Friday, August 30, 2002


at last
my love
a home
with weeping willows

endlessly comforting
hug of leafy green
hegemony of harmony

Monday, August 26, 2002

Let's see, where can I begin.

Ahh, yes. I found myself in Orange County about a week ago (psst, that's the big area south of LA...). I was hanging around with some friends in Anaheim. As the night wore on, the discussion turned to how we spend our evenings, what one does to "pick up chicks," the possibility of a Vietnam-like quagmire in the Middle East, etc., you know, what guys talk about on a Thursday evening when there's nothing better to do but watch golf re-broadcasts on the tube. And I don't even like golf that much.

Finding my answers to most questions way "out of touch" with modern thinking, they gave me some homework to make me a better man. This of course involves watching a lot of television. My assignment is to watch shows which pander to such a low common denominator, that I can't but help walk away with a better understanding of American culture. The list includes mostly "reality-tv" shows, that current trend that as far as I know is anything but real. Big Brother, Blind Date and the charmingly named Elimidate are the only ones I can recall right now. I think I was also told to watch some Vin Diesel movie or other, oh and totally avoid Keanu Reeves flicks.

My friends know that I don't own a television, so I don't know what they expect me to do. I mean, there are other things I'd rather do than watch tv. Plus, those dang things and the cable service that you've gotta buy can get expensive. I mean, that's a lot of microwave burritos!

I don't particularly care to watch dating shows anyway. What sadist thought of this concept? This is taking a difficult situation and just making it worse. You've got two people who are being encouraged to make snap judgements on one another or be as raunchy and forward as they can, and all for the purpose of entertainment. I weep for the future.

By the way, just because I don't own a television doesn't mean that I never come across one. A couple of years ago, I saw an episode of Blind Date when my sister and I were visiting my friend Sid in the Bay Area. I'd never seen such a concept before. Sid seemed to like it, but my sister and I had a lesser opinion of the whole thing. We found it to be a real triumph of the human spirit, if you get my meaning.

Back to Anaheim,...oh hey, I like that phrase-- Back to Anaheim, the Shane Ross Story-- anyway, we got to playing poker, and fortunately no one got upset and started throwing furniture across the room, getting dangerously close to hitting the Velvet Elvis. Fortunately. And I woulda won the game too, if I hadn't been "all in" on a bluff. But Casino's gotta take risks sometimes.

In conclusion, it was all good. As can sometimes happen, the evening made a turn for the wacky and then proceeded to get quite downright nutty.

You never know what you might reveal when you peak behind the Orange Curtain.

shane ross didn't lie much recently, but when
he did, he did it for effect!

Monday, August 19, 2002

Hey, if any of you put the Strokes cd in my mailbox some months ago, please step forward. I love it! The Strokes may be poised to save rock 'n' roll-- a claim I once reserved for Guns 'n' Roses, but they have yet to make good on that claim.

The Strokes remind me a bit of Weezer, a band I've like since the early 90s. Has anyone heard Weezer's last few albums? I've heard rumors that they're good.

Which reminds me of the summer of 1995. I was way into Weezer and Live, so I went to see both in concert. I saw Live at Irvine Meadows, the only time I've ever been there. It was okay. I like outdoor venues. Weezer I saw at Univseral City. My friends and I were among the oldest ones there at age 19! The lead singer had hurt his leg, but he came out on crutches and sang anyway. It was a real triumph of the human spirit.

shane ross probably lied in the past few days,
but he doesn't remember

Thursday, August 15, 2002

What is truth, trust, perception?
Is what is meant real?
Or what is perceived?

Naivete becometh injury when
the world's full of enemies.

For which of my good deeds
do you now stone me?
For which of my atrocities
do you now crown me king?

A kind word turns away wrath.
Unbridled honesty does not.

shane ross lied 4 times yesterday,
mostly about numbers

Wednesday, August 14, 2002

I had the strangest dreams last night. Or at least I was hoping they were only dreams-- they intertwined with reality to an alarming extent. It started with a dream about a large two story house where I was living with some large, loud extended family that wasn't my own. In the dream we were scared of an intruder breaking into the house, and at the same time I was drifting into and out of the sleep state in real life. And I remember feeeling actually afraid that an intruder was in my room at my apartment. I thought that if I woke up fully and looked around, someone would be standing there, watching.

But I never did, so who knows. It's been so long since I've been afraid of an intruder... strange.

Last week I made it back from Monterey, slowly making my way to everyone's favorite constellation of plastic (L.A.) on Pacific Coast Highway. Along the path, I stopped in San Luis Obispo and Pismo Beach. Rumor has it I unwittingly risked having an ecnounter with Other Shane, at which time the universe would have ceased to exist, as judgement was meted out and all the elemental powers of the universe burned up in a final fit of divine rage. But this, as it appears, has not happened.

On Saturday morning, I walked into my living room only to find my friend Kurt sleeping there on the couch. He suggested we go hiking for several miles in some wilderness nearby where the mountains are so rugged that few dare attempt them. Instead, we wimped out and ate some breakfast and finally went to some much less fearsome terrain, a mountain known as Strawberry Peak where the local villagers wear pink and live in huts and skip to work. Well, not really-- I'm not sure if they actually wear pink. Anyway, we started up this mountain and I noticed the sun was very hot and I had to drink a lot of water. After just a few mintues without water, my mouth would feel dry, my arms would get goosebumps, and things would feel "funny." Kurt experienced the same.

