Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Winter to Spring

Winter to Spring
By Irvin W. Underhill

 

Did not I remember that my hair is grey

    With only a fringe of it left,

I’d follow your footsteps from wee break of day

    Till night was of moon-light bereft.

 

Your eyes wondrous fountains of joy and of youth

    Remind me of days long since flown,

My sweetheart, I led to the altar of truth,

    But then the gay spring was my own.

 

Now winter has come with its snow and its wind

    And made me as bare as its trees,

Oh, yes, I still love, but it’s only in mind,

    For I’m fast growing weak at the knees.

 

Your voice is as sweet as the song of a bird, 

    Your manners are those of the fawn,

I dream of you, darling,—oh, pardon, that word,

    From twilight to breaking of dawn.

 

Your name in this missive you’ll search for in vain,

    Nor mine at the finis, I’ll fling,

For winter must suffer the bliss and the pain 

In secret for loving the spring.

 

Here in Vermont, we are not quite out of winter yet. We are expecting 3-6 inches of snow tomorrow and possibly more snow on Thursday. Spring is coming though.

 

The Poet

Irvin W. Underhill was born in Port Clinton, Pennsylvania, on May 1, 1868. He is the author of Daddy’s Love and Other Poems (A.M.E. Book Concern, 1916).

Monday, April 19, 2021

Pic of the Day

Practice Makes Perfect

Today, I will be working with my director to fix the technical difficulties we had in the last webinar. I am pretty sure that I have figured out the problem, and it wasn’t all because my director did not know what he was doing. Part of it was, but not all of it. However, I will not make the mistake again of assuming he knows what he’s doing, even when he says he does. I will practice with him and teach him how to work on all of the technical aspects of the webinar.

 

Once I deal with my director, I will work with my co-presenter to get this program a bit more organized. I have a week and a half to get all the kinks worked out, so I should be able to take care of all of it. I let my co-presenter last time take the lead in the discussion we had in the webinar; this one will be more structured so that we can discuss all of the points I want to be addressed. It won’t be easy to control him, but I think I can do it. When I was an oral historian, I learned how to keep people on track during an interview, and I can do it during a webinar. At least, I hope so.

 

I will spend the rest of the day working on emailing people with the registration link so that we can get more people registered. I need to send a link to our department and the list of people who registered for the last one. We had 48 people register for the last one, but only about 25 attended. Currently, we have 35 signed up, and I am hoping to get more registered. Hopefully, we will also have a better registered/attendance ratio.

 

Even our in-person events rarely have more than about 35-40 people, since that is the most that our conference room can hold for events. I hope that when we can have in-person programs again, we will be able to broadcast them as we have done with our webinars. We have been using Facebook Live to broadcast in-person events, but we have never been able to record with very good quality. I hope we can improve on that in the future so that no matter where someone is, they will be able to attend our programs.

Sunday, April 18, 2021

Pic of the Day

Politics and the Destruction of Faith

But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber.

—2 Peter 2:1–3

 

Conservative Christians are engaged in a desperate political effort to keep America the religious and traditional nation they believe it was decades ago. These very efforts are what are actually accelerating the changes that they are fighting against. Their divisive and hateful politics are driving people away from religion. According to a recent poll from Gallup, the proportion of Americans who consider themselves members of a church, synagogue, or mosque has dropped below 50 percent. It is the first time the number has fallen below 50 percent since Gallup first asked the question in 1937 when church membership was 73 percent.

 

In recent years, research data has shown a profound shift in the U.S. population away from religious institutions and toward general disaffiliation, a trend that analysts say could have significant implications for politics, business, and how Americans group themselves. In 2020, 47 percent of Americans said they belonged to a church, synagogue, or mosque. The polling firm also found that the number of people who said religion was very important to them has fallen to 48 percent, a new low point in the polling since 2000. For some Americans, religious membership is seen as a relic of an older generation. Gallup’s data finds that church membership is strongly correlated with age: 66 percent of American adults born before 1946 belong to a church, compared with 58 percent of Baby Boomers, 50 percent of Generation X, and 36 percent of Millennials.

 

Tara Isabella Burton, author of Strange Rites: New Religions for a Godless World, attributes the national decline in religious affiliation to two major trends among younger Americans. First, she points to broader shifts suggesting a greater distrust of institutions, including police and pharmaceutical companies. Some Americans are disillusioned by the behavior of religious leaders, including the Roman Catholic Church’s sexual abuse scandal and the strong White evangelical alignment with the former twice impeached president. The other major trend Burton describes is how people are mixing and matching various religious traditions to create their own. Many people who don’t identify with a particular religious institution still say they believe in God, pray, or do things that tend to be associated with faith. Burton said younger generations that grew up with the Internet have a different kind of relationship with information, texts, and hierarchy.

