Sunday, November 02, 2008

A New King

Ok, so I'm jumping back in to the blog with a doozy tonight. I really can't believe it's been since April that I posted something here. I feel awful about that. However, it should be known that I have continued to write since then and was even published in a small, almost never read magazine.

Regardless, I am ready to detail the long process that has led me up to election day, just a mere thirty-six hours away. For those of you who know me well this will come as no surprise, but I'm a bit of a political junkie. This is one of the more serious veins of an obsession with competition. My father has been laughing about it since I was pretty young. If there is a way for someone to win something, I will be interested - dog shows, beauty pagents, jai alai - whatever it is, I'll not only watch, but research and keep track of numbers. We used to have one of these plastic marble trough sets. You could construct these elaborate obstacle courses for marbles to run through; I remember spending hours with this thing and a stop watch, timing marbles, running little marble tournament races, and constatly re-constructing the thing to produce the fastest possible times.

Political races have about as much numerical data and opportunities for prediction than just about anything in the world. They also give ample opportunity for spirited debate. (Those close to me will also know that I rarely hide from a good-natured argument, even if I actually agree with the other person involved.) The US Presidential race is like heroine for me. The analogy even holds up beyond face value as I still complain that debates, primaries, and polls come too infrequently. I know, I'm a hopeless case.

This particular Presidential contest has been quite unique for me. You see I've been old enough to vote in US elections since 2000. I've twice written in Senator John McCain for the highest elected office in the land. I appreciated his bi-partisan, rebellious politics in 2000 and did not yet understand the political machines that colluded to his demise. By 2004 I had yet to find another figure I thought could handle the job and wrote McCain in again, almost by default. In neither election did I have much concern for who actually won; it seems we've had a string of losers nominated from both major parties for a while now.

Coincidently, in 2004 I, like a lot of human beings, were introduced to Barack Obama via his major speech at the Democratic National Convention. I had heard his name previously, mostly because of the press surrounding three opponents of his for the US Senate from Illinois dropping out of the race for bizarre reasons. I followed up with Obama, purchasing his first book, Dreams from My Father, which was written long before he had any political aspirations and was, therefore, the closest to the truth we were ever going to get out of him.

I was impressed, not only with his speaking and writing abilities, but with his attempt to frame politics with a new vocabulary. Here was the emergence, on a national stage, of a substantative politician from a new generation. It was quite intriguing - even more so when I viewed his speech from the Call to Renewal Conference, sponsored by Sojourners in 2006. This man is clearly a follower of Christ and open to speaking with religious language often ignored or feared by politicians.

Once it became clear that these two men would be vying for the Presidency, I was more than excited to see how things would progress. To my dismay, neither candidate kept to the high-brow and polite campaign they promised; McCain's personal and character attacks on Obama made me regret the previous votes I had cast for him. As I began to understand the issues and each candidate's perspective on them, I realized that I, in good conscience, could not vote for either man.

Now, to set the record straight, I am supportive of Obama. The US election system realistically gives the nation a choice between two people. Given that choice, I would much rather have a President Obama than a President McCain. However, our electoral system does not limit us to the two "big nominees." Every natural born, non-felon, US citizen over the age of thirty-five is elligible to be President of the United States.

Not too long ago, I decided I would write-in Representative Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) for President. I found myself resonating with Kucinich in the Democratic Presidential debates of 2004. I took several of those online candidate surveys to match my views with a Presidential candidate. Both in 2004 and in 2008 my results would invariably point to Kucinich. I will not make a long apology for the man, but regardless, I think his political philosophy is among the best of any person currently serving elective office anywhere.

However, over the course of this long campaign, I have come to admire the calm and comfortable attitude of Senator Obama. He has handled a tumultuous two year span with many crises and problems and yet barely registered any reaction. His plans have remained stable from the beginning and his faith in those plans undeterred. He certainly has a more desireable demeanor than Kucinich and I could just no longer convince myself that Kucinich was the "best" person for the job.

