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Archive for the ‘Feelings’ Category

Ocean Majesty

In Hawaii, the ocean is never far away. Life is dominated by the ocean. Its power, its grace, its eternity is overwhelming.

Recently a friend (WI) sent me this poem about the ocean by Lord Byron (1788 – 1824), from “Childe Harold,” Canto IV.

Here in Hawaii, this rings true, every minute, every day, all the time:

THERE is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society where none intrudes
By the deep sea, and music in its roar:
I love not man the less, but nature more,
From these our interviews, in which I steal
From all I may be, or have been before,
To mingle with the universe, and feel
What I can ne’er express, yet cannot all conceal.

Roll on, thou deep and dark blue Ocean,—roll!
Ten thousand fleets sweep over thee in vain;
Man marks the earth with ruin,—his control
Stops with the shore;—upon the watery plain
The wrecks are all thy deed, nor doth remain
A shadow of man’s ravage, save his own,
When, for a moment, like a drop of rain,
He sinks into thy depths with bubbling groan,
Without a grave, unknelled, uncoffined, and unknown.

His steps are not upon thy paths,—thy fields
Are not a spoil for him,—thou dost arise
And shake him from thee; the vile strength he wields
For earth’s destruction thou dost all despise,
Spurning him from thy bosom to the skies,
And send’st him, shivering in thy playful spray
And howling, to his gods, where haply lies
His petty hope in some near port or bay,
And dashest him again to earth:—there let him lay.

The armaments which thunderstrike the walls
Of rock-built cities, bidding nations quake
And monarchs tremble in their capitals,
The oak leviathans, whose huge ribs make
Their clay creator the vain title take
Of lord of thee and arbiter of war,—
These are thy toys, and, as the snowy flake,
They melt into thy yeast of waves, which mar
Alike the Armada’s pride or spoils of Trafalgar.

Thy shores are empires, changed in all save thee;
Assyria, Greece, Rome, Carthage, what are they?
Thy waters wasted them while they were free,
And many a tyrant since; their shores obey
The stranger, slave, or savage; their decay
Has dried up realms to deserts: not so thou;
Unchangeable save to thy wild waves’ play,
Time writes no wrinkles on thine azure brow;
Such as creation’s dawn beheld, thou rollest now.

Thou glorious mirror, where the Almighty’s form
Glasses itself in tempests; in all time,
Calm or convulsed,—in breeze, or gale, or storm,
Icing the pole, or in the torrid clime
Dark-heaving; boundless, endless, and sublime,
The image of Eternity,—the throne
Of the Invisible! even from out thy slime
The monsters of the deep are made; each zone
Obeys thee; thou goest forth, dread, fathomless, alone.

And I have loved thee, Ocean! and my joy
Of youthful sports was on thy breast to be
Borne, like thy bubbles, onward; from a boy
I wantoned with thy breakers,—they to me
Were a delight; and if the freshening sea
Made them a terror, ’t was a pleasing fear;
For I was as it were a child of thee,
And trusted to thy billows far and near,
And laid my hand upon thy mane,—as I do here.

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Back in June of 2011 I predicted that the once popular Todai Sushi Restaurant in Mission Valley would go out of business. Here is the blog entry I wrote then.

This is what it looks like today:

todai-graffiti todai-graffiti

It has obviously been out of business for a few years. I read that someone recently bought the property, is cleaning it up now in order to launch a new restaurant venture.

It was Lehr’s Greenhouse Restaurant and Florist between 1980 and 1987, and I remember going there once for a Sunday brunch sometime in 1986 for some memorable event, like a birthday or Mother’s Day.

Ruins now but memories remain.

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throwing-up-over-devos

Betsy DeVos Confirmed as Education Secretary

We now have placed the lives and futures of all the country’s teachers and students into the hands of a dimwit religious rich woman under the leadership of a buffoon.

The Dumbing Down of America is Well Underway and the Oligarchy is Solidified.

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The Final Box

Yesterday I was asked to fill out a survey, I guess for the first time since I turned 60 a couple of months ago.

the-final-box

For the first time I had to check “the final box.”

 

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Moby Dick - Chapter IX

I recently connected with my Latin and German professor from when I was 11, and he was 28. An email exchange ensued discussing literature in a multitude of languages. I told him I could not read Moby Dick.

