We see … and do not see …

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I recall the talks I have had with my daughter about her powers of observation. She sees a lot of things we do not, yet some of the things we expect her to see she does not.

We attend the same places over and over again. We go to the park, to the same restaurants, to church, etc., with the same service people. But she does not notice or recognize the same people who wait on her day after day, even though many of those people recognize and greet her with familiarity.

I have encouraged my family to be aware of the people around them, and to notice the people who work for them and serve them. Showing these people recognition, the often unrecognized, is an important part of humanizing them and the interactions we have with them.

And while I point out this lack of observation on my daughter’s part, I also will admit to places where I similarly miss observations, or mis-interpret them.

In my runs and bike rides around my neighborhood, I have come across cars with people resting in them. Based on their conditions, and repetitions of sightings, I have wondered, finally, after time, whether some of these people might actually be living in these vehicles..

But if so, what would/should my response be? Or am I mis-interpreting these observations?

There is always a lot going on around us, and what we see, and how we see it, can be very important. We can be like my daughter, who seems to miss the people. Or we can be like me, seeing something, uncertain what it means, or what to do.

Even worse, can be the people who see, who observe, and who decide for themselves what is going on and treat those people that way, without realizing what is really going on with them. Speaking for someone who does not want to be spoken for, in a way they don’t want to be represented, is even worse than missing them entirely.

One can observe and do good, by really seeing the person. One can observe and choose a “good” that isn’t good, by seeing a type, a group, a class, and ignoring the person himself for the good one has already decided is needed.

 

“A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast” … Proverbs 12:10

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We have domesticated beasts, and we have beasts in the “wild” around us. Man takes a role of steward of both, especially as our habitats start to surround those of the “wild” instead of the other way around.

I remember growing up on the dairy, and the way dad cared for the cattle, nursing the cows and calves. I can also remember our part of the “circle of life” each fall, when we climbed the back hill, when of age, during the fall season, and sat and waited to hunt the deer. Many a time when a shot hit, and the animal was hurt, it as a responsibility to follow the animal, track it, and ensure it didn’t end its life in undue misery. As much as lieth in us, we took responsibility to ensure that any suffering necessary was swift and limited.

Today I don’t live on the farm, in the country in Upstate New York. I live in the suburban sections of the city of Kansas City, MO. We have a lot of “wildlife” in our suburban neighborhoods. Squirrels, woodchucks, deer, continue to grow and multiply, becoming less frightened and moving closer to the people.

On my ride to work on Friday, I turned the corner from Walker Road to Armour Road in North Kansas City, when I saw a deer a few yards ahead of me on the shoulder I ride to work on the part of the road. I thought it was dead, kneeling on all four of its legs, but then I saw its ears flap faintly, and move its head slightly.

The deer had obviously been hit, but I didn’t see a vehicle nearby. It couldn’t have been a long time ago, since the deer was still alive. Since there was no car,no humans to be concerned about, my thought went to how I could help the deer, put it out of its misery.

Since my route goes by the North Kansas City city hall, with the police department headquarters, I rode my bike up to the door and tried to enter. It was locked, and if there was a call button of some sort, I couldn’t find it. Looking through the class to the police window, I couldn’t see the presence of any officers. So I had to leave and head to work.

It wasn’t until this week that I found a police officer at a light, and flagged him to tell him about the dead deer, which by this time was bloated with legs sticking out. He asked where it was, and I told him, and he said he would call the Department of Conservation to take care of it. So I guess they are the ones that take care of deer. I’m not sure if they take care of dogs, possum, squirrels,  etc. And I still don’t know how to contact them.

Epilogue:

We get disconnected from things like these, have people who do stuff for us so we don’t think, and soon we aren’t a part of nature anymore, so our “stewardship” gets full of crazy “green” ideas not associated with reality, or regarding the life of  man and beast.

Densel Ray Ball II: A Demi-Eulogy

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Today’s post is going to be a very dangerous one. For while I won’t be speaking evil of the dead, I may not be speaking with high enough praise to satisfy everyone.

The deceased, Densel Ray Ball II, was a dear friend of mine, though definitely others knew him better and closer. My choices, and those of my family, took us out of his closer orbit, but still left my son and I within the greater orbit of his friendship.

Densel passed away on April 27, following complications from an automobile accident on the afternoon of April 21. He left behind his wife of 21 years, Denise, and two children, Jacqueline and Ty.scan0004

The service, as all funerals and eulogies tend to be, praised the man highly, as was true and right. People talked of his faith, of his care for others, the way he walked with his head up, reaching out to those around him. They portrayed the truth of his faithfulness: to his God, to his Family, to his Church, to his friends and fellowman.

I first knew Densel when he came to Cornerstone Wesleyan Church as pastor. We were between two churches, deciding which one to attend, and eventually chose the other church (close and specific programs). But we kept track of friends at Cornerstone through Facebook, and eventually when they started a men’s breakfast, my son and I started attending, and renewed old and developed new friendships.

