28 March, 2011

"Whom Did You Vote For?"

I met Geraldine Ferraro exactly twice.

The first time was at a reception that followed her speech on campus in the late 1980s. That was a few years after her trailblazing, albeit unsuccessful, run for the vice-presidency in 1984. I don't recall if I introduced myself or if someone who knew her introduced us. Probably the later - perhaps Rev. Baissa who knew her well. We chatted a few moments about my role as chief academic officer of the college, and I asked her for her autograph. I had brought from home the copy of her 1985 book Ferraro: My Story that I had given my wife a few years earlier.

She took the book from me and just as she was about to sign it, she looked and me, smiled, and said, "Wait - whom did you vote for in 1984." I assured her I voted democratic, and she signed away. She would, of course, have signed anyway, but I have always remembered her sense of humor.

The second occasion was 1996 or 1997. As the president of the Board of Directors of the Resource Center for Independent Living, I was one of two called upon to introduce her for a speech she was giving at a fundraiser for RCIL. In my remarks I noted that I didn't think she would recall but that I had met her seven or eight years earlier. I related the story about the book and the autograph request. The audience loved that she teased about not signing if I hadn't voted for her. I think my exact remarks to the audience when I mentioned her asking me whom I voted for were "I won't tell you [the audience], but she did sign the book."

I meant to imply I had obviously voted for her (or she wouldn't have signed). When she stood to speak, she admitted not remembering the encounter, but based on my not telling the audience, she assumed I voted for the other guys. I assured her again that she had me in her column on the ballot.

I can't say she was a friend; that would be an overreach. It might even be an overreach to say she was an acquaintance. What I do know is she was a class act - a warm, intelligent, knowledgeable, and dedicated American, and she will be missed.

Did I say will? She is missed. When I look at those most visible few who supposedly represent the new female face of politics - Angle, Palin, Bachmann, O'Donnell - well, ... let's just say Geraldine Ferraro has been missed for a while. Why do we continue to elect those who celebrate ignorance and attempt to make it a virtue?

Geraldine Ferraro is and will remain a great role model, but we've lost her wisdom and voice just when we need them most.

27 March, 2011

Don't Borrow The Chief's Bike

A missionary who had spent years showing a tribe of natives how to farm and build things to be selfsufficient gets word that he is to return home.

He realizes that the one thing he never taught the natives was how to speak English, so he takes the chief and starts walking in the forest. He points to a tree and says to the chief: "This is a tree." The chief looks at the tree and grunts: "Tree."

The missionary is pleased with the response. They walk a little farther and the padre points to a rock and says: "This is a rock." Hearing this, the chief looks and grunts: "Rock."

The padre is really getting enthusiastic about the results when he hears a rustling in the bushes. As he peeks over the top, he sees a couple in the midst of heavy romantic activity. The padre is really flustered and quickly responds: "Riding a bike."

The chief looks at the couple briefly, pulls out his blow gun, and kills them!

The padre goes ballistic and yells at the chief that he has spent years teaching the tribe how to be civilized and kind to each other! How could he just kill these people in cold blood that way?

The chief replied: "My bike."

24 March, 2011

There Are More Hands Than Heads, Usually

About a week ago in Missing Extremities, I offered some thoughts about my relationship with my left arm and hand and some thoughts about whether my left hand exists for me given that I have no muscular control over it or sensation from it. I first began to write about these issues just over a year ago, and shortly after sharing thoughts very similar to Missing Extremities I created this visual image.


Close friends with whom I shared it last year admitted to being somewhat taken aback but understood at some level because they know me well. It is stark, and if my words weren't quite evocative enough, well ... this sort of slaps you. Those readers who have similar challenges will understand immediately, but it's likely to be more difficult for others.

This is a journey, and the image was just a stop along the way. Although my feelings about the hand are little changed from then, the utter lack of ambiguity of the image is not typically a quality I project, internally or externally - although ... I have been known to howl at the moon on occasion. I have, in fact, spent the last few years learning to be more comfortable with ambiguity in my life (see The Year of Living Ambiguously). It's a good place to be.

Patience, on the other hand (tsk), has always been a strong suit for me. Whatever it is that I am currently trying to understand about my relationship with my neglected left is going to take some further effort. I find that writing helps crystalize my thinking, and that I am sharing these thoughts in this forum suggests I may finally be ready to come to grips with it (oh, the puns). It's time.

20 March, 2011

Gifts From God

There was a preacher whose wife was expecting a baby so he went before the congregation and asked for a raise. After much discussion, they passed a rule that whenever the preacher's family expanded, so would his paycheck.

After six children, this started to get expensive, and the congregation decided to hold another meeting to discuss the preacher's salary. There was much yelling and bickering about how much the clergyman's additional children were costing the church. Finally, the Preacher got up and spoke to the crowd.