As we neared the top, we forgot where the mountain was and so turned back. As we reached a shady resting spot, we passed a shady guy, and then a normal guy. The normal guy ran up to us and said, "Oh my gosh, I'm glad I found you guys. There's this shady guy following me and I think he may be dangerous." I recalled that the shady guy hadn't said hello or anything as Kurt and I had passed him. He was wearing thick, long-sleeve denim (!), some aviator sunglasses, and a thick pair of leather gloves. So he either intended to pull weeds or kill someone. So the scared, normal guy-- I think his name was John-- joined us as we headed back to the foot of the trail. He didn't want to be alone. He kept saying, "I've learned my lesson-- I'm never hiking alone again!" I told him I had hiked for forty days and forty nights alone in the Cascades, without incident with man or beast. But I also had a mighty ice axe and I knew how to wield it. In fact, I may have worn denim and gloves, mumbling under my breath, as I usually did, something about my atavistic fondness for hunting unsuspecting prey. Hmm... I hope I didn't scare anyone back then.

Which reminds me of something insightful which Matt said last night at our weekly meeting. He said that God is not primarily concerned with our temporal comfort. And I mused that we many times are primarily concerned our temporal comfort and even project this on to God in our prayers, as if that's what he really wants for us. As Matt said, and I think most ministers of the faith would concede, God is concerned with our becoming more Christ-like.

Many times this requires suffering. It's just a fact of human nature that when comforts are satisfied, we can become highly complacent. In such a state, we are not likely to grow. But when crisis comes, then we turn to God and that's when he can form us into the character of his Son. So pray not for comfort. Pray for Christ-likeness, pray for opportunities to love and sacrifice for others, considering others before yourself, and considering the Kingdom of God and His approval, before your own comfort and man's approval.

Amen? Yes, amen.

Thursday, August 08, 2002

I haven't much time. I'm at a coffeehouse in Monterey, California called Bay Books Coffeehouse. The entire past week, I've been at a conference regarding the engineering aspects of aerospace. It's an AIAA/AAS conference for academics and working engineers (American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics / American Astronomical Society). There are a lot of people from NASA and aerospace departments (about 1000 participants) and I don't know more than a handful.

On Sunday night, there was a pre-conference party at a Texas A&M professor's house in Pebble Beach. It was right on the golf course nest to the beach and there were tons of tame deer wandering about. The sunset was gorgeous.

There were several people from Texas A&M there and they asked me to go out there and give a talk on my research sometime. I think they are considering me as a future faculty member. I still have a little less than two more years before I get my PhD, but it's good to know I have some prospects in the academic world.

Like I said, I didn't know too many people at the conference. On Monday night, this Christian professor Mark invited me to dinner with a bunch of his Jewish friends, many of whom he met in Israel while on sabbatical. It was very cool meeting everyone there. We ate many loaves and a few fishes.

Well, today I have another day in Monterey but no conference. So I'm gonna go to the beach and hang out...

Friday, August 02, 2002

I've been thinking about lies recently. And come on, we all tell lies.
Perhaps several a day. Maybe even unconsciously. And it goes without
saying that this is not a good situation.

When we lie, we fight reality, and we deceive others. Even though a lie
may seem a convenient thing to do in the heat of the moment, I believe
most of the time it is the wrong thing to do. As a Christian, I
don't rely on my own ideas about what is right or wrong (e.g., the phrase
"that's true for you" makes no sense to my thinking), but upon the words
of Christ and his followers.

The Christian tradition is very definite about the evil of lying. Parents
teach their children never to tell a lie, and then the "never" is
attenuated by the everyday "white lies" that are deemed necessary to
getting along, and by exquisitely complicated discussions of "quandary
ethics" at the margins of life's extremities. (For instance: If you were
hiding Jews in your house, would you tell the truth to a Nazi Jew-killer
who asked if there are any Jews in your house? There is, I believe, a
convincing answer, but that is for another day.) I confess to having told
my share of fibs, but with each passing year I have become more convinced
that to tell a lie, any lie, is to besmirch reality.

What is true need not always be told and sometimes, as in the case of
confidences, should not be told. But to lie is to soil and make
ugly the order of truth, which is beautiful. It is to make the world more
unreliable; it is to sin against words, and words bear the structure of
trust on which all life depends -- penultimately life with one another,
and ultimately life with God. One lie, every lie, wounds the world.

Thursday, August 01, 2002

That wickedly keen social observer David Brooks has this in the
Atlantic Monthly and it caught my attention

"The New Age quest is for those who have a bias toward self-discovery
techniques that are performed while barefoot. It suits men who believe
that everyday life is full of trivial distractions and who want to
discover inner joys and deep harmonies, which can then be used as fodder
for self-adoring monologues before captive dinner-party audiences. The
quest usually starts with a few afternoons in the spirituality section of
the local bookstore. Several months of journal keeping, bread making,
yoga classes, and suburban Buddhist epiphanies follow. Pretty soon Hermann
Hesse novels begin to seem intelligent; the garage has been transformed
into a pottery studio; the days start with chants to Eos, Goddess of the
Dawn; and it seems like a good idea to grow a ponytail on the back of your
head even though there's no hair left on top. This spiritual mid-life
crisis is the near exclusive province of a certain kind of soft-spoken,
upscale Democrat."

That's very nice, although I know some Republicans and a great many
Independents (as in the herd of independent minds) who fit the picture.