Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Got some perspective on Lubbock recently when I left it, and went to the mountains of New Mexico for a vacation. Upon my return, Lubbock was sizzling - going over a hundred every day this week, and people driving their white pickup trucks around, air-conditioned cabs and all, like this is how life is to be lived.

It brings up some interesting questions. If you can make a lot of money by being where the economy is, where people are building, and people have money, is it worth living in a hot plains, flat and dry, with a howling wind and nothing to look at? Actually I kind of like Lubbock for all those things, but you have to admit - not much of a downtown, not much for things to see as you drive around, and endless, relentless, hot & dry.

People have been nice to me in Lubbock, I'll say that. Natalie Maines complains about the culture, the churches, the pressure to be born again or whatever. That doesn't bother me. If people think that you need to be saved, and they love you, and they want to see you go to heaven instead of hell, why shouldn't they open their mouth? You can take it as genuine concern and let it go at that. They don't do that to me, because they don't know me, or maybe because they figure I'm doomed anyway, but either way, I see the church-going nature of the city as a sign of meaning well, no matter how misguided, of wanting what's best for their kids and the world.

So it's like 95, and it's only about noon, and all these white trucks are tearing around cutting me off and getting in a hurry to go somewhere or another. When you have a "peace" bumper sticker you always assume that they're cutting you off out of hostility toward your bumper sticker, but in fact they probably cut everyone off, and they're just in a hurry to get down the road to their next construction site. One guy I saw, maybe at Einstein's bagels, was all dressed up, and I was wondering, you're ok at Einsteins, and in an air-conditioned car, but can you really function in this 95 + weather, all dressed up like that? Seems like the pits of hell to me, especially the synthetic part of it, which gives me a rash. But you have to dress up, get into the political thing, impress everyone. Then, you can eat your bagels on your break.

I myself took the bagels, and headed for the mountains.

Friday, May 13, 2016

I finally decided what I like about Lubbock, or at least why I find myself generally happy here. It's a town that doesn't have much pretense. Yes, it's conservative, and people care passionately and give each other a hard time sometimes. But it's genuine. It doesn't pretend to be one thing, and then go off and do another.

The weather is kind of wacky. It's been steady 20-30 mile wind with no rain, clear blue sky, and sometimes dust in your teeth, and this has been going on all spring. Finally tonight it rained a little. It's been kind of a drought. Most years, we have two or three inches by now; apparently, so far, we only have one and a half, maybe. But it hasn't been so bad. For one thing, plenty of rain last year has left things green, and that holds down the dust. So, less dust in your teeth this year. Same steady wind, but less dust. I kind of like it. It changes all the time, and the wind is really the thing to watch and get familiar with - the wind even determines how fast the water dries that you sprinkle on your lawn. In this kind of northbound steady dry heat, watering your lawn seems especially hopeless. But, when the dust rises, you're glad for every little stump of grass that's holding out in the great outdoors.

Saw a t-shirt today that said "Dust City Hooligans," and seemed to be a soccer team. I was surprised, Dust City is another name for Lubbock; this was news to me. Dust City, somehow, sounds better than Hub City. The only good thing about being Hub City is that you can get from places like Littlefield and Plainview to places like Brownfield and Levelland - all roads go through Lubbock. Boston, too, used to be "Hub City." It struck me as nothing special. Maybe I'll rethink it somehow, so I have a good logo which I can then use on this blog.

A semester ended, and I'm free for a spell. I might be contributing here a little bit. I actually like the place - yet I have no idea what I could say that would make any difference. I'll work on it, promise. And, I haven't stopped taking pictures.

Friday, April 15, 2016

e pluribus haiku

my pride & joy; in time for international haiku day. About 500 of the haiku are new, and there is enough modification that each state is very different from last year. Available at Amazon by clicking the picture, or at the createspace store, which has the author's biography.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Golden Pecans, part II

People who know the Lubbock area probably know the place I'm talking about, out on the south edge of town going west, on the south side of the road, you run into this place that will shell your pecans, and they sell all kinds of pecan-related things: pecan bars, pecan candies, pecan mulch. I love everything about the place. I took them 26 pounds of pecans and they shelled them all for $23, giving me 26 pounds back, all in two bags, no shells in them anymore, I presume. Since pecans are ordinarily about eleven dollars a pound, I figure I saved about two hundred bucks getting out there on my hands and knees and picking them up, though I doubt I'd buy 26 pounds in a single year if it weren't for the novelty of being able to have them shelled. On the spot I gave them another thirteen pounds, and they said they'd be ready about September. I'm wondering if I'll have any of my 26 pounds left, when September rolls around. My plan is to give some away to relatives, saying that they are home-picked Texas pecans. Which they are. I'm very proud of them.

