Friday, December 28, 2012

A Heady Xmas


Scholarship has been in overdrive around here.  I mentioned to Carol about the Business Plot, of which she had not heard, and that sent her careening through the record for several hours, looking for actual names.  She found a 1999 account that seemed more complete.  That was the failed coup attempt against FDR, never really out of the planning stage.  She'd been reading about FDR thanks to some Bob Smith library books we got through the meeting.  Seeing the film with Bill Murry playing FDR was a logical consequence (Hyde Park on Hudson).

We (Carol and I) also went to The Hobbit in IMAX 3D.  I wasn't sure she'd have that option in Whittier, where she's soon to return, and she needs to see it again anyway, for dialog, as the hearing aid makes a difference.  That, and my subsequent reading about "the making of" led me to post about Middle Earth Physics on Synergeo.  This in complement to my enjoying yakking with physics teachers.  There's been some bleed-across vis-a-vis math-teach, in terms of membership and topic, but that's all to the good I'm supposing.

Friend Robert has been nudging us to research more about Quaker attitudes towards the Yule time celebrations, originally perceived as unwelcome and alien among those outside the Latin sphere.  He quoted a diary of a Swedish tourist in Philly, 1749.  Yep, "Romanish" holidays were considered worthy of concerted inattention, in narrative deliberately contradicting the dominant culture's, another counter-cultural tradition.  Strong eddies around Xmas remain even today.

For my part, I continued with the Quaker animism theme, allowing Sarah-the-dog to run freely about the social hall (not the first dog in that building), while Tara and I helped Food Not Bombs with the Tuesday serving (Xmas Day, December 25).  SkyBlue-the-trailer got hauled in as well.

We celebrated Mike Hagmeir's birthday, "we" being Heather, myself, Mr. Ryan and Michael.  That was my first time to try Pacific Pies and then Bushwhackers, which specializes in ciders.  I stayed late at the latter to read more Unbearable Truths, a Quaker pamphlet on my reading list.  The topic of Quakers and slavery remains a focus, along with some queries:
  1. how do holders of nuclear weapons enslave humanity? and 
  2. how is slavery still practiced?
Regarding (1), the burden of cleanup and safekeeping marks a lower bound for the headaches i.e. were it only so that leaking radio-toxins were our only worry.  Regarding (2): in many ways, but enslaving future generations to clean up past messes counts as imposing a kind of involuntary servitude.

Much other family business has been going on but it was never my intention to document every coming and going.  My thanks to Lucy's family for hosting Tara on Xmas Eve (our night for The Hobbit, first of three).

Lindsey's kraut-making projects are worthy of coverage in National Geographic.  Carol is off with Barbara today on some WILPF adventure.  Wanderers have remained active.  I need to get that third bid on fixing the office back to HQS.  Shortly, I'll need to return to queue-slaying (I'm enjoying a short vacation at this time).

Mom thought Murray's FDR was too much the dirty old man and seemed to side with reviewers who insisted Daisey and Franklin had a more Victorian relationship.  I'm not about to weigh in as my memories of the political / public sphere begin with the memorial service for JFK on the Ryan family's television.

Those who actually experienced FDR (including over the radio) have their memories and hallucinations (waking dreams, imaginings).  We reserve "hallucination" for mistaking the unreal for the real, but  then ordinary daydreaming is full of made up projections.  Mom just realized she'd been picturing the Whittier Starbucks whenever I announced I was returning a bag to the one on Hawthorne (for a free 12 oz coffee).

We should admit that "reality" has a strong hallucinatory component of necessity, as we're forced to speculate in the absence of omniscience.  The J. Edgar movie had that as a theme.  He might have been involved in the Business Plot in some way.