In the past few days, I have spent a good deal of time searching and thinking about how I will cast my vote on Tuesday. I've consulted books and mentors; I've thought and prayed. I have tried to allign my beliefs with voting practice and mostly came up short. As of yesterday afternoon, I was resigned to a write-in ticket including the names of two pastor friends of mine. Both are smart and honorable people whom I would trust with the grave decisions of governance (even if I would not wish the situation upon any person).

However, also yesterday, I was informed that Kansas, much like many states, moves all ballots including write-in votes to the category of "provisional," which drastically reduces the chances of said ballot ever being counted. While I have little desire to vote for the President of the United States, I do want my votes for other contests on the ballot to have some effect.

Early this morning I read the final pages of Jesus for President, a book about the Christian life in relation to the systems of the world around us. It is a fantastic book for anyone who wrestles with the call of God and the demands of life; I highly recommend it. I was impressed that this book avoided any mention of elections until the final few pages and spent perhaps four or five on the topic at all. One of the stories the authors recounted was of a group of US Christians who could no longer reconcile their beliefs against voting with the billions of people who lacked opportunity to vote and the thousands who have given their lives specifically in the struggle to win voting rights. Their solution was to seek out those without a voice and vote in their stead.

Tomorrow morning I will make an off duty visit to the dry cleaners I work with for my job. Their employees are mostly resident aliens from across Latin America. These women live in the US (some have been here for quite some time) and they work incredibly hard to support themselves and their families. They are among the bottom rungs of US society, socially, economically, and practically. They have no voice in matters that affect them, perhaps more than even these matters affect us. I am going to ask which candidate they would like to vote for and I will use my rights as a citizen of the United States to cast a vote for these voiceless friends.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Rotten Roots

The wife graciously gathered up some enthusiasm to attend a frigid baseball game with me last night, even blowing off a potential party with friends to freeze to death so I could enjoy $1 hot dog night. I'm not joking about the weather, after the sun went down in the third inning, it was about 34 degrees with 20mph winds. We had tickets to sit at the top of the upper deck, but settled about 40 rows back on the first level, under the roof in case of rain.

We were impressed by Kauffman Stadium's new addition, the largest HD screen in the world (at least until another park builds a bigger one). I was thoroughly excited to see a good young Royals squad take on a good young Twins squad, despite the rash of construction debris around the park. The atmosphere was great and even with the cold it felt like baseball season.

Now Kansas City has great fans and they're loyal, so this is not so much a knock on them as it is a knock on the state of fan-dom altogether these days. Bill Simmons noted last week that the incredibly knowledgeable, deft crowd at Golden State Warriors games has been so infiltrated by rich front-runners that they successfully executed the wave last week. FYI - the wave should be done only at pop concerts and political rallies; stay away from my sporting events!

So Gil Meche allowed five runs early in the game before settling down for a solid outing. In the fifth inning the Royals loaded the bases with only one out. Up to the plate comes Jose Guillen. Guillen was signed in the off-season for a KC-max deal of $55 million dollars. He was hired to hit Home Runs. Despite a .158 batting average early, there was a sense that this was the moment for which he was brought in.

As I prepared to stand and make some noise so as to cheer on our struggling newcomer, I looked around and no one seemed to care. An idiot could tell that Guillen needed some crowd love to overcome the cold and make something happen; even a base hit would be timely. The crowd remained indifferent and Guillen whiffed on an 0-2 curveball.* Two outs.

Next up, the wunderkind, 22-year old Billy Butler, the savior of the franchise and owner of a nine game hit streak (the Royals had only played nine games to this point). The guy came into the game batting .400 and he's built like Babe Ruth. If any situation could get the Royals faithful (and you have to be faithful to come out on a night like this) hopping, nothing would (we'll see the horrible truth of how wrong I was in a moment). Indeed, there were a few more cheers, but nothing noticeable, even as Billy refused to swing at a borderline pitch on a 2-2 count. Only after the outfield scoreboard said "noise" nine times did any sort of emotion come out. Still no one stood and Billy grounded out to the pitcher.

