Friday, September 26, 2008

Tulsa State Fair

Today we went to the Tulsa State Fair. Even though new parking areas had been built, there were few spaces left by the time we arrived. We had to walk about a quarter mile from where we parked. There was a lot to see and do at the fair. Improvements have been made to the fairground since the last time I went there. I’m not sure when I last went to the fair, but I would guess it has been seven or so years, give or take one or two years. Well, let’s just say it has been 5 to 10 years ago.

I like to sample the food at the fair. The food is overpriced, but what the heck, it’s only once a year. We ate some French Fries made from sweet potatoes, a strawberry smoothie, a funnel cake, kettle corn, and maybe another item of two I have forgotten about.

We did not go for a walk today, but I’m sure we got in our walking at the fair. Many businesses had an area set up promoting their products. There were so many vendors at the fair that I’m sure I did not see them all. But then you can look at only so much of that stuff before your eyes glaze over.

We got back home in time for the evening newscast. I got two pieces of pizza from the fridge and zapped them in the microwave. Tomorrow HAT has a Food & Fellowship meeting at the Royal Dragon.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Piano tuner and Consumer Logic

On Wednesday morning the piano tuner came by and tuned my piano. She worked on the piano for an hour. The fee was $98.

That evening, I went to my drumming circle. We played several rhythms, but we also talked a lot. I would say we spend as much time chatting as we do playing rhythms.

Today I took part in a survey conducted by Consumer Logic. I had to show up at 7:00 am at the Fontana Center. We got started by 7:30. I signed a confidentiality statement and am not allowed to talk about what I heard or did. I can say that it involved current ongoing litigation. We broke for lunch around 11:30 and resumed at 12:30. At a quarter to 5:00 we were dismissed.

We started the day with pastries and juice. For lunch, Jason’s Deli brought in sandwiches. It was a most interesting day. I heard several presentations. The speakers all kept my interest. I was afraid I would get sleepy in the afternoon, but I did not. Perhaps the cool temperature did the trick. We listened to two speakers in the morning and two in the afternoon. There were about 30 of us participating in the survey. At the end we broke into three teams of 10 each and discussed the case. As we left, each of us was given a check for $200. Not a bad day’s pay.

I had time enough to come home, take a shower, eat dinner, and get down to the Central Library at 7:00 pm for my “Reading Shakespeare Aloud” class. Traffic is terrible downtown with the new BOK Center now open. Justin McKean is the leader of the class. Attendance was down from last week. There were, I would guess, 15 people there last week. Tonight there were just nine.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Piano and Mosaics

I had an appointment with my doctor yesterday, so I had to shift my duet practice to the afternoon. All went well at the doctor’s office. I go in this morning for blood work.

Gail came over around 2 pm and we played piano together until 3:30.

I went to my mosaics class at 6:30 pm. I completed most of my project. The next step is cleaning up the surface of the piece, which involves soaking the head of a q-tip in vinegar and wiping it on the tiles which have adhesive on them. My project is a panel with my house number on it. The numbers are made of dark blue tile. The background is light blue tile. The border is dark green.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Meetings today

Today I went to church at Church of the Restoration. Patrick Burke was the lay leader for today. Patrick began his talk with a joke, which goes as follows:

A fellow was sentenced to prison. After being processed in, he noticed every once in a while someone would shout out a number and all the inmates would laugh. Upon inquiry, he was told that inside prison there are a limited number of jokes. Instead of telling jokes, each joke has number. An inmate shouts out a number for the joke and the other inmates react.

“81,” cried out one inmate. The other inmates cracked up laughing. “29,” hollered another inmate, and again the place broke out in laughter.

The new inmate decided he would give it a try. “54,” he hollered.

Silence was the only response.

“I don’t get it. What went wrong,” said the inmate.

The other inmate said, “I guess some people just don’t know how to tell a joke.”


Following this meeting, I gave Barbara Frye a ride to Hardesty Library where we hold out HAT meetings. We had 14 there today. I might add some details of the meeting to the HAT blog tomorrow, but as of right now, I need to get some sleep. I’m still exhausted from walking six miles yesterday.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Volkswalking and Geocaching in Siloam Springs

Today we made a trip to Siloam Springs. The town straddles the Oklahoma/Arkansas border south of Joplin. While we were there we did two volkswalks and found three geocaches. The first walk we did was at Natural Falls State Park. The course took walkers to a waterfall about 30 feet high. There were two walks available: a 5K and a 10K. We walked the 5K course. Nick and Jen and Luke and Alya also drove to Siloam Springs. We all walked together. After this walk, Nick, Jen, and Luke returned to Sand Springs. We kept Ayla and took her on the walk in Siloam Springs. She was very excited by the hunt for the geocaches.

In Siloam Springs the course for today once again presented the walker with the same two options as before. Once again, we opted for the 5K course. It felt like we walked more than 5K, but we might have been fatigued by the previous walk.

