Friday, December 22, 2006

Introducing Three Tramps

Three Tramps specializes in synergizing the traditional forms of classical and bluegrass with interpretive dance, creative culinary delights, and dramatic readings of great literature.

Martine plays oboe, viola, and chopsticks. Petra plays violin, piano, and French Horn. Paul makes up for his general lack of musical talent by a dent of hard work and sheer creative genius

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Christmas Light

Christmas is supposed to be a season of gladness and joy, but it can be marked by fear, depression, and loneliness. The Spirit of Christmas may get lost in the Santa suits and tinsel. When the wrapping paper is in the trash, and the credit card bills are in the mail, we sometimes feel more tired and stressed then ever. The lights of Christmas are frequently followed by greater darkness.
Tonight, we grieve with the families of the climbers who were lost on Mt Hood, and those of the thousands of soldiers and civilians who have died in Afghanistan and Iraq. As we celebrate Christmas, much of Africa is starving and naked. Yes, darkness settles deeply over some parts of our world, and it’s cold fingers touch us through death or illness of friends or family, or through the invidious doubts and fears John Bunyan called “the giant Despair”

My mother loves hunting for good out of print books. One of her greatest finds was “Just David”. David’s mother died when he was four, and his father, a world famous violinist, took David to an isolated mountain hut. Over the next six years, far from the corrupting influences of wealth and power, David became a brilliant violinist. Father and son lived in peaceful secrecy to avoid the public eye. In fact, David never learned his father’s name. Then David’s father became deathly ill. He tried to take David back to civilization and the musical world they had left, but died in a remote village. Before he passed on, he gave David a large amount of money and wrote a note to David’s relations, and signed his name. The villagers were familiar with the name, but failed to associate it with the sick man’s illegible signature. An indebted farmer took pity on David and gave him bed and board in exchange for David’s daily labor. Months passed. Weeding and stacking wood left little time for the violin, and the villagers mocked David’s music. David dreamed of escaping the village and using his father’ money to start a musical career. Then the mortgage on the farm came due. Not knowing the value of money, David used all his father’s money to redeem the farm. As winter approached, David seemed doomed to spend his life cutting wood . One day, David happened upon an old sundial. Its face contained this inscription: “I count no hours but unclouded ones”. David stopped counting clouded hours and started living for light.
Focusing on sunny times and sunny people brings us light and happiness. I remember watching Petra during orchestra rehearsals. At first, it was just an occasional sidelong glance. By the semester’s end I was having trouble reading my music. Two years ago last Thursday, Petra agreed to accompany me to a concert at the Kennedy center. I spent most of that Christmas break weaving her a basket and making plans. February 14 found me waiting for her to go to Greek class, sneaking into her dorm room, and writing my name in glow-in-the-dark stars above her bed. Several canoe trips, dozens of fruit smoothies, and a series of duct tape notes later, she agreed to be my girlfriend. Last summer, sometime between June 3 and 4, I asked her to marry me. She said yes. It was the happiest moment of my life.
Christmas should be the happiest time of year, but sometimes it’s so full of junk that we don’t have time to look for light. What does Santa have to do with baby Jesus? What does black Friday have to do with the stable? Why do we limit our gifts to those who reply in kind? God gave His Son to us, knowing that we could never repay or understand the sacrifice. Shouldn’t we spend part of this Christmas feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, caring for homeless, and visiting those in prison?
David didn’t keep the sundials wisdom to himself. He couldn’t. His newfound joy infected the village, and shadows of wealth and pride gave way to the light of kindness and love.
This hasn’t been an easy year. My grandfather was nearly crippled by a bungled back surgery, my grandmother died in September, and law school has eaten my best time, energy, and most of my hair. I’m sure that each one of you has suffered as well. Looking to the light can be difficult. Sometimes everything seems dark.
We often lack the time to meet our needs, never mind reaching those of others.
David’s hours were mostly cloudy, and he had plenty of sorrows without bothering about those of the people around him. But he chose to live for light, and carried its joy to the rest of the village.
It is my hope and prayer that during this Christmas season, we, like the Wise Men of old, will look for light, look to the Christ child, the source of all light and warmth, and reflect His love and care to those less fortunate then we.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

God Is

Even during exams

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Thanksgiving Tumbledown

Several years ago, John and I started a turkey day tradition. Thanksgiving dinner invariably degenerates into orgy of chow, so we figured we'd balance it with a savaged pre dinner hike. Tumbledown Mountain is accessible, steep, and offers great views, so it was the natural choice. This year, John is in Peru, but Barry and I carried on in his honor. We were joined by my cousin Mark, Elissa, Julie, Jenny, and Wayne--a very convivial group. We followed our trademark route, an unused trail blocked by a rockslide. Mark introduced us to a more technical style of belaying. Barry and Wayne provided common sense. We played on the partly frozen summit pond and pondered the view. The return journey was marred by Mark and Jenny's constant efforts to tempt the more abstemious members with snacks. They were creative, but we held out for the feast.
After dinner, Mark and I inaugurated a new tradition, a post dinner swim in the ocean, followed by a soak in the hot tub.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

What I was trying to say in the last post...

