2013-11-26 @ 09:00 AM
The following is a text I put up this morning on the Facebook group AGENTS OF PEACE:
HUMAN NATURE AND THE PROBLEM OF PEACE
There is a quartet of terms - abuses of fundamental drives - applied to what we call human nature and if one understands how they apply to what psychologists call temperament, one sees that none of us are guiltless by nature, or even any better off than others, in contributing to the problem of…
I've long been goofily amused by advertisements and logos for restaurants or supermarkets that attempt to sell meat by using a depiction of the animal, itself, offering up some of its brothers and sisters for your dining pleasure -- clearly a traitor to his/her/its kind. The most frequent violator seems to be a pig shown dressed in a cook's outfit for the logo or sign of a BBQ place.
2013-11-18 @ 6:30 AM
(N.B.: This is a repost of a page from my personal Web site, the content of which I'm transferring to this blog little by little.)
2013-11-17 @ 8:00 PM
Esther Lamandier, PSAUMES DE DAVID (Alienor 1041 CD), Track 02.
N.B.: This is the first video I've produced which includes the consonants, vowel-points, musical accents (upon which this work is based), and other relevant signs of the Hebrew Masoretic Text (Letteris Edition). I had to put them all in laboriously by hand, using the…
2013-11-11 @ 10:34 AM
I owe to Monica D.C.M. the link to this video. It’s almost an hour long and I’ve only watched enough of it to understand its fundamental premises. Even in that short space, actor Richard Dreyfuss makes a powerful case for what he calls “common sense”, but for all his “conventional wisdom” (so to speak), he overlooks something important indeed at the beginning. He claims that the example set by the young United States – giving the common man sovereignty and education – had no precedent in 6,000 years. This is but a half-truth. Ancient Israel’s people, within the Law of Moses, had the opportunity both to gain education and to gain whatever level of personal and corporate sovereignty they needed to use it. What they didn’t have, and rightly so, was to usurp the right of their God and King to determine good and evil for their own good and to delegate to rulers He appointed the right to exercise godly religious and civil judgment over them. This is why Israel was a theocracy and then a theocratic monarchy, not a republic as some of our Founding Generation and some of their contemporaries actually argued.
So as not to play the advocate on the Agents of Peace Group on Facebook, I put what I originally intended to be my reply to Monica here. The link to this page will be reposted on the group and those interested may see my reply here.
(…) Our Bill of Rights enshrines the fundamental flaw of our entire political and religious system even as it protects us from another, equally bad mistake.
Our Founding Generation sought to establish a nation based on generalized Christian values apart from genuine Christian government. This was the fundamental confusion in their thinking, the one which set the tenor of the age. To have a republic as opposed to a genuine theocracy – or at the very least, theocratic monarchy with a successor oligarchy of faithful trustees – is a compromise with human nature which sows the seeds of its own destruction. Yes, I know our Founders saw the lack of success of people trying to establish theocracy by force (even in the UK) and reacted to that error, but their overreaction led them to miss the opportunity to establish a theocracy in truth.
We Americans pay a price for having the Second Amendment, and especially the Establishment Clause, in the Bill of Rights of our Constitution. We have no means as mortal humans of coming to and holding to ultimate truth by ourselves on anything, yet only doing so can make and keep a nation in perpetual unity, freedom and justice. On the other hand, there was a reason why no one asked the common man before to have political and religious sovereignty in a nation. Even the leaders of a human religious/civil hierarchy were fallible despite their education. Moreover, being equally fallible, the common people did no better (and no worse) when they got education. Giving it to them merely shifted the strengths and weaknesses of human society in a different direction than had usually been true before.
Richard Dreyfuss notably overlooks the example of Israel, whose people were offered all but one of the opportunities he talks about at the beginning. It was not a nation of oligarchs ruling over serfs with no hope of rising further. But it was a theocracy, despite the compromises with human nature which even the Law of Moses had to make; and so long as it wasn’t overtaken by idolatry (which happened far too often), it was a just, merciful and faithful one which encouraged people to gain literacy so they could understand the laws of their God and apply them for their own good. And from Ezra’s time onward, they finally got their act together enough to do this. It still took the invention of the printing press, and the application of educational principles, to make literacy universal. But people underestimate sometimes what Second Temple Judea had in its favor – the emphasis on education in the Jewish Diaspora, then and later, didn’t come out of nowhere.
