Friday, December 8, 2017

Reflections On Civic Duty.

I've been reading several books and essays by and about leaders during the progressive/new deal era (late 1800's-mid 1900s).

There are no perfect leaders; all men are flawed. All men are somewhat damned by their contemporary culturally bound ethical and moral ignorance.  All men that might be looked back on as heroic, were also craven in their own way.  They often held passive common beliefs of their time, that we, looking back on, accuse as deplorable. 

But the contrast between what qualities of character those men had, with our current President and the mass exodus of "allegedly accused" leaders, is absolutely reprehensible.

This is not a unique problem. It has been faced countless time before, and will be faced again. It is not important to recognize that "this age is shameful!" That is a worthless observation. But in recognizing this, we should be spurred to further recognize in what small (and often large) ways we ourselves are shameful. We should be strong enough to recognize this in ourselves, and likewise challenge those to our left and to our right. We should be in community with those who can stomach the standard then required.

Be cautious of those why cry "Armageddon!" They rarely yield anything of worth.  If you read historical commentary you will always find this consistent message: that today is far worse than yesterday, and the end is neigh.  Even so, our energy and bluster ought to be spent towards improvement. 

I occasionally ignore or tire of the civic weight we take for granted.  Selfishly reaping the fruits of the past while shuffling along muttering
politics are all rubbish!.  We are gravely implicated in the implicit responsibilities of being a citizen of this great nation.  It is not great for its legacy, for its legacy is not just that of liberty and justice, but also marred with genocide and oppression.  This nation is great because it still projects the tatters of potential.  It is not yet a fallen empire, though the signs have long been pointing there.  This nation is great insofar as she is worn by honorable and virtuous men and woman.

When holding a standard of virtue up to our leaders, we should at once share in the equality of this responsibility.  Acknowledging our own failures and growing in wisdom.  While a man deserves mercy, a representative of the people does not.  In this role they should be scrutinized with keen eye and sharp blade.  The mistakes of men can be forgiven, but consequence and justice should be clothing of public office. 

Though we often do not consider this truth, we have all submitted to varying degrees to a social contract.  We should take civic duty seriously, from our responsibility for our neighbor, to our responsibility for our President. 

Do not despair at our current state, that is a lazy defeat.  Do not regurgitate the political thoughts and ideas of political commentators.  Begin a slow education.  Steep yourself in the monumental characters of our past.  Wrestle with issues, listen to sound arguments.  Be at once firm in conclusion, yet willing to consider wisdom.  Do not add to the noise.  Be people of conviction and action.  Be people of iteration, walking and growing in stride.  

 This will of course end with a quote from Theodore Roosevelt:

Our country calls not for the life of ease, but for the life of strenuous endeavor.  Let us therefore boldly face the life of strife, resolute to do our duty well and manfully; resolute to uphold righteousness by deed and by word; resolute to be both honest and brave, to serve high ideals, yet to use practical methods.”

- Theodore Roosevelt

Monday, September 19, 2016

Legacy Moving Thoughts

December 2016 is fast approaching.  The far door at the end of an eight-year hallway that has been my service in the United States Air Force. 

  1.  University choice.  I had been trying to decide between attending Wright State University, a public school, or University of Dayton, a private school.  The later was 2.3 times as expensive as the former.  I visited both universities to speak with their Engineering departments.  My experience at WSU was abysmal, they couldn’t find records of me (even though I was accepted) and I have had to repeatedly contact them to get an answer about what they will accept from my transcripts from previous universities.  UD was delightful, I never once had to contact them because they were extremely proactive in reaching out to me and spending a lot of one-on-one time explaining the program and getting me information.  In the end I have decided to begin at WSU because it is a far more practical choice economically.  If it goes well, I’ll stick with it.  If not, I will reconsider UD.

  2. Money.  With the prospect of being back at school for the next 3-4 years, finances will be extremely tight for us.  I’m leaving a roughly $60k/year secure position in USAF, for a live-by-the-seat-of-scholarships/grants/part-time work life.  Emily and I have discussed many options in terms of working etc.  We are going to try and manage the next few years with finances we have in hand, a meager income from the USAF Reserve, and the afore mentioned scholarships and grants/part-time work.  If it came down to it I could probably manage to go to school full time and hold a full time job, but I’ve done that on a few occasions in the USAF and both sectors suffered as a result.  We want these core years for our kids to be filled more with family-time than finances.  Wise? Depends on what you value I suppose. 

