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Photo Log 7: Midwest City

Tuesday 16 June 2015 Leave a comment

Not many pictures today; bummer.

It should have been simple enough. I was going to ride west on SE 29th into Midwest City, around Tinker AFB and down to the bicycle entrance to Draper Lake. The whole trip would be about 20 miles, but once again, things didn’t turn out as planned.

SE29th2AndersonIt seemed worth the risk since the rain pattern was taking a break for awhile here. I rode off down SE 29th. As always, I have to cross somewhat hilly terrain to get anywhere. At one point, we cross that snaking watershed between the two branches of the Canadian River (the far crest in the picture). Two miles out things start to get easier, with a long slow descent between Westminster and Post Roads. Two more valleys with matching hills on either side and we hit the vast prairie on which Tinker AFB sits.

It was previously a Douglas Aircraft production plant running up to WW2, then passed to the US Government as a centrally located air depot. It was just about the only open prairie in the area at the time, several miles on each side. For a time, much of Midwest City’s existence was as a bedroom and shopping area for Tinker. The core of economic activity for the city is still Tinker.

The primary runway is north-south. At one time there was a problem with some of the aircraft crashing on the northern approach and destroying homes in the flight path. Eventually, the Air Force bought out the neighborhood just off the north end of the runway. What’s left is just a one-block strip on the west side of this square mile section. All the houses were removed, most of them built for adjunct base housing, anyway. It has since been fallow and allowed to grow wild over much of the concrete streets. The Zoomies use it for training to simulate wild terrain.

Back when REX 84 was still a popular subject with the underground militia types, one of the wild stories included this training area as a probable future FEMA camp. However, the real nuts insisted it was already built and ready to use. While there is a high chain-link fence around it, and the trees have gotten thick, you can see enough of the place to know that is pure hogwash. The rail lines running into the base as a whole are all out of service, slowly being dismantled as the railroads decide to recycle the steel. In other words, while just about anything can be strung up with enough tents and fence panels, this place is wholly unlikely to see FEMA use. It would take weeks just to make enough clear space for such an operation. Believe me — my job in the Army involved POW operations, and this place would be a huge pile of work and no good way to ship in large numbers of people as cheaply as the government tends to do such things.

TinkerShoppingMWCHowever, the entrance road to the south gate of this training area also connects to some back roads and such that allow me to get off the main thoroughfare. Right here just outside Tinker’s main entrance is easily one of the nicest shopping plazas in several counties. For some reason I can’t exactly explain, we see less predation than many of more expensive areas of the OKC Metro. None of the stores were open when I passed through, so I continued as far as the back routes would allow and rolled on down to Sooner Road.

This is one of those minor highways that has seen major traffic since before my time. Prior to the Interstate Highway System, it was a section of US Highway 77, pretty much the predecessor of I-35 here in Oklahoma. Sooner Road itself runs down south of Norman. To the north it merges with I-35 near Edmond, and reappears independently somewhere north of that, ending up around Guthrie.

TinkerBikePathThere is supposed to be a link with the Grand Boulevard Route, the Oklahoma River Route, and a few other loops in the Metro, but the various sections are hit-n-miss for now. Turning south on Sooner Road, we hit one of the earliest sections of these extensive bike trails. It’s old enough that the asphalt surface is cracked and has a few serious sags from soil subsidence. Right along the middle of this mile is the typical Zoomie propaganda art, just across from what used to be the Air Force Hospital Gate. It appears to depict the sequence of an AWACS plane doing what we see them doing just about every day: It comes down to the runway, doesn’t quite touch and takes off for another lap. I’m not sure if it’s testing the hardware, training the wet-ware (crewmen) or what, but it’s a fact of our existence. The flight pattern for this endless looping includes our trailer park at times.ZoomieArt

This street is also marked as an official bike route. In the second mile south you have the option of switching from the bike path to a sidewalk. While the Metro unified code says you can’t ride on the sidewalk in a business area, that’s really for urban areas. Out here in the suburbs, enforcement is nonexistent unless you threaten pedestrians, of which there are precious few most of the time. But come SE 59th and the bike route turns east again, clinging to the underside of the airbase. We get to see all those heavy industrial plants and the monster office buildings for companies like Boeing. At the old Air Depot Boulevard, we turn back south. I got to see the queue of trucks waiting at the truck gate and some of the older industrial buildings now devoted to military related contracting. At the end of this southerly mile run, we pass under the railroad tracks that used to feed the old GM Plant.

