Going to Kansas

The train is moving again. The glorious sounds of the engine meshing with the blurring of the landscape as the Amtrak rushes, backwards from my seat position, through the countryside of Michigan, the lush forests, farms, and hills of an old land that reflects the early days of the state and even the country, when cities were few and far.

We’re packed up and ready for another trip down to Olathe, Kansas. This would be the 5th or 6th time that the family is headed down to the Heartland to see the youngest sister and her significant other, the first time being in the summer of 2014 when we visited the University of Kansas. Kansas is still quite new to us as we have only scratched the surface of it, having only been near the border cities and not into the deep part of the state.

The conductor checked my ticket again today, as he always does, scanning it and giving it back to me where I place it back in the top compartment of my luggage bag.

Because of Kansas, I get the song “Dust in the Wind” playing in my head, and eventually on my computer. It is a song symbolizing our short time on this earth, that in the end we are just made up of earth stuff, living our lives and then being recycled back into the environment, continuing the cycle. We rent a period of time here to do as much as we can, to explore and learn about our history and what is beyond our imagination. The band is actually from Topeka, Kansas and released “Dust in the Wind” in 1977. The title comes from a passage in the Bible by Ecclesiastes:

I reflected on everything that is accomplished by man on earth, and I concluded:

Everything he has accomplished is futile — like chasing the wind!

In the end, everything we do, all the money we may or may not have, doesn’t matter one little bit, because all of it doesn’t go with us. The only thing we can hold onto are our hopes and dreams and to believe that there is more to life than just living and dying.

It sure is a big break from me playing video games for many hours straight, only getting up once in a while to eat something or use the facilities. I’ve become so addicted to playing Batman: Arkham Knight, the explosive finale in the Arkham series of games. Probably one of the best games I’ve played in a while, besides Skyrim, which is why I’ve had a hard time putting it down, because there is so much to see and do. From what I know so far, near 90% completion of the game, it is the ending stories of several high profile criminals in Gotham, and they all get locked up in prison, though I’m not sure yet if they escape or get released by some outside help.

For now, I continue to listen to the train’s whistle as it rumbles down the track. The usual route is stopping in Chicago at Union Station and then taking a bus to Wisconsin, but that is not the case this time. It will be a longer train ride to Lawrence, Kansas, going through a lot of flat farmland in Illinois and Missouri. It sure is a lot better than driving down there, which is what we did the first time, staring at boring scenery for hours and hours, but I remember it fondly and cherish every moment of it.

Lush

Seven-Time

Image result for jimmie johnson se7en

History has been made, even if some don’t totally agree with the thought of it.

NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Jimmie Johnson won his seventh championship tonight, tying Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt, Sr. on the all-time list. It is quite a monumental achievement, since not many would have thought the number would be caught after Dale Earnhardt won his seventh in 1994, 22 years ago. Jeff Gordon won four very quickly and there was a great possibility that he could have won more had the Chase not been implemented and Jimmie Johnson hadn’t suddenly started tearing up the racing scene, but Johnson and co. have set a new standard that cannot be easily replicated now.

The historic run was completed in only 15 years and eight of those were run for the championships; Jimmie won all of his championships since winning his first in 2006, five in a row at one time. He now has 80 wins after winning at Homestead-Miami for the first time, just 13 from tying his mentor Jeff Gordon. The run has been quite efficient and if you do the math, that is at least 5 wins per year.

I’ve been watching NASCAR racing for 13 years now and have seen drivers come and go: old timers like Mark Martin, Rusty Wallace, and Bill Elliott and newcomers like Joey Logano and Kyle Larson. Of the 13 championship seasons that have come and gone, seven of those ended in a Jimmie Johnson victory, so yes, I have gotten to know this driver pretty well. In 2006, I managed to get his autograph at the airport as he and his wife were driving away in their SUV, he scribbling his short-hand signature on a piece of paper I had with me, looking like he was in a hurry to get out of there after having just raced at Michigan. That was the summer before he won his first championship and shortly after he won his third Coca-Cola 600 in a row. I still have that autograph, being stored in a yearbook of mine until I decide what to do with it once the X-time champ has finally retired.

