Photography: Ride in the Park

01trail-aAs always, click on any image to see it full-sized. CTRL-click will open the image in a separate browser tab.

02trail-bIt was a high tension workout day, but I had the itch to take some pictures. So I got out my bike and rode to the Regional Parks system to see if anything spoke to me.03trail-c Rather than associate the pictures with some kind of narrative order, I’ve grouped them by general subject. First up are some trail shots. I wanted to test some different settings on the camera and see how it affected the mixture of shadow and light from the sun.

creek-aNext are a batch of images along the banks of Soldier Creek. Again, there’s a strong interplay and light and shadow.creek-b The creek was fairly low today, but the autumn storm season has already begun, if only feebly. I’m looking forward to catching a lot of shots of heavy run-off.creek-c This tree with nearly all its roots exposed by washout is still healthy and strong.creek-d Just a little ways upstream stands this natural sandstone dam (image left) that makes a very nice spot to sit and hear Creation speak. The Parks Department put a bench there long ago, and it’s just about worn out.creek-ecreek-f One of the the major hindrances for some of these shots is that I still can’t put too much pressure on the right knee. That means limited clambering around, and for someone as adventurous as me, that’s hard to face.

park-apark-bNext are some random shots of various open areas in the parks system. This first one is in Pecan Grove Park. Pecans are just starting to ripen but the squirrels are impatient, picking some that are still just a tad green. There are already a good scattering of husks and shells on the trails. Of course, the biggest is Barnes Park, right next to the golf course.park-c At this point, the ground is down much closer to the water level of Soldier Creek and the Parks Department dredged it a bit to accommodate the wild waterfowl. This section of the creek stays full year-round.

structure-aFinally, I rode out of the park and into the edge of what was once a very busy shopping area. There’s a vacant warehouse on Republic Drive, just across the street from the Century distribution center.structure-b It’s much larger than the image through the fence indicates. Next is a few shots from an old quonset hut warehouse alongside the decommissioned tracks.structure-c I can’t recall what was there originally, but for part of my youth, Sears used it as their catalog sales facility. They had a regular small store nearby. This thing is oddly built, because the front faces the street squarely, but the quonset hut portion is parallel to the tracks, not square with the front.structure-d This old concrete pad next to the tracks was the rail dock; it used to have an adjustable steel extension for unloading rail cars. Now the pad hosts a pile of rusting rails pulled up from somewhere else on this line, plus a section of concrete conduit.

Posted in photography | 2 Comments

Anatomy of Crooked Oak Creek

01crookedsourceAs always, click on any image to see it full-sized. CTRL-click will open the image in a separate browser tab.

Crooked Oak Creek was a long ride, and quite disturbing at times. For one, the creek wanders through some serious neglect and polluting heavy industry. For another, I was using the little red Coolpix and it’s not working well. I stumbled across a reference to upgrading the firmware on the Coolpix and I thought it was working better. However, the mechanism for extending and retracting the lens is badly worn and freezes part way. It requires taking out the battery to get a reset. 02crookedsourceAlso, the lens may be out of alignment, because the shots are consistently out of focus on the upper right corner. We had a good run, little red camera, but you are officially retired.

03earlywetnessOur first two shots are two different angles looking across the lovely pasture toward a pair of small ponds rather close together, the source of Crooked Oak Creek. The willow trees mark the edge of the shallow ponds, and you may be able to discern how they lie in a shallow draw. 04crookedeasternJust behind me is the watershed between the Canadian River a couple of counties to the south and the North Canadian River just a few miles north. The creek runs across this field toward SE 89th, because the drainage ditch, then winds back around into another pond where 89th meets Eastern Avenue (above right). It crosses just a short time later (image left) still looking like a ditch, and runs northward along the west side of Eastern Avenue for a few miles. But in this first mile, it quickly picks up seasonal tributaries, making this a major creek very suddenly.

05crookedbudweiserBut while it gather size, it runs across some protected turf controlled by the Burlington Northern-Santa Fe Railway company (Flynn Yard). In fact, it follows the long entrance drive all the way back against the rail lines. The next landowner north there is Premium Beers — a massive Anheuser-Busch distribution center.06crookedi240 They doll it all up nice with a private drive that bridges the creek (image right). The next access to the creek is the north service road on Interstate 240 (image left).

