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Sundries
...a sweatshop of moxie

Friday, February 16, 2007

Roadside

If there's one reuniting factor all my South Florida travellogues have in common, it's the colourful, and loving eyes I bring to our landscapes, down here.

It's true that I try to compose a visually stimulating array of photographs, from my many journeys around the area.

I do so specifically for you, my Sundries reader, hoping you can enjoy these pleasing sights as much as I do.

But I can also tell you that there is no artifice in these shots. They lay before me, and later you, like an open sesame of discoveries, one more vibrant and deserving than the next.

I have, of course, spoken of our next travellogue destination before.

Homestead was the topic of a May Day blogpost, which briefly showed you just how changed this rural part of South Florida had become, in the decade plus since Hurricane Andrew.

The area was LEVELLED, more than you can ever imagine Hurricane Katrina having done so to New Orleans -- which, of course, was more a question of water damage, than structural damage.

Homestead got both, and it got it good and hard.

Many thought the city, never prosperous, would struggle to re-build, and later to re-open, but it did both with such determination, and not a bit of funding from all concerned, that today, it's still redneck, blue-collar, working class, call it what you will, but call it a success first.

I was there a few weeks ago, just visiting the general area which I hadn't really done so since my Habitat for Humanity work in 1993. That's a long time, but in truth it's not unusual.

Rare is the South Floridian who doesn't live or work there, who gets down to that neck of the woods, which my mother not unwryly calls, "The End of the World".

Yes, there's very little to do there, despite the Homestead Speedway, and outreach campus of Miami-Dade (Community) College.

And it also can be a wee bit dangerous, since there is genuine poverty in Homestead, or what passes for poverty in America -- the struggling, Mexican migrant worker communities, and black population of cheek-by-jowl town, Florida City.

By the way, there's a rule about Florida that you should know we locals sometimes refer to. If it's got "City" in its title, it might just not be the safest place for you to be in.

Lemon City, Carol City, Florida City...

Perhaps not the safest places, as I say, but they have their own piquant, local charm, which I hope to show you in due course.

Now Homestead, being a rural town which is surrounded by the descriptive, and moneyed Southern white neighbourhood called The Redlands, is all country roads.

Sometimes you can go for seemingly hours without seeing another car in front or behind you.

It can get disorientating, if you're not used to it, as this British girl sometimes and still, isn't. There is hardly a non-built-up area in the UK, which would come close, to the desolate breadth of American country roads.

But faint heart and lack of compass has never stopped blogger lady.

So off I went, into one of these country roads, not knowing what I'd find...yet, knowing I would find something, something for you.

And sure enough, I did.


THE HOMESTEAD ROADSIDE TRAVELLOGUE






It took me several paragraphs of introduction above to describe Homestead's ruralness, which one photograph here can make you understand in a second.

Two men, two horses, a trailing dog, and endless space. Homestead.

It just doesn't get simpler than that.

Do you know what I love about the country, which maybe you do too?

I love how time stands still there.

It's as if the hand of time passes over it, and favours its city cousin to alter beyond recognition, from one decade to the next.

Tell me this scene wouldn't be at home in the 19th century, or the 15th century, or any century before the advent of mechanised transport.

The pickier amongst you might quibble about the corrugated iron shed in the back, or the t-shirts the men are wearing, or indeed, the fact that one is a heavy-set white man, and the other, a svelte black man, the combination of which dates it to a ballpark century.

But for me, this scene is without timestamp, and because of that, it's endlessly beguiling.






But in the 21st century we are, as my reveries of centuries past evaporated in one instant, when seeing this van up ahead.

I have a touch of the rebel inside me, I've always known, because I love nothing better than to beat the system.

It doesn't have to be in big ways. Perhaps a waiver of a late library fine here, and a wink about a token not used there.

But something that makes me feel a bit marginal, a bit naughty, such as loving the idea of an informal economy.

I know, I know.

Spare me your diatribes about lack of taxes, and deregularised, undocumented workers, which often make up a large part of this sector. I've heard it all before, and I still want informal economies to exist.

Anyway, I don't like the IDEA of taxes, and nothing shows one personal initiative, drive, and greed, which are the very motors that run any capitalist economy, than a guy selling stuff from the back of his truck.

Renesito here, or his able assistant, is offering passing motorists your pick of Key West lobsters. Mmmm!

