SOL 17: City Planning Meeting

I attended a city planning meeting about the widening of I-16, an east-west street north of Tyler that turns into Hubbard, once it hits Lindale, the most expanding town in East Texas. This road crosses the northern boundary of Hideaway Lake. It’s north of I-20, a major highway that goes to Dallas. I was invited to attend the meeting by the Director of the Transportation Committee of the East Texas Human Needs Network (ETHNN).

I took the opportunity to voice my concerns about raggedy sidewalks. Currently, sidewalks may not be repaired with asphalt. I’ve suggested twice that we start by applying a strip of asbestos when on cement block is higher than the next block. This would prevent tripping. A nurse friend broke her hand under such conditions a couple of years ago! Alternatives to the car must be nice, not just possible. The poor will put up with torn up sidewalks because we have no choice. But more bus riders would relieve street congestion.

Once again, I suggested that bike racks be installed at the central bus hub near Downtown Tyler on Oakwood, as well as at the Bergfeld Center in the south.

Anyway, I took a bus to get most of the way to the meeting, but I walked home–a distance of 1.1 miles. Is that COPD Olympics or what?…lol

Proposed Budget Cutbacks to the Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD)–Including the End of Community Development Block Grants (CDBG)

Trump’s budget proposal have severely threatened the Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD). Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) would be destroyed. Apartment rent subsidies for the poor would be in trouble too–especially since it’s a federal-only program, unlike Meals-on-Wheels. Let’s check an article from The Atlantic on this proposal. How Trump’s Budget Would Impact Cities’ Poorest Residents

I brought my annual apartment subsidy paperwork to our Neighborhood Services office, located on West Gentry & Palace on the North Side. While I waited for the Green South bus, I not only ate and shopped, but copied information on the Community Development Block Grant program.

Let’s start with the definition of how Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) funds are used. They “may be used for public facility and infrastructure improvements in low income areas. The funds are concentrated in the annual “target area” for a variety of projects, including street renovations, curbs and gutters, sidewalks, and water, sewer and drainage improvements.” Park improvements may be to create new parks or enhance existing parks. There’s also a Home Buyer Assistance Program that includes using the voucher towards buying a house, provided the individual completes Home Buyer Education workshops. Here’s the description of CDBG on the City of Tyler website, including eligible and ineligible activities. http://www.cityoftyler.org/Departments/NeighborhoodServices/CommunityDevelopment/CDBG.aspxCity of Tyler: Neighborhood Services, CDBG

As you can see, these HUD programs are relatives of infrastructure repair programs. My voucher keeps me from spending over half my SSDI (disability)check in rent. At least I have one more year. My COPD has improved from severe to moderate in the past year, contrary to folk belief that we either get worse or stay the same. Let’s save these fine programs in the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

SOL Tuesday: Printing at the Library & Some Nice Satire

I scurried to the Downtown Tyler Library this afternoon because my home computer was too slow, and I wanted to print a favorite contemporary article on Confucianism. I didn’t realize it was 12 pages! Then I printed my 2-page talk on the Transportation Conference in Austin at the East TX Human Needs Network (ETHNN) Transportation Committee meeting. Appropriately, I rode four out of five bus lines that day.

I’m going to look up something funny on my Facebook page from my birthday week. In the meantime, have a definition of sustainability. “Sustainability is a difficult term to define, as many view it in different ways. Essentially, it can be defined as it was at the world’s first Earth Summit in 1992 – maintaining operations and development that “meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” From @CompareFootprin

Whoops, I’m not sure about my funny story since it’s political; however, the caption is Nice Satire. Anyway, one of my friends was so amused that he bought me some treats at the local restaurant hangout. It’s hard to scroll three weeks back on one’s active Facebook page. To summarize, I asserted to Former President Barack Obama that if he was “tapping” my efficiency’s computer, then he’d know I’d make a great family traveling companion to Hawaii or Alsace, France. That was the weird story of Mid-March.

My research in the Confucian tradition began in the early 80’s, largely by reading two fine journals published by the University of Hawaii’s East-West Center, That’s where Obama’s parents met! Furthermore, my grandfather, Joe Leo Meyer, fled Alsace for Victoria, Texas to live with his Uncle Xavier when the Germans conquered Alsace in 1890. Grandfather lived in Blodelsheim, a small village outside of Strausberg, the capital and where President Obama’s mother’s side of the family lived.

Perhaps I should use this blog to suggest a third trip: Indonesia. President Obama lived there when he was a kid, and I’m Twitter friends with the Director of the Jaringan Islam Liberals, Ulil Abshar-Abdallah. Furthermore, there’s a Confucian Church in Indonesia that I used to read about a decade ago. The late Dr. Thomas Kang, a former Library of Congress scholar, moved there and was a major author for those Indonesian Confucians.

