Saturday, September 30, 2006

The barista called me by name this morning when I ordered my Americano. We know each other, but it felt good for a high schooler to use my first name.

I remember once Ruby Miller told me from her wheel chair about a Sunday morning back when she was still mobile. She said she was at church, but was feeling quite depressed (I don’t remember if this was the word she used, but I was surprised that a woman of her generation was admitting to feeling “down” to that degree). Ruby told me I called her by name as I greeted her that day and somehow that had made such a difference. She wanted me to know how much that meant to her. I have no memory of this interaction and perhaps I was getting undue credit, but knowing and using a persons name sometimes (often) means a lot.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

It’s Sunday morning and the faithful have gathered. The current series of messages at Hometown Friends Church has to do with characteristics of people who follow Jesus. Today it is “Jesus people . . . practice honesty.” Quakers used to have an enviable record on telling it straight.

My mind went back four days. The sun was getting close to the horizon out past the Washington Monument. Delegates to Celebration on the Hill from all over the country had spent the afternoon contacting all the Senators and the Representatives in Congress asking them to sign the 2015 Pledge (a national challenge goal of eliminating suffering and death due to cancer by the year 2015). Cindy and I were walking around the huge rectangle of state tents on the Washington Mall getting a look at most of the state boards showing results from their contacts. At the Washington state tent we noted that Senator Patty Murray had not signed the 2015 Pledge. This didn’t match our understanding of who Patty Murray is and what she stands for. Two women from Washington were sitting there, so we asked them. They said Patty Murray doesn’t sign pledges. She thinks her word and her record is enough.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

We were on a similar plane eight days ago—same amount of leg room and same movie. But perhaps I’m not the same person. Nobody could be unaffected by being a part of Celebration on the Hill. Thousand of people came together on the east end of the Capitol Mall in a united mission

Each person could tell a story about why he/she joined the army against cancer. Cancer does not discriminate, so it’s a diverse army. The only common denominator at Celebration was the fight against cancer. In our group that walked up to Senator Ron Wyden’s office was a man whose wife was at the last Celebration on the Hill four years ago and then lost her battle. There were about half a dozen survivors along with a surgeon, a couple of researchers, and a hospice care giver.

In a few more hours we’ll be back in Newberg. We’ll unpack the suitcases. Cindy will start a week’s worth of laundry. The lawn will need to be mowed and all the things that make up a busy life will kick into high gear. On Monday we go back to work and on Monday approximately 1,500 people will die due to cancer.

Friday, September 22, 2006

We were told a couple of days ago that a foreign dignitary would be arriving at our hotel on Thursday. Last night we heard it is the president of Pakistan.

Tuesday night we attended a Cancer Action Network event where we heard (and took pictures of) Barack Obama, Sam Donaldson, Tom Harkin, and Newt Gengrich.

Paraphrasing from the Wizard of Oz: “We’re not in Newberg anymore.”

It isn’t all English when you hear others talking here. And the English is often spoken with distinct accents. Yesterday the hostess in the Senate gallery told us that Democrats and Republicans were trying to work out an agreement on immigration reform. She said, in her heavy accent, that she is a Democrat but she sides with the Republicans on this issue. The word paradox comes to my mind.

A lot of very difficult and very important work goes on in this city. The fight against cancer is not the only place where we can’t afford to become complacent or fatalistic. We also need to maintain an active hope in effective government that improves the quality of life on this planet.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Last night I sat at the edge of the Capitol reflecting pool with my wife (Cindy), mother (Lucile), and daughter (Trina). Mother and daughter were represented by multiple luminaria in the Oregon section. Candles inside white paper bags several rows deep lined the pool as thousands of cancer victims were remembered as Celebration on the Hill concluded. On the steps across on the Capitol side of the pool, luminaria lit the word HOPE.

Hope stands in contrast to complacency or fatalism. During the day contact was made with each congressional office as ambassadors from every state meet with their senators and congressmen (in some cases a legislative aid). Legislators were asked to support programs for early detection and funding for research. And they were asked to sign the 2015 pledge—a national challenge goal of eliminating suffering and death due to cancer by the year 2015. Cindy and I were part of the group who met with Senator Ron Wyden and Congressman David Wu. Both signed the pledge.

