Wednesday, March 22, 2023

In Support of NPR

As has been shared by several personalities, this looks to be a tough week for NPR.  Budget cuts and restrictions are going into effect, leading to many staff at the public radio station losing their jobs.  The budget crisis at NPR is largely involving a shortfall in corporate sponsorships and federal grants.  Last November, the station had announced a total $20 million decline in sponsorship revenue, leading to planned hiring freezes, budget cuts on items like non-essential travel and discretionary spending, and now layoffs.  The layoffs account for 10% of the workforce.

While it is not as much a part of my daily life now, NPR was my lifeline for a very long time.  Growing up, I couldn't have imagined it, but I've become a fan of talk-radio.  Of talk shows.  I like feeling like I'm joining into a conversation, whether it be on radio and on podcasts.  

Because of that, my hour long commutes were filled with NPR or podcasts.  And I loved a lot about NPR.  Marketplace Morning Report, BBC News Hour.  I love the irreverent part in Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me... and Ask Me Another.  Classic favorites like Car Talk and A Prairie Home Companion.  While I have issues with her interview style at times, I enjoy Fresh Air.

NPR provides that essential lifeline of information.  Freely available.  Open to all.  About as center of the political spectrum in news that you can ask for.

This is why it should be a priority in society.  Sadly, like many media outlets, this seems to be the new reality.  "We're not seeing signs of a recovery in the advertising market," NPR CEO John Lansing said in an interview.  "Nothing is nailed down yet except the principles and what we know we have to reach."

Here's hoping a solution can be achieved, for the continuing health and life of NPR.  For our overall national discourse.

Though individual support does not directly affect the current crisis, it is still a part of the overall health of the network.  Why not support your local station today?

"The arts are essen­tial to any com­plete national life. The State owes it to itself to sus­tain and encour­age them….Ill fares the race which fails to salute the arts with the rev­er­ence and delight which are their due."
Winston Churchill, 1938

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

World Poetry Day

Today is World Poetry Day, and in recognition, I thought it appropriate to share a poem of the season.

by William Cullen Bryant,

The stormy March is come at last,
With wind, and cloud, and changing skies,
I hear the rushing of the blast,
That through the snowy valley flies.

Ah, passing few are they who speak,
Wild stormy month! in praise of thee;
Yet, though thy winds are loud and bleak,
Thou art a welcome month to me.

For thou, to northern lands, again
The glad and glorious sun dost bring,
And thou hast joined the gentle train
And wear'st the gentle name of Spring.

And, in thy reign of blast and storm,
Smiles many a long, bright, sunny day,
When the changed winds are soft and warm,
And heaven puts on the blue of May.

Then sing aloud the gushing rills
And the full springs, from frost set free,
That, brightly leaping down the hills,
Are just set out to meet the sea.

The year's departing beauty hides
Of wintry storms the sullen threat;
But in thy sternest frown abides
A look of kindly promise yet.

Thou bring'st the hope of those calm skies,
And that soft time of sunny showers,
When the wide bloom, on earth that lies,
Seems of a brighter world than ours.

Monday, March 20, 2023

First Day of Spring 2023

As of today, we are officially in Spring.  The time when snow melts, ice thaws, and the sun traditionally begins to shine more.  When the planet warms, bringing forth new life, springing out of the ground.  Plants bloom, hibernation ends, and our whole outlook tends to become brighter.

It's a season of celebration.  Of Carnival, of Easter, and May Day.  Of Saint Patrick's Day and Cinco De Mayo.  Of Spring Break.

And it is a time of new beginnings.

In that spirit, I wanted to to give a reminder that now is as good of a time as any for a fresh start.  If there is something you need to give up but missed lent, why not start now?  If you need to leave a relationship that is toxic or abusive, why not start that new life now, just as the rest of the planet is doing? If you need to change jobs, change majors, pursue new opportunities, why not now?

