"When dawn spreads its paintbrush on the plain, spilling purple... ," Songs of the Pioneers song from TV show "Wagon Train." Dawn on the mythic Santa Fe Trail, New Mexico, looking toward Raton from Cimarron. -- Clarkphoto. A curmudgeon's old-fashioned newspaper column, cross-breeding metaphors and journalism and art, for readers in 150 countries.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

125 countries with readers of blog!

Just wow! Today, someone from Fiji, clicked on this blog. Yesterday, someone from Lebanon (hope it was one of my former students). Before that, Croatia, and Palestine.
Stories coming soon on these. Thanks!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

All aboard to dreams and wishes


I've always wanted to ride in one of those sleek dome cars on a train trip through the country, especially the Rockies. Alas, so far at least.
But early today, at the Amtrak station in Oklahoma City, there was this classic. The Heartland Flyer, which runs between here and Fort Worth, must have brought it overnight. But when the train left, with my wife Susan on board for an arts conference in Ardmore, the car remained.
Ah, the dreams and wishes of such journeys.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Thought jam

Headed toward a traffic jam on I-70
I drove through Kansas City Sunday a week ago, heading for home from a visit with children in Columbia, Missouri. Leaving before sunrise, I'd made it  120 miles to the city in less than two hours, enjoying the sun coming up in the rear view mirror, dramatic lighting of the cornfields and barns with little traffic, listening to some NPR, and mostly driving in silence, enjoying the thoughts and sights of fall.
That ended  abruptly before 9 a.m., with a huge traffic jam on I-70, near where I needed to take the exit on I-435 to loop around the south side of the city. I switched to the outside lane and buzzed past. Kansas City Chiefs flags waving from some of the cars clued me in.
There was at least a two mile backup on the edit to Arrowhead Stadium. I turned south, and saw three more miles-long traffic jams of cars coming from north, south and west, trying to exit to the stadium, hours before game time.
Freed from that nightmare, I was soon in Kansas, heading southwest.
For the past two months, I'd been sailing along at slightly over the speed limit in blogging, posting almost every day, racking up record numbers of hits from visitors around the world.
But then I hit a traffic--a thought--jam. So much happening, and not sitting down and writing. So there have only been five posts this month. Blogging well requires a lot of time--just consider how long it's taken me just to put up the links for this post, and a couple of photographs. I really admire blogging friends Alan Bates' Yogi's Den, and Kurt Hochenauer for their consistency. As this blog evolves, it'll probably go to perhaps three times a week, instead of my unrealistic pressure to post daily. That will relieve some of the thought jam, I hope.
Here's what's backed up in my head, moving slowly, waiting to exit, from the past month. So many stories to tell. Click on the links or the photo for more information.
  • "The key is in the ignition," for totalitarian government in the USA, about the NSA spying on its own citizens, from our UCO Media Ethics conference.
  • How God changes your brain, about a new book I've learned about, yesterday and ordered today.
  • Barn again--barns and corn and more from a road trip to Missouri.
  • Turning the pages of several books that I have read this year.
  • "Doctors for America" poetry reading at The Paramount in OKC with poet Lauren Zuniga, for the Affordable Health Care Act.
  • "Carmina Burana," opera and program from the OKC Canterbury Choral Society. Just wow.
  • Sample more Oklahoma City area coffee houses--this is long overdue and a series to be continued.
  • "Herman" is back, hanging right outside our kitchen window. Must be fall.
  • Blogging--thoughts from colleague Kurt Hochenauer speaking to my class about blogging..  
  • Links to my students' blogs.
  • A new favorite poet Carl  Sennhenn, former Oklahoma Poet Laureate and Oklahoma Book Award winner, plus readings in The Paramount Coffee House, OKC Film Row.
  • Another article coming in the next issue of Oklahoma Today, about the Oklahoma Honor Flights to Washington D.C. for WWII veterans, a great success story.
  • And, I've added readers in two more countries, bringing the total to 123 the number of countries with readers of this blog.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The miracles of life

Miracles of life--moss, and fungus, and lichens, and more, abounding on what was once alive.
The more I travel, and look, and wonder, and read, and age, the more I'm astounded at the miracles of life on this planet. 
The seasons of life are brief.
We humans seem to think that we are the center of creation, and the last, best stage of evolution, but that is so egotistical and short-sighted, and frankly perhaps a stupid insult to both God and science.
A brochure about the Flint Hills in Kansas listed the various numbers of wildlife in a square mile...birds, reptiles, etc. It added there were 10 million insects in that small area.
I was reminded of the comment about life flourishing on earth if man went extinct, but ceasing if insects were exterminated.
As you study more about God and come closer to the Native American view that God is in everything, that all life and earth is part of God, that we are all connected, you begin to realize how small and insignificant we are. As you study science, especially the facts of our DNA, you find that we're infinitesimally different from all other humans, and even have 97 percent identical chromosomes as Chimpanzees, for instance.
The seasons of life are long.
As you look at the small things around you, at the beauty of the creation, at the age and permanence of life and the earth, I think it is possible to see God,  for what are you looking at, but God?
A walk in Rock Bridge State Park in central Missouri this last week made me more aware of how brief our life is, how much we are part of a whole, how much we should enjoy the moments we have.
Like creek water over stones.
It's an ever-changing journey, like creek water over stones, glistening in the sunlight. It's filled with mystery, and wonder, and discovery, part of a larger whole beyond our comprehension, but of an existence we are privileged to be part of.



