VPN

This morning I started to set up my new router. I purchased this from a reseller that customizes routers so they will support VPN out of the box, no flashing required. I figured this is the safest approach since flashing a router yourself can result in a decorative brick that may or may not complement the decor in your living room. I will explain shortly my reason for doing this, but as I unplugged the old router and unplugged the Internet provider’s gateway, it occurred to me that there was no WiFi in the house. Imagine that. Silence, of a sort. I decided at this point to put on my coat and go outside and read for a bit, primarily so I can say, if I ever have to, that when the WiFi goes down I simply read a book…

The book I chose was “The Bomber Mafia” by Malcolm Gladwell. I love tech subjects (almost as much as Science Fiction) the subject that Gladwell deals with in this book is particularly fascinating. The invention of the Nordon Bomb Sight, the man that invented it and the men of the Army Air Corp that put it to good use. Without this particular invention the Second World War would have been a much different affair. After a couple of chapters it was time to get back to the task at hand, particularly because someone that still chooses to work for a living would be coming home in a matter of a couple of hours and it would not be good to have her greeted by a WiFi vacuum.

Back to the original task, first though, as I was reading about the Air University at Maxwell Air Force Base in Gladwell’s book, I recalled my bicycle trip across the country. Yes, it’s a bit strange how these connections come up, I hadn’t thought about this incident in some time. While I was making my way through Pensacola Florida I decided to visit the Air Force Museum. The museum is located on the Air Force Base, when I rolled up to the guard booth the (mostly) friendly M.P. informed me that no bicycles were allowed on base. I thought that peculiar, but I assumed it was a liability thing so I turned around and looked for a good place to have some lunch. It turned out all right, I ended up having lunch and chatting with a pilot from the base, that was a real treat, the BBQ was good too.

The new router is set up. I had a bit of a hard time because the router’s configuration app was not responding when I tried to configure my VPN service. I could not figure out why, but I should have. I had a chat with the router support folks and I was simply told to use a different browser. About all I can say is not all browsers are created equal. I recently switched to the Brave browser, as soon as I tried the configuration steps in Firefox everything worked perfectly. I was using Brave for privacy, but now that I have router level VPN up and running, my security concerns have been greatly reduced. That said, I don’t use anything Google because they track you as soon as you log in to their platform. So there you go, the whole point of this exercise is to provide enhanced security, but there is one other reason, I want to watch Mariner’s baseball games on MLB TV. I’m looking forward to the first pitch tonight…

Fauci

Danger: political commentary ahead. Before we go any further, let’s talk about that. Just because I say that I like someone that you might not does not make me a bad person. Nor are you bad if you disagree with me. I do believe however that we have an obligation to listen to each other with open minds and a willingness to understand our differences in the light of facts, preferably not “alternate facts.” The tradegy of our time in my mind is that we are less willing to listen to each other than at any point in my lifetime, perhaps even in our history. It would be foolish (in my opinion) to see our current time as anything less than an existential threat to our Democracy…

There is no doubt that Dr. Anthony Fauci is a hero. After all, he has thrown out the first pitch at a Yankees/Nationals game. I can’t imagine the pressure that experience would create, nor can I imagine the professional pressure he has been under for the last 15 months. In a recent interview he was asked to explain why vaccinated people should continue to mask and distance. The interview did not seem to go very well. Essentially he said that vaccinated people could unknowingly transmit the virus. OK. But it’s what he didn’t explain that seems to me to be even more important. He should have explained that until the population (and here we are really talking about the world’s population) reaches the point where the virus can no long spread, i.e., the so called “Herd Immunity” threshold, the virus can’t be considered exterminated. In the mean time, the virus can mutate into different forms that could further prolong the pandemic and could even reach the point where the current vaccines are no longer effective against mutations (we really don’t know). Scary stuff indeed, which could be why he frequently appears to be dumbing down his answers. Another reason for taking that approach could be because there are a lot of Americans out there that really have trouble processing new knowledge that is developing on a daily basis.

There is a large percentage of our population that just wants simple black and white answers to all the hard questions. Why is that? I’m sure the answer is complex and will take someone a lot smarter than I am to explain, not to mention years of sociological study. But, here is my short answer anyway. Those people looking for simple answers aren’t necessarily uneducated, but they have been conditioned to think in simplistic terms. Social media and cable news have found the magic formula to motivate people. Instill hate and make the “other” guy your enemy and you can control peoples thoughts, as well as their votes. As an alt-right YouTuber recently explained, “Focus on conflict, serve the algorithm and feed the hate. Don’t worry about the truth.” If you can do those things, you can build a following. As recently demonstrated, even a following that can be pushed to attack the very institutions that our Democracy is founded on. All in the name of political correctness, and baseless lies.

