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Haunting Beauty

departuresOccasionally a movie and its music are so welled matched that that the combination slips toward magical dimensions. I found that kind of enchantment with the Japanese movie Departures. The movie is a portrayal of treatment of the just-dead, done in such a way that you might find touching and thought provoking. There’s very little dying in the movie; the supporting characters have mostly passed that point.

A side effect of the movie was that I gained a new appreciation for the cello. Sometimes a melody resonates so vibrantly in your brain that it keeps transporting you. To somewhere. Else.

It’s probably best to see the movie first (Netflix currently works; consult youngsters for other ways to find it) before the music, but hopefully sampling the a  piece or two won’t ruin anything. Miraculously enough, the songs don’t seem readily available on iTunes at this point. But YouTube can take care of that, as those youngsters can tell (and show) you. (#18 and #19 are my favorites)

Sweet Dreams

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Something one can quickly notice when reading about Jesus: he, his contemporaries, and even his ancient predecessors had a lot of names and descriptions for him. Here’s a sampling of some 125 or so, though this list isn’t comprehensive. Some are the things he called himself (like “the Good Shepherd”), or those his followers used (“King Eternal”) or those proposed years in advance (“Prince of Peace”). Altogether it’s quite a set. When you get this kind of attention, there’s usually a good reason. Click (or tap) on the picture for a larger version, and find your favorite.

Jesus Names

At the least, exploring this set gives some idea of his impact. My favorite probably changes over time, but the “I Am” was a profound one that Jesus used of himself (see John 8). In that time and to that audience, a non-crazy person would know this was nearly a complete blasphemy (equating himself with the voice in Moses’ burning bush episode) if not true. And thus the crowd quickly but unsuccessfully opted to try stoning him to death.

For those who are into the details, and you’d have to really want it, here are the Biblical references to the various names. In small print just to make you work for it. The names are from the King James (KJV) and/or New International (NIV) translations, with one from World English Bible (WEB) just to mix it up.

—————–
Eternal Life – 1 John 1:2, The Power of God – 1 Cor 1:24, Son of the Living God – Matt 16:16, Chief Corner Stone – 1 Pet 2:6, The Greater Temple – Matt 12:6, Heir of All Things – Rev 1:2, Man out of Heaven – 1 Cor 15:47, Consolation of Israel – Luke 2:25, Ancient of Days – Dan 7:9, The Great Light – Matt 4:16, The Sign – Matt 12:38, Living Water – John 7:37-39, Good Shepherd – John 10:11, Emmanuel – Matt 1:23, Word of Life – 1 John 1:1, The Door – John 10:7, Glory of Israel – Luke 2:32, High Priest – Heb 2:17, Messenger – Mal 3:1, Son of David – Matt 1:1, Teacher – John 3:2, Wonderful Counselor – Is 9:6, Dayspring – Luke 1:78, Creator – Col 1:16-17, Son of Man – Matt 9:6, Helper – Heb 13:6, Beginning and the End – Rev 21:6, The True Vine – John 15:1, Savior of the World – 1 John 4:14, Wisdom of God – 1 Cor 1:24, Everlasting Father – Is 9:6, Passover – 1 Cor 5:7, Brother – John 20:17, Master – Matt 23:10, Only Begotten of the Father – John 1:14, Redeemer – Is 49:26, Prince of Life – Acts 3:15, The Great Prophet – Luke 7:16, Physician – Mark 2:17, King of Kings – Rev 17:14, God over all – Rom 9:5, Our Life – Col 3:4, Our Hope – 1 Tim 1:1, Sun of Righteousness – Mal 4:2, The Eternal – 1 Tim 1:17, Son of God – John 5:25, The Great God – Titus 2:13, The I Am – John 8:58, Lord – John 13:13, Prince of Peace – Is 9:6, Alpha and Omega – Rev 1:8, Commander – Is 55:4, Lord and Savior – 2 Pet 3:2, Righteousness – 1 Cor 15:45, Precious – 1 Peter 2:6, Servant – Matt 12:18, Jesus – Matt 1:21, Savior – Luke 2:11, Righteous Judge – 2 Tim 4:8, Anointed One – Ps 2:2, Friend – Luke 7:34, Life-Giving Spirit – 1 Cor 15:45, Word of God – Rev 19:13, Great High Priest – Heb 4:14, Image of the Invisible God – Col 1:15, Our Peace – Eph 2:14, Ordained – Acts 17:31, Blessed Hope – Titus 2:13, Lamb of God – John 1:29, Head of the Church – Eph 5:23, Light of the World – John 8:12, Holy One – Acts 2:27, The Living One – Rev 1:18, Salvation – Is 62:11, The Way – John 14:6, Lord of All – Acts 10:36, Exalted above the Heavens – Heb 7:26, The Immortal – 1 Tim 1:17, Firstborn of Creation – Col 1:15, Mediator – 1 Tim 2:5, Firstborn from among the Dead – Col 1:18, The Christ – Matt 16:20, The Mystery of God – Col 2:2, Bread of Life – John 6:35, Faithful Witness – Rev 1:5, The Beloved – Matt 12:18, Truth – John 14:6, Fragrant Offering – Eph 5:2, Comforter – John 14:16-18, God Blessed for ever – Rom 9:5, Wisdom – 1 Cor 1:30, Lord of Glory – 1 Cor 2:8, Deliverer – Rom 11:26, The One and Only Son – John 1:18, Lord of Lords – Rev 17:14, Approved by God – Acts 2:22, The Almighty – Rev 1:8, Messiah – Dan 9:26, Rewarder – Rev 22:12, Son of Abraham – Matt 1:1, Head over all – Eph 1:22, The Grain of Wheat – John 12:24, King Eternal – 1 Tim 1:17, The Last Adam – 1 Cor 15:45, Manna – John 6:48-51, Judge of the Living and the Dead – Acts 10:42, Author and Perfecter of Faith – Heb 12:2, Lion of Judah – Rev 5:5, Desire of the Nations – Hag 2:7, Perfect – Heb 2:10, Fulness of the Godhead – Col 2:9, God Revealed in the Flesh – 1 Tim 3:16, Bright and Morning Star – Rev 22:16, The All in All – Col 3:11, The Resurrection – John 11:25, The Mighty God – Is 9:6, Author of Eternal Salvation – Heb 5:9, The True God – 1 John 5:20, The Amen – Rev 3:14, Prince and Savior – Acts 5:31, A Light of Revelation – Luke 2:32

