Wanting A Quiet Place To Think, I Went To The Houston Astros Game—The Right Mix Of Factors To Get Some Thinking Done In A Public Place
Wanting a quiet place to think where I could have some space, I attended the Houston Astros game this past Monday evening.
Above you see a picture I took in the second inning.
With the roof open on a warm spring evening, the game was a nice and relaxing spot for contemplation.
There was just the right mix of people around to look at and ponder, while at the same time enough room to have your distance from others. The game and the stadium offered all sorts of things to look at while not breaking your train of thought.
The Astros have in 2012 already had the smallest crowd ever recorded at Minute Maid Park for a game. With this being just April, there is plenty of time for that record to be broken again.
It is great to have a public place where you can think.
When I lived in Cincinnati, I enjoyed going to the River Downs horse track with my father. There were always some people around, but the track was built for the larger crowds that attended horse racing years ago.
You’d sit off by yourself and look at the people. Across the way there were some hills. This was just as how you can see tall Downtown Houston buildings with the roof open at Minute Maid.
At the race track you would sit there and be peaceful, and every so often some horses would run past.
Below you see a picture I took at River Downs in 2011. There was no racing that day. You could go to clubhouse and place bets on races at other tracks.
That was a fine quiet snowy day.
What I look for in a public place where I want to get some thinking done is the right combination of action, apathy, things to see such as trees or buildings or horses or a baseball game, and personal space.
I don’t want to be a hermit, but there is only a certain extent to which I want others around.
One to be fully engaged in the world is to make sure that you have some space.
Thanksgiving is coming up. It’s a day we are supposed to spend with family, eating a large meal, and watching football. If that’s what you do, good for you. You’ll get no argument here. (Despite my dislike of football and the concussionsand long-term disability suffered by football players.)
However, for many, Thanksgiving is a different holiday than the popular image of the day.
Some spend the day with friends instead of family. Some are alone.
Maybe you don’t like your family or maybe your schedule and/or budget does not allow travel to where your family lives. Maybe you’re alone at this point in life.
Whatever Thanksgiving is for you, it’s your choice or your circumstance. Many popular notions and conceptions are as unrealistic as the menu above. How many people are serving pumpkin bread in the shape of a pumpkin? Or mashed turnips?
Each year my wife goes to see her family in Chicago for Thanksgiving. For scheduling reasons, I’m unable to go with her to Chicago or to my parents home in Cincinnati. Most years I’m fortunate enough to get an offer from a co-worker here in Houston for Thanksgiving dinner. I politely decline.
Instead, I drive down to Galveston and have a day at the ocean. I eat at some seafood house. It’s always packed and I’m always the only person there alone. I survive just fine. People are too busy stuffing themselves to notice I’m alone.
One year I did not go to Galveston. Instead, I went to the House Of Pies on Kirby Drive in Houston. I had just purchased all three volumes of Robert Remini’s life of Andrew Jackson. I had a lot of reading to do. I sat in that restaurant for maybe three hours reading about President Jackson. It was a wonderful day.
In the House Of Pies that day were gay couples and folks of all types. There were all sorts of people in, I’d wager, all sorts of personal situations.
All good relationships between people have value.
All people have value.
Whatever Thanksgiving brings your way, make the best of it. Life is not like what is shown on TV commercials and TV shows. Life is what it is. You have great value.
Have a very good Thanksgiving.
Voters Of Michigan Say Thanks For Bailouts Like Settlers Thanked Native Americans For Helping Them Survive
Boone is a very good book. It shows Daniel Boone as a real person instead of some wild person out in the woods.
All people have complexities. Or–at the least—all people have the potential for complexities if they can avoid intellectual laziness and only seeking out the easiest solutions.
Daniel Boone had complex relations with Native Americans. He came into conflict with them at times, but also had unusually strong rapport with many tribes.
Boone–in this case I’m referring to the book—discusses how Native Americans helped white settlers learn how to hunt and trap and helped them survive the long winters.
Look how the natives got repaid.
Reading this last night made think about the voters of Michigan.
The people of Michigan benefited greatly from the bailouts. General Motors is profitable again and many layoffs at auto firms and at related business places were averted.
The voters of Michigan repaid this helpful and proper use of government authority and resources by voting Republican in 2010. Others who gained from the bailout no doubt stayed home on Election Day.
