Sunday, June 29, 2008

McCann is old, and so am I

If you're a fan of mystery novels as I am, and even if you aren't, the Swedish writer Henning Mankell writes wonderful novels, and the solving of murders is merely one plot element. Over the weekend I reread his first mystery, Faceless Killers, and the following passage helped me clarify something: "A new world had emerged, and he hadn't even noticed it. As a policeman, he still lived in another, older world. How was he going to learn to live in the new? How would he deal with the great uneasiness he felt at these changes, at so much happening so fast?"

The character speaking is Kurt Wallender, a Swedish police detective in his forties. However, his words clarified for me why I have been uncomfortable with John McCain seeking the presidency at age 71. I know it is not politic to question someone's age, but since I am only two years younger than McCain, I can talk about his age without being accused of age-ism.

It is fascinating to watch myself age. For example, I subscribe to both Us and People magazines but am debating if I should let my subscriptions lapse because I have no clue who anybody is anymore. Blake Lively? Spencer Pratt? Heidi Montag? Leighton Meester? I could find it out easily who they are, but, at age 69, I don't care.

One of the reasons I retired from teaching at the end of 2003, after 32 years, was realizing that to continue to be an effective teacher I would have to learn how to do Powerpoint presentations and set up websites for my classes, and I just didn't have the interest or the energy to do this. If I was going to learn new technologies, it would be for my personal creative projects.

I have a cell phone which I turn on once a month or so to see if there are any messages, and if there are, they are so out-of-date by the time I hear them, I can ignore them. I do not text message. I read my youngest daughter's Facebook page but do not comprehend half of what is on it. I do have an iPod and I have transferred much of my cd collection to it and I download music and videos from iTunes and regularly. And I am computer literate, having bought my first one in 1986.

But the question I face and the question John MCain faces is the same Kurt Wallander faced: How do we "learn to live in the new"? John McCain and I do not feel an urgency, or even a need to "live in the new". And more, to what extent are we capable of even recognizing "the new"?

In traditional societies the old are honored and are responsible for the spiritual life of the group. But such societies do not change and thus, the old are the best ones to insure continuity.

But not since the invention of the printing press has the world gone through such enormous changes as it is undergoing now, but changes now are happening at a much faster rate.

John McCain and I are too old to comprehend all the changes and too old to keep pace with them. We cannot "live in the new". Nor should we expect ourselves to.

© 2008 by Julius Lester


The challenge was to use the word "mundivagant" as an adjective.

The winner is Jonathan Shaw of Annandale, Australia, who submitted two
wonderful sentences.

"Jules Verne is responsible for giving us the mundivagant Phineas Fogg."

"Just down the road from us is a backpackers, and the revelries of mundivagant youth enliven our evenings."

I questioned Jonathan about "is a backpackers" and he explained that "is a backpackers is what an establishment aimed at that clientele is called here." For us on this side of the equator, the sentence would better read, "Just down the road from us are backpackers, etc."

Another fine entry came from Roberto Delgado, a former student of mine:

"It is a lie to settle when you feel called toward a mundivagant fate."

Friday, June 27, 2008

"He was a wall I chose not to scale."

Martha Cooley, The Archivist

Isn't that a wonderful insight? Haven't we all met someone and, for reasons we can't specify, have decided to walk quietly but quickly away from any relationship with that person? But we do that because of the walls we climbed and had a helluva time finding the way back over the wall. And what about those occasions when we were/are the wall someone else chose/chooses not to scale? But we won't talk about that.


Mundivagant - Wandering through the world.

The book from which I took the word does not indicate what part of speech it is, so I'm not sure how to use it in a sentence.

Well, I just looked it up in the Oxford English Dictionary and learned something interesting. The OED gives the first printed usage of a word, but mundivagant has never been used in a sentence! The only two references cited are two seventeenth century dictionaries. How, pray tell, does a word end up in a dictionary if it has never been used, and since it has never been used, who would go to the dictionary to look it up? But I just did, didn't I?

