Monday, December 27, 2004

Please consider giving to the relief effort

Dear TTC Readers:

It is nice to have this blogspace to share what is on my mind and to know it gets nearly a dozen or so hits a day is amazing to me. Now, whether they stay and look around and read is another story!

And so it is with this small megaphone, I make a call for all who drop by here regularly or by accident to consider giving to the relief efforts for South East Asia. If you haven't already donated to the relief effort, I gently urge, plead, beg and request you find an agency you feel good about giving to who will in turn do some good over there where the need is so great.

If you don't know which agency to give to, please check the ones listed here.

Thanks for you consideration.


UPDATE: Here is a larger list of agencies at work on relief to South East Asia. Hat tip to DP. is collecting money for American Red Cross. As of this post, Wednesday 11:47AM PST, 39397 people have donated $2,211,086.53 to the ARC.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

LA Scene: the other ensemble playing in WDCH - the Los Angeles Master Chorale

(Twelfth in a series of occasional posts on Los Angeles life)

Dear Kari:

People in Los Angeles know that the Walt Disney Concert Hall is the home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. What people might not know is that it is the home of the Los Angeles Master Chorale also.

If one wants to see an event inside the Disney Hall with the LA Phil or organized by the LA Phil Association, check this page out for events with tickets remaining.

My impression is that this list is longer than last year's. Last year being the first year of the Disney Hall, everything was pretty much sold out; even the obscure modern works. The novelty maybe wearing off now that the Hall is a year old and so perhaps ticket sales aren't as brisk. I wonder what will happen in year three, five and beyond?

Will the splash of attention garnered by the glam building wear off? We shall see. Ironically, the building may literally lose some of its luster because of complaints of glare from its neighbors which will be resolved by sandblasting some portions of the building.

In any case, if one can't find a ticket to an LA Phil event or none of what is available strikes your fancy, be sure to check out the Master Chorale as their events don't always sell out or don't sell out as quickly.

Recently went with five friends to my first Chorale event when they hosted the Messiah Sing Along. It was also the first time I got to hear the brand new organ.

One of my friends is an excellent singer and has performed solos with the Angel City Chorale and had her own score of the Messiah. Another friend sings bass in my church choir and he bought a score at the Disney Hall. Another friend is studying music in college; thus, I was in the company of some good voices who know music!

I looked over to the score my bass friend had ... and ... umm ... attempted to sing? My goodness there are a LOT OF NOTES!

Since the event, I've been playing my CD of the Messiah at home and have copied it over onto my iPOD.

However, I must say there is nothing quite like hearing nearly 2000 voices sing the Hallelujah Chorus in person. Simply amazing. Simply heavenly.


Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Do you have your copy?

Hullo Kari:

I just got my copy and couldn't resist watching. I could skip to the scenes marked as extended and new but I think I'll just experience it as Jackson intends. It looks to be a late night here in Los Angeles as there are 50 additional minutes to the movie which was already 3 hours and 20 minutes!

The film versions were terrific as is but I have to say I've been delighted with each extended edition. The additional character development makes the experience of the movies even better.

I am watching the DVD on my 12 inch TV I bought back in 1994! The sound system is used computer speakers (in stereo!!) plugged into the DVD player. It is an improvement over mono speakers built into the TV. Right now, as I blog, the scene I'm watching is "the Lighting of the Beacons." I just love the stirring music of that segment!

Alas, I can't turn the volume up too much as I live in an apartment where I share two walls, the floor and the roof with neighbors.

I suspect in rural Kansas you can crank up your system to your heart's content!



UPDATE: Its about 10:40pm here in LA and I'm still watching! If you don't already know, you'll be pleased to see Eowyn is involved in more fierce fighting in "the Battle of Pelennor Fields!"

UPDATE: Bainbridge has his copy and and will be watching it again "after dinner on Friday night, I'm going to curl up with some port, a couple of cigars, and watch it again with the actors' commentary turned on."

I'll be bringing the disks to my brother's so the nephew and neice can watch it... but instead of port and cigars I may bake cookies or cheesecake!

As for Wednesday night (tonight), I'll be having my weekly West Wing viewing. Bainbridge maybe doing the same!

Sunday, December 05, 2004

BCS Sunday - Cal Bears take a Holiday Instead of Roses

Hi Kari:

I know last year you were quite excited to see Kansas State hand Oklahoma their hat. And of course for that pasting, OU was rewarded anyway with the BCS Championship game in the Sugar Bowl.

Well, this time they took care of business.

Meanwhile, out west, I was watching on TV, the USC-UCLA game. UCLA was a 21-point underdog and many thought that was generous. Suffice to say, I was pleasantly surprised that the "gutty little Bruins" gave the #1 team some headaches.

I was watching the game with some friends one of whom is an SEC partisan so we jumped back and forth between ABC (UCLA-USC game) and CBS (Auburn-Tennessee). Auburn took care of business too but at times had trouble.

So there you have it, three undefeated teams from the power conferences and two BCS championship slots.

It was unlikely Auburn would be able to move up a slot and on Sunday they got sent to the Sugar Bowl to face V. Tech.

However, as a Pac10 partisan, I was interested to see what would happen between California and Texas.

Last year, it was USC that got bumped down to #3 into the Rose Bowl thus losing out on the official championship game. This year it was the Cal Bears that got bumped down to #5 out of the Rose Bowl into the Holiday Bowl.

I dunno Kari, us West Coasties are having our paranoia of East Coast/Mid-West bias against our teams fed some more by this latest slight.

Meanwhile, my beloved Bruins go to the Las Vegas Bowl against Wyoming.

Anyway, I suppose if V. Tech beats Auburn then the BCS bacon will be saved. I suppose there is a long shot scenario that the winner of the Orange could split the title with Auburn if the Tigers win big in the Sugar.

But all that aside, Go Bruins!


Thursday, December 02, 2004

What is a "good life" and a "happy life"?


Have a serious question for you: what is a good life and what is a happy life and are they inevitably linked?

One challenge (which the postmodern skeptic would agree) is that we are bound in this time and place and so a definition may be pointless.

However, can one come up with a definition that is applicable to us here in modern Western society and to poorer parts of the world and to someone who lived in the distant past?

Anyway, more questions than answers?

I think living in the USA does provide benefits (and how) but also lots of distractions!

The question of a "good life," I think, is hard for us because the postmodern skeptical view of the world is so prevalent here in the USA. If "truth" is unknowable or relativistic than the notion of some objective good is hard to find. So people default to finding a "happy life."

But do American's really know what a "happy life" is?

I think we confuse "excitement" for happiness. We are a nation of "adrenaline junkies." Extreme sports and TV shows like Fear Factor and the confusion of activity for significance is a part of life here in the USA.

I think we also confuse "pleasure" for happiness. "Happy Hour" on a Friday evening is a time for eating and drinking and flirting. All things well and good but if that is the end all and be all of life then that would seem a poor life indeed. And then there is the whole "do it if it feels good" ethic. This is problematic without an anchor for what is good. Yet, the basis for advertising on TV, magazines, etc. is our pleasure. But the pleasure from getting what we claim to want fades and we look for more.

As humans, we do enjoy the adrenaline high? And if god made us than isn't that a good thing? God made us with such powerful sensory capacity that pleasure is wired into us? So I'm not going to run in the other direction and say pleasure is sinful.

So what is the linkage between our notions of good and our experience of happiness?

Now, if one doesn't believe in god then these good feelings are an accident of evolution and doing good is irrelevant as survival is the prime directive of evolution.

Yet, Michael Shermer, an ardent evolutionist and evangelistic atheist argues that happiness is the evolutionary method to support "good societal ethics." His reasoning is that individual ethical choices which may diminish self-preservation but enhances societal survival needs some method of being encouraged. Thus, he argues evolution selects for "goodness" by linking it to happiness in doing good.

Thus, in his naturalistic world view, goodness and happiness are linked. In his view, of course, goodness is the collection of values that help a society survive in the evolutionary sense.

As a theist, I believe goodness and happiness are linked as well but for different reasons.

I think the personal search for happiness should move us into the realm for the search for significance and to our search for the good because I think deep down God has wired us with a desire for the good?

How can one account for the exasperated feeling we get at seeing the triumph of evil?

We say, that isn't the way it is supposed to be! In our "soul" there is a faint echo of what is good and we still hear it and when we see evil we recoil against it because we still have a sense of what is good.

My personal experience tells me that when I do "good" or see "good" being done, the impact on my being is (1) emotional at that moment but (2) imprinted into my being and thus transformative. Experiencing the good leaves an impact and it not as transient an experience as excitement and pleasure. Experiencing the good, if you will, leaves me happy, at a place I want to be.

I believe it is God's nature to do good and thus God is happiest (does this sound strange?) when God does good. Hence, God's statement during the creation, and God saw that it was good. Is it too much to read into the text that God was happy with creation?

And then, of course, God is happy when creatures of free will (us) also do good. Thus, for God, goodness and happiness are linked. And to the extent we are made in God's image it is true for us as well.

What do you think?

I'm still working this out and would welcome your sage input.

For now, as a Christian, I define a good life as one that is in concert with what Jesus taught. I see "the good life" as putting into action the collective wisdom found in the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures. I see "the happy life" as having a relationship with Jesus and the sense of satisfaction and serenity that comes from doing the good God desires and knowing the grace of forgiveness when I fall short of doing the good God desires.