Friday, December 19, 2008

Smile and say "Barefoot"!

My wife Jenzie turned me on to this hilarious web site called Stuff White People Like. Now, in the throes of the holiday season I see and think about family portraits and ask (in my best Andy Rooney voice) What the hell is it with barefoot people in studio portraits? I think it's more stuff white people like.

There is a secret code going on here in the second photo. Notice how gramps (on the right) has on shoes, but grandma does not; and the dad's barefoot, and mom is in sandals. I think this is what it means to be half casual. Probably some insider photog secret re: flesh to fabric ratios.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Bagassora Convicted

Last year, I read several books on the genocide in Rwanda. All very hard to read for the cruelty and disregard for human life they revealed. Not simply the Hutus killing Tutsis, but people like Madeline Albright (and others in the Clinton administration), and key figures in the French government and the UN. By all accounts, Bagasora was the Hutu leader most responsible for the butchery. He was finally convicted. Read Canadian General Romeo Dallaire's book for starters.

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Value of a Dollar

Recently, I thought I wanted to create a new Blog, a kind of good will log. A place where you could share experiences of giving and receiving 'random acts of kindness'. I know it might feel self-serving to talk about the good you do, and the good others do to you, but I thought it'd be useful for the someone who might stop by and need a lift.

Because while Lady MacBeth's worries Macbeth is too full of the milk of human kindness, I worry I am not. I am an old dog learning a new trick, or trying to learn. Millions of people live by this creed of giving every day and to you I take off my hat. But in my life I have stumbled along, doing it here and there, but it is not a way of life for me. And that is the strange part because when I do it, it feels like bliss.

I have always liked a line from a song by The Smiths: it takes guts to be gentle and kind. Makes a lot of sense to me, as does this from my old friend WW:

An excerpt from the Old Cumberland Beggar:

" ... man is dear to man: the poorest poorLong for some moments in a weary lifeWhen they can know and feel that they have beenThemselves the fathers and the dealers outOf some small blessings, have been kind to suchAs needed kindness, for this single cause,That we have all of us one human heart."

The idea behind starting this new Blog started with a lift home, an act of kindness from a total stranger. I was at my mechanics recently, trying to mooch a ride back to my house after dropping off my car, but the drivers were all out plowing snow. A well-dressed man (who I had thought to myself looked corny) overhead the conversation and offered to give me a lift. We chatted about the neighborhood on the way to my house, and as I got out of the car I said, "Well, I am gonna half to figure out how to repay this kindness." "Yeah, keep it going you know, " he said. The next day, with more snow falling, I hauled out the new used snow thrower I bought from our neighbor. I did our drive and sidewalk. But then I started thinking, who else can I do? I ended up doing our whole sidewalk, the driveways of three friends in the neighborhood--one woman had let me pick pears off her tree all season long.

The Karmic wheel turned, and the next day while fueling up the van at a station down the street, some big husky fellow starts talking to me about the economy, how his dad was always saying he didn't know the value of a dollar. I told him I had been laid off in March, and that I knew the value of a dollar. Long story short, he pulled out his money clip and gave me a $20 bill.

So that's the value of a dollar, right? That you can give it away.
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