And so I disagree with R.D.’s early statements on a vital matter. Freedom to worship according to our own consciences is not the blessing we Americans think it is. It is simply substituting personal value judgment for universal value judgment, second only to egotism (pride of spirit) as a fatal error of the human psyche. It is in fact the reason why this country and any country which follows its example ultimately will fall. It is just as bad as the opposite mistake, the imposition of arbitrary belief by arbitrary force. The only difference is we haven’t learned that lesson the hard way yet. But we will. We’re doing so already, even if most of us still don’t know it.
(יוֹחׇנׇ֥ן רַכׇּ֖ב הַסוֹפֶֽר׃)
2013-11-06 @ 10:00 PM
The weather front which had been threatening to catch up with me for several days all but did on the day of my departure. It extended across the country from Texas to Chicago and it guaranteed that flying from Chicago to Dallas, we’d be headed into 140-mph jet stream headwinds.
The trip home was something of a comedy of errors, and at least partly my fault. First, when upgrading my Chicago-Dallas leg to first class, I might’ve screwed up somebody’s system with regard to bag handling. Then, I’d failed to notice the return trip was booked to Houston Hobby (HOU), not Bush Intercontinental (IAH). (Never had online booking let me down so badly before—I simply wasn’t expecting to return to a different airport.) Third, since I didn’t discover this gaffe until I returned home, I had to cancel my ride home with SuperShuttle from IAH too late to get a refund and rebook from HOU. Finally, somehow my checked bag got put on the flight from Dallas after mine and I had to wait until well after 5 PM to get it. I wasn’t on my way home until nearly 6 PM, I think.
But home I came, with only losing my fur-lined hat on my second walkabout (don’t ask) and one of my charging plugs for the iPhone. For me, that’s doing about average—if I don’t lose something on a trip, I’ll forget to bring something. I seriously need a keeper.
Instead of showing you a dreary photo or two of the weather in Toledo and Chicago, I’ll show you something inside Chicago O’Hare: retouched with Paint Shop Pro X2, and therefore brighter than the ambient light probably was.
This is what I found when I arrived home well after dark: a note from Trish (my girlfriend) and Simba (her adorable foundling kitten). Awww.
Mission accomplished, I’d say.
(יוֹחׇנׇ֥ן רַכׇּ֖ב הַסוֹפֶֽר׃)
2013-11-05 @ 10:00 PM
While the weather promised to be warmer, the skies were gloomier on my second day of walking, and this jaunt brought me little new understanding. In fact I learned more when I did what I should’ve done before I left: made sure everything which supposedly was in one place or another, actually was in one place of another.
Above is another view of Dussel Drive looking east. In the distance is what seems to be left of the Deep Dark Forest which were on the borders of my normal wanderings as a child.
Actually I intended to go the other direction on Dussell toward Arrowhead Park, a light industrial park where Google Maps claimed the headquarters of Hickory Farms still was. I was trying to find some candy for my sister and thought there might be a store there.
Google Maps directed me here but there was no visible way in for a pedestrian. I found out later this was indeed the HQ building once, but Hickory Farms had moved their offices to downtown Toledo (see this article from last summer) and sold this building to a neighboring technical school (they didn’t tell the Toledo Blade which one, but it was this one). I also found out later that even online, Hickory Farms no longer sold the maple sugar candy which my sister remembers from her own childhood (and I sorta kinda remember, but only because I’ve been prompted).
I took a photo of these outdoor picnic tables by the complex because they looked interesting.
What made my day was a visit from a friend in Houston, Joel T., who happened to be visiting Lima, OH. at the same time. He and I went to dinner at Sahara, a Lebanese restaurant – certainly something one would never see in Maumee back in the day, although Corporal Klinger of M*A*S*H was Lebanese and – with his family – from Toledo.
I got permission from my sister to reprint her impressions and questions here and I’ll answer them in the appropriate places.
