A Blast of the Past #65: Corn Fields – planting

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This was the year I used roundup on the back half of the yard and planted it all in hills of corn. We got a fairly decent harvest that year. At the moment I can’t remember if we tried it one more year, but today I would need to make serious plans to protect it from deer and coons and such if we wanted to get anything out of it. It took several years for the yard to regreen after that, and it has come back in mostly with wild strawberries and such stuff. The wild strawberries I knew back east grew in the slashing of trees on the back hill and we small and juicy and sweet. The ones that populate our yard are small and tasteless. Such a disappointment.

But the corn was fun to plant, and fun to harvest. Have to see in a later blast what pictures of that stage we took. At this point it is just pictures of the planting.

Role of bicycles

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What is the role of bicycles in our culture? More accurately, what are the roles of bicycles in our culture?

To a majority, or at least the significant plurality, bicycles are playthings for children; a way for them to expend energy, or get around before they are old enough to drive a car. Thus when one rides on the street the obscenities and rude motions by some people telling you to get on the sidewalk.

To others, an active but significant minority, they are recreational. Thus the development of bicycle trails and bicycle routes that go nowhere. The scenery may be enjoyable, but you may drive more miles getting your bicycle to the bike trail than you actually end up riding on the trail itself — at least by the time you double those miles to go home.

For others of us they are a means of travel — the daily commute — and we ride them on a regular basis. For most of this bracket their use is only during good weather, but for some the practice is persistent in both heat and cold, rain or sun. For the young, it can be the means of getting and from that first job, or to and from school and college. Routes can be congested and competed with by vehicles that don’t respect you when you fall in this category. Sometimes you get bicycle lanes. Sometimes those lanes are clear. Sometimes those lanes are full of dirt, sand, debris,. The designers of the lanes don’t really care if there are drainage grates, manhole covers, or seams between the concrete and asphalt that run parallel to the direction of progress. But those items, and those seams, are hazards to the cyclist.

An even smaller group or cyclist are those where the bicycle is their only transporation, their lifeline to everything. I’ve never met someone that I knew this was the case, but who knows which people I see carrying groceries in a bag on their handlebars might have no car, and which ones are just being adventurous.

Then there are people like the guy I saw this morning. He was sitting wrapped up in a black sleeping bag, asleep, on the Heart of America Bridge, his body blocking the northbound lane of the bicycle path across the bridge, his back to the outside concrete abutment. Next to him was a decent-looking, well-kept hybrid bicycle (mountain/commuter cross).

He had wisely chosen to fall asleep in a well-lit spot (some of the lights on the bridge are perpetually out), or with his blackness I might not have seen him and he might have been a hazard to other cyclists (Just before I saw him another cyclist had been coming toward me, all dressed in black, no bicycle lights, in the dark, and when he saw me moved INTO my lane, until I yelled a “good morning” to him and he moved back over). I was going too fast to observe much more than I have already described, except to say it was probable that his mound hid the pack that carried all (or most) of his worldly possessions. For him the bicycle might really have been transportation and the root of his nomadic home.

Earlier in the summer I had encountered someone similar, asleep on the benches outside my place of work, a bicycle next to him, when I came in early to work one morning on my bicycle. I mentioned it to security, and they checked on the man, who had rode up from Arkansas to KC for some reason. Security kindly explained to him that it was private property, and told him where he could find the shelter downtown. So I know some people travel long distances with bicycles as their only home/shelter.

Which of these roles we value is important; it determines where our resources, public and private, as a society are spent. The recreational, rather than the commuter, is in the ascendant, at least locally, as can be seen by where the resources are being spent.

#128: Wounded for Me

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(Part of a series singing through the hymnbook I grew up with: Great Hymns of the Faith)

1

Wounded for me, wounded for me,

There on the cross He was wounded for me;

Gone my transgressions and now I am free,

All because Jesus was wounded for me.

2

Dying for me, dying for me,

There on the cross He was dying for me;

Now in His death my redemption I see,

All because Jesus was dying for me.

3

Risen for me, risen for me,

Up from the grave He has risen for me;

Now evermore from death’s sting I am free,

All because Jesus has risen for me.

4

Living for me, living for me,

Up in the skies He is living fro me;

Daily He’s pleading and praying for me,

All because Jesus is living for me.

5

Coming for me, coming fro me,

One day to earth He is coming for me;

Then with what joy His dear face I shall see,

O how I praise Him — He’s coming for me!

