Parenting is a huge responsibility and it will affect our children’s (ages four and eight) future in ways we can only guess. We make decisions for our children on a daily basis, but are we are making the right choices? Two particular choices we have made in our household pertains to media – we don’t own a television and the kids have only seen three movies to date (Cars, March of the Penguins, and Horton Hears a Who). Though the kids see television when they visit grandma (cooking shows!), it isn’t a presence in our home and they don’t seem to miss it. At a recent social gathering of friends, I was surprised to hear of a 7-year old watching Hotel Rwanda and the latest Indiana Jones with her dad and of a 5-year old who watches an hour or two of television or videos daily. This came days after Leslie and I went to a PG-13 Hollywood blockbuster and noticed some very young children in the audience. It makes me uncomfortable but at the same time makes me question our choices.
If I spend a week off email, how do I handle returning to 500 email messages (and it is fortunate it is summer vacation!)? My goal is to get through most of the email messages in 24-48 hours so more mail does not accumulate and bring my InBox to less than 20 messages.
My email falls into five categories: personal messages, work messages, committee/volunteer-associated messages, news alerts, and mailing lists. I have all my email delivered to Gmail, with some message automatically assigned a label upon arrival (such as mailing lists and work messages). My first step is to quickly scan through the all messages in my InBox for anything that appears urgent. This means looking for personal messages and quickly scanning the first line as it appears in gMail – occasionally opening the message to verify the urgency. If it can be handled in less than a minute or two, I respond immediately otherwise I mark the message to unread and continue to scan.
We have exciting opportunity here in Ojai to participate with a group eating locally for one year. Of course, this could happen anywhere but Kristofer and Joanne Young have challenged our community by seeking 100 (or more) volunteers willing to do this together. The group is just getting off the ground and has met once with about 50 interested people – people from Santa Barbara, Carpinteria, Saticoy, Ventura, Santa Paula, and Ojai. Though I am not 100% certain this will happen for our family, we are giving it some serious thought. The idea came from Barbara Kingsolver’s book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle where her family documents eating locally for one year. The idea is to eat food within 100 miles of our home for one year.
One of my great loves in life is music. Though I can read music, and have played an instrument in the past, my primary interest is in listening to music – both live and at home. Since the children came, and we moved to a small town, I don’t see as much live music as in the past. I did try to get tickets to Radiohead at the Santa Barbara Bowl (scalpers are selling tickets for hundreds to thousands of dollars); I was not successful. I am excited about seeing Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds for the 7th time (but never at the Hollywood Bowl) with Spiritualized (3rd time) and Cat Power (1st time). Should be fun and different with that line-up. Picked up the latest Portishead, their first in over a decade, and it is quite good. I saw them
A couple of years ago I wrote a bio that said I was a “practicing Buddhist and a potential Christian.” Partially, I made it up to be funny. With that said, I have a great deal of respect of my Christian roots and honor the Christian faith. Most of my values, thinking patterns, social action, pacifism are rooted in my Mennonite background and there is no way I would be the person I am today without this. As an adult, I have ceased attending all church because I have not really found a church to practice in – part of the reason I may have drifted towards a Buddhist community – though I continue to look and explore Christian community.
My friend Tyler posted a social map on Twitter recently and I realized I am involved with many social tools on the web but definitely don’t have time to create one of these fancy maps. However, what I’ve have been playing with lately is Twine and social|median – two tools that deal with the semantic web. My understanding of the semantic web is that it harnesses collaborative groups and technology to analyze data to provide content intelligently. This is Web 3.0. It’s kind of like the Propaedeutic Enchiridion in Neil Stephenson’s Diamond Age. Anyway, I don’t know if we are quite there yet but some progress is being made. Twine is invite-only beta and social|median is in alpha (launched in February).
I’m exploring the joys of being busy and taking a close look at the commitments in my life. What does it mean to be busy? To have commitments? Is it possible to have to many? I’ve heard Thich Nhat Hanh talk about something called busylessness, or businesslessness, [the correct term is “businessless” invented by Master Linji – added 4/26/08] but I’m not exactly sure what that means. I think it is a word just for those of us in the West who strive all the time. Who pursue something outside of ourselves. We work so hard that sometimes we don’t allow space for openness, for rest. We don’t allow enough space for doing nothing. Let’s take my life as an example (since I’m the one writing). As I look beyond my permanent commitments of being a partner and a parent, I see myself involved with many volunteer activities.