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I Heard the Voice of Robert Plant Say, “Satan, Your Kingdom Must Come Down”

The other day, as I prepared for my 30-minute commute to my office, I let Spotify pick a playlist for me and off I went to work. You may remember in recent years, I commuted in an older car, a 2002 Sable with a few quirks that made life interesting. But now I have a 2016 Honda Accord with Bluetooth. It starts all of the time, doesn’t break down and require towing, and this means I have to look for other forms of excitement while commuting. This newer car also meant my music went from cassettes/CDs to Spotify Bluetooth in a remarkably short time, so I’m sticking my hand deep into the musical candy jar each day with Spotify (yes, I heard about it from my children). On this chilly April morning, a few songs into my Daily Mix 1 playlist, Robert Plant, the former lead singer of Led Zeppelin, came on singing the lyric, “Satan, your kingdom must come down . . . Satan, your kingdom must come down . . . I heard the voice of Jesus say, Satan, your kingdom must come down.” I had listened to this…
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How Was Your Weekend? And the Retroactive Sabbath

One of the questions I don't really like to answer comes on most Mondays at work. “How was your weekend?” The question might come from a co-worker or a former coworker or maybe even a complete stranger. This past week, I called our tech support hotline on Monday about a situation I’ve been having where people inside my company cannot call me from a work number. I let it go for as long as I could because it was really great for a while, but I finally needed to get it resolved. The tech had to get some other departments involved, and while we were waiting for them to get on the call, this otherwise total stranger I’ve never talked to before in my entire life popped the big question: “So how was your weekend?” I gave a vague answer and then pivoted out of it back to the support issue I was having. (I’ve watched far too many politicians answer questions for the past two years on Face the Nation, so now, like they always do, I use the pivot in my conversations.) This resistance to the …

Thinking of Old Words on Memorial Day Weekend

My Grandma Rainey always used a couple of anachronisms that now make sense to me as I've gotten older. She'd say my dad was born on “Armistice Day,” referring to Veterans Day when they disputed about his birth date because she insisted that his birth certificate actually listed the wrong date for his birth. (She ultimately went and had the birth certificate legally corrected to win the argument. He was born on Armistice Day!) And on this Memorial Day weekend, I now remember that she always used the term “Decoration Day,” which was the name for Memorial Day until she was 50 years old. That’s actually not a crazy thing to say, but I remember thinking it was at the time.

Growing up in my house, we had an icebox to keep the food cold, but it actually wasn’t an icebox. It was a refrigerator, but the old names for things sometimes take a while to be discontinued from use. Somewhere along the way, I stopped using “icebox” but I do not remember when. All I know is that I think we ofte…

A New Keyboard for Christmas

Created using my Android tablet and tiny keyboard, hunched over looking out indirectly at the sun rising over the golf course in Leesurg, FL.My tablet now has a keyboard that I got for Christmas. Much smaller, not so easy to type or even press the space key because the space bar is so much smaller. I will inevitably end up fat-fingering the keys. But I can also use voice to overcome some of these typing faux paus. It really is a great time to be alive, except that I am spending so much to time with devices rather than people I love. Or spending time with people through devices I love rather than spending time with them directly. So I guess we are victims of our own devices. It is the end of another year. I should be setting goals to 2017 but I probably won't. I am by nature a laissez-faire kind of guy. Everything I learned about planning and organization I learned in the corporate world, an alternate universe where people work and do things that they do not do in their home lives.…

The Passing of Time

“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour, and that one, is what we are doing.” Annie Dillard, The Writing Life I have to admit something: I am obsessed by the passage of time. It is a constant presence in my life, as if I have some allergy that results in irritation or an itchiness that I must constantly attend to. I am constantly paying attention to the passage of time. I have no idea how this happened. Here's an example: I do not really want to be celebrated on my birthday like so many do. I prefer to take the day off from work and contemplate, not be rushed, sip the coffee slowly in the morning, sit by a stream for a little while, anything but be glad that I am another year older. The changing of seasons, say from summer to autumn, is also an emotional experience for me because I see it as a kind of dying, an ending to something that is now being lost. I wish I could see the new season as a new beginning, but I do not. I focus on …

My Morning Routine

Like most people, I have a morning routine. If any of this routine is interrupted, my day is ruined. Here’s the routine: I get up when I get up. I do not use an alarm. If I go to bed early, I get up early. If I go to bed late, I get up a little later. This is very simple. If I’m driving to the Midwest and have to leave at 3 a.m., I use an alarm. Otherwise, I get up when I get up.

The next thing I do in the morning is go downstairs and start the coffee. When I make the coffee, I hate when I find the grinds from the day before in the metal filter . This is very disturbing to me and makes me angry, but my anger lasts only a moment. After I dump the grinds in the garbage and rinse out the filter, I am back on track. I can put the new coffee grinds in the filter, fill up the water to the 9-cup line for the three of us drinking coffee, turn on the coffee pot and away we go. By the way, I have never had a coffee pot with a timer that I can set to start up at a certain time so the coffee is…

Watching Storms

Something I miss by living in New Jersey is the opportunity to watch a storm blow through. Right now as I write this on Labor Day weekend, I am in Leesburg, Florida (near Orlando), sitting beside a screened in patio and pool at my father-in-law’s house. I am protected from the rain by an overhang. The rear of the house overlooks a cow pasture. Hues of dark and light gray clouds bulging with water are moving across the sky just above the pasture. The crackle of lightning and the subsequent thunder in the distance remind me once again about nature’s power as the wind hisses through the trees and drops of rain, at times heavy and at times light, make disappearing circles in the pool. There is a raw beauty I love in a storm.

I am mostly unaware that I do not often get to watch storms. When I am in Florida, a rain or storm blows through nearly every afternoon, sometimes just taunting us with a threatening sky that does not deliver any rain, and at other times a downpour descends from the h…