He responded:

Zu Moby Dick: Da ist zweifellos so manches, was für den Leser nur schwer verdaulich ist. Aber nicht wenige Stellen sind wunderbar. Besonders schön Kapitel 9 „The Sermon“! Jeder einzelne Satz ist ein Genuß! Beispiel: “In this world, shipmates, Sin that pays its way can travel freely, and without a passport; whereas Virtue, if a pauper, is stopped at all frontiers.“ Oder: “Woe to him whose good name is more to him than goodness!”

Ah, so I pulled the trusty old book off the shelf, thumbed through the yellowed pages, found chapter IX and started reading.

Coffee, Moby Dick and world class prose on a Saturday morning, after coming home from a long work trip back east last night – it does not get any better than this.

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…was on my daughter’s wedding day – yesterday!

Wedding Day

If you want to know more about her, there is no better place to check than her own blog entry about herself on her and her husband Tyler’s business blog for SoundViz.

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From a Proud Dad

Virgin America

My daughter and her husband-to-be are flying in from San Francisco tonight. They’ll be staying with us for a few days before their wedding next week! The moms of the bride and groom leaked this to the airlines – and the happy couple got a free upgrade by Virgin America.

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Here is a video of a German language slam poem with a powerful impact. There are no English versions that I could find. The title is Behind Us My Country. If you know German, you must listen to every word. If you don’t know German, you should play a minute or so to get the cadence of the poem, and how the two speakers alternate.

Below is my translation. You can see the speaker on the right and the one on the left. Both tell their stories.

This is a powerful explanation of the complex sentiments of Germans toward refugees, that an American will likely not be able to understand.

But it rings true for me personally, as I am the son of a refugee myself and as my entire life, the person I am, is shaped in many ways by the experiences of my father who often might have said himself: Behind Us My Country.

 

Behind Us My Country

Everything I am was born there

Everything that was home to me

The square, where we children played

The smile of my first love

The apple tree in our park

And the little lake hidden behind the mountain

The hot tea on the tin tray

Creased story tellers

Laugh wrinkles decorate their faces

Chattering on the way home from school

Night was until the parents slept and then out again

The squeaking bicycle of my brother

The poems of Rudas

And the smell of wet lawn

Radios that despite tortured tuning still carry out the melodies

The singing of my sister in the morning

My mother, my mother with her eternal money worries

And I don’t know why: Ladybugs

All that was my home

All that way once my home

But I could not stay anymore

Behind us the war

The fresh grave of my parents

The last clump of dirt is still rolling off

It hasn’t found it final spot yet

So fresh is my mourning

And nothing has been digested

I could not stay any longer

The spoke of us as the living dead

Our people forced into trains that slid along in the smoke of the locomotives

Our doors smashed

Shopping windows in shards

Our parents intimidated, our siblings abuse

Cruel news from friends that were still there

Most had disappeared

It was impossible to stay, not another day

The next step in my city is the last step in my country

And the worst step then onto this rusty boat

Next we turn, then we hold on, and then it will sink

Turned over to the sea

In the ocean, without consolation

The moon hides behind the clouds

The night so dark, you see nothing

For hours, nothing

And when I close my eyes in the dark

I hear the voice of my mother

Around us the lord is only the sea

As if our boat was the heart of all things

I open my eyes and gaze toward the sky

Prayers are our sails

Life vests will take over the rest

But the hope they cannot carry

A man swims toward me

Here, take him, I can’t go on anymore

He is one year old and his name is Berstin

His father slides out of the vest into the eternal dark blue

That’s how I became father the first time

In the ocean

He handed him to me

The man in the vest gave me his inheritance

Arrived in exile, I learned quickly

the most important words are permit to day, sorry, and thank you

Arrived in exile I saw a family reunited after a long time

How the father wimpered out of good luck

Deep from inside with the shame of a man who seldom cries

I followed that family step by step

But only with my gaze

Arrived in exile

But the earth of home comes along on the soles of our feet

I am from there, and I have memories

I was born like people are born

I have a mother that loves me

And it breaks my heart

In the letters that she writes I can see how meanwhile her hand has a tremor

When I say homesick, I say dream

Because the old home hardly exists any longer

Do we stay here, do we become beach again?

Not quite sea, not quite land

Do we stay here, we become beach again.