Our national character has both good and bad aspects.
People don’t use pay phones so much anymore.
Above you see a picture I took a few days ago of a pay phone in Houston.
Over time and as technology changes, we use different methods to communicate.
That’s okay. The only thing that matters is that we communicate our values and our care for one another as best as we are able.
This is something we all can do regardless of the specifics of how we communicate.
It is just a matter of carving out the time needed and of making the effort.
Tar Balls In Galveston—Let’s Keep The Beach Of Hope And Progress Clear Of Toxic People, Corporations & Ideas
The first tar balls that originated with the BP oil disaster have washed up on the shores of Galveston, Texas.
Those tar balls you see above are from Padre Island in Texas back in July of 2009.
Once you’ve seen one tar ball, you’ve seen them all.
From the Chronicle—
“After workers cleaned the beach, the tar balls and oil were sent to labs to be analyzed. Officials confirmed that the oil was from the Deepwater Horizon spill. However, officials said the makeup of the oil was not consistent with having traveled 400 miles in the ocean. Investigators are looking into the possibility that the oil might have been carried on the side of a ship or in the bilge of a ship that had taken in water. More tar balls were found scattered along 1.5 miles on East Galveston Beach on Sunday. Officials have not confirmed the source of those tar balls, and are expecting test results on Tuesday.”
We all want to maintain a pristine beach of hope and constructive words and deeds—Both in our own lives and for the world as a whole.
At least this is what the people I wish to have in my life might well seek to accomplish.
And yet, the tar balls of anger, ignorance and greed keep washing up in our lives.
Even when we distance ourselves from the sources of pollution— while still meeting our obligations as active and involved citizens—then a ship comes and dumps the toxins right on our beach of hope.
No tar balls were expected in Galveston, yet some have now shown-up.
Toxic people, toxic corporations, and toxic ideas never let up in trying to tar the beach.
The good thing is that the cleanup crew of purpose and resilience will meet the challenge of the tarballs.
This clean-up crew consists of our own internal resources, the support of friends and family, and the knowledge that many people are good and caring. Also part of the clean-up team are the ideals that inform good people such as kindness, fair play for all, and a just distribution of the resources of the world.
Good people, good deeds and good ideas in combination give meaning and form to our lives and ideals.
We will clean the beach of hope as often as we must, and we will make progress no matter the extent of the pollution.
Two Short Videos—The Creative And The Practical Are One In The Same And Draw Meaning And Substance From One Another
1. While politics and democracy are sometimes called the “art of the possible”, I feel these things are at core acts of creativity and imagination.
2. In political life, and in the larger sphere of our democratic freedoms and responsibilities, something is imagined as a desirable outcome and steps are planned to reach that goal.
3. Thought comes before action.
4. Also, in my view of politics and democracy, all people have the ability to understand complex things. People have more ability than they realize.
5. It is, of course, not a given that people will make the effort to try and understand complex things or that outcomes in a democracy will be positive outcomes. Believing in democracy can require a measure of nihilism.
6. What you can do about possible bad outcomes in society is do your best to be a part of society and the democracy.
7. With our minds, with effort and self-discipline, and with technology that is accessible to many, we can convey our beliefs in both a creative and practical manner. There is no contradiction between the creative and the practical.
8. There are few contradiction of any kind. Though to say this does not imply that we cannot hold strong beliefs.
9. At the top of this post are two short videos that I filmed in Houston. In each video I list a few points I’ve observed about democracy. It would not take you more than two minutes total watch both videos.
10. I made the videos with my little Flip Camera and have posted them on my blog that I get for free from WordPress.
The things we need are around us and they are accessible with effort and self-discipline. Every time is the right time to talk about freedom and democracy. All people can understand complex things and all places have value and meaning. Good outcomes are never a given and people are often brutal. The creative and the practical are one in the same and draw meaning and substance from one another.
White Working Class And Middle Class Right To Be Frustrated, As Are All Working People, But If You Try To Address Issues You Might Get Called A Socialist By Some
I read a few days ago that white working class and middle class voters are deserting the Democratic Party for 2010 and may vote strongly Republican in the upcoming midterm elections.
I can’t recall where I read this and it does not matter. I suspect you’ll read the same point many times between now and November.
White working class folks are right in that they are being screwed in many ways and that bailouts for banks and big financial institutions are helping the already wealthy. Working people of all races would be right to feel this way. The fates of all working people are connected.
