31/365 – Random patriotism

Old Glory in all its... well, glory.

Old Glory in all its... well, glory.

Sometimes the flag just stops me in my tracks, like today when I went to grocery store.  It was late afternoon and the sun was hitting the flag at a unique angle.  It was workhorse flag, beginning to fray at the flapping edge, a little like our democracy.

(I’m keeping my dearest waiting with this, oh, and go see the French film, So Long I’ve Loved You — no, it’s not about sex, that’s a line from a well-know children’s song in France.  You’ll feel like you live there.)

30/365 – An hour late

Crescent moon and Jupiter

Crescent moon and Jupiter

Note to self: Don’t try to shoot the moon with a small digital camera.  You don’t get much.

I hope you saw the new moon this past week.  It has been sharing the early evening sky with a very bright Jupiter, which is probably also a crescent, but I didn’t have a telescope handy to check. (My attempt to zoom in is below.)

Just about every month, I seem to spot the new moon, which I used to call the fingernail moon when I was much younger.  Okay, I still call it that.  It’s always a surprise to see it again, hovering over the horizon. 

My Egyptian friend told me that in Arab countries, where they use a lunar calendar, the new moon signals that it is time to get paid. “Hey, where’s my pay?  Can’t you see the new moon?”

The new moon and first quarter are also a higher energy time for me, usually.  I sleep less and stay active all day.

Well, I’m an hour late, so it’s really Saturday already, but why can’t I count my personal “day” to be from when I wake up to when I go to sleep?  I can do that — I can do whatever I want: It’s my blog.
I’m doing taxes most of the day tomorrow, hope the people are nice, or at least not too crazy.  Oh, and people, do NOT bring two-year-olds to the tax office!

Okay, here’s my streaky moon/Jupiter shot.  I couldn’t hold the camera still enough once I zoomed in.  But I like the shot anyway.



29/365 – Enervating

30 p.m., this is what greets me.
Coming home at 11:30 p.m., this is what greets me.

I sort of whined this morning while waiting to go down on the elevator.  It was 7:30 a.m., and I knew the soonest I’d get back to the apartment would be 10:30 p.m.  That’s a long day, 15 hours, and it was actually 11:30 by the time I got here, what with buying gas and some salad fixings.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy both my day and night jobs, and I also get to spend quality time with my fiancee (we started watching Big Love), but it is a full schedule and will eventually enervate me.

Meanwhile, I live in the little bit of urbanity Madison has to offer, in what is the tallest any building can be around the Capitol — 15 stories — so the dome can be seen for miles. One of many ways the laws around here impede things, but are also kind of cute.

28/365 – Cinema of Dreams

Sunrise over State Street

Sunrise over State Street

A lot of things are dawning on me. (How’s that for a tie-in to today’s shot? More on the pic later.) Perhaps this mental clarity has to do with feeling secure and loved, perhaps it is also inspired by this daily publication of my thoughts and dreams, and perhaps we should also credit my time of life — lots of wise things have been written by people in their later years, when they have the time, experience, and perspective to make some sense of things.

Speaking of dreams, I poked around on the Web, trying to find a quote about how film makes it possible to project our dreams onto the screen. I thought it was by Jean Cocteau, who indeed said a lot of cool shit, including, “A film is a petrified fountain of thought,” and “In Paris, everyone wants to be an actor; nobody is content to be a spectator.”

But the Cocteau quote that really got me was, “Film will only become an art when its materials are as inexpensive as pencil and paper.”  How very true.  Filmmaking, especially back in Cocteau’s day (1889-1963) was the most laborious of tasks, involving great reels of actual film, which then needed to be developed, then cut and spliced.  Everything was very expensive and mostly hard to do, and adding sound was another headache. I know, because I was around student filmmakers and tried my hand at it.  Two hours at a splicing table was enough to scare me off.  Then there’s the difficulty in getting good lighting for the film emulsions available back then.  The investment in even a 20-minute student film was as much as a used car cost. And the hours needed to light, shoot, edit and sync were endless.

Enter video cameras, and suddenly we are free of most of the hassles of film.  Editing can be done on a computer.  Everything happens quickly. The filmmaker as artist is nearly here.  Except of course that a decent digital video camera still costs as much as a used car, not to mention the computer.

My dream is a camera I wear, like glasses, that sees what I see and sends it back to my computer, which pre-edits scenes for me, and later, I just click and drag the scenes together.  I only want to pay as much as a used bicycle costs for all this, of course.

(As for the photo, it is the view from the elevator lobby at my apartment building, looking north.  That’s frozen Lake Mendota.  State Street is sort of nestled below, at an angle.  State Street is a wonderful pedestrian-dominated urban mall sort of a place, and as it gets warmer, I will blog about it more.)

27/365 – Conversion to Catholicism

Mary's candles

Mary's candles

That’s a statue of Mary, mother of God, lit only by candles in St. Patrick’s Catholic Church here in Madison. Even when I wasn’t particularly religious, I would light a candle at one of the big downtown churches in Chicago. Catholicism was always calling out to me, and I did get some lessons in it when I was in third grade and went to a Catholic school (I dug the uniforms). But we went to Lutheran churches after that.

Now I am undergoing Conversion, which I capitalize because it is Such a Big Thing in my life. It’s a turning point, really, a new life is beginning. I carry one of the Psalms in my wallet now: “Create in me a clean heart, O God,” it begins. (I think it’s 51.) “A broken and a contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.”

 I wasn’t on the road to Damascus, but I was equivalently struck down by the abundance of grace at first. It all began during a “get-to-know-you” conversation in a bookstore café with Jane when we first met. She told me she had converted to Catholicism, and I said, “I’d like to do that because I fear for my immortal soul.” I don’t think I had ever mentioned my soul before that, and once I did, well, let’s just say it’s been a trip.

So for those who may be interested, just about every Catholic parish has a program that’s called the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults, or RCIA. We meet every Tuesday evening for several months. There’s a talk from a priest about a subject from the catechism, and then we break up in discussion groups. Jane is my sponsor, as she was once sponsored. The whole thing has been much more interesting and involving than I could have imagined. We’re a little community now, we RCIAers, and the group discussions can have the intensity of an encounter group.

Principally, I simply choose to believe, all doctrines aside. Faith seems now the prefect complement to Science, rather than an opponent. Each supports the other, in fact, and the 2,000 years of thought that has gone into the doctrines of the Church are infinitely fascinating and informative. More on that next Tuesday.