Saturday, January 31, 2009


The lovely Carol is gone for the weekend -- a women's retreat. So when I woke up this morning, her warm, soft, sleeping form was not there. Instead, my hand bumped into my copy of Merton's No Man Is an Island, which was a gift from the elder teen. The back cover jacket was inserted between pages 132-133, where I found this: "Our vocation is not a supernatural lottery but the intersection of two freedoms, and, therefore, of two loves." (p.132)

What were these two, I wondered -- I turned to p.131, which was the beginning of chapter 8:
Each one of us has some kind of vocation. We are all called by God to share in His life and in His Kingdom. Each one of us is called to a special place in the Kingdom. If we find that place we will be happy. If we do not find it, we can never be completely happy. For each one of us, there is only one thing necessary: to fulfill our own destiny, according to God's will, to be what God wants us to be.
I thought this aptly put; "coincidentally" I recently posted this connecting God with our happiness. Both Time Magazine and I apparently came to conclude what Merton had written, better, a half century earlier.

Merton also gives us this bit of good news, in the next paragraph:
We must not imagine that we only discover this destiny by a game of hide-and-seek with Divine Providence. Our vocation is not a sphinx's riddle, which we must solve in one guess or else perish. Some people find, in the end, that they have made many wrong guesses and that their paradoxical vocation is to go through life guessing wrong. It takes them a long time to find out that they are happier that way.
He's hilarious, too. And that is absolutely right -- as Gordon Smith said, we shouldn't (even at 80 or 90) think we know what we're going to do with "the rest of my life"; rather, we can only get a hint of what we're going to do "in the next stage or phase of my life."

What I'm going to do is make breakfast.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Franklin St. > Peet's??

This morning I headed out early to visit Peninsula Building Materials and buy a "level jack" -- two of them, actually. Got in and out within a few minutes -- great service there!

Then I drove the mile and a half to the Redwood City Caltrain station. Since I had quite a bit of time, I decided to grab a coffee. Sometimes I'll grab a cup on the run from Franklin St. Caffe, but I was close to Peet's at Broadway, so I walked in and stood in line. Got to the front and asked for a small coffee.

I was surprised to find that the taste of their brew didn't please me as much as what I get at Franklin St. Peet's charged a little more, too. On the plus side, I definitely got more of a "kick" from the Peet's cup than I usually get at Franklin St.

Bottom line -- Next time I'll probably park under Sequoia Station and hit Franklin St. up for their blend, unless I'm really in need of a wakeup.

Friday, January 23, 2009


NetApp had a company party this afternoon, and for a while I shared a table with K., who I worked with some years ago at another company, and C., who was an intern last summer and now works for us full-time. C. went to San José State -- K. did too!

K. reminded me that I had helped hire her way back then. I won't tell you how old she is, but I remember a conversation we had one day in the cafeteria: We were talking about housing prices, and she said something like, "I think people around here have just accepted that it's OK to spend $250,000 on a house." I thought it was ridiculous to spend a quarter of a million dollars on a house, but obviously that conversation happened quite a while ago.

K. is now a "director" at NetApp -- not as in "Board of Directors", but like a high-level manager. She looks terrific, by the way; as far as I can tell, she could be 25 or 30, except I remember our conversation about housing prices.

This made me think about R., who was my intern in 1980. He's now a vice president at NetApp -- not technical at all! He seems happy about being a VP.

And I remembered S., someone else I helped hire at a former employer. He is a founder or chief technologist or something at a startup -- he's done one or two startups....

A few months ago I was saying that if all my interns became VPs, I'd wonder where I had gone wrong -- people work with me and they end up leaving technical work and doing management instead.

But really, I tell myself, it's probably not my fault. They probably actually wanted to be managers, directors, VPs, whatever.

So I guess it's OK; I'll be happy for them.

A happy wake-up “call”

A sound was coming from the den. It wasn't a ticking or a beeping, but it sounded tinny, like something from a telephone receiver. But who would be calling before 7:00 on Saturday morning?

Was a phone left off the hook? No -- the sound had just started. It had a rhythm....

I followed the sound to the younger teen's desk. Once I opened the drawer, the sound got a lot clearer.
     Wake up hands, wake up hands,
Wake up hands, and wiggle, wiggle, wiggle.
Wake up hands, wake up hands,
Wake and wiggle in the morning.
It was coming from her cell phone: the voice of the elder teen (currently away at college), recorded to wake her in the morning. Nostalgia rose in my chest -- How old were my kids when they listened to songs like that from a cassette player? -- and much fond affection.

