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A Voice in the Wilderness

As nightfall does not come at once, neither does oppression. In both instances, there's a twilight where everything remains seemingly unchanged, and it is in such twilight that we must be aware of change in the air, however slight, lest we become unwitting victims of the darkness. -- William O. Douglas

Friday, September 23, 2005

Uh Mr. President, how about being a President?

Here's an interesting e-mail I received yesterday

Presidents and Hurricanes
President: Nixon
Danger: Category-5 Hurricane Camille (August 1969)
Area: About the same area as that affected by Katrina
Response: advance, ordering rescue ships from Tampa,
FL and thousand regular military, 24+ helicopters to assist
the Coast Guard and National Guard about as soon as the
hurricane passed.

President: Bush the Elder
Danger: Category-5 Hurricane Andrew (August 1992)
Area: Florida
Response: In the middle of a re-election campaign, Bush ceased
campaigning the day before the hurricane, went to Washington,
and assembled one of the largest military forces ever mustered
on U.S. soil. Seven thousand National Guard and 22,000 regular
military were sent in with the necessary equipment shortly after
the hurricane passed through.

President: Clinton
Danger: Category-3 Hurricane Floyd (September 1999)
Area: Virginia and Carolinas
Response: Meeting with China's president Jiang in New Zealand,
Clinton immediately declared the hurricane-affected areas as
federal disasters, allowing the military and National Guard to
move in and help. Clinton flew home immediately, one day
before the hurricane hit, to help coordinate the rescue.

President: Bush the Lesser
Danger: Category-5 Hurricane Katrina (August 2005)
Area: Gulf Coast
Response: National Guard troops are down about 8,000 members
because they are in Iraq with much of the necessary rescue
equipment needed. Bush was on vacation, riding his bike for two
hours the day before the hurricane lands. On the day Katrina
landed, Bush attended a birthday party for John McCain. The
levees began to crack. While emergency 1.5-ton sandbags were
ready to be placed to steady the levee and absorb water, there
were insufficient numbers of helicopters and pilots to set them
before the levees break. Nagin, the mayor of NO, pleaded for
federal-level assistance and got none. Bush went to San Diego
to play guitar with a
country singer and end his vacation early
but not until the next day, because he had tickets to a San
Diego Padres game.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Do Not Worry

In 1985, my life seemed to be going in a totally upward direction but, in very short order, I hit upon a series devastating of crises that I won't go into here - I wrote about them in this venue quite some time ago.

In that time of turmoil, I suffered from severe bouts of depression that caused me to ponder suicide - at times on a minute-by-minute basis. I remember waking up one particular morning. Before getting up, I looked up at the ceiling and said, 'God, if you really exist, now is the day I need to know it because I am not going to make it through today. Please give me some sign to let me know you are here." With that, I got out of bed - on the opposite side of what I normally did. As I did, I held my head in my hands and noticed my foot resting upon an old, well worn, leather-bound Bible that belonged to mama. She had given it to me a few years before when I left for college. I don't know how it got there - I thought it was packed away. I picked it up and the thin, fluid-like papers slid open to the book of Matthew. If logic plays into this story, I suppose my mind was geared to focus on the word 'worry' as I scanned the page, so I read the following passage.

Do Not Worry

Therefore, I tell you, don't be anxious for your life: what you will eat, or what you will drink; nor yet for your body, what you will wear. Isn't life more than food, and the body more than clothing? See the birds of the sky, that they don't sow, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns. Your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren't you of much more value than they?

"Which of you, by being anxious, can add one moment to his lifespan? Why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow. They don't toil, neither do they spin, yet I tell you that even Solomon in all his splendor was not dressed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today exists, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, won't he much more clothe you, you of little faith?

"Therefore don't be anxious, saying, 'What will we eat?', 'What will we drink?' or, 'With what will we be clothed?' For the Gentiles seek after all these things, for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first God's Kingdom, and his righteousness; and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore don't be anxious for tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Each day's own evil is sufficient.

Matthew 6:25-34

I made it through that day. A week or so later, we were blessed with the news that a baby was on the way. About seven months later, we had a boy who we named Matthew. Long before he was born, I always knew my son's name would be Matthew. That I happened upon the, 'Do not worry' passage is significant to me because it forever took away any self destructive thoughts I had from that day forward.

I consider this passage from the Bible a gift from God - that universally omnipotent entity who created everything - the one who cannot be named and the one who cannot be seen - the one whose plan we cannot seem to understand.

