Anatomy of Lightning Creek, Part 2

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

Where Lightning Creek crosses Grand Boulevard, it’s called Oliver Park. At this point, once you get below the stagnant stretch coming into this park, there is typically at least a trickle year round.02catchmentbasin-c Just across Grand Boulevard and the bike trail is Catchment Basin C. This one the city has worked on recently, expanding it considerably. Here in the basin is another deeper section forming a much longer stagnant pool. You can’t see it easily in this image, but if you look left beyond those two small trees, the basin extends back a ways off-camera so that it has a high point running out in the middle. The creek comes in along the east side, and then wanders slowly across to the west side.

03lighteningcrkse29th It departs the basin under SW 29th Street. This is where it floods every time the city gets a heavy rain. As you come off the bridge to the right, the street level drops a good bit and this section of street is where the flood water sits for at least a few hours. However, the basin expansion came since the last big flooding rain, so that may be a thing of the past. This hasn’t been a particularly dry summer, but the rain hasn’t been heavy since early last spring.

From this point, the creek wanders through the eastern half of Capitol Hill. At some time before WWII, this was the ritzy part of Oklahoma City. Now it’s pretty rough, with some ratty little houses nestled on the banks and against Shields Boulevard. The creek disappears at an angle under Shields and a double railroad track parallel to the street, and reappears in another section of the same rough neighborhood. It has been a high crime area in the past, and I believe you can still spend your money on some vice action, but it’s otherwise rather sedate. I didn’t feel comfortable taking pictures, though, and rode through trying to keep an eye on the creek. While it remains a wide concrete culvert, it’s most invisible in this area.

04lighteningcrkse17thI caught up with it again at SE 17th Street. In the background stands a rather odd structure with a sign that reads, “Future Home of Harvest Rain Grace Fellowship.” It’s been like that for years and nothing has changed. So the bike path runs on the far side of this dome and off to the right of the image.05mouthlighteningcreek Out on the bike path it’s just a short ride up under SE 15th. The last bridge over the creek is the bike path itself right at the mouth. I have no idea what the fat pipe carries, but it’s got a dressing that catches all the flotsam coming downstream.

For quite some distance upstream, this is the permanent minimum water level for the simple reason that the river water level is kept that high. This is part of the recreational area of the lower Oklahoma River rowing lake. 06ncanne4thJust around the bend is the big race course, and the middle dam is quite some ways upstream. I rode down to the Lincoln Avenue bridge and hooked around; coming up over the river, I stayed on Lincoln northward until I got to NE 4th. That was my last leg toward home, but I stopped to catch his shot of the North Canadian below that last Oklahoma River dam. We are about due for a good rain.

Over the years, Lightning Creek has given us lots of drama every time it rains hard because it picks up such a huge number of tributaries. Further, over its whole course is plentiful pavement to contribute a heavy rain runoff. With three very large catchment basins now completed, we’ll just have to see whether it makes any difference.

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Civics Lesson

Today I’m playing the Social Studies Teacher role again. For what it’s worth, that was my professional teacher certification. I’m no longer in that field of work because I refused to conform to the political pressures from progressives who run the system. The difference here is that I teach from the heart and to the heart. I’ve been trying to inject a little heart-led realism into our understanding of politics in America so that no one is shocked as things turn painful and ugly.

I suppose that somewhere in the clutter of your mind, you are aware that the plebiscite for President of the United States (POTUS) is not really where it’s at. The real deal is the Electoral College.

If Trump wins, by no matter how great or small margin, we cannot expect what he calls the “Corporate Media” and the Obama-Clinton Machine suddenly to capitulate, admit defeat, promise to behave from now on, and dutifully report the steps taken by the Trump transition team in anticipation of Inauguration Day.

So yes, the incumbent leadership will try their best to fight a Trump victory. If the general election voters don’t generate a landslide result, things get very dicey over the following forty days. In one sense, a landslide would not make that much difference either way, because the nation is so fiercely and totally polarized that the losers will refuse to accept the results. Where a landslide makes a difference is how it affects the grass roots support of activism. It should be obvious that, with more obvious grass roots support, the activist leaders will be much bolder. Without that support, they will be more secretive and dirty, but no less determined. The full-time activists are true believers.