Back when GM was producing X-body cars (mostly Citations) it was one of the highest paid jobs in the state for regular blue-collar folks. Everyone else considered the workers pampered and whiny. Now the union hall stands empty, and after years of sitting vacant, the massive facility itself is owned by the Air Force. It was a great place of indoor storage and office expansion. (No, I can’t take pictures of anything that belongs to Tinker AFB without prior arrangement.) Oddly enough, the independent automobile railhead and storage yard across the street still received new cars not long ago.

This brings us across SE 74th and the I-240 underpass. It began to sprinkle just as I came within sight of the newest section of bike path. It runs over some open terrain that still gets mowed, and drops down onto the perimeter road for Draper Lake (seen in this last image viewed from the Draper perimeter road). But the rain started getting a little more serious. A cell call confirmed we were in for a heavier patch of rain rolling slowly up from the SSW. So I let it chase me back into the shopping area four miles back and made it into a speed workout. While there, I took advantage of the shelter and reconfigured my riding gear for a wet one. Riding in the rain isn’t too bad, but you have to make some adjustments or you’ll be more miserable than necessary.BikePath

So I came back out to my bike and the rain had quit. Well, nothing for it but to head home and end this trek for the day.

Made for It

Sunday 1 February 2015 Leave a comment

We offer sanity.

Most people realize that “sanity” is a word representing a solid connection to reality. We dispute with our world the definition of reality, but we don’t have much argument about the meaning of the word “sanity.”

On the one hand, I’ve always had a strong compassion for the outsider. On the other hand, from earliest memory I’ve had a sense of calling to serve the needs of military people. It has nothing to do with an affinity for government service nor military bureaucracy, but a strong bond with folks who wear that uniform. It’s the people. I’ll never lose the adaptation I made to that lifestyle. The point here is not how right or wrong it is to wear that uniform, but a sense of divine calling.

You should fix in your own mind a sense of calling like that. I’d pay any price to be among those people today. In the midst of all the crazy crap that attaches to that, I felt like I had a genuine purpose in being alive. It was most vivid for me when I was ministering to those folks the sanity God gave me, the sense of reality He revealed. That’s the home of my soul, countering the vast machinery of lies without interfering with its workings. Once I discovered that divine peace from within, while wearing that uniform, it was as if my whole being came to life for the first time. I was completely integrated into God’s divine order of things.

So you should hardly be surprised at my wish to find a way back into that community. I could care less about the specifics of how God does it, only that I won’t have any rest in my soul until I am ministering sanity to them again. I know how to live with that huge insane machinery, to give the upper ranks whatever it is they imagine they want and still bring glory to God’s name. I know how to keep from being devoured and destroyed by that system. How could I not want to share that with others?

That same sense of calling should drive you. Somewhere out there in this screwed up world, the Father has a place for you and it will be an anchor point of who you are and were meant to be in His Creation. It will be the one place where you are in your element and your soul knows peace with God. Nobody human has any business judging for you what that is. Seek His face and know your divine destiny on this earth.

This is divine sanity.

Prayer Request: A Sponsor

Friday 16 January 2015 Leave a comment

(This seems like a good time to test the new tablet keyboard; it makes using a tablet for blogging a sane operation.)

Your pastor has a more specific prayer request regarding the future of our mission here in meat space. As a reminder, we have been seeking the Lord’s face regarding how we might reach out to military folks. This has been the target audience to whom I have been called since earliest childhood memory. My mind wandered all over the place on ways this might happen because my heart had not yet settled on a particular path.