Not the poor, bound up dears you see in supermarket tanks. Oh no, this is as fresh and as illegal as you can get.

What's not to love about this intrepid langostero?






Nevertheless, I passed on the lobsters and shrimp, since as you know, I'm a veggie and fruit person myself.

It's then when I saw IT...the reason for my travellogue, staring at me bright and greeny, on the opposite side of the road.

Now, you may remember my most recent travellogue: a visit to Coconut Grove's Fresh Market.

The scene which I chanced upon here, is about as different from that well-to-do experience, as you can get.

There's no air conditioning in this outdoor hut thingie.

There's no Coconut Grove matron emerging from her car washed Mercedes.

And there is certainly not the same kind of inventory available, as the cornocopia of goodies to be found in The Fresh Market.

Perhaps for its unusualness, though, I found it as wonderful an experience shopping there, as I ever could in the antiseptic, but not unseductive Miami one.






One look at these succulent green bell peppers, was enough to convince me to stop the car, turn around, and go back to get them, in one smooth motion of my car.

I was always a sucker for legumes.





Corn leaves me less intrigued, though.

They seemed a bit sad, this last pile of corn still on their cobs, waiting for the last person to take them home, butter them up, and eat them to the core.

I like corn on the cob, what newly-minted American does not, but I passed on this offering too...





...for it was for the green bell peppers, and the tomatoes that I had come!

Guess how much for just a whole bag's worth of peppers and tomatoes, each? 2 bucks!

Why you can't get ONE pepper in a chain supermarket these days, for a buck, and here I was being offered nearly a bushel! So I exaggerate, sue me.

By the way, see the vendor up top, selling some vegetables to the red-haired older lady in front?

He seemed like the owner, or the son of the owner, and though he was Mexican, he wasn't your archtypical Mexican roadside worker.

For one, he had on good, clean clothes, and though perhaps not white, he was not indigenous either, as the rest of the gentlemen inside the hut, were. He also spoke with a more cultured accent.

Later, I was to overhear a conversation with whom I presumed to be the boss man, and it went a little like this, in Spanish, of course.

"Do you have my W-2 form ready?"

"Yeah, I put it in your mailbox this morning."

"Thanks. I have to send it to Tallahassee next week."

"Don't claim more than 2 dependants, since they get suspicious after the 3rd."

"Yeah, so I heard. Oh, my cellphone. Thanks patrón, I'll be back tomorrow!"


Seems I'm not the only person, who likes to beat the system.






Having maxxed out my credit card, I mean, paid the four bucks for my tomatoes and bell peppers, I was about to leave, when the boss man told me, in English:

"We also have some great strawberries available.

3 dollars if we "build" you a pack, or 2 dollars, if you want to pick 'em yourself."


Seriously?! Awesome!

Short of being offered to pat the prize pig at a petting zoo, picking my own strawberries from a field was this city girl's dream come true.

So he handed me my little blue carton, and I handed him my 2 bucks, which really broke my bank account this time, and off I went, into the wild blue and green patchy yonder.






If only my old Headmistress could see me now.

She'd say, "That Vicky. I told you, I told you. Barefoot, pregnant and picking strawberries. And STILL unmarried!"

(I keed, I keed. Please, like I would have passed on the shrimp if I were pregnant)

My careful, expensive education had prepared me for much. But it hadn't prepared me to be a temporary migrant worker.

Respect.





Whew, picking berries is not as easy as I thought. It's thirsty, sweaty work, and so I started to leave with perhaps less than a full basket.

But what is it that my liberal dad always told me to do?

"From each according to his ability, to each according to his need."

Screw that, I went in for seconds!

Some system beater I would be, if I hadn't.

Nevertheless, at the end of my cotton pickin' exertions, I took shelter in this inviting, clean, white chair, and had me some soda pop, being relieved of all of 50 US cents.

The last time I had spent so little, total, shopping...was well, I don't recall when.

Maybe when I went into a 7/11 for a packet of gum, only I hate gum, so not even.






Remember that lady busy clearing the joint of corn, up top?

Well, girlfriend had a sweet ride.

Jeez, we went from Homestead to Southfork Ranch, in one sweep of JR's magic wand.

She had better not have been famous!






So here we are, finally at the end of our latest travellogue together.