And it made me wonder again: How did I ever get so lucky? How is it that I got to enjoy these brilliant, generous, charming girls all these years, to watch them blossom into amazing young women and become best friends?

This won't convince anyone who doesn't believe in a loving God, but these girls have turned out way better than we had any right to expect. And to anyone who claims that life is unfair, all I can say is, "Thank God for that!"

You can't be my dog

Sometimes a boy will like a girl who doesn't return his affections. What should the girl do when he wants to talk with her, spend time with her? Particularly if she thinks he's a good conversationalist and enjoys his company in limited doses?

This picture came to mind:
A girl visits the pound or Pets In Need or the Furry Friends Rescue society or something. And here comes a pup -- a talking one! She knows that this is not the dog for her, but the pup is insistent.
You can't be my dog.
(pant, pant) I know I'm not going to be your dog, but won't you pet me?
(pets him) You have nice soft fur.
(closing eyes) I like it when you pet me.
But you can't be my dog. (stops)
I know, but won't you pet my head a little longer?
(resumes) You should find someone else.
Maybe if you keep petting me, I'll get tired of you, then I'll go find someone.
You should go now. (stops)
If you stop petting me, I'll curl up in a ball and sulk in the corner for a year or two. (howls)
Now most dogs aren't smart enough to manipulate us like that, but boys certainly are -- intuitively/unconsciously if not intentionally/deliberately.

The pup (or the boy) should be sent packing for at least the following reasons, even if the girl isn't my daughter:
  • Yielding to his manipulation will reinforce that behavior -- he'll use the same strategy on the next girl;
  • If you've already decided he can't be your dog (or boyfriend), you should execute on that. Otherwise the therapeutic effects of petting the dog (or the hormonal effects of..., umm, hanging out with the boy) will tend to undermine your earlier decision;
  • Given that decision, it's a kindness to send him away sooner. The sooner recovery begins, the sooner it'll be done.
  • It's also a kindness to you, not to mention your father; nobody needs the ongoing stomach-aches.
And if you're reading this and you happen to be a pup boy, then please grow up, face reality, be a man. Read Dateable.

Monday, January 19, 2009


That's how many days of the year I've got covered in my One Year Bible thing... I typed in the last one today, this essay for John 6, from the May 10 reading. I believe that if you look at any month on my companion website,, you'll find a little essay for every day of every month. (Nothing on February 29, though -- but the One Year Bible doesn't have one for that day, either.)

Pop the cork? Well, maybe I'll do that if I manage to sell this to anyone.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Does God want us to be happy?

That was the title of a 2005 Time Magazine article that appeared as a link at the bottom of this recent posting on The link leads to what looks like a table of contents. The only actual article I've been able to read from there, though, is The New Science of Happiness (printable version here).

This is well worth a read. I found it very interesting that things that tend to make us happy are also things that God commands. I'll admit to having some bias here (no, really!) but here's my take on it. I think I stumbled upon this last item recently, as I wrote last month. It's also not completely unrelated to something I heard about satisfaction at work: "If your job uses only 10% of your abilities, you'll be 90% bored." (Or dissatisfied. Or something.)

Bottom line: Does God want us to be happy? I think yes. Besides the above, I see Jesus's comments in Luke 14:8-11 as helping us to get what we want and to be happy. He's realistic, in other words; he knows we want to be honored by others and he accepts that. He doesn't say, "Don't desire that!" Instead, he tacitly approves of the desire, but tells us how to get what we want. Because he knows what we're like; he remembers that we are but dust.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Calistoga; spiritual growth

The lovely Carol went with me to Calistoga for some couple time in Napa Valley. It was great -- park the car at the lodge and we didn't start it until it was time to go home. We experienced the mud-bath (my first) -- an interesting experience. The weather was unseasonably warm (record-breaking I guess). We did some cycling, enjoyed good food, had some good discussions. I also wrote this post about spiritual growth, which I hope you enjoy reading as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

What are we going to do today?

After a drive up to the snow (first time he's seen it), an afternoon of snow play, a day of skiing, a drive back and an evening of Firefly, my nephew was asked: What shall we do today?

Watch Firefly!