Ok. I’m Back

12 03 2012

Geez, how long has it been since I posted??? Wow, what happened…I know, Facebook, Twitter…how fast the Internet moves.


Goodbye Studs

6 11 2008


Studs Terkel

Studs Terkel

Last Friday Pulitzer-prize winning oral historian Studs Terkel passed on at the age of 96. I discovered Studs while watching the April 4, 2006 episode of The Daily Show where he appeared to promote his newest book. So drawn was I to his feisty and spirited discussion with Jon Stewart that I looked him up. 


I was fascinated by his knack for finding the extraordinary in the ordinary no matter whether he was interviewing the waitress in the local diner or an acclaimed celebrity personality. Elizabeth Gilbert in her book Eat, Pray, Love, speaks about spirituality and and the Buddhist notion that God exists in you AS you. Studs, in his own endearing style, had a way of connecting with the deity in the every day person, exposing the goodness, honoring it, and celebrating it.

Reading his oral histories, or in my case listening to the audiobook edition, is an exercise in optimism and hope that bolsters even the most depressed mood. Studs’ average “Joes” (yes, Joe the Plumber, Bob the Builder, Jane the Hair Stylist, etc) each contribute something good or accomplish an honorable goal, somewhere along the way despite their own hardships or failings. I remember finishing his books and smiling with renewed faith that life’s struggles, though they may challenge us, are not in vain, and that each of us has something constructive and positive to give.

You can read more about Studs in the NY Times obituary and this article “He Gave Voice to Many, Among Them Himself” written as a tribute to him a few days after his death. 

And you can see the video of the appearance on The Daily Show that led down this path of discovery.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Studs Terkel | The Daily Show | Comed…“, posted with vodpod

Reflecting on the “Once-in-a-Century Credit Tsunami”

23 10 2008

Alan Greenspan is on Capital Hill as I write, testifying before the House Oversight Committee. I’ve been following the story on the NY Times Web site, which they’ve been updating frequently. A half hour ago, their story quoted Greenspan as labeling our current predicament a “once-in-a-century credit tsunami.”

I feel so comforted. Thanks, Al.

And then I started thinking more…it’s bad enough Al is up there predicting high unemployment rates. “Given the financial damage to date, I cannot see how we can avoid a significant rise in layoffs and unemployment,” says he.

We know where that always leads — housing foreclosures, bankruptcies, under and uninsured unhealthy people, homelessness, undereducated, undernourished children, etc. The repercussions seem endless. And, don’t forget, the now shriveled retirement accounts. Even if you did all the right things with your investments, you’re likely looking at having to work much longer than you anticipated, and your so-screwed if you’re already on a fixed income.

Then I thought about the people Tom Brokaw calls “The Greatest Generation.” How must this generation feel now? They were born into the Great Depression, and they may very well end their lives in another. How sad.

I guess that’s why Al called it a “once-in-a-century” credit tsnami. For The Greasted Generation, it’s already twice-in-a-lifetime.

What It Meant To Me

14 09 2008


Tribute to Peace in Unification Park, Imjingak

Tribute to Peace in Unification Park, Imjingak

Last Sunday, those of us who traveled to South Korea reported out to our congregation on our trip. We were sent there on a mission to teach vacation bible school in English to 180+ children at a sister church in Seoul. After the 5-day program, we had a week to explore the city and travel to Jeju Island, the “Hawaii” of South Korea.


For this session, each of us was asked to talk about about what was most memorable about the trip and why. We were asked to think of the trip in terms of a journey or process of growth and/or exploration. 

Here were my thoughts. 

My journey actually began on August 3, 1980 when I and 25-30 other teenagers boarded a bus that took us from Pennsylvania to JFK airport to catch British Airways flight 177 to London Heathrow. We were part of a cultural exchange program sponsored by Rotary International.

My ultimate destination was a small town called Ramsbottom nestled in a valley just outside of Manchester in the north of England. During my 3-week visit, I stayed at the home of the president of the local Rotary Club experiencing life as he and his family lived it.

Tribute to Peace in Unification Park, Imjingak

Tribute to Peace in Unification Park, Imjingak


Growing up in rural Pennsylvania, I had a rather sheltered childhood, learning about world cultures mostly through books – the kind without pictures. I was fascinated at how my English family was different and still the same as my family in so many ways. For me it was an eye-opening, life-changing experience that set me on a path of travel, discovery, and cultural exchange that has been a constant in my life ever since.

