April 30, 2018

* In case we are tempted to lament the demise of society, and particularly professional athletes, this from Charles Leerhsen in Ty Cobb: A Perfect Beauty:  "Baseball's American League was founded in 1901 because Ban Johnson, a straight-laced sportscaster, saw the need for a brand of baseball that was safe for family consumption, a game that did not include fist fights and bottle throwing, where the hurlers were pitchers, not ashen-faced alcoholics vomiting up last night's beer in plain view of the kiddies. The American League was an instant success, but it was not long until its product was just as raucous as the National League."

* The weather has a more significant impact here at Bastrop Federal Satellite Camp than in most places I've lived, as so many of the positives occur outside. I've noticed something about the sun and blue skies. Sometimes they only wink and wave at us. Sometimes they hide completely, as the clouds come and go. But they are always with us bringing life and...

April 25, 2018

Western culture admires problem solvers. We like to fix, change and improve. We seek resolution to the personal challenges and suffering that we face. But what if we don't deserve resolution? Maybe we don't. Maybe we deserve something better. Maybe we deserve a mind that's content with pain and ambiguity, with paradox and mystery.

Feelings of boredom, loss, shame, anger, and anxiety carry with them a perceived need for resolution. Instead of attempting a fix, what if our response was to sit and simply feel what we feel. While that seems counter-intuitive, it can be exactly the detox we need. Our default response is to seek resolution. If/when resolution fails, we might try escaping. But what we really need is contentment.

After over 30 months of practicing meditation, I am beginning to realize the benefit of simply relaxing with these feelings, listening and experiencing them. What can I learn from them?

There's an obvious lesson here about relationships, too. Do you want to be around som...

April 20, 2018

My mother loved cats, and we always had cats growing up. For a short time, we had 16, but that's another story. Suffice it to say, I don't recommend more than 2 at a time. I have scores of cat stories, and I've thought about writing a collection of cat short-stories. But I'm not sure how many people would admit to being interested in book of cat short-stories. Cat lovers seem to be like Trump supporters. They're mostly under the radar, perhaps embarrassed, but unwavering.

In addition to Buddy, the camp cat at lovely Bastrop Federal Satellite Camp, our current feral cat population stands at 11, down from a high of 14. Hopefully the population has been controlled thanks to a Corrections Officer with a soft heart for animals who had them each trapped, neutered and returned to the camp. Oddly, one of the feral cats has decided to domesticate herself. She's a beautiful smoky gray with a black nose and yellow eyes who's very talkative, friendly, and loves to play.

One evening while leaving the...

April 15, 2018

While planning my future recently, I was researching "mobile homes" in the Bastrop Federal Satellite Camp library's 1996 Encyclopedia Americana. To my delight, I discovered that I could own a 1344 square foot double-wide for less than $20,000. Alas, the east Texas billboard appears to be true which proclaims "DARE TO DREAM: DOUBLEWIDE." Realistically, while outright ownership might be a stretch, a $20,000 double-wide should rent for $200 per month, well within my budget (unfortunately in 1996 discounted dollars). 

As luck would have it, this timely research served as nothing less than the seed for my next big idea. Forget Facebook, where your personal information is stolen then sold to evil Republicans. Forget Google, where your every mouse click is mapped, even those inadvertent websites you unfortunately viewed when searching for the author of Little Women (Louisa May Alcott, by the way). Vladimir Putin and his Russian minions already know every site you've visited and have marke...

April 10, 2018

I don't spend much time in the TV room here at Bastrop Federal Satellite Camp. I've written about that before here and nothing has really changed. I still don't have a chair, and I don't want one, as it's a rarity that anything is shown on any of the room's 7 TV's that interests me. However, I do watch TV every morning before work, as most of the seats are vacant. From where I sit, there are 3 TV's in front of me providing completely different perspectives on the world. The audio from each TV is broadcast via radio frequency which can be heard through my radio ear buds. So I can easily switch the audio between Fox, ABC and CNN while watching all 3. It's the ultimate channel surfing experience.

I get a unique view of America with this experiment, simultaneously watching all three network's interpretation of the morning news. CNN spends a majority of its early morning air time trying to convince me how Donald Trump and other real Republicans are responsible for all our problems. Fox focus...

April 5, 2018

Even as a flatlander from the Mississippi and Brazos river deltas, I've been fortunate enough to have enjoyed a few mountaintop experiences in the Rockies of New Mexico and Colorado, the Appalachians of North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia, the White Mountains of New Hampshire and at the pinnacle of a volcano in Hawaii. I clearly remember what it was like to stand on top of each of these mountains, and none of them was remotely like being at Bastrop Federal Satellite Camp.

For most of my life, I've heard of spiritual awakenings described as mountaintop experiences. We slowly climb away from the mundane world of our everyday life as we make our way to the top. On the way, we leave behind our fears which have led us to anger, frustration and shame. We're no longer the egotistical cause or the hapless victim of our suffering as we stand on the mountain.

The only problem with this metaphor is that, in climbing the mountain, we leave everyone else behind--the crazy neighbor, the addicted fr...

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© 2016 by Charles D. Jones