Friday, May 30, 2008
In Montgomery, Alabama, outside the Southern Poverty Law Center, is a Civil Rights Memorial (pictured).
It was designed by Maya Lin, who also designed the Vietnam Memorial in Washington. The Civil Rights Memorial is a huge circular table of black granite. Into the stone are carved dates, places, and events that define the civil rights struggle and the names of many who were killed.
On the wall above the stone are the words from Amos often quoted by Martin Luther King, Jr., with just the first word altered: “Until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness liked a mighty stream.” Across the stone table a sheet of water is constantly moving over these names and dates. You can touch the water as it slowly washes over the names on the stone, and you hear it always flowing.
On the day the monument opened, one of those who came was the mother of Emmett Till, the fourteen-year-old boy from Chicago brutally murdered in Mississippi. As she touched her son’s name on the stone beneath the moving water, she began to weep. Maya Lin was there and saw the grieving mother’s tears falling, mingling with the stream that washed across the stone.
“Restore our fortunes, Lord, like the watercourses of the Negeb” [says the Scriptures] And the tears of those who rightly grieve will swell the streams of the new life we long for. Justice will roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream. Our tears mingled with God’s tears can help to make it so. Such waters can reshape even the hard stone of our history. And the deserts we have made can blossom by the grace of God into the great surprise of new life.
Source: Paul Simpson Duke, Those Who Sow in Tears, First Baptist Church, Ann Arbor, March 25, 2007.
Civil Rights Memorial, Alabama.
Dr. Geoff Pound
Image: Civil Rights, Memorial.
Thursday, May 29, 2008
A person in the congregation that morning asked Niebuhr for a copy of the prayer. The parishioner wanted the prayer to put as a message on his Christmas cards that year. He put the prayer on his cards and circulated them during the Christmas season.
The founder of Alcoholics Anonymous received one of the cards and requested permission to use the prayer for his group. It has become known as the Serenity Prayer.
“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.”
Dr. Geoff Pound
Image: Reinhold Niebuhr
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
“There was that feeling again, the feeling that I’d had on the first morning in Kester’s house: the white wax coating the writing-tablet, smooth, newly virginal, on my knees, and my stylus, needle-sharp, poised just above it, ready to write.”
Source: Robert Dessaix, Corfu (A Novel) London: Scribner, 2003, 233.
Image: “poised… ready to write.”
Source: P D James, Time to be in Earnest: A Fragment of Autobiography (London: Faber and Faber, 1999), 79.
Image: “A letter captures the mood of the moment…”
Q: Does it ever get windy in Australia? I have never seen it rain on TV, how do the plants grow? (UK).
A: We import all plants fully grown and then just sit around watching them die.
Q: Will I be able to see kangaroos in the street? (USA)
A: Depends how much you've been drinking.
Q: I want to walk from Perth to Sydney - can I follow the railroad tracks? (Sweden)
A: Sure, it's only three thousand miles, take lots of water.
Q: Are there any ATMs (cash machines) in Australia? Can you send me a list of them in Brisbane , Cairns , Townsville and Hervey Bay? (UK)
A: What did your last slave die of?
Q: Can you give me some information about hippo racing in Australia ? (USA)
A: A-fri-ca is the big triangle shaped continent south of Europe . Aus-tra-lia is that big island in the middle of the Pacific which does not ... oh forget it. Sure, the hippo racing is every Tuesday night in Kings Cross. Come naked.
Q: Which direction is North in Australia ? (USA)
A: Face south and then turn 180 degrees. Contact us when you get here and we'll send the rest of the directions.
Q: Can I bring cutlery into Australia? (UK)
A: Why? Just use your fingers like we do.
Q: Can you send me the Vienna Boys' Choir schedule? (USA)
A: Aus-tri-a is that quaint little country bordering Ger-man-y, which is ... oh forget it. Sure, the Vienna Boys Choir plays every Tuesday night in Kings Cross, straight after the hippo races. Come naked.
Q: Can I wear high heels in Australia? (UK)
A: You are a British politician, right?
Q: Are there supermarkets in Sydney and is milk available all year round? (Germany)
A: No, we are a peaceful civilization of vegan hunter/gatherers. Milk is illegal.
Q: Please send a list of all doctors in Australia who can dispense rattlesnake serum. (USA)
A: Rattlesnakes live in A-meri-ca which is where YOU come from. All Australian snakes are perfectly harmless, can be safely handled and make good pets.