07crookedse66thThis is where it gets ugly. From this point on, we pass through several miles of oil drilling equipment yards — numerous acres of pipe yard, drilling machinery, oilfield trucking, related industries and even a couple of old farm tractor outfits. This whole valley is “rough neck” territory, the nickname for oilfield drilling rig workers.08discardedasphalt And the creek shows the total contempt corporate drilling companies have for natural resources. Above right, the creek is wholly inaccessible on SE 66th because no one takes care of the creek. You can barely catch a glimpse of the dirty water from the street. I ran into that repeatedly, and they don’t want you to see it. Above left is a massive asphalt dumping yard, both paving materials and other stuff like roofing waste.09valleybrookwater That yard is for sale, abandoned without any effort at clean-up.

10crookedse44thBetween Eastern Avenue and the old Crossroads Mall (now a Mexican mall) and SE 66th to SE 59th is Valley Brook. This is easily the most corrupt and crooked little municipality in the state. Their water treatment (above right) is revoltingly primitive, sitting right on the creek bank. The water crawls out of the woods at Eastern Avenue and SE 59th (above left). The place is culturally rough-neck; the residents aren’t all low-life, but all of the business facing out on SE 59th are variations on “gentleman’s clubs.” It’s a ticket trap for drivers, as well, a major source of municipal revenue. Some time ago, the municipal judge owned the only towing business in town; think about that for a moment.

11crookedse44thSo while the creek leaves Valley Brook, it still wanders hidden behind fences that secure more oil field servicing yards. At this point most of the pollutants are particulate solids, but the moral pollution of human contempt is what really burns. 12crookedgrandblvd-aIt stinks where it crosses SE 44th (image right). But it has almost another mile of neglect and abuse hidden from sight before it catches one powerful dose of fallow regrowth just before it reaches Grand Boulevard.13crookedgrandblvd-b It approaches in a long forgotten culvert (image left), the only indicator that this area once hosted homes and businesses. The culvert ends at the road bed and forms a quiet pool on the north side of Grand Boulevard (image right). By some miracle, it now smells like a fishing pond.

14crookedeastern-bAfter crossing Eastern Avenue again, it now runs through Trosper Park and the attached golf course. The park and golf course are divided by SE 29th (image below right). But even the golf course looks the worse for wear and shows very poor management. I know a little about one because my Dad was once worked on one in Purcell, OK.15crookedse22nd There is a nice quiet street running along the northern boundary of the course, SE 22nd. Some decades ago this was all the backside of Crooked Oak school district. There isn’t any actual community by that name, but at some point the folks here chartered their own independent school district, and their mascot is — you guessed it, “the Ruffnex.” So this quiet lane runs between the golf course on the south and their school sports complex on the north, with a city parks maintenance yard squeezed in one side.

16oldcoppercreekJust a little farther east is what was once Cooper Creek Apartments. As I’ve noted before, it was a really bad experiment in project housing, being too remote from any of the typical life supports. So the frustrated little rats housed here destroyed the place and their families were evicted. The whole thing was destroyed, leaving only a vast green area still mowed by someone, but otherwise it contains a surprising number of homeless. The creek runs in the far background of this picture, and after seeing it was occupied, I decided to leave the folks to their privacy.

17crookedse15thgrandThe next access would have been SE 15th, but it crosses the curvy Grand Boulevard just a few yards from there, so I shot from a position that shows that short stretch. From here it runs up behind one of the largest salvage automobile holding yards in the state on one side, and another pipe yard on the other side. From there it runs along Bryant Avenue and down behind another long-gone apartment complex.18crookedreno This one, perched on the south side of Interstate 40, was burned out several times and is not just a green pasture. So the creek runs under I-40 there and toward Reno Avenue just below an exit ramp from the interstate (image left).

19crookedmouthJust across Reno you can see the creek run it’s final stretch into the North Canadian. This is also where that odd loop and bridge on the Eagle Lake Bike Trail stands. However, in this last image they are obscured behind the railroad bridge.

Posted in photography | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Anatomy of Cherry Creek

As always, click on any image to see it full-sized. CTRL-click will open the image in a separate browser tab.