In a certain sense, the activists on both sides are correct. That is, we are at a national turning point that can’t be put off any longer. While there is an unknown portion of US residents likely to grudgingly accept the results of any election, that group is shrinking because of the economic losses the US has suffered. Those who have lost much will be less distracted by the fear of losing their creature comforts. This increases the pool of available activists on both sides of this presidential election, and most of them are thoroughly radicalized. We can expect bloodshed no matter which way it goes. The only difference it makes is what flavor of violence we will see.

The inevitable general level of violence after the election depends on two primary factors: who wins and by how much. First, a narrow election result means the pressure begins immediately on the Electors. It also means there will be more activists at work because they’ll believe there’s still a chance to change the outcome, in effect if not in official fact. A landslide means more disillusionment for the losers, and only the most thuggish will remain active in opposing the results. Trust me: There are plenty of thugs on both sides. The difference is that the rightists are more likely to use guns on a wide scale, even as they are more likely to play by “the rules.” The leftists are more likely to ignore any rules and laws, but they typically don’t have guns. The other factor — who wins — determines which brand of thugs we will see in action.

Of course, I’ve already been trying to explain how it’s not really left versus right, but globalist versus imperialist versus nationalist. In this election, the imperialists are the spoilers. They are a mixed group with varying degrees of loyalty to nationalism; it’s quite possible logically to be both at the same time. Others could care less, so long as they get what they want from the process. It’s harder to know what they will decide is in their best interest when crunch time arrives. However, we can bet that they will be at least as thuggish as the Clintonites, and probably more deadly.

Oddly, we end up with some reversals over everyone’s favorite historical comparison of Nazi Germany. For example, while a Trump win will unleash a certain level of fascism, it’s the Clintonites who are acting like Brown Shirts or Storm Troopers — whose primary duty was sabotaging the opposition by mostly violent means. In our case, Trump supporters are more likely to be reactive, not proactive, because that’s one of “the rules” they still believe in. But once the reaction begins and the momentum gets rolling, that’s when we should expect to see the right-wing backlash I’ve long predicted. Unfortunately, the targets of that backlash will more likely be the progressive moderates, not the extremists who provoked that reaction. The extremists will run and hide, gladly allowing someone else to take the heat. But look for a reverse political correctness in a right-wing backlash.

But if Clinton somehow lands in the office of POTUS, we’ll still have that backlash for a different reason, and it will take a different shape. Her promise to use presidential fiat to seize privately owned firearms will be the breaking point. I’m convinced that, in the current context, it simply won’t happen. That in itself will likely be the single galvanizing issue.

At this point I need to clarify something. In the past I’ve expressed a strong cynicism about the noise from the patriot underground on the issue of gun confiscation. Back at that time, the context pointed in that direction. Keep in mind that I’ve also since that time said that reality has shifted. I don’t say that glibly. There really has been a radical change in things, and I can’t rightly say what is behind it, only that God has put everything on an alternate track. It’s hard to explain and hard to believe unless you are genuinely heart-led. Perhaps as recently as a year ago, engaging in the Prepper activities was a wise choice, because we were headed for a general disaster of that sort. But now we aren’t. I’m still in a bit of mental shock over the change and struggling to pull down the implications into my brain.

At any rate, one of the implications I do grasp is that we should no longer expect the gun grabbers to succeed. Their leadership has taken a wholly unrealistic path, which includes having alienated the very bureaucracy that would have made it happen. I am convinced a Clinton presidency would face a general mutiny from critical elements in the federal bureaucracy. I can’t prove it with factual evidence, but this what I see from a heart level. That paranoid hive-mind sees a threat; the Obama Administration has really soured things for them because of constant violations of the bureaucratic rules. The political appointees at the top of various agencies are facing a growing mutiny, and I think it’s near the tipping point of what the real leadership in those agencies can tolerate — not least of which is the FBI.

