maybe I shouldn’t

 

32 For the waywardness of the simple will kill them,
and the complacency of fools will destroy them;  – Proverbs 1:32

Another blogger I follow published a story of a workman in a farming community who ignorantly, but purposely, set a blaze to burn cut brush in very dry conditions.  It was a day with a light breeze.  And it was next to fields that provide this blogger’s animals’ feed.   Another quick-reacting farmer cut a fire-break that minimized the destruction that would have been – to the surrounding fields and forest.

My wife recounted by phone to me mid-day a terrifying encounter on a highway with a fool speeding behind her by inches, screaming, throwing the “finger” around, and swerving around and slamming on brakes.  Worse still, he was taking pictures of her with a cell phone.  A maniac on a mission to kill himself or others.  She was shaken but unscathed.  And her passenger, returning from a cardiac treatment, safe as well.  And the often-maligned law enforcement officers were not present to intercept “road rage”.

A train operator in a large metropolitan center on the U.S. East Coast was distractedly using a cellphone while a train was traveling through an area too rapidly to navigate a turn.  Of course it crashed.  Because the automated speed-control feature of the track had not been installed at that time.  In the IOT (Internet of Things),  we are not yet at the future our futurist movies depict.  But then fallible humans design them.

A Navy ship with a highly-advanced navigation console, but relatively unfamiliar operators and overly confident command authority, collided with a commercial ship. It resulted in death, destruction, and ruined lives and careers.  This week, a social media post by a popular American television star, blatantly and undeniably abhorrent, resulted in firing and the show’s cancellation.  A  fool’s big mouth resulted in lost jobs for all those behind the scenes.

Ignorance, the root and stem of all evil. – Plato

People are often responsible – or irresponsible – for many problems that beset us.  Many times, of course, the things that plague mankind including influenza or wildfires, earthquakes or volcanoes are beyond human control.   But then, building a community on an active earthquake fault or on an island (Hawaii) created by an active volcano is by human design.

These behaviors and consequences are reasons to find comfort and instruction in the Proverbs of the Bible, wisdom of the ancient Greek philosophers, or other contemplative authors.   Human behavior has been the same for thousands of years. Only the technology has changed.

Technology… is a queer thing. It brings you great gifts with one hand, and it stabs you in the back with the other. ~C.P. Snow, New York Times, 15 March 1971  via http://www.quotegarden.com

Quotes courtesy of http://www.brainyquote.com except where noted

Unlocking success

 

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Ten Keys to work and life success:

  1.  Measure your success not in terms of monetary gain, power, influence, or education: there are always people who have more than you;  the opposite holds true as well, in that there are always people with less that are more content, peaceful, and healthier with less.
  2. Always give your best effort in your work, whether in employment or in your craft.  There are plenty of others who stop at “mediocre” and complain about “fairness” when others work smarter, harder, and seek to do more.  Make “Invaluable” is an adjective others would use to describe you as an employee.
  3. Treasure an inquiring mind.  If one stops learning, lifegrows dull and colorless.
  4. Be considerate of others.  Your impact may generate positive changes for individuals and communities.
  5. Social media is often argumentative or belittling.  Seek understanding, not to be understood.  When encountering confrontational people who will not accept differing opinions from their own, turn away, tune out, and go play with your family, friends or dogs.
  6.  If you borrow,  treat others’ belongings, tools or work with respect or courtesy.  If you lend, do so prudently and with understanding that it may not return.
  7. If an employer, treat your employees with courtesy, integrity, and compensate them fairly.   If an employee, treat your employer respectfully.
  8. In social settings or with co-workers, do not participate in gossip, slander, or bullying.  The one who offends today may be the subject of other’s offense tomorrow.
  9. In personal relationships, treat one another with kindness, respect and mutual affection.  Be quick to apologize, and treat the other person as you would want to be treated.
  10. Be open to accepting a spiritual component for your life.  Balancing life and work successfully is as much, or even more, a spiritual attuning as human effort.

 

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Honor and lament: Southwest Air 1380

12 Moreover, no one knows when their hour will come:

As fish are caught in a cruel net,
    or birds are taken in a snare,
so people are trapped by evil times
    that fall unexpectedly upon them. Ecclesiastes 9: 12

https://www.cnn.com/2018/04/18/us/southwest-emergency-landing/index.html

Grieve for the Dead and her Family

A passenger on Southwest Airlines Flight 1380 died in a freak accident yesterday.  One of the engines on the Boeing 737 had a mid-air explosion and shrapnel entered the passenger compartment causing depressurization.  Seven others were injured.  According to the British tabloid The Sun yesterday,  she was Jennifer Riordan, an Albuquerque banker with Wells Fargo.  Seems like such a brief statement, to be identified by a person’s occupation.  Whose lives did she change.  Whom was encouraged or loved or cared for.   Yet, a husband has lost his wife, and their children have lost their mother.   Let the community rally around the living  and that the airline company moves quickly to do everything possible to care for them, the injured, the other passengers and crew.

