Category Archives: Nature

When I’m Injured

So, I am injured. I think it’s a stress fracture. In my head. Okay, that’s not true. It’s in my foot. My running foot. Well, I actually run with two feet. That is to say, both of my feet. Needless to say, I am going crazy. It’s not fun. I love to run. It makes me happy. And while I am living, I aim to maximize my happiness.

Injuries are like happiness assassins. They’re like “oh, you like to run? Yeah, well, take that!” POW! BOOF! SPLAT!

And then I’m injured.

And no, I am still young. Don’t you dare.

And no, I don’t do too much. That’s plain ol’ poppycock.

Right now, I am running in my mind. It’s soooo nice in here.

Shit.

Jessica says that I should lay on the bed, on my back, and rotate my legs and arms so it “feels” like I’m running.

I told her to stuff it.

Because, you know, we love each other.

A sampling of that love:

Facebook back and forth

Happy running, idiots.

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Don’t Judge Based Upon Irrelevancies

The other day, a friend of mine jokingly poked fun at a nose. Yes, a nose. It was a large nose, surely. And it was, from my subjective angle, perhaps unattractive in the way it silhouetted, or got stuck in the doorway. But it was just a nose. And, above all–and most importantly–a nose that this individual did not choose to claim. So one shouldn’t, as this friend did, and I did for sake of argument here, judge.

My running comrade Justin recently explained this idea as follows: that it makes no logical or rational sense to judge/discriminate/evaluate/value someone based upon a factor that they did not choose. And I wholeheartedly agree. Things we do not choose hold no inherent value because we don’t choose them. It’s merely happenstance.

We don’t choose our race. So it doesn’t make a lick of sense to judge based upon race. It’s irrelevant. We don’t choose our ethnicity. So we shouldn’t value someone based upon their ethnicity, based upon what they did not choose, something they were born into. Similarly, we don’t choose our gender or sexual orientation. So we should not judge/value based upon something that was not chosen, as it doesn’t hold any inherent value.

If you do make judgments/valuations based upon race, gender, sexual orientation and/or ethnicity, you are saying that you believe a person’s value or character is determined before they are born, by something they did not–and could not–choose and evaluate/judge themselves.

Objectivist philosopher Ayn Rand said it quite well: “Like every form of determinism, racism invalidates the specific attribute which distinguishes man from all other living species: his rational faculty. Racism negates two aspects of man’s life: reason and choice, or mind and morality, replacing them with chemical predestination” (The Virtue of Selfishness, 126).

Things we do choose are fair game for open evaluation and discrimination because we are, in fact, making a conscious decision, using our “rational faculty” to make an evaluation. We choose our religion. We choose our philosophy. We choose the clothes we wear. These are things that can be judged. Not race, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity. These are irrelevant and hold no inherent value.

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My Mt. Whitney Hike, Broken Down Into Annoying Anecdotes

I hiked Mt. Whitney on Sunday with my cousin Josh. It was pretty great. But I won’t describe this experience in lengthy prose. What I will do, however, is break down the timeline of our day, along with specific observations and thoughts annoying anecdotes I had along the way.

12:50am: Awake. Put on shoes, rolled up sleeping bag, waited for Josh’s phone alarm to wake him at 1:00am.

1:45am: Driving to Mt. Whitney portal. The pine tree fragrance of the mountains is lovely.

1:55am: Commence the hike. Josh and I both note that the moon is nowhere to be seen; that it’s incredibly dark outside.

2:15am: I ask Josh for the fourth time if the bears are likely to eat our faces.

2:15am: “If you’d stop rubbing peanut butter on your face, they won’t,”Josh responds.

2:25am: I notice Josh claps his hands or says “hey!” near bushy areas.

2:25am: I think, ‘must find something to talk about, to keep bears away,’ and start singing the theme song of Have Gun, Will Travel.

2:30am: Fear of bear attack dwindles as I see other headlamps (other hikers) along the hiking trail.

2:45am: There are a few creeks we cross with rocks interspersed as makeshift bridges.

2:47am: I slip into water, my foot partially wet. Josh asks if I need extra socks. I say no, thinking my SmartWool socks will kick ass.

2:48am: They do. They do kick ass.

3:30am: Discover tree with penis. Guffaw.

4:00am: Encounter first campsite. I think they may be pansies. But I can’t tell.

4:30am: Hit the start of the most grueling part of the hike: the switchbacks.

4:40am: Find that the storm that hit some six hours before had dropped some light snow and hail.

4:41am: Find that light snow and hail is slippery.

