Monday, May 28

the Boss of Soccer Dads

Bruce Springsteen allowed the filmmakers of family soccer film 'Gracie' (June 1, USA Films) to use his tune 'Growing Up' for a pivotal scene - because he's a secret fan of the sport.
This Is American Soccer: Another Fan



I'm still not the biggest Springsteen fan but he has the power.





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Friday, May 25

Buddhist Thought of the Day

All the faults of our mind – our selfishness, ignorance, anger, attachment,
guilt, and other disturbing thoughts – are temporary, not permanent and
everlasting. And since the cause of our suffering – our disturbing thoughts and
obscurations – is temporary, our suffering is also temporary.
Lama Zopa Rinpoche, "Ultimate Healing: The Power of Compassion

Thursday, May 24

Headline of the Day

Mary Cheney Births Human Boy

2 years in a row!

What I love about that is yes, MLK & H-F are both magnet schools but Hillsboro is in one of the highest income areas in Nashville. It has been the crowning jewel of the Public School system for years.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (May 23, 2007) – For the second consecutive year, three MNPS high schools have made the Top 1,200 in America as rated by Newsweek magazine's annual survey -- with Martin Luther King Jr. at 23rd, Hume-Fogg at 55th and Hillsboro at 424. MNPS was the only district in Tennessee to have schools in the top 100 on the list.

"We are certainly proud to again have three of our schools rated so highly," said MNPS Director Pedro E. Garcia, Ed. D. "While this ranking gives us an opportunity to celebrate the efforts of many people, it also motivates us to work harder. We're going to continue developing and implementing new ways to help all students in all schools."

According to Newsweek, the ratings were developed by Washing Post Education reporter Jay Mathews and are based on the number of Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) tests takes by all students in a particular school, divided by the number of graduating seniors at that school.

Metro Nashville Public Schools provide a range of educational opportunities to more than 74,000 students in Nashville and Davidson County. The governing body for MNPS is the Metropolitan Nashville and Davidson County Board of Public Education, a nine-member group elected by residents of Metropolitan Nashville. For more information, please visit http://www.mnps.org/site3.aspx.

Tuesday, May 22

Buddhist Thought of the Day

As from a large heap of flowers many garlands and wreaths are made, so by a mortal in this life there is much good work to be done.
Buddha

Sunday, May 20

Brilliant Spiritual Thought of the Day

I'm listening to a podcast of "Speaking of Faith", it's the Jimmy Carter episode which includes recordings of some of his Sunday School classes. In one he relates working with this Cuban-American preacher who said:
There should be two great loves in your life; the love a God and the love of the person in front of you.

No Sports Critic Am I

I read stuff like this and think, I really don't understand coaching. Yes
So for five months, U.S. Soccer gave thousands of American fans serious wood by playing footsie with soccer's savior du jour Jurgen Klinsmann
and all the points this guy as well as Jeff Carlisle make are sensible but I obviously don't understand what type of coach Bob is. He seems to be a winner and he seems to have a different view than Bruce Arena.



David Hirshey Is The Closer: The New (Old) Mind Behind US Soccer
Yes, Bob Bradley finally gets to white out the "interim" on his business card and lead the U.S. to greater heights of mediocrity. That should certainly make the Italys of the world crap their pantaloni.




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Friday, May 18

Buddhist Thought of the Day

As long as the followers of the way hold regular and frequent assemblies, they may be expected to prosper and not decline. As long as they meet in harmony, break up in harmony, and carry on their business in harmony, they may be expected to prosper and not decline.
from the Mahaparinibbana Sutta, translated by Maurice Walshe

Old Man in that book by Nabakov

I am reading this absolutely fraked up book, Lolita, for my book club. It's crazy, weird but highly entertaining. Over the past couple of days I have been treated to a soundtrack to match...first there was "Tymps (The Sick In The Head Song)" the only Fiona Apple song on my iPod, if she isn't the perfect nymphette I don't know who is; of course, she's grown now. Yesterday I was treated to "Don't Stand So Close to Me" by the Police and as many times as I have sung along with it yesterday was the first time the aforemention reference meant anything...
Loose talk in the classroom
To hurt they try and try
Strong words in the staffroom
The accusations fly
Its no use, he sees her
He starts to shake and cough
Just like the old man in that book by Nabakov

Thursday, May 17

They can feel it all over

Fall-Hamilton Enhanced Option 3rd & 4th graders treated the library to a 45min morning concert that included everything from showtunes to Rock & R&B classics to Duke Elllington and ended with the classic "Sir Duke" by Eivets Rednow. Leave it to the enhanced option kids to kick out the jams in the library.

