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Archive for the ‘1ever’ Category

santo domingo

Two days in May there was a $10 airfare deal.  NYC was already booked, so were every other city with a direct flight and prospect of an immediate adventure.  Expanding the considerations, suddenly Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic was within reach.  With $130 in taxes for int’l customs-type fees, it totalled $150 round trip.

From the moment we stepped out of the cab from the airport it was clear there would be similarities to a trip to Thailand I took years ago.  Two walking dollar bills, approached by every vendor and unofficial tour guide that eyed us from across the street. Thus the sad part of the trip – the sad part that exists anywhere you go if you do not overlook the servants (i.e. wage workers) that are busy while the leisure class waltzes.  Poverty and the grasping at crumbs from the wake of American tourists.  But today’s is a positive post, a look at the beauty of a land which so close lies, albeit across the line of 1st and 3rd worlds.

36 inch wide artist's storefront - Santo Domingo

Early as we learned of the streets and the rock walls making everything I see at home seem so new, an artist in front of his storefront beckoned us and invited us to view all he had.  I assured him I would return, but we had not put down our overnight bags or found a place to sleep, and we continued to get our bearings in the part of the city known as Zona Colonial.

Later I would buy two yellow orange red green paintings, with varying shades of b&w, from a man who laid out his canvases on the steps an entrance gated off, ancient and disused.  These were the colors of the country, bright, sunny and energetic.  Blue was in other paintings, which changed the entire mood of the work.  Blue dominated an image, like the water around them fell off an edge to isolate them from the rest of the world.  Some pieces reflected these feelings, the part of life a local feels when with no where to go they sigh.  Many pieces with only the other end of the color sprectrum showed the vibrancy of the civilization living within.

there is only one combination like me
one individual human like you

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Go Greyhound

I mapped out the road trip and calculated the cost of gas. At $400, I decided leaving my car at home was a better option, I could fly for about the same rate.

Well one leg is on the coast in South Carolina. Pawley’s Island. No planes, no trains close enough either, but the bus arrives at the next town over. And a “red eye”, I thought, would be similar to a plane, I could catch some Zzzzs and wake up at my destination. Instead it takes a multitude of changeovers, the space on bus seats makes economy planes seats look roomy, and you’re lucky to grab an hour of sleep time once you’re so tired that your surroundings take on an otherworldly feel.

All in all I give Greyhound a great rating. Hey, as I type I’m getting closer to my destination. Amidst a bit of chaos the busses arrive on schedule as the routes weave across the USA.

The complaint, the worst part of the whole experience, is the staff. A ticket agent at one station seriously seemed like she wanted to make sure no customers ever took Greyhound again. While asking a question about the transfer I was taking, she spat out a gate and time. It didn’t answer the question I was asking, it was just the answer whe was giving today.

At the next station it was the driver, who was so poor at communicating with others that it took 45 minutes to load. He ran around in circles and spent most of his energy telling people It should be so easy but they were the problem.

There are plenty of problematic characters at the bus station. Understandably the staff gets tired of dealing with the troubling few that truly are unpredictable, unprepared, and a potential threat to safety. But they throw out the baby with the bath water, and treat us all like a strange mix of children, cattle, and infectious waste that are making their day at work unnecessarily difficult.

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Each year they have a 27-block street festival on 8th street in Miami.  Went with two Cubans raised there in Little Havana, which still bears the name even if most Cuban-Americans live in different neighborhoods now.  Loads of people, $2 beer, food cooked over wood fires, knick knacks like the hand-painted refrigerator magnets I picked up, and five or six stages for bands.

I posed with Manny for evidence of our paramilitary days :

Lunch hot off the grill :

The concert-goers:

The protesters :

The eye in the sky:

Glad I went, a new experience, and sure I would go again.  But really, it was just food available on that street any day, and flags and t-shirts available anywhere in Miami, and music with bad acoustics.  A great reason to get outside on a Sunday and mix with a lot of people, and a good tour for me of Little Havana from locals, but whoever called it the “largest street fair in America” has never been north of Ft. Lauderdale.

