Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Apparently, It's Not Just Recent Graduates Who Can't Find Things On A Map

Check out where CNN places Tripoli.

Today's Collect

O loving God, you called your servant Aidan from the peace of a cloister to re-establish the Christian mission in northern England, and endowed him with gentleness, simplicity, and strength: Grant that we, following his example, may use what you have given us for the relief of human need, and may persevere in commending the saving Gospel of our Redeemer Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

More of Aidan may be found here and on the Internet.

As Bill Cosby Once Told His Brother, "The Police Are Your Mother And Father"

Pair Arrested For ‘Lack Of Common Sense’

Police Chief Jim McDonnell has confirmed that detaining photographers for taking pictures "with no apparent esthetic value" is within Long Beach Police Department policy.

Police against 10-year-old riding bike to school

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A Collect For Today

Almighty God, you have so linked our lives one with another that all we do affects, for good or ill, all other lives: So guide us in the work we do, that we may do it not for self alone, but for the common good; and, as we seek a proper return for our own labor, make us mindful of the rightful aspirations of other workers, and arouse our concern for those who are out of work; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

No Clergy Or First Responders Invited To Tenth Anniversary Of Sept. 11

What, did the mayor think they were going to show up with salt and trans-fats?  Apparently, there are to be no prayers offered at this event.

Bloomberg: No Clergy, No FDNY -UPDATE

Check this quotation:

"First Responders and Clergyfolk are not very important to the powerful and the enlightened. They only protect us, rescue us, resuscitate us, console us, pray with us, bless us and bury us. And when they die doing it, well, one does feel terrible about it for a whole news cycle or two. And then one takes a private jet somewhere, and tries to forget…"

Please read this in its entirety.

More here: 9/11 Exclusion Spurs Outrage

Friday, August 26, 2011

Will We Have Church On Sunday?

A good question for which the simple answer is "yes". 

However, if the state urges people to stay off of the roads on Sunday, or if you feel that travel is dangerous for you and your loved ones, then you should stay sheltered at home.  The church will be open and ready to dispense the sacrament, as that's what we do.  That doesn't mean you have to risk life and limb to get to church, though.  We've already got lots of martyrs.

Anglican Churches are, by tradition, open on Sundays through hurricanes, blizzards, during the London Blitz, when the Imperial Army was invading Singapore, etc.  In that light, and as the bearer of this noble tradition, I will unlock the doors of the parish for any orphans of the storm.

Update:  It appears that there are many Episcopal parishes and other congregations in the state that are going to be closed tomorrow.  Even our diocese is urging us to do so.  My colleagues are remarkable lightweights.  Either that or the trend in Protestant evangelism of the last generation has finally reached full flower.  Namely, parishes find it more direct to simply tell people not to come to church on a Sunday morning. 

We, of course, will be open at 8 and 10.

I see churches as rather like today's photo below of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.  Even in the midst of a hurricane, you know that someone will be standing guard at the tomb.  Similarly, regardless of what may transpire, on a Sunday morning you know that the church will be open and ready.

USA vs. Guitarists And Luthiers [With Update]

More on this story that was first noted on The Coracle yesterday.  I fully expect a Justice Dept. raid on my garage any day now.  [BTW, this story is from the Wall Street Journal and may or may not require registration.]

Guitar Frets: Environmental Enforcement Leaves Musicians in Fear

Best quotation:
"'It's not enough to know that the body of your old guitar is made of spruce and maple: What's the bridge made of? If it's ebony, do you have the paperwork to show when and where that wood was harvested and when and where it was made into a bridge? Is the nut holding the strings at the guitar's headstock bone, or could it be ivory? "Even if you have no knowledge—despite Herculean efforts to obtain it—that some piece of your guitar, no matter how small, was obtained illegally, you lose your guitar forever," Prof. Thomas has written. "Oh, and you'll be fined $250 for that false (or missing) information in your Lacey Act Import Declaration.'"

Update:  A response from Gibson Guitars, including this wonderful observation by the CEO:

“The Federal Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. has suggested that the use of wood from India that is not finished by Indian workers is illegal, not because of U.S. law, but because it is the Justice Department’s interpretation of a law in India. (If the same wood from the same tree was finished by Indian workers, the material would be legal.)"

From The Presidential Prayer Team

Hurricane Irene is expected to make her impact upon the U.S. within 48 hours.

