Thursday, July 29, 2021

Pic of the Day

Nudity and the Ancient Olympics


If the modern Olympic Games ran true to the strict customs of ancient Greece, they might well today have been called the "Naked Games". From the early 8th century BC, Olympic athletes competed in the nude. There are indisputable records going back to Athenian philosopher Plato in the 5th century BC and even Homer's Iliad, as well as many explicit drawings that confirm it was common practice for all male track and field athletes to take part naked. This included the often-dangerous sports of discus throwing, wrestling, boxing, and horse racing without protective clothing. 

 

There was a version of protection used by the Ancient Greeks, but one that would be odd to us today to be considered much protection. To protect the penis during wrestling matches and other contact sports, the men would tie a string known as a kynodesme around the tip of their foreskin enclosing their glans, thus keeping the glans safe. The kynodesme could then either be attached to a waist band to expose the scrotum or tied to the base of the penis so that the penis appeared to curl upwards.

 

The only exception to the nudity rule seems to have been for charioteers, who wore long white tunics. The words gymnastics and gymnasium are based on the Greek adjective gymnos, which means lightly-clad or naked. For non-charioteers, the only adornment on the athletes' bronzed, muscular torsos would have been the gleam of olive oil with which they ritually anointed themselves.

 

Some historians have believed that the reason for competing nude was to make sure that women did not compete. According to one legend, it was discovered that a woman had competed and won, so it was decreed that athletes would compete nude from that point on to make sure that only men competed in the Olympics. It was also said that this was done to make sure that non-Greeks, particularly Jews or others who practiced circumcision, could not compete. Only a man who was uncircumcised was allowed to compete.

 

According to Dionysius of Halicarnassus, a writer in the 1st century BCE, Greek athletes did not compete in the nude until the 15th Olympiad in 720 BCE, more than 2700 years ago. That was more than half a century after the birth of the first Olympic Games, which originated in Olympia, in southern Greece, in 776 BCE. A Spartan runner named Acanthus was said to have set the fashion by appearing without the customary loincloth. Two hundred years later, the origin of this practice of nudity was attributed to another sprinter, Osippus, who won the one-stade footrace (about 200 yards) at the Olympics of 720 BCE. It was said he realized that a naked man could run faster than one impeded by a loincloth.

 

In the 7th century CE, more than 1300 years later, writer Isidore of Seville suggested that during a race in Athens, one of the runners had the bad luck to trip over his own loincloth when it slipped down. A magistrate in charge of the games ordered a new ruling that athletes should compete in the nude. The historian Thucydides, who lived at the end of the 5th century BCE, wrote that it was the "Spartans who were the first to play games naked, to take off their clothes openly and to rub themselves down with olive oil after their exercise. In ancient times even at the Olympic Games the athletes used to wear coverings for their loins and indeed this practice was still in existence not very many years ago."

 

Women were not completely excluded from the Olympics. While married women were not allowed to participate in, or to watch, the ancient Olympic Games, unmarried women could attend the competition, and the priestess of Demeter, goddess of fertility, was given a privileged position next to the Stadium altar. During the classic period in Greece (500–323 BCE), women were allowed to participate in sporting events in Sparta, and there were two other events for sportswomen from other parts of Greece, Athens and Delos.

 

The closest thing to a women’s version of the Ancient Olympics were the Heraean Games, a separate festival honoring the Greek goddess Hera, which was held to demonstrate the athleticism of young, unmarried women. The athletes, with their hair hanging freely and dressed in special tunics that cut just above the knee and bared their right shoulder and breast, competed in footraces. The track shortened to about one-sixth the length of the men’s track in the Olympic Stadium. It’s uncertain if men were barred from these all-female races. Little is known about this festival other than what was written by Pausanias, a 2nd century CE Greek traveler. He mentions it in his description of the Temple of Hera in the Sanctuary of Zeus and says that it was organized and supervised by a committee of sixteen women from the cities of Elis. The festival took place every four years, when a new peplos, a body-length garment established as typical attire for women in ancient Greece, was woven and presented to Hera inside her temple.

