A Certain Answer

Ajahn Brahm is a monk who is cloistered on YouTube where he lives forever. My Polish daughter-in-law introduced me to him, probably because he is a proponent of non derogatory communication. The concept is so good that I practice it seven hours a day while I am sleeping. Brahm does not specify if snoring is considered derogatory. But he does talk about dreams. He tells of the man who dreamed about five golden angels playing harps and showering him with gold. When he awoke, the dream resonated when he encountered the number five all morning long. His wife served five eggs and five pieces of toast and so on. When the racing form in his newspaper identified Five Angels as the number 5 horse in the fifth race, he skipped work, withdrew his savings from the Fifth National Bank, headed for the racetrack, and bet it all on Five Angels to win in the fifth race. Of course, he went broke because Five Angels finished fifth. This is probably an old joke because the man was reading a newspaper. But it served to introduce the riddle of predetermination versus free will. I fast forwarded to the solution at the end of the video which I present as a public service: “Your life is uncertain.”


Hell Is Other People

People smarter than me claim that Jean-Paul Sarte’s famous definition of hell is one of the most misunderstood quotes in Philosophy. It occurs at the end of Sarte’s 1943 play Hui Clos (No Exit). Fortunately, I woke up in time to hear it. The words are brilliant in context and intellectuals could (and probably have) written doctoral dissertations on the shame in realizing that others observe us as objects. And stuff like that. But the real brilliance in the four word quotation is that the profundity also works out of context. The words can stand alone for shallow people like me who can be blown away by the satisfying intersection of wit and depth.

Rudy to the Rescue

The Donald Trump impeachment process has been dragging on for almost three years and I have tried to remain neutral. One faction wants The Donald impeached, convicted of the charges, and thereby removed from office. The other faction wants him impeached, convicted, and sentenced to hard labor building a border wall. Both positions have some merit. Apparently the process is taking so long because the Democrats are waiting for Trump to kill someone on Fifth Avenue as he promised. They feel this would speed up the proceedings, especially if he murdered a prominent Republican. According to Ranting Rudy, one of Giuliani’s five personalities, President Trump must be convicted or acquitted before the end of his second term or he continues to serve in office until the process is completed. He cites his status as a lawyer and son of a mob enforcer to both prove he knows what he is talking about and threaten anyone who disagrees. Rambling Rudy is fearless and immediately contradicted his brother Ranting and added that the President cannot be convicted of crimes he can not legally commit and he cannot be acquitted of charges that he cannot understand. Rusty Rudy is in the Ukraine looking for Rational Rudy. Ridiculous Rudy was last seen as a Republican but has formerly registered as both an Independent and a Democrat.

Descendants 3

I have never understood why people watch the same movie multiple times, although it was interesting to view Sixth Sense a second time and see that Shyamalan did not cheat to pull off his dramatic twist. Many authors read favorite books over and over. One could argue that is similar to my habit of eating cereal with fruit every morning. But more good unread books exist than alternate breakfast choices. I enjoyed the movie Descendants 3 the first time I saw it while babysitting grandchildren. They watch television in my den while I work on my Blog or photo projects. I had already seen Descendants 1 and 2 with them on previous occasions. But this past summer, two of the grandchildren visited us from Virginia for a full forty days. And I endured Descendants 3 five times. Perhaps I brought it upon myself by not involving myself in alternate wholesome activities. But the punishment should fit the crime. I figure I am up to Descendants 8 and they are all the same. I am now rooting for Auradon, the Isle, and the VK’s to all sink into the sea, thus eliminating the possibility of any future descendants.

Pie Hole

Sleeping with my mouth open is not a good look on me. My five year old nephew can pull it off because he would look cute even in the middle of a tornado. I know I do not look good sleeping open mouthed because people take pictures of me doing it. I give photographers ample opportunity because I fall asleep while watching television, eating, praying, and driving a car. It has gotten so bad, I might have to give up praying. I used to close my mouth when I slept but that caused an oxygen deficit which killed off too many of my brain cells. Oops there goes another one. I keep forgetting to open my mouth while typing.

