[O.C.T.O.B.E.R. VI-8] Nary a cloud #writephoto

Looking at the “Glade” prompt, I decided to talk about today, as well as a cloudless day from 2001. Today’s activity wasn’t really through any Glades, but the 2001 story will be… although even that isn’t probably glades. Take it for what it’s worth…

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[M.A.P.L.E. v-14] Off the grid

This post was written ahead of time. Today, I’m in the Beaver Creek Reserve for a שבתון (Shabbaton: a retreat on Shabbat) with Temple Sholom of Eau Claire.

Because I’m not writing the post during the day, I just thought that it would be nice to give pre-conceptions (and they’re all positive).

I am really excited for this שבתון, as it may give me a little taste of five years ago when I was in Israel, and the שבתות (Shabbat days) were off the grid and outdoors. It will definitely have a different feel, but it should be good. Unfortunately, I saw a lot of rain on Friday morning, and hope that it abates by the evening and stays away from that area today as well as tomorrow.

I can’t pick the weather though!

Another piece of excitement: I will not have my phone or any electronics on me. I want to actually enjoy nature and take a day of rest and relaxation with some of my acquaintances from Eau Claire. They might not largely have the same youthful exuberance as my friends from the Twin Cities, but it is fun to commune with different types of people, and I seem to get along well with anyone… finding common ground is surprisingly easy for me.

If this goes over well, I will have to seek out other opportunities like this. Maybe the BJC 20/30 group will do something like this?


Today is the fourteenth day of the fifth round of M.A.P.L.E. That makes two weeks.

היום עשרים ואחד יום-שהם שלושה שבועות לעומר

Tourney Times: 7 days.

Rochester: 13 days.

Kenosha: 18 days.

Twenty-Nine: 50 days.

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Good morning from the deck

Into the morning of September 2, 2013, I slept on the deck of our house in Lincoln for the first time in … quite interestingly, exactly four years!  This is something that I occasionally did when I lived at home, but since most of my previous vacations to Lincoln were during the winter, I did not have an opportunity to sleep outside (in this sense) for these four years. Thus, why not I give my eight-second story of waking up on the deck?


The clear and dark skies of six hours ago have rolled away for a while.  Darkness with the spots of stars, clearly visible to the east, south, and west without any light pollution, has become a sky of blue and yellow.  The golden sphere has emerged, and the birds are chirping.  The credits in the movies in my head have finished rolling.  However, these movies are forgotten as of this second.

My entire body is enveloped in a comfortable, Coleman sleeping bag.  Two white pillows prop up my head.  Yawning, the eyes gradually open.  Re-arranging the arms, my blue and black watch wants me to press its upper-left-hand button.  Clicking it, the face lights up blue and reads “07:41:31.”  Although not 07:00, clearly I can still wake up naturally in the vicinity of that time.  My arms push upwards, and separate the top flap of Coleman to create a right triangle projected onto itself on a seam.  My head elevates and looks straight ahead, westbound.

My myopic eyes can only see the details as far as the vertical bars ahead, but I know what lies past the limits of my eye’s details.  Rest assured, these vertical bars are not those of a jail!  In case I would have rolled about overnight, these bars would have saved me from a significant fall.  Beyond the bars straight ahead, the trees of our western forest happily show their foliage.  They thank my family for all the frustration of years of yore.  Beyond, the white house that becomes a gingerbread house in December lays, unadorned.  Further beyond, trees and prairie houses have silhouettes.

To the left.  Underfoot is the circle of our driveway, with the strawberry bushes, cherry trees, lamp, and other healthy greenery.  The neighborhood has a good survey from this angle, even though all my poor eyes can make out are blobs with halos outside of miscellaneous contours.  Far beyond, I know that the pastoral region is unadulterated tranquillity.  There is the great joy of openness, and is something that I sorely miss about living in Evanston.  Yes, there is the lake, but it is not immediately visible from Engelhart.  And even when I can see the sunrise from Evanston, a building blocks the view.

I would like to look backwards, but my eyes have not adjusted to being open.  It is difficult enough to open eyes, that looking in the direction of the sun furthers the difficulty.  Instead, I revert to looking up and to the north.  The rooftop of our house has a small overhang, but above my head is a blue sky.  If there were the threat of rain, I would have cancelled this plan.  In addition to my head looking northward, the vertex at my hips adjusts the angle from pi radians to approximately a quarter-tau.  For those of you keeping track at home, yes, that is right, or at least you can give or take a few degrees.

Did I say degrees?  The wet air of the last few days had dried up a little bit, and I was not drenched in sweat due to humidity.  Even if, without my glasses, I am nearly blind, I always know where I put my glasses.  The aforementioned vertex leaves my center of gravity sitting in front of a table, and on either side of the table parallel to my plane, funky-colored chairs.  My right arm reaches to the table top, and snatches the specs.  Dew I dare put them on as is?  No, that would worsen my sight worse than not having them equipped in the first place!

However, as I was shirtless (call it too much information if you wish), I noticed that I could still see out of the top of the glasses.  My eyes set themselves on the windows and door, with grids on them, and beyond, the upstairs landing with multiply-connected floor.  Yes, who says that I cannot throw in complex analysis to describe an octagonal hole?  Carefully inspecting the deck with its rough spots and splinters waiting to jump into my bare feet, the legs shift position.

From knee-up to knee-down, the arms assist me in pushing up.  The horizontal log has righted, but still in the sleeping bag.  Jumping amok like a potato sack seems like a good way to insulate the feet against any pointies.  Though this is the end of the allotted time, suffice it to say that no wood entered the sleeping bag or my vulnerable feet.

(MAPLE VIII) Beautiful but dangerous

Today is a busy day for me, so I might as well publish my post early in case it gets too late to get one in later today.  Further, it will be relatively brief.

It seems that in nature, beauty is often dangerous.  At least to me, I enjoy things that are very colorful.  But in nature, oftentimes bright colors can represent danger, in particular toxic animals or plants.

Another example from nature: Lightning!  It is fascinating to watch lightning from a safe place, but when it is nearby or when you are outside, it is downright frightening (pun not intended).

Continuing the weather, the next two examples are both really pretty, but can be dangerous for visibility.  Albedo is the first example!  Indeed, the morning after freshly-fallen snow, there is that wonderful effect of whiteness and the sparkling that you can see on the snow.  I love this effect, but because of the high albedo, it can intensify the brightness of the sun when it rises after a snowstorm.  Sunglasses are a good thing even during the winter!  It also makes it really neat at night with the albedo to lighten up the darkness.  I definitely noticed this on far-south 70th Street on winter nights in Lincoln.

And from last night, fog and mist.  These both have a significant scattering effect on light, whether from car lights, street lights, even lit-up signs, store logos, and bike lights!  I have always been fascinated by scattered light, when you can see the particles and the beam of light for a long time.  This is even more pronounced if it is also raining or snowing!  Yet, it is quite disruptive to visibility, and I was a little bit scared as I biked back to Evanston from the new location of my Ulpan course.  But, it was certainly a visual pleasure.

Today’s counts and nugget:

Today is Day 8 of MAPLE.

היום אחד ושלושים יום, שהם ארבעה שבועת ושלושה ימים לעמר

“There’s somethin’ good waitin’ down this road, I’m pickin’ up whatever is mine.”  Thanks, Tom Petty!