01cherrycrksourceIt’s the only water course of significance between Crutcho Creek on the east and Crooked Oak Creek on the west (we’ll do Crooked Oak soon). There is no apparent reason for calling it Cherry Creek, since no cherries grow anywhere in this area. At any rate, it’s a minor stream that we can cover in one post, though it took two days to shoot because something interfered with the process.02cherrycrkbirth The source is a fairly high ridge just north of SE 67th near Bryant Avenue. In this image, the creek starts somewhere off to the left and above the patch of woods on the back lot of a drilling outfit. While there is a tinhorn running under this backroad, the creek itself doesn’t take shape until far below this slight elevation. The second image here (above right) shows a broad open draw where rain would run down from either side and into the center background of the picture.03cherrycrkse59th

It’s not until a half-mile downstream that it looks anything like a creek, where it runs under SE 59th (image right). This was taken Saturday and there must have been a bike ride or race, because dozens of cyclists on expensive road bikes came sailing by in little groups, heading west of SE 59th. I received some cordial greetings, of course.04cherrycrkbryant Just a short distance around the corner and north on Bryant, the creek tumbles out of an undeveloped field into this concrete culvert. This thing parallels Bryant running northward for more than a half-mile.05cherrycrkse44th At that point it swings back east behind an old strip mall and a battered apartment complex. Where it hits SE 44th the water was stagnant and smelled like sewage lying in the bottom of a very wide culvert.

06cherrycrkhartsdaleJust across the street on the north side of SE 44th is the Hartsdell district, where the creek is labeled for the first time. It is notorious for flooding enough to surge into some of the homes on either side once every few years. That school house on the right has gotten wet a few times; it’s a ratty old building belonging to OKC Schools, and my first few experiences with substitute teaching after coming home from the military took place there (1993).07hartsdaleend Cherry Creek runs like this, splitting Hartsdell until it drops off into a natural bed where the double street stops unceremoniously. It runs through some woods and out into an open field with nothing but an oil well sitting in it.08twdse29th You can just make out the heavy foliage in the bottom of the creek bed (image left).

09awayfromse29thJust across the street is the monster MTM Corporation — I can recall when it was just a single building that did trophies and plaques for local awards. Now they own a half-mile of frontage and a dozen buildings along SE 29th Street.10thruepperlyhts And Cherry Creek comes out from under SE 29th back into a culvert again that splits the MTM property. It stays in a culvert almost all the way across the whole square mile, generally referred to as Epperly Heights (image left), sometimes with vertical walls and sometimes sloped.11behindschool The only break from this routine is a patch of park behind the Epperly Heights Elementary School (image right). It’s one of numerous Lion’s Club parks in the OKC Metro, but this one is nothing to be proud of, showing few signs of significant use.

12oldironfootbridgeAs the creek runs farther north across the section, the houses are progressively less well-kept and less expensive in the first place. This battered iron footbridge is likely older than I am, and represents how long this place has been occupied by homes.

13cherrycrkse15thEventually it passes under SE 15th, where I had to contend with the overpowering smell of seasoned frying oil emitting from the Church’s Fried Chicken place off-camera to the right. 14cherrycrksunnylaneThe creek runs on behind a few very long standing commercial buildings (oh, the stories they could tell) once owned by some real estate scoundrels. Right where Interstate Highway 40 angles across the north end of Del City, the creek ducks under Sunnylane and the interstate all at the same time (image left). Running at an angle, it remains deeply buried for more than a hundred meters and emerges on the far side near a Hyundai car dealership.15floodchannel This access road runs down to Ray Trent Park, which we encountered in the survey of Crutcho Creek.16cherrycrkraytrentpk On the right here is a shot of the flood control channel that runs between the two creeks where they come within a hundred meters or so. The city parks built a multi-use path through the park and this shot was taken from a bridge, looking toward Cherry Creek. One branch of that path runs across the creek (above left) and into a housing development.