4:45am: Curse my New Balance trail runners with the 1,000+ miles.

4:50am: I notice that I’m flatulent, and Josh tells me that’s what happens when you get into higher altitudes.

4:51am: I smile and tell myself that he is not lying to me; that the reaction is normal.

5:25am: Switchbacks continue, and I think that they are not at all that bad.

5:26am: Much better than the music band of the same name.

5:28am: First glimpse of moon in the sky. Just a little thumbnail, mildly brighter atop its softened circular home.

5:35am: Josh and I take our 15th 1-minute break for Clif Bar/trail mix/peanut butter sandwich sustenance.

5:37am: We take our first two Advil. For the headaches. The headaches, Josh says, that are “normal.”

5:37am: Normal? This is normal? My head pounds, and I think my heart might be in there too.

6:00am: We reach the end of the switchbacks.

6:05am: The view is incredible up here, I think. Orange marmalade on the edge of burnt toast.

6:22am: Headaches linger. Two more Advil.

6:23am: It’s windy! The wind, and the temperature of around 30 degrees, doesn’t help the headache.

6:37am: The sun is coming! The sun is coming!

6:38am: Drat. Now I can witness the bears rip my face off. No, no, they’re not up this high.

6:39am: Right?

6:42am: I munch on a hardened, cold peanut butter Clif Bar.

6:49am: We commence traverse horizontally to reach final push upwards to summit.

6:52am: Behind us, there are two hikers. I think they are following us. Stop following us!

6:53am: I recognize that the thought is delusional

6:54am: But what if it’s just your way of keeping your mind occupied? Like telling stories.

6:54am: Yah! That’s it! Congratulates self.

7:27am: Must. Use. Wag. Bag.

7:27am: Narrow trail, hikers aplenty. No place to make the Wag Bag Sag.

7:35am: The hail/snow looks like Dippin’ Dots.

7:48am: I can see the top!

8:00am: We make it to the summit. I find suitable place to fill the Wag Bag.

8:00am: I feel like a soldier in the trenches. Only if Poo Powder were invented then.

8:05am: My hands are bloated. My fingers, like little sausages. Ew. I hate sausages.

8:10am: We take pictures. It’s beautiful. A few intermittent clouds and blue skies.

8:27am: Commence our return trip. I borrow Josh’s jacket he had in his pack. It’s red, large, like a ballroom gown.

8:45am: Passing many hikers on their way up. One guy is shirtless. I don’t know why.

9:15am: We seem to be moving aside for every ascending hiker. It’s getting annoying.

9:16am: I take note of the fact that 98% of them have hiking poles. Are they needed?

9:58am: Take a break at the top of the switchbacks. Cashew, almond, dried cherry snack.

10:15am: In the light, everything looks so much grander. The trail, so much longer.

10:35am: Sweating, we take off our jackets, and I slip back into my soccer shorts and t-shirt.

10:50am: Still hiking down the switchbacks, Josh tells some fool to stop cutting the trail; that it ruins it.

10:52am: He doesn’t care and continues to cut the trail. But the rocks are so loose in there. He could kill someone! Jerk face.

11:00am: Reach the bottom of the switchbacks. We chew Juicy Fruit and sing about how it’s going to move us.

11:05am: On a rock, in the sun, a used wag bag bakes.

11:10am: My hands still bloat, and I wish for a cold cup from Yogurtland.

11:37am: The cold creek water refreshes my sun-beaten neck and face.

11:38am: Scratch that. It may be cold creek water and chipmunk feces.

11:50am: Josh climbs atop penis tree. I take picture. It’s precious.

12:27pm: Going downhill hurts the knees. I feel mildly old.

12:38pm: We hit the final set of switchbacks before the end. We cheer.

12:57pm: Gosh, this is taking forever.

1:25pm: Some guy tries to glean some information from us in the most retarded sentence structure ever.

1:42pm: Josh’s blue Ford Escort is in view!

1:58pm: Arrive at the Whitney portal. We finished!

22 miles total. 12 hours. Elevation gain of roughly 6,200 feet. Summit elevation of 14,500 and change.

Evidence:

It's dark and the bears are attacking!

Pretty Views Along the Way

Our Shoes Made It!

Josh and I Are Happy to Have Made It

Proof!

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Scooby Finds His Wee Wee

So, we have a dog. His name is Scooby and he’s a black Labrador. At four and a half, he’s still very much a puppy, at least in his excitability and playful mannerisms. When I met Jessica, Scooby hadn’t yet reached the age of one. With that said, I can rationally say that I know Scooby well.

