Back from the dead on here. A manic month is behind us which involved moving and all the joys that a move contains. Unpacking is preceding apace and things are just starting to settle down (a little). I feel like I have less and less to say the older I get, because I think it’s all been said before, but I should try to write a bit on here. We’ll see.
When I think about peak oil, the bankruptcy of Medicare and Social Security and the trend of this country I think that I will be like a pensioner in Russia following the Soviet collapse. All trends point towards implosion right around the time I want to retire: the 2040’s. So my future may involve collecting a meager check from the collapsed state in a future post-collapse America.
It seems like the challenge I face in this world is that I am drowning under waves of information. Twitter feeds, Facebook stream, Google Reader constantly shooting more articles at me. Newspapers arriving at the door, books glaring from the shelf, papers on various subjects. Movies to watch, shows to keep up with, sports talk bombarding me with the soap opera that is the NFL.
All of it crashes in upon my brain every day and I have to try to prune it back, manage it, reduce my inbox, get my unread items to zero. I am tempted to cut the tether binding me to the Empire of Information, but I can’t summon the willpower to do it. What if I miss some amazing trend in theology or come up short when someone mentions the name of a 16th century author whose works have recently been unearthed from a dig in central Saxony? I would like to change, but not today, not today Lord.
The weather is consistently in the 70’s here, not really Fall-like, but not summer either. Very few acorns this year, following last year’s complete zero and the massive amount in 07. I saw one tree on another block with tons of acorns, but that’s it.
I saw a mouse crossing the road yesterday. I also saw a young doe maybe 20 feet from me that waited until I got closer to run.
I met some guys to learn book binding yesterday and that was fun. All I did was fold paper, make a tool, punch holes in the paper and wax string. I didn’t have time to get to sewing and binding. I’d like to learn how to do it and start doing it at home, but I think that’s a long way off right now.
Here’s a super cheap seminary that I might go to. Or not.
Great to see Notre Dame win yesterday, but I wish they would dominate a game once or twice.
I’ve been walking every day for about three months now. This has given me a wealth of insight into how my neck of the woods functions which I was not aware of when I was more housebound. Here are some of my observations:
* This is a “duh” observation, but being outside and seeing the world in ways that exceed walking to and from a big-box store, a restaurant, or your workplace, gives you a completely different feeling about reality. I’m sure that if I hiked or camped or hunted, this would go up another few orders of magnitude, but since I am an avid indoorsman, that won’t be happening. This is probably as much nature as I’m going to willingly experience. With that said, my subdivision is basically a big forest with lakes and creeks in the middle of it, and I see deer, turtles, vultures and other things as I walk, so this isn’t a heavily suburbanized area.
* Kids don’t play outside much, if at all in 2009. While I don’t want to overplay the “back when I was a kid” angle on things, I think that kids did play out way more back then, and that this number has been progressively declining since the advent of game systems. When I was a kid, I think that my brothers had played outside way more than I did a decade earlier when they lived in the city and did lots of stuff. I grew up in the burbs and was hardly playing outside all the time, BUT, I do remember playing variations of “go fish” with the neighborhood kids, riding bikes, exploring around my subdivision, and so on. When I walk, I almost never see kids of any age on the streets, running around, or anywhere. I don’t walk past our pool, and I know kids go there more than anything, but still, there doesn’t seem to be any version of neighborhood football, baseball or anything going on.
Additionally, lots of folks have big playground-type equipment in their own back yards. These include swings, slides, and that stuff. I have never once seen a single kid on these units. Of course, I’m only walking once a day, often at night, so maybe my timing is just off. But I find it hard to believe that kids are playing on these things all the time and I’m always missing it. I think that kids just can’t be bothered with this stuff and that parents buy it for nothing. The parents think it will be great and it ends up being a gathering place for wasps nests.
On a couple occasions I have seen some teens walking from one place to another, but that’s about it. I guess most little kids play inside, watch TV, play video games, or maybe play in their driveway. I don’t see the old neighborhood pack of kids around.