I gathered my berries, my veggies, and with visions of future repasts to come, I followed the Texas Longhorn limo out to the dirt road, each of us going on our merry way.

Only hers seemed a damned sight merrier than mine, the cow.

Never mind, I still had all that country road to get lost in dreams in, endless miles stretching before me, just green pastures, and WHAT!

Barbecue Ponies???

Man, where are PETA when you need them, right? Probably picking strawberries in a field some where real poor and stuff. Oh, the humanity...





Oh yeah!

The strawberries.

I forgot to show you my sweet little carton of strawberries, which entitles me to the appellation of "guest worker", if I hadn't already a Social Security card.

Now, I know what you're thinking...

Vic, they're kind of mangy, IF colourful.

Yeah, well, see, in my hurry to return home to tell my friends and family about this sojourn, I actually left these little lovelies inside my car.

But just as soon as I remembered where I had left them, I took a nice photo for you.

Two days later.

Yum!

Thanks for accompanying me through yet another quirky, never dull, and sometimes downright tasty Sundries travellogue.

I am at your service.

Labels: ,

30 Comments:

  • First!

    (Unless Ron's out there lurking while I compose this comment. Better hurry, huh?)

    Nice choice for a travelogue, Vics. I remember passing through Homestead on US 1 on the way to the Keys back in the 70s and what it was like then. In a way, Hurricane Andrew was a good thing to happen to this place. My father retired as director of the Redlands Maintenance Yard for Miami-Dade schools and he once took us for tour of much of the same area. Hard to believe such a sense of rural-ness is that close to Miami - much like us out here in Oklahoma.

    Very interesting. Great pictures. But then, what else would I expect from a Sundries travelogue?

    By Blogger Pete, at Fri Feb 16, 07:10:00 am GMT-5  

  • One, INS has been called, and your punting outta the country is forthcoming! :o

    Two, those berries are outstanding! Your photo as well!

    I love going to roadside stands! Once, racing to Des Moines to catch a plane, I had to stop when the roadside sign said "Corn: 14/$1"! I filled my suitcase with this incredible corn, and still made the plane!

    That country looks pretty desolate though...

    (workin' on my bread post)

    By Blogger Ron, at Fri Feb 16, 07:10:00 am GMT-5  

  • Pete, you Devil Dog! Beating me by mere seconds! That'll teach me for sleeping!

    ;0

    By Blogger Ron, at Fri Feb 16, 07:14:00 am GMT-5  

  • They sure have come a long way since Hurricane Andrew! I loved this post also but I just don't wake up as early as Ron or Pete!

    By Blogger Jose Aguirre, at Fri Feb 16, 08:50:00 am GMT-5  

  • Dang, Ron. It was close, wasn't it? It'll probably be my last time but I'll revel in my victory for now.

    By Blogger Pete, at Fri Feb 16, 09:38:00 am GMT-5  

  • This comment has been removed by the author.

    By Blogger Robert, at Fri Feb 16, 11:34:00 am GMT-5  

  • Nice post. Homestead's demographics have changed quite a bit as well since Andrew. All that new construction going up along the Turnpike between Cutler Ridge and Homestead is being bought up by former residents of the other suburban areas of South Florida who are looking for relatively cheap real estate. As a result, Homestead is no longer either Mexican, white Redneck or black. It is a lot more like the rest of South Florida.

    Also, you'd be surprised at how many old Cuban guajiros (country folk) live in the Redland (without the s).

    I posted a brief item on the Redland about a month ago. You can check it out here:

    http://the26thparallel.blogspot.com/2007/01/discover
    -redland.html

    By Blogger Robert, at Fri Feb 16, 11:36:00 am GMT-5  

  • Pick your own berries is a win-win. The seller doesn't have to do the pain-the-ass work of picking the berries and the buyers can eat as much as they can while they pick.

    IIRC, the last time I did that it was blueberries. Mmmmm, blueberries...

    By Blogger Ploorian, at Fri Feb 16, 01:37:00 pm GMT-5  

  • Nice choice for a travelogue, Vics.

    Thanks, Pete! :)

    And congrats on first place! You get your choice: peppers or tomatoes. Strawbs are inside me tummy.

    I remember passing through Homestead on US 1 on the way to the Keys back in the 70s and what it was like then.