Some 150,000 people have already been given evacuation orders in North Carolina. The outer banks are currently in a direct line for a hit. Some have predicted the “rearrangement” of some of the islands.

Virginia’s Governor has declared a state of emergency. Some airlines have already cancelled flights along the East Coast for the next 72 hours.

Dozens of Navy ships began leaving their East Coast ports to ride out the storm at sea.

Irene was a powerful Category 3 as it pounded the Bahamas before turning its eye toward the U.S. It is expected to strengthen into a monstrous Category 4, potentially wrecking havoc as far away as New England.

In New York City, Mayor Bloomberg urged residents living in low-lying areas to line up a place to stay on high ground ahead of possible evacuations this weekend. He said he would make a decision by late Friday on whether to evacuate neighborhoods along the water in several boroughs. The city’s subway stations and tunnels would likely be flooded in places, and officials plan to shut the system down ahead of time to reduce damage to the infrastructure.

An evacuation has been ordered in Cape May, New Jersey. Ocean City, Maryland, has ordered mandatory evacuation for residents and visitors of the Maryland coast resort.

The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency is planning for flooding and keeping an eye on the 3,000 public and private dams throughout the state.

The Red Cross reports that it is mobilizing disaster workers and equipment along much of the Eastern Seaboard and is opening shelters as evacuation notices go into effect.

While Irene’s path isn’t definite, and she has still wobbled toward the East, officials are taking nothing for granted. Meanwhile, a new tropical depression formed far out over the Atlantic today, with the National Hurricane Center saying it would likely become a tropical storm later in the day.

As the Lord leads, please pray:

That God might use the winds and rains to draw people to Himself.
That, if it is His will, the storm might weaken substantially or take a more easterly course away from the U.S.
For the people who are in the path of Iren to evacuate safely and patiently.
For those who will be staffing relief efforts, including Salvation Army, Red Cross, and local groups.

An Earthquake, Then A Hurricane, Then Bishop Walker Rolling In His Grave

Perimeter to be set up around National Cathedral

The Government Is Your Mother And Your Father

Massachusetts State Police Shutdown Twelve-Year-Old’s Green Tea Stand

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Now Here's A Way To Ease The Building Budget

Bouncy castle church brings inflatable sermons to remote congregation


From NOAA:


Guitars And Outlaws

Gibson Guitar plant in Nashville, Memphis raided today

In a country where every single piece of wood used to make an individual guitar has to carry its own serial number, even from tiny guitar shops that mostly make instruments for charities [ahem], it becomes easy to inadvertently run afoul of one of the many, many laws that regulate American manufacturing.  [Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008, aka Public Law 110-246].

Ironically, Gibson could simply move their business outside of the US and not have to be concerned with any of this.  Of course, I'm glad they don't because that would remove about 1000 jobs, deny us a great tourism destination, and leave federal agents with absolutely nothing to do.

The saddest quotation from the news story: "The Memphis Commercial Appeal reported tourists arriving to a Gibson Guitar factory in downtown Memphis this morning to find the doors locked and agents inside."

Forget tourists and workers, there might be a stray bit of outlaw ebony that got mixed in with the rosewood when packaged in Indonesia.  The armed interception of wood is what's important.

By the way, the resurrection of this company is an interesting story, and more about it can be found here:

Henry Juszkiewicz: Gibson, from requiem to mass profits

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

From Yesterday, Now With Video

An Exclusive Look at the National Cathedral's Quake Damage


I don't know what looks worse:

1.] Torrential rains for the parish picnic this Sunday

2.] Hurricane destruction to my beloved south Jersey surf beaches


3.] the fact that Hurricane Irene is on a direct track to my backyard in southeastern Ct.

One thing I do know, I plan to be in the water on some occasion a day or two before it hits because the waves will be great.

As far as the parish picnic is concerned, stay tuned for further information as the hurricane track becomes more predictable.

It's Been A Rough Week For Pop Songwriters

Jerry Leiber, Prolific Writer of 1950s Hits, Dies at 78


Nick Ashford, of Motown Writing Duo, Dies at 70

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


Stones fall off Washington National Cathedral

Not mentioned in the article is the fact that the National Cathedral is an Episcopal church.