And Densel was there, and I renewed friendship with him, and found his care and reach deepen with me and my son.

I also saw how he reached out to the staff at the restaurant, first at Home Town Buffet, and then Golden Corral. The way he observed everyone and reached out, and prayed for everyone, really was true.

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The amazing thing about it, was that once he established the connection, the rest of us, less open to reach out, learned and grew to continue the connection on the times he wasn’t there. He was faithful, seeing Christ in everyone, and he taught us all to learn how to do the same.

Yet, with all that, there was also another side to Densel. The oblivious side. Because that demeanor to reach out to everyone, doesn’t work for everyone. My wife never felt comfortable with it, and Densel never seemed to realize that fact, never changed or modified himself to meet her that way. Because of his obliviousness to who she was, she was never really able to get along with him. Likewise, for myself, I had personal reservations at the start, especially because of the way it caused dissonance in my family, and it took the time of a different angle for it to merge and grow on me, for me to be able to grow and gain an appreciation for his ministry and style, as I kept my own, while learning from him.

One other thing the funeral service did for me, was make me acutely aware of how far I felt myself fall from the standard Densel portrayed of faithfulness and selflessness. It did not bring me to despair, because it also emphasized the role of Christ’s love and mercy for us to be able to become new creatures, and experience and practice that faithfulness.

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The service also showed me how many people were touched by Densel, and I saw people I didn’t know knew him, and we all realized how much the body of Christ is one body, but many members.

A day in the life … but not just any day

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Today’s post will be snippets of my life from yesterday day, with thoughts and observations therefrom. It was my 51st birthday.

Yesterday began with a trip to our “local” IKEA store in Merriam, KS. My wife and I arrived prior to the 9:30 a.m. opening of the store. The sliding doors to the store weren’t activated yet, and they were still locked.

We went to the Cafe for breakfast. IKEA has their cheap breakfast for $1 that we both usually get, but since it was my birthday I splurged a whole extra dollar and got the Swedish-American breakfast for $2. The crepes and the ligonberry jelly were a special treat, but not something I think I need to get every time I go to IKEA.

We did our usual wandering through the display floor, and discussed a lot of ideas from their small house models for the intended renovations of our our house “when we have money”. It is always funny how much fun there can be in envisioning potential futures for our house.

The one thing we did look to purchase was a light fixture for the son’s room. We looked at a lot of fancy fixtures, and then found a simple fixture that seemed nice — but we couldn’t figure out where the bulb screwed into it, and couldn’t find any of the GX53 bulbs that it said it took. So eventually we found an even simpler model that used regular screw-in bulbs.

From IKEA it was to the Wellness Center at work for Yoga Class. It was a day off work, but it was also the first day for the new Yoga Instructor, and I am glad I went to class: I learned at least one new thing — that will probably take me a few months to actually do right, of course.

From that it was on to lunch at 54th St. Grill. We had a $10 off coupon for a bill of at least $25. So we went by the prices on the menu and added up a nice lunch that added up to $25.08. But when the bill came out, it was $24.71. One of the items was a different price. Yet they took the coupon.

The day ended with a visit to the chiropractor, who adjusted another tense muscle throwing off my left leg, and then off to Festival Foods for supper — picking up their Monday chicken dinner specials.

I almost forgot the crowning event of the birthday: the cake baked by my daughter, presented with lighted candles. The candles were reused ones from years of birthdays — They got their final use, Monday, for my 51st cake.

 

The bounty of cultural appropriation

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I am sitting here this evening among the bounty of our nation and my lifestyle. I am not rich, yet the things I have on not even a middle-class income today are more than a king of the Renaissance would have. Even most poor Americans of our day have items that the rich didn’t have at the start of the previous century.

But what I am thinking about today, is the bounty we have in what our connections to the world have given us culturally. Many naysayers have talked about the evil of “cultural appropriation”. What I think about is the benefits of diversity: what we learn and acquire from each other.

Right now we are watching Avatar: The Legend of Korra via Amazon Prime. Previously we had watched Avatar: the Last Airbender via Amazon Prime. The show is just one of many that represents the cultural concepts of other cultures. Once again, the naysayers would talk about how that hurts the cultures being “acquired”. But they have it wrong.

In the Last Airbender there is this excellent scene where Aang learns about the Chakras:

One of my friends from India posted on his Facebook about how it was one of the best explanations of the Chakras. All this “cultural appropriation” is a form of cultural exchange, of cultural sharing, of communication and building of understanding.

The naysayers to cultural appropriation are the ones that  want to keep us divided for their purposes. The ones who use it with the desire to learn, bring us together, and make this a greater, better world.

Dynamics of placing a Craiglist Free Item Ad

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I placed the below ad late Sunday afternoon to get rid of the old, large, back-projection TV we had received from our neighbors down the street when they moved out 3-4 years ago.  Within 30 minutes I had responses from 3 different people.