Speaking of soccer

I'm glad the US Soccer Federation got off their asses and hired a coach, a coach who's been winning as "interim" head coach for months now.

Congrats Bob Bradley. We are looking to you for an exciting future.

Felicitaciones Sevilla!

The Mighty Reds from Andalucia did it again. I didn't see the whole game but Sevilla looked awesome. Espanyol was really good too but typical of Southerners, Sevilla played with style and ease and incredible teamwork. The passes these guys made and their ball control...insane!

I still love Barca but Sevilla is a force.

UEFA Cup Championship

Buddhist Thought of the Day

As free human beings we can use our unique intelligence to try to understand ourselves and our world. But if we are prevented from using our creative potential, we are deprived of one of the basic characteristics of a human being.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama

Wednesday, May 16

Librarians - Strange but true

Why is it that most of the librarians around here have short hair? I am sure there is a generational aspect but it seems pretty universal.

Buddhist Thought of the Day

Drinking the Dhamma,
refreshed by the Dhamma,
one sleeps at ease
with clear awareness & calm.
In the Dhamma revealed
by the noble ones,
the wise person
always delights.
Dhammapada, 6, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Tuesday, May 15

Buddhist Thought of the Day

Buddha’s teachings are so simple and straightforward. If you find them complicated, it is only because you have made them so. You may think,
“I have a Ph.D. and have amassed all this knowledge, yet I still can’t figure out how to begin practicing Dharma.”
The remedy is to take a good look at your own mind.
Lama Thubten Yeshe, in "Wisdom Energy"

Monday, May 14

Buddhist Thought of the Day

As a Buddhist monk my concern extends to all members of the human family and, indeed, to all sentient beings who suffer. I believe all suffering is caused by ignorance. People inflict pain on others in the selfish pursuit of their own happiness or satisfaction.
-His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance Speech, Oslo, December 1989

Saturday, May 12

Gardening Journal

Last summer Tara and I started a landscaping project. We tore down a decaying wood fence along the property line and decided to replace it with shrubbery. Like most novices we went to Home Depot and bought some shrubs we liked. I had done research and thought I was getting native Tennessee plants but I was WRONG. More to this later. Most didn't do very well, which we figured was because it was Summer when we planted.

Winter came and we finally got around to planting our anniversary tree (we decided to give ourselves a tree for our 1st wedding anniversary). To do this we called a nursery Tara's Mom has used and loves, Growild. Let me stop here and say I cannot recommend these guys highly enough. They made the whole process one of the most satisfying shopping experiences I have ever had. I went to them with a few trees in mind and they made alternate suggestions based on where the tree would be placed and which ones would fair better for us. Keep in mind that they handle native plants only. We chose a variegated tulip poplar, a yellowwood and a purple robe. They were planted in winter so I was quite excited to see what they would look like in spring.

Spring sprang and they looked great, the purple robe was especially spectacular and then we had the record lows and extended freeze around Easter. These three trees have recovered wonderfully, I swear the purple robe is 5 feet taller already. The shrubs are a different story. We bought a few butterfly bushes, a few burning bushes and a few crape myrtles. The crapes have done the best out of the lot. In the meantime we got a card for an open house type thing at Growild. There were nature walks and hay rides and food and music and a big sale. We took one of our nieces and came back with 3 shrubs and some ground cover plants (I am actually attempting to landscape).

Now I'll go back to what I said in the first paragraph about buying what I thought were native plants. I had a couple of books on landscaping and gardening in Tennessee which is where I got the idea for the shrubs we bought last year. This year at Growild I find out that none of them are native species and what's worse, Butterfly Bush is a "Category 3" invasive (Kudzu is a Category 1). Burning Bush is invasive & Crapes are non-natives but are not invasive. I ended up with three Nine-barks to replace the Butterfly Bushes. My point in talking about this is that you have to be very careful where you get your info. My sources were legit but at the least misleading, at the most incomplete and/or inaccurate. Last week a ran an experiment, I took Growild's list of available plants to Lowe's to see which natives they carried and out of all the plants Lowe's had only about half a dozen were natives. If you want native landscaping you won't find much at the big box home improvement stores.