17cherrycrkrenoBack again across the AYSO soccer fields and onto Reno Avenue, it’s still rather close to Crutcho Creek, but not for long. Cherry Creek passes under Reno (image right) and turns west, while Crutcho turns east. 18cherrycrkne4th-aBut both are pretty much inaccessible for quite some ways here, running through undeveloped woodlands and lots of industrial property. We next see Cherry Creek running under NE 4th, my favorite path into OKC.19cherrycrkne4th-b Almost immediately on the other side of NE 4th the creek runs under a railroad track. This is a section of the old line that ran through Midwest City and out through southern Choctaw (right near where I used to live in that trailer park) and toward Shawnee. It’s no longer in service and the rails are slowing being pulled up one section at a time, so now this spot is just a parking place. That mattress and overstuffed chair are almost certainly washed down from some tramp camp upstream.

20cherrycrkncanAgain the creek disappears, but the area is now pretty flat and swampy. It runs behind a concrete mixing yard on one side and a sand-n-gravel depot on the other. The next time we see it is NE 10th. From here we can see where the creek empties into the North Canadian River in the distant background of this image (left).21tankfarm To give you some idea what’s down this way, most of the flood plain is occupied by sand-n-gravel storage, trucking yards, concrete and asphalt mixing plants, and several major oil company tank farms.

Posted in photography | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Reprise: Moral Reasoning

We’ve picked up a crop of new subscribers lately. It’s time for one of those periodic restatements of faith. This time I’ll emphasize the basis for our moral reasoning here.

Our fallen nature rests on trusting the intellect to handle moral questions. That’s the meaning behind the Hebrew phrase translated as “The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.” It’s “knowledge” in the sense of deciding and judging what is good and evil from our human resources, specifically as opposed to trusting in divine revelation. What is utterly opaque to Western culture is that the only way you can take advantage of divine revelation is by moving your conscious awareness into your heart-mind.

I use as a reference point two previous posts to explain what that means — Sensory Heart Science and Rebuilding Redemption. The Ancient Hebrews, as part of the Ancient Near East, regarded the heart as a superior faculty separate from the intellect; the heart is the seat of faith where God communicates through conviction. He does not address Himself to the human intellect. Even when God uses miraculous means to communicate through our human senses, He still addresses the heart, not the brain.

The convictions of your heart speak with moral authority to the mind, if you choose to let your heart rule. The mind was not designed to rule, but to organize and implement the moral reasoning of the heart. Building on this foundation, nothing I write is aimed at steering your thinking, but offering my thinking as a stimulus for your own heart-mind to consider what you have to do to obey the moral demands of your convictions. Your heart knows what God requires of you. Sometimes it speaks loudly and makes demands, pushing us to overcome inertia on some issues (assertive). But for most of us still striving to learn how the heart communicates to the mind, the majority of our discovery is when the convictions respond to some exposure (passive). My writing is meant to provoke a heart-led response first and foremost. Persuading you to agree with me is just a human desire that doesn’t rank very high in priority.

My regular readers already know that much, but there are enough new readers that it needs to be explained now and then, as the basis for some of the more radical ideas I present. Heart-led moral reasoning is not going to come up with the same answers to human problems as intellectual reasoning. On the one hand, I do continue a life-long study of Ancient Hebrew intellectual traditions, history and culture so my brain knows what to expect from the Bible. On the other hand, those Ancient Hebrews took very seriously the business of letting the heart rule. The result is that I strive to teach your mind what to expect from your heart. I get no satisfaction from people who echo my sentiments on this or that issue, but it’s a real blessing when you can describe how your heart has awakened to its role, and you have begun your own moral journey of discovery. You aren’t supposed to agree with me on details, but learn from how I get to those details.

A fundamental moral assumption in Scripture is that humans are hard-wired to live under a peculiar brand of feudalism that was once ubiquitous in the Near East. Whatever flaws we face in human society while living in this fallen world, our only hope for the blessings of God is to live in that Ancient Near Eastern feudal social structure and government. Any other form of government is morally inferior; no other can address the full range of human need for guidance and restraint from gross sin. So all your trendy “Christian” political theories are garbage against God’s revealed form of government. You cannot make sense of the Law Covenants until you first embrace Ancient Near Eastern feudalism as God’s answer to human need. Any form of democracy is a heathen concept built on rejecting God’s revelation, just as bad as tyranny.

Nobody has any business ruling your daily existence unless they are family. They can be family by blood or by covenant; indeed, the latter takes priority over DNA. But you cannot simply paste the word “covenant” over some other form of government that meets your logical and sentimental preferences. It has to be feudal in nature.

