Tom LaPorte

Every Word Counts

Blog

view:  full / summary

Thanksgiving Myth

Posted by tomlaporte on November 29, 2008 at 11:20 AM Comments comments (2)
Constructs of that archetypal first Thanksgiving contain an ideal situation.  A good time was had by all.  Indians and Pilgrims shared a feast of friendship, food and praise offered to our Creator.  A pleasant thought indeed.  Thanksgiving as we think of it today is largely a myth, but this doesn?t mean that being mythical is dire; to the contrary, historical myths of this kind provide a common shared sense of where we have come from as a people.  Perhaps such myths may even hold a lofty purpose for us to seek in our day-to-day lives and our communal rites and celebration on occasions such as the great day of travel, family, football and endless bounty we call Thanksgiving.

Everlasting Egypt

Posted by tomlaporte on June 12, 2008 at 6:54 PM Comments comments (0)

 Marhaba!  Salaam!  Greetings in peace from Kemet!  Egypt?s long and storied history has brought it many titles and monikers.  One I feel certain has been used before is the land of irony.  Egypt?s vast landscape houses deserts, fertile oases, barren wilderness, lush Nile River valleys, unimaginable wealth, absolute squalor, desolate lifelessness and untold natural beauty.  It is seen by some as a crude and overpopulated third world country, while others view Egypt as the proud, uninterrupted seat of civilization.  The list of titles continues for sure; however, I?ll stop here, for now.

Kemet, the name ancient Egyptians used for their marvelous country, means ?black land.?  It refers to the fertile black soil provided by the Nile River.  Upper and Lower Egypt make up two worlds bound by one lengthy history and the world?s longest river, and stand divided by hot arid badlands not fit for human or beast.  Egypt?s deserts, the constant across time and place, conceal the timeless secrets of this magnificent country and her exploits. 

Even to this very day Egypt and what lies beneath her vast lands and waters remain a riddle of sorts, only because we can?t always decipher tales of magic, intrigue and quest for the afterlife.  All that made for more than enough to invite me back for a second visit to this great and mystical country.  Along with my travel mates, we spent seven days walking, talking, reading, questioning, studying, hypothesizing, and taking pictures of people, places, animals and monuments.  During our brief stay we stood in awe at Egypt?s natural splendor.

Like so many other pilgrims and tourists past and present, Egypt?s dual lands mysteriously worked magic on me.  This isn?t one of those, ?I went to Egypt one person and came home someone new? tales.  It?s not an, ?I left something in Egypt or I brought something back? story either.  In fact, as I write I pray words will follow from my hand to the page and begin to describe the blessing Kemet bestowed on me during a week long visit to the mystical ?Black Land.?

Like a Holy Grail quest, I came to Egypt for something more than vacation and picture postcards.  I endured the desert heat and food and water deprivation.  I walked and traversed.  I came away with something intangible, but notably I had changed.  While touring I purchased a ring with hieroglyphs.  Unbeknownst to me, the jeweler added two characters, the scarab beetle and ankh.   Crudely they can be interpreted as renewed and everlasting, respectively.

Renewed and Everlasting can certainly be found in annals of titles prescribed to Egypt.  That?s what I left Egypt aspiring to be, renewed and everlasting.  I want to be a writer of material that educates, entertains and inspires.  I want to be Kemet, and its scribes and artisans.  I want to inscribe words making me and others renewed and everlasting.  Even with a sense of direction, I continue to long to hear the stories only the sands of the desert know and have refused to surrender, even to the sands of time.

Before the break of dawn on our last day, I took my final early morning run in Egypt.  I ran along the Interstate outside of the Cairo International Airport.  Sublime blossoms, ancient artifacts, statues and obelisks decorated the landscape while blue sky lightened and enveloped the fantastic place.  I cared not about the light dust, from wind driven sand, that I breathed in as I ran.  I did, however, get frustrated with myself for becoming misty along the run as I returned to the hotel.  I listened to a Sister Hazel song on my MP3 player.  I had played the same song, on cassette, as I jogged ten years prior on my first visit to Egypt?s Sinai Peninsula.  The chorus of the song goes like this:

It once was beautiful right here.  Well, it still is beautiful in here.  You once were beautiful.  I hear it can be beautiful.  Just remember. 