Dear Bat in my Belfry,
You remember very different things from Maumee than do I. I was puzzled at your reference to a car dealership until I read your blog post: TV commercials. I don’t remember these at all, but of course you do: you were always fascinated by commercials and came out of your room and hovered in the hallway just outside the living room to watch them. Nor do I remember [The] Andersons, and I have vague memories of the airport, that may be due more to some photos we have of us visiting once when we were six.
When we were young The Andersons’ huge grain silo was easily visible from the end of the field beyond Thackeray Road. It was and remains the tallest thing in the area, and the gravel quarry is still there too. The company itself, like so much about Maumee, has grown and diversified and you might find their Web site (especially some items on the “About Us” page) interesting.
I found out from the cab company who took me to and from Toledo Express Airport that my memories weren’t deceiving me. Back in the day TOL had much more traffic from numerous airlines going to and fro – but the airlines claimed they weren’t profiting from the business. Now only American Airlines goes there and only to and from Chicago O’Hare. Most people go through Detroit, not Toledo, if they want to get somewhere – many will deplane at Detroit and drive down to the Toledo area.
I DO remember the Rec Center, and I’m sad that the pools are gone. Do the Toledo Mud Hens still play there? And do you remember the animated displays of Winter Wonderland that happened every winter at the exhibit hall? If they still have that, you should go and get pics, although I suppose it’s still to early for holiday displays. And I wonder if Maumee High School is still there in the same place?
The ballpark is now the Ned Skeldon Stadium but isn’t used by the Mud Hens (see the Wikipedia article and the other links, which conflict as to whether the stadium is being used at all or not). As late as 2010 Santa’s Winter Wonderland was held at The Shops at Fallen Timbers in Maumee. Now it seems to be superseded by Children’s Wonderland in Sylvania. Maumee High School is certainly there but I didn’t get that far.
The parts of town that I am nostalgic for are the old movie theater downtown, and River Road with the old houses and yacht club, and the Maumee River, and the parks and Fort Meigs, and the old cemetery down by the river, and the park outside town where the Battle of Fallen Timbers was fought; and the public library. I used to ride my bike in that area a lot, and also out toward Waterville. I guess you won’t get to that part of town.
Now that I’m reminded of them, I have my own thoughts about the movie theater (some antics the Polacks and I got into there don’t bear repeating), River Road, the houses and the Yacht Club, and the Maumee River (when I had a bike capable of the journey, I often went to the river and once I rode with friends as far as Waterville). The library is a vague memory but true to form I’d want to browse in it whenever I could. The Toledo Museum of Art, in Toledo proper, is a much more prominent memory than the library as I had special summer classes there and I loved the art displays there. I actually don’t remember anything about Ft. Meigs or the Battle area, although had I seen them likely my memories would be prompted there too. I kept on remembering little details out of the blue as I encountered where they occurred.
I’m just surprised you don’t remember the drive-in theater. That’s long gone too.
But mostly what shaped my childhood – at least at the most personal and private level – was my own play in the area about to be described. My whole realm of fiction was born there, with the inestimable help of the Meyers boys.
I also think about that farmer’s field and small woods at the end of Thackaray, and the pond. According to Google Maps that field and woods are long gone, but it looks like the pond is still there. Do you remember that woods with the falling-down barn and the boarded over well? Walking in there with the afternoon sunlight slanting down through the trees, and the dust motes making the air golden in the barn. And I remember taking a raft out on that pond with Renee and having it sink, and getting my foot cut on broken glass wading back to shore, and hiding that adventure from Mom because she would be mad. And helping my friend Cathy run away from home and hide in that woods (I loaned her my girl scout camping kit), and getting whipped with a switch from the apple tree in the yard because of it.
This is as close to a straight-on view as I have of what used to be the farmer’s field, taken from Eastfield and Thackeray. The field, the barn, the well apparently [Ed.: In one of my photos I apparently did find the well, over which the timbers are now partially broken up], and many of the older trees all seem to be gone, but the woods are still there (Google Maps does show them) and are as impenetrable from the outside as I remember them. There was only one easy entrance and of course that’s long gone, but yesterday I showed part of a path which went through the woods.
I couldn’t get close enough to get a photo of the pond but I could see it’s still there as Google Maps confirms, reinforced with boulders along at least some of its banks, and quite closed to outsiders.