Pursue that new job, seek that new relationship, start that new project.


"Change will not come if we wait for some other person, or if we wait for some other time.  We are the ones we've been waiting for.  We are the change that we seek."

President Barack Obama

So stop waiting for some other time.  Stop waiting for things to be different.  Stop procrastinating.

There has never been a better day to make a change.  No day but today.  So if there is anything you are looking to improve, to change, or to start, the only way you can guarantee it will happen is to start today.

Because the truth is, there will never be a perfect day.  There will never be a perfect time or situation.

So go for it.  Dream.  Strive.  Change.

You've got this.

This spring as it comes bursts up in bonfires green,
Wild puffing of emerald trees, and flame-filled bushes,
Thorn-blossom lifting in wreaths of smoke between
Where the wood fumes up and the watery, flickering rushes.

I am amazed at this spring, this conflagration
Of green fires lit on the soil of the earth, this blaze
Of growing, and sparks that puff in wild gyration,
Faces of people streaming across my gaze.

And I, what fountain of fire am I among
This leaping combustion of spring? My spirit is tossed
About like a shadow buffeted in the throng
Of flames, a shadow that's gone astray, and is lost.

The Enkindled Spring, D.H. Lawrence

Sunday, March 19, 2023

Easter 2023 - Laetare

Today marks the fourth Sunday of Lent, Laetare Sunday, also known as Mothering Sunday, Refreshment Sunday, mid-Lent Sunday, and Rose Sunday.  It's primarily named for the first line of the Introit read today. Isaiah 66:10 "Rejoice ye with Jerusalem; and be ye glad for her, all ye that delight in her: exult and sing for joy with her, all ye that in sadness mourn for her; that ye may suck, and be satisfied with the breasts of her consolations."  

Laetare Jerusalem et conventum facite omnes qui diligitis eam; gaudete cum laetitia, qui in tristitia fuistis, ut exsultetis et satiemini ab uberibus consolationis vestrae.

The theme of this Sunday is rejoicing, as Laetare means rejoice.  It's a bit of a breather in the middle of lent, as we look forward to the hope of Easter.  In the readings, we see manifestations of the hope that we have.  The Old Testament reading from 1 Samuel 16:1b, 6-7, 10-13a, focuses on the anointing of David as king.  A physical culmination of the hope of Israel at the time, the annointing of the good earthly king, one they have been continuing to look for.  

The Gospel reading focuses on John 9, with the story of the man blind from birth, the restoration of his sight, and the investigation by the Pharisees.   The story begins with a question that has implications for our larger study on suffering.  The disciples ask Jesus what caused the man's blindness, his sin or his parents.  Jesus response tells us a lot.  "Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him."

This response runs contrary to our primary beliefs about suffering, that they are punishments. Jesus is clearly saying that is not always the case.  But the beauty is that the suffering can still be used by God for something wonderful.

After Jesus puts mud on his eyes and instructs him to wash in the pool of Siloam, a simple task, but still with great impact.  The man went and washed, and came home seeing.  Which stirs up the community greatly.  His neighbors become very inquisitive.  They bring him before the Pharisees, who put him through a rigorous cross examination, even calling in his parents to confirm his prior blindness.

Through the entirety of the cross examination, one response from the man rings out for me.  The Pharisees  are upset with Jesus because the healing took place on a Sabbath, so of course, Jesus could not be of God. The Pharisees were men of God and followed all the rules.  How could they tolerate a man who cut through all the rules to care for the people?  They become more and more irate with the man's story, so they ask him point blank, "Give glory to God by telling the truth.  We know this man (Jesus ) is a sinner."

The man's response is all the defense of the gospel that we ever need.  It is the summary of our hope in Jesus.  The very essence of our testimony.

"Whether he is a sinner or not, I don't know.  One thing I do know.  I was blind, but now I see!"

That's all we need; the beauty of telling what He has done for us.  That's our hope.  That's our joy.

