Friday, July 28, 2006


All this week I've had to go downtown for a training class. It's cheaper and faster to take MARTA, the local subway, rather than fighting traffic all the way downtown and then still having to pay $5.00+ to park.
Today on the train the operator pushed down the intercom to announce a station and then accidentally left it on the whole trip. Consequently everyone on the train was allowed to hear all of the dispatch calls. There was a stalled train on another track, a panhandler at another station and some signal lights that weren't working properly. I thought it was kinda cool to hear what was going on behind the scenes. But, I overheard one passenger comment that she'd wished they'd turn that thing off.
Perhaps it is easier for some people to just go through life oblivious to the details around them. For them they probably gain more faith in the system by a quiet relatively uneventful ride. I don't share this philosophy. On the contrary, I was comforted to hear the details of the minor problems that they were working with. I think this is closer to reality. We're not on a flawless machine without any hiccups, but we are all trying to do our best to make the trip as smooth as possible. I gained more faith in the system not by the illusion that the system was flawless but, by the realization that the system had flaws and there were competent professionals working to correct the problems as fast as they can.

Thursday, July 27, 2006


As a family we just finished reading a great book. The story centers around a widow and her family who are being forced to move even though the youngest son is very sick. She appeals to her friends for help and they put her in touch with a reclusive fraternity who could help her. She initially had her doubts but it turns out that her husband was dearly loved by this group. In the course of the story you learn a lot about the special relation ship that her late husband had with this group.
The major theme that stuck out with me was that each of us is different in some ways and just the same in many others. The characters teach the reader to be grateful for our differences and use those very differences to bring us all closer together. Several times in the story characters risk their lives in order to help each other. Some of the characters end up giving the ultimate sacrifice for their friends and neighbors.
The author uses a deliberate irony to teach us all these lessons about humanity. You see none of the main characters are human. I believe that this tool makes the story much more effective than it would have been otherwise. "Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH" has always been one of my favorite children’s books. I first read this book in forth grade. Yet it was in reading this to my kids that I first realized how good a book it is for all ages.
I'm typing this as I lie awake thinking about my own humanity. I wonder how much work I need to do to be as.. "human" as the rats and mice in this book. I have a lot of work to do...

Saturday, July 22, 2006


I just thought this song had some rather profound lyrics and wanted to post them here to share.

by Rush

There is unrest in the forest
There is trouble with the trees
For the maples want more sunligh
And the oaks ignore their pleas

The trouble with the maples
(and theyre quite convinced theyre right)
They say the oaks are just too lofty
And they grab up all the light
But the oaks cant help their feelings
If they like the way theyre made
And they wonder why the maples
Cant be happy in their shade?

There is trouble in the forest
And the creatures all have fled
As the maples scream `oppression!`
And the oaks, just shake their heads

So the maples formed a union
And demanded equal rights
the oaks are just too greedy
We will make them give us light
Now theres no more oak oppression
For they passed a noble law
And the trees are all kept equal
By hatchet,
And saw ...

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Human Interfaces

I was looking at a friend of mine's IPOD today. It's amazing to me that this thing can hold thousands of songs and be this small. Then I realized that it could probably be even smaller if it didn't need to have some kind of readable display and buttons to accept human input. I'm currently typing this on a BlackBerry and this too is pretty much limited from getting smaller only because it'd be harder to read and even harder to input the data. I saw a report on new airplane technology a few months ago. They have now designed planes that can withstand and maneuver at speeds and forces that would kill the pilot but the plane could still survive. In all of these technologies they are having to "throttle back" the technology and the true capability of the technology in order to make the human interface easier or in the case of the jets, non-fatal.
I wonder if this "throttling back" of the possibilities is limited to only science. Does it extend to other aspects of our lives? Relationships? Emotions? Spirituality? Is it possible that the religious doctrine that we've received has also been stepped down a little purely so that the humans who are expected to abide it can withstand it? I believe they are. And I'm thankful for it. I'm having a hard enough time as it is.
My concern would only come when we start to accept these human limitations as ultimate limitations. Perhaps there are other truths or possibilities that are withheld from us simply because we cannot interface with or survive that ultimate truth. Since I am functioning within these human limitations I can only accept that full understanding of these ultimate truths may not be possible at this stage of my "evolution".

