25 September 2010

A granddaughter...

Last night, my son, Simon and his wife, Natasha, gave birth to an 8 pound, 22 inch, healthy baby girl, Paloma Michael. We were very excited to greet her.

11 September 2010


I am not sure which is more evil, people who plan to kill people in the name of God or those who plan to burn the Koran in the name of Jesus Christ.

05 September 2010

Labor Day...

Enjoy this Labor Day, remembering that many people pick our fruits and vegetables, pack our beef and chicken, drive our food to market, bake our bread, and care for our children who have no voice, make minimum wages, are without health care, and live below the poverty line.

04 May 2010

"Four dead in Ohio...

Yesterday marked the 40th anniversary of The Kent State shootings – also known as the May 4 massacre or Kent State massacre – occurred at Kent State University in the city of Kent, Ohio, and involved the shooting of unarmed college students by members of the Ohio National Guard on Monday, May 4, 1970. The guardsmen fired 67 rounds over a period of 13 seconds, killing four students and wounding nine others, one of whom suffered permanent paralysis.
Some of the students who were shot had been protesting against the American invasion of Cambodia, which President Richard Nixon announced in a television address on April 30. Other students who were shot had been walking nearby or observing the protest from a distance.
There was a significant national response to the shootings: hundreds of universities, colleges, and high schools closed throughout the United States due to a student strike of four million students, and the event further affected the public opinion – at an already socially contentious time – over the role of the United States in the Vietnam War.
Taken directly from Wikipedia, for those who never heard of Kent State Shooting. For more information check it out under Kent State Shootings.

Our friend Cosby asked if I would make a comment on it this year. All I can do is give my little perspective from 2500 miles away.

I was 16, been interested in the Viet Nam War since I was a fan of Bobby Kennedy, 3 years earlier. It was a nightly news event with Walter Cronkite, with video and war correspondents giving death tolls and nearly live broadcast. This was different for the country who in the past wars they saw newsreels that gave some news but it was "over there" and not necessarily right in our living rooms. Then my friend, Charlie Petty was Killed in Action. I began to protest, ditch school to participate in marches.

This was a "conflict" in southeast Asia who no one heard of and few really understood why we were there. WW2 seemed to be understandable in two theaters, Europe and the Pacific, aggressors bombing us or our Allies. They were in our neighborhood. Viet Nam was not. We were told that it was a domino affect that it starts with this little country and next thing you know they will be in New York City. There was not a clear objective except to win and even that didn't seem clear.

The My Lai massacre was being uncovered and throwing people into an outrage into the veracity, from the government, about this war. News of the massacre began to turn some of the hearts of the country away from our young men fighting there. We did not do those things as Americans! There was no romance to this war. The country was starting to not support it. Nixon talked about deescalating the battles. The government was beginning to tell us it was time to end this thing. Then just a few days before Kent State, Nixon gets on TV and announces that we are invading Cambodia. Young people were pissed and began another round of demonstrations and protest. Into the streets and campus, people protested with anger.

The protests became vandalistic and destructive. An ROTC building was torched on campus, and other destruction was happening around the Kent campus and downtown, it was a bit scary for everyone. Everyone was on edge. This was not a peaceful rally, the national guard and police fired tear gas and the protesters started throwing it back along with rocks and bricks. It got out of hand. And then the shots began. The National Guard started shooting. Four dead, nine wounded. Wait a minute, this wasn't just a protest, this was beginning to be a revolution and the government began to fight back. The news began to report this and many campuses erupted. Protest were now not just about the war but the government of the United States.

The distrust against Nixon grew. The distrust against Corporations, who were making a profit off of the war, grew. If you were over 30 you weren't trusted. If you were in charge, you were not trusted. This was now about revolution. Democracy was not working, and the youth, who couldn't vote, started to speak with violence. Great music came out of that time. There were still many peaceful demonstrations. But banks and corporations started getting bombed, such as the B of A in Isla Vista, CA. This was not flower power, it was about power.

My thoughts are... War is wrong. It begets violence. It creates an atmosphere where good people do bad things. I do believe that most of the soldiers who fought in the VNW were heroes and did what they were told to do. Many saved lives and gave their lives for the country who called them there. When the leaders of the country decide to go into battle and lay down the lives of young men and women, it is important that good men and women vote and select the right people to make those terrible decisions for us.

I think protest is a good way of letting the leaders know that we are against something, but it needs to be peaceful. Civil disobedience is more disruptive and has a deep affect as we have seen in India and in Birmingham.

Protesting is not safe but it is right. We should always be peaceful and humble and should not be surprise that if we start throwing stones, they will start shooting. Even if we don't throw stones, when we tie up commerce by blocking roadways, we are going to get clubbed on the head and hauled off to jail. Commerce doesn't stop for anyone. It is not safe to stand up to injustice. When someone who has power and wants more will use force to get it and keep it.