How To Be A Writer

I’m the last person that should be attempting to answer that question. But there are a few things I do know but haven’t yet been able to apply to my own situation. The first is that you have to rewrite. I’m certainly not in the habit of doing that, as evidenced by the fact that as soon as I put the last period on this post it will be sent to Micro.blog, and probably never touched again. The author David Sedaris says that you should rewrite your work at least 30 times before submitting anything to your editor. This is probably good advice, although he admits that he only rewrites 10 to 12 times before he submits to his editor. (That must be the difference between amateur and professional I suppose.) In my case, I just make sure I haven’t mixed my “your”s with my “you’re”s and I’m good to go…

The author Dan Brown says you must discipline yourself to write daily for at least two hours. Get up at 5 in the morning, sit down and force yourself to write whether you feel like it or not. This makes a lot of sense. I’ve found that it is difficult to start writing, however, once I do words find a way to come out. The words might not be worth a damn - frequently they aren’t - but at least they come out. I don’t think there is a huge mystery here. For me, starting anything is the hardest part of “doing.” Case in point, I’ve started blogging before, this is at least the third time I’ve gone down this road. This time feels different to me. I like the tools I’m using. I like the hosting service (Micro.blog) and most importantly, I’m enjoying the process.

I suppose that brings me around to the question of what I hope to achieve from this effort. Honestly (stupid word, of course I’m being honest, at least trying to be honest) I’m not sure. At this point in time it just feels good, so I’m doing it. It satisfies some internal need that I’m not even sure I can put a finger on. I suspect there is a deep seated need somewhere in me to write, but I don’t have the creative skills or imagination to do it well, so this is what is left. I wouldn’t say my goal is to become a writer, I don’t even expect this to be read by more than a few - if any. But here I am anyway. It feels good so I’m doing it. I’ll keep doing it until it doesn’t feel good any more.

Bottle of Water

There is a part of me that really hates to comment on politics. It seems like right now there isn’t anything anyone can agree on. I’m afraid as a nation we are slipping into a state where people argue and complain, sometimes rudely, but no one is listening. Sadly this extends beyond politics. Yesterday I posted a comment on Instagram of a ski video promoting Jackson Hole. All hell broke loose. I was probably wrong in being critical (I know better). The fire storm that ensued was surprising. Everything from “don’t look at it if it bothers you,” to “you’re too old to be looking at stuff like that.” Even though I hate commenting on politics (and now I have to be careful about commenting on skiing) I’m going to go ahead and make the following political observation.

I wonder what it would be like to be standing in line one day and have someone hand me a bottle of water. That would certainly be a nice gesture, but If that were to happen I would not want her to get arrested for it. This could be the new normal in the state of Georgia at election time. If any evidence were ever needed to demonstrate how far Republicans will go to get elected to office, look no further. I wonder what our forefathers would have thought about this. I can’t imagine a single one of them passing a law to deny water to a thirsty citizen. Yes I am aware of the conflict over race and voting that our early leaders dealt with. It is regrettable and sad, but even in those early years of our nation when the right to vote was only held by a few, laws like this would have been considered disgraceful by almost everyone. It is not enough to call this anti-democratic, or racist, or even anti-American, this is inhuman. This is a disgrace upon Republicans that they will never be able to expunge, even if they get around to repealing it. I never thought I would see such discrimination work it’s way back into the laws of our country. This feels like more than one step backwards. This feels like a step back to a time when only white men in this country were allowed to vote. Is that were we are heading again? I like to try and end my posts on a positive note. In this case it’s hard, I’ll admit. If there is a good side to this it is my hope, no, my fervent expectation, that this will do more to motivate people to vote than it will do to discourage them. It feels like we are on the cusp of a new awakening. It feels like the old guard is about to be pushed out of power. Wouldn’t that be wonderful.

Pandemic

This was written in March of 2020, one week into the stay at home order in Washington State. It is an interesting look back on my feelings at the time.