I also learned that mundivagant is an adjective, and I've been scratching my head trying to figure out how to use it in a sentence as an adjective. I'm stymied.

So I am announcing the First Commonplace Book Contest. The first person who can use mundivagant in a sentence as an adjective will receive an autographed copy of Falling Pieces of the Broken Sky, a collection of my essays that is now out-of-print.

Send your sentence to me at Please put Sentence Contest in the subject line.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

“I mean by a picture a beautiful romantic dream of something that never was, never will be, in a light better than any light that ever shone, in a land no one can define or remember — only desire — and the forms divinely beautiful.”

The quote is from a letter written by the Pre-Raphaelite painter, Edward Burne-Jones. What follows is from my reading journal, January, 2005:

"This is the gift of the imagination, isn’t it? This is the magic of the imagination. And, I wonder if this is the only kind of beauty that endures. The beauty of a flower is evanescent. The beauty of a woman changes with age. I look at Weston’s photographs of Charis, and her physical beauty exists now only in the photographs. I look at the Joyce Tenneson photograph, “Suzanne, 1985,” that I bought a few month ago. Suzanne does not look like that now, twenty years later.

"So, does this mean that the only physical beauty that endures is that which comes from the imagination? Is this why we love art because in art we can create beauty that is not subject to the changes that time inevitably brings? The Grecian urn endures. We decay.

"Looking at some of the photographs from southeast Asia since the tsunami, at survivors and rescue workers with masks covering their nostrils and mouths so they won’t have to smell the bodies. After we die, we stink. All of us.

"In art, all that is good in us is preserved. Milan [my wife] and I go to museums and look at paintings and we wonder who they people were. They are nothing but bones now. What remains is what an artist put on canvas, and what the artist put on canvas may or may not have been who the person was. Certainly, when one looks at photographs of the women painted by the Pre-Raphaelites, they were pretty ordinary and homely looking women. But, in the paintings of Burne-Jones and the others, they were transformed into a beauty that never was but is in the realm of the imagination."

And today, three years later, I would add that one of the sins of the 20th century has been the devaluing of the imagination and of beauty. The consequence is a coarsening of life on every level, especially the spiritual.


Pewfellow: One who sits in the same pew, hence, a companion.

One cannot have too many pewfellows in life, even if you don't go to church.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

“He was a lucky man to be sitting beside Elinor in the garden in the last green days of May. He had loved her for so many years, he would just go on doing it, with or without her.”

Alice Hoffman, The Probable Future


Sandillions: As numerous as the sand on a beach.

Sandillions is much more expressive than gazillion and softer on the ear.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

“‘That’s the thing those boys don’t understand,’” Matt told Stella. “‘Just because you don’t feel pain, doesn’t mean you don’t experience it.’”

The quote above is a good description of what it was like to grow up under racial segregation in the south during the nineteen-forties and fifties. We couldn’t allow ourselves to feel the pain on a daily basis but we sure as hell experienced it, and, even at age 69, I continue to experience that pain.

Alice Hoffman, The Probable Future


Weeping-ripe: Ready to weep; ripe for weeping.

It's not a bad thing to be weeping-ripe.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

“Stella had seen so much death, that one Saturday morning she’d been compelled to sink down onto the linoleum floor, overwhelmed not so much by the sorrow of it all, but by the human dignity, the almost supernatural ability to face the abyss and still order scrambled eggs and toast for breakfast.”

Alice Hoffman, The Probable Future


Pixilated: Led astray, as if by pixies; confused, bewildered.

It makes me feel a lot better to blame the pixies for all the times I've been confused.

Friday, June 20, 2008

And Now It Has Begun: A Followup

On Wednesday I wrote about a button that was sold at the Texas Republican Party convention this past weekend, a button which read, "If Obama is President, will we still call it the White House?" (For any who may have missed it, there is a photo of the button in Wednesday's blog.)

