Excursion 8, Part 7 (The Flatlands)

In which our intrepid hero enjoys the pleasures of the horizontal plane…

There’s more than one type of flat.  First, there’s Western Flat.  Western Flat may be very flat and it may be very flat for a very long way but typically there are mountains in the distance.  Among other things, this allows you to orient yourself.  Then there is Closed In Flat.  That’s when the country is flat but vision is obscured by buildings and/or trees.  When I moved from El Paso to Columbus I went from Western Flat to Closed In Flat.  You lose your bearings in Closed In Flat because there is nothing you can see with which to orient yourself.  I easily get lost in Closed In Flat if I am not familiar with the area.  Lastly, there is Open Flat.  That’s just plain flatness to the horizon.  Northwest and North Central Ohio is primarily Open Flat.  No hills, not much woods, just a lot of farmland.  That’s what I was driving through on this, the final leg of my eighth excursion.

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Excursion 8, Part 6 (Justice for Jake and Ella)

In which our intrepid hero discovers a mysterious death…

There was a poll conducted not long before I write this (in late August 2013, three months after this excursion), in which the pollsters gleefully revealed that a substantial percentage of Louisiana Republicans blamed Obama for the failure of the federal government in dealing with Hurricane Katrina.  The point, of course, is that Obama was not even president at the time, but rather a freshman senator from Illinois who had nothing to do with Katrina, good or bad.  What I think this speaks to more generally is how flexible people can be—flexible in terms of things ranging from memory to burdens of proof—when something they want to be true (or not true) is on the line.  Think of conspiracy theorists, for example.  Pick a conspiracy theory:  UFOs, the Kennedy assassination, the New World Order, 9/11, you name it.  Conspiracy theorists generally impose an impossible burden of proof to accept contentions by non-conspiracists while simultaneously lowing all barriers of critical thinking when it comes to accepting contentions or evidence from like-minded people.  This is true for more than simply conspiracy theories or political beliefs; it actually happens quite a bit in ordinary life as well.

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Excursion 8, Part 5 (Camp Perry)

In which our intrepid hero ventures onto a military base (more or less)…

I grew up in a military town (El Paso, with massive Fort Bliss, as well as the nearby White Sands Missile Range).  I went to college at another military town—San Antonio, Texas.  It wasn’t until I moved to Columbus, Ohio, with no military presence at all, that I realized how many differences there were.  I grew up with military jets and helicopters overhead so often that it was unremarkable.  Fort Bliss itself is so large that it materially affects the geography of the city, limiting its sprawl to certain directions.  Of course, soldiers were everywhere and, since El Paso is a major location for retired military personnel to settle, former soldiers were also everywhere.   But then Texas as a whole is much more of a military state than Ohio, which really only has one major military base in the whole state (Wright-Patterson Air Force Base).  Ohio’s “non-militariness” is actually exemplified in one of its “bases,” Camp Perry.

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