Within our modern collection of political philosophies we find a world of iniquity. All of them fundamentally reject the rule of the heart-mind. All of them are inherently materialistic, a flat rejection of revelation. Communism is easily the most materialistic of all political philosophies, and the one that suffers most from unrealistic assumptions about human nature. Socialism is hardly much different, just a little less intrusive in detailed control. Any leftist lean is inherently evil. But the right is no better. Libertarian philosophy offers zero mechanism for the necessity of moral restraint. The various flavors of conservative political leanings are simply libertarianism with restrictions. And whatever folks may imagine is centrist is just logical inconsistency. In every case, it’s asking the wrong questions.

On this basis we seldom agree with any of the specific policy agendas. This or that action might be good or might not, but without a proper foundation in moral reasoning of the heart, it’s entirely accidental.

I can also explain how our cultural mythology gets us into trouble on these things. The impulse to control in specifics (with specific requirements in outcomes) arises from the Cult of Oester inherent in the Germanic tribal background of Western Civilization. It’s reflects the Curse of the Fall on the feminine soul. The emphasis on mechanics and structure is a masculine thing arising from the appeal of reason found in Greco-Roman assumptions about reality. While this image oversimplifies, most people can see how it presents a basic pattern. So you understand that globalism is feminist-communist and nationalism is faux masculine logic. The whole mess rests on a heathen model of unnecessary conflict between male-female, feelings-logic, control-freedom, etc. The answer is not pragmatic compromise, but to move outside the broken model.

Things are further complicated because of abuse of terms. In Western mythology, the heart is just a quasi-emotional impulse that is actually the enemy of pure logic, and on a lower level than logic. When we advocate a heart-led life, it’s misread as something else. We don’t expect minds closed off to the heart to understand. It’s not incumbent on us to convince people’s minds, but to trust God for His power to provoke conviction and awaken hearts. Our calling is not persuading folks to convert, but to offer a vision that only hearts can grasp.

Posted in eldercraft | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Epistemology Wars

It’s everywhere. Every day I encounter some dispute where the opposing sides speak past each other, because each assumes a radically different reality. It’s polarizing because there is no debate at all, just yelling spite at each other as if neither side can imagine how the other could possibly disagree without forfeiting all claims to logic.

I suspect most of my readers are like me, not too happy with either side in this war of words. On the other hand, am I alone in thinking I’m a little closer to George Carlin than to the Social Justice Warriors (SJWs)? I swear I could never participate in public education ever again, because it’s largely owned by the SJWs, from preschool up through graduate schools. Then again, I’d probably find myself ostracized at a lot of private schools, too — especially the ones claiming to be Christian.

A related dispute is between the globalists and the nationalists — commies versus fascists, in practice. The polarization will result in bloodshed soon enough. I don’t favor the fascists, but they are going to win the next round here in the West, so we better get ready for it. This dispute manifests in the current international argument over Syria. The commie West is in panic because they were caught lying; they bombed the Syrian troops defending themselves against ISIS. Oh, and it looks like the evidence supports the idea a US drone fired a missile on the aid convoy in Aleppo, and then insisted Russia is to blame. It’s not that I’m in favor of Assad or Russia either one, but they are going to win this next round. Meanwhile, their opposition is using the most bizarre rhetoric.

The polarization is a false dichotomy. We don’t have to support either side, because there are simply two natural manifestations of Western epistemology. The whole argument is inherent in Western Civilization, a sort of bogus yin-yang conflict that never balances because the two sides are implacable. We can generally characterize nationalism as the masculine warrior mythology, whereas globalism is the result of feminist nest-building mythology. It’s not hard to see how that model stands behind all the various polarizing disputes we see in the world. Having rejected the Western epistemology, we are totally outside the whole thing.

Yet, we are stuck right in the middle of it. That is, we cannot escape the real-world implications of this warfare. Yet we are at war in our way, in the sense that we reject the fundamental assumptions about reality that have made all this folly mandatory. But our warfare is rooted in our otherworldly assumptions, so we fight in an entirely different manner. Indeed, God and His Creation carry the fight for us, since all we do is try to find our place and hang on as Our Sovereign carries His plans forward. By choosing God and His moral character revealed in Creation, we are choosing sides against the worldly assumptions of our Western society.

