Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Myths and Literalism

As my weekly bible study at church continues to muddle its way through Genesis and eventually Exodus, I am reminded frequently of the issues I have with taking the Old Testament seriously.  Often, it manifests itself during our conversations, where I have difficulty discussing something that begins on the premise that Adam and Eve were real people, as were Cain and Abel, and the story of Noah and the Flood is real and that therefore we can all trace our roots to him.

I've never been able to grasp how people can give so much literal authority (and possible authority in general) to the Old Testament.  Christianity would become so much more palatable without such, at times, blind adherence to those old books.  As an example of why I have such a hard time, consider the following...

The Code of Hammurabi.  This is a Babylonian law code that dates to somewhere around 1700 BCE.  It consists of 282 laws, dealing with things from punishment for certain crimes (based on social status), contracts, liabilities, property, etc.  On the upper part of the stone with the code, Hammurabi is standing in front of Shamesh, the Sun God, to receive the codes.  As this picture shows with the three levels of rock beneath Shamesh's feet represent a mountain.  So, as legend goes, Hammurabi receives the laws from the Sun God on the top of a mountain.  Now doesn't that sound familiar.  And consider that Hammurabi would predated any Moses figure (assuming Moses existed) by at least 500 years.

The Myth of Sargon.  While their are many missing holes in this myth (most ancient myths that survive have such holes), the basic gist of the myth is that Sargon was born to a High Priestess (who are supposed to maintain their virginity), in secret, and then his mother set him in a basket and sent him floating down a river.  From there, he was carried to the "drawer of water", Akki, who took Sargon in as his son and raised him.  Again, this story has significant similarities with that of the story of Moses in the Bible, as well as differences.  And it predates the Bible by even more than the Code of Hammurabi.

These are just two examples of a myriad of Ancient Near East myths that predate the period when the Old Testament books would have been written and share significant similarities with Old Testament stories.  For me, to ignore this in favor of assuming the bible tradition as literal truth seems absurd, and borders on willful ignorance.  If one looks at the bible as the story of a people, than the importance of its myths and stories are how it is different than the ones presented by other cultures at the time.  But to do so, requires viewing it only as a source for potential spiritual truth, not historical or scientific truth, as I have discussed before.

In any event, these types of issues and conversations representation a continuing and growing frustration, and reminds me why I prefer philosophy as compared to theology.  And just think, this is only after two weeks of the study, with thirty to go (only 14 on the Old Testament though, thankfully).

Disrespecting Intelligence and Global Warming

I've been chewing on something in my brain for the last few days concerning global warming/climate change.  One of our local news stations posted a story on Facebook regarding how climate change, as a political issues, is becoming the next big divisor along with abortion and other "explosive" issues, and asked people whether they'd agree.  What followed essentially confirmed that the issue is highly divisive along mostly partisan lines, but what irked me what the initial forty comments or so.  One of the initial commenters posted about how "globle" warming was a hoax.  Someone responded, and he again stated that "globle" warming was a leftist conspiracy.  (like I said, partisan lines were easily drawn in this debate).

A few comments later, an individual posted a comment with several links showing substantive scientific data supporting that climate change is real, and is man made.  He didn't rely on himself, he relief on the scientific authorities in the field to support his argument.  Immediately, and this is what I found particularly worrisome, every comment for the next twenty it seemed lambasted the guy who provided the links to expert authority, and completed sided with the "wisdom" of the guy who couldn't spell global correctly.

Maybe this will all be considered me being an intellectual elitist, but it seems to me that we'd be better trusting intellectual authority on a subject as opposed to someone who can't spell (fact that it occurred twice convinces me it wasn't a typographical mistake).  The whole scenario reminds me of reading Idiot America and how the author's point there was that we have become a nation that does not value expertise (one of his examples is how other countries look with respect towards an individual with a degree from MIT, whereas here it has become a way to deride someone as, ironically, an intellectual elite).  I don't mean to suggest we shouldn't celebrate the everyday person, the common man, and the common sense wisdom they may have towards life.  But its entirely appropriate, on certain issues, to take the advice and wisdom and knowledge from an expert in the relevant field as opposed to some guy off the street.  

