Thursday, July 26, 2012

Open Daily 7:30AM - 9PM

I am sitting in a comfortable chair with a table by my side. I have tea and a piece of chocolate. The hostess has just tidied the lobby and wiped the table where another customer had left newspapers and a coffee cup. From my seat I can see my laundry tumbling in two driers. There is music. The tumbling is mesmerizing. I admire the plants growing in pots placed on the counter behind the washers. This small business is thriving. The owner is resourceful and friendly. She sells soap by the small cup - just enough for one load. It was her idea to put in plants. She keeps the reading stand stocked with current magazines and children's books. The carpet is spotless. Each machine is clean of lint. I look at the business cards on the bulletin board. Customers come here from neighboring communities. They bypass other laundromats to patronize Sea Breeze Laundry. Self serve laundries are a commodity. She has differentiated with ambiance and service. She built her success on her initiative and high standards. Our Presidential election may alter the fate of the entrepreneur.  The owner of the Sea Breeze has achieved what is the dream of many.  I am using her wi-fi to tell her story.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Post Script on Marriage

There were readings from the Bible at the wedding I went to on Saturday.  As is often the case at weddings, the Old Testament reading was from The Book of Ruth.  The passage is two verses, and reads this way in the King James Version:

16 And Ruth said, "Entreat me no to leave thee, or to return from following after thee:  for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge; they people shall be my people and thy God my God;
17 Where thou diest, will I die, and there will I be buried: The Lord do so to me, and more also, if aught but death part thee and me".

This passage is a lovely declaration of commitment.  But it is not commitment between husband and wife.  The speaker is Ruth, the Moabitess. She addresses Naomi, her Hebrew mother-in-law.  Theirs is a difficult situation, both widowed in a foreign land.  Naomi plans to return to her own people in Bethlehem and urges Ruth to, likewise, return to Moab where her family might care for her.  Ruth pledges her loyalty and love to Naomi, and readies to go with her to Bethlehem.  I won't spoil the plot for you.  Read it yourself.  It is a good story of good things happening to good people.

Do You Take This Woman...

We went to a wedding on Saturday. The bride and groom were radiant.  The afternoon pleasant for the outdoor ceremony.  Fewer families share this experience every year.   Saturday's happy couple are members of a cohort that is declining: newly married adults.  The "newly married" are those married in the past 12 months.  The number dropped from 4.51 million in 2008 to 4.23 million in 2010, even as total population continued to climb.  All of the statistics pertaining to marriage show the same trend.  The share of American adults currently married reached an all time low of 51% in 2010, down from 72% in 1960.  More interesting, 39% of those interviewed by the Pew Research Center in their analysis of decennial census data agree that marriage is becoming obsolete.  More interesting still, only 26% of adults who have been married before say that they want to marry again, compared with 61% of never-marrieds who want to marry in the future.

What to make of all this when the sun is setting on the hugs, kisses and tears that accompany the exchange of vows and introduction of the newly-weds to their family and friends?  Hope springs eternal? Or, a new fool born every day?  I am an optimist.  I believe that the commitment adds value to the union.  I was pleased to be witness to a new union.  The champagne tasted best during the toast to their happiness.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Flash Mob Ode to Joy

I know that many people have already viewed this wonderful, random act of culture.  If you have not, I invite you to get happy with Beethoven.

Sunday, July 15, 2012


American bird watchers disparage the Starling.  The starling we have in North America is the European Starling, part of a large family of birds that includes the Myna group so popular with those wanting to teach a bird to talk.  Their squeaks, warbles, chirps and twitters are well known across the continent.  They are gregarious and social.  They have been reviled by bird-snobs for years on the incorrect theory that they are to blame for every song bird decline in the last century.  They were brought to New York at the end of the 19th Century by fans of Shakespeare.  In Henry IV Hotspur considers training a starling to repeat the name of Henry's prisoner in hopes of driving him (Henry) crazy.  The Shakespeare fans wanted each bird specie mentioned by Shakespeare (600 of them) introduced into the New World.  No doubt today an environmental impact statement would be required, and permission denied. 

The European Starling is a scruffy fellow.  Perhaps you have seen one, or fifteen, or one hundred on a power line near you:

They may not sing like a sparrow, or dive like a hawk, or soar like an eagle, but they can do this:

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Beast Within

My take on Bashar al-Assad:  His cruelty was inevitable.  Observers of the human mind have all discovered the beast within - the astonishing capacity of men (and, probably women) to justify behavior that is not condoned in civil society.  In Assad's case the decline into depravity is made a bit more interesting by his education and early career.  Assad graduated from medical school in 1988 and worked first as doctor.  Apparently the Hippocratic oath, taken by doctors for over 2,000 years, made little impression on him.  Here is a well-known quote from the oath:"I will prescribe regimens for the good of my patients according to my ability and my judgment and never do harm to anyone."

Lord Acton was correct.  "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely."  The University of Damascus should withdraw his degree.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Good Mrs. Murphy

A mondegreen is a phrase that results from mishearing what is actually said.  The term was coined from the mishearing of Percy's "Reliques" :
Ye Highlands and ye Lowlands,
Oh, where hae ye been?
They hae slain the Earl O'Moray,
And Lady Mondegreen.
The actual last line is : "And laid him on the green". 

Another example is provided by national correspondent Gregory Jaynes who, as a child, was asked by his pastor to sing Hymn No. 508 which he forever since has recalled as "Lead On, O Kinky Turtle".  The hymn is actually "Lead On, O King Eternal". 

The last verse of the 23rd Psalm in the Old Testament Book of Psalms  begins with the comforting line: "Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life".  I have known the mondegreen for this line as "Surely Good Mrs. Murphy will follow me all the days of my life", and I have wondered if that would be a good or a bad thing.  Now I know.

Earlier this week my husband and I were out on the waters of Southeast Alaska.  Our engine rpm's dropped dangerously 23 miles from the nearest community.  In the subsequent hours we received a tow from a passing seiner but were still miles from port, and very alone when he turned off to set his nets.  We had seen a visitor to our dock before we left, the Coastal Messenger.  She is a custom steel boat designed for the Coastal Mission Society out of Chemainus, Vancouver Island.  We have known these fine people for twenty five years and seen them often in the anchorages and harbors of Alaska.  Their purpose is to bring the joy and comfort of the gospel to the remote communities of coastal British Columbia and Southeast Alaska.  Visit their website for their remarkable story.  We called them on the marine radio.  They came out to help us.  Our engine could sustain only low rpm's.  We asked them to stay with us back into the harbor.  It would be a long afternoon at our slow pace.  As we made our way, I looked back to be assured that they were there.  Hour after long hour, I looked back.  They were there, off to port, throttled back to our speed.  We returned safely to our stall.  And so I knew that I had met Good Mrs. Murphy.  And it was a good thing.