In a story in Thursday's Dallas Morning News it was reported that the button vendor, Jonathan Alcox, apologized, and the Texas Republican Party announced that is donating the $1500 Alcox paid them to lease his booth to the American Red Cross Relief Fund to help flood victims in the Midwest. Additionally, the Texas Republican Party said it was unaware that Alcox would be selling such a button and it will never again permit Alcox to sell anything at their conventions. Hans Klingler, spokesman for the Texas Republican Party, said party leaders found the button distasteful and hated that it was being sold.

Alcox operates two websites, and, where he sells political paraphernalia. Politically he is an independent and said he became aware that the button could be seen as malicious after talking with a black man who had seen the button on the Dallas newspaper's blog. Alcox says he had made only 12 buttons to see how they would sell. He sold only 4, and 2 of those to the reporter who broke the story.

He went on to say that his web site has been hacked, his life has been threatened, and he has lost the business of the Texas Republican Party, his biggest customer.

I am happy to be able to present this followup and am glad that people, including Texas Republics, were outraged enough to make Mr. Alcox's life miserable and to have a negative effect on his earning power.

When large numbers of white people are as angered and hurt by racism as blacks, that is a sign of fundamental change.

IN MEMORIAM, from the New York Times, Thursday, June 19:

"Christian Jetter Harrison, June 19, 2006

I had to lose you to find you in me.


Thursday, June 19, 2008

Americans Get Fat While the Poor....

These are people in Haiti searching for food or something to sell from a dump. The April 23, 2008 issue of Paris Match reported that there have been demonstrations protesting high food prices and food riots in Haiti, Ivory Coast, Egypt, Mexico, Mozambique, Cambodia, the Philippines, Pakistan, Senegal, and Kenya. Some weeks, PM reports, "riots explode on all the continents."

The obscenity is that this situation does not have to exist. In the Sunday (June 15)"News of the Week in Review" section of the New York Times, Donald G. McNeil, Jr. wrote, "The whole world has never come close to outpacing its ability to produce food. Right now, there is enough grain grown on earth to feed 10 billion vegetarians." So, what is happening to all this grain? Well, a lot of it is "being fed to cattle, the S.U.V.'s of the protein world." And who is eating the beef from these grain feed cattle? Affluent North Americans and Europeans.

"Theoretically," McNeil writes, "there is enough acreage already planted to keep the planet fed forever….But success depends on portion control." There is something radically wrong when people on every continent are eating from garbage dumps and rioting for bread while Americans are worried about an "obesity epidemic."

According to McNeil, there is a simple solution to the famine being faced by those Paris Match refers to as "les damn├ęs de la terre" who "ne veulent pas mourir de faim" – the damned of the earth who do not want to die of hunger. That solution is to end the "subsidies to American and European farmers" which artificially raise prices. Ending subsidies "would let poor farmers compete which…would push down American food prices and American taxes."

There is an additional solution. The capitalist system engenders an ethic of individualism, greed and selfishness. Simply by living in the United States we are educated to think primarily of ourselves and not care how our behavior affects others – to the point that by 2025, according to the United Nations, 1.2 billion people will suffer from hunger.

Right now 33% of American adults are classified as obese. What will that number be by 2025?

We cannot continue to live as if we are the only people on the planet. Well, sadly, that's not true. We can continue living as we do – uncaring about how our behavior assaults the lives of billions and hastens their deaths.

And, we probably will.

Text © 2008 by Julius Lester

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

It Has Begun

It has begun, the snidely racist Republican attacks on Barack Obama. The above button was on sale at the Texas Republican Convention this past weekend. In all fairness to Texas Republicans, I don't know how many buttons were sold, but the fact that the Texas Republican Party did not issue a statement expressing their disgust with the buttons says enough.