I’ve been very blessed. My journey has taken me throughout western Europe and Iceland and through the shanty towns in South Africa and Zambia and the farming villages of China. I’ve toured the fetid canals of Bangkok and the hillside tribe villages of northern Thailand where the main mode of transportation is the elephant. I even spent one New Year’s Eve in the tiny shack-like home of a family who lives in the mountainous region north of Tokyo, Japan.

Our recent trip to Seoul is yet another leg on what has become a life-long journey. What is most memorable to me about that trip are the same things that caught my attention 28 years ago in England — the ways in which we are the same despite the differences in our languages, customs, lifestyles, dress, foods.


Tribute to Peace, Unification Park, Imjingak

Tribute to Peace, Unification Park, Imjingak

Through my own experiences, I have come to believe that the path to world peace lies somewhere in cultural exchange and our willingness to step out of our own comfort zone to experience life through a different filter. Every time I’ve done that I’ve discovered that no matter what part of the world we live, the things that unite us far outnumber the things that make us different. 

I also believe that it is particularly important for our children and our youth to understand and experience this for themselves. It is my hope, maybe my dream, that by walking for a day, a week or two weeks in step with others from a different part of the world that they can gain the knowledge, compassion and empathy that it takes to make this world a safer, more peaceful place. 

Call me crazy, call me idealistic, call me naive if that suits you, but only AFTER you’ve told me what you’ve done lately to make the world a more peaceful place.


Friends in Seoul

Friends in Seoul

The Leopard Is ON the Wall

9 09 2008


Leopard on the Wall

Leopard on the Wall

 Ok, admit it. I know you missed me Labor Day weekend. But, I was busy painting this sleeping leopard on the wall of Devon and Taylor’s bedroom. 

It was definitely my most ambitious painting project, ever. My previous foray into painting with acrylics was 15 years ago with a classic Mickey on the wall of one of my bathrooms…a considerably simpler adventure with only 4 colors and no shading. But you know what I say, no guts, no glory!

I admit, I didn’t draw it freehand. I projected a photo on the wall to trace the shape and the relative sizes and locations of some of the spots. But the shading is all mine, well as good as I could get it. 

It took me about 27 hours over the 3-day weekend. And the 8-year olds took turns helping with the tree bark.


Well, Well, Well…Will Wonders Never Cease?

25 08 2008
Ian August, 2008 


Ian August, 2008


It’s official. Ian has a provisional driver’s license. He passed his road test about an hour ago. I haven’t heard the details yet, because, of course, he’s not home.

The tables are already turned. He called to let me know he passed and immediately proceeded to ask me if I was planning to “go out” tonight. I wasn’t sure what he was asking at first. He had to explain that if I’m not planning to use the car, then he wants to borrow it. Figures! I need to be very busy from now on. Don’t be surprised when I call to see if you’d like to get together.

OR, if someone would like to donate to Ian’s car and insurance fund, I’m sure he’ll be very grateful. Any disused car with trillions of miles will do…it just needs to pass inspection.

Happy Birthday, Ian

Photos from Korea

11 08 2008
Mermaids of Jeju Island, South Korea 


Mermaids of Jeju Island, South Korea


After 10 hours of sorting and uploading, the bulk of my photos from my trip to Seoul are up on my smugmug page. I didn’t have time to edit much or add a lot of description, but you can get a view of our experience. The coolest photos, in my opinion, are the ones I snatched of the women who dive for fish and shellfish without scuba equipment. They are known as Haenyeo or Mermaids of Jeju. They train themselves to dive up to 20 meters below the surface without the use of any breathing apparatus. 

Sadly, they are an aging lot. I believe the average age of the remaining Haenyeo is 60+ years. Not enough young women are interested in taking up the dangerous profession. It takes guts to fend off sharks and subject your body to such demanding activity. 

The ladies I encountered on the way back to my hotel were a lively wizened crew. They chatted spiritedly among themselves as a photographer was setting up his gear. Although I couldn’t understand the language, I could tell they are a closely knit community. The tone and pace of their repartee reminded me of the Ya-Ya Sisters.

P.S. The reason these photos are so special to me is that I don’t believe the Haenyeo are a normal part of the tourist experience. I got up at 5:15 am one morning hoping to catch the sunrise on Jungmun beach near the Lotte Hotel. I was 20 minutes too late for that but right on time for the divers.