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Monthly Archives: January 2008

What happens when an establishment sells Starbucks coffee without abiding by their size distinctions (tall, grande, venti)?  Answer: communication problems.  I ordered a ‘tall’ black coffee at this said establishment.  The barista served up a ‘tall’ alright but in the Starbucks world, it was actually a venti.  And when she brought it to me, I said to her, “I ordered a tall.”  She said, “I thought you ordered a tall?”  I said, “I did order a ‘tall’ but that’s a venti.”  A ‘tall’ is a small in Starbucks vernacular.  “Ohhh”, she said, “someone else came in a few days ago and we had this same conversation that a ‘tall’ is a small and a ‘venti’ is a large.”  There’s a cross-cultural message or illustration in this scenario somewhere!

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Minnie is our dog; she is a beagle mix.  A couple of days ago, I took Minnie for a walk (she gets so excited whenever she sees that pink leash in my hand).  It can be frustrating walking Minnie because of her beagle influence.  Beagles have a sensitive nose so every few steps Minnie firmly and resolutely stops and holds her ground defiantly to sniff.  This brings me to the first lesson: be who I am.   It is obvious that Minnie has beagle DNA by her behavior; sniffing is who she is.  My behavior should be in concert or consistent with who I am.  Otherwise, I am a phony or hypocrite.  The second lesson is this: clean up after oneself.  When Minnie does a ‘number 2’, it’s hilarious to see those two hind legs rhythmically kicking up grass and leaves in the direction of the target mound but often missing the target.  Nonetheless she is cleaning up after herself.

I remember interviewing a white St. Louis University (SLU) math professor for a PhD project.  I know this guy fairly well but apparently he did not know me very well.  I told him that I held three degrees: a bachelor and master of science in electrical engineering and a  master of divinity.  And I also told him that I was working on a PhD.  I also told him that I was a minister.  With amazement, he said something like, “You are an unusual (or atypical) black minister.”  I knew exactly what he meant; this was by no means a derogatory statement.  He meant that many black ministers are not educated in particular and that many blacks are not educated in general.   I wish that many of my black brothers and sisters would take full advantage of the privileges earned by the likes of King and others.  In many ways, I wish I were not the exception but the rule.  On the eve of Dr. King’s birthday celebration, I wish what is ‘unusual was usual.’ 

I was talking with a colleague at work today; she holds a MFA (Masters of Fine Arts) and has written poetry and has been recognized for it.   I went on to say how our culture seems to appreciate or value athletics more so than the arts.  I mentioned the layout of many of the modern elementary and middle schools as one piece of evidence.  My son and daughter attended the same elementary and middle schools (at different times) but I noticed something: whenever either one played a musical instrument, the concert was held in the gym.  Bad idea because the acoustics are really awful (duh, it’s a gym).  I remember when I was a teenager, we had a separate auditorium for such art related events.  There is another sign or piece of evidence that we as a society seem to de-value the arts.  My colleague told me that when students take courses in the humanities department that they are lost because the subject matter is so foreign to them.  Other times we’re heard people say to an aspiring artist, “get a real job.”  I think it is just wonderful and beautiful and breathtaking to hear an opera singer; or to see a ballerina; or to see a splendid choreographed play.  It seems to me that our culture needs to recover an appreciation for the arts (visual, performing, etc.).

Let me begin by saying this posting will be absurd.  I get annoyed when I trail someone who obeys the speeding limit.   (Obeying the speed limit is a good thing.)  I get annoyed when I am get behind an out of town visitor.  (You know the type.  Out of town visitors are obvious.)  I get annoyed when I get behind an elderly driver.  I even try to tell myself, be patient because one day you will be elderly or think about your grandparents – they are elderly.  It works sometime.  If you travel on I-40/64 (on the section that is still open), the traffic speed seems to carry you along or forces you to go faster.  Why do I get so annoyed?  Maybe it’s selfishness?  Why am I in such a hurry?  Why are most people in a hurry?