The Casual Blog

Tag: dogwoods

First Friday gallery hopping, new wildflowers, and tolerating Scientology

Dogwood blossom on Blount Street

Dogwood blossom on Blount Street

This week the big trees in Raleigh started to shoot out baby leaves, and the horizon got green. The mild temperatures encouraged me to walk to work, and on the way there were cherry blossoms on Lane Street and the season’s first blossoming dogwoods on the Capital grounds.

Cherry blossoms on Lane Street

Cherry blossoms on Lane Street

On First Friday evening we went out to visit some galleries. We particularly enjoyed the photographs of Simon Griffiths at 311 West Martin Street. There were Raleigh street scenes, landscapes, and portraits of workers in small businesses. The works were clearly subject to extensive post-production work, which caused the views to seem at once familiar and unfamiliar, somewhere between hyper-reality and a dream. His work can be seen here.

I would have loved to learn some technical details, but didn’t have a chance to ask him, because we were cutting it close for our dinner reservation and had to start walking. There were a lot of people out strolling. We ate Lebanese food at Sitti, where the baba ghanoush was delicious, but the falafel was a bit dry. Service was great, and the vibe was lively.

Spring beauty

Spring beauty

Over the weekend I went out to Cary’s Swift Creek Bluffs park to check for wildflowers. There were thousands of little white ones (spring beauties) and a few other interesting species. It was windy, so these guys were moving around. I had to get down on the ground with them to take their pictures, and got a bit muddy, but I thought it was worth it. These little wildflowers do not last long. If you’re interested, the time to see them is now.
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We watched Going Clear, the much-discussed documentary on Scientology, on HBO this week, and liked it. It included both historical footage of L. Ron Hubbard, the science fiction writer and founder, and other movement leaders, as well as interviews with several ex-Scientologists. It recounted without particular ridicule the foundation myth, which involves beings from outer space and nuclear bombs exploding in volcanos, and its pseudo-scientific technique of E-meter auditing.

Although it’s tempting to make fun of the wackiness, many better established myths are no less untrue, and many long-established customs and rituals are unsupported by science. Tolerance of other beliefs (and non-beliefs) is a good and vitally important thing. The film focused on what deserves to be criticized: the group’s paranoia, abuse, and thuggery. Apparently it secured its US tax exempt status by harassing individual IRS officials with lawsuits. !!! It has harassed and intimidated many others, though not me (at least so far). _DSC8863_edited-1
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On lovely dogwoods, exercise as medicine, and golf with a big big hole

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This week in Raleigh the dogwoods were blossoming. By the time I got to Fletcher Park this morning, they were past their peak, but still lovely. The tulips had come and almost all gone while I was away in Spain, and I was sorry to have missed them. I took some photos of the remains.
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Gabe came out from Telluride this week for a visit with mom and dad. I was very glad to hear of his successful first season in an adult amateur hockey league, in which he scored some goals. He’s kept up his running, and also has been experimenting yoga, using lessons on YouTube. He asked for some pointers on his down dog pose, and also for a demonstration of a headstand. Fortunately, I got up smoothly and didn’t topple over, and he was suitably impressed.
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I heard a doc on an NPR program recently say that exercise is the best medicine. This makes sense. Staying active surely does a body more good most of the time than any pill, injection, or ointment. I’d note obvious exceptions for traumatic injuries and serious diseases, and still say, exercise is tremendously important for health.

So I feel good knowing my progeny are exercising. In a phone call this week, Jocelyn confirmed that she was doing so, having joined a new gym convenient to her subway stop in Brooklyn. It turns out that she, like me, gets a lot of reading done on a cardio machine. Her boyfriend, a former college athlete, has been trying to give her a little coaching on gym activities, which she has strongly discourage. She likes to find her own way.
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I used to be more like that, but now I am usually grateful for knowledgeable coaching. Figuring everything out yourself, even if it were possible, would just take too long. An example: when Jenn, my regular spin class instructor, made an announcement recently that anyone who comes to class regularly should have special cycling shoes, I took it on board. After several years of spinning, I finally bought my first pair of Shimanos at REI this week. Unfortunately, at my Friday class, Jenn was out sick – I’d been looking forward to letting her know I was listening to what she said. Anyhow, the shoes, which clip only the pedals, did change the experience. They allow you to pull as well as push. New muscles can get into the act.
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I’d hoped we’d have good golfing for the weekend, so that Gabe and I could get out for a round, but it turned out to be wet and a bit raw on Saturday, and cool and gusty on Sunday. In golfing news, there were stories about an interesting new variation of golf in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal Instead of the regulation 4.25 inch hole, the hole is 15 inches wide. This turns 10 foot putts into gimmes, and 30 foot putts into opportunities.

This sounds like fun to me. The putting is the most frustrating part of the game. I don’t consider myself particularly bad at putting, but you can putt fairly well and still miss – a lot. I wouldn’t propose to change the whole game, since I’m sure there are those who love putting towards small holes more than anything, and some who are uncomfortable with any change on principle. But it would be nice to have the option of dialing down the fraughtness a bit with a larger hole.