Saturday, May 31, 2008

The Kingdom of Swaziland

Yesterday we had our first visitor from Swaziland and tonight (after a nap) I have more energy to say a hearty "Welcome!"

The Kingdom is a landlocked nation surrounded by South Africa and Mozambique. The population is mostly Swazi with Zulu and White Africans mixed in. The language is siSwati; the royal and legislative capital is Lobamba. I love the shield and spears flag.

Here is a video introducing Swaziland - the total tourism sell (8:55m):

An extended special on the king's seven wives may be viewed here.

Sipho Makhabane - Hlala Nami Jesu
Get yo'se'f some joy in Jesus

OK, folks, getting late so I will wrap this up. Enjoy!
--the BB

Just because

Chimperor ipse loquitur.

h/t to Crooks and Liars

--the BB

It's not news.

That is a significant summary in the opening portion of a post by three McClatchy bloggers writing about Scott McClellan's book that seems to have generated lots of discussion and no new information. They do a great job of setting the record straight. Read it here.

It is so refreshing to see good reporting. Too bad folks were not paying attention to this crowd back when they were reporting the truth amid all the propaganda.


Oh, and Scotty... you and the horse you rode in on.


Glenn Greenwald has a few words on the subject also. Concluding yesterday's post:
Maybe Rutten should ask them how they did it since, according to Rutten, that was impossible. Speak to sources inside and outside the Government disputing the administration's claims. Give a platform to experts warning of the dangers of the invasion. Trumpet the multiple discrepancies between the administration's claims and what was available in the public record. Isn't this excruciatingly obvious? The Washington Post's Dan Froomkin adds more evidence here regarding the profound media failures.

How did Woodward and Bernstein uncover what the Nixon criminals did since they kept it secret? It must have been impossible! How did Dana Priest uncover the CIA Black Sites in Eastern Europe without being able to go there and visit them? How did Jim Risen and Eric Lichtblau find out that the Bush administration was eavesdropping on Americans without the warrants required by law? It's called "reporting": the process of finding out, through investigation, that which the Government seeks to conceal. Why does that need to be explained to the "media critic" of The Los Angeles Times? If he doesn't understand that, what does he understand?
[Emphasis mine]

--the BB

Friday, May 30, 2008

Art imitates life imitates art imi... oh my, my head is spinning

Margaret Macrina Dolphin (aka Maggie): Good gawd, girl, we've got fans in the Global Center!

Belle: But of course, darlin', and aren't they just the cutest things?

MMD: Bet that shrieky one could show a girl a good time.

Belle: Maggie, this is NOT one of those adult blogs.

MMD: Lucky thing because our daddy doesn't look to be growing up anytime soon.

Belle: Looks full grown to me. Have you seen the weight he's put on?

MMD: Shh. He doesn't really like to think about it.

Belle: Can you just imagine? There's a chance we get to star in our own adventures - in this exotic locale, no less. Just like my heroine, Miss Egyptian Hippo of Love, only here in my own home town.

MMD: That penguin's kind of cute too, but I think I'd get in trouble with the moose.

Belle: Honey, you're liable to get in trouble with any of those men. Better stick to picnics.

MMD: Sigh. Why did I get stuck with picnics? Do you know how much work it is to organize one of those suckers? And let me tell you, a really good potato salad is more labor intensive than folks realize, especially when you don't have opposable thumbs.

Belle: Men never appreciate all we do behind the scenes to make their lives pleasant and their food yummy. But with a tail like yours, honey, you don't need thumbs.

MMD: Well, I do like to flirt a bit now and then and men do notice me.

Belle: A few of the women do too. Me, I'm a BBW with the full kind of figure that makes for one helluva snuggle. Something to hold on to, if you know what I mean.

MMD: And you a right proper Anglican lady!

Belle: You can pray, play bridge, and still have fun.

MMD: Amen to that.