 

It wasn’t that women were discouraged from sports in general; physical fitness was highly valued by women in Greece. A few women have been documented driving chariots, owning horses that won Olympic competitions, swimming, juggling, performing acrobatics, and potentially even wrestling. Spartan women were well-known for promoting physical education, believing good fitness assisted in healthy childbirth. By the first century CE, female athletic competitions were common under the Roman Empire. The first woman recorded to have won an event in the Olympics was Kyniska (or Cynisca) of Sparta, the daughter of Eurypontid king, Archidamus II, and the full sister of King Agesilaus (399–360 BCE). She won the four-horse chariot race in 396 and again in 392.

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Pic of the Day

Migraines


I have been out sick from work for the past two days because of a major migraine. The new medicine for the trigeminal neuralgia (TN) has been helping with that pain. My neurologist doubled the dosage because the smaller dose was helping, but I was still having some nerve pain. The higher dose seems to be working but is also making me very drowsy. I felt a little drowsy with the smaller dose, but nothing like this. I’ll see how it goes at work today when I will be more active.

 

While the TN seems to have gotten better, I do still get migraines occasionally, and when I do, they are doozies. This one actually started on Sunday. I hope today is headache free, or at least mostly so. I have to be at work today because I have two important meetings. One has been rescheduled twice, and another has been rescheduled once. I can’t reschedule again. So, we’ll see how today goes.

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Pic of the Day

The World's Wanderers

 



The World's Wanderers

By Percy Bysshe Shelley - 1792-1822

 

                      I

Tell me, thou star, whose wings of light

Speed thee in thy fiery flight,

In what cavern of the night

            Will thy pinions close now?

 

                      II

Tell me, moon, thou pale and grey

Pilgrim of heaven’s homeless way,

In what depth of night or day

            Seekest thou repose now?

 

                     III

Weary wind, who wanderest

Like the world’s rejected guest,

Hast thou still some secret nest

            On the tree or billow?

Monday, July 26, 2021

Pic of the Day

The Dinner Date


My date Saturday cooked me dinner. It was originally supposed to be an early dinner, which I thought meant 5 pm or 6 pm at the latest. However, we did a lot of talking over coffee first, and he started cooking dinner around 7 pm. The had decided he wanted to grill and air- or dry-steak. Dry-aged beef is apparently known for its richer flavor and more tender texture than its fresh-cut counterparts. We went to a butcher shop near his house to get the steak cut fresh. Apparently, it is best to have a thick cut of meat, in this case about 1.5”, instead of two thinner steaks. I’ll be honest here, when I saw it, the steak did not look that appetizing. In fact, it looked like it had gone bad, but that’s because a lot of the moisture is taken out of it, similar to the curing process for prosciutto. I do love a good steak, so I kept an open mind.

 

He also roasted some root vegetables—carrots and parsnips—and sautéed some greens, which included collard and Swiss chard. He finished the greens with a balsamic sesame reduction. There was also a cucumber and tomato salad in a tasty yogurt (I think anyway) dill dressing. Everything was perfectly prepared, and while the steak was more rare than I normally prefer, the taste was divine. It was only seasoned with a little salt and pepper before it was grilled, but the taste was pure steak. Unless you’ve had dry-aged beef, I cannot describe just how good this was. The roasted root vegetables and the greens were also very good.

 

The whole meal was fantastic. My cooking is usually more on the simple southern cooking side, though I can make a few high end dishes. This was more on the gourmet side, and he obviously enjoyed cooking for someone else. I felt honored that he made me such a meal. We ended the night with a simple blueberry cherry parfait with layers of whipped cream and Mascarpone mixture. 

 

As I was leaving, I told him how much I’d enjoyed the museum, the conversation and company, the the delicious meal. I also told him I hoped I’d see him again. He said that we’d definitely see each other again and that he had a wonderful times as well. Now, the question is do I text him and if so, when? Or do I wait and let him make the next move? I have never been good at this part of a first date. I have tried both approaches and I’ve rarely gotten a second date. Only three or four times in my life have I gotten multiple dates. I just don’t know.

 

Also, because I was there until nearly midnight, I fear that I overstayed my welcome, but one friend told me that you don’t talk for ten solid hours if you didn’t like the person. I really enjoyed talking to him and spending time with him. He’s a very nice man, so I guess time will tell if this will be a friendship, a romantic relationship, or if it will just fizzle away. I do hope it’s friendship or romance, but time will tell.

Sunday, July 25, 2021

Pic of the Day

Wisdom


But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.