And yet, when you try to give some of these folks health insurance, or if you propose a large government federal jobs program, many of these same people would call you a socialist.
Do these hard working people think the private sector is going to treat them fairly?
It is worthwhile to discuss who may be getting unfair special treatment from the government in the form of bailouts.
It might be also be so that without the bailouts, as odious as they’ve been, we might be in a depression today. A depression for the poor and working class even more severe than the one we are already experiencing.
At heart, People need to decide if the focus of their lives is going to be progress or resentment.
If people are going to be resentful and blame their problems on immigrants and whoever else—I’m not sure what I can say.
If people are going to move ahead and care about each other, then we will make progress.
Working people need to fight together as allies.
Here is 72 second video I filmed a few days ago where I list 7 points I feel relevant to the consideration of democracy.
I made this video on a public street corner, with words that I wrote, and with an inexpensive Flip Camera, because the things we need to communicate and to be creative are all around us. They are accessible.
In the background you see a street sign, a stop sign and fire hydrant. We live in a society. For better and for worse, we are one person among many.
It is time to check your Christmas list to make sure that you have done all your holiday shopping.
It’s a bit easier for me because my in-laws and Jewish and Hanukkah usually wraps up before Christmas day.
Everybody please be careful on the roads and try to enjoy the remaining days of the holiday season.
Even if you not having some type of idealized Christmas with family or with many presents under the tree, you are still of great value in the world.
The good that you are able to do and the positive relationships you have are of great value.
Please have a nice holiday.
Each year I take the lighthouse out of the closet and put it on top of my television.
If you turn on the switch, the lighthouse makes a foghorn sound.
It makes sounds of bells, waves, and seagulls.
Also, Santa and his reindeer fly around and around the lighthouse.
The holiday lighthouse is meant to welcome you for the season—And to warn you away.
In these respects, the holiday lighthouse is reflective of competing tendencies in my personality.
You may also have contradictory or competing aspects of your nature.
Please don’t shy away from these aspects of who you are.
Contradiction and conflict are an essential part of our human nature, and of the structure of all things.
An Islamic person is the alleged shooter in the Fort Hood massacre earlier this week.
There is a mosque that has connections to Houston that is under federal investigation for links to Iran—but nothing yet has been established as certain.
Muslim individauls are seen by many in our nation as guilty by defintion for acts of terrorism.
But the fact is that there are hundreds of millions of Muslims in the world, and very few of them want trouble.
They want satellite television and Coca-Cola and porn and soccer and they want their kids to be able to come to America and get high SAT math scores.
It is possible that many Muslims could be complicent by silence to bad acts. Though this is a charge that could be brought against people all around the world.
It is often the simplest stuff that needs to be repeated the most.
Even decent people can fall into a mental habit of seeing people for something other than what they truly are in life.
There are hundreds of millions of Muslim folks in the world and very few of them want any trouble.
The illustration in this post is of folks shooting alligators for the hell of it on a boat traveling on Houston’s Buffalo Bayou. This was in the late 19th-century.
People do harmful things often not for any real reason, but simply because they are able to do so.
The painting in this post is by an artist named Richard Diebenkorn. I’m sorry,but I don’t have the title of the painting.
One thing I like about this painting is the emotional distance evident between the two people while they are so clearly in each other’s presence.
A lot of times in life I talk to people I feel very distant from–Yet I can’t indicate the distance I feel.
The scene appears negative, but it shows a level of estrangement I wish I could show more often.
The woman in the picture apears on the defensive. She is standing and holding her arm while the man is sitting.
Yet it is likely that the man has caused whatever the problem is here. I hope the woman can recover the upper hand.
There is only one chair in the room that we can see. Should he not offer it to the woman? He lacks the confidence in whatever he is asserting to give up the physical advantage of having the one chair. The woman is totally revealed in front of him.
Richard Diebenkorn lived from 1922 until 1993. He is worth looking up and learning more about.
Life is more like a parliamentary democracy than a presidential system.
Life is like a parliamentary system where there is no consistent majority to be won on Election Day.
What we must try to do is cobble together a coalition of friends and family to be able to complete our term of life.
It is a coalition we have to bust our asses to maintain. If the coalition falls apart, then maybe we as individuals will fall apart.
I work hard to maintain my coalition of people in life.