Facts of Life

Time Magazine is credited with the phrase, “That’s a fact too good to check.” That is a fact too good for me to check. So I am more like Donald Trump than I care to admit. The two of us live up to Time’s purported philosophy better than Time does. The aphorism quoted above may just be a clever witticism or may reflect a rare intentional exception to a rule. Movies about true events play fast and loose with actual facts for the sake of dramatic effect. Well, actually for the sake of money. It usually comes down to money. Time Magazine wants to sell more magazines. Movie studios want to earn more money. Donald Trump wants to make more money. I do too. But I just cannot find lies that will make me that money. I told my neighbor if he fixed the fence on our property, the Mexicans would pay for it. But he just tied the collapsing fence to his tree with a bungee cord. I wonder how much those crafty Mexicans paid for that.

Praying For Credit

Perpetual Adoration describes a practice allegedly popular in monasteries and convents where monks or nuns rotate so that someone is constantly praying and meditating in the presence of the Eucharist twenty four hours a day. I have not spent much time in monasteries and convents. And I have not interviewed inhabitants of such institutions as to the current popularity of such practices. But I participated as a volunteer parishioner thirty years ago and it was surprisingly satisfying. I was able to schedule 10pm Sunday when I could be regularly available and minimize the hassle of arranging for a substitute. I was a wimp because the truly dedicated took times like 3am. It was scary because at night we were locked alone in a big dark empty church with a variety of strange spooky sounds. You knocked for your predecessor to let you in. I forgot about prayers for world peace in favor of pleas for someone to relieve me at exactly 11pm. An earlier knock would paralyze me with thoughts of various felonies that an intruder could commit. You were also invited to write prayer intentions in a log book but they could be traced to you by anyone as nosy as me. So I was careful not to write down my big prayers for softball championships and Seahawk victories. Hopefully my permanent record reflects all the prayers I documented for the abused and addicted without deductions for the time I spent daydreaming. If I prayed for a long life and specified how long, I hope I chose a number significantly higher than 72.

Training Wheels

We have schools that teach people how to drive an automobile well enough to procure a driver’s license. I wish I discovered them earlier, especially before I tried to teach my oldest son. I hear my wife was not much better in retaining her cool when that same son made his first attempt to merge into freeway traffic. I improved with later sons and feel totally justified at screaming bloody murder when my youngest took a left turn into oncoming traffic in Wichita. After all, we were both about to die and I was not going to get an opportunity to make a death bed confession. Kids take classes to learn how to swim and dance. Clinics exist for every sport. After unsuccessfully trying to teach my seven year old granddaughter to ride a bike without her training wheels, I realize that my next business venture should be investing in a school that teaches children how to ride a two-wheeler. Why should parents (and grandparents) have to endure a frustrated child jumping on the spokes of her bike? Why do I have to lose my voice yelling at progeny? Maybe the school can do potty training too. I am a grandparent and still do not have my parent training wheels off.

Litany of Forgotten Items

I always forget something when I leave home. It could be my water bottle. If I am headed for a long run or hike, that is a minor disaster. My hat is also important so I often stash extra ones in my truck. Same for sunglasses. Sometimes I forget my phone and the impact can range from none to life threatening. If I do not take my sun screen, the impact is unknown. When I leave my wallet behind, I compound the error by speeding and taking illegal left turns. Luckily I do not store alcohol in my vehicle. If I am without my reading glasses, I am undoubtedly on the way to a restaurant and the blurry menus will probably cause beets to appear on my plate. If I do not bring a breath freshener, it will only be crucial in the unlikely event someone wants to kiss me. Forgetting my handkerchief is usually fine because I wear long sleeve shirts. The absolute best thing to forget is my car key because I cannot leave home without it. I can see why women have purses to store everything but I would forget my purse if I had one.


Birthdays often outlive people. Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday (October 2) is still celebrated as a national holiday in India over 70 years after his death. If you are not so famous, your loved ones often mark your birth date with visits to a cemetery or some other remembrance. If you die young, loved ones are around longer to remember. My brother Rory died at 14 months, so his first and only birthday defines him. Most of his surviving pictures come from that day and his personality shines through more than earlier baby pictures. I was only four when he died so my memories are fleeting. I am clearly pouting in one birthday photo where my Dad is restraining me. I was probably jealous of all the attention Rory was getting. On the day Rory would have turned 69, I attended a party unrelated to him with a couple dozen extended family members and a few close friends. If he were alive, he would have likely been a star attraction at that function. Presumably he would have forged a lifetime of connections with all the attendees. I looked around and realized I was the only one present who actually knew Rory. He died before my remaining siblings were even born. Ironically, I could now privately pout that Rory was the one not getting enough attention on his 69th birthday.