Roadside Bottles

By Ben |

When I was a teenager, for whatever reason one of my favorite summertime activities was to go out on the country roads east of Bartlesville and pick up recyclables. I called it "canpicking."  I would generally do this on a bicycle, and usually alone, but sometimes I brought friends. We'd hang bulging bags of cans and bottles from the handlebars, and if we crushed the cans tightly enough, we could sell enough at the recycling center in Dewey to afford a can of pop for the return trip. (We rarely brought any water with us, even in the peak of summer.)

Rainbow Connection

By Ben |

Music & lyrics by Paul Williams and Kenneth Ascher. Autoharp arrangement by Ben Stallings.

Note: The final verse of this song is supposed to be a half-step higher than the first two. However, the only major keys my autoharp has that are half a step apart are E and F, and I don't have all the necessary chords to play it in E. So what I have notated instead is F to G, going up a whole step on the last note of the bridge.

The hole-in-the-wall bike shop

By Ben |

When I worked for the Friends of MPL, I rode the bus most of the time. Bicycling through downtown was always a little nerve-wracking, and although I had a pass to park in the employee bike parking complete with locker room and shower, in the library's temporary location that was down in a sub-basement of the heavily fortified former Federal Reserve building. Biking down the steep ramp through the giant motorized blast-resistant doors (4" solid steel!

Graph of X to the X

By Gordon Stallings |
3-D print of X to the X

This shape represents the mathematical function y = x raised to the x power, where x is a real number but y is complex.

The model was printed on the Dimension 3-dimensional printer.

For further information about this shape, continue reading below.

Dallas Rally '94 poem

By Ben |

I wrote this after attending one of my last YRUU conferences (which were then called "rallies" in Southwest District) as a youth. To attend the Dallas Rally, I had to drive an hour from Bartlesville to Tulsa, then ride 5 hours to Dallas in a 15-passenger van full of other teens and luggage. It was worth it.

 

Bullets poem

By Ben |

I wrote this poem in the early 2000s at a UU youth conference I attended as an adult advisor, where a number of the youth had said they were struggling with depression. Having navigated my own way out of depression with the help of a therapist, I thought I'd share my experience. After I recited the poem in the conference's talent show, one of the youth came up to me and eagerly asked for the secret of how to beat depression. I had to say there is no one answer for everyone, and you have to work through it with professional help.

My Dabbling in Anthropology

By Ben |

I wrote this poem in 1997 after my summer internship at Great Lakes Free-Net. My choice of faculty advisor for the internship was not available, so I got paired with a sociology professor, who told me he'd expect me to write a sociology paper about my experience. I'd only had an intro class in the subject and did what I thought I was supposed to do. It was a disaster. One of my classmates in the poetry class said that what I'd done was anthropology, not sociology, so I changed the title.

 

"I'm not sure you see the big picture," she said.