30 November, 2013

Tree

Almost every day I photograph this tree my office window - always from the same angle and about the same time of day. This is my favorite image from the past week.
TGB   

Copyright © 2013 Thomas G. Brown

To view a video set to music that contains 135 images taken over 12 months, click here.

For the 2010 collection of images, click here.
For the 2011 collection of images, click here.
For the 2012 collection of images, click here.
For the 2013 collection of images, click here.

29 November, 2013

Looks Great! Little Full, Lotta Sap!!

Today I offer my annual post honoring Tree Day, and today is Tree Day - at least a Tree Day of sorts anyway. Let me explain.

In July 1985, we moved into our current home after nearly nine months of arduous construction - although I still had all ten fingers. We had a large party at Christmas for the faculty I led at the time. Given there were to be many first time guests, our tree was, of course, a huge deal, and we had selected a beautiful one from a seasonal lot in town.

Within a week, however, you could hear the needles dropping. Dink. Dink. Plink. I resolved then that Christmas of 1986 would be different. We were heading into the wilds to cut a fresh tree, one that we could put up early and leave up for a while without fear of incineration.

That's easy in Central New York. Most would call this area "Upstate"- unless you're from New York City, and in that case, anything north of 263rd Street qualifies as Upstate. After all, if your uncle had been sent "up the river" to Sing Sing prison, he went to Ossining. Way way upstate. In fact, a full 20 miles north of Yonkers. But ... I digress. The point is there are farms selling Christmas trees everywhere in our area. No shortage whatsoever.

We decided our Tree Day would be on Black Friday since we avoided those crazed masses anyway. We selected a farm somewhat at random, but it was over the river even though not quite through the woods. Children bundled (ages 3 and 5 then). Check. Wife gloved, coated, and scarved (younger then). Check. Uncle with station wagon (less cranky then). Check. Saw (sharper then). Check. Tape measure (newer then). Check. And we're off.

We parked and began the hike - about a quarter mile uphill. That was easy enough, but it doesn't include the 15-20 miles we walked around and among the trees as my wife looked for the Perfect Tree. She finally located a beautiful blue spruce - tall and full. I proceeded to saw it down, but that's when I learned that because we were "early" (i.e., before the official season opening), I would have to lug that monster back down the hill. I was sure glad to have an uncle with me, but the tree was having its revenge! I should add that this 12 foot beauty cost only $20, and I can't imagine what it would have set us back on a tree lot in town.

That became the pattern for the next few years until my brother-in-law plus family decided to join us. Then a couple of years later my sister-in-law's sister jumped on board with her family. Now we were six adults (seven, depending on my uncle's mood) and seven offspring. Even the occasional dog or two.

We had a tradition emerging. Tree Day would be the day after Thanksgiving each year. We would get an early jump on the cutting, return to our respective homes to get, at minimum, the trees in their stands, and then reassemble at one of the three homes for food and drink and a viewing of White Christmas - which at some point became Christmas Vacation.

The tradition has fallen on hard times. My sister-in-law's sister has divorced, and her children became adults. She is no longer part of the tradition. My sister-in-law has purchased an artificial tree. Scheduling has become harder too now that the children are all adults with jobs and their own commitments or in-laws.

But Tree Day lives on. The Browns began it, and the Browns continue it although for health reasons I generally wait for their return with the tree. My wife and daughter (with boyfriend) will proceed to cut our tree this year - the 28th Brown outing. As always, it will be large - about 12 feet tall and full, and fully decorated it gives the White House tree a run for its money. Speaking of money, we still pay under $30 for a huge tree.

And ... another day will be Tree Day with the rest of the extended family. We'll gather and eat and drink and watch Christmas Vacation. The date is now arbitrary, but we still take the time to enjoy each other's love and usually reminisce a bit about Tree Days Past. When the decorations come down and when both this tree and this Christmas are just another memory, it is that love and the sharing in each other's Journey that will remain. After all, this is what is most important. Isn't it?
TGB   

28 November, 2013

Not Your Typical Thursday

Not my menu, but wouldn't it be nice if it were. Enjoy and treasure your family and friends on this special day. I shall, and I have so much more for which I am thankful too. I wish you a most ...

