Tuesday, March 31, 2009
For those who have not read about virtual travel, I am encouraging those whom I contact on the Internet to post photos of where they live on shared photos sites, such as Google's Picasa. That way we can all travel to these places at least through shared pictures.
The idea came to me when I was doing my first virtual travel project. I was exploring some of the perimeter highways around the continental United States. I noticed that it was hard to find photos of the smaller towns around the country. I knew people lived in these places, but there were just very few photos available.
So, I thought that it would be a good project to collect photos of the area around where I live and post them. The Soquel Drive collection is the first such project. Other than falling and breaking my foot, it went rather well.
Unfortunately, people often don't find the place they live to be interesting. It is too common. However, it might prove quite interesting to other people. I know that I enjoy passing through towns as I travel. I miss the old highway systems that actually passed through towns. I go out of my way, when I can, to travel such roads.
Anyway, my little walk along Soquel Drive is presented for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy!
A life that is far from affluent tends to cause one to carefully define what is important. If caring for one's family is the priority a lot of dreams must be set aside. So it was for a large span of my life.
I do not regret going with those priorities. I am not so made that I can abandon my family as first priority in order to pursue some lesser dream. Indeed, it has been a most worthwhile investment.
My children are honorable and good people, respected in the community and a source of pride for me. My grandchildren are a delight. What sacrifices I have made have been worthwhile.
Unfortunately, the habit of self-denial and sacrifice led to a loss of my capacity to dream. With my nose to the grindstone I did not notice that the daily grind had ground me down to near failure. I got help, and following a time of healing and exercising my depressed spirit, I began again to have dreams.
The machine pictured here is a Spyder Roadster. It is a three wheeled vehicle that exists in the realm between a motorcycle and a sports car. This vehicle is interesting, and desirable. It is not specifically my dream, though having one would facilitate the dream quite nicely.
My dream is travel. Not necessarily destination travel to particular exotic locals, though I would not be averse to such travel. No, it is the highway itself that attracts me. The highway and all that exists along the ribbon passing through the land.
A Spyder would facilitate that quite nicely. Combined with a motorcycle camp trailer, it would be fabulous. It is even (nearly) affordable. A bit safer than a motorcycle, but still the "out there" experience of riding. It would require just a bit more compromise than truck camping, but it would be a much better experience.
As I said, it is not yet time for fulfilling such a dream, but I now may have the hope of doing something like this. I even have plans for a few little journeys this year to begin sampling the traveling lifestyle. Small highways that can be enjoyed in a day, or maybe two.
I have thought that it might be fun to put together various camping travel systems and try them out. One idea was a truck top tent mounted above a truck utility bed. I think a utility bed would be rather nice for camping. I like the truck top tents because they set up quickly, which would be a nice thing generally and especially nice in the event of bad weather. Camping off of the ground is also a good thing.
Once a system was built and tested, it could be sold and a new system put together. It would add a dimension to the whole travel adventure.
At present, just having dreams and making actual plans is a step upward.
If I should one day find myself riding a Spyder, so much the better. It would be a dream come true.
I know something about journal writing.
That being said, I have also learned a bit about journal writing over those many years. How can a person do something like that for so long and not learn something?
The largest lesson learned has been regarding an error in personal philosophy. I determined many years ago to live a transparent life. I don't like keeping secrets, and never had any intention of living my life for other people. As the great philosopher Popeye said, "I yam what I yam."
So, I determined to record all of me for those coming after me to read.
I failed to take into account that even those who love me might not be able to handle all of me.
You see, there are several types of journals a person might keep. Cathartic journals, where complaints and injuries might be exposed and (theoretically) healing might begin. Erotic journals, where the sensual and sexual aspects of the self might be examined and explored. Journals of personal history. Philosophical journals, in which the writer develops a way of thinking and living.
Following my theory of transparent living I put it all into my journal. Thoughts, dreams, fantasies, personal history, excerpts from things I read that I found valuable and note worthy.
I invited my wife, Linda, to read my journal and get to know me. I learned that some aspects of myself should be edited even for someone as close to me as my wife. Some portions of what has been written have troubled her, and adversely affected our relationship. Perhaps not a fatal wound, but one that has left scars.
It seems that I have never been good at understanding other people, even those whom I love and who love me.
Now my journal writing has spilled over into the blogosphere. Fortunately I have learned a few lessons. Catharsis has a place, but not here. Eroticism also does not have a home in this blog. Oh, there might be a venue for such things, but not here. Some thoughts might be recorded here, but not all thoughts.
My hand written journals remain in a box, all thirteen volumes. My digital fourteenth volume is carefully stored away. Linda has challenged me to edit the thing so that my grandchildren can safely read it. Perhaps she is right. It might not be a kindness to inflict an unedited grandpa on them.
Maybe I should just get drunk and burn it all. My journal served me in many ways, but it just may better serve as fuel for a nice fire at this point in my life. It could be a living funeral pyre, a celebration of fire and smoke and ash. As the smoke would rise and thin my life would truly become transparent.
