Busy techno-bees be busy buzzing, busy buzzing in my busy brain

So, the title is a tongue twister, for those who are into such things, people weird like me.

We’ve all now extended ourselves via the virtual world of the Internet, it isn’t science fiction, it’s just our daily reality, a reality that is both virtual and real…and often times, our lives lie somewhere in between.

Here’s the leading idea: Technology is an extension of the self.

It ain’t all bad, I’m not saying that, not really. Speaking for myself, my brain remembers more shit, due to the fact that I have the Google Note app on my smartphone. I have access to a wider variety of news and current events info., because I can browse through the vast infinite space of information and ideas, aka the world wide web. I can retain and recall more of that information because I use the Evernote app to save web pages and notes as well as my own thoughts and writings. And I correspond quicker — instantly sending messages around the world! — and I correspond more often, via email and text and Instant Messaging and, yes, Facebook.

These are a few ways in which my life is virtual, ways in which my self is extended out past the “realness” of the real world. It’s weird, though, even though for most of us it feels normal. It’s weird because we weren’t really meant for this. That is, we didn’t really evolve to have our self extended in this way. Our cognitive equipment wasn’t necessarily meant to be so spread out.

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In defense of Facebook minutia

I’m not typically the guy with the Facebook updates sharing what I ate for breakfast. I don’t mind seeing what you or others eat for breakfast, and I certainly don’t have anything against breakfast, per se. Breakfast is a wonderful time of the day, so rich with potential, our bodies are on the verge of great creativity and productivity, if only it were given the fuel necessary to energize it. For my part, I had a bagel with cream cheese. That was my breakfast. And I sprinkled some sugar on it and added cinnamon. That’s not my typical breakfast. Usually it’s just fruit. Fruit and perhaps a handful of almonds. Why is this my normal breakfast? Well, if I told you, then this would start to seem like a story. Read more

For the healing of the nations

Last year at about this time, I attended an Earth at Risk conference, a gathering of committed, aka “radical” activists and leftists that met in San Francisco. It was a two day event, and I was only able to attend the second day. That may have been for the better. When I arrived, the mood was very somber, and one of the early speakers acknowledged as much, making reference to the tone of the prior day — from what I gathered, it had been a heavy load of apocalyptic rhetoric, the end is near, with little or no hope. Read more

Pope Francis: The Cry of the Earth

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Bill McKibben has written a short response to the Pope’s encyclical on climate change, the environment, and economics. For most of us, what the Pope says is more or less obviously true, but as McKibben notes, few people in power are willing to truly take it on. Here are a few of McKibben’s thoughts on the Pope:

“…he’s [the Pope] brought the full weight of the spiritual order to bear on the global threat posed by climate change, and in so doing joined its power with the scientific order. Stephen Jay Gould had the idea that these two spheres were “non-overlapping magisteria,” but in this case he appears to have been wrong. Pope Francis draws heavily on science—sections of the encyclical are very nearly wonky, with accurate and sensible discussions of everything from genetic modification to aquifer depletion—but he goes beyond science as well. Science by itself has proven empirically impotent to force action on this greatest of crises; now, at last, someone with authority is explaining precisely why it matters that we’re overheating the planet.

“It matters in the first place, says Francis, because of its effect on the poorest among us, which is to say on most of the population of the earth. The encyclical is saturated with concern for the most vulnerable—those who, often in underdeveloped countries, are breathing carcinogenic air, or are being forced from their land by spreading deserts and rampant agribusiness. This comes as no surprise, for concern—rhetorical and practical—for those at the bottom of the heap has been the hallmark of his papacy from the start. “A true ecological approach,” he writes, “always becomes a social approach; it must integrate questions of justice in debates on the environment, so as to hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor.”…..

“But the heart of the encyclical is less an account of environmental or social destruction than a remarkable attack on the way our world runs: on the “rapidification” of modern life, on the way that economic growth and technology trump all other concerns, on a culture that can waste billions of people. These are neither liberal nor conservative themes, and they are not new for popes: what is new is that the ecological crisis makes them inescapable. Continual economic and technological development may have long been isolating, deadening, spiritually unfulfilling—but it has swept all before it anyway, despite theological protest, because it has delivered the goods. But now, the rapidly rising temperature (and new data also released Thursday showed we’ve just lived through the hottest May since record-keeping began) gives the criticism bite. Our way of life literally doesn’t work. It’s breaking the planet. Given the severity of the situation, Francis writes, we can finally leave behind the modern myth of unlimited material progress. A fragile world, entrusted by God to human care, challenges us to devise intelligent ways of directing, developing, and limiting our power.…..”

Amen.

via Pope Francis: The Cry of the Earth by Bill McKibben | NYRblog | The New York Review of Books.

Lodge dog

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This is our lodge dog, Dynamite.  She’s about 80 or 90 in doggy years. A former sled dog, she is retired now and slowly wanders about town looking for friendly people to pet her and give her food. Despite the fact that her hips are bad, you can sometimes catch her running laps around town with what I can only describe as a smile on her snout.