 

Shadi Hamid, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, argued in a recent essay for the Atlantic that what was once religious belief has been replaced by political belief in many communities. On the political right, conservative Christians focus on Trump as a political savior rather than focusing on traditional questions of morality. Christians in the Republican Party are being less defined by their faith than by a set of more narrow concerns. In a new book Secular Surge: A New Fault Line in American Politics, political scientists David Campbell and Geoffrey Layman of the University of Notre Dame and John C. Green of the University of Akron argue that the religious right’s tight embrace of politics is essentially driving people away from religious affiliation into the arms of secularism.

 

Over the past several decades, Americans are increasingly likely to identify as having no particular religion. Pollsters call these people “nones,” and they have been growing at a phenomenal rate. According to the Pew Forum, more than a quarter of American adults say they have no religious affiliation. Thirty years ago, that number was about five percent. The trend seems to be for the “nones” to keep growing. The number of white evangelicals is also shrinking. The Pew Forum puts their size at about 16 percent of the population, down from 19 percent a decade ago, which seems to be the reason why white evangelicals were so enamored of Donald Trump. They felt he was protecting them from being overwhelmed by modern life. From their perspective, Trump being a bully was a feature, not a problem.

 

Campbell and Layman tested the thesis that the right’s willingness to conflate religion and politics was driving people away from faith in general. After asking people about their religious identity, they presented them with a single story where religion and politics were closely linked. Republicans had no problem with talking about God and politics in the same breath. But for Democrats, it was a major issue. When asked again about their religious affiliation, they were found to be 13 percentage points more likely to say they had no religious affiliation. In short, the very people who are pushing religion in politics the most are ensuring that more people are hostile toward religion. That’s a high price to pay for getting three Supreme Court justices.

 

The Republican Party and Evangelical Christians are choosing a form of Christianity that does not follow the teachings of Christ. They have wholly rejected the characteristics of a Christian that Jesus laid out for us in the Beatitudes. Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven,” but Republicans and Evangelical Christians have repeatedly rejected social welfare programs to help the poor (the Gospel of Matthew refers to the downtrodden, while the Gospel of Matthew refers to those in poverty). Jesus also declared, “Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted.” Yet, during the COVID-19 pandemic, they have denied the reality of the virus and therefore have dismissed those who mourned the loss of over half a million Americans. They have derided those who wore masks and advocated for measures to mitigate the spread of the virus, rejecting Jesus’ words, “Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy.” 


Republicans and Evangelicals embraced a bully for president, disregarding Jesus’ teaching that, “Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth.” They have rejected time and again assistance to those in need, denying them Jesus’ promise, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled.” The religious right rejects those who believe in the actual teachings of Jesus that honor love and acceptance. Look at the comments on any progressive Christian's TikTok, and you’ll the hatred of those who advocate love, who Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God.” Republicans and Evangelicals preach divisiveness, ignoring the warnings of Jesus, “Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God.” They feel that they are the persecuted when they are the persecutors, “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

 

Jesus warns us against people like the Republican Party and Evangelical Christians who teach hate disguised as religion. In the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 7:15–20), Jesus warns of false prophets:

Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them.

The Gospels address the same point of a false prophet predicting correctly the rise of people who will use religion against others. Jesus predicted the future appearance of false Christs and false prophets, affirming that they can perform great signs and miracles, for example, in the Olivet Discourse (Mark 13:5–7, 13:21–23) given on the Mount of Olives:

And Jesus, answering them, began to say: “Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He,’ and will deceive many. But when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be troubled; for such things must happen, but the end is not yet…Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or, ‘Look, He is there!’ do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will rise and show signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. But take heed; see, I have told you all things beforehand.

Many Democrats have been driven away from religion because of how conservatives have used against them. However, an aversion to religion is not solely a positive thing for Democrats. A significant block of Democratic voters, especially Black Democrats, are much more likely to be religious than white Democrats, 40 percent of whom are “nones.” If secular Democrats disparage religion generally, they also risk alienating believers who otherwise agree with them. There are Democrats well positioned to handle that problem. Chief among them is President Biden, a Catholic who attends Mass weekly. Another is Pete Buttigieg, who has made a point of talking about his faith. Biden and Buttigieg prove that progressives don’t have to cede religion to the Republican Party. However, we must remember what Peter said in 2 Peter 2:1–3:

But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber.

