Archive - Nov 2003


November 25th

A view from the moon...

Astronauts aren't introspective sorts. In fact, most of them were hard-driving, hard-drinking hyper-achievers. But even that bunch returned from space with broad observations about earth and its inhabitants, inspired by their view of our blue globe from an unprecedented distance. Many of them said their first reaction was: there are no borders!


I was introduced to the poem below in Mr. Hasler's English class in high school. The first two lines stuck.

Wordsworth was an English eccentric. No surprise there; England breeds them. But he was really the first English poet to observe nature for nature's sake, something the Asians had been doing for many centuries. We have him to thank or to blame for our present tendency to equate poets with flowery descriptions of nature. "The flowers in the field, blooming in profusion..."

November 24th

The World is Too Much With Us

The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon,
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers,
For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
It moves us not. –Great God! I'd rather be
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;

Just enough snow to ski

Yesterday's dusting of snow gathered together in sufficient drifts at the edges of the field and in the yard to allow me to cross country ski this afternoon. It is quite still, a little breeze from the west, and perfectly clear. Quite beautiful! Stopped still for a while in the woods. A plane droned overhead. A tractor growled on a nearby farmstead. Sounds travel so far on quiet winter days.

Pounding on the door

I have spent this morning trying to get a real person at two large companies. No luck. Once I got a real operator, but she gleefully sent me down the road of another phone menu. I went down the whole "please press one" road until I hit a dead end. To expedite your phone call, the message said, you will have to use our email line. Huh? Then it listed an email address. This is expediting? Hardly. For them, not me, anyway. And then the computer voice said "bye!" and hung up. Message: You will reach no human. You won't be wasting any of our time with your stupid questions. We won.

November 23rd

This week's newspaper column

As a kid, I was bored by the notion of Thanksgiving. The Elders sometimes made us list the things we were thankful for before they let us dig into the turkey. I viewed the exercise as punishment. Let’s get it over with and dish up.

Perhaps I sensed there was some guilt involved. What I thought they were saying was, “You really should be more thankful, you ungrateful little brat. Do you know how good you have it? Don’t you appreciate everything we’ve done for you?”

A night at the symphony

About six last night I discovered that the Fargo-Moorhead Symphony had a concert at 8 o'clock featuring a 21-year-old pianist doing the Brahms piano concerto in D minor. So, I jumped in the pickup and went down.

Got a good seat at the Reineke Fine Arts Center at NDSU, a fine little concert hall. The concert started with a Mozart symphony. I wasn't in the mood for forty minutes of Mozart. Found out afterwards that the conductor could have cut the time in half simply by not taking all the repeats.

November 22nd

Forty years ago today...

Forgot to mention that my parents lived in Dallas at the time of the Kennedy assassination. Dad was attending seminary there. Mom worked downtown. Dad came down at lunch-time for the motorcade. Mom sat on his shoulders facing away from the procession and held up a mirror from her purse to get a better view of Kennedy. Five minutes after the motorcade passed by them, they heard the sirens.

I arrived on the scene the next August 15th. I was a week early.



The 40th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination has brought about an inevitable burst of interest in the man and the shooting which ended his presidency. The Kennedys are the American royalty, it seems. Our proclivity for annointing presidents who are the child of privilege and who seem to view their ascension to the presidency as their natural right always puzzles me.

November 21st

New gold tooth

At 4:30 today, I will have my second gold tooth glued in my mouth. You'd think that would be a painless procedure, but I have learned not to assume. When I got the last gold tooth put in last spring, that glue sent arrows of pain up to the top of my head and down to my chest for a couple of days. Things settled down, and now the tooth is a good, quiet soldier, lined up with the rest of the molars on daily chewing duty. But, I wonder what will happen today when that glue gets dabbed on and starts its bonding.