PS... A Column
By Paul E. Schindler Jr.
Some things are impossible to know, but it is impossible to know these things.
I have a day job. So every word of this is my opinion, not that of my employer. This offer IS void in Wisconsin. Except, of course, that some material in this column comes from incoming e-mail; such material is usually reproduced in the Sans Serif type font to distinguish it from the (somewhat) original material.
August 28, 2006 Vol. 8, No. 32
Table of Contents:
The High Sierra Camps of Yosemite
Vicki, Marlow and I had the time of our lives hiking between five of Yosemite's High Sierra Camps week before last.
The National Park Service sums the camps up nicely:
DNC Parks & Resorts at Yosemite operatesfive High Sierra Camps, which are spaced 5.7 to 10 miles apart along a loop trail in Yosemite's beautiful high country.
We started at Tuolumne Meadows (it calls itself a lodge, but it is really a collection of canvas cabins) and walked what's know as the loop: Tuolumne to Glen Aulin (and easy 3.4 mils), May Lake, Sunrise, Merced Lake, Vogelsang and back to Tuolumne. The camps are breathtakingly different-literally, as most are above 8,000 feet, and the thin air makes it harder to catch your breath. In particular, we did a guided loop trip with ranger Jana Walker, as good a ranger as one could possibly hope for. Loop groups can be as large as 14; ours was 10, and shrunk to 8 when one couple had to drop out. When the literature says the trip is strenuous, strenuous, strenuous, it isn't just whistling Dixie. You definitely want to practice with a full pack as much as possible, especially hill climbing, and do a couple of three or four hours hikes. Our longest practice hike was two hours; during the loop you hike about eight hours a day, for a total of 60 miles during the week. We made it, but it was, well, strenuous. Before I get into our personal experiences, here's a few tips:
Frankly, the best way to prepare for this trip is to be between 18 and 25 and no more than 10 or 20 pounds overweight. However, for most of us, this is not an option. Personally, I'm 54 and 100 pounds overweight. I prepared. If I can do it (with what amounted to a 120 pound pack), you can do it. Just remember: it isn't a race. Take it easy, at your own pace. In our group of eight, I was between five and 15 minutes behind the group much of the time; I didn't mind, and neither did anyone else. I just walked, breathed, sipped on my water, and remembered that it wasn't about getting to the next camp at a certain hour, it was about enjoying the experience.
Expect to spend eight hours of every day hiking (average speed between 1-2 miles per hour, depending on terrain; don't count on 2). And for Heaven's Sake, go on a guided hike if you can afford it and can get into one. The peace of mind that comes from knowing you are on the correct trail is worth the premium price of hiring a ranger for your group. Plus, with a ranger along, you learn things and actually know what it is you are looking at. Plus, she knows great places to stop for rest and lunch.
As for my personal impressions: I probably spent more time in the moment during the seven days of this adventure than in most of the rest of my life. You have to be there (because if you're not you could get lost, hurt or both); you want to be there (because the High Sierra is one of the most beautiful places on earth). Thanks to Ranger Jana, I learned about trees, birds and granite (there's a lot of granite up there). I proved to myself that I could do something really difficult. I met interesting people, ate large quantities of pretty good food and lost six pounds. Life was stripped to its bare essentials: cocoa at 7, breakfast at 7:30, hiking at 8:30, break at 10:30, lunch at 1, into camp between 3 and 5, cocoa at 6, dinner at 6:30, sunset at 7:30, in bed no later than 9, to start the whole process over the next day.
You can find lots of details about the camps by Googling them. You have to enter a lottery to be allowed into the High Sierra camps(unless you are planning on backpacking--carrying your own tent and food). Why not enter? We're going to try for May Lake next year.
Scheduling classes and teachers at a middle school is a daunting task, which reminded me of one of the most difficult scheduling tasks ever described to me: major league baseball. If your opening day is at home this year, you must be away the next. If you play the Fourth and Labor Day away this year, you're at home next year. The Red Sox always have to be in Boston on Patriot's Day (and there are other such requirements). In two-league cities (San Francisco, New York, Chicago, LA), both teams should not be home at the same time. You should play all the teams in your division the same number of times. Road trips must be rational. The Yankees have to play the Sox, and the Dodgers have to play the Giants in the last two weeks (I am sure there are other mandatory rivalries of which I am not aware). And you have to break some of the rules every year just to make it work. Whew! It makes my head spin.
Back to School
I have completed my first three days in the classroom teaching 8th grade US History for this, my fourth year, and I am already a day behind (I took too long explaining my rules). New principal and new textbook this year, so you'd think my stress level would be up. Quite the contrary; I am more relaxed than I've ever been at this point in the year (obviously, subject to change at a moment's notice).
A couple of good signs; I slept like a baby the night before school started. That's a definite first; my first year, I was up at 4am and never got back to sleep. I am more confident in class. I am almost to the point where I enjoy the job and the students. Not quite yet--but as I said late last year, I continue to see light at the end of this particular tunnel.
