Saturday, December 30, 2006


I’ve been grumpy lately. I decided that the reason is my unnerwear don’t fit. It seems that trying on underwear at the store is frowned on. My take on that fact is that it should be OK for me to try on underwear, but certainly not anyone else.

Brown eyed girl tells me that women try on underwear at the store by putting it on outside their current underwear. Huh? There ya go, yet another mysterious thing about the opposite sex. How would you know if it fit if you put it on over underwear that already do not fit? She just looked at me with the ‘look’ when I asked that out loud.

So back to why my underwear does not fit. Over the years I have learned a few things by buying lots of underwear that don’t fit. For example, did you know all men’s underwear is undersized? I have a suspicion that anorexic women must be designing men’s underwear. I have a size 30 waist, great big athletic shoulders and muscular arms, muscular thighs….ooops…..I forgot for a moment we were talking about underwear….despite a size 30 waist I have to buy underwear that is waist size 34-36 L. If I buy waist size 30 it looks as if I have put little boy underwear on, not a pretty sight at all, a sort of combination underwear/speedo ‘my god what is he thinking’ dopey appearance. When the size 34-36 is laundered one time they are also too small. It seems no matter what I do I’m left wearing underwear that is too small; at least too small in one spot or another.

Speaking of which, have you ever noticed the pouch in front is virtually non-existent or pretty darn big? The pouch part is designed by one of two different designers. The Alzheimer afflicted Grandma that forgot about the extra parts or the gal that spends her spare time watching porno movies and thinks all men are THAT size.

Last night I discussed my grumpiness with BEG and she decided to help out by looking on-line for some new underwear for me. I didn’t hear from her for a couple of hours. When I checked on her I discovered she was looking at pictures of men in underwear and had somehow forgotten her shopping task. She now has Jockey, Calvin Klein, and Fig Leaf in her favorite’s folder.

So today I went underwear shopping, I found a fine pair of Calvin Klein unnerwear made of modal fabric. They cost $20 per pair. Ouch. But they feel really good. I wore them all day. Pouch was perfect size for Seven’s equipment.

Got a problem though, I’m still grumpy.

Guess that wasn’t it.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The Knot of Christmas

The knot that is Christmas grows larger year by year. The news reports center on the consumption. The reporters issue their prognostication of the economy based on our remarkable ability to buy product. I have no quarrel. The consumerism can fuel a substantial economy and signal our general economic health. It’s okay with me if Target, Wal-Mart and Sak’s celebrate. In the end it’s a positive signal about our welfare.

The more spiritual among us lament that the true meaning of Christmas has been lost.

The scrooges like me wonder why the fuss is so elaborate in any case. Troops long to be at home. The lonely remain lonely. The ladies of the mall re-appear each year with broad smiles accompanied by reindeer and Christmas tree festooned sweatshirts, jingly ornaments secured through their ears. Men wearily trudge along behind the reindeered shirts.

And so we wonder about the knot that is Christmas, and its meaning.

I had a fierce conversation not long ago with a friend that takes issue with those that allege they are ‘born again’ and issue the proclamation in public. She is a lib that like many libs laments the religious right. For her, the phrase ‘born again’ does not necessarily describe the process of being renewed in the teachings of Christ, but rather is representative of a temporary spirit of politic, a way of dividing those around her into the dems and the repubs, or the libs and the cons.

It might sound as though I am being critical. I’m not. The protestant religious right too often uses the phrase ‘born again’ to judge against the rights of others to believe what they believe. This same friend of mine believes in the ‘universe’ and she prays to the ‘universe.’ That’s alright by me, I do the same. I also believe with an abundance of certainty in the deity of Christ.

Are they not the same? This is the argument I presented to my friend. She told me she believes the universe offers up the good and we must be in accord with the universe for our spirit to function perfectly and for our spirit to be free of ego. I agreed. I also believe this is what Jesus taught. If we accept Jesus as our guide and our path to God have we not accepted what my friend already accepts and acknowledges?

Has my friend likewise inadvertently accepted Jesus’ teachings as a path?

When we celebrate the birth of Jesus, we are in my mind creating acknowledgment of a person that operated in near perfect knowledge of the universe. This is the essence of what will make a perfect world is it not, and what my friend proposes as a spiritual goal?

