Photography: Urban Parking Garages 3

This is the last post in the series. Yesterday’s adventure began not with a parking garage but the tall tower attached to our Children’s Hospital. I tried to capture a panorama, but I found the reflective coating on the windows interfered with that. What I ended up with was this shot of the state capitol area. You can see the scaffolding as the domed building is under renovation. There’s a long story about flawed construction and design not worth repeating here.

This is the atrium of the Children’s Hospital. This is their new building. In times past, this area was a complex of several major hospitals all in one quarter of a square mile, perched atop a hill. It’s now dozens of institutions and lots of new buildings. It includes Oklahoma University’s School of Medicine, something like 40 miles remote from their main campus down in Norman. OU Med owns about half of this hospital cluster, shared with the likes of the VA, McGee Eye Institute, Children’s, and some other stuff.

This is an exterior view of Children’s Hospital showing the tower; it was 14 stories of stairs. A great workout, but I was highly irritated by the complete lack of bicycle parking. I had to find a spot in their visitor parking where I could lock the bike to the railing out the way. There are doctors and other medical personal who ride bikes all over this place, but darned little bicycle parking. Even the VA has this figured out with ample locking space in a special courtyard.

Right on the edge of this hospital district is an old house my family occupied back when I was six years old. We rented the top floor; the topmost window on the left — now boarded over — was my room. Much of the neighborhood is gone, with houses removed to make way for newer structures, and of course, Interstate 235 cuts right through it now.

About a mile west of that hospital cluster is another, based on Saint Anthony’s hospital. Fewer major facilities, but still a lot of expensive medical real estate. I couldn’t access the parking garage mentioned previously in this series; it was for staff only. However, Saint’s has a huge visitor and lesser staff garage just across from their front entrance. I got this shot facing north toward a couple of other medical facilities and some new yuppie housing.

At various times in my youth, we have lived in places all around this part of OKC. Most of those houses are long gone. Right now I can count four different buildings of which only the one above still stands, and that one was old when we lived there 55 years ago. Things change. After the Murrah Building bombing, the Feds built themselves a new and horribly ugly building. I shot this from across a very strange oval that drops down toward the stairs to my right on the other side of a wall. This oval features gravel paths running straight downhill to nothing in particular. On the higher ground surrounding this oval is a bunch of cutesy short benches shaped like stars with seats on both sides. There is a plaza between this odd park-like thing and then the majestic hideous monstrosity for the offices itself. You can see this nasty thing on any of the mapping services online; it’s just north of the Downtown central district.

The bright spot of the day was visiting Brown’s Bakery. It’s high grade stuff. They don’t have their own website, but this Yelp page will do. They occupy what was once a grocery store; I can recall my Mom taking me there with her. Next to it was an attached TG&Y store (general merchandise department store), where I drooled over what was then a still newish trendy toy: Wham-O’s Frisbee. Ah, the memories of long lost childhood.

Posted in photography | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Return to Point 8

I wanted to celebrate. Now that Veloyce has a better car for driving back and forth to work, I get to keep the battered old Volvo for myself. I drove out to Draper Lake for a short hike.

Point 8 is one of two portions of the lake area that is under preservation. They saw significant damage back in the days of open off-road vehicle use, so these two areas have a no-wheels policy. To see the shoreline requires hiking or horse-riding. Hiking means walking the horse trails. Whoever is doing the maintenance doesn’t like to cut up huge trees that fall across the old shore trail, but they don’t mind a little light cutting to route around the deadfall.

I started out near the point and walked the horse trail clockwise. The equestrians have kept open a loop that isn’t a long hike, but it felt worth doing. This blossoming tree is not a dogwood, but one that bears a heavenly scent. It’s part of the early spring foliage out here.

While most of the trail was deeply wooded, with lots of scratchy dried underbrush to shred my legs, the eastern side is more open. The soil is sandy with more grasses.