An Obituary Of Note

Iconic Newport surfboard shaper "Russell" dies

Significant as he is, was, the last of the non-corporate sponsored board shapers. His shop in Newport Beach was like a time portal back to the days when people surfed for fun instead of sponsorships from "power drink" manufacturers.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

The Tenth Sunday After Pentecost

This week Isaiah appeals to the historical gravitas of the Hebrews, the Romans learn of the differentiation of gifts, and Jesus asks a direct, and frightening, question.  All this plus the negative effects of "bafflegab" [a new term that I will define in tomorrow's sermon].

The lections may be found here.

Friday, August 19, 2011

A New Addition To The List

1. damaged rotator cuff,
2. strained Achilles tendon,
3. simple orbit fracture
4. cracked palate
5. demolished molar [a surf board hit me in the side of the face; not my board, some teenager's]
6. two black eyes [not at the same time]
7. bloodied noses
8. sprained elbow
9. jellyfish stings
10. sixty stitches in various parts of me
11. sprained ankle
12. sunburn [although not since the early 80's]
13. dehydration
14. ear infection
15. various minor abrasions, contusions, lacerations
16. a profound sinus irritation
17. a barracuda once gave me a dirty look
18.torn thumb tendon

and now, for 2011,

19. a knee sprain

It really isn't a vacation without an injury.

I Love The Smell Of Neoprene In The Morning,.. smells like copolymerizing chloroprene with sulfur, 2,3 dichloro-1, and 3-butadiene.*

Yes, back from vacation and ready to replace the aroma of wet neoprene [it's what wetsuits are made out of] and surf wax with those of sanctuary dust, lingering incense resin, and that funky smell in the vesting room [which I have to paint, while I'm thinking about it].

Now to read through the 186 e-mail messages I got while I was away.  Yeesh.

A sure sign of the end of the beach season:

Daytona Beach patrol truck runs over sunbather's head

Or, as the DBBP states, her "head area".  It's okay, she wasn't hurt.  And, just in case you were wondering, the DBBP says that the lifeguard, whose name is Mr. Magoo, has a "spotless record".

[* I was channeling Robert Duval as Lt. Col. Kilgore in "Apocalypse Now".  He's one of the great surfers in American film.  He actually says, "I love the smell of napalm in the morning.  It smells like...victory.]

Thursday, August 18, 2011

I Guess It's The Roll Of Honor

Pope Benedict toilet rolls from Spain trouble Vatican ahead of Madrid trip

Yeah, Try Throwing It

Catching Obesity From Friends May Not Be So Easy

Well, Except In Those Tablets Moses Brought Down

Lawyer: No link between adultery and homicide

Seems A Tad Redundant

Tibetan monk who set himself on fire is cremated  

Canada's Contribution To Watersports

Couch surfing

The Invisible Hand Is Writing On Our Wall

The entirety of this article may be found here.  I note it because of its interesting Older Testament apocalyptic regard for world circumstance.

The invisible hand has been writing on our wall of late, and the message is scaring the markets. The markets should be scared; there is real trouble afoot, and the world’s political and economic leaders are terrifyingly out of their depth.

In the Book of Daniel, King Belshazzar of Babylon held a great feast for a thousand of his lords, and as they ate and drank from the vessels captured when the Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed, they praised the false gods of gold and of silver and of brass, iron, wood and stone.

Suddenly when the party was at its height the fingers of an invisible hand appeared and wrote on the wall: MENE MENE TEKEL UPHARSIN. The shocked king called for his sages and soothsayers to interpret the message; none of them could until Daniel, one of the Hebrews brought up in the royal court, appeared. The king promised Daniel any reward he wanted if he would interpret the message. Said Daniel, rather unlike a modern consultant, “Let thy gifts be to thyself, and give thy rewards to another; yet I will read the writings unto the king and make known to him the interpretation.”

MENE: God hath numbered thy kingdom, and finished it.

TEKEL: Thou art weighed in the balance, and art found wanting.

UPHARSIN: Thy kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and the Persians.

I Feel Safer Already

Family Fined $300 For Having Apple, Tomato, 3 Cucumbers In Backpack

Where's The Episcopal Church In This?

Record numbers of U.S. troops are dying under Obama, but the anti-war movement is nowhere to be found.

