Tuesday, May 26, 2009


I spent the weekend in Northern Italy with a few friends. Italy is marvelous! I hope I'll get to spend some more time there this next year. We had a good trip, first sleeping in a barn in Thun (which is not in Italy) and then camping in Bellagio near Lake Como. We did not bump into George Clooney, who apparently lives on the lake. It's unfortunate, too, cuz I bought sunglasses before the trip so that I'd look cool when he asked for our autographs. But alas, he wasn't on the continent apparently. And then yesterday when I was on the train with my Jewish friend who is mom's age, I said, "hey, do you like my glasses?" and wouldn't you know the practical mother in her said, "how much did you pay for those? You know you're going to drop them or lose them eventually. We sell glasses for 10 francs in our shop. You can come buy them there next time." She really didn't appreciate the coolness of them, I don't think.

Ah, but I digress. I was talking about Italy. I'll have to write more about it later, and about how we entertained ourselves in a 4.5 hour traffic jam on the way home. But for now--a picture of my travel buddies:

Mallory, Raphael, Benjamin, Dominic, Aubrey after a swim in CHILLY Lake Como on Saturday.

Friday, May 15, 2009


Happy weekend to you all! I have some poetry to share with you today, since it's a grey wet day in Basel and there have been storms all week. From Wordsworth's beautiful poem Michael, in English and in German:

"Upon the forest-side in Grasmere Vale
There dwelt a Shepherd, Michael was his name;
An old man, stout of heart, and strong of limb.
His bodily frame had been from youth to age
Of unusual strength: his mind was keen,
Intense, and frugal, apt for all affairs,
And in his shepherd’s calling he was prompt
And watchful more than ordinary men.
Hence had he learned the meaning of all winds,
Of blasts of every tone; and oftentimes,
When others heeded not, He heard the South
Make subterraneous music, like the noise
Of bagpipers on distant Highland hills.
The Shepherd, at such warning, of his flock
Bethought him, and to himself would say,
‘The winds are now devising work for me!’
And, truly, at all times, the storm, that drives
The traveller to a shelter, summoned him
Up to the mountains: he had been alone
Amid the heart of many thousand mists,
That came to him, and left him, on the heights."


"Im Grasmere-Tal am Hang, der Forest-Side genannt wird,
ein Schäfer wohnte, Michael, so war sein Name,
ein alter Mann, beherzt und stark:
Sein Körper war von Jugend an bis hin ins hohe Alter
von einer Kraft, wie sie nicht jedem ist gegeben,
und Scharfsinn, Wachheit und Genügsamkeit auch zeichneten ihn aus;
für alles wohl geeignet, in dem Beruf als Schäfer setzte er
sich ein voll Umsicht, mehr als üblich.
So kam’s, daß er verstand der Winde Sprache, die
Bedeutung jedes ihrer Töne, und oft,
wenn andre darauf gar nicht achteten: Doch er
vernahm den Südwind, wie der heimlich musizierte,
als wenn da jemand bliese Dudelsack auf einem weit entfernten Berg.
Auf solche Warnung hin der Schäfer gleich
an seine Herde dachte und sprach zu sich:
„Die Winde wollen mir jetzt Arbeit machen!”
Wahrhaftig, jedes Mal rief ihn der Sturm,
der jeden Wanderer veranlaßt, Schutz zu suchen,
hinauf auf seine Berge: Allein war er
so tausendmal im Nebel auf den Höhen;
der Nebel kam zu ihm und ging auch wieder."

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

a slothful man doesn't roast his prey...and other thoughts

I've been working on my AIDS research (yes, still) and thinking about the relationships between deontological, consequential and "Virtue" ethics in the context of disease control.

I've also been preparing for my teaching assignment for kids camp next month, and it raises questions about the very same philosophical approaches. My topic is "Kindness," I have about 15 minutes to cover it, and my assigned text is "A kind man benefits himself, but a cruel man brings trouble on himself." My lesson includes a story about a lady who is kind to an upset little girl, and then years later, what do you know, the woman is in a nursing home, and who should discover her but that little girl, all grown up, and she comes to visit her and takes care of her until she dies. In other words, it's a "what goes around, comes around," consequence-oriented basis for kindness.

