oh, the things you find on facebook

13 Qudrat 166 B.E. (Baha’i Calendar)
Drumbeat in my head:  Mike Doughty, “27 Jennifers”

Over twenty years ago, I had a relationship with a woman in my college dorm that lasted the better part of a year.  We stayed friends for a few years after we broke up, but we lost touch sometime around 1992.  Every now and then, I’ve thought of her and wondered what she was up to.

Last night I decided to search for her on Facebook.  I thought it would be a relatively easy search because she told me that her last name was actually quite rare in the U.S.  And indeed, when I entered her name on Facebook, only two matches came up.  The second listing didn’t look like her at all but the first one did. 

I couldn’t quite tell if it was her, though. She had her page set up so that I could only look at her profile if we were friends.  The one picture that was displayed looked a lot like her, but it wasn’t a close-up photo of her.  I looked at the picture closely.  The face looked similar, and she appeared to be tall like my friend,  but for the life of me couldn’t tell whether it was her or not.  So I decided to take a chance and request her as a friend.  I figured, if it was her, then I’d be able to reunite with a friend I hadn’t seen in a long time, and if it wasn’t her, well, it didn’t matter because this person wouldn’t know me anyway.

This morning I checked my email and got word that this woman had confirmed me as a friend on Facebook.  I was delighted.  I began to think of the emails we’d send back and forth after a seventeen-year hiatus.  I logged onto Facebook to check her profile.

Her “wall” was entirely in German. 

This didn’t make sense.  So I checked her pictures, of which there were no shortage.  It definitely was not her.  But not only did this woman have the same name as the friend I dated twenty years ago, she actually looked A LOT like her.  I could easily see them as sisters.  Then I checked the profile page.  This woman lives in Berlin and was born in 1990.  Which means she was born AFTER my friend and I dated each other. 

I don’t know why this young woman in Berlin accepted my friend invitation.  I only accept Facebook friend requests from people I know.  It just hadn’t occurred to me that this woman might accept my friend invitation even if she didn’t know me.  Maybe she liked my picture. Who knows?

One thing I do know.  If I ever finally catch up with my old friend, I’ll have to tell her that she has a doppelganger in Berlin.

peace, linux and happiness?

19 Sharaf 165 B.E. (Baha’i Calendar)
Soundtrack in my head: A Skillz and Krafty Kuts, “Tricka Technology

Last July, I couldn’t stand it anymore, so I decided to employ the nuclear option.

I’d had enough of Microsoft Windows. I backed up all my computer’s data onto DVDs, put a Ubuntu Linux installation disc into my computer’s DVD drive and clicked the Install button.

The Ubuntu logo stood there innocently over an orange bar that indicated the completion rate of the project. Meanwhile, inside my desktop computer, files and programs vaporized into thin air. Nothing was left in its wake except empty storage spaces on my hard drive. Then slowly, the Ubuntu Linux operating system began to establish itself in the barren wasteland that had once been a Windows environment. Step by step, a new operating system and new programs made their home on my computer.

It’s funny–I’d considered myself a Windows guy for years, despite the fact that the rest of my family owns Macs. I think I got into Windows because it was cheaper and because it was being used at work.

But my frustration with Windows have been building up for years. I worked with several versions of Windows–3.1, 95, 98, Me, NT, 2000 and XP. Each time it seemed like things were getting more and more complicated. In my opinion, I’ve felt for a while that the writing has been on the wall for Windows.

I’ve been intrigued by the notion of Linux and open-source programming. I like the idea of the source code of an operating system or software can be made available to anyone who wants to improve upon it. I became more intrigued when a friend of mine told me that my older desktop computer would be a good candidate for Linux because of the efficient way Linux handles files and memory. Given the excesses of our throwaway culture, it made sense for me to find a way to keep my current computer as long as possible, especially since computer waste has a negative effect on the environment.

In June, I bought an Asus Eee PC that came installed with Linux. I noticed the difference right away. It boots up in 10-20 seconds. That’s unheard of. And despite just 512 MB of RAM, it has little difficulty with video files.

