All posts by katemccseattle

Trying something new: sharing pictures, stories and meditations.

Reflections and power

This is a very random post in response to Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge for this week. The theme is to use the photo she published,

as a starting point for a post. Mirror, power lines, clouds and reflection were what I focused on.

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Hadrian’s Wall Walk-Gilsland to Steel Rigg

Gilsland to Once brewed wasn’t the original plan. We were supposed to go to Housesteads Fort, another three or so miles. After looking at the weather report (wind and rain) and studying the terrain (turning to the steep side) and maps I proposed that we shorten the day and use the following day (supposed to be a rest day where we just visited Vindolanda) to do just the section between Steel Rigg and Housesteads Fort. Boy was that a good call!

View of Poltross Barn, Milecastle 48, on Hadrian's Wall.
Poltross Barn, a.k.a., Milecastle 48

In Gilsland there is a ruin of a mile castle, number 48, it’s called “Poltross Barn”. The marked trail had a detour around this mile castle but the woman who ran our bed and breakfast told us to ignore the detour because it was passable and the “barn” was worth seeing. It was.

You can see the Roman’s effect on the landscape…and the current guardians.

This stretch has a lot of wall…and a lot of hills. But the hills are unusual: from the south they rise gradually then drop down abruptly. The Romans deviated from the straight shot across the narrowest part of Britain to take advantage of the unusual landscape running the wall along the crest of the hills. The military road was to the south where the landscape was easier to navigate and travel was both quicker and could be done on horseback. Frodo is played by my husband.

The scenery was beautiful and I was glad that we cut the day shorter, especially when a rain squall came at us as we started the steepest segment. We could just wait it out. By the end of the day the sky was looking innocent with a lot of blue and fluffy white clouds, as if there had never been a storm.

KSM-20180616-Hadrians_Wall_Hike-Day6-12

 

A little mountain magic: blue flowers

Lupines always seem impossible to me. The color seems like fairy magic, especially when lit by a stab of sunlight sneaking in through the trees.

20180802-Lupines-01

I randomly grabbed a book to take on our recent trip: The Tolkien Reader and it contained an essay called “On Fairy-stories”, which is very long. Reading it affected the way I saw things.

Posted in response to Ragtag Daily Prompt #75: Blue.

Words are all I have…or do I?

Background

I’ve been trying to stay aware of current events since I got home from Mount Rainier. This is very hard on me because they often make my stomach turn.

The US was part of bombing a school bus full of kids in a busy market place? Children, some still babies removed from their parents and put in cages?

I decided to stay in the know, as much as I can stomach, because it seems like outrage is the only thing that gets attention. That is a really stupid way to operate. Especially for a nation that is supposed to operate by rule of law.

I observe that we seem to have a bit too much regard for attitude over actuality.

#saythisnotthat

The speaker was Jill Wine-Banks, I can’t remember the program, in the short segment she suggested using the word “conspiracy”* instead of “collusion”, and talked about #saythisnotthat. Totally agree with her premise. I’ve been uncomfortable for a long time about the words people are using, corrupting in some cases.

While I have you: There are a couple of other words I think we should stop using. One is “right” to describe people holding radical, and often racist, political positions. The problem is that the word “right” also has the meaning of “correct”. Instead of the “far right” (which can be a way to say “very correct”) they should simply be called “Trump Supporters”**. Using a word that means “correct” to describe a racist is wrong. (I do not believe that Trump Supporters are necessarily racists, however, evidence suggests that those who are not are either willing to be tolerant of racism or afraid to say anything, which is its own problem.)

Another word that should go away is “conservative”. A conservative has respect for institutions, like the court system, schools, government and so on, realizes a need for a rule of law and respect for the constitution, and realizes that you have to balance income with expenses. Someone like George Will is accurately described as a conservative. Many people currently claiming this identity are not conservatives; they should simply be called “Trump Supporters”. While I would, before my media blitz, have said that the word should be reserved for true conservatives I now believe that, like I can’t have a “tea party” anymore, the word is too far gone to be retrieved.

Probably we need to let “Liberal” go as well. It is mainly used by Trump Supporters to mean someone they want to bait into lashing out at them so they can play victim.

“Mainstream” ain’t what it used to be

Another term we may want to let go is “mainstream”, because it means too many things to too many different people. In my attempt to try and understand things I have been driven to watching several different venues. A thank you to someone who posted as a response to Fandango a link to a chart that judged the various media sources as right or left biased. I made a mental note of a few, trying to get different viewpoints in my media consumption. When I went back I couldn’t relocate that exact reference to share it with you here, but if you Google “right left media chart” there are a whole bunch of them…and they are not all the same.

I think, but am not sure, that this post: US Media Bias Resources, might contain that first one. I find that I am more in concurrence with the one posted in Partisan Bias vs. Journalistic Quality. The reason is that I think the person/people who put the first chart together are using how much the labeled groups like, or the opposite groups dislike, the reporting as an indication of bias. The chart seems to me more like a warning for people who have opposing views that they may not like what they see than an assessment of true bias.