Over the past couple of days, the wandering has arrived at a place my mind can recognize. We are specifically praying for a sponsor of sorts, someone in the military or other government service who is driven to embrace our message and provide the entry into the broader military community.

My wife and I tend to believe this will bring with it a package of obvious changes but the biggest is our domicile. Granted, we live now just five miles from one of the largest air bases in the US (Tinker AFB). We need to be closer, so we are praying for the means to simply cede this mobile home to my son and his family. We are more than half way to paying it off, so it’s not an impossible dream.

We believe we will need to reside in a place large enough to host small worship gatherings, at least for a while. We will need the capability of entertaining seekers, and our current situation simply does not permit that.

There’s not much more we can pray about until we see some movement on these two issues. So in your prayer time, remember to ask for a sponsor and a change of residence appropriate for the mission.

Trail and Trial

Wednesday 14 January 2015 Leave a comment

You need a chuckle. If nothing else, I’ll clown for you so you can at least smile.

So I tried out the tablet life and it’s not alive for me. I can surf, but when there’s a minor issue with email not working, there’s nothing I can do to even guess what’s wrong. There are no tools for my networking skills to figure out why the connection didn’t work. I have reduced the fat-fingered issue, and can type a couple of paragraphs at a time without trouble. My style is unorthodox, pecking with the index finger of one hand while holding it with the other, but I can move along pretty well that way.

But there are simply no good editors. That is, nothing that combines the features I feel I have to have in order to do much. I’ll still be glad to have a real keyboard when it gets here because it makes searching for stuff a great deal easier. Still, the most useful thing about the tablet is the GPS. For a guy with major land navigation training, this is a wonderful tool. The next best thing about it is reading books and listening to my worship tunes. It’s just okay for surfing news sites and it’s tolerable for blog operations other than posting. However, without the diagnostic tools and feedback, I can’t trust the tablet much for email and so forth. Generic messages aren’t enough for a guy who knows how to fix this kind of stuff.

I haven’t lost the interest in putting files in the cloud. It’s the easiest way to stash the books in my preferred formats, because Smashwords does rotten PDFs and HTML files. My own are better, so I’ll be keeping them available in various places for my own purposes.

After a week of Win7 on the laptop, it slowed to a crawl. After yesterday’s “Patch Tuesday” update it didn’t even want to reboot. It was like those cartoons where someone piles a box-car load on some tiny donkey. This poor thing didn’t want to run that with that much crap. So I searched around and decided to give Debian Jessie 64-bit a try, that being the only thing I haven’t run on it yet among the options I can tolerate. At least it’s not crawling.

Meanwhile, the trail now runs all the way down on the south edge of the south woods, and up past various obstacles out onto the long sidewalk the developers built when they first began working the parcel. That sidewalk runs around the north side and back down to the starting point on the southeast corner. It runs alongside the divided boulevard wandering across the middle of the development parcel. The other half that I call the north woods already has some decent trails, but they need to be linked back to the main road. In all, once I finish, I’ll have roughly two miles of loops and laps running around out here. Given the pattern of development and current pace of lot sales, it will be a few more years before any of it disappears under housing foundations.

In the image here, I included enough to show where our mobile home park is on the east side. Some of the routes may be obvious in the image, but what you cannot see is how some parts are so very hilly.

Satellite view of the area where I'm cutting trails.

Satellite view of the area where I’m cutting trails.

The thing that surprised me most as I kept at this project was that simple bypass limb-loppers are sufficient for 95% of the work because I’m basically weaving between trees, cutting only undergrowth and vines, and trimming back smaller limbs. I need to get a before-and-after pair to show that you can use such a tool and method to cut through almost anything out there.

