Monday, August 28, 2017

A Weekend In Door County

I thought I'd do a little picture blog to share with you our most recent weekend getaway to Door County. It's a trip we've taken often, sometimes as a day trip, other times for a whole week. This in no way represents all that one can see or do, it is merely what we chose to do on this 2-day stay.

Before reaching Door County, we stopped in Kewaunee, where we explored Kewaunee Marshlands Walk, located right off of Highway 42. Kewaunee, although in its own county, has always seemed like the beginning of Door County for my wife and I.

Kewaunee Marshlands
 Our first contact with another species

 My wife has an eagle eye for birds
 A collection of cormorants. Is that the right term?
 Right next door to the entrance to the marshes was an antique store, so of course we had to stop in. I was impressed not only with the collection of oddities they had but also by the prices, which were overall quite reasonable.
A random indoor picture 
 A guitar that had accompanied The Rolling Stones on tour in 1965.
 Moving on to Algoma, the true beginning of Door County. Here's a shot of the beach.
 Here is Von Stiehl winery. Located right next door is Ahnapee Brewery. My wife went left, I went right.
 We met up out back, where we sat at the lake's edge and enjoyed our drinks. Ahnapee and Von Stiehl both have their own outdoor seating available.
 A view from Von Stiehl's backyard into Ahnapee Brewery's backyard:
Next stop was Sturgeon Bay, where my wife always demands we stop and visit the scrapbooking store.  
 We asked the owner of the store where we could get a good burger at a decent price and she turned us onto the Red Room, which was exactly what we were looking for. If you go, order the fried cheese curds.

Ordinarily, we don't have to ask where to go for a good burger in Door County. It's always been our ritual to stop in Egg Harbor and eat lunch there, along with a beer brewed in-house at the Shipwrecked Brewery. But this happened recently:
 The Shipwrecked Brewery has vowed to rebuild, and we vow to be among the first to visit when they re-open.
Here is a picture of the harbor in Egg Harbor:

A few years back, we first stumbled upon The Ridges Sanctuary near Bailey's Harbor quite by accident. After visiting the beach we decided to take a walk through the woods. This time we took a guided tour, which taught us something about the ridges and swales that help to make the area's ecosystem unique. The gradual recession of Lake Michigan's waterline has left a series of high strips of land separated by lower, marshier area.
Here was our first glimpse of wildlife at The Ridges Sanctuary:
 The Carnivorous pitcher plant:
 One of two light houses that were essential to the history of The Ridges Sanctuary:
 The other:
 A swale between two ridges. This one seemed not so obviously marshy, but I wouldn't venture to try walking through it:
 No pileated woodpeckers were seen, but here is indisputable evidence of their presence:
 A random shot of The Ridges:
 There are three frogs sitting on top the lily pads, though two of them are worthy of a Where's Waldo picture:
 Yet another swale:
 A snowy egret quite comfortable with having his picture taken:

After a couple of hours' walk through nature, it was only fitting that we stopped in Beer Zot in Sister Bay where my wife kindly took over driving duties so I could have a couple fine Belgian Beers. For you beer snobs out there, I had a Triporteur Full Moon 12 in a bottle and a Gulden Draak on tap. One does not find such fine beer at your typical bar, nor does one attempt to drive after imbibing such potent brew.

After a walk along the bay and a compulsory visit to Door County Creamery, it was on to Ephraim where we were fortunate enough to catch the sled dogs before they departed the Door County Sled Dog Education Center/Museum. I've seen the dogs twice now and both times it was while they were on the bus. I can't help thinking of them as rock stars on tour, since that is the way they are treated by their handlers as well as their admirers. Whenever animals and humans are forced to interact, I am always worried that the animals might be taken advantage of, but in this case I'm relatively certain that this is a love-fest for all involved. These are rescued animals acting as willing envoys on behalf of people looking to rescue still more animals. Their lives are good ones.

 A short distance from where the dogs stay. You should be so lucky:
 Another picture from Ephraim. Not sure if the restaurant is dog friendly, but many in Door County are:
 Lastly, a few pictures from Fish Creek, which was where we stayed. I've long considered Fish Creek to be the heart of Door County.