Meanwhile, my PC with Windows 2000 on it began to struggle. I kept on having to uninstall and reinstall my USB wireless port because I kept having Internet difficulties. One day, I discovered that the system had become confused as to whether it was installing or uninstalling a program. That’s when I decided to push the button.

It’s now been six months since I switched over to Ubuntu Linux. What do I think of it now?

The quick boot-up I noticed with my laptop also exists on my desktop. Maybe not quite as fast, but oodles faster than Windows. One of the reasons for is that many programs that operate on Windows operate in the background even when they aren’t being used. This adds a lot of time to booting up and also can slow down whatever program you might be working on.

The Add/Remove programs feature on Ubuntu is also neat. First of all, it cleanly installs and uninstalls programs. Many programs written for Windows are hard to fully remove—they often leave code or entire folders that can’t be removed and which take up space. But what’s even better is that this feature actually accesses a huge online library of free software that is highly compatible with Ubuntu Linux. It’s like being a kid in a candy store.

Open Office is every bit as good of a program as the Microsoft Office Suite, and it doesn’t gobble up nearly as much memory. I would say that Open Office Writer is less buggy than Microsoft Word. You can even save files in the Word format, as well as in a PDF format.

Ubuntu Linux doesn’t complain when I plug things into the USB ports. It’ll quickly display the directory of any USB memory stick I put in and it’s easy to transfer files back and forth. My version of Windows made me jump through hoops to do the same thing.

The Linux life isn’t without its disadvantages. I find I still have to do some significant troubleshooting and problem-solving. I struggled to get the system to pick up the wireless Internet router we have in our house. I ended up getting help from the community of Linux users on the Ubuntu website, who gave me some commands I had to enter in “terminal mode.” I was a bit nervous about entering code in this way, but it worked. I get error messages every now and then that require me to consult the Ubuntu website to get fixed.

There’s some third-party software that I miss. One of my favorite little programs was an excellent and graphically attractive Baha’i calendar which I always loved to reference. It required the installation of Yahoo Widgets which, in turn required Windows. I haven’t found a replacement for it yet. There is a program called Wine that can run some Windows programs on Linux—I was grateful to discover that I can run Ocean, a program written by a Baha’i that allows the user to use keywords to search thousands of religious texts.

I can’t purchase music through ITunes because Apple won’t play with Linux. (It doesn’t play with Windows 2000 anymore either.) It took me a few months to figure out how to download music from the eMusic website. While there’s a Linux program written to replace the eMusic download manager compatible with Windows, I couldn’t get it to work, and so, I finally figured out how to download music directly onto the desktop and from there transfer it to a folder in the music section of the website. A little more clunky, but it gets the job done.

It was a little bit of a challenge to find an MP3 player that was Linux-friendly. Many MP3 players require the user to install Windows software in order for the player to play well with the computer. For this reason, I couldn’t use my cellphone as an MP3 player, even though it has that capability. The way I finally did it was to search Amazon.com’s media players with the phrase “Ogg Vorbis.” Ogg Vorbis is an open-source music file format that can be found on Linux, (though my media player can also play MP3 and other formats). I found and bought the Cowon iAudio7 MP3 player and I’m pretty happy with it. It came with few instructions, and I’m still trying to figure out a lot of its capabilities, but it has great sound, and I was able to transfer my audio files pretty easily.

I did have to upgrade my computer a little bit. I found that 512 KB of RAM for some reason wasn’t working as quickly as it did with Windows 2000. Maybe that’s because the computer, designed for an operating system that came out in 1999, would simply have more difficulties working with an operating system written in 2007. I upped the RAM to 1.5 MB, and installed two USB 2.0 ports in addition to the four USB 1.1 ports I have. My vintage 2004 machine operates quite smoothly now.

No doubt, I will run into further challenges with Linux, and continue to troubleshoot from time to time. But for now, I’m pretty happy with my Ubuntu Linux system and am not really missing Windows too much.

eve of something, hopefully good

2 Sharaf 165 B.E. (Baha’i calendar)

Soundtrack in my head:  The Beatles, “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds”

Earlier today I got an email from the year 2009.  It came from a friend of mine in Japan, and they’re fifteen hours ahead of us.  Most of the world now, as I write this, is in the year 2009.

