Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Serenity: Take Two

I know that I am a fraction of my former self.   But, do I have to be reminded of it daily?

Today’s lesson:  My ballpoint pen.  A pen? 

Not just any pen, but my Bic four-color ballpoint pen.  Do you know the pin I’m talking about?  Blue and white plastic barrel w/ four colors — blue, red, black, and green.

Got my first one sometime in grade school.  Been using them ever since.  Not continually, mind you.  Though I’d like to be resolute enough and organized enough to assign each color to a different color-coded-category of my life, I’m not.  But, I do love to have options. 

First, a little history (as I’ve been able to uncover it — not to say it’s all factual, but it’s the best that I could come up with):
Baron Bich (pronounced beek) introduced the pen in France in April 1970, and a year later in the United States. The pen is a favorite among students and nurses, who use different colors on medical charts for each shift. The first advertisement in France boasted ''3 francs for 4 colors.'' There is also a fine-point version, with a bright orange barrel and even pastel colors.  The "4C" has a unique little white ball at the top (supposedly representing the famous 'Bic boy' head, from the Bic trademark) that was used to dial a number on the old rotary phones. 

So, what does all this have to do with SERENITY?

I was using my trusty “4C” to create my daily to-do list this morning over my morning coffee (which, by the way, comes only in black) when my wife suggested that we start a “dream big” exercise for house upgrades -- perhaps, since I use a four-color pen,  using a different color for each category.  That’s when it happened:  The black ran out!  No black. NO BLACK!  Now my old friend “4C’ was a “3C”.  And there at the top, mocking me, was still the black ink plunger — reminding me that my pen, too, was just a fraction of its former self (3/4 to be exact). 

But, now what do I do?  What can I change?  Do I have the courage to change?  Am I stuck with a pen with no black?  Must I accept that I still have blue, green, and red (which seems so judgmental)?

Or, do I bite the BIC bullet and spend a couple bucks on a new pen.  But, is it really necessary to dispose of a pen that’s 3/4 good?  Is it really "good" without the black?  Well, it is meant to be disposable, so I guess that would be okay?  I could keep it.  Keep it?  Do I need to rip out the black ink chamber and plunger so no one ever again tries to use it and becomes frustrated when it's inkless? So many inky questions!

Yes, once again, I’m a fraction of my former self with a fraction of a pen!

"I’m a fraction of my former self with a fraction of a pen.”  Yeah, that would make a great journal entry or country song.  But, damn!  All my other journal entries are in black and my pen . . .


Carpe diem Life
David Kuhn 

Monday, August 27, 2018

Sounds like a joke, but . . .

 Okay, so I've been trying to get in the habit of living the famous "Serenity Prayer" by Karl Paul Reinhold Niebuhr, an American Reformed theologian.

The beginning of it is:

God, give me grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other

So, I had the bright idea to purchase a pocket medallion so that I could reflect on that from time to time during the day:  Serenity, Courage, Wisdom.  Something like this:
 Within just a couple of days, I lost it.

Where?  I have no idea.  I start checking couch cushions, desk, countertops, floors, pockets . . .   "Where could it be?"   "This is driving me crazy; I know I had it yesterday."  "Shit, another $1.99 shot to hell!"

Now I'm getting really pissed. 

Lesson:  I encourage you to purchase a Serenity Prayer charm.  Just don't lose it.  If you do lose it, don't lose it. 

Between you and me, I still haven't accepted that I won't find it. 

Some serenity lessons take longer than others.

Carpe diem Life,
David Kuhn

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

"Felxible Signatures"

 I read that a study of 1,000 U.S. adults revealed that 30 percent of millennials ages 18 to 34 admit they have something called a "flexible signature." The study by RightSignature, which provides electronic signature software, revealed that 64 percent of these adults say it's because they use a computer all the time, and rarely put pen to paper.

61 percent of U.S. adults said they sign something on paper at least once a week (only once a week?).
49 percent admit they sign in a hurry
30 percent just scribble something and don't really think about it.

Here's mine:

I remember practicing my signature when I was younger.  I had dreams of being an NFL #1 Draft Star, so it was important to have something really cool -- I remember even trying a "star" over the "i" in David.   That signature died with my dream.

Anyway, here is what it has evolved into today. 

So, what got me thinking of this? 

From time to time I pick up off my desk an out-of-print book titled Similes and Their Uses, By Grenville Kleiser (how's that for a name?) published by Funk and Wagnalls Company (Yes, that "Put that in your Funk and Wagnalls") in 1925.

What does that have to do with anything?  Here is the signature of the original owner:

"It is of eloquence as of a flame: it requires matter to feed it, motion to excite it, and it brightens as it burns." (page 67).

I LOVE his "J" and "R"!   I'll bet Mr. Rhine did not have a "flexible signature." 