    Wow, it must've been even more rural, which is unbelievable really.

    Homestead in the 70s was known for one thing, and that was the Homestead Air Force Base.

    Victoria Principal was an Air Force brat, and actually attended Homestead High, or the other High School in the area, I forget which.

    In a way, Hurricane Andrew was a good thing to happen to this place.

    Amazing to say, but true.

    That will be true of New Orleans, eventually, because it affected precisely the same demographic affected during Andrew.

    My father retired as director of the Redlands Maintenance Yard for Miami-Dade schools and he once took us for tour of much of the same area.

    Could you believe that! The chances. :)

    Hard to believe such a sense of rural-ness is that close to Miami - much like us out here in Oklahoma.

    Yes, it's fantastic, isn't it?

    Of course, I'm not too old to remember the fact that a lot of Kendall beyond Town and Country mall was PRECISELY like Kendall.

    That was also culo mundis, back then.

    Very interesting. Great pictures. But then, what else would I expect from a Sundries travelogue?

    Aww, smooch! :)

    I really appreciate that.

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Fri Feb 16, 01:45:00 pm GMT-5  

  • One, INS has been called, and your punting outta the country is forthcoming! :o

    Hah! Too late, like so many illegals, I'm already a citizen. ;)

    Two, those berries are outstanding! Your photo as well!

    Thanks, Ron. :)

    I knew it would make a better, more unusual photo, than your garden variety shot of the strawberry basket. So to speak.

    I love going to roadside stands! Once, racing to Des Moines to catch a plane, I had to stop when the roadside sign said "Corn: 14/$1"! I filled my suitcase with this incredible corn, and still made the plane!

    Hello! LOL. That's you all over, Ron.

    But 14 for a buck, man that IS cheap. And corn keeps.

    That country looks pretty desolate though...

    Yeah, it is.

    Did you see that shot of the two guys on the horses, and the dog running behind them?

    A little sad, but there but for the grace of the Twentieth Century, go us.

    (workin' on my bread post)

    Yay! I will link to it, after tomorrow.

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Fri Feb 16, 02:28:00 pm GMT-5  

  • They sure have come a long way since Hurricane Andrew! I loved this post also but I just don't wake up as early as Ron or Pete!

    Thanks, Jose! :)

    Tell me guys, I want to know:

    Which photo was your favourite?

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Fri Feb 16, 02:29:00 pm GMT-5  

  • Nice post.

    Thanks so much, Robertico!

    Homestead's demographics have changed quite a bit as well since Andrew. All that new construction going up along the Turnpike between Cutler Ridge and Homestead is being bought up by former residents of the other suburban areas of South Florida who are looking for relatively cheap real estate.

    And WHO, furthermore, don't want to go UP, to Boca and beyond.

    They prefer this slice of South Florida.

    As a result, Homestead is no longer either Mexican, white Redneck or black. It is a lot more like the rest of South Florida.

    It's true, but I would have to say that the predominant character of Homestead will possibly always be blue-collar, redneck, etc.

    Florida City has that outlet mall, of course, so you'll get lots of people you never would have, pre-Andrew.

    Also, you'd be surprised at how many old Cuban guajiros (country folk) live in the Redland (without the s).

    Cool!

    (I called a friend who lives "up there", well closer than I anyway, before answering this reply. She says, yes, she believes it is Redland with no s, but that everyone says The Redlands, anyway ;) You know that, but just to clarify my usage)

    I posted a brief item on the Redland about a month ago. You can check it out here:

    You know how things are, people are lazy. ;)

    Here's the HTML version.

    Redland

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Fri Feb 16, 02:45:00 pm GMT-5  

  • Pick your own berries is a win-win. The seller doesn't have to do the pain-the-ass work of picking the berries and the buyers can eat as much as they can while they pick.

    Dude, no way...I didn't think of that.

    Perhaps because I was the only person there, picking anything, so I didn't follow suit or was influenced, but also, because well, I'm a good girl.

    I'm a rebel only in my mind.

    I mean, library fines?

    Dead giveaway.

    IIRC, the last time I did that it was blueberries. Mmmmm, blueberries...

    Mmm, love it on me cornflakes!

    However, eating strawberries in February is odd for me, since obviously it's rare where I come from -- and yet further reason of why I love the new place that I am in.

