From the Daily Zen:
Calming the Mind
Too much knowledge
Leads to overactivity;
Better to calm the mind.
The more you consider,
The greater the loss;
Better to unify the mind.
- Shih Wang Ming (6th century)
Thursday, March 30, 2006
Sunday, March 26, 2006
Last night, I dreamed that DW and I were being hunted down by the U.S. military because we had uncovered something scandalous about Vice-President Cheney. I don't remember what exactly it was we discovered--I don't even remember whether I knew in the dream--but Cheney wanted us dead. We were staying in a large, high-rise hotel, and someone gave us a heads-up that we were about to be attacked. We made it to the roof, only to see a Navy FA-18 launch two missles into our hotel room. The missles destroyed the room, blasted holes through the windows and walls, and sent dust flying everywhere, but the hotel still stood, and we survived. However, we were still in fear, and I don't recall us exposing Cheney.
Also during that dream, DW and I somehow were tending to one of the gentle readers of this blog (not DW's brother Bill, btw). We knew this individual's true name--which, in fact, is his actual name--but he insisted that his name was something else.
So I got up this morning and popped David Cronenberg's excellent "A History of Violence" into the DVD player. It was only after watching it that I noted the parallel between the film and the mistaken identity part of my dream.
Incidentally, if you haven't seen "A History of Violence," it really is a must-see film. Violent behavior is the exception in middle-class America, but it is a fact of everyday life in much of the world, where murder remains a leading cause of death and violence is an important political tool employed by both the ruling elites and those attempting to dislodge those elites. In the movie, one act of justifiable violence creates increasingly nasty ripple effects for a perfect American family. The violence is corrosive and destructive, yet strangely appealing. You feel somehow complicit in the savagery before the movie is over, and, indeed, there is a key scene in the film regarding that complicity. The DVD has better than average special features, and the key scenes in the movie are nicely dissected and explained. I suspect that the complicity scene I mentioned above disqualified the film from Academy Award best-picture consideration (the scene is horrendously politically incorrect); you'll know it when you see it.
Friday, March 24, 2006
I love these online tests. They're mostly bogus, of course, but these last two jibe with some actual indicators that yours truly has some kind of suppressed anger thing going on--and I've always been rather a gentle, timid sort. Well, the hell with that! It pisses me off, dammit! What's that? Oh, yeah, Zen. Serenity now!
Take the Seven Deadly Sins Quiz
Thursday, March 23, 2006
The Dante's Inferno Test has banished you to the Seventh Level of Hell!
Here is how you matched up against all the levels:
|Purgatory (Repenting Believers)||Very Low|
|Level 1 - Limbo (Virtuous Non-Believers)||High|
|Level 2 (Lustful)||Moderate|
|Level 3 (Gluttonous)||Moderate|
|Level 4 (Prodigal and Avaricious)||Very Low|
|Level 5 (Wrathful and Gloomy)||Low|
|Level 6 - The City of Dis (Heretics)||Low|
|Level 7 (Violent)||High|
|Level 8- the Malebolge (Fraudulent, Malicious, Panderers)||High|
|Level 9 - Cocytus (Treacherous)||Low|
Take the Dante's Divine Comedy Inferno Test
Wednesday, March 22, 2006
Yesterday, this fire burned 180 acres about 10 miles north of my house, while another fire in the woods west of town was visible from the I-10 bridge. Evidently, some people don't understand the meaning of the words "burn ban."
Tuesday, March 21, 2006
I found myself thinking about all the little rituals I've had with my boys over the years and how much I miss having those on a daily basis. The morning bus ritual; the bedtime ritual; the Target ritual; the mall ritual; the park ritual; the train rituals, etc. I always tried to make things fun for everybody, including myself. After I waxed nostalgic a bit, I began to wonder how I can replace those special little daily events with some of my own. It seems to me that should be the next step. We've got our Sunday evening TV block, which is a kind of ritualistic thing for us, but I'm going to see if I can somehow ritualize my trips to the gym and make myself go there more joyfully.
Speaking of Sunday television, I watched "Big Love" and "The Sopranos" a day late last night. I liked Tony's dream, its symbolism and internal logic, and how what people in his room were saying appeared to be filtered through his consciousness. It does seem, however, like a couple of plot developments on that show this season have been pretty clumsily contrived--Eugene's inheritance and A.J.'s tough talk after years of weeniedom. That stuff came out of nowhere, with no foundation having been laid for it. I do like the setup of the counterterrorist FBI agents playing footsie with Chrissy, even as the other FBI agents doggedly pursue Tony and the boyz. That plotline has some potential.
Monday, March 20, 2006
Toby squeezed so much activity into the weekend that he had dark circles around his eyes this morning when we went back to Alexandria. Still, his demand all weekend long was "more time!" I was able to keep up with his boundless energy despite being awakened at 3 a.m. on Saturday; it amazes me that I can still run with those guys, despite being in such terrible shape.
Today was a big fat disaster. We started from Slidell at 7 a.m., and had a nice stop at the Baton Rouge Super Target. Toby got such excellent swag there that he was totally uninterested in seeing my mother and sister (also in B.R.). Always the diplomat, Toby looked at them and said "bye-bye" after using my mom's bathroom. Hee!
Disaster no. 1 occurred as I pulled off of I-49 for the obligatory stop at the Opelousas WalMart. I had my second-ever surprise! sneeze, which dislodged some of the contents of my colon into my boxers. My gentle readers may remember that my first surprise! sneeze happened at the Alexandria, Louisiana, Target on a shopping trip with Adam. Something about shopping . . . Do y'all think that if I shit my pants in the middle of Best Buy it might reduce my propensity to buy videos? Probably not. Anyway, back to the story--I managed to clean up my mess reasonably well, but I purchased a pair of athletic shorts and some new boxers just to be hygeinic. That purchase led indirectly to disaster no. 2, which I'll get to shortly.