I responded to all of them just after 5 p.m., and set up for each to stop by to look: 6 p.m., 7 p.m. and 7:30 p.m

So our plans to go out for the evening were scrapped while we waited for the first to stop by. The 6 p.m. had given us a phone number, so I had called him to set up his appointment, and texted him a 6 p.m. to ask where he was. He said “I’ve got to mow my grass or the city will done me. I’m coming though.” Which means he’d be as late as 7 p.m. or later.

Now, when he set up  6 p.m., he had to know, but why did he set it up. We could have gone out and come back if we had known.

So now I e-mailed the other two guys to let them know the TV was still available and to come at their available times. I gave them cell # to be able to contact me.

The guy scheduled for 7 p.m. texted at 6:55 p.m. to ask if the TV was still here. When I confirmed it was, he said he would be here around 7:30 p.m. So I e-mailed the final guy and let him know the TV was still here, and he could come at 7:30 p.m., might even be the first to look at it.

And so we waited to see who shows up first, if any, and whether anyone will actually take the TV for/from us.

About 7:15 p.m. I looked out the window, to see a pickup truck going up the street with a large-screen projection TV in the back up it. A very weird coincidence as we were waiting for someone to come by and pick our projection TV up.

Or not so weird, as it was the 7 p.m. guy, stopping by at 7:25, to pick up our projection TV, as he had picked up another one before us.

We gave the wife a demo, showing how the sound and picture quality were good, and then started the move to their truck

So between him, his wife, me and my son, we wheeled it to the front door, down our front step, down the steps to the drive, and then out the driveway to the pickup truck. With the four of us hoisting it, the weight was easily handled. “Many hands make light work” as I noted. Then we went inside while they tied it down and drove off.

So a whole evening used, but we did get the results we needed. Now we have a lot of room in our dining room, and my next reorganizational project can begin.

Toshiba 57H83 57-Inch HDTV-Ready TheaterWide Projection TV (Avondale, MO) hide this posting

make / manufacturer: Toshiba

model name / number: 57H83
size / dimensions: 57 inch

Here are the details for the TV as listed on Amazon. TV has served us well, but we got a flat screen and just need to move this one out.

57-inch widescreen (16:9 aspect-ratio) HD-compatible projection television; 52.75 x 55.75 x 24 inches (W x H x D)
Improved PowerFocus HD II CRTs enhance sharpness and brightness
3D Y/C digital comb filter with Vertical Contour Correction accurately processes RF (broadcast, VCR) and composite-video (DVD, VCR, camcorder) signals
HD Window dual-tuner POP (picture outside picture), PIP audio, direct video input selection
HD Dynamic Contrast analyzes picture information to sharpen and deepens those parts with the most detailed information

Also comes with remote.

Drop me a line and I’ll advise where and when you can stop by to pic it up. Needs something large to haul it.

Irresponsible vs. Selective Responsibility

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A couple years ago I started a little theory/philosophy of my own based on the concept of selectivity. I have developed several key, lightly-supported statements/concepts for it. One of them revolves around responsibility

  1. Selective Hearing
  2. Selective Blindness
  3. Selective Memory
  4. Selective Responsibility

Today I thought I would write out some of my thoughts on Selective Responsibility. The impact in my own personal and professional life, along with those I deal with, has been in my thoughts of late.

Many times I have heard people comment on the irresponsibility of various people. Yet these were people that I knew, and didn’t think of as necessarily irresponsible people. So why were they seen as irresponsible? Because they weren’t taking care of certain of their responsibilities.

But when you look at their other activities, they are doing very good work, showing excellent responsibility. So do they just not care about part of their work? their responsibility?

Some people say it is a question of prioritizing, and you get things lined up from most important to least, and manage to get everything done, or find ways to lighten your load of things that don’t take priority. It is just a matter of priorities.

Yet these people, and sometimes me, despite all the “prioritizing”, don’t manage to get everything done on their responsibility list. So are they just not working hard enough? smart enough?

The fact of the matter is that some people, some positions, are just given too many responsibilities for the person to handle. If the person tries to somehow unload, the items simply get moved back around and onto their plate. There is no way to complete all, or reduce.

So what does one do in this circumstance? One exercises selective responsibility. One acknowledges that everything cannot be done, and chooses what things will be done. You only touch the items on the outlier when time and chance and prodding require you to.

You select your responsibilities, and take them all seriously.  This is different than people that don’t care at all: the irresponsible.

The problems with selective responsibility are the level of guilt for the person exercising it, and the level of threat from the authorities above the person to threaten their well-being for the items they don’t get done.

From the perspective of some management, I suppose this is good. Always having people overworked, always having something one can dangle over them about their lack of performance, can be an exceptional prod to have to hand. The other hand can, of course, hold the carrot.

But it isn’t good from the prospective of the individual. Overworked people eventually break, leave, move on. Although many are good at keeping their heads down and moving froward as long as they don’t get moved out.

So, the core of this is the question of the motive, intent of the person, whether it is irresponsibility or selective responsibility. The key is to recognize the difference. You can find the most productive person when you recognize the difference.