Saturday, February 24, 2007

History in the Making

I'm attracted to stories of people who are world-changers -- whether the change they wring is small or large, the point is they acted as thermostats, not just thermometers.

Last night Cathy & I watched Amazing Grace. It is the story of how William Wilberforce refused to give up and was responsible for abolishing the slave trade in England.

He changed his world, and by doing so changed mine! And it came to me:
If I'm not making history
I'm simply becoming a part of it
It made me think of one of the songs that still makes me cry

History Maker
Written by Martin Smith ©1996 Curious? Music UK

Is it true today that when people pray
Cloudless skies will break
Kings and queens will shake
Yes it's true and I believe it
I'm living for you

Is it true today that when people pray
We'll see dead men rise
And the blind set free
Yes it's true and I believe it
I'm living for you

I'm gonna be a history maker in this land
I'm gonna be a speaker of truth to all mankind
I'm gonna stand, I'm gonna run
Into your arms, into your arms again
Into your arms, into your arms again

Well it's true today that when people stand
With the fire of God, and the truth in hand
We'll see miracles, we'll see angels sing
We'll see broken hearts making history
Yes it's true and I believe it
We're living for you

Before William Wilberforce there was another world-changer with the same name -- you probably know this quote from William Wallace: "Every man dies. Not every man really lives."

William has long been a popular name. It comes from a combination of two words: will (as in being resolved) and helm (as in helmet).

My father's oldest brother's name was Christian Wilhelm. It is a name handed down to the oldest son of the oldest son -- so it is also the name of my paternal grandfather, and his father before that and as far back as I know my family's history.

Keith is my first name and I get that from my maternal grandfather's surname -- it is Scottish in origin and has multiple meanings and I like that for a lot of reasons. But my middle name comes from my paternal grandfather's middle name.

William is my middle name. I like that. It is at the center of my name -- at the core of who I am.
I want to make history
Not just become a part of it.

~ K. William Seckel

Thursday, February 22, 2007


I've had a few custom license plates in my day.

This one is my favorite!

~ Keith

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Lent: Learning Limits, Leaning, & Limping

I used to think fasting during Lent was a way of showing how strong I am; how resolved I can be. Easter being a sort of Christian New Year celebration, Lent affords the opportunity to work on New Years resolutions in advance and be as good as I can be.

Another way I saw Lent was an opportunity to suffer along with Jesus. This is a season in the church year where we remember the suffering Jesus endured for our sakes. To remind ourselves, and show Him we remember, we suffer along with Him by giving up something we love.

But this year as I look at the list of pleasures I could give up, it strikes me how ludicrously paltry they seem: like giving up chocolate for a few weeks and then trying to convince a man dying in Abu Ghraib that this somehow enables me to really identify with his plight.

And this year I also seem to be faced more dramatically with just how weak I really am: how utterly incapable I am of making even external changes -- let alone internal changes -- for even short periods of time!

So maybe Lent isn't about resolve or showing Jesus I understand what He went through.
Maybe Lent isn't about showing Jesus
how strong or compassionate I am.

Maybe Lent is about showing myself
how weak I really am.
This year I am still committing myself to giving up a thing or two for Lent. But if I blow it and don't live up to my commitment, I'm not going to beat myself up: I'm going to try and look at Jesus. And if I make it through and somehow am successful in avoiding the things I am choosing to avoid, I'm not going to pat myself on the back: I'm going to try and look at Jesus.

Maybe Lent is about coming to grips with how big my limp is even with my "Jesus crutch", and how unable I am to stand up fully straight even when I do lean on Him. Maybe Lent is about not only recognizing but rejoicing in my limits, since this accentuates and points me to His limitlessness, straightness, and strength.

~ Keith

Monday, February 19, 2007

On Character, Honesty, & Advice about Sunscreen

In my last post I included a 7 minute clip from the movie The Big Kahuna. The clip ends with Phil saying:
"[Larry] is honest Bob. He’s blunt as well. That sometimes is part of being honest, because there are a lot of people who are blunt, but not honest. Larry is not one of those. Larry is an honest man. You too are an honest man, Bob. I believe that -- that somewhere down deep inside you is something that strives to be honest. The question you have to ask yourself is, has it touched the whole of my life?"