I received an awful lot of e-mail and regular mail from the greater church about the evil of war during the last decade, and heard a lot of pieties expressed from pulpits.  I don't think I've received anything in the last two years or so.  Do we really lose interest in war and death when the political party favored by the Episcopal Church is in office?  Without consistency, this just makes the church look like a bunch of shills for one political party over another.  I thought one of the benefits of the separation of church and state was that we could rise above secular ideologies to address what is important and eternal in the human experience.  Was I wrong?  This requires agonizing reappraisal.  Maybe someone should form a committee or something.

You got no time for the messenger, got no regard for the thing that you can't understand, you got no fear of the underdog, that's why you will not survive

Along the Jersey Shore, a Struggle to Get to the Sand

You're Welcome

Pastor tased after church service


Surfers honored at Huntington Beach Walk of Fame

Maybe Separation Of Church And State Isn't Such A Bad Thing

The Government War On Kid-Run Concession Stands

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Surfboard Tales, Part Ten

There is that one day, usually in the second half of August, when you know that fall is coming. The overnight temperature begins to drop below sixty, in the evenings it is no longer uncomfortable to wear long pants or even a sweatshirt, you begin to wear a wetsuit in the morning surf again, and the shape of the waves begins to change. This latter event is open to considerable speculation; it is considered a myth by those of a scientific mind and even by some surfers. But watermen know that something different begins to occur with the delivery of energy through water, and they adjust their sails, the trim tabs on their hulls, the nuance and knots of their surfcasting tackle, and their technique accordingly.

Metaphorically, this is especially noted by the early morning surfers, all of whom are over the age 45. The younger set doesn’t go to bed until 3 or 4 in the morning; they don’t wake until noon or so. Those of us who are parents and grandparents are up and in the water in time to see the sun rise from a gray/mauve/red horizon [well, at least on the eastern seaboard] and all of us know the familiar challenges of being middle-aged and older.

After a week of so or mornings such as this, I’m feeling a little weakness in my right knee. My shoulder has been making a popping sound whenever I reach behind me, and I have to warm up a little before I can turn my head all the way to the left. Although we don’t catalog our signs of maturity with one another, the “dawn patrol” knows from its mild grimaces of discomfort or slight limps that we are feeling the effects of having graced creation for a half century or more. Sometimes the simple chore of putting on a wetsuit seems a reenactment of Leighton’s “Hercules wrestling with death for the body of Alcestis”.

On this particular morning, the waves, even with their altered shape, are not quite ready for us. They are low, slow, and weak. When younger, we would sit on the beach and wait it out or, more likely, enter the water and wait and wait. We had all day, after all. However the cold water and the colder air are a little uncomfortable in our maturity, so we do the better thing and walk about the beach collecting the detritus left from the day before. To paraphrase William Carlos Williams, we pick up the pure products of America Go Sloppy.

“My grandkids learn about the environment in school,” says an older waterman with whom I am picking up an assortment of soda cups, cheese steak wrappers, and, interestingly, a stained “Obama ‘08” t-shirt. “When they visit me, they turn off my lights, unplug my coffee maker and toaster, and generally hector me about being a better re-cycler. Then they come to the beach and forget all that. It was never this messy back in the day.”

“You know what I find weird?", he continued.  "Back then there were hardly any trash cans on the beach, yet people took their refuse with them at the end of the day. Now we’ve got cans for trash, cans for bottles, cans for newspapers or [stuff], cans for I don’t know what. They’re all over the beach; like every 25 feet or so. Yet, look at all the [stuff] people leave.”

“They don’t know what they’ve got. They don’t care, I guess. As long as they use the right words their actions don’t have to match. They must of have learned that from celebrities. Maybe politicians.”

Another dawn patroller arrives, looks at the sad state of the surf, smiles at us and speaks the cliché that has been ironic since the 1960’s: “You should have been here yesterday.” We laugh, but my elder companion looks at the surf, then the trash, then the surf again. “I think I’m going to start saying, ‘You should be here tomorrow.’”

[Excerpt from Reading Water, all rights reserved ©2011]

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Surfboard Tales, Part Nine

The best conversation I ever had about the surf was also the shortest. And the quietest.