Q: I have a question about a famous animal in Australia, but I forget its name. It's a kind of bear and lives in trees. (USA)
A: It's called a Drop Bear. They are so called because they drop out of Gum trees and eat the brains of anyone walking underneath them. You can scare them off by spraying yourself with human urine before you go out walking.
Q: I have developed a new product that is the fountain of youth. Can you tell me where I can sell it in Australia? (USA)
A: Anywhere significant numbers of Americans gather.
Q: Can you tell me the regions in Tasmania where the female population is smaller than the male population? (Italy)
A: Yes, gay night clubs.
Q: Do you celebrate Christmas in Australia? (France)
A: Only at Christmas.
Q: I was in Australia in 1969 on R+R, and I want to contact the girl I dated while I was staying in Kings Cross. Can you help? (USA )
A: Yes, and you will still have to pay her by the hour.
Q: Will I be able to speak English most places I go? (USA )
A: Yes, but you'll have to learn it first.
Image: “Will I be able to see kangaroos in the street?”
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
When I was growing up, my family kept chickens. We always had about a dozen of them at any given time and whenever one died off—taken away by hawk or fox or by some obscure chicken illness—my father would replace the lost hen.
He'd drive to a nearby poultry farm and return with a new chicken in a sack. The thing is, you must be very careful when introducing a new chicken to the general flock. You can't just toss it in there with the old chickens, or they will see it as an invader. What you must do instead is to slip the new bird into the chicken coop in the middle of the night while the others are asleep. Place her on a roost beside the flock and tiptoe away. In the morning, when the chickens wake up, they don't notice the newcomer, thinking only, "She must have been here all the time since I didn't see her arrive." The clincher of it is, awaking within this flock, the newcomer herself doesn't even remember that she's a newcomer, thinking only, "I must have been here the whole time. . ."
This is exactly how I arrive in India.
It is a great story that resonates with how we accept the new—new ideas, new proposals or new people.
When we’re confronted with a new teacher at the beginning of semester, it is natural to murmur what the Greek audience said when Paul of Tarsus climbed the soapbox—‘What will this babbler say?’ (Acts 17:18)
The timeless words that another teacher uttered, ‘I was a stranger and you welcomed me’, take on a greater proportion when one thinks: Will we or will we not put out the welcome mat? As Elizabeth Gilbert implies, new people consciously or unconsciously challenge the existing pattern, they threaten the pecking order as by their manner or ideas they may knock someone else off their perch.
The parable from the chicken coop also has insightful ramifications for the best way that a person might enter into a new culture.
Source: Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat Pray Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything (London: Bloomsbury, 2006), 125.
Dr. Geoff Pound
Image: “You can't just toss [the new chicken] in there with the old chickens…”
A review of Eat Pray Love is posted at Reviewing Books and Movies.
Sunday, May 25, 2008
Believe that your team members will be an outrageous success before their first day of work. That's what Benjamin Zander, conductor of the Boston Philharmonic, does.
The celebrated music teacher has a unique strategy for getting the best out of his students. On the first day of class, he tells his first year students that they all get an A. There’s one condition. Their first assignment is to write a letter to him—dated on the last day of class—explaining why they deserved the grade.
Zander, who wrote a book called The Art of Possibility, believes there are several beneficial aspects of this dramatic role reversal. First, it's a great confidence builder for his students. Second, it eliminates the often counterproductive sniping that people frequently engage in when they think only a few will win (one reason we believe bell curve grading is so flawed). But most important, students invariably knock themselves out for that A. Zander believes that they do more to earn their own personal A than they would ever do for the traditional A given by a teacher.
You may not find if you are a teacher that your accreditation agency will buy the Zander principle but there is something in his approach that is adaptable and much that is empowering in his style of tossing the ball into his student’s court.
Source: Tom Kelley, The Art of Innovation, (London: Profile Books, 2001, 2004), 88.
Dr. Geoff Pound
Image: Benjamin Zander and team.
Check out Benjamin Zander’s web site at this link. It gives an idea into the different people and parts of his life. It also posts some of Zander’s reflections and stories in his journal. Like this one on his Home Page:
“The best review I ever got was not from a music critic, but from my father. He was 94 years old at the time and completely blind. He attended a Master Class I gave in London and sat there in his wheelchair for about three hours. When it was over, I went to speak with him. He lifted up his finger in his characteristic way and said, ‘I see that you are actually a member of the healing profession.’ It seemed to me the highest accolade.”