For many Americans, right-wing Christians have given Christianity a bad name, enough to drive them from religion altogether. A strong counterbalance from progressive believers would show that the right doesn’t own religion enough to destroy it. We must follow what John said in the First Epistle of John. In 1 John 4:1–3, John warns those of the Christian faith to test every spirit because of these false prophets:

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world. 

We cannot allow the religious right to destroy Christ’s teachings. We must fight to reclaim Christianity as it was in the earliest days of the religion. The earliest Christians believed in fellowship and equality among all members. I will always believe that Jesus would have and probably did accept people of the LGBTQ+ community. Many parts of the Bible never made it into the version we see today, and through many translations, the Bible has been used as a tool of hatred and not love. This has driven so many away from their faith when the teachings of Christ should draw people into the faith, not be used to exclude those who don’t fit the narrowminded beliefs of those who use the Bible as a weapon instead of a tool.

 

There has always been a battle between good and evil, but Republicans, Evangelicals, and the religious right are blurring those lines. I believe that the battle today is a battle between love and hate, between acceptance and rejection, between inclusion and exclusion, and between equality and inequality. Let us fight for LOVE, ACCEPTANCE, INCLUSION, and EQUALITY of all. It is the only way to reclaim religion for God and keep it away from politicians and those who wish us harm.

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Pic of the Day

Moment of Zen: Country Boys




I grew up surrounded by country boys, so my earliest crushes were all county boys, and I still have a thing for them. Most of the ones I knew didn’t wear cowboy hats but baseball caps, like the guys below.



BONUS: A country boy with a Jeep, two sexy things that just go together.


Friday, April 16, 2021

Pic of the Day

Vaccinated

I had my second dose of the Pfizer COVID vaccine yesterday. For the first few hours, things went well. My arm started getting sore several hours after taking it, and as I write this, I am feeling some body aches. None of the side effects are too bad at this point. Last night, I was just hoping that I would feel fine this morning for my dental appointment. I hope that I can make some headway with my dentist about getting an earlier appointment. I’ll just have to see. Otherwise, today is going to be a pretty chill day since I am off work.

To celebrate getting my second shot, I made myself a nice dinner. I went by the grocery store next to the drugstore where I got my vaccine to get dinner for last night. I got some Brussel sprouts, corn, the store’s house recipe seasoned boneless skinless chicken breast, and some frozen Mason Dixie cheddar chive biscuits. I had never tried their house recipe chicken breasts before, and they were delicious and a bit tangy. I had also never tried any of the Mason Dixie products, but the cheddar chive biscuits had a pleasant taste, though they are much fluffier when I make them from scratch. Overall, it was a delicious meal and an excellent way to celebrate being vaccinated.

Thursday, April 15, 2021

Pic of the Day



Great view (from every angle, I’m sure)!

A Few Things: πŸ’‰ 🐾 🦷 🌨


πŸ’‰
Today’s the day. I’m getting my second COVID-19 vaccine. I’ve been told that the second shot is the one more likely to cause side effects, but so far, with the Pfizer vaccine which I’m getting, I’ve just heard that it made people sleepy. The Moderna vaccine seems to have a few more side effects. My dentist and his office took the Moderna and he said they all felt like they had a bad cold for a day or two, but only after the second shot. Then, they were fine. 

🐾
I could handle a few days of being sleepy, if Isabella will let me sleep. When she decides it is time for me to get up, she’s pretty damn insistent that I get out of bed. There’s no such thing as sleeping late with this cat, and it’s not like she wants to be fed. She has a feeder and a water fountain, so she never runs out of either. Normally, she just wants one of two things: my warm spot in the bed or attention. She can be a bit of an attention whore at times.

🦷
I’ll be working this morning, but I’m taking off this afternoon and I have tomorrow off for my regular “use it or lose it” vacation day Fridays. Even though I have tomorrow off, I’ll be up and ready early as I have an 8 am dental cleaning appointment. I really hope that I can convince my dentist to either talk to the oral surgeon to let them know the urgency of taking out this tooth or refer me to someone else who can get me in sooner. We’ll see.

🌨
Other than that, I have no plans for this weekend. We are expecting rain all day today, and snow most of tomorrow. The last forecast I saw said we could expect 3-6” of snow, but the weatherman said that the ground is warm enough that it is unlikely to stick. It is expected to be a heavy wet snow. I hope it’s not too bad when I get up early tomorrow morning. I was really hoping I was done with cleaning snow from my car.

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Pic of the Day

Feeling Yucky

I wasn’t feeling great last night. I was just feeling kind of yucky. I had been working hard all day on a presentation I will be giving, and I was a bit worn out with a bit of a headache. I think I may be having some sinus trouble, as I have noticed some of the signs of sinus issues. I hope that’s all it was, but it just means that this post will be short today. I hope all of you are doing well.