In this way the spirit of Jesus is ‘born again’ at Christmas each year, a gift to the universe that continues in meaning and teaching. It is a gift that reminds us that we might also be born anew to the universe as my friend is daily re-born to her possibilities within the universe. In the end, aren’t we all re-born each day into our possibilities?

This is the small counsel I offer in untying the knot of Christmas. Perhaps those smug in their ‘born-again ness’ might accept that the spiritual souls of our universe no matter their religious teaching, might be fully embracing the concept of being ‘born anew’, yet it remains transparent to your ‘holier than thou’ exhortations. And to those that lament and wring their hands over the ‘born-agains’ among us; they might be just like you don’t you see? They are only stating their spiritual understanding in a way that makes sense for them.

If we find a universal voice, one that includes Jesus, the universe and the kitchen sink, and if it includes the ‘all good’ that is self apparent to the spiritually awake, is this not enough for anyone? Can the knot be untied? Can we find the opportunity to acknowledge that the birth of Jesus reminds us all of the opportunity to be ‘born again’ in the spirit of love and acceptance? When those we love hand us a gift this season, or when we hand a gift to another, maybe instead of dwelling on the commercialism of the season, we might instead allow it to remind us not only of the gift offered by the Creator, but the gift of acceptance and understanding with which we are ‘born again’?

May the knot lie untied at our feet.

Each year.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Abundance of Certainty

I heard a reporter use the phrase “absence of certainty’ yesterday. I’m not sure why some phrases catch my attention. They do that to me. Some phrases rattle around inside my consciousness way longer than I wish they might. It’s a bit like the songs that get stuck in our brains, the ones we want to scream ‘please stop’ to get them to quit playing in a constant loop? The phrase ‘absence of certainty’ did that to me today. Quite obviously it means that we cannot be entirely certain about some truth or fact that we seek.

The opposite of this phrase is what came to intrigue me in a more contemplative manner. If we said instead that we had reached a complete certainty about the things in which we believe, where would it lead us?

This idea breaches the walls of science and tumbles the long held concept of scientific search head over heels. Those in science seek to prove the truths of the universe with certainty virtually each day of their life. If we hold that what we believe about science to be certain without any investigation we would be quickly dismissed as a non-serious and incompetent scientist, and I would add it would be with merit of logic that such a dismissal would occur.

If I think of the spiritual part of our existence rather than the scientific parts I can find a little more breathing room for thinking about the phrase.

If I could embrace that all things I believe contained an ‘abundance of certainty’ rather than an ‘absence of certainty’ where would this concept take me? Where would it take you?

The great religious figures of history, most notably the miracle workers, carried within themselves an ‘abundance of certainty’ about their actions and beliefs. We can also easily corral the bad figures of history within this conceptual fence. Hitler or Bin Laden become easy targets for us to light upon.

The idea that followed me around most of today involves the idea of the proper placement of our ‘abundance of certainty’. I believe in a world of natural law that originates in the good. Holding that idea gives me a head start on accepting that all good things can come to you or me if we place a large measure of faith in the natural law expressed by the historic teachers of the correct. Jesus, Gandhi, Teresa, MLK, and others showed us a glimmer of the power of certainty in the good.

The transition to evil, or the power of faithfully believing with certainty in the evil, or what I would label the unnatural way of the world, is likely to give any honest thinker some pause when considering the concept of ‘abundance of certainty.’

This is a sharp sword. We can create a great deal of pain for those with whom we share the world if we believe totally in false ways.

In my mind there is a safe harbor from this potential pain. It is a harbor created by the same governing forces that can create remarkable stories around us each day.

We all know the story of the cancer patient that medicine and the physicians have surrendered to death. From somewhere in the ‘abundance of certainty’ within the stricken man or woman a cure is already underway, no other medicine required. Or we remember the miracles worked by Jesus and witnessed by many that wrote about them. For those of you that read here regularly, you know I do not believe in miracles. I do believe what Jesus accomplished was grounded in a perfect ‘abundance of certainty’ in the natural law. I also believe natural law will fail to operate in an unnatural way, and in this way the Hitler's or Bin Ladens while doing much damage cannot command the same powers of the universe. That is the safe harbor for us all.

It is this ‘abundance of certainty’ that allows remarkable athletic performances, music from confident artists that shapes our senses and forms memories of time and place, speeches written by Martin Luther King that span time itself, resonant many years later and still containing remarkable clarity; clarity predictive of our culture’s future.