You have to take into account what really happened. For example: If I love cats I can like a story about rescuing kittens, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that kittens were rescued. If I am a dog lover, maybe I don’t like the story about rescuing kittens, but that doesn’t mean that kittens weren’t rescued.

I find that these charts, in general, have a couple of problems:

  1. They over generalize. You are considered either left or right or liberal or conservative. I find that many real people, myself included, don’t fit into those categories neatly. To use my example from above: I love both cats and dogs, so I can like stories about both kittens and puppies, so long as I don’t bring any more animals home (my husband, the cat, and both dogs agree on that).
  2. The media venues have a variety of programs and the level of bias varies considerably from one show to another. I found this true of both MSNBC and Fox “News” (It really needs the qualifier, they seem to simply not report about half of what is going on because it doesn’t fit their agenda.)

Much factual news today doesn’t suit the Trump Supporters worldview so they claim bias. I don’t like news about bombing school buses…but it really happened. I don’t claim reporters are biased because they tell me about it.

When I was a kid on the evening news they always had the death toll for the Vietnam War…whoops I mean Police Action (although everyone called it a war at the time, one kid in my Kindergarten class’s dad died fighting over there). Now, just within my family, some people supported that war and others did not. But no one, on either side, claimed that there weren’t any deaths.

Rant over for now. I wish I could find out more about the #saythisnotthat stuff, but I’m not a twit…wait no, I should report accurately: I do not have a Twitter account…and I stopped using Facebook a while back for practical reasons (it ate up my cell phone battery trying to update itself).

Grace and peace to all, we sure seem to need it.

 

*Couldn’t help but notice that it could be re-punctuated to read: “con’s piracy”.

**My opinion is that when you get too extreme, on either “side” of the political spectrum, you should be referred to as a “wing nut”, but that sounds judgmental, and didn’t some famous dude say “judge not that ye be not judged”? …I wonder what he would have said about the current situation? Based on years of Bible study, I’m guessing that bombing school kids and folks out buying food wouldn’t fly very high with him, nor would storing children in cages. Just sayin’.

Two kinds of silence

There are two kinds of silence at play in my life:

  • Breathe deep and enjoy the incredible beauty of the world.
  • Situations that flabbergast me into silence because I can’t find words to express my feelings.

The first silence:

I arrived home from a few days in Paradise (at Mount Rainier). No cell coverage or WiFi just wild flowers and mountains, fresh air and sunshine, waterfalls…and, of course mosquitoes.

Even though there were quite a few bugs at Paradise, getting home is overrated.

The second silence:

The first post I read when I got home was this one, about the situation of the children taken from their families at our border.

The ugliness and nastiness of children’s situation is an example of the…I don’t know the right word(s) for it…that so often silences me these days.

I am in the set of people who has no voice because my representatives do, in fact, represent my views. I can, and did, send some feedback about the children, but a freshman congress woman from a notoriously progressive district is not going to be listened to in the other Washington (D.C.).

What kind of crazy is this?

I feel like some kind of multiple personality disorder is being shoved down my throat. Am I a calm woman on a mountain being mindful of the scent of the flowers, the sound of water tumbling down, and the bright colorful charm of flowers and the majesty of the mountain? Or am I mindful of current events? Being ready to scream with frustration by having no say or way to make a difference and allowing my heart to be wrung by the thought of children taken from their families, the destruction of wildfires, earthquakes, etc.

I can’t be both at once, and yet that is the world I live in.

My voice is rarely heard

People never seem to hear me. My physical voice isn’t very high pitched, but it seems like no one hears me. If I raise my volume people tell me not to yell. I often have to relay information through my husband, who doesn’t speak loudly but people can hear him. It’s depressing sometimes. I voted today (we have mail in ballots). My voice in politics is usually not heard either.

We have a top two primary. That means that the two with the most votes go to the general election regardless of party (so you may not even have a Democrat and a Republican on the general ballot). We had 25 candidates for one US Senate position and 11 for state senate. Party affiliations are listed as “prefers Party Name“. In addition to several candidates each from the duopoly, quite a few were independents and one was FRFD (or maybe FDFR, I’ve recycled the pamphlet and it’s too hot to go fishing for it in our bin). I didn’t look it up, our hypothesis is that it was profane.

I felt like many of the people running for the US Senate don’t know what the senate does. It wound up being not much of a choice when you ruled out people who were oblivious to what the job entails. However, I caught a break in the state senate race. I went to middle school with one of the candidates and, not only did she put together a cogent statement showing she understood about the issues and the needs of our area, I know her to be a good person: she cares about people, our community and works very hard to make things better. Naturally she’s not favored, but I felt good about voting for her, something I rarely feel these days.

I thought it was interesting that there are 25 running for US Senate and only one Democrat (the incumbent) and one Republican for US Representative for our district. I felt cornered: I don’t care for our representative. Not that I disagree with most of her positions, I just find her too extreme and her style too in-your-face to get anything done in today’s congress. We need moderation and cunning. Last time we had several good candidates and I would have liked to see one of them try again. I feel a bit like the stage has been managed, possibly by hostile forces to try and “flip” our district.

By voting I whispered into the wind…but at least I felt really good about one candidate.