Now that you remind me of the other events I remember them too. But these events were peripheral to what was going on in my life and I’ve never heard of anyone being nostalgic for someone else’s memories.
I’m glad you are getting to go back. If by any chance you see some maple sugar candy there from Hickory Farms, send me some!
No such luck – even in their online catalog I could only find a bag of mints.
(יוֹחׇנׇ֥ן רַכׇּ֖ב הַסוֹפֶֽר׃)
2013-11-04 @ 07:15 AM
It took me much longer than I expected to get out of Comfort Inn West (above) and go on my walkabout. But this proved just as well as it didn’t get into the 40′s until after noon and I blessed the decision to bring my trench coat.
I headed north toward Dussel Drive, a very short walk away, and turned right toward the east. The fall colors, I supposed, were about as good as they ever get around this area – Northwest Ohio isn’t exactly known for its outstanding autumn foliage – but the planting of ornamental maples certainly helped, and I encountered plenty along the way.
I took abundant photographs at points where I thought some reminiscence of days long past would be marked. Obviously I can’t put them all here but I can give you a decent sampling.
When I was growing up, the woods on Dussel Drive were about the limit of my childhood play, at least until I got a real touring bicycle and could ride down to the Maumee River (once I traveled with the Polacks up to Waterville along the river). Those woods seemed dark and mysterious and I don’t recall venturing into them. I do recall houses beginning to be built in them. Now, those woods are but a remnant, a nice backdrop to some comfortable neighborhoods and apartment complexes.
This scene is still on Dussel Drive: autumn foliage, Maumee style, much as I remember it.
I am almost certain this drainage ditch is where I captured crayfish during the summer. The location seems right and the concrete reinforcing of the ground looks right, if weathered over forty years. But other drainage ditches and channels have been put in to protect the neighborhoods which have sprung up in the area.
One may tell much about the area by the age of the trees growing in it. Once everything west of Cass Road was farmland with woods and thickets interspersed in them. Now young trees line that north-south road and young neighborhoods and a city park have grown along its west side.
I don’t remember exactly when the children of Fairfield Elementary School (including myself) helped plant the pines (or other conifers) around the border of the property (Arbor Day, perhaps), but this is one of the trees on the south side. I might’ve planted this very tree, although I really have no idea now.
As a nod to my childhood in two ways, I took a photo of the tree with my walking stick and a toy I brought along. It’s an action figure of Alex Rider, a little under six inches tall, and looks like an older version of my favorite toy during my older elementary years and beyond (Disney‘s version of Christopher Robin – see here for the strange but true story involved).
Of course the outward form has changed greatly indeed since those days and not necessarily for the better…
This sign (as noted) was donated by parents. A great deal has been added to the playground area – even two places for skateboarders to do their tricks in. The building itself has stayed unchanged for over forty years, at least outside.
After that I headed the route I usually took home – or tried to; the shortcut I normally used to skirt Eastfield, between the houses and a neighboring field, was gone, swallowed up by newer development. I headed down Eastfield instead and marveled that I used to run most of the distance home. This is one stop along the way; my first sight of the intersection of Eastfield with the road I lived on, Thackeray Road.
This is the corner of Thackeray and Eastfield. The house on the left (with the garage) was once the home of my best friends. The house has been extended in the back and the pool has been replaced with a pool and deck area. From the looks of the place the owners are of a later generation, probably with children old enough (or adults young and fit enough) to play full-sized basketball.
At this very intersection Thackeray used to end, and there was a short fence with a sign directing traffic to the left. Eastfield ran to a dead end to the right. Beyond was a farmer’s field which was often the venue for exploration, for adventure and for the Maumee Valley Dirt Clod Throwing Championship. I used to walk a rather long way to the west: to the thicket on the farmer’s property, to the fields beyond … but not, I think, any farther than Reynolds Road.
A tree which was and remains a mystery to me was cut down between my departure and my return and I suppose these are its remains. I seem to recall it had smooth bark, much like some of the ornamental maples in the area. On the other hand it shed no maple seeds. Also, hickories (as evidenced by the nutshells lying around) seem to have sprung up of their own accord in the same area (some new sprouts still are) and that’s presumptive evidence I remember the shape of the leaves correctly but not the nature of the bark.