This is another way to think of the word ‘miracle’. To me it is the flawless execution of the concept of ‘abundance of certainty’ within our consciousness. Is it easy? No. Are there dangers from creating this confidence and unyielding belief around a dangerous and unnatural law? Yes.

What are the alternatives? To struggle along in an ‘absence of certainty’ is an option universally embraced. In fact it affords us a comfort zone, a way to poke and prod at our world to see how it reacts. It is a way to conduct experiments as a scientist would do. This can be good for many things and it not at all unwise for us to test our beliefs.

And maybe I have worked my way to a truth that haunts us all. Maybe we just don’t know what we believe?

At the end of this day and at the end of this writing I’m not sure I am offering the certainty I preach. That is what has frustrated me all day. I want the ‘abundance of certainty’ that leads to all things possible at my hand.

Maybe tomorrow certainty comes home where it belongs.

I did solve one thing today. I figured out why the phrase ‘absence of certainty’ plagued me all day. It’s a weak phrase, a phrase of evasion. It’s a way to keep evading the opportunity to believe and trust in myself fully. I like ‘abundance of certainty’ far better.

I’ll keep working toward certainty and pray it is well placed in the natural law when it arrives.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Chaos Haunts The Ground

Chaos haunts the ground, scattered across my feet like shards of glass
Glass of no discernible pattern, mocking in its incompleteness
Chaos that brings the ugly dream; waking in the night to my own divide
A man with a bullet hole in his head, lying on the pavement, dying in my arms
Time Out

Christmas decorations around my house
Christmas songs across the air
One murders another to seek a gift for one loved?
Chaos haunts the ground, scattered across my feet like shards of glass.

Searching for freedom from the obligation of the day
Hoping to rest; just to breathe the season without anxiety
Tradition tugging at my coat, its voice insistent
My mind haunted by the vision of the lady living under the bridge in a cardboard box
Tears in her eyes and I left her there

On my knees working with the Creator
Searching for freedom from the obligation of each day
Something in the heart of me is telling me
Chaos walks the ground, scattered across my feet like shards of glass.

Shadows move across the ceiling while I lie awake
The lady under the bridge
The man with a hole in his brain
Christmas decorations around my house
Christmas songs across the air

I want to go home and fill my head with perfect sound
Sailing across blue water, blue sky above, a loving voice in my ear
No sleep and no fear
No memory
Time Out

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Running with a Fast Crowd

I was on the local university track yesterday for my noon Wednesday workout. It was a particularly tough workout consisting of 25 x 100 meters at semi-sprint pace. Somewhere along the way I took a mental inventory of the scene around me and realized I was literally surrounded by immense talent, famous people and overachievers.

Across the track former TCU sprinter and Jamaican Olympic medalist Raymond Stewart worked with two recent track graduates from USC and the University of Washington. They are real blazers with aspirations of running on the open international circuit this season.

On my side of the track former US Olympian and Olympic medalist Jon Drummond (2) was exhibiting his famous personality by throwing teases, smiles and barbs my way. Running beside me in the workout were masters great Wayne Bennett a 100 meter masters national champion and annually ranked world class sprinter. On my other side was my friend Don Werner (2) , owner of two World Series rings from his time with the Cincinnati Reds in the “Big Red Machine” era.

Down the track at the end of the straightaway legendary TCU coach and former All-American Monte Stratton worked with his pupil/athlete, current World Class sprinter Darvis Patton (2).

My head got light from the history and talent that surrounded Seven! Later everyone was gathered in one area trading barbs and testosterone driven memories and challenges.

What a fast crowd to hang with!

If you read the links about Jon Drummond you will note that he was born with spina bifida and suffered three cases of spinal meningitis during his career. His parents were told he would never walk, yet today he owns Olympic gold medals in the sprints. Life offers us all challenges. The next time your number is dialed, think about Jon, then grab your challenge by the collar and kick its fanny. Remember, you have the the Creator's permission to win.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Thinning the Herd

I told a friend of mine yesterday that there are more violent deaths in California each day than there are in post war Iraq each day, based on yearly averages. This was first reported by a Los Angeles Times reporter. I don’t vouch for the reports accuracy. My life is too busy to do the research.

