My train’s a comin’

Train011

“If you board the wrong train, it is no use running along the corridor in the other direction.” ~Dietrich Bonhoeffer

This is my second or third picture at the city limits of Westley, CA.  I see this train every morning, and wave and flash my lights at the guy.  Sometimes he sees me and blows the air horns.

Train1 Train2 Train3 Train5 Train6 Train7 Train8 Train9 Train10 Train12 Train16 Train17

On cloudy days, the road goes nowhere forever

May14a

“RAILROAD, n. The chief of many mechanical devices enabling us to get away from where we are to where we are no better off. For this purpose the railroad is held in highest favor by the optimist, for it permits him to make the transit with great expedition.” ~ Ambrose Bierce 

I sure hope the cloudy days of winter pass. They make for interesting pictures, but the overcast is depressing sometimes!

The wisdom of signs

Mar15

“The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal
vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the
consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt.” ~ John Philpot Curran

At the intersection where the Welcome to Westley sign sits is an interesting sign of aphorisms.  Not sure how they were chosen, but I’d like to comment on each.

  1. Light a candle, hold it high – a nice sentiment about living by example, being bold for what is good and just, and perhaps holding out faith, hope, and love.
  2. Westley Wildcats – might as well give a shout out to the home team
  3. Geographic center of California – hmf, didn’t know that.
  4. John_Philpot_Curran Freedom is never free – “The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt.”  Often mis-attributed to Thomas Jefferson, was actually spoken by John Philpot Curran in a speech upon
    the Right of Election (1790)
  5. Laughter, leavening for life – sounds kinda Reader’s Digest, but leaven makes dough rise, and laughter can lighten the loads of life
  6. Cool clean water – better than gold – especially true out here in farm country.  Water is one of our most treasured commodities, and many wars are and will be fought over it.
  7. Life is short, do it todayCarpe diem!  If you haven’t seen the movie The Dead Poet’s Society, you have missed one of the top films of all time.
  8. Some have eyes but can’t see – The difference between sight and perception can be vast – do we understand and rightly perceive reality?  Do we value what is really important, or just the things the world tells us are important (power, possessions, popularity, pleasure, see 1 John 2:16)?
  9. Tortoise Sell and repent – this is by far the most interesting and cryptic of the aphorisms.  It could be a reference to the Rich Young Ruler (Matthew 19:16-22), who was willing to do all kinds of good works with his life, but was unwilling to follow God’s will for his life.
  10. Remember the tortoise won – The Tortoise and the Hare is one of the all time great morality tales. Moral of the story?  Hard work and persistence outperform talent and laziness.

It’s almond blossom season

Feb22a

“I am not bound for any public place, but for ground of my own where I have planted vines and orchard trees, and in the heat of the day climbed up into the healing shadow of the woods.” ~ Wendell Berry

This time of year is probably the most beautiful in the Central Valley – many of the fruit and nut trees are blooming, esp. the almonds.  This field is a mile from my home, and just one of many I will share this week on the blog.

Feb22  I enhanced this photo a little, you can see the original to the right here.  If you click on either photo, you will get the bigger version, and you can go back and forth between them by clicking on the right or lefthand side of the photo for back/next.

No deep thoughts today.
 

What’s in a name?

Feb15

“Did you have a good world when you died?  Enough to base a movie on?”
~ Jim Morrison

This past weekend, I went to a birthday party in Kennedy Park in Hayward, California. It’s quite a nice little place, with a miniature train that you can ride around the perimiter of the park, a huge play structure area, a large field, multiple tree-covered picnic table groupings (with grills) suitable for big parties, pony rides, a petting zoo, and a carousel. 

Seeing the name “Hayward” and “Kennedy” made me ask myself a funny question: “Will anything be named after you when you are gone?”

When I researched the history of Hayward, I found out that few of the places and buildings are named for some famous person who accomplished something extraordinary, but rather, most are named after some rich land owner or industrialist.  Most of them are unknown to us, and because their only real contribution was their own wealth, their histories are not really inspiring or ennobling.

When I was younger and much more ambitious than I am now, I dreamed of having a building named after me on a college campus – specifically, a library – I wanted them to create The Sinclair Library of Arts and Sciences – no kidding!

Why do many of us have such “delusions of grandeur”?  I think there are many reasons, a mixture of noble and ignoble.  Primarily, I think we want our lives to have counted for something – who doesn’t, unless they have given up hope of a meaningful life?

Love and work are the cornerstones of our humanness. ~ Sigmund Freud

I think the Freud quote above really summarizes it well – we need meaningful work and love.  But what is meaningful? I have explored this in a little depth in the articles mentioned below, but here’s a couple quick quotes from those articles:

The meaning of life is well defined through objective, self-evident principles and practices that lead to meaning. Life’s activities are not just meaningful because I decide to assign meaning to them. ~ from Objective and Subjective Meaning

Purpose can be defined as “the application of one’s self, with its talents, to a noble task.” This begs the question, what are the available noble tasks here on earth? And what makes a task noble? I submit that we must pursue an ethic that promotes life and happiness for all living beings. ~ from What is the Purpose of Life?

Making a name for yourself isn’t really meaningful in itself.  What I’ve learned is that, whether or not you are ever famous, if you have devoted yourself to becoming excellent and good (skillful and ethical), you have largely succeeded.  I say “largely” because I think one more feature is needed for a truly successful life – obedience to God beyond the generic ‘good’ that you can do.

But I’ll leave that to a future post.  In the meantime, you can meditate on the title of one of my upcoming books – “Passion, Compassion, and the Voice of God.”

Water towers

Feb01

“You can milk a cow the wrong way once and still be a farmer, but vote the wrong way on a water tower and you can be in trouble” ~ John F. Kennedy

On my drive in through the country, there are tons of interesting old structures, including water towers.  Many people may not know, however, why we have water towers.  They elevate the water in order to create water pressure in the water systems.  The reason that water comes out of your faucet is because of the pressure that your local water tower creates by the force of gravity alone – no pumps necessary, except to get the water up into the tower to begin with.

Watertowers Here’s another interesting thing I saw on Dirty Jobs (Episode 25-79  “Dirty Jobs of the Big Apple”) – in New York City, the water pressure is only enough to push water up about 10 stories, so any building that is taller needs it’s OWN water tower on the roof.  Did you know that all of those tall buildings have water towers?  Funky!

This picture I took of Westley looks like something from the past, but it was used by the railroad only 60 years ago.  Here’s a few of closeups taken by others.