 Later that morning as our plane soared above I watched Egypt?s vast and beautiful land slipping away like grains of desert sand blowing in the wind.  From on high I gazed at the cataracts and veins of the Nile pumping life?s blood into the country, as it has since recorded time began.  Much too soon the Mediterranean Sea swallowed the terrain and Egypt escaped from my view.  I found myself teary once again.  As our plane turned upward into the clouds I bid farewell to Kemet.  I wept heavily.

I went to Egypt seeking to gain insights and see artifacts from the 17th Dynasty and to try to make a few connections to the Hebrew Bible.  Regardless of whether or not my initial questions had reasonable answers, many new questions developed.  Perhaps it?s more than simple irony.  With nearly every relic I encountered, I found some new piece of information or a new consideration piqued my curiosity.

As I have worked on this piece, I have accepted the painful reality that some questions go unanswered.  Some facts remain lost to our time and the desert may continue to shroud her many mysteries until the end of time.  Now, more than ever, I believe in the journey--not a pursuit of truth, and certainly not a search for wholeness--I believe in something more. 

Regardless of titles and irony, Egypt opened my eyes.  I have come to understand that information lies on the path ahead.  I shall forge onward, knowing I may never know the unknown, but I take pleasure in seeking.  I will return to the sands of Egypt and that of other places as I toil for understanding, for I believe there?s something in the desert that belongs to me.  Equally I, unquestionably, categorically and unconditionally, yield that I belong to the desert. 

 

 

Enduring Egypt

Posted by tomlaporte on April 27, 2008 at 6:13 PM Comments comments (0)
Herodotus wrote that Egypt is the gift of the Nile.  I contend that the monuments of antiquity are the Pharaohs? gifts to Egypt.  By their dedication to the gods of Upper and Lower Egypt and their own best efforts to preserve individual legacies, the leaders of ancient Egypt expanded their borders beyond their own imaginations as they unsuspectingly carved their story into our imaginations and made Egypt universally eternal.

Meanwhile, modern day people, workers, farmers, the men and women born of Egypt?s fertile land and barren deserts continue to live very similarly to that of their ancestors.  Their very lives are a testament to the greatness and endurance of Egypt, the home of civilization.  Though some may think the villagers, tent dwellers and cemetery communities are uncivilized, those thoughts are far from reality, and stuck in perception, a false one at that.

St. Valentine and St. Patrick

Posted by tomlaporte on March 18, 2008 at 8:59 PM Comments comments (1)
St.  Valentine and St. Patrick are two great Saints of the church who have had their historical and spiritual importance  minimized by contemporary culture.  What is worse is that they have then been secularized and commercialized.

Somewhere around 600 years ago, the tradition surrounding St. Valentine began to be associated with couples.  In fact, there are two St. Valentines.  One was a Roman priest, and the other was a Bishop of Terni.  Ultimately both were martyred.   In my opinion, that gives us two reasons to think of St. Valentine?s Day as more than cards, cupid and candy.

Legends have been circling around St. Patrick since the seventh century.  However, most people do agree that he is credited with bringing Christianity to Ireland.  Some folks may not know that he authored two short works, the Confesio, a spiritual autobiography, and Epistola, a denunciation of British mistreatment of Irish Christians.  Among all of the Patrician scholars, those who have studied St. Patrick, I don?t think a single one has found any evidence that St. Patrick ever drank green beer. 

I am not sure how it is that these two Saints of the church came to be remembered in ways that don?t directly relate to them, but I hope we can begin to move back toward that end.  I welcome your suggestions on how to accomplish such a monumental feat.

 

Downunder in Dawsonville

Posted by tomlaporte on October 7, 2007 at 3:03 PM Comments comments (0)
What a day in Dawsonville!  Shannan, Joel and I armed ourselves with coffee and donuts and drove north on 400 long past the pretentious subdivisions and over-built retail hubs.  Our first stop gave us a glimpse of a flock of wild turkeys and a lot more as we ran in a 5K race at the little known Paradise Valley Resort.  We all won in the top three for our age divisions.