 James 3:17


God’s wisdom is not the same as what we see in our world. Our world is loud, it pushes to be seen, it fights to be right, and believes it knows best. God’s wisdom looks like an open mind, empathy, merciful, pure, and full of peace. Pray that God would fill you with His wisdom that you can rely on as you navigate a chaos-filled world. 


___________


 

Short and sweet today because I did not get home from my date until 1 am. We met at a museum then went to his place, where he cooked me dinner. It was delicious, and we spent the rest of the evening talking. Basically from 2 pm until I left around midnight, we talked almost nonstop. I had a great time, and I hope this isn’t the last time I see him. I think he’d make a great friend.

Friday, July 23, 2021

Pic of the Day

Pending…


We had the meeting yesterday morning, and quite honestly, it probably couldn’t have gone worse. It appeared that all hope was lost. We were being forced to compromise. They let us have our say, then we were told they did not care. The directive had come from on high. The situation was as bleak as it could possibly be.

However, there were some late day developments that may have changed some things, I can’t go into details because quite honestly, I don’t know what’s going to happen next week. We were told things needed to be put on hold until this could be discussed further when the ultimate decision maker would be back. Let’s just say we were given the impression that the directive did not come from on high. The fat lady hasn’t sung quite yet, and the ultimate decision is still pending, I don’t see a different outcome in our future, but I think the ultimate decision will be delivered with more tact in hopes of mollifying everyone.

Anyway, I have my interview at 10 am, and after the interview (probably after lunch), I’ll update this post with how it went. Until then, I hope today is a better day than yesterday.

UPDATE: My interview seemed to go exceptionally well. She said that I sounded exactly like what they were looking for, and the job seemed to be well-suited to me because of my description to her of why I was interested in the position. Because this is a new position they were creating, she asked if I would be comfortable in starting in a position that had no prior established procedures. I told her that in my current position, I had been hired as the first person to hold this newly created position, so I had experience with this aspect of the job and looked forward to the opportunity to mold the position into the best it can be. We talked about a lot of things, and she brought up a discussion of salary, and it is in the range I was considering, so that’s definitely a plus. 

In addition to all of that, the phone interview was supposed to take 20-30 minutes and took about 40 minutes instead. That seems like a good sign to me. She said she’d pass her notes and my application material to the museum’s hiring committee (she’s just the first line HR person), and she’d let me know the next step (i.e. if they were going to continue with me as a candidate or not) early next week, possibly Tuesday or Wednesday. She’ll give them her recommendation, and we’ll see how it goes from there. She seemed to be leaning in the direction that I was exactly what they were looking for in this position.

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Pic of the Day

Down in the Upper Valley*


Yesterday, I had to drive down to White River Junction, Vermont, on the New Hampshire border for an appointment to get fitted for a new type of CPAP mask, since the one I have is aggravating my trigeminal neuralgia. I did get a new mask, and I just have to see how it works. There weren’t a lot of options that don’t put pressure on the right side of my head. I just can’t continue with the old mask which was causing me to go to sleep in pain and wake up in pain. I hope this helps, but there are other options if it doesn’t. I was told by my sleep doctor that I had to try the new masks before we could move onto other solutions.


While I was in that part of the state, I decided to go to the King Arthur Baking Store in Norwich, Vermont. They have a really nice kitchen store that sells much more than just King Arthur Flour. It’s expensive , but it’s fun to look. However, I got there and it was so crowded with people, I decided not to even go in to have a look around. Instead, I decided to drive across the border to Hanover, New Hampshire. Hanover, you may know, is the home of Dartmouth College. The college makes up most of the town, but it’s a beautiful little New England town. I had wanted to check out where a few restaurants I’d heard about were and see what the parking situation was, which turned out to be basically nonexistent. All I saw was a few street side metered parking spaces. Nowhere seems to have their own parking lot.


While the buildings on the campus and in the town are beautiful, the better view is of the male students. Basically, they all look like J. Crew models, and there’s a good reason for that. One of the largest retailers near the campus is J. Crew. Not only do all of the guys dress preppy, they are all pretty cute too. The women on the other hand seem to all dress like hippies. None of them look to take particular care of their appearance, but I’d venture to guess, they work really hard to have the appearance of not working hard on their appearance. In Vermont, unshaven men and women seem to be the norm, and most clothing appears to be from either vintage clothing store or if they want to dress up, L.L. Bean and their flannel collection. I am only exaggerating slightly. However, seeing Dartmouth students walking around Hanover, it’s refreshing to see guys clean shaven and dressed nicely.


