Friday, November 27, 2009

Grapevines as Metaphor for Life Development

There can be no denying that the vine reacts in a similar way to humans in relation to performance: the best results are obtained when subjected to a certain degree of stress. The idle and cosseted person merely gets fat and rarely produces anything of interest and, similarly, the vine in rich soil yields much foliage and fat grapes, which produce dull wine. In well-drained poor soil the vine is forced to develop a large root system which penetrates deep into the sub-soil in search of moisture and nutrition, and in so doing it picks up an abundance of minerals that find their way into the grapes.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Where Do We Go From Here?

...The Words Are Coming Out All Weird.
Where Are You Now That I Need You?

(from Radiohead...if you didn't know)

I think this is a huge question facing most people (especially those living in post-modern societies) today. It might be a question that defines so many of our divides and poses the greatest anxiety we, the emerging world, generally feel.

Most of us can see that we're in a mess of some sort. We can all acknowledge that there is pain, hardship, unfairness, inequality and other such things in our world. We can look back and say that some of the decisions we made collectively and personally have led to this point...whether we point the finger out or in. And most of us do both on some level.

But where do we go from here? How do we "get out of this mess" if we can agree that we are in one? Even if you don't think things are so bad, you still would agree that the questions How do we continue? How do we progress? are crucial questions.

There are, of course, several answers to these questions. Trillions upon trillions of paths and possibilities, both personal and communal.

The answer to Where? often comes with a corresponding Says Who? (sometimes cleverly disguised as Why?). And there might also be the corresponding contextual question In what situation?. This is important to recognize. Authority is the issue I was attempting to wrestle with in my There Is No King post. I understand that I was, in some ways, suggesting a new locus of authority that made some folks very uncomfortable.

Months back I posted that I believed that values are arbitrary and contextual. I was trying to address the ideas that we have about the Out There. I'd like to quote from one of my favorite books, Oh, The Places You'll Go,

The Waiting Place…for people just waiting.

Waiting for a train to go or a bus to come, or a plane to go or the mail to come, or the rain to go or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow or waiting around for a Yes or No or waiting for their hair to grow. Everyone is just waiting.

Waiting for the fish to bite or waiting for wind to fly a kite or waiting around for Friday night or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake or a pot to boil, or a Better Break or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants or a wig with curls, or Another Chance. Everyone is just waiting.

No! That’s not for you!
Somehow you’ll escape all that waiting and staying. You’ll find the bright places where Boom Bands are playing. With banner flip-flapping, once more you’ll ride high! Ready for anything under the sky. Ready because you’re that kind of a guy!

It's no big leap to assume that most of us are waiting on something/someone. And by waiting, I mean yielding authority to, waiting for the Out There to take us somewhere. Where Are You Now That I Need You?, the lyrics say. I need You.

Is there any way to pull ourselves away for some sort of objectivism on this matter? Can we observe why we choose to do what we do? I mean, really why. Not "because it says..." or "because he...". And why do we respond the way we respond? Why do we feel aligned with certain ideas or groups? Where does our hurt truly comes from? Why do we so badly need the Out There?

Listen, I'm not suggesting that we have to give up our Out There, whether it be a religious tradition, political party, neighborhood ethic, family story, whatever. I'm just saying we should call it for what it is and recognize that we choose it on some level. We are the givers of meaning. We give authority to the story, asking that it give us meaning back. But the real authority is right here.

So where do we go from here? I hardly know. Well, I have some ideas, but those forms aren't nearly as important to me as how we interact with forms, these inevitable disposable forms.

On we trudge/gallop/run/glide/dance/breathe.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


It was great to have Adam and Robyn join us this weekend up here in Portland. It was a weekend filled with yummy food (both in and out), cellared wine, and great conversation.

The weather was damn near perfect: Cold and crisp, bright and clear.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Mind and Health

I'm continuing to read Tolle's A NEW EARTH. And it continues to hit me right where I'm at. It reminds me a good deal of what Friedmann said in A FAILURE OF NERVE and what DeMello is talking about in AWARENESS.

I just began the chapter that deals with emotions and the mind, and I thought I'd share a bit from the book...

Although the body is very intelligent, it cannot tell the difference between an actual situation and a thought. It reacts to every thought as if it were a reality. It doesn't know it is just a thought. To the body, a worrisome, fearful thought means "I am in danger," and it responds accordingly, even though you might be lying in a warm and comfortable bed at night. The heart beats faster, muscles contract, breathing becomes rapid. There is a buildup of energy, but since the danger is only a mental fiction, the energy has no outlet. Part of it is fed back to the mind and generates even more anxious thought. The rest of the energy turns toxic and interferes with the harmonious functioning of the body.