As you can see, it’s still not all that warm. This day was not quite 70°F (21C) and had a pretty cool start, so the bugs weren’t too bad. By the time these grasses turn green, it will be populated with biting flies, chiggers and ticks. Stomping around in the underbrush becomes frankly a health threat in summer.

The point itself isn’t that inspiring. I chatted with a fisherman. The water is still too cold for shallow fishing right now, so he confessed it was more a matter of testing his new rod and reel and practicing his cast. It was short hike and could easily be my last for this season. I’ll wait to see if any more cool days grace this area; the biting insects stay in bed when it’s below 60°F (16C). That would allow me to take a longer hike around Point 12, the other recovery area with a no-wheels policy. It promises are more picturesque ramble.

Posted in photography | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Transportation Update 3

Rejoice with us! This is Veloyce’s new ride. (That puddle under it was pre-existing.)

This one was the best deal — the most for the money and within our means. We got it from Boomer Kia. The salesman was honest enough and the management didn’t try to play silly games. I don’t mind giving them a plug for doing the right thing.

Now pray with us because it left us with very little reserves to make it through the coming month. This was the only way we could get anything at all worth having. We have faith and will just eat canned food or whatever, but feel free to donate after the fact.

Posted in personal | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Comfort the Afflicted

You cannot comfort the comfortable.

We teach that you should ensure your choice of residence is heart-led. A critical element in obeying the call of God is to reside where He wants you. The penalty for ignoring this is obvious: Creation will not cooperate with your efforts to build shalom. The natural world around you will reject you if you don’t belong there. You cannot claim the blessings of Biblical Law unless you obey it.

The choice of residence has a lot to do with your evangelism audience. In general, your witness is there, where you live. God’s love in your life begins at home, wherever home may be. Granted, if you have a missionary calling and your residence is only the base of operations, you would spend more time on the mission field. But your neighbors should at least know you live the heart-led life.

Beyond such obvious matters may be the question: Whom do you tell? That’s where our general guideline comes in — comfort the afflicted. Those are the folks who know things aren’t working right and they are looking for a better answer. People who feel like they have things under control aren’t ready to hear about better answers.

And we take the position that we don’t go out of our way to afflict the comfortable. It’s not our calling to make life difficult for people. There’s already plenty of that going around already. That’s because our God reserves that mission for Himself. He’s the one who knows how much it takes to be heard when He calls, and He calls us to be there to welcome these new souls into His household. We pay attention when He pours out His wrath on sin so we can gear up for an influx of people ready to hear His truth.

On the other hand, that means you can’t hide out in your comfort zone. Chances are what makes you comfortable will associate strongly with what makes others comfortable. We are only human, after all. If you are going to comfort the afflicted, you need to go where they are. That doesn’t mean so much changing residence or journeying into the darkest hell-holes of the world, but it does mean spending time with folks who aren’t in their comfort zone. Jesus used to spend time around social outcasts and even crooks.

Chances are, they won’t come to us; we have to go to them. I’m not going to tell you what “going” means; that command comes in all shapes and sizes. The point is that you have to reach outside that comfort zone and learn to prosper in shalom by infiltrating where it isn’t.

Posted in eldercraft | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Regret or Not?

Jay and I were discussing on the forum about the paths we take in our lives. I made the comment that I always felt driven by the Spirit of God from a very young age. I was surely confused about what was the best way to obey, but there is no mistaking my commitment. He noted that we are taught to feel guilty in our culture for not choosing the perfect answer at those turning points in our lives.

There is no “perfect” answer. Western Civilization is built on pretense, as if someone is always watching and grading every nuance of our path through life. That’s not the God of the Bible. The reality that our Lord made is not like that. His revelation describes a reality that is alive, sentient and willful. It interacts with us; we can be aware of that if we pay attention. The question of choices should not be colored with the false notion of objective perfection. That does not exist outside the twisted mythology of the West. There is no “perfect will of God” because He doesn’t think like that. He said as much Himself.