* * * * *

 

In other news, my coworkers and I at the museum have been strategizing on how to best deal with the issue over the current exhibit. I’ll make sure that I update y’all tomorrow. I am not looking forward to today, but at some point we have to make a stand. I just pray, this isn’t our version of Custer’s Last Stand. All we can do is make our case and hope for the best. If it goes against us, there are back-up contingencies. I just hope we don’t have to go that route. I am looking forward to my phone interview tomorrow, and I’m going on a date Saturday afternoon. He’s a professor in Burlington, and we’re going to meet at a museum up there. Then the plan is to go back to his house for an early dinner. I’ve enjoyed my chats with him so far, and I hope it’s a pleasant experience Saturday afternoon.



*The Upper Valley straddles the Connecticut River between New Hampshire and Vermont which includes the towns of Hanover and Lebanon in New Hampshire, and White River Junction and Norwich in Vermont.

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Pic of the Day

Boston


Boston

By Aaron Smith

 

I've been meaning to tell

you how the sky is pink

here sometimes like the roof

of a mouth that's about to chomp

down on the crooked steel teeth

of the city,

 

I remember the desperate 

things we did

            and that I stumble

down sidewalks listening

to the buzz of street lamps

at dusk and the crush

of leaves on the pavement,

 

Without you here I'm viciously lonely

 

and I can't remember 

the last time I felt holy,

the last time I offered

myself as sanctuary

 

*

 

I watched two men 

press hard into

each other, their bodies

caught in the club’s

bass drum swell,

and I couldn’t remember

when I knew I’d never

be beautiful, but it must 

have been quick

and subtle, the way

the holy ghost can pass

in and out of a room.

I want so desperately

to be finished with desire,

the rushing wind, the still

small voice.

 

 

About the Poem

 

"Boston" shows loneliness and a yearning for someone that is no longer there. The poem is about how empty and lost we can feel when we are missing someone and no longer able to find comfort in them. During these times, the world seems too big and vast and it feels as though we cannot find ourself. The speaker of the poem remembers back to how he used to feel and how what he used to do now only adds to how deserted he feels. In the poem, the speaker has lost a sense for who he is, saying how he "couldn't remember when [he] knew [he'd] never be beautiful, but it must have been quick and subtle, the way the holy ghost can pass in and out of a room." He doesn't even feel like he's living because the person he loves is no longer with him. The speaker is trying to find strength around him, but the city he's in is not providing him with any solace.

 

Although this poem is depressing, the audience is meant to be able to relate to it. Smith writes in a way that makes the reader feel the emptiness of both Boston and the space around the speaker without the person he loves by his side. The poem does not portray loneliness as a negative thing, instead, the audience feels the pain of the speaker and, if they have ever experienced a similar situation, is able to empathize with him.

 

We’ve all felt lonely in our lives. When I went to Italy for my dissertation research, I was alone and I remember how lonely I felt, even though I was surrounded by people. Ironically, I also went on a research trip to Boston, but I had a friend with me, so that was not somewhere I felt lonely. In fact, I had a constant companion on that research trip, but in Italy, I was all alone and knew no one. The loneliest I think I ever felt was when I first moved to Vermont, especially after a close friend died. I felt as if my life had fallen apart and no one could relate. Susan helped me through that period more than anyone. Even so, I felt a void in my life from the loss of my friend. The poem paints the feeling of missing someone in a beautiful way, so that while reading it, you can connect to the speaker's pain and, for me, share in the speakers feelings of loneliness.

 

About the Poet

 

Aaron Smith is the author of two collections of poetry both published by the Pitt Poetry Series: Appetite, finalist for the Paterson Poetry Prize, the Lambda Literary Award, and the Thom Gunn Award, and Blue on Blue Ground, winner of the Agnes Lynch Starrett prize. His work has appeared in numerous publications including Ploughshares and The Best American Poetry 2013. He is assistant professor in creative writing at Lesley University in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

 

Monday, July 19, 2021

Pic of the Day

Being “Real” for a Moment


Will you allow me to be “real” for a moment? 

I know it can seem vapid and self-serving to be slutty on the internet, but truthfully it’s a lot bigger than that.