[We] are beginning to recognize the connection between negative emotional states and physical disease. An emotion that does harm to the body also infects the people you come into contact with and indirectly, through a process of chain reaction, countless others you never meet.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Well There It Is

Unbelievably smart and sad to me...

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Get your Groupon

If you live in one of these cities...

...then please sign up for Groupon. It's a killer deal where you buy "coupons" with scores of other folks. Like paying $15 for a $35 gift card to your favorite restaurant in town. And it's a different Groupon for sale each day.

And if you sign up below, it gets me a small kickback, so what are you waiting for? It costs nothing to sign up!

So seriously, sign up.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Remy Sharp!

Arriving in at 9.5 lbs at 4:04am today.

Follow him at...

Friday, November 06, 2009

Oregonian Vino

Dan and I had the chance to do some tasting at the Southern Oregon Wine Association's "gala" last Sunday. It was a nice chance to meet some winemakers and try some local-ish wines...and all for free because I sorta "won" the tickets.

Most people don't realize that Oregon isn't just home to world-class Pinot Noir. In fact, southern Oregon is better suited (as is eastern Washington) to warm-climate grapes like the great Bordeaux varietals and some of California's favorites like Zin and Syrah as well.

Below is the review I wrote. It's mirrored here on the Oregon Wine Blog. Enjoy...

Last Sunday was the perfect day for tasting the wines of Southern Oregon. The rain let up for a bit, making the crossing of the river from SE to SW beautiful and clear. It's a wonderful thing to taste wine from southern Oregon...and even more wonderful when it's brought to my town.

We entered the Governor Hotel and quickly assessed that we were the only 2 people under age 40. Not that there's anything wrong with people 40 and over, but I am constantly amazed at the lack of under-40-ers that show up to these things. All my friends drink wine, and they're mostly in their 20s and 30s. Hmm.

We picked up the tasting guide, surveyed the room, and chose the wineries we'd taste from. It seemed that spending time with just a handful of the wineries present allowed us to actually hear a bit about the different winemaking decisions, vineyard practices, and visions for each bottle of wine poured.

It was enlightening. And discouraging. All at the same time.

Parts of southern Oregon seem quite suitable for Rhone varietals, so many folks had planted Syrah and Viognier. One winery had also planted Marsanne and Rousanne. There were the usual suspects as well...Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, and Tempranillo. And there were some slightly more obscure varietals like Petit Sirah (obscure for Oregon), Cab Franc, Albariño, and Dolcetto.

Misty Oaks '07 Cabernet Franc was a solid and inky. They were pouring it, but not selling it. D'oh!

Agate Ridge served up a nice, smoky '06 Syrah. It had a very sweet nose, perhaps from the barrel. Nice medium body and delicate finish. Their whites (Viognier and Marsanne/Rousanne) were reminiscent of the buttery Chardonnays that I don't particularly care for. It probably had a bit to do their barrel-fermentation and the grapes general lack of acid.

Folin Cellars poured out of bottles with glass stoppers. It was fun to get an earful about cork taint! Their '06 Estate Tempranillo was yummy. Nice structure, tons of tannis to stick to your teeth, not as acidic as many Tempranillos. I bet you could cellar this for a few years and find yourself with a gem of a wine!

The '04 Pinot Noir from Henry Estate Winery was dead-on cherry cola. A little vanilla and black pepper as well. Probably our favorite Pinot for the event. The years in the bottle had really allowed the wine to soften and settle. Quite a treat at $30!

Spangler Vineyard's Petit Sirah is always solid. The '06 (which they were out of) blew us away in the past. It was nice to get acquainted with their '07. Lots of white pepper and a surprising amount of fruit for this varietal.

The Dolcetto from Palotai Vineyard & Winery was light and spicy. I bet it'll be a hot commodity for Thanksgiving this year.

Pebblestone Cellars seemed to be the only winery represented using Viognier in their Syrah. The co-ferment the dark Syrah with about 3% Viognier to make the color even richer. The complexity of the color compounds increases when these ferment together. This is an old French secret.

But the big surprise was the Giradet Wine Cellars' Baco Noir. Never heard of it? Neither had we. Full of bacon fat (hold the grease) and blueberry jam, with a long, chocolaty finish, this was my wine of choice. Apparently they smuggled this hybrid grape in years back. And they seem to be the only vineyard growing it in Oregon.

All in all, it was a fun time. I'm excited to see how these wineries and vineyards continue to evolve and experiment. I remember one winemaker saying, "Yah, we tried this or that idea a few years back and then tweaked it the following year." I like hearing stuff like that. People who are still up for some risk-taking, even if it means creating something less-than for one vintage. It keeps things interesting!

