalink: []   feedback: Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.   comments: []  

 Monday, March 3, 2003

John's Sunshine

Grey skies and mostly cloudy, they said. 80 percent chance of rain all day. Dreary weather into the night. The wind carried a chill. The storm clouds threw down torrents of rain.

In the studio every day, John plays eclectic music and talks to his listeners in his low, comforting voice. And he hosts musicians live on the air. When today's musicians had packed up and gone, John played "Let the Sunshine In". And the clear notes of the guitar and the joyous, clamoring voices rang out on radios throughout the city.

And then.

And then the gray clouds parted. And the dark sky gave way to turquoise blue. And the sun shone brightly. And the people in the streets stopped and turned their eyes upwards and pointed to the sky. And they marvelled at such a thing.

I heard it. I saw it. It happened.

John Aielli's Eklektikos, KUT radio, Austin TX
2:19:34 PM   permalink: []   feedback: Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.   comments: []  

 Sunday, March 2, 2003

Flowing Words

Saturday night. Alligator Grill for some Cajun food. It's Mardi Gras season. The lobby is packed, and the waiting line is long. His blood sugar has crashed after his afternoon run. He can barely muster the energy to speak while they stand there waiting.

Sunday morning. The coffee is made. The comics have been read. She has been up for a long time and is in the kitchen holding the paper in front of her. She does not see him coming to refill his coffee cup. Ooh! she quietly exclaims to herself. Scrapbook pads on sale at Michaels!

Sometimes for him, the words must be pulled out one by one but never for her. For her they always flow.

1:32:02 PM   permalink: []   feedback: Click here to send an email to the editor of this weblog.   comments: []