sucking limes

limesI wrote a blog post a while back that featured the story of a Mexican fisherman.

It was a post about learning to either find happiness in your day-to-day activities…or figuring out a way to move on to something that would bring you joy.

I guess it was mostly about trying to learn to be happy where you are in the moment.

Anyway…in the post I made a reference to the guys out on the old sailing ships.  They’d have a bunch of limes with them to avoid getting scurvy.  This was before you could zip on down to Wal-Mart and buy a big bottle of vitamin C.

They’d suck on the limes to avoid getting sick.

I imagined it would be hard to leave something you knew and understood…something that would keep you safe…to explore the new worlds you were sailing towards.  It would be hard to get off the ship.

We don’t do a lot of true exploring these days…if we’re lost, we can just wait for the GPS to say, “recalculating” and we’re on our way again.

I wonder if real exploring isn’t heading towards an expected outcome…maybe it’s more expecting to be lost?

I don’t feel really comfortable trying the “let’s just try this and see what happens” approach too often now that I have a family to protect and support.  It’s a scary and selfish thing to jump ship and forge into uncharted territory just because I’m frantic and lost…unhappy with my current situation, whether the GPS might get me back on course or not.  But…on the wishy-washy other hand…that’s exploring.

(I’ve seen movies where they jump off the boat and then realize they didn’t drop the ladder over the side to get back onboard…man, they’re really screwed messed up then…)

That’s not to say that we haven’t had our share of optimistic misadventure.

When we were just starting out as a family, we bought our house.

We looked for quite a while in the WNC area…looked at all the cheap houses we thought we could afford.  We looked at a house you had to hike to on the railroad tracks, we looked at a house that looked like a big soft mushroom returning to the earth, we looked at a house with a family of pit bulls living in the crawl space…we looked at a lot of crazy houses.

When I found our house just down the road from a camp I used to work at…it felt safe.  It felt like home.

Of course, it was gutted and didn’t have a water supply and needed just about everything to be habitable…like doors and windows and insulation and a well and plumbing and…(it’s a long list).

Maybe it was the comparison to the other crack houses we’d looked at, but even in its decrepit state…it felt like buying this gutted house was going to be OK.

I don’t remember if we grabbed a couple of limes before we jumped off the boat…all I remember is how it felt to hit the big ocean and realize that it was time to start swimming.

After a hard first winter of tin and rafters..with a too small wood stove to keep us warm…it all started to come together and the house started to feel more like a real house….with doors and windows in all the holes.

It’s a long story…the story of being “low buck pioneers” with a new (new…like 6 week old..what?) baby in a wreck of a house…so I won’t tell the whole thing here…but I guess that what I’m thinking about is that any of the real adventure comes when you have no idea what you are doing.

Now, you won’t jump off the boat if you don’t imagine that you’re a really good swimmer…but the real adventure comes when you’re tired of treading water and the island still looks like it’s a good distance away…and you ponder, cold and tired in the big expanse of blue, “what the heck was I thinking?”  I guess your option at that point is to just start swimming again.

We’re getting our passports soon…my pockets are already stuffed with limes.

Image by David Karp in the LA Times

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Yvon Chouinard and pessimistic action

“There’s no difference between a pessimist who says, ‘Oh, it’s hopeless, so don’t bother doing anything,’ and an optimist who says, ‘Don’t bother doing anything, it’s going to turn out fine anyway.’ Either way, nothing happens.”

That’s a quote from a climber and businessman named Yvon Chouinard.

He’s the guy who started Chouinard Equipment, manufacturing climbing equipment…and then later, and more widely known, the clothing company Patagonia.

Here’s a recent video interview with him:

The thing that I like about Yvon Chouinard is that, even though he has a pretty pessimistic view of where the planet is headed, he is very actively trying to do something to protect and repair the environmental issues he can affect.

I’ve written about Yvon Chouinard before on this blog.  He is the kind of businessman that I can really respect…from what I can tell, he’s in business only to make things better.  That profits have followed his efforts are kind of the icing on the cake.

I’m sure that, like most of us, his business dealings aren’t completely altruistic…but he seems like a pretty good egg who puts his money where his mouth is.  He seems pretty sincere to me…and I like that.

Here’s another short video about his feelings on being compared to Apple…

I loved the quote at the beginning of this blog post.

I had a friend at camp whose Dad used to tell him, “Do something….even if it’s wrong”.

I guess that action is the only thing that ever changes anything.

we have the technology

The catch phrase for the old “Six Million Dollar Man” show was “we have the technology, we can rebuild him”.

Pretty cool…it was a fixable problem.  They had the technology…and they were going to make things all better.