There are sounds common to every hospital, from Manila to New York City. Besides the murmur of voices and the occasional rasp from the intercom, there is the beeping associated with the various telemetry and servo-mechanisms, sometimes with the bellows rhythm of a respirator or the gurgle of a pleur-evac. I don’t know what it’s like for the patient; I don’t know if they stop hearing all of it or whether, since it’s the only distraction permitted when one can’t read, speak, or see, these sounds become comforting in their constancy.

Sitting in an ICU bay for more than a day, I know I stopped hearing them, permitting me a quiet vigil. Except for the forty-five minute ambulance ride and the six hours during which she was in neuro-surgery, I had been at my wife’s side for over thirty hours, still wearing the clergy collar and tweed suit from Sunday morning.  As the ER physician had told me she wasn’t going to make it, I had given her “last rites” at noon the day before [since most people know what that term means I’ll use it; I’ll leave it to pedantic bishops to point out that “last rites” is not technically correct].  At 6pm, now at a second hospital, I had anointed her with the oil of unction, as I had been told that she might make it, but there would be lingering disability. With therapy and care she might be able to speak or even walk again. “After a fashion”, said the neuro-surgeon.

It was now 6pm the next day; two days before Ash Wednesday. I sat in the chair next to her bed, holding her hand in the noisy silence, waiting to see what the free-ranging pocket of blood still left in her brain sac would do if it came into contact with healthy tissue. If it did, it would further disable her or kill her. Then again, according to the surgeon, it could just dissipate with no further damage. If she were able to speak sometime in the next day, it would be a sign that the blood was dissipating.

I spoke to her for hours, without response, about family, pets, the daunting labor of filling our college aid applications.  When those topics were exhausted, I spoke of our vacations to the various beaches we had enjoyed during our five years of marriage; about sailing the Lesser Antilles the year before, about the vacation we would take once she had recovered, maybe to Aruba or Barbados; about waves and surf and swimming and diving. I had just finished describing in lush detail a trip we could take one day to Kona when her hand, limp for a day and a half, suddenly squeezed mine. Then, through dried lips and a throat parched by the previous day’s intubation, she said, “We’ll have to buy an extra ticket for the surfboard.”

I knew that there had been more poignant words spoken in human history, but I really couldn't think of any. She could speak, and would in the months to come converse normally, regain her balance, walk, and return to work without any lingering effects from the sub-arachnoid aneurysm; and we would, after she was cleared by her physicians, begin to visit the beaches and coral reefs about which I’d spoken during those terrible hours of one-sided conversation.

And once, on a flight to the Palancar Reef, when we noticed that our row contained a vacant seat, we exchanged a deep and silent smile.

[Excerpt from Reading Water, all rights reserved ©2011]

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Surfboard Tales, Part Eight

I can’t help but notice the remarkable obsession with money and showy material goods that is now a normal part of common life, and a normal part of surfing, too. When I was a teenager, none of my peer group owned his or her own board; everyone rented the same make and model of surfboard from the same place. Of course, none of us was wealthy and that vacation to the Jersey shore, as tatty as that sounds to many of my neighbors in Litchfield County, was the biggest luxury of our young lives. The idea of actually buying a surfboard, which in 1969 or so would have cost approximately $65, was laughably fantastic. It didn’t matter to us of course, as surfboards are merely tools. They were something we used to participate in a great natural and spiritual experience. Or just to have some thrills. After all, one can build a house with a $10 hammer as well as with a $100 one.

Apparently, I’m not the only one to notice this new reality. One morning, while patiently waiting with about a dozen others for what we hoped would be a set of really stunning waves, I had some observations on technique shared with me by a guy known as “Hoodoo Bob.”

Hoodoo Bob: “You know that guy right?”
Me: “Yeah, I see him most mornings.”
Hoodoo Bob: “I think he can catch any wave; even the garbage.”
Me: “That’s talent.”
Hoodoo Bob: “You bet. And this guy, the longboarder? Only guy I know who can walk the nose on the East Coast.”
Me: “No kidding.”
Hoodoo Bob: “Really. See this guy?” He indicated a young man walking down the beach with a surfboard marked with the logo of a European fashion house. “He’s the best surfer on the beach.”
Me: “Is that right? I’ve never seen him surf.”
Hoodoo Bob: “Me, neither.”
Me: “What? Then why…?”
Hoodoo Bob: “Got to figure, doesn’t it? He’s got to be the best. He has a $3000 board.”

[Excerpt from Reading Water, all rights reserved © 2011]