Tuesday, June 25, 2013

On the road ...

I have always liked this painting by Canadian artist, Steve Walker. The title, I think, is "Sunrise, Sunset", but it has "On the road" written all over it as far as I am concerned. For a few years when I was in transition from the monastery to my new life, I had this as my screensaver. I saw the artist once in Chicago, and I was saddened to hear that he died this past year.

I post the image now because I am getting ready to head to Texas to visit family in a few days and will not be back until sometime in July. I may post something while I am away, but internet access will be a bit limited. Be safe while I am gone, be happy, be free and at ease. I will try to be all those things, too.

PS -- I won't be walking, of course.

Cardinal and the window

For the past few weeks, a beautiful male cardinal has been bashing himself against the kitchen window. He apparently sees his reflection and is trying to drive that other cardinal out of his territory. We have tried a variety of things to stop him, but he is persistent.

This morning I realized how much I can be like that cardinal -- bashing away at things I see in others when the reality is that the thing I dislike in them is just a reflection of myself.

Well, der!

Monday, June 24, 2013


It's not making a mistake that will kill me.
It's defending it that does the damage.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Stand up and work

I don't want to complain about the pace of the basement remodel ... okay, that's a lie. So don't ask.

Today on Fab.com (a site I highly recommend for the most amazing things you will never buy), I found this:

It may not be obvious at first glance, but this is a treadmill desk. According to the ad,
"Fitting the gym in between work and life can be a real drag. Luckily, this treadmill desk takes that predicament to task and gives you the option to work and walk at the same time. Featuring a whisper-soft motor, the desk includes a sturdy surface that can accommodate a monitor, laptop, or even a printer, and its comfortable armrests provide stability while you read or type. The innovative, height-adjustable MultiTable.com design even counts the number of steps you take and detects the impact of your foot on the treadmill. What are you waiting for? Step on it!"
They also sell desks at which you stand up while working. This is supposed to be good for your metabolism and help avoid some back and neck pains associated with sitting at a desk all day.

When the basement remodel is complete, my work area will not have a treadmill, but it will have a stand-up desk. That was part of the plan from the beginning, because my work at the library involved working at a regular desk and a stand-up counter. I like the variation and Tom designed my office accordingly.

If you are interested in the treadmill desk, look it up at Fab.com or Multitable.com. It costs about $1,500 and weighs 300 pounds. On the other hand it ships free, but you have to do some of the assembly. I would love to hear from anyone who gets one.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Happy Father's Day

I usually send folks e-cards for birthdays and holidays, but for some reason my e-card account is acting up this morning. So I am taking this opportunity to say Happy Father's Day to all you Fathers, Dads, Daddys and so on out there. If you don't read my blog -- as I suspect you do not -- with luck your wife or someone will let you know I sent greetings. This goes out especially to Tom, Ted, Justin, Jason, Garrett and Peter.

Somewhere I have a button that says, "Trust me. I'm a Father." I used to wear it on my religious habit. In those days, the irony was in the use of the word Father, not in the use of the word trust.

Friday, June 14, 2013


I know I said I try to avoid controversy on this blog, and I do not consider this controversial. It is taken from a report of a recent investigation of so-called charity organizations, giving a list of the ten worst. Note how little of the donations received goes to the suppose recipients.

Many of the charities that poured money from donors into the bank accounts of for-profit solicitation companies have names that sound similar to respected national charities and typically have easy-to-support causes as part of their names, including "breast cancer," "firefighters" and "children's cancer."

Here are the 10 worst charities in America from the list compiled by the Center for Investigative Reporting and the Tampa Bay Times, along with the percentage of money raised that went to the supposed cause:

  1. Kids Wish Network (2.5%)
  2. Cancer Fund of America (0.9%)
  3. Children's Wish Foundation International (10.8%)
  4. American Breast Cancer Foundation (5.3%)
  5. Firefighters Charitable Foundation (8.4%)
  6. Breast Cancer Relief Foundation (2.2%)
  7. International Union of Police Associations (0.5%)
  8. National Veterans Service Fund (7.8%)
  9. American Association of State Troopers (8.6%)
  10. Children's Cancer Fund of America (5.3%)
The charities were ranked based on how much money they spent on solicitors. Kids Wish Network paid about $110 million of $128 million raised to fundraisers, the report said.

