Sunday, August 31, 2008

Run on the bank. In reverse.

I got an email from Kiva today saying that they've made a systems change so that I get Kiva credit back not when a loan has been fully repaid, but every time Kiva receives partial payment back from the field partner. So, suddenly I had a bunch of Kiva credit I wasn't expecting until next year.

Cool! So I hopped out to to grab me some more loans, to find that only 3 loans were available to fund. Usually there are hundreds. And those 3 were actually funded already (Kiva is a little laggy about updating loan statuses). So apparently this systems change has suddenly freed up hundreds of thousands of dollars in donor's money, causing a flood of new loan purchases, to the point where they've run out of people to loan money to!

As Jane Sladen said: "kind of like trying to buy Elton John tickets on line - click before they're gone!!"

So here I am with Kiva credit and nobody to loan money to. What a terrific problem to have! This bump is a little weird but I'm sure after a few days the newly improved cash flow of donors will enable Kiva to give more loans, faster overall.

(Hopefully nobody decides to pull their money out instead of waiting patiently for loan opportunities. I'm sure Kiva will soon catch up with the total capacity of their donor pool.)

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Watch your spelling, nerd boy

pixilated -adjective
1. slightly eccentric or mentally disordered.
2. amusingly whimsical, prankish, silly, or the like.
[Origin: 1840–50, Americanism; pix(ie) + (tit)illated]

pixelated -adjective
1. pertaining to a printed image which has been digitized; visible as a pattern of pixels; also written pixellated

We aren't in 1850 any more, Toto.

Midwest tour

My Geocaching travelbug U. S. Navy (2 of 4) has been making the rounds since April 2006.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

The Dark Knight

Sometimes the movie lives up to the hype, and in my view The Dark Knight is one of those. I find Batman's voice a bit unreal, and the two-face dude (DA Harvey Dent) is totally over the top, but that, I suppose, is understandable since it is, after all, based on a comic. What I did find believable was the dual nature of shadow and light found even in our heroes--a conundrum well expressed in the movie's title. Harvey particularly shows how a "good guy" can go over to "the dark side." This seemed completely believable. Actually Batman himself seems so principled that at times I had a hard time relating to him. In the scene where Batman has a clear opportunity to run down The Joker with his Batmobile but instead swerves and wrecks the vehicle...well, as much as I consider myself nonviolent I think in a case of "him or me" I would have chosen him, the maestro of chaos. Wouldn't you owe it to the public, really? But on the other hand, I sure wouldn't want to return to the days of the vigilante and every man wearing the law on his hip. Ah, yes: paradox again.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Blinded by the white

Wow. What is Lucky wearing? Perhaps all his TVs have drawn him into The Matrix? Or maybe he's been hanging out with Vin Diesel?

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Lock-in, or Lock-out?

Even after 39 years of marriage, and five years of dating preceding it, there remain variances of perception between my beloved and me that crop up unexpectedly, like the stones heaved up by frost each spring in fields that last fall were clear. They're common things, usually, which makes them all the more unexpected when stumbled upon. The latest came to focus as I was locking the back door as I left for a bike ride. "Oh, don't lock me IN," Sharon said. "I'm not," I replied, "I'm locking others OUT."

The incident was amusing on one hand, and disconcerting on the other. My intent was to take what I considered reasonable security precautions as I left, making it less likely that an intruder might enter the home. What I did for Sharon's protection, however, was received as over protection. She chooses in this, and a number of other matters, to live in what she views as trust rather than fear. Well and good. But the rub comes when my natural tendencies toward security conflict with her desires for risk-taking. If I leave the door unlocked, even at her request, I do so with a nagging sense that I'm not being responsible in my care for her. Part of this is probably selfish: I wouldn't want to live with the guilt in the unlikely event that something happened. But part of it is simply an expression of who I am, and the way I convey care or concern.