A journey of mystery

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Cat box, blues 2

I got the cat box blues
the cat box blues

If you keep shov'ling litter
you're bound to be bitter
 I got the cat box blues
the cat box blues

It's just the pits
siftin' through the shits
I got the cat box blues
the cat box blues

Don't care what you say
when it happens ev'ry day
You get the cat box blues
the cat box blues

Don't mean to be gruff
but all that stuff
Gives you the cat box blues
the cat box blues

Life's full of poops
and lots of scoops
I got the cat box blues
the cat box blues

I don't know if you know the news
but I got the cat box blues
the cat box blues




Friday, October 4, 2013

Grief, Loneliness, and Great Writing

Be sure and read this poetic truth and insight about the death of a dog, "Soul Friend," on a favorite Oklahoma blog, Turtle Rock Farm.Soul Friend

You can't trust science

They get out of a soft bed--science--when the alarm clock goes off--science.
They flick a switch--science--and electric lights--science--come on.
They turn on the shower and hot, pressured water--science--comes out.
They dry off with an absorbent towel--science.
They  put on manufactured clothes--science--many shipped from overseas--science.
They turn on the TV--science--to check the weather forecast--science--and look at the radar map--science. 
They walk on stain-resistant carpet--science--to the kitchen where they open a refrigerator--science--, take out some pasteurized milk--science--and pour it into a plastic bowel--science--with some government-inspected cereal--science.
They brush their teeth with a plastic toothbrush--science--and cavity-fighting toothpaste--science.
They put on their glasses--science--and pour purified water--science--into a glass--science--and take their prescription medicine--science.
They turn down the thermostat--science--on the air-conditioning--science, knowing that the well-built house--science and its insulation--science--will keep it cool.
They grab a ceramic cup--science--and warm up yesterday's coffee from the coffeemaker--science--by putting it in the microwave--science.
They open the garage door by toughing a button--science, get in their car and start the gasoline--science--engine--science--with a key--science. They put the transmission--science--in reverse, and the tires--science--roll backward, onto the concrete driveway--science. They touch a button and the garage door goes down--science.
They drive down the paved street--science--over a bridge that supports the car's weight--science-- and stop at the red traffic light--science, until  it turns--science.  They see a jetliner flying--science--toward the airport. 
 They turn on the radio--science--and tune into a satellite news station--science. They hear that 97 percent of climate scientists agree humans are causing world climate change, as reported on a NASA website--science.
They hear about Oklahoma's two senators saying climate change is a hoax, and Creationists who think the world was created in six days 6,000 years ago getting on the Texas school textbook board, all claiming you can't trust science.  

++
NASA Web site 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Shutdown

"Captain, they're trying to shut down the reactor."
"I know that, Clark, and there doesn't seem to be much we can do about it, is there?"
"But we're out here light years from home, asteroids everywhere, and without power...."
He let the the thought go unsaid....sure they'd have enough oxygen for a week on the mile-long ship, but without power to keep the shields up and maneuver, it would be only a matter of time before a piece of rock hit and killed them all.
"I'd break out the spacesuits," the Captain said. "It'll give us a few more days, and by then, if they're dead, we might be able to get back there and restart the drive." He and Clark were the only survivors of the original crew of 24 on the interstellar Sojourner.  It left a year  year ago to take 249 remaining  members of a radical religious group to a new home where   they would no longer threaten the finally peaceful, unified Earth  trying to start Armageddon.
But they'd overpowered their keepers in the rear of the ship where they were quarantined. While they couldn't get to the control cabins, they'd managed to break into the reactor areas.
All the Captain and Clark could do was helplessly watch on the control monitors as they tried to sabotage the drive systems.
"Can't they set off an explosion?" Clark asked. He was a navigator, not a nukie.
"No, but they might make a mistake and release enough radiation to kill themselves," the Captain said. "That would be their own Armageddon."
"And ours," Clark thought, because then there would be no way to get back there and restart the drives, without dying of radiation.
"And for us, death by radiation or lack of oxygen, some choice," he mumbled.
"It's amazing to me that with all the planning that went into this relocation, nobody thought about the effects of a shutdown," the Captain said.
"Relocation" was such a nice word, Clark thought, thinking back to his ancient history lessons about the Earth's treatment of colonized people, like the Palestinians, the Jews, the American Indians, the slave ships. But they'd never had the chance to shut down a government. If they'd only known how easy it was to disrupt the majority.
Then he remembered, there was one instance where a radical minority back in the 21st Century caused the collapse of an entire civilization, just by forcing a shutdown of the government. At first it had just been some kind of revolt against a law, mixed in with religious fervor.
 It amazed him how the followers of religious leaders who preached love and goodwill, peace and compassion could be so hateful and violent throughout history. And of course they hadn't seen or thought about the consequences, once their government quit functioning ... uncontrolled sickness and plague, financial collapse mixed with invasions from enemies taking advantage of the paralysis. All of them ended up in labor camps and died of starvation or disease, prisoners in the land they helped destroy, with no government to protect them.
"Like us," Clark thought. "Prisoners in our own land, and about to die of starvation or sickness.
"All just because of a  shutdown."
The lights flickered and the monitors went blank. The two-hour emergency lights came on. He and the captain  reached for the spacesuits.
He heard something hit the hull of the ship, and the lights went out.