I have always found New Year’s Eve to be a slightly surreal experience.  Not necessarily in a bad way.  Time sort of stands still and goes through a transition and at the same time it doesn’t.  The divide that establishes the new year, established in the Gregorian calendar (that’s the one we all use, in case you didn’t know) is, after all, an artificial marker.  The year is very real–it’s the time that it takes to go around the sun, but deciding where to mark a complete year is a human decision.  So, in essence, we draw a line, we cross it, and then we celebrate crossing it.

Again, this is not a bad thing.  I can’t imagine life without a calendar to mark the time and you have to set the new year somewhere.  And it is a good time to reflect–to reflect on ourselves and the world at large,  It’s a good time to take stock and begin anew.

But it’s a rather funny tradition we have.  The noisemakers, confetti and cheap hats seem like they are borrowed from the birthday party my parents organized when I was seven. For better or worse, this will be the last year people will be able to have those funny round glasses that have the number 2 on one side and the appropriate integer marking the new year on the other side, with the two zeroes in the middle forming the glasses part. 

In the past, before I became a Baha’i and stopped drinking, I’d start the new year somewhat hammered, and begin the first morning of the new year with a hangover.  Now I do things differently.  Tonight, I and two other housemates will stay home, hang out, and enjoy each others’ company.  The temperature’s in the single digits, and I don’t really want to take chances on the roads.  We have a bottle of sparkling blueberry juice ready to uncork at midnight to toast in the new year.

I look forward to the new year.  I also look forward to the Baha’i new year, which we celebrate on the evening of March 20th.  That’s a neat way to mark a new year, too.  The Baha’i day starts at sunset, so ringing in the new year is as simple and as beautiful as watching the sun go down into a new year.

the tea-kettle consensus

13 Kalimat 165 B.E. (Baha’i Calendar)
Soundtrack in my head:  The Flaming Lips, “Buggin’”

Something had to be done about the house tea kettle.  

A couple of weeks ago, one of my housemates put up a note on the dining room whiteboard telling people that they needed to make sure to empty out the tea kettle when they were done with it, and not leave any standing water inside it.  She said that it would cause the build-up of mineral deposits, and make the water in it taste gross.

A few days later, I noticed that the first item on the house meeting agenda was to “come to some unified agreement about the tea kettle.”  I was surprised that there might be anything controversial about the tea kettle.  The person who made the proposal felt that for the sake of water conservation, it would be better to leave the water in the tea kettle after use for the next person, since re-boiling the water would kill anything that might be trying to grow in there.  A couple of other people agreed.

I came down on the side of the “dump the water” coalition.  I described the filmy substance I felt at the bottom of the kettle while washing it out one morning.  
Another person acknowledged my concerns, but  pointed out that it made little sense to dump the water if there were other people in the kitchen likely to use the kettle as well—especially during breakfast.  

So we now realized as a house that there were situations in which keeping the water in the kettle was the appropriate thing to do, and other times when it was appropriate to dump the water.  One person suggested that the last person in the kitchen dump any remaining water out of the kettle.  People also were encouraged not to heat up more water than they needed, thus addressing the concerns about water conservation.  Finally, we agreed that the task of washing out the kettle would be assigned to the person responsible for the nightly cleanup of the kitchen.  We all decided that this was the best proposal of all, and we realized we’d come to a consensus.

Perhaps this was not what the Quakers had in mind when they developed their own unique brand of consensus decision-making. This was not a typical decision item of the co-op.  It was not as heavy of a decision as the house budget, or deciding whether to accept a new person for membership in the house.  Indeed, we kind of chuckled through the discussion.  

But we were coordinating twelve different and unique approaches to living, and as such, it takes a little more work to get people on the same page.  The whole notion of co-op living is to be able to come together, and this process does indeed breed community.  

summer rain

18 Nur 165 B.E. (Baha’i Calendar)
Soundtrack in my head:  The Primitives, “Summer Rain”

As I was walking home, it started raining one and a half blocks before I got to my house. I had an umbrella in my backpack, but I opted not to use it.  I wanted to have the experience of being rained on. I highly recommend the experience.  