I’m not sure that reading “Station Eleven,” by Emily St. John Mandel is the best thing I could be doing right now. “Station Eleven” is a novel about a dystopian society living after a world-wide virus pandemic has killed 99% of Earth’s population. The novel explores what a post-apocalyptic world would look like. It’s a wholly believable tale of how people cope, and how some people don’t cope, with the pressures of living in a collapsed society. The novel also explores the state of mind of people trapped in an apocalyptic world.

One of characters, Miranda, is constantly feeling like she has contracted the virus. When you are living through a pandemic yourself and trying to make the best of things under a stay at home order (this is the end of week one and it looks like we could be facing four more weeks) occasionally thoughts like Miranda’s will creep into your head. It’s hard not to worry. Most of the time I find the novel to be consoling rather than depressing. The scary part of the novel is of course the 99% mortality rate. Today we are looking at possibly a 1% mortality rate in the worst projections, no one really has any idea if that will be the case or not. Frankly I suspect not. What I do suspect is that this will be a defining event in my lifetime, like the Vietnam War, and the crash of 2008. Once this event has passed, I have a feeling we will look at public spaces differently. There could be fewer tables per square foot in restaurants, we may even be more reserved in our public gestures towards one-another. I hope that does not become the new normal. I also believe that science needs a better understanding of viruses in general. As a nation and as a world, we need to dedicate more resources, a lot more, to understanding viruses and learning to combat them. Our health care system also needs to be able to respond to a pandemic effectively and in a humane fashion. It really is rather sad that we live in a time when so many people are so willing to listen and follow others that have such little regard for science.

We now know, as of April 2021, that the U.S. mortality rate is 1.8 percent, almost double what was initially projected by health experts. We have lost over 500 thousand souls, and the number continues to climb. There are countries that have higher mortality rates but the U.S. is currently the fourth highest in deaths per 100,000 population. That fact alone is hard to fathom considering this is the richest country in the world.

Back in Kanab

Friday, February 14, 2020

Kanab Utah


Back in Kanab

Red rock mountains,

Monasteries on high,

Need to explore.

Coffee shops and outfitters,

Art, food, nature,

Coolness abounding.

I think of Watchful Raven,

Where is he now,

Back in Kanab.

Brad Adkins

A Day

Tuesday, December 17, 2019


A Day

some might say it was a wasted day

No. 2 bus to Downtown

in and out of outfitter stores

six Auto-Donuts from the Public Market

more walking

just walking

Street Car to Capital Hill

Light Rail to the University

a Christmas Card

a book of poetry

a Manhattan

a strangely quiet Lyft ride

to the library

return the strangest book

I have read in a long time

try on new glasses

back where I started

not totally wasted

exercise is good

not as good as a cycling tour

but good

i found some inspiration

in the effort

that much a plus

a respite from the

nonsense that is our daily politics

it’s good to be home with you

Brad Adkins

The Country

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

I wrote this poem while I was on my “Southern Tier” bicycle tour. I also kept a journal on the tour, you can read the journal by clicking on the Archive Link at the top of this page and selecting “Southern Tier 2019.”


The Country

What is it like

to ride a bicycle

across the country

  Time

    Distance

      Patience

        Looking Up

          Looking Down

            Pain

              Doubt

                Beauty

                  Love

Those are the words

that come to mind

but how do you put them together

To answer that

you need to get on your bike

and ride just how you like

Brad Adkins

Ferlinghetti Rails

Sunday, November 10, 2019

I wrote this poem while I was on my “Southern Tier” bicycle tour. I also kept a journal on the tour, you can read the journal by clicking on the Archive Link at the top of this page and selecting “Southern Tier 2019.”

I picked up a copy of “A Coney Island of the Mind” by Lawrence Ferlinghetti in a small used bookstore in Silver City, NM. It’s a compendium of poems taken from Ferlinghetti’s earlier works. I’ve been reading it as I have crossed the country. His poetry is deep and has an intellectual bent. He was an accomplished scholar. His contemporaries called him a “beat” poet, which he denied. I agree with his contemporaries. One poem in particular grabbed me. His poem #2 from the 1955 work, “Pictures of the Gone World.” It grabbed me because I have a very different view of life. This poem, that I call “Ferlinghetti Rails” (for reasons you will easily recognize, but also for the intentional pun) is an attempt to present my view. Please forgive me for taking such liberty.


Ferlinghetti Rails

“Love comes harder to the aged.”

I beg to differ.

I don’t want to

“run out on a rusty spur.”

