On Sabbatical

As of March 4, 2017 I’ve stopped all online publishing. This includes my websites and social media accounts. No blog posts, no tweets, no status updates. I’m nonline. I expect this to last at least a year. In that time, I’ll be writing. My goal for that writing is to become a book.

My newsletter, being email, will be my primary means of communication with folks “out there” (that’s you). I will continue to share occasional and infrequent updates, thoughts, and missives there along with information about the project and how you can pre-order the book when done.

The Begging Bowl

The Begging Bowl (or sometimes referred to as a Alms Bowl or Monk’s Bowl) is one of the few possessions a Buddhist Monk has. It is a practical object, used as a bowl in which to collect alms (either money or food) from lay supporters. Many monks rely solely on the kindness and generosity of others to survive.

This is my bowl…

As of March 4, 2017 I’ve stopped all online publishing. In my own way, I’ve gone into solitude and trusting my continued sustenance into the hands of those that wish to support my efforts. Here are ways to fill my bowl:

Other ways to fill my bowl…

Extending one’s bowl takes a tremendous amount of trust in both directions. The monastic trusts that there are those that wish to make a small donation to support their practice and the giver trusts they’ll have something of value to give back to the world upon return — this is the basis of karma.

Review — A Modern Way To Cook by Anna Jones

On a recent trip to the mall with my wife, Bethany, we decided to pop into the Anthropology store there. I saw this book, A Modern Way To Cook by Anna Jones, sitting on a shelf and it immediately caught my eye. I picked it up, flipped through, and waved Bethany over to discuss. “This looks like a really nice vegetarian cookbook!”, I said. Explaining further, “Fairly simple recipes organized by time to prepare, snappy writing, and beautiful pictures.”

“We have that one, I reviewed it on my site months ago. It’s on the shelf in the kitchen.”, she returned. I put the book down, somewhat sheepishly, now having revealed I’d never noticed it and did not remember her post.

When we got back home, I found it and spent a few minutes digging in. In my goal to eat more healthily with more vegetables and low carb, I found several easy and delicious looking recipes I’ll likely try right away. The very first recipe in the book, a one pot kale, tomato, and pasta dish, is one I plan to make as soon as possible (I’ll use whole wheat pasta for mine).

My wife’s review is longer and arrives at some different takes than mine here. That said, I find it not only compelling and useful but a beautifully executed cookbook that I’ll likely use frequently.

Capturing The Wild Snippet

I’ve recently re-adopted something I learned in a high school creative writing class. I’ve been keeping a Field Notes notebook in my back pocket and capturing stray interesting thoughts that pop into my head and things I overhear from others (conversations, movies, reading, etc.) There’s no specific reason or purpose for these random snippets, for now. Just listening, observing, waiting, and writing down anything that catches my attention. Our writing instructor at the time told us that, mostly, these things will remain meaningless and go unused but, perhaps, one thing in there might be exactly the line you need to turn a good poem into a great one or the first line of conversation for a character in a book or even the first sentence of the next Great American Novel. She said one may not even make that connection for many years but, if it only happens once, the whole of all the capturing will be worth it for that single line.

The other lesson is that it causes one to be more attentive to the world. The senses become naturally heightened and one is much more mindful when anything is potentially worth the ink in one’s pen.

Campfire Diplomacy

I know, from reading my friend Kurt Harden’s blog, that we may not see completely eye-to-eye politically. But, a fact of which I’m absolutely certain of is that we could sit down around a campfire with two fingers of whiskey and a decent cigar each and come around to more that we agreed on than disagreed. And, with that which we do not agree on we would at least recognize that, in the grand scheme, we both want to be good Boy Scouts and leave the world a better place than we found it for our children. That we share this same goal. We simply have different ideas as to what “better” may look like but we can honor the other’s perspective.

Regardless, I can’t help but think of how much I need this right now. To know that my many friends on the “other side” of all of this would like to embark on some campfire diplomacy such as this with me. Creating the space for goal-oriented persuasive conversation so that “we” may once again become “we the people”. Because history tells us the consequences if we don’t.

Kurt, if you’re reading this, I’ll bring the whiskey if you pick up the cigars. Let’s build a fire.

