You should watch the video – about Epicureanism.
This farm is not too far from where we live.
There is a battle going on for the soul of the country, between those who would like to extend the past, and those who are going to be its future.
I was stunned when I first read about this. A note about what had happened was in a book that I have just finished about America’s National Parks. I found confirmation of the facts on the Snopes website.
via Dictionary Drama
I felt a little better after getting a better context for the bigger picture. Nevertheless, I feel a little sad about this, and I would also argue that what is going on may not necessarily be a good thing. There are other more important people who also seem to feel the same way.
I am sitting in the restaurant at the Hilton Garden Inn in El Segundo and I have pleasant buzz going. It is Happy Hour at the bar. I am partaking of a glass of red wine – for health reasons of course. The place is not crowded. Off to my left, at roughly 10 O’clock, a woman is complaining to her companion about the irresponsibility of somebody else in her workplace, and about how she is dealing with it. At a table right in front of me, a couple of folks are busy snacking, chatting, and consuming beer and vodka. At one point one of the gentlemen goes up the bar and brings back the rest of a half-empty bottle of vodka. It seems that he is not interested in having his drink poured into a glass by a waiter a little bit at a time. Off to my front and right, roughly beyond 1 O’clock, a group of women are having a jolly good time jabbering away loudly amongst themselves. I cannot make out if they are consuming any of the cheaper drinks that are being offered for Happy Hour. At 90 degrees to the direction I am facing, exactly to my right, is another gentleman who, just like me, is looking up at the Flat Panel TV high up on the wall towards a corner of the room. I think this gentleman is here for a free dinner. Along with his wine, he is eating the free oily hors d’oeuvres and the soup that are being offered a a part of Happy Hour. He has made at least a couple of trips to the buffet table for the food. The two of us are watching bits and pieces of the move “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” in High Definition. I see Richard Dreyfuss go cuckoo and start throwing all kinds of things from the garden through his kitchen window into his home. It seems that he wants to build a model of a mountain in his living room. Through the big glass windows of the restaurant right in front of me I can see the coconut trees and a parking lot. Beyond the parking lot is the elevated train station for the Los Angeles Light Rail Commuter train. I wonder if the spot outside the restaurant would be a good location to take a picture of the trees and the train station from, especially when a train arrives at the station and the light of the setting sun hits its side.
I am absorbing all of this while consuming my veggie burger. I am enjoying the French Fries. They are a special treat since I do not eat them often. They are not supposed to be good for me. I will make up for this breakdown in discipline by consuming a plate of fruit salad in the end. All of this probably only makes a difference in my mind.
I am experiencing all of this as if I am observing myself from somewhere outside of myself. Apparently, I am feeling a little detached. I am feeling a little separated from myself. You might think you know what I am doing here, but I am pretty sure I do not. But it is good to have that pleasant buzz anyway. Thanks goodness for Happy Hour.
I took the following pictures during my later trips to the city from the proximity on the hotel mentioned above, at the corner of Mariposa and Nash. Regular trips to Los Angeles were part of my work routine in those days, and I used to stay at this place a lot. I was also still in recovery mode from my heart procedure at that time.
“Nothing comes from nothing
Nothing ever could
So somewhere in my youth or childhood
I must have done something good”
The Sound of Music
I was a little nervous when I walked into the Manna facility today. It has been over six months since I last volunteered at the warehouse. What kind of changes would I see? What about the people that I used to work with? Would they still be there? Was I going to be taken completely by surprise?
All my worries vanished the moment I walked in the door. I was totally floored by the way I was greeted by both the staff and my fellow volunteers. There was so much warmth in the greetings, and so much concern about my health and the state of my recovery from the accident. There was a palpable sense of concern about my well-being. And I got this kind of a response from almost all the people I used to interact with regularly in the warehouse in the past, even people that I did not expect to remember me. I was touched.