I can’t speak for everyone else, but for me, this isn’t the easiest thing in the world I’ve ever done. In fact, two years ago I would have never even posted a shirtless picture of myself online because I didn’t believe I had a body worth sharing.

It’s taken a lot of work to get to where I am now and I am so proud of myself. I never thought I would be strong enough to be this open. While getting called “hot” will always feel good, that has never been the reason behind any this.

But it is also really hard sometimes, because whether you intend to or not, you are giving other people a lot of power over you. It can sometimes hurt my confidence doing this, but I recognize that as an inherent part of it. It’s important to keep my chin up.

What bothers me the most is that sometimes I feel like my true self gets lost in this. What I put out here is only one side of myself, and truthfully not always a very genuine one either. It’s fun to put on an act and be slutty, but sometimes it can be work.

Still, I recognize that this is all part of it and remain adamant that what we’re doing is important. Whether you realize it or not, because it is easy to become desensitized to it, what we’re doing here is extreme. But that’s a good thing.

By sharing ourselves, we are not only celebrating different types of bodies but also normalizing them. By sharing our kinks and fetishes and the way we have sex, we are dismantling the systems that say that they are wrong or taboo.

We are creating an environment that is conducive to safer, freer sex. We are creating a world where you don’t have to look like a Sean Cody model to feel good and sexy.

It feels awesome to be active in a community that welcomes and accepts everyone. It’s all of you who have inspired and guided me to this point, and I hope I am doing the same for other people.

So we shouldn’t undervalue what we’re doing here. It’s fun and sexy but it’s also creating the foundation for a new world where we all feel beautiful and sexy and worthy.

 

Warning: None of the links in this post are SFW.

 

Often, when I come across an attractive guy on Twitter, especially those with an Only Fans (OF) account, they often do seem seem vapid and self-serving. There are any number of reasons why a guy shows off on the internet and has an OF. Sometimes it’s simply because they need the money, and they have a body (or a particular physical attribute, i.e. ðŸ† or ðŸ‘) which can be used to make that money. Others use it because they like to show off their bodies, and they get aroused by performing for others. Then there are some who are simply vapid and self-serving, but there are also those who use Twitter or OF because it boosts their self-esteem and confidence.

The above series of tweets is from a handsome young guy from Alabama named Samuel, a.k.a. @galactaqueer. I think the most important thing he says here is: 

By sharing ourselves, we are not only celebrating different types of bodies but also normalizing them. By sharing our kinks and fetishes and the way we have sex, we are dismantling the systems that say that they are wrong or taboo. We are creating an environment that is conducive to safer, freer sex. We are creating a world where you don’t have to look like a Sean Cody model to feel good and sexy. It feels awesome to be active in a community that welcomes and accepts everyone. It’s all of you who have inspired and guided me to this point, and I hope I am doing the same for other people. So we shouldn’t undervalue what we’re doing here. It’s fun and sexy but it’s also creating the foundation for a new world where we all feel beautiful and sexy and worthy.

Samuel is right. We need to normalize all kinds of sex as long as it is not harming someone else. We often are made to feel bad about ourselves for our innermost fantasies, but just because others might see us as kinky, doesn’t mean that our desires are wrong. We also need to be more body positive. Few people look like porn models, and very few have the physical attributes that porn models have. We need to learn how to feel sexy on our own. It’s been many years since I felt beautiful or sexy, and I wasn’t even fully happy with myself back then. Even when I had a better physique and more hair, I still had vitiligo. During puberty, I began to lose the pigment in the skin my hands and in more intimate areas. People notice it and ask about it all the time, much to my embarrassment. I’ve been asked if I burned my fingers or if parts of me were dirty because of the darker patches that can also happen with vitiligo. Sometimes people are very sensitive about the issue when they ask; others are very blunt to the point of rudeness.



Recently, I came across another guy on Twitter who also has an OF, Jay Mason, a.k.a. @homoblanket. Like me, Jay has vitiligo, yet he’s a bit more fair-skinned and hairier than I am, so it’s not always as noticeable. Jay’s vitiligo also isn’t on his hands or face where it would be be noticeable when he’s not naked. Mine began appearing on hands early on and most recently, it has spread to my face, though it is not as noticeable on my face as it is on my hands. The point of this is that Jay doesn’t hide his vitiligo and shows how his confidence makes it basically not an issue. I’m sure there are those who make negative or ignorant comments, but if they bother Jay, he doesn’t let it show. He uses his OF to fund his dream of becoming a songwriter in Nashville.