The walk passed by John Brown University, which is affiliated with the Church of Christ. One of the largest buildings on campus is the Cathedral of the Ozarks. I was able to walk into the foyer of the facility, but due to locked doors, I could not enter into the sanctuary. However, I could see the sanctuary through the glass windows in the doors. I was surprised to see on the stage a grand piano.

While in Siloam Springs, we searched for and found three geocaches. The first was outside the town museum in a sorghum mill; the second was in a cemetery; the third was in a fake sewer access point. Between the two 5K walks, we found a steakhouse where we ate our lunch.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Friday activities

Last Thursday evening, I participated in day one of a nine-day workshop entitled “Reading Shakespeare Aloud.” The leader of the workshop is Justin McKean, who has been doing this kind of thing for quite a while. I met Justin at the Atheist Meetup a few months ago. He had a one-man show titled “Born Again Yesterday,” which played in Tulsa a while back.

Somehow I heard that he was putting on the Shakespeare workshop, and I signed up for it. The first night of the nine-week workshop was last Thursday. I read somewhere that the workshop started at 6:30 pm, but it turns out that it started at 7:00 pm. There were 27 people who signed up for the workshop, of which about half that number actually showed up for the first session. Justin talked about what we would be doing, which could range from reading a play on stage aloud to smaller groups reading various scenes from the plays. He also said we might read some sonnets. So it seems wide open as to what we will be doing. He wants to get a feel for the group before making any suggestions.

Justin gave us some history of the Globe Theater in the 1580s and 1590s. Then we took a close look at a passage from Romeo and Juliet after we broke out in small groups of three and four. We each read the passage (“But soft! What light through yonder window breaks.”) to our small group. Justin had to leave early since he was performing at The Nightingale Theater at 8 pm. So we broke for the evening around 7:45.

This morning we went to the annual Greek Holiday at the Greek Orthodox Church at 13th and Guthrie Ave. We got in line for the food, a la carte style. I had Greek potatoes and a chicken stick. Jan had a gyro. We went in to the sanctuary and heard the priest, Bill Christ (rhymes with grist), talk about the building we were in. The ceiling is circular and represents the heavens. The lower portion (with earth-tone carpet) represents the earth. He pointed out various icons on the walls. He said where he stands when he gives his sermons is between the icons of the birth of Christ and the resurrected Christ. On the ceiling was a drawing of Jesus. Around Jesus were the four “gospel writers” of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. The room was filled with iconography.

We returned home after spending about two hours at the Festival. We then went to Riddle’s Plant Farm. Jan bought some mums and a rose bush. Jan next sent me to K-Mart where I bought six 40-pound sacks of topsoil. As I was returning home I heard the car start making a noise which sounded just as if I had a flat. I pulled over and got out to take a look. All the tires were inflated so I got back on the road. The faster I went, the worse was the noise. Fortunately, I was within a mile of my house when all this developed. I crept home going about 5 miles per hour. As I drove past Jordan Willis, about a block from my house, Jordan yelled out “You’ve got a flat.” I stopped once again but all the tires were inflated. Jordan took a closer look at my right rear tire and saw where the tread had separated from the rest of the tire. At every rotation of the tire the loose tread would hit the wheel well, causing the noise.

I made it home and called AAA to change the tire. AAA came out and put on the spare. I drove over to Wal-Mart to get two new tires, but was told they were booked up for the reminder of the day.

I have a busy day planned for tomorrow. I guess it will be Sunday morning before I can get the new tires I need.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Oklahoma City trip

As we drove into Oklahoma City, a light rain was falling. We drove directly to the Oklahoma City Art Museum, which is located in downtown Oklahoma City. We drove around a little looking for a place to park. We found a space about a hundred feet from the door. Admission to the special exhibit, Roman Art from the Louvre, was $12 per person. We paid and went on in. The display was quite large and included 184 works. Many were rather large, with one weighing more than 3 tons. We saw many busts of Roman emperors, sarcophagi, mosaics, and fresco paintings. Augustus, Marcus Aurelius, and Caligula were three individuals represented by statuary. We spent two hours viewing the displays before departing for Sand Springs.

We got back to Sand Springs about 5:30, just in time for the evening news. We watched the news and checked e-mail.

Next morning was Sunday and we got ready for Church of the Restoration in Tulsa. I usually go at 9:30 and make music with other members of the Music Care Ring. We usually practice a piece to perform in the service and spend the reminder of the time singing and playing songs from “The Real Little Ultimate Jazz Fake Book.” The book contains over 625 songs in “fake book” style. When we arrived at the church we found it locked up. I got out my cell phone and called a member of the Music Care Ring and learned that Ken was out of town and the music ring would not be meeting that day.