Honor the Pilot’s Skill

The flying public, myself included,  take for granted, after sixty or more years of travel that nothing will disrupt our cocktail and peanuts, the in-flight Wi-Fi or movie.  But silently we depend on the professionalism and skill of the pilot and crew.  Hundreds of lives at 35,000 feet depend on a machine and an operator.   The pilot of the aircraft,  Tammy Jo Shults, has been a pilot in commercial aviation for decades.  Prior to that, according to news reports, she was one of the first female naval aviators and of a smaller, more exclusive group of skilled aviators – pilot of an F/A-18.  The skill of our commercial and military pilots is without a doubt exceptional.   More than a hundred passengers and crew owe their lives today to the skill of the crew in landing at Philadelphia.  That no other lives were lost is a credit to cool professionalism.  Yet I hope she is comforted as well as lauded for handling that emergency so well.    Military training or long years in commercial aviation: no one wants to lose someone on their watch.

An instant changes everything

Every day, a split-second can be the difference between life, death, or serious injury.  The decisions we make affect us.  Yet we are not always in control.  Nobody can predict what the day will bring.  In a complex machine that is a commercial airliner, a bolt that passed inspection may have sheared causing mayhem.  A tree limb weakened by a harsh drought may crack and fall on a sleeping camper.  A wrong turn or an earlier than normal start to a work commute may result in an accident with someone distracted on the way home.  A routine medical procedure that saved a hundred lives that week, may result in a rare complication where someone died.

Twenty-five years ago, a Sailor I served with on a Navy destroyer, was driving a Navy van on a pier during a snowstorm.  The van skidded and drove off into the harbor and that sailor died.  His body was not discovered till months later.   And last year, another Sailor, in a horrible collision at sea, tried to get everyone out of a berthing compartment.  To save his shipmates, he told others to seal the hatch and sacrificed himself for others.

Life of Faith, or Fear

Life is unpredictable.  As a follower of Jesus Christ,  a retired Navy Senior Chief, and a devoted husband and friend,  I hope I may respond as my faith and training enable me.

dangerous intentions

The Sunday paper, actual newsprint, is still read in my house.  Peruse is probably a more exact term, but I grabbed onto two stories today that declare what a dangerous world we live in, and how some are fighting back.

pexels-photo-272337.jpegNo, this is not a tale of evil-doers thwarted by good-guys,  but rather the story of how a book can get an entire Government flustered, and a raygun available to police forces.   Apparently, the Japanese on Okinawa are irritated that a BIBLE was part of a display honoring Missing In Action and Prisoners Of War in a military hospital.   We all should know the terrible things that this particular book stirs up. To one who sees self-improvement, it is Truth, Love, Honor,  Selflessness.  To them, it is the possibility of overcoming the weaknesses of mankind:  Hatred,  Fear, Doubt, Hypocrisy, and Betrayal.  To believers, it is voluntary primer from a supreme Intelligent Designer.  But for some who seek Power over others, there cannot be a still higher power.

 And then, a featured story of the drone-killer ray gun catches my eye.  This is a tool to prevent danger to the State, and its law enforcement, from the foolish person who flies a drone in the path of aircraft.  When drones are sold in 7-Elevens, online, and in department stores,  everyone has the freedom and means to be hazardous to others.  Law Enforcement has to police another misbehavior of some, to whom words (law or rules) or norms (common sense) have little power.

So which is it?   Words have Power, or they do not have power?  The State doesn’t seem to know either.  If someone reads and practices the Torah, Buddhist texts, Hindi theology, or Book of Mormon, my family and I are not threatened.  At least, in the western world, it is all voluntary.  The Word of Christ has never hurt another soul.  People, alone, are capable of that.

Humble is not a pie sold at Costco

On the way home from lunch with friends today,  we stopped at COSTCO to pick up a few things.  While I enjoy our Sunday routine,  it is often at odds with how I spend the first part of my day.    As you may know, if you have followed either of my blogs for any length of time,  my wife and I are active members of our church.  For the last decade at least, one  or both of us serve as ushers for our worship service.   For the last five years,  I have been leading the ushers every Sunday for four to six months every year.  And that has helped me to overlook in others the shortcomings we all share.  In biblical parlance – sin.   Greed. Pride. Lust.  Et cetera.  On display at Costco.

“True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.”
― Rick WarrenThe Purpose Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here for?

Not that I am immune to “human weakness” by any means.   It’s why I go to church, why I pray and why I depend on the divine to help me when I’m weak.    See if my observations sound like anything you have seen:

  1. The bored clerk helping at checkout who seems genuinely irritated that a customer wants a box to carry out their purchases.
  2. The seven customers waiting in the parking lot behind the man waiting for a particular spot though there are two people pulling out a hundred feet away.
  3. The line of customers congregating around one of the sample stations – sausage, I think – blocking all but the most determined customers from going down the aisle.
  4. A wife berating a husband because he wants to buy some pickles  while she has a month-supply of chocolate in the cart.
  5. Several customers who found a deal – and are buying several bottles of Margarita (premixed) each – though the checkout clerk chuckled to me that Cinco de Mayo is still a month or more off.
  6. The woman who blatantly, if smugly sly, gets in front of me – two inches behind the man in line in front of her – and then motions her gal-pal to pull their nearly empty cart in front of us – three bottles of margarita, two of wine and cheese puffs or whatnot.