Groups like these tend to rely on telephone solicitations to collect donations. Some are little more than fronts for the companies that raise the money. Every time a consumer makes a donation to the "charity," the bulk of it stays with the company that made the pitch.

Here are some tips to avoid donating to for-profit telephone solicitation operation when your intention was to support charity:
  • Don't make a donation on a call from a fundraiser. A legitimate charity will be more than happy to accept a donation on your time frame through a means you feel comfortable with, whether it's by mailing a check or using a credit card online.
  • If you're interested in a charity, take the time to find out how it plans to spend donated money.
  • Research the charity before you donate, using charity evaluation sites including GuideStar, the BBB Wise Giving Alliance and Charity Navigator.
  • Use the Internet to see what other people have said about the charity.

Twenty Questions

Okay, Sunny answered these and invited people who read her blog to jump in. Here are my answers FOR TODAY. Things, as the Buddhists say, change.

1. Why did you start your blog?
I started this blog after we moved to Wisconsin as a way to keep my family and a few friends up to date on what was happening in my/our life. I had a couple of blogs before, and I think I started the first one at the suggestion of a friend in Chicago. Those were more issue-oriented, but I decided this one would not be a place for controversy (although I sometimes slip up). Also, since I am a semi-hemi-demi-part-time author, it is good for me to write something.

 2. What made you choose your blog name?
Seriously? I happened to run across the button somewhere online and thought it would work, Dodd being my family name. There is also a Georgia connection, and my Dodd family came from Georgia. I was born there myself, but grew up in Texas. The Georgia connection is from Georgia Tech coach, Bobby Dodd. When he was quarterback for the Tennessee Volunteers, enthusiastic fans came up with the slogan, "In Dodd We Trust." My first blog was called Damien's Spot, named for St. Damien of Molokai. Damien is my confirmation name.

3. What is your favorite thing that has come from blogging?
Favorite thing would have to be the people I have connected with through blogging. I have had occasion to meet a few. Through the blog I can say I have more friends in places like England and Italy. Also, a few old friends have found me through the blog. (I don't do Facebook!)

4. What is your favorite color and why?
Too much of a rainbow guy to have one favorite. Blue, green, red, purple ... I notice most of my t-shirts are red, but right now I am wearing olive slacks and a navy blue shirt.

5. What inspires you?
Wisdom? I love running across one-liners that make me see the world differently, that shake up my prejudices and habitual ways of thinking.

6. What’s your guilty pleasure?
Not into guilt much, but I suppose some would consider my love for the Disney Channel and Nickelodeon to be something I should hide.

7. If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be?
Me. As far as I can tell, me is the one thing in the world I have a chance of changing. But I need help to do that!

8. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
I fell in love with the Lake Chapala region outside Guadalajara when I visited there as a student in 1974. That is my dream home.

9. If you could change something about your home, without worrying about expenses, what would it be?
Move it to Lake Chapala? An enormous lake, mountains in the background, lovely climate...

10. Who is your celebrity crush (boy or girl) and if you could spend a day with them what would you do?
I will go with Sheldon Cooper/Jim Parsons. Some people (Tom and others) say I am a lot like him, so this is perhaps a bit narcissistic. We would talk about Texas and how we (he and I, not Texans) are the only ones who see the world correctly. (See why I need to change me?)

11. Which store would you choose to max out your credit card?
Have you never met me? I do not max out credit cards. Instead, I postpone the purchase until I get a 30% off coupon or until I realize I no longer want whatever it was that caught my eye.

12. When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I grew up in a family with lots of teachers, and I guess I thought teaching was what grown-ups do. My father could teach anything, and I wish I had let him teach me more of the practical things I am not good at today.

13. What was your first job?

My first job was putting a drive-in theater's monthly calendar/flyers on the windshield of parked cars. I did not get any money, but I and my family got into the movies for free. Within a few weeks, this turned into a paying snack bar job making popcorn. I worked from three to five hours a night, six nights a week, earning three dollars a night and taking home $16.80 each week.

14. What is your best memory?
Being with friends. Too many good memories of that kind to pick just one.

15. Would you rather live near mountains or by the sea?
I want to live near the mountains by the sea. Why should life be either-or?