I was about to chalk this all up to the cold and the fact that people just don't know baseball like they used to, when a 90 foot HD Garth Brooks appeared on the outfield screen and invited us to "stand up and sing," which all 16,000 people around us proceeded to do, carrying on with the second verse of "I've Got Friends in Low Places" even after Garth left the screen, drowning out the announcer's call of the next inning.

I've never been in a situation like that before. I really thought my head would explode, not from anger, but from sheer surprise. I've had the luxury of seeing baseball games at a lot of places. Nothing will ever top the camaraderie of singing along with the crowd at Fenway Park (which needs no visual prompts, by the way) to Neil Diamond's Sweet Caroline in the late innings. However, that crowd also stands and cheers with ungodly volume when any Red Sox pitcher gets two strikes on a hitter.

There's a lot of reason why living in Kansas City has rubbed me the wrong way, but after that display, the next 14 months cannot come quickly enough.

For Shame!

*Guillen took two hard rips and fouled the first two pitches back to the media booth above home plate. He then proceeded to swing about fifteen seconds too early on the third pitch. I quit playing baseball in fifth grade due mostly to embarrassment, but even I know that if you're down 0-2 with the bases loaded, you better expect a breaking ball way off the plate. $55 million well spent, guys.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


I've been mulling this over for most of the week. As much as I don't want this blog to be overly political, I also don't want it to come off too preachy. With that in mind, I still have to reflect on a troubling experience from the past week.

Nothing happened to me or anyone I know. In fact the injured party has long since sought closure. I was listening to the radio (something I've been doing a lot with the new job) and one of my coworkers had left the radio tuned to [insert conservative Christian talk radio program here]. I don't even know the name of the program, but you can imagine, I suppose.

The guest on the show was reflecting back on a situation in which he and his wife had neglected to show their son the necessary amount of love and acceptance. I believe the topic began with tattoos. He was saying how their son had been raised to understand that tattoos were unacceptable. He never used the word sinful or immoral, but the implication was there.

This particular story was about the son's first real job, in which he worked with a group of "other people." The father, in his reflection, acknowledged that the family had been more demanding than accepting and seemed to be truly repentant of such, however the attitude with which he told the rest of the story broke me up inside and I've remained "off" since.

He said that his son began to get piercings and talked about tattoos. The father attributed this entirely to an insecure and spiritually weak boy trying to fit in with his new friends who were showing him love and acceptance (the tone of voice indicated that this unconditional acceptance was one of those evil things that "the world" does). One day his son came home and the father spotted a tattoo under the sleeve of his t-shirt.

As the son revealed the crown of thorns imprinted on his biceps, the father recalled, in a tone of ridicule, how his son broke down in tears telling him, "I just needed to make a commitment to God; I got this done to remember what he went through for me." The father followed this part of the story up with a laugh as if to say, "silly boy, why bother with such foolishness." He clearly thought that his son was stupid for believing God could be honored by this vile artwork.

The son continued and asked for his father to help him pick out a scripture verse to have tattooed underneath. At this point the host chimed in with equal incredulity, "He did not? What did he expect you to do?" The father replied, "I gave him the Leviticus verse that says, 'do not tattoo your bodies; thus sayeth the Lord."

I turned the radio off and let out a loud string of unintelligible expressions of frustration and anger. This whole story was meant to illustrate how foolish this kid had been at 22 years old. How silly he was to think he could mix his faith and his culture without angering almighty God. All I could think was how easy it is to hate Christians. This man, some sort of authority (although I never caught his qualifications to be a guest) doesn't understand the most basic concept of the gospel.