Daddy (off camera): Patience, ladies. I promise we'll have an adventure on Sunday WITH the camera (and Mimi, we hope). Until then, you've got to let me catch up on the news. And remember, some of us work 6 days a week.

The girls: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Daddy: Ahem.

MMD and Belle: Yes, daddy. But you're more fun when you're "retired."

Daddy: True, and poorer too. Let's praise King Jesus and Holy Mother Mary that there's an income these days.

Belle (as the girls wander off): "I'm ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille."
MMD: More like the nuthouse. Where's your dead chimp?
Belle: Max!
MMD: Teehee.

Daddy, aka the BB, here. Not sure if I can stand the star-struck ladies with dreams of Bollywood and beyond. Hope they know the way to San José. It's not like they're teenagers, but a good gossip magazine never gets ages right.

At the end of the day I slipped across the building to shoot this pic from an empty conference room. The casino and the Mississippi.

This is one shot of the buildings across the street as I exit work in the evening.

And, shifting the camera toward the left, one sees this. Love the restaurant name: Nacho Mama's. Lots of restoration lies ahead. Just before I exited to take these pics I crossed a marble lobby that was being polished. Quite a contrast.

This is a detail of the exterior of the parking garage where I drop the car off each morning. Portions of the building skin are just plywood boards, though the frame is reinforced concrete.

This is a mostly abandoned high-rise across from where I was working until Tuesday afternoon. I am told, by those who have worked on Sunday mornings, that some rather colorful party types emerge here to face the daylight. We suspect its a rave locale on weekends. Or something like that. We're all old farts, of course, and this gives us something to talk about. The gents seem to have enjoyed the very skimpy dresses the partying ladies wear.

Looking slightly farther to the right there is the boarded-up Vietnamese restaurant and other buildings still waiting their turn.

Here are more of the NOLA sidewalks I referred to in my thoughts on uneven ground. I walk past this each time I head over to Walgreen's or the Tulane Medical Center hospital cafeteria.

And this is the section of sidewalk I actually traverse when doing so. In between these two photos stands the monument shown in yesterday's pictures.

But if you turn slightly you look down this lovely strip with trees. This is looking up Elk toward Canal Street.

And that's the tour for today.

Y'all have to be patient about the Adventures of Maggie and Belle.
--the BB

Be informed

Is the story of Obama's uncle being bandied about at your office water cooler these days?

Since there is a lot of asshattery around this topic, check out this post for some information.

WWII Vet Vs. Right Wing Blogger Smackdown (Updated)

--the BB

Memorial Day 2008

Don Mikulecky has a post up that begins thus:
Shame on you all!
by don mikulecky

Thu May 29, 2008 at 09:36:00 PM PDT

That's what the BBC is saying to Americans today. Memorial Day smells still linger on in our homes and we are greeted with these headlines:
US army suicides at record level
US veterans sue over 'poor care'
Veterans 'quarter of US homeless'
It is a bit overwhelming to see these listed on the BBC site. We talk about these things here, but we do little else. Our mercenary military seems to be a conversation piece but it does not really get us very excited. I'm one of those people over 70 (Sorry Hillary, not this veteran) who is looking forward to electing a president who will care about this. I am looking forward to electing a congress who will care about this. Yet I look at these headlines and feel a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. ...
Indeed. Shame on the United States for treating its military so poorly, for giving our veterans such shoddy care, for acting as though nothing were wrong when the suicide rate among veterans and soldiers is soaring.

Perhaps we would best honor those who lost their lives for this country by taking care of those offering their lives now and in the recent past.

For Memorial Day (today IS the day, you know), visit our friend johnieb.
--the BB

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Another view - updated

Today our group had a meeting in a corner office, so I whipped out the camera while I could.

I had not realized an Orthodox Church seems to be right next to us. I must explore this further on ground level.

[Update: Silly me. The angle of the office threw me and I failed to recognize a church I have walked pass several times at ground level. It is Immaculate Heart Parish, a Jesuit church, on Baronne Street. The onion domes visible here, but not from the street, threw me. The brickwork on this church is lovely. Here is their home page (click for a great interior shot).

