Further Musings

Beauty smote his heart, he looked up from the forsaken land & hope returned to him

Archive for July 2009

Facebook, Luddite Style.

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Dad brought an old New Yorker on the trip and I couldn’t stop laughing at this cartoon.

facebookAndTheYard

I keep marveling that taking the basics of Facebook off the internet makes it seem ridiculous.  Can’t quite put my finger on why though . . . interesting.

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Written by furthermusings

July 26, 2009 at 10:00 am

Posted in Laughter

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

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TBWLOOWbyJDcoverOn this cold drizzly day in Maine I finished my second novel of the summer, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz. It’s the story of a Dominican family and the history (told in through heavy spanglish slang and in footnotes) of the Dominican Republic.  Wound around the story of the sad, overweight and nerdy Oscar, his fierce sister and his equally fierce mother is the tale of the politics of the Dominican Republic.

The book is much praised for its artistic flair but the thrust of the two storylines made it hard to rejoice in its untranslated Spanish and innumerable cultural references.

As a national, if unorthodoxly written, history the story is of the terrible Trujillo regime viewed from the people on bottom.  It’s a very bleak view of the helplessness of the regular people in such a place.  Most depressingly the book leaves one with no better a view of the government today than when it started.  The strong control the weak from the beginning to the end of this story.  The whole thing makes me despair about governance in the Caribbean, a region where my friend once fled from one island to another and still refuses to take his family back.  I know it’s so much more complicated than that but it’s hard to feel at the end of this book that those complications would be anything other than more darkness.

The footnotes tell about the atrocities of the keleptocratic regimes that ruled the DR, about specific men and specific deeds and the murder, rape and beatings they administered.  In that sense it’s not very instructive except for the specifics about DR’s history and how horrible it has been.  The causes of such horrors are not examined, they are only suffered.

On the personal level its the story of a family is proud and in every generation is cursed with the evils of the world.  Many of characters are fatalistic and freeze at the point of each major decisions, inevitably to their peril.   Each are pig-headed in the face of reason, stubborn to the point of their own pain, as their longings for freedom and love lead them towards sex (the biggest of themes in DR culture according to Diaz) and make them lash out in furious, blind anger at that which they see as pulling them down.

It’s a black story and a sad one, both for the fictional characters and the real country.

Come, Lord Jesus come.

Written by furthermusings

July 24, 2009 at 4:25 pm

Posted in Reviews

A Wednesday Well Made

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Wednesday was an excellent, if tiring day.  In the morning and early afternoon Dad and I kayaked out to watch the seals around the far point (no pictures b/c of fear of the camera encountering the water).

Charity Walking On Carriage TrailIn the late afternoon Charity and I ventured around the carriage trails, 40 miles of graded gravel carriage paths that run through the park.  We were both a bit dubious about whether we would enjoy the smooth and easy instead of the rough and tumble of trails but in the end we really enjoyed not having to watch our footing and instead paying more attention to the deep green forest and various outcroppings of rocks around us.

One of the highlights of the carriage trail system in Acadia are the beautifully crafted stone bridges.  I keep trying to figure out how I can justify having one of these in any of the housing situations I can conceive of us in.

CharityByTheCarriageRoadBridge

Charity By The Carriage Road BridgeBeing my father’s son, my grandfather’s grandson, and my uncle’s nephew I’m familially obligated to admire bridges.  With these it wasn’t difficult.  The rough stone work naturally draws your fingers to touch its textures of cool stone, damp moss and papery lichen.

Everywhere I’ve gone in this park I’ve thought Acadia would be a child’s delight.  It’s a place full of movement.  It’s full of rocks that beg you to jump from one to another.  It’s surrounded by crashing waves that spray up and down.  It’s crisscrossed by trails, both vertical and smooth that invite you to the next impressive vista or the boulder field full full of spongy moss to put your fingers on and wild blueberries to put into your mouth.