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Pic of the Day


Many thanks to The Closet Professor blog reader Rob, for sharing and suggesting this photo as a potential Pic of the Day.

After Graduate School


After Graduate School

By Valencia Robin

 

Needless to say I support the forsythia’s war

against the dull colored houses, the beagle 

deciphering the infinitely complicated universe

at the bottom of a fence post. I should be gussying up

my resume, I should be dusting off my protestant work ethic,

not walking around the neighborhood loving the peonies

and the lilac bushes, not heading up Shamrock

and spotting Lucia coming down the train tracks. Lucia

who just sold her first story and whose rent is going up,

too, Lucia who says she’s moving to South America to save money,

Lucia, cute twenty-something I wish wasn’t walking down train tracks

alone. I tell her about my niece teaching in China, about the waiter

who built a tiny house in Hawaii, how he saved up, how

he had to call the house a garage to get a building permit. 

Someone’s practicing the trumpet, someone’s frying bacon

and once again the wisteria across the street is trying to take over

the nation. Which could use a nice invasion, old growth trees

and sea turtles, every kind of bird marching 

on Washington. If I had something in my refrigerator,

if my house didn’t look like the woman who lives there

forgot to water the plants, I’d invite Lucia home, 

enjoy another hour of not thinking about not having a job, 

about not having a mother to move back in with.

I could pick Lucia’s brain about our circadian rhythms,

about this space between sunrise and sunset, 

ask if she’s ever managed to get inside it, the air, 

the sky ethereal as all get out—so close

and no ladder in sight.

 

 

About This Poem

“I wrote this poem while realizing how quickly my time in graduate school had sped by, and with it, much of the bravado I’d felt back when I was first quitting my job and leaving behind everything to be a poet. As scary as things got—and things got pretty scary—taking that leap saved my life.”—Valencia Robin

 

About the Poet

Valencia Robin is the recipient of a 2021 National Endowment of the Arts Fellowship. Her first collection of poems, Ridiculous Light (Persea Books, 2019), won Persea Books’ Lexi Rudnitsky First Book Prize. She is a co-director of the University of Virginia Young Writers Workshop.


Monday, April 12, 2021

Pic of the Day

Grindrs and Tinders and Growlrs, Oh My!

Dating apps, and really they are just hookup apps, suck! When you live in an area with very few gay people and no gay bars (not that any would be open right now anyway), dating apps are one of the few things to turn to in order to meet someone. Sadly, there seem to be only a few types of guys on these apps. There are the men who only want a hookup (most often they can’t host because they are cheating on someone), and all that ever happens with these guys is a suck and fuck and go, never to be heard from again.  

The one-night stand guys are bad enough, but then there are the scammers/catfishes. These guys are usually some guy at a computer in Africa, and they “fall in love” very quickly. They seem very sweet, but most often, their grammar is terrible. Some claim to be in the U.S. Army, often serving in Iraq or Afghanistan. Others just live a thousand or so miles from you. They love to send pictures, which you can often reverse image search and find who they are really of, but some even make fake social media profiles using those pics to try to deceive you further and cover their trail. Eventually, they slip up, or they begin to ask for money. Whatever it is, they seem to fall in love with you very quickly declaring that you are his soul mate. I hate these people.

 

Then, there are the cheaters who are in a relationship with a girlfriend, boyfriend, wife, or husband. They may not be just a one-night stand, though often they are. If they are with a woman, they are often bisexual or gay and in the closet. Years ago, back in Mississippi, I hooked up with a teacher. He kept talking about his kids the whole time. I thought he was talking about his students, as I always referred to my students as “my kids.” Then, mid blowjob, he mentioned his wife. It did not register with me at first. Honestly, I didn’t fully understand that’s what he said until we had finished, and he was leaving. I could be a bit naΓ―ve at times. That is the only time, to my knowledge, that I have ever hooked up with someone who was married. It was almost all worth it to run into him with his wife in Walgreens. The horror on his face was all the revenge I needed. I didn’t even act like I knew him, but it was obvious he recognized me. He hurriedly left the store with his wife.

 

Of course, there will always be the teasers. They want to lead you on. They get off on flirting and dirty talk, but they have no intention of ever meeting. This can be fun but also frustrating. You’re constantly led on, but nothing more ever happens. The worst is when they agree to meet and either cancel last minute or never show up. I’ve had this happen before too. We have probably all had this happen. Either they lose their nerve and never even go to meet you, or they get there, see you and turn around and leave.