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Special non-photoshopped moment: a sighting of a ice-duck swimming in my water. This is disturbing and needs an explanation. Is this an anomaly from the nearby convergence zone, or could it have something to do with ducks-and-aliens? Or … something worse? Click on the picture for a close-up.

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Running: 50 days and 50 nights

Actually that title should be 50 days or 50 nights. For the last 50 days I’ve run at least 2 miles each day, and up to 6 on more ambitious days. Some of those have occurred with the sun up, some in the evening, and at least once I started after 11 p.m.

This bad habit started on a lark after reading an article about a guy who’s run at least a mile daily, for 40 years. That kind of achievement takes a certain obsession. As one of the handful of folks in the 40 year club puts it, “What we’re doing is not a mark of intelligence.”

Run #50 was a 5k run on the course where my son had just finished his cross country season. I ran and won the self-declared “open race” at the end of the day. No one else got the message, which is why I won (I led “wire to wire”). Unfortunately I fell 6 seconds short of my target, finishing in 25:05. Now I can spend a long time agonizing about how I could have picked up a few seconds here and there.

Here’s a short photo-highlights of my running journey, as seen through the eyes of my shoes. The runs usually start with this rather sharp uphill, which I always walk.

Once that’s over, the run begins. The number of routes available keeps increasing. But most of them take me past a retirement home, which posts daily advertisements. Another sign boasts that this place (off to the right of the photo) has the best food in town. Well, among retirement homes.

Sometimes I treat myself to the Lake Hills Connector — currently the longest uphill on any of my routes. The location in the next picture occurs after a steady uphill, which turns to this despairing view. But don’t worry, around the corner to the right up at the top … is more uphill! The upside, of course, is that what goes up gets to then run down. For the survivors.

Finally, here’s another fun hill on a different route. In addition to the rough terrain on the narrow path, there is that barrier to avoid bumping into while working around the occasional creeping blackberry plant crossing the path. And the sudden drop-offs that open up occasionally, a couple feet to the left of the path. There’s a major cross-country freeway just off to the right of the photo.

Well, every day on this streak is a new personal world record for those of us who set easy-to-achieve personal records and then make them sound dramatic. I don’t know if I can handle much more of that drama. Maybe 50 is enough?

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Here’s an interesting story from the 9/11 event: pilots scrambled on a suicide mission to stop the suicide pilots on Flight 93. Go HERE. In the fog of war, it’s hard to tell for certain the truth of stories like this. But it’s one that I’d want to be true.

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A previous post on Pi Day introduced the all-syllable rhyming story, in which only single-syllable words are used and all rhyme with each other. And with Pi, in that case.

Now for the next installment. Since Pi rhymes with ‘I’, that first rhyme-story leveraged the first-person singular ‘I’ while also taking advantage of the somewhat archaic second-person ‘Thy.’ This new rhyme-story moves on to the second-person pronoun ‘You’ and the many single-syllable words that rhyme with it.

You can read the rules in that previous post, but here are a few additions to the rules.

8. The Y-diphthong words (you, few, skew …) are considered to rhyme with the non-Y-dipthongs (to, drew, flu …).

9. Hyphenated terms like “boo-hoo” are barely allowed, as it’s an alternate spelling of “boohoo”. Two syllable non-hyphenated words are not yet allowed.

10. The noise-slang “ooh” is allowed here since it snuck into the dictionary with the right pronunciation.

11. Convenient British-English words like ‘loo’ are allowed as they do not throw too big of a spanner into the works.

OK, here we go. This story involves identical twins Lew and Lou, who (like their Pi Day friends Cy and Ty) are not strong in all aspects of grammar.