Not in so many words, but God revealed Himself in a context that excludes such nonsense. The notion of a “perfect will of God” is foreign to the Ancient Near East (ANE). Nothing in the ANE cultures makes place for that sort of mathematical precision in efficiency. The notion of accountability to the Divine is all about your desire and your commitment; such bean-counting is excluded except in a few rare cases of things that are handled in tiny quantities. Virtually everything in the life of ANE people was a matter of approximations because they were dealing almost exclusively with agricultural products. A certain amount of spoilage was built into it. God reveals Himself as a feudal Lord who deals almost entirely in obligations that are soft in that way.

It’s not that there is no place for such precision in a high technology society, but you have to understand that you won’t find God in that way. He hasn’t changed just because our material preoccupations have changed. We make it a crime to mishandle even a penny, but it’s not morally wrong for humans to be humans.

I know of a mystic who also ran several large businesses, one of them a fancy restaurant. He was quite successful and part of his success was understanding God’s truth in a fallen world. His accounting practices included a 10% loss due to employee handling, and not just common errors. Having dealt with literally hundreds of service employees, he said it was impossible to get good staff unless you tolerated a small amount of theft. He explained that the best employees in the world would steal just a little. He made a bigger profit by keeping them on staff and tolerating the minor losses. He was content not to know who was guilty on that scale.

There is a certain amount of moral friction in the human existence. Your shiny new plans had better not be fragile or reality will wear it through the middle. Keep your expectations real and you won’t panic when the hide gets scraped. Have you ever met someone who gets all tore up over a minor door ding in their car? That’s a sign of moral immaturity, a symptom of materialistic idolatry. This is the root nature of Western mythology that rejects the existence of the otherworld.

It’s okay to bear a certain level of regret; mistakes are what make us wise when we get older. If you don’t experience bad consequences, you’ll never rejoice humbly at shalom. The false idea that you’ve gotten everything right leads to a Satanic sense of entitlement. A feeling that you get everything wrong will immobilize you when God calls. Are you still alive? God still has use for you; don’t miss out on His blessed opportunities. Did it never occur to you that God calls some folks to live as examples of what can go wrong? Seize the grace He offers. God expects people to bear some regret in this life. Seek peace with God and embrace His calling whatever it is.

Once more: There is no objective reality. There is only experience and perception. Experience is what you have to live with; perception generally needs adjustment to match the reality of experience. And reality is a person, too.

Posted in teaching | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Transportation Update 2

Craigslist is a funny thing. It has changed a great deal in the past few years. It was always a little dicey about auto sales, but it’s gotten worse. We keep running into ads with anomalies that make us wonder why someone would claim to sell a car in our area when their phone number is listed in New York, or Oregon, or places like that.

There was a local dealer offering several decent cars on Craigslist. We went to look; not a single one of those cars was visible on their lot. It looked to me like a high-pressure bait-n-switch. Oh well; car dealers do have one of the lowest reputations in the US.

We found one that was a really good deal. Less than two hours after it was posted, we drove by and it was already gone.

That’s the way it’s been for us. This whole search has been quite frustrating. Pray with us.

Posted in personal | Tagged | 5 Comments

Trying It Again

I had a devil of a time uploading this picture, something is hindering the upload. I got it on the fifth try. I can’t tell if it’s my ISP (which has been acting suspicious lately) or something wrong with WordPress.

At any rate, this is a selfie I took today just to show how far I’ve gotten with the beard. The last time I tried it, the itching was to the point of being painful. So this time I changed the type of soap I use. It’s Mrs. Meyers Body Wash; it doesn’t dry things out so bad. Also, after washing I rub in a mixture of olive and coconut oil. I mix the two oils half-n-half and heat them just a little until the coconut dissolves into the olive oil. It will stay liquid after that. We’ll see if I can grow hair on the top at all.

Posted in personal | Tagged , | 6 Comments