I am not a scientist, but as I trust that I know more about the legal system and the Constitution than some random guy who has never read it on the street, I trust that a guy like this, who has several posts about climate change, is a professional scientist, is much more knowledgeable about it than I am, and it would be wise and prudent of me to value his own opinion and knowledge more than my gut reaction.

Anyway, I guess the point of this post was that the whole commenting situation reminded very much of Idiot America, and how true the guy's premise was in this situation.  We should be respecting and considering the opinion of intellectual authority, not degrading it and listening to quacks instead.  And in the case of global warming, as the links above will demonstrate if one takes the time to read through them, its not a hoax.  The evidence is overwhelming, and we would do well to accept that fact and listen to experts on what to do about it.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Awe in Knowledge, Opportunity in Challenges

This is somewhat of a rambling post, written over a few days attempting to coalesce some of my thoughts from another Bible study I decided to participate in at our church.

This past week we had our first meeting, discussing sections of Genesis that deal with creation and what that means for us, as humans and stewards.  Again, as I mentioned in posts here and here, I am the sole person in the class who described being in awe at the natural world by learning about it.  In fact, in response to a direct inquiry about what gives you an appreciation for our world/universe, my answer was directly tied to the knowledge I have gained about the universe in the last year, and that would be its particularity.  How exact everything is.  It still amazes me that if the moon was not locked into our planet, we would rotate so quickly our planet would wobble on its axis and have a day of only 6 hours, as compared to 24 hours.  The moon's counteracting gravitational force is that important to our stability.  How different would life be (if any existed) without that force?  Those facts amaze me.  Those facts make me experience a humility and connectedness with the universe at large that is as spiritual as it gets for me.  I find that I am often alone in such expressions, but I can't deny the sense of genuine wonder and awe such knowledge brings forth in me.

At another point during our session, an exchange occurred that also shows a....disconnect, maybe (not sure of the right word) between myself and others and how we come to view the Bible, its origin, and its veracity.  For one reason or another, we had jumped ahead to the story of Noah's Ark and the Flood (which, interestingly enough, is in our reading for the coming week).  I was asked a question (again, I can't exactly remember, but my response was, referring to the flood, "because I don't believe that happened."  Several individuals immediately responded, "Ohhhhhhh."  My peculiar obsessiveness has been replaying that in my head and I can't still figure out if it was an expression of understanding (although not agreement), surprise, disagreement, or something else.

Regardless, as I realize that it may be something that I think about and no one else does, it represents a challenge of sorts.  It has never occurred to me to take the flood story literally.  Never.  Many people do.  And a challenge to the literal veracity of that story can be interpreted as a challenge to the very underpinnings of their faith, the inerrancy of the Bible.  This is the disconnect I mentioned previously.  The challenge, at least from my perspective, is to continue to be honest with the individuals in the class about what I know and believe, and have it be a challenge to their faith in the respect that they confront the parts that are not necessary, but not a challenge that causes them to be defensive.

Specifically, as to the flood issue.  There is no evidence that a worldwide flood ever occurred, especially not during human history.  The fact that many Mesopotamian cultures have flood stories indicates that there might have been some type of localized or regional flooding event that these various peoples and cultures experienced.  This knowledge does not have to be seen as challenging anything unless someone believes that the Bible contains historical and scientific truth in addition to spiritual truth.  For me, it is easy to view the Bible as one of many documents that contain attempts at understanding the reality of our existence and our spirituality.  However, I have increasingly encountered individuals who the Bible is truth about all that it contains, thus making it a source of historical truth, among other things.  As such, stating that a worldwide flood never happened during human history to wipe out most of mankind, is not simply a rejection of a historical myth (as it is for me), but a rejection of the very word of God.  I am starting to digress here, but my main point here is that there is no reason why a rejection of a common flood myth should be cause for concern to one's faith.  Whether or not a flood happened is only relevant if one is placing just as much faith in the book of the Bible as they are in their particular conception of God or the Divine.