Monday, November 02, 2009

Enneagram Type 3

Well, while I don't want to limit people by typing them, the enneagram does do a good job at categorizing people. My friend Dustin is suspicious of such things, and I'd tend to agree with him in this: If you can develop a system with types/categories, then you can prejudge people unfairly. It also can be unhelpful in that it can cause you to dismiss people based on a few unshared interests/tendancies. We confuse Reality with our categories for understanding reality.

Still, I find the enneagram to be quite helpful. I don't trust it as How the Universe Works, but rather (as Wilber would say), a map to the Kosmos.

Anyway, I am a 3 with a 4 wing. Holly is a 2. Reading up on types and how they interact really has helped us in several ways. Here's a little rundown of how 2s and 3s work together.

There is a particular way that this pairing works as a team: Twos like to put the spotlight on others, and Threes like to be in the spotlight. Twos like to be the power behind the throne, and Threes can be happy being the point person for the couple. As long as healthy Threes appreciate the lavish attention of the Two, this arrangement can work well. In a sense, this is almost an ideal political couple—socially adept, energetic, virtually radiating charm and self-confidence, inviting others (by their manner and attractiveness) to join them in some way. Twos and Threes can be dazzling—a couple so widely admired and socially gifted that they become icons for their social sphere and time. More...

We learned of the enneagram several years ago from some friends in Minneapolis, MN. At that time, I wondered if I was an 8...but all these years later, I realize it was my 3-self wanting to be an 8 (like many of my mentors).

I have found the enneagram to be very helpful and would suggest you take a look at it. There is a test (which sometimes can work), but what I find most helpful is to read through each type's basic desire and fear and place yourself. Enneagram Institute and 9types both seem to be good resources for this such thing.

I think this sort of thing is fun if not taken too seriously. In so many ways, I am all of the types. And in so many ways, the enneagram has my number (really). Enjoy!

PS - Here's a table below that's worth checking'll need to click on it.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

There Is No King

Holly and I loved WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE. It was emotionally moving, visually stimulating and well-written. I've gotta say Dave Eggers is a new force to be reckoned within the screenwriting world. Did you see AWAY WE GO? Wow.

There are so many beautiful psychological issues that are brought up in this film. And it's all done in a quite un-cliché sort of way. The frustrations of childhood, nearing adolescence, split home, parents dating again, sibling rivalry and exclusion. Stuff that most of us deal with in our later life as well. Perhaps our childhood is hyperbolic of what the rest of life will be like...I dunno.

There is a scene where Carol (the monster that, in some ways, represents Max's father) realizes that Max isn't really a king; he's only been pretending. And it just destroys Carol. He had been waiting and waiting and waiting for a real king. Someone to make sense of it all. Someone external to himself that would bring happiness, stability, sanity, hope. There had been several "false" kings who had come before Max (and met unfortunate fates), and they had left this group in a sort of constant existential turmoil, wondering what to do and how to live. This island is characterized by the confusion of a group in need of a leader...a group that refuses to turn inward to find it's own center.

"There is no king," the characters say. It's heartbreaking to watch Carol go through grieving process of this realization. But it seemed the only way to freedom...and the only way to have a healthy relationship with Max...or anyone.

Of all that the movie offered, that is what resonated most with me. I see so many of us scrambling to find signposts for how to live, what to do, where to go, etc. So, so, so many people externalize, not trusting themselves to find their own center. We use religious figures, political affiliations, authors, partners/spouses, careers, even celebrities to tell us where to go and what to do. But, of course, we hear all their words through our own filter, both personally and communally (which has layer upon layer).

What if we were to actually trust ourselves? And why do so few of us do this? We have been taught to trust only things that are "out there." We have built theological systems based on the smallness of myself. We disguise that in so-called humility when really, most of it is about a dis/mis-trust of self. We don't even know how to listen to ourselves very well. We busy our minds and bodies with things to do, studying the words, thoughts, actions of historical and contemporary figures.

Sure, sure, we do not come to realize ourselves alone. But still we are the only ones who can change ourselves. I am the only one who can change myself.

LET YOUR LIFE SPEAK (by Parker Palmer) was such a powerful book for me because it told me that it was okay to trust myself, even when I follow it into the dark places that I was taught to fear. That only by going deep into one's own self (psychosis, passion, leanings, etc.) can one free oneself.

I think this might be one of the greatest obstacles to human (social, spiritual, economic, educational, etc.) development. But the overcoming of this obstacle might just be the key to freedom.

There is no king. Deal with it.

Holly in GENERATE Magazine

Some of you have already seen it, but we just got our last week and were very happy to see Holly's art featured so prominently. Some snapshots...

Really cool to see her new pieces in print like this. Thanks to all the great folks (Mak, Tim, and Paul "Best Designer We Know" Soupiset) for putting this together. Breath-taking.

Subscribe here.