Happy Thanksgiving


27 November, 2013

And Thanks Are Given

There is much in life easily taken for granted, and it's not difficult to overlook the bounty I have been given. This week is a good week to count blessings - if you have not already done as many have and announced something to be thankful for on each day of November.

My blessings are many - not the least of which is that I am alive, no small miracle having survived several illnesses that many do not. What follows is my traditional Thanksgiving week post. It's a continuing affirmation for me as well as a reminder of the many things for which I should be thankful.

I am thankful for the wonders of human inspiration -
music and lighthouses, art and literature, swings and laughter.

I am thankful for the everyday beauty of nature -
the seasons, the azure sky, the starry night, the boundless oceans,
the warmth of the sun on my face,
the sounds of birds, the caress of a breeze.

I am thankful for the blessings of friendship -
old friends embraced anew
and newer friends willing to nourish my aging soul.

I am thankful for the comfort of family -
a loving wife, two wonderful daughters, and a grandson
a mother, a brother, an extended family of cousins and others -
all of whom love me as much as I love them.

I am thankful for the opportunity to work -
in spite of physical challenges.
Blessed with a sound mind and an excellent education,
I discovered my calling in a world of ideas rather than manual labor.

I am thankful for the warmth of my home -
a peaceful haven, a shelter from all manner of storm.

I am thankful for the food on my table -
especially so when that involves
cheese or olives or bread.

And wine.
Really.


TGB

24 November, 2013

Lightning Strikes


As Bill approached mid-life, physically he was a mess. Not only was he going bald, but years of office work had given him a large pot belly. The last straw came when he asked a woman co-worker out on a date, and she all but laughed at him.

That does it, he decided. He was going to start a whole new regimen. He began attending aerobics classes. He started working out with weights. He changed his diet. He even got an expensive hair transplant. In six months, he was a different man. Again he asked his female co-worker out, and this time she accepted.

There he was, all dressed up for the date, looking better than he ever had. He stood poised to ring the woman's doorbell when a bolt of lightning struck him and knocked him off his feet. As he lay there dying, he turned his eyes toward the heavens and said, "Why, God, why now? After all I've been through, how could you do this to me?"

From up above, there came a voice, "Sorry. I didn't not recognize you."
Author Unknown   

23 November, 2013

Tree

Almost every day I photograph this tree my office window - always from the same angle and about the same time of day. This is my favorite image from the past week.
TGB   

Copyright © 2013 Thomas G. Brown

To view a video set to music that contains 135 images taken over 12 months, click here.

For the 2010 collection of images, click here.
For the 2011 collection of images, click here.
For the 2012 collection of images, click here.
For the 2013 collection of images, click here.

22 November, 2013

Mighty Finn - Update #21

They say you should always be yourself - 
unless you can be a unicorn.
Then be a unicorn.

Want to come and play with my blocks?

Let's try that unicorn thing again
Nope. It was better the  first time.

I need to reposition the bin.
It's almost time for cleanup.

Sometimes, though, I just sit and think.

But then I remember.

I love the playground - 
so many neat things to climb on.

Fall is kind of cool so
up goes my hoodie.

And my newest fun thing is the slide.
Shooooosh.

You, mommy.
You showed me how.
Lots of love.

21 November, 2013

{this memory} 97

This is the story behind last Monday's {this moment}.

Is it recognizable? It's certainly iconic. You are looking a Freud's couch. It's in his London home where he spent the last year or so of his life. He had finally fled Vienna after the Gestapo held his daughter Anna for a day.

I've been fortunate enough to visit his apartments in Vienna once and his London home twice. I loved Vienna and was awestruck to tour the space where he lived and worked for decades. It's a bit sad because the spaces are somewhat barren since he moved everything to London where his home hosts the furniture, the aforementioned couch, and his desk with all of the antique figurines he collected. In fact, he basically duplicated the office he had in Vienna in the London home.

In that couch, I see a dedicated scientist, courage in the face of almost unimaginable hatred and hostility, and determination to fight a cancer that would eventually win. None of these are bad qualities to have. In the end, of course, he had to give in to his frailty and asked for a lethal dose of morphine.

I am a fortunate man. Life's been good to me so far.
TGB

20 November, 2013

He Couldn't Let Go

It was all so bizarre. I'd say surreal, but it was very much real - reality unfolding with all of its usual brute force. And I think of it every semester as exams approach - like now.

