After a lot of unusually warm weather in December and January (at least, warm by northeast standards), the falls were behaving like it was spring.

The turbulent water undermines the stone walls along the creek, the remnants of old mills.  More blocks have fallen into the water every time I visit.

The Universal Friends, a religious sect similar in some ways to the Quakers, built the first grist mill here in 1790.

The Friends also added a second mill, this one for linseed oil, and eventually there were dozens of places – – grinding grain, making paper, paint, etc.

When all those industries eventually ground to a halt, for a time, the falls generated electricity for the village.

The mills have all disappeared over the years, with the exception of the Birkett Mill, grinding buckwheat since 1797.  Starting near that mill, in Penn Yan, there’s a seven mile  walking/biking path on the old railbed along the creek.

The trail association has put up some excellent new signboards, where I learned a new bit of local history.

 

piece of an old millstone along the stream

 

I was curious about those oldtime Quaker-ish folks and why they were making linseed oil, instead of say, oatmeal.

I knew it can be used in paint and wood preservative but didn’t realize just how many uses it has.

As “flaxseed oil,” it’s a dietary supplement for people, cows, pigs and chickens.  And used in soap and face cream, medicine, salad dressing, etc.  It’s rubbed into cast iron pans to season them and into people’s faces to prevent wrinkles.  And as a base for liniment, I guess to rub on a sore head when someone criticizes the cook and gets whacked with a cast iron skillet.

 

ice-covered stalks on one of the colder days

 

It can also be flammable – – which brings us back to the local history.

I mentioned one time, in a post about Lafayette’s 1825 visit to the U.S., that the celebrations in my hometown resulted in at least one death, when a cannon exploded and killed the local militia captain.

When the Marquis visited the little mill town near the falls, their militia unit turned out to fire salutes with their black powder muskets…and managed to set the linseed and grist mills on fire.

 

still green in a sheltered, south-facing spot

I’m now wondering just how many fires and fatalities were involved in Lafayette’s Farewell Tour and the attendant pyrotechnics and 24-gun salutes.  (Not 21-gun salutes, the “National Salute” in this country used to be one bang per state, until 1841 when they had 26 states, more on the way and decided it was getting out of hand.)

He was on the road for thirteen months so there were plenty of opportunities for mishaps.  Although certainly the toll was far less than some of our time’s crowd disasters at soccer matches, rock’n’roll concerts, dance clubs, etc.

I did read that after visiting Andrew Jackson in Tennessee, Lafayette’s steamboat sank on the way to Louisville, with no drownings but some loss of money and property.

 

 

Mostly it was thirteen months of parades, ceremonies, dances, and stuff being named for him, like the park in my hometown.

He received an honorary U. S. citizenship, too, although the paperwork wasn’t completed until just a bit after his visit.

(“Bureaucracy” was adapted from a French term, and first used in English in 1815.  And so Lafayette’s citizenship didn’t come through until…July 22, 2022).

 

 

He did return to France with at least one souvenir – – snow globes hadn’t been invented yet, so he took a trunk full of dirt instead.

(It was soil from Bunker Hill and in 1834 was spread on his grave as he’d requested.)

Wikipedia has assembled a long list of places named for him – – streets, squares, towns, counties, etc.  I don’t think there’s a city in upstate NY that doesn’t have something to memorialize him.  But none I think with his full name:

Marie-Joseph-Paul-Yves-Roch-Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de La Fayette.  

 

La vache! How I’d like to see that on a road sign.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1800's, canal trails, Early American History, Finger Lakes, FLX, History, Lafayette, NY, Upstate New York

Walks Around the Finger Lakes. Seneca Mills Falls, Keuka Outlet, January.

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conspiracy theories, craft projects for lifers

All that glitters is not gold…sometimes it’s aluminum metalized polyethylene terephthalate

I wish my life could be / As strange as a conspiracy   Felt “Primitive Painters”

 

 

It’s a new year and time to try something new, so I thought I’d delve into a conspiracy theory.

