Monday, March 28, 2005

Easter review

I had a wonderful Easter weekend, largely thanks to three services in 36 hours.

Good Friday - On Friday night, I participated in dramatic presentation of the stations of the cross. Center stage, a young man in simple white portrayed Jesus, adopting static poses to represent each of the stations (eg, kneeling in prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, on trial, on the cross). From the side, a monologue was spoken with each station. Some were from central Biblical figures (Peter, John, Mary) and others not so much (a street kid from Jerusalem, a centurion). Each of the characters spoke about their perception of the events of the Passion and their personal response. I think the congregation appreciated it. I know for me it was a powerful experience, to see these events not historically, from afar, but through the immediate eyes of a witness.

(The drama was written by Rob, one of my fellow youth advisors at Glen Mar. He's planning to polish up the script, after which I'd be glad to share it with anyone who was interested.)

Easter Vigil - At 11PM on Saturday night, we began our Easter Vigil around a campfire. (Thank heavens for the cold spring we're having.) We then processed, singing, with candles, into the sanctuary. The service was structurally similar to lessons and carols, with readings reaching all the way back to Genesis alternating with Easter hymns. It was a small service, as you might expect at that hour, but in a way that made the music quite moving. Not pretty - I could hear lots of individual voices, mine included, wandering all over looking for the key - but genuine: we were singing to honor God. (We clearly weren't going to impress any earthly ears.) The service concluded with a short sermon and communion.

I was told that the Easter Vigil is the oldest Christian service. Originally and properly done, it apparently goes through the night and finishes with a sunrise service. (One of my fellow attendees said that, in her college days, they updated that tradition to include 3AM food at the HoJo.) We finished up around 12:30.

Easter - Kerry and I went to the sunrise service. OK, it was indoors, and the solid overcast meant that the sun could have risen or not without us knowing, but we got to go together, so that was good enough for me.

Friday, March 25, 2005

Reality Reimmersion Syndrome (RSS)

RSS is the psychological phenomenon that occurs when one ends a period of blissful holiday or vacation and experiences a heightened awareness of future responsibility. Symptoms may include a compressed perception of time (the entire future appearing to exist within the next week-and-a-half), an all-encompassing sense of obligation, an inability to conceive of ever having fun again, and the obligatory drymouth, fatigue, and headaches.

Having just passed through an acute bout of RSS myself and fully recognized the syndrome, I think it could be useful to better characterize it by some quantitative measures. One metric to judge severity could be the period of time between RSS onset and the the first action that the patient recognizes as irresponsible (eg, watching TV, staring off into space, laughing, sleeping) that is not followed by guilt.

(At this point my friends can stop hiding their mouths behind their hands and go ahead and openly laugh at me.)

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Stop spreadin' the news

Kerry and I spent four days and three nights (as they might say on Wheel) in New York City this week. It was the first time I'd been to New York for more than 12 hours, so I was thoroughly entranced. Kerry had a good time, too, in spite of the fact that it was cold.

As is our wont, we dove into museums. We were absolutely impressed by the American Museum of Natural History, Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Museum of Modern Art. Watching all these school kids traipsing through the museums, I realized what a distorted view you must get growing up in New York. The first time you go to a museum in all but a handful of other cities: "Sorry, I can't seem to find the Picasso rooms." "You have no mummies!?" "Oh yes, of course your diorama of dinosaurs is... impressive."

We saw two shows: Rent and Shockheaded Peter. Rent was entertaining, though I thought the second act fell far short of the first. We saw Shockheaded Peter based on reviews I saw in the New York Times and somewhere else. I don't have time to describe it well, but it's more of a play with musical numbers interjected than a musical. The theme is unusual and amusing - children perishing of their bad habits, like fidgeting at the dining table - but the whole production didn't really click. Seeing it second, it made me appreciate Rent more.

One day we went on walkabout downtown. We started at the World Trade Center site, headed to the Hudson, and walked down to Battery Park. Then we turned north, stopping to use the bathrooms at the architecturally impressive Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian / former Customs House. We walked through the narrow canyons of Broad and Wall Street, seeing a frenzy over a table of silk ties on sale for $1 each. We continued to the South Side Pier on the East River, with its great view of the Brooklyn Bridge. Less than ten minutes further, we were in Chinatown, where dumb luck took us to the Harmony Palace (I think), serving mysterious and tasty dim sum. Then Little Italy, SoHo, and after a slight detour courtesy of an error in the AAA Guidebook, Washington Park.

We spent an evening with my cousin Kathy and her husband Ron, bona fide New Yorkers who have lived in a west side apartment for over 25 years. Thanks to Aunt Ann for connecting us, I saw Kathy for the first time in 28 or so years. (She looked just the same.) She and Ron graciously hosted us for some wine in their home, then took us a great Cuban restaurant, Calle Ocho, for dinner. A great time, and I hope to see them again before I'm 59.

One last food note: As Kerry would be delighted to tell you, I've eaten roughly the same breakfast for about ten years: cheap-ass, generic corn flakes with golden raisins and a banana, and orange juice. (We'll ignore some variation in the accompanying breads.) If I lived somewhere where toasted bagels, piled with delicious cream cheese, were sold with a coffee for $1.50 on every street corner, I might change my ways.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Brittle fracture: It's not just for Liberty ships any more

We had a nice, freezing rain today, so when I got off the Metro to drive home, I found the Mazda covered in ice. The whole way home, it made creaking, sanpping noises, as you hear in any movie when the ice is about to give way and tumble down in chaos, or when the liquid metal robot is walking through liquid nitrogen, just before being shot by a future governor of California. So I was just waiting for that sharp bump that would cause the car to crack in two, like a Liberty ship at her fitting out pier. Happily, it didn't come to that; I arrived home safely, another beneficiary of the miracle of modern materials science.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Mutual of Elkridge's Wild Kingdom

  1. March has come in like a lion: a fair bit of snow on the ground on the 1st, followed by clear, cold, windy days.

  2. I just realized I didn't mention that we saw whales off the south shore of Kauai. From Gloria's at breakfast, we could see their backs and spouts breaking the surface.

  3. I swear I saw Ein (sans data goggles) walking down Mass Ave this evening.