Jan and I decided to go out to McDonald’s for breakfast. We had just gotten back into the car when my cell phone went off. I didn’t recognize the number and answered the call. My speakerphone was on, so the voice of the caller was broadcast throughout the car. Jan was so disturbed by the call that she took my cell phone away from me. I don't know when or if I will get it back.

We went back to the church, arriving shortly before the beginning of the service. Our minister, Gerald Davis, sang the special music for the service. And then he gave the sermon. Early in the service, we have a time for lighting candles for our joys and concerns. I lit a candle on behalf of Bill Moyers and his televison program, Bill Moyers Journal.

The next day, Monday, Gail came over to practice piano duets with me. We are working on a difficult piece right now. It is Danse Macabre by Saint-Saens.

That evening I went to my mosaics class at Waterworks Art Studio. I began my project, which is a set of house numbers I hope to place on my house, assuming the project turns out okay.

Tuesday we went grocery shopping, and today, Wednesday, I had a luncheon with some friends at the White River Fish Market around noon. I had planned on going to drumming, but drumming was canceled due to some of the members being sick.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Our trip (continued)

Friday afternoon, after we had finished looking at the model trains, we walked east up Oklahoma Street, stopping in at one of the shops which cater to tourists. I was very thirsty and just happened to see a sign indicating that the shop sold cold drinks. We went inside and browsed around, and I inquired about the cold drinks. They had some canned soft drinks, and I asked for a Dr. Pepper. I was handed a can of dr. Pepper and gave the clerk a one dollar bill, a fair exchange since I was quite thirsty. My first choice of drink, in that situation, would have been a Gatorade or a similar “sports drink,” but I was not particular.

We walked outside the store and sat down at a table with two chairs. Jan mentioned that there were several gift items in the store and that my mother has a birthday coming up soon (October 21). After I finished my Dr. Pepper, we went back into the store, and I looked around for a while. I settled on a wooden Chinese dragon carved from wood. It is about a foot long and has a tongue which when glued in place extends a couple of inches from its mouth. If it could come to life, I’m sure it would be a real fire-breather.

We put our purchase in the car and drove on in search of the banjo museum which was on up the street. It turns out the museum was closed on that day. We returned to our rooms at the Redstone. The Redstone is a pretty nice place to stay. B & Bs are everywhere in Guthrie. There are just a couple of disadvantages with the Redstone. First, the rooms have no telephones, but what with everyone having cell phones these days, that’s no big deal. Secondly, the Redstone is not hooked up to cable. Our TV was able to pick up a signal from a CBS affiliate, so I watched the CBS Evening News. (My preference is NBC Nightly News, but I could not seem to get a good signal for the NBC station.)

We had our evening meal at a restaurant by the name of Granny Had One. I’m not sure what the reference is to, but judging from the illustration accompanying the name, it might be a wood-burning stove. Whatever it was, we had a great meal there. We both had the chicken special. It was something like chicken Montreal, but that may not be exactly the correct name. It was chicken something with the second word being the name of a city starting with M. It was smothered in a sweet sauce (dark) with pecans on top.

Jan and I do not watch a lot of television, but Friday nights is our big TV night. There are two shows, both on PBS, that we try to not miss on Friday. The first is NOW with David Broncaccio. The second is Bill Moyers Journal. Moyers’s program dealt with the shooting in the Unitarian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee and the possible relation to hate speech on right-wing talk radio/TV. One parishioner was killed and others were wounded. It turns out that the shooter had books by right-wing fanatics at his residence.

The following is a description of “Rage on the Radio” copied from the Moyers website:

What happens when America's airwaves fill with hate? BILL MOYERS JOURNAL takes a tough look at the hostile industry of "Shock Jock" media with a hard-hitting examination of its effects on our nation's political discourse. The JOURNAL traveled to Knoxville, where a recent shooting at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church has left the pastor asking what role hateful speech from popular right-wing media personalities may have played in the tragedy. "A lot of people are hurling insults from the safety of television studios, the safety of radio studio, the safety of cyberspace," says Rev. Chris Buice, "So that's a void in our community — the chance to be in the same room and to have these exchanges and remember the humanity of the person on the other side."

The program can be viewed on the Internet by clicking on the following link:

This brings me to the end of Friday. The next day, despite the weather, (a tropical depression was moving through the state), we drove to Oklahoma City. I will pick it up there when next I post something to this blog.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Back from vacation

We have been on a short vacation. We left on Thursday for Guthrie. It takes only about and hour and forty-five minutes to get over there going at a relaxed driving speed. We drove over to Stillwater, and then went by way of Perkins over to Guthrie. We checked in to the Redstone Country Inn where we had made reservations for two nights. That evening we attend the play “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.” Steven Sondheim wrote the music and lyrics for this play. It is a mapcap comedy set in Rome two thousand years ago, or so. We had front row seats. They even had a small orchestra for the musical.