Bob asks "What does that mean?"

and Phil continues: "That means that you preaching Jesus is no different than Larry or anybody else preaching lubricants. It doesn’t matter whether you’re selling Jesus or Buddha or civil rights or 'how to make money in real estate with no money down'. That doesn’t make you a human being. It makes you a marketing rep. If you want to talk to someone honestly, as a human being… ask him about his kids. Find out what his dreams are. Just to find out. For no other reason. Because as soon as you lay your hands on a conversation to steer it. It’s not a conversation anymore. It’s a pitch, and you’re not a human being, you’re a marketing rep.
The clip ends there but Phil's speech does not. He goes on to say this:
We were talking before about character. You were asking me about character. And we were speaking of faces. But the question is much deeper than that. The question is, do you have any character at all? And if you want my honest opinion Bob, you do not. For the simple reason that you don’t regret anything yet. You’ve already done plenty of things to regret. You just don't know what they are. It's when you discover them; when you see the folly in something you've done, and you wish you had it to do over, but you know you can't because it's too late. So you pick that thing up and you carry it with you. To remind you that life goes on: the world will spin without you; you really don't matter in the end. Then you will attain character because honesty will reach out from inside and tattoo itself all across your face. Until that day however, you cannot expect to go beyond a certain point.
I want to go beyond that certain point, and live a life that is fulfilling and imaginative and inspiring and fun; valuable to others and valuable to myself.

Phil's comments about the requisite baggage it will be healthy for me to carry through life so it shows on my character-tattooed face remind me of two other quotes. The first is said by Roland of Gilead, Stephen King's Gunslinger character in The Dark Tower series. When someone acts falsely he says to them a deeply-healthy-shame-inducing phrase:
You have forgotten the face of your father.
The second quote is from Disney's The Lion King. It is an interchange between Mufasa & Simba, after Mufasa's death, as Simba is facing his own identity:
[Simba looks into a pool of water]
Simba: That's not my father, that's just my reflection.
Rafiki: No, look harder.
[Simba's reflection changes to that of his father, and Simba is startled]
Rafiki: You see? He lives in you.
Mufasa: Simba.
Simba: Father?
Mufasa: Simba, you have forgotten me.
Simba: No. How could I?
Mufasa: You have forgotten who you are and so have forgotten me. Look inside yourself, Simba. You are more than what you have become.
Simba: How can I go back? I'm not who I used to be.
Mufasa: Remember who you are.
To add even more wisdom, as The Big Kahuna ends, even before the credits roll, a narration begins. This narration, as it turns out, is read verbatim by Lee Perry from a July 1, 1997 column written in the Chicago Trbune by Mary Schmich, and is mixed and put to a beat by none other than Baz Lurhmann (of Moulin Rouge! and Romeo+Juliet fame). The result is a song called Everybody’s Free (to wear sunscreen). The article itself begins with these words:
Inside every adult lurks a graduation speaker dying to get out, some world-weary pundit eager to pontificate on life to young people who'd rather be Rollerblading. Most of us, alas, will never be invited to sow our words of wisdom among an audience of caps and gowns, but there's no reason we can't entertain ourselves by composing a Guide to Life for Graduates.

I encourage anyone over 26 to try this and thank you for indulging my attempt.
The portion used for the end of the movie dishes out advice that is sometimes cheesy, sometimes poignant, sometimes powerful, and it goes like this:
Ladies and gentlemen of the class of '97:

Wear sunscreen.

If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it. The long-term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists, whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience. I will dispense this advice now.

Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth. Oh, never mind. You will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they've faded. But trust me, in 20 years, you'll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can't grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked. You are not as fat as you imagine.

Don't worry about the future. Or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind, the kind that blindside you at 4 p.m. on some idle Tuesday.

Do one thing every day that scares you.


Don't be reckless with other people's hearts. Don't put up with people who are reckless with yours.


Don't waste your time on jealousy. Sometimes you're ahead, sometimes you're behind. The race is long and, in the end, it's only with yourself.

Remember compliments you receive. Forget the insults. If you succeed in doing this, tell me how.

Keep your old love letters. Throw away your old bank statements.


Don't feel guilty if you don't know what you want to do with your life. The most interesting people I know didn't know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives. Some of the most interesting 40-year-olds I know still don't.

Get plenty of calcium. Be kind to your knees. You'll miss them when they're gone.

Maybe you'll marry, maybe you won't. Maybe you'll have children, maybe you won't. Maybe you'll divorce at 40, maybe you'll dance the funky chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary. Whatever you do, don't congratulate yourself too much, or berate yourself either. Your choices are half chance. So are everybody else's.