Touch Of The World. If Fish Creek is the heart of Door County, Touch Of The World is the heart of Fish Creek. Here, Door County simply explodes in bizarre and beautiful expressions of summer, of joy, of life. While there are certainly people with a good deal of money who come to Door County, it doesn't cost a penny to walk around the shops. And there are curiosities to be found for anyone, regardless of their price range.

 Some of the many shops that can be found off the beaten paths in Fish Creak. The donut doesn't actually sing, but that doesn't lessen the surreal atmosphere that exists here:

As for the evening, there was plenty to choose from. The Indigo Girls were playing in Fish Creek, along with a lot of local bands. There is a Drive-In theater nearby which we previously went to, as well as the Peninsula Players Theater which we also knew from experience to be a good time. But I saw a poster for a play called Blue Material, which appeared to be written by a local. Sometimes I just get this sense that something is worth experiencing, although there seems to be no compelling reason to believe so. I had that feeling with this play, and so I urged my wife to give her Friday evening over to something that could possibly be a bust.

When I saw the modest size of the theater, I almost turned around:

When I entered the Gibraltar Town Hall and saw a mere 20 or so folding chairs, I asked myself what the hell I had gotten myself into. But then I remembered the times I had seen amazing performances by musicians and other artists, and I realized that the size of the audience seldom equates to the quality of the artists. So we sat ourselves down to a play written by an unknown, performed by a cast who didn't have the courage to set an actual price for viewers. Oh, plus we got free coffee and bakery from Fika Bakery and Cafe.

My sense for the obscure but wonderful has never really failed me. The play I watched was truly impressive on all levels (save spectacle. There were no helicopters exploding on stage or performers flying through the air.) Acting was very good, dialog was crisply written and delivered, there was both humor and depth to the story, and the dialog flowed smoothly between the play itself and the play within a play, namely Chekov's Uncle Vanya. If there was one performer I might suggest was deserving of special mention, it would be Anna Mae Beyer, if only for her excellent singing and ukulele performance.

And such was our weekend getaway to Door County. Our next visit, I'm sure, will be quite different than this one, as there are many other places to explore, though I will make a point of seeing the Open Door Theater Company again.

Monday, August 21, 2017

The Slow Strangling Of Our Consciousness

Asking the experts of today to solve the world’s problems is like asking the priests of the volcano god how to end the drought. All they will tell you to do is sacrifice a virgin, it’s all they know. Today’s experts are little different, there are just more of them. Ask them what their solutions are, and they will tell you to bomb it, privatize it or medicate it.

Everyone in a position of power in a corrupt system is de facto corrupt himself. In bowing to a corrupt authority, they have surrendered their conscience, have proven themselves unable to choose between right and wrong. They cannot save us, they can only hurt us. We must help ourselves, there is no other power we can turn to.

Those in power, those whose job it is to inform the public, are more herders of opinion than people interested in expanding our understanding of the circumstances we now face. Their job is to limit the view of those who must toil for the present system in the same way horses are blinkered to prevent them being distracted from the task demanded of them.

And in blinkering others, they blinker themselves. Intent on their task, they are so focused on it that they lose sight of their larger obligation to humanity. Not constricted themselves, they yet become even more myopic than those they blinker because, as it is said, none are so blind as those who refuse to see.

An object in motion tends to stay in motion. A rock rolling downhill not only continues to roll downhill, it picks up speed as it does. Media that is more concerned with directing thought than it is opening new paradigms and providing greater context for its viewers will not merely maintain the status quo but will continue to narrow the window through which the world is shown. This has been occurring for decades now, though it has happened just slowly enough that we somehow have not become aware of it. The imperfections of the human mind are many, and the study of how those imperfections can be exploited has been well funded. Kind and decent human beings can be manipulated into supporting the most inhuman of systems if they are led to believe that the “experts” know more than they. Research the Milgram experiments if you have any doubt.