The play did not start until 8 pm, so we ate dinner before curtain time at the Hunan Palace one block to the north.

Since the play did not start until 8 pm, it was getting late by time it had finished. We walked back to the Redstone, which was just one block away.

In our suite of rooms (living room, dining room, kitchen, bedroom, bath), we soon hit the sack. Next morning, the first of our two wonderful breakfasts was brought up to our room. We had a leisurely breakfast and then around 10 am we walked to the trolley stop to board the trolley (actually just a bus made to resemble a trolley). The trolley takes you around the various tourist attractions in the town. Most of the attractions are homes that were built a hundred or so years ago. Our driver was the garrulous sort who loved talking about his interest, which includes the local high school football team and the value of property when it was built, (his wife works for the country government real estate office). He drove us by what was easily the largest structure in Guthrie – the Masonic temple.

The tour lasted about an hour with the driver pointing out about twenty points of interest. When we got back, we went geocaching. I had printed four cache sheets before departing on our trip. We found the first three win little difficulty. When we saw the location of the fourth (in weeds with poison ivy), we decided to skip it. The three caches we found were located (1) near a restaurant attached to the bottom of a fence, (2) in a cemetery (this was a virtual cache), and (3) in a notch in a wooden fence in a park.

Later that afternoon, we visited the train station. It was formerly used by the ATSF Railway, and was a busy place in its heyday. Now there is a restaurant and a model train museum located there. We ordered a pizza, and afterwards walked through the model train display. The operator turned on the trains in each of the six layouts in the large room. Various scales were used, going from the largest O gauge, down through HO, N, and finally Z. The man who operated the museum was very friendly. I told him I had recently retired from BNSF, and we swapped stories about railroading and being in the hospital – he for a heart operation and myself for a brain tumor.

This looks like a good stopping place for tonight. Tomorrow I will tell about buying a birthday present for my mother, visiting the banjo museum, Granny Had One, watching Now and Bill Moyers Journal, and touring the Oklahoma City Art Museum.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Frosty Troy and more

Tonight instead of going to my drum circle, I went to All Souls Unitarian Church to hear the state’s best known liberal – Frosty Troy. Frosty said that corruption is the worst he has ever seen it. He spoke to the crowd for a little more than an hour, and I think he spoke without notes. Frosty is the former editor of “The Oklahoma Observer”. I have been a longtime subscriber to the Observer. Frosty is one of my heroes.

Just prior to his talk, a music program was going on. There was a group of musicians playing various instruments – violin, flute, bass, guitar. They reminded me of Peter, Paul, and Mary. They have some kind of music at All Souls in the evenings on Wednesdays. In fact, they have a lot of things going on at that church all the time

Last Sunday I went to All Souls Church since Restoration had no service account the All Souls service being a recognition of the combination of the All Souls congregation with the New Beginnings congregation. The leader of New Beginnings (formerly called Higher Dimensions) is Bishop Carlton Pearson. Pearson founded Higher Dimensions and grew the congregation to a megachurch. Then Pearson came to the conclusion that God was too good to consign anybody to hell. He gave up the idea of hell in his theology and lost about 90 percent of his congregation.

The remnants of his congregation met at Trinity Episcopal Church in downtown Tulsa for several months. He came to All Souls and preached to an overflow audience about a year ago. His sermon was excellent, although it did contain some God-talk. But that does not bother me like it once did.

Anyway, to make a long story short, Bishop Pearson’s congregation agreed with All Souls to share the same building on South Peoria. I don’t know any other details of the arrangement.

After the Sunday service I spoke with Patrick Burke (a member of Restoration), and we wondered what effect the combination of the two congregations would have on Restoration.

There was a meal provided on the lawn following the service – barbecue beef, potato salad, green salad, bread, etc. I saw Barbara Frey (a member of HAT) there who had just recently returned from Michigan, where she had gone for the summer. She had stayed along the eastern coast and spoke of taking part in a ceremony honoring her brother who had died a few months ago.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Brain surgery, Classic Rock, and Mosaics

As many of you are aware, I had brain surgery in January 2007. From time to time, I have to get CT and MRI scans of my head to see if the remnants of the tumor are growing back. I had MRIs and CTs done this past Tuesday at St. John Medical Center. The doctor said everything appears to be “stable.” No growth was evident, so I am good for another six months. After I have scans next March, I will go on a yearly schedule.

Tomorrow night will be “Movie Night” at the Bradleys. Gail and I plan to play “Classic Rock,” a duet piece written by Eugenie Rocherolle, or Jeannie Rock n’ Roll, as we like to call her.

Next Monday evening, I start a class in Mosaics taught at Waterworks Art Studio. I have been wanting to take up mosaics for a long time. I have several books on the subject which I have collected over the years. Now I will finally get some hands-on experience.