ANNIVERSARY Countdown (Count-Up?)

Today is Friday, March 7th, 2014. We were married 986 days ago, on June 25th, 2011.

Sunday, March 4, 2012


As might be evident from our past month or so of posts, we seem to be juggling quite a few disparate things in our lives right now.  Health, family, work across three states and four institutions, side consulting projects (off to Grand Rapids to work in three weeks and Baltimore in two months), friends in various states of crisis, accreditation visits, lawyers/doctors/accountants... and that's just the personal things.  In the larger world, we have a winter that never got started, a never-ending series of lunatics asking to run the country, public schools and unions and minimum wages and 40-hour work weeks and retirement plans being dismantled.  You know how planes fly faster from west to east because they're in a 140 mph jet stream?  All of our individual dysfunctions are being hastened along in a general jet stream of social madness.

The Washington Post, years ago, ran a contest to make a new word by changing one letter in an existing one, and then to create a definition for it.  My favorite was the Dopeler Effect, which is the tendency for bad ideas to sound good when they come at you really fast, and you can only see that they're stupid once they've gone by.

So is it any surprise that right about the time I started writing this, water began pouring through my bathroom ceiling?

Julie, the tenant upstairs, was running her sink disposal when I heard a bang.  I thought something had fallen, or perhaps someone had thrown a bag of trash onto the porch, which, because this IS Medford, can happen.  But within about a minute, water was streaming down all four walls of the bathroom and then through the seams in the drywall across the middle of the ceiling.  I called Julie, then called Mike, our landlord and woke him up (it was about 10:45).  He was here within about 15 minutes, diagnosed the problem as a broken fitting, and called his friend Ralph the home repair generalist. (Can you think of a more ideal name for a home handyman than Ralph, by the way?)

So tomorrow, I'll be staying home from work and waiting for Ralph, who's going to tear the ceiling off my bathroom to work upward into the plumbing for the upstairs unit.  I have sufficient work that I can do from home, so no great loss, but another side route along the great highway of intentions.

This year is the 30th anniversary of the great film Koyaanisqatsi, the collaboration by Godfrey Reggio, Ron Fricke and Philip Glass.  You can watch it here, if you've got an hour and a half, a great computer monitor and terrific speakers.  The title is taken from the Hopi language, and is said to translate more or less as:
  • life out of balance
  • crazy life
  • life in turmoil
  • life disintegrating
  • a state of life that calls for another way of living
It's hard, when being carried along on the Dopeler stream, to slow down.  I was especially proud of the way I played pool this afternoon — not because there's anything particularly noble or socially important about knocking balls into pockets, but because I was able to slow down and pay attention and not short-circuit any of my thinking.  I'd align a shot, read the angle that the cue ball would take off the rails, and put a cube of chalk onto the table about where I thought the ball would stop.  Instead of estimating, I was actually following angles of incidence and lateral spin effects and the loss of speed at each rail contact.  It's like dividing 192 by 13: you can say it's about 14 and call it a day, or you can actually get out a paper and pen and calculate out that it's 14.7692...  Sometimes the estimate is good enough, but sometimes you need to get it right.  And the simple fact of slowing down to get it right is an act of calmness within our lives in turmoil.

Do something slowly today.

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