 

In a small area, like where I live, you have another type, the ones who are always on the apps. You log on, and it’s the same guys over and over. You recognize all of them, and you know they are not compatible for one reason or another. Either they only want a very masculine guy, they want someone younger, older, or the same age, or they want a particular body type. I understand having a type, but jeez, give a guy a chance. You might find that you have more in common than you think. Even if it’s not going to be romantic, you could still be friends. Some guys will never give someone who doesn’t meet their ideal a chance.

 

Sadly, so few of the guys on these apps are looking for friends or a relationship. I have tried dating apps numerous times. On only three or four occasions have I met someone who wanted a relationship. For one reason or another, none of them ever worked out. Recently, I have tried the dating apps again, but it’s the same old shit. It’s all horndogs, scammers, cheaters, or teasers. Maybe some of the guys I’ve chatted with on these apps will turn out to be something, but I am not going to be overly optimistic. Honestly, is it too much to ask for a coffee date or to go out to dinner? I’d even be willing to go for a hike or something just to get to know a guy and meet him a few times before we jump into bed together. Is that so hard? I guess my title should have been, “Grindrs and Tinders and Growlrs, Oh Well!” It’s always worth a try.

 

P.S. I know we are in a pandemic, and options are limited until both parties are vaccinated, but this has been an issue for as long as meeting someone on the internet has been around.

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Pic of the Day

Enjoy the Little Things

“The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field, which indeed is the least of all the seeds; but when it is grown it is greater than the herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches.”

— Matthew 13:31-32

 

Canadian politician William Hamilton Merritt had a visualized for a bridge over the Niagara River. The result was the Niagara Falls Suspension Bridge which stood from 1855 to 1897 across the Niagara River and was the world's first working railway suspension bridge. Merritt gained permission from the governments of Upper Canada and the State of New York to build the bridge, and two bridge companies were formed to build and jointly own the bridge. In autumn of 1847, the companies commissioned Charles Ellet Jr. to construct a bridge at a location, selected by the companies, along the Niagara River. They selected the narrowest point from shoreline to shoreline. The first obstacle was to create a line of communication, followed by a solid line in order to establish a link to the American side, since establishing a link by water was very dangerous. The width of the area of the gorge was 800 feet apart.

 

One idea was to fly a kite across the river to begin to lay the cable. A contest was held, with a five-dollar prize, to see who could fly a kite across the Niagara Gorge. A 16-year-old American boy named Homan Walsh won the contest on the second day of the competition flying his kite from the Canadian shoreline. All of the other boys tried from the American shore. On January 30, 1848, Homan flew a kite he named Union from one side of the gorge to the other. Someone on the opposite side caught the kite and tied a stronger string to the end of the kite string, and Holman pulled the new, thicker string back across the gorge. The process was repeated with an even stronger string, then a cord, then a thin rope, then a thicker rope, and eventually a steel cable, which crossed the expanse and was strong enough to support workers, tools, and materials. Finally, a sturdy bridge, over which trains and trucks could easily pass, was completed. And it all began with a 16-year-old boy and a string.

 

In Luke 16:10, Jesus says, “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.” Therefore, the little things you have are there to prepare you for bigger things. The key is to trust God while possessing the little things. Jesus told us the little things can make a significant impact on the big picture. For instance, in the parable of the mustard seed in Matthew 13:31–32, He explains, “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field, which indeed is the least of all the seeds; but when it is grown it is greater than the herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches.” As you probably know, the mustard seed is one of the smallest seeds planted in the Middle East. But nurtured in the right conditions, it can grow into something resembling a small tree—even providing a haven for birds. Like the string that was the first building block for a mighty bridge, the tiny mustard seed can become an amazing plant.

 

In another parable found in Matthew 10:29-31, Jesus said, “Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.” Mahalia Jackson sang "His Eye Is On The Sparrow." She chose that particular bird for a reason. She did not choose a great owl, the woodpecker, or even the robin. She chose one of the smallest birds to prove that if God could watch over something that small, surely, He would watch over us who are so much bigger. 

 

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, “Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?" (Matthew 6:26) Do not dismiss the small things in your life. Small things will develop into a harvest of blessings when you allow God to use them for His glory. Faith is like that. Don’t underestimate the power of little things. Jesus took a little lunch from a little boy and fed thousands. With a little jawbone, Samson slew an army. David took a little stone and brought down a giant. With just a little faith, great things can be accomplished.