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Fri Feb 16, 02:49:00 pm GMT-5  

  • Another link, if you're interested in sights to see next time you're down here:



    Strawberries

    From late December through the beginning of April, fresh strawberries are abundant at roadside stands. "We're not a major producer like Plant City," says Mary Lamberts, of the Miami-Dade County Extension office, "but we've definitely been growing strawberries for a long time." Florida supplies about 10 percent of the country's strawberries. You can pick your own strawberries (and tomatoes) at many farms, including Burr's Berry Farm (12741 SW 216th St.).


    (The photo of Burr's is in Robert's link on top)



    Cinnamon rolls

    Knaus Berry Farm and Bakery (15980 SW 248th St., 305-247-0668) sells great produce and fresh flowers, but the real draw is the cinnamon rolls ($6.65 a dozen). There's often a line out the door. Other bakery goods include pineapple upside down cakes, shoofly and pecan pies, and whole-wheat dinner rolls. Getting home with your bag of baked goods intact is a challenge in itself. The folks behind the counter dress similarly to Mennonites, but they're Dunkers, a sect of German Baptists.


    Dunkers! That rocks. :)

    I had NO idea we had Mennonites down here too.

    When I went to Michigan in my own car, as I recounted earlier, I saw all these men in blue jean overalls, plowing their own fields in the many farms of rural Michigan.

    And now I find out, they're down here too.

    Alas, I hate cinammon rolls, but for a chance to see a Dunker, even a fake one, I'll go!



    Dinner in Paradise

    For the second year, farmer Gabriele Marewski is hosting a monthly multicourse (and magical) dinner and fundraiser under a gazebo at her organic farm. At each dinner chefs use produce grown in the area for 50 guests. It feels like the beginnings of a northern California-style food culture, where consumers, chefs and merchants support small farms. Already Marewski supplies her micro greens to 20 restaurants. She sold her entire 240-tree avocado crop to Whole Foods. "The most important thing is to eat local," Marewski says. The dinners started as a fundraiser for Hurricane Katrina victims. This year proceeds from the $150-per-person dinner (including wine) supports sustainability in the Everglades and Le Cordon Bleu-Miami. Info at www.paradisefarms.net. Reservations at 305-573-5550.


    Now, I'm a cheerleader for all things South Florida.

    But man, the Everglades = paradise?

    That's a compliment too far.

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Fri Feb 16, 02:55:00 pm GMT-5  

  • Dude, no way...I didn't think of that.

    Perhaps because I was the only person there, picking anything, so I didn't follow suit or was influenced, but also, because well, I'm a good girl.


    It's learned behavior. If you grow up somewhere like the Corn Belt, where things like pick-your-own is common place, you quickly learn that that's all part of the experience.

    Mmm, love it on me cornflakes!

    However, eating strawberries in February is odd for me, since obviously it's rare where I come from -- and yet further reason of why I love the new place that I am in.


    I'm old enough to still think that you can only get certain produce in certain seasons. You don't really see goiters anymore, but I can recall many old women who had them because of the lack of citrus up here. Man, within my lifetime, the culture and economy sure has changed.

    By Blogger Ploorian, at Fri Feb 16, 02:57:00 pm GMT-5  

  • Love the pictures Vicky! Looks like a great place for a Sunday drive.

    Those tomatoes could make a nice sauce if they're allowd to ripen for a few weeks. Reminds me of when we used to go the farm every august not too far from my house and pick tomatoes to make sauce. They sell them by the bushell pre-picked now and the farms nearby have been turned into big-box stores.

    Too bad you didn't stop for bbq!

    Strawberries...mmmmm...;)

    By Blogger Renato, at Fri Feb 16, 03:09:00 pm GMT-5  

  • And now I find out, they're down here too.

    Wherever there is farmland, you'll find anabaptists.

    There's a good sized Amish community up here and I've heard there are Hutterites around, too. I've heard stories about how the Hutterites have inbreeding problems so they hire college students to come in and impregnate their women. Sounds great, except when you consider that it's done through a hole in a sheet, and Hutterites don't shower.

    By Blogger Ploorian, at Fri Feb 16, 05:44:00 pm GMT-5  

  • BTW, south FL is my own personal Mecca because of this. (Or would that be consider "central" Florida?)