I’m still praying I can blaze a trail into the US military community again. From my earliest memories I’ve always wanted to take the gospel message to them. My first shot was weak, but surprisingly effective nonetheless. The second time through the system I made a serious mark on people’s lives. I don’t think I’m finished with that, and the message has only gotten stronger. Pray with me about this.

Merry Christmas 2014

Thursday 25 December 2014 Leave a comment

Don’t you just love how activists oversimplify everything?

Keep your guns. I’ve never had a good one, so I traded off the ones I did have that weren’t much good. Since I can get food without hunting, all I really need one for is home protection. The world is crazy and it’s my shepherd’s duty to protect the others near me.

But it still depends on God to supply. What He does not supply, I assume I do not need. Granted, my son living here with us (and his family) is a sheriff’s deputy with all the weapons you might expect he’d have as a gun lover. I don’t love them, but I enjoyed learning and using them in the military. Target shooting is just plain fun. And though I never really had to use it, I still have a strong tactical sense of how to use them in stressful situations. I don’t get agitated easily in moments like that.

But over the years gun ownership fell out of my religion. It’s still sensible, but it’s not an issue of “gotta have one” these days. You can’t accuse me of being a wacko peacenik or a Western religious pacifist, either. I have no delusions about some slick talent of talking people out of violence and criminal intent. I don’t suffer the Charismatic’s delusion about the power of words, as if Jesus somehow taught conjuring magic. Still, I’m honestly not worried about it.

What stands in the place of all that is hard to explain. I’ve always understood the theory of faith — do what your conscience demands and let God handle the rest. You can learn that and use it as a mental discipline. It tends to work for reasons most people don’t understand, but it works well enough in the sense that the results are generally good. But what about learning in your heart that you honestly aren’t concerned with the results?

This is the part I can’t explain. If your heart is still operating under constraints imposed by your mind, you won’t get it. If you’ve made some effort to teach your mind to obey your sensory heart, you’ll recognize it immediately. Depending on how far you’ve progressed down that path, you may be all fired up and tickled at it. That is, you may or may not experience much emotion, but something inside of you glows like the sun when people share their experiences of leading by the heart. Your heart knows, regardless if your mind understands.

No, I cannot explain the difference between sentiment and a move of the Spirit in your heart. I can tell you there is a big difference between emotion and Spirit; I’ve shared some of the tell-tale signs. Still, you are the only one who knows for yourself. The problem is, if you are deceived, you could still sit there nodding and be a complete fool about it. That’s how real faith works up against simple firm belief. The latter is deceptive and only God can break the addiction to the mind’s thrill to power.

Despite all the good and wonderful things we owe this virtual connection here at Kiln of the Soul, the one Christmas gift I most want to give and cannot is to let you see my faith in real time.

My heart tells me that in the near future I’m going to be working at some task that involves demonstrating that faith to some folks who’ve likely never seen anything to compare with it. As you might know, the heart is notoriously short on cognitive data, and long on power and faith. I’ve taken all the steps my mind can guess would help in preparing for this mission. For example, I’m now working from my laptop and tablet only, because I know with a certitude this fits whatever my heart is saying is necessary.

In the same sense I used to love guns, I used to love computers. I can scarcely tell you what a big change this is. The endless hours of hobby computing are finished. I haven’t tossed aside the skills and knowledge of either tactical gun use nor computer security and operations. I feel quite certain I’ll still use both at various times. But neither is anywhere near center stage. When you start letting your heart rule your life, no human can predict what it will do to you.

Living by your heart permits a wealth of complication and subtlety that most cannot even comprehend, because it empowers you to handle it. Merry Christmas, brothers and sisters.

Ironic Job Offer

Monday 22 December 2014 Leave a comment

So today in my email someone tried to steer me to a job opening as local coordinator (for Tinker AFB) for MAAF — Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers. They like folks over 55 with social media experience and an ability to do outreach. I chuckled as I read the description.