Yesterday after lunch I took a stroll from the office down to the casino, around said den of iniquity, and back. Good exercise on a lovely day. Today, as you can see in these pics, was also beautiful.
Looking toward the Mississippi River.

Looking down to Canal Street (a block away) and the edge of the Vieux Carré.

And this is another shot from my office window, looking more closely at the detail atop the building next to us. It is undergoing renovation and we see workers scuttling around on the perimeter daily. Currently unoccupied.

There is a lot of construction around here with brick, something one would rarely do in my native California where earthquakes make brick construction chancy at best and generally foolhardy. I have seen some cracks in masonry buildings here that make me wonder.

Still and all, the work goes on. And there are interesting architectural details wherever one turns.

Oh, and the "factory" I showed last night was the Dixie Brewery. Dixie Beer, anyone? You can see a great photo of it here (I was standing near the "40" in the date and time stamp, while taking some of last night's photos. There is a scattering of white shells in the lot where I stood for some of the photos. An article on the Dixie Brewing Company is at Wikipedia.

--the BB

Heart thread - and prayers for MP

From Kirstin at Barefoot and Laughing:
Please pray for Max and her partner, L. L was hospitalized with a staph infection in her neck, a year and a half ago. She's been having symptoms again, and has just been readmitted while they figure out what's wrong.
Nor let us forget the inimitable K. van Gogh herself:
Shamelessly stolen idea and pics

And Eileen's nephew M, still.

And Caminante's Orange Guy.

And tonight I especially want to invite intercession for Jonathan, our friend Mad Priest, who has upheld all of us and jollied us along and stimulated our thoughts and introduced us to one another and entertained us and called on us to pray and be there for each other.
I have just heard that the position I have been waiting on for the last 6 months has been scuppered by the deanery concerned as they feel it does not warrant a full time priest. In theory this can be overturned by higher authorities but goodness knows how long that would take. I have been sent a list of other jobs that are in the pipeline but all the relevant ones are, at least, 6 months away from interviews as my diocese likes a long inter regnum so they can rent the vicarage out for 6 months and save on salaries (it's the only way we can break even at the moment).

Although I haven't quite lost the will to live, I am losing the will to get out of bed in the morning and that old black dog is a-licking at my heals.

Hop on over and, well, don't hug him, he's English, but a kind word perhaps....

Mimi posted this news also and commented, better than I could do:
Most of you who read my blog, probably read OCICBW, but I posted this in the event that you don't. After coming out of the worst of a bout of madness, Jonathan has been serving the people of his Anglican parish as a curate in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, UK, honorably and well for 7 years, but his time there seems to have run out, and thus far, he has not much hope for a new position. Since he lives in a rectory, he will not only lose his position, but also his home.

Jonathan's struggles every single day to serve his people and live a normal life are, in my humble opinion, nothing short of heroic. To be "rewarded" in this manner by the church he served faithfully for so many years, in the face of enormous difficulties, seems so lacking in justice and compassion as to boggle the mind.
Litany to the God of Fire
O flaming Spirit of love,
we cry to you in the midst of the struggles of our lives!
O sacred fire, empower us!
Together we release our anger and our rage.
Transform them into the power of your compassion.
O sacred fire, empower us!
Together we release our fears.
Transform them into courage.
O sacred fire, empower us!
Together we release our despair.
Transform it into hope.
O sacred fire, empower us!
Together we release our doubts.
Transform them into wisdom.
O sacred fire, empower us!
We offer you our broken sisterhood.
We offer you our broken brotherhood.
Help us remember the wholeness that you intended.
O God of fire, burn within us,
heal us, strengthen us, remake us,
empower us with your passion for justice!
—Victoria Walton

Padrey Mickey informs us of a helicopter crash in Panamá that has led to a serious fire. Folks there need some prayer too!