- Benjamin Zander
On a Qantas Flight with a very 'senior' flight attendant crew, the pilot said, 'Ladies and gentlemen, we've reached cruising altitude and will be turning down the cabin lights. This is for your comfort and to enhance the appearance of your flight attendants.'
Heard on an Air New Zealand flight: 'Ladies and gentlemen, if you wish to smoke, the smoking section on this airplane is on the wing and if you can light 'em, you can smoke 'em.'
On landing, the stewardess said, 'Please be sure to take all of your belongings. If you're going to leave anything, please make sure it's something we'd like to have.'
‘There may be 50 ways to leave your lover, but there are only 4 ways out of this airplane.'
'Thank you for flying Virgin Blue. We hope you enjoyed giving us the business as much as we enjoyed taking you for a ride.'
As the plane landed and was coming to a stop at Dunedin Airport, a lone voice came over the loudspeaker: 'Whoa, big fella. WHOA!'
After a particularly rough landing during thunderstorms in Auckland, a flight attendant announced, 'Please take care when opening the overhead compartments because, after a landing like that, sure as shootin' everything has shifted.'
From an Air NZ employee: 'Welcome aboard Air NZ Flight 245 to Wellington .To operate your seat belt, insert the metal tab into the buckle, and pull tight. It works just like every other seat belt and, if you don't know how to operate one, you probably shouldn't be out in public unsupervised.'
'In the event of a sudden loss of cabin pressure, masks will descend from the ceiling. Stop screaming, grab the mask, and pull it over your face. If you have a small child travelling with you, secure your mask before assisting with theirs. If you are travelling with more than one small child, pick your favourite.'
Weather at our destination is seven degrees Celsius with some broken clouds, but we'll try to have them fixed before we arrive. Thank you and remember, nobody loves you, or your money, more than we do.'
'Your seat cushions can be used for flotation and, in the event of an emergency water landing, please paddle to shore and take them with our compliments.'
And from a pilot during his welcome message: 'Virgin Blue is pleased to have some of the best flight attendants in the industry. Unfortunately, none of them are on this flight!'
Heard on Qantas just after a very hard landing in Sydney, the flight attendant came on the intercom and said, 'That was quite a bump, and I know what y'all are thinking. I'm here to tell you it wasn't the airline's fault, it wasn't the pilot's fault, it wasn't the flight attendant's fault, it was the asphalt.'
Overheard on an Air NZ flight into Wellington, on a particularly windy and bumpy day when during the final approach, the captain had to fight hard. After an extremely bumpy landing, the Flight Attendant said, 'Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to Wellington. Please remain in your seats with your seat belts fastened while the captain taxis what's left of our airplane to the gate!'
Another flight attendant's comment on a less than perfect landing: 'We ask you to please remain seated as Captain Kangaroo bounces us to the terminal.'
An airline pilot wrote that on one particular flight he had hammered his ship into the runway really hard. The airline had a policy which required the first officer to stand at the door while the passengers exited, to smile, and give them a 'Thanks for flying our airline.' He said that, in light of his bad landing, he had a hard time looking the passengers in the eye, thinking that someone would have a smart comment. Finally everyone had got off except for an old lady walking with a cane. She said, 'Sir, do you mind if I ask you a question?' 'Why, no, Ma'am,' said the pilot. 'What is it?' The old lady said, 'Did we land, or were we shot down?'
After a real crusher of a landing in Palmerston North, the attendant came on the public address system, 'Ladies and Gentlemen, please remain in your seats until Captain Crash and the Crew have brought the aircraft to a screeching halt against the gate. And, once the tire smoke has cleared and the warning bells are silenced, we'll open the door and you can pick your way through the wreckage to the terminal.'
Part of a flight attendant's arrival announcement: 'We'd like to thank you folks for flying with us today. And, the next time you get the insane urge to go blasting through the skies in a pressurized metal tube, we hope you'll think of Air NZ.'