For myself, I still believe that Trump will win. I’m expecting riots, and it will provoke a harsh backlash. I also expect a dramatic change in the political system here in the US. Since at least the Truman Administration, presidents have all been restricted by the system of shadow government. Trump is likely to break that pattern, not because he’s such a charismatic leader, but because he’s the first one smart enough to know how to negotiate with the shadow government to get what he wants. Some of it we most certainly will not like. But my point here is that this is a good time to learn how to deal peacefully with law enforcement, because their discretionary power is going to increase. It’s under threat now because of political activism, but that’s going to be crushed. With the general economic malaise becoming ever more painful, the bulk of the American population is in no mood to put up with social disorder. (Security work will be a growing job market.) It’s going to be called a racist backlash, and it will look like it, and it will partly be that. However, that’s largely because, in our current context, the folks most likely to riot will also most likely be non-white.

Don’t get trapped in that sewer. There’s almost nothing we can do to turn this ship; God is controlling the winds. What we can do is live by our hearts and strive to show others that such is the ultimate reality. God his herding humanity according to His inscrutable and ineffable will, but He has most certainly told us how to seize a lion’s share of His blessings, and it starts with not getting entangled in human political distractions. Be aware of them so that you can offer compassion to those who get hurt by all this stuff, but don’t let it get to you. You’ll notice in the New Testament that the writers were aware of the Roman Imperial government policies and how it affected their gospel mission, but that the mission has long outlasted that ancient empire.

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Pay Attention with Your Heart

As long as I can remember, I’ve been praying that God would rip the cover off US secrets.

When I served in the Army, I learned something about secrets. First, the bulk of stuff marked “secret” (or higher) is boring routine, a bunch of procedures there just in case someone has to do something. Otherwise, you could probably guess every bit of it with just a little thought because it’s that obvious. The only other use for secrecy is to cover up crimes. No, I’m not kidding. For just a few years as a Military Policeman, were I to catalog what I saw myself, I was required to help cover up more violations than those I processed for enforcement. And I was commended for paying attention and noticing things most of my fellow MPs missed, so that’s a lot of stuff.

So for at least that long I’ve been praying God would expose secret sin. As you might expect, one of the precursors to tribulation is just that: official secrecy ripped away by any number of ways. There’s so much of it lately that it makes my head spin. I can’t keep track of it any more. Can you? Instead of keeping a catalog of details, I’ve been absorbing the facts as brush strokes in the bigger picture.

That’s how it is with a prophetic heart. You seek to understand moral truth, the fabric of reality itself as God revealed it. When you are confronted with various facts, you know what will happen next. You can probably guess where we are headed here in the US. The political polarization is severe; it’s already to the point of bloodshed and will only get worse.

On the one hand, if Clinton wins the election, the US will break up. Some of the things she has said she’ll do as President have already been flatly rejected by quite a few state governments. Given her demonstrated character, it would end up a bloody civil war. She and her supporters are utterly insane in what they demand.

On the other hand, if Trump wins, progressive activists will do what they’ve done at all of Trump’s rallies, but on a bigger scale. Soros and his friends will gladly pay for it. There will be rioting and assassinations to provoke instability. And yes, I’m quite sure our own CIA will be involved in that, just like they’ve done in every other government they helped bring down since the agency came into existence. The CIA is a globalist institution, for the most part, and won’t willingly obey Trump. Our government is shot through with a lot of folks who would rather have no nation at all rather than see Trump as president. We already have seen some of that rioting and open warfare against law enforcement.

And if Obama cooks up something that serves to prevent the elections, we’ll just have more of that in a different form. About the only way he can do it is declare martial law, and I’m pretty sure most of the Heartland would reject it, not to mention a significant number of other states. Again, the US would break up if the martial law isn’t overruled in some fashion.

There aren’t too many other options, unless you count the likelihood of a war that means major attacks directly on US soil. Whichever way we go, you can bet the majority of the citizens will turn to some form of fascism to restore order. Claims of racism be damned, because rioters will be shot down on the streets.

Good times ahead, eh?

Trust your heart; it knows what to do. You don’t have to chase a bunch of details to recognize whether my chatter is accurate, but if you do read news, let your heart interpret.