My friend said he has a bizarre notion that he usually doesn’t mention to folks. This of course got my attention and I asked for more detail. My friend just turned 70 and he told me he believes some dying in accidents is necessary to thin the herd of people or we would be in an over population situation. Hmmm….that is kinda bizarre. I told him it might make some sense if it was all old people that die in accidents and never a young child or pregnant mom and so forth. He agreed. In fact we decided it could be a big benefit to Dr. Kevorkian’s work.

I proposed a fun new National Holiday to my friend. Since us seniors have lived a good long life and some of us don’t want to spend any time in nursing homes or being cared for in a decrepit state, why not create a day where old folks, say aged between 60 and 90 years old could go out and drive like holy hell on the highways? They would have a lot of fun pretending they are NASCAR drivers, ignoring warning signs and generally try to meet their demise in a high speed blaze of glory. We would naturally keep the children and pregnant women at home. Well, for that matter lets just say no one under 60 years of age is allowed on the streets that day. Even the emergency personnel could be the retired cops and firemen working one last time; after all saving lives is oxymoronic to the day.

Here are my rules:

  1. No sustained speeds below 80 miles per hour.
  2. No adherence to warning signs.
  3. Extra points given for head-ons.
  4. Braking allowed only to create a better target for others.
  5. Telling emergency personnel to “please hurry” will be considered bad form.
  6. Emergency Room hospital workers will be given the day off.
  7. No donors of body parts. All the parts are too old.

Pat has recommended the following additional rules:
8. No driver license required.
9. Corrective lenses optional.
10. Cellular phones, game boys, portable DVD players and other distractions allowed.
11. Smoke 'em if you've got 'em, stroke 'em if you've got 'em.
12. Intoxication and/or chemical alterations recommended.

I even have a name for the holiday. National Old Folks Speed Driving Day. I made a poster.

Lets thin the herd a little and leave the kids out of the deal. Of course the nursing home entrepreneurs won’t like this one bit. Let’s make sure their lobbyist participate in the first holiday.

Friday, December 01, 2006

In the Warmth

It was August 10, 1974 and the television in the corner of the bar was running tape from the day before. From in front of the helicopter, Richard Nixon waved at the cameras while wearing a jovial smile. The arrangement of the smile on his face, coupled with the fact that he had just resigned the presidency, left me thinking he must actually be happy about the matter. I was an innocent 24 years old and had little worldly knowledge of the feelings Nixon might actually own at that moment.

The setting was a downtown bar in San Francisco. I was there due to wanderlust and unhappiness with the course of my architectural studies in Texas. A president resigning was little matter to me. The image on the screen smiled and waved, a solemn young anchor named Dan Rather informed those sitting at the mahogany bar of the graveness of the matter. Truth to be told no one was listening. Dan could have been speaking Hungarian and it would not have been noticed inside the bar.

Randy the bartender kept an eye on the banter and playful shoving of the fishing crew that occupied the tables behind my right shoulder. If I turned my head to the right I could see the leader of the group, dressed in a denim short sleeve shirt, an enormous belly hung over a belt long dismissed from view. Red suspenders saved his pants from falling about his ankles. His Giants baseball cap was tugged down to middle brow. He talked with a voice as enormous as the belly below. The general counsel he offered his fishing mates was that the communist were at the bottom of Gordon Liddy breaking into Watergate. According to him the communist had infiltrated Nixon’s staff and Liddy got himself caught on purpose, probably without Nixon knowing a damned thing about any of it. I tuned him out, but monitored bartender Randy’s eyes all the same. San Francisco bars were a new thing for me.

To my left sat a man that reminded me of Joe DiMaggio. Joe had been born and raised in San Francisco. I knew from reading the biographies that he still lived in the area. The man that looked like Joe wore a deep blue suit, finely tailored, with a fresh white dress shirt, set off by an emerald green tie with tiny white anchors scattered across the green. At the end of the shirts cuffs were honest to God diamond cuff links that glittered in spite of the dullness of the bars light. At the end of his right arm he rocked a Tanqueray and tonic, a small lime rested against the side of the cocktail glass half submerged.