In the end it is just ticket stubs and playbills. Just programs saved from games long ended.
So, if you are just starting your log, journal or diary, keep in mind your purpose. Divide your efforts, to ease the editing process when the day of reckoning eventually comes upon you. If you have your cathartic, erotic and other dubious writings separate from your other work, editing will be much easier and the fire much smaller.
Your children and grandchildren don't necessarily need all of you. Just give them the best parts.
Sunday, March 29, 2009
Nothing magnificent. Still, good stuff. I washed clothes and dishes. Supervised the removal of a branch from the yard that fell from a tree and interrupted our electrical power supply. Had all of the various cables put back up. The branch, by the way, was the size of many trees people have in their yard. The charming fir tree that stands in my yard has become more of a liability than I previously had thought.
Having the time, I followed some blogs more closely and took time to make more comments. That is how I got to playing a bit over at Pliny's place. I presented a few of my own thoughts, and since my view of the world is far different from that of Pliny and some of his followers, there was some word wrestling. It was fun, but there was more to that than just the exchange of ideas.
My ongoing recovery from depression required many tasks on my part. Over the course of my descent into depression I abandoned many things. Most were sacrifices to focus on care for my family, or at least I perceived them to be sacrifices. Burying myself in work to provide material necessities, I abandoned my mind. Over time it became weak and small, and I regretted the loss but continued on my path of fulfilling my obligations no matter what the cost.
To climb back up I had to renew some personal relationships, and begin exercising my mind and heart. Writing my novel was part of that. It is still unpublished, by the way, so don't look for it, yet. I have had to reduce my time working, and strive to renew myself.
In playing over at Pliny's place, I realized that I missed thinking. I have been down for a very long time, and I realize just how much I have lost and need to struggle to regain. Not everything is worth taking up again, so the overall experience has had the value of trimming and cleansing and purifying.
Over the past two years I have renewed my mind and heart, little by little, and now it is time to apply myself more diligently to what I do best. I ask questions, and find answers.
All of my life these have been both strength and weakness. I have a knack for finding the right question, and some skill in finding answers. My curiosity, however, is much larger than the span of my life will allow me to satisfy. Still, I must get on with being who I really am.
The family is grown, and I have provided adequately. I am not good at gathering wealth, due to an overall lack of interest in material things. Oh, I like to have things to use, but I have always viewed things as tools, desirable for what I could do with them. Possessing things has never been as important as access to the things I need, when I need them.
Though I must prepare for my retirement from law enforcement and get ready for a next career, more importantly I must renew myself. True renewal will rest in the hands of God, but I must participate and be active in the process.
I think that this will be an interesting journey, the rest of my life. Since here is where I am, it is here I shall begin.
Join me. I will be keeping notes.
Sunday, March 15, 2009
In arranging for the repair I met an old acquaintance, Glen McPherson. He grew up in the church my wife and I attended for many years, and like most such persons I had lost track of him. He made the service arrangements. Thursday, eight in the morning.
I arrived and dropped off the car. My plan was to get some pictures of that part of Santa Cruz to use in working on a project I had proposed on the Internet. That project was to encourage people to put photos of where they live on the Internet for virtual travelers to enjoy. I wanted to use this time to follow through on my own suggestion.
My first attempted shot told me that the batteries were depleted.
"Crap." I said. So, I did some general waiting around. The dealership associated with the service center had some nice cars. I really liked the VW convertible with the fancy letter/number name. I sat in it. I walked around it. I envisioned myself and my wife touring the country in it.
Time passed. Glen advised me that they would need more time. I agreed, and left the place. I went next door to a Walgreen's store and bought some batteries to refresh the camera. If I was heading home by bus I may as well take a walk and get some photos.
So, starting at Walgreen's on Soquel Drive in Santa Cruz, California I began my little photo tour. I walked and shot, walked and shot. At the corner of Soquel and Frederick I took a picture, then took a step.
I was on the ground before I realized that there was a curb off of which I was stepping. Pain, and concern for my camera as I managed to deflect it's fall and send it skittering across the sidewalk. I snatched the camera before it scooted into the street and began gathering my damaged self and self-esteem to get myself on my feet.
As I groped for the pole holding up the traffic light, hoping to be able to use it to stand once again, a Santa Cruz city police car pulled up next to me. He was in the lot of the gas station where I had been photographing the chocolate shop across the street just moments after my fall.
"You alright?" he asked from his place in the driver's seat. I had achieved my goal of the pole, scrabbling across the sidewalk and clutching my camera. I managed to get myself upright and began assessing what my body was telling me.
"I don't know, yet." I replied. As I made my internal assessment of my injuries I looked at the camera. He made a comment about my interest being mostly about the camera, and I am sure he was assessing me for drunkenness. It probably did not help that my taste in clothing is for the rugged and functional, a style not uncommon among the regularly drunken part of any population.
Actually, I was assessing the pain and slowly flexing various muscles to determine my physical state.
