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09 March 2005 - (Link to this entry) (Comment)
San Francisco Electric Muni Busses - Click for Larger Image
Sister Betty's response to a correspondent asking about moving versus staying:

Running away is terribly fun until you arrive at the next place and find yourself in the bus station without a dime and having to turn tricks in the men's room so you can buy dinner from the vending machine.  I've done that, but I won't admit it in public.

It is so terribly tricky to balance security and freedom.  Staying = security; moving = freedom.  Some lucky bastards manage to find someone who is open to moving about and end up with a lovely traveling companion, but for the rest of us, it is pretty much learn to stay with and where you are, or move about without the trappings of security.  It is a perpetual question.

Some people think that staying in one place is a sign of maturity.  Too much staying in one place addles your brain, makes you dull and leaves you voting for Republicans.

Yet, sometimes we fool ourselves thinking the next place will be sparkly-shiney.  Pretty much nowhere is sparkly-shiney.  Every place is just somewhere else.  Except New Mexico, which as you know, is pretty awful.  So, avoid New Mexico.

14 March 2005 - (Link to this entry) (Comment)
Jewish Family at MFA: Click for larger image
Here in Maine, at the tippiest, tip top, eastern edge of the United States, a construction project is underway next to a freeway exit.  A large sign states:  "Future Home of the Boy Scout Service Center!"

Did I miss a piece of news or have the Boy Scouts suddenly become much more progressive?

I joined the Cub Scouts when I was in third grade.  Most boys joined the Cub Scouts because they wanted to go camping, build bonfires and shoot arrows at bales of hay.  I signed up because I liked the uniform and could wear it to school every other Tuesday.  While other boys earned points for first aid and constructing wooden cars, I had the sharpest creases in my shirt and the shiniest kerchief stay.

I was not a very successful Cub Scout.  Den leaders were never impressed by my immaculate uniform and grew tired of driving me home when my parents forgot to come pick me up.  While the other boys learned useful manly things, my father was generally too busy to bother.  The object of being a Cub Scout was to graduate to Webelo (pronounced We-Blow). I never got this far, but years later I learned a similar sounding skill on my own.

Later my parents forced me to attend AWANA, a sort of Christian scouting group.  Instead of learning to make fire, AWANA Scouts stoked fires by memorizing Bible verses and telling stories of how bad people burn for eternity.  Try as they did, running around in a dank Church basement reciting hymns was never as much fun as being in a tent full of sweaty boy scouts.

<Sudden topic switch>
Crazy Helga Shoveling Snow: Click for larger image
A late winter storm left more than 18 inches of snow in Portland.  The snow berms on the street are now more than five feet high.  Crazy Helga was out in the storm furiously shoveling her driveway despite having no car.  Clad in a bathrobe and her best Jedi knight outfit, she brought out her shopping cart and her shovel for the job.  I am uncertain why the shopping cart is required to shovel snow.  See Helga shovel via the Live Internet Camera.

21 March 2005 - (Link to this entry) (Comment)
Skylights: Click for larger image
Crazy Helga kindly requests you stop sending her mail.

Appearing on her porch Friday morning, Helga made her request by yelling across the street:  "Hello!  Hello!  I have mail from your friends here!  Would you please ask your friends to stop sending me mail!  Hello!  Hello!  I have mail here!"

I suppose it is possible some of you sent Helga fan mail.  However, Helga also says I killed her son and buried him in my flower beds.  The supposedly dead but very alive son visits twice a month and parks across the street from the flower beds where he is buried.

Maine is not so different than San Francisco...except Maine's crazy people can afford to live indoors.

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29 March 2005 - (Link to this entry) (Comment)
SF Petroleum: Click for larger image
God, according to the major religions, is creator of the Universe.  God purportedly created everything:  you and me, water, air, chocolate chip cookies and mobile telephones.  Some people think God doesn't exist or that God used evolution to make all this stuff.  That is a discussion for another day.

The first Jews - who lived a long time ago and didn't drive tanks or say "verklempt" - believed God's name was so sacred they didn't dare say it.  Wouldn't mutter or utter it.  They just pointed to the sky and shook in their boots.  Not a bad practice when you are referring to a force that can reduce you back to quarks, electrons and other tiny bits.

Long ago, Christians had a similar bent on things.  The name of God brought most of the Christians to their knees.  The Christians even had a little prayer with a line something like this:  "your will be done..."

See, the whole "your will" implies that God, that Creator of Everything, has a plan of his/her own and humans could only just trot along behind and try to keep up. 

Somewhere, however, most Jews stopped shaking in their boots when they talked about God and most Christians forgot about the whole "your will" thing.  So, now when these religious folk pray it really sounds like this:  "God, please do this because I want it and dammit, you are a giant WalMart in the sky, so give it to me now and for cheap.  And by the way, send me some more guns so I can maim a few more children."

If I were God, I would have long ago grown tired of the antics of all the folks who make their living using my name.  I'd smash them with meteorites for violating my copyrights.  Clearly, God and I don't think alike because he/she seems to be much more tolerant than I am.

I am a bad Quaker.  I don't know if I do or don't believe in God - especially as God is portrayed by most religions.  This leads to all sorts of complications when I am asked what it means to be a Quaker.  Quakers don't profess to have answers, which is why they don't attract a lot of converts.  People want answers, not ambiguity.

This is also why fundamentalist religion is so damn popular.  Easy and definite answers fit better for populations educated primarily to consume rather than question.

Instead of running about telling everyone what God thinks, maybe we need to shut up and be quiet for awhile.

What ever happened to a good, ol' fashioned smiting?  We haven't had one of those in awhile.

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