Just because I abandoned this site for awhile doesn't mean that nothing
has been happening in our lives. Miss Jackie was born late Friday under
a double rainbow. She and her mother are doing well. Many people have
asked how they can help and while greatly appreciated, I just can't
think of anything at the moment.
The day after Jackie's birth, her eldest brother and I ran the 5K in the biggest local foot race. Doug was significantly faster than me but I measure success in completion. Doug and I also built a pergola / arbor for grapes along the side of our garage. It will also enclose a chicken coop and provide support for a hammock.
It was also Doug's 8th grade graduation. While I usually don't think much about the hoopla society seems to want to attach to every mundane event of life, I am led to reflect that I now have a child in high school. His Intermediate academic career was productive and he received a departmental award for orchestra in recognition I expect for his dancing skills with the upright bass. He developed an excellent rapport with the administration and in addition to the expected accolades, he was presented with a group photo of himself and the staff in full star wars cos-play. He said this was his favorite award of the day.
I try to accommodate requests in our home garden and this year one such request was to forgo the beets (I'm the only one who eats them) and go for some zucchini. I thought to myself that we wouldn't need any more than two plants since we really only contemplated using them for zucchini bread. I have now learned that they should be more properly referred to as the garden thug. They overshadow everything in a 2 foot radius. Cutting them back only seems to make them more vigorous and the fruit (botanically its a fruit) is pretty insane. We went to the mountains of North Carolina to escape the heat for a few days and came back to find a monster almost a meter long and 6-7 inches in diameter. My daughter and her friend dubbed it Zucchini-Zilla, dressed it in dolls clothes and pushed it around in a stroller. I had sent some Zucchini to my in-laws with my brother-in-law but this did not go as planned. He had been visiting and was driving home and I put a few Zs in a bag for him to take to his mother who I knew to enjoy them. A few weeks later I was talking with my in-laws and I asked how they enjoyed the Zs to which they responded that they had never seen them but that coincidentally my brother-in-law had been recently complaining about a funny smell in the car. A short investigation turned up the liquified remains of the Zs. We have had to expand the repertoire of Z recipes beyond bread. We have now tried Z blueberry muffins, Z breaded fries, Z and carrot bars with cream cheese frosting, and Z in pasta salad. Looking forward to trying Z pickles and Z chips but would welcome any other ideas. IF I were to do Zs again next year I'm thinking it will be a stand alone outside my raised beds and only a single plant.
I remember thinking that listening to people talk on the radio had to be the most boring thing imaginable. There were no catchy tunes to invade my head or even pictures to amuse. As I get older and discover that my music is starting to be classified as 'classic' I also find that my choice in diversions has changed. Instead of looking to escape into a fantastic story of fiction or flight of fancy in music I enjoy feeling like I have gained knowledge or at least insight. There is a sense of permanence in information that is non-existent in most fiction.
In years past, sources of information while few in number where at least easily recognizable. The daily newspaper, encyclopedia and almanacs where a reference and public broadcasts on tv and radio engaged with the new media of the day. The encyclopedias and almanacs are no longer printed and the Internet has made access to news nearly real time. The broadcast media has exploded and hundreds of channels are ready to be watched or recorded for our pleasure.
This multi-faced approach has exposed a lesser known fact of news and information reporting. Information is interpreted. We learn from a game of telephone that as information is passed from person to person, that information is changed. One's viewpoints and beliefs are injected ever so slightly into the story. We label sources are being 'liberal' or 'conservative' but even this is a biased viewpoint to suggest that every thought can be reduced to a simple one dimensional continuum. I could describe myself as generally conservative but with some decidedly libertarian beliefs and the occasional hippie bent as I advocate locally sourced food.
I have heard it said that you can wake up in the morning and someone in the media already agrees with you. To extend this, there are many in the media that disagree with you in varying levels. On the way outside end of a spectrum or circle or sphere (choose your own metaphor) are the advocates like Ann the vulture and Rachel the mad cow who are not so much trying to report as trying to reduce recent happenings to support a general thesis that they are propounding. I usually give them a complete miss as I think at least half of what they discuss falls into the realm of fiction and not information anyway. Just slightly in of that are the national level media including AP news sources, NPR and even aggregaters like Yahoo news. They still show a bias in word choice and which news trends to follow but mostly they stick to supportable information. I'll include that the best source of information is direct observations but in the absence of that possibility, one has to do the best they can with the resources at hand.