It's all about love. It doesn't take and expert, heck, it doesn't even take a Christian to figure out what this situation was really all about. Here was a kid, adjusting to life as an adult but lacking in real, loving relationship to his parents seeking to reach out, not only to them, but to the faith they spent his whole life professing, only to be shot down and sent off to those sinners who don't care about how well he conforms to their norms.

Now, this story was prefaced by the fact that this son is now "back in the fold" and an upstanding Christian. I am overjoyed that the love of God overcame the callousness of God's self-proclaimed representatives, but I struggle with this story. I am a Christian who got a tattoo symbolic of my faith before I had any real faith of my own. I look back now and understand that I wouldn't do things the same way now, but that doesn't lessen the absolute correctness of the action in its time. I've been saying simple prayers for this unnamed son, that his forgiveness, his understanding of faith could transcend the experiences of his past. I think we all need those prayers now and then.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Into the Sunset

I can see a national identity crisis looming for the United States. Well, there may be a number of ways that sentence could be interpreted, but I'm going for one that isn't entirely obvious. In case you haven't noticed, we're not an agrarian society anymore. Oh growing and selling plant crops is still a big business with lots of money to be made, but only 4% of the US workforce is employed in farming. It can be said that we take our bounty for granted, and many citizens of the United States do just that, but in the long run, we've got a very secure system set up that should be in good shape for the years to come.

So what?

Well this topic began rumbling around in my head because of NBC's announcement that it will forgo the traditional television schedule and run new programming year round. This could be a result of the recent writer's strike leaving them with an off-kilter production schedule, but recent trends seem to be heading in the year-round television direction, anyway. If people are watching and advertisers are willing to pay for time on these channels, why not make some extra money? That's what this world is all about anyway, right?

How does this relate to farming?

Why did we have the summer off from new TV in the first place? At network television's inception, the United States economy (not to mention most of its populace) ran on agriculture. People were in the fields from before sun-up to after sun-down and sleeping whenever they weren't working. There was no time for the frivolities of television (with the possible exception of men walking on the moon and Monday Night Football). At the time there were also less advertising revenues and it was actually cheaper not to produce new shows. It seems that the major TV networks are finally waking up to the reality of culture and embracing our post-agrarian society.

That's great and all, but it's not exactly an identity crisis, is it?

Not really, but it does portend what will undoubtedly be a wave of similar adjustments. Why did we all get three months off every summer to torment our parents? We had the time off so we could work on the farm without falling behind in our schooling. Even in places where agriculture is still vital to the local economy, the time required of minors to help on the farm is usually reduced to a couple of weeks in the fall. If you add in the drastic failure of US children to keep up with the intellectual prowess of the rest of the world, it's only a matter of time until our nation decides, "our education system is working right, so let's do even more of the same," and gives us truly year-round schooling.

We've seen Daylight Savings Time expand three extra weeks this year. This would be the reverse result. Initially DST was introduced to give farmers more time with sunlight to work the fields, but now we've come to realize that everybody likes more sunlight, no matter what they do to supply their livelihood (that sentence was intentionally awkward so as to include one of my favorite words to type, but I'll let you guess which one it is).

The point is that, in a nation that has always associated itself with hard work and self-reliance, we're just too interdependent to live like farmers anymore. We have to change, adapt, align ourselves with a new reality. Who knows where else this shift might rear its frightening head? Just don't be surprised when you see it.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Highway Robbery

It's been a little while since I last posted so it seems an appropriate time to bring out what has become the most ongoing rant of my life.

I'll just come out and say it: I hate the greeting card industry. I can't imagine a more vile waste of time and space than an industry devoted to laziness and stupidity. How many times a year does one feel obligated to spend between $.99 and five dollars on a stupid little card with some pithy remarks about "congratulations on the new lake house" or "happy valentine's day to my brother and his wife?" (Only one of those was made up.)

It seems to me that if you don't care enough to write your own thoughts down on paper, then perhaps you don't care enough to send a card at all. Culture has conditioned us to think, "my, what a nice gesture" when receiving a card, when really the person is saying, "I spent three dollars on this and I mildly agree with the cheesy words this total stranger wrote."