* I rarely see adults outside either. In most cases when I do see adults, they are working on their yard, working on a car, or messing around in the garage. I have seen some poker games going on in garages, some birthday party crowds, and an occasional porch-sitter, but overwhelmingly people are inside.
It is sometimes eerie how desolate it seems out there. I am walking by homes with people in them, but you almost wouldn’t know it. The streets are deserted, all I hear are bugs and birds, and it’s lonely in the middle of a bunch of houses. A contributing factor is that all the homes are built far back from the street and there are no sidewalks, so there is no sense of community, rather it is isolated homes that have trees between them. It is the quintessentially American idea of “leave me alone” that wants as much land as possible and as much distance from neighbors as possible. And since I know a bit about my neighbors, I can’t say that I disagree in reality with this approach, though it feels wrong.
A lot of folks have the idea that the entire East Coast is a concrete jungle. When I say that I commute for an hour, people envision cars backed up for miles and hot tempers. But mostly I drive by longhorn steer and horses. Here are some examples:
This is near work, where I turn onto the back roads.
A farm near work, the angle of the cell phone makes the fence look weird.
The railroad stop in Catlett, a small down.
A house with a hedge in Catlett.
Fields near Catlett.
Farm living is the life for me.
A hilly road.
A farm near the Rappahanock.
The Kelly’s Ford Equestrian Center.
The Inn at Kelly’s Ford. Kelly’s Ford is the site of a cavalry skirmish during the War Between the States.
A one-lane bridge that I have to cross.
It seems like everyone is leaving the blogosphere for Facebook and Twitter. Millions of blogs are now un-maintained and decaying like the online detrius of a flimsy revolution. I have been a reader of blogs since almost the beginning, so this is odd to watch. Facebook seems even more like just shouting at each other than blogs do, which is hard to believe!
The bright side: my blog may now become famous! By sheer persistence, I will be one of the few blogs left that actually gets a post every once in a blue moon. My stubbornness will result in blog world domination! Of course, no one will read it anymore, but I will have won!
The End of the Historical-Critical Method, Gerhard Maier
Angels in the Architecture, Jones, Wilson
The Last Tycoon, F. Scott Fitzgerald
Theses On Worship, James Jordan
The Best of the Public Square, Book Two, Richard John Neuhaus
The Cult of the Saints, Peter Brown
The Country Parson, George Herbert
Sometimes, the way things are seems very strange when you think about it. For example, imagine two buildings across the street from each other, both are offices of about the same size. These buildings house two different companies. Every day, people drive down the same street from different places and arrive at these same two locations. They work, talk, go to lunch, work some more and then drive home.
Physically, you could walk across the street and enter the other building. You could go there and walk around, seeing what this building is like and talking to the people in the various cubes and offices. But in actuality, you can’t do that. It may be fenced in, or require a badge to enter, or have locks that keep you out. More importantly, these two companies may be in completely different fields, so that you stand little chance of entering the other organization, even if you want to. The requirements of the organization across the street might be for completely different skills than you have. They might have age requirements that bar you from working there, or it might be the kind of organization that has sites all over the country and if you were to work for them, there would be no guarantee that you could work in the location across the street – you might end up in Alabama instead. And yet, you can look out your office window every day and see the folks over there walking to and from their cars or smoking a cigarette.
I find this notion of physical proximity and relational distance to be extremely odd. It doesn’t seem natural that you should have no idea who the folks across the street are, what they do, or where they live. Sometimes this can be different offices inside the same building, which is just as odd. In the historical past that I imagine, I cannot conceive of people working on the same street and not knowing each other. The butcher and the tanner across the street from each other must have known each other back then – no?
But this relational separation exists on many more levels than just that of the office. I don’t know much about most of my neighbors – where they work, their names, what they are like, etc. Frankly, the ones that I do know I sort of wish I didn’t, but that’s my problem. Churches might be on the same block, or in some close proximity to each other, and yet have absolutely no idea about each other – who the congregants are, how they worship, what they believe, how they serve the community. It’s as if spatial proximity means nothing in the modern age. This seems wrong and disordered somehow.