Sunday, July 05, 2015

July 4, 2015

Our family has traditionally made a pilgrimage to Lake Samammish around this time, to meet up with my dad's side of the family, descended from Swedes who pioneered and developed infrastructure around Mercer Island in Lake Union.

Sisters Elsie and Esther were my great aunt and grandmother respectively, with Esther having John (aka Jack) Urner who married Carol Reilley.  My parents were in Chicago, attending 57th Street Meeting (Quaker) by the time they had me, dad already having his MA from Johns Hopkins (International Studies) and looking at getting his PhD in Planning under adviser Dr. Dick Meier (a teacher for Alan Potkin as well).  Julie, my three-years-younger sister, her birthday July 5, joined us in Portland.

This year Carol and I stayed in Portland, though we still have a long car trip ahead of us.  We drove to the Burgerville on Hawthorne and 12th, kitty corner from the Food Pod (bizmo court) so as to be closer to fireworks.  I ended up parking next to Dependable Pattern Works (pause to recall Razz) and following the crowds to the place where the pedestrian spiral takes bicycle and foot traffic off the Hawthorne bridge on the east side.

The same marching band that helped us say good bye to Blue Butterfly showed up, all in white with trombones and stuff and somehow managed to march through the crowd and make music as anticipation grew.  On the opposite shore:  the Blues Festival was in full swing.  I'd gone the previous night but on the fourth just kicked back reading the new JKF book (2008) and other things, tuning in the blues track over KBOO.

At Burgerville, Carol talked about some of her demilitarizing work.  The Ban Treaty which aims to criminalize nuke WMDs has been a dark horse but is gathering steam, enjoying strong support from Austria, Norway and others (a majority of nations have signed it already).

Those working for a Nuclear Convention have worried the Ban Treaty will steal bandwidth from a process already suffering from neglect and inattention, given many Boomer engineers see making WMDs as a pet profit-making business and are pretty rutted in their ways.  Media attention on Countdown to Zero projects (a World Game initiative) is jammed and/or dissipated by competing interests.

Carol got a turkey burger and salmon salad.  She has mostly abstained from eating mammals in her adult life, but at 86 she's committed to longevity and good health and allows herself fish and foul (Jurassic World still at Bagdad).  I had Walla Walla onion rings, which I shared, and a regular sized raspberry milkshake, one of my favorites (we also have a commercial raspberry pie in the refrigerator, and two flavors of ice cream in the freezer).

The professional Portland fireworks display was splendid, from a barge over water (pretty safe).  I recommend this form of entertainment.  First Person Physics.  Air is a tense medium and sudden sharp disturbances, known as explosions, do have the power to exhilarate, without the intense sadness and horror of outward warfare, which uses incendiary devices mainly to disappoint (shock and awe are secondary).  People in the WMD business are all about disappointing people, most especially their own mothers.

Carol managed the 9 block walk each way very well.  We had to go over train tracks and make pedestrian lights that were not timed with old ladies using walkers in mind.  Given the crowds and alert drivers, our progress remained safe.  Coming back, right after the show, with thousands flowing inland, a lengthy freight train came right across, as they do, a moving barrier.  That added context and color and a chance to gather energy for the rest of the uphill.

Clearly I have nothing to complain about in terms of living standards.  I've enjoyed marriage and family life as a father / husband, thanks to Dawn Wicca (1953 - 2007).  I've enjoyed world travel, interesting work, many teachers and friends.  So "problem solved" in my case.  Per my natural freedoms, I pursued happiness and secured a bunch.

But we have many in need, many still unhappy (some don't want houses, preferring camping) and stateless, including right here in Portland, so many puzzles to work on.  It's not like when one's own case is solved, that there aren't others to work on.