A plane was taking off from Auckland Airport. After it reached a comfortable cruising altitude, the captain made this announcement over the intercom: 'Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. Welcome to Flight Number 316, non-stop from Auckland to Los Angeles. The weather ahead is good and, therefore, we should have a smooth and uneventful flight. Now sit back and relax... OH, MY GOSH!' Silence followed, and after a few minutes, the captain came back on the intercom and said, 'Ladies and gentlemen, I am so sorry if I scared you earlier. While I was talking to you, the flight attendant accidentally spilled a cup of hot coffee in my lap. You should see the front of my pants!' A passenger further down in the plane yelled, 'That's nothing. You should see the back of mine!'
Dr. Geoff Pound
Saturday, May 24, 2008
None of this is thought, in the proper sense of the word. There is no analysis, or self-awareness, or mental rigour going on at all, because obsessives are denied any sense of perspective on their own passion. This, in a sense, is what defines an obsession and serves to explain why so few of them recognize themselves as such.”
Source: Nick Hornby, Fever Pitch, (London: Victor Gollancz, 1992), 10-11.
Image: “We would be left to rot with our Arsenal programmes…”
Dr. Geoff Pound
More stories from Hornby:
On Going to the Football
On Growing Up
Books and Stories Should be Enjoyable
The Gift of Good Fiction
The Influence of Domesticity
Communicating Because You Have Something to Say
Keeping Boring Your Listeners
Communication as Stew
“What keeps us coming back to Oates country is her uncanny gift of making the page a window, with something happening on the other side that we’d swear was life itself.”
Source: Joyce Carol Oates, We Were the Mulvaneys (New York: Plume, 1996), 1.
Image: “her uncanny gift of making the page a window…”
Dr. Geoff Pound
Mark Haddon, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (London: Vintage, 2004), 4.
Images: “I like dogs.”
Other stories from this book can be found at:
Cultivating the Observant Eye
Mark Haddon on Timetables and France
Mark Haddon on the Police and My Mind as a Bread-Slicer
Dr. Geoff Pound
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
The event ended with a question-and-answer period.
One person asked, “What do you think is the one thing we can do to bring peace to the world?”
Tutu said, “End poverty.” And then he turned and walked off the stage.
Source: Jack Canfield & Gay Hendricks, ‘Lois Capps’, You’ve Got to Read This Book! (New York: Collins, 2007), 272.
Dr. Geoff Pound
Image: Desmond Tutu
Stephen Covey on How I Found My Calling
Benazir Bhutto on Destiny
Geoff Pound on One Step Forward Please!
And many more stories about making life decisions on the sister site:
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Further, she has just been stunned with the discovery that the man she adores and believes to be her real father is in fact not. All of which has left her especially vulnerable to criticism and starved for praise.
Here she performs in front of her mother and her highly regarded vocal coach, the demanding Madame Stiles-Allen, whose kind word at a mortifying moment is still remembered 58 years later:
"During my lessons with her, Madame gave me a valuable piece of advice, which has stayed with me over the years. 'Julie,' she said. 'Remember: the amateur works until he can get it right. The professional works until he cannot go wrong.' ...
"[Once], Madame attended a radio broadcast that I was doing. I sang the aria from La Traviata with the recitative 'Ah, fors'e lui,' which leads to the very difficult 'Sempre Libera.' There is an a cappella cadenza before the main aria begins. My pitch was usually flawless, but because Madame was in the audience, I tried too hard to sing correctly for her, and I began listening to my own sound. The result was that when I finished the cadenza, I landed a half-tone high. As the orchestra picked up the melody, I realized that I was sharp. My mother, who was also in the audience, berated me for making the mistake. I'm sure she wanted to shine for Madame as much as I did. I was mortified that I had goofed, especially as this had been a live radio broadcast. I was as much my own critic as anyone else.
"Madame rose to my defense. "'Be gentle with her, Barbara, she sang beautifully. She was trying so hard; you have to be a little kinder. She's only a young girl.' ...
"I had never sung sharp before, but I learned to watch my pitch even more closely from then on. I was forever grateful to Madame for her kind words.
Julie Andrews, Home (New York: Hyperion, 2008), 117-119.
Source: DelanceyPlace, which sends a wonderful free excerpt into your inbox each day, just for the asking. This one is posted on the site on 16 May 2008.
Check out the story leadership guru, Stephen Covey, tells on how he discovered his calling to be a teacher. It is on a site dedicated to providing resources on finding one’s vocation and decision making. The site is Discernment Resources.