Life is like an LSAT problem—tricky, complex, and never enough time to figure it out. We survive by making assumptions and taking risks. We assume that the primary ingredient in our breakfast cereal is wheat, not arsenic; we assume that smiles are not death threats, and we (sometimes wrongly) assume that the other cars will stop at red lights, and go at green ones. Society moves too fast to require strict proof. It hasn’t always been this way.
Aquinas explained life by “proving” God’s existence in painful detail, but he never managed to account for the unmoved mover. Descartes famous “I think, therefore I am” proved some level of human rationality, but suddenly weakened in its explanation of God. Kierkegaard made a blind leap of faith away from logic and towards an unknown and unknowable God, but his ethereal explanation was notably detached from the verifiable observations which grounded Aquinas and Descartes. Jefferson left philosophical perambulations to continentals, and adopted a world view that fit the world he viewed. He assumed rationality, made careful note of the world around him, and plugged in various explanations until he found one that fit.
In our post Jeffersonian world, we seldom bother to make fully informed choices. We assume, observe, and act—unless of course, we’re talking about God. Suddenly, every warrant is subject to strict scrutiny. Full explanation is required, and Christianity is held to a standard that Aquinas could not have surmounted. Given enough time and energy, it’s possible to figure out what’s in those Cheerios, and green or red, it’s always smart to look both ways. But as Kierkegaard would argue, God isn’t susceptible to this type of proof. Jefferson’s deistic beliefs seem quaint in light of current science, but that doesn’t mean his methods were flawed.
Like an LSAT problem, life is a high stakes game. Pascal’s Wager shows that the odds favor a belief in God. Why don’t we leave complete proof to Aquinas, apply Occam’s Razor, and look for a God that would explain our world?

Monday, November 20, 2006

Solving for God

"Plugging in the numbers" is one of the best ways to solve complex algebra problems and logic games. This morning, while solving some Evidence problems, I wondered if it might be a good way to solve for God.
Assume God's existance, then evaluate the corollaries. Assume Atheism, then evaluate the corollaries. Compare the corollaries. Occam's Razer is one place to start. The second law of thermodynamics is another.
Thomas Jefferson and a host of likeminded deists followed this logic to a belief in a distant higher power, but this is as foolish as settling for a workable plugged in number without solving the rest of the problem. IF God existance is a simpler and better explaination for life (observable sociology) then Atheism, the next step is to plug in different values for God's character and reapply Occam's Razer. Which God explains life in the clearest terms?

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Inspirational distraction

Relationships take time and money. I’m desperately short of both, but, as this photo demonstrates, my time with Petra has been, is, and will continue to be, the best investment I’ve ever made. Unlike most girls, Petra is smarter than me:-)--and more stubborn. I win most of our verbal skirmishes, but somehow we usually end up doing what she wants—which often talismanically translates into what I want. Maybe it all comes back to the photo—I end up following her lead because I’m trying to keep her in view:-)...

Candle Making

Candles bring warmth and light. I burn them all the time. Usually, I'm left with a pool of unburned wax. As the following photos indicate, I consolidated these fragments into a small glass jar, suspended a strip of sacrificed tee shirt from the top, and put the whole rube goldburg in the oven. Half an hour later, I took it out, let it cool, then lit it up. My candle burned like a torch—for the first five minutes, than went out. My homegrown wick had tipped over due to vibrations from my imaginary jump rope routine. A couple of matches later, the flame was rekindled. It’s been burning steadily ever since—between breaks for my classes.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Bank robbers and unborn children