Anyway, back to the idea of the challenge of presenting ideas in a non-confrontational way.  One of the difficult things for me to remember at times is that people are generally very uncomfortable discussing these types of questions and ideas in great detail.  Often, a class like this is the first they have heard any idea challenging or presenting a different interpretation of the Bible, of faith, of God.  For me, such conversation is, truly, as natural as discussing sports or the weather.  I grew up discussing these ideas with my Dad around the dinner table.  I was constantly exposed to religious and philosophical ideas through schooling at a Catholic middle school and high school.  I studied philosophy during college out of pure interest, and had friends that who would routinely engage in philosophical and religious discussions.  This familiarity with the topic has allowed me to be open to explore and consider most any idea, to discuss the depths of it.  But it also results in forgetting that the people I am discussing with now may have never discussed any of these issues; they may have never heard of Higher Criticism of the Bible; the debates concerning the duality (or non-duality) of mind and body; the problem of evil and its myriad of responses; definitions and proofs for the existence of God; or even free will versus predestination.  These may represent very new, and potentially challenging, discussions for people.  And for me, their discussions I have had countless times.

So, the challenge is to relay the past knowledge in the non-confrontational way.  The challenge is also to respect the new discussion; to search keenly and inquisitively for new arguments, new thoughts, new ideas; to avoid the trap of thinking that nothing new can be offered.  As it has been said, great challenges present great opportunities.  And as we will be reading the story of the Flood and Noah's Ark for next week's class (in addition to other things), I'm sure the opportunities will continue to present themselves.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Lawnmower Saga of 2011

Anyone who knows me a little, or pays attention to random tweets or FB status updates that I post, knows that I obsess over our lawn.  And, honestly, its a curious obsession...I don't spend hours upon hours out applying fertilizer and weed treatments; I don't water the yard at all, but for whatever reason, I spend an unhealthy amount of time worrying about what it looks like.

During the summer months, much of my scheduling becomes based on when I can mow the yard.  We have a decent sized lot, not huge, but because all we have had is a small push mower, it takes about an hour and a half to mow.  Factor in the time it takes to cool off, shower, and get on with the rest of the day, its a long process that I plan for accordingly.  I never want to wait until a weekend, at times, because the grass can get too long and the yard won't look nice once finished (too many dried ugly looking clippings afterwards).  In any event, before I go into excruciating detail, just let it be suffice to say that I spend way too much mental energy worrying about getting the yard mowed.  Jackie will certainly verify that as truth.

So anyway, as I have been tiring of those long mowing hours, I have kept on thinking about getting a larger mower to cut down on my time and on the amount of work required.  I was thinking that the beginning of next spring would be the perfect time to purchase one.  Life, as always, doesn't work to my plans.  My little push mower, about a month and a half back, stopped running about halfway through.  So, considering that mechanical knowledge is only slightly greater than a European Swallow, I took it to a local place to get it looked at, and had a good friend who graciously allowed me to borrow his push mower for a couple weeks, so I could at least finish the yard and keep it somewhat normal looking.  

After about a two week period, I got the lawnmower back (it had dirt in the carburetor).  We had about a week of rain that prevented from mowing right away, so the grass was pretty long when I got out to finally mow about two weeks ago.  I get about a third of the way down, and the mower is smoking.  I take a closer look, its spitting/leaking oil.  Sigh.  I take it back to the place and explained all this, and they take a look at it.  In the meantime, two-thirds of the yard, which was already fairly tall, kept growing.  Then the temperature cooled just a bit, and was joined with several days of rain, and the grass took off.  Ellie looked like she was walking in a jungle when we took her out in the backyard to do her business.  And I am going crazy...not only is the grass way too tall, thereby by upsetting my obsessiveness regarding the lawn discussed above, but the fact that one-third is at one height and two-thirds at another is completely jarring.  (Obsessiveness in thought has its advantages, but it makes these small things much more anxiety ridden than they need to be).  