Today, 22 September 2005, my best friend, my son Matthew turns 20 years old. The meaning of his name is, 'Gift from God.'


I am glad to be alive to see you. I am glad to be here watching you grow up. I am so glad for that day, months before you were born when I rolled out of bed to read what you have consistently reminded me of throughout your beautiful life. You truly are a gift from God and I am so blessed to have been given the privilege of being your father, of being your friend.

Happy birthday son. I love you Mattie.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Discourse on Love (Metta Sutta)

Discourse on Love (Metta Sutta)

"He or she who wants to attain peace should practice being upright, humble, and capable of using loving speech. He or she will know how to live simply and happily, with senses calmed, without being covetous and carried away by the emotions of the majority. Let him or her not do anything that will be disapproved of by the wise ones.
"(And this is what he or she contemplates):

May everyone be happy and safe, and may their hearts be filled with joy.

"May all living beings live in Security and in Peace ˆ beings who are frail or strong, tall or short, big or small, visible or not visible, near or far away, already born or yet to be born. May all of them dwell in perfect tranquility.

"Let no one do harm to anyone. Let no one put the life of any one in danger. Let no one, out of anger or ill will, wish anyone any harm.

"Just as mother loves and protects her only child at the risk of her own life, we should cultivate Boundless Love to offer to all living beings in the entire cosmos. We should let our boundless love pervade the whole universe, above, below and across. Our love will know no obstacles, our heart will be absolutely free from hatred and enmity. Whether standing or walking, sitting or lying, as long as we are awake, we should maintain this mindfulness of love in our own heart. This is the noblest way of living.

"Free from wrong views, greed and sensual desires, living in beauty and realizing Perfect Understading, those who practice Boundless Love will certainly transcend Birth and Death."

Metta Sutta (Suttanipata 1)
The Buddha

"I love you"

Note: clicking on the title of this thread will take you to a discussion given in 1997 by Thich Nhat Hanh (pronounced Tic Naught Hawn'). Thich is a Vietnamese Buddhist Monk who was exiled from his native land during the Vietnam War because he advocated for peace. He now resides in France where he has founded a Buddhist community called, 'Plum Village.'

Master Thay - as he is referred to by his following - has been travelling through out the US and Canada this summer participating in discussions about peace and love.

He is in his late seventies or maybe even his early eighties. I hope you take the time to read not only what the Buddah had to say about this important topic but also how Thich Naht Hanh clearly explains some of the deeper nuances of this wonderful meditation on love.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Racism in Reporting?

Black singer and rapper, Kanye West had some critical remarks for the media and harsh words for President Bush. During a one hour telethon broadcast live last Friday. The television special - free concert sponsored by NBC was seeking donations for victims of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.

West deviated from the scripted dialogue with Mike Myers and said,

"I hate the way they portray us in the media. You see a black family, it says, 'They're looting.' You see a white family, it says, 'They're looking for food.' And, you know, it's been five days because most of the people are black. And even for me to complain about it, I would be a hypocrite because I've tried to turn away from the TV because it's too hard to watch. I've even been shopping before even giving a donation, so now I'm calling my business manager right now to see what is the biggest amount I can give, and just to imagine if I was down there, and those are my people down there. So anybody out there that wants to do anything that we can help - with the way America is set up to help the poor, the black people, the less well-off, as slow as possible. I mean, the Red Cross is doing everything they can. We already realize a lot of people that could help are at war right now, fighting another way - and they've given them permission to go down and shoot us!"

Mike Myers' response was pretty bland,
"And subtle, but in many ways even more profoundly devastating, is the lasting damage to the survivors' will to rebuild and remain in the area. The destruction of the spirit of the people of southern Louisiana and Mississippi may end up being the most tragic loss of all..."

He then turned to West who said,

"George Bush doesn't care about black people.''

Immediately after that remark, West's live speech was cut off and switched to comedian, Chris Tucker.

Matt Lauer later came on and stated,

"Tonight's telecast was a live television event wrought with emotion, emotions are running high."

The program was running live on the east-coast and West's words were edited out the west-coast's feed which had a several second time delay. Matt Lauer's words were not deleted.

You be the judge

Okay here is what West was getting worked up about. The following pictures have given rise to much dialogue in the blogosphere because of the captions that accompanied them. Here is what the agencies said about their pictures.

AP Associated Press AP – Tue Aug 30, 11:31 AM ET

“A young man walks through chest deep flood water after looting a grocery store in New Orleans on Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2005. Flood waters continue to rise in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina did extensive damage…”

Note: I have italized the words looting and finding for emphasis.