Here’s the thing: I could do the job, and I’m quite willing to help military people facing religious pressure. Boy, do I know how it feels to be harassed by evangelical zealots! In fact, the most obnoxious and ornery military folks I know are some brand of Pentecostal/Charismatic, and they are all too pushy about their religion. So I can see the point of MAAF, because there is this nasty incestuous synergy within pro-military right-wing religious fanatics.

The major problem with MAAF is that it draws some of the most spitefully antagonistic evangelical atheists. I have no problem with the freethinkers part, but those who seem to speak for Western atheists these days are downright mean. So while I could do the work they need done, and with a full and free conscience supporting their interests, they would probably harass me just as bad as the religious fanatics. Despite my long experience and savvy with religious zealotry in the military and my full desire to honestly protect them, they would never tolerate me.

Sometimes I think the two opposing groups deserve each other.

Bloated T-day

Thursday 27 November 2014 5 comments

It’s Thanksgiving Day here in the US and I’m already full; I woke up full.

Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, “Rabbi, eat something.” But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.” So the disciples began to say to one another, “No one brought him anything to eat, did they?”┬áJesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of the one who sent me and to complete his work. Don’t you say, ‘There are four more months and then comes the harvest?’ I tell you, look up and see that the fields are already white for harvest!” (John 4:31-35 NET)

Missing a meal won’t hurt your body much. Despite my enthusiasm for food, even I manage to lose track now and then and miss a meal. We who are spiritually aware operate on multiple levels simultaneously. The body has its own chatter, as does the reasoning mind. But then there’s the moral considerations of the heart along with the ineffable moves of the Spirit in our spirits. Each of those is theoretically separate faculties, but the mind can have a tough time figuring out which is which and struggles to organize a meaningful response.

I went through US Army Basic Training twice. It’s a long story, but during that second episode, one of the few intelligent instructors said something about watching your bunkmate climb inside his locker and shutting the door. It’s more than needing time alone; it’s the necessity of processing things. Basic Training is meant to churn out thousands of minimally conditioned folks in the shortest possible amount of time. It’s supposed to be cost effective, but the failure rate is atrociously high. Not in terms of wash-outs, but it’s more a problem with those passed through who never actually adapted. The Army is a place where the few normal people can excel or go nuts, and often both. Too many people have no idea how to process reality, so they keep dumping huge amounts back at us regular folks who do process.

Jesus went often into the wilderness areas for prayer and contemplation. Near as we can figure, His ministry ran about three years. His work seemed more days in solitude or alone with His select few associates, punctuated with brief periods of hectic activity among the masses. A critical element in His work, particularly the miracles, was restoring divine moral justice. That is, He put things back where they should have been if only Israel had obeyed the Covenant. The blessings of covenant obedience included reasonable levels of prosperity, security and health, but most important was social stability. Those were summed up in the word shalom. Jesus put some shalom back into the lives of the people who didn’t have the power to influence the bad leadership of religion and government. Those people suffered from the curse of others’ disobedience.

We note the Gospel writers often mention in parabolic language how Jesus felt compassion for the sheep of Israel. In moral terms, they were scattered by evil shepherds who refused to shepherd them.

In our virtual world, it can be much the same. On FB, some of my friends are like bleating sheep. They are obviously concerned about a lot of things, scampering from one threat to another, so they don’t feed on grace and don’t drink from the Spirit. It’s really hard to project a shepherd’s presence in the virtual atmosphere, yet people tell me they can sense it. So while some of my FB friends post tons of distracting shit, I try to be a lot more selective. I’m trying to restore some peace and open their minds to the other faculties God gave us for handling this world.

Most of the time I don’t react to the noise. If someone asks for a response, I’ll gladly give it. However, most of them are too busy scampering around a jillion different competing issues and posting tons of links, images, etc. It takes time and my own sense of internal order to filter through it all. It’s a load of crap mostly, but how else can I feed the sheep? How else do I get their attention to things that really matter? I have to tolerate a lot of crowding with unwashed bodies and senseless chatter and constant interruptions of my own needs.

Be strong, for the fields are white unto harvest.

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