Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Tennessee IS Very Conservative

It's "different" than Texas, for sure. Texas has strong pockets of progressives and liberals. Austin comes to mind, but so too Houston.

Tennessee has "probably" Knoxville, Chattanooga, Nashville and Memphis (go figure--major urban regions). But Tennessee is predominantly rural, and this solidifies its extremely conservative "christian" value base.

It's annoying to no end....

As much as I appreciate Tech, I am amazed every so often at how "conservative" my students are. I'm in the middle of grading papers on a current topic and I am saddened by how opposed they seem to be to gay marriage. It would be difficult to live here in Rural Tennessee if you were outwardly gay. Hard to believe that in 2016 America, but it seems to be the reality up here.

And it's not just gay marriage that my students seem to oppose. They seem to oppose marijuana legalization, the "soft" punishment prisoners receive, sex before marriage, and others that will come up over the next 50 papers or so. I can only imagine what goes through their minds in my classes as I challenge all of these issues.

I'm going to go back and grade my papers. I think I need a drink!

Sunday, March 27, 2016

The Ride (Full Analysis)

During Spring Break I set out on my "annual" long Spring ride. I am lucky in that I can take the time off to go on this ride and that Susan supports me while I'm away. I couldn't do these things without her support. I'm very lucky.

I rode over 2400 miles over the 10 day period. The worst parts of the ride were the rides in the rain. I guess hydro-planing twice at high speeds would mess with anyone's mind. Luckily, I know my bike and myself well enough to get out of those situations safely. But the thought never left my mind on what Susan would do to me if I got killed on some lonely highway way the hell out in the Texas Panhandle!

Another part that I didn't like were the "last" few days "rushing" to get from point A to point B. I've done 11-hour rides before, but I believe my limit is 9 hours. Its funny how that extra two hours can really wear you out. But by the last day, the prospect of riding 6 hours home in the rain had pretty much taken out all the "fun" in riding.

But I digress....

The overall ride experience was great.

It was great to hang out for 1.5 days in New Orleans with my step-daughter Caitlin. To spend all day Saturday with her on the bike was glorious. Plus it was a picture-perfect day in New Orleans. We covered most of the city, did the things we wanted to do, ate some great food, saw mutual friends, drank some good drinks, and had a day for the memory-books. That part of the trip made me really miss New Orleans. I swear to god--I will be living back in New Orleans before I die.

Houston was wonderful. Hanging out with my daughter Cece was the highlight on that day. We don't get to spend much time together, and I cherish these times when I can talk to her on a personal level and give what little advice I can when she needs it. She has been so successful academically--she will do fine as she graduates this Spring.

Which makes me say--I'm extremely proud of both of my daughters as they graduate this Spring. Cece and Caitlin have done such a good job in school. They took different paths, but they have both made it.  Love them both.

Next stop was Killeen, with a side stop in Caldwell, TX. Stopped first to say hello to Cyndi and Jimmy Dan. They've been some rough times over the past year with all the Waco bullshit. But I got some inside scoop from Jimmy Dan on what went down. I guess I learned a bit about Waco justice too that sets it apart from the rest of the country. Waco definitely has a history of frontier justice with a system of judges and attorneys that are family related for over 100 years. Waco makes its own rules, and for the most part they have gotten away with their form of justice forever. It looks like they will get away with it again this time too.

Killeen--hard to believe I miss that place so much. I don't miss the place per-se--I miss my friends there. And the stop in Killeen was for a funeral of two friends who were killed on their bike by a careless car driver.

What the funeral did do was bring together a large group of the biker community, many of whom I call close friends and brothers, and did give me a great chance to say hello to many people I would not have had the chance to see under normal conditions.

I am now into four days on the road with about 1200 miles under my belt. I am happy for the two day respite once I land in Killeen. Once I leave Killeen for Amarillo, it's going to be nothing but long rides along beautiful but barren landscapes. Welcome to the Panhandle of Texas!