I want to be in the “Saloon car”

with the lovers, “laughing and waving,”

rushing past the spur

where the rails ended

and the aged sit.

Someone has to show the passengers

in the Saloon car

how to live.

Brad Adkins

The Road

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

I wrote this poem while I was on my “Southern Tier” bicycle tour. I also kept a journal on the tour, you can read the journal by clicking on the Archive Link at the top of this page and selecting “Southern Tier 2019.”


The Road

The road is a killer.

The trucks killing machines.

This is how life is,

never swerving.

Could I talk to you,

I would ask you to slow down.

You would tell me to move aside,

for you are in a hurry.

You need to get somewhere soon.

I mourn for all the loss.

Do you mourn as well?

Would things be different

if this conversation were real?

Brad Adkins

Wind

Friday, October 11, 2019

I wrote this poem while I was on my “Southern Tier” bicycle tour. I also kept a journal on the tour, you can read the journal by clicking on the Archive Link at the top of this page and selecting “Southern Tier 2019.”


Wind

The wind

  … blew

The temperature

  … cold

The road

  … narrow

My fingers

  … frozen

The bike

  … swerved

Again and

  … again

The shoulder

  … loomed

Blown off

  … mercilessly

The destination

  … far

Brad Adkins

El Cosmico

Thursday, October 10, 2019

I wrote this poem while I was on my “Southern Tier” bicycle tour. I also kept a journal on the tour, you can read the journal by clicking on the Archive Link at the top of this page and selecting “Southern Tier 2019.”


El Cosmico

The moon is almost full,

wood is burning, warming the water.

Smoke from the fire permeates the air

perfectly.

Not too strong.

I can’t imagine a better place.

I can, but it shall remain a mystery

for now.

I must return here,

to the music playing,

to water perfect temperature,

to the star filled sky and

moon brilliant.

Corded guitar accompanies me,

sounding like symphony

under the stars.

Brad Adkins

Grass

Thursday, October 3, 2019

I wrote this poem while I was on my “Southern Tier” bicycle tour. I also kept a journal on the tour, you can read the journal by clicking on the Archive Link at the top of this page and selecting “Southern Tier 2019.”


Grass

Wild grass has gone to seed,

wind bends the long blades,

they dance along side the road,

dancing in unison, a fractal dance.

The blades brush my leg as I roll by

asking me to stop.

I keep rolling,

much to their disappointment

I imagine.

Looking back,

they appear to be waving.

I roll on,

we agree to disagree.

Brad Adkins

Birds

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

I wrote this poem while I was on my “Southern Tier” bicycle tour. I also kept a journal on the tour, you can read the journal by clicking on the Archive Link at the top of this page and selecting “Southern Tier 2019.”


Birds

I stopped to rest,

the road was long,

the day was hot,

I was tired.

I saw three birds

circling above,

floating on wings stationary,

following each other.

They were in perfect harmony

with the air around them,

it held them up,

effortlessly.

I wondered,

why only three?

Where have the rest

of their flock gone?

Millions upon millions

have been lost,

since my father played

catch with me when I was young.

I want to build them a homeland

free of border walls,

where they can circle

on perfect currents of air.

Soaring freely,

until we can make their home

fit for them to live in again,

elegantly, safely.

Brad Adkins

Lost

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

I wrote this poem while I was on my “Southern Tier” bicycle tour. I also kept a journal on the tour, you can read the journal by clicking on the Archive Link at the top of this page and selecting “Southern Tier 2019.”

When I wrote this poem I was reflecting on the inordinate amount of road kill in the back country of Texas.


Lost

Millions upon millions lost,

since my father played catch with me

when I was young.

Brad Adkins

Good Poem, Bad Poem

Friday, September 20, 2019

I wrote this poem while I was on my “Southern Tier” bicycle tour. I also kept a journal on the tour, you can read the journal by clicking on the Archive Link at the top of this page and selecting “Southern Tier 2019.”


Good Poem, Bad Poem

What makes a good poem?

It might be the rhyme,

Professor Higgins would agree, on a dime.

It could be the meter,

Dr. Seuss would be on your side here.

It might be the use (or not) of capitalization,

e. e. cummings would agree with that.

I say it’s the beholder that decides.

This is a bad poem,

unless,

you like it.

Brad Adkins

Fishing (Or Ode to Sam McGee)

Thursday, September 12, 2019

This post was written while hiking in the Sierra Mountains


Fishing (Or Ode to Sam McGee)

My friends all went fishing.