We left WalMart and went to the McDonald's down the street, where I nervously ate some chicken pieces that didn't taste so bad at the time. Toby, too, chowed down, which led directly to disaster no. 3, but not until we were much further down the road.
So we drove on up I-49, and Toby said "up!" (his word for "exit," based on the little arrows on the signs) at the exit for a rest area. I asked "potty?" and he responded, "potty," even though he had gone at WalMart. He also said "the water!" but I thought he meant the funky sink in the mens' room at that rest stop. I took my WalMart shorts and boxers into the restroom, thinking I might as well take advantage of the opportunity to change clothes. Well, wouldn't you know, Toby wanted to put on my athletic shorts. I put them on instead, and he screamed and kicked, and wouldn't let me put his own shorts or underpants back on him. He also shouted, "the water!" I thought, "well, okay, I'll let him go fiddle with the sink and calm down." Nope. No doing. He wanted to swim in the lake behind the rest area, and he thought I was buying a swimsuit at WalMart. How the hell he made that connection is way above my pay grade, I assure you. On second thought, he pulled out a couple of swimsuits yesterday, as if to say, "let's go to the beach!" but I redirected him. The nearest beach sadly is in ruins (the damage in Mississippi is shocking), and the nearest functioning one is all the way in Alabama. So Toby ran out of the rest area building with no pants on, screaming and crying. A couple of truckers walked up to make sure nothing untoward was going on. Fortunately, they sized up the situation very quickly, and offered to help. I didn't take them up on the offer, for fear that Toby might hurt them. I ended up plopping a butt-naked Toby into the car, and driving for several miles before I pulled off and forced his pants back on him.
He watched Blue's Clues quietly for 15 or 20 minutes, then began throwing up his lunch. There was French fry/McNugget barf all over the back seat of the car. By that point, I didn't mind so much that I forgot to load Adam's car seat; with all that mess back there, it would have been pointless to think about taking him anywhere today. There were a couple of last-minute bolts from beyond--we saw a train on the highway to St. Mary's, and the school's occupational therapist happened to be there when we arrived. Toby took her hand, and she helped up get settled back in the dorm.
I felt pretty damn depressed driving away from there. I listened to some bluesy music as I barrelled down I-49 (kicked off by Janis Joplin), and that helped. Still, I berated myself all the way back home for putting my kids in circumstances that make them cry and otherwise get so upset. I don't think I'm a particularly bad person, or even a bad father, but it just sucks out loud.
This is the bus that for a couple of years was my kids' symbol of independence. The driver has parked it in a grocery store parking lot since the storm destroyed her home. I ran Toby by there the other night and took a couple of pictures for him and Adam. He loved the prints I made for him to take back with him today. Thanks, bus no. 266, and thanks, Miss Vicki.
Saturday, March 18, 2006
We went to the zoo today, and Toby favored the primates over the other animals, once we saw that the sea lions are still evacuated to Texas. The zoo came after we tried to chase a train half the way to Hattiesburg, an effort that was frustrating due to the gall of people who were working on their homes and kept pulling into the road with pickups full of building supplies. We also played at the park for a few hours, swinging and tossing small sticks and rocks into the creek that runs through the park. Off to look for more trains.
Thursday, March 09, 2006
Wednesday, March 08, 2006
I can't remember many details, but I dreamed last night that I skipped out of church, shot up with smack, and went on a long jog--all before 10 a.m. on a Sunday morning. I'm a busy guy sometimes, you know? Oddly, the heroin had no effect on me whatsoever. I imagine that it probably would in real life, but I certainly don't plan to find out.
Monday, March 06, 2006
Chief Justice Roberts today got to do something that most law students and lawyers dream of--he hammered a bunch of law professors. In Rumsfeld v. Forum for Academic & Institutional Rights, ___ U.S. ___, 2006 WL 521237 (Mar. 6, 2006), an unanimous Supreme Court upheld the Solomon amendment, which conditions federal assistance to universities on allowing the military to recruit on campus and giving them the same access to students that other recruiters have. A group of law professors got together to challenge the law, and they were successful in the Third Circuit in having enforcement of the law enjoined on the ground that it violated the First Amendment speech and associational rights of law schools. The law schools object to the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy against gays and lesbians serving in the military. The Chief Justice bluntly rejected the professors' arguments, at one point saying that one of their arguments trivialized recognized First Amendment freedoms. I wonder if the opinion might have been a bit less harsh had the respondents been anybody other than law professors. Probably not, given the arguments that were advanced.
Sunday, March 05, 2006
I picked up the 30th anniversary edition of "Network" yesterday, and watched a little bit of it today. "Network" has been one of my favorite movies for a long time; I enjoy cynical, dark comedy, and that pretty much describes this movie. I had forgotten just how brilliantly prescient the film is. A screaming, crazy news commentator who catches on with the public. An amoral programming director who wants to put terrorists on the air, and who turns the news into an entertainment show. A corporate tool who doesn't care what goes on the air, so long as it makes money. Peter Finch won a posthumous Oscar for his totally over-the-top portrayal of Howard Beale, the angry prophet denouncing the hypocracies of our times. His "I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!" became a catchphrase of the 1970s. "Network" is a dark, funny movie, and it really is scary just how accurate it has been in predicting the future of TV news.
Saturday, March 04, 2006
I took the camera when we picked the kids up for their swimming/shopping outings in Alexandria today. That's when their smiles are the most beautiful, and I wanted to get some shiny happy photos. We took each boy out separately, to the hotel pool, then to Target and the drive-thru of their choice.