Saturday, October 31, 2020

Clear Airways

I have chronic asthma. Humanity has COVID-19, a respiratory disease that causes acute asthma and pneumonia.

I try to never descend into fear, and with my life experience, I have a pretty good handle on when fear is justified. There is such a thing as rational fear, but mostly we should not indulge the emotion. In this era of a deadly respiratory virus, I struggled with fear for the first couple of months, but then I realized that I was still going, and as long as I maintain discipline, I should still be going this time next year.

I went for a run the other night, and it felt great. I'm more of a sprinter, so my distance running is slow, but I'm in good enough shape to knock off three miles. I feel gratitude that I'm still breathing deeply, and that I'm still able to run a 5k at 7000 feet above sea level. The fitness also prepares me for any future respiratory infection.

I'm very thankful for clear airways. In spite of everything that has happened in this evil year, I retain optimism.

Thursday, October 29, 2020

The Disunited States

E. Pluribus Dis-Unum. Public Domain image obtained via Wikipedia.

I'm reading a very current book on the status of division in the United States. It reminds me of the historical debate over the correct verb, singular or plural: "The United States is . . ." versus "The United States are . . ." For my lifetime, the United States has been considered a single country or nation. I now see the distinct possibility that the states may gain a larger measure of autonomy, or form new federations, and that we may be referred to in the plural.

I love this country, or at least what it once was, and I don't want to see it breakup. But I'm also resigned to the fact that there are over 300 million people in the US, and it is not up to me alone.

Desert Season

Devil's Bridge, West Sedona.

It's warming up a little after our first (very light) snowfall, but overall the temps are trending cooler in the deserts. My heart lives in the high country but I'm looking forward to desert hiking. We have several deserts around, but the closest are the high deserts of the Colorado Plateau and below the Mogollon Rim. My most frequent area to hike is in the red rock country around Sedona, Arizona, but I try to get in at least one hike or mountain bike ride in the Sonoran Desert, and usually at least one hike in the Grand Canyon (which is considered a desert below the rim). There is also a little bit of hiking in the Painted Desert atop the plateau, but relatively few opportunities since much of the land is on the Navajo Nation.

I'm ready for a desert hike sometime in the next couple of weeks!

Tuesday, October 27, 2020


 Look at this weird thing:

Why is there a greenhouse in my garage? To keep the cats from eating the plants. Otherwise I would just use shelves.

I've taken up indoor gardening for the winter. We got our first snow yesterday, so I had to bring in the plants. I ordered this setup off Amazon, along with multi spectrum grow lights. It makes my garage look like a Jurassic Park laboratory. We'll see if I kill the plants. I don't have much of a green thumb.

Sunday, October 25, 2020

The Travel Conundrum


Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, 2011.
I love travel. In this pandemic, it's difficult to make the decision to go. I haven't seen my family in almost a year and I'm worried to visit them, for fear of bringing the disease upon them.

On the other hand, I heard a BBC report a couple of weeks ago that the airline industry studied the transmission of Coronavirus Disease and found that only 44 cases could be tracked to air travel since a mask mandate was imposed. That's encouraging but my skeptical mind distrusts a study that was funded by the airlines. Consulting experts are often paid to issue favorable findings. Also, the number of passengers was something like 2 billion. How could they possibly track 2 billion people?

If I do not visit my mother around Christmas, it will be the longest either of us has ever gone without seeing each other. It's my fault for moving across the continent, but eventually I had to live my own life.

For now, I decide to not decide, and hope for a vaccine early next year.

Friday, October 23, 2020

Clear Mind Through Running


The Arizona Trail in Buffalo Park. My favorite place to run.

I lack motivation for running right now, even though I'm trying to lose weight. It's because the days are shorter, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), but I think the looming threat of public disorder is contributing. Civil conflict brings me down.

I forced myself out night before last and ran 2.3 miles, a short distance for me, but since I had been putting it off, I was well rested and ran with complete comfort. Maybe I don't do rest and recovery properly?

It was nice to be able to think about nothing while I was running, as opposed to having to silently tell myself not to stop over and over again. When you get that runner's high going, it brings a clear state of mind with it.

One of my favorite places to be.

Thursday, October 22, 2020


Cplbeaudoin, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

When I was about 11 or 12, like many 80s kids, I was obsessed with ninjitsu, Navy SEALs, and camouflage. I had an entire outfit of cammo. I arranged a "hunt" with the only two boys in the neighborhood. This included my lifelong friend Scott, and another kid named Jeremy. We went back to the woods along perennial Pipe Creek, and agreed to boundaries, within which we would take turns hiding and trying to find each other.

What I achieved amazed me. I had head to foot cammo, with black, mud-spattered tennis shoes, a cammo baseball cap, and even a cammo bandana around my neck and face, with a ninja ski mask underneath. We took turns hiding. I assume it was a Saturday, although it might have been summer and we were off school, I can't remember now.

Scott was easy to find. Jeremy hid along a collapsed section of stream bank, rather than trying to rely upon his incomplete camouflage. Scott found him. I simply chose a gentle slope, covered with forbes and ferns, and lay there quietly, with my face concealed except my eyes, which I closed to slits. Both Scott and Jeremy walked around for several minutes and looked carefully over every inch of ground. I held my breath, squeezed my eyes almost entirely shut, and they looked right past me. I finally had to reveal myself.

During that period of my life, I read many Louis L'amour novels. His descriptions of tracking and how to move quietly through the woods to avoid detection and without startling wildlife captured my imagination. I first practiced walking quietly and slowly, then learned how to move faster with reduced noise. It was easier when I was lighter weight, but I still remember how to do it.

I've always been good at stealth. Some people might call it sneakiness. I frequently startle other hikers out on the trails. This is what we call the law of unintended consequences. Oops.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020


One of my pet peeves is when these city slickers out on the trail with very expensive technical clothing and gear look down on others because they didn't spend $1500 on their kit. Said city slickers maybe take a couple of vacations a year and otherwise hike once a month. Nonetheless, they took classes at an REI and read some books and now believe they are hot shot hikers.

For a number of years I hiked in the Ping brand golf hat above that I bought at a course in Tennessee one time when I forgot to bring a hat. I sunburn easily so I picked up whatever was available in the pro shop. That became my sweaty, outdoor hat. Many hiking friends and strangers on the trail ridiculed it, as if wearing a golf hat while hiking was some type of bumbling mistake indicating a lack of experience.

I've been hiking since I was 3 or 4 years old. I grew up in the country, roaming where there were neither trails nor roads, wading through creeks and thickets, pulling off the cockleburs and scraping off the mud with sticks. I taught myself to track and stalk.

No, city hiker, your Arc'teryx thousand dollar jacket does not indicate superiority of experience or fitness. It just means that you are an unusually foolish person who judges a book by its cover. That hat accompanied me on dozens of outdoor expeditions and was perfectly functional for hiking, as anyone who spent their entire life hiking and exploring the outdoors could tell you.

I finally had to get rid of it, but I don't regret wearing it on hikes. You don't need the correct name brand for adventure.


Tuesday, October 20, 2020


Verde River, somewhere between White Bridge and the Clear Creek access point.

I took a five day weekend, Thursday through Monday. It's a long enough break to forget what is going on at work. Unfortunately the weekend didn't go exactly as hoped. Our kayak trip on a new-to-us section of the Verde River ran a little longer than I expected. The water level was barely adequate. Everybody was relieved to see the