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Kiln blog: Pray to Prophesy

“Is Saul among the prophets, too?” (1 Samuel 19:19-24)

Take note here that Samuel the prophet and High Priest was hosting a School of the Prophets. In 2 Kings 2 we learn that Elijah later revived the academy for prophets. You have to understand that in Hebrew, the expression “son of” covers more territory than just literal progeny; “sons of the prophets” was a reference to the students in the prophets’ academy.

So what would be the curriculum of such an institution? You can look it up on the Net and get a lot of different answers, many of them vociferously denouncing each other. But it should be obvious if you first understand that Hebrew culture specifically, and the Ancient Near East (ANE) in general, presumed a heart-led awareness. Not that everyone lived by it, but that it was written into the very language of daily conversation with references to the heart rightly overruling the reason.

You can read the rest of this message by clicking this link and visiting Kiln of the Soul blog.

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Anatomy of Lightening Creek, Part 1

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

02golfcourseLightening Creek is so named because of the frequent flash flooding. It was that way before it was settled and development only made it worse. The Wikipedia article is wrong, of course; the source is technically Brookside Golf Course at the corner of SE 89th and Shields Boulevard (correct Google Maps link). 03birthlighteningcreekA topographical survey would indicate this used to be a swamp with poor drainage. By opening a drain that connects to Lightening Creek (image right),04basina it becomes defacto the source as the longest branch. If you glance at the satellite image above, you’ll see the golf course on the right and you may be able to pick out where a water course runs across that north-south divided highway, and then pops out the other side and runs around an industrial lot and into Catchment Basin A, AKA Crossroads Sports Complex. Refer to the satellite view again for the sheer size of that massive pit, but the image above left here shows how high the retaining wall around it is. That little steel building is probably the gate house.

05intoritzyneighborhoodLike magic, the creek simply pops out from under the other side of the street and enters a tortuous route through a pair of ritzy neighborhoods where every house has a high wood fence to block the view of the creek from the street.06brookwoodpark I believe the area is generally called “Ranchwood.” About the only way you get to see the creek is where it enters Brookwood Park. What you see in the image is stagnant water this time of year and you might see some waterfowl swimming around. From there it turns around behind an equally ritzy apartment complex and comes out alongside SE 89th Street.

07sharpcornerThe sharp turn (image right) shows the creek has been pushing and washing out the dirt, so we should expect some complaints after the next couple of heavy rains when it starts to undercut the street. However, today there was almost nothing flowing yet, just a few stagnant pools here and there. Eventually it turns under the street and runs northward behind a shopping center and several more businesses before crossing under Western Avenue.08basinb It runs behind some more businesses and it should be clear by now the course is no longer wholly natural. It zigzags some more on the west side of Western and eventually crosses back over into Catchment Basin B (image left), which is also used as a sports field called “Lightening Creek Park.” It’s just a little smaller than Basin A and the image shows where the creek now has just a trickle of water running along the north edge of this field. Obviously these fields are evacuated when storms hit this part of the city because they flood some.

09underi-240This is the last time we get this far west, as Lightening Creek seldom wanders far from Walker Avenue. Indeed, you can see a sluice gate of sorts in the background of the image from where it runs between some more businesses and apartment complexes until it ducks under Interstate 240 (image right). On the other side is a peculiarity in OKC: the Southern Oaks district. 10winchesterdrive-inThere isn’t much on the exterior main routes around it to tip you off, unless you happen to notice that it hosts one of the few remaining operative drive-in movie theaters in the US — The Winchester Drive-in Theater. That huge blue thing in the background there is the projection screen. This part of town hosts some very old homes, too, that were standing way back before OKC annexed this area. Somehow they escaped a lot of regulations, because there remains a hidden cow pasture in the middle. And not too far north of here are some folks who have chickens in their backyards. There’s lot of ratty old places mixed in with opulent old-money mansions.