    By Blogger Ploorian, at Fri Feb 16, 06:07:00 pm GMT-5  

  • It's learned behavior. If you grow up somewhere like the Corn Belt, where things like pick-your-own is common place, you quickly learn that that's all part of the experience.

    Must be like not eating yellow snow in Alaska. :)


    I'm old enough to still think that you can only get certain produce in certain seasons. You don't really see goiters anymore, but I can recall many old women who had them because of the lack of citrus up here. Man, within my lifetime, the culture and economy sure has changed.


    For sure that is true.

    Imagine having orange juice year round...to Germans, even today, it's a little bit of a miracle.

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Sat Feb 17, 01:58:00 am GMT-5  

  • Love the pictures Vicky! Looks like a great place for a Sunday drive.

    Thanks, Renato! I did like this travellogue a lot.

    Both in the doing and the writing.

    Those tomatoes could make a nice sauce if they're allowd to ripen for a few weeks.

    Can't you make sauce when they're green? *g*

    Reminds me of when we used to go the farm every august not too far from my house and pick tomatoes to make sauce. They sell them by the bushell pre-picked now and the farms nearby have been turned into big-box stores.

    Shame.

    I really liked the fact that when I Googled, a lot of the strawberry farms, and the like, encouraged kids to pick outside with their folks.

    As you guys saw, there was a "No under 12" sign there, although who knows if it is enforced.

    Too bad you didn't stop for bbq!

    Cruel!

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Sat Feb 17, 02:00:00 am GMT-5  


  • Wherever there is farmland, you'll find anabaptists.


    Heh. :)

    There's a good sized Amish community up here and I've heard there are Hutterites around, too. I've heard stories about how the Hutterites have inbreeding problems so they hire college students to come in and impregnate their women.

    What on earth...how Christian is this?

    Sounds great, except when you consider that it's done through a hole in a sheet, and Hutterites don't shower.

    Ay. Gross.

    I loved Amish tales when I was in school, and I respect all people's right to choose their religion, but I swear to you -- I could never be this faithful to my religion.

    Thank God I'm a Catholic, an earthy, urbane religion if there ever was one.

    The kind where monks make hootch.

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Sat Feb 17, 02:03:00 am GMT-5  

  • BTW, south FL is my own personal Mecca because of this. (Or would that be consider "central" Florida?)

    Yeah, it is considered Central Florida and out-of-the-way, and this is perhaps why I have only been there once, as a kid.

    I am a SUCKER for all things NASA, but I wasn't too impressed by it then.

    I seem to recall space capsules, and buying a paperweight with the signatures of the 3 Apollo 11 astronauts...next to Richard Nixon's, who was the president at the time.

    (I didn't know until I saw his signature, that his middle name was Milhous -- Milhous!)

    And also, I saw a little Tang bottle, used by a spaceshuttle commander.

    The things kids remember.

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Sat Feb 17, 02:06:00 am GMT-5  

  • Must be like not eating yellow snow in Alaska. :)

    LOL, I don't know if kids do this anymore, but during the winter it was a tradition to try to talk some naive kid (either young or newly arrived from another state) into eating the yellow snow. "It tastes like lemon, honest!"

    Imagine having orange juice year round...to Germans, even today, it's a little bit of a miracle.

    The impact of something as simple as widespread refrigeration is pretty amazing.

    By Blogger Ploorian, at Sat Feb 17, 03:20:00 pm GMT-5  

  • What on earth...how Christian is this?

    You got me. I don't even know if it's true, though with the Hutterites it wouldn't surprise me. Unlike the more well-known anabaptists, Hutterites are allowed to have all of the technology and modern conveniences they want. I guess they didn't like the strictures and discipline imposed by the other sects, but they still wanted to be able to maintain their victim status.

    I loved Amish tales when I was in school, and I respect all people's right to choose their religion, but I swear to you -- I could never be this faithful to my religion.

    There are a lot of problems with anabaptism. I can see the draw of the such a pastoral lifestyle, but I have a problem with the way their culture demands ignorance.

    The kind where monks make hootch.

    Oh, man, what was the story of the German monks who were delivering beer to Rome? On their journey they decided to drink some of the beer and to cover it up they pissed back in to the barrels.

    That's one of my favorite monk stories.