You yearn to stay in the moment, to breathe properly to adjust the weight of your backpack, to enjoy the scenery, to stay hydrated--and still, sometimes, silly things pop into your head when you are hiking in the High Sierra. In my case, a parody of a song NBC developed ruing the early 1980s called Proud as a Peacock. I had worked for two NBC-TV affiliates and had friends at the network who slipped me a cassette copy (now, alas, long lost) featuring a parody, sung by the same singers who sang the original. You can see the parody lyrics here (I remember them slightly differently). So picture me singing to myself, "An 18 rating a 14 share, do you think we care? No! We're just proud to be NBC. We're Loud!" It sure seemed odd to me. I was tickled to find, upon my return that a) I remembered I had sung it to myself (as an effort at discipline and staying in the moment, I took no paper or pencil with me) and b) the whole scenario was laid out at Wikipedia.
Katherine Harris: Beyond comment, Beneath Contempt; Election Fraud Not Just for U.S.
Don Davis and I agree, this is beyond comment and beneath contempt:
ORLANDO, Aug. 25 -- Rep. Katherine Harris (R-Fla.) said this week that God did not intend for the United States to be a "nation of secular laws" and that the separation of church and state is a "lie we have been told" to keep religious people out of politics.
"If you're not electing Christians, then in essence you are going to legislate sin," Harris told interviewers from the Florida Baptist Witness, the weekly journal of the Florida Baptist State Convention. She cited abortion and same-sex marriage as examples of that sin.
Preliminary results from the 9% recount ordered by the election tribunal validate the suspicions raised and charges made by the Mexican Press
Redefining planets: once there where 8 "classical" planets. Then came Pluto. And Charon, and Ceres, and the euphonious "2003 UB313". And may be hundreds more out in the Kuiper belt. So how many planets in the solar system, 8? 9? 12? 53? 100? This contentious issue is being thrashed out in Prague at the IAU meeting: Nine Planets Become 12 with Controversial New Definition. Part of the problem is that most obvious definitions would throw Pluto out of the planetary club. Crafting a definition that includes Pluto, but not hundreds of other outer snowball objects, has proved to be tricky. More: Q&A New planets proposal. [This was written for Aug. 21; since then as many of you know, Pluto lost its planetary status. Craig may update this report, so check back! --editor]
Dell/Sony battery recall: Dell to recall 4.1 million laptop batteries, Fire Hazard Prompts Gigantic Dell Laptop Battery Recall. Ah, but here's the rub: Dell, Sony discussed battery problem 10 months ago.
Technobits: reverse engineering airline pricing: Casting Net For Better Airfares --- 95 Theses of Geek Activism --- the mathematician vanishes --- Time's 50 Coolest Websites --- steam powered RC controlled robots --- this sounds so "cyberpunk" to me, Gibson meets McGeiver: Homemade microscope using web cam and a CD-ROM lens --- NYC professor promotes urban fish farm --- last week I cited an item that an old pigment called cobalt green shows promise for room temperature spintronic devices, now an even older blue pigment is being considered as a breast cancer medicine: War paint plant 'tackles cancer' (From woad warriors to cancer-buster) --- when I saw High speed photography - water figures I was reminded of a Liquid Sculpture item from a year ago.
Dan Grobstein sent this:
It's a relief to know the truth after all the conflicting medical studies:
Steve Coquet sent this:
Two patients limp into two different medical clinics with the same complaint. Both have trouble walking and appear to require a hip replacement.
The first patient is examined within the hour, is x-rayed the same day and has a time booked for surgery the following week. The second sees his family doctor after waiting a week for an appointment, then waits eight weeks to see a specialist, then gets an x-ray, which isn't reviewed for another week, and finally has his surgery scheduled for six weeks from then.
Why the different treatment for the two patients?
The first is a Golden Retriever. The second is a Senior Citizen.
A lovely little low-budget film about gentrification of LA's Echo Park, made by a pair of gay filmmakers who say they drew much of the material from observation. It's ostensibly about a young girl's Quinceañera (15th birthday party), but it is really about fitting in, being squeezed out, truth, honor, teenage love, teenage sex, and the beauty hidden away in urban corners. The mood swings between joy, sorrow, rage and acceptance are handled well, and make this a lovely little entertainment.
Lasusa Links, Dan Grobstein File
Pluto not a planet? Sacrilege!
Tom Lasusa and friends surf the net so you don't have to: Food, Folks and Fuhrer! India's Hitler-themed restaurant draws fire. Owner says "This place is not about wars or crimes, but where people come to relax and enjoy a meal"...Six Feet Under fans -- The last five minutes of the series Finale. Bonus depression inducer -- spot which characters were 'born' around the same time you were and see when they 'die.' Sheesh, better put a deposit on a headstone.... Fishermen lost at sea nearly a year... iTunes -- how long can musicians holdout?... Geoffrey Chaucer Hath a Blog (And check out his review of 'Serpentes on a Shippe')... A Dad With a Sense of Humor? Priceless...New from "GoldenBooks" -- Why Mommy is a Democrat...The A-Z of Rock and Roll Sex Scandals...Who else but the Japanese would envision a musical number set to rap music and based on the video game "The Legend of Zelda?"
Dan Grobstein File
Joe Rosenthal, Photographer at Iwo Jima, Dies
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Joe Rosenthal took the iconic photo of World War II servicemen raising a U.S. flag over Iwo Jima.
Some in G.O.P. Say Iran Threat Is Played Down
By MARK MAZZETTI
Some Republicans are voicing anger that American spy agencies have not issued more ominous warnings about Iran.
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