I get a call last Friday, before we are about to head out of town, letting me know that the it would cost more to fix the mower than what I originally paid for it, and essentially the same as a newer, upgraded mower would cost.  Ultimately, that makes it a pretty easy decision, but frustrating nonetheless when you have to purchase a new mower at the end of the season with so few times left to have to mow.

In any event, on Monday I went down to our local place and picked up a brand new Toro walk behind mower.  Only real upgrade is that it is self-propelled, and it has a little more horsepower than the other one.  Yesterday I used it for the first time to finish the other two-thirds of the yard, or to cut it a little bit until I can do the entire yard at a normal height this weekend.  Fortunately, for my obsessive mind on this topic, the self-propelled does seem to make a difference, which will at least make the task a little physically easier to do; and the mulching blade on this mower seems to work better, as it handled some tall and thick grass in some areas with little problem, and little evidence of heavy grass clumps, which was always a problem with my previous mower.

And who would have thought I could make an entire blog post out of a lawn mower.  That's what obsessiveness does for you.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Tax Cuts and American Dreams

"The US has the most unequal distribution of wealth and income of any major country in the industrialized world. During the Bush years, the wealthiest 400 Americans saw their wealth increase by some $400 billion and are collectively worth over $1.3 trillion. Today, the top one percent owns more wealth than the bottom 90% and earns more income than the bottom 50%. Meanwhile, a record-breaking 50 million Americans have no health insurance and nearly 44 million Americans live below the poverty line."
The above is a quote taken from Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) Facebook page today.  I read many similar statistics from Senator Sanders when reading The Speech, the book relaying his filibuster of the extension of the Bush tax cuts last December.

While individuals who are progressive at least have some familiarity with these types of statistics, I wonder how much of the general public does.  It is on my mind at the present as debates on jobs and debt are again becoming the focus between Congress and the White House, and I have already heard some protests of class warfare in response to President Obama's debt reduction plans that calls for letting the Bush era tax cuts expire on those making over $250,000 and increasing those taxes on individuals making over $1,000,000 by closing some of their available tax deductions.

Generally, I support this portion of the President's plan; I have long felt that substantial tax reform is needed to equalize the tax system, and far beyond what the President is proposing here.  The most common responsive argument one hears is that we can't let these Bush-era tax cuts (2003 passage, I believe) expire because those are the job creators, and they need that tax cut to create jobs.  Similarly, we can't "raise" taxes, even by eliminating available deductions on the super wealthy, because they again, need that benefit to create jobs.  I do not claim to be an economist, but my first impression is that the Bush era tax cuts have been in place for 8 years, and as a country we have had essentially zilch in terms of new job growth over that time.  Maybe there is a lot of reasons for that to happen; but it also stands to reason that such a fact is good evidence that these particular tax cuts are not doing anything significant to create jobs and stimulate the economy.  (See this chart)

Further, as to the general premise that we can't raise taxes on the super wealthy, taxes today are lower on the top income wage earners in our country than they have been pretty much since the income tax has existed.  Consider these statistics - in the 1970s, the top marginal tax rate was generally around 70%; in the 1980s, it started at 70% and was cut, through Reagan's policies, down to about 28% at the end of the decade; in the 1990s, it was quickly raised to 39% early in the decade, and stayed there; in the 2000s, it was cut by Bush to 35% (which, when people talking about letting the Bush era tax cuts expire, they mean letting them return to the 39.6% rate of the 1990s, still well below the 70% is was decades ago).  (info from this site).  Senator Sanders, in his speech last December, pointed out that during the same time frame, we have seen a significant change in the distribution of wealth in our country - 