I could choose to seek sources that reflected my own thoughts and feelings. This would certainly make for a comforting existence where the sources of information I look to are mostly in agreement with me but I think this is not good for me. I listen to NPR (and other main stream media) as a way to challenge my own thoughts. It stands as a reminder that every story told reveals the desires of the storyteller. I gain a comfort in knowing that I am not only listening, I am thinking. If I find myself disagreeing with a news items coverage, I have to take a moment and work out why I disagree. I sometimes find that I am not in disagreement which thought would perhaps have never occurred had I not risked changing my mind. I am not an argumentative person by nature but I don't want to become complacent or lazy in my thoughts and beliefs. Just like going for a run or to the Gym exercises the the body, listening daily to someone you may disagree with is exercise for the mind.
Cheryl and I went running yesterday on a very nice trail the city has built along the river. To be more precise, Cheryl was running and I was following along sweating and panting heavily enough to be mistaken for a stalking pervert. We have run this trail a few times in the past and it is rather pleasant with its views and relatively (not quite Disney level) well kept appearance. This time, as an added feature, someone(s) had written affirmations in sidewalk chalk for at least a mile of the path.
I don't believe I am the only person who feels disgusted by what I know I look like running and perhaps there are even people who feel disgusted by what they look like while running. Having a random anonymous stranger tell me that I am loved and I can conquer this mountain had more of an affect on me than I would have anticipated. I know that I was not the direct target of those sayings and the writer probably had no idea anyone else would derive benefit from them but I still appreciated them very much so, to the random anonymous person, Thanks.
This reminds me of another topic I have been thinking about. Sometimes as I walk from where I parked the car to a store entrance (any random store really), I might see some drifting piece of plastic or paper wafting along. As I see it go by many times I have a brief mini debate on whether to chase after it to throw it into a garbage can at least. I don't have any hard and fast rules about speed of wind or distance to rubbish but I would like to say that at least half the time I'll grab it. As I drive along later I might see this same sort of flotsam accumulating in fence lines and I will either feel good about being part of the solution or bad about being part of the problem. Was it my fault the plastic bag is floating around loss, not really, but it is my fault if I ignore it and my chance to do something about it.
I love the cubscout pinewood derby. When my first born son was put into my arms one of the first things I looked forward to was the derby. For the last many years, I have taken on running the derby as my own special project and we held our pack's derby this past weekend at church and in coordination with a chili cookoff and had a blast. A lot of people came out and in addition to the cubs, there was an 'open' class for anyone who wanted to bring a car for separate racing. The rules for open where more relaxed (i.e. no combustibles) and I also made an effort to keep the event exciting by reducing the time between races. This seemed to work and the crowd excitement seemed somewhat constant.
I've also helped the boys (and anyone else interested) in making their cars and I really like that one of the lessons of the derby is that there are no shortcuts to making a fast car. Most folks focus on car shape and design which is one part of the equation but miss out on proper weight and reduction of friction. These three pieces of the puzzle work together to make a faster car. The designs this year where great and I wish I had time to take more pictures but I was managing brackets and shuffling cars.
I usually make a car myself each year and this year went with a classic race car design. It is a model of a 1939 Auto Union Type D And I was really pleased with the results. I've included pictures of my car and the original below for comparison.
Front View Model
Top View Model
The car also performed well and won the open division but not without some close competition. I realize of course that I now have a large target on my back for next year but that just makes it more fun.
Since my birthday, I've been working on knitting a Doctor Who scarf (See above). Tonight I finished it. It's more than a relief, it's a source of joy and happiness. I have happy memories of watching Tom Baker's adventures and then Peter Davison. This project was started on my birthday as a sort of gift to myself. I got real wool and I'll smile every time I wear it.