Friday, April 9, 2021

Pic of the Day

Mental Health Day


 I am not feeling well mentally or physically today. The disappointment over my dental ordeal (see yesterday's blog post and comments) has me feeling depressed and in physical pain. Thankfully, I am off work today. I have some time that I have to either take or lose by the end of our fiscal year, so I am taking off every Friday from now until the end of May. I need a break today; I need some time for myself and not have to deal with anything today.

Thursday, April 8, 2021

Pic of the Day

It’s Like Pulling Teeth


My dental appointment is today. My dentist will reevaluate this problem tooth and decide if it should be pulled. I don’t believe there is any other course of action that can be done. While I would prefer to keep all of my natural teeth, with this tooth becoming abscessed at least three separate times, I do not believe it is going to improve. If there is a crack in the tooth like he believes, then it cannot be fixed at this point and will have to be pulled. I dread this ordeal, but I hope it will cause these headaches to either cease or improve considerably.

These non-migraine/different headache pains started when this tooth trouble started back in November. For nearly six months, no treatment has helped. My dentist and my neurologist believe that it is likely this tooth is aggravating my trigeminal nerve and causing all of this pain. All of this began six weeks into my first Botox treatment. The Botox should have lasted twelve weeks, but this tooth became abscessed, and I have been unable to get rid of the pain since then. I hope that once this tooth is gone and the pressure on the trigeminal nerve is relieved, these headaches will go away, and the Botox will continue to be an effective treatment against my migraines.

Have you ever hit your funny bone (the ulnar nerve in your elbow)? If you have, then you know how painful it is, and it is unlike any other pain. Well, there is an equivalent. The headaches I have been experiencing, when at their worst, feel very similar to the pain that comes from hitting your funny bone, except that it doesn’t radiate from my elbow through my arm but radiates throughout the right side of my face, which can last hours or days. These headaches are not always that painful. Sometimes, it just a dull ache or throbbing sensation; those days are my good days. Pain medicine almost never helps, so I am ready for this ordeal to be over and done. 

Just pull the damn tooth. If he does, then I will probably either spend the day on the couch or in my bed watching Star Trek. If I’m still recovering on Friday, I may just laze around and watch the original Star Wars trilogy. I have a feeling this is going to be a sci-fi weekend since that is often what helps soothe me.


UPDATE: Apparently, it’s not “like pulling teeth,” at least not today. My dentist can't pull the tooth because of all the work done on the tooth. The visible part of the tooth is basically filling at this point, and it would likely break off leaving the roots. He said that the roots themselves are very long, and one is even curved, which adds further complications. He basically said that if he pulled the tooth, it would likely be a long, difficult, and painful procedure, but an oral surgeon will have no problem. I have to call this afternoon to get an appointment with an oral surgeon. He said it is unlikely I will get an appointment next week, and it will probably be a few weeks. He is calling in another prescription of doxycycline for me so I will have it on hand if the infection flares up again. He said he did not want me in pain over a weekend and not be able to do anything. Because the tooth wasn't pulled, I am going to work today from home. There is no point in taking a sick day today because I will need it for the oral surgery. I am very disappointed. I wanted this tooth gone today; I am so tired of this pain. However, I understand his reasoning. He showed me the x-ray of the tooth and explained exactly what the problems were. I guess it will just be a few more weeks of pain caused by this tooth.

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Pic of the Day

Programming Woes


On Monday, I mentioned that I would be doing a program for the museum. Not all went according to plan. While everyone who provided feedback said that they loved the content and thought it was fascinating, there were some technical issues. I set up the program in the museum's entry area; however, the lighting was not as good as I had hoped it would be. I thought the natural lighting provided by the windows would provide nice lighting. Sadly, it was too bright outside, and the backlighting caused the picture to be poorer than it should have been. The room also has a concrete floor which caused an echo effect that I had not anticipated. It's an excellent place for receptions but not for recording programs live. 

I had set up to do the program in a talk show discussion format with my program partner. Because we were doing this with a webcam and external microphone hooked up to a laptop, we could only have one microphone. I had an omnidirectional microphone that should have picked up both of our voices, but my program partner kept turning and looking at the camera instead of at me, causing his voice to go in and out throughout the program. Considering the format, it would have looked more natural if he had talked to me instead of the camera. However, he tends to like to show how much he knows and hear the sound of his own voice. I thought I could control this aspect of his personality, and while I did get some discussion of my own in, he did most of the talking.