"Lets [sic] Keep the White House White" is a rubber stamp. This bill was found on Staten Island, one of the five boroughs of New York City. This is more insidious than the button because that has to be purchased. A piece of currency with that message stamped on it can appear in my wallet. Republicans "Swift-boated" John Kerry in 2004 with the Internet campaign attacking his military record during the Vietnam War. Foolishly, Kerry waited too long to respond.

The only way to fight the racism represented by the two items here is for record numbers of people to register and vote in November. But there is a chance the Republicans will steal this presidential election as they stole the last two because the state of Louisiana, for one, is already having problems registering the number of blacks who want to vote. On election day in November many blacks will go to the polls believing they are registered voters and will be told they are not because their applications were incomplete or invalid. The evildoers are already at work disenfranchising blacks.

Fortunately the Obama campaign is aware of problems registering voters in Louisiana and other states. At least in this election McCain does not have a brother who is governor of the state that can swing the election.

Unrelated to the above: I was sitting in the dentist's office last Friday afternoon when I heard over the radio that Tim Russert had died. Like everyone else I was shocked, but I do not consider his death to be an event worthy of the platitudes being bestowed upon him. A writer on the Psychology Today website wrote that Russert's death "produced the greatest national outpouring of grief for a single 'civilian' since John Lennon was killed in 1980." (Americans grieved far more for Princess Di.)John Lennon has been dead for 28 years and is still remembered by millions. Five years from now Tim Russert will be remembered only by those who knew him personally.

For the the record I want to say that I never liked Tim Russert, thought he was egotistical and filled with too great a sense of self-importance. I was saddened by his death but, as I indicated in yesterday's blog, I am saddened by the deaths of those whose names I know only because I read them on the obituary page.

© 2008 by Julius Lester

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


I read the obituary column in the New York Times every day, not only the obituaries the paper thinks are noteworthy but also the paid death notices. I pay particular attention to the column of "In Memoriam" notices that appear at the end of the paid death notices. This is where people pay to have published a few words they write about a loved one on the anniversary of the person's death or birthday.

These are sometimes very raw expressions of grief. One "In Memoriam" notice consisted of one sentence: "I long for you". Another read: "It is 12 years since your brutal murder. I still pray for justice."

What impresses me most is that grief does not end. A few days ago there was an "In Memoriam" notice for a parent who had been dead forty-five years. The ultimate human paradox is that the deeper our love for someone, the more intense and unbearable our grief at that person's death. The grief becomes our most immediate expression of the love.

When looking at the photographs of parents grieving the deaths of their children in the recent earthquakes in China, I realized that grief is a language common to everyone on earth. We understand so deeply what it is to experience the death of someone to whom our hearts are bound.

Why, then, do political and religious zealots believe it is their holy calling to create grief? Regardless of what these maddened people think they are doing, what they are accomplishing, without a doubt, is adding to the population of mourners.

Perhaps a time will come when enough of us feel grief at the deaths of those we don't know, when we will share the grief of those who mourn those they knew. If such a time comes we will have learned to value every human life as if it were our own, and it will be impossible to even imagine killing others because they don't believe as we do.

© 2008 by Julius Lester


"Michael Cunningham

"Deep peace of the running wave to you. Deep peace of the flowing air to you. Deep peace of the quiet earth to you. Deep peace of the shining stars to you. Deep peace of the gentle night to you. Moon and stars pour their healing light on you. Deep peace of the world to you."

Monday, June 16, 2008

An Anniversary

Forty years ago this month my first trade book was published, Look Out, Whitey! Black Power's Gon' Get Your Mama! (I had published a prior book, The Twelve String Guitar as Played by Leadbelly, but it was an instruction book based on teaching records Pete Seeger had done, so I don't count it as my book.) To mark this anniversary in my life I've decided to read all 46 of my books.

I never read my books from cover to cover when they are published. It can be a year or more between my turning in a manuscript and a book's publication. By that time the book represents where I was and not where I am.