Another guy that I enjoy following on Twitter is Lucas, a.k.a. @LucasCashXXX. Lucas is a 21 year old personal trainer from Alabama who just enjoys showing off. Personal trainers have been hit hard by the pandemic. Often, they are self-employed and when gyms closed, they were no longer able to see their clients. Many did virtual training for those who had access to fitness equipment at home, but they often still took a hit to their finances. Single, self-employed individuals did not get the same benefits of many others who were affected by the pandemic. I find Lucas to be probably the sexiest of them all, and he certainly has those physical attributes that come in very handy with an OF account.

 

Not only do all of these guys have a Twitter and OF, they also have one other thing in common, they are all from Alabama. Recently, Alabama ranked as the worst state to be LGBTQ+, and I agree with that assessment. There are a few places in Alabama, such as Birmingham or Mobile, that make it somewhat easier to be LGBTQ+, but the rest of the state can make it very difficult. I’m glad that all of these guys have found an outlet for their sexuality and that they feel confident enough to show their beauty to the world. From what I have seen from Samuel, Jay, and Lucas, they are all beautiful people inside and out. If you are so inclined, I hope you’ll go follow them, and if you subscribe to any OF, maybe you’ll check them out there as well. From the previews on their Twitter feeds, I’d say it would be well worth it. See one of those previews below:


Sunday, July 18, 2021

Pic of the Day

Love Unconditionally

A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.

John 13:34-35

Believers are to be the embodiment of God’s love here on Earth. God desires we extend love to every person, no matter their background. We are to love each others because God loves us. We must show unconditional love today and every day.

 

All too often people only love conditionally. Some people are stingy with their love and they only claim to love us if we follow their rules. The problem is that their rules are not always God’s rules. By putting demands on others before giving your love is not following God’s rules. God wants us to love unconditionally. If conditions are put on love, then it is not love. If someone tell you they can’t love you if you’re gay, then they will never love you and never have.

 

The Greatest Commandment is found in the New Testament to describe the first of two commandments cited by Jesus in Matthew 22:37-40:

 

‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

 

and in Mark 12:28-34

 

Then one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, perceiving that He had answered them well, asked Him, “Which is the first commandment of all?”

 

Jesus answered him, “The first of all the commandments is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

 

So the scribe said to Him, “Well said, Teacher. You have spoken the truth, for there is one God, and there is no other but He. And to love Him with all the heart, with all the understanding, with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is more than all the whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.”

 

Now when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, He said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.”

 

But after that no one dared question Him.

 

Most Christian denominations consider these two commandments to be the core of correct Christian lifestyle. However, many of those denominations put conditions on their love. Some churches don’t allow gay people to be members of their congregation and other preach hatred for those who do not conform to their narrow twisted beliefs. Matthew 23 addresses this issue when Jesus calls out the scribes and the Pharisees, which is summed up in verse 14 of that chapter:

 

But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in.

 

The Great Commandment that Jesus quoted is derived from Deuteronomy 6:4-5, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength." It is also in Leviticus 19:18, “You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.”

 

I’ve always had a hard time understanding how people who call themselves Christians can put conditions on love and even claim that They are doing so because God commands them to put conditions on love, when the opposite is true. God forbids us from putting conditions on love. He commands for us to love unconditionally. There are no exceptions; there are no caveats. God commands us simply to “love one another.”

Saturday, July 17, 2021

Pic of the Day

Moment of Zen: Boats




Although I do sometimes get seasick on rough waters, I love being on a boat. I’ve always loved the water, whether I’m in it, near it, or floating above it.

Friday, July 16, 2021

Pic of the Day

Deliveries!


We are blessed with two very nice and very hot UPS delivery guys in my town. At first, I thought we only had one, but I was talking to my neighbor on Wednesday, and we realized, though they look very similar, there are indeed two of them. One actually makes his route from behind the house going toward Main Street and doesn’t wear a hat, while the other one come up from Main Street and wears a baseball cap. My neighbor and I both have a thing for our sweet UPS guys. Plus, they always bring our packages directly to our door and if it’s raining, makes sure they won’t get wet. Both are also very friendly when we happen to be outside when they deliver.