I usually avoid conspiracy babble and internet rumormongering like the plague.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not opposed to all mongering.

Who doesn’t love getting fresh seafood from a fishmonger, for example.  And I love a schmear, but only on a bagel.

But this conspiracy, I heard mentioned on NPR, what could be more respectable, on Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me, and it seems like a scintillating topic.

This particular mad machination or rumor has apparently been floating around, glistening, shiny-but-senseless, since around since 2018 but I just learned of it.

Here it is.  Apparently, people keep asking, “Is there a shortage of glitter,” and “Who is buying up all the glitter.”

I investigated this exhaustively, for as long as it took to duck into a craft store and ascertain that there is not a shortage.

Let’s get this part out of the way.  What is glitter exactly?

Some of it is still made from good old mica – – the shiny flecks & flakes you see in granite, schist, etc.

The manufactured kind is aluminum metalized polyethylene terephthalate.  I’m guessing all of you already knew that, because unlike the psychotic persistence of glitter on your tongue or in your eye, “aluminum metalized polyethylene terephthalate” just trips off your tongue, doesn’t it.   And it’s listed on your tubes of eye shadow, nail polish, shimmer powder, highlighter, pearl powder, etc.

The December 21, 2018 NY Times carried an article by Caitie Weaver “What is Glitter?  A strange journey to the glitter factory.”

Glitter turns out to be a surprisingly fascinating topic – – there’s holographic vs iridescent, mylar “metalized” with aluminum, polymers with different refractive indexes, etc.

The aluminum is evaporated in a vacuum chamber — I’ve never noticed aluminum evaporating, didn’t know it did that!

Sweat, the Great Salt Lake, my bank account – – yes, aluminum – – no.

For someone like me, with only the most tenuous grasp of science, it all sounds pretty high tech, science-y and mysterious.

I wonder how the Reynolds Wrap people foil such a loss of aluminum?

Scientists, of course, want to ban this glitter stuff – the smallest versions are 50 x70 microns, so it’s another hideous micro-plastic to pollute the planet, with literally a thousand year lifespan.

But anyways, back to the conspiracy theory.  During the interviews for the NY Times, a company rep refused to reveal which buyer or industry was the largest consumer.

So we’re free to speculate!  Who is buying up all the glitter??

I’ve limited myself to four theories but please feel free to contribute.

1.   A powerful organization called the Glitterati has recruited Beyoncé, Britney Spears and Mariah Carey for a huge glam rock festival, and will pump enough glitter into Madison Square Garden to make it the world’s biggest snow globe.

David Bowie isn’t really dead and will show up in his Ziggy Stardust character and bring his own brand of disco dust.

2.  Snow Globes.  The current dearth of snow in some parts of the country has created a yearning for snow globes, like the one in Citizen Kane.

(These globes were invented in the 19th c. by an Austrian maker of surgical instruments and were originally called Schneekugel, which is just extremely pleasant-sounding, I find myself saying it out loud, sometimes when I’m riding an elevator, and then people look at me funny.)

3.  Elon Musk is loading it onto hundreds of SpaceX rockets and will spread it in the upper atmosphere, forming a reflective layer to slow global warming.

4.  Glitter is produced by unicorns when they eat too many candy canes and suffer from fairyland flatulence. And just like my kitchen, the Clean Up Elves are on strike.

Anyway, the whole thing is a false alarm.  If there really was a shortage, a really thorough vacuuming of any home with kids and every preschool would produce tons of the stuff, cemented to sticky old graham cracker crumbs so it can be used for both decoration and dessert toppings.

Enough.  Have you heard this rumor?  Any theories?

 

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I’m having fun swopping photos of wagons with Liz at “Exploring Colour,” here’s two photos I took years ago.

An old wagon in Logan, Utah, and a surrey made in Waterloo, NY.

Here’s the link to Liz’s post  https://exploringcolour.wordpress.com/2023/01/15/way-out-west/ 

I know I’ve got shots of a Conestoga, the big freight haulers of their day in the northeast U.S. and Canada, I’ll add ’em when I find ’em.