Next we girded our loins and filled our bellies at Dogs and Hogs BBQ.  We made quick work of our sandwiches, coleslaw and Brunswick stew--all of which were tasty.  You should certainly stop in for a bite if you are ever in downtown Dawsonville.

Then it was off to the Outback, and I don?t mean the steak house.  As promised, we visited The Kangaroo Conservation Center.  This fabulous facility is beautifully situated at the foot of the southernmost end of the Appalachian Mountains.  The center gives Dawsonville, GA the distinction of being the largest kangaroo farm outside of the real Outback down under in Australia.  At present, the center houses over 300 kangaroos of 8 different species.

The Conservation Center is dedicated to the preservation of kangaroo species through captive breeding and public education. Admission seems pricey at $27, but it is well worth it.  You get a driving tour on the KangaRanger, which points out highlights for you to further investigate on your own up-close-and-personal walking tour.  These magnificent creatures are very gentle and curious.  They will come up to receive a gentle pat on the head.

Visitors to the center learn the inner workings of this preserve, visit bird aviaries, see other marsupials, reptiles, kookaburras and watch an interesting and informative show called ?Wild Australia.?  It wouldn?t be a true Aussie theme without a boomerang.  A patient staffer gives a brief lesson and then everyone can take a turn tossing a boomerang. You really must see this marvelous place.  Here's their web address: http://www.kangaroocenter.com/

Next Shannan and I will participate in another Laura Ingalls Wilder Adventure.  The following weekend will take us to Huntsville and then we?ll catch back up with Joel for a day trip to Tennessee. 

Keep watching for our Day Trip Diaries.  

Tom 

 

 

Gone with the Weekend

Posted by tomlaporte on September 24, 2007 at 6:57 PM Comments comments (0)
Today proved to be a magnificent day and I have every indication that tomorrow will be another day.  That?s the philosophy of life that Margaret Mitchell breathed into her world-famous character, Scarlett O?Hara.

A couple of years ago Shannan and our friend, Joel, discovered I had never read the book or seen the movie, Gone with the Wind.  They sought to redeem me from such a sacrilege, especially as a southerner, so the two carted me to see the film on the big screen of the Fox Theater. 

Today I moved from redemption to absolution as the three of us paid homage to the forever memorialized Margret Mitchell, Scarlett and the epic masterpieces in print and on film.  We began our journey with a brief driving tour of Clayton County, the home of Gone with the Wind and a visit to the Road to Tara Museum in downtown Jonesboro.  The site houses a fine collection of information and memorabilia from Ms. Mitchell, the book, movie and various people associated with the phenomenal success of both.

Next, we drove to bustling midtown Atlanta and had a tour of the house where Margaret Mitchell wrote the majority of the larger-than-life story.  After abandonment, two arson attacks and millions of dollars, this is one of the finer house museums we?ve ever visited--and we have been to hundreds.  The facility begins with information on Mitchell?s journalism career--quite revolutionary for a woman of her times, then like at all museums, there is a video.  The museum lobby is adorned with tiles chronicling Margaret?s long-standing interest in writing and story telling.  Following that first portion of the tour, one can view artifacts related to the movie all in one building and then the tour heads off to the house.  Even after the two fires, most of ?the dump,? as Mitchell dubbed her small apartment, remains in its original state. 

We then had a quick lunch at Hemingway?s on the Square in Marietta.  We thought it appropriate and thematic.  Moreover, Joel had top notch clam chowder there, and he is quite the connoisseur.

Our last stop on this whirl-Wind tour was Scarlett on the Square.  Here again, we saw much in the way of the many languages the book has been translated and published.  This center houses a nice assortment of cast, crew, movie production and premiere collectables.

Throughout the day we learned lots of minutia and trivial facts about Mitchell, and the key players of the book and movie.  Now, all we have to do is get on a game show with a Gone with the Wind category. 

