Tuesday, May 31, 2005

World Without Truth: Total & Complete Chaos by Andy White

We found out today that our 13 year old daughter won second place nationally for 8th graders in Kids' Philosophy Slam. The question answered by all entrants was: Which is more important, truth or beauty? Her essay is so first-rate, that I'm publishing it here....

A World Without Truth: Total and Complete Chaos by Andrea White

"Only morality in our actions can bring beauty and dignity to life: -Albert Einstein

Our world would be in a state of unbelievable disarray without truth. This cannot be said for beauty, though. Thus, in my opinion, truth is more important than beauty. Without honesty, no one would be able to tell what is real and what is not. Some may say that this is already happening, but that just makes the importance of truth rise to a greater level. Truth is not merely the absence of falseness or lies, though; it embodies different elements of a myriad of things such as trustworthiness, pure accuracy, and morality.

The principal reason for truth being of value and meaning more than beauty is that we, as human beings simply could not function without its presence, whereas with beauty, we can. Apart from total truth, there is no way to determine if something, or someone, can be trusted. If there were no honesty or authenticity that comes from truth, lives could be in danger, and in fact already are and have been in the past. If beauty was nonexistent, our world would be a bit more dull, but even then it wouldn't be complete and total utter chaos. Truth is quintessential to survive, and it is therefore incredibly more important.

Truth implies certain meanings, many of which frequently become hackneyed and monotonous. But truth is a standard, a level at which to thrive for; the paragon of rightfulness, it is a measurable way to determine things. Beyond a statistic, though, lies the utter essence of morality; to tell the truth is the "right thing to do," and it is a symbol of one's own character. Lastly, truth is deep; it is at the center of our innermost being, hence the term, "your true self." If you are true, there is no wrong; everything is out in the open and vulnerable. Apart from the ability to be in that specific state of openness, no one could find out who someone else, such as a close friend, genuinely is on the inside.

Truth is a standard, a symbol, and a state of being, and it is vital to the human race altogether. It creates something near an ideal of perfection, and can portray a person without any barriers. Truth is the essence of morality, and without morality, as Albert Einstein stated, there can be no beauty. A decently "ugly" world, that of one without beauty, is much more preferable than a false and utterly chaotic world, that of one without truth, and therefore, truth has more meaning and more importance than beauty.

Kids Philosophy Slam Home Page

Monday, May 30, 2005

On Being Grandparents....

We were at the hospital when she was born just after midnight on May 28. We held her when she was minutes old.

We returned that night to the hospital, and admired her for two hours.

Her parents brought her home yesterday. They called just to tell us they were home....that she was home. They called us three hours later to ask if it was OK that she had hiccups. They called a third time to ask if I could please go with my son to take her to the hospital for a routine blood test. His wife is too sore to descend stairs.

We picked my son and his new daughter up today at their apartment for her first official outing into the world. She was dressed to the nines, and covered with two blankets on this warm day. I sat in the backseat and played with her.

After an hour wrangling with insurance forms and papers, the three of us walked a labrynth of hospital halls to the lab. She protested the blood samples with a healthy, delicate cry. I changed her diaper under the nervous eye of my son.

He carefully laid her in her car set, adjusted her sweet bonnet and matching booties, dutifully covered her with the sherbet-hued crocheted blankets, and we left.

On the way back to the apartment, we heard about their lack of sleep, their piled-up dirty laundry, their empty refrigerator, the in-laws who hang around too long. He refused my offer of help, except for my trademark casseroles. He loves my cooking; his wife is just learning.

We dropped them off with a kiss and hug, and a new super-sized package of disposable diapers.

We drove off in silence. Blessed, organized silence. To our home where the laundry is done, the refrig is full and everyone sleeps through the night.

We looked at each other.....Isn't it great to drive away?

Saturday, May 28, 2005

The Holy Blessing of New Life

There's no high like the natural high of childbirth.

There's simply no joy like the glorious joy on the faces of new parents.

There's no awe like the deep awe of a new mother, lovingly admiring the tiny fingers and toes of her newborn child.

There's no blessing that compares to the holy blessing of new life.
Yes, we became grandparents at 10 seconds past midnight this morning.

Gabriella Rosemina Clark weighed 7 lbs, 8 ozs, and has big, gorgeous brown eyes. Gabriella and her exhausted parents are all healthy and "over the moon" with joy.

We had returned to the hospital for one last sojourn. Ron, Andrea and I were fortunate to be able to hold Gabriella when she was just 20 minutes old.