I'm reminded of a book title that asks, "Do I Have to Give Up Me to Be Loved by You?" The answer, it seems to me, is "Yes, but..." Yes, I choose to change my behavior often in accommodation to the needs and wishes of my companion, as she does for me. Why else be married, if we both just want to live unto ourselves? Our differences are as vital as our likenesses in our marriage covenant, perhaps more so in creating growth. This is just the nature of relationships, which means allowing the other to have effect upon your life. BUT if I give up too much of my self to be in relationship with another, then I'm not really being true to myself, or offering to the other the gift of my uniqueness.

My beloved and I have bumped into this paradox repeatedly throughout the years, so much so that we have posted on our bedroom dresser this passage from Leviticus 19:34-- "The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself."

Seeing Through Glass, Darkly

How are we ever going to really “go green” here in the US without an integrated approach to conservation and the environment? A case in point: last year it was possible in Independence to recycle glass containers, either by paying the trash hauler or by taking it to a recycling center. Today you can do neither. Why? The official explanation is that is no longer “economically viable” to recycle glass, since its major ingredient—sand—is so readily and inexpensively available.

I think of that explanation with distress every time I now throw away glass after several decades of trying faithfully to “reduce, re-use, and recycle.” It seems so obviously short-sighted to consider only the cost of glass manufacture when determining “economic viability.” What about the cost of hauling the stuff to a landfill, maintaining the landfill, and creating new landfills? Oh, that.

Well, if you throw in all THAT expense just maybe it might be a viable option. But industry doesn’t look much beyond the bottom dollar for their investors, and government doesn’t look much beyond re-election by the taxpayers, and neither looks much beyond the press of immediate issues, so who cares all that much about a few tons of glass bottles?

Years from now, when people are mining our landfills to reclaim the treasured resources we’ve squandered, what will they think of us? Surely seeing all our discards, not the least of which will be glass, they’ll view us as fools and wastrels.

Warts and All

Our bath house at Morris Park has two seemingly permanent occupants. Nearly every time I open the door and turn on the light I’ve learned to look in the corner for Tom and Tess—a pair of toads who seem to find the dark and the damp, crawling with insects, an ideal home.

The names were Sharon’s doing. Although I’ve long respected toads for their role in gobbling up insects harmful to the garden, I’ve never before been on a first-name basis.

Observing them, it’s difficult for me to see the infatuation children’s writers seem to have for these lumpy creatures. They seem to do very little other than sit around waiting for lunch to crawl by, and if you pick them up they pee on you. Hardly adorable traits. Nor do they seem particularly wise as sometimes depicted in children’s books; this particular pair seems barely able to keep from being squished in the door as it opens and closes.

Maybe I just haven’t had a sufficiently long-term association out of which new perceptions might arise. Karen Stark, who came over for campfire foil meal tonight, says she once had a toad that seemed to enjoy being petted—even turning over on its back to be stroked on the stomach! They’re not like frogs at all, she hastened to assure us.

So I guess tomorrow I’ll quit with the tip-toe, hands-off approach and see if I can form a more lasting relationship. Maybe I can at least quash the persistent urban legend that humans give you warts.

Postscript: This morning only Tess remained in the bath house, squatting in the center of the shower drain. Tom apparently was off hunting and gathering, as all good males are wont to do. By afternoon, Tess had also departed, which I take to mean that my twice-daily intrusions may have led them to choose a less-frequented neighborhood. Ah, the challenges of inter-species dialogue!

Fawn Memories

One more step and I’d have literally stumbled upon it. While dutifully cutting brush in the middle of an Iowa field, eyes scanning for the next nuisance weed, I glanced down just in time to stop mid-stride. Curled into a tan-and-white ball, hidden in the knee-high grass, was a lone fawn, lying completely still. The mother would have fled long ago, seeing my approach, but had obviously left strict instructions (or was it simply instinct?) not to move under any circumstances. I too froze, not wanting to harm or startle the young one, then spent fifteen minutes or so just taking it all in—a spotted marvel I felt privileged to have seen. When Sharon arrived on the scene I called her over, then went to the car to get a camera. Through all this the fawn remained frozen without the slightest twitch, other than the occasional blink of an eye lid. In the end we backed off to leave her in peace, and for ourselves felt a deep sense of peace as well.