A Stranger in Your Own Town

I have a challenge for everyone. Find a new, amazing, beautiful, or interesting spot in your town that you have never been to.

My home town is approximately 10 square miles, with a population of 6,000 so don’t give me the whole, “my town’s too small, I know every inch of it,” excuse! I am moving south by November, and through my omnipresent attempts to not take things for granted, found myself stumbling around an awesome little section of my town that I have never really explored before.

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There is a gigantic abandoned building that used to be the Draper Mill in my town, Hopedale. I may see it everyday, but it isn’t everyday I see the structure from the back side. Indeed I had to cross over to the other side of the tracks–literally–in order to view it. A friend and I walked across the street from his house where an abandoned parking lot hosts an abandoned ramp that used to lead to a large bridge, built to go over the railroad but long since dismantled.

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I knew of all these places, and never gave them much thought. But leave it to the inspiration of a couple beers, and these places warranted some exploring! The abandoned building made me think of something I have seen in Russia, and the view from the “bridge” made Hopedale look like a village nestled somewhere in Europe. I have always had an affinity for abandoned places; I don’t know what it is about grass and shrubs forcing their way through cracks in the pavement that strikes my artistic sensibilities.

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The abandoned bridge entrance was my favorite part. There was actually a pretty decent view from the top; over that concrete block is a good 20 foot drop. It could actually be a nice little attraction if not for the big fence telling you to keep out. So I guess it will remain an attraction for those with enough will to get there, and just a little rebelliousness.

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And you always need a selfie or else it didn’t happen.

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Go out and find a new place just minutes from where you live! Appreciate the scenery, architecture, or new perspective! Find a new place to meditate, or sneak off to. You might find yourself a mini-adventure, and you might just take the place you call home a little less for-granted.

4 Books to Read This Summer!

I always love to share a good book. Here’s a couple suggestions if you’re looking for that book to curl up with in a thunderstorm, or lay out with on the beach!

Science: interested in the way the brain works, and how the field of neuroscience is progressing?

Check out “The Future of the Mind” by Michio Kaku. This non-fiction about “The scientific quest to understand, enhance, and empower the mind,” inspired a post about dreaming, making me wonder if our brains are actually some sort of antenna or connection to another dimension or a higher plane.

But the science in the book is real, and you will learn all about technological advances in controlling things with the mind, artificial intelligence, enhancing our own intelligence, and much more! I’m a thinker, so what I loved about this book is the fact that I had to keep pausing to think over a point made–not because it was too complicated to understand, rather because it spawns multiple pathways of new connections, much like the seemingly (but not) random neural connections in our own brains.

Punk Rock Meets Science: Greg Graffin of Bad Religion weaves punk rock with the science of evolution.

From “Anarchy Evolution” by Greg Graffin, I learned a lot about evolution, and a lot about punk rock. Just when I started to get a little bored by the science, Graffin would delve into an anecdote about the punk rock scene he helped create in California in the 80’s. Then, the punk rock story would get tied back into his scientific point! He draws parallels between the chaos of a mosh pit, and the chaos of life. I love his naturalist worldview, his love of nature, and his distrust of authority.

In addition to being a punk rock frontman for over three decades, Graffin is also a Professor of evolutionary biology at Cornell. I was turned onto the book after being a fan of Bad Religion for years; I even saw them at the House of Blues a few years back in Boston.

Classic Fiction: if you never got around to reading Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien, do it.

This summer I will be releasing a series of essays on JoeJarvis.me about “Lord of the Rings”, the classic trilogy by JRR Tolkien. Everywhere throughout the novels I saw references to power, the corruption it brings, and comments on the impossibility of wielding the power of force for positive ends.

The books are also significantly different from the movies. Tom Bombadil is an apparently immortal guardian of the forest, who has a chapter or two in the “Fellowship of the Ring”. And after Sauron is defeated and the Ring destroyed, there is another whole segment that takes place in the Shire, where Saruman and Worm-tongue have installed a Mafia-style government.

Also, the detail when the company visits the elven land of Lothlorien was not at all captured in the movies. The area is much more magical and mythical in the books.

How could you say no to this classic? It has so much to offer! Except for a couple Frodo/Sam chapters in “The Two Towers”, the novels are gripping from start to finish.

New Fiction: like new ideas, interesting philosophies, futuristic stories, or just me and my writing?

Can’t miss the opportunity to plug my own book, “Anarchy in New England”! I am getting the first round of feedback, and people appear to be pleased. No, not just my family and friends! Feedback from people on social media that I don’t know seems to suggest it is an interesting, exciting read. I make it a habit not to ask people if they liked it, so that I don’t put them on the spot or dig for compliments. But I have received texts from out of the blue from friends and acquaintances, perhaps surprised, praising the quality of writing and attention to detail in creating the fictitious world of New England 100 years in the future, with no government!

From an Amazon review:

In the author’s debut novel, readers can find all the excitement of a thriller novel while still getting an idea of how an anarchist society could function — and it’s not the chaos with which anarchy is often equated. While the book is for entertainment at its core, the third-person descriptions of private security companies, magnet tunnels and advertisement-funded apartments help inspire the reader to see what could be in store if government gets out of the way.

…With a healthy blend of action — think hit men, fires, even combat — and quieter scenes, the novel will keep you on your toes but has substance beyond its climactic scenes.