  3. Home.  This has been a very difficult area for us.  There are so many factors that are not binary in this decision.  Cost, size, safety, distance, location, amenities, market.

    1. COST:  Initially we were being a bit silly and looking at $180-215k which after reconsidering our budget was way too high for us while I’m in school.  We also were looking at using our profits from the sale of our current house to pay cash for something between $20-50k (see item c./g.).  Our current realistic range is $0-150k, sweet spot seems to be $100 +/- 20k. 
    2. SIZE:  Let’s see, there’s me, Emily…1,2,3,4,5 kids.  That’s sevenish people.  We currently live in a 3-bedroom house.  Three girls in one room, two boys in the second room, and a mixed gender married couple in the third.  Ideal?  Nope.  Emily would really like an office/craft room. I REALLY want a study where I can close some heavy wooden doors, smoke my pipe and read.  Kids would be allowed to lay on the floor so long as they observe a rule of silence.  Oh, and also fetch my scotch.  I’m flexible.  Maybe next year in Jerusalem.  Basically, we would be fine with a 3-bedroom, so long as it has a basement that I can put some walls up in and isolate the children when “necessary”. 
    3. SAFETY:  People seem to really like not living in Dayton proper, because of the crime.  We currently live in North Charleston S.C.  Same crime rate as Dayton, much lower population but spread out more.  
      So lots of people don’t live in Dayton, which in turns means there are lots of really nice pre-war homes at an incredibly affordable price.  Complete with crimey neighborhoods that “nobody” wants to live in.  There is too much commentary for me to contain here, but this whole issue really saddens me.  Of course, there is the whole racially segregated paradigm of west-Dayton/east-Dayton.  West Dayton is mostly Black.  Not higher crime, but it is perceived that way.  I do not feel “called” to intentionally move to a high crime neighborhood, but I find no justification in the scripture for seeking to avoid these kind of environments.  Please, I am always open to biblical reasoning!  If a compelling case can be made in defense of not living amongst the poor and obviously lost, and seeking safety and comfort, please share it with me.  I do not claim to be righteous.  I have not taken any effort in the past 5 years of living in our shady neighbor to reach out or be a light.  That is sin.  But I cannot understand a Christian making a case for idealized comfort.  I believe we are to spread light where ever we are, poor or rich, city and country.  Like I said, I am not actively looking to live in a shitty neighborhood. I just find the arguments, from a Christian perspective, highly dubious. 

      We yet to decide on a location, but we are considering many options.  We have ruled out some areas do the possible danger.   What is the “wise” choice?  I don’t know.  Again, it’s not binary.  I believe G-d will protect us and guide us where ever we are, the optimization game is exhausting to me.

      There is so much more to say here but it needs another time.

    4. DISTANCE:  This one is easy.  I will be attending WSU and ultimately working at or near Wright-Patterson AFB.  So, depending on other factors, within 20-30 minutes is ideal.  Yep.
    5. LOCATION:  Meh, I don’t want to talk about this.  The distance actually clears it up. 
    6. AMENETIES:  Parks, libraries, hiking/bike trails, coffee shops, breweries, theater, music venues…all good things…all good things.
    7. MARKET: Is a consideration because we will probably not be able to get something we want to stay in, and whatever we get we will be in for 4-5 years minimum.  While were aren’t singularly focused on it being an investment, it’s still part of the equation.
  4. Ok.  Bye.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Does G-d Exist?