May we now go out like the man and spread it.

Saturday, March 18, 2023

Spring Break

Today marks the start of the kids' spring break.  It's one of the many things we've loved about the local schools.  Two week fall break, two week Christmas break, two week spring break.  The kids have been looking forward to it.  We have been looking forward to it.

Because the break being two weeks has greatly enabled us to really enjoy it.  We have been able to go back to Texas, to visit family, to celebrate, and for Jamie and I to take trips.  It means a lot of time on the road, but it's been worth it.

This year should be no exception. We'll get to go visit family.  Jamie and I are going to take our yearly trip over the break and go to Costa Rica.  Jamie has been a couple of times, but I have never been.  So, I'm looking forward to experiencing the country.

All in all, it should hopefully be another wonderful break.

Today, we just have the drive.  So prayers for traveling mercies and a good time for us all on the road.

Friday, March 17, 2023

St. Patrick's Day 2023

Today we have a reminder of the influence of the Irish on our American heritage. Thirty- three million people or 10.5% of our population tracing their heritage to Ireland. There are over five times more people with Irish heritage in America than there are Irish in Ireland.

Today, we recognize them as a pillar of the American melting pot. Celebrated communities in the Northeast. Pioneers in the westward expansion.

And yet, for the majority of their immigration pathway here, they were discriminated against. Viewed as less than. Inferior.

Hated and feared for their religious differences (Catholics v Protestants). For their ethnic differences (Celts v Anglo-Saxon). For a language barrier. For their work class. No Irish Need Apply.

On this day when we celebrate the patron saint of Ireland. His capture into slavery and conversion. His ministry and dedication to Ireland. His driving out Druids, or “snakes,” out of Ireland. And the Irish history and heritage of our country.

Why don’t we celebrate by honoring that history. By owning up to complicated history that it is. And by looking at how we treat any immigrant to our country. By committing to not making the same mistakes.

We can keep up the old traditions. Wear green. Drink green beer. Raise a glass high.

But I think that the list above might be a far better way to celebrate today.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Thursday, March 16, 2023

He's All Risk

The title is a quote by Doris Hardoon, recruited by Crump in the late 1970s for the development of EPCOT. 

For Disney theme park and animation fans, there are certain artists whose style is easy to identify.  Mary Blair's mid-century, colorful style that would make it's a small world come to life.  Claude Coat's moody and atmospheric art that would fit the Haunted Mansion to a T.   Harper Goff's paintings, which would come to define Disney park concept art.

Roland "Rolly" Crump was one such artist.  

If artist could be summed up in a phrase, Rolly's would be, "wouldn't it be cool if we..."

Crump started as an assistant animator on such film classics as Peter Pan, Lady and the Tramp, Sleeping Beauty, and One Hundred and One Dalmatians.  In 1959, he would join WED Enterprises, the former name for Walt Disney Imagineering.  And it's here that Rolly proved to be a trailblazing pioneer.

Crump would be a key designer on attractions like The Haunted Mansion and the Enchanted Tiki Room.  With the Mansion, it was Crump that brought the funny, blending together with Claude Coat's spooky and atmospheric to create the attraction that is loved by millions today.  Crump would also be a key imagineer for the Disney attractions at the 1964 World's Fair, contributing to the it's a small world attraction by notably creating the Tower of The Four Winds structure that served as the marquee.  When the attraction was moved to Disneyland, Crump designed the animated clock face that served as a timepiece and exterior for the beloved attraction.

His art always went to the whimsical and weird, perfectly encapsulated in his famed lost attraction The Museum of the Weird.  He created many, many bits for this attraction that ranged from a clock with 13 hours, to a chair with a face, to a melting wax man.  It would have been a wonderful attraction and I still hope that it will be resurrected someday.

Rolly passed away Sunday, March 12, 2023 at his home at the age of 93.  His art and legacy will continue to entertain children of all ages for many, many years to come.