2011: Starting Anew, Changing Times

A sage old newspaperman named Bill Vaughan once wrote: “Youth is when you’re allowed to stay up late on New Year‘s Eve, and Middle Age is when you’re forced to.”

Yet I am somewhat conflicted about this coming turn of the calendar from 2010 to 2011.

On one hand, I am looking forward to getting together with some loved ones, staying up late, toasting the New Year and planting a big fat kiss on my beloved.

On the other hand, I’m not looking forward to cleaning up the house in the morning after, deal with crabby children who didn’t get their usual allotment of rest, and squinting through Saturday with a headache due to an overindulgence of holiday cheer.

I guess that puts me with a foot in both camps. While I am hardly to the point of true “middle age,” I am also far from being a dewy-eyed youth.

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Maybe this year will be better than the last?

“…it’s been a long December and there’s reason to believe, maybe this year will be better than the last. I can’t remember all the times I tried to tell my myself, to hold on to these moments as they pass…”

Gazing out the windows of my office, it’s a bitter cold gray day as I type these words. Phrases flowing from consonant and vowel, and the soft click-clack of the keyboard in rhythm with the gentle rain upon the windows.

Meandering in thought during this luncheon hour, I let my mind drift backwards in time and think upon the span of months, days, and hours of this dying year of our Lord 2010.

So much has occurred, some good and some bad, that any attempt to encapsulate it seems futile. For me to say something like “2010 was a pretty good year,” is to state that the universe is rather large. Not so much a matter of understatement as it is an utter simplification.

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Congregation of Ghosts

“…do you ever wonder why American Christianity seems to wait for the real thinking to be done elsewhere?”

…from Gilead by Marilynne Robinson.

Sometimes I get tired, very tired.

I don’t mean tired in the sense of being weary, rather in the sense of being disgusted.

Sometimes I get disgusted and fed up with things that I see, so much so that I want to get in a heated argument or shake a few people by their lapels until they come to their senses.

I know how petulant this sounds. At least, I know how petulant it sounds to me when I hear others expressing similar sentiments.

But, truly, I wish I could convey the depth of my sincere concern for others in the midst of this seeming tantrum.

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Miss me?

So I hastily scan through my email inbox this morning, deleting random spam messages from members of Nigerian royalty, when suddenly a greeting card pops up.

A cold snowy landscape, and the familiar image of an old friend and colleague, with a cheery salutation emblazoned across the top in bright blue and gold lettering: “MISS ME?”

I admit, it made me laugh out loud…  which, believe it or not, is not as easy a task as you might think.

Only the right mixture of absurdity and irony can truly tickle my gourmet funnybone.

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“…out of the abundance of the heart…”

“…cyberbullying is often legally defined as repeated harassment online, although in popular use, it can describe even a sharp-elbowed, gratuitous swipe.

The cyberbullies themselves resist easy categorization: the anonymity of the Internet gives cover not only to schoolyard-bully types but to victims themselves, who feel they can retaliate without getting caught.

But online bullying can be more psychologically savage than schoolyard bullying.

The Internet erases inhibitions, with adolescents often going further with slights online than in person…”


As someone who had an e-mail account during the 1990s, and remembers modem connection speeds well-below the once unimaginable threshold of 28.8 kbps, I like to think of myself as rather experienced with the Internet.

I’ve been on both the giving and receiving ends of some rather sharp ripostes on message boards and had to delete more than one offensive comment on my personal website. The anonymous nature of the medium provides a safe vantage from which one can type the things they’d never dare to utter to a person’s face.

But I’ve never had anyone try to “cyber-bully” me… until recently.

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The ‘adventure’ of Advent season

Now, with Thanksgiving having passed, we come to the brink of proper Christmas-time. The Advent season began with this fourth Sunday before the observed day of Christ’s birth.

Already, we have begun to fill the eaves and shutters with sparkling emblems of the season. Crosses, stars, trees, angels and nativity scenes. Though consumer avarice reigns, it cannot entirely quench the traditional symbols of what this season represents.

Our world is one of symbols, strange shapes and patterns imbued with meaning and cultural context.

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