Anyway, it’s getting late and time for dinner. By the way, I crossed 7000 Twitter followers today after only 24.5K tweets since my start in October 2011.

First April 2017 #SliceOfLife & I’m a Day Late! Spring Cleaning +

OK, technically this SOL entry may not count because Tuesday was yesterday. Nevertheless, I’m ready to ramble. Plus, I love reading old Slice of Life stories from 2015 when I was active. Right now, I’m waiting for the annual apartment inspection by Neighborhood Services, which will determine if I keep getting a subsidy. This wonderful program is through the Department of Housing & Urban Development(HUD). It’s in danger of being cut in Trump’s budget proposal. Without the program, 60% of my SSDI would go to rent.

Anyway, I’ve been on a serious Spring Cleaning binge. Plenty of old papers have gone to the dumpster, and I’ve gone through a bottle of purple, generic Fabuloso floor cleaner. (Break to sweep maroon rug). I’m back. I focused on different parts of the efficiency each day. A major change was moving a laundry basket from the path to the second closet!

I’ve been playing catch-up on Twitter followers. I started on Twitter in October 2011. Now I’m up to 24.3K tweets and around 6900 followers; they’re on every continent and 1/3 are outside the USA.

I’m watching “Live with Kelly” while I type my day-late SOL. I was really happy to hear Kelly Ripa tell about some man who corrects grammar and spelling mistakes on signs. She added that poor grammar is a pet peeve of hers, and feels that schools don’t really teach grammar much anymore because of grammar checks on computers and no more cursive teaching. When I taught Developmental English/Writing, I only allowed for one of the essays to be on the computer for that very reason. I’d give two grades on each essay–grammar and writing. I read every essay and corrected grammar before returning a second time to evaluate writing style. A new Twitter writing education reminded me of that practice. Do you think “narrative” is a good tag for this post?

Last night at my nearby “watering hole” was extra special because I got to visit a couple of friends from my previous neighborhood–Chris and Calvin from the North Side. Then Facebook revealed today is Chris’s birthday! I joked on the site. “You’re kidding! I just saw you at Stanley’s Famous Bar-B-Q last night…” Let’s say I’m more conservative than in the past, so these two friends are folks I’d like to see more nowadays.

I’ve become a fan of spicy chicharrones, aka. fried pork rinds but sometimes they’re wheat. Way back when, I tried the soft version of chicharrones and didn’t like them, so I didn’t try the snack version is a bag. Golden Flake, Louisiana Hot Sauce pork rinds are my current favorite. Takis in most flavors also get my attention. I just made myself hungry.

#SOL17: ETHNN Transportation Committee Talk about Austin conference

I spoke at the East Texas Human Needs Network (ETHNN) Transportation Committee meeting on Tuesday, March 28th. The focus of my talk was the Transportation Works conference in Austin by Texas Society of Independent Living Councils (TX SILC) that I attended at the start of March. I was a one of 30 selected as Consumer Advocates in Transportation, or CAT. I had already written a 1 3/4 page article about the conference on my Word Press. I was glad to see Leroy Sparrow, the VP of Tyler Transit in attendance, as well as our Transportation Committee Chairman, Kristy Range, who had formally invited me to speak, and of course, Christina Fulsom–the Director of ETHNN.

I started my talk by mentioning my day’s earlier errands and the bus routes that I’d taken. My day had begun with a visit to my University of Texas at Tyler counseling intern at the Andrews Center–a Blue SW (south) drop point after a Green North run to the Downtown Bus Hub. Then I took Blue SW (north) ride back until I reached S. Broadway at the Downtown Square. After a bank visit, I caught the Red South to Bergfeld Center, where I picked up my Asthma-COPD drugs from CVS Pharmacy. Bergfeld Center is the second bus hub in Tyler. I caught the Yellow SE bus to ETHNN Headquarters on Hightech DR near Shiloh & Paluxy. Yes, I took four out of five lines–all but Purple–and rode the bus five times. Alertly, Christina made notes of the time my errands actually took in addition to the lengthy time involved. I pointed out that I ate during wait times.

My focus was on the need for sidewalk repair; a transit trip needs to be “enjoyable, not just possible,” to cite a speaker at the conference. Since the conference, it was revealed that the City of Tyler made a sidewalk survey in 2010–in stark contrast to some city employee’s belief that the nearest landlord was supposed to repair sidewalks. Leroy brought up that a new sidewalk study had begun, but it could take a year to complete. Furthermore, the City of Tyler hired an agency to help with photographing the sidewalks after I’d suggested a cheaper, grass roots “foot soldier” report by citizens. I saw a video on Facebook after the conference, in which a lady complained about no sidewalks on well-to-do Rice RD, where she walking her dog.