It began as your typical final exam in your typical sophomore-level course taught by a typical professor. One by one my students finished, and although faculty are required to allow students the full two and half hours of the exam period, rarely do I have a student take longer than 90 minutes in this course.

That was pretty much the case this time, but I had one student who was lingering. The next to the last student finished a little before the 90 minute mark, but this student kept fidgeting and sighing and occasionally writing.

We arrived at the two hour mark, and there was more fidgeting and more sighing and occasionally more writing.

Finally the required time was up. Had there been an indication that the exam was harder than I planned, I would have allowed more time, but all others had been finished for over an hour. I moved toward the student's desk and asked for the exam paper.

Nope.

Wait, what?! I began to use my command voice. Calm, assertive, louder.

Nope.

I reached down to take the exam from the desk.

Nope.

But in the movement to keep it from me, I thought I saw a crib sheet, and the reluctance to hand it in now made sense. The student had stayed too long, and as the only focus for my proctoring, the student had no way to dispose of the evidence without detection.

I grabbed the exam, but the student refused to let go. I can state unequivocally that this was the first time in over 40 years of teaching at the college level that I have had a student refuse to turn in an exam.

Now we were in a tug of war over the test booklet. I'm sure you're forming a mental image of this, and if it weren't so sad, it would be hysterical. It was getting louder as I alternated between counseling the student about what was in his best interest and trying to command a surrender of the materials.

Although late in the afternoon, a few colleagues emerged from their offices upon hearing the commotion and asked if I need help or campus safety. I explained the situation to them and asked someone to call for two campus safety officers to respond.

Now the student started to panic and stood to exit the room - still hanging on to the exam. As was I. Since I had not let go, the student was basically dragging me toward the stairs which were only about ten feet from the classroom door. And a new image just popped in your head, I bet - exam tearing in half, me being dragged down the stairs, etc. At some point I knew I had to let go, and when I did, the student took off running with the exam - down the stairs and out of the building, exam still very much in hand.

I received a tearful and apologetic phone call not too long after that. It didn't much matter. With a zero on the final, there was no way to pass - which was what I was telling the student earlier. With an F on the final, it was still possible to pass but not with a zero. He had done well on all of his earlier work. If there were cheating, of course, there would be an automatic F, but that was yet to be determined.

The student blamed it all on having taken too much Adderall to get "up" for the exam. Perhaps, but if there were a crib sheet in the exam, it would have been evidence of cheating. As a student-athlete, the student would have been thrown off his team, and the student quite rationally decided that this was a fate worse than the zero and the resulting F for the course. Even the admission of drug abuse was not as problematic as cheating for this student.

It didn't have to be, but it's a day I'll never forget. I try not to judge my students, and this was a student with whom I had a good relationship. That they sometimes do foolish things doesn't make them fools. It just means that their education is not yet complete; I know mine isn't. At the same time, one's sense of honor ought to be stronger by the time one is twenty. Whom do I ask about that?
TGB   

19 November, 2013

The Power Of A Simple Gesture

This video has been around for a while, and I, as did many, passed it along to my FB friends. Yet I find myself returning to it for more viewings. It moves me.

The company that produced it says "This short film illustrates the power of words to radically change your message and your effect upon the world." I think it does a lot more than that.

Maybe it's the caring for a stranger that is portrayed. Maybe it's the simplicity of a gesture that can still make a real difference in someone's life. Maybe I just like a good story. I don't know, but it moves me enough to want to post it here. Although my preference would be that no one need help at all, should the opportunity arise, I hope I am able to help, to share a cup of kindness. And my cup runneth over.

That will be my thought for now, and in the future that thought will sustain me and make me happy. I hope it strikes you the same way and encourages you to make a gesture - however simple - that will help a fellow traveler on the Journey. Blanche DuBois may have always depended upon the kindliness of strangers, but that was in the 1940s. Today's world is colder, and there are many for whom a bit of kindness could make a significant difference.

In spite of the snippets of misfortune that life has occasionally thrown my way, I am profoundly rich and have much for which to be thankful. That bounty needs to be shared. I believe each act of kindness I share encourages further acts of kindness in the same way that ripples propagate and interact as they steadily expand. One simple gesture can work wonders.
TGB   


18 November, 2013

{this moment} 97

A Monday ritual. A single image - no words - capturing a moment from the past. A simple moment along my life's Journey - but one over which I wish to linger and savor each treasured aspect of the memories it evokes. If you are moved or intrigued by my {this moment}, please leave a comment. On Thursday in a companion ritual called {this memory}, I'll share the story of this moment.