My bookshelves are sagging with how to, someday, make it better, get rich, fix your problem, here’s what your problem is kind of books.  Sagging with these kind of books.

Of course, I have a lot of different kinds of books…but I do have a good number of books that show a concern for making things better.

“We have the technology…we can rebuild him”.

Now, of course, if I stopped and actually put into practice some of the concepts these books talked about…I’D BE A WEINER!!!….I mean WINNER.  I’d be a winner.  I have the technology….I’d be a winner.

The problem is…what I really enjoy and what satisfies my undiagnosed ADHD the most is videos like this:

I know I should be watching something more uplifting…reading one of the good books I have about how I’d measure up if I just did what the author said to do…maybe listening to one of the tape courses I have…I don’t know what would have the biggest impact on my life.

Time is valuable…time is short…time is precious…so why do I waste my time on stuff like this?

Maybe, when it all is said and done, I’ll realize that I was actually pretty uplifted by a two-minute slice of silly funk.

Maybe that’s all any of us needs…a secret funk bass line percolating in our brains as we go about our daily tasks…some secret funk we can call our own.

I couldn’t wish a kinder thing for anyone….a secret funk they could call their own.

My technology must wear a lot of different faces after all.

This video clip is from a movie called Adventures of Power …it streams on Netflix.

 

saving face, saving the USPS

1C6869195-130410-usps-truck-hmed-1120a.streams_desktop_small

We got word yesterday that the proposed stop to Saturday first class mail delivery has been shelved for now.

Here’s one version of the story here.

I guess that for all the hard language and bluster, when it came down to it…we did what Congress said we had to do after all.

Kind of like a teenager saying, “I WILL TOO TAKE OUT THE CAR!!!” even though the parents hold the keys.

Here’s a quote that kind of summed up how I felt about the situation:

“This reversal significantly undercuts the credibility of Postal officials who have told Congress that they were prepared defy political pressure and make difficult but necessary cuts,” said Issa, who is chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

How about totally undercuts? Wow.  How do you recover from being dissed like that?

The thing about it that’s really weird is that from my understanding, we aren’t even really a government…or at least funded by the government…agency.  We don’t get a bunch of taxpayer dollars…we do get told what to do by the government….but we don’t get a lot of government support.

Check this link out for a description of what kind of business (or agency?) the Post Office is….supposedly, except for some funds set aside to cover services set up to help blind people and some overseas ballot mailing,we don’t get any taxpayer money. We are supposed to be a “revenue neutral” operation.  We’re not supposed to make a profit…I guess so that we continue to provide an inexpensive service to the American people.  We are supposed to be self-supporting.

So, until we were mandated to prefund retiree health benefits…(how about that? What business have you ever heard of that was required to fund something like that ahead of time?)…until that happened, I guess we had a shot at breaking even.

I think it’s really just kind of a “perfect storm” situation…I’m not printing this blog on a mimeograph machine and mailing it out to my tens of readers…I’m doing it all electronically.  Most of us email, pay bills online, even use Skype (that’s another issue…the telcom companies have their own fish to fry)…we do things differently now.

Why should we be surprised that the USPS is having problems?  It’s a new world.

Our government shouldn’t act surprised when a hobbled pony can’t run, though.

 

Joe Raedle / Getty Images file

 

 

 

cloning me,cloning me,cloning me, cloning me, cloning me, cloning me, cloning me, cloning me, cloning me, cloning me, cloning me, cloning me, cloning me, cloning me, cloning me, cloning me, etc.

They say in the beginning of this movie that it will help me decide whether or not I’d want to play God after I watch it.

That was a close one.

I was almost going to go off the deep end and do some kitchen sink sciencin’…clone me up a batch of me.

Did you ever watch the movie Multiplicity?  It’s an old movie with Michael Keaton…he clones himself to keep up with work and family demands…with mixed and funny results.

In good movie fashion, everything works out in the end…but there’s some problems along the way.

I started to think about what it would be like to have a bunch of meeze.  I can’t imagine a bunch of scattered dudes running around trying to figure out what to do.  I don’t know what benefit to mankind it would hold …maybe none.

A bunch of meeze….”   I tickle myself sometimes…”meeze“.

But what if I could really tickle myself?  Would I stop when I yelled at myself to stop tickling me? There are a lot of ethical questions yet to be answered when it comes to the ramifications of cloning.

Now if I was enough of a leader to order myself around, it would be helpful to have a bunch of “lackey meeze” to do my bidding.  I could spread myself a lot thinner if there was more of meeze to go around.

If only I could trust myself to do what I told me.