 Next week, my companions and I will be off to the largest kangaroo farm outside of Australia.  That?s right; we are going to Dawsonville, GA.  But before then, we can all rest assure that Tomorrow Will Be Another Day! 

 

 

Pleasure Reading

Posted by tomlaporte on August 27, 2007 at 6:06 PM Comments comments (0)
Greetings!  Please read my poetry and other works at:
http://www.testriffic.com/user/tomatenx

New E-book published

Posted by tomlaporte on August 5, 2007 at 6:06 PM Comments comments (0)

Greetings!  I have an E-book, Moments in Time, available at www.lulu.com

Check it out and buy a copy.  It's ONLY $3.75.

Choices. We all make choices. Morgan discovered a bloodied bridge after making a choice to go there on a pre-dawn daily run. Blood dripping from a bridge over a rushing river told a story. Morgan thought the odd combination made for a unique photo opportunity as well as a puzzling mystery. Morgan had tagged along on his wife's business trip out of town. Lucy, his wife, had discouraged Morgan from running down the unknown path in the strange town before the light of day. She had, however, encouraged him to follow a path of his passions and begin a career as a freelance photographer. Morgan had recently found himself between jobs, and only the night before he had confided to his wife his dream of photographing nature. The Universe answered his desire the next day with an incredible scene to capture, but the mystery of the spilled blood threatened to alter his life in ways not necessarily related to publishing pictures into coffee table books.

Oh Canada!

Posted by tomlaporte on June 6, 2007 at 9:36 PM Comments comments (0)
 

Greetings!  Shannan and I are off to Canada for another educational adventure.  We intend to zig-zag in and out of upstate New York while on this little jaunt.  Our multi day trek itinerary includes visits to the Jell-O Museum, Niagara Falls, Power Vista Power Plant, Bird Kingdom, Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto?s First Post Office, Bata Shoe Museum, Fort York (birth place of Toronto), Black Creek Pioneer Village, Hockey Hall of Fame, Theodore Roosevelt National Historic Site, Peddling History Bicycle Museum, George Eastman House (as in Kodak film and cameras), Susan B. Anthony House, Erie Canal Museum, The Smallest Church in the US, Adirondack Park, Almanzo Wilder?s Family Farm (of Laura Ingalls Wilder fame), McCord Museum of Canadian History, Montreal Biodome, Montreal Museum of Archaeology and History, Montreal Tower, and the CN Center-yes just 1 N, it?s not a 24 hour news centerJ.

And yes, this is our vacation.  Our travel schedule is often far more rigid than our day-to-day work agendas. 

One of my summer projects is to complete a spreadsheet (that I?ll post here no doubt) of all the sites we?ve visited.  We have listed around 135 so far.  It?s been a fun trip down our nerdy memory lane.  I must say, we do appreciate the odd and obscure, more than that we are public scholars.  Gads of useful historic, scientific and down right fascinating information gets conveyed via museums, exhibits and habitats.   

If all this visual, receptive, traditional and experiential information doesn?t make us better stewards of our world and other people in general, I?m sure we?ll at least be better home contestants of Jeopardy.

Tom

H20-Did You Know?

Posted by tomlaporte on June 4, 2007 at 9:01 PM Comments comments (0)

Greetings!  Did you know that bottled water is NOT governed by the Safe Drinking Water Act or the EPA?  All public drinking water is.  So what?s the difference?  Huge, the bottled water is regulated by the FDA and thus only has to undergo about 12 tests for safety and contaminant control.  Public drinking water, aka TAP WATER, undergoes a stringent scrutiny of 100 tests.  It has only been in the last five years that bottled water has had to be tested and treated at all.  Yikes!!!!!

 

Here?s a shocker.  Most bottle water only removes the chlorine taste or smell.  That?s all.  That?s it.  That?s what we are paying for rather than purity or other meaningful concerns.  In fact, some 40-60 percent of all bottled water comes from a local water plant, not a beautiful free flowing mountain stream.

 

What?s the point of all this?  Well, at least I feel better about refilling my commercial water bottles with TAP waterJ

 

All the best,

Tom


Rss_feed