It was a light drizzle, but it soon became a steady rain.  The buildings I walked by and the trees I walked under provided a little bit of shelter, but not much.  I knew that my shirt would soon be spotted with raindrops, but I decided that this would be a badge of honor—one that would dry quickly, anyway. I made an effort to feel every raindrop land on me and take in the sensation, and smiled as I did so.  Some guys yelled from a porch, “Hey, you know, it’s raining out.”  I replied that I knew that, and continued to smile.

To some extent we have a choice as to how to respond to the rain that falls in our lives.  I love the rain.  As long as it doesn’t flood.  Nevertheless, there are limits to the degree we can embrace the rain.   I wouldn’t recommend doing what I did today during the month of March.  At least not here in Wisconsin.

shaken, not stirred? no…i was stirred by the shaking

11 Jalal 165 B.E. (Baha’i Calendar)
Soundtrack in my head: The Telescopes, “Celeste”

I woke up a little bit after 4:30 a.m. Friday morning to the sound of things rattling in my bedroom. I could also feel my house moving a little bit, too.

It wasn’t the first time I’d felt the house shaking. There were a few other instances over the last couple of years where such shaking was definitely noticeable. But I’d figured out after awhile that the shaking was attributable to certain, um, activities by certain housemates.

But even in my fuzzy 4:30 a.m. thinking, it seemed to me that the shaking yesterday seemed a bit strong for that. However, I let it go at that. I couldn’t quite get back to sleep, and that made me feel tired the rest of the day.

At breakfast, I asked a housemate if she’d felt the shaking, and to my surprise, she said yes. She said that she was sensitive to such things because she grew up in El Salvador, where there were a number of serious earthquakes. She thought this might be an earthquake. I told her I didn’t think so—I told her such things did not really occur in Wisconsin.

I have a disaster preparation book and in it is a map of earthquake hazard zones in the United States. There are different shades of gray on the map, with the white being the lowest hazard level and the black being the highest hazard level. On the map, Wisconsin is completely white.

So I was surprised to learn when I got to work that an earthquake had indeed occurred, centered 400 miles south of us in southern Illinois. As an Illinois native, I’d known about the New Madrid Fault and the New Madrid earthquakes of 1811-12, and I remember feeling a minor quake in my parents’ house in Oak Park, Illinois, sometime in the late 1980’s.

It seems that along with tourists and traffic, earthquakes are another gift bestowed upon Wisconsinites from their flatland neighbor to the south. The same map I described shows a light shade of gray starting right at the Wisconsin-Illinois border, and then growing darker and darker until turning to back at the southern tip of Illinois. At least we can’t blame Chicagoans for this, they’re scratching their heads like we are at the unexpected shaking. Californians are probably scratching their heads, too, as they watch us Midwesterners make a big deal out of a little rumble—“Was that really an earthquake?” “Yah, yah, that was an earthquake, don’cha know?”

celebrate march 32nd! er, um, april fool!

13 Baha 165 B.E. (Baha’i Calendar)
Soundtrack in my head:  The Ditty Bops, “Walk or Ride”

I’ve always strongly believed that Wisconsinites have a better sense of humor than most of the nation, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that April Fool’s Day here is celebrated with a remarkable degree of reverence.  Or irreverence, as it were.  In any case, I would submit that it is celebrated here at least as much as Flag Day.  I think.

I was the recipient of one little joke today.  I had difficulty removing the cap from a pen that had been left on my desk.  When I finally did, I discovered that there was this glazed, sticky looking substance underneath.  I sniffed it, and realized it was Super Glue.  It took me a long time to realize that it was a prank until the pranksters revealed themselves.  Another person was given a phone message from a Mr. Lion.  He was told that the caller was reportedly mean.  

One co-worker is always the recipient of a bunch of pranks.  Today, she arrived at work to find her telephone wrapped in rubber bands.  Someone also figured out that the volume dial on her desk radio was separate from the on-off switch, so they ended up turning the volume to the maximum level—ultimately scaring the daylights out of her and everyone in a ten-foot radius, with the noise heard all the way from the elevators on the other side of the floor.  In previous years, pranks included having a “For Sale” sign put on her car,(resulting in one serious inquiry), and having each frog in her extensive desktop frog collection individually wrapped in cellophane.  