"I think I am ok." I said.
"Give us a call if you need us." the officer replied. I thanked him and shuffled toward the intersection. I reached the far side of the street before the injury to my right knee complained. I checked, and found a fist sized knot on the knee. There was a small abrasion, but the joint was functioning well enough and I figured the swelling was superficial.
The left foot was another thing. About four on the ten scale of pain, and functional. So, I began.
Shuffle, limp. Take a picture. Shuffle, limp. Take a picture. The biggest positive was the slow pace. I had time to assess potential photos, and think about my final product.
Two miles I walked. Shuffle. Limp. Take a picture. Got some good ones. I made it to the County Building, where I paid some taxes. Then off to the bus stop. I chose to stand, waiting on my damaged feet. I knew the real pain would come after I sat awhile.
I got on the bus and sat awhile. I got off at my stop and had about a two hundred yard walk to my door. It really hurt. I peaked at about seven on the pain scale.
I assessed the injuries when I got home. Not much color, little swelling in the foot. The knee had reduced to just a bit of puffiness. Not too bad.
By Saturday the swelling in the left foot had increased and generalized a bit. I finally decided I needed professional guidance. Off to the emergency room. One reason for waiting was to get in at an off time to avoid the busy hours. I hate waiting in the emergency room.
In and out in less than two hours. Pretty quick for an emergency room visit. X-rays, an expensive ace wrap and crutches. A peculiar fracture where a tendon pulled from the bone and broke a piece of bone away. It was on it's way to healing well. Not too bad.
So, I still need to finish processing my photos and get them up on the Internet. That, and perhaps I need to schedule a class or two in remedial walking.
Monday, March 2, 2009
Blogger, of course. I recognize that there are superior blogging and website options out there, but Blogger is accessible and easy. I am established, and continue to blog on Blogger. It has proved stable, and is accessible from just about any computer.
I have created a personalized front end for computer use in iGoogle. This front end has elements I have selected, including a translator and weather updates for several places I want to monitor. There are many other front end programs available, but iGoogle suites me well and has proved stable and flexible.
Google Maps, with Street View. I have been researching Interstate 395 in part by following it on Google Maps and looking in on Street View. It has been a marvelous tool. I am just beginning to build my familiarity and skill with this tool, but am growing to appreciate the value of viewing the route and many details of my future journey.
Now, Google Docs. Tonight I found a place of interest in John Day, Oregon. How to note this in preparing for my journey? I often must move from computer to computer in the course of a week. Favorites are recorded on particular computers, and not easily portable. Tonight I remembered Google Docs, and made up a document to record this place of interest.
I will be going over the route again and again, and adding to my notes. By the time I am able to make my Interstate 395 journey a reality I shall have gained more expertise in using Google tools to help me in the research, and much knowledge about the journey itself.
Portability, flexibility, stability and accessibility. Google may not be perfect, but it is very good.
Unquestionably, I am a Google Fan.
There has been plenty of Everything Else. Hence, I find my blogging to fall here more than anywhere else. I am anxious to barbecue, especially since my daughter is now in the house and she is a cook and a foodie. We sit and watch cooking shows together, making comments that sound very much like guttural expressions of longing. "I want to go everywhere and eat everything!" I declared the other day. I meant it.
I have tried to keep up on Blogs of Note, but find I am really not equipped to manage following a multitude of blogs. It may simply be my nature. I cannot easily manage a great many friends. I usually only have a few. Blogs are really relationships, in many ways. They are personal expressions more than news stories, and the people behind the blogs I embrace become important to me. I can only handle so many, and then my limited capacity for emotion is overwhelmed.
The days tick away, and my pending retirement inches closer. I look forward to it, but not so much as I would if it was retirement. It is a transition to a next career, and I still don't know what that career might be. I only have vague dreams, none of which are practical. It will still be necessary to bring in some money beyond my pension. I look forward to doing something else, but I still have no idea what something else might be.
My recent travel opportunity has been satisfying, but also serves to whet my appetite for more travel. Interstate 395 beckons, and I really want to answer the call. My son Matthew has an interest in Historic Route 66, and I share that. It would be wonderful to have the resources to follow the Mother Road with him and see all there is to see. A month might be enough.
Family and home responsibilities pull me in a different direction. There are many needs and little money or time for wandering across the face of the earth. Always the trading of one thing for another. Trading time for money to buy things for my family. Things I could easily do without, but I cannot demand austerity on their part to match my tastes and vague dreams. I am content with few possessions and much freedom, but I know that family has needs that are at odds with such a way of living.
I am happy with my blogs. I am pleased with the blogs I follow. I am excited by the prospect of exploring my world, even though I must often wait long between journeys. Through the blogs of my traveling friends I can experience the world. I am content with my family, and my sacrifices for them are worth while.
If I may not always travel and taste the world, I can bring the taste of the world home by exploring foods in my own kitchen. This is an adventure I can share with my family, even at home.
Perhaps this should be my new focus. That which I seek I can bring home in some form, and share with my family.