The Greening of America

We were in Washington DC for a few days. Went for a run along the National Mall and found a lot of it fenced off. Bulldozers marched up and down leveling and smoothing  the dark earth. A sign said they were putting in new grass over an improved drainage system with curbs along the grass’s edge. The section they had finished, near the Capitol, looked good–deep green lush grass for kids to roll around in, for lovers to loll on. Further up toward the Washington Monument, the grass was splotched with weeds, and dotted with bare patches of ground. A shovel-ready project, no doubt. It’s good to keep up appearances. Continue reading

To Blog or Not to Blog

“Blog” is an ugly word, a cow pie that splats upon the page. A linguist, which I am not, might explain it by pointing out plosives and glottal stops, but I don’t think “block” is ugly, or “clog”, “cog”, “bog”, ‘blot”, slog”. “slot”, “sloth” (a sin they say, but not ugly),”flock”, you get the idea. “Flog” is ugly only in terms of its meaning, but somehow even that was ameliorated when it was metamorphosed into meaning selling something, perhaps to give an image of the salesman lashing his customers with hyper-inflated language and promises. (By the way, I am still flogging my book.) “The captain’s log” has a stately feel to it and suggests both authority and order. And “log” brings to mind the five cords of lodge-pole pine I used to split to heat my home in northeastern California through the winter. The pile of rounds three to four feet wide in my backyard was literally as high as an elephant’s eye, and it would take me weeks of splitting and stacking to reduce it to a toothpick. But I won’t start another string of associations from that. Now I live in the Bronx and pay the oil company for my comfort. The delivery man has to back his big oil rig up our narrow driveway, then snake his hose to the filler pipe near the house. I hear the gallons going in and picture the dollars going out. Some may profit from global warming, but only in the short run.

It’s the election season, and I was loathe to get sucked in, but everyone is talking about how the President blew it in the first debate, how forceful Romney was. And all the commentary is about style, hardly a word about content. Romney didn’t fact check well, but someone in his camp has already said that they wouldn’t be derailed by the facts. It is the age of psychology–appeals, both blatant and otherwise, to fears, hopes, dreams, anxieties, biases, greed, and cockeyed visions of reality. Everyone should read (or reread) George Orwell’s timeless essay, “Politics and the English Language.” Language matters, especially when used by those who can afford to buy ads that speak to millions.

I’m Right

When I was teaching, it was sometimes disconcerting to find that what I had earlier presented to my students as fact wasn’t in fact, fact. Mozart wasn’t buried in a pauper’s grave, at least at first; it didn’t rain on the day of his funeral; and there were mourners. Oh, well. We all have false beliefs from time to time, many of them never brought to light. But during election season, not only are more false beliefs trumpeted abroad, but many of those beliefs are demonstrably false.

Like the belief of some in Ohio that Romney was more responsible for Bin Laden’s death than Obama. One might wonder if some Mormons thought to baptize Bin Laden after his death. Probably not. The rite may be OK for Jews but not for Arabs. Anyway, as a curb to demonstrably false beliefs, usually held in times of stress in a vain attempt to hold an incoherent world view together, I offer the following brief essay.

I’m Right

There are a number of ways that I know I’m right.  My favorite, although it doesn’t happen a lot, is that sometimes I just know I’m right.  It’s like all the planets are lined up, and I’m looking at a horizon to horizon rainbow.  Everyone knows the experience.  Am I right or am I right?

Another way I know I’m right is if I see something with my own two eyes.  If I can’t trust my own eyes what can I trust?  I haven’t seen any flying saucers Continue reading

Fitschen’s Folly East

First, taking care of business. Although there are those who believe that Democrats are Satanists, I am not one of them. Sometimes I am a satirist and for a while, when young, was a satyr.

Then, if you click the “Buy Now” button to get Going Up, you are not committed to using PayPal to pay. The site you are sent to also allows the use of a credit card, although that requires filling in more information.

We now return you to our regularly scheduled program.

In Yosemite Valley, The Salathé and Muir Walls reside on El Capitan. Further up the valley “Coonyard Pinnacle” sits on the Glacier Point Apron. “Kamp for Terror” looms behind Camp 4. At Tahquitz one can find the “Gallwas Gallop” and “Royal’s Arches” as well as [Harry] “Daley’s Direct” and “Dave’s [Rearick] Deviation.” But my name begins with “F”.

On the plus side, I know of no other climber who has two climbs named after him (I didn’t have a role in naming either climb) even though Fitschen’s Folly West comes with its own ignominy (described in Chapter 4 of Going Up). So here is the true story of Fitschen’s Folly East. Continue reading