In one co-op, a fire inspector paid a routine visit, and said everything was fine.  However, one of the residents decided to write on the communal whiteboard that their cluttered basement had been declared a fire hazard and that the house had 72 hours to clear it out.  It reportedly caused a bit of a tizzy there.  

One local radio station collaborated with Madison’s mayor in a prank in which they announced a proposal to ban the sale of all compact discs in Madison, based on the concern that the holes in the discarded discs were just large enough to fit around a seagull’s beak, preventing them from being able to feed themselves.  The radio station provided an online petition that people could sign, and it was there that people were informed of the joke.  

But, in all seriousness, I wanted to take this time to make an important announcement.  As many of you know, my initial purpose in starting this blog was to write about the spiritual path of Mahikari and also about co-op living.  Then, in October of last year, I announced that I was leaving Mahikari, and that was followed shortly by my joining the Baha’i Faith.  

Things are shifting again.  I would now like to take this time to announce that I have decided to leave the co-op where I live. I have had enough of co-op life.  I have decided to heed the call of the wild and move to a subdivision in South Elgin, IL.  It’s a sweet deal—with this purchase I also gain title to a bridge over the Fox River…

the realm of unmatched socks, pocketed business cards and unused social networking pages

10 Baha 165 (Baha’i Calendar)
Soundtrack in my head:  The Pogues, “The Sickbed of Cuchulainn”

I was a Friendster once.  Technically, I still am.  One of my housemates urged me to sign up sometime in 2004.  He was trying to explain the concept to me, and I must admit that at the time I had a bit of difficulty grasping it.  It was something about having friends and being able to see friends of friends.  It sounded strangely similar to the practice of collecting baseball cards.  

But I signed up, and added four people as friends.  Well, actually three.  One of my friends decided to create a profile for one of the prominent buildings in my neighborhood.  I might have had someone’s cat as a friend at one point as well.  Since I’m deathly allergic to cats, interacting with one via a social networking group has a lot of appeal, since cat dander is not an issue in cyberspace.

Later, I started to hear a lot about MySpace.  A few months after I started this blog, I was nominated for a “Blogger of the Week” by MKEonline.com.  I was one of five contestants and people had to vote on their favorite, and a MySpace blog won that week.  This kind of ticked me off because, duh, it’s a social networking site, and of course they’re in a good position to win because all they have to do is get their friends to vote.  So much for artistic merit.

I think on two different previous occasions I did set up a MySpace site, but I have absolutely no idea where they are or how to access them.  Like my Friendster account, I set up the page and then ignored it.  

Last November, I heard about NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month) in which bloggers would take up the challenge of posting to their blog once a day, every day in November.  I decided to take up the challenge so I signed up at the site, and discovered, to my surprise, that I was signing up for an account at a social networking site.  It was not one of the big ones, but a network set up on Ning.  I was busy trying to post a blog posting every day—why would I want to mess around on a social network site as well?  But I did start a group for Wisconsin bloggers and three signed up, and I do link to two of them and occasionally correspond.  

Then I heard about “Baha’i Communities,” another social networking site.  I signed up, and discovered that this, too was a Ning site.  They verified that I truly was a registered Baha’i and let me join.  This was kind of nice, too.  I did not know anyone on the site, though.  I have a couple of “friends” that I’ve added on there.  I could add more—people who are on the discussion groups, though there isn’t a whole lot of discussion on the groups I belong to.

It was around this time that I began to hear more and more about Facebook.  Many of my housemates had Facebook pages and I was considering setting up a page there, too.  But one Baha’i friend told me she had a MySpace page and insisted it was better.  I was reluctant to set up a MySpace page again—not only because of my previous experience but also because there was a period of time where my computer would crash every time I went onto MySpace, and although I wasn’t having that problem now, I still felt MySpace was kind of skanky.

Then another friend invited me to join MySpace.  She said she was doing so because of the online music that one could check out there.  So I figured that if I had two friends on there already, I might as well sign up.  Then I decided, well, if I’m going to do that, then I should set up a Facebook account.  So I registered with Facebook as well.  