Not quite sea, not quite land

Arrived in exile, a man welcomes me

The other waves foreign flags

Sometimes one feels the love, sometimes one feels the hate

They look at your head scarf

They look into my passport

But don’t be angry, forgive them

They forget the love, they forgot the love

I wish them peace

On the contrary, show them, stand up

Tear off our legs and we walk on our hands

Tear off our legs and we walk on our hands

We will make the best of our lives until our lives end

And who know, maybe one day I return home

I not everything will have changed

Perhaps I’ll see our old apple tree

Or the square with the brown rusty fence

And I hug my siblings and kiss my mother

And luck bites its little tooth into my heart

My name is Achmed Yusuf

Father of Berstin

And I am a refugee

I fled Syria

My name is Daniel Levie

I am a refugee

I fled Germany

The year is 2015

The year is 1938

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Books in BoxesAll my life I have been a bibliophile. When I was a teenager, leaving home, I had several boxes of books that I hauled with me and kept in boxes, because where I lived there was not enough shelf room to put them all. As I got older and had a family, I would from time to time purge some of the older books in yard sales. But mostly I added my new books to boxes in the garage. One day I’d have a house with a “library” where I could display my books. So I kept them.

In the last five years I have resorted to buying only Kindle books. Even when I wanted to re-read an old book I knew I have somewhere in the boxes, I have re-bought the book in the Kindle format. I didn’t feel like rummaging through boxes to find it, and I prefer the consistent font, size and form factor that all my books now have. I don’t like holding hardcopy books anymore.

That was the moment of revelation for me. I have these heavy objects in boxes that I no longer have any use for. Even if I had a house large enough for a library, I no longer see the point of displaying decades-old relics. A few years ago I decided to sell them. I created an Amazon seller account and listed about 50 books, and a few of them actually sold. I found, however, that after I purchased padded envelopes and labels, and I paid for the shipping with the U.S. Postal Service, and Amazon took its cut, I didn’t make any money. And for those books where there are already a dozen other listings for $0.01, plus $3.99 for shipping, it actually cost me money to “sell” those books, because the Amazon cut and the shipping didn’t leave enough room for the packing materials. That was not even counting my time to take and fulfill the order, package the book, and take it to the post office (to get the lowest rate).

There are some companies that buy used books in bulk. One of them even has a mobile app that allows you to scan the ISBN number and gives you an immediate offer. I downloaded the app and scanned a random ten books on my self and found that they didn’t even want to buy a single one of them.

I also found that nobody wants donated books when I googled the subject. Libraries, used book stores, even Goodwill, routinely throw books into recycle bins because they have no place to put them. Here is a blog post with many comments attesting to that reality. Nobody wants my old books, even though every one of them had enough meaning and value for me at one time in my life to pay out retail dollars to buy them.

I will keep the coffee table books, art books I enjoy, and reference works that have some value, and make sure I get the volume down to no more than two boxes. The rest will go into the paper recycle bin every week, until they are gone.

Good-bye, old life-long friends, good-bye!

 

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AFS is one of the world’s oldest and largest foreign exchange student organizations. The mission of AFS is to bring peace to the world, one person at a time. How can you be at war with Iran, if you have friends in Iran (I do). How can bigotry develop about Muslims if you have friendships with Muslims? How can you be against Hispanics when some of the greatest people you know are South Americans?

For the school year of 1974/75, I was one of over 2,000 students selected all over the world to spend a year in a U.S. high school. In those days, only about one out of 30 or more applicants were selected to participate in what turned out to be a life-changing experience for most of us.

We all arrived in August in New York at C.W. Post College (now Long Island University) for the initial orientation, and then we were bused all over the U.S. to spend our year in high school, before we departed on July 10, 1975, from C.W. Post again.

Recently a few dedicated people started organizing a Facebook group for our year. The group now has over 600 members (not bad for 2,000 participants). After organizing and planning for a year, 30 to 40 of us met last weekend in New York City for a four-day reunion. We chartered a bus to C.W. Post to see the hallowed grounds again that first received us over 40 years ago.

Here is Paulo, kissing the ground in front of Queens Hall, one of the dorms where we first stayed a life-time ago:

Kissing the Ground

We did lots of sightseeing, picnicked in Central Park, went on a boat tour around Manhattan, and ate at many good restaurants. We visited the offices of AFS International and AFS USA, both in New York City, and the presidents of both organizations addressed our group and shared in discussions about the future of the program.