{this moment}

{this moment} is a ritual copied and adapted from cath's wonderful blog ~just my thoughts. She, in turn, borrowed it from Pamanner's Blog. Check out their blogs, and if you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your {this moment} in the comments for each of us to find and see.
TGB

17 November, 2013

Cannibal King

A cannibal king in a remote jungle territory had a particular taste for missionaries. Somehow their meat always tasted sweeter, and the king was an expert on food. There was nothing he enjoyed more than sitting down to a sumptuous banquet.

On one particular evening he was heartily into the huge platter of thinly sliced missionary before him. It was easy to see why he weighed in at over 350 pounds. While his people were happy to see the king enjoying himself - he had a ferocious temper when things did not meet with his approval - they were fervently hoping that there would be a few scraps left over for them. The king was decidedly rotund, but his subjects were thin from near starvation. So with each slice of meat that he devoured, their hearts sank a little further. It was beginning to look as if there would be nothing left.

The natives began to mutter among themselves. "It doesn't look good," said the cannibal who had felled the missionary with a poison dart. "He is going to eat the lot! It's always the same when we bring him back one of these religious types."

"He certainly has a liking for these men of God," agreed a fellow subject. "There's obviously something about their delicate skin."

"Well, it's simply not good enough," said the first native, becoming increasingly irate. "It's about time we followed the example of the Watumbabibi down river and refused to hunt until the king shows us more consideration. He must allow us a fair helping of his missionary meals."

"You mean," queried his fellow cannibal, "That we should ask him to implement some kind of Prophet-sharing scheme?"
Author Unknown   

16 November, 2013

Tree

Almost every day I photograph this tree my office window - always from the same angle and about the same time of day. This is my favorite image from the past week.
TGB   

Copyright © 2013 Thomas G. Brown

To view a video set to music that contains 135 images taken over 12 months, click here.

For the 2010 collection of images, click here.
For the 2011 collection of images, click here.
For the 2012 collection of images, click here.
For the 2013 collection of images, click here.

15 November, 2013

I Wish I Said That

Next May - about 150 lectures from now - I'll retire after 40 years of college teaching. What I have always been sensitive to, although I note an increasing intensity of late, is that a year after a course ends, students won't remember much of it. My only hope has been to find a few 'big ideas' appropriate for each course that might have a chance of being retained. I'm not sure what follows quite does that, but I still wish it had been my idea.

"A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, he wordlessly picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.

"The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly, and the pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.

"The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with a unanimous ‘yes.’

"The professor then produced two bottles of beer from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar, effectively filling the empty space between the sand. The students laughed.

"‘Now,’ said the professor as the laughter subsided, ‘I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things—-your family, your children, your health, your friends and your favorite passions—-and if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full. The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house and your car. The sand is everything else—-the small stuff.

"‘If you put the sand into the jar first,’ he continued, ‘there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff you will never have room for the things that are important to you.

"Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness.

"Spend time with your children. Spend time with your parents. Visit with grandparents. Take your spouse out to dinner. Play another 18. There will always be time to clean the house and mow the lawn.

"Take care of the golf balls first—-the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.

"One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the beer represented. The professor smiled and said, ‘I’m glad you asked. The beer just shows you that no matter how full your life may seem, there’s always room for a couple of beers with a friend.'"

not TGB   

14 November, 2013

{this memory} 96

This is the story behind last Monday's {this moment}.

Let's see. Christmas. Early very 1980s. Not my son. Nephew. His grandmother's house, my mother-in-law. Plate of cookies on the table. Took forever before he left that thumb alone. He's a policeman these days - after he took up being an Army Ranger in the post-9/11 my-country needs-me period. He has his own son about this age today. He likes to look at me and say 'Thom.'

So what do I think of when I look at this? Christmases - past and present and future, love, family, children to be proud of. Sigh.

I also wonder where that handsome young Uncle Thom went. One thing's for sure - his butt has become his belly. Sigh.