 

old wagon in Logan, Utah

 

 

Surrey (yes it probably had a fringe on top) made by the Waterloo Wagon Co. in my hometown

A pretty classy rig, right?!

I kinda like a bright golden haze on the meadow…But there will be no singing of songs from Oklahoma! allowed in this blog!!

(And enough with the exclamation points already!!)

1800's

Wagons Ho

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Over the holidays, I visited Corning, NY – – famous for its glass museum, the largest collection of historical and art glass in the world.

 

Landscape – George Inness – 1870 – Rockwell Museum

 

But the town also has another excellent art museum, the Rockwell.

It’s not on the scale of the glass museum (where the gift shop alone is literally seven times bigger than my house)  but it’s well worth visiting.

 

“Clouds in the Canyon” – Thomas Moran – 1915 – Rockwell Museum

 

A lot of the art relates to the American West.

 

“Yakima Indian with Shadow” – Fritz Scholder – 1976 – Rockwell Museum

 

 

I thought this would be entitled “Put Your Best Side Forward,” but in fact it’s “The Winter Campaign” – Frederic Remington – 1909 – Rockwell Museum

 

Frederic Remington, one of the most famous artists of the American West, was a New Yorker.   He grew up in the “North Country” near the St. Lawrence river, so he knew a thing or two about cold weather, and that came to mind looking at these cavalrymen huddled around a fire in the snow.

His scenes and sculptures of the West were created in his studio in New Rochelle, about ten miles from Irvington, where Albert Bierstadt had his studio.

They have a big (I guess the only way he did things) landscape by Bierstadt, nearly 6′ x 10′, in place of pride on the top floor.

I suppose these formal landscapes in the “Hudson River School” style have been out-of-fashion for a long time, but personally I love them.

 

 

“Mount Whitney” – Albert Bierstadt – 1877 – Rockwell Museum

 

 

museum from the back

 

The collection is housed in a former city hall, a big brick-and-stone pile, done in a stalwart Richardson Romanesque style, almost medieval-looking.

It was built in 1893 so a contemporary of some of the paintings it contains.

 

“Green River” – Thomas Moran – 1877 – Rockwell Museum

 

There’s a rooftop terrace, which is where I took this cellphone picture of the slate roof.

 

I was thinking about the saying “clean slate,” to start off the new year.

I know the expression refers to chalk & blackboards, students’ handheld slates (and 19th c. bar tabs!) but these roof shingles are made of the same stuff after all.

 

 

Some of the other expressions that are almost-synonyms, like “square one,” seem like they’re usually used in a more negative sense, like “here we go again, having to start all over.”  “Breaking new ground,” speaking as someone who’s dug up sod and a few stumps, is just plain backbreaking.

“When one door closes, another opens” can be very true.  I grew up in a drafty old house built in the 1860’s, and that kinda stuff happened, until we got storm doors and better weatherstripping installed.

 

Wax tablet & stylus – Wikipedia – photo by Peter van der Sluijs

I remember some teachers were fond of using tabula rasa, but they always seemed to say “blank slate” when they were looking straight at me.  With the emphasis on blank, as I looked back at them blankly.  So I never much liked that.  And it seems a bit fancy and pretentious.

When I looked it up, the dictionary has rāsa as “scraped, erased,” and of course the Romans were using wax tablets, not slate.  (I guess in a pinch, they could toss incriminating evidence onto the nearest brazier or flaming martyr.)

And speaking of Roman gladiatorial-related stuff, Webster’s tells us “start from scratch” meant “show up for a confrontation,” like “step up to the plate” and they also see an origin in sports – – a line in the sand – –  for a race, cricket, boxing, etc.  So that all sounds horribly athletic and combative, so let’s skip it.

“Reboot,” which the Help Desk people probably say in their sleep, is kinda nice – – at least you have the mental image of applying the sole of your boot to the soulless stubborn computer.