Why am I stressing the use of natives? Two main reasons:
1. they are easier to maintain, they belong here so you really don't have to work too much with them
2. we've already caused enough chaos and destruction in our environment why not promote the growth of something natural.
The other plants I bought are used in an attempt to beautify my air conditioner compressors; you know, the big ugly outdoor part of a HVAC system. I wanted something that wouldn't get in the way but something that would look nice. I got several eco-lacquer spider plants and three heucheras; 2 "Autumn Brides" & 1 Purple Leaf Hairy Alumroot or maybe its a purple palace, I forget. These spider plants are small but they apparently grow a lot and quickly. They are low growing so they won't really cover up anything but I won't have to cut grass and these are interesting little plants. We'll see how it all looks after they grow and then I will chance some other areas, I already have ideas.

That is the saga of a landscaping novice.

This is also posted on my new eco-centric blog, Black & Green

Buddhist Thought of the Day

Do not choose bad friends.
Do not choose persons of low habits.
Select good friends. Be discriminating.
Choose the best.
Dhammapada 78

Friday, May 11

Buddhist Thought of the Day

A man approached the Blessed One and wanted to have all his philosophical questions answered before he would practice.

In response, the Buddha said,
“It is as if a man had been wounded by a poisoned arrow and when attended to by a physician were to say, ‘I will not allow you to remove this arrow until I have learned the caste, the age, the occupation, the birthplace, and the motivation of the person who wounded me.’ That man would die before having learned all this. In exactly the same way, anyone who should say, ‘I will not follow the teaching of the Blessed One until the Blessed One has explained all the multiform truths of the world’-that person would die before the Buddha had explained all this.”
from the Majjhima Nikaya

Metro Gov't Says:

May is...
National High Blood Pressure Education Month

National High Blood Pressure Education Month marks the “kickoff” of high blood pressure prevention and control activities for the year. “Adherence to Treatment” is the theme of the 2007 Campaign.

The National High Blood Pressure Education Program Coordinating Committee has declared
May 6, 2007 (the first Sunday of May) “High Blood Pressure Sunday”.

The Health Promotion and Chronic Disease Prevention Program at the Metro Public Health Department (MPHD) would like to join in this effort by encouraging you to take action to prevent and control high blood pressure, by providing the following health tips:

1. Lose weight if you are overweight and maintain a healthy weight.
2. Eat heart healthfully.
3. Reduce your salt and sodium intake.
4. If you drink alcoholic beverages, do so in moderation.
5. Become more physically active.
6. Quit Smoking.
7. If you are pregnant, make sure you are under a doctor’s care.
8. Talk with your health care professional.
9. Take medication as prescribed.

For more information related to “National High Blood Pressure Education Month” please visit their website at: (http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/hbp/index.html).

Please contact Deborah Scruggs for more information about Health Promotion and Chronic Disease Prevention programs.

Resources:
Department of Health and Human Services
National Institutes of Health
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute

This project is funded under an agreement with Tennessee Department of Health

Deborah Scruggs
Health Promotion and Chronic Disease Prevention
Metro Public Health Department

Thursday, May 10

Protective Cover? or Masks I Wear

I think everyone who works and enjoys (sometimes) retail wears some of the same masks.

Now, as a Black man the one I struggle with most often is not being a stereotype. Some of that is me saying to the outside world "not all Black men are what you see in the news or movies" and some of that is me saying to my community "there is more to being Black than what you see in the news or movies". I have used this mask (sometimes unknowingly, sometimes unwittingly) since I was a kid. Why? Well, I am fortunate enough to have been born into a true multi-generational middle class (sometimes upper middle class) family and to me that means education, world experience and dreaming are allowed and fostered. I am a 3rd generation college graduate (my grandfathers' grandfathers were slaves - one in Forsythe, GA; the other in Rutherford Cty, TN). I don't think I need to explain how extremely rare that is in any part of the African-American experience. Hell, it's rare in the general population but so much more rare in Black America. We owned books and an encyclopedia when I was a kid, I traveled abroad (Dominican Republic) when I was 3 or so. I was a Boy Scout from ages 8-18 which means I spent a lot of time outdoors and enjoyed it. You might laugh but there are lots of urbanites who have never spent a night outside. I live in a world where I have heard things like "I've never met a Black person who likes this kind of music." from one side and "Sellout, wanna-be" from the other side so sometimes I need to wear a mask.