I started in with the owner about the mulch, and he gladly shared a few large handfuls with me. There are two kinds; one, he has a waiting list two years long for; it's rough, but it's highly valued, and they use it for all kinds of things. To make dyes and to make sculptures were two uses he mentioned that I remembered. The other kind is finer; it's more like mulch for your roses, and that's the kind he gave me; he said it was acidic but the roses liked it.

But then I asked him about using it on the roads in the icy season. He hadn't heard of that, and asked me where I'd heard it. I saw it, I said, in Pittsburg, Kansas, many years back. Turns out the guy was born in Pittsburg, Kansas. Still, he'd never heard of the practice. It had snowed hard one time and it was all iced up out there, and they put these pecan shells down; it would have been the rough kind. The cars kind of ground it into the ice, and it made a wonderful sound. It also worked, because ice was slick, but the rough shells had sharp edges that cut right into it, and the dirt from when it was ground up cut right into the ice. It was impressive.

He said that when they first started up that business they had way too much mulch and didn't know what to do with it. Now, they have no trouble getting rid of it at all. Lots of people are dying to put it on their roses, and in pincushions, and in lots of other things. Still, it was nice for him to just give me some; it smells good, and I'm sure it will work fine on our flowers. Acidic, maybe, but definitely the right texture.

I'm aware that they use "beet heet" these days, and cheese whey, on the roads, wanting spread that is more ecological than just salt. I stand by pecan shells. It's partly that I have a general harmony with the whole feeling of them, and am especially impressed that they seem to be abundant in the area; I didn't have too much competition, picking them up.

Friday, March 4, 2016

election day

OK I'll be straight with you, I'm a Bernie supporter, and a Democrat. As a Democrat my main concern was whether Bernie could win, given who he is, etc. but I had myself convinced that Hillary is so genuinely unpopular that Bernie had a better chance, so I was prepared to vote for Bernie in the Texas Super Tuesday Democratic primary.

But as the election neared, I had two other problems. First, I had a strong urge to vote in the Republican primary (as anyone can do in Texas; you just say which party you are or you want, at the door, and they give you that ballot) - just to register my feeling about the different Republican candidates, and second, I wanted to have a say in who got elected in the Congressional district.

In our district, this guy is retiring who has been accused locally of using the office to make himself rich; he also was unable to distinguish, back in the day, when somebody closed a federal monument, that it was the Tea Party that had closed down the government, rather than the park ranger himself, and he blasted away at the park ranger for closing down this monument. So he was kind of a laughing-stock, nationally, and very well known for greasing the wheels that got him where he was. People took care of him, financially, and he used the government to take care of them. I thought, and people keep electing this kind of guy? What's up with that?

So now you have these eight or nine candidates vying for the Republican nomination, in this district, which includes Lubbock but also Big Spring and Abilene, and the Democrats have nobody. Nobody. Not a primary race, not a single candidate, nobody. So, going into the general election, you have these Republicans, which start with a Bush advisor, then comes the mayor, then comes the steel-toed boot, then comes the ex-Marine, and they get more conservative from there. The Bush advisor, maybe, is the most liberal of the bunch. And the campaign is nasty, with apparently the dirtiest most low-down accusation they could make of each other being the mere association with the gay community, ads that say, in effect, that so-and-so ran in the color race (?), or worked in an organization that allowed gays to work there, and we might be talking about an army base here, or someone who may have had to allow gays to work there. So, if you're not strongly, publicly, energetically committed to excluding gays, you're not conservative enough? That's what it would appear. The steel-toed boot went so far as to say something like, hey, if you even appear to support the gays, that's really not what Republicanism is about, is it? At one point the poor Marine guy went into the hospital. Said he'd been attacked by terrorists, attacked by guys with guns and all, but never attacked so viciously as he was in this election.

Well under that situation, I really wanted to jump in there and say something, because, if not, anyone could be elected; that's how we got stuck with Cruz. In that kind of situation, it's whoever gets a fair number of supporters, enthusiastic or not, and the race is clearly among them; we Democrats, if we're true to ourselves, are off voting for Bernie or Hillary. And in fact, it was a raucous election, and we will get stuck with one of those guys, and if there was a large number of Democrats voting Repub I didn't see them.

At the last minute, I stuck to my Dem identity, and took a Dem ballot. I decided that if we really wanted a Dem to run we should have found a Dem to run, and run Dem. Maybe I should have done it myself. Much as I can't bear the spectrum of Repub candidates, at least they got the signatures. They got up there and ran; we didn't.

The place is crazy; it tricks you into thinking a Bush advisor is reasonable, liberal, educated, clear-thinking, acceptable. This guy advised Bush on energy issues. The others make him look like a calm, friendly, reasonable guy who would be our best choice in Congress. I can tell you this; in contrast to the others, that is true. That I could possibly consider voting for such a person is testament to how twisted my reality could possibly become, in a situation where my choice is basically so far away from my own thinking, that I question whether I can really even call it a "choice".