11anothertributaryHere we see the creek (left side) joined by a rather substantial tributary (coming in from the right), and I’ve seen pictures of both carrying flood waters up near the top of the concrete walls. Now keep in mind that we’ve already passed two massive catchment basins that can hold incredible lake-sized volumes of water before we got this far. 13acrosswalkerThe creek continues wandering among suburban sprawl, across SE 59th and then back across Walker into the South Walker district (image left), which also contains pre-annex housing with chickens, cows and so forth. It was quite refreshing to hear them inside the city limits.

15draperparkEventually we come to Draper Park, which starts near SE 44th and strings along the creek banks all the way up near SE 29th. It’s here in this park where most of the folks get caught by flash floods, because the creek is quite accessible and very popular with kids when the water is running just a little.16draperpark As we follow it farther north toward Grand Boulevard, we can see where a short section is without the concrete bottom, a low spot that stays full of water year-round. It’s used as an unofficial swimming hole, but I’m not sure I could tolerate the odor of the stagnant water.

For today I stopped the survey at the Grand Boulevard Bike Trail and headed home. I’m not sure how far I rode, but it took about four hours for today’s part.

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What Hath God Given?

Cycling elevates your awareness of terrain.

Why do I invest so much time into surveying creeks and rivers, and then posting about it on the blog here? Pretty pictures? I’m teaching what I know of God’s Creation. I want you to learn how to think in terms of your environment, not as a green weenie devoted to some mythical Mother Earth, but as someone who knows in your heart that God gave us certain things to use for His glory. Sister Christine will teach you a lot about flora and fauna, among other things, and I will teach you terrain awareness. When possible, I’ll also teach about climate and weather, because it’s a part of geography.

All of these things are part of our proper awareness of God’s provision. Without that awareness, I don’t see how you can walk heart-led in this world. Without that, I cannot see how you can seize fully the redemption our Father offered in His revelation, because a core element of that revelation is how to manifest His glory as we walk about in this world He created.

So I encourage you to start thinking about where you live by chattering about where I live. It’s a demonstration of what I believe represents a proper consideration. If not you personally, then someone in your life needs to consider these things so that you get the full range of what Our Father has given us. He grants each of us gifts of varying kinds of awareness so that we can come together in spiritual communion to hammer out a moral path of conduct that makes Him smile.

For example, perhaps a few of my readers are aware that just about 15 miles south of my residence is one of the prime target areas of tornadoes. It’s the City of Moore, Oklahoma. Of all the places in our state, this one area catches the biggest and baddest storms and it happens consistently. No other part of our state sees such frequent and total rebuilding of destroyed structures. Something about the terrain there invites tornadoes to form and grow in strength. And while the reasons are more complex than meteorologists can currently understand, I can tell you part of the reason: The land there is very flat for quite some miles around while also having a high relative elevation.

I suppose some of you might know a little about using the online mapping services. What you might not know is that most of them offer some kind of alternative perspective that indicates relative elevation. It’s what we call topography. While the controls offered by the various mapping services vary, somewhere in the interface is an option to view elevation markers, usually brown lines overlaid on the map to indicate a certain particular elevation above sea level. By following that elevation around the terrain, you get a feel for where the hills and valleys are.

If you viewed the elevation markers around Moore and other topographical features, you’d see that a great many streams and creeks originate there. It’s called a “watershed” — one of the definitions of that word is the highpoint elevation between two water features, the point where rainfall runoff divides between them. Three of the creeks I’ve chased start within a two mile area near Moore, all close together, because that area is the watershed between to very large river courses: the Canadian and the North Canadian. Those two run kind of parallel for hundreds of miles, but they wander all over the place in this central part of the state. Rivers wander in loops where the terrain is flat, where the change in elevation is spread out over long distances. We have hills around here, but they aren’t that high. Moore sits on top of a very wide high watershed between two of the biggest rivers in this state.

Our state slops from NW to SE, with mountainous areas in the NW, SW, south central and all along the eastern end. Prevailing winds are west-east. That means that while we get some awful storms in the west, they have to fight surface impediments until they drop down into the central plains. Storms are up high, but tornadoes are on the surface. They can still form in rough terrain, but in terms of predictable consistency, they form better in the plains. Moore is a primary target zone for tornadoes.