As an individual who works hard to be honest, selfless, and fair this is very difficult for me, as I am sure it is for others who have to put on a happy face to make it through the day. What is different is that as soon as I walk out of the door I am reminded to put on a happy face but invariably I am reminded that I am a Black person, a Black man, and usually am reminded that I am a different sort.

As I have gotten older, as I have studied Buddhist philosophy I have gotten better a grasp on how to just be a person. As anyone who works at improving themselves knows this isn't easy and you have to remind yourself constantly to be better, stronger, smarter, nicer, etc. That's the goal.

Wednesday, May 9

Pranks & Jobs

I just got pranked by my former office. I'm actually working the phones right now at the library. The phone rings and I answer:"Main Library Circulation, may I help you?" A man says he has a question about a word, metadata. I respond with a quick answer but in the background I hear lots of giggling and someone said Landmark. I perked up, thinking someone might be applying for a job at my former office but no, it was the weekly operations meeting and they decided to make a prank phone call to me.

It's nice to be loved.

The clothes make a man even on a woman

Just saw a young woman wearing a t-shirt that said:

Barack & Roll

Tuesday, May 8

Especially Ethnic

Marjorie says (forgive me Marjorie for writing about you, not to you)
but I want to be CHALLENGED... stirred up, even. I want to find stuff that makes me uncomfortable and then figure out why. The thing about Lahiri's writing is that I find it very pat.
Here is where I disagree, partially. Sometimes and I would say more often than not, I want art to sooth and comfort me. I have enough challenges in my life. Maybe I am being selfish but I think part of what Marjorie sees as a plain everyman is partly the point. As a minority in a majority culture/society I am perpetually struck by challenges. In the black community we talk about wearing masks. I try hard not to but I am pushed into wearing masks everyday...I imagine an American born from an immigrant family goes through the same thing and therefore a story like this, written in a "pat" style is something that says to me, you are not alone. You are an everyman, no matter what they would have you believe, no matter what you might believe about yourself.
I was bored to tears with Interpreter of Maladies...
I just started it and I am struggling a bit too.
doesn't ever stop to question itself and its own authenticity in the way that a writers like Maxine Hong Kingston and Emily Raboteau (you might actually be interested in her book, The Professor's Daughter-- it's moving and smart and very carefuly measured) do. What I mean is, they offer a presentation that is meant to universalize a very particular story... and I tend to feel like I'd rather have the particular.
I live with questions of my ethnicity, what it means and where I fit daily, etc. and maybe that's the difference in what I read versus what Marjorie saw. I know this guy, I am this guy. The questions are implied by the way he lives his life.
And this isn't snobbery. Lahiri is well aware that most of her audience is white. And she writes to that audience as though to explain her cultural experience to us. And that gives me the willies a little.
If it gave her "the willies" maybe it was more challenging than Marjorie thought. Maybe Lahiri wasn't writing for an "audience". I recently heard an interview with Kurt Vonnegut and he said you should write for one person in the hopes that she understands and accepts what you write.
I did see the Namesake movie... Stylistically, it was nothing special. I've like other Mira Nair movies plenty and this one was, well, fine. It did very well to spend most of its energy on the story of the parents, as opposed to Gogol. The character of Gogol is drawn as such an "everyman" that I found him totally off-putting because there was nothing notably idiosyncratically human about him, besides his race, of course. He's a bland guy who is only compelling difference is that he's an Indian-American living primarily amongst white people. And for me, I just want more than that!
There was a woman in my book club who said there were times when she just wanted to shake him. She has no tolerance for people who muddle through like Gogol does. I offered to her and I offer to you that more people, more Americans muddle through more often than not. We are not an inspired nation. Lahiri and Nair know this and they recognize that we are in relationships they don't want to be in, in jobs they don't like, most of us never see the dream we dreamed when we were young (like Gogol's Mom does when she decides to move back to India with no plan other than music - following both her youthful dream and her married life dream).
But it's everyone around him that adds color to the story... and really, I found the heart of it is with that mother character.
As usual.
However, the white girlfriend character was written completely ridiculously, with all her obliviousness-- to the point where I found myself rolling my eyes at her a few times-- which is a shame because Jacinda Barrett is a great actress.
Can't say anything about the actress but the character was there to help him realize that he had been floating through and rejecting things, things about himself, that didn't need to be and could never be fully rejected.
But, I mean, the movie is pleasant to sit through. But it all is so focused on pretty presentation that I didn't feel that I, as an audience member, had any work to do. And that's what makes art deficient to me... art that does all the work for you? What's the point? I just want a more full-bodied interaction, you know?
We all have our needs. The story, the book and the movie struck a cord in me. It was not the same kind of chord I get from reading Faulkner, where I sit there page after page asking, "What the fuck is he talking about? or better yet, "Who the hell is actually talking?" It stuck a chord that says you are no more special than anybody else, no matter how often you are confronted with..."you don't sound Black" or "I've never met a black person who listens to that kind of music." This struck a chord like listening to some funky Albert King strikes a chord, a sense of knowing and belonging and comfort.