I am a fortunate man. Life's been good to me so far.
TGB

13 November, 2013

Now I See it ...

Hallucinations ... who knew they could be so curious and irritating - and at the same time?

Well, here's the deal. For quite some time now, I have slept poorly. I have no trouble falling asleep, but staying asleep - ay, there's the rub. The modal length of a sleep period is about an hour. You give me a 90 minute stretch, and I'm thrilled. A two hour stretch? I'm ecstatic. Three hours without waking? To be honest I cannot remember when that last happened.

It's not that I'm getting no sleep. I go back to sleep fairly easily, but I am not well rested. I have no idea what is happening with my REM periods which are supposed to arrive every 90 minutes or so. I'm getting desperate. I've tried melatonin - no help, not even in the new timed-release version. After avoiding it for a long time, I finally accepted my physician's offer of a sleeping pill. The thought of them scared me, but I was assured that as long as my supplemental oxygen was working, there was little to worry about.

So ... I entered last Friday night armed with five Ambien. Not just for Friday, of course, but for five nights. It was bedtime, but I remained undecided. Finally I leapt and swallowed one of the five. I was not expecting a miracle. I thought the first night might be a bit funky just because it was ... well ... the first night. On Saturday morning had to admit that although waking on occasion, my sleep periods were longer. I'm resolved to see it through, and on Saturday night, I took pill number two.

Saturday night's sleep was only marginally improved, if at all. It's now Sunday afternoon, I'm on the couch, and the History Channel was requesting my undivided attention. It happened a few times before I started to figure it out. Someone came to the doorway to ask a question. Just as I started to answer, I realized there was no one there, and the apparition dissolved like a wisp of smoke.

Or, I found myself trying to do something or eat something. Same scenario - at some point I realized it wan't there, usually when I couldn't touch it. And poof. The most bizarre was when I was holding a pencil or a fork that gradually became more and more flexible as I tried to use it. Then there were all of the times I was relieved it wasn't real because I was about to make a mess or break something.

Can you say visual hallucination, dear readers?! Sure you can. These were all reality based though - none of that weird stuff. (I've written about a similar experience in To Sleep, Perchance To Dream, but these are somehow different.) It's now Wednesday, by the way, and did I say I still have three of the original five? Anything capable of giving me hallucinations, however mild, 18 hours after I took it ... well, let's just say my body doesn't need it.

I have to admit I was kind of having fun with it, but when it persisted it began to bother me. I'd rather be in control. Call me crazy.

So how was your week's end?
TGB  

12 November, 2013

Dear Tech Support:



I wish I could say this is my work. I can't, but at least I get to share it with you. I have no idea who the original author is/was. Enjoy.

Upgrading

Dear Tech Support:

I recently upgraded from Boyfriend 5.0 to Husband 1.0 and noticed that the new program began making unexpected changes to the accounting software and severely limiting access to the wardrobe, flower, and jewelry applications that operated flawlessly under Boyfriend 5.0. No mention of this phenomenon was included in the product brochure.

In addition, Husband 1.0 uninstalls many other valuable programs such as Dinner Dancing 7.5, Cruise Ship 2.3, and Opera Night 6.1 and installs new, undesirable programs such as Poker Night 1.3, Saturday Football 5.0, Golf 2.4, and Clutter Everywhere 4.5. Conversation 8.0 no longer runs and invariably crashes the system. Under no circumstances will it run Diaper Changing 14.1 or House Cleaning 2.6. I've tried running Nagging 5.3 to fix Husband 1.0, but this all-purpose utility is of only limited effectiveness. Can you help, please!

Sincerely, XXX

Dear XXX:

This is a very common problem. Women often complain, but it is mostly due to a primary misconception. Many people upgrade from Boyfriend 5.0 to Husband 1.0 with no idea that Boyfriend 5.0 is merely an ENTERTAINMENT package. Husband 1.0, However, is an OPERATING SYSTEM and was designed by its creator to run as few applications as possible.

Furthermore, you cannot purge Husband 1.0 and return to Boyfriend 5.0; Husband 1.0 is not designed to do this. Hidden operating files within your system would cause Boyfriend 5.0 to emulate Husband 1.0, so nothing is gained.

Once installed, it is impossible to uninstall, delete, or purge the program files from the system. Any new program files can only be installed once per year, as Husband 1.0 has severely limited memory. Error messages are common and a normal part of Husband 1.0.