Why do people keep rebuilding there? That’s a study in history, economics and sociology. In a wiser world, that area would be reserved for cattle and horses. Instead, it’s a dense suburban area with an awful lot of upper middle class homes. It’s also one of the best shopping areas, with a high density of all the most popular franchises in one small space, well-planned by the marketing folks. It’s a prosperous area of the state, close to the Big City (OKC) but far enough away to be insulated from the worst effects of urban density. All of this and it’s on land far better suited to agriculture. It’s a place God Himself marked for storms, but people do what they do. The massive tornadoes don’t come every year, but seem to average about every five years or so.

You could say that, on one level, it’s just the basic fallen instincts of humanity. But there are people there who need to hear the truth. So if you felt called to live among them and share your message, you’d have to go in faith and trust the Lord. But that trust includes a certain level of awareness about the likelihood of destructive tornadoes every few years and being ready to face the consequences of that choice.

When I ride out towards Moore, I can’t help but notice that long, slow climb up to the peak of the watershed. Lots of water courses are sourced out there. I often stop and taste the wind that always blows; Oklahoma has precious few moments when the air is relatively still. There are a few square miles of open range between I-240 and the northern edge of Moore city limits, but Moore itself clearly shouldn’t be there. So I stop and pray that God allow us to spread the truth of His word: If you don’t shift your sense of self into your heart, you cannot truly know God’s will for your life. You might be driven to certain choices that won’t let you rest, but you won’t have the foundation for making that a norm in your awareness.

Maybe you understand that it’s really not a question of the loss of property and life. We are in this world, not of it. We belong in Heaven. However, we are here for a time to bring Him glory. That includes birth in a fallen world that is both full of sin and full of glorious sweet provision. It’s the paradox of Creation and Fall. The answer is redemption through God’s revelation of His divine character. It’s in written Scripture, but it’s true meaning is your own heart committed to finding His truth in Creation itself. All of human knowledge is potentially useful, but it must be guided by the moral priorities of a heart set on His glory.

We can’t all become experts in hydrology, climate and other specialties under the heading of geography, but we can learn more about what Our Creator has done.

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Cycling: Grand Blvd.-OK River Loop

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

02devondockThis was another cycling trip and the pictures were simply incidental. All I had was my iPhone and I wasn’t really intending to shoot much. As it was, only half of them turned out usable. My real interest right now is working the knee without hurting it. So we start with a view of the OKC skyline from the head of the Grand Boulevard Trail. I suppose the only remarkable thing I noticed on the Grand Boulevard part of the loop was the presence of a couple of vagrants each sleeping in their own cars, the only two using that remote parking lot at the head of the trial.

03twincreekAnother thing was that I’ve noticed lately God has been taking very good care of me. Whenever I hear of a collision or other unpleasant cycling event, it’s always far from where I am at the time it happens. Indeed, I’ve also noticed quite often there has been no waiting when I cross busy thoroughfares. 04nearskylineIt’s as if the cars and trucks all disappear right when I get there. Not every time, but way more often than before.

Most of these pictures were taken on the return part of the loop, along the OK River bank. You can see the Devon Energy public boat dock, the mouth of Twin Creek just before it empties into the river, and a near skyline shot from around SE 15th Street.05lowerdam There were some folks fishing just off the lower dam of the OK River section; it’s obvious the water level is low right now. What I didn’t shoot was a surprising number of homeless folks all along the park areas on the bank. I saw of pair of dogs hitched to a tree with a sturdy chain, and knew that their owner was probably not that far away, either scavenging somewhere or maybe stepping into a store someplace where dogs aren’t allowed.

06crookedoakcreekThis final image shows that Parks and Recreation are keeping the mouth of Crook Oak Creek closely manicured. Someone spent several hours with a string trimmer to make it look like this. While I prefer the natural look, I can understand how most folks don’t like that.

At any rate, I’m just beginning to tolerate standing on the pedals when I need to power through some rough spot and my knee continues to lose more of the residual swelling by small increments. Thanks for riding along.

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