"In the 1970s, the top 1 percent only made something like 8 percent of total income. In the 1980s it rose to 10 to 14 percent. In the late 1990s, it was 15 percent to 19 percent. In 2005 it passed 21 percent. And in 2007, the top 1 percent received 23 percent of all the income earned in this country."
So, generally, a trend emerges, as the tax rates went down, the amount of income made solely by the top 1 percent of our country increased dramatically.  So there is obviously a relationship between tax cuts and income, but I'm not sure it is what most people think.

Anyway, what got me thinking and writing this post was the first quote above from Senator Sanders.  I love living in the United States.  I read stories of historical immigrants and modern immigrants about what the idea of America represents, and the opportunity it gives on so many levels, religious, economic, cultural, etc, and it truly makes you swell with pride over our country.  But then you consider the reality that we have the most unequal distribution of wealth of any developed country in the world.  That's just plain horrible.  Obviously, I have my ideas on what causes that and how to change that, some of it mentioned above; but I don't claim to know that those are the answers.  I do believe that trying the same economic policy of the last 30 years, chiefly tax cuts, which seems to have created or significantly worsen the problem, is foolishness.

How long will we continue to ignore this problem, and believe that our government has no role in correcting it?  When will we, as a people, face this reality and demand change?

The pull yourself up by your bootstraps-American Dream meme is important, and should be preserved.  We must remember that those stories often come to us in individual circumstances with emotional impact that has staying power in our collective consciousness, while we often forget about the reality that statistics present to us.   Until we do something to change our governing policy towards our systemic economic issues, these statistics will continue to deal us the truth regarding our country's current status.  And those great stories will become fewer and fewer, until they become a thing of the past.

We need more of those stories.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Here I Go Again - Another Bible Study?

I wrote last year around this time how surprised I was that I actually joined a Bible study at our church.  And as much as that turned out to be an enjoyable experience and great at continuing to forge meaningful relationships in our community, I have to admit that I am even more surprised that I have decided to join a Bible study again.  Last year's study was called Disciple I, which was 34 weekly meetings of several hours coupled with daily/weekly reading assignments.  This year, the church offered a Disciple II class, which is essentially the same format, except that it ends up being 32 weeks, and instead of essentially reading the Bible in its entirety, the class focuses 8 weeks each on the books of Genesis, Exodus, Luke, and Acts.

In some ways, I am more surprised this year because by the end of the class last year, I was ready to have my Monday nights back.  Weekly meetings that went often late into the night ended up being an exhausting way to start the week.  Yet, hear I am again, and ultimately, I know the reason why this did not prevent me - I like being busy...I am not the best with idle thoughts; so filling my evenings with community activities makes sense for my happiness.

But the primary reason why I remain more surprised this year than last is because where I am as a "spiritual" person.  Over the course of the last year, due to a variety of reasons, I have tended to embrace more skepticism in my worldview than I did at this point last year; and considering that I have always been a somewhat skeptical person, this is saying something.  I know that I will enjoy the community that I will continue to forge with the members of the class, who were all in the same Disciple I class last year.  And I always enjoy group discussion and dialogue on pretty much any idea.  But part of me wonders if I hold out some hope that something might click in the faith department; like I don't quite want to shut that door now, or ever.