In desperation to play some of their "old time" favorite applications, or to get new applications to work, some women have tried to install Boyfriend 6.0, or Husband 2.0. These women, however, end up with more problems than encountered with Husband 1.0.

Look in your manual under "Warnings: Divorce/Child Support." You will notice that this program runs very poorly and comes bundled with HeartBreak 1.3. I recommend you keep Husband 1.0 and just learn the quirks of this strange and illogical system.

Having Husband 1.0 installed myself, I might also suggest you read the entire section regarding General Partnership Faults [GPFs]. This is a wonderful feature of Husband 1.0, secretly installed by the parent company as an integral part of the operating system.

Husband 1.0 must assume ALL responsibility for ALL faults and problems, regardless of root cause. To activate this great feature enter the command "C:\ I THOUGHT YOU LOVED ME".

Sometimes Tears 6.2 must be run simultaneously while entering the command. Husband 1.0 should then run the applications Apologize 12.3 and Flowers/Chocolates 7.8.

TECH TIP! Avoid excessive use of this feature. Overuse can create additional and more serious GPFs, and ultimately YOU may have to give a C:\ I APOLOGIZE command before the system will return to normal operations. Overuse can also cause Husband 1.0 to default to Grumpy Silence 2.5, or worse yet, to Beer 6.0.

Beer 6.0 is a very bad program that causes Husband 1.0 to create Fat Belly files and Snoring Loudly wave files that are very hard to delete. Save yourself some trouble by following this tech tip!

Just remember! The system will run smoothly, and take the blame for all GPFs, but because of this fine feature it can only intermittently run all the applications Boyfriend 5.0 ran. Husband 1.0 is a great program, but it does have limited memory and cannot learn new applications quickly.

Consider buying additional software to improve performance. I personally recommend Hot Food 3.0, Lingerie 5.3, and Patience 10.1. Used in conjunction, these utilities can really help keep Husband 1.0 running smoothly.

After several years of use, Husband 1.0 will become familiar and you will find many valuable embedded features such as Fix Broken Things 2.1, Snuggling 4.2, and Best Friend 7.6.

A final word of caution! Do NOT, under any circumstances, install Mother-In-Law 1.0. This is not a supported application, and will cause selective shutdown of the operating system. Husband 1.0 will run only Fishing 9.4 and Hunting 5.2 until Mother-In-Law 1.0 is uninstalled.

I hope these notes have helped. Thank you for choosing to install Husband 1.0, and we here at Tech Support wish you the best of luck in coming years. We trust you will learn to fully enjoy this product!

Tech Support   

11 November, 2013

{this moment} 96

A Monday ritual. A single image - no words - capturing a moment from the past. A simple moment along my life's Journey - but one over which I wish to linger and savor each treasured aspect of the memories it evokes. If you are moved or intrigued by my {this moment}, please leave a comment. On Thursday in a companion ritual called {this memory}, I'll share the story of this moment.

{this moment}

{this moment} is a ritual copied and adapted from cath's wonderful blog ~just my thoughts. She, in turn, borrowed it from Pamanner's Blog. Check out their blogs, and if you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your {this moment} in the comments for each of us to find and see.
TGB

10 November, 2013

The New Robe


Jesus was wandering around Jerusalem when he decided he really needs a new robe. After looking around, he saw a sign for "Mandelbaum, the Tailor."

He went in, and Mandelbaum prepared a new robe for him that was a perfect fit. When he asked how much he owed, Mandelbaum brushed him off. "No, no, there's no charge, but may I ask a small favor? Maybe whenever you give a sermon, you could just mention a little something about how your nice robe was made by Mandelbaum, the Tailor."

Jesus readily agreed, and as promised, plugged Mandelbaum's robes every time he preached. Some months later, he was walking through Jerusalem and happened by Mandelbaum's shop. There was a long line of people waiting for Mandelbaum's robes. He pushed his way through the crowd to speak to Mandelbaum.

"Jesus, Jesus, look what a marvel you've been for business," gushed Mandelbaum. "Would you consider a partnership?" "Sure, sure," replied Jesus. "Jesus and Mandelbaum it is." "Uh, no, no," said Mandelbaum. "It should be Mandelbaum and Jesus. After all, I am the craftsman."