Carpe diem Life,
David Kuhn

Monday, August 20, 2018


Time:  6:15 A.M.
When: Last Week
Where:  My driveway
What:  Walking down the driveway to the mailbox to pick up the morning paper.  Suddenly, "AAAAAGGGGHHHH  Son-of-a-Bi. . . Mother Fu... What the hell?!!!!" (direct quote, by the way). 

My first thought was to look around to see if any of my neighbors saw me and wondered, "What the heck is that crazy man doing:  dancing, spinning, arms flailing for no apparent reason?"  I'm sure that if they write a blog, this would surely have to be a subject.

Then I thought about what the spider must have told his friends:  "So, there I am, after spending hours working on my web and here comes along the BIGGEST catch I've ever had.  HUGE.  There I was, hanging on for dear life screaming 'AAAAAGGGGHHHH!  Son-of-a-Bi . . .  Mother Fu . . . What the hell?'  Before I could wrap him up, he tore the whole web apart.  Not only lost my breakfast but my entire night's work.  First thing I did was look around to see if any of my spider neighbors saw it."

I eventually calmed down.  Found no spider -- though I swear there was one hanging on all day -- and went about my day.

I wonder if spiders write blogs?  If they do, do the post it on the web?

Carpe diem Life,
David Kuhn

Friday, August 17, 2018

Hide and Seek

Been on holiday, so to speak.  Older daughter came into town with our two grandkids.  Annabeth is six; Owen is three.  As always, we crammed in as much living as we could in a few short days. 

One of the things Annabeth wanted to do was paint rocks and hide them.   So . . .

Grandpa broke out a can of gold metallic spray paint and turned river rocks into gold nuggets.  Then, we painted images and words on them: Hearts and love, yin and yang symbol, peace, hope . . .

Next, we headed to Garvin Park here in town to play on the playground, hunt for cicada shells, and hide our rocks.  We hid a couple on the walk when Annabeth stopped and said, "We should give them to people so we know that they're found!" 

First a couple fishing.  "Hi, I'm giving away rocks!"  With that, she hands the lady a rock with a heart on one side and "Love" on the other.  The woman was so gracious and said,  "I have a small granddaughter and I'm going to give this to her.  She'll love it!  Thank you." 

And with that, we were off down the path.  About a quarter way around the lake we saw a woman sitting by herself at a picnic table.  (I don't know if you know a lot about Garvin, but it's a popular hangout for, well, let's just say a lot of people who don't have a lot of options in this world.  This woman looked like she could be one of them).  Annabeth didn't hesitate.  "Hi," she said reaching into her container of rocks looking for just the right one and picking it out, "I'm giving out rocks!"   With that, she hands her one with the word "hope" on it.  

The woman looked at it for a long time.  I could tell that she was getting emotional.  She finally said, "It's lovely.  I'm going to keep this forever."

And with that, we were off down the path.  

"Love" and "hope" and "peace"  -- all given away by a six-year-old.
She didn't want to hide them; she wanted to make sure that they were found. 
And with that, we were off down the path.

Have a great weekend,
Carpe diem Life,
David Kuhn

Thursday, August 9, 2018

To old to rock 'n' roll?

From the Interweb:  Managers of a German nursing home began to panic when they couldn’t find a pair of elderly friends anywhere on the grounds. Police later discovered the men “disoriented and dazed”— at a heavy metal festival.

The unidentified pals left the home in the rural Dithmarschen district and likely hitchhiked and took public transit to travel 25 miles to the Wacken Open Air festival near Hamburg. The headbangers’ event is touted as the biggest metal festival in the world.

Festival organizers apparently loved their escapade and paid homage to the aging metalheads —  by noting on the event’s Twitter site that there’s “no discrimination” against seniors ... “because you’re never too old to rock.”

The two were escorted back to their nursing home.

Tull's song, however, doesn't have the same happy ending:

So the old Rocker gets out his bike
to make a ton before he takes his leave.
Up on the A1 by Scotch Corner
just like it used to be.
And as he flies --- tears in his eyes ---
his wind-whipped words echo the final take
and he hits the trunk road doing around 120
with no room left to brake.

And he was too old to Rock'n'Roll but he was too young to die.
No, you're never too old to Rock'n'Roll if you're too young to die.

Carpe diem Life,
Have a great weekend,
David Kuhn

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

The Secret of Projects

Started a new project yesterday (phase two of three of the "built-in" cabinets for my older daughter.

You'd think that the second one would go easier than the first since I've already worked out all the bugs.  But it isn't.  I often find the beginning easy because of the anticipation of something great and the end easy because I'm just thankful to get it finished.  It's the middle that I often muddle through.