Words are ships; painted cargo vessels for thoughts.  We get used to associating their color with their content.   Most of the time, they come in from sea without much investigation.  I can hear a word and put it quickly in its color-coded port.  Sometimes, if the light is just right, and air is clear, I am overcome with curiosity, and consider more deeply a word.  I realize they aren’t just cargo vessels full of etymological traits: histories, abuses, implications.  Rather, they are vast Universes.  Infinite.  The energy they contain exceeds me.  I tremble.  It seems hopeless.  A lifetime spent scratching away, exhuming their vast scope, I could never reach their ends.  Lemniscate -1 at best.  
Black Holes seem Spiritual.  We cannot comprehend them.  We cannot sustainably conceptualize them.  They might not exist.  We throw contradicting theories at them.  We popularize them.  Confine them to their cargo vessels, bumming rides on them with a sense of pride.  Our scientific acuity!  Black Holes.  Don’t mess with us now! Black Holes.  
Maybe that’s where G-d lives.  Or perhaps: sheol.  Standing on the gangway to a Black Hole, I am filled with the Familiar Loneliness.  The homesick desperation.  Is this Black Hole a shimmering fa├žade?  Does it exist?  Does He exist?  I think so.  I think so.  Shit.
Really, the “infinite” is just a fancy way of saying “huh”?  I tend to believe that, given enough “time”, we will understand a Black Hole (if it exists).  Given enough Time, we will understand G-d.  But we need to be a little more transient than we are typically comfortable with.  It’s a tenable solution to say “there is no way to know, unless we pass the event horizon, what might be on the other side.”  But at some point, that won’t be enough.  We will find ourselves slipping over that boundary, looking inside the windy cave.  Inside a black hole information is lost (unless Hawking’s weird hair idea is true) to us.  The grave is silent.  Our wineskins would burst should we try to contain it.  We will be undone if we look upon His face.  
I still throw myself against the bastions of the universe.  I am desperate to consume its meaning.  Though my eyes cannot see the essence of the universe when I stare up at space, I strain nonetheless. I weep.  And yet!  What a delight to have something so tangibly intangible as a Black Hole!   Our Father, in Heaven, hallowed is Your Name.  I can’t contain your Great and Terrible being.  You Are.  You saw that it was good, the works of your Hands.  You touch our hips and leave is limping, so that we don’t destroy ourselves against You.  You tell us not to worry.  And how could we?  To worry is to pretend we understand.  We do not understand.  Protect us as we reach for the infinite.  Protect us as we are pulled into the Black Hole.  On the hour you determined, show us your Glory.  Consume us, let our atoms be reborn in furnaces of your Violent Love.  Give us patience.  Help us to see what we are capable of seeing.  The vast smallness.  The stars.  The lilly.  The grain of sand by the sea.  All that we are, a smallness in your sea.  Vessels with cargo.  Painted ships.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Ground Control to...

Plans still in action.  I am going to try to devulge my experience as I go, for those interested, in a similar situation, or my kids later in life.  It will most likely be at a rate reflected in the lapse of time since my last post.

December of next year I will separate from Active duty after 8 years of service.  It has been a fantastic experience.  But I am quite ready for a little more "freedom" and all the headaches that comes with it.  Mostly, I will be growing a beard.

When I get out next December, we will be moving back to Dayton Ohio, where I will finish my degree at Wright-State University in Computer (or possibly Electrical) Engineering.  Formal engineering degrees are notoriously difficult.  The graduation rate for WSU Computer Engineering seems to be about 30%.  This is low, but overall graduation actually seem pretty low, assuming the traditional student enrolls and finishes within 4-6 years, they are around 60%.

To explain why I am doing this, at 30-some years old and with five kids, we need a little history.

I was homeschooled.  I don't regret it.  With one MAJOR exception.  Math.  I meandered through math, and spent more time creating complex cheating mechanisms than actually learning any math.  I hated math.  The closest I got to any kind of interest in math or science was watching Star Trek the Next Generation (strangely, one of the only shows I seemed to be allowed to watch.)

When I graduated High School, I had little interest in attending college.  I was afraid of it.  I was a bit of a pseudo punk (I had pink spiky hair!) and detested the thought that "You have to either get a college degree or join the military to have any kind of 'career'!"   So eight years of working in gas stations and factory assembly lines, and a year or so of community college more to put off the future than get anyway, I joined the Air Force.

To be...Continued.

Thursday, July 2, 2015


The title of this post was going to be "New Direction".  I pondered this and reduced it to simply "direction".  Emily and I are forming direction, and it feels good.  I am going to unfurl this as time goes on.