I’ve got some stuff on my plate. Most people would look at it and say, “WHAT?!!  THAT’S NOTHING!  HE’S GOT NOTHING GOING ON!  WHAT’S HE COMPLAINING ABOUT?!!!  SUCK IT UP…GET ON WITH LIFE!!”  I do have some stuff on my plate….like everybody.

It’d be easier to get it done with a crazy ant farm of meeze to swarm over the responsibilities and JUST GET’R DONE.  (did I spell that correctly?  “get her done? getter done?”)

What the heck….I’m not going to clone myself.  I just decided that I wasn’t going to clone myself.  Just this minute, sitting at the computer writing this blog…I pledge to be the only me.

One me is enough for me to handle.

Neverletmegoposterquad

 

Born to Run

07 Born to Run

No, it’s not the Springsteen thing…it’s something else entirely…but what a great song, huh?

The Born to Run that I’m talking about is the title of a book by Chris McDougall that talks about barefoot running and a Mexican tribe called the Tarahumara, who run great distances in the desert… without shoes.

Even in our culture, where we seem to be able to accessorize the simplest of activities, running is a pretty elemental sport.

Just a pair of running shoes and some lightweight shorts…a t-shirt…maybe a sports bra for the ladies…not much else.  It’s pretty simple.

But somehow we can figure out how to lust after any bling we can attach to even something as simple as running.

Like right now…I haven’t even started running again yet, but already I’m thinking how cool it would be to have one of those new GPS watches that I could look at and tell how far I’d been…where I was and where I was going…even tell the time if I needed that information.

Or maybe a RoadID for my wrist in addition to the one on my ankle?  There’d be no chance for confusion if I had one on my wrist, too. Maybe I need two?

They even have special shoes to make the transition to full on nude feet even easier to handle.

I guess it’s easy to complicate running if I work at it

But…this tribe, the Tarahumara…they break things down to the elemental needs…no shoes, no goretex…just tough feet, big lungs,and…. homebrew. (They drink a lot of corn beer…high carb, low alcohol content corn beer… to fuel these long runs.)

Running and drinking corn beer….hmmmm.

This Chris McDougall book is pretty wild…sparked a strong debate about barefoot running and its benefits…and renewed curiosity in a Mexican tribe of super athletes called the Tarahumara.

A quote from Chris McDougall’s site that I thought was interesting was this one:

“It is a beautiful story and a superb synthesis of the science. It is about time that as a society we examined how it is that we have got to the point where it is considered unnatural to run.”
—Dr. Craig Richards, PhD, professor of biomedical research at the University of Newcastle and a leading authority on running biomechanics.

Children play…they run, they breathe…jump up, jump down…climb and swing and yell and roll….with no concept of sets or repetitions or peak heart rates or anything we obsess over for the sake of efficiency.

Natural athletes.

I’d like to get back to the point where it was such an unconscious part of my life that exercise felt like play again.

Maybe we cloak it all in the business of fitness so we can feign maturity, though?  “Don’t bother me now, son…Daddy’s busy working out”…working out….work…work work work.  Doesn’t sound as natural as running in the desert somehow.

Chidren play, mature adults work.

This was an interesting book and it raised some thought provoking questions about my own attitudes towards fitness.

 

 

 

“the first thing you learn in marital arts…”

I’m doing a post tomorrow on Chris McDougall’s book Born to Run …but found this comment on a YouTube video and thought it was pretty funny…

TheR3dsH4d0w 5 days ago

running is not instinct, and if the gun was pointed at me i wouldnt be a fucking retard to run away. first thing you learn in marital arts is never to run from the gun. you should only run from knife / cold weapon attackers.

I think it’s good advice…and a good “marital arts” lesson.
Stand your ground.

the thing about fracking is…

If there wasn’t anything going on that might hurt the environment, I doubt I’d ever hear a thing about fracking.

I’d just fill up at the pump with cheap gasoline…or heat my hot water with cheap natural gas….and enjoy the fruits of someone else’s labors.  I wouldn’t give it a second thought.

But check out this article featured on the MSN homepage this morning

…lots of problems….lots of issues.

Now, it’s good to have cheap gas.  It’s GREAT to have cheap gas!  I love to drive around…love to road trip…love to see the world from behind the wheel of my auto-mo-beeel…..but when you can show a picture of a lady with a mason jar of cloudy tap water that resulted from the fracking in her area…well, you have to consider her as being a little more than just “collateral damage”.

fracking bad water

 

image Noah Addis / for NBC News

I’m not an engineer.  I don’t work for the companies doing the fracking.  I don’t make any money from fracking.. so I don’t know a lot about it…just the little bit I read.