--the BB

The People of the United States v. George Walker Bush

Kagro X has a post up today passing on word from Emptywheel that Scottie McClellan basically revealed that the Bushter his own rotten self authorized leaking the identity of Valerie Wilson, to which I say NAIL THAT MOFO!

In said post it is noted that this came from a report of the House Judiciary Committee:
In the [Virginia constitutional ratifying] convention George Mason argued that the President might use his pardoning power to "pardon crimes which were advised by himself" or, before indictment or conviction, "to stop inquiry and prevent detection." James Madison responded:

[I]f the President be connected, in any suspicious manner, with any person, and there be grounds to believe he will shelter him, the House of Representatives can impeach him; they can remove him if found guilty...
Oh, baby, do it!
--the BB

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

C'est vrai tout cela?

Well, mostly not. Check it out.

--the BB

Admit it: you've been wondering

Wondering what was happening with FISA. Check out mcjoan's latest here.

Just say "No" to Republicans (whatever the issue).
--the BB


Latest Coalition Fatalities

DoD Identifies Army Casualty
Sgt. 1st Class Jason F. Dene, 37, of Castleton, Vt., died May 25 in Baghdad, Iraq, from injuries suffered in a non-combat related incident on May 24. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 64th Armor Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team...

DoD Identifies Army Casualty
Sgt. Frank J. Gasper, 25, of Merced, Calif., died May 25 in Najaf, Iraq, of wounds suffered when his vehicle encountered an improvised explosive device. He was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group, Fort Carson, Colo.

DoD Identifies Army Casualty
Sgt. Blake W. Evans, 24, of Rockford, Ill., died May 25 in Al Jazeera Desert, Iraq, of wounds suffered when his vehicle encountered an improvised explosive device. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment...

DoD Identifies Army Casualty
Pfc. Kyle P. Norris, 22, of Zanesville, Ohio, died May 23 in Balad, Iraq, from wounds suffered when his vehicle encountered an improvised explosive device during a patrol May 22 in Jurf as Sakhr, Iraq. He was assigned to the 3rd Battalion...

--the BB

I am so looking forward to Dubya's departure

111 Nations, Minus the US, Agree to Cluster-Bomb Ban
Washington Post - 38 minutes ago
By Kevin Sullivan and Josh White LONDON, May 28 -- More than 100 countries reached agreement Wednesday to ban cluster bombs, controversial weapons that human rights groups deplore but which the United States, which did not join the ban, ..

Maybe then we can rejoin the community of civilized nations.
--the BB

A shout out to the Dance Party crew

The ladies catching their internet debut. [Yes, Tandaina, it is a MacBookPro.]

It seems the gentlemen heading the Dance Party troupe have issued some kind of challenge to my daughters here. (See the comment thread here.) Mlle Belle, being a southern belle, was rather taken aback at the thought of a challenge. Competition seems quite beneath her and just a trifle vulgar. I assured her it was just a friendly thing from a couple of very nice but macho Latin males (well Mr Red Peanut Bank may be simply Latin-influenced, but it has to rub off on him sooner or later). I was not quite sure how to interpret the steel-magnolia-ensconced-in-plush look I got at that point and let the matter drop. Maggie has always been in charge of picnics and suggested a lovely midday fiesta.

They have, however, taken the issue of pictorial adventures in the South under advisement and send warm regards to Mr Red Peanut Bank, Gallito Mescalito, and the entire dance party crewe (here it would be krewe), most especially Miss Egyptian Hippo of Love (from one river horse to another).

There was a loudly whispered comment (preceded by a snort) about daddies who work, work, work and don't spend enough time playing with their kids. Maybe on the weekend....

(Lord, daughters can work the guilt trips on their old dads!)