There are two ways thought can travel: outward and inward. We can expand our understanding of the world we live in by permitting ourselves to hold more than one possibility, one paradigm at a time. By not demanding hard and simplistic answers we can drift off into seeing facts and events from multiple perspectives. This requires a degree of faith, a relative absence of fear. In this way we can acquire a more sophisticated and nuanced understanding of the world and our place in it.

But fear is a barrier that bounces such understanding back upon ourselves. The media has erected a curtain of fear that causes us to seek simple answers in order to deal with immediate threats that may or not be real. The media would have you believe that ISIS, fascists, Russia, Iran, North Korea, and people of the party opposite yours are right outside the door. The crisis is perpetual, though ever-shifting, and in such a situation, you have little recourse but to trust those who have been kind enough to alert you to the threat. They have to run the media this way, it’s good for business.

Once your thoughts and perceptions begin to peer inward, once you begin to discard possibilities and embrace simplistic solutions, the lens through which you see the world continues to shrink. And like the teeth of a predator, the tools of the media are designed to grab hold of you and constantly direct you towards its awaiting maw. You sit transfixed, staring with fear and incomprehension at the world outside which is actually the world inside the media’s constricted narrative.

It is worth reminding yourself that the media is not your friend. What they do they do for money. There are ample examples easily found on the internet where those who are in the know admit as much. The CEO of CBS himself said of Donald Trump’s presidential run, “It might not be good for America, but it’s damn good for CBS.” Are these the sort of people you want guiding you, guiding your nation? Are these the sort of people in whose hands you want to place your emotional and spiritual well-being? The future of the planet?

They do what they do for money. They do what they do for self-enrichment. Oh, I know, the mantra of the day is that the free enterprise system that rewards individual greed ends up being the ultimate delivery system for all that is good for us. It is repeated to us constantly until we accept it uncritically, indeed unthinkingly. And who is it delivering that message to us night and day? The media, a conglomeration of corporations that not only seek profit for themselves but seek a cultural milieu that justifies such profiteering for themselves and their sponsors.

The result is ultra hi-def television that nonetheless offers us only black and white broadcasting, the contrast level turned so high that there is little to no gray area. The definition our televisions are capable of is nothing short of miraculous, and yet so little detail is ever provided. Instead, instances of violence are looped continuously and the narrative that accompanies the video must play to the beat.

In short, the media is a Frankenstein monster created by powerful corporate interests and faithfully obedient to the Military Industrial Complex, the more direct weapon of those same corporate interests. It has a job, and it is not to inform you. It has a mission statement, and it is not the search for truth. It has an obligation to someone, and it is not the viewer. Unless you truly believe you live in a free society, you must know this is true.

You do know it is true. On some level you are unable to accept the lie. In your calmer moments, those moments where the media is not busily herding ideas that have strayed too far from the official narrative the way a sheepdog herds the flock, you have admitted as much. But then the powers that be find some new unsavory business to attend to and the media is put into motion once again in order to justify some great evil, such as destroying the environment or bombing nations that have done nothing to us. Then the fear sets in and you cling to the narrative the media spins the way Harlow’s lab monkeys clung to their cloth mothers.

It's time to step away from the artificial zone of comfort the media has constructed for us. Not only is it a trap but it is one that crushes us once we are inside it.

It will seem like madness at first, because you have been conditioned your whole life to think within the box. Those paths to death and destruction are the only ones we’ve been shown, and you’ve been corrected every time you’ve strayed too far from them. But one only has to look honestly at the ever-shrinking mindset that the authorities present to realize they offer no hope to humanity. They offer death, fear, environmental destruction. Their hope for the future is a technology bereft of all morality or humanity, Their hope is that perhaps we can export a few fortunate ones to some new planet to begin again this dysfunctional system. Hope for tomorrow is just another product or viewpoint they’re trying to sell, not a guiding principle.

We’re on our own. Humanity must evolve or perish. The system that exists today, the one all the authorities and institutions promote in order to advance themselves, is a death cult hell-bent on wasting Earth’s precious resources to make weapons in order to blow up more of Earth’s precious resources. Where are the voices in government, in business, or the media that decry the insanity? They are not merely silent, they are loudly crying for more.