 

I also had my director running the webinar's technical aspects because he assured me he could handle it and knew what he was doing. This was a fatal mistake. My director always thinks he knows what he is doing but rarely does. So, when it came time to share a clip during the program, he couldn't seem to get it to work. He shared the screen but couldn't get the audio to work. He also appears to have done something that caused the program we were using to record only the audio (along with the minute or so of silent screen sharing) but did not save the video. This is an issue because several people had contacted me before the webinar to tell me that they would be unable to attend live and wondered if it would be available afterward. I had assured them it would be, but now I have to contact them again and tell them that the video is not available. 

 

Because the video is not available, I cannot watch it and learn from the mistakes made. On Monday, when I am back at the museum, my director and I will practice in another area of the museum to check lighting issues and sound quality and try to figure out what went wrong with the webinar's recording. We are doing all of this because we have the second part of this program at the end of the month. I want things to go better for the second one. I always feel terrible when things don’t go as I want them to go, and I can be a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to my public programs for the museum. It was the same when I used to be the drama club advisor at my old school. I needed everything to go smoothly, but unexpected things always happen.

 

With all of that said, I thoroughly enjoyed the talk show-style format and most people who watched it enjoyed it as well. My program partner will be joining me for the second part as well, and I have some ideas on how to manage him better. I let him determine that we would conduct the discussion freestyle, but I plan to have a more structured outline for the second one. A more structured program will hopefully allow for an equal discussion between the two of us. I will also tell him that he needs to look at me so that the microphone can pick up his voice better. I also plan to set up in our conference room to allow for a more controlled lighting and sound environment. We have all of our live programs there and have not experienced the echoing or lighting problems we experienced in the other space. I hope I can figure out how to correct the issues we had.

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Pic of the Day

From you have I been absent in the spring (Sonnet 98)

From you have I been absent in the spring (Sonnet 98)
By William Shakespeare

 

From you have I been absent in the spring,

When proud-pied April, dressed in all his trim,

Hath put a spirit of youth in everything,

That heavy Saturn laughed and leaped with him,

Yet nor the lays of birds, nor the sweet smell

Of different flowers in odor and in hue,

Could make me any summer's story tell,

Or from their proud lap pluck them where they grew.

Nor did I wonder at the lily's white,

Nor praise the deep vermilion in the rose;

They were but sweet, but figures of delight,

Drawn after you, you pattern of all those.

    Yet seemed it winter still, and, you away,

    As with your shadow I with these did play.

Monday, April 5, 2021

Pic of the Day

Busy Week Ahead

I’m going to have a busy week. Today, I have a program for the museum that I am not only hosting, but I’m also one of the presenters. I’ve spent weeks preparing for this program. When I checked yesterday morning, 43 people had signed up for the program. We have presented some great programs, but we’ve never had more than 25 people attend one of our virtual programs. I’m excited and nervous, and I hope that even more will sign up before the program. I also really hope that it goes well, as I do with all programs, but the pressure is a little more since I am one of the two presenters.

 

Once the program is over, I then have a professional development webinar/panel discussion to attend virtually. One thing this pandemic has done is made professional development more accessible. A few organizations have been doing virtual webinars for a while, but most were not. Now, everyone is doing virtual professional development and conferences out of necessity. Just like my public programs at the museum, I prefer to attend these things in person. I want to see people and have a chance to meet them face to face and not over a webcam, but we do what we have to do. I have had the opportunity to attend more conferences and professional development because I don’t have to worry about travel expenses, but also besides interacting with people, I enjoy traveling. So to increase availability and convenience, organizations have had to sacrifice the perk of traveling to conferences.

 

Tuesday will be a relatively quiet day, but then Wednesday is possibly the busiest. The day starts with a staff meeting in the morning, followed immediately by a workshop. Hopefully, there is time for lunch before another meeting about an upcoming program for students. The museum is only open to students, faculty, and staff, and few people have come into the museum to see the current exhibit, which we spent months preparing. The exhibit opened just before the pandemic hit, and so few people have seen all of the hard work we put into it. So, we are planning a museum day to try and get students into the museum. We can only have 20 students at a time, and I hope we can get that many to come. I want to have some food for them, which they cannot regularly get while they have been quarantined on campus. I just haven’t figured out what the refreshments will be yet.

 

Thursday will be the most challenging. I am having a tooth pulled. This tooth has become abscessed several times, and it has had a root canal performed on it. My dentist believes it has a crack in it and will not get any better. It will continue to hurt; it will continue to become infected; it will continue to aggravate the trigeminal nerve in my face. While I would love to keep my tooth, the truth is that not much of the tooth is left after the root canal and the complications afterward. This tooth is likely the cause of the intense pain I have suffered from for the last five or six months. My dentist thinks that pulling this tooth will eliminate the problems with my trigeminal nerve, and my neurologist agrees.