I stayed behind to be alone,

I sort of like that.

Fishing is a noble pursuit,

One that I am not much suited for.

I would rather read,

or better yet write.

Writing makes me happy.

So does fishing for many.

I suppose we all have our

own weakness to bear.

The sun is going down.

I’m going to go for a walk

and chase it for awhile.

Capture a bit of warmth

and take it into the evening with me.

It’s going to get cold again tonight.

Last night was the coldest I’ve been

In a long time.

I love backpacking,

I love being in the wilderness.

I don’t like being cold.

Brad Adkins

The Lake

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

This post was written while hiking in the Sierra Mountains


The Lake

The lake is a strand of dark blue

surrounded by a ribbon green marsh grass.

Ducks fly in low, landing in sequence, they

form a line paddling to the opposite bank,

their purpose unknown.

How long has this rock I am sitting on

been in this spot.

Certainly since long before I was born,

it will remain here long after

I have passed this way.

Perhaps it has always been here

since the cataclysmic uplift that raised

these mountains,

now, simply being weathered to nothing.

Perhaps it broke from the peak above,

a disobedient child,

and ran away, tumbling and churning

until it came to rest in this spot,

faraway from its place of birth.

I don’t want to leave this spot,

It sings to me of places far away

and sights too beautiful to imagine.

Brad Adkins

Lake and Sky

Sunday, August 25, 2019

This post was written while hiking in the Sierra Mountains


Lake and Sky

The lake is blue like the sky.

The two could be companions,

but the rock surrounding them

Separates them,

preventing them from touching.

Separated,

like people that can’t see eye-to-eye.

Yearning to find common ground,

but unable to reach out and touch.

They rest together,

each justified in their existence,

each no more right then the other,

each waiting on the other.

Brad Adkins

Sim

Saturday, August 24, 2019


Sim

Why are we here.

Are we real, or are we some future sim.

I have flesh,

how can flesh be rendered in code.

I don’t know.

I’ll have to be content to be me,

whomever that is.

Brad Adkins

Ride

Monday, August 19, 2019


Ride

We went for a ride

The ferry took us across the water

Together we conquered the hills

Brad Adkins

Feeling

Friday, August 15, 2019


Feeling

Do I feel good

or do I feel well.

It could be both.

Although,

I have been told

that “good” is not a “feeling”,

it probably is,

at least it is the absence of bad.

I suspect I am well.

How can one be sure.

I am well enough today,

to ride my bike how I like.

Brad Adkins

Dad

Friday, August 2, 2019


Dad

Who is this man?

I barely know him.

He coaches my Little League team.

He knows nothing about Baseball.

His whole life has been striving

to make the goal…

Executive.

He was a lousy golfer,

he didn’t reach his dream.

He accepted us.

He did not want us to speak

unless we were spoken to.

At the end,

I held his hand

and looked into his eyes.

He spoke the words I had

waited a lifetime to hear…

”I couldn’t have asked for a nicer family.”

Brad Adkins

Hills

Saturday, July 27, 2019

This poem was written when I was cycling around the Finger Lakes in Upstate New York.


Hills

I learned once again, facing a hill

you have a choice to make.

Several choices.

Go up or go around is the first choice.

To go around is rarely the right choice.

It is an unsatisfying option.

Go up.

Once you start the climb, you must commit. Shift down and keep moving.

Look up if you can,

If you can’t look up,

focus on the ground in front of you,

keep moving.

A time will come when you must face defeat.

The hill will laugh at you,

but you have the last say.

You can accede defeat and turn around,

or you can continue the climb on foot.

When so doing,

the hill will tell you it has defeated you.

As long as you keep moving,

You will reach the top.

Once there,

you can look down on the hill and say:

“You have not defeated me today!”

The hill will laugh and say:

“I have many sisters.”

“One of them will succeed where I have failed.”

This is just idle chatter.

There is no hill that can’t be conquered.

That is what it means to be human.

The hills were put there to test us.

There is no hill that can break us.

Hills are a part of us.

Hills are the challenge that bring out our best.

Without hills, life would be meaningless.

It is the hills we choose to climb that define us, that make us who we are.

The beauty of cycling,

is that it is an embodiment our existential reality.

It is a physical expression of that reality.

You see it with your eyes,

You feel it with every beat of your heart,

with every breath you take in,

with every ache in your legs.

They are our life.

Brad Adkins