I’m surprised at how much I like Facebook.  It made it easy for me to search for Facebook pages of people from my high school and at my current workplace.  I found a bunch of people from work who I knew, including someone I’ve never met in person but with whom exchange emails with frequently for business-related purposes.  I made a bunch of friend requests from my workplace.  Then I found the page of one housemate (one of my friends from Friendster), went through his friends list since I knew there would be a lot of people I knew there, too, and through this and other means came up with eighteen friends in the space of week without really trying hard.  One of them posted a very poignant comment that said, “Ah, yes…no friendship is really real unless it’s cemented over the Internet.”  

Meanwhile, through MySpace, I began to get friend requests from people I’d never met.  Like five or six in a day.  All of them were female, and their names were, well, exotic.  Their manner of dress was, too.  I don’t personally know anyone who poses online in a thong—such people usually aren’t in my real life social network.  I decide it would be prudent to deny their friend request lest I catch some kind of, um, virus from them.  I think they found me through Tom, though I’m not sure.  Tom is a guy who automatically appears as your friend when you sign up for MySpace.  He apparently works for MySpace, serves as the welcoming committee to all new members, and has a blog with insightful suggestions for how to use MySpace and protect yourself.  He has useful tips, so I’m not sure if I want to delete him as a friend, but if it’s the only way to avoid visits from people with names like Fanny, that might be a good call.

Meanwhile, one of my MySpace friends, who is fourteen years younger than I, posted a comment telling me that that I needed to “pimp up” my MySpace page.  I responded by jokingly quoting a lyric from War’s 1975 hit “Low Rider,” and mentioned that I felt like an old man on MySpace as I try to figure out how to use the thing.  I didn’t realize that what I said would appear on my friend’s comment wall, so I thought, great, now I’m going to look like a total dork in front of my friend’s 57 friends.  

But I did explore the music section of MySpace and liked what I saw.  I can do a search of music by genre and location, and it seems like a lot of bands and singer-songwriters have their own pages where I can listen to music.  I can see myself potentially getting lost there for hours.

Meanwhile, Friendster seems to sense that I’m drifting away from them because I’ve been getting more emails from them lately. They sent one email saying that they improved their photos feature, and then they sent another saying that they improved their photos feature even more.  

Honestly, I don’t know how much mileage I will get out of these social networking pages.  At the current time, I have eighteen friends on Facebook, three on MySpace (including Tom), three on NaBloPoMo, two on Baha’i Communities, and four (okay, really three) on Friendster. I’m not up for increasing my numbers just for the heck of it—I favor quality, not quantity.  In any case, I’ve joined millions of others taking up server space on some computers somewhere, offering friendship.

i am a total calendar geek

5 Baha 165 BE (Baha’i Era)
Soundtrack in my head:  Antonio Carlos Jobim, “Ela e Carioca”

Recently, we Baha’is celebrated the New Year on the Baha’i calendar.  It happened to be on the same day as Good Friday, which is highly unusual.  The new year is timed roughly with the spring equinox.  I have had a geek-fascination with the Baha’i calendar (also know as the Badi calendar) ever since rediscovering the Baha’i Faith last summer.

The Baha’i calendar is a solar calendar that has nineteen months of nineteen days each—totalling 361 days—and four or five extra days to round out the total number of days to either 365 or 366 depending on whether the year is a leap year or not.  

The Bab, the founder of the Babi religion (which was the forerunner of the Baha’i Faith) introduced the calendar, and he named each of the nineteen months after an attribute of God.  Today is the 5th day of Baha, and the word “Baha” is Arabic for Splendor.  Because the number of months and the number of days are equal, some users of the calendar will use the attributes of God to designate both the day and the month, so that the 5th day of Baha would be referred to as the Nur (Light) of Baha.  The Baha’is time their feasts with the first day of each Baha’i month.

Nineteen years elapsed between when the Bab declared his mission in 1844 (equivalent to the year 1 in the Baha’i calendar) and when Baha’u’llah declared his mission in 1863.  Less common uses of the Baha’i calendar involve designating a span of nineteen years as a “vahid” but so far, I’ve seen that rarely referenced. 