Tuesday, July 11, 2006


In the summer of 2003 Victoria and I took the kids on a cross-country road trip. The highlight of the trip was our 3 days spent in Yellowstone National Park. Even though we just stayed in an overly crowded campground with hundreds of other campers, I cannot wait to go back again. This is one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited. I thought this Bison was really funny for some reason. He just kept looking at me like he was going to say, "Hey bud could you hand me the remote please? I've been waiting for hours to change the channel but I'm too lazy to get up."

I recently read Lost in My Own Backyard by Tim Cahill. Ever since I read "The Clown Owls Bitter Legacy", a satirical essay about the failure of the Woodsy the Owl anti-littering campaign, I have loved Cahill's work and sense of humor. Lost in My Own Backyard did not disappoint me. Cahill confesses that in his younger years he'd have been ashamed to admit that he enjoyed seeing Yellowstone by car, yet he had to admit that this was the best way to see many parts of the park. At the end of the book he does venture into the back country. So this book had some appeal both to the family man in me who enjoys the convienience of seeing the wilderness by car as well as the part of me that refuses to grow up and still wants to go traipsing through the woods. I'd recommend this book to anyone who has been to Yellowstone, anyone who hasn't been but wants to, and to those who don't think that they need to go to Yellowstone.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Today after church, I was relaxing with a book when my oldest daughter, Rachel, came up to me and said, "Dad, would you pick out a book for me to read, please?" Athough she's only eight she's a voracious reader. Not wanting to give her just another Mary Kate and Ashely mystery book I turned to my bookcase of philosophy books and pulled out Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach. She read it cover to cover in less than an hour.
Soon after she started reading she asked me why some of the sentences were yellow. I explained to her that the book had originally belonged to my father who was incapable of reading without a highlighter or a red pencil. "Those are the parts that your Papa Rog though were important when he read that book."
After she finished we discussed the book and I was tickled that she enjoyed it. I picked the book up and thumbed through the pages before I put it back onto the bookshelf. I too was a little curious what parts Papa Rog had enjoyed. I found this gem that I think describes my father to a tee.

"For in spite of his lonely past, Jonathan Seagull was born to be an instructor, and his own way of demonstrating love was to give something of the truth that he had seen to a gull who asked only a chance to see truth for himself." p.61

I hope that today I was able to pass on just a little bit of truth to Rachel just like my father passed it on to me.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Logical Positivism

I recently reread Steve Hawking's book
  • The Universe in a Nutshell. Hawking is a positivist. He believes that unless something is testable and verifiable that it is not real. Hawking uses this "easy-out" to avoid ever getting into discussions on theology or metaphysics. From a scientific standpoint I agree with him. I therefore believe that all the current "science" of intelligent design is pointless. God does not lie within the grasp of science. Any proof of God's existence would deny faith and then you get the whole babelfish paradox from Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.
    However, I disagree with the premise that if you can't test it then it isn't real. This seems very short sighted to me. What if tomorrow some device is invented that makes measuring something possible that is impossible today? Does that therefore mean that they don't exist, they aren't real today but, they will be tomorrow? There are many things in this universe that I believe are real but, Hawking would be unable to quantify and test. To paraphrase Carl Sagan, "Prove to me that your father loves you." Is Hawking claiming that love it not real?
  • Monday, July 03, 2006

    Our National Anthem

    I've always been very patriotic. But, I've never really liked our national anthem. I think it's a song about war and little else. There are times when wars may be required but, there is much more to American than our ability to fight wars. Many would claim that you have to be a "hawk" to be patriotic. I disagree. I believe that there are other songs, perhaps yet unwritten, that could convey a sense of national pride without focusing souly on our military exploits. sometimes we sing a song without focusing on the words. Yet if the same song were just a poem we'd pay closer attention to the meaning. With this in mind please read the following poem and see if you don't agree that this is a better expression of our national identity.

    O beautiful for spacious skies,
    For amber waves of grain;
    For purple mountain majesties
    Above the fruited plain!
    America! America!
    God shed His grace on thee,
    And crown thy good with brotherhood,
    From sea to shining sea.

    O beautiful for heroes proved
    In liberating strife,
    Who more than self their country loved,
    And mercy more than life!
    America! America!
    May God thy gold refine,
    Till all success be nobleness,
    And every gain divine.

    O beautiful for patriot dream
    That sees beyond the years
    Thine alabaster cities gleam,
    Undimmed by human tears!
    America! America!
    God mend thine every flaw,
    Confirm thy soul in self control,
    Thy liberty in law.