Look Out, Whitey! was the first book published on Black Power, and I still remember the morning I picked up the New York Times, and to my shock and surprise, there was a review of LOW, a good review. The book placed Black Power in the broad context of American history as well as the history of blacks in America. What made it different was the language. It was, in essence, a scholarly book, well-researched and with footnotes and a bibliography but the language was passionate, provocative, and its tone was the music of the street. The opening paragraphs:

"In June of 1966, James Meredith, the first Negro to graduate from the University of Mississippi, began what he called a "march against fear" through his native state....With this announcement black people across the country began crossing Meredith's name from the list of those in the land of the living. Hustlers began checking whether they could take out insurance policies on his life, naming themselves as beneficiaries. Ministers looked through their files, searching for old sermons about martyrdom. In a few places florists hurriedly placed orders for funeral wreaths, to be sure they would have enough on hand. They weren't being cynical. They were black and they knew. Mr Meredith had announced his death.

"On the second day of his march, surrounded by state troopers and FBI men, Meredith was shot. Fortunately, the omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent and omnimerciful Lord God Almighty took pity on this man from Kosciusko, Mississippi, and selected the poorest-shooting white man in three counties for the job. Mr. Meredith was not murdered. He received superficial wounds and a telegram from [Vice-President] Hubert Humphrey."

Recently I read LOW for the first time. I have vague memories of sitting in the basement of the Atlanta office of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), the civil rights group for whom I worked as a photographer from 1966-68, cold, trying to see how many cups of tea I could make from one teabag, and pounding away on a typewriter at this book. But I remembered little else, and it was as if it had been written by someone else, which, in many ways, it was. I found the book to be surprisingly good, and I wondered how I had written it. I had never studied writing non-fiction, had never even written a decent paper during my four years in college.

I still agree with much of what I wrote, but I’m sorry that once I referred to women as “bitches” and I used “nigger” a lot more than I wish I had, though both words were used casually in those days. At times I was uncomfortable with the angry voice in the book. I wrote the book in the voice of all those blacks who could not speak for themselves and be heard, but I was never as angry as the book makes me appear, and I was never anti-white. However, I still chuckle when I recall the headline of the review that appeared in a newspaper in Indiana: "Lester Out To Get White Mamas." (Little did they know.)

As a description of the mood of young blacks of the time and an explication of black nationalism in the guise of Black Power, it’s a good book. Much of what I wrote is still true, unfortunately, but my view of people and events is more complex and nuanced now, the result of age and experience and reading.

In 1968 I had youth and anger on my side, and that was a good thing. It makes me wonder why aren't Americans angry today? Well, they are -- over the price of gas. I'll save that for later in the week.

Anyway, I’m enjoying becoming acquainted with myself through my books. I'll let you know how the reading goes.

© 2008 by Julius Lester

Friday, June 13, 2008

“Each disease is uncertain in its outcome, and within that uncertainty, we find real hope, because a tumor has not always read the textbook, and a treatment can have unexpectedly dramatic impact. This is the great paradox of true hope: Because nothing is absolutely determined, there is not only reason to fear but also reason to hope. And so we must find ways to bridle fear and give greater rein to hope.”

Jerome Groopman, M.D., How People Prevail in the Face of Illness: The Anatomy of Hope


Day-spring: The first appearance of light in the morning.

Isn't that a great word? It is far more accurate than sunrise, since we know the sun doesn't move and yet we persist in the ocular illusion. But what really happens is that as the earth turns, day springs up from night. Speaking of which, I'd better get to bed. It's almost time for day-spring.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

“To hope under the most extreme circumstances is an act of defiance that permits a person to live his life on his own terms. It is part of the human spirit to endure and give a miracle a chance to happen.”