One of my sidewalk suggestions was to remove the “no asphalt” law, especially in cases in which one sidewalk block becomes slightly raised–and easy to trip over. Moreover, sidewalks sometimes shrink because of the land–such as on Beckham at the bridge where Ferguson ends. Sidewalk crumbling isn’t always due to giant tree root growth.

We need to install bicycle racks at the two main bus hubs and next to Neighborhood Services. Moreover, a previous Tyler Transit director stated that the city had won some bike racks in a grant, so they must be in storage somewhere. It would be so easy to plunk a bike rack in those few key places while sidewalk repair could take quite a while. The Bergfeld Center’s bus stop bench has ample concrete-paved space behind it.

Eventually, we’ll schedule bus strips for the two remaining bus lines. In April, we’ll plan a Red South bus trip to the Broadway Mall for lunch at Chipotle’s (probably) and wander around a bit. Later, we’ll shoot for a Green South bus trip to restaurants in the UT-Tyler area. Hopefully, we’ll expand the trips to include more committees of ETHNN, and maybe head a different direction on the lines. Riding the bus represents a cultural change. Some acquaintances expressed fear of riding the bus–wondering if a poor, often minority crowd would attack. I responded that plenty of us are too old and disabled to cause much trouble. After the meeting, I told Kristi about folks visiting each other on the bus.

#SOL17: Tyler Spoken Word Returns on International Women’s Day & a Ruist (Confucian) Response

by J.D. Meyer
Tyler Spoken Word returned after a two year absence. Now it’s at El Guapo Records on S. Broadway between W. Front and W. Erwin in the new Off Downtown commercial block–west side of the block only! East Texas Brewery is another store on the block. Tyler Spoken Word used to be at Cafe Bhojana Java until it closed. This event gives participants a chance at entertaining public speaking. You could do poetry, singing, rap, stand-up comedy, etc.

In my case, I discussed how Confucianism (Ruism) could benefit International Women’s Day, March 8th. I began by stating that it’s International Women’s Day, and that Iceland has achieved gender equality–something I’d read from the “On This Day” section of Facebook. But the real purpose of my talk was to discuss some Confucian concepts I’d discussed at Friends from Afar, a relatively new closed Facebook group. Now I can comment and discuss articles of relevance with others of our spiritually pan-Chinese orientation. We have an open Facebook group also–the Ruism Discussion Group.

By the way, we prefer to be called, “Ruists,” because it pertains to the sage-scholar nature of the government officials, who passed civil service exams based on the Classics. Confucius is not only the Anglicizing of his real name, Kung Tzu, but the philosophy he founded was never named after him in the Far East. I didn’t give this disclaimer at last night’s event because I wanted to focus on gender equality.

Let’s start by looking at two of the Five Virtues. Jen (benevolence) is revealed through its presence, or lack, in expressions of propriety (li). Propriety is the externalization of humanity. The etymology of jen is a person next to the number “two,” a four-stroke character. Thus, being mean to women or anyone represents a failure in this connection. on another note, my explanation of the Chinese character for benevolence was the only Chinese footnote that I gave in my talk–unlike this article. Later I even joked that I was glad not to be providing Chinese footnotes for the concepts.

Here’s a similar argument. Sincerity (ch’eng) requires the presence of inner reverence (ching)–another inward–outward connection. Furthermore, making sincere the will (ch’eng-yi) is virtually identical to extending authentic conscience (chih liang-chih). In other words, you can’t honestly tell us that discrimination against women is an honest practice.

In a discussion at Friends from Afar, Dr. Bin Song reminded me of Wang Yang-ming’s assertion that broken rocks sadden him because of the pervasive, all-encompassing nature of jen (benevolence)when one truly chooses to embody it. That brought me back to my impending crusade for local sidewalk repair. At the Texas State Independent Living Council (TX SILC) Transportation Conference, we learned about developing collaborations and partnerships in order to get things done. What better expresses the externalizing our humanity in propriety, as well as showing appropriate-assertiveness (i).

Let’s hope that my discussion of some relevant Ruist (Confucian) concepts helps in the quest to bring about gender equality. Obviously, progress has been made over the centuries, but improvement is needed. It’s well-known that women in the USA only make 80 cents for every dollar that men earn. In past decades, we heard that women’s place was in the home, and only a few professions were even open to women, such as elementary education teaching. A just society is a more productive and respected society.

#SOL2017: The Texas State Independent Living Council Transportation Conference (TX SILC) Austin, TX: 2-28 through 3-2.

I was one of 30 people chosen statewide as a Consumer Advocate in Transportation (CAT) for the Texas State Independent Living Council’s (TX SILC),”Transportation Works: Identifying and Removing Barriers Through Innovation” conference in Austin from February 28th through March 2nd. Four of us from Tyler attended: two Cigna Health Spring employees, the city’s taxi cab director, and myself. I took a Greyhound Bus from Tyler to Austin that made a detour in Dallas, so that was a relevant adventure in itself.