Lou, You too blue.

Flu, Lew. Spew goo.

Ooh.

You grew?

Few.

You brew stew, to flue?

True. Moo stew.

Who knew you flew to zoo?

Blue crew knew.

Who slew zoo shrew?

Clue: Drew, due to glue.

You rue?

True. Boo-hoo.

You sue Drew?

Too true. Drew slew ewe too.

Crew hew through blue-hue yew queue, do two new pew.

Who screw shoe to pew?

Sue. Gnu chew through shoe.

Stu threw gnu to slough?

True. Gnu blew slough dew.

Whew. Cue Hugh: Slough loo spew poo.

Ooh. Hugh, Sue … ?

True. Sue mew to woo Hugh.

Sue drew new view, skew hue.

True. Hugh coo-coo.

Crew hew through blue-hue yew queue, do two new pew

Key statistics: 109 rhyming syllables, 62 different words (includes 6 names). There are a couple of unused leftovers for you to add, like “strew” and “slue.”

I’m trying to figure out if there is a name for this exciting genre of all-syllable rhymes. If you know, pass on the word. Otherwise I’m going to have to invent a term. This fine word art cannot remain uncategorized for long.

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Some random notes from a recent trip (#10) to India:

Traffic Pecking Order
I think I have the traffic pecking order mostly figured out. Those lower on the list have to watch out for those higher up:

Cows
Large Trucks
Bus
Large cars
Small cars
Two-wheeler (motorcycle, may be loaded with up to 6 people)
Person pushing large cart
Auto-rickshaw
Bicycle
Person or dog

If I got this wrong, please let me know. Traffic is very dynamic there so it’s hard to figure this out with precision. Pedestrians really have to watch out for themselves; I’ve only been stuck in the middle of a busy road there once.

Seat Blocking

Here’s a lucrative way to make some money for top graduate students. India generally lacks a single standard test for graduate or professional schools, like the GRE. So there are various tests in different areas to qualify for local schools. The competition for these seats can be intense. Typically the school is required to make a certain number available to top performers (at normal costs). After that, open seats can be sold to the highest bidder at significant costs, like $100k (50 lakh) or more.

So, a student that manages to score well on multiple tests may get seats granted to them at more than one school. This is where it gets interesting. If a student is already accepted to a school they want to attend, they may be contacted by an “agent” about applying for seats at other schools. This is done with the intent to eventually abandon the seat for a fee, which can be on the order of $20,000 (USD). When this happens, the seat returns to the university who can then sell it for the lucrative price.

This led to some (“vociferous”) protests by students denied seats because others were doing the seat blocking. Read about this fun money-making venture here.

Slumdog Volleyball Player?

One of the more bizarre stories just hitting the papers when I was there involved a (supposedly) good woman volleyball player who was (supposedly) thrown from a train by some robbers, resulting (really) in an amputation of the lower half of one of her legs, due to being (supposedly) run over by another train.

While I was there, the story had only developed to where the government first offered about $500 which she soundly rejected. Then she was offered a job in the railways — possibly a secure long-term job.

I know this is probably bad of me, but at the time I couldn’t help think of the Slumdog Millionaire movie and the scenes of the disgusting practice of disfiguring kids so that they could more profitably beg for money. I (supposedly) only fleetingly thought that this was a remote possibility. Even assuming the story was as originally reported, the follow-up practice of offering a good job to the victim sounded like a nice gesture but possibly dangerous precedent. It reminded me of Terry Pratchett’s Color of Magic (see this post) where a massive fire breaks out after a stranger introduces fire insurance to a city filled with eager-to-be-financed citizens.

Anyway, recent developments motivated the “supposedly” comments above. It seems that there are now questions about whether she was really a good volleyballer, and whether she was really pushed off the train or possibly attempted suicide, among other possibilities. This has led her, not surprisingly, to be somewhat stressed.

In any case, this is a sorry tale for her. Here are some of the stories: This, this and this for example.

Corruption

There were a normal number of stories of government corruption, so that was comforting. Some things are common to mankind. I liked the story about one politician accused of giving away calendars and money to voters at the election. Other tried blenders. Any politician worth being elected should immediately figure out what’s going on and send in the team to siphon money off the competition.

High Technology Everywhere

This one’s always worth repeating: in this land driven by hardware and software technology, it’s nice to see that the bathroom appliance manufacturer is named Hindware.

Newlyweds

On the flight back, in the London-to-Seattle leg, I sat next to a friendly young Microsoft employee. He was a native of India, and had just been on 3-4 weeks of vacation there. Quiz time: Why did he go there? (A) To meet his new bride-to-be, (B) to marry her, (C) to bring her back — to a foreign country to her, or of course (D) all of the above.

This quick match-making meet-and-marry process led to some interesting discussions with my wife, and also with friends who are an Indian couple. Lot of diverse views from all sides on that. The western romance-model has an appealing side along with some well documented flaws. Who’s up for the semi-arranged marriage, and what would it take for you to go for something along those lines? Feel free to comment.

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