Jerome Groopman, M.D., How People Prevail in the Face of Illness: The Anatomy of Hope


Bellitude: Beauty of person; loveliness, elegance; neatness

Do you know anyone who has bellitude? If so, tell them.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

“'Look deeply into that which you love,’ [her teacher] said in his initial talk. 'That is where you will find the dharma, the Truth, as it is revealed in your life, your situation. Only give your body permission to actively love what it loves. Love is not complete without an active manifestation and expression of it in one’s living actions, thoughts, and words.'"

Anne Rudloe, Butterflies on a Sea Wind: Beginning Zen


Flathers: Rubbish

How great would it be if, at President Bush's next press conference, somebody yelled "Flathers!" after every sentence he uttered. Or the word could be used in a book title: Flathers! The Bush-Cheney Years.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

“We spend so much time trying to be something other than what we think we are. It’s very difficult and very painful. It’s important to just be in touch with what we are, to be aware of and enjoy the gifts we have, and to avoid the obviously destructive things in society. The way we are in each moment determines the quality of our life and our environment. If we really take care of ourselves, then we will also take care of everyone around us.”

Anne Rudloe, Butterflies on a Sea Wind: Beginning Zen


Ramfeezled: "To exhaust oneself with work, to wear oneself out."

Isn't that far more expressive than saying, "I'm tired," or "I'm beat." Imagine how
much better it would feel to come home from work and announce, "I'm ramfeezled!"

Monday, June 9, 2008

“If we can learn to let go of likes and dislikes as the dictators of our actions, then we can apply this experience to other aspects of life that we must engage, be they personal relationships, work situations, or health problems. Likes and dislikes never disappear, but they can lose their authoritarian power.”

Anne Rudloe Butterflies on a Sea Wind: Beginning Zen


Woonkers: A word used to express wonderment or surprise.

Isn't that a great word!! It is so much better than "Jesus Christ!" or
"Holy Shit!" Definitely a word worth bringing back into use.

"The Democratic Party primaries are over!"

Saturday, June 7, 2008

“Zen practice emphasizes staying aware of each moment as we live it….The world is full of subtleties, and a lot of the time we are so preoccupied with our personal agendas, reviewing the past or anticipating some future moment, that we overlook most of what is before us in the present.”

Anne Rudloe Butterflies on a Sea Wind: Beginning Zen


Traveltainted: Fatigued with travel.

Having spent most of my adult life traveling, I am so traveltainted that I only leave the house one, maybe two days a week.

Friday, June 6, 2008

“When asked by a visitor to write the essence of practice, Zen Master Ikkyo simply wrote, ‘Attention.’ When pressed for more, he wrote “Attention, attention, attention!” Frustrated, the visitor asked what attention means, and Ikkyo said, “Attention means attention.”

Anne Rudloe, Butterflies on a Sea Wind: Beginning Zen

Paying attention. It seems like that would be simple to do. But it isn't. To pay attention means that all of the senses, as well as the mind, especially the mind, are focused on one "whatever". When we focus our entire beings on a face, a flower, or whatever we become painfully aware that we've lived practically all of our lives being inattentive.


Shivviness: The feeling of roughness caused by a new undergarment.

There's a word I am happy we no longer need, except it could be given new life and used to describe 1-ply toilet paper. A few years ago I decided I was too old to be scratching my behind any longer and switched to 3-ply paper. Whenever we travel someplace by car, I bring along a couple of rolls of 3-ply paper. I am too old for shivy toilet paper.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Two Cheers for White America

Wednesday morning's New York Times had a subhead that I imagine was on the front of most American newspapers about Obama being the Democratic Party nominee: "First Black to Lead the Ticket for a Major Party".

Whenever I see the words "first black" to do anything, the implication is that this is an enormous achievement for black people, that we've broken through another color barrier.

In reality, the "first black syndrome" is an enormous achievement for white people. Since 1619 black people have known that we could do anything white people could do. It has taken white people almost 300 hundred years to figure that out. If white people had had their heads on straight it would have been obvious to them that Frederick Douglas would have made a far better president after the civil war than Ulysses Grant. If white people had had their heads on straight they would have known that W.E.B. DuBois would have been a far superior president to Woodrow Wilson.