I am not as enamored with our FedEx delivery guy. In fact, every time I get a notice that a package is being delivered by FedEx, I audibly groan. There are four apartments in the house that I live in, two in the north side of the house, and then mine and my downstairs neighbor on the south side of the house. The two apartments on the north side have both front doors and back doors, whereas my downstairs neighbor only has a door facing the back of the house, and my door is on the side of the house up a flight of stairs. On the path to the front doors is a cute little sign made by our landlord that says “Please make deliveries to the back.” I also set up a FedEx account so that I could put delivery instructions on every package delivered to me telling the driver where on the property to deliver the package. Each apartment is clearly numbered at our entrances on the back and side of the house. Our UPS deliveries are always left at the correct door.

When FedEx delivers, we never know where he is going to leave our packages, if he leaves them at all. I had a package that was supposed to be delivered yesterday, and the tracking said it was on the truck to be delivered. However, there was an exemption, with no explanation, saying it would be delivered today. My faith in today's delivery is not strong. I’ve had packages sit for days at the FedEx facility near Burlington. I would be more understanding if there was inclement weather, or I could understand if there was a one-time mechanical issue with the truck. But, unlike UPS, FedEx never explains why there is a delay. It has also happened numerous times. Some days, they just never deliver, and yesterday’s exception was logged at 11:30 am. If UPS logs an exception in their tracking it is never registered until after 9:30 pm.

Even once it is delivered, we never know where it will be delivered. Sometimes, the FedEx driver literally steps over the sign saying to make deliveries to the back. Other times, it has been chucked over the side fence. We actually watched the driver do this one day. I’ve also had packages left sitting out in the rain. If the package actually makes it near my apartment, the driver throws it up on the landing at the top of the steps. How do I know this? When there is snow, and I keep my landing and stairs mostly clear of snow, I have seen the skid marks the package makes when it is thrown up the stairs. Back when I was having my monthly migraine injections overnighted to me in a cooler from Dartmouth’s pharmacy, I always had to hunt down my medicine. After the second or third time, I called FedEx to complain. I was told to put the delivery instructions on my account, which I did. The driver rarely follows the delivery instructions. 

I have called several times to complain, but all I am ever told is that they will log the complaint. By the way, FedEx makes it nearly impossible to find a contact number to call them. The times that I have tried to email them, I have never received a response. If any of my readers work for FedEx, I am sorry. I am sure it is not like this everywhere, but in Vermont having FedEx deliver a package is a nightmare in customer service. Thankfully, Amazon, which I order most of what I need from, mostly uses UPS or USPS. Like with UPS, the USPS has two mail carriers, one older lady (who wears shorts even in the coldest of our Vermont winters) and a younger guy who started doing deliveries occasionally a few months ago. The young guy is also a cutie and can be relied on to leave packages at our doors and to make sure they do not get rained or snowed on. The female mail carrier all too often takes my packages back to the post office to be delivered through my post office box, especially if it is a larger or heavy package. She just won’t deliver it to my regular mailbox.

UPS is really our only reliable delivery service. The post office is reliable a little over half the time. FedEx is never reliable. We never know what to expect from FedEx except that our packages will most likely be delivered to the wrong apartment.

Speaking of FedEx, I just saw this tweet:

You should read the responses. I responded by saying:

Thursday, July 15, 2021

Pic of the Day

One of Those Days


I was so busy yesterday with various things that by the time I had a moment to write a blog post, it was after 10 pm, so I’m taking today off from blogging.

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Pic of the Day

Thanks

"What lies behind us, and what lies before us are but tiny matters compared to what lies within us." 

—Ralph Waldo Emerson 

The tattoo on the chest of the guy above is this Emerson quote. This blog has been a wonderful journey, but I wouldn’t be doing it without my wonderful and caring readers. I wanted to thank all of you for your kind words on Monday’s blogiversary post. Part of the reason I write this blog is to keep a record of what has lain behind me these past eleven years and to record what will lie ahead of me. It’s part therapy on my part, and partly a record of my life. All of your comments and words of encouragement tell me it’s been worthwhile. Thank you for reading about the ups and down of my life, my opinions, historical lessons, my love of poetry, my health, my happiness, and my spiritual journey. 

 

P.S. I also hope you continue to enjoy the images I post. I do try to make this blog aesthetically pleasing.