This is one of the hickories now growing nearby. This does seem to fit my memories of the original tree well enough. Anyway one could go around it, rest in its shade, or move on to the pond (the “lake”, it’s now called) to hunt crayfish in warm weather or to slide or skate on the ice in winter.
Already when I was about to move, an apartment complex called “Lake View Shores” was being started on the eastern shore. Not one window of the apartment blocks faced the pond – they all faced other apartments! As the project progressed, the developers decided to put the apartments so one could actually view the “lake” from some of them, and apparently they reinforced the shores with large stones. But can outsiders go to the pond and skate now? Apparently not – this fence bars them on one side and the private property notices bar them on the other.
Some things you just can’t go home again to see. Some things get ruined by other agendas, to say no more. This was the first time my heart really sank thanks to what I encountered.
I’d brought a can of my favorite coffee-cocoa drink these days for nourishment on the road and here’s a photo of the can to scale with my Alex Rider action figure (not a bad representation, independently mind you, of my own Chris Alain Starbright aka Alain Harper).
Yes, this is it: where I used to live. The maple in front has grown tremendously. On the other hand the maple in front of the house to the right, much bigger when I knew it than ours was, is gone without a trace. I wonder if disease or a wind storm took it. Anyway the garage my mother had put in is still there; even the white marble pieces used for trim, also put in by my mother, have remained unchanged in 40 years.
At the west end of Thackeray along Key Street, one encounters the north end of the Lucas Country Recreation Center. In the area you see there was an excellent swimming pool complex. Now it’s gone. The baseball stadium, further south, is still there, but I’ve yet to learn if the Toledo Mud Hens still play there. They moved to a stadium in downtown Toledo some years ago, that much I know. This is basically a parking lot for those shuttling to Mud Hens games, although there is more to the complex further in even on this end.
Headed the other direction on Thackeray all the way to Cass, I walked through a neighborhood which forty years prior had been fertile farmland. At the end of Thackeray I saw what Google Maps showed was still present: the woods where my friends and I used to go. My sister reminded me yesterday of other events concerning it in her life which I’d forgotten for many years.
Even back in the day getting into the woods was difficult at best – it’s more of a thicket than a proper woods with lots of secondary growth. It was less true then but it’s all the more true now as most of the older trees seem to be gone. It looked as if I’d have no good way of re-entering this sanctuary of my childhood.
Walking up Cass Road toward the Ohio Turnpike to the north, I unexpectedly found this entrance. It led me down a path which had been laid down by someone – perhaps the local Fire Department as a fire hydrant was located near the entrance. By this means one could pass through the woods and so fight fires occurring in that area and in the houses immediately beyond.
I flushed a doe – a white-tailed deer – while walking but managed to get two distant shots of her. Here is one – retouched, as are many of my photos, by Paint Shop Pro X2. In all the years I lived in Maumee, I never saw a deer – I had to wait until I came to Arizona, California and Texas for that.
Here was the end of the trail. Only some concrete blocks and timbers here and there along the way suggested that the farmer’s house and barn had ever existed in the area, and secondary growth probably covered what was left of both. The “No Dumping” sign was there for a reason as there was a drainage ditch which so far as I recall hadn’t been there when I grew up. One crossed over the hidden pipe to get to the lawn beyond.
I saw a sign on Dussel Drive proclaiming Maumee’s 175th anniversary and photographed it. More interesting was this sign on Cass Road headed south toward Dussel Drive. One can see how young the trees are which line the road here. Further south they’re older and taller, yet still not giants by any means.
(יוֹחׇנׇ֥ן רַכׇּ֖ב הַסוֹפֶֽר׃)
2013-11-03 10:00 PM
What has compelled me to come back to Maumee, Ohio, the small city where I spent most of my formative years (age 6 to 14), 40 years to the month—so far as I can recall—from when my mother, my sister and I moved away from it?
My standard answer? “I’ll know it when I see it.”
I’ve been dreaming—literally as well as figuratively—about returning to Maumee for years now. On the one hand, as my personality’s become more integrated some unconscious imperatives which have long been hidden have come to my awareness. On the other, the changes in where I grew up are fascinatingly, sometimes even starkly revealed by Google Maps. I’ve even seen a street view of the house in which my family lived: 4547 Thackaray Road. (The paint job had changed, the maple in front has grown huge, but the garage my mother added is still there.)