    By Blogger Ploorian, at Sat Feb 17, 03:30:00 pm GMT-5  

  • I am a SUCKER for all things NASA, but I wasn't too impressed by it then.

    I was there more than a few years ago when they had just finished moving their Saturn V display into it's new, gigantic building. That was impressive but the coolest thing I saw was a junk yard on Merritt Island with an old Atlas rocket on display and for sale out front. I thought that souvenir would look good in my back yard.

    I seem to recall space capsules, and buying a paperweight with the signatures of the 3 Apollo 11 astronauts...next to Richard Nixon's, who was the president at the time.

    The tourism element of KSC has been really streamlined, which is good for them because they can draw more tourist dollars in but has made the trip more impersonal. On the bus tours the drivers used to pull over to the side of the road, everyone would pile out, the driver would give an informal spiel, and you could wander around a little. Now there are pre-recorded tapes and only one designated stopping point on the way to the Saturn V building.

    And also, I saw a little Tang bottle, used by a spaceshuttle commander.

    Space shuttle commander during the Nixon administration?

    Funny thing about Tang is that even though it was on the manifest of food that Apollo atronauts could choose, I don't think it ever went into orbit during Apollo.

    By Blogger Ploorian, at Sat Feb 17, 03:43:00 pm GMT-5  

  • You got me. I don't even know if it's true, though with the Hutterites it wouldn't surprise me. Unlike the more well-known anabaptists, Hutterites are allowed to have all of the technology and modern conveniences they want. I guess they didn't like the strictures and discipline imposed by the other sects, but they still wanted to be able to maintain their victim status.

    I SEE. Very enlightening, since of course we in Europe have very little access to, and dealings with these types of people.

    I mean, I am VERY turned off by Opus Dei because they seem as extreme to me, as Hutterites.

    And anyway, I am not into secret societies, even if (or especially if) they are Catholic.

    There are a lot of problems with anabaptism. I can see the draw of the such a pastoral lifestyle, but I have a problem with the way their culture demands ignorance.

    Quite so.

    I remember hearing about poor Floyd Landis' mother telling him he would go to Hell if he continued his glory-seeking ways.

    Only to later trek for miles to watch her son with the TdF, on a TV set which only a few years before she had condemned as ungodly.

    I actually like Floyd a lot, so don't get me wrong, and appreciate how much his character was molded by his wonderfully devout parents, but overall this kind of thinking to me is the height of unsophistication.

    Oh, man, what was the story of the German monks who were delivering beer to Rome? On their journey they decided to drink some of the beer and to cover it up they pissed back in to the barrels.

    That's one of my favorite monk stories.


    LOL!

    The one I like was about the an Order of nuns outside of Paris, having their habits run up by Maison Christian Dior.

    Others who dislike religion, and point to these things as proof positive of their hypocrisy, just don't get it, to my mind.

    This doesn't detract from Catholicism.

    This is the black eye of a life well-lived.

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Sun Feb 18, 01:41:00 am GMT-5  

  • I was there more than a few years ago when they had just finished moving their Saturn V display into it's new, gigantic building. That was impressive but the coolest thing I saw was a junk yard on Merritt Island with an old Atlas rocket on display and for sale out front. I thought that souvenir would look good in my back yard.

    Good Lord!

    That reminds me of the story of the Wisconsin guy who bought up the Soviet space station duplicate, and then sold it to them for spare parts, at an exorbitant mark up. ;)


    The tourism element of KSC has been really streamlined, which is good for them because they can draw more tourist dollars in but has made the trip more impersonal. On the bus tours the drivers used to pull over to the side of the road, everyone would pile out, the driver would give an informal spiel, and you could wander around a little. Now there are pre-recorded tapes and only one designated stopping point on the way to the Saturn V building.


    Sure! I remember that. When did they stop that?

    Well I remember being shuttled around in a bus, and getting out. ;)


    Space shuttle commander during the Nixon administration?


    Nono, I didn't mean to imply it was a Nixonian era artifact, just because it was near that other thing. ;)

    Funny thing about Tang is that even though it was on the manifest of food that Apollo atronauts could choose, I don't think it ever went into orbit during Apollo.

    Really?? So when was it used?

    Common knowledge had it, that it was used by the men on the moon.

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Sun Feb 18, 01:46:00 am GMT-5  

  • I SEE. Very enlightening, since of course we in Europe have very little access to, and dealings with these types of people.