"Children are a gift from God," he said. Silence fell on the congregation.

In the back pew, a little old lady stood up and in her frail voice said: "Rain is also a gift from God, but when we get too much of it, we wear rubbers."

And the congregation said, "Amen."

13 March, 2011

The Asphalt Jungle

     Maxine was driving down the street in a sweat
        because she had an important meeting and
          couldn't find a parking place.

      Looking up toward heaven, she said, "Lord,
     take pity on me. If you find me a parking place,
    I will go to church every Sunday for the rest of
  my life. And give up sex and tequila too."

 Miraculously, a parking place appeared.

She looked up again and said, "Never mind. I
found one."

10 March, 2011

The Blog


I have won the "Versatile Blogger Award" thanks to treebytheriver at http://treebytheriverblog.blogspot.com/. According to the rules, I have to regift this award to seven others, and I need to say seven things about myself.

About self:
1. I have two amazing daughters. One is a specialist in pediatric hematology/oncology. The other is just finishing a doctorate in clinical psychology.
2. I can't swim in spite of years of lessons, private and group. Well, that's not quite right. I can swim but only as far as I can hold my breath. I could never get the rhythm of the breathing/stroking thing. It never stopped me from boating or surfing though.
3. If I could live on cheese, olives, bread, and wine only, I would.
4. I drive a 22-year-old car that has fewer than 40,000 miles on it and gets about 30 miles per gallon.
5. I cannot live without books.
6. Although I have been a professor of psychology for 36 years, I probably should have been an architect or an Egyptologist. And I want to live long enough to see whirled peas.
7. I don't allow a day to pass without laughing and being thankful for life and especially the female portion of it.

Now I have to award this to seven other people.
Here they are but not in any particular order.

1. Strained Consciousness
3. Inside the Mind of a Highly Sensitive Person
4. The Jefferson Tree
5. A Novel Review: My Writings and Military Life
6. Reflections from a Redhead
7. Conversations along the Tiber...

I like these blogs. They always have something worth my time - so please stop by for a visit.

For those I've recognized above, there are rules for the award. Just two. One, say seven things about yourself. Two, share the award with seven other people.

06 March, 2011

No Way Over

Reverend Boudreaux was the part-time pastor of the local Cajun Baptist Church, and Pastor Thibodaux was the minister of the Covenant Church across the road. They were both standing by the road, pounding a sign into the ground, that read:

End is Near!
Turn Youself Around Now
Before It's Too Late!

As a car sped past them, the driver leaned out his window and yelled, "You religious nuts!" From the curve they heard screeching tires and a big splash ... so Boudreaux turns to Thibodaux and asks, "Do ya tink maybe da sign should jes say 'Bridge Out'?"

04 March, 2011

The Birth Of Salvation

I like lighthouses. Always have.

I grew up not far from two. I have travelled out of my way to see and photograph dozens of them. One wall of my office is covered with framed images of them. I have a shelf filled with miniatures of some of my favorites. Friends mail me postcards of lighthouses they've seen and give me stamps, books, and all manner of nicknack related to lighthouses. I've even given lectures on lighthouses.

It may not sound like it, but I am selective. Having grown up near the ocean, I have a preference for the large "landfall" lights, especially those of the east coast. And yes, size matters. The earth is curved, and the taller the lighthouse, the further out to sea you can be and still see it - important if you're about to bump into North America (make "landfall") or, for example, the dangerous shoals which extend about ten miles into the Atlantic from Cape Hatteras.

The Cape Hatteras Light lamp is 192 feet above the ground and 210 feet above sea level. At that height it is easily visible from 20 nautical miles (23 miles) in clear conditions although its official range is 24 nautical miles. In exceptional conditions, the claim is that it has been seen from 51 nautical miles out. I'm skeptical, but it is still my favorite lighthouse. Of course, I watched them move it a half mile inland just over a decade ago, and that makes it a hard act to follow. There is a lot to admire. The structure is the tallest light in the US and the 23rd tallest in the world.

Over the past few weeks I have been posting favorite photographs I've taken on visits to lighthouse, a pattern I'll continue until I'm out of favorites. See the Light For The Navigator series.

But ... that's not what it's all about. It's the symbolism of a lighthouse that I love. There it stands, alone and resolute, as a beacon of help for souls in perilous circumstance. Isn't that what we all want when we're feeling lost or in danger or searching for salvation - something or someone to show us the way, to remind us that there are places and spaces of security waiting for us?

I respect its ability to weather all manner of storm, and I like that its height draws our vision upward into the skies, another reminder to hold our head up in spite of unpleasant times that may try to pull it down.

I like lighthouses, but I positively love the inspiration they offer.