Fortunately, my trip to Norway meant that I missed the abortion section of my Constitutional law class. Unfortunately, I've had to review the material as I prepare for the exam.
My disagreement with Roe and Casey's guarantee of a limited fundamental right to abortion has been grounded in the Pentateuch, not legal precendent. The Bible is my rule of life, but it doesn't carry much weight in the classroom. I have been challenged to support my beliefs with current law and logic.
The Supreme Court has refused to say when life begins, so it's dodged the conflict between the right to privacy and the right to life, but it's current jurisprudence (in the abortion context) favors the former. Oddly enough, Tort law has been expanding, and now recognizes a limited duty of care towards unborn children.
Torts law is based on the duty of care. Basically, everyone has a duty to exercise reasonable good sense in all their actions. Banks can lock and bar their doors, and even put up electrified barbed wire fences (if they post obvious warning signs), but can't set up hidden traps that kill bank robbers the moment they step into the safe. Butchers keep dogs from getting into their shops and gobbling the meat, but can't let them in, cut off their heads, and add them to the salable goods.
Tort law applies a higher standard of care in fiduciary relationships involving disproportionate power, information, or bargaining power, such as Dr. Patient, Attorney Client, and day care child.
If Banks have a duty of care towards bank robbers, and butchers have a duty of care toward marauding dogs, why don't mom's and dad's have a duty of care towards their unborn children?
If Attorney's are supposed to be extra careful with their legally helpless clients, why shouldn't mom's and dad's have to be extra careful with their unborn kids?
Abortion proponents often use cases of rape, incest, or likely death of the mother to justify current law, but this extremism has scant legal foundation. Willfully killing another person is murder or wrongful death--unless you are acting in self defense. Grabbing a stranger, pounding their chest, and going lip to lip is assault and battery--unless they aren't breathing and you are doing CPR. Civil and criminal law impose no duties or requirements in these areas, leaving them solely to the conscience of the individual. Abortions should be illegal, with appropriate exceptions for personal morality.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

beyond donkey and elephant

It's election day. What is America voting for? In 1950, Republicans were the people's party. They stood for civil rights and big Federal Government. LBJ railroaded a role reversal and tried to create "Great Society". Republicans gave lip service to small government, but when they elected B moviestar Ronald, they created national debt instead. Promises and policy seldom match. Clinton was a model Republican President. dubya has expanded the Federal Government beyond LBJ's wildest dreams. Politicians want more power--regardless of party principles. Voters want safe and peaceful lives--regardless of the party in power. No wonder they are confused. This race isn't about parties, it's about people. Who does America trust?

Friday, November 03, 2006

kind in laws

Once again, I am humbled and blessed by my future in laws kindness and generosity. My washcloth week was an adventure, but it's nice to be getting back to the brush and paste.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Dental care

My toothbrush is shot and my toothpaste is short. Bad brushes hurt gums and bad breath hurts grades. Law school is shattering my person finances but reaffirming my Scottish roots. Damp washcloths work better then brushes. Toothpaste is a marketing scam. My teeth are gleaming, but my washcloth is wearing thin...

Friday, October 27, 2006

Baking Bread

Marriage may mean baking the bread, not just winning it, so I decided to practice. Besides, I couldn't face another helping of cheap skates hard times wonder brew (philosophy of construction available upon request). Measuring is the bane of true baking, so I mixed materials as inspired by Gil Shaham's rendition of Saint Saens violin concerto No. 3. Like Shaham's playing, the bread turned out exquisite, powerful, and charmingly simple--the virtuoso product of genius.

Friday, October 20, 2006

50 k hike in Norway

These are a few photos of our 50 k hike--taken by Robby. We arrived at midnight and laid a tarp on the tundra. It was incredibly cold. Petra slept between Martina and I, so she stayed warm and got some sleep. Robby and Erin froze. The sun didn't come up until 8:00 a.m., but we got up long before then and huddled around a fire (Robby brought wood from home). We feasted with shaking hands, then hit the trail. Hiking brought warmth and sore feet. The views were incredible, and lured us further into the wilds. All too soon, darkness arrived. Headlamps were turned on--and grew dim as the hours past. I saved mine for the last hour--a slick decent on a closed trail. We ended the hike at 11:00 p.m. The three hour return drive was a nightmare. Petra was sick, Robby went to sleep, and I drove through rain and thick fog. Martina managed to come alive for the final round, and kept us awake with impassioned dental care speeches.

This morning, Petra, Martina, Robby, and myself managed a 10 k jog in pitch dark. Good times..

actually, photos are on the way...

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Contract Formation

I have accepted an offer of legal employment from Verrill and Dana, LLP, and Petra has accepted an offer of marriage from me.

please direct congratulations to us, and inquires to our parents.

given the chance, always skip school and go to Norway.

Monday, October 09, 2006

starting out

I'm really too busy to do this, but I got religion. Paul is now online.