Here is the point:

- I'm separating from the active duty military in 1.5 years.
- We are moving Northishly
- I am going back to school for an Engineering degree

That is the plan.  I've never seen mice layout a decent plan, and I still often feel like a boy, so we should be good.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Thirty Days Without god.

Around seventy years after being defeated by Christ, the Devil struck back.  Glass had been around for some thirty-five hundred years prior, but not until around 100 C.E. did the devil realize the potential.  In Egypt the Serpent guided the lonely glass-maker’s mind towards forming the molten silicon dioxide into a barrier between the world outside and the home.  Other materials had been used before, but never one that offered such a high-fidelity to the world outside.  One could get a sense of the thing, without the trouble of being subject to it’s forces; nature was being corralled. It took another fifteen-hundred years for the damage to be total.  By the early 17th century, most European homes had glass windows.  

We can now mistake the view for the goodness.  We can look out at a fabricated beauty, free from heat, or cold.  Free from bugs, wind, and stench.  We can isolate ourselves and still pretend we exist.  

I don’t believe time exists, but I am quite fantastic at wasting it.  

And so.  Thirty days ago I deleted all the gods of time from my phone.  Facebook and games.  It only takes me, on average, fifty-three seconds to begin and finalize a bowel movement.  My phone has extended this otherwise brief and refreshing action into a decade of miserable minutes.  

It was a pathetic gesture.  The importance I gave the role that games on my phone had in my life was perhaps overblown.  But perhaps not.  I’m not against fun; against leisure.  But leisure and fun should serve a function.  Restoration, building relationships.  Sitting on the toilet infinitely upgrading some bullshit serves no goodness.  The Devil’s glass-gods were pretty secure in my hands.  

This plays into a much larger narrative in my life.  The question of purpose or destiny.  Sometimes my vanity torments my lack of global importance.  I love science, and the devil knows it.  I’m no Werner Heisenberg, and that pisses me off.  Maybe if I learn my multiplication tables, I could change the world?  So I replace the games on my phone with a few false starts in the Khan Academy early math program.  

The glass keeps me inside.  The phones keep our heads down, eyes averted.  Kids these days.  

With no games on my phone, I started reading a little more.  It’s more difficult than it used to be.  My brain has been subtly rewired.  More difficult to focus.  I started praying a little more, but that’s harder too.  I don’t trust my prayers in the synagogues and street corners.  So I cling to established liturgy.  It at least serves as a scaffold to hang my thoughts on.  

To be honest I didn’t make the full thirty days.  At day twenty-something I download Star Wars tower defence.  

I wonder if I should cut off my phone that makes me stumble; drop it “accidentally” into the toilet and then order the new iphone.  I promise to at least open the glass window while I waste my time here.  Because time doesn’t exist.  

Saturday, September 27, 2014


Philosophical Skepticism teaches us that we can be sure of nothing.  Not even that.  But my human experience has led me to rest on one surety; Truth.  Behind everything there seems to be a root Truth.  Everything depends on it.  Take any thought experiment, or experiment experiment back far enough and we shall find Truth.  But perhaps it's more like infinity; we can never reach it, but we can get closer.  

The error that so many ex-Christians make, so many militant atheists, is that because it "seems" wrong, or because they don't "like" it, or because "that G-d is an asshole", they simply write it off.  But they forget about Truth.  Regardless of our thoughts on the matter, "the Truth is out there."  We are foolish who do the calculations, and proclaim the sum to be “unreasonable, and therefore false.”  Truth is belligerent.  It does not rely on our belief.  It Is (I Am).  Even if our understanding of it evolves, and will never hit it exactly center, shouldn't we endeavour to run towards it?  To wrestle with it?  To shake our fists at it?

Often times the compulsion for me probably comes from sheer stubbornness.  I am given little proof, or rather, I am aware of little proof, to persist in my belief.  

On my morning walk I was moving through this.  It occurred to me that the desire to doubt fully, to question to a conclusion, seemed to come from "somewhere".  And for this morning, that was the voice of G-d.  Even taunting me "Seek and ye shall find."  I don't depend so much on the promises of finding something anymore.  I breathe only for the seeking.

There is a Truth, and how ever terrifying It may be, I choose to run towards It.  

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner.