Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Johnny Scofflaw - a caption contest

A photo came up the today on the Facebook page of a popular copper moonshine still manufacturer (Clawhammer Supply). It was for a photo caption contest that had some pretty creative caption entries. Perhaps because I was a Bear Cub, Cub Scout, Webelo, then Boy Scout, I immediately thought of the various 1950's era images we were surrounded with during my time in scouts and decided to go with the Boy Scout project theme. A few seconds later, I came up with this a caption for the image...
And with this one project, Johnny thought for sure he'd qualify for no less than seven Boy Scouts of America merit badges (American Heritage, Art, Chemistry, Cooking, Inventing, Metalwork, and Plumbing). Little did he realize that his Climbing, Hiking, Orienteering, Shotgun Shooting, Weather, Wilderness Survival, and Law merit badges would all serve him well as he eluded BATF agents in the ensuing raid.

I think there may be at least a few more merit badges that qualify...but I'm not sure the Boy Scouts of America would agree with me.

Have a caption you think fitting? Add it to the comments, below.

Long live fermentation science, creativity and the ingenuity of the human spirit!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

An obituary

Extinguished Candle by Flickr user diannna-art
I was recently asked to help write an obituary for a friend (more of a family member, really) that recently moved up in the grand scheme of things. I was both honored and...somewhat terrified. Would I be up to the task? Would I cover everything that should be covered? Would my writing of the obituary be clouded(?) by my own particular and unique view of her (and our friendship)? Would I forget to include one of her relatives? Would I offend someone by including or excluding things about her life? Would the family like what I wrote?

So I was glad to have a partner-in-writing. In truth, my partner carried more of the writing load, something I was (perhaps?) oddly OK with - playing a more supportive rather than lead role. I set about my task with a near-religious fervor that rather surprised me. Perhaps it was because I was helping write it in relative obscurity. Or perhaps it was because the bulk of the writing fell to someone else. Regardless, it felt good to put together lists of people, career highlights, quotes, words I thought described or characterized her, and remembrances of her from others. From this, I was able to craft out a few paragraphs that had me feeling pretty good about it and that I felt (hoped) honored her. My partner-in-writing also crafted some wonderful text (better than I could ever have written) and, after we pulled it all together and put the finishing touches it on it, sent it off to the family for review.

And that's when my nerves really set in. Did they like it? Did they think it honored her enough? Would they think differently of me? Did the few words we laid down do her life justice? I said a quick prayer of tranquility and was suddenly bathed in the knowledge that it would be OK. They would like it. It was honorable and complete. It was as it should be.

I'm sure there are all kinds of hints and how-tos out there for writing obituaries. But I didn't want to find them. I just wanted to write what came from my heart. And trust that the (my) truths and understandings of who she was would come across correctly and be honorable.

And the one truth that really struck me was this: her family (our family) wanted us to write about her life...because they trusted us. And loved us. And we loved her (and them). And that was all that mattered. And in the end, that was all that mattered. The words came and fell together. We shared. Were trusted and trusted in return. And loved. And are loved. And we honored all of that. And in doing so, honored her and her life. And it was as it should be.

So if you are ever asked to write an obituary for a friend, I would just offer these few snippets: it will be emotionally trying. It will consume you for a bit. You will doubt. But hear - and believe - this: trust in those that asked you. Trust in their confidence in you. Trust in your knowledge of and relationship with that person. And trust your heart. For if you do that, everything will certainly turn out as it should.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Holy doppelganger! I found my (apparent) twin!

Have you ever had someone stop you, then realize who they thought you were, actually wasn't? And it's usually followed by some exclamation about how you have a twin roaming around (perhaps an evil twin). Ever had the feeling you may have been adopted? Have you played with that Facebook app, FaceDouble® Twins Doppleganger or other fun doppelganger games? My wife apparently has a twin...who lives about 20 miles from us in Alsea, Oregon. And it must be true. The guy at John Boy's Alsea Mercantile said so...after talking to her for a few minutes thinking she was someone else...while my wife just stood there incredulously thinking, "this is really strange...but so interesting!"

Some months back I happened across my apparent twin whilst doing water-related research on the web! His name is Chris Perceval. He lives on the East Coast in the Washington, DC metro area and works for the World Resources Institute (WRI). While he appears to be my twin, he can't be my doppelganger because he's apparently doing good things, right?! Anyway, I posted his WRI pic on Facebook to see how many of my high school friends and family also saw the similarities. Most couldn't actually believe it wasn't me!

I've searched around for the web for some late high school photos of myself and could only come up with one (pictured below), but I know I have one nearly identical to Chris'. Once I find it in my cedar chest of old pics, I'll scan and post it. For the time being, here's a pic of me in middle school and one of me in high school. They aren't dead ringers but the resemblance is uncanny.
Jeremiah or Chris? (It's Chris, BTW)

Jeremiah or Chris? (It's me, BTW)
Me in middle school. Both lower left pics.

While not dead ringers (I have one somewhere!), I find the resemblance somewhat chilling. Do you seemingly have a twin, too? Care to share the story or pics? I'd love to hear them. Comment away!

Strange lines (a poem)

Time isn't linear.
We now know that...
(or do we?)
But what is it?
And how does a singular life
follow along it?
In haste?
Fleeting, flooding, continuous(?)...
for a time.

Perhaps it's not surprising
that time had a beginning...
but an end?
Acutely aware
that life has an end
at some point in time.
But that life provides a stamp in time
that is lasting.

Strange lines,
and time.