Monday, September 15, 2014

MOST ENLIGHTENED CITY IN AMERICA---EUGENE OREGON

LET ME PROVE IT TO YOU:

They take democracy seriously.  Make voting easy and accessible.  Boxes like this all around town. 

Beautiful Bicycle trails go everywhere--reaching all the way to the next city.

Everybody seemingly has one--These are parked outside their terrific Library--which is worth a separate post on its own.

They have built 4 of these magnificent pedestrian and bicyclist bridges across the Willamette river running through the town.

Here's another---this one popular for late evening music and dancing

They do big-picture planning --bike trails and public parks on both sides of the river.

The Willamette river---much revered--protected--utilized and enjoyed.  The green valley it services was the shangri-la that drew the Oregon trail pioneers here. 

And along its course hundreds of ponds are preserved as wetlands for wildlife.

Vast tracks of open green space for the public (and wildlife) to enjoy.

Gardens galore along the public trails.

And gardens where you can grow your own vegetables.  

Recycling is almost a religion here.  They have engineered a system that works--by pricing returns at 5 cents each---enough to make it worth someones time.

And guess what---They have outlawed plastic grocery bags.  They will sell you one of these blue reusable ones.

By now you will not be surprised to learn that their city buses are green hybrids.

And here's a neat touch: A mini solar system done in proper proportion---to the scale of 1 to 1 billion.
As you walk along the path you get a sense of our place in the solar system. (earth is the size of a pea)

Ah but friends, I've barely scratched the surface of this city's enlightened practices: 
They have a great school---OREGON UNIVERSITY---(with the second ranked football team)

And let me emphasize: NO SALES TAX!!!

SATURDAY MARKET---Whole city blocks of downtown Eugene is made freely available every Saturday to all who would come and sell their stuff and express themselves---from vegetables to baked goods, clothing and even religious ideas---an exciting melange of personalities and products not to be missed.

Friendly youngsters will pump your gas for you all over the state.

City buses will carry your bike for you.

They have created SANCTUARIES for the homeless.  Sanctuaries that respect the dignity and real needs of people:  Food, clothing, shelter, medical attention, haircuts, showers, lockable storage units, day rooms for relaxation, personal counseling.

Finally, this wonderful city (and state) will humanely LET YOU DIE without needless suffering when your time comes. ( Assisted suicide for the terminally ill)  

RANDY PHILOSOPHIZES:  Eugene Oregon hints at the benefits of a "WE'RE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER" philosophy.  This is, politically,  a very blue city--it votes democratic.  I challenge my Republican friends to name a "RED" city in this nation anywhere near as wonderful as Eugene.  The underlying philosophy of  "IT'S EVERY PERSON FOR THEMSELVES" can never result in anything but class warfare, luxury behind gated communities and abject poverty on the outside.  A bumper sticker says it succinctly:

I asked around for the secret of Eugene's success---one of the more interesting responses was that Eugene is where the Hippies went to live out their lives---and these fine things I've noted are simply the out picturing of their influence.















Thursday, September 04, 2014

WHY THE GODS WANT TO BE PEOPLE---Part 2

OR--- SPECULATION ON WHY ETERNITY YEARNS TO EXPERIENCE TIME.  The point I hope to make is that LIVING IS SO DEAR.
I hold this myth in my head because it  helps propel me into deeper and richer experience----keeps me mindful of the briefness of my being---emboldens me to seize the day.
"Let us then be up and doing
With a heart for any fate;
still achieving, still pursuing;
Learn to labor and to wait."
(Longfellow: A Psalm of Life)

A recognizable sphinx at the sand castle festival.

An ....Ugly face!

One day I visited an old fort and engaged the host--
Learned of his hobby--told him mine--suggested we perform for each other.

He agreed--we exchanged 3 songs for 3 poems.  By the time we finished, we had an audience.


Went to an Indian Pow Wow.  This one a series of dance contest for money.


Went to a unique boat show in Toledo, Or. ---featuring CARDBOARD and wooden boats.  The town lets you settle in along this river.  

There, dear readers is a rare sight---a functioning cardboard boat.


Here is the idea man and director of the festival--with his personal cardboard boat----chose not to float it.  He explained the rules:  One month ago, the local paper mill gave out lots of cardboard to anyone wishing to build a boat for the big race. Wood  is not permitted---only glue, paint and duct tape.

Here's a sample of what the contestants came up with. These are after-the-race shots of course.

Some survived splendidly,

others, not so splendidly.
Some were a hilarious disaster---the paddler had to swim for his life.

I think this was the winner---the situation was confusing.

Aaah but there was more to this festival.  for $425 you would be furnished with everything you needed to build your own kayak--including instructions.  You were given the weekend to finish your project.  Amazingly, most got their boat built.

And as you can see, they were exquisite, serviceable kayaks.

Engaged this pretty lady.  Meet Patti---and guess what---she's an inventor!  Posing here she wears her patented invention around her neck:  A "wine bra".  It's the answer to that troubling problem of where to put your wine glass as you move about in a social situation.  Read about it here .