AFP Agencie France Press 3:47 AM ET

Two residents wade through chest-deep water after finding bread and soda from a local grocery store after Hurricane Katrina came through the area in New Orleans, Louisiana. (AFP/Getty Images/Chris Graythen)

AFP is a French news agency. I tried to find the actual postings but AFP has pulled their picture. However, from surfing, I found the two pictures juxtaposed to one another in two different places.

I copied the image and have posted them here for you to review.

I found this
while surfing at Booker Rising. You can double click on the image in order to enlarge it for reading.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Mountain Air Man - Thinking of Daddy

My Dad loved to hike. He was born in the mountains and that is where he grew up. He was raised on a little hundred acre ranch that his father named, 'La Cienega' - 'the marsh' - because of a crystal-clear stream that coursed through the
verdant, lush valley where their home was nestled.

This picture is significant to me for so many reasons because it reminds me of my father. The mountains combined with the double rainbows are a powerful message to me from Heaven.

I can just see Daddy with a silhouette of his back to me as he stands in the foreground of this picture. He is wearing his beat-up cowboy hat and grey & red plaid cowboy shirt while leaning on his walking stick as he takes in that beautiful vista. His shoulders are slightly stooped thanks to the march of time. He moves a little slower but his eyes still twinkle with wonder-filled memories from the days of his youth.

He might comment on the vista before him and then go into some story that reminisced about his younger days like the times he would wait in trees for an unsuspecting horse and then quickly alight onto its back as it passed under him. Hanging on for dear life he would cling to the startled horse with nothing else but two fist-fulls of the horse's mane. He would keep his his head close to the horse's neck - to avoid being knocked off by a tree branch, and he only used his legs to guide the horse through the little ranch’s back country until it eventually tired. Together, they rode like the wind.

I can see Daddy flex his right arm and clench his fist the way he did when he was a body builder. Raising his eye - and with a quick nod of his head, he looks at me and smiles. I can hear him saying, 'when I was strong and nothing could stop me!' He smells of sweat and earth.

I believe everything happens for a reason and there is no such thing as coincidence. Perhaps happening upon Ray's blog today is just my Dad's way of reaching out to me from eternity. This breath taking picture reminds me of the many words of advice, encouragement and comfort my father said to me through out my life.

'Everything is okay. There is always hope. As long as you never give up on yourself - as long as you never give up on each other, everything is going to be fine. I believe in you. I love you.'

In response, I say, 'Daddy, I am listening and I do hear you. I love you and I really miss you. I am humbled at the privilege of being your son.'

I just know my Dad would love this place and I want to visit it some day to see with my own eyes. When I do, Daddy will be right there with me.

To honor my father, I will keep searching for all that is good in life. Celebrating it will endure as the ultimate tribute to his legacy of decency and this great man's abiding love for his family.

I happened upon Ray Rozelle's Sierra Mountains Ca. blog - his pictures are incredible. People, please visit his site and encourage Mr. Rozelle to publish his work - will ya?

His work is nothing short of inspirational. What an eye! Ray, I want a poster of this picture. Thank you so much of re-kindling the warm memory of my father again in me because today is when I needed it the most.

By the way Ray, two of his dearest friends on the planet, and two people whom he used to hike with regularly were of Italian descent. They had great fun in each other's company.

I just met you today and already, you are an old friend.
Thank you and God bless you my friend.

J. Abran

Friday, September 02, 2005

Michael Moore's letter to President Bush

Friday, September 2nd, 2005

Dear Mr. Bush:

Any idea where all our helicopters are? It's Day 5 of Hurricane Katrina and thousands remain stranded in New Orleans and need to be airlifted. Where on earth could you have misplaced all our military choppers? Do you need help finding them? I once lost my car in a Sears parking lot. Man, was that a drag.

Also, any idea where all our national guard soldiers are? We could really use them right now for the type of thing they signed up to do like helping with national disasters. How come they weren't there to begin with? Last Thursday I was in south Florida and sat outside while the eye of Hurricane Katrina passed over my head. It was only a Category 1 then but it was pretty nasty. Eleven people died and, as of today, there were still homes without power.