I'm not very sure how this class will proceed, or how my personal beliefs or lack thereof will progress, and how some of my now more skeptical/cynical ideas will be received.  I'm glad that I didn't let any apprehensiveness in that regard prevent me from doing something that I think will be enjoyable and relationship/community building. But, I do worry what I may have gotten myself into, and whether the experience, strictly from a faith or belief standpoint, will be beneficial or harmful.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Collective History & Racial Prejudice

I have been making my way through Clifford Conner's A People's History of Science today, and presumably tomorrow.  The basic premise is very similar to Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States, that is to say, a history from the bottom up as opposed to the top down.  In the context of science, a top down history views scientific progress primarily through the lens of the big names, a few selected geniuses who devised or came about astounding ideas to push forward our collective understanding of the natural, physical world.  Thus, it would focus on the names, lives, work, and thought of Aristotle, Newton, Galileo, Darwin, Einstein, Planck, and so on.  This history focuses on what the contributions from so-called "commoners" would have been, as such contributions would have had to be made in order for these geniuses to make the "leaps" they seem to do.

One of the general points I gather so far when reading is how, like with all history, we tend to focus our concentration on a singular individuals or group of elites.  From a textbook point of view, in terms of condensing history into space, and making it so the topics and information is not overwhelming to learners, it makes sense.  When one studies any particular topic in history more specifically and in depth, one quickly discovers how much more complicated certain narratives really are, and how the "heroes" of our history from our standard textbook versions are sometimes not deserving of such hero worship.  In reality, progress, be it in terms of political civilization or scientific thought, while may be pushed forward significantly by certain individuals, is still the result of collective and communal action.  Very rarely do certain historical "leaps" happen in a vacuum; more likely is that we simply do not have information on the masses that contribute as they do not contribute in any fashion to the writing of the history.

In addition, sometimes we do not have that information as a certain time's prejudices, be it racial, economic, or gender based, do not allow the writers of history to credit certain individuals or people.  Conner specifically makes this point in his book on the insistence of people to attribute much of the founding of certain aspects of "western" civilization to the Greeks, and discredit any type of influence from the great empires of Egypt.  These historians could not credit Egypt because it was in Africa, and all Africans had to be of a lower "class" of human than Europeans.  Once it became obvious that they could not ignore the contributions of the Egyptian empire to progressive civilization, they characterized Egyptians as really white people who had just been "tanned" and "darkened" by the sun.  The overt racism of these historians have no doubt continued to affect our society today, where issues of racial equality still face significant hurdles.

I believe it is important to be cognizant of such biases in our history writers, both of yesterday and today, thereby establishing a firmer understanding of how that bias may affect not only their interpretations of history and current events, but our understanding as well.  Historians from two centuries ago tried to downplay the importance of the Egyptian civilization solely due to their belief that the inhabitants of the African continent had to be inferior to those of Caucasian background.  The height of Greek civilization lasted less than 500 years.  The height of Roman civilization lasted maybe 500 years.  Egyptian civilization was the dominant and most advanced civilization for well over a thousand years, if not two or three.  I think such a fact speaks volumes as to the power and effect of racial prejudice.

Gregg for Indiana

This past Wednesday night I got to experience something for the first time - a political fundraising dinner.  I was an attendee as our local county's Jefferson Jackson Dinner, which is a fundraising event for area and state Democrats.  Besides hearing talks from two local Democratic mayors, the main address was given by John Gregg, who is the presumptive Democratic nominee for Governor of Indiana.

Couple of things stand out to me.  One, how easily and natural all the political conversation was.  It has much to do with the fact that most of the people in the room have similar political philosophies, but it was a different experience for me, as I often find myself very guarded about what I say depending on who I am around.  In some respects, it was just nice to listen to the conversation, as it  tended to be very informative, regardless of political philosophy, on local issues.  

The second is that I came away impressed with the main speaker, John Gregg.  It's obvious as to why he has been a successful lawyer and a successful politician in the past.  He is very articulate, and was very insightful on the challenges his campaign will face.  He also came across as very genuine when discussing the need to focus on what people can agree on, understanding that there will always be some issues that people will disagree on; but disagreement does not have to result in division.  

We are very long way away from a November 2012 election, and thus, much can change.  But, for at least one night, I came away very impressed and even optimistic.  And as politics usually stress me out, gets under my skin, and makes me upset, I am appreciative for that little respite.