The rest of the lesson tries to balance a little bit, but I still think it comes off like, "be nice to others because you'll get something out of it. And...oh yeah, it's the right thing to do because God was kind to us too." Wouldn't it be better if we encouraged kids to think about kindness primarily the other way around? God has been kind to us when he could have said good riddance, so be kind to others instead of giving them a pop in the nose, even if they deserve the knuckle-sandwich. And oh yeah, you'll probably find that what goes around comes around.

Personally I find that a lot more motivating. Otherwise, I weigh the relative merits of what I might "get" by being kind compared to the great satisfaction of telling someone what's what, and usually decide I can forgo the kindness.

Anyway...15 minutes to talk about kindness as a Christian virtue. What would you say?

On a different note, if you happen to need some motivation to get you through the work day, proverbs is always to the point:

"A slothful man does not roast his prey, b ut the precious possession of a man is diligence." (Prov. 12: 27)

Now get back to work, you slacker!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

May flowers

Went flower shopping. :) It's a pity I don't have a yard.

Alexander Guitars

As many of you know, my rad little brother builds acoustic and electric guitars. He went to a popular Christian music concert last night (and by popular, I mean multiple songs reaching top ten on the charts, Grammy nominations, multiple Dove awards. Popular.) and took his first guitar with him to try to get the bands to sign it for him. One of the guys liked it, asked who made it, then REALLY got interested and said he might like Bri to make him one. So Brian has his email address, and although we both know better than to count chickens before you see their fuzzy little wings, we're so thrilled. :) Even if he doesn't buy one in the end, how affirming to keep getting positive feedback from professionals. Good work, Brian. You're a gentleman and a scholar, and you build nice guitars too.

Here's a couple pics of his most recent electric guitar (sold) and an acoustic (also sold):

The man himself.

Friday, May 8, 2009

way to comment, people!

Nice work on the comments, y'all. I suspected that if I spun a tall tale like that, you'd have something to say. :)

...Just kidding. My bike really is stolen.

BUT! check this out. It's Bob Dylan songs in Swiss German:

Thursday, May 7, 2009

velo m.i.a.

I left my bike at the train station one too many times and it decided to leave me--or more likely someone ELSE decided it should leave me and bike-napped it. The tires were mostly flat, too! Who steals a bike with flat tires? I went to the police station today, and although I was expecting them to say it was my tough luck for leaving it there over night (err, serveral nights, actuallly), the guy was in fact very nice. He was telling me I could perhaps claim it on insurance, and said, "even if you don't have your reciept anymore, if you know it was, what, say 500 francs?..." I volunteered it was more like 100. He almost couldn't believe I was reporting a $100 bike. :) And, he said normally the deductible (is that the right word?) on that insurance is 200 anyway. But, he said there is perhaps a 30 percent chance that it'll turn up, and I hope those flat tires made someone ditch it somewhere.

And if not...well...so goes the world.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Change in blogging rules

You guys know it's not very much fun to write to this here blog if you guys never comment, right? It's a bit like talking to the wall. And since people used to comment more, I was thinking perhaps things have grown stale, so I'll try to spice them up a bit, starting next post.

Furthermore, in order to promote discussion, I am now allowing posts to appear immediately (i.e. I won't moderate them anymore). I reserve the right to delete posts that I find offensive or in bad taste (ahem, Greggory!).

Sunday, May 3, 2009

M2 the shoe shopper

I came back from a run Saturday to find the little ladies packed up in their car seats in the stationwagon, waiting to head off somewhere. I poked my head in to chat with them until their mom came back down. "Where are you going?" I asked. "Brockenstube shopping!" they said, which is secondhand store shopping. "Oh! That sounds fun," I said. "What are you looking for?" And without hesitation, M2 piped up, "Shoes!" (that child has her head on straight, clearly).

"Nei," M1 said. "Mommy already said we're not buying you any more shoes!"

THAT child needs to loosen up and learn the audacity of hope.