--the BB

Prominent evidence

I want to start with this simple tablet situated on the Elk Street divider facing Tulane Avenue (amid a lot of that irregular sidewalk I have written about). I have been walking past it almost every day, schlepping from the office to either the Tulane Medical Center hospital cafeteria (which, I must say, is excellent, and good value too!) or the Walgreens on the corner (or both). Although I no longer work in the building at Tulane and Elk, I did need to walk to Walgreens this evening to pick up the prescriptions that were not ready on time in Albuquerque last weekend. So I walked past it once again, and this time the camera was in my briefcase.

I increased the contrast, so I hope you can read the text. Anything honoring the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution is bound to cheer me up.

My daily commute home along Tulane, heading westward toward River Ridge (near Harahan, if that is more familiar to y'all), I see this abandoned factory. Tonight I pulled over and whipped out the camera. [Tandaina, please note I rose to your challenge.]

I am fascinated by things like twisted shutters, peeling paint, cracked surfaces, etc. as they are visually so much more interesting than fresh coats of paint and smooth surfaces devoid of character. (Sounds more like a pep talk as my own face ages, no?) So you may see a plethora of photos that show what catches my eye. For all the vast challenges of repair and rebuilding in NOLA, please do not take my photographs as representing some accurate sample.
This is a shot from my office window at a slightly different angle, showing how I look toward the Superdome.
Boarded-up buildings seen from a point just a few steps from where I took the factory photo.

And, in the same spot, turning to face east. I work roughly in the center of the picture at a bit above the level, viewed from here, of the tower of St Joseph's Church (the red brick building that runs horizontally in the middle of the right half of the photo).

Sad news from Curitiba

The Diocese of California has entered a companion diocese relationship with the Diocese of Curitiba in the Igreja Episcopal do Brasil. Yes, that Curitiba - of the Curitiba Statement that we endorse.

The Rev. Francisco Silva, at his blog Kantinho do Rev, recently announced acts of violence against the Church in Curitiba.

He writes:
In an act of extreme violence, employees of powerful landowners destroyed, among other buildings, the chapel of an Episcopal Church at the Primeiros Passos Camp, located road side of the BR 369, near the city of Cascavel.

The invasion occurred in the early morning hours of May 08, with the participation of tractors, excavators, retro-excavators and weapons of large caliber.

The intimidation occurred in a context of serious tensions between landowners and social organizations. The Episcopal Church and fellow Christian’s churches are firmly defending and supporting the Movement of Landless People in the west of the Paraná state. The Episcopal priest in the area is the Revd. Luiz Carlos Gabas, and he is supporting the families in build a school(also destroyed at the attack) for children and the chapel. The chapel was planned to be dedicated on May 18 and was built with great effort by the whole community.

The destruction of the chapel becomes even more symbolic because it represents a clear message from landowners against the Church.
In a clear example of doing the right thing, he notes:
The IEAB has been firm in defending the rights and dignity of small rural workers and especially the landless which lives in sub-human conditions along the roads and land occupied.
Read it all here.

This is living the Baptismal Covenant.
Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself?
I will, with God's help.

Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being?
I will, with God's help.
Pray for the Church in Brazil.
--the BB

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Exaudi nos, Christe

Keep the prayers coming, folks, for all the people and issues and causes you carry in your hearts.

I'm holding Kirstin up tonight.

And the people I see on the streets of New Orleans.

And my poor town of Albuquerque that saw Dubya (pox be upon him) breeze through today raising money for one of our local asshole goopers.

For the people of Myanmar and China and for victims of the unheralded and lesser-known disasters that occure every day.

The Nepalese as they make a huge transition in government and seek to write a new constitution without a king.

The Earth as we continue to ravage and poison her.

What's on your heart tonight?

Prayers for Eileen's nephew M.

And the Diocese of Albany (and Fort Worth and Quincy and San Joaquin and Pittsburgh).

For every congregation that they may be transformed into fountains of life in their communities, full of vitality and good news and the love of God. And if they have become fearful, hate-filled places may the Spirit overturn them and renew them.
--the BB

It's been a while

A while since we've had a visitor from a new country, that is. And today it happened again as someone from Trinidad and Tobago came by. Welcome to this blog!