The sixties and seventies ended and many of those same protesters have become consumers who are now making money on injustice. We are no longer protesting the things that need to be stopped. We are raising our children to be consumers and not adding anything to the soul and conscience of this nation. We have sold off the farms that our grandfathers broke their backs trying to create and to build more boxes that look like the one right next to it. We have created fruit that look good and last on the shelf but taste like cardboard. We talk about living green so the earth will survive, but only if it doesn't inconvenience ourselves too much. We are concerned if our children are safe but haven't taught them how to survive and live. We have created worship which entertains and is environmentally comfortable.

We sold our homes for three times what we paid for it just a few years before. It wasn't about the value of a home, greed changes that to the amount we can get. We became those we were protesting against. We were morally bankrupt even when the economy was at it strongest.

Today, Kent State is a top University in Ohio and we don't protest enough!

29 April 2010

Growing old...

I have male pattern baldness, my back goes out, my beard is gray, I need my tri-focals to see. I am growing old.

But wait... I am not feeling bad, because I am growing. I know things today that I didn't know I knew. New things I know which are really old things. Things that have been around but I was too young to notice. Now I notice. Now I know.

I had a conversation today, which a few years ago, I would have said things like "thats not fair, that's not right... we did the right thing, they did the wrong thing, why are we having to pay..." Today I didn't say that, I realize I have seen this before and the outcome will not be about what is right or fair, but this is one of those times to settle and move on. This isn't worth the fight. I am not NOT fighting because I am chicken, but I have been around the block and know that this particular issue isn't where I want to spend my time.

The point of this isn't that I don't fight anymore, I hold my ground a lot, but I know when to fight and when not to. I appreciate the story out of John 8, the woman caught in adultery is brought to Jesus. When confronted with Jesus' words, "'If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.' ...At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first..."

I want to be the kind of old guy who is not only the first to drop my stones, (I am not talking kidney stones here) but to not be so quick to pick them up in the first place. I do want to be first to protect the vulnerable, last to be an accuser of the innocents.

I would continue but I forgot what I was going to say...

20 March 2010

No child left behind...

At first I thought they were telling children "pull up your pants." You know, No child's left behind. Maybe people were tired of seeing children and youth's left cheek. Oh the Department of Formulation, I mean, Education.

I wonder a lot. I wonder more now that I am out of school than I did when I was in school.

I was a terrible student. I spent a lot of time in the principal's office, vice principal's office, after school detention, writing on the blackboard, which was green, I will not daydream in class... I will not daydream in class... I will not daydream in class... I will not daydream in class... I will not daydream in class... (Which, by-the-way, is when I became enamored with the ellipsis...)

I asked a lot of questions but rarely found the answers satisfying my curiosity. Most of my teachers told me that I wasn't very smart and there was always the possibility of being HELD BACK. I would have dreams where my school chums were running forward to play baseball or foursquare and I was being HELD BACK by big hands that smelled of coffee, cigarettes and chalk. I wasn't very good at reading my text books because I found myself reading the same sentence over and over again or realize I wasn't paying attention during the last two paragraphs or didn't remember where I put my text books.

Once I raised my hand and asked my math teacher why we needed to know this math stuff and his reply was, "...because next year the math will be harder and you will need to know this then." After a minute of trying to understand his response I raised my hand and asked the same question... I was then sent to the nurse's office to have my hearing tested. After school was out, then I was sent back into my classroom to write on the blackboard, which was green, I will not ask stupid questions...

It seemed that the classes where questions were asked were not the "remedial" classrooms but the "advanced" classrooms. My friends, most of whom were in those classrooms, told me about what they learned that day and how interesting it was and then I told them what I was being taught and even though we were the same age, we weren't be taught the same thing. I thought maybe I will learn what they were being taught and given permission to ask questions next year. No, and when I asked why, I learned how to spell "contumacious" by writing it on the blackboard, which was green, 100 times.

Once my friend, who is in the government in Washington DC, and I broke into the counseling office at my high school (I can tell you now because the statute of limitations are up) and all we did was look at our own file folders. I remember sitting in the corner, with a little light which shown from the security alarm, reading what teachers have said about me throughout my 11+ years of education. It took me a while but I read through my life from Kindergarten to Junior Year. In my early years, my teachers said they were fond of me but had concerns about my concentration and distracting the students around me. They recommended summer school. Then in the later elementary grades, there was a diagnosis that I needed speech therapy and I was beginning to fall behind. My music teacher wrote that I was a delightful lad and was learning well on my trombone, recommended that I travel to the other grade school to play with that band.

Sixth grade and through Junior High, my teachers had grave concerns that I was on the border of flunking and should be held back. There was even a note from my bus driver stating that I used a nasty word in the Japanese language and that I should not be allowed to ever ride his bus again, which I never rode it again. 申し訳ありません, Mr. Doi

High School, there was a lot of comments which said, "Tony is a delight to have in class when he is not being a distraction to me or the other students."

There were a couple of teachers who I loved because they were teaching me through other methods which used my modalities of strength instead of just through reading. I would stay after to ask my questions which were usually answered which led to another question which led to another...

After reading about me through the words of these teacher, I understood some things. One, there are many ways to learn, not just through reading. I needed to use my strong modalities to learn, primarily kinestetic, as well as ask questions so that I understood the concept, not just memorized the answer. Two, many teachers only know how to teach one way. Good teachers understand the child so that they can "train up a child in THE WAY they should go, when they are old they will not depart from it."