I know what he likes and dislikes. I know that he loves to chase rabbits with the sole intention of playing patty cake, or some such innocent tete-a-tete. I know that he loves to retrieve the tennis ball, and then keep the ball in his mouth until he’s certain that the other dogs aren’t cherry picking to get to the next toss first. I know that he was once scared to jump into the Dobson pool, but has since shed that fear, thanks to my patient instruction. Now, he’ll jump, but not before he crouches to ensure he’s propelling himself into the pool with the least amount of air time possible. I know that he loves to get as close to the bed with Jessica and I as possible without actually laying on the bed (a rule mandated by myself; but a rule, mind you, that is often broken in moments of weakness, or moments in which Jessica chooses Adorable over Non’s Allergy Monster). This usually results in half of his body laying on the bed, with his lower half on the floor beside the bed.

Mostly, I know that he is fond of me, as I am fond of him. But the other day, my perception changed.

Scooby and His Ball

I was in the house, and the dogs (Scooby, Scooby’s mom Lilly, Schein, Gamble and Watson) were outside. I looked through the window to see what they were up to, only to find the most revolting thing I’ve ever seen. Before I get to that, I’ll say this. As a young lad, I had to initiate a conversation with my mother for the purpose of asking her to keep the noise level down in the–ahem, cough, shudder–bedroom. It was traumatic, and may have been a repressed memory if she hadn’t laughed and told me that my “grandfather was having sex all the time; and he’s an old man!”

And so, as I peered out into the backyard, I found Scooby humping (I use this term in an attempt to propel the act to some elementary, perhaps easily forgotten level; sadly, it’s already failed) Schein. I must point out that Schein is Scooby’s aunt. His aunt! Okay, incestuous relations aside, the image was still very much awful. But allow me to explain further.

You see, in this moment, we parents (yes, he’s my boy dammit) get a bit irrational, emotional, exaggerating in our interpretation of events. To others, it’s simply a dog humping another dog. That is, they say, what dogs do. But no, I say! Not Scooby! Not the innocent playful pup that I know so well! In that moment, Scooby was not responding to boredom. He was raping his aunt. With his incisors showing and everything. In that moment, Scooby was an aggressor. And, to make matters worse, my mind filled with all these sick thoughts of Scooby doing this regularly, like he’s trying to hide it from me, like he knows that it’s wrong but he just can’t stop his sexual urges.

But I say, it can’t be! Scooby is fixed. He doesn’t even know what’s going on down there! And yet, in my head, he knows exactly what he’s doing. Scooby is his name no longer. Scooby the Rapist, forever he will be.

Shudders.

I love you Scooby. I always will. Even if I know now that you recognize your wee wee.

*Note: While I am surely exaggerating this experience (yes, I know that dogs hump), there is truth to the irrational, emotional reaction that I had.

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Environmental Quandaries

I try to implement some sense when faced with choices that are, on the face, or as dictated by the masses, environmental, ecological and/or related to sustainability. The problem I run into more often than not, however, is that the so-called quandaries I encounter are not in the slightest bit rational. On the surface, they very well could make sense, but are typically conflated to such levels that invariably render them nonsensical.

For me, it nearly always comes down to the unintended consequences of the environmentally friendly choice. As an example, consider cloth, or reusable diapers. Putting aside the carbon footprint argument, (which I don’t put much stock in, but has, in this case, found to be on equal grounds, more or less) what about the immediate environmental consequences of choosing the cloth diaper? Compared to the parent of the child with the disposable diaper, you would inevitably be using more water to clean the diapers and more energy to run the washing machine. This point never seems to be considered. The argument, of course, against the disposable diaper is that it is plastic and will end up in a landfill someplace, spoiling the earth. I am skeptical of this claim. And frankly, it seems to me that if these landfills were a problem, that we’d find a way to strip-mine for petroleum products to be used as a fuel source.

Now, as I’ve mentioned, there are certain things that just make sense. Sustainable living, for instance, need not require the worship of Gaia. A certain level of respect, surely, but I don’t intend to sacrifice myself, or others, for its sake.

Another aspect of this argument I must comment on is its tendency to pervert or retard the market process. A perfect example of this is the decision of the federal and state governments to ban the use of incandescent light bulbs of 72 watts or more starting in January of 2012 (this wattage will gradually decrease until 2014 where it will cease at the 29 watt maximum). Now, if it made sense for the consumer to purchase more expensive, less effective light bulbs, they would. But it doesn’t. There is a reason why the attempted ban in New Zealand was overthrown, and that people are stockpiling 100-watt bulbs in droves. Also, what about the proper disposal of these new light bulbs? According to the new guidelines, one has to recycle them, but not as part of your regular recycling, because there is neon in them, which is a hazardous material. Does one need to drive them to a special disposal site; maintain a bin of neon in the corner of your living room so as to point out to future guest, “here’s the living room, and over there the lovely bin of neon.”

