Monday, May 28, 2012

May 28 2012 11 Mile Hike to Tom Thumb

Fran and I went on a 11 mile hike today .... phew ... a little longer than we should have but we made it all the way to "Tom Thumb" and back to the parking lot in a little over five hours.  In the first photo you can see "Tom Thumb" in the center of the photo at the top at about 5.5 miles away.  It sticks up a little taller than the other bumps along the ridge ... a little like a thumb :-)

For a five hour hike in the desert it takes a little preparation for things like ... water.  We started out with seven quarts of water and by the time we returned we had less than one left!  Fortunately, it was only 85-90 degrees otherwise if was more normal temperature like 100 degrees we would have needed to bring another quart or two and probably would not have been able to make the full hike.

This is a picture of Tom from about 1/4 mile away.  The rock stands about 80 feet tall.   I think you need to think rocks are pretty to appreciate the photo :-)  Up close it is really quite cool.  There are all kinds of volcanic rocks at the top of the ridge and they make all kinds of weird shapes.

And here is a picture of me with a few Saguaros behind me on the way back to the parking lot.  

All for now.  Hope everyone had a great three day weekend.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

April 8, 2012: Hope within History by Walter Brueggemann

Just got done reading "Hope within History" by Walter Brueggemann. It is a compendium of five discussion papers written by Brueggemann probing five specific cases in which the hope of God is affirmed or discerned in the processes of historical interaction.

The Exodus Narrative as Israel's Articulation of Faith Development (in the context of Egyptian slavery)

Critique of ideology: The present power arrangements in the empire are under judgement because they are obtained at the price of freedom and justice.
  • Israel knows that they live in a contrived world
  • The contrivance is intentional to serve special interests at the expense of others
  • Because this world is a contrivance it can be deconstructed if one has the courage and the wits to do so
  • The deconstructor is Yahweh. The Israelite shaped by the narrative is not a helpless victim but has an ally so powerful the dismantling of the empire is assured
  • The liturgical life of Israel is deconstruction
When pain is processed privately no social power is generated. This is why regimes have laws against assembly.

When pain is expressed publicly there is a release of social imagination leading to hope for the future. Torah is practice and implementation of social imagination.

The Pharaohs of the world encourage privatization for that leads to abdication and resignation in the public arena. It permits conformity in public administration

Righteousness as Power for Life
From the tradition of Moses faith transformation may be understood:
  1. Critique the dominant ideology
  2. Public embrace of pain
  3. Release of social imagination
Forming of the righteous person in a community of righteousness, responsive to God and attentive to neighbor. Righteousness is characteristically promissory, anticipatory, and eschatological. such a notion is under no illusion about the character of of things as they are, but it is never willing to settle for how the world is currently arranged. That is; the righteous one is capable of hope, intensely believes that things can and will be different from the way they are now and boldly acts on that basis and toward that hope.

The more developed faith is:
  1. More faithfully theonomous
  2. More intentionally addressed to the community
  3. More trustingly open to the future
The book of Isaiah can be broken into three parts: 1-39 (Critique), 40-55 Embrace Pain, and 56-66 Release Imagination.

Isaiah 5:16 But the Lord of hosts is exalted in justice, and the Holy God shows himself holy in righteousness (a social practice of righteousness impinges upon the character of God).

Blessed are the History Makers
Where pain becomes visible we are close to the history making process.

To what extent is the official take on events a make believe story designed positively to protect the monopoly and negatively to make the pain less visible and less dangerous. That is; a closed version of history.

III.3 History makers have the capacity and courage to disclose the human processes. The dominant voices want to close the human process in the interest of order and protection of the monopoly.

Karl Popper - history is written by the winners

Jeremiah articulates a profound sense of anguish, pathos and incongruity ... he has not succumbed to the dominant definitions of reality.