Monday, May 7

Nathaniel Owens

Black on Campus
1970 — Nathaniel Owens becomes the first African American to graduate from Sewanee, The University of the South. Owens graduated with honors in English. Drafted right out of college by the Cincinnati Bengals, Owens decided to forgo a professional football career, choosing instead to enroll in Sewanee’s law school.
Yea! Sewanee's Right. It took Sewanee awhile but when they got a Black grad, they GOT a Black grad





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Castenets

My Problems Got Problems

Here lies the saga of the Meters, Funky Meters & Neville Brothers...{sigh} I always said I wanted to write a book about these guys. I love them. Their music is the music of the world and especially my world.



Funky Meters return to N.O., but still no sign of Neville Brothers



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Sophisticated Taste or Snobbery

Marjorie's response to my "the Namesake" post brought up a discussion I have had time and time again. Does having "sophisticated" taste mean you can't accept something that doesn't match your standard of taste. I used to have a similar discussion with a friend who was now has a Ph.D. in Art History. She believed that not all art is meant to be enjoyed by all people. I think this is absolute bullshit or maybe it's just too Euro, where there is "high art" and everything else, for who I am or something. Culturally, I come from a tradition of functional art...you creatively make things that are useful and therefore understandable...you own a table but that table has flourishes and cuts and designs and symmetry that make it aesthetically appealing. On the other hand, I spent a lot of time as a musical snob. Then I grew up.

While I was in my blues and jazz periods no one could tell me what was good because I knew. I knew that deep in my being I knew what was good music or quality music. In my late 20s, early 30s I grew out of that. Somewhere I discovered that if it (the art) came from the soul of the creator, made with some level of creative inspiration and/or skill, and it touched you that was all that was needed. I soon started to realize it was that way with everything; architecture, music, photography, music, religion, and even politics. I assume that all of us know right from wrong and most of us work to increase the right and/or decrease the wrong. (I'm not that naive, I know it doesn't work this way but I still believe this to be the foundation of human existence.) Art is a manifestation of our existence. Yes, there are bastardizations and compromised ethics but for the most part when someone pulls together a portrait of life as multifaceted, rich, and as engaging as Jhumpa Lairi did in "The Namesake" they have created a work of art.

I recognize many of the aspects of the picture she paints, I have spoken with Indian immigrants (about the same age as Gogol) who also recognize so much of the book. On top of that the characters and situations caused me and others, I imagine many others, to emote, to honestly feel for the characters. Again, this is something that is usually associated with all forms of art. You hear of people weeping in front of Mona Lisa or under the Sistine Chapel. I have personally experienced fear and repulsion while looking at paintings from Goya's "Dark Period". Of course, I cannot count the emotional changes I have experienced during a show by Derek Trucks or Alejandro Escovedo or in the Gospel Tent at New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Fest. I guess my bottom line is that art means nothing if it doesn't appeal emotionally and aesthetically. And it is always a matter of personal choice and social/cultural training.

Just because you think its crap doesn't mean ANYBODY else does, just because you think its great doesn't mean ANYBODY else does or should, for that matter.

Friday, May 4

A story about "Someday We'll All Be Free"

by Kevin Powell

Yet another book that causes me to question what I’m doing with my life.

I’ve been searching for a long time. I more or less follow “The Way” (dharma) but reading something like this makes me think that my work to heal myself…and all the exponents of that isn’t quite enough but when I think of the work that is to be done nothing is enough.

{sigh}

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