Charity By The Carriage Road Bridge

We capped off our day with a drive to the top of Cadillac Mountain which offers beautiful vistas of the surrounding islands.  It’s not till you’re up 1,000 feet above the ocean that you can really get a sense for the vast beauty of this part of Maine.  Below us Bar Charity Overlooks The PorcupinesHarbor, with its giant yachts and touristy stores, was joined to Bar Island with its low tide isthmus.  Further beyond, to the east, deep green islands and long low peninsulas were rimmed with swaths of white rock buffering them from the deep blue sea.  To the south we could see the island’s many lakes and rocky mountains and I wondered at how each part of the Park seems designed to bring some particular delight through lake, pond, path and trail.  To the west a mountain range runs parallel to the coast its Blue Ridge like profile shown against the emblazoned sunset.  Beautiful.

Sunset On Mt Cadillac

Written by furthermusings

July 23, 2009 at 9:14 pm

Posted in Pictures, Travel

Up the Beehive

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On this beautiful clear and cool morning Dad, Charity and I went back to the southeast side of the island and instead of heading to the cliffs we went up the Beehive, perhaps Acadia’s most famous hike.  It was, to say the least, steep.

The bright dots are people.

The bright dots are people.

The beehive was my strongest memory from 16 years ago when Dad and I chanced upon this memorable hike at the northern terminus of our two week father/son adventure.  The extensive use of iron rungs stuck with me.  I only wish there had been a few more today.

UpTheBeehive

Charity, of course, was more than equal to the task.  My honey rocks.

Charity Conquers The Beehive

Written by furthermusings

July 20, 2009 at 5:48 pm

Posted in Pictures, Travel

On Clark’s Cove

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This week we’re up in Maine with my parents relaxing and seeing some seriously beautiful things.   I’ll post a few shots here over the course of the week but I’ll try to keep it from being too much of a travelogue.

Charity on Clarks CoveOur cabin is on a small cove and has a beautiful view out over the water which can be either tranquil or choppy depending on the wind.

Today has been wonderful, starting out with sunshine and journaling at the picnic tables watching sea kayakers disappear round the bin.  In normal life I feel like I don’t have the time to be reflective (not true) nor the beautiful something to gaze out on as I write (true) so it was lovely to have the space and time write and then pause and to gaze out at the herons and the gulls and then to write again.

CharityandHelenScrabbleInMELater in the morning I dwaddled around the beach working on looking at the minute while the girls played scrabble (a mandatory part of vacationing with my parents) on the beautifully soft and green lawn by the sea.  This snail was my favorite find.  I love the way both he and the rock glisten and the out of focus green plays with the bright blue of his foot.

SnailonClarksCove

In the afternoon we made it to the west coast of the island and boulder hopped our way down to the water.  I love the giant puzzle of bounding from boulder to boulder deciding on footing and pathways each step of the way.

Parents in the bottom left.

Parents in the bottom left.

We all meandered around the tidal pools and watched the waves tumble over the rocks.  They whipped the seaweed attached to the bottom up towards the surface, exposing it to the western sun shining through the clear water, before breaking and becoming a tumble of foam upon the barnacle encrusted rocks.  I think we each just spent an hour watching, finding a new spot and then watching again.

APbyTheSeaInME

Look for pictures from Charity coming soon.

Barnacles

Written by furthermusings

July 19, 2009 at 5:33 pm

Posted in Pictures, Travel

Dissertation Workspace

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Over the last two days I’ve been hard at work in a lab on campus.  I really like working on the dual screen monitors.  For some of the editing work I was able to work three pages abreast.  Now that was cool.

workspaceinJuly2

workspaceinJuly

Who says we’re not scientists?!

Written by furthermusings

July 15, 2009 at 3:46 pm

Posted in Political Science

Hypocrisy

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When we were in the Minneapolis airport we had a several hour layoff.  In our hunt for good food we happened past this store.

MNAirportStoreFN

Nice patriotic look.  Image of a revolutionary war cannon on the banner.  A US soldier on the TV feed.  The whole presentation is carefully considered to stir up proud patriotic feelings and associate them with the store (and I confess it works).

What caught my eye was the blacked out section above the news counter to the right.  On closer inspection . . .

thebadstuff

It’s one thing to claim to be the channel of truth and goodness and apple pie but to claim to be the channel of truth and goodness and apple pie which is concerned with the decline of America but is happy to sell America pornography makes my blood boil.  It makes my stomach turn to see the Revolutionary War and American troops evoked next to this.  Blah.

Written by furthermusings

July 12, 2009 at 10:02 am

Posted in Politics, Travel