Facts on Impeachment

A history reminder:

  • Number of US Presidents that have been impeached: 2
  • Number that have been removed: 0

Impeach ≠ You’re fired (Further reading here.)

An impeachment is technically synonymous with indictment. It is simply the U.S. House of Representatives charging a public official with a crime. Just because one is charged does not mean they must resign or are in any way impeded from carrying out their duties. I think people get confused because of Former President Richard Nixon who resigned before the impeachment process was done. Former President Bill Clinton (one of the two above), for instance, was impeached for committing perjury. The Senate declined to hold a trial on the charges and, well, that was that.

Removing a sitting President is a constitutional mechanism without precedent. There is an Article that outlines the reasons a President can be forcibly removed but the bar is pretty high. It, also, would likely be a long process (The impeachment, the Senate hearings/trial, the legal battles, the challenges, etc.) We don’t know, it has never happened. Therefore there is no precedent with which to gauge it.

My eyes are just tired from rolling whenever I hear folks talking about impeachment being the answer. It’s barely a question, historically. So, if that’s what you are hoping for in regards to the current or a future President, please understand what you are actually asking for. What you are likely hoping for is an “Article 2; Section 4 Removal” which simply begins with an impeachment.

I hope this information helps you and others in future conversations regarding this.

A Small Lift to The Ordinary

My favorite Christmas present I received this year was from my wife. She found a nice set of silverplate ware at a local antique shop that is going out of business. I’m unsure of it’s age. It’s simple in style and not too ornate. The certificate says it was made so that a “family of small income can enjoy quality silverplate”. It’s not a full set. In fact, it’s mostly incomplete. But it has enough spoons, forks, and knives for our daily use.

I keep them in a stoneware vessel on our counter, separate from the stainless steel stuff we’ve had for years which, for now, remains in the drawer. It would seem a shame to hide these away like that. I find them beautiful, the sentiment touching, and it ensures they are used daily as intended.

Her idea was that it would be nice to have some real silver to use every day. That it was inexpensive enough to not treat preciously and that we could throw into the dishwasher without too much stress. That it would add a touch of elegance to each meal no matter how humble. A small lift to the ordinary. And, it does.

Rhone Koan — Meaningful Work

Not all work will be meaningful. Some will be meaningful to others but not for you. Some, will be drudgery. Some, will be necessary. Some will just be the thing you have to do until the next thing you have to do comes along until finally, after so much just-stuff, something will come along that is meaningful until, eventually, you’re done with that and doing the next thing you do because it’s just the thing you have to do. The everyday meaningful work is very rare and even then is punctuated by small bursts of just-stuff that you have to do to support the meaningful. But, the true meaning of work will come when one accepts that all work is meaningful work and none of it is and that both of these are simultaneously true.

Pause, Hear, and See

It breaks my heart whenever Beatrix apologizes for asking so many questions. She’s naturally deeply curious. It’s one of the things I love most about my little girl and Bethany and I try to foster it. Therefore, I let her know that it’s what we want her to do. That it’s what she should do.

If there’s any fault in it at all, it’s that sometimes she’s so busy asking questions or thinking up the follow-up ones that she fails to to listen for the answer. I remind her that, while asking questions is a good thing, taking the time to listen and observe is important too. That, many times, the answer is apparent if you pause for a bit to hear and see it. It’s something we all would do well to learn more of.

Fill The Jar

This past year was a hard one. Everyone I’ve spoken with seems to agree with a universality that seems statistically impossible. Despite the fact that the reasons it was a tough year is personal to each of us, we’ve all seemed to have suffered a shared traumatic experience. There were good things, sure. There had to be. But they seemed to be so beset on all sides with the bad stuff that it’s hard to remember the good. The good just doesn’t stand out.

The other day, my wife dusted off a a tall clear jar. Beside it, she placed some small slips of paper and a pen. The slips are large enough only for a sentence or two. The plan: Anytime something good happens,we write it down and put it in the jar. This way, we won’t forget. This year, no matter how bad we perceive things to be, look in the jar, focus on what is good, remember these things. And, if this time next year comes and one speaks of only the bad hard stuff when we look back, one of us will point to the jar and say, "Look in there." We will judge the year by how full the jar is instead.