Jeremiah 7:5-7

The history maker must be attentive to:
  1. social ideology
  2. Self-deception of propaganda
  3. Narcotic effect of religion
  4. Management of moral persuasion in the interest of social monopoly
A paradigm for history makers
  1. A profound sense of anguish, ...
  2. Confidence in the moral coherence of the world
  3. Assertion of the raw sovereignty of God
  4. Capacity for discerning social analysis and criticism
  5. Bold conviction about an alternative possibility that goes under the name of hope
Who are Betty Williams and Mairead Corrigan "It is enough"

Carlos Fuentes - Reality is not the product of an ideological phantasm. It is the result of history.
  • There is no living present with a dead past
  • There is no living present without the imagination of a better world
History is the painful process of remembering, forgiving, forgetting, and moving on

Living Toward a Vision
The OT is fundamentally a literature of hope. The dominant intellectual tradition of the West is Hellenistic philosophy, that is; science, order, discernment,, understanding, and mastery and control. Order and Hope are not easily reconcilable as when in juxtaposition there is dissonance.

"Behold" .. the days are coming and the hope for SACistan is the establishment of a new social order which will embody peace, justice, freedom, equity and well being.

Isaiah 19:23-25 when Egypt, Assyria, and Israel are as brothers

Hope keeps the present system open and provisional. The present is precarious. The present cannot be absolutized. The present cannot be taken too seriously for it will change.

Hope is an immense human act which reminds us that no system of power or knowledge can finally grasp what is true.

Hope does not appear among the ...
  • managers of the status quo
  • intellectuals supporting the managers
  • oppressed ... those without voice
Hope comes from those who publicly process their pain and move through it and beyond

The Power of Hope:
  1. The function of hope is to keep the present open and provisional
  2. The natural setting of hope is among those who grieve and process it in community
  3. The enemies of hope include muteness, fulfillment and technique
The evidence of despair is:
  1. The action of terrorists
  2. The posture of conformity among those who refuse to question but are ready to embrace established official truth, both political and religious
  3. The temptation to absolutize in which critical capacity is routinely impossible in public life

Will Our Faith Have Children?
Will we be open enough, vulnerable enough, risking enough, that God may give us a future that we do not plan or control or contrive?

One of the metaphors used in Isaiah 54 when announcing against an atmosphere of despair at being in captivity for so long .. a poet uses the phrase ... the barren one will have children. Connotes that from having no future Israel will one day be a fruitful society once again.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Maui: Warren & Annabelle Magic Show - Thursday Jan 12, 2012

The Warren and Annabelle Magic Show is a highly acclaimed and recommended stop in Lahaina for dinner and a wonderful magic show. We were not disappointed! We soon learned that "Annabelle" is the 150 year old ghost of a whalers wife who so missed her husband when he never returned after a tragic shipwreck. Nightly she would stay up playing the piano as she used to when he was about to return ... hoping beyond hope that he would eventually return. Now "Annabelle" (a player piano) plays requests nightly for the crowds in a pre-show display where drinks and a light meal is served.

After diner and about an hour of music we were ushered into the 78 seat theater for a two hour magic show by Warren the master magician and entertainer. This guy is phenomenal! He is a master story teller and speaks freely on many subjects ... for example; when he learned there was a physicist in the audience he immediately went into discussions about particle theory.

He was pretty merciless at teasing many members of the audience including four couples who were placed in the front row directly next to him. Giving the men names from characters in the Andy Griffith show. "Gomer" was an Alaskan State Trouper who did not appear to like his nickname too well.

Warren went through many different card tricks, connecting of wedding rings (including mine) and even managed to make not one but two bowling balls appear out of an empty hat directly in front of the audience. Really quite amazing ... there was not the slightest flaw in his presentation and he appeared to do trick after trick that was on its face clearly impossible.

Earlier in the day we went to the beach where Fran was determined to snorkel but when we got to the beach the water turned out to be a little rougher than expected. I had been swimming each day but when I went in it was without a mask and snorkel ... just my goggles and I would quickly get 200 feet or more from shore to swim longer distances and to float to watch the coral below but I made sure I had 6-10 feet of water below me.

I made one mistake and my foot grazed the coral below and a week later I am still in discomfort from the scrapes. Very sharp stuff! I also had seen one guy get a chunk taken out of his foot from the coral and then two young women who had snorkel equipment being tumbled by the waves and hurt by the coral. It was with those thoughts in the back of my head I was quite uncertain about Fran going in and I was quite relieved when she decided not to go in. We did take one photo to show the full effect ... just for posterity.

