Monthly Archives: June 2022

Shaky Ground

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America lives in the shadow of 9-11. Japan lives in the shadow of a different kind of national disaster, commonly called 3-11.  On March 11, 2011, an earthquake of unprecedented strength rocked the country.  The massive tremor, which registered 9.0 on the Richter Scale, generated a tsunami that in places topped 130 feet.  It inundated 200 square miles of coastline and traveled… Read more »

The Power of the Personal

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It matters when we see someone’s face.    A few years ago, Jonathan Turner, an Israeli physician, conducted a fascinating experiment.  With their consent, he took photos of 300 men and women who were coming in for CT scans.  He attached the photos to their images that were then submitted to radiologists.  The radiologists – who knew nothing of Turner’s plan –… Read more »

A Refresher Course in Humility

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Every now and then it’s helpful to experience what it’s like for the shoe to be on the other foot – and for that matter, the socks as well. About a decade and a half ago I was walking our two exuberant Australian Shepherds on a local trail.  When a jogger approached us from the other direction, with her well-behaved dog… Read more »

The Great Emergence

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Churches are famous for rummage sales.  “Rummage” is a word that gets very little play in contemporary conversation.  It might be defined as “a confused miscellaneous collection.”  A rummage is a mishmash, a jumble, a stew, a hodgepodge, a clutter, or an agglomeration of a great many items that at first glance appear to have little in common.  We speak more… Read more »

His Grace is Enough

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In the ancient world, successful people were expected to boast. Highly regarded teachers, politicians, and public officials were encouraged to polish their resumes and roll them out before the watching world as often as they could.  Caesar Augustus ordered that his achievements literally be carved in stone all over the empire.  Soldiers competed for high honors that could only be won in… Read more »

The Real Spice of Life

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“Hey, we’re running low on cinnamon.  Could you pick some up the next time you swing by the market?” For more than a thousand years in Western history, such a request would have been incomprehensible.  Spices were exotic and rare – among the most valuable commodities on earth.  Today we take for granted that for a few dollars we can replenish… Read more »

The Skunk Effect

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Two months ago we had to let go of one of our dearest “family members.” Joker, an Australian Shepherd so named because he came into the world on April Fool’s Day, brightened our lives for 15 years.  Well, except for that one memorable night a few years ago when I escorted him to the front door of our house.  It was… Read more »

Rocks in the Mountains

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Owners of restaurants, bars, salons, and retail stores live in the hope of receiving five-star reviews from Yelp, a popular online customer review service.  One-star reviews, on the other hand (“we had to endure the worst waiter ever”) can have immediate impact on public perception – even if the reviewer had simply gotten up on the wrong side of the bed… Read more »

The Greatest Show on Earth

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There was a time, not so long ago, that parks were the exclusive playgrounds of the rich and famous. During most of European history, green spaces were cultivated by wealthy landowners for private use.  Trespassers – including impoverished poachers trying to catch wild game for their family’s next meal – could be subject to imprisonment or even death.  No one did more… Read more »

Grace Wins

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In 1849 a young Russian named Fyodor Dostoevsky was arrested and imprisoned. He was charged with being part of a group that read books that appeared to be critical of Czar Nicholas I. After awaiting trial for eight months in a festering jail, Dostoevsky and his fellow “criminals” were led outside three days before Christmas into the frigid air.  They were horrified to… Read more »