Most of us had never met before. But that didn’t stop us from connecting on a deep level immediately. We all knew that we had been at the same place at C.W. Post that day when we were teenagers, we all shared the same experiences and all our lives had been massively affected by AFS. Brand-new AFS experiences and friendships are developing.

Plans for the next reunion in Turkey in 2016 are already underway.

This video sums it up very well:

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Of all the 2000 plus AFS foreign exchange students who came from all over the world to the United States for a year in 1974/75, some 40 to 60 of us came to New York for our 40-year-reunion.

Vincento

Dr. Vincenzo Morlini is the current president of AFS International. AFS hosted our group for our reunion kick-off meeting on Friday morning and gave a heartwarming talk about the mission of AFS – bringing peace to the world – one person at a time. He himself was an AFS student in 1966.

Some notable other AFS alumni are:

  • Catherine Coleman, NASA astronaut
  • Jan Eliason, Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations
  • Motohide Yoshikawa, Permanent Representative of Japan, Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development
  • Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund
  • — and thousands of others, including those in our group this weekend.

Click here to learn more about AFS.

 

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Four score and seven years ago….

– Gettysburg Address, Abraham Lincoln

 

Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.

– Inauguration of John F. Kennedy

 

I have dream…

– Martin Luther King

 

Amazing grace…

– Barack Obama, June 26, 2015

In my opinion, President Obama made history yesterday with this eulogy for pastor Clementa Pinckney and his fellow clergy in Charleston, South Carolina, on June 26, 2015. It will be called the “Amazing Grace Speech,” and school children fifty years and a hundred years hence will listen to it as one of the great speeches that shaped our country. It’s one of the events that Obama will be remembered for.

Amazing Grace.

Note that the video starts at 29 minutes, but you can choose to start at the beginning by rewinding.

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10 Smells That Make Me Happy

I just read William Lloyd’s post about 10 smells that make him happy. Mine are different. It inspired me to think about mine.

1. Fresh Coffee –  whether walking down the cobblestone streets in Europe and getting a waft out of a café, or just the brew in our own kitchen.

2. Devin Aftershave by Aramis – when I was young, a street vendor put a little of this aftershave on my wrist while I was out shopping. I kept smelling it for an hour and then I actually went back and found the vendor again and I bought a bottle. For the next 20 years, until I could no longer get it, I kept buying aftershave of this fragrance. I have one half bottle left which I don’t use anymore, because I don’t want to run out of it. I need it around for an occasional whiff.

3. New Car Smell – I have never met anyone that does not like new car smell. Although it’s not so poignant for me, since I get a lot of rental cars, which often are still new enough to smell.

4. Orange Blossoms – I used to live in Arizona in my younger years and I started loving them then. Orange blossoms always make me happy.

5. Campfire – childhood memories.

6. Fresh Cut Grass – it seems almost everyone loves the smell of fresh cut grass. Why is that?

7. Fresh Lumber – I used to build houses. Framing was my favorite task. I love the smell of a newly framed house.

8. Onions and Bell Peppers – sautéing in the pan. Breakfasts with family. Bliss.

9. Oil Paint Fresh on the Canvas – the feeling of accomplishment. Something was just created and now it’s curing. The artist is happy.

10. The Stink of a Dead Animal – now I have to explain: I have a lot of very early memories of spending time at the country house of my grandparents. They had a huge yard (or so I remember) and there was always somewhere in the back some cadaver that the cats left to rot and smell. Now that smell is very rare in my life, but when I get a whiff of it on a hike somewhere, I get instantly transported back to my early childhood at my grandfather’s house. Happy times.

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June Jam and June Gloom

Trisha’s mom June passed away in 2007, over seven years ago. She had always made jam and other canned fruit and gave some to us. Recently we pulled the last jar of June Jam out of the back of the pantry to use on our toast and bagels.

June Jam
Working our way down the jar, I always feel a little twinge when I have some. It’s the last we have, and I don’t want to use it up.

The thought of no more June Jam gives me June Gloom.

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True Friends

A few weeks ago I visited a close friend from my childhood (PG). True friends last forever and think alike.

True Friends

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