Washington, DC, is not the only place the war has to be fought. Every day 1,500 people die due to cancer. This is a winnable war, but it will take resolve. One of the steps in fighting cancer is to eradicate fatalism and complacency.

Monday, September 18, 2006

We were tourists from the other side of the country last night at the little CVS market on Connecticut Ave., but the woman behind us had a Celebration on the Hill shirt so as we visited we learned that she works in media relations in the Washington, DC, American Cancer Society office. And the young woman in front of us grew up in the Portland, Oregon, area, graduated from University of Oregon, and has lived in DC for three years. Then as we stepped into the elevator at the hotel, Cindy recognized the young woman from Ontario, Oregon, wh0 she met at a training/orientation meeting.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

At the same time the faithful were gathering at Hometown Friends Church, Cindy and I were walking to the National Zoo to take pictures of the pandas.

When we got into our 10th floor hotel room last night and looked out the window, there was the well-lit Nation Cathedral majestically sitting on the skyline within walking distance. After seeing the pandas today we walked to the Cathedral. We sat in on a portion of a service. As we walked in, Cindy hesitated enough to pick up the following prayer off a table:

A Prayer for Peace

O God, We are not always as you intended us to be.

We are distracted by our own desires, but the things we want are not the things we need.

May our hearts, like yours, be pierced with sorrow for the evils of this world, so that we may stand as witnesses and as activists.

Help us dismantle the barriers that separate rich nations from poor nations so that we might be empowered to build together the just and peaceful world intended for us.

Friday, September 15, 2006

In about 24 hours I’ll be on the Metro going from National Airport to our hotel. A mass transit system is a thrill for a country boy like me. Figuring out the yellow, red, orange, blue, and green lines; buying the right ticket from the machine; the turnstiles; escalators; different platforms depending on which direction you want to go; making sure to get off at the right station; and doing it all with a look of confidence that doesn’t instantly give away the fact that I’m a stupid visitor—it’s all quite exciting.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

A printer at work and our printer at home aren’t working--both at the same time. So, in both cases I called “service/support.” The run-around by any other name is still the run-around.

At home I called customer service and they took me through some steps and then passed me to another person who said it’s a lost cause, but they want to take care of loyal customers so they gave be a web address and password where I can shop and get a discount on a replacement. After I decided on a printer and placed my order I got an email saying my order had been canceled because of some problem with my credit card. I tried again with the same result. When I made a phone call to see what the problem was, I learned that they can’t handle the fact that my Visa card is also a debit card. When I pressed for options, the best I was given was to mail a check. When I did send a check, it came back several days later with a letter saying that the offer had expired and I would need to send a new check for $50 more. There are other companies that make good printers and they can handle a Bank of America credit card. I’m no longer a loyal customer.

At the office I tried phone, online chat, email, and back to phone in a frustrating cycle of referral and misdirection that spanned several days. When the service man came he was short one part that would be ordered, shipped, and a new service man would be in touch. The new man called yesterday to say the part was lost, but it would be reordered.

I’ve spent way too much time on printers the last couple of weeks and I don’t know why I’m spending even more time by writing about it.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

One of the many gratifying things about being a publisher is hearing back from a reader how helpful something was. Right now we’re getting some endorsements for a book by David McKenna that we recently published—The Leader’s Legacy. For me they are affirmation that we did the right thing to publish this book. Publishing is not about creating product; it’s about creating positive change. The product is only a tool for transmitting the experience and insights of the writer to the mind of the reader.

Monday, September 11, 2006

“Bush Pledges to Remember 9/11 Lessons” headlined my newspaper this morning. On page two was a report on Dick Cheney’s affirmation of the invasion of Iraq: “It was the right thing to do, and if we had to do it over again we would do exactly the same thing.”