    That's because you all ran them off. (At least the Prussians and Russians, IIRC, did.) It's interesting that a forward-looking, capitalist, innovation and technology driven nation would also serve as a sanctuary for some of the most backward modern people in the world.

    I actually like Floyd a lot, so don't get me wrong, and appreciate how much his character was molded by his wonderfully devout parents, but overall this kind of thinking to me is the height of unsophistication.

    I see it as downright damaging, particularly to women. There was a recent well-publicized case of an Amish girl in WI being repeatedly gang-raped through her childhood by her brothers and cousins. One brother who was the worst offender confessed to his congregation, was given a slap-on-the-wrist penalty and then all was forgotten. When that wasn't good enough for the girl and she went to the police she was shunned by the entire community because as far as they were concerned the matter was settled. To me, that kind of response is indicative of a pathological problem with the way their sect sees reality.

    Others who dislike religion, and point to these things as proof positive of their hypocrisy, just don't get it, to my mind.

    This doesn't detract from Catholicism.

    This is the black eye of a life well-lived.


    No religion is monolithic. Pointing to things like that and screaming "hypocrite" is just a way of demonstrating your own simple-mindedness.

    By Blogger Ploorian, at Sun Feb 18, 02:12:00 am GMT-5  

  • That reminds me of the story of the Wisconsin guy who bought up the Soviet space station duplicate, and then sold it to them for spare parts, at an exorbitant mark up. ;)

    For Mir? I never heard that one.

    Then again, the Russians probably weren't the ones who really paid the bills for that. Clinton gave them $600MM to keep Mir orbiting through the '90s.

    Sure! I remember that. When did they stop that?

    Late '90s.

    Well I remember being shuttled around in a bus, and getting out. ;)

    They stop and let you out now, but it's at a purpose-built, fenced-in tower. There are binoculars there so you can look at Canaveral Air Station, the VAB, and launch complexes 39A and 39B, but it just isn't the same.

    Really?? So when was it used?

    Common knowledge had it, that it was used by the men on the moon.


    That's common knowledge the Tang people wanted everyone to believe. I don't have the specific reference, but my memory tells me that I read a passage saying that Tang's claim isn't precisely what everyone thinks it is.

    The Apollo astronauts definitely drank fruit-flavored powdered beverages and Tang was an option, but I think they preferred a cherry flavored one.

    Oh, yeah, another inaccurate bit of "common knowledge" is that it was developed for the Apollo program. It was, in fact, developed prior to Apollo in the '50s.

    By Blogger Ploorian, at Sun Feb 18, 02:26:00 am GMT-5  

  • Clarification re: Tang.

    It seems that Tang likely was carried on all Apollo and Gemini missions (from 1965 on). At least they claim it was on their web site--a claim, if false, which they can't make without getting into a lot of hot water with NASA.

    The mythical element is the very close relationship with the space program, i.e. that Tang was specifically developed for Apollo and that it was all that the astronauts drank. As I said before, it wasn't developed specifically for the space program. Additionally, the bit that I can confidently say I recall is that the astronauts didn't necessarily prefer it.

    Point being: the strong Tang/Apollo connection in people's minds is due more to really good marketing by Kraft than anything else.

    A larger myth about Apollo is that the program was created in response to Kennedy's inaugural speech. In fact, Apollo was conceived of in the Eisenhower administration. What Kennedy did was to give some inspiration to the program and add two constraints: 1) to send a man to the Moon before the decade was out and 2) to return him safely to Earth. When NASA employees heard the first constraint they nearly soiled themselves (many of them thought early-to-mid 70s was more realistic). The second constraint was also new to them. Up until that point, the safety of the astronaut wasn't necessarily priority number one.

    One consequence of this myth is that Johnson's role tends to be underplayed--something he, in an uncharacteristically humble fashion, allowed to happen out of respect for JFK. But without Johnson as Vice President (and, therefore, chair of the Space Advisory Committee) and later president, the space program may not have moved along as quickly as it did (something which might not have been so bad). Additionally, without Johnson, Mission Control might still be in Florida and the Manned Spaceflight Center might be in Virginia, instead of sitting on top of a swamp near Houston.

    By Blogger Ploorian, at Sun Feb 18, 12:50:00 pm GMT-5  

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