I vowed at a young age not to support this vile laziness with my hard-earned cash. I have come to a bit of a compromise since vowing my love and fidelity to the wife. Whenever possible, I locate and procure a greeting card with nothing written on it so as to enable me to put my own thoughts down on paper and thus give a truly sincere token of respect or care. (In the interest of full disclosure, I do search for and occasionally purchase humorous cards, but only for the comedic value, not the sentiment; it's my version of the annoying email forward from Uncle Stu, et al).

Without getting into my utter (although quite related) disgust with the evil Free Market Economy holiday that happens to fall tomorrow, I was out searching for a card this evening. I scoured a full, two-sided aisle at the local grocery story in search of the elusive (blank inside) label, which is becoming as difficult to find as a polar bear with a bright outlook on life. I was forced to settle on a plain white Thank You card in the second row from the bottom at the far end of the aisle.

As I looked down the row, at the crowded section of bewildered men hovering in front of a very red section of cards, I couldn't help but smile. Even though their labor will result in a perfectly appropriate card, mine will have a truly unique representation of my feelings and will also look decidedly better than an index card.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Picture Perfect

My wife bought Stranger than Fiction over the holidays. We rented this wonderful movie last year and knew it deserved another viewing. We sat down to watch it over the weekend. In case you’re unfamiliar, Stranger than Fiction is the story of a man named Harold Crick who suddenly finds himself in the middle of a very real novel. The ultimate conclusion is something other than the main character would have chosen for himself. Assured by the local literature expert that the ending is a work of majestic genius, he decides to proceed with the determined course of life.

The kicker comes unexpectedly at the end. While the ending of the book becomes tragic for Harold Crick, it is universally accepted as the poetic, proper, and beautiful conclusion. However the author decides that the perfect dénouement is not worth the misery of an altogether real man.

There are a number of deep thoughts and provocative connotations running throughout this brilliant film. The ending, however, made me appreciate a unique aspect of life on the Earth. My personality tends towards the grandiose; I have an incredible craving for poetic justice. Rarely does an ending live up to the grand expectations that I place upon it. This applies to books and movies as well as the everyday events of my life. Stories ought to have grand and moving conclusions. It just seems the right thing to do.

Stranger than Fiction presents another vision of the end. Perhaps the conclusion of our stories is not about beauty and perfect timing. Perhaps the beauty of an ending is eclipsed by the beauty of reality. Are we willing to sacrifice the ghostly excellence of the possible future for the awkward delicate beauty of the mundane? Do we spend so much time focusing on the perfect conclusion to our story that we fail to do justice to the elements of plot?

The closing line of the movie echoes in my thoughts: “And we must remember that all these things, the nuances, the anomalies, the subtleties which we assume only accessorize our days are, in fact here for a much larger and nobler cause: They are here to save our lives.

So be it.

Saturday, January 26, 2008


Where are all the truly great people in our world? I've been reflecting on the life of the Revered Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. this week. I've been thinking about the virtuosity for which he is so known. He was a brilliant, powerful public figure who stood not for might and control, but for peace and justice. In a world where power is defined by one's ability to call the shots, Dr. King proved once and for all that life lived as example could motivate monumental change.

So I ask again, where are the truly great people in our world? I've heard it said that the constant media attention keeps anyone from appearing as saintly as Dr. King. Had he lived today, his faults and failings would have be exposed; we would not have seen him in the same light. I don't think that's true. We've recently learned some sad, yet incredible truths about the life of Mother Theresa that could potentially tarnish her legacy. I don't find this all that likely either. The sheer truth of the impact made upon this planet by those select individuals known, both formally and informally, as saints will outweigh any detractions we could ever discover. That is not to say that the ends justify the means in every instance, but that we will never cease to be amazed at the righteousness that can be wrought through the life of one committed, if flawed, individual.