I am currently working with several Trinidadians. They are all living in the United States now but they still have family back in Trinidad.

Wikipedia informs us that "Trinidad and Tobago is famous for its pre-Lenten Carnival and as the birthplace of steelpan, calypso, soca, and limbo."

Port of Spain is the capital and San Fernando is the largest city. English is the official language though Spanish has special status. The nation gained independence from the UK in 1962.

Here's someone's trip thither in December 2005:

Let the pannists carry you away!

What the heck, let's extend the Great Fifty Days just a bit and have some Easter music by Trini musicians:

It's the dawning of a new day
The Daystar has risen in our hearts
Now the cold stiff dead body
Has quickening transforming power
From death onto life we have pass
Into this bright eternal day
Now the Resurrected Christ in us live


Hallelujah He is risen
He is alive in me to tell
From the realm of this old earthly
I now live in the heavenly realm
And soon I'll change dimensions
For this earth won't be able to hold me anymore. (2x)

Now the glory of His gospel
Shines through us wherever we may go
Changing ugly caterpillars
Into beautiful heavenly creatures
O death you've been conquered by Him
Our victory and promise is sure
Now the gates of hell cannot prevail
For we are the bride of the Living God

This the season of the immortals
The spring sun has return
The Restoration of the Bride is on
All that's lost, He has brought back
And unto the resurrection
We are heading now
To awake the saints that sleepeth
And forever we will be with you Lord.

--the BB

Due to popular demand

Tandaina has informed that I have no excuse now and am to post photos.

I did not come to New Orleans alone.  On the first trip out I brought Belle, my hippoposterous, because I first met her at the Audubon Zoo gift shop in New Orleans.  I figured she might like to see her home town.  On the second trip out I brought her sister Margaret Macrina Dolphin (aka Maggie) to keep her company.  That way when I go home for a weekend they have each other to play with.  When I took my walk through Audubon Park they were in my briefcase, with the top open, so they could enjoy the day too.  So you see, like a good daddy, I took my kids to the park on Sunday morning.

We snuggle at night and they join me in saying bedtime prayers for all of you.

[Some of you now know more than you ever wished.  My kind of people will, I trust, simply be charmed and delighted.]

As you can see, they are right next to me at the laptop tonight as this photo is about five minutes old.
--the BB

It's been a month

Since I started working here in New Orleans. Hard to believe. Time does pass quickly when one is busy. Today we marked the anniversary (well, coincidentally) by moving from one building to another. By 3 p.m. we had packed up all our office goods and chattels and headed over to the new building (new to us, anyway). I was among the minority that stuck around until the tech squad and movers arrived with our computers and supplies and papers. We unloaded, connected, fired up, tested, etc. When I knew my computer was working, I could log into the applications, was connected to the shared drive, and could print, I finally left. At that point it had become another 11-hour day.

Now, to celebrate getting through the first month, we have enough desk space to actually do our jobs. I can move my mouse freely, spread out and store my paperwork as needed, and not be cramped with someone next to me and squeezing in so people can pass behind me on their way to and from the printer. Yay!

And this is one angle of the view from my window. Non c'è malo, eh?

This photo also signals that I finally acquired the appropriate device to download photos from my camera, so I don't have to wait a few weeks to share. Woohoo! More photos to come.

Celebrating with a Cuba libre. Ahh.
--the BB

Monday, May 26, 2008

Walking on uneven ground

Sidewalks on Common just east of Rampart
New Orleans, Louisiana

Was it a week ago Friday that my coworkers adjourned to the Shimmy Shack and I joined them for the first time? Or early last week? I lose track.

In any case, I had driven home then walked to that local watering hole. As I left the perimeter of this particular apartment complex I found myself walking on the side of a very busy street. Discretion being the better part of valor, I made sure I was walking on the grass alongside the curb and not in the street itself, though the path was narrow and not often frequented. I had to exercise caution because the ground was quite uneven.