But white people had this narrative stuck in their heads that they were superior to everybody whose skin was darker, and those of us with darker skins suffered the consequences. But slowly over the last almost 50 years that narrative has begun to change, and lo and behold, Barack Obama is the Democratic Party candidate for President of the United States.

I want to congratulate white America on the progress it is making in seeing as people those of us whose skin color isn't white. I hope white America continues making such progress and helps elect Obama to be president.

© 2008 by Julius Lester


Psychomachy: A conflict of the body with the soul.

I was in a constant state of psychomachy for the first 50 years of my life!

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Obama for President

I never dreamed I would live to see a black man as a major party nominee for president. And I am happy to see that Obama does not make a big deal out of being black. It is part of who he is but not his totality.

There are many who wonder if a black man can be elected president. That is not my fear. I wonder if someone who as intelligent as he is can be elected president. Time and again I have been impressed by his eschewing simple solutions as when he rejected McCain and then Clinton's suggestion to institute a summertime federal gas tax holiday. I was impressed by the very nuanced speech he gave on race in Philadephia. Obama's biggest liability is not his race; it is that he is not afraid of complexities, that he does not speak in political cliches or always say what he thinks people want to hear. He is a man who thinks.

Americans tend to vote for the lowest common denominator. During the primaries Obama, attracted the more educated voters, and Clinton pandered to the racism of the not so educated. Here's hoping that Obama will not "dumb" himself down in a vain effort to broaden his appeal.

There is the saying that people get the leader they deserve. We deserve a president who is intelligent, articulate, who knows that the answers to our problems will not be easy to find.

Will we get that president? Obviously I don't know, but we will if the young vote in unprecedented numbers. Their votes for Obama can offset the votes of those who can't bring themselves to vote for a black man, those who resent his intelligence and his refusal to hide or minimize it.

I used to wonder how I would feel when a younger generation came along and wanted to be in control.

I am ecstatic! I hope I will be even more ecstatic on election night in November.


Thorough cough: Coughing and breaking wind at the same time.

I can't recall if I have ever thorough coughed, but it sounds like it could be an uplifting and cleansing experience.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

"Everything is our teacher, if we just pay attention."

Butterflies on a Sea Wind: Beginning Zen by Anne Rudloe


Flurn: To show contempt by looks; to scorn

If I were to meet George Bush, I would flurn him.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Update - Catalog Choice

Last November I wrote about a new group,, a non-profit group dedciated to helping the environment by reducing the number of catalogs weighing down mail deliverers and our mailboxes. You go to, register, and then find the names of the catalogs you don't want to receive. CatalogChoice contacts the company. You can log on any time to check the status of your requests.

To date I have submitted the names of 154 catalogs. Of the 154 names submitted, twenty-one companies have confirmed that they will no longer send me their catalogs. But 48 companies have not responded at all, even after repeated requests. And, most surprising to me, 7 companies have refused to take my name off their catalog mailing lists.

I have learned several things:

1. American businesses are wasteful. They send catalogs to people who have never bought anything from them and continue sending catalogs to people who have said they don't want them.

2. But American businesses make considerable money from selling their mailing lists to companies offering similar products. Thus, it is not to a company's advantage to remove names from their lists.

3. As much as I enjoy shopping online, I have decided to do as little as possible because I am only making my name available to be sold to as many companies as possible.

4. American businesses only think of short-term profit. They do not understand that their contempt for the consumer will lead to consumer contempt for them.

But CatalogChoice reports that 893,245 people have opted out of receiving 11,611,223 catalogs. Most encouraging is that 211 companies have joined CatalogChoice as companies that will cooperate in removing names from their mailing lists.

I think I'll restrict any online shopping to these companies.


Quanked: Overpowered by fatigue.

Quankness is the American way of life.