The two of them debated this and many other topics for some time. Finally, they came to a compromise decision.

The new sign went up; it read: Lord & Taylor.
Author Unknown   

09 November, 2013

Tree

Almost every day I photograph this tree near my office window - always from the same angle and about the same time of day. This is my favorite image from the past week.
TGB   


Copyright © 2013 Thomas G. Brown

To view a video set to music that contains 135 images taken over 12 months, click here.

For the 2010 collection of images, click here.
For the 2011 collection of images, click here.
For the 2012 collection of images, click here.
For the 2013 collection of images, click here.

08 November, 2013

Poetically Seasonal

About two years ago, my poetry challenge (30 in 30)continued, and on Day 18 I was asked to write a poem about the city, town, locale in which I lived. As an experiment, I took a prose piece I had written and tried turning it into a poem.


To Every Thing There Is A Season

     I live among rolling hills,
     ancient from the ocean of time
     that built them into brash young mountains
     before wearing them back down
     until little remains
     but the wisdom of age
     eagerly shared as seasonal secrets
     in a thousand different ways.

     Only yesterday those ancient hills
     teased
     and hinted before exploding
     across the horizon, a riot of color,
     shocking with countless branches
     clad for a time in autumn’s best,
     orange and gold and red.

     Today those same branches,
     now stark and dark and bare,
     stand in cold contrast to winter's snow,
     astonishing in binary beauty,
     simple elegance,
     black and white.

     Tomorrow, hints of newborn green
     will emerge from the many mists of spring,
     and what is today only a memory will return -
     expansive spaces,
     verdant green from summer’s bounty,
     meticulously shorn,
     covered in morning dew,
     and sleeping beneath long shadows cast
     by scattered trees partially blocking
     the best efforts of a rising sun.

TGB

07 November, 2013

{this memory} 95

This is the story behind last Monday's {this moment}.

Takes my breath away. Again. That's what this little fellow does to me. My grandson.

He was in Guatemala with his mother who was collecting data. Having finally arrived at their destination, he was busily exploring, and what did he find? A fountain, of course. His own personal fountain - not like the great big one in the courtyard.

I wish I could have been there, or better still I wish I knew what he was thinking. At that's what I treasure most - that wonderful mind of a child. So much to explore, to discover, to experience in this awesome astonishing world. I hope my mind is still as open as his now. Maybe. I don't mind getting older, but I don't want to grow up.

I am a fortunate man. Life's been good to me so far.
TGB

06 November, 2013

{essential truths} Just Ask

Beware of ladies who say that
asking for directions is a
really big turn-on.

05 November, 2013

Handicapped People? Really?!

Are you familiar with Yanko Design? I wasn't either, but when I was searching for items that might empower me a bit more in the kitchen, I came across their listing of the following item.

Single Hand Cook
"It’s easy for us folks to work in the kitchen, simply coz we have two hands. Fracture, permanent disability, paralysis to one side…such situations don’t discriminate and make doing regular stuff like cutting apples, peeling oranges, slicing veggies, buttering a toast a challenge. The One-Hand Kitchen Equipment is designed for people who use can use only one hand ...

This is specialized kitchen equipment includes one-handed food cutting equipment, one- handed different diameter tubes opener, one-handed fruits and vegetables cutting and peeling equipment, one–hand changeable graters, food box, equipment for peeling eggshells, elements for stabilizing foods like bread (while buttering etc.). The design includes pins for gripping the fruits and non-slip rubbers to add stability."


Well, that got me all excited until it became apparent this product never made it into production. I was looking at a prototype. Still, I thought it was très cool and shared it on facebook, but that's when the trouble began.

When you do that, you get the usual shared link window that most of us have used repeatedly with a nice thumbnail of the item and bit of the above text, but then it adds the following teaser title:

One-Hand Kitchen Equipment for Handicapped
People by Gabriele Meldaikyte » Yanko Design

WHAT?!!! "Handicapped people"?!

I don't care if you are as careful as I to use person-first descriptors like "Thom is an individual with a left hand disability" or "with physical challenges," but please don't ever say "handicapped people" or its successor "disabled people." We are neither handicapped or disabled. I am a person first and secondly someone who happens to have an array of abilities that are different than the array of abilities most people have. If you want to suggest I am differently abled, I could live with that.