To appreciate my attention to this you might need to know that I am prone to spraining my ankles. One summer, back when I was 19, I sprained my right ankle not once or twice but three times. The second and third times were less traumatic than the first, which was a very serious sprain for which I got no sympathy and was cut no slack. I was working on a summer camp staff back then - of the sort that fosters what was once called muscular Christianity. While it has been a while since I have sprained an ankle, I have a great respect for irregularities in the surfaces I traverse.

So, as I walked along, I was pondering the issue of "walking on uneven ground." This led me to think of the sidewalks of downtown New Orleans. The photos above are of the section I traverse twice a day between the parking garage and the office. Nearly every sidewalk within sight for blocks is like this, offering endless and varied possibilities to trip, fall, sprain, and injure oneself. A wrongful injury attorney's dream, I dare say.

I can only presume the irregularity in the sidewalks is the result of water from Katrina and its aftermath, but I really have no idea what shape they were in prior to that. The appearance of the sidewalks is more like old damage from years ago that has never been tended to. It makes me think of how zealously cities and neighborhood associations in California come down on anyone whose section of sidewalk might possibly lead to an injury. Once two sections differ by about half an inch you'd better fix it or the fines begin to pile up.

Here, however, there are so many greater challenges that even something as potentially dangerous as this falls lower in the priorities than other things that desperately need to be done (and should have been done some time ago if the collective will were there to support the efforts - shame on us as a nation). The rebuilding and repairs, though visible everywhere, are still so little in view of how extensive the damage was. Each day I drive for miles past buildings with boarded up doorways and broken windows, gross signs of dilapidation, all waiting for the money, the energy, the labor, the materials to restore or replace them. Amid all that there are places that have been fixed up and are open for business.

The point of this reflection, however, is not really to lament the state of sidewalks and building or ponder shattered lives. It is to consider the phrase that leapt into my mind and has remained there: "walking on uneven ground."

I rather like uneven ground when that means natural, unpaved terrain, such as walking in the country or on the beach or in the woods. It stretches and exercises one's feet and is much better for them than plain hard surfaces. Provided I have adequate protection (i.e., shoes), I love walking deliberately on uneven ground - when paying attention, natch. Walking in the dirt is way cool. I am not a country boy, nor an urban one. More of a townie, I guess. But I wax nostalgic about residential areas without sidewalks, as parts of my boyhood neighborhood was back then. Not our street, but portions of the walk between home and elementary school.

Metaphorically, however, life does not present us with even ground for our journey. It is very uneven, with all manner of irregularities - surprises both delightful and dangerous. We can sustain injuries not only to our bodies but to our minds and souls and hearts at any and every turn. Making it through our journey calls for alertness, resilience, and toughness.

We are all walking on uneven ground.

Our friend Kirstin has witnessed to this in her sudden bout with melanoma, facing the diagnosis, having it removed from her ear, dealing with the profound emotions erupting in all directions, and through it all learning, listening to her heart and her body, staying open to God and the community and her own self, and fearlessly sharing it all with the rest of us. I salute her. She has shown us just how uneven the ground we walk truly is, and done so with amazing grace.

The people of New Orleans deal each day with uneven ground on so many levels. Right now the people of China and Myanmar have had the ground beneath them shift, in different ways. Amid all this we recall that what seems to us to be so very solid is only a very thin crust atop a great mass of liquid rock. Amazing to consider.

May you all walk with equanimity and have the health, flexibility, awareness, and sheer life force to make the journey. May love surround you and joy abide deep within you. May you find the grace you need for each moment. May the entire journey be one of growth and greater wholeness, even when chance and age make the parts rather doubtful. May we companion each other well on the road.
--the BB


Top photo courtesy of Rochester Turning
--the BB

Memorial Day 2008

Just click. Read. Remember. Honor. Mourn.