The Tuesday team of volunteers is still alive and well at Manna, and I was glad to see the volunteers that I had worked with regularly in the past on my first day back. This is perhaps the right moment for me to show a picture that was taken at the warehouse at the end of 2015.On the right side of of the picture, standing up, is Jamal, the warehouse manager then and now. (He was the one who had asked for the particular picture to be taken.) When I arrived, he came out to the front of the warehouse to say hello. (What you are seeing on the racks behind us are the open packages of perishable food that are to be given to customers in the afternoon. This open box will be accompanied by a closed box of non-perishable food, and frozen meat, bread, and other items that might be available at that time from the donations that keep Manna going.)
Not all of the people in the picture above continue to work on the distribution side of things on Tuesdays, but, as I found out today, there still is an effective core of volunteers that come in on that day of the week to rock the joint! I feel I have a connection with these folks that is unique in some ways. And the connection showed in the way I was greeted this morning.
Mike, on the left hand side of the picture, is a grandfather in his seventies, who, after a successful career running a company, comes in to help regularly. He is also responsible for fixing things in the warehouse and building whatever is needed. In this regard he is willing to work on any problem that comes his way. He and I assembled a bunch of mobile racks (similar of the ones you see in the picture) a few months ago.
Guliz, next to Mike, used to work for the embassy of her country in DC for many years, and seems to spend a lot of her time outside of Manna speaking up about different social causes, not the least of which is the effect of the drift towards autocratic governance in her country of origin. She is a “live wire” when it comes to getting things done.
The tall guy next to me (towards the center of the picture, in the back wearing black) is Steve. He retired from a government job and he volunteers two days a week at Manna. He started about the same time I did. He is the steady guy who knows what needs to be done at all times, and also jumps in to help with anything and everything where needed.
It would be fair to say that the volunteers I have noted from the picture above help make it happen in the distribution system on Tuesdays with the assistance of the other volunteers who are there on a more temporary basis. I am happy to be a part of this core group that gets it done.
There is one other person in the picture whom I have not seen for a long time, and who we all miss at Manna. Doug, standing in the back between Mike and Steve, is also a hardworking and versatile worker. I used to enjoy hearing his jokes and stories, especially those experiences from his time in the Vietnam War as a mechanic working on aircraft in the field. We have not seen him recently. I hope he is keeping well.
And then there is Miss Blanche, a Manna employee who is not in the picture, who works with the distribution volunteers providing direction. In her seventies (I believe!), she tries very hard to keep things in order while a kind of organized chaos reigns around her.
The remarkable thing is that we are all people with widely varied backgrounds who have come together to do a single thing, and that we do this as a team effectively.
The greeting I got from Jamal, Mike, Guliz, Steve, and Miss Blanche was particularly touching today. I am back in a place that I want to be in, doing things that make me feel good about myself. Being back at Manna is probably good for my mental state and sense of balance, and hopefully it helps in getting me back into better physical shape also.
I tried to take it easy in the warehouse today, and it took an extra effort on my part to back off from doing the things that I usually tend to do there. But I was careful, and the folks around me were also looking out for me. I also worked for a shorter duration of time than usual, and I came out of the experience not feeling as tired as I usually do. I feel fine, and I took forward to stepping it up with time.
It is a cold morning here in Gaithersburg, with the wind and the sub-zero temperatures making me glad to be indoors. But I am beginning to feel warmer already. I leave today to the land of my birth, to the place of my childhood. It is a trip that I used to make more often. It is a trip that has been delayed this time more than it should have.
When I step out of the airport in Chennai I will once again absorb the feelings of being in a familiar place. But I also wonder how much the place has changed since I last visited. Will I still experience the familiar chaos, noises and smells? I wonder how much people have changed since I last saw them. People grow older, and perhaps wiser, and sometimes more frail. I wonder how much I have changed.
I wrote about this technology and its possible impacts a while back. Here is an article on the topic with a short video that describes the technology in simple terms. (The video in this link started playing automatically with my browser, but I needed to “unmute” the audio.)