Enjoy your body. Use it every way you can. Don't be afraid of it or of what other people think of it. It's the greatest instrument you'll ever own.

Dance, even if you have nowhere to do it but your living room.

Read the directions, even if you don't follow them.

Do not read beauty magazines. They will only make you feel ugly.

Get to know your parents. You never know when they'll be gone for good. Be nice to your siblings. They're your best link to your past and the people most likely to stick with you in the future.

Understand that friends come and go, but with a precious few you should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle, because the older you get, the more you need the people who knew you when you were young.

Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard. Live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft. Travel.

Accept certain inalienable truths: Prices will rise. Politicians will philander. You, too, will get old. And when you do, you'll fantasize that when you were young, prices were reasonable, politicians were noble and children respected their elders.

Respect your elders.

Don't expect anyone else to support you. Maybe you have a trust fund. Maybe you'll have a wealthy spouse. But you never know when either one might run out.

Don't mess too much with your hair or by the time you're 40 it will look 85.

Be careful whose advice you buy, but be patient with those who supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia. Dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it's worth.

But trust me on the sunscreen.
That's good advice. Every last word of it.

~ Keith

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Every Sale Begins with a Smile

This was recently posted over on subversive1 but is too good not to share here.

This is a 7 minute clip from the movie The Big Kahuna. The movie is about three men: Bob (Peter Facinelli) is a young man on a business trip with his two co-workers Larry (Kevin Spacey) & Phil (Danny DeVito). The movie takes place in a small banquet room in a depressingly nondescript hotel in Wichita, Kansas, where the three men are trying to make connections at a convention so they can sell their company's products: Industrial Lubricants.

This scene takes place near the end of the movie. Young Bob has had a chance to land a big sale with a huge distributor -- in fact, rather miraculously, he got a few minutes alone with the distributor's President! Instead of talking about their products Bob, eager young christian that he is, took the opportunity to tell the guy about Jesus and offer "salvation" to him. While the distributor President listened attentively, Bob ended up losing the sale, and probably their jobs. The scene opens with Larry angrily taking Bob to task for what he has done. The scene closes with Phil's chillingly poignant remarks.
The movie's tag line is "Every sale begins with a smile."

This scene makes me cringe at what has become of the idea of being an evangelical christian. It makes me wonder what it means to be truly, life-alteringly honest (and blunt) with myself, especially in the context of being:

Jesus' friend
Jesus' follower
Jesus' disciple
Jesus' witness

Jesus' Marketing Rep?

I think I need to go ask my neighbors how their kids are...just because.

What do you think?

~ Keith

Friday, February 09, 2007

Road Trips

My bike is in the shop for some routine maintenance. My plan was to pick it up this weekend, but it looks like it will be raining. Bummer.

As I sit and wish for the rain to stop (a new thing for me!) here are some pics of a recent trip I took near my home. If you'd like, you can use GoogleMaps to follow my route!

SW along Skyline Blvd (Hwy 35) there is a little turn-out. Looking East you can see the Southern Peninsula
Another person at the turnout was nice enough to take my picture
No matter where you look, the scenery is gorgeous!
You can see the Dumbarton bridge crossing the bay. In the center right of the picture you can see the bell tower in The Quad at Stanford
Same place, different angle. Beautful Bike!

Here's another turn out along Skyline. In the distance looking East you can see the tops of the Oakland hills.
If you turn and look West, you can see the ocean! (the glare was bad so you can't see it in the picture, sorry)

Looking North, you can see Hwy 92 winding away!

Here's another stop near the intersection of Skyline & Hwy 92. I pulled out my mini-tripod and snapped a couple self-portraits
Here is a 360 degree panorama VR of the view near the intersection of Skyline & Hwy 92!

Last stop along the route, on Hwy 92 near Crystal Springs Reservoir. This is looking South.
Same place, now looking back West from where I came.
Same place, now looking East along my road home.

Good times!

~ Keith

ps -- just in case the link above expires (I used a URL shortener) here is the original Google Map URL

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Creation is not to be Forced

creation is not to be forced

it flows

can you force a flower to bloom

more spectacularly than it would on its own?

if snow didn't melt would rivers move;

would stones erode and fish swim?

society rushes

comfortable convenience is king

why wait for beauty when glamour can be thrown on?

what is creativity?

who is to say from whence the torrent issues?

some say god

some say self

some see god as self


to ask is to not want to know

to find without looking is to achieve





(I found this in an old journal of mine. The entry was dated 9/9/91 ~ Keith)