Friday, May 28, 2010

Who will the Spartans look to?

Here is a moving story about a girl and her family.

The author/editor (Greyhawk) repeats a question asked by Stephen Pressfield:

"When the battle is over, when the Three Hundred have gone down to death, then will all Greece look to the Spartans, to see how they bear it.
"But who, lady, who will the Spartans look to?"
-Steven Pressfield, Gates of Fire
It could be that Greyhawk wants us to see the girl and her family as those who have stood their ground - even when all others have shrunk back. Would I be brave? Would I endure? Would I finish the race? Would I keep the faith?

Maybe I won't be called upon to do this, but I can try to keep my temper better when my kids flood the bathroom twice in one day. Maybe I could give myself some more slack when I try in vain to do simple household repairs. Would that make me a hero? Maybe it would get me ready to be one.

Maybe someday, the Spartans will look to me. Who will they see?

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Greece is the word

Actually, for BP, "grease" is the word. Looks like they finally got the hole plugged up. Hope it holds.

What I wanted to blog about today is the country Greece. It is the "G" in the PIIGS of the Europe. These are the countries that have been identified as being close to the brink, financially, in the European Union. Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece, and Spain. Greece was the first to tiptoe to the edge. Why? The Greek government was spending too much. When that happens, it becomes more and more difficult to repay loans that the government takes out - especially after their credit rating fell. (The credit rating is a measure of risk about the borrower and their ability to repay.) So now, Germany has put together a financial package (lots of money) to help Greece out. But here's the catch - Greece must adhere to Austerity Measures. The leader of Greece has just become one of the most unpopular people in his country because he has slashed government spending. Seems like nearly everyone was on the government payroll. So they are protesting in the streets and demanding to not be included in the Austerity Measures. When the next elections roll around, does anyone actually believe that the Austerity Measures party will win? The German population doesn't - and they're rightfully worried that they won't get their money back.

Question. If governments can "consume like there's no tomorrow" and buy off votes, why would the population vote in anyone else? What happens when other countries or other lenders stop lending and the nation goes bankrupt? Last one out is left holding the trillion Euros of debt. They will not repay the debt if my notions of human nature do not fail me.

I used to have a lot of respect for Jeffery Sachs. That has diminished somewhat based on his comments in the discussion below.

Some notable quotes:

"I would recommend you panic."

"Let's purge the system of the rottenness."

"Do you think in 3 years time, Greece is going to be able to repay its debt?" JS replies, "I think there is a reasonable chance.... Absolutely, there's a reasonable chance at that."

more intelligent comments that I could compose

In related thoughts: An Austerity Encounter:

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Words from the US Government

I used to believe what the government and its leaders said much more than I do now. Growing up, it almost seemed to me like respect and trust of the government was akin to that of God or holy people.

That said, a kerfuffle is brewing on the Korean peninsula. This latest round was (seemingly) started by North Korea by sinking a South Korean military boat. Many people died. The war of words have started.

Hilary Clinton, US Secretary of State, has gone into the breech to help. This article, from Yahoo, relates some of what she has said:
Clinton said the two sides share the objective of peace and stability on the Korean peninsula. "Now we must work together again to address the serious challenge provoked by the sinking of the South Korean ship."
To me that sounds like a bunch of nonsense. The North wants nothing of the sort. Yet, she must say it to promote peaceful relations and hopefully successful negotiations. She is a diplomat with more responsibility than to simply tell-it-like-it-is. Maybe she is saying this in the hopes that the North will adopt this attitude. Maybe the North will go along with that charade and bloviate and threaten with demands in the hopes for peace (wink at Clinton) - as that is their negotiation style.

I don't know what is best here. I do understand that language from the government is not always what it seems.

(Afterthought) I guess that, technically speaking, North Korea, does want peace and stability on the peninsula . . . the same kind of peace that ancient Rome wanted with the known world.

Wonderful Song - St. John of the Cross set to music

Rather than publish it all out, see here.

If you haven't taken the time to visit The Anchoress (see Blog List on the side), you'll find it worthwhile. Although she does talk politics some, much time is spent on meditation (esp. Catholic) and deep thoughts of God and the Church. Consider this a nudge in that direction. :)

Monday, May 24, 2010

No telling where the links will take you

Today, I clicked a link - which led to another and to another. Eventually, I got this and smiled.

Then again, maybe you find this more interesting

And if you liked the last one, surely you'll like this one: (let it load fully first)

That was fun. I know how to embed videos now. :) Enjoy.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Getting Email you don't want?

Thanks. No.