I have posted before about what I call undifference - what those individuals who are without differences have, those who are difference challenged. Now I'm wondering if we need a new word, perhaps a contraction of differently abled - perhaps difability.

The problem is I know any word will eventually get perverted into some new way to label folks like me, some new way to deliver negative attention.

I have said and written the following in a number of venues:

About two and a half millennia ago, Thucydides, the great politician of Ancient Greece, was asked when justice would finally come to Athens. His response was wise. He said, “Justice will not come to Athens until those who are not injured are as indignant as those who are injured.”



I say to you today that our job cannot and simply will not be done until those who are without disability are just as offended and angry about the barriers to independent living as are those who are with disability.


Language, with the expectations it engenders, can be one of the greatest barriers.

TGB   

04 November, 2013

{this moment} 95

A Monday ritual. A single image - no words - capturing a moment from the past. A simple moment along my life's Journey - but one over which I wish to linger and savor each treasured aspect of the memories it evokes. If you are moved or intrigued by my {this moment}, please leave a comment. On Thursday in a companion ritual called {this memory}, I'll share the story of this moment.

{this moment}
{this moment} is a ritual copied and adapted from cath's wonderful blog ~just my thoughts. She, in turn, borrowed it from Pamanner's Blog. Check out their blogs, and if you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your {this moment} in the comments for each of us to find and see.
TGB

03 November, 2013

Three Beers

An Irishman moved into a tiny hamlet in County Kerry, walked into the local pub, and promptly ordered three beers. The bartender raised his eyebrows but served the man three beers which he drank quietly at a table alone.

An hour later, the man had finished the three beers and ordered three more. This happened yet again. The next evening the man again ordered and drank three beers at a time, several times. Soon the entire town was whispering about The Man Who Orders Three Beers.

Finally, a week later, the bartender broached the subject on behalf of the town. "I don't mean to pry, but folks around here are wondering why you always order three beers at a time?"

"Tis odd, isn't it?" the man replied. "You see, I have two brothers, and one went to America and the other to Australia. We promised each other that we would always order an extra two beers whenever we drank, as a way of keeping up the family bond."

The bartender and the whole town were pleased with this answer, and soon the Man Who Orders Three Beers became a local celebrity and a source of pride to the hamlet, even to the extent that out-of-towners would come to watch him drink.

Then one day, the man came in and ordered only two beers. The bartender poured them with a heavy heart. This continued for the rest of the evening. "Each time he orders only two beers," the word flew around town. Prayers were offered for the soul of one of the brothers.

The next day, the bartender said to the man, "Folks around here, me first of all, want to offer condolences to you for the death of your brother. You know -- the two beers instead of three, and all..."

The man pondered this for a moment, then replied, "You'll be happy to hear that my two brothers are alive and well. It's just that I, meself, have decided to give up drinking for Lent."
Author Unknown   


02 November, 2013

Tree

Almost every day I photograph this tree near my office window - always from the same angle and about the same time of day. This is my favorite image from the past week.
TGB   


Copyright © 2013 Thomas G. Brown

To view a video set to music that contains 135 images taken over 12 months, click here.

For the 2010 collection of images, click here.
For the 2011 collection of images, click here.
For the 2012 collection of images, click here.
For the 2013 collection of images, click here.

01 November, 2013

Mighty Finn - Update #20

One last photo from Disney Hong Kong.
That's my nonna. She loves me. Lots.

Back from the Far East and, of course,
we needed some supplies.

I Skype. Do you Skype?
It's the next best thing to being there.

Yep - it's starting to get a bit nippy outside -
so the heat's on. That's also means lots
of static electricity. My hair ... well ...
let's just say it's had better days.

Yep - nippy outside and that calls for a new snow suit.
Evidently I've grown a bit since last year.

Follow me. I'll show you how to get out of this maze
This is so cool. I love October.

I got to pick whatever pumpkin I wanted -
as long as it was one I could carry.
Maddie and I are giving it a good think - before we commit.

video
This pumpkin's about my limit, I think.
Hey! Look at that tractor. I've gotta get one of those.

And Halloween means costumes.
Do you know who I am?

Why I'm Max, of course,
King of the Wild Things.
I'm toasty too. Bring on the candy.

See you soon.