There are no words to describe our family's incomparable joy, except to proclaim again the obvious.....God is good and we are grateful to Him.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Looking at a Lamp

For people in our early 50s, we've experienced little loss of family.

Our grandparents have all passed away, of course, but we still have our four parents. Mine have been married for 56 years, and Ron's for 53 years. Happily, best-friend married. It's so good, its almost 1950s goofy.

Tonight, though, Ron's 76 year old mother lies in intensive care, kept in a coma while attached to a respirator, most of her body numbed from a continuous epidural. The surgeon removed part of her infected lung today.

She'd been frail for months....in truth, for several years. She survived the surgery, but recovery will be slow and long. And hard. She'll probably need an oxygen tank. No one has said this out loud, but I wonder if she'll need a wheelchair.

Ron's father isn't sure he's capable of taking care of her. His uncommunicative dad now calls every night, and talks to Ron for an hour, maybe more. He's scared.

I told Ron maybe we should fly up there over the long July 4th weekend. He said it was too early...she needs to rest and gain strength. We'll go later.

Honey, I softly said. Maybe we should go sooner.

He looked in my eyes, then turned away and looked at a lamp.

Oh, yeah.


Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Los Angeles Pledges $1.8 Billion for Downtown Renovation

This sounds like great fun to visit. I've always enjoyed downtown Los Angeles, and don't spend enough time there. Actually, no one does....

From Associated Press....L.A. Dedicates $1.8B to Downtown Boost

The city and county have approved a plan that would alter the downtown skyline by creating a dense urban center of high-rises, shopping centers and parkland around the Disney Concert Hall.
Authorities hope the privately funded, $1.8 billion project approved Monday will provide a nucleus for the kind of core that Los Angeles has lacked — a place where people both work and live.

Currently, the area empties at night as workers return to the suburbs.

The project calls for five high-rises — four 30-story condominium buildings and a 40- to 50-story hotel and condominium complex. There would be a 16-acre park linking Bunker Hill and the Civic Center, a supermarket and 400,000 square feet of retail space that would include a bookstore and movie theater.

The area already features such city landmarks as the concert hall, the Music Center, the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels. Much of the new construction would be on vacant areas or parking lots.

The Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp. estimated that the project would create 5,000 full-time jobs and generate approximately $565 million in annual business revenue to the city and the county.

"In some ways, Los Angeles has always been a divided city, a divided county," said Eli Broad, co-chairman of the Grand Avenue Committee, which has been shepherding the project. "That will all change with the creation of a vibrant city center where people can work, live and play."

The plan was approved following more than a year of planning and public hearings. An environmental impact review is expected to be completed by year's end, with the first phase of construction beginning as early as December 2006.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

One Woman's Balancing Act

Life is a balancing act. My life is, anyway.

Balancing between personal and professional, needs and wants. Between immediate family and extended family, birth family and in-laws. Between Ron-and-me and our children.

Getting through just one day is a balancing act. I have an article to write, yet laundry is piled up and the refrigerator is almost empty. Our 9-month pregnant daughter-in-law is feeling miserable, and Ron's mother is hospitalized in Reno with a serious lung infection. I want to help and comfort them. Here on my desk are notices for 3 must-attend 8th grade activities, all happening in the next 5 days, and the 8th grade grad party committee is asking me for help.

And yet I'm dashing off to Seattle for a weekend business meeting in 2 weeks. I thought working at home would preclude boring yada-yada meetings, but technology and the times have cured that. Yesterday, I had 2 hour-long phone conferences.

Ron told me that I wished him Happy Birthday in the middle of last night. His birthday is in August.

It's a blessing to be needed and loved, and a privilege to help our family. And I'm profoundly grateful for the opportunities that God has heaped on me.

But....I don't have an ending to this. It's just a "but." But how should I balance it all? How can I get it all done? How can I keep my writing focus when there's so much to do?

I'm the glue that holds it together in our home and family.

This bottle of Elmer's is tired today.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Kicking Off the Summer Fiction Season

Some people love to read books in front of crackling fires, cozy and sheltered from wintry weather. A mug of steaming hot cocoa, snug under a blanket, enraptured by a book.

Not me. I'm a summer fiction reader, and my private season of literary indulgence started today.

Half-reclining on a living room couch. Front window open, fragrant warm breezes wafting through our home. Filtered sun dappling my shoulders. Ice cubes bobbing in amber tea.

The faint sound of Andrea practicing her guitar. Ron dozing in front of TV baseball.

And me, savoring the dreamy pleasures of a book I've long intended to read.

Let summer begin!

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Here's to the Crazy Ones....

My all-time favorite ad campaign. I have two of the original posters on my office wall.