The trouble with the process that I see is that because of the technology they use, a lot of the people harmed by fracking don’t see a dime from it either.  Because the companies doing the drilling go deep and then go across, the damage can be far reaching…a lot farther reaching than the location of the original well would have you believe.

There are a tremendous number of guys who, because of fracking and the jobs it provides, are finally making a decent living after scraping by for a lot of years.  Fracking is big business…and it is helping a lot of families who had a hard time before it came around…but I think that it’s hurting a lot of people, too….and it’s the kind of hurt that’s hard to back away from.

We drove through the Dakotas this summer.  My mother grew up in a little town called Starkweather, ND…so I have a little familiarity with those states.  People joke about there not being a lot up there…and I guess there really isn’t a whole lot in some parts of the Dakotas.  It can be kind of bleak.

There are some really great people up there, though…some good lefse and lutefisk eating Scandinavians…and I like them.  Somehow, even though I haven’t lived around them for a long time, they’re my people.

It’d be a shame to see them go down because we like cheap gas and are willing to turn our heads the other way when how we go about getting it causes problems.

where’s my cameraman?

I was never this tan…or this fit…or this adventurous…but this video makes me wonder…”where’s my cameraman?”.

That’s the thing about these videos…we never celebrate the guy behind the camera…chasing the tan guy up the mountain.

He doesn’t get any props.

But back to me.

Where’s my cameraman?  I could plop him down in the back of the mail jeep, he could film me opening mail boxes and putting mail into them (it’s more exciting than I make it sound)….both of us turning into public service mushrooms after years of sedentary work.

It would be a long film…but it would be a good one if you could hang with it.

This video reminds me that we’re really designed to be “good animals”…worked hard and doing something out in the world.

Outside in the world.

Now, my job does get me outside.  As jobs go, it’s pretty cool…big box of dog bones, open window, working windshield wipers, new axle u-joints, a sandwich for lunch, a full tank of gas…and I’m good to go.  Oh…and don’t forget to put the mail in the Jeep before I head out…it’s a big part of the job.

The thing about my job, though, is that I sit.  I sit and drive.

They say that sitting is one of the most damaging things you can do…like your life is shortened by 20 minutes for every hour you sit or something like that.  Man….that really stinks.  Surely it can’t be 20 minutes?  My time is short if that’s the case.  That really stinks.

I don’t know if we get any extra longevity credits for delivering an express package.

I don’t know what we get longevity credits for.

The weird thing about newfound sedentary lifestyles is that the less I work my body, the more I hurt.  Aches and pains, tightening…you’d think that not working something would allow it to settle into a slack limberness…but it just seems to torque down to a new tightness.

I do know that our bodies are very adaptable.  We become what we need to become to do the task at hand.  I feel more and more like the mushroom mail man….sprouted on the front seat of a right hand drive mail jeep, a powerful and unbalanced right arm and shoulder for opening mailboxes, everything else going farther and farther over into the unfit dark side.

But, like Martin Luther King, Jr….I have seen the mountaintop.  I remember what that feels like to be running up a hill.  I just need to get out of the Jeep every once in a while and strap on the running shoes.

 

Only watching a tan guy run up a mountain doesn’t get me any closer to the top of the hill, though.

 

 

the “share with your children” weight-loss plan

chimps sharing foodI brought a bowl of crunchy store brand raisin bran upstairs to enjoy the other morning.

The minute I sat down on the couch, our three-year old son was right beside me…asking to share.

A mouthful for me, a mouthful for Nate….”No…more raisins”, he said…”milk….” .

It started a freight train of thought in my head as I sat there sharing my breakfast…why not have a team…why not have a stable…I don’t really know what you’d call it…why not have a bunch of three-year olds that you rent out to people to aid in their weight loss plans?

I know that I get about half of the food I plan on getting when our three-year old sits down to share…maybe other people would have similar results and could reap the benefits of caloric reduction at the hands of a willing child?

You can’t refuse a three-year old.  This plan is foolproof.

Empires have been built on lesser ideas.

Now, it may not work the next time you sit down down to enjoy a healthy portion of pickled pigs feet…I think it has to be a food item that’s appealing to a three-year old.  If you were planning to eat, say…macaroni and cheese or something like that…the plan would work perfectly.

I’m still working out the logistics…there’s waivers to sign, parents to approach with the plan, lots of groundwork…but if this idea takes off I could see a really exciting infomercial in our future.

I figure that 3 year olds are the perfect employee…maybe a really immature and hungry 4-year-old would work out well, too.  Like I said before, I’m still working out the details.

This is an idea that could really fly.

I’m taking applications for angel investors starting now…

I think I hear the little guy getting up now…time to share a bowl of raisin bran (am I looking thinner to you?).

image from the dailymail.uk