A fall day… a fall excursion

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Yesterday was a wonderful day for a bicycle excursion after work. So I took my bicycle out on the trail, to find a lot of other people out and about.

Riding a bicycle can be a solo experience, or it can be a very social experience.The difference depends on how social I am, and how focused or social the other people I pass are.

The least social portion of the trip was the first five miles up area streets to get to the trail. Since this was during the start of rush hour, there was a lot of traffic. It could have been more social — in an unpleasant way — but yesterday no one honked horns or screamed obscenities from their window telling me to get to the sidewalk. I was able to ride all the way to the Maple Woods/Happy Rock Trail with my rights of the road as a cyclist respected by the motorists.

It was when coming down the long hill from Wal-Mart to the bridge that joined the main trail that I got my first social experience (or lack thereof). Usually this long slope gets me up to 30 mph and I have to make sure to break near the end before the jag to the bridge to be able to make the turn. But halfway down the hill there was gravel covering both sides of the sidewalk, leaving only a small clear stretch down the middle. In that middle section was a walker listening to her headphones. She must have had the volume way up, because when I started applying my breaks they squealed quite loudly for a long time, yet she never varied her walk or seemed to notice anything besides herself. She barely noticed anything when I rode past and gave her my usual “good afternoon”.

I rode the Happy Rock trail over to Happy Rock Park, where I passed several people, who did respond to my greetings, and then finished my first leg with a visit to the chiropractor’s office at Infinity Chiropractic.

When I finished there I rode back toward the park, but skirted the park, and connected to the trail north of the park and south of Maple Woods College. While cycling around the college I passed several college-aged ladies jogging. They were spread out in singles and groups of 2-3. I assumed they were a running group or cross country team from the college. All of them had good trail etiquette, and we passed nice greetings as they moved to allow me to pass.

I also passed another gentlemen who I recognized from my ride toward the park. He had been headed up the trail before I saw the chiropractor, and was now headed  back down, while I continued my course up the trail to the trail head at Barry Road.

From there I worked my way across Barry Road to reach the Line Creek Trail. That included using the nice bicycle lane east of North Oak, and riding without one to cross 169. I did a little north-south riding above Barry to find the new trails there are putting in along 152.

There is a Costco going in on the southwest corner of North Platte Purchase and 152, and on the southwest side of the intersection they have a trail all nicely paved, but unlandscaped, that I found to ride between there and Line Creek Parkway — where it joins up with Line Creek Trail and the rest of the 152 Trail. Well, actually, there were a couple of short stretches where the concrete forms were still on the trail, and I walked my bicycle across the loose gravel and dirt.But I wasn’t the only person using this probably-not-officially-open section of trail. I did pass and greet a couple of walkers coming  toward me.

Once I got on the Line Creek Trail, and started heading south, the trail traffic started picking up. Most of the people were regular trail people by the way they greeted and acknowledged me as I passed them. . There were the usual groups of families. Two groups were parents taking their kids out on their cycles with training wheels learning how to ride.

I saw several cyclists. One cyclist in particular, headed south like me, was just ahead of me on the trail. I gained on him fairly easily, but with the traffic heading toward us it took me awhile to pass him. The amazing thing was how after I passed him he seemed to go faster. I never quite got far enough ahead of him to actually get ahead of him, until he turned off at his exit point on the trail. Apparently my passing him was some sort of minor challenge.

Near the 68th St. transition I came upon a cluster of cyclists, including a couple riding a tandem bicycle. I spent about a tenth of a mile lazing along at their tempo talking to them about how easy/fun it was to ride the tandem.

I could go on about the rest of the trip, but it was pretty much the same exchanges, pleasantries, until I exited the Line Creek Trail at Riverside, and started another 5 miles of streets to get home. Once again the traffic was courteous, without insults or blaring horns.

As was stated, a nice fall day for a cycling excursion.

Fitness Update: One step forward

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Well, this past week I got back to the pool. Just one day. The rest of the week got away. And I got one more 5k on the running shoes. The rest of my fitness came in cycling and walking.

Business prevented me from reaching my numbers goal two days during the working week, but if you averaged my numbers out for the week, I would have met all my daily goals. Which raises a good question: can one exercise over one day to make up for another, and if so, to what ratio.

The other thing I will mention is my thoughts I have had on my workouts for strength training. I haven’t spent much time on that. Some thought the fall here I intend to put thought into that, and try out various things. Perhaps next year’s goals will include some more concrete items in that area. Items that won’t involve a lot of additional time — since that resources remains a valuable commodity.