Send a reply with this link. It is gracious and sincere - and it says please stop sending me email I would rather do without.

How to Deal with Haters

Tim Ferriss puts together a nice list of ideas for dealing with people who are simply unkind. It generally relates to living - but also seems to fit as good advice for living as a Christian in this alien world. (As with Larry Norman, I'm only visiting this planet.)

1. It doesn't matter how many people don't get it. What matters is how many people do.

2. 10% of people will find a way to take anything personally. Expect it.

3. "Trying to get everyone to like you is a sign of mediocrity." (Colin Powell)

4. "If you are really effective at what you do, 95% of the things said about you will be negative." (Scott Boras)

5. "If you want to improve, be content to be thought foolish and stupid." (Epictetus)

6. "Living well is the best revenge." (George Herbert)

7. Keep calm and carry on.

I won't share thoughts on all these, but I'm really impressed with the idea that all these seem to have behind them: Be yourself. If I live within my own skin and am happy there, why should I care if another disagrees or thinks it odd or ridicules me for it. That person's dissatisfaction ought not dissuade me from myself and my goals. People are different, I am different - and I'm OK with that. Sometimes I'm worried that I might offend people - maybe I should turn that around and say that sometimes people take offense.

So, how does this list compare to how Jesus lived?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

My FedEx Route

My FedEx route is commonly very short (maybe 5-8 stops). I start at 5:15, and eventually leave with the packages by 6:15 to make my FO deliveries (FO="First Overnight"). I'm generally done by 9:00 AM.

Today, I recognized one of the names on a package that I was to deliver. He plays 1st base for the Twins and was voted the best player in the league a few years ago. It was for his wife, but I've heard that his first name is never on the packages - only his wife's name. I get that.

I was giddy with excitement. Why? Because this was someone famous? Because this was someone I had cheered mightily at baseball games or smiled when he did well. And I could stand for a moment in his presence?

But when I drove away from the airport, I remembered Him who takes no note of the fools or the wise. I know Him who created the Heavens and the Earth. I know Him who melts and hardens hearts of rulers and serfs alike. I know Him who walks on water and through walls.

Why should I be overawed by a baseball player?

Because there were no special indications on the package (like: Signature Required), I dropped the package off like any other residential package. I got to the house a few minutes after 7:00 AM. I figured nobody was up, though the security gate was open. I lightly tapped on the front door's window. I put down the package and went back to my truck. I asked God to bless them - and drove away.

I later drove up to Maple Grove to St. Jude's (I think that it's a building for research since it's not a hospital). I had a nice, and very quick, conversation with the lady in charge of Shipping/Receiving. I remembered her name this time. (I usually have to ask because the handwriting of most is illegible. After a few times, though, I expect myself to remember the name. But this lady, this lady, God loves her so much. And I was not in awe. And the whole world turned upside down has caught me off guard again.

Monday, May 10, 2010

My Skin - update

Kenelog is my friend. My first visit to the Dermatologist proved to me that Modern Medicine has some very nice tools. But the itch returned. A month and a half after the Kenelog, I returned to the Dermatologist. She didn't give me more Kenelog (and I didn't ask for it as I knew that that was being saved for only the most dire circumstances). I saw her this time not as one on the edge of being broken down like the last time; this time I saw the edge coming from a ways away and I went to get help.

So my skin was itching again. I'm continuing the Derma-Smooth - Cortisone suspended in some kind of oil. I spray it on every night after my oatmeal bath. I spray it on every morning before work. But I only put it on my head and neck, the rest of my body was upgraded to something stronger - some unpronounceable and unspellable cream. I cannot do this forever. I can already see some side-effects of my heavy use of these medicines.

Strangely, though they speed the healing, they don't address the cause. What is the cause of all this? Is it an allergy? genetics? something I'm eating or drinking or breathing or wearing? The Dermatologist was also interested in this question and took a small chunk of my right wrist to send to the lab. Came back with "Bad skin". That's all. It's what they call Dermatitis - hard to heal skin. Sounds fancy, but adds nothing to the understanding. Like Eczema means "dry skin", brilliant. No cause.

Something that might be the cause that I'm pursuing now is this: my skin has had a recent infection of strep and staph. It was supposed to have been destroyed by my battery of Dicloxicilin (derivative of penicillin). The itching I'm experiencing now does not have dryness, just bumps and pimples. I bought some basitracin to do some more attacking. It has more warnings, but I'm hoping that this might be the ticket. I'm hoping. I don't want to face this with fear that there's no cure. I'm still afraid.