Friday, September 9, 2011

roles in library and government

A couple of months ago I started a term on our local library's Board of Trustees, and thus far it has been an enjoyable and enlightening experience.  One of the more enjoyable aspects, for someone who tends to be as opinionated as I am, is that I am in the shoes of a policy maker in this role, and as such, am free to speak my mind on relevant topics to the library.  Much of my job entails representing public bodies and agencies and making sure they keep in line, so to speak, with their statutory and other legal obligations when conducting business.  As such, it is very rarely, if ever my role, to speak my opinion on a matter of policy (in reality, the only time a situation would get close to calling for it advising on what the fallout of a particularly policy decision may be - but again, its not my opinion of whether such decision is good or bad, simply brainstorming as to what the effects of the decision will be).

Anyway, all that being said, its been nice to put on the hat of a policy maker and all that such entails - listening, discourse, reasoning through various options that are put forth.  Obviously, the scope of a library's policy decisions is limited, but I think it can be argued that a library in a small town, and a rural small town at that, through its programs and services it offers, has impact on people's quality of life.  Contemplating decisions that, hopefully, improve the lives of those in our community is a great opportunity to have.

It's also been enlightening.  While I mentioned that a library's impact may be minimal, and while that may be true, the impact our library has, particularly through the services it can offer, are greater than I had initially perceived.  Learning about the varying impact of funding decisions from the federal, state, and local level and how it affects real services is also informative.  Not being overwhelmed by the information is key, I think, in order to ensure that all the information is considered, thus helping in making better decisions.  I also believe that not just understanding the nuts and bolts of financing, but understanding how all that happens, even in a large nation like ours, is interrelated and has long ranging effects.  In part, I think that a problem with our societal understanding of government, politics, and the like, is that there is very little understanding about how government works, and what is lost or gained by certain political decisions.  And ultimately, the failure for that understanding is on both the policy makers, for not pressing to get that information and explanation to people, and on the people, for not actively engaging in the process and taking the time to think critically about the information.

In any event, I continue to be excited by the opportunity to have impact in our community; not only through library programs and services that I can support as Trustee, but hopefully through better communication and education about the role of the library, and how federal, state, and local political decision making can effect the library's role and impact.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

More banality

Things just continue to roll along, and I often find myself waiting for something big to interrupt it, thinking that might provide something worthy to blog about besides my random thinking from whatever book I happen to be reading.  But, alas, I sometimes think that life doesn't quite work that way, leaving me with another banal post about comings and goings.

In any event, it was very nice to have a holiday weekend and the extra day off from work.  Since about June, work has been brutal, for a variety of reasons, and an extra day of respite from it was nice to have.  Over the weekend Jackie and went down to the Fort Wayne area for a wedding.  Nothing of note, but it was nice to see and spend a little time with her parents.  When we returned home, we had a nice day of just enjoying the fact that Monday was the usual Monday.  It was quiet, relaxing, and all around nice.  On Monday, I traveled to Coldwater, MI to attend the morning showing at a dog show that my sister was at with her new pup, Finnegan; an Australian Shepherd.  It was interesting - I enjoy experiences where there is new things to learn, and my sis was great at explaining certain items of how the show is conducted and judged.  It was great to see her really enjoying this hobby of hers as well.  Afterwards, I went with her, her husband, and my niece to grab some lunch before heading home.  Due to distance and various life circumstances, we don't see too much of each other, so it was a nice little visit.

Once getting back, we had an invitation to visit some friends for dinner (and a fantastic dinner at that - 1/3 pound hamburgers, excellent unique pasta salad - kudos to Richard & Sara for knowing how to entertain), and just some time visiting with them and their kids.  It capped a good weekend perfectly.

As I said, I sometimes find myself waiting for something big to interrupt the general, never ceasing flow of life.  I have to catch myself not to ignore the flow itself, because it has some pretty great moments, as this past weekend showed.