One of the Cigna representatives, Kandee Franklin, nominated me for the event. I taught for 20 years before getting on disability for asthma & COPD. Then I started volunteering for the East Texas Human Needs Network (ETHNN), especially the Transportation Committee. We have five bus lines in Tyler, and I’ve organized three or four bus trips with lunch. (One was poorly attended…lol). I’ve written several articles about the Tyler Transit on this Word Press site–including why the two bus hub structure works in a rectangular city, a good introduction to local bus riding. I’ve also written about Asthma-COPD Overlap Syndrome, dealing with a severe COPD exacerbation at home, and low saturated fat and sodium foods at Family Dollar. Thus, I’m still a researcher and now an event planner.

The conference began with several speakers from the Texas A&M Transportation Institute. Then there were speakers from various City of Austin organizations. Austin is well-known for its rapid recent growth, as well as its very progressive image. We heard from local Centers for Independent Living. Tyler has the East Texas Center for Independent Living (ETCIL), but there were no speakers from our local organization. I’m one of their clients; they helped me transition to an efficiency subsidized by the Tyler Neighborhood Services back in 2012. Cab companies, parking violations, share a ride, Uber, and Lyft were discussed. I met Brian White, the Director of TX SILC.

My favorite speech topics usually reflected my renewed goal of sidewalk repair and bike rack installation. Thus, “Accessible Transportation Collaboration and Developing Non-traditional Partnerships” program were among my favorites. I met Brian East, the Senior Attorney for Disability Rights Texas, before he gave his talk, “The ADA and Transportation Advocacy.” He thinks that I may have good chance of getting my street’s sidewalks repaired since it’s the east-west street that runs to the northern boundary of the Hospital District! Our newest bus line (Purple) runs down East Houston Street too.

I asked some questions during the conference and wrote 20 pages of notes. When I asked how to increase bus rider volume, the answer included “to make the bus trip not just possible but desirable.” Later I asked our city taxi cab manager, Jamal Moharer, to discuss their natural gas powered cars and other vehicles using it in Smith County.

I attended a Pulmonary and Cardiac Education (PACE) luncheon on Friday, March 3rd at Trinity Mother Francis hospital in Tyler. The organization used to be called The Better Breathers. We heard a lecture from a local doctor and got information on Advanced Planning. It turns out that our moderator nurse once tripped over a sidewalk block and broke her hand, tore her clothes, and spilled a drink on herself!

To summarize, I had a great time at the Transportation conference and met a lot of people. We stayed at the beautiful Midtown Holiday Inn in Downtown Austin. The meals were outstanding. Next year’s conference will be in Waco. When I got home, I found the most relevant page about sidewalk repair at the TX SILC website and emailed it to a bunch of people.

What are the Key Components of Confucian (Ruist) Virtues?

by J.D. (“Joffre”) Meyer

First of all, Confucianism is a Western-imposed misnomer. We prefer to be called, “Ruists.” Let’s start with The Five Virtues as an introduction to the philosophy.

The Five Virtues are (1) humanity, (2) propriety, (3) appropriate-assertiveness, (4) wisdom, and (5) faith. Humanity (jen) is the first virtue, and its beginning is compassion. Mencius asserted that one would rescue a child that had fallen in a well out of compassion, not the desire to advance in society. The Chinese character for jen is a person standing next to the number two, symbolizing a person in society—a simple four stroke character. The last virtue is faith (hsin), meaning the completion of the other four virtues. The Chinese character is a person standing next to “word.”

The beginning of propriety (li) is deference. The beginning of appropriate-assertiveness (i) is shame. Through courage, we move from withdrawn shame to assertiveness. This concept is usually translated as “righteousness.” David Nivison introduced the more accurate translation as “appropriate-assertiveness.” The beginning of wisdom (chih) is distinguishing right from wrong.

Let’s examine propriety according to the concepts of pattern-principle and vital force. If we don’t exhibit enough pattern-principle in our expression of propriety, we are rude. On the other hand, if we don’t show enough vital force, then we’re boring. Through appropriate-assertiveness, we add to propriety.

A Writer On Twitter

Salute to Twitter and its #amwriting community.

Olivia McCabe

birds-on-a-wire

When I first started my Twitter account in August of last year I didn’t really understand what it was all about. Being somewhat verbose I found it difficult to express myself within the 140 character limit that Twitter allows, and I felt rather as if I was shouting into an empty cave with only the echoes of my own voice to keep me company.

Then I discovered the hashtag #amwriting and realised that there was a vast writing community on Twitter who actually speak to one another. When you get beyond the incessant self-promotion and pleas to follow, follow, follow and buy, buy, buy, what you actually find are people just like you, sitting at their computer, sipping on their tenth cup of coffee, trying to create something out of nothing.

I started to interact with a few of these people, and began making some online friends. I created a…

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