Someone called my name---always a pleasant surprise. Fellow travelers I met in Quartzsite, Az at the Rubber Tramp Rendezvous.

At the local rail museum I quizzed this expert on an obscure puzzlement of mine: How did the railroad builders finally solve the problem of eliminating the  noisy clack, clack, clack as trains passed over the once-considered-necessary expansion joints? Not only noisy, he said, but wearing on the wheels.  So RIBBON RAIL ---with no gaps is now standard.  But "How do they allow for expansion on hot days", I asked.  He smiled and punched up the answer: 

THEY WELD THE JOINTS WHEN THE RAILS ARE HOT--- making them hot with a temporary fire.   mystery solved!

Another guy answered questions about life in a caboose. Lets me hold the job for a jiffy.

Here's a shocker for you---on at least 3 occasions human beings were sent by mail.


The highlight of the day was engaging this brilliant guy---Steve---an attorney from Portland.  We are both Unitarians with much to share.  On another day he took me on a farm tour near Yachats, Or.

RANDY PHILOSOPHIZES:  I believe that life is a zone of mystery because we do not know, ultimately, where we come from---why---if any reason-- we are here ---and what-- if anything--becomes of us.  So we speculate---and make up stories (myths) that ease our anxiety a bit and help us generate some temporary meaning for ourselves.  Most of the world's worst problems are caused by believers who take their myths too seriously. Everyone on the planet who does not know that they do not know is a part of the problem.  Everyone who embraces the mystery joyfully, is part of the solution. 


















Monday, August 25, 2014

WHY GODS WANT TO BE PEOPLE

ACHILLES SAID IT: "THE GODS ENVY US".   And there's a convincing movie: "WINGS OF DESIRE"---the story of an angel who carefully looks at the human experience and then wants to be one.
It is an old old idea, going back thousands of years BCE and is a central notion in the Bhagavad Gita.
The mystic William Blake concluded: "eternity is in love with the productions of time."
I say: IT'S GREAT TO BE ALIVE!!! Here's some recent experiences that confirm it for me.

The road from Portland to Tillamook---A joy to drive

and when you arrive the cheese factory makes you welcome.  Free cheese.

And just outside town this giant building still preserved. (not the blimps) 

My first glimpse of the beach---sooooo cool and beautiful and free.  A bygone governor decreed that all Oregon's beaches are public property and accessible to all.

fledgling flyers lifted my heart---Who would have believed yesteryear that one day we would fly like birds-----made me remember Shakespeare:  
"What a piece of work is man!
How noble in reason!
How infinite in faculty!
In form and moving how express and admirable!
In action how like an angel!
In apprehension how like a god!
The beauty of the world, the paragon of animals." (Hamlet act2 scene 2)
Can you see that angel actually soaring?
And for the first time in my camping career (10,000 plus nights) I settle into an RV resort: Thousand trails Pacific beach, Or. (cost me less than $2 a day)
Very near paradise---beautiful, convenient, nice neighbors, hot tubs, etc.
I'm given 2 weeks.
This was a memorable moment: As the music played, this bold kid got up and danced----all alone--not for the crowd watching, but FOR HIMSELF.  It was beautiful--rhythmic---and he danced a long time. I was blown away.  I will believe I am enlightened when I can cast off self consciousness and express myself like this.  I wanted to dance but was short of Huevos.
One day on the beach I encountered a dying gull.  I sat beside it awhile--thinking to comfort it.  
And that very day I saw this friendly old dog just drop in the street as it was being walked.  People ran to its rescue, but I think it died.
One day I settled in at a viewing site to see whom I would meet.


Lots of nice people including this guy who chatted with me for an hour.  His work is to design programs that detect viruses and fraud.

And this adventurous guy bicycling to San Francisco.

A week of Paradise was about all I wanted.  Don't know why.  I supposed it was to me like lemon iced box pie---a little goes a long way.  So I left early and relocated at Chinook Winds casino--right on the ocean--note the time and temperature.  

Myself and 50 more rigs settle here in the parking lot. (I'm located center left)

The beach is just steps away.  A bridal party is doing----something?
One day I went to a sand castle contest for amateurs.  This teenager is lovingly sculpting his fantasy woman.
A team of adults collaborate on a castle.
And someone devised a bathtub scene.  The green is seaweed.
This scene touched me---a father--earnestly playing with his son.  They are so absorbed, they didn't notice me.

Another day I watched people mold glass.

RANDY PHILOSOPHIZES:  Do you get my point?  It really is great to be alive. Thoreau said it better than I could:  "LIVING IS SO DEAR!"-- "HOWEVER MEAN YOUR LIFE IS, MEET IT AND LIVE IT; DO NOT SHUN IT AND CALL IT HARD NAMES.  IT IS NOT SO BAD AS YOU ARE. IT LOOKS POOREST WHEN YOU ARE RICHEST.  THE FAULT FINDER WILL FIND FAULTS EVEN IN PARADISE. LOVE YOUR LIFE, POOR AS IT IS.  YOU MAY PERHAPS HAVE SOME PLEASANT, THRILLING, GLORIOUS HOURS, EVEN IN A POOR HOUSE.