But the question still remains, where are the truly great people in our world? In this age of increased globalization, in an era where the round world has suddenly become flat, in a time where people anywhere can communicate and collaborate with anyone on the planet, we may need to look at the work of great people in a different way. Perhaps the very scrutiny of society will force us to realize just how inadequate individuals are in the grand scheme of things. We are always amazed at the likes of Dr. King because we see ourselves as unprepared and unqualified to do anything of significance in this world of ours.

So to answer the question, the truly great people in our world are those around us. The age of great men (and women) is giving way to the age of great people. The time of one man making a difference has moved to a time where all of us must band together and take control of our world. It is no longer enough for us to sit back and support those natural leaders and innovators, leaving them to make all the difference. As this world becomes more and more a gigantic community, we must understand the increasing role we all play in the success of that community. We will continue to raise up those of us most able to articulate the message, but we must rely less on the profundity of their speech and more on the power of our reality. It takes not saints nor great men to make a difference; it takes those of us who care, united under the banner of peace and justice for all.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Next Hurdle

I have broken away from the rigors of my daily nine hours of class for a few moments of literary clarity. The news came out today that my choice for President of the United States has decided to call it quits. While there has been no official announcement, the inevitable folding of the Kucinich 2008 campaign is finally upon us.

I know what you're all saying, "Kucinich? Isn't he that little loon who's always whining about how his campaign doesn't get a fair shake?" Yeah, that's exactly who he is, although 'loon' is a bit hypocritical from someone talking to their computer screen. Dennis Kucinich is the only candidate who has any sort of moral cohesion to his campaign. He doesn't take money from special interests and he doesn't strategically change positions depending on the outcome of polls. He's committed to peace, community, and care for the poor; all of those things more than cover his belief in UFOs.

I did not, and still do not want this blog to be of a political nature; it's one of the reasons I've refrained to mention my favorite candidate until he's announced the end of his campaign (even though he could have used the PR). So I won't waste time extolling his plan to institute a Cabinet level Department of Peace, guaranteeing free education through college, and transforming the health care system into a non-profit entity.

I am going to use this space to mention and ruminate on an important observation of this campaign. I am overjoyed to see that the age-old prejudices of race and gender are crumbling in American politics. I don't pretend to think that these problems are not serious and ongoing, but it seems that finally, in politics, a qualified minority candidate can get a fare shake.

It may be time to move on to the next step in the egalitarianizing of the United States: appearance. Do you know the moment that Congressman Kucinich's long-shot campaign came to an end? It happened about nine months ago, before the first debate, when Saturday Night Live had him played by an extremely short woman. I don't begrudge Lorne Michaels and the gang this triviality. It was satirical, appropriate and quite humorous. I am more bemoaning the fact that all of those things are true in this country.

We've gotten to a point where the tone of one's pigment or the chromosomes of one's body no longer have a bearing on our opinion of them (on a broad scale). However, appearance is just as much a problem as it has always been. An interesting report came out last week on those internet candidate polls. People can work through a series of questions and answers which help them see which candidates best fit their beliefs on important election issues. The study found that the overwhelming majority of people who took the survey came up with Dennis Kucinich as their #1 match, though most continued to support whoever they supported prior to the survey.

Now Kucinich is merely an example here. We've known for a long time that our President has to be pretty. Exit polls for the last 25 years have shown that an alarming percentage of the population cast their vote for the "more attractive" candidate. We're a culture driven by visual stimuli. Time ran a story a few months back with findings that people were less likely to support candidates if they were balding or had gray hair. I don't propose a solution to this epidemic; I doubt one exists to be found. I just wish we'd stop patting ourselves on the back so hard about our ability to judge political candidates objectively. Barack Obama would not have the same support if he spoke as he does, but looked and dressed like Al Sharpton.