At the cider place I used my Android to Google up images of Santa Claus owing to Coca-Cola's PR.  That company did a lot to anchor Christmas in the sugar-filled world of North America.  Sweets in winter make some sense when you're not just sitting around watching Netflix.  From my email to Robert and Friends:
PS:  I am personally not righteously bitter or angry about Xmas
celebrations and/or its commercialization, and as a former denizen of
Rome have a lot of appreciation for its imperial ways, which are not
unlike those of today's liberals, eager to include everyone in one big
happy family (pax Romana and pax Americana aren't wholly unrelated
concepts).
http://www.democraticunderground.com/articles/03/06/06_pax.html
(cited for the picture more than the text).  I don't give Catholics
all the credit though.  Our modern Santa has everything to do with
Coca-Cola company PR (ongoing, in theaters today).  This year we
mostly did Hanukkah with friends (when presents happened), foregoing
the tree and presents on Dec 25.  I do like the manger scene because
it celebrates non-humans (animals) in this space of innocence.  My
ritual around that was to let our dog freely roam around the lower
floor of the Quaker meetinghouse on Xmas, as Tara and I helped Food
Not Bombs prepare for an Xmas day serving downtown.  Sarah is clean
and has no fleas, thanks to vet visits.  I'm a "Quaker animist" in
that sense (I harbor a religious appreciation for nonhumans, including
any ETs).
http://www.flickr.com/photos/kirbyurner/8310787551/in/photostream/
Of course having Tara around is a chief joy of the season, Carol as well as she wouldn't usually be here this late into winter, right through to the next year.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Wanderers 2012.12.18

Eric Lindstrom

Don tells me Trish recruited this guest as a speaker and I should take her as a role model.  I'd been in the doghouse before, as some of my invited speakers had proved a bit shocking to our more shockable members, or maybe they'd been too religious or not religious enough...  In any case I'm happy to take Trish as a role model.  She and Eric knew each other from Apollo College, and by now I know both as excellent teachers, not run of the mill.

Eric, whom I was just meeting, has transformed himself into an urban ecologist with a focus on metropolitan creeks.  "Creek" is a lovely word evoking images of forests and wild animals, whereas the reality is more like in Spirited Away:  polluted drainage paths for industrial / human effluents.  "Preserving wetlands" was diametrically opposite what these earlier earth movers had in mind.  A manicured and paved industrial utopia, unmarred by pre-existing nature, would push creeks into culverts and underground pipes.

Eric isn't a raving "need to make a trail everywhere" guy, even though he spends a lot of time wading in creek beds and getting his hands dirty.  He's been a Marine, a photographer, a college teacher, an administrator.  He has good people skills and stays fit clambering around Fanno Creek.  His urging us to join him in exploring our watershed regions, as planners, systems students, Wanderers or whatever, was sincere.  He knows, as does Brian, another ecologist, that actual contact with the ecosystems in question makes a difference.  They need human friends in high places.  Ecotrust had the same teaching.

Ideally this'd be a book review of Up Fanno Creek, but I only just bought it last night and haven't really gotten into it yet.  I have Wittgenstein & Psychoanalysis in the queue, thanks to the Study Circle.  But when I patted my pockets for it later (it's a smallish book), all I got were dim memories of maybe having filed it on the "time capsule" (art decor hemi-cylindrical book shelves, home of a Wittgenstein collection).  A careful inspection, book by book, yielded nothingness and angst.  I did some backtracking with a flashlight but ended up ordering a new copy.  So Up Fanno Creek jumps to the front of the line then, along with From Peace to Freedom, Quaker Rhetoric and the Birth of American Antislavery, 1657 - 1761 by Brycchan Carey.

I ran into Trish earlier in the parking lot, as she was out shopping with her teenage son and his friend.  Carol got to come to this too, enjoying her newer smaller O2 tank, B size (she's till post-pneumonia).  Given Jack was a land use planner, and a huge maps fan like Eric, we both thought of him a lot.  Mom is now experimenting with my Kindle, reading Human Smoke.

A Study of Fanno Creek

Sunday, December 16, 2012