Image from here
--the BB

For those who serve in the armed forces

h/t to Susan Russell

--the BB

A seasonal change

I intended to make seasonal changes in the header photo from the time I put the first one up. We have now entered "the long green season" after Pentecost, so here is a green one. It is from a photo (full version above) of papyrus from the Rosicrucian grounds in San Jose, California. The photo was taken roughly at this time of year.
--the BB

Lundi le 26 mai 2008

UN urges Myanmar not to alienate cyclone orphans

Reuters - 35 minutes ago
YANGON (Reuters) - The United Nations children's agency (UNICEF) is trying to convince army-ruled Myanmar not to place at least 2000 youngsters orphaned by this month's cyclone into state-run homes, a senior official said on Monday.
Weeks After Myanmar Cyclone, Even Farmers Wait for Food New York Times
UN chief ends Myanmar mission on hopeful note The Associated Press

Lebanon: Suleiman arrives at presidential palace on 1st day as ...
International Herald Tribune - 57 minutes ago
AP BEIRUT, Lebanon: Military bands and an honor guard salute have greeted President Michel Suleiman on his first day at work in Lebanon's presidential palace.
Michel Suleiman sworn in as president of Lebanon Los Angeles Times
Lebanon Elects President to Ease Divide New York Times

China races to dynamite 'quake lake'
CNN International - 52 minutes ago
CHENGDU, China (CNN) -- Chinese military engineers Monday prepared to dynamite a potentially dangerous "quake lake" created when landslides dammed a river after this month's earthquake in which more than 65000 people were killed, state-run media ...
Aftershock in China Topples Many Buildings New York Times
China aftershock heightens fears

Embattled Mugabe would accept defeat, says ally
AFP - 36 minutes ago
HARARE (AFP) - Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe would accept defeat in next month's run-off election, a close ally said Monday, a day after a fiery speech by the veteran leader as he kicked off his campaign.
Zimbabwe: Mugabe Launches Operation Runoff
At funeral, opposition leader criticizes Zimbabwe's president CNN

Colombian rebel group confirms leader's death
Los Angeles Times - 1 hour ago
VENEZUELAN TV: Colombian Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos, left, speaks at a news conference after the FARC rebels confirmed the death of their leader, Pedro Antonio Marin, right.
Colombian Guerrilla Leader Reported Dead New York Times
Manuel Marulanda, top guerilla commander in Colombia, is dead International Herald Tribune

FACTBOX-Military and civilian deaths in Iraq
Reuters - 35 minutes ago
The IBC says on its Web site the figure underestimates the true number of casualties. The US-led military coalition toll includes casualties from Iraq and the surrounding area where troops are stationed. (Writing by David Cutler, London Editorial ...
Iraq blast kills US soldier PRESS TV
US soldier killed, two injured in north Iraq Monsters and

South Africa
Violences en Afrique du Sud: le chef du parti au pouvoir appelle à la - Il y a 18 heures
SPRINGS (Afrique du Sud) - Le chef du parti au pouvoir en Afrique du Sud, Jacob Zuma, a appelé dimanche à la paix dans les townships ravagés par deux semaines de violences xénophobes, devant une foule inhabituellement hostile. "La paix doit prévaloir", ...
Thabo Mbeki dénonce l'"inhumanité" des violences xénophobes en ... Le Monde
Des milliers d'immigrés fuient l'Afrique du Sud, effrayés par la ... AFP

Nasa's Phoenix craft beams back pictures from Mars
Times Online - 1 hour ago
A Nasa spacecraft beamed back unprecedented pictures from the Martian permafrost today after an historic 423 million-mile journey that marks a new phase in the quest to find life on the red planet.
Video: NASA Spacecraft Successfully Lands on Mars AssociatedPress
NASA probe lands in Martian arctic in search for life AFP

Creator of all things, we hold before you your glorious cosmos and our infinitesimal and wonderful planet. Have mercy upon us and work in us your gracious will.
--the BB