But I like best “clean slate,” “fresh start” and “new leaf,” they’re positive sounding, aren’t they.

And “Start afresh” just has a nice sound to it.

 

 

So that’s all, no profound thoughts, just Cheers, here’s to a fresh new year.

 

N. C. Wyeth – Rockwell Museum

 

I thought this was in keeping with the theme of this post – a bison at Yellowstone – a symbol of the Wild West, and as they say in the wildlife biz, while it’s a bison, not a gnu, it’s just as good as gnu.

 

19th century, 20th century, Art, NY, Upstate New York

Clean slate for the new year

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l

Don’t walk around with blinders on.

Enjoy a good draft once in a while.

 

 

 

Take the time for a closer look.

It could be a place, an idea, a book, a piece of art or music, or a person.

 

 

“Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding.”

That’s from the King James version of Proverbs, often restated or paraphrased as

“Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt.”

Or even shorter, “Sometimes you gotta wise up and put a cork in it.”

 

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.

Cobble something together with what you got.

 

 

Recognize the value of family groups.

“Water, taken in moderation, cannot hurt anyone.”

(Mark Twain)

 

Take the stairs.

(Establish a national holiday to celebrate Nathan Ames, Leamon Souder, Jesse Wilford Reno and Charles Seeburger.)

(The guys who invented escalators, so that we can tell people we took the stairs without involving ourselves in all that nasty exercise.)

 

Reuse.  Recycle.

 

 

Don’t forget to put your bike away when you get home.

Warn others that bicycle-eating trees are a real thing.

 

 

 

Try to look at things from a different angle.

(Museum snack bar from overhead.)

 

 

Look for something interesting in the old and worn.

 

 

Be aware that the thing you’re focused on may not be the most meaningful.

 

 

Celebrate the moments of happiness.

 

 

All my best wishes to my friends here on WP.  I hope 2023 is a good year for all of us. 

Blogging

A handful of resolutions

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New York State has decided to allow a “Holiday Deer Hunt” (seriously).

Christmastime deer hunting – – seems like a great way to promote a the great outdoors

If you’re not a hunter,

a walk in the winter wonderland, a snowmobile jaunt, a cross-country ski trek  – we have a new slogan:

“Not just Icy, Pretty Dicey!”

And “See Some Wildlife?  Duck!”

And here’s an old Chuck Berry tune for the new festivity.

 

“RUN RUDOLPH RUN”

Billboard’s S’Hot 100, Number Six with a Bullet

 

 

Out of all the reindeers you know you are the mastermind

But run, run Rudolph, hunters ain’t too far behind


Run, run Rudolph, Santa’s gotta make it to town

Santa, wear an orange vest and you’d better keep your head well down.

Run, run Rudolph ’cause they’re loaded up and shootin’ all around

 

Said Santa to a boy child, “What have you been longin’ for?”

“All I want for Christmas is a semi-auto BAR.”

And then away went Rudolph whizzin’ like a shootin’ star

 

Run, run Rudolph, you’re called fair game in this town

Santa, make him hurry, we don’t want your sled shot down

 

Run, run Rudolph, I just heard a .30-06 round

Run, run Rudolph, the Grinch has got a compound

Bow.


Santa, make him hurry, tell him we all got guns and beer,

Run, run Rudolph, I’m strappin’ on my bandolier.

 

Said Santa to a girl child, “What would please you most to get?”

“A little baby doll with crossbow or Barbie with a bayonet”

 

And then away went Rudolph, zippin’ up his Kevlar vest

‘Cause we leave the house without a rifle, we just feel undressed.

 

Run, run Rudolph, gotta make it to town

Santa, make him hurry, tell him he better stay in the mall

Run, run Rudolph we don’t want your antlers on the wall.

 

apologies to Chuck Berry

NY is not only allowing deer hunting until New Year’s, they’re also allowing hunting for a half-hour after sundown – – Rudolph, with your nose so bright, you’re sure to be in someone’s sights by night.

