A nice way to stay in touch with loved ones, and a convenient way to share my opinions without having everyone just walk away...wait a minute, where are you going? I wasn't finished..

Thursday, June 29, 2006

I dont care much about baseball

But I've heard it said, and I believe it, that baseball fans are the most knowlegable about their sport. I was always impressed when kids could recite the batting order for every team in their team's league. In those days baseball cards came three in a pack with a piece of gum for a nickel. They were reference material, not speculative investments.

Where I live now in the Northwest suburbs has always been pretty much Cubs territory, but I grew up on the South Side and if I had to choose I would watch the Sox. I was a freshman in high school in '59 and we rode the el from Stony Island to Roosevelt Road every day and went right by Comiskey Park. That was a good year for the Sox. I've told everyone about the night the Sox won the pennant. About a half an hour after the game got over somebody (the fire commissioner took the blame)decided to run the air raid sirens to celebrate. Well, you have to remember it was still the fifties, and so my mother brought us all to the basement and started praying the rosary.

Nellie Fox and Little Louie Apparicio, Sherm Loller, Big Ted Kluzewski, Jungle Jim Rivera, and Early Wynn. Yeah I still like those guys better than any Cubs team.
And I like the Sox now, but its not the same. Nowadays an owner can go out and buy a pennant by signing a lot of high price free agents. In those days, a lot of players would be with their team for their whole career.

Now, I like Ozzie Guillen, partly cause he's a good manager, partly because he's proud to be a Venezuelan, and partly because he's all over that fag, Jay Mariotti.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Days in the life

Usually, Sunday is a good day for posting, but today is Monday. I have had a nice week, but nothing came to mind to talk about yesterday. There was a Rolling Stones tribute band performing at a street concert in Aurora Friday night, They were supposed to be pretty good, and we were going to go, but then I kind of blew it off.

Actually, I'd thought it was going to be Saturday and it wasn't till Friday I realized my mistake. Then I had a hard time getting fired up for a street scene, and I wasn't sure how much Janett wanted to go. So we didn't go. Later in the evening Steffy told me Janett had been looking forward to going, so I felt a little bad, and thought I'd take her to dinner at a restaurant in St Charles Saturday night where they have pretty good blues players put on late shows.

But Saturday morning, Janett was feeling a little shy and wasn't sure she wanted to go to a crowded restaurant that evening, so instead we spent the day at the track, which was nice because it was a pretty day and Arlington is a pretty track. Afterwards we went to Julie's house (Julie is Lou's friend), and her neighbors were having a party in the yard celebrating their ninth wedding anniversary, and they invited us over for a good Mexican dinner prepared by the two mothers and a grandmother. It was all good, and we left there early enough to be home by ten.

Then Sunday after church, Janett and I ran errands. We spent some time picking out things to send to a few buddies of Noah's in Afghanistan who haven't been getting packages from home. In the evening, Steffy and Kim stopped by for a brief visit, which we all enjoyed.

See what I mean, everything was really nice, but maybe not too exciting to read about. I'll try to scrape some rough edges on my life this week to tell you about later.

Saturday, June 17, 2006


I've heard of Thomas a' Kempis' Imitations of Christ, but never read it. Today I Googled "recalled in tranquility", from Wordsworth's definition of poetry, (thinking that maybe I should try poetry) and that led me to Bartlesby's where I found a' Kempis' Imitation of Christ. Temporarily diverted from my pursuit of the muse, I found this admonition: a good message for all bloggers, and especially me.

Book I: Admonitions Profitable for the Spiritual Life

X. Of the Danger of Superfluity of Words

AVOID as far as thou canst the tumult of men; for talk concerning worldly things, though it be innocently undertaken, is a hindrance, so quickly are we led captive and defiled by vanity. Many a time I wish that I had held my peace, and had not gone amongst men. But why do we talk and gossip so continually, seeing that we so rarely resume our silence without some hurt done to our conscience? We like talking so much because we hope by our conversations to gain some mutual comfort, and because we seek to refresh our wearied spirits by variety of thoughts. And we very willingly talk and think of those things which we love or desire, or else of those which we most dislike. 1
2. But alas! it is often to no purpose and in vain. For this outward consolation is no small hindrance to the inner comfort which cometh from God. Therefore must we watch and pray that time pass not idly away. If it be right and desirable for thee to speak, speak things which are to edification. Evil custom and neglect of our real profit tend much to make us heedless of watching over our lips. Nevertheless, devout conversation on spiritual things helpeth not a little to spiritual progress, most of all where those of kindred mind and spirit find their ground of fellowship in God.