Blessings to those who read all the way to the end and didn't get distracted...

06 March 2010

Places where we find ourselves...

Early yesterday morning, I drove up to Stockton to visit a pastor and friend of mine. I was enthralled by the beauty of the rosy sun rays emanating through and over the slate gray mountains, black skies morphing into Dodger blue and the colors of the fields, so fresh and viridescent after the previous rains showing a new array of mustard colored flowers. Admiring the flowers planted along the highway, blossoms in the orchards, marveling at pinkish clouds which hung like banners overhead whispering the arrival of a new day, and the red and blue lights from the car behind me... California Highway Patrol.

I pull over to the side of the road, amidst the golden poppies, just opening up to receive the morning rays, and squashed under the weight of my tires and the boots of the patrolman approaching cautiously to the passenger-side window to inform me of the reality of my existence. No greetings: just information.

The rehearsed lines were given, state documents found and handed over, and the patrolman walked into the field of yellow fiddleneck which danced in concert around him. He could have been mistaken for the reaper in a van Gogh painting of the wheat field, but instead of a scythe he held a pen and a black heavy leather citation pad. My thoughts changed to insurance rates, court appearance, online traffic school, disappointment and then humiliation as drivers drove by relieved knowing that the sentinel is busy with some poor schmuck and isn't noticing their speed.

He moved through the field towards my passenger side window with one hand on his side arm and the other on the leather book, documents and then I see it... the goldenrod of the citation informing me that I existed on March 5 at 6:53am on State Highway 99 just north of Merced, California.

20 February 2010


"Yeah, we just take a few tokes and get mellow and watch a movie or just hang out... I don't see any difference between a few tokes of pot and a bottle of beer or a glass of wine... What do you think?"

Went the conversation with a young christian friend. What did I think?

I began telling him about a guy who wrote the book, 3 Cups of Tea...
In 1992, Greg Mortenson attempted to climb K2, the world's second highest mountain, in the Karakoram range of northern Pakistan, as a way of honoring the memory of his deceased sister Christa. After more than 70 days on the mountain, Greg and three other climbers had their ascent interrupted by the need to complete a 75-hour life-saving rescue of a fifth climber. After getting lost during his descent, he became weak and exhausted, and by chance alone, instead of arriving in Askole, where his porters awaited, he came across Korphe, a small village built on a shelf jutting out from a canyon. He was greeted and taken in by the chief elder of Korphe, Haji Ali of Korphe.
To repay the remote community for its hospitality, Mortenson promised to build a school for the village. After difficulties in raising capital, Mortenson was introduced to Jean Hoerni, a Silicon Valley pioneer who donated the money that Mortenson needed for his school. In the last months of Hoerni's life (Hoerni was dying from leukemia), he co-founded the Central Asia Institute, endowing the CAI to build schools in rural Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Mortenson faced many daunting challenges in his quest to raise funds for the building of more than 55 schools in Taliban territory, including death threats from Islamic mullahs, long periods of separation from his family, and being kidnapped by Taliban sympathizers…
(this was cut and pasted from Wikipedia just to save time and effort of recall...) I went on, "and then Mortenson thought, 'I wonder if there is a difference between a few tokes of pot and a bottle of beer.'"

My young friend said, "Really?"

"No, he was too busy doing heroic things with his life to deal with the trivialities of conversations and thoughts of this minute details. YOU ARE BORED!! DO SOMETHING HEROIC WITH YOUR LIFE!"

How do we create people who are willing to become heroes? How do we get people to stop thinking small and begin thinking of the possibilities that are huge? I overheard a young child telling his mom, "I'm bored!" and the mom got something to out of her purse to occupy their time.

I think sometimes all we try to do is occupy the time instead of occupy a life. On the flight home from Spokane a last week I sat in the back of the plane, across from the bathroom. Every time someone went into the lavatory and locked the door, the small sign on the wall lit up, OCCUPIED. It was also translated into Spanish, OCCUPADO. People did their business, finished up the paperwork, and went back to their seats. For many minutes after they left the lavatory there was a residue, a fragrance of their time occupying the space.

Occupado... it made me think, am I occupying my life in such a way that would have made an impact on those around me after I leave this journey? (Only with a pleasant fragrance that lingers.) Or am I so puny and concern myself with the trivial practices of developing theories and activities that only occupy my time for the moment?

I watch people going off to prestigious private and state universities only to leave with a grade point average, a tremendous debt, and no understanding of how to live a heroic life. All of that knowledge reduced to regurgitation instead of application.

How many Sunday morning sermons from the inspired Word of God crafted to keep people from sinning rather than to inspire radicals to erupt the Kingdom of Heaven into the midst of mediocrity and malaise. I have heard the most heated conversations arguing over whether the Scriptures are inspired by the Holy Spirit, but not seeing a life inspired by the power (dunamis..dynamite) of the Spirit of God .

Back to my young christian friend... My fear is that most people reading this will be more concern about a christian smoking pot and not about the wasted time of getting mellow and just hanging out.