November 25, 2011
November 23, 2011
November 22, 2011
I took Inyo running in the desert, the two of us like a couple of white dwarf stars drawing too much mass from each other and about to explode from the pressure. Gazing upward into that unpeopled sky-country, Inyo orbiting me in the dark, I saw us as specks in all that celestial acreage where she and I could never run. Along the rutted dirt track we picked up the pace...faster now, we sprinted uphill until my lungs ached and I fell on my knees. Pressing my palms into the dirt, I realized how close I'd come to having our lives figured out. But close wasn't good enough...
- Part Wild, Ceiridwen Terrill
Great book. Heartbreaking, honest, enlightening, real. Here's another favorite quote: "I don't know if there's a heaven for people, but there's definitely a heaven for dogs...No, dogs aren't perfect. They're a miracle."
November 20, 2011
We got an unexpected refund from our insurance company, and REI had the Kelty Coyote 80 on sale. Woot! My "get out of Dodge" plan is taking shape. Bren and I spent all day yesterday working on our 72-hour kits (items in red are not in the pack yet). This is not an ultralight set-up: it weighs in at 42 pounds, and it's packed pretty tight. I need to shed six pounds of equipment to keep it at 20 percent of my weight. The backpack is nice...I was intimidated by all the straps and zippers at first but after loading everything in it, it all seems well thought out.
November 14, 2011
I was aware that I brought to Iran an American vision of dog ownership—the dog as loyal friend, the dog as seamless part of community, the dog as adder of happiness to a life—and that I would need to radically re-imagine what having a dog would be like.
- Azadeh Moaveni, "Dog Days in Tehran"
lol - Beware the "adder of happiness."
November 10, 2011
Klein brags to Cohen about his new hearing aid: "It's the best one made -- I now understand everything!"
"What kind is it?" Cohen asks.
- Jesse Green, "What Do a Bunch of Old Jews Know About Living Forever?"
November 9, 2011
"...The diamond which glittered in the window...shines with more splendor when it is our own; but if we are compelled to acknowledge the superiority of another, and still must retain the one that is inferior, do you not know what we have to endure?"
"Worldling," murmured the count.
- The Count of Monte Cristo, Alexandre Dumas
I don't know how I missed this book until now. I guess the title is so familiar that I assumed I must have read it at some time or other. I'm so glad I picked it up - free download - hooray for the classics! This one definitely belongs in the desert-island bag. Great, great, great book.
November 6, 2011
I like acacias. We have quite a few mesquites, cat's claws, retamas and eve's necklaces around here. I don't know the name of this one; it's fairly common too but typically much smaller than the others. This particular specimen is near the turnaround point of our favorite walk. I'm keeping an eye on its seeds as they ripen in the hope that we can raise a few in our garden.
Adventure no. 14, nights 16 and 17 this year. Cold yesterday morning - mid-40s, but it stays pretty warm in the tent with the rainfly zipped up. This morning was much warmer - mid-60s, with light sprinkles. (Woke to fighting cats, the barking of the neighbors' dogs, and the early morning hollerings of grackles and bluejays.) A cardinal and a wren came foraging to within a foot of the tent door this morning - nice.
I ought to just move into the garden permanently, but then again I haven't had to deal with a rainy or snowy night yet, and the summer nights, with lows in 80s and 100 percent humidity, are kind of miserable. This time of year, though, is fantastic.
November 5, 2011
November 4, 2011
...the hard problem of consciousness is so hard that I can’t even imagine what kind of empirical findings would satisfactorily solve it. In fact, I don’t even know what kind of discovery would get us to first base, not to mention a home run. Let’s say that a particular cerebral nucleus was found, existing only in conscious creatures. Would that solve it? Or maybe a specific molecule, synthesized only in the heat of subjective mental functioning, increasing in quantity in proportion as sensations are increasingly vivid, disappearing with unconsciousness, and present in diminished quantity from human to hippo to herring to hemlock tree.
- David Barash, "The Hardest Problem in Science?"
I'm OK with the general premise that we really don't know where to begin the search for the locus of consciousness, but given that, should we not first set aside the assumption that a hemlock tree is less conscious than a human or a hippo?
My suspicion is that the key to consciousness lies with the bacteria that compose roughly 90 percent of our "human" bodies. Bacteria were after all the sole occupants and shapers of our planet for four BILLION years. We eukaryota are infants compared to those guys.
Or maybe consciousness starts even earlier: Astronomers discover complex organic matter in the universe. All the stars in all the galaxies of the universe are busily churning out the building blocks of life. The sustaining energy for all life begins with the sun; the loop closes.
And then, just to really square the circle, a comet brings us water from way out along the edge of the solar system. (Read the article, then go read Genesis 1:6-7 again.) I mean, it's miraculous that all the pieces of the puzzle came together in this time and place, but the fact that the pieces fit together at all suggests that the universe, or something therein, knows what it's doing. To know is to be. Call it what you will.
(These rambling thoughts lead me back to one of my favorite Bible verses, Genesis 2:7: "And the LORD God formed man [of] the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.")
November 3, 2011
After we passed, one of the young fellows called out, "For your own safety, sir, you might want to stay on the trail over there to your left."
I smiled and said, "Thanks, Sparky. This is a drug dog. We're undercover. Mind if we have a sniff?"
(Well, OK, that's what I should have said. Instead I blurted out something lame like, "Uh, yeah, we're just taking a quick shortcut, thanks." Bluh. Oh well. At least I didn't blow our cover.)
Earlier on the trail, Ondine reacted badly to a dog who had first reacted badly to her, and we encountered them again on the way back. After both encounters I asked immediately for a short stay, which she performed quickly and attentively. A bit later we passed a woman walking two large but well-behaved dogs, and Ondine was smiling and friendly towards them. She got a treat for that.
Oh, she attacked my shoes again tonight after we crossed the street into the park, only this time, the attack was greatly escalated. I had to ignore her to get her to stop. When she learns that something is fun, she learns it instantly.
We've switched to the smallest prong collar and she's doing OK with it. She lunges at almost every car still but she hasn't been flipping out as often. I'm working very hard on releasing all the tension on the leash the instant she stops lunging.
The take-home lesson, I suppose, between the encounters with new dogs, the stays, the shoes and the cars, is that she's freakishly responsive to her environment. (After ten months with her, this is not a revelation. It's just an articulation.)