16. What do you consider the best TV Show or Movie ever created?
I am not good at "bests". I loved the 1970s Saturday night CBS lineup: All in the Family; MASH, Mary Tyler Moore Show, Bob Newhart Show, Carol Burnett Show. That was my favorite lineup.

17. How would you describe yourself in three words?
I am awesome. (I know, that's cheating and SO not true.)

18. If you knew that tomorrow your life would change forever, what would you do to appreciate
Okay, here's the thing. My life will change forever tomorrow. So will yours. So I would just live today.

19. Favorite blog (or blogs)?
Again, not good with favorites or bests. Life is not all competition. (That might be one thing I would change about the world: the idea that everything is a competition.) I used to read a zillion blogs, but I cut back a lot. The only non-political, non-issue blogs I follow these days are Tom's and Sunny's.

20. One thing you’ve learned about yourself in the last year.
I recently learned that I have hyperparathyroidism and osteoporosis.  That is two things, but they are related. And what I learned from that is -- surprise! -- I am mortal and getting older. Again, two things that are related.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Grumpy old man

There are only two things I don't like -
the way things are, and change.

Ran across this line today and it sounded way too familiar. 

I don't think of myself as particularly grumpy or critical, but when I take the time to listen to myself, I realize that I can be quite negative. One way I discover this is when I hear people in Group A discussing people in Group B negatively. And I realize that Group A people have never even met Group B people, and they are repeating things they have heard me say. Sometimes Group A people, after listening to me, think I don't like the Group B people, even though I do like them. 

This is not a good habit for me to have. It is not my only habit, and I hope that more of the time I am speaking good of others. But I want to make the good-speaking grow and the ill-speaking diminish. 

One of the things I don't like is an atmosphere of negativity. Another thing I don't like is having to change something in myself. But I guess working to change myself is the only way to have an impact on the way things are. I forget that I help make things the way they are.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Why we love Wisconsin (?)

Work on the basement is stalled for a while, although we are hoping the contractor's part will be completed soon so that Tom can finish up.

We did not think to take before-pictures, but it turns out I had a couple in my camera. Here they are. This gives you an idea of what the mess was like.

Those pictures actually are more in-the-beginning-of-the-process-of-remodeling, but you get the idea.

Here is a picture of the section that will become my basement office. That half-wall sticking out into the room will be a standing-work counter and at right angles at this end will be a regular work desk for the computer and stuff. I am hoping to put a meditation space in that back corner, screened off from the work area in some way. The other side of the half-wall (where you see the table with tools now) will be Tom's new studio for his painting. (All those white strips are not going to be there. They are covering some of the stuff that the contractor had to re-do, making for the present delay. The walls will be that gold color. BTW, my camera does not do colors well, and the color is warmer and better than you may think from looking at these photos.)

The other half of the basement (on the other side of the stairs which are behind and to the left as you look at this photo) has Tom's shop and a lot of shelves for storage of large items. Below is a photo of the clothing/linens storage closet in the nice half of the basement. It is complete and we have begun moving things into it.

Which brings me to "why we love Wisconsin (?)." The idea is that this is where we hang and otherwise store winter items in the summer, summer items in the winter. Today it is June 6 and at 10:10 in the morning it is 52 degrees and rainy. I told Tom that, although I like the idea of storing my winter clothes downstairs and having less clutter upstairs, I am not sure that it will be worth the hassle to take them down for two weeks every year and then have to haul them back up.

Seriously. My mother gave me money for my birthday (May 19) and I bought three short sleeve shirts and two pair of cargo shorts. I have been able to wear two of the shirts, once each, and no chance to wear the shorts yet. Tom and I are going to a festival in Milwaukee this weekend and I had figured it would be a shorts-&-t-shirt kind of day. Predicted weather? Mostly cloudy with high of 67. And the festival grounds are right on the lake, so it will be cooler there.

And I already folded and packed my sweaters!

Today's lesson

What so many of us seem to forget,

 is that the way is not in the sky

but in the heart.

Saturday, June 1, 2013


Although gold dust is precious,
when it gets in your eye,
it just causes trouble.

~ Bo Juyi (772-846