For me, the number nineteen has personal significance.  I chose the date of November 19, 2007 to declare myself a Baha’i, because it was nineteen years before in November 1988 that I was first introduced to the Baha’i Faith while a student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  I decided not to go with the Faith back then for various personal reasons.  But the U of I Baha’is gave me a book on the Faith, which, miraculously, stayed with me through almost a dozen moves, and was still sitting on my bookshelf when I opened it again in the summer of 2007. 
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Personally, I find it interesting that in the Year One of the Baha’i Calendar (1844) the Rochdale Pioneers founded what is considered by many to be the first successful co-op in the industrialized West. The Rochdale co-op and the Babis/Baha’is were very likely unaware of each other, and I don’t know how many Baha’is have embraced the co-op movement. But, speaking only for myself–I see a few parallels between the co-op movement and the Baha’i Faith.  Cooperatives consist of people at the grassroots pooling their resources to provide a common good that might not otherwise be easily available—whether it’s food, shelter, or electricity.  The Baha’i Faith, for its part, has no clergy and so local grassroots efforts are, for the most part, are the only thing driving the local Baha’i community.

Another interesting aspect of the Baha’i calendar is that the change of day is marked by sunset, rather than midnight.  This is also true of the Hebrew and Islamic calendars.  On one level, scheduling becomes a little tricky because the day ends and begins at a slightly different time each day.  On the other hand, there is something precious about watching the sunset and having it signify the passing from one day to the next.  It’s particularly special when watching the sun set into the new year, though in Madison, this year’s Naw Ruz (New Year) was cloudy so there was no sunset to watch.  

There is a neat little widget that I downloaded onto my computer that asks for the latitude and longitude coordinates of where I live, and, using that data, shows the exact date on the Baha’i calendar and shows the sunrise and sunset for that day.

baha'i%20calendar%20widget.jpg

I decided to create my own little weekly calendar planner that incorporated both the Gregorian (modern) and Baha’i calendars.  I desktop-published a bunch of calendar pages and put them in a three-ring binder designed to accommodate half size pages—5 ½” by 8 ½”, which is the size of most paper planners.  
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I also am experimenting with using the Baha’i months for my own personal planning.  Around the beginning of each Baha’i month, I look at my things to do lists, critically evaluate them, and then generate new lists that I then put into the planner.  I see nineteen-day intervals potentially being more useful than thirty-day intervals because the nineteen-day intervals make it harder for me to put off things until later in the month.

I also think using the Baha’i calendar like this is a way for me to tune in with God, an effort to align my planning with God’s planning. I’m only now experimenting with planning my time in this way.  I recently learned that Tom Morey, a surfing pioneer and a Baha’i, used to stamp the Boogie Boards he invented with the Baha’i era date.   I’m still very new to the Baha’i Faith, and I can’t say even for sure whether I will continue to be a Baha’i ten, twenty or thirty years from now.  Nevertheless, I feel motivated to put the Baha’i dates on my blog, too in an effort to try to stay attuned with God…

2010

Soundtrack in my head: Boards of Canada, “Ready Let’s Go”

As I rode a bus crossing the Beltline, I saw a digital sign for some furniture store that advertised its financing program by flashing the words “No Interest Until 2010.” The sign kind of creeped me out.

I think it did so for a number of reasons. One, of course, was the realization that time is flying by faster and faster. Another is that the year seems to have less meaning than before. I don’t remember the 1960’s, or at least being conscious of the fact that it was nineteen sixty something, but I do remember the 1970’s well. I remember thinking how I was leapfrogging into the future when the 70’s gave way to the 80’s. We were in an exciting countdown to 2000, when, God knows what would happen. I figured that somehow either nuclear bombs or jet-packs would be involved. Instead we have I-Pods and hybrid cars.

Now it seems like the 20th century was a really long time ago and so for me to even mention anything from the 1970’s makes it sound like ancient history. It would not have occurred to me that Prince would still be performing after “two thousand zero zero party over oops out of time.” I think this perception of time has something to do with the odometer going around, with the year now staring with a two instead of a one, with lots of zeros. If I was born in the 1927 now living in 1967, that wouldn’t seems quite so long, ago. Or would it?