There is nowhere to go but up now, to go for eight and possibly more. As long as Jimmie Johnson stays competitive, there is no end in sight for one of the greatest drivers of all-time. Sure, he won all of his titles in the Chase for the Championship era, an era that die-hard fans say isn’t real racing and is quite watered down, but hey, Jimmie won it fair and square and really is the only driver who has mastered the format in all of its versions over the years. After he won six, I like to say NASCAR tried to Jimmie-proof the Chase, making it harder to win the championship, but after getting a feel for it and failing at first, the team overcame the setbacks and claimed what was rightfully theirs: Lucky Number Seven.

The legendary Hendrick team of Johnson and Knaus have enjoyed scorching their competition and don’t look to be letting up just yet.

#NaNoPoblano2016 Day 20

Klondike Bar

klondike

What would I do for a Klondike bar?

I’d probably lift a two ton car

Go skiing down a rocky mountain

Punch a shark in the back

Kiss my mouth to the drinking fountain

The ideas are even more absurb

For this delightful icecream sandwich

But this is all just a joke so no need to panic

#NaNoPoblano2016 Day 18

Twinkle

The twinkle in the night

The gleam in the sky

Guiding me, guiding me

Leading me, leading me

Into the pale woods light

And if I lose my place

Among the stars

I’ll follow the unicorn blood

A glistening silver like mercury

Very unlike your’s or our’s

Twinkle

Take the Cake

Image result for colin kaepernick kneeling

The Colin Kaepernick kneeling controversial is perhaps the silliest story to come out this fall. It takes the cake as football’s first big scandal this season after months of afor the new season. In a preseason game, Kaepernick kneeled down while the national anthem was playing to protest because he didn’t want to support a country that oppressed blacks and minorities, based off the happenings in Ferguson and beyond. Another player joined him to support his views on the current state of things. Now U.S. women’s soccer star Megan Rapinoe, who was on the 2015 World Cup winning squad, did the same thing as a “nod to Kaepernick”. And social media blew up.

I don’t see anything wrong with this kind of protest. Kaepernick had every right to express his opinion. The media will find anything they can to get a heated discussion going. The Deflategate controversy is all but exhausted. Let’s get our hands on something else that has little to no meaning on how the season unfolds.

Cake

Where the Sidewalk Ends

Image result for where the sidewalk ends

One of my favorite collection of poems by Shel Silverstein, a poet whose works I have read a few times in the past, is Where the Sidewalk Ends. Here’s the poem where the title of the book comes from:

There is a place where the sidewalk ends
And before the street begins,
And there the grass grows soft and white,
And there the sun burns crimson bright,
And there the moon-bird rests from his flight
To cool in the peppermint wind.

Let us leave this place where the smoke blows black
And the dark street winds and bends.
Past the pits where the asphalt flowers grow
We shall walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
And watch where the chalk-white arrows go
To the place where the sidewalk ends.

Yes we’ll walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
And we’ll go where the chalk-white arrows go,
For the children, they mark, and the children, they know
The place where the sidewalk ends.

Sidewalk

 

Ryan Lochte? Obviously

Image result for ryan lochte white hair

Of course Ryan Lochte gets on Dancing with the Stars. All of the drama that ensued during the Rio games, the run-in with the Brazilian police, only served to give himself more exposure and ways to get his name discussed. After his Olympic career was over, no one would even bring up Lochte’s name in a discussion again. Stepping out of the shadow of 28 Olympic medal winner Michael Phelps was his goal and it looks like it is happening. He even dyed his hair these past Games to better differentiate himself from the rest (the explanation). The Lochte-Phelps semi-rivalry is all but done now with both retiring this year from Olympic sports but there is always action to be had out of the pool.

Obviously