The old Xmas postcard is from the Library of Congress

Finger Lakes, FLX, NY, Upstate New York

New York extends deer hunting season through the holidays. Run, Rudolph, Run

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Cellphone photo at the Albany Historical Society

Art, Sculpture, statue, stony silence, Upstate New York

Looking out the window

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Cities, United States

Seeing it for myself – Houston,Texas

Johnson Space Center

 

Growing up in the northeast, watching “Paris, Texas”, “From Dusk Till Dawn” “Judge Roy Bean,” etc.  getting news from the NYTimes, it was easy to write Texas off as that crazy place that we can’t ignore. A strange family member who we have to tolerate in our union of fifty states. In Norway, around the time I visited in 2015, they were using the term “Texas” to mean both crazy and big, as in “her book sale went Texas!”

Texas has long fascinated me. When I was a kid, my dad got me a book about Texas that I would look at over and over again, and it’s such a large state in every sense of the word, I couldn’t ignore it if I tried. An article written by Garrison Keillor talked about how the Dallas-Fort Worth airport is larger in terms of square footage than Manhattan.  Everywhere you look, there’s things written about Texas. It’s big, vast actually, and growing in scale in so many categories.  It’s powerful, rich, and yes, it’s kinda hard to avoid.

Minute Maid Park

 

I had sort of wanted to see it, but some of its politics and the vast distance from everywhere I’ve lived made it a remote destination, like Paris or Japan – – one day I’d probably go there, but not sure when.  Just enough certainty in my intentions so that I’m likely to get there at some point, so I don’t really need to think about the whys & wherefores, or actually making plans. 

And whatever impressions I’d gotten second-hand, I believe in seeing things for yourself.  You must experience places in person and ideally on foot to get a better sense of the picture. And especially because Texas generates a lot of controversial and personal “takes” and that makes it hard to trust what you read. A few years ago work sent me to India, for example and it’s easy to see that if you expect chaos and poverty, and if that’s what you’re looking for, the bias will be confirmed.  And if you want to see a bunch of beef-eating, truck-driving, red-voting, blue-blooded Americans in Texas who jes hate big guv’ment but luv politicking, I guess you’ll find ’em.  But really, you can find them anywhere.  I live in Wisconsin, and we’ve got more than a few scenery-chewing characters of our own holding public office.

When I was traveling through India, I experienced the whole thing at lighting speed from the back of various taxi cabs or airplanes. My first sample of Texas was also a really limited exposure, only a short business trip to Houston and mostly experienced in a convention center with a bunch of people from the Midwest, but I did get to spend a bit of time with some “boots on the ground.”

dismantling the convention

 

The first thing I noticed was how friendly everyone was. I didn’t meet too many locals, but the ones I did meet were all very nice. I would say they were sort of rough but friendly. I think that is the best way to describe them. Hard scrabble and outgoing. I liked them all. Everyone seemed sincere, and I liked that.

 

This was apparently an oil refinery-sized coffee plant for Maxwell House (!)

The other big standout was just how much good food there was. I had read that Houston is a great town to eat in, they weren’t kidding. There were restaurants and cafes all over, many of them trendy and the more old school joints were all very good. I ate well the whole time I was there. Everywhere was pretty cool that I saw. The retrofitted gas-station-turned-cafe with third wave beans, the old school Mom ‘n’ Pop- style place that hasn’t changed since the 30s and still makes great ground steak burgers; and all staffed by very nice people. And diverse. Everyone I saw was different from everyone else. Every race, age, gender and sexual orientation seemed to be there, mingling comfortably. It was a really nice thing to see how integrated it all seemed.

I was struck by the humidity and the heat, I am always caught off guard by that.  And flattened.