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Pic of the Day

Epistle: Leaving


Epistle: Leaving

By Kerrin McCadden

 

Dear train wreck, dear terrible engines, dear spilled freight,

          dear unbelievable mess, all these years later I think

          to write back. I was not who I am now. A sail is a boat,

          a bark is a boat, a mast is a boat and the train was you and me.

          Dear dark, dear paper, dear files I can't toss, dear calendar

          and visitation schedule, dear hello and goodbye.

If a life is one thing and then another; if no grasses grow

          through the tracks; if the train wreck is a red herring;

          if goodbye then sincerely. Dear disappeared bodies

          and transitions, dear edge of a good paragraph.

          Before the wreck, we misunderstood revision.

I revise things now. I teach pertinence. A girl in class told

          us about some boys who found bodies on the tracks

          then went back and they were gone, the bodies.

          It was true that this story was a lie, like all things

done to be seen. I still think about this story, what it would

          be like to be a boy finding bodies out in the woods,

          however they were left—and think of all the ways they

          could be left. There I was, teaching the building

          of a good paragraph, dutiful investigator

of sentences, thinking dear boys, dear stillness in the woods,

          until, again, there is the boy I knew as a man

          whose father left him at a gas station, and unlike the lie

          of the girl's story, this one is true—he left him there for good.

Sometimes this boy, nine and pale, is sitting next to me, sitting there

          watching trains go past the gas station in Wyoming,

          thinking there is a train going one way, and a train

          going the other way, each at different and variable speeds:

          how many miles before something happens

          that feels like answers when we write them down—

like solid paragraphs full of transitional phrases

          and compound, complex sentences, the waiting space

          between things that ends either in pleasure or pain. He

          keeps showing up, dear boy, man now, and beautiful

like the northern forest, hardwoods iced over.

 

 

About this Poem

 

"I was thinking about synecdoche and the mathematics of meaning—how one thing can be something else, or a piece of it, and how this washes through a life. I wanted, also, to write a letter to the idea of leaving, and so this poem began to be what it is. What ends up being true, I think, is that meaning slips and slides; writing tries to catch it and hold it still."—Kerrin McCadden

 

If you’re like me, you read this poem and though, “Huh?” Shes kind of all over the place, and it’s certainly a stream of consciousness. To be honest, this is how my mind sometimes works. I am thinking of one thing, and it leads me to think of something else. Then, that leads me to think of something else entirely different, and on and on it goes, which is why at any given time, there might be a dozen tabs open on my web browser. So that’s kind of how I see this poem. If you read McCadden’s description of the poem, I don’t think it makes any more sense that the poem did. Honestly, I had to look up the word synecdoche, which is a figure of speech in which a part of something stands for the whole (for example, “I've got wheels” for “I have a car,” or a description of a worker as a “hired hand”). It is related to metonymy, which I also had to look up. When a poet refers to something by one of its characteristics rather than its name - for example, referring to a country's 'strength' rather than 'armies' - it is known as metonymy. It differs from synecdoche, in that these are abstract qualities rather than concrete parts.

 

I never taught synecdoche and metonymy when I taught poetry. Honestly, it would have been beyond my high school students, who were mostly football players. It was hard enough to get them to understand metaphors. I remember trying to teach them the meanings of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18 (Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?). I decided to take them outside and use our surroundings to teach about the metaphors, such as “Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,” which is when I pointed up to the sun. Eventually, they got it. I never had the easiest time teaching those guys English Literature. I think we spent nine weeks on Macbeth alone. I always had fun teaching them Macbeth, because after we read the play and discussed it (and I got to read it using various voices, which they probably thought was silly), we would watch two movies: Scotland, PA and the version of Macbeth with Patrick Stewart. Scotland, PA was probably an inappropriate movie to show high school students because of some implied themes and language, but it’s basically a modernized version of Macbeth set in a McDonald’s style fast food joint called Macbeth’s. Christopher Walken plays Lieutenant McDuff. It’s a fun movie if you like Macbeth. (And yes, I realize this paragraph is basically my example of a stream of consciousness similar to how the poem above seems to be.)

 

About the Poet

 

Kerrin McCadden received an MFA from Warren Wilson College. She is the author of Landscape with Plywood Silhouettes (New Issues, 2014), which received the 2013 New Issues Poetry Prize as well as the 2015 Vermont Book Award. McCadden has received fellowships and awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Sustainable Arts Foundation, and the Vermont Arts Council, among others. She lives in Montpelier, Vermont.