Thursday, October 22, 2009's what I do

I spent today at RIT at a sustainability conference. While there, I took the opportunity to get out and grab a few geocaches. I love fact, geocaching is one of the first things I've really enjoyed in such a long time. Why? I'm not entirely sure, but given the number of geocaching "addicts" out there, I'm not unique! It's the treasure hunt for sure. It's the challenge of putting your wits against another cacher in making the find - and some are really clever. It's collecting the finds...racking up the numbers. It's getting out and walking. It's being outside with something to do. It's doing it with my family when they'll come. Meeting other people with a shared interest. It's phoning a friend to do a web capture in front of a statue to log the cache; not caring how silly you must look posing in the crowd to a camera 300' away! But there's something more. It's self reflective for me. Driving down some forgotten road and discovering a place of tall oaks and granite stones of people who passed on a hundred years before I was born and just wondering...

It's those moments that really make it worth while...discovering myself. Today was one of those days, I chased a cached called the catecombs at RIT. The place was pretty cool, students painted the tunnels with whatever moved them. And so I wandered for ever, turning right at star trek, finding the Wolverine, so many themes. While I walked though, I realized that no one spoke my language. I heard grunting, screeching, unusual sounds - and hand gesturing. The deeper I went, the more pronounced it got. Somewhere I began to understand that I was among the deaf. I was the lone voice, the minority - and they were at home. Talking, moving, gesturing...and I would be unable to communicate with them. I was the one who was uncomfortable. For those minutes while the cache placer was illuding me, I stood in a world that was outside of my comfort zone, and I'm a better man because of it. I don't know what the lesson was/is, but I know there is one and I'll wait for it to be revealed. Until then, I remain thankful for that trip through the labrynth.'s what I do.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Auschwitz as the sun shines

Bear with me if you end up on this page. It may seam like I don't know where I'm going, and the path may curve and rattle like then trains that carried so many Jews, but it will get Auschwitz. I have a method for almost every entry - find a picture, write something. Simple. The problem here is...well, Google Auschwitz and see if you can post one of those pictures.

Ever since I saw that awsome movie (except for the predictable language), I've pondered my bucket list. Scuba dive - Check. Dozens of times...more than that. Pacific Northwest. It was amazing. Jump from an airplane. Check...more than 60 times. Find and marry a trophy bride. Check...did that at 2o something - figured I'd get it out of the way early! See the world. Does the Western Carribean on a Disney Cruise count? Write a book, find a thousand geocaches, buy a Harley...see Auschwitz. See Auschwitz. Can you feel the gravity of those words? I can barely breathe right now. It's heavy.

A friend of mine just returned. It crushed her for some moments...the shoes, the glasses, the hair, the chambers and the stack. The sunshine. Those words struck me. "It was a perfect sunny day," She said. "The sun isn't supposed to shine at Auschwitz." Like her, I had always imagined Auschwitz as it's supposed to be: gloomy, eternal black and white like so many photos, dismal, overcast and dreadful. But it isn't true, is it? The sun shines on Auschwitz, on Birkenau. Is it possible that even amidst the horror, that some found tiny slivers of joy in the sun when it shined? I guess I'd like to believe so. Words are not usually difficult for me... I don't know what to say. I'm thankful for that short vicarious visit through the eyes of a friend. I'm thankful for this deeply reflective moment. And I wonder this one more thing...on 9/11 after seeing Auschwitz, can a person whisper "Never Forget" the same way again?

Something lighter next post...I promise.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Life is about balance isn't it? We'll, I just finished writing about the left wing Antique Sandwich Co., and I felt this tipping of the scales, this lack of I thought I'd share this plaque. No explanation necessary!
Twenty-two years ago my friend and I went to this place. My Ranger Buddy. The food was good, and coffee was good, but what I liked the most was the irony of it. We were still in the army, paratroopers, patriots, adventurers...real men! And this place was filled with protesters, draft dodgers, free El Salvadorians. Folk music and Jonny Cash were mainstays. I'm not sure why we went other than when I look back, I think we both had (still have) the ability to hold opposing viewpoints in balance within our minds and hearts. Sure, we mad fun of the posters and sometimes the people, but still on occasion, we went. To this day, when I think of the Antique Sandwich Co., I think, "cool place." And it's funny that the place is so close to Defiance Point! I was reminded of it a few months ago. And again last week. My friend Gene was there...and somehow it's reassuring to know that The Antique Sandwich Co. hasn't changed. It's not El Salvadore anymore, but Johnny Cash still plays, and the posters are still on the wall. It's funny too, how life changes. I wouldn't call Gene "Ranger Buddy" material in the strictest sense. "Peace through superior firepower," are not words I ever imagine coming out of his mouth as he pulls away in his hybrid car sporting a Republicans for Obama sticker...and yes, I still wonder about that, and Gene for that matter. But his friendship means the world to me. The bible says, "As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another." I guess it's just nice to know that places like the Sandwich Co. are still out there after all these years!

Friday, October 2, 2009

You decide

"The intellectual vibrancy of adjacency..." I work at a liberal arts institution, and this phrase won the sound bite of the day. There are those of you out there who will swoon at the sound of it rolling off your tongue like a fine wine swirling at your nose. And there are some who will now be certain that a BS degree stands for exactly what it sounds like, and that PhD really means 'piled higher and deeper.' I'll reserve comment and let you decide!