So after a our snorkeling experience we headed back to the pool for a more gentle swim. Just before we headed back I noticed this young lady in a bikini and I just felt I should take a few photos. Amazing how Maui has these beautiful women just walking around the beach.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Maui: Haleakala Crater and Mama' Fishhouse Jan 13 2012

On Friday the 13th we changed our minds about hanging around the resort and went on a cross island excursion. The Haleakala National Park is huge and we had visited the east end when we went to the seven pools a couple days before. This time we decided we would enter the park from a different side and drive up to the summit of the largest volcano on the island. Climbing from sea level to 10,000 feet in a matter of two hours was quite a sight! It is supposed to be one of the quickest large vertical climb available on earth. We broke through the clouds at about 7,000 feet and got to see some beautiful sights looking through white fluffy clouds to the ocean below. The summit of Haleakala is quite a stark sight ... quite barren and very cold! There are some long hiking trails on the mountain and many bikers use the climb as a challenge but for us the day was spent in the car and occasionally getting out to take photos. If we make it back here I would love to sign up for "ZipLine" excursion and a downhill bicycle ride.

After leaving Haleakala National Park we went to Pa'ia which is informally known as "Surfer town" and we went to our favorite healthfood store and then a quick visit to the north shore public access point where we saw some of the craziest boogie boarding. The waves were quite large and these people were just doing wild tricks on their boards. It looked like lots of fun. This looks like another adventure for another time and from there we went to Mama's Fishhouse. Mama's is quite the upscale restaurant and consistently rated as the top restaurant on the island ... at least that is what their brochure said :-) I must say this was the most delicious, the most scenic and most expensive meal I have ever had and I would go back in a heart beat ... but this time with reservations made a day or two in advance to get the front row ocean seating!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Maui: Old Lahaina Luau Monday Jan 9 2012

Lahaina is a small town just 10 miles south of where we stayed at the Westin. It used to be the center of activity prior to western contact where chiefs and royalty gathered and were buried. After western contact it became the center of the Pacific whaling activity but now it is a tourist destination for those staying in local resorts and hotels as well as for cruise ship visitors. It really is quite pretty with it's own small harbor and beautiful mountains on the "island side" of the town.

It is also home to a beautiful banyon tree planted
over 125 years ago in the center square. The banyon is a multi-trunk tree system interconnected by branches that have cleaved into each other.

The Old Lahaina Luau is located on the old burial grounds giving it special significance. The Laua is a "traditional" laua in that it is a mixture of story telling from ancient times to the modern. The influence of the missionaries and whaling on the Hawaian culture. The food, music, story telling, and hula dancing is all wonderful. For those looking for fire dancing ... this is not the place. There are some quite good dancers and the music is also quite good but this show is more about the gentle spirit of the Hawaian people, their traditions as told through the story telling and dancing and their welcoming of all people to their land. There is a pig roasted in an underground pit and when it is brought out of the ground then the feast can start. Apparently this is quite a big deal because I could not get near it and had to settle for a photo of the people ringing the pit five deep waiting for the pig to be raised.

We sat on mats with low dining tables next to the stage. There is an option to sit in chairs at tables back further from the stage but I really enjoyed bieng so close. A couple we met at our table was from MN and it turns out they knew the CEO of Target that funded the MIM in Phoenix.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Maui: The West End Circuit Jan 8 2012

Depends who you talk to ... an insane adventure .. or just another way to get around. Without knowing either spectrum we just followed our tour book guide book recommendation that said risk was relative but in their opinion the views and side adventures were worth it. Well, we did not have time to do much of any side trips to see the various waterfalls, swimming pools and blow holes described in the guide ... but the trip was WILD!
The views were spectacular and the road was pretty wild. 57 miles to get around the west end loop but the 14 miles that were single lane and 500 feet cliffs just feet from the edge of our car were excillarating and offered views of the coastline and jungle that were beautiful! Imagine driving along at 3 miles per hour with a 500 foot cliff to your left and the side of a vertical cliff almost scraping your passenger door and then having to go around a 180 degree blind right corner ... the only thing worse would have been in the car coming the other way around the corner. That said ... I loved it :-)

The little village pictured below was about 15 miles north of our resort and is a very secluded area yet the road that traverses the coast line cuts right through it. The steep road in and through and out are all one lane and requires quite a bit of that "Aloha" spirit of cooperation to make it all work.