That night the weatherman said this storm was on its way to New Orleans. That was Thursday! Did anybody tell you? I know you didn't want to interrupt your vacation and I know how you don't like to get bad news. Plus, you had fundraisers to go to and mothers of dead soldiers to ignore and smear. You sure showed her! I especially like how, the day after the hurricane, instead of flying to Louisiana, you flew to San Diego to party with your business peeps. Don't let people criticize you for this -- after all, the hurricane was over and what the heck could you do, put your finger in the dike?

And don't listen to those who, in the coming days, will reveal how you specifically reduced the Army Corps of Engineers' budget for New Orleans this summer for the third year in a row. You just tell them that even if you hadn't cut the money to fix those levees, there weren't going to be any Army engineers to fix them anyway because you had a much more important construction job for them -- BUILDING DEMOCRACY IN IRAQ!

On Day 3, when you finally left your vacation home, I have to say I was moved by how you had your Air Force One pilot descend from the clouds as you flew over New Orleans so you could catch a quick look of the disaster. Hey, I know you couldn't stop and grab a bullhorn and stand on some rubble and act like a commander in chief. Been there done that.

There will be those who will try to politicize this tragedy and try to use it against you. Just have your people keep pointing that out. Respond to nothing. Even those pesky scientists who predicted this would happen because the water in the Gulf of Mexico is getting hotter and hotter making a storm like this inevitable. Ignore them and all their global warming Chicken Littles. There is nothing unusual about a hurricane that was so wide it would be like having one F-4 tornado that stretched from New York to Cleveland.

No, Mr. Bush, you just stay the course. It's not your fault that 30 percent of New Orleans lives in poverty or that tens of thousands had no transportation to get out of town. C'mon, they're black! I mean, it's not like this happened to Kennebunkport. Can you imagine leaving white people on their roofs for five days? Don't make me laugh! Race has nothing -- NOTHING -- to do with this!

You hang in there, Mr. Bush. Just try to find a few of our Army helicopters and send them there. Pretend the people of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast are near Tikrit.

Michael Moore

P.S. That annoying mother, Cindy Sheehan, is no longer at your ranch. She and dozens of other relatives of the Iraqi War dead are now driving across the country, stopping in many cities along the way. Maybe you can catch up with them.

Eye of the Storm - Katrina's Devastation

According to Eye of the Storm blogger this Biloxi, Mississippi woman - in the gray shirt - rode out the storm on her porch.

I came upon this blog today as I searched to see who had recently visited my blog. The site is staggering if only by virtue of the pictures this man has posted. The blog's name is Eye of the Storm [EOTS] - sort of a front lines report from someone experiencing it.

The levelled residence of a Vietnamese Shrimper

I am glad I happened upon it because it forces me to realize the amount of devastation has occurred in the wake of this hurricane.

A place in Biloxi called 'Pass Christian' - a residential neighborhood?

I believe this is the time for all of us to pool our resources and reach out to our brothers and sisters whose lives are in complete chaos.

Please do not remain complacent.
Now is the time to do something.
  • For those of you who can donate money - please do so.
  • For those of you who can donate your time and talents - please do so.
  • For those of you who can generate letters to Washington in order to effect a quicker response - please do so.
  • For those of you who feel you can do nothing please do not give up hope.
  • The power of prayer is immense.
  • For those of you who do not believe in prayer, you can still offer up your thoughts and keep those whose lives are in turmoil in your hearts.
All that remains of the Long Beach Yacht Club

Borrowing from the English Poet, John Donne, 'we are all part of the main,' let us abide in each other and let us help one another.

Thank you EOTS

Money - Pink Floyd

Pink Floyd

Money, get away.
Get a good job with good pay and you’re okay.
Money, it’s a gas.
Grab that cash with both hands and make a stash.
New car, caviar, four star daydream,
Think I’ll buy me a football team.

Money, get back.
I’m all right jack keep your hands off of my stack.
Money, it’s a hit.
Don’t give me that do goody good bullshit.
I’m in the high-fidelity first class traveling set
And I think I need a lear jet.

Money, it’s a crime.
Share it fairly but don’t take a slice of my pie.
Money, so they say
Is the root of all evil today.
But if you ask for a raise it’s no surprise that they’re
Giving none away.


Huhuh! I was in the right!

Yes, absolutely in the right!
I certainly was in the right!
You was definitely in the right. that geezer was cruising for a
Why does anyone do anything?
I don’t know, I was really drunk at the time!
I was just telling him, he couldn’t get into number 2. he was asking
Why he wasn’t coming up on freely, after I was yelling and
Screaming and telling him why he wasn’t coming up on freely.
It came as a heavy blow, but we sorted the matter out


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