Call me….Sandwich

There was this teenager I once knew, almost 20 years ago now, who desperately wanted a nickname. His name was David, and that’s what everyone called him. Not Dave or Davey or Heavy D, or D-Diddy or D to the Avid. Just David. His brothers, Christopher and Nicholas, were known to everyone as Chris and Nick. All in all, his parents had been pretty sensible in naming their boys, if not terribly creative.

In an age of Jaydens, Chads, Bradleys and Connors, I figured he was pretty lucky to have a nice respectable old school name like David. A name that evokes marble statues. And of all the Old Testament names, it’s one of the easiest to spell (no offense, Melchizedek). But David thought it was boring, so he went about selecting a nickname for himself, and then actively encouraging people to use it, without much success.

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A Five Dollar Blessing

He is a little man, dressed all in black, shivering on a wet and cold street corner. It is 37 degrees and raining hard. Puddles of blackened half-melted snow mark the vestigial remains of winter. His sparse wiry facial hair and vaguely Asiatic features mark him as an American Indian. Native American. Indigenous. First Nations, as the Canadians about sixty miles to the north say. He stands beside a busy intersection, clutching a hand-written cardboard sign with letters scrawled in black Sharpie announcing his plight: “Homeless, God Bless.”  Continue reading “A Five Dollar Blessing”

It’s a Beautiful World

There’s beauty in this world, if we choose to see it. It surrounds us, sneaks up on us like a stalking mugger, jumps out at us from behind buildings, lurks around corners.

This morning, as I exited Union Station, the sky took my breath away. The Capitol dome loomed a few blocks away, framed by a sky that displayed all the colors of a Crayola box. Not the cheap little 8 crayon box that I had as a kid, either, but the one that the kids from wealthy families had, with 64 colors and a built-in sharpener in the back.

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Not Yet Sprung

The raucous music of birds foraging at the feeder beneath my window wakes me just after sunrise. The metallic click of Dark-eyed Juncos, the buzzing trill of the Carolina Chickadee, the clear bell-like chime of the Song Sparrow. Local residents, the migrants having not yet returned from their long winter vacations to Mexico and Brazil, boasting of their travels and flashing their gaudy breeding plumage. Frost still coats the windows, a crust of ice covers the dog’s water dish; Spring is still 3 weeks away by the calendar. But the signs are there.  Continue reading “Not Yet Sprung”

The Light

When you use a kerosene lantern every day the globe eventually becomes blackened from soot and starts blocking the light. It’s gradual, hard to notice. But slowly and surely, the light dims. So one day you tear off a piece of discarded newspaper and remove the globe and wipe it clean of soot. It’s not hard to do, the soot wipes away easily. Then you reinstall the globe and light the lantern and wow! It’s like you’ve been blind and had your sight restored. The lamp is now so bright that it almost hurts your eyes. The lamp hadn’t failed to burn, it was doing its job, but something had been blocking its output, keeping it from reaching its full potential.  Continue reading “The Light”

The End of The Happiness Drought

He awoke happy for the first time in longer than he could remember. It was an odd feeling. He likened it to turning on a faucet after the water has been shut off for a long time and all the water in the pipes has been replaced by air. You hear the air racing through the water lines as the pressure builds, the oncoming rush of water displacing the air. You feel it coming, the pressure building. And it comes in fits and starts, the first few drops arriving in sputtering explosive spurts, followed by the release of more trapped air being pushed relentlessly onward by a torrent. And tasting those first few succulent drops on a tongue so parched it feels like cotton wool, thick and heavy in your mouth. Then greedily lapping it up like a dog, gulping down lusty mouthfuls, eagerly drinking your fill. Then wetting your face and soaking your hair, your whole head, bathing yourself in the cool fountain of relief, as if you could absorb it by osmosis directly into the body, like a dry sponge rehydrating.  Continue reading “The End of The Happiness Drought”

The machines have already taken over

The 1984 film Terminator, and its subsequent sequels, explores a dystopian world in which the machines have become our masters. Sadly, that world is no longer one of science fiction. While the nightmarish scenario of a single-minded T-800 Terminator cyborg relentlessly pursuing its pre-programmed prey (Sarah Connor? I’ll be back) has thankfully not come to fruition, we have indeed become slaves to our machines in many ways.  Continue reading “The machines have already taken over”

How Soon is Now?

At risk of sounding curmudgeonly, the world is speeding up and I don’t like it.

Our human ancestors walked out of Africa, and eventually walked all over the entire planet. Or built boats and floated to the parts they couldn’t reach on foot. Granted, it wasn’t one continuous trip, it took millenia. But they were in no particular hurry. Those bipedal hominids’ feet were made for walking. And that’s just what they did. Today we express surprise when someone walks a 10K race for charity. Yet our earliest ancestors did nothing but walk. They had no alternative. Continue reading “How Soon is Now?”