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The Challenge of Hunger

September 25, 2012

My family recently undertook the Hunger Challenge posed by the local Arlington Food Assistance Center (AFAC). AFAC asked us to eat for $4.03 a day, the typical benefit allotted Virginians of limited means by the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Since the winter, my sons and I have volunteered with AFAC to pick up surplus produce from a local farmer’s market to supplement, along with milk, bread, meat, etc., what their clients can afford through SNAP.

SNAP is the modern version of the food stamp program. According to the the USDA FAQ it serves one out of eleven Americans each month, more than half of whom are children or the elderly. Most report income far below the poverty level. The average participant stays in the program for nine months.

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We Chased the Police in Paris

August 11, 2012

“I can’t say as ever I was lost, but I was bewildered once for three days.
—Daniel Boone

Driving in France is more exciting than in the States. I anticipated this and arranged to rent a car for a few days. A stick shift too, an essential feature I think for drivers who like to feel what they’re doing. (I also suspect the manual transmission will soon be extinct.)

With my son Julian and his friend we rented the car at the Paris airport and set out for Normandy, but along the way dipped into the northern part of the city to circle the Arc de Triomphe.  The roundabout there is six or eight or ten lanes wide—no lanes are marked— with a dozen roads radiating, and it swarms with cars at maniacal cross-purposes. Fun! Read more…

Two Kinds of Beauty (An Observation)

May 4, 2012

There are two kinds of beauty: what you find and what you make.

That’s a thought that crossed my mind at the coffee shop today. It certainly sounds like something someone said but I can’t figure it out. Cervantes drew a lovely distinction between two beauties“one of the soul and the other of the body … when we focus our attention upon that beauty [of the soul], not upon the physical, love generally arises with great violence and intensity”—but that’s a different concern. Kant propounded a notion of free versus dependent beauty that I won’t attempt to understand let alone explain.

The bipolar romantic nut Lord Byron penned perhaps the writing of beauty itself.