 

While the tooth extraction is all I have going on Thursday, that should be enough. A tooth extraction is not something you recover from in a few hours. It will take at least 24 hours to return to any normalcy in eating, but it will take several weeks before it is healed enough to replace the tooth. While it is certainly not something I am looking forward to having done, I am looking forward to what we all hope the result will be.

 

Friday will be a day of rest after a busy week. Next week so far looks much more easygoing, though I will get my second COVID vaccine shot a week from Thursday. I am so excited that I will be fully vaccinated in just a few weeks and know that life returning to normal is on the horizon.

Sunday, April 4, 2021

Pic of the Day

Reflections on Easter ✝️

Christ and St Mary Magdalen at the Tomb

Rembrandt (1638)

Now the first day of the week Mary Magdalene went to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb. Then she ran and came to Simon Peter, and to the other disciple, whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him.”

—John 20:1-2

 

Growing up, I was always taught that Easter was the most important celebration in all of Christianity. The death and resurrection of Jesus are the most important events and a foundation of the Christian faith. Whether Jesus rose from the dead is the most critical question regarding the Christian faith. The resurrection of Jesus was part of the plan of salvation and redemption by atonement for man's sin.

 

When I think of the arrest, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus, I always think of how terrified his disciples must have been. Rome was the greatest authority in the known world for them, and Jesus had been arrested by the Temple guards of the Sanhedrin, the representatives of Imperial Rome’s authority in Judaea. They had to be asking themselves: would they be next? would they be tried and crucified? what would become of them? how could they go on without their leader and Savior?

 

They had seen their Lord and Savior die in the most brutal form of execution in the Roman Empire. The crucifixion had been a frightening experience according to Luke 23:44-45, which says, “Now it was about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour. Then the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was torn in two. Following the world around them literally turning to darkness as their Savior died, Luke 23:46 tells us that, “And when Jesus had cried out with a loud voice, He said, “Father, ‘into Your hands I commit My spirit.’ ” Having said this, He breathed His last.” Their Savior had died. I would have felt like my life was over. 

 

Even though Jesus had told them he would be resurrected, the disciples did not understand. In John 2:19, Jesus “said to them, ‘Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.’” The disciples thought he was speaking literally of the Temple, just John 2:21 tells us, “But He was speaking of the temple of His body.” Even if they believed that Jesus would rise from the dead, they thought he was speaking of living in eternity in Heaven with his Father or of a literal rebuilding of the Temple. It was not until they saw him in the flesh that they believed in a literal resurrection. So, the fear of his death was real. They were in a heightened state of fear during this time.

 

Their fear is evident in the discovery that Jesus’s body was missing from the tomb. Matthew 28:1-7 describes the scene:

 

Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from Heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat on it.  His countenance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. And the guards shook for fear of him, and became like dead men. But the angel answered and said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead, and indeed He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him. Behold, I have told you.”

 

Even after Mary Magdalene told the others that she had seen the risen Lord and that he had spoken to her, they were still afraid: John 20:19-20 tells us about this continued fear:

 

Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.

 

The sight of the risen Jesus must have been a wondrous sight for the disciples. Not all would believe it was Him. Matthew 28:17 says, “When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted.” The Apostle Thomas (Doubting Thomas) refused to believe that the resurrected Jesus had appeared to the ten other apostles. When Jesus appeared to him as related in John 20:24–29, he still did not believe until he could see and feel the wounds received by Jesus on the cross.

 

The joy that the disciples must have felt when they realized that Jesus had risen from the dead must have been ecstatic. Jesus then gave them the Great Commission. Matthew 28:18-20 says:

 

And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in Heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

 

This Easter and every day, we should remember what Jesus commands of us. We should not forget the love and sacrifice that Jesus brought to this world as our Savior. Jesus is with us always, and as corny as it may be these days, all our actions should be influenced by asking ourselves, “What would Jesus do?” Jesus showed partiality to the downtrodden, the oppressed, and those who society cast aside. We can’t hide in fear but live proudly in a Christ-like manner. Jesus taught that all are accepted and loved by God, not just those who follow the narrow-minded beliefs of fundamentalist Christians, who have lost what it means to be followers of Christ. Jesus died and suffered for us to love and accept our fellow humans and to live by His example. If we hate, show prejudice, or reject those who do not believe as we think they should believe, we are not following the example given to us by Jesus.

 

HAPPY EASTER, EVERYONE!

MAY THE LOVE OF CHRIST BE IN YOU.

 

On a happier note, below you will find the cutest Easter card that I received from my friend Susan. It just made me laugh. As the card says on the inside:

 

Hope you find lots of fun this Easter!