(Did you ever wonder where the name "Crazy Woman" came from?)

"Here's to the crazy ones."

The misfits.
The rebels.
The troublemakers.
The round pegs in the square holes.

The ones who see things differently.
They’re not fond of rules.
And they have no respect for the status quo.
You can praise them, disagree with them, quote them,
disbelieve them, glorify or vilify them.
About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them.
Because they change things.

They invent. They imagine. They heal.
They explore. They create. They inspire.
They push the human race forward.
Maybe they have to be crazy.

How else can you stare at an empty canvas and see a work of art?
Or sit in silence and hear a song that’s never been written?
Or gaze at a red planet and see a laboratory on wheels?

We make tools for these kinds of people.

While some see them as the crazy ones, we see genius.
Because the people who are crazy enough to think
they can change the world, are the ones who do.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

A 21st Century Mother's Day

It's no longer the Mother's Day of my mother's day.

Among 21st- century gifts I received from my children are a prepaid Starbucks card, a DVD of a favorite film, and an email card with two attachments: an elaborate powerpoint presentation and a page of redeemable coupons (dust the house, a noise-free afternoon perfect for napping, an elegant home-cooked dinner).

But the basics never change. All three of my children...plus now a beloved son and daughter-in-law...expressed their love for me. And my stepson will soon do the same.

I am deeply blessed beyond all reason...no matter what century the gifts.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

With God, All Things Are Possible

The small picture on my desk here reads "...with God all things are possible. ---Matthew 19:26"

From AP this morning, a story of life, hope and God's miracles.....

Ten years after a firefighter was left brain-damaged and mostly mute during a 1995 roof collapse, he did something that shocked his family and doctors: He perked up.

“I want to talk to my wife,” Donald Herbert said out of the blue Saturday. Staff members of the nursing home where he has lived for more than seven years raced to get Linda Herbert on the telephone.

It was the first of many conversations the 44-year-old patient had with his wife, four sons and other family and friends during a 14-hour stretch, Herbert’s uncle, Simon Manka said.
“How long have I been away?” Herbert asked.

“We told him almost 10 years,” the uncle said. “He thought it was only three months.”

Herbert was fighting a house fire Dec. 29, 1995, when the roof collapsed, burying him under debris. After going without air for several minutes, Herbert was comatose for 2 1/2 months and has undergone therapy ever since.

News accounts in the days and years after his injury describe Herbert as blind and with little, if any, memory. Video shows him receiving physical therapy but apparently unable to communicate and with little awareness of his surroundings.

Manka declined to discuss his nephew’s current condition, or whether the apparent progress was continuing. The family was seeking privacy while doctors evaluated Herbert, he said. “He’s resting comfortably,” the uncle said.

'Catching up'As word of Herbert’s progress spread, a steady stream of visitors arrived at the Father Baker Manor nursing home in this Buffalo suburb.

“He stayed up ’til early morning talking with his boys and catching up on what they’ve been doing over the last several years,” firefighter Anthony Liberatore told WIVB-TV. Herbert’s sons were 14, 13, 11 and 13 when he was injured.

Staff members at the nursing facility recognized the change in Herbert, Manka said, when they heard him speaking and “making specific requests.” “The word of the day was ‘amazing,”’ he said.

Dr. Rose Lynn Sherr of New York University Medical Center said when patients recover from brain injuries, they usually do so within two or three years. “It’s almost unheard of after 10 years,” she said, “but sometimes things do happen and people suddenly improve and we don’t understand why.”

Manka said visitors let Herbert set the pace of the conversations and did not bring up the fire in which he was injured.

“The extent and duration of his recovery is not known at this time,” Manka said. “However we can tell you he did recognize several family members and friends and did call them by name.”

Monday, May 02, 2005

Pressures on a Bright Kid

Andrea - I feel kind of stressed out. People at school...teachers...keep talking to me about college. They give me advice. What did I want to do? Where do I want to go? What do I want to be? They all want me to major in their subject.

Me - That's normal. They're excited for you. They know your potential.

Andrea - But I'm only in 8th grade. It sounds scary. It's too much....I'm only in 8th grade.

Me - Honey, listen to me. Don't go to college. Take a year off after high school. Go to junior college. Stay home and bake cookies with me for a year. Travel. Get a job..............It's all totally fine with us. Whatever works for you. We love you.

Very long pause..................................................

Andrea - No.... I want to go to college.

Me - Don't worry about it for a few years.

Andrea - It's just that........everyone has their ideas of what I should do. I wanna decide for myself.......I want them to leave me alone.