If I had my choice between being stubborn or stupid, I’d pick stubborn. I don’t think there is any virtue in either, but stubbornness seems to get a little closer to a potential for virtue. And stubbornness seems to have more possibility for change. Here’s my “stubborn or stupid” preference in sequence: neither, stubborn, stupid, and the most deadly—both.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

It’s Sunday morning and the faithful have gathered. Most had been here a while before we got to church. We missed the welcome, reminders, greeting, and scripture. Being late and crawling past six people to sit down doesn’t put me in a good frame of mind for singing. As the service went on, I was reminded that God seems to enjoy using the people who would have been voted “least likely to succeed.”

Saturday, September 09, 2006

A week from today Cindy and I will be on our way to Washington, DC. Cindy is an ambassador for Celebration on the Hill—an American Cancer Society event September 19-20. Nearly 4,000 “Celebration Ambassadors” like Cindy will participate and the total attendance is anticipated to be 10,000 (when people like me are included). The event will show national lawmakers how the American Cancer Society is waging the fight against cancer in communities nationwide. Ambassadors will meet with their members of Congress and let them know that fighting cancer is a priority to their constituents back home.

Celebration on the Hill will have some moving and memorable moments. Cancer survivors have a commonality that will create instant friendships between strangers from all across the country. Not all the ambassadors are survivors, but all have a high level of concern and involvement. One of the moving moments will be September 20 after the sun goes down. Luminaria will line the path around the Capitol Reflecting Pool. This is a ceremony that remembers those lost to cancer, those fighting, and those who fought and won. Everyone can participate.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Yesterday I took a look at a couple of numbers. I got curious about the similarity between the number who died in the suicide attach on the World Trade Center five years ago and the number of U.S. soldiers who have died in Afghanistan and Iraq. The numbers I’m looking at are 2,654 killed in Iraq and 329 in Afghanistan for a total of 2,983. The round number for 9-11 is 3,000. We have doubled our own tragedy and have created a much bigger tragedy in Iraq. If the objective has been to make a safer world, something isn’t working.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

It would appear that my son is much more confident about the first day back to school than I was as a high school sophomore. I don’t know that he is any more self-assured. My guess is that his coping tools are just more sophisticated than mine were. How can you really know that the right people will smile at you or that the right words will come out of your mouth as you connect with classmates? Do you have any way of knowing what others really think of you? And what about the risks of being misunderstood?

People my age are apt to say that kids today have it so easy, but I would not want to trade places.

Monday, September 04, 2006

My Quaker world has a group of people who had enough public impact that their lives continue to shine a light even years after their death. This category includes Jack Willcuts, Charlotte Macy, Milo Ross, Dick Beebe, and others. There is another group who are living models who are at the place in life where they are taking a less active role—Arthur Roberts, Alvin and Lucy Anderson, Harlow Ankeny, and more. And now I skip over those who may be at the top of their game to get to the folks who have many years ahead of them for significant positive impact on the lives of others. These people range in age from early twenties to early forties. This group includes a college president, a couple of camp directors, nearly a half dozen pastors, a writer, an entrepreneur, a couple of educators, and several who are preparing for a career that is only beginning to take shape.

Let us all run with perseverance the race marked out for us.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

It’s Sunday morning and the faithful have gathered. I knew that the senior pastor here at Hometown Friends Church was at the coast as speaker for the Friends family camp. But the worship folder isn’t telling me who will be speaking this morning. Nothing indicates that there will be a message. It turns out we are doing “Worship 101” this morning. What do we do with this hour each week? Why do we do it? How can we get more out of it? Four people contributed focusing on four different areas—music, scripture, open worship, and the sermon.

One of the points was that worship is not about me, it’s about God. I wonder how different going to church would be for me is I were able to set aside my self-centeredness?

Friday, September 01, 2006

I would not want to take a test for mental/emotional health at the same time as buying a used car.

Question: Do you think others are out to get you? Answer: Of course I do.

Question: Are you suspicious and distrustful? Answer: Yes.

On Tuesday I bought a 1999 Honda Accord from someone I don’t know and who lives 25 miles away in NE Portland. “Do you have service reports?” “Why are you selling the car?” “Has it ever been in an accident?” “How long have you had the car?” The seller had good answers. But I was cautious, apprehensive, and looking for flaws and lies. Each day that I drive the car I lose a little bit or my paranoia, but it will take a couple of months of trouble-free driving to lose it all.