I stared too long. It was as if he grew intolerant of my wonder at my new world, then seemed to have a different thought, benevolent in the face of my lack of grace. He turned to look at me. With a bemused smile he asked why a young man like me was sitting alone in a downtown bar. “It’s too big a story to get into really”, I said, “I’m actually from Texas but it got to feeling too big for me there.” This drew a small smile from the man. I wanted to ask him all about Marilyn Monroe. Even if he wasn’t Joe I figured it would give him a chance to pretend and make up Marilyn lies for a Texas hick. I didn’t ask him though. I just stared at my Budweiser and thought about home.

“Is there a woman involved in Texas being too big?” the man asked. He smiled again, glanced up at the TV where Nixon was hugging his wife Pat, then looked back at me. “No” I said, “I have a wife. She’s working and I guess I just felt like I needed some space from things. The truth of it is that she’s earning all the living right now, I just graduated from architecture school.”

Moments of silence went by. I figured pretend Joe looked at me as an enormous creep right now, sort of like sitting alongside a big Texas cockroach, except he had already opened up a conversation with the danged insect and didn’t really know what to say next. My pretend Joe wrote a note with a ballpoint pen across a cocktail napkin and neatly folded it in half.

In time he resumed talking to me, but he took a new strategy of personal monologue, probably not wanting to take the chance of learning any more about me.

“Son, there is something wonderful about a woman that would do something like that. There are good women all over our world. Now you understand that they are quite different from you and me. In a lot of ways they are superior. They know when a child is hurting just by looking at their face, and they know when you hurt by doing the same thing, just looking into your eyes they can know more about you than you want them to know. They do things we never see or appreciate. They smell better than baking bread most of the time and they do it for you and me. The touch of a woman can’t be replicated by anything. If I could have only one thing in the world I would ask God for the love of a woman beside me at all times. The flowers, the smiles, the touch, the knowing inside their eyes.” He stopped talking for a second and rocked his gin across the ice cubes. “You know, they say once a woman loves a man he should honor her at all times because it’s a love that can’t be replaced or found anywhere on earth.” He looked sad for a moment, then continued, “You know another thing? They are smarter than us men really. They understand what love means and they spend their lives waiting for us to catch up to them, only we never really are able to get there. That’s why I take flowers to Marilyn every day, my wandering man from Texas. I’ll keep doing it until the day I die. I never got it right for her when I had her, and now I’m just trying to catch up.”

My heart skipped a half beat at the revelation that I was indeed listening to the great Joe DiMaggio. He had just told me how much he still loved Marilyn and why he takes flowers to her grave each day. My head felt light as I watched Joe place the cocktail glass gently onto the bar as he stood and turned toward the door. He placed a hand on my shoulder on his way out. “Son you remember what I’ve told you about the power of a woman. A single night with a good woman is worth 2 home runs. Go on home to Texas now, and you treat her with the respect every woman deserves.” He disappeared out the door and into the night while Dan Rather interviewed experts on the president’s resignation and my brain retreated from its stunned state.

The large voice of the Giants capped fisherman boomed out at me no more than a minute after Joe’s exit. “Well look at the little man talking to Joe. He don’t know no one sits beside or talks to Joe in here. You’re a dumbass kid, nobody bothers Joe, everybody knows that. You think you’re some kind of special little lousy shit or something, just cozy up to Joe like you don’t know no better?”

Randy the bartender told him to back off, but he was leaning onto the bar at my right side, his big belly grazing my right elbow. His breath reeked of bourbon and cigarettes.

“He tell you about butt-pokin ol’ Marilyn did he? Tell you all about that pretty little bitch giving him head? My theory on women is that they all think with their twats. Aint that right boys?” he bellowed out to the fishing tribe.

“Damn right,” came back the chorus from the men, “Women think with their twats, that’s what they do, that’s why they’re so goddamned stupid.”

Slobber dripped from his mouth. Gravity dropped it onto his belly before it could reach the floor. With a flourish of his left hand, he spread the slobber across the shirt and leaned into to me so he could deliver the end of his sermon.

“You remember that you little turd, Marilyn Monroe hurt that man so bad that he don’t even talk to no one. Except for some damn reason he talked to you cause you didn’t know no better than to sit your little ass right beside him. You just remember my advice. Women do all their thinking with their twats!” He walked back toward his mates, triumphant in his bullying.

On the bar in front of where Joe had been sitting was the folded napkin. I opened the single fold in the middle to find his handwritten note.

“May the women in your life always hold you close in the warmth of their thoughts. Thank you for sitting with me tonight.” - Joe DiMaggio