To back up for a moment, I do think the shift towards more effective, less energy consuming light bulbs will happen. It makes sense, surely. But I don’t think that should be up to the government to decide. It’s no surprise that big box retailers are following suit, reducing their inventory of incandescent light bulbs. With the pressure of the federal and state government on their shoulders, and the looming “ban,” how could they not? They need to survive.

At the end of the day, I want to make rational choices. Some of these rational choices are, in fact, mindful of sustainability. I think that’s important. On the other side, however, I wish for cognizance of certain invariable unintended consequences.

Go Green or Die, Bitches

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I Want My Kids To Do Drugs

I want my kids to do drugs. Wait, perhaps that’s not entirely accurate. What I want, as a parent, is to create an environment in which my (future, as in it will happen sometime in the future; not as in they are from the planet Zorbatron some 75 years into the new millennium) kids are given the opportunity to make mistakes and learn from those mistakes. I was discussing this with a friend recently. We decided, when we do become parents, that we wouldn’t provide all of the answers; nor would we strip the child of the opportunity to glean from a poor choice, or unreasonable decision. And I want to provide the emotional and intellectual support in order for those choices to be made.

So, do I really want my kids to do drugs? Probably not. But do I want to provide them with an environment that fosters and values deductive reasoning? Absolutely. I don’t wish to be strict, or choose to limit the opportunities for mistakes simply because I, as a shit-scared parent, don’t want to deal with the consequences. And for those parents out there, you’re probably thinking that this is wishful thinking; that I am naive; that I simply need to start having kids, then I’ll change my mind. You know what? You may be right. I may give in. But I don’t intend to. If the urge to intervene is present, I’ll do what I can to fight it.

I don’t want to be like Senator Adams.

(Hat Tip: Hit & Run)

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I Once Hit a Deer With My Car

I once hit a deer with my car. In fact, it was a truck. A new truck. And the animal died instantly. To be sure – to escape the feeling of uncertainty, never to know if it was going to suffer and cough and bleed out for the remaining 10 or 15 minutes of its life – I pulled over and got out and tracked back to watch it bleed out.

It was awful, to be sure. I remember thinking, if you’re not entirely dead sweet little deer, if you’re only half-dead, I don’t believe I have the willpower to stomp on your neck, or pull some pistol out of my car, if I had one, and pop one in your skull.

I’m glad it was dead before I got there. Sad that I killed a deer, but thankful that it went quickly.

Poor little deer.

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My Dream Home

My dream home sits on a parcel of land large enough that if you looked out into the distance, there wouldn’t be another house in sight. Wrapped around the house is a porch with an overhang to keep the winter snow from its surface, and a porch swing that fits four people at once. A raised garden would be built in the back, and there we’d grow lettuce and tomato and green beans and all kinds of fruit and herbs. Perhaps we could grow corn, or have apple trees too. The house itself would be a one-story, with three bedrooms, a large kitchen, dining room, living room and a vast library – one similar to that in Beauty and The Beast, with nooks for reading, giant globes and leather bourbon sipping chairs. The interior of the house would be known for its open space, not unlike something Howard Roark would build. To the right of the house would be the barn, with the horses. There would be four. Dogs, three or four of them, would scamper around the land, chasing rabbits and other furry creatures. And I believe they would be Labradors and Bloodhounds, for a fine melange of playful and serious. Towering trees would be interspersed across the property, with enough low limbs to build a tree fort and hang a tire swing. Out back, as the parents (Rich and Cynthia & Mom) grew older, perhaps we’d build a guest house for them to stay, and we could take care of them, make them fresh pies, show them the progress our kids are making with the horseback riding. But that’s not all they’d learn. We would teach them how to garden and till soil. We’d teach them how to shovel snow and build a fire. We’d teach them how to build tree houses and use their imagination. We’d teach them how to explore and channel their inner adventurist. We’d teach them, above all, to be independent, to find their unique presence, their own unique voice and to use it, and be proud of it.

In my dream home, I’d be working from home. Jessica says that, to her mild chagrin, I am the better stay at home parent, because I can clean, cook, and do laundry – and I do so with glee. Jessica would be teaching, and enjoying every last bit of it.

In my dream home, I’d grow my beard as long as I damn well please. 🙂

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