Weekend Roundup

Rained hard and long (by California standards), dropping up to 10″ in 24 hours on the coastal range, 4-5″ in Sonoma and Napa, and about 3″ down here in Concord. More importantly for our drinking water supplies, feet of snow are even now falling across most of the Sierra. Only 3 or 4 more storms like that, and we’ll have an average rainfall year.  We had reached the pray for rain state of affairs. Doesn’t seem to matter that having 4-5 years in a row of 8-10 inches of rain (17″ is ‘normal’ by which I assume they mean ‘average’) occurs, it seems, about once a decade or 15 years. It still seems to catch everybody by surprise, by which I mean get all the newsies and weather droid in a froth. I would like at least 15″ of rain, just to quiet the noise down.

All I see is lots of pieces that need to be carefully assembled, carefully washed and carefully packed into their box if you ever want to put this away. A knife and a cutting board can be washed and dried and thrown back into a drawer in a minute.

1. Let’s start with something completely trivial. Pet peeve: made a recipe last night (authentic N’orleans gumbo, if you want to know) which included instructions to coarsely chop a number of innocent vegetables. I can do that. Then, later on in the recipe, it says to take those same vegetables, now coarsely chopped, and put them in the food processor to *finely* chop them. WTF? How about you say you want finely chopped vegetables, and let me decide whether I’d like to spend an extra 5 minutes chopping in lieu of spending 10 minutes cleaning the freakin’ food processor? Ya know? (I do own a food processor, which I roll out every few years to do something that calls for it, then remember that there are few non-industrial scale cooking projects that I can’t accomplish faster by hand than with a food processor, once you factor in the drag it out, clean it, use it, clean it again and put it back away time.  Then it’s packed up and put away until I forget to remember that truth again.)

2. The illustrious Statistician to the Stars tweeted a link to this essay about the unreality of elite colleges, a topic I’ve touched upon with trip-hammer like gentleness in essays like this one and this other one.

One point in particular:

There’s a certain kind of elite student who takes himself very, very seriously. Raised on a suite of educational TV shows and books that insist he is the most special person in the world — studies confirm that Generation Y is the most egocentric and self-regarding generation in our history — he is away from home for the first time, enjoying his first experience of freedom from his parents. Those same parents are paying for his education, which he considers his birthright. Shelter is provided for him. Janitors and maids clean up after him. Security guards protect him. Cooks shop for him and prepare his food. The health center provides him medical care and condoms aplenty. Administrators slave away at finding new ways for him to have fun in his free time.

Long ago, I knew a Dominican priest who attended Berkeley in the 40s.  He would wax rhapsodic on how beautiful the town used to be, as we stepped around the little Marie Antonettes playing at peasant and the general dirt and decay that seemed part of a conscious uglification project (it’s gotten a little better since – the ’80s seem to have been a low point).  At Stanford and UCLA (the Farm and Little Brother to Cal alum), the universities seemed to embrace (or at least cave in to) the native fact of affluence: all those kids and parents and staff spending all those dollars, dollars swept in by some sort of higher education vortex from all the towns little and big in the state. At the bottom of that vortex, the neighborhoods around the schools blossomed with quaint and hip shops. And were – and are – beautiful, after the manner of their kind.

At the more enlightened Cal, they started treated businesses as if they were somehow blights on the community, and noble buildings as evidence of Something Wrong That Needs Rectifying. So buildings from the 20’s and 30’s, often gorgeous Art Deco and Craftsman influenced homes, got turned into something else – a frat house, apartments, whatever, just so that the could paint them ugly or let them get run down. It looked like urban blight, except this was and remains an extraordinarily affluent college town/suburb. On the streets leading up to campus, there were lots of empty store fronts and goofy enterprises that seemed more statement than money-making venture. Again, it has gotten better.

I used to think, back then when I was much closer in age to the students than their parents, that all that keeps this fantasy world from falling apart is the hundreds of millions of dollars the rest of the state shoveled into the University each year, in the name of competition and pride and progress. What they got was contempt and institutionalized cluelessness.

3. “I thank Thee, God, that we are not like other generations, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like that other generation over there. We do stuff like run with passion and break chains, which we’re sure you’ll agree is an upgrade over fasting twice a week and tithing routine.”

At least, that’s what I thought the kids were singing – at Mass – this evening. Turns out, the song is *slightly* different:

“Chosen Generation”

We are a chosen generation
Rise up, holy nation
God, we live for You

You have called us out of darkness
Into light so glorious
God, we live for You
We live for You
God, we live for You

We run with passion for Your name, we run
Freedom, You’ve broken every chain, we run
Our God will not be moved
Our God will never be shaken
We run to You, we run

We are a chosen generation
Rise up, holy nation
God, we live for You

You have called us out of darkness
Into light so glorious
God, we live for You

And so on. So, very slightly different. Wasn’t there an adult in the room, saying, “you know, kids, I can understand why that song might appeal to you, but it’s really not appropriate for Mass.” (I refuse to contemplate the more likely scenario of an aging hippie ramming that song down their throats. It’s dinner time, after all.)

I suppose all we other generations can do is stand at a distance, not even look up to heaven, but beat our breasts and say, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’


Author: Joseph Moore

Enough with the smarty-pants Dante quote. Just some opinionated blogger dude.

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