#127: Hallelujah, What a Savior!

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(Part of a series singing through the hymnbook I grew up with: Great Hymns of the Faith)

1

“Man of Sorrows!” what a name

For the Son of God, who came

Ruined sinners to reclaim!

Hallelujah, what a Savior!

2

Bearing shame and scoffing rude,

In my place condemned He stood —

Sealed my pardon with His blood:

Hallelujah, what a Savior!

3

Guilty, vile and helpless we,

Spotless Lamb of God was He;

Full atonement! can it be?

Hallelujah, what a Savior!

4

Lifted up was He to die,

“It is finished”, was His cry;

Now in heav’n exalted high:

Hallelujah, what a Savior!

5

When He comes, our glorious King,

All His ransomed home to bring;

Then anew this song we’ll sing;

Hallelujah, what a Savior!

 

Stop the Dichotomies

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Two different Facebook friends recently shared related-themed articles:

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While I found the articles interesting, and germane, I still felt they had serious oversights and fallacies involved in them.

The first article starts out with a statement to “dear fellow white people”, on the assumption that white people are one unified group, just as the whole dichotomy of “black lives matters” assumes that all blacks are one unified group, arrayed against  a unified white privilege. The article goes on to encourage the thinking that continues to ghettoize the black community by insisting on black spaces and white spaces.

The article brings up the “problem” with colorblindness, that whites can ignore race, since their culture is the norm, while blacks cannot. While true in a certain extent, this misses the whole multitudes of divides among “white” culture — “hick” farmers, “hillbillies”, “rednecks”. This dominant culture is only really normative for a small portion. The rest of the whites have similar senses of being outside their own. Only from the outside — or the inside of the elite that own this norm — does “white” culture look monolithic.

And this divide also unfairly creates a false image of a monolithic black culture. This monolithic facade is actually worse for them than for whites. The monolithic white facade still gives whites something they can move in. Creating a monolithic black cultural facade fences them in. If black culture were more heterogenous, it would also be more permeable, like the heterogenity of white culture makes it permeable for its members. That permeability is how it absorbed wave after wave of immigrants. Enforced black homogenity was the primary tool for keeping them separate.

This enforced homogenity also totally externalizes the forces that shape the black community, and rob them of internal responsibility, and self-determination.

The second article takes an interesting historical example of cultural  hegemony and gives an extrapolation that seems logical, but misses so much of what really happened. The author talks about how William the Conqueror enforced French on the English as the language of culture, and how 1,000 years later we still think of the French as culturally superior. After all, we dine at a fine restaurant, but eat at a barbecue.

What he totally misses is the cultural appropriation going on. Yes, we still use those words, but they are used by the English, who now took the conqueror’s ways and one-upped him. A similar saying could be said for the Yankees — who took that label of approbation and made it a badge of honor. When he makes the statement:

Culture defines all of our social expectations, but also our social prejudices. Every single thing we do and say, we do and say in the context of our culture.

He say something that sounds profound, but misses so much of the dynamic of what is going on. He talks about making a culture normative, and how it was used to keep slaves down. What he misses is how much of black culture was, and continues to be absorbed into the normative culture.

He also misses the variation and heterogenity within the normative and non-normative cultures, or the very strength that gives to both.

The failure is looking solely at groups, instead of counting individuals.

Which is a good transition to influence number three for this post: Zootopia. This animated movie discusses prejudice in interesting ways. I’d recommend it as a good discussion piece. Because it points the way of individual initiative, opportunity, the ability to be what you choose to be, without having to deny the background of where you came from and what you are. The ability to create a new social fabric.

But that fabric doesn’t come from embracing the emblems of division from the past, of requiring the members of certain groups to act like their group, to agree politically with their group. No, it comes from them taking responsibility and individuals both within and without their groups, for the better good of everyone, regardless of those differences.

The first article encouraged you to take these online tests, to measure your unrecognized bias. I took both online response tests it recommended, and was told I tested neutral: my responses proved no bias to any skin color or race. On the contrary side, I could see bias in the tests. When the one test required me to see grief as bad, for example, instead of part of a good, healing process, it made me realize that tests can’t easily be neutral, even if by some interesting turn of events that same test declared me neutral.

But what the tests really told me was that a true colorblindness, of seeing the differences, but not requiring one to act according to the expectations of those differences, is the real way to come through this. As the movie pointed out, if we keep carrying fox repellent, we keep seeing foxes as a separate species, instead of another sentient like ourselves.