Sunday, June 11, 2006


Last weekend I emailed Noah a copy of an article from Asia Times addressing the strategic situation in Afghanistan. There's a very bad man who lives there (sometimes, sometimes in Pakistan, sometimes in Iran) named Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, and he's the leader of Hezb i Islami (Islamic Party)

He's been killing people, starting with communists, then Russians, then Taliban for about thirty years. Sounds like our kind of guy...and he was. He got most of the funds the CIA was pumping into Afghanistan through Pakistan's intelligence agency during the Mujhadeen's war with the Russians in the 80's. He was also the favorite of the conservative Saudi clerics, and they gave him a lot of money too.

He was in the Mujhadeen government after the Russian pulled out in the early 90's, but had loyalty issues, jumping in and out of political alliances. Having the revolutionary's perspective, he knows peace and stability were not to be desired, until and unless he held complete power. He was the main protagonist in the Mujhadeen civil war in the early 90's, at one time being allied with and against all the other powerful Mujhadeen leaders, Massoud, Dostum, and Rabanni. The civil war contributed to the popularity of the Taliban, which people hoped would end the bloody fighting between the war lords.

When the Taliban took over he had to leave, and went to Iran. A lot of his Hezb i Islami followers joined the Taliban, but retain some loyalty to Hekmatyar. When the US invaded and drove out the Taliban in 2002, Hekmatyar snuck back in to Afghanistan and started objecting loudly to the organization of a puppet government by the US.
The US tried to shut him up with a missile attack on his headquarters in late 2002 which killed a dozen of his people but missed him.

Now, he's hiding out, probably in the northeast of Afghanistan. His followers are still politically active in that region, but are biding their time. They're waiting for the resurgent Taliban in the south to do most of the heavy lifting in terms of fighting the Coalition forces. but once the Kabul government is sufficiently weakened he'll pop up again, assassinating rivals, making and breaking alliances, and jockeying for leadership in an Islamic government, pointing out that unlike the other warlords he made no deals with the occupiers. Also, unlike Dostum and other warlords from the old Northern Alliance who are Uzbeks and Tajiks, he's a Pashtun, which is the largest ethnic grouping in Afghanistan.

So, anyway, while things are relatively calm in the area where Noah is stationed right now, that's the area where Hekmatyar will be the most powerful when he decides to make his move. So, I'm hoping Noah's home by then.

Go in Peace

After services I'll generally slip out a door of church for a quick smoke before I go to the dining area and hook up with the kids for a little visit, and maybe a bite to eat. The last couple of weeks, as I watched folks leaving I recalled the scene of the pastor at the door after services, accepting some compliments and wishing the parishoners well.

I always thought that was just the kind of courtesy a good host would show. But standing there myself, I came to think the pastor would be sending his flock off, hopeful that he had helped prepare them in someway for the challenges they would face during the next week.

All those folks leaving church do appear uplifted and positive in their outlook, families together, older couples, young singles -who could know the challenges they'll all face before they return next week. Job problems, financial problems, medical problems, nasty kids at school, but as they leave, they don't appear weighed down or afraid.

Maybe it was in the pastor's heart to say, I hope you'll be alright and keep doing the best you can, and remember Jesus loves you.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Clues in the News - Goldman Sachs

Last week, Henry Paulson, the CEO of Goldman Sachs was nominated to replace Paul Snow as Secretary of the Treasury. Maybe, they need someone pretty skilled in the investment markets and banking to handle the coming hedge fund meltdowns.

Even scarier, today Goldman Sachs hired the country's leading bankruptcy attorney away from the Chicago law firm of Kirkland Ellis to be managing director of their investment banking unit. Uh Oh The smart guys must see a lot of opportunities coming up in the "restructuring" industry.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Celebrating Yeats

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of "Spiritus Mundi"
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

-- William Butler Yeats, "The Second Coming"

This is the kind of statement one can only make once. What prompted me to post it tonight? The news that supporters of the Islamic courts had driven the warlords out of Mogadishu, and that the warlords had been receiving financial support from the CIA. When you're confused about how you're doing in this complicated world, take a minute and look around to see what kind of friends you've been making lately.