I was struck by how green and swampy it all was, I knew the Bayou city wasn’t going to be sage and juniper like El Paso or that part of the state, but I still expected it to be more arid than it was. There were palms and large leafy plants and it felt very much like the last time I traveled for work, India. I was struck by how similar it felt to India. It wasn’t just the green and the heat, though that helped. It was the sprawl and the urbanity. Houston is the largest city in the US without any zoning laws. So there would be an old stockyard turned hamburger shack next to a gas station next to a bunch of newly constructed houses next to a light rail station.
There were skyscrapers dropped at random and housing and fields just randomly dropped in between, meanwhile the endless highways snaked in all directions through it all. It flowed well, it felt organic, not planned strictly, but just popped up helter-skelter, like so many cities in the developing world.

 

I have read many articles about cities, and many say different things. There is talk of the Portland Oregon Model of city building, which is strictly zoned and tries to reduce sprawl. I haven’t been to Oregon (I’d go partly to see Milwaukie, named for the city I live in) and would mostly want to see the forests & coast, but also to get an idea of that model of urban planning. The other city of the future, that some say will determine how so many American cities will look, is Houston.

 

 

I haven’t really seen most of the sprawling Sun Belt towns. But I know that’s where everyone and their dog are moving. I know as people flee the taxes of the big northern cities they are landing in Texas, and I know the trend is not ending. Dallas metro area is now the second largest in the country, sprawling so far that Fort Worth is basically touching it.

 

Houston is an energy city, then and now. And with energy comes money and migration. Everyone is there. I saw all ethnicities, from Korean grocers to halal butchers. Everyone seemed to have come from somewhere, or they’re from Houston, left, and found their way back again.  In the 70s it was The City, in the midst of the oil crisis that proclaimed they would “Drive 70 and freeze a Yankee”. That legacy as an oil capitol stands in the many towering skyscrapers, lit up against the night sky. It felt a bit like Dubai or something, some other entrepot city built on oil in a harsh climate. I kept being struck by the vastness and the skyline, it impressed me, maybe more than in other towns, due to the stark contrast it had with the otherwise low-rise sprawl.

 

 

What did surprise me, was not that there’s a lot of uncontrolled growth and a chaotic smattering of buildings all over. I sort of knew that from reading, but experiencing it drives the point home. What did catch me off guard is that there is anything old left. I figured they would have torn it all down, but the growth is asymmetrical, and random, so there are things that are new plopped next to older buildings or in some cases abandoned ones. I guess when there is no issue with space (it isn’t a condensed island like NYC) that you don’t have to raze buildings to make room for more, you just build them wherever there is room. I have read that Houston is twice as sprawling as Los Angeles despite being significantly smaller in terms of population. Given the dystopian depiction of LA’s sprawl, this was hard to believe, but riding on the freeways it was easy to see that this might really be the case.

Houston’s port is one of the largest in the country, the international airport flies to more locations in Mexico than any other in the nation, and outside of NYC it has the most theater seats. The downtown is easy to get around, the museum and theater districts are pretty close to each other, there are restaurants and galleries thrown into the mix, and the stadiums are all within walking distance of the downtown, not that you would walk. The light rail is modern, clean, and efficient. It seems pretty easy to navigate if you’re from out of town.

I was able to get to a few older places in the city, one of which has been there since the 30s, and it felt sort of small town and how I imagine the south, with a magnolia on its lawn and an old time Coca-Cola machine and sweet tea on the menu, but across the street were brand new condos. Everyone seemed friendly, everyone was surprised that a northern boy like me would venture there, which puzzled me, wasn’t everyone coming there?!

 

Apart from the conference itself, I was also able to visit Rice University where I learned more about their admissions, which is an important part of my job role. Rice is a remarkable school, 6:1 faculty to student ratio, one of the top schools in the nation, and still relatively affordable. Sadly, they have had to raise their tuition as their lower tuition was apparently a turn off to top tier students who felt it couldn’t be as good as it was if it was affordable; the way we view colleges and approach the topic I think would be worth an essay on it’s own. I had heard of Rice for many years, my mother has been involved in higher ed for most of her career and so had always said great things about it (and their mascot is an owl which I think is nice). So I’d heard of the school, and it was nice to see it for myself. The campus is lovely and the students seemed friendly and enthusiastic about the school and it struck me as a diverse campus. It is not uncommon in my current position as a college counselor to think about colleges and the great “what if” I had gone to such and such place instead. Rice was great, I think it’s an excellent school, and yet I know I wouldn’t have done well there. I think being in a big city as a student would have been a distraction and I can’t hack the heat. That isn’t to detract for those who have more discipline and focus and don’t mind the heat, I think it’s a great school across the board, but I was glad to learn that about myself too.

