July 30, 2019

Seven Quick Takes

Maris is the rabbit scholar of the family. Of the dogs we’ve had, she’s the most dedicated to keeping them clear of our forty acres divided by a hundred.  She’s watchful as she waits, sitting in prime locations for hours.  When she finally sees the tell-tale white tail, she springs into action, running with abandon along the muscle-memorized contours and detours of our backyard.

After the rabbit is far gone she rests not: she does a post-mortem, sniffing the path the animal went as if looking for clues next time on how to prevent the next infiltration.  She treads the ground with her nose to the grindstone, er, I mean the ground, and like Detective Bosch attempts to solve a mystery.  Then she waits anew in case the criminal returns to the scene of the crime.

Our neighbor is to noise-making machines (leaf-blowers, edgers, lawn mower, hedge trimmers, etc...) what Pete Rose was to base hits.  I’ve never seen anything like it.  Every night between 6:30 and 8 he’s cutting one-inch high grass or trimming invisible leaves from perfectly square bushes.  He’s actually getting worse with age which is the general trend I hear:  you get more “more” when you hit your 70s and 80s.  His major hobby in life is making noise, and he’s doing it more of it of this year.

But the irritation I feel at having to retrieve my noise-cancellers is immediately assuaged by the very effective blocking combined with some good jazz or classical music.  It’s actually an opportunity to hear more music. It does feel “wrong” somehow that you can buy your way out of irritations like neighbors.  Although it’s kind of fitting: the first world gave us omnipresent engine noise but also gives us noise-cancelling headphones.


Reading moon book and newly amazed that astronauts covered 240,000 miles to moon. One way trip. That’s equivalent to going from Ohio to Australia twenty-four times.

Also impressed USSR could pull off a feat like going into space far ahead of us.  I thought we were ever the technology super power.  But it’s true that although they put a man made object on moon in 1959, we were only ones to actually walk on moon.

As a symbol of American greatness and excellence, the moon mission seems like peak America.

Did a really strong elliptical workout due to the unlikely reason of goosebumps listening to every Youtube version of Toto’s Africa, especially one involving a huge choir. Really the song feels full of that “holy longing” with lyrics blessing the saving rain (the word “salvation” is even used):
“The moonlit wings reflect the stars that guide me towards salvation...I stopped an old man along the way / Hoping to find some old forgotten words or ancient melodies / He turned to me as if to say, "Hurry boy, it's waiting there for you"
Has the scent of Heaven on it, the forgotten words of the gospel, the ancient melodies of the psalms, the “old man” like the one who’s on the cusp of Heaven and can already taste it.

And then I dared imagine Jesus saying to me, ala the “hound of Heaven”:
“It's gonna take a lot to drag me away from you
There's nothing that a hundred men or more could ever do.”

The undeniable thing about Trump so far as president is that he possesses a fresh set of eyes on the issues of the world.  It’s hard to imagine a career politician having the chutzpah or vision to do small things like recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel or big things like a trade war with China.

And say what you want about the tariffs on China, it’s at least a helluva lot more defensible and cheaper than war with Iraq or Afghanistan. And after being burned by both Bushes on Supreme Court justices, so far the outsider Trump has done a much better with that crucial part of his job.

It’s certainly been eye-opening and even world-altering for me to go from Trump hater to having a grudging appreciation and thankfulness for him.

It’s going to be a hard path to re-election though.  For one thing, it seems like whenever a party plays to it’s “type” or “reputation”, it gets burned.   The Democrats were perceived as being weak on defense during the ‘70s and Jimmy Carter played right into that with the Iranian hostages and lost re-election. Similarly, Republicans have always been unfairly accused of being the party of racism and so Trump plays into that with “go back to where you came from”.  So we could easily get burned.

The fascinating thing about Pope Benedict was how he was both optimist and pessimist.  Or more properly perhaps a pessimist regarding earthly things and having optimistic faith in God.  Both dreamer and realist.

Decades ago he said that the Church would become much smaller and have much less influence.  And yet a recent biographer who knew him well said,
“To me he was like a like a child, always dreaming but on a higher plane,  like someone coming down to us not from another age but another sphere... He told me one time that ‘believing is a resistance against gravity’, against the force of gravity.”

So the force of zero-gravity (i.e. zero-gravity chairs and infinite laziness until a Saturday 1:30pm) finally forced me to take the dogs for some exercise.  We did two miles to dog park; just enough to earn a beer I guess.

Normally our summer vacation comes in early June which can feel pre-“full summer”, while during the August week our vacation feels like fall is near, with school and cicadas and football season imminent. So to take some days off in July this year was nice.

July is unabashedly peak summer.  I’d say June 15-July 31st is the most quintessential summer period there is and yet I rarely take much take time over those six weeks.  It’s crazy to slog to work every day during the best weather time of the Cloudumbus year.

By mid-July you’re starting to get a feeling of satiation of great days - you’re not so stunned by the good weather that you can’t even enjoy it as can happen in the manic period of early June.

This Facebook phenomenon is kind of odd in some ways.  It feels wrong, like the blood/brain barrier breached, when I see a friend suggestion for my general physician.  I find myself looking at pictures of her husband, kids, politics (not good!), camping photos, etc... It’s sort of invasive and tmi but I can’t, naturally, look away.

Reading some of Kevin Williamson’s new book The Smallest Minority.  He seems bitter. He says we are "monkeys with wifi" and has gotten increasingly elitist and snobbish over the past decade, although quite likely his views are not wrong.

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