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seeking the truth

How to deal with different beliefs among friends?  After a weighty discussion with a regular debater on the flip side of the coin, I wrote this email to one of my closest friends:

Two different points of view, we both have to answer the same question, just from contrasting sides of the table:
– You have to decide that someone involved in a religious, unintelligent, fantasy-believing group of people will not harm you by making decisions based on a foundation in the guidance of the Easter Bunny.
– I have to decide that someone denying the most powerful truth of existence (God, and his love for you) can have a stable foundation, when I know that no foundation except that in God is secure.

I have addressed this question in my mind long ago, and here we are together still.  My confidence in the future does not come from our inherent abilities or from the feeling of security that money can buy.  God gives us abilities, which we should grow and develop, such as working hard to build a career.  God provides money.  God provides oxygen.  Just as we can find reasons why oxygen exists without proving God, we can point to many reasons money is gained that seemingly have nothing to do with the Creator.  But money is a tool, not the answer itself.  There may be a direct correlation between our work and the money gained for that work, but that does not make ourselves or other people the actual source.  A person puts a plant seed in the ground, a person waters it, but that doesn’t mean the person makes it grow.  God created the soil, the water, the person, and the process by which it grows.  To deny this is to, I think, deny reality, and therefore have a less complete understanding of every past and future activity.

It seems that one refutation of my belief is that, well, if I really believed it I would live differently, and would never have any contradictions or do anything unChristian.  Perfect faith would act 100% of the time with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.  You know my flaws and that I’m nowhere close to that.  Christianity does not say, “believe this, and then you’ll be perfect and deserve blessings”.  It says, “Christ’s perfection covers your misdeeds, strive to follow his model of serving others”.

Please recognize the double-standard in place.  You constantly try to convert me to your point of view, yet if I try to convert you, in your words, “there’s no way we would be friends”.  If I refer to God’s existence as fact, you get angry, while you refer to your point of view as fact every day.  Sometimes it’s in a belittling manner, sometimes it’s in the most respectful tone you can offer toward what you consider to be a ridiculous myth.  As long as we are on different sides of this coin, it will take great effort to follow what we each believe to be true while treating the other person and their right to have a different understanding entirely with respect.

We both want the other person to believe the truth, not lies.  Not because we want the other person to concede we’re “right”, but because we care for each other deeply, and belief in a lie is a sad state to be in.  There’s no other way to say it than, God is calling for you to have the peace that only comes from knowing him.  I know you have an equally blunt and opposite statement for me.  There’s only one reality out there, and I hope we both get to as close an understanding of it as is humanly possible.

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golden tee players story

Too unorganized to post in eleventeen different places online, from new content on FoosTables to a twitter post under the PicnicGarden login.  Now i’m gonna do a fictional story about an arcade game on a new wordpress blog.  I could succeed if I stayed focused on one area.  perhaps.

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bank on it

Three banks before work.  If only that were a better thing.  Dropped off checks to business account, got cash from personal bank, paid credit card with another.   Even in the days of mostly electronic transactions, really had to go to all three.  First, you do get checks sometimes from customers/clients, so you have to physically deposit those.  Second, to get cash you must go to an ATM, preferably the one at your bank to avoid monster withdrawl fees.  Third, had trouble with the online registration with my credit card bank and gave up, so must physically go there once a month.

Even in recent days (for some even now), people and businesspeople must go to the bank every day.  And here I am complaining about it.  If we perfect the process of online commerce to completely eliminate the requirement of physically traveling to and from banks, will we do something better or worse for ourselves with the saved time?

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the friendly mutton

Christmas ’09 and the arrival of 2010 brought travels to Nashville and Indy seeing good friends and family.  The novelty of snow was at first a pleasure, but the eventual numbing of extremeties reminded me why I decided there was no reason to settle anywhere that it regularly drops below freezing.  There was a bit of homeward-pull seeing everyone, but seriously I shoveled one too many driveways in Indy to ever want to do that again.  Nashville was feeling really attractive.  In all, the Southeast is really looking best.  Nashville, Raleigh, Charlotte, Atlanta.

Also, I shaved my beard into a funky style called the Friendly Mutton Chops.

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