I was thinking of the muddle through part when I read this:

Adopt the pace of nature:  her secret is patience.  --- Ralph Waldo Emerson


Question: I am the beginning of the end, the end of life, patience and of every place. I am the beginning of eternity, the end of time and space. What am I?

Carpe diem Life,
David Kuhn

Tuesday, August 7, 2018


Ran across an unusual work (at least for me) today day:  Ruck.

"Nature is chaos.  Humanity is a ruck.  The ruck is the medium of kings." -- Robert Frost

The definition of ruck is
1 a : the usual run of persons or things : generality
b : an indistinguishable gathering: jumble
2 : the persons or things following the vanguard

So, I guess you can say that the word "ruck" rose about the usual run of words that I normally associate myself with.  Ruck, then, rose above the ruck.

Turns out that the word also has something to do with the sport of rugby, and folding or wrinkling things, and to fight, as in a ruckus.  Austrilian Football even has a position called a ruckman, said to be one of the most important players on the field.

The Carpe diem Life lesson today:  Be a ruckman and rise above the ruck!

Or, in cruder terms, go ruck yourself.

Carpe diem Life,
David Kuhn

Friday, August 3, 2018

Let him compose . . .

Robert Frost (American poet. March 26, 1874 - January 29, 1963) kept notebooks from the 1890s to the 1960s. More than forty of them survive, providing what has been described by some as a jumbled map of Frost’s fields of mental play.

"Fields of mental play."  I like that.

Frost writing to a friend, “I have written to keep the curious out of the secret places of my mind.” 

I guess that's one reason I've always kept journals:  To jot down the scribbles and doodles of thoughts swirling in my mind on paper or electronically.  A way to let the dross rise to the surface to be skimmed off.

Frost, again:  "It's always as transitional as rolling clouds where a figure never quite takes shape before it begins to be another figure."

And, it's not just writing.  It's the one man or woman working in a medium of paint or wood or iron or music. 

Nothing composes the mind like composition.

What are you meant to compose?

Have a great weekend.

Carpe diem Life,
David Kuhn

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Werewolves? No, but . . .

Looking out the window into our backyard (our neighbor's backyard, to be more exact), I was reminded of our trip to Great Britain many years ago. . .

One of the most memorable things I saw in England wasn't a castle (though we certainly saw our fair share), grave sites (including Henry the VIII and Churchill's), or even Stonehenge.  It was parakeets!
Seems that Great Britain as a feral parakeet problem.  "Feral parakeets" -- sort of sounds like something Mony Python would come up with.  But, it is a fact.  The origins of these birds are subject to speculation, but they are generally thought to have bred from birds that escaped from captivity.

According to my friends at Wikipedia (you can make fun of them, but they do provide sources), there are many published accounts of how the parakeets escaped, including:

* Parakeets escaped from the branch of Ealing Studios used for the filming of The African Queen — Isleworth Studios — in 1951
* Parakeets escaped from damaged aviaries during the Great Storm of 1987
* And my favorite: A pair were released by Jimi Hendrix in Carnaby Street, London, in the 1960s

So, I don't know if there are, in fact, werewolves in London, but I do know that there are wild and exotic parakeets.  As far as my neighbor's backyard?  At the birdfeeder this morning was brilliant red cardinals along with always exotic (to me at least) yellow and black goldfinches.  Not exactly parakeets, but a beautiful sight to start the day.   And, I didn't even need to travel to London!

Carpe diem Life,
David Kuhn

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Nailed it!

Took some time out yesterday to volunteer at one of my all-time favorite local museums:  The Lincoln Pioneer Village in Rockport, Indiana.  If you haven't been there, it's worth the trip. 

Jim, a fellow historical reenactor, and I went to deliver some homemade beeswax candles and to hang a few things around the cabins there -- using period-correct nails. 

(Nails.  Such a simple thing, really.  Been around a long time. Nails in their crudest form date back to 3000 B.C. The Romans hand-forged them and they have been found in excavations and sunken ships from the period 500 A.D.)

Back to "1816" and the Pioneer Village. I brought them some nails.  Not just any nails, but some of my Tremont Nails. 

Tremont Nail Company is the oldest nail company in the United State.  In fact, it's one of the oldest companies in the United States.  They operate out of an original building that was constructed by shipwrights in the early 1800's as a cotton mill. It was partially burned by the British in the War of 1812, then rebuilt and purchased by Isaac and Jared Pratt in 1819 to manufacture nails.  There are 60 nail machines in the mill, many over 125 years old, still cutting nails today the same way they did a long ago.

Hard to imagine that a company producing something as simple as a nail would be one of the oldest companies operating in the United States.  Especially since there are more advanced ways to fasten things (i.e. screws).  

But, there Tremont is.  A quality product that fulfills a need.  Excellent customer service. 

Seize -- and nail -- the day,
David Kuhn