Dr. Geoff Pound
Image: Julie Andrews
Monday, May 19, 2008
While Faulkner may have intended those words as a description of life in the American South, they speak of other countries and of time, life and death everywhere.
Source: William Faulkner, Requiem for a Nun Act 1, Sc 3, 1951.
Image: William Faulkner in creased shirt and on ye old typewriter.
Sunday, May 18, 2008
“Whenever I’ve had the honor of giving a college graduation speech, I always try to end it with this story about the legendary University of Alabama football coach, Bear Bryant.
Late in his career, after his mother had died, South Central Bell Telephone Company asked Bear Bryant to do a TV commercial. As best I can piece together, the commercial was supposed to be very simple — just a little music and Coach Bryant saying in his tough voice: “Have you called your mama today?”
On the day of the filming, though, he decided to ad-lib something. He reportedly looked into the camera and said: “Have you called your mama today? I sure wish I could call mine.” That was how the commercial ran, and it got a huge response from audiences.
So on this Mother’s Day, if you take one thing away from this column, take this: Call your mother.
I sure wish I could call mine.”
Source: ‘Call Your Mother,’ New York Times, 11 May 2008.
Image: Thomas L. Friedman
Saturday, May 17, 2008
In spite of what looked like masterful putting in his first round, he insisted that the balls weren’t going into the hole smoothly enough for him. They were just ‘scooting’, he said, not rolling. He stayed on the practice green till they rolled beautifully.
Butch Harmon, his swing guru, said Tiger was playing better than ever. “He’s confident. He’s mature,” said Harmon. “We’ve built his swing together, so it’s pretty easy to tweak if something goes wrong.”
Kelley concluded, “I found that a wonderful, enlightening statement. The greatest golfer in history, who appears to be the ultimate solo performer, is actually the product of a team effort, and when the occasional bumps in the road arrive, the going is easier because of that fact.”
Source: Tom Kelley and Jonathan Littman, The Art of Innovation (London: Profile Books, 2001), 5.
Image: “masterful putting in his first round…”
Thursday, May 15, 2008
I was ‘standing up to the plate’ at a urinal in the toilets of the Shanghai airport. I looked above, saw this sign (pictured) and dutifully, stepped forward.
While meditating on this sign, some truth trickled into my mind and then came as a pleasing rush: usually in discerning the way and making decisions about life, the most we are called to do is to take the next step. To take the step that is right before us. The step in front of our nose.
We are not always given a one or a five year plan of the way ahead.
So ‘One Step Forward, Please!’ might be the message that is flowing to you today.
Dr. Geoff Pound
Image: Isn’t it amazing the places where truth can be found?
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
“In 1860, Florence Nightingale wrote about the effect of ‘beautiful objects’ on sickness and recovery. ‘Little as we know about the way in which we are affected by form, by colour and light, we do know they have an actual physical effect.’”
“Then in the 1940s the curious new field of art therapy came into its own…”
“In 2006, Mayo Clinic launched a pilot programme among men and women battling such serious diseases as leukaemia, lymphoma and multiple myeloma, many of whom were in hospital isolation. ‘The idea was to bring something to the bedside that could help improve their quality of life and reduce stress,’ says Dr Brent Bauer. That something was art. ‘Without even trying to be therapeutic, in many cases it was…Bauer says the trial revealed a ‘trend towards improvement in pain’ and ‘significant improvements’ in mood and anxiety reduction. ‘When we reduce stress, we improve sleep and we improve the immune system.’”
“The simple act of enjoying a work of art can be just what the doctor ordered.”
Source: Lynda Caruso, ‘The Power of Art’, Open Skies, April 2008, 55-57.
Image: “The idea was to bring something to the bedside that could help improve their quality of life and reduce stress.”
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
The story goes that in 1874, a couple of brothers had a fight over the land they had jointly inherited from their father. Instead of properly settling the fight, one brother built a large home on the land while the other brother was away in the military. When the traveling brother returned home, he decided to spite his greedy brother and build a small house on what was left of the land they both owned, blocking his brother’s nice view.
It still stands today and is occupied.
At its widest point, the Skinny House is just over 10 feet wide. The narrowest point in the house is only 6.2 feet wide.
Source and Photo: Neatorama, 25 April 2008. Check out this posting for further examples of unresolved conflict.
Dr. Geoff Pound