These are not representative of all, but a sample of people I’ve encountered.   For myself,  I have to hustle past the stadium-sized televisions positioned at the front of the store,  the random trinkets, and past the alcohol, to the steak and roasts.   I love to barbecue, and could easily spend my week with the smoker or barbecue going daily.

I would love to stuff my face with beef jerky, baked goods or those Salted Caramel chocolates, but that’s what I am declaring war on these days. On my new lifestyle- cutting out carbohydrates – I’m 22 pounds less than I weighed at the beginning of January.  And I intend to be twenty-five pounds lighter by the end of the summer.

Please God, help me love people.  Give me humility.  Help me say “no” to the gallon jug of BBQ Sauce to go with the steaks.   And help me with my own weaknesses!

Dust

Stephen Hawking, theoretical physicist, died this week.

Lots of people are voicing condolence.   Maybe people know of him due to the 2014 movie , Theory of Everything, that many who don’t understand his grand theories know his name.  A very intelligent being nonetheless, and one of the most celebrated brains who had ALS (also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease).  (As an aside, I thought Eddie Redmayne portrayed Hawking in stunning fashion in that movie.)  Not having read any of Hawking’s work, I nevertheless learned a bit about him.

He went to the grave an atheist.   Yet his religion was ‘science’, which for all the debate from atheists about facts versus myths,  is still human observation of the universe and its interplay on physical objects. With every passing decade, a “fact” gets refined, or refuted, or re-interpreted.  A deduced certainty – weather, tides, or planetary body is still victim to an “uncertainty principle”.   Of course, we have launched satellites and people into space, but these have finite parameters.  We cannot create an organism from a vacuum.  Science still cannot define origins.  It cannot define why – in our own solar system – life evolved to the scale it did from gas and dust.  It does not explain the origin of the gas and dust.  And science does not explain human thoughts.

Stephen Hawking for all his contribution to science wanted to determine a grand unifying theory for the universe.  It eluded him.

Some atheists who really examine evidence and limit their biased presupposing, have admitted that they just don’t know.  Those who believe what that grand unifying theory is,  and have empirical evidence – also from human experience and perspective – in their lives, will continue onward.  I do not pretend to know why some very intelligent scientists  and scholars do not embrace belief in God,  while other’s look at the same evidence and hold an awe for a Master Engineer at the center of everything.

Hawking may now return to dust from which he formed.   Sagan may be “star stuff”.  And it all may be a futile cycle of randomness that anything exists at all.    But what if Eternity is … a corollary of the Grand Unifying Theory?  And all that scientific dust….

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should an atheist put up Christmas lights and other questions

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Google Maps gave me driving directions around the worst of my evening commute tonight that inspired this blog post.  While I have made prior references to driving through San Diego at rush hour,  it is pointless to meander along that sordid topic – it is only going to get worse and not better.  However,  I can use the time to make some observations about some of my fellow Southern Californians.

Driving through an obviously middle class neighborhood in suburban San Diego this late afternoon, two weeks prior to the Christmas holiday,  I was intrigued that no more than perhaps one in forty homes displayed Christmas decorations or lights of any kind.  This was not a section of the city that appeared bound by any homeowners association prohibition,  nor a singularly Muslim area or commune of Ascetic monks,   It was a single-family style,  $600, 000-average price neighborhood (for California, a little more than the median price for 2017.)

christmas-lights-san-diego-vuvfwufpI am not denigrating anyone for NOT displaying Christmas decorations, and I in no way attribute Santa Claus,  decorated trees,  inflatable Minion or Harley-riding Santa Claus to the Birth of Jesus.   But I find it very “unusual”.   For a nation that spends a lot on holiday cheer regardless of their spiritual aspirations,  (a retail survey calculated that Americans spent $3.2 Billion on decorations, lights, trees and so forth in 2015) I found it unusual.  In neighborhoods that become a festive attraction for the surrounding communities, band saws in garages start going in September, and decorations start being put up on the Black Friday shopping day.   I thought I would look up the relationship between decorations and personality.  One article  was particularly interesting in perceptions.   An experiment was conducted on observers perceptions using pictures of groups of more socially-engaged neighbors, not socially-engaged (keep-to-themselves sort), each with decorated and not-decorated homes.  People who were generally unable to distinguish between social traits for decorated homes, could generally determine the level of social interaction  of people with non-decorated homes.  People can tell what you are like by the stuff in your environment.   20171209_202207.jpg

Next post,  I may discuss why some late-middle-age men like to tootle around town in a fire-engine red, convertible Porsche Carrera, and why some young people driving Civics, or BMW 3-series, or a 3-cylinder Prius, feel the need to be the most ignorant drivers on the road.