Monthly Archives: November 2007

Thanksgiving Ingrate

Americans love to get presents and be the center of attention, which is probably why most of us claim our birthday as our favorite holiday. Thanksgiving is also near the top of the list because it brings together four of the greatest joys in life: feasting, family, a four day weekend and, of course, football. It is a day which allows us to cure momentarily our chronic case of the gimmees and just be grateful for what we already have.

Despite Thanksgiving’s huge popularity, there are a few Americans who, though their hearts may swell patriotic and their stomachs appreciate the traditional meal, nevertheless harbor a secret resentment toward the beloved Turkey Day – I speak of those late November birthday babies.

Oh, we are a sorry bunch. When next year’s calendar comes out we must look ahead to see how close the fateful day comes to impinging on our specialness. If Congress had just left the date of Thanksgiving in the early fall, as it was when the Pilgrims originally celebrated it with the Wampanoag Tribe in 1621, we of the November 22nd through 28th set could be guaranteed chocolate cake instead of pumpkin pie with candles. If they’d just left well enough alone when Colonial Governor John Belcher declared Thanksgiving be November 12th in 1730, or when President George Washington proclaimed in 1789 that Thanksgiving be observed on the 26th of November, more of us could consistently have pizza for our special birthday dinner instead of green beans and cranberry sauce. Admittedly, even with such arrangements there would still be some whiners among us. But there would be far fewer and most importantly, I, being born on the 24th, wouldn’t be in their midst.

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Living Light

My seven-month-old son crawls through the dining room, encounters a strip of sunlight playing through the trees onto the floor and tries to pick it up.

Suddenly light is alive again.

Every morning I do not register daylight, only that I have to arise, have to get started on a to-do list, and where in heaven’s name is the coffee?

But as his tiny fingers grasp in vain for the flashing yellow “object,” I remember. There is a flaming star that seems to revolve around our terrestrial universe. That is, until the scientific-minded amongst us correct our illusions and we realize that we are just a tiny speck being hurled in a mathematical path across what may be an infinity of other specks.

And for every question science answers, many others arise. Okay, so we have our trajectory plotted, thanks to a careful examination of the various sources and reflections of light coming towards us. But what the heck is light? Wave or particle? The mysteries appear to have no end.

It all begins with, why can’t we pick this thing up off the floor?

Sometimes it’s good to start over at the beginning. Babies are brilliant at inspiring such activity. Beginners mind, as Zen practitioners will inform us, is good for letting go of everything we think we know, of getting back to our senses, which are really the only tools we have to investigate with. These subjective windows called sight, hearing, taste, touch, smell, are the only method of acquiring “objective” data.

And a lot of the time it gets us where we want to be. However mysterious light is, we’ve figured out how to harness its power with photovoltaic cells. We’ve accepted its regular movement to the point that most of us no longer practice any rituals to ensure that the sun will return after night, after winter. Our scientific progress has innocuated us against any magical properties that might be present in the light.

We never think of how completely dependent we are on its steadfast output, our intimate gravitational bond, how everything we eat is ultimately founded upon photosynthesis. Every once in a while we see an amazing sunset that gives us pause, but even within that experience we are often mired in our baggage: previous sunsets, remembering a lost love, thinking of how much pollution contributes to the colors, melancholy at the closing of a day. How seldom do we just drink in the colors, allow the brightness to take over our eyes and our awareness.

How seldom do we reach for the light, like a baby, trying all over again to touch magic.

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The Ducks Love Dixon

We lost Dennis Dixon at the beginning of the game last night. The poor guy’s knee just couldn’t take his amazing moves. The emotion on his face as the camera spied on his private hell tempered any disappointment I was feeling. Poor me, watching my number two ranked alma mater lose to a team we could have crushed despite their insistence on their ability to bring about a “November upset”, when here is this guy in physical and emotional pain, desperate to be in there doing his thing, crushed to be letting down his team and all who love them, and watching his hopes of a Heisman trophy go down the crapper. Who the hell am I to feel sorry for myself.

But man, those first few minutes of the game… that guy is incredible. It looked like we were going to blow Arizona’s doors off. The way he moves, fakes, runs, throws. I think more than having to watch a loss, I was more disappointed about having to watch a game without Dixon in it, just because he is so much fun to watch.

I hope he doesn’t give another thought to the loss or to anyone’s disappointment. You’ve won our hearts, number 10, and we just want you to be okay, for your own sake, that your knee will last you to a ripe old age, so you can throw around the pigskin with your kids.

We know you always give us everything you’ve got, and we’ve loved every minute. Time to save a little something for yourself.

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Life is just business…

Troy Williamson missed a game last week to take care of his grandmother’s funeral, not just a distant relative but someone who helped raise him. The Vikings were fine with his leaving, but docked his pay for that week ($25,000, according to ESPN this morning).

Another piece of the puzzle that is professional sports. “They make too much money.” “They should be perfect role models.” “They miss births, deaths, weddings.” When they sign their contracts, do they sign away normal personhood? In exchange for fabulous wealth and celebrity, do they give up any rights to maintain connection with the real world? Is approval of this system a form of revenge, exacted in bitter jealousy that they get to do what we have only dreamed of?

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Suicidal Convenience

Is there a point where our lives are convenient enough and we can start focussing on things that matter?

CNN reports this morning that a new, faster, easier way to pay is on the horizon. No more cash or credit cards. Those things take multiple seconds to manipulate during a transaction! Soon you can scan your fingerprint into the system, connect the data to your bank account, and voila! Simply touch a screen and deductions will be made for whatever you purchase.

Am I paranoid or is this a really lousy idea? Instead of having your wallet or purse stolen they’ll chop off your finger. Or your hand, you know, whatever is more convenient at the moment.

After all, convenience is priority number one.

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