Maui: Whale Watching Jan 11 2012

It turns out there are 20-25,000 humpback whales in the north pacific ocean and 80% of them migrate to the islands of Hawai'i for mating and birthing their calves and a general respite from the frigid north atlantic winters. The sheltered waters around the islands of Maui - Molokaʻi - Lānaʻi - Kahoʻolawe are the winter home of many of these 40-50 ton mammals.

Fran and I went out on a tour with a total of 18 people on a small, rigid hull, inflated side wall boat. It had two 225 HP Evenrude's behind it and it could top out at 50 mph. I was worried about motion sickness but it turns out ... two hours on calm seas is about my pace and I felt fine. I took some dramamine prior to the trip just in case.

We used our old (five years) camera and it did not have the responsiveness needed to catch the whales as the lifted out of the water but we were able to catch a few pictures.

Our first whale was a juvenille that our guide estimated to be about a year old. We stayed near the juvenille for over an hour watching it breach the water on several occasions and regularly slapping the water with flukes and tail. Later in the two hour tour we found ourselves within 100-150 yards of five whales although by far our younger whale was the most active. We did have one of the older whales breach the surface and that was quite a spash but for the most part they just wanted to float and play on the surface.

In the evening we ate at Hula Grill - Kaanapali. Fran booked the reservation through her smart phone on "Open Table". Hula Grill is located in Whalers Village and overlooks the water ... the food and service were great. We spent quite a bit of time walking through the shops and along the waterfront.

Maui: The Road to Hana - Jan 10 2012

The Road to Hana is along the north shore of Maui on the eastern part of the island. Basically, you pick up the road at the main city of Kahalui and drive east for about 40 miles. Along the way you see beautiful unspoiled shoreline, surfers, tropical rainforest where they get over 300 inches of rain a year, as well as many beautiful beaches and waterfalls. The guidebook said it is compared to driving through the garden of Eden. The most famous and desired drive in all Hawai'i. I must say ... it was pretty awesome.

We left our Westin Ka'anapali location on the West side of Maui around 7AM and did not return until about 7PM. A pretty exhausting day but we made the trip and although tired when finished we were quite satisfied in making the drive and we got to stop and take many pictures and spent and a fair amount of time in a few beautiful locations along the way. There is no way we could see everything so we had to pick and choose and even then we could not get to several of the "must see" locations.

Our first major stop (other than for photos and a snack) was at the far end of our travel route at Haleakala National Park, the last stop before we would have swing south on route 360 into the southern arid lands of eastern Maui. There we entered a beautiful little world of waterfalls and reshwater pools called Ohe'o Gulch or better known in the marketing materials as the "7 Sacred Pools". That's me swimming in one of the lower pools.

Wai'anapanapa Black Sand Beach near mile marker 32. Fresh water cave, ocean blow hole and black sand beach.

Kaihalulu Red Sand Beach just south of Hana Bay. Hard to get to, marginal swimming, and marginal snorkling but wow is this a beautiful spot.

Seven Sacred Pools, part of the Haleakala National Park. The owner of the Hotel Hana Maui wanted to desperately attract people to the east end of the island so he had a choice ... he could have told people to visit the "Ohe'o Gulch" or the wonderous "Seven Sacred Pools". and even though there are not seven pools and it was not sacred land marketing won out and the brochures have ever since had the more attractive namesake. The Hotel Hana owner Sam Pryor was going to buy the land near the pools for a house but then recognizing how important they were to the local population her got together a few of his friends to buy the land and donate it to the national park system. After a short walk from the parking lot Fran and I were able to walk across a few stones and then have an absolutely stunning view of the cascading water coming off the mountain and dropping through multiple falls to the ocean below. This is quite a swimming hole! I was able to get a few swimming laps in our time there before wrapping up and heading back for our journer home retracing our steps on the north side of the island.

After finishing the wildly curvy road through the rain forest and before heading back to the Westin we stopped in the little windsurfing town of Pa'ia. It is a throw back to the 1960's ... plenty of quirky stores and people ... many of the people look like they still lived in the 1960's and their children also had a little of that look. OK ... maybe I exaggerate a little ... but not much :-) Even the health food store we stopped in was a throw back in time ... absolutely non-descript store front but inside was an amazing mixture of organic foods, vegetarian dishes, bathing suits, fresh fruit, dry bulk food, and candles. And it all worked held together by some pretty dedicated people focused on providing great service and awesome foods in an eclectic way.