This is where Kucinich becomes a bad example. His policies and platform were idealistic at best and impossible at worst. He was never really taken seriously because he doesn't play within the normal rules of politics. But we need only look around us to see further evidence. The women in ancient period movies are always clean, hairless, and sporting impeccable skin despite the lack of American cultural mores, showers, and Neutrogena. If you want to stick to the political realm, we can do that too. Earlier this week Fred Thompson bowed out of the Republican race. Here was a man with little or no interest in running for President who wowed supporters for months with both his towering stature and powerful performance as a Manhattan District Attorney on Law and Order.

I'll climb back into my hole and my "unaffiliated"
(as they call independent voters in Kansas) existence and continue to wait for the other shoe to fall. I just hope that someday, most likely long after I'm gone, that society can reach the point of choosing leaders for reasons other than "they look the part."

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Where's the Beef?

OK, if I'm going to be doing more frequent blog posts, the level of discourse may have to be lowered at times. This... is one of those times.

I'm not sure if you've been watching much television since the writer's strike has dragged into it's sixth fortnight, but Burger King, the always a bridesmaid, never a bride of national burger chains, has introduced a new ad campaign. If you're too lazy or lack the bandwidth to take a look, I'll summarize: the premise of these commercials is that Burger King has stopped serving their signature burger, the Whopper, and they film real reactions on hidden camera.

Needless to say, despite the general lack of quality or originality in their food products, there are serious Burger King customers out there who will freak out if they can't get a Whopper. I might be able to put a whole post together about the suspicious nature of these so-called "real" reactions, but let's take a step back and analyze what these commercials are really saying.

Suspend your disbelief and imagine that you love Whoppers, just absolutely cherish every moment of flame-broiled scrumtrilescence. You walk into the local BK and order the number one special with Mr. Pibb (or whatever quenches your imaginary thirst), only to find out that the Whopper no longer exists! It would be a funny joke and a great prank. I am all for hilarious and time-consuming pranks, but is it really wise to publicize this as a means of increasing business?

You know what these commercials say to me?

Welcome to Burger King: where you may or may not get what you ordered!

And we wonder why they consistently fail to compete on a national level?

Monday, January 14, 2008

Contract with America

Due to the strong example of the writer of a fantastic blog, I am hereby committing to write more often. It's not as though I have been entirely absent from the writing profession, what with the graduate level research papers and contributions to other websites, not to mention the myriad of message board postings, I am keeping up some measure of skill.

I will admit, however, to neglecting a gift, a joy, a necessity in my life. I am not taking the proper time to reflect in writing on the world around me. Since a few lucky readers have stroked my ego by expressing more than luke-warm responses to previous postings, I may continue this reckless foray into the digital unknown.

I am, as yet, unsure of exactly what sort of format these new postings will take, if they take any specific form at all. I've seen the challenge out there to post on a daily basis; frankly, that frightens me. I will commit to posting at least weekly and attempt to post even more often. Now that my schedule is a bit different, I do have access to blogspot more often, which means when the mood strikes there is a greater chance I can get it down in permanent form.

Flipping through the channels around lunchtime today, I caught Charlie Rose on PBS. Often cited as the best interviewer in the world (we'll say 'in television' in deference to Terry Gross and the best interview show anywhere), Charlie does a good job of getting interesting material out of both interesting and uninteresting people alike. I'm not sure which category Philip Pullman falls into, but he was the subject of today's interview. You may know Pullman from recent headlines, but he is first and foremost a writer, with some good advice. He said that he writes 1,000 words everyday. Some days it takes fourteen hours and other days it only takes two. Either way he puts in the routine work that adds up to greatness. My wife just finished two of his books and seems to agree.

In short we'll call this the Philip Pullman challenge. I may not make the word requirement or even the daily requirement, but I will attempt to be more regular (which also wouldn't hurt in the other meaning of that phrase either). Until then, peace and contentment to you and remember to wash your hands (there's a nasty gastrointestinal thing going around and it's not pretty).