I’ve taken some photos of my trip so far on my iPhone and I may add them later to this post. I’ve spent most of today traveling from Houston to Dallas to Chicago to Toledo, and then by taxi to Maumee. And even then, by the weird circumstance of their being two Comfort Inns within an eighth of a mile of each other, I was delivered to the wrong Comfort Inn and had to walk in the cold to the other one. But it renewed the sense of place which had already come upon me once I drew near to my final destination.
Here are some observations I made along the way today:
1. DFW Airport: big. Chicago O’Hare: huge, and an architectural wonderland to boot. (I took some photos of the architecture and I hope they turn out.) Toledo Express Airport (TOL): very small, and likely almost unchanged in 40 years, but kept completely up-to-date: comfortable and attractive.
2. Seats on the larger planes used by American Airlines: pretty decent. Seats on the small planes used by AA for short jaunts: identical in appearance, but designed by the Torquemada Furniture Company. Perhaps I just sat too long in too many places by then.
3. The clouds over Northwest Ohio as I approached TOL reminded me less of clouds and more of the snow drifts of my childhood. Their quiet beauty did much to ease my physical discomfort in the Torquemada Special Edition.
4. Lucas County and its neighbors have more woodlands interspersed with farmlands than I remembered—the countryside reminded me strongly of England from the air as one approaches London Heathrow. Even some of the roads are tree-lined, although not all. The general air of settled prosperity is obvious from the air, even more obvious from the ground once you’re in the middle of it.
5. It is possible for a classic Chrysler with 300,000-plus miles on it to be used as a taxi. It is also possible for the same car to have no outward sign that it is a taxi.
6. Due to the very odd circumstances of having two Comfort Inns within an eighth of a mile in western Maumee, it is possible despite one’s best efforts to get delivered to the wrong one, and that after giving one’s ancient taxi driver the correct address. (Is it déjà vu, or did I actually dream of such a circumstance at some point?)
7. Despite what is said so often, given the right circumstances you can go home again. Not just in my cognitive perception and decision-making, but in my soulful emotions and right down to my bones, I knew I was truly coming home not long after leaving the airport. Even in early November on a moonless night, this area has a profound and underrated beauty which I find difficult to put into words. It is more than familiarity, more than memory. It is recognizing the very combination of air, water and soil which nurtured you as a child, body, soul and spirit, and understanding its fertility and soundness. Change has come here as it’s come to all places; people rush around even in the country at night as fast as Houstonians do and for far less cause; the new Kroger store which replaces an old and famous car dealership I’d so often heard about on television when growing up is like every Kroger store I’ve encountered in Houston and elsewhere. But Maumee has aged gracefully and with an eye to sound planning; and while Toledo to the north has lost population, Maumee has gained population. It has a reputation for being one of the most livable small cities in the U.S. and I can see why.
A pastor’s wife who moved with her husband to Australia quite a few years ago had this to say about my travel plans: “Forty years makes the memories and the present a challenge to put together.” No doubt this is often true. But ENFPs like myself seem to find the challenge both a psychically necessary and an energetically easy one, if not always an emotionally pleasant one. Reconciling our overwhelming experience in the present participle—not in the moment, mind you—with what we value personally, then with the logical order of our world, and finally with our past experience is what we “do”. It’s the tendency to suppress bad memories because of the effect they can have on our present joy which is bad for us. We need to learn the truth of “Blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted”, so that even when things in our memories have gone the way of the wind, we can learn from what their vanishing can teach us. The same goes with unpleasant memories which might emerge upon returning home; they too can teach us.
Tomorrow, if all goes well, I’ll be walking east from Comfort Inn West on foot, taking photos all the way. My old house is just over a mile east of here. How will I do? I’m bigger than I used to be, but I’m also slower. I’m not used to walking a mile at a stretch, let alone several miles as I’ll undoubtedly want to do tomorrow.
But I already know why I’m here, because I’ve already met what I came to find. Don’t let anyone tell you differently: sometimes you can go home again, and you may meet a part of yourself you thought was lost forever in the process.