And we win. Not because they go down in flames, though they do in the long run. But we win by the very choice to withdraw from their worldly orientation. We don’t take this life too seriously; death is not a tragedy but a promotion to the next level of living. We invest our efforts in understanding God’s ways on this plane of existence so we can conform the eternal plane in advance of arriving there. Meanwhile, we have the bonus of truly enjoying this world because God shows us its true nature when we opt to move the focus of our awareness from the head to the heart. Victory here is a matter of getting deeper into the heart-mind; we kick our intellects off the throne and crown the heart-mind the ruler over the head-mind. This is what reverses the Fall and begins our release from the Curse of the Fall.

We don’t fight other people, but the fallen nature within ourselves. The rest is just picking up the plunder that God drops for us. Our divine inheritance is beyond comprehension.

Posted in sanity | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Klin blog: Psalm 119: Aleph

Westerners get the impression the Hebrews weren’t too good at math, but that has more to do with a different attitude about when and where math matters. At 176 verses, this is the longest chapter in the Bible, and with few exceptions, each verse mentions the revelation of God directly. In English we see: law, testimony, statutes, ordinances, teaching, instructions, commandments, precepts, promises, ways and word, among others. It’s also an acrostic psalm in alphabetical order, 22 stanzas of 8 lines each, one for each letter, and each line in a stanza beginning with the same Hebrew letter of the alphabet.

Obviously the psalmist strives to get across his personal experience in devotion to God in terms of what we can know of God, what He allows us to see of Him through His self-disclosure. This is culturally challenging for us because Western Christians suffer the powerful influence of Hellenized Pharisaism and the resulting legalism. This is not a question of learning the Law as legislation, but as the manifestation of God’s personal character. The Law of God is not a mere record of statements and associated events, but the indicator of moral personality. The reason for the record is the Person behind it, so any obsessive legalistic focus on the record will never come up with the right answer. God’s revelation is also the very fundamental nature of reality itself. So we note that this psalm is an elongated celebration of Scripture as the tangible expression of God Himself.

We will examine this psalm one stanza at a time.

You can read the rest of this lesson by clicking this link to Kiln of the Soul blog.

Posted in bible | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Potty Mouth

Our society’s obsession with cursing and foul language shows up as both a prissy objection to it, as well as a rejection of that standard by free use of such language. Yet even those who approve of cursing get tired of hearing someone use the f-word as verbal punctuation. The whole subject is fraught with cultural idiocy.

So it’s refreshing when we see someone actually study it with some academic rigor. We learn that most outbursts are just that — they arise from a different part of the brain than most normal speech. This is why people with Tourette’s syndrome can curse when they would really rather not.

The article also makes note of how slurs and insults fit into this whole picture. I do appreciate this bit:

Bergen does not think it wise to punish people for using slurs, as the NBA and NFL have done, or to ban or at least moderate their use, as the FCC tries to do. Rather, he advises that people who are tempted to use slurs be kinder and more respectful; conversely, those who hear them should relax and not always get so worked up. Legislation has not really worked to temper any kind of hate speech, so it is nice — although it seems naive — to think that Bergen’s common-sense approach could work.

Rule-making and legislation have no useful effect on slurs and insults (nor prejudice, for that matter), so get over it. But the article arises from Western culture and has no awareness of heart-led living, so the solution offered is pretty weak. If we bring in the heart-led factor, we discover the best way of handling this rather substantial problem is two-fold.

First, we need to discuss the nature of prejudice and what part it is meant to play in human nature. I’ve covered that before with discussing how we are hard-wired to be tribal and protective. When you make that “evil,” what’s left is racism and prejudice. It’s a serious flaw in our social mythology that rejects the utter necessity of tribal social structure. Let’s at least be aware of this issue. Then, second, we can pull that bundle of reactions out of the part of our brain that makes us blurt those things in raw emotional responses. All the artificial attempts to pull it out into rational processing have clearly failed, so let’s make it part of our moral processing, instead.

No, I am not the first person to see this, but if I tell you it comes from the Bible, most Western Christians will not be able to find it. My fellow heart-led believers who have read enough of the Bible will recognize it quickly.

Posted in eldercraft | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment