Etchings in the Sand…

Thoughts and Photos from the Desert…

Monthly Archives: March 2006


Duke University is getting bad press these days. Its lacrosse team had a very bad party during which a stripper was attacked and gang raped. You read the story, I'm sure. This type of thing seems increasingly frequent on the university and even service academy scene.

Attention has turned now to discussions of the bad town – gown relations in the Durham community.

When I was a student at Vanderbilt, we raised a lot of cain, but nothing like this. I have always considered myself a liberal fellow but sometimes these days identify with Archie Bunker singing "Those were the good old days."





It isn't just Duke.

For the past several years we have spent a few months during the summer just off the campus of Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, California. This is a beautiful campus, with high scholastic standing and obviously privileged students. Classy place.

These kids drive fancy new cars that cost more than their annual tuition, which is monumental, to say the least. They have a lively social life which often goes well into the night and is probably similar to that of Duke students (see above NYT article.) I would venture a guess that this is the pattern in many, maybe even most colleges and universities across the country.

Student relationships with the adult community can become, as you might expect, tense in San Luis Obispo. But I write specifically about student contact with senior citizens.

Our apartment complex sits right in the heart of student housing. We have 24 dedicated senior citizen apartments. Kids are not with but all around us. We are grandparent types, living for a brief summer period on their turf.

There is no apparent hostility – or affection – between the two generation groups. There is, in fact, no relationship at all. Any personal contact is pretty much avoided. They don't quite know what to make of us. Or we of them.

On occasion I have approached and chatted with students. Things went well, especially if I happened to be walking my two dogs. But underlying it all there seemed a distance and a suspicion that these people don't belong to our world.

I suspect this is increasingly true in many places. If it is, we may have a serious problem. Grandparents are a treasured resource for college students. Or should be. College students are a treasured resource to everyone. Or should be.

Something is missing here.

Comments, anyone?


these amazing artists

Michael Blowhard, one of the authors of favorite website "2 Blowhards", mentions Hugh Symonds' photos taken with a cellphone camera. Sceptical, I clicked on the link and had my mind completely blown. How can this be?

Click on this.

Weird Democracy

From this morning's front page: "The American ambassador has told Shiite officials that President Bush does not want the Iraqi prime minister to remain the country's leader in the next government… Mr. Khalilizad said Mr. Bush 'doesn't want, doesn't support, doesn't accept' Mr. Jaafari as the next prime minister.."

A few weeks ago, when Palestinians voted Hamas into leadership, Mr. Bush said essentially the same thing. He simply couldn't accept the mind or the vote of the majority of the people there.

I am confused. We are trying to plant and grow democracy in the middle east but make it clear that the majority of the voters has to vote folks in or out of power OUR WAY or risk losing our support and good will. Maybe even worse than that.
A couple of hundred years ago, the powers that be in England made it clear to the leadership of the colonies that things were to be done their way or not at all. We took a deep breath, tossed some tea into Boston Harbor and told the British to butt out. Who really cared what King George wanted? Then, we tossed them out. It wasn't pretty.

Democracy developed later, much later, and on our own terms. Just who is supposed to have the power in a democracy? Maybe those who have to live with their own decisions. I think so.

Jewish Travel

"Jewish Travel"


Yehuda Amichai

view from buddhist temple.jpg


As it is written, "I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help":

not a hike to see a tall mountain in all its glory

not a climb to rejoice in the vistas of nature,

but a hike with a purpose

to seek help from the high heavens.

And how to interpret "I will lift up mine eyes"?

Heavy Jewish eyes that need lifting.


And it is written, "Who shall ascend the mountain of the Lord?"

Not hikers singing, knapsacks on their shoulders,

but rather a congregation praying with "clean hands and a pure heart,"

not strong bodies and sturdy legs.

And fertile valleys are simply good places for prayer: as it says,

"Out of the depths have I cried unto thee, O Lord."


Even "green pastures and still waters" are not about resting and eating in the shade of a tree or camping near a stream in the scorch of summer,

but about praising the Lord, since right after that it says

"the Valley of the Shadow of Death" –

the shadow of death overshadows everything.

Jewish travel.


Even Moses climbed Mt. Sinai not as mountaineers do,

but to receive the Tablets of the Law.

And he went up Mount Nebo not to come down again

but to die.


from Open Closed Open

translated from the Hebrew by Chana Bloch

and Chana Kronfeld

Harcourt, Inc


Photo by Roger Bourland


Bud Jackson Comes Through

Bloggers live by readers suggesting great new blogs… and recommending ours!

Bud Jackson came through this morning with this excellent webpage.

Thanks, Bud

Apologies to the Students…At least Some of them

Oops! (See my Journal, "Where Have All The Flowers Gone?"),0,932535.story?track=tothtml