Article “The internet is fucked” | The Verge

One of my own (many) gripes against capitalism is that it breeds huge mutant monopoly companies who eat their families. When big industries are deregulated, the powerful tend to use their power to squash competition, or merge with other powerful companies. They then use this new strength to squeeze out even more competition until they remain, alone, at the top of the heap. (Think about the old days when princes would murder their brothers and any other familial rival…Hey, at least they were honest.)

This sad capitalistic story keeps replaying itself in American, and if you want, you can make a bag of popcorn and watch it unfold, as mega-bucks mutant freak corporation Comcast grows bigger and bigger….But be warned, watching it unfold may require shelling out big bucks to Comcast for an internet bundle plan.

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Into the Wild

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We are a getting the “long rains” early here in East Africa. No worries. In some of the spots in coastal Alaska that I’ve inhabited, this kind of rain never stops. It’s kind of soothing, actually. We have power tonight, so I’ve decided to spend my Valentine’s Day evening finishing up Into the Wild, the story of Chris McCandless, an adventurous, idealistic, and romantic young American guy in his early twenties who dies in the Alaskan wilderness back in 1992 while attempting to survive a summer on ten pounds of rice and whatever he could hunt and forage. I’ve been reading this book a little bit at a time over the span of about four months, having found it in our Food Water Shelter library, which, though exceedingly small in our number if books is nonetheless dense with intriguing reading material.

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Saving time, saving souls

I was thinking today about how in the West, we’ve developed an extraordinary and incredible amount of labor saving technologies, yet, strangely, most of us in the West don’t actually use these technologies to save time or to create more opportunity to rest, be creative, or enjoy life. I’ve also read in recent years that hunter-gatherer societies often worked very little and had a good deal of time for family, local community life, creativity, rest, and leisure.
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Review of The Great Gatspy by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Reviews of The Great Gatsby talk about how it captures the spirit of the jazz age. I think it is better to say it captures the spirit of America, a people striving for a survival and a sense of purpose within a system of class. But deeper still, The Great Gatsby, like the American story, like all human stories, is ultimately about love and wonder. Is there a deeper mystery to existence than what we find in the brute and harsh economic gears? And how can we find some sort of love when our own sense of identity is wrapped up in the American mythology of rags-to-riches?  Read more

Wedding Bells

The endless speculation has ended. Tamie and I have been weighing the seemingly endless possibilities of a wedding for many many moons…we ended it all on April 27 overlooking the Pacific Ocean on a small Alaskan island.

We decided a few weeks back that we were ready to be married and that we wanted to exchange our vows in the most intimate and personal setting: just the two of us. So, Wednesday was an unusually sunny day in Kodiak and I was able to leave work early, and we thought, “All signs say ‘Go’.” So we went.

We had to hike a bit to get to our chosen place, though the Sitka spruce trees. Just before we began our little ceremony, a plane few over, fairly close to us (there is a take off point nearby), and she tipped her wing to us.

I am excited to be married. I loved the intimacy and stress-free nature of saying our vows in private. Marriage was the next step for us, and we are both very happy. With Tamie, I have a friend, a partner in life, and a lover.

For all of you, my dear family and friends, we will be having a reception/party sometime to celebrate our union. It will probably be in Arizona, which may be a ways to travel for some, but trust me, Arizona is worth it. As for the time of the aforementioned reception/party, we have yet to decide. Stay tuned.

Regarding the honeymoon….we will probably delay the honeymoon for a while. Within the next few weeks we will be heading out for commercial salmon fishing. Tamie’s family has a fish site on a remote area in Kodiak Alaska, and we will be fishing this summer, working long days!, saving up money for our move to Tempe, AZ this fall. (We have absolutely loved living in Kodiak and have made some remarkably close connections in a short period of time, and we are sad to leave. But it seems like this is the best next step for us.) We are not sure when or where on the honeymoon, but the one of our top possibilities is Israel. Tamie lived in Israel while she was growing up, and I would be thrilled to see the geography and people of this region, which is so significant to Christianity and, indeed, to all of Western Civilization!

Here are a few photographs of our ceremony.

Aeyn’s Obituary

From the Arizona Daily Star:

EDWARDS-WHEAT, Aeyn, Aeyn’s lungs gave out on January 3, 2011 just four days shy of his 31st birthday. His last four and a half years contained more pain that anyone should suffer in a lifetime—the death of his father, William Wheat, the tragic and sudden death of his life partner, Timothy Morris and his own three and half year battle with leukemia and graft versus host disease. He lived a brief but full and happy life, right up until the end. Even at his sickest, he continued to bring laughter and joy to his many friends. He enjoyed travel, music, intellectual pursuits, but especially the company of his many friends. He was so grateful to have his life extended by the donation of stem cells from his beloved sister, Rebekah Smith and the wonderful care from the doctors and nurses at the Cancer Center. Aeyn was born in Colorado Springs January 7, 1980 and lived and travelled many places. He studied and worked at The University of Texas and later at The University of Arizona where he majored in Philosophy and Spanish reflecting two of his loves. His friends will miss his intense philosophical discussions and his vast knowledge of Latin America. Aeyn was a brilliant conversationalist who could talk to anyone about any topic and always provided the best informed and most interesting analyses. Anyone who met him knew immediately what a very special mind and very special person he was. He took pride in living a simple life, and especially loved the outdoors, his garden, and his bicycle. He met his challenges with grace and humor as reflected in an essay he posted on his Facebook page: “Today, I biked up to the “Cancer-Be-Gone”® Arizona Cancer Center for my now again twice-a-week visits, wherein I give 6 tubes of “Super-Aeyn-Blood” and chat it up with the nurses (I keep asking this one nurse out, but she says she can’t date patients – bummer indeed!).…about a year ago, a nurse started biking sometimes too. So, every now and then, her bike and my bike would hang together at the bike racks. Lord only knows what kind of mischief they’ve gotten into while she and I have been inside doing our stuff.… for the first time that I’ve biked there, I arrived to find three (yes, THREE) other bikes at the bike racks! Boy, was Danny (my bike) excited, as now she could get to hang with some other cool bikes.…While chatting with my gang of nurses, I mentioned the new bikes. I was told that a woman, in her mid-30s, who had been diagnosed with lymphoma (another blood cancer like mine) a couple of months ago, had heard about me and how I always bike to the “Cancer-Be-Gone”® Center, even for chemos and bone-marrow biopsies, and she was inspired by that and decided to do it too..…So, Blessed Be, to the Robins of the world, struggling with the sadness of the new disease and finding a little something that she can do to keep on kicking ass! And, I must say, I am proud of myself. Some days I bike up there and am tired and discouraged. But, her encouragement today was really nice to hear, and gave me another little extra “umph” to keep going.” Aeyn leaves behind his mother, Mary Welch and his stepfather, Gerald Welch; his two sisters, Rebekah Smith and Deborah Wheat and his grandmother, Billie Wheat whom he visited frequently in Nashville, always eager to help her, even as his own struggles grew insurmountable. He was a kind and gentle soul who deeply touched everyone he met. In lieu of flowers, please make donations to any organization that Aeyn would have supported. We will celebrate his short but very special life Sunday, January 9, 2011 from 2:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. at the home of Terry and Dianne Horgan, 940 N. Bentley, Tucson. We hope to see his many friends there. Breathe easy at last, Aeyn, we love you. Arrangements by ANGEL VALLEY FUNERAL HOME.

To the memory of Aeyn Edwards

It is difficult to welcome in the New Year with the death of a friend, but on January 3rd, Aeyn Edwards passed away. I had hoped that Aeyn would be able to read posts from this my new blog, that we would continue to be able to share the moments of life and discuss the ramifications of current events. So, even posting this my second post gives me that ache inside that everyone who loses someone feels: the emptiness and void.

The emptiness that Aeyn leaves is all the more painful because he lived such a full and rich life. He was so engaged with life, and this was contageous. Everyone who knew Aeyn can say that he both deepened and widened their life. He was full of energy and always ready for an adventure, but at the same time he could passionately and intellectually explore philosophy, current news events, or the global ramifications of our actions. He was a deeply good person.

For many years, Aeyn had battled physical pain as well as heartbreak and loss, so I am happy that there will be no more suffering; yet I wish with all of my heart that he could have continued to live. He seemed to hide much of his struggles and pain from so many, not wanting to trouble us with his struggles. He was gentle but also tough as nails. He rode his bike to chemo treatements.

I’ve only known Aeyn for two years, but I felt so connected with him from the first time I met him. Tamie and he had been friends for years, going back to the days when they both lived in Flagstaff. I was introduced to Aeyn through Tamie. Aeyn was the first gay atheist that I knew. With me being a straight Christian, it seemed an odd match, at least on paper. I always thought, though, from the first days that I knew him, that he embodied the life and teachings of Jesus as much as anyone else I knew. He was passionate about justice and goodness, putting his ethical ideas into action. He was always willing to speak up for what was right, but he treated people with grace and kindness. The central tenant of Jesus’s teachings, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” seemed to be motivating his life in every way.

Aeyn, your life was transformative to me because I was personally able to experience a common ground of goodness and love that transcended ideology or sexual orientation. I will always carry this with me.

As I sort through the tragedy of losing someone so young, so good, and so close, I keep coming back to one thing. Aeyn is one of those people whose death inpsires others to live a life that matters. I can say without question that if he had one last chance to speak he would talk about living a life that is full and a life that is good. He would want everyone to taste the richness of life and appreciate everything. He would also want us to live a nobel life, to think carefully about how our actions affect others, the environment, and future generations. The thing about Aeyn is that he doesn’t need to come back and say any of these things because his life spoke for him.

Aeyn, I love you. Your memory will live on. May you now be at peace, surrounded by love.

P.S. I will still clip out articles from the paper that I think you will want to read.