May 15th, 2004 – Messiah College graduation

Graduation walk

Has it really been a decade? Ten years? Ten years ago today, I was wearing a black robe, sweating in the hot sun. A long line of us, all dressed in black robes, walked along the sidewalk that I had walked on almost every day for the past four years. We sang Under the Sea and other Disney songs as we walked. We marched across the covered bridge, onto the soccer field, and filed into rows of plastic chairs. Soon most of us had our robes open and our top shirt buttons undone to try and escape the heat. Black robes don’t mix well with the somewhat muggy south central Pennsylvania summer weather.

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And you thought blaming Bush for everything was going too far back

First Rand Paul, and now Mitt Romney are bringing up Bill Clinton’s scandal as if it was yesterday (see one article here). I find that to be pretty hilarious. Why? It was in the mid to late 90s, which, if you haven’t noticed, is almost two decades ago. I remember it clearly. I also remember the OJ Simpson Bronco chase and trial. Unlike conservatives, who hate when liberals bring up Bush’s faults, I don’t mind that people are bringing up Clinton’s past. Why?

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What it’s like going to a club show (small venue concert)

What it’s like going to a club show (small venue concert):

You drive into the not nice, but not bad, part of the city and park in a random lot. You quickly visually check your seats to make sure nothing valuable is laying about, and then you hop over the puddles and walk along the cracked sidewalk. As you get close to the venue, you can see a line of people in dark hoodies, all standing in line. You get in line, and wait. A hobo might walk by and do a little song and dance for money. Around the corner, you can see the large shiny tour bus the group came in.

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“You’re all just jealous of my jetpack”

As I get older, I start to see what I’m good at, and more importantly, what I’m not good at. What is that Neal Stephenson quote? “Until a man is twenty-five, he still thinks, every so often, that under the right circumstances he could be the baddest motherfucker in the world. If I moved to a martial-arts monastery in China and studied real hard for ten years. If my family was wiped out by Colombian drug dealers and I swore myself to revenge. If I got a fatal disease, had one year to live, and devoted it to wiping out street crime. If I just dropped out and devoted my life to being bad.”

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Conservatives don’t know what it’s like to be rich

As I was emptying the dishwasher the other night, I marveled at all of the wondrous things in our kitchen. I have knives that actually cut. I have different mixing bowls for different purposes (don’t ask me what all of the purposes are). I have glasses for wine. Heck, I have a dishwasher. I am so lucky.

I remember buying a set of knives at a yard sale for a dollar. It was a wood block with four big cutting knives (that’s the technical term) and five or six personal steak knives. We used these knives for years. We should have bought new ones, but these worked…kinda. And new/better knives cost money. I remember cooking frozen pizza on a small square cookie sheet. You know pizzas are round, right? So then you can imagine the pizza flopping down around the edges of the cookie sheet, and the cheese sliding down into the danger zone at the bottom of the oven.

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The meaning of “Chess not Checkers”

In the movie Training Day, a seasoned narc (narcotics officer) takes a rookie cop on a ride along, and the rookie soon sees that the world is not all black and white. The narc makes a number of choices that make the rookie uncomfortable, but the narc insists it’s all necessary in order to do their job. “To protect the sheep you gotta catch the wolf, and it takes a wolf to catch a wolf.”

At one crucial point, after the narcs have done multiple questionable things, the rookie is in shock about it all, and tries to talk some black and white sense to the narc. The narc clues the rookie into the real gray world and says “the sh*t’s chess, it ain’t checkers”. The world isn’t simple, it’s complicated. If you want to survive, you need to think steps ahead. Plan your moves.

Life is chess, not checkers. Politics is chess, not checkers.