Saturday, September 24, 2011

All politics are loco

Following these early Republican presidential debates and the news coverage of the campaigns has proven yet again that the media (including Fox) want to control the outcome by following only the candidates they like and giving only brief mention of the others, in hope that no one notices.

Here are the candidates as I see them. Bear in mind, these are only my impressions an should be taken with a grain of salt. If you're offended, oh well, deal with it.

• Mitt Romney: mandatory health care = bad. Sure, it was for a state and is not the same as a federal mandate, but still, I come from that state and have family members who got screwed by that law. Seems to regurgitate talking points.

• Rick Perry: can you say, "plastic?" He feels like a politician to me. We don't need more politicians in Washington. My fear with Perry is that he will talk well to get elected, but then turn around and do whatever is politically expedient. Seems to regurgitate talking points.

• Michelle Bachman: still plastic, though she's done ok so far. Also seems to regurgitate talking points, and her hair in the one debate was just plain scary. Shallow, I know, but just the same...

• Newt Gingrich: feels like yesterday's news and doesn't seem to know where he stands on certain issues all the time. Still regurgitates talking points, but doesn't get as much time to do so as the others in debates.

• John Huntsman: I really don't know much about the guy, but in the one debate I watched, he seemed evasive and looked something like a Ken doll with grey feathering in his hair.

• Rick Santorum: I like Rick, but he's been around politics for too long. He plays the game...maybe too well.

• Ron Paul: I really used to like Ron Paul, but seein him in debate with others, he seemed a little unhinged. I like his libertarian viewpoint and agree with him almost completely on political things (with a few exceptions).

• Herman Cain: now here's the peach of the bunch (he is from Atlanta). He has a tax plan. He doesn't go back on talking points. He is impassioned and you can feel it when he speaks. He's not a political insider. I could go on, but I will stop there.

There are a few other minor candidates, but these are the most visible. The media focus so much on Perry and Romney because they are (to their way of thinking) the most beatable candidates. Let's hear more from the people with real ideas, who are more than simply guys who look good in a suit.

Strumming along

It may be an odd sight to see, but residents of East Petersburg and parts of manheim township may be starting to become accustomed to the sight of a guy on a scooter with a guitar case on his back.

As mentioned previously, I took up the guitar again a few months back. It often accompanies me to work, though I have yet to get up the nerve to take it to any parks to play. The gentlemen at the group home enjoy music of any sort, no matter how poorly played it may be, so there have been plenty of opportunities to practice.

This year, during Teen Week (my church's week of teen "camp") I had my first opportunity to play in front of a real audience. I played my harmonica as well and it was less challenging than I originally feared.

Last week, a capo and some fingernail picks were added to my inventory. I find the capo to be a little odd. I don't like how it seems to stifle the fullness of the instrument's sound, but it opens up a huge range of songs.

The fingernail picks are nice. I was playing without a pick, but since I'm a nailbiter (I know, bad habit, blah blah blah), it becomes uncomfortable after a while. Regular picks are hard to hold onto and seem to enjoy flying out of my hand, so the fingernail pick is very nice.

So the scooting guitarist rides again. Who knows, one day he might get up the nerve to play in a park, or on a sidewalk in the city. We shall see...

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Rainy Tuesday...Gotta love New England

The morning started off cloudy and dim. Not the kind of day on which one anticipates a relaxing time outdoors, but the roads were still dry and the scooter was running, so it was time to take a ride.

The first stop was Stanley Park again, to get some pictures of the flora. The light rain had left droplets on the flowers.

The roses were especially beautiful this morning.

This particular weeping spruce draws the eye as one travels toward one of the many paths leading down to the ponds. From this angle, it looks much like a slightly misshapen mastodon.

A stroll down to the duck pond and up the other side takes one past an old school house, behind which can be found the herb gardens.

This joyful little fellow seems completely unbothered by both the lack of water in his pitcher and the near miss from the tree branch that most likely came to rest there during the recent hurricane.

It was time to leave the park and continue down the road, but not before a picture was taken of the scooter in front of one of the park's many fountains.

More pictures from the weekend can be found here:

Monday, September 5, 2011

"My cathedral"

Yesterday I woke up a little later than I intended, so I did church by myself. I slung my guitar case over my shoulder and scootered to Stanley Park. While sitting in the rose garden strumming chords, I was reminded of the Chris Rice song: "My Cathedral".

The song talks of worshiping the Creator in the creation. During the hour or so that I spent in those gardens, I felt very connected to my Creator and felt cleansed by the experience.
A wedding was in the process of starting, so I found my way out of the gardens and down to the ponds. There I met this little fella sitting amongst the pond weeds in the frog pond.

My mother had a family get together planned for the afternoon, but I even found some beauty in her backyard.

Today my mother and I took a jaunt up to Deerfield, Mass. to visit Yankee Candle. We stopped at a couple of farm markets and mostly just enjoyed the conversation and time together.

There were flowers everywhere, and lush vegetation. Unfortunately, there were several places where flood damage was plainly seen. I did not get any photos of the flood damage since I was in a moving vehicle, but I may take the time tomorrow to revisit some of the places I did not get to photograph today.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Trailered and trottin'

Ok, so the title's lame, but hey.

Three weeks ago, I was given a pickup truck, so, since I was able to do so, I put the scooter on the back, strapped it down, and went north to Massachusetts. I have been long overdue for a visit home and needed some time to myself, but due to the holiday weekend, I was unwilling to travel the 300+ miles home on two wheels.

As soon as I arrived at my mother's house, the scooter came off the truck, and I took it all through about seven towns. It's running on fresh rubber since it wouldn't pass inspection without tires, and it had an oil change earlier today so performance is at peak levels. I ran it up some back roads through Russel Mass into Huntingdon, then up into Chester to a fresh water spring in Becket, then up into Blandford to walk around the fairgrounds and take in the horse draw.

I sketched a little while watching the horses, then continued on my way back down the mountains into Westfield, stopped in for supper at my mom's house, then headed to Holyoke to visit my sister and her family.

While the ride was fun and the mountain air refreshing, There was something that struck me; everything is run down, the people, the roads, the buildings. Everything.

Mills stand empty, where thirty years ago they bustling with activity.

Weeds and trees have started to reclaim these old buildings. Unfortunately, they seem to be reclaiming the people too in a way. The faces of the people I saw reflect a hopelessness I have never seen in this country. I spoke to three folks I met while riding, and each of them indicated they were out of work and unable to find any employment. These were just average folks, each of them very different in appearance and skills, and each of them struggling to cope with the difficulty finding a job in this state.

On an upward note, I visited with some old family friends who were quite taken with my scooter. They are older folks in their 70's and she's had hip surgery and can't ride his Harley. She loved the step through frame and the big wheels. So, I believe I have won another convert.

I'll have more pictures and comments in a day or two.