Site News (1/24/16 Update)

Greetings, all (or one). It’s been over eight months since I’ve posted here. In a sense, keeping my writing skills sharp was always one of the primary functions of this site. I’ve been working towards a masters degree for some time now, so both my time and my energies have been directed elsewhere. Meanwhile, my frequently collaborator Jeff has been insanely busy himself. Basically, I’ve had nothing to push me to continue writing and posting here.

That will change within the next few days. Jeff and I are taking on The X-Files miniseries. Hopefully, more will follow that. No promises, though.

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Knapsacking Up Introduction

I remember the exact moment I became a feminist.

I was a junior in college, taking Human Relations a year early because the terrible professor who usually taught the course was on a sabbatical. The professor brought in several excellent speakers who told their story, and in doing so, shared with a bunch of White college kids what it was like to be Black or female or homosexual or Native-American or Asian-American in our society.

In preparation for one speaker, we were asked to read Peggy McIntosh’s “Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack.” Although the version we read for our Human Relations course dealt specifically with race, the connection with sex and gender was not difficult to make.

From that day(ish) forward, I have been a self-described feminist. As a high school educator and coach, I deal with high school students every day, teaching American History and American Government. Most of them think that feminists burn bras and seek to set up a matriarchy in America.

Me? I like bras. They’re fun to take off and keep boobs from getting droopy later in life. (Is that science or am I just making that up?) I really just want two things. First, I want American society to perceive women as worthy of the same basic respect as men. Second, I want women to receive the same opportunities as men.

See? That’s not so much, right?

Once upon a time, a friend of mine set up a feminist website and I was set to contribute. My plan was to provide a male perspective on the inherent advantages we have in America solely because we are men. I would have “unpacked” items in that knapsack through my experiences deep in the heart of BachmannLand, the most terrifying place on earth.

Unfortunately, life happened and the website collapsed after I worked ahead and finished several posts. So, over the next eight weekdays, I’ll be burning through my planned series “Knapsacking Up.”

London Reflections

To say that I learned a lot during my trip to London and Edinburgh last summer would be an understatement befitting the people of that island. For years, my internationally-oriented friends urged me to get out of Minnesota. Desire and opportunity finally intersected when my friend Dylan began a masters program at Edinburgh Napier University in Scotland.

In a sense, we can only understand what we have compared and contrasted. A broadened horizon expands our knowledge and understanding, allowing us to better know what we have already experienced.

The idea can be summed up by the T.S. Eliot stanza shared by Robert McNamara at the end of The Fog of War:

We shall not cease from exploring
And at the end of our exploration
We will return to where we started
And know the place for the first time

This is the purpose of these London Reflections. Hopefully, I can share some of the gifts that London, Edinburgh, and the people of those cities gave to me.

What’s in a Name?

I have a thing for water.

Let me back up a bit…

There was a time in my life when songwriting provided me with the creative and emotional outlet I needed to deal with life’s troubles. I frequently found myself using nautical imagery to convey the feelings and ideas of my lyrics.

Nothing symbolizes hopelessness like a wind-swept, snow-covered field. Nothing seems as lonely as rain pattering against a window at night. Nothing feels as powerless as a ship dragged by the current or swept by a storm. Nothing is as sturdy as when it is anchored.

I’m not sure how I became so transfixed by rain and snow and the oceans and the seas. Maybe it’s because life on a farm is seasonal. Maybe it’s because I fell in love with history following maps showing the maneuvers of World War II warships. Maybe it’s because precipitation lends itself to analogy and symbolism.

Regardless of how it happened, I instantly fell in love with the title Nothing but the Rain. As I stated previously, this title was not my idea. I struggled to find a Battlestar Galactica quote or phrase that both sounded good and was available. When Dylan suggested Nothing but the Rain, I was smitten.

When I asked Chelsey to make a banner image for this website, my immediate thought was to transpose everything I like across the page. When that image became cluttered and unwieldy, she sent me the background and asked for further modifications.

The only problem was that it was already perfect. I couldn’t, and still can’t, explain why, but the banner image you see above would become less meaningful if anything were added. It represents Nothing but the Rain on every level.

Water is deeply personal and deeply meaningful to me, but even after writing and proofreading this post for well over an hour, I can’t explain why.

Maybe this is one of the few things where the “why” doesn’t matter. It just is. I’m not satisfied with that answer often, but I think I am this time.

Mini-Appreciation

A couple days ago, I attempted to thank three individuals for facilitating monumental improvements to who I am as a person. Today, I make three additions. Without these folks, this website would exist in much crappier form.

First, Kelly Prosen must be thanked. It was her blog that showed me the meaning of “writing dangerously.” My posts won’t be nearly as personal as her essays and prose, but without Kelly, I would not be putting myself out there to the same extent. Our topics and writing styles are different, but we share a desire to better understand ourselves and the world around us through the medium of writing.

Second, Dylan Thomson must be thanked. The name of this very website was his suggestion. I knew I wanted to reference the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica, but couldn’t find the right phrase. “So Say We All” and “Action Stations” were taken, but because of Dylan, nothingbuttherain.com exists today.

Lastly, Chelsey Lutteke must be thanked. The righteous banner image you see at the top of this page was her doing. Without Chelsey, this website would not be anywhere near as soul-punchingly awesome. Her website/portfolio will be linked on the right when or if it becomes available.

This is happening. These three helped make it happen.

Patience & Virtue

If I had a nickel for every time I heard “Patience is a virtue” while growing up, I might be wealthy enough to avoid cliches in my writing.

If you have stumbled here or if I have sent you here, know that things will be up and running soon. Links to intelligent, reflective people will be added. A specially commissioned banner image will leave your mouth agape.

Posts will come rolling in soon. Patience…