 

I don’t really have any one Eureka moment. I can’t say I understand Texas now. I can’t tell you I have the answers and the future of America is being decided in the city of Houston and not in the former giants of the north. I know that the unrestrained building is not a sustainable method for building a city, and that the oil will run out, and that building in a flood plain in an era of increased hurricanes seems like a bad idea. But I live in a city with a spiking gun crime rate and while I love this town, is still slowly shrinking in population.  The housing market is depreciated. I pay a fair deal of taxes but see roads that wouldn’t look out of place in a documentary about the Battle of Fallujah, and at least there you could shoot at the drunks swerving into your lane.

 

Space shuttle at the Johnson Space Center

Milwaukee has its charms, by some accounts it’s the best city for coffee in America (beating Seattle) and is among the top for most indie restaurants per capita, but it also has snow and an abysmally high poverty rate, evictions and a good amount of child prostitution.  So I can’t rightly judge those who want to live in a sunny place buzzing with opportunity and prosperity, with no state taxes and cheap housing you can build with almost no regulatory hurdles.

I guess the takeaway is, we can’t view a place solely from a lens of its politics. I don’t believe that the governor of Texas represents the majority of the folks I met. We can’t stereotype a place’s people based on whatever local politician is currently grabbing media attention.  I was struck by how many very intelligent people I met there, including a former NASA engineer.

How many rocket scientists are usually associated in the Texas stereotypes? I’m from NY and I’m not remotely associated with the lifestyle of the Sopranos, Brooklyn hipsters, Westchester snobs or frenetic traders on Wall Street.  Where I grew up feels culturally more similar to the Midwest than to the East Coast bastions of money-making and style.  But when I’m out-of-state and tell someone I’m from New York, that’s probably how they would imagine me. But the thing is, growing up, I could pull in radio from Ontario on some days by the lake, and was physically closer to Toronto and Ottawa than New York City. I’m hardly Joe NYC.

In Texas, sure I expected a lot of ten-gallon hats and leather boots.  While I did see one delightfully adorned white-mustached oil baron-looking gentleman, I saw just as many fashionably dressed or comfortably- and athletically-dressed people of every race as I did anyone else. Despite its history and some of the political views, some say Houston is one of the best cities for Black Americans in the nation, it certainly can’t be worse than Milwaukee, which is still the most segregated, or Chicago, where the life expectancy discrepancy between the poorest Black neighborhood and the white one is almost thirty years. I met a good deal of Black people in Houston, they loved it there. Some had even lived elsewhere and decided to come back. 

So I guess when you hear about Texas, remember, we live in a complicated, nuanced world made up of individuals who are equally complex and nuanced. We can’t just approach the world with a singular lens built upon media depictions, stereotypes, and solely off of their politics. So I guess I’ll leave you with this, if you have to base Houston off of one idea or concept, it is: Don’t visit it in the summer unless you like hot weather! 

 

 

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This was taken on an overcast day, and the leaves were obviously suffering from tar spot after a humid, hot summer, but I liked the rich color.

Pretty much the last to fall, the maples and ash trees are already bare.

Autumn, Finger Lakes, FLX, NY, Upstate New York

Walks Around the Finger Lakes – Red Oak Leaves

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Saw this pile of leaves across the street.

 

 

A couple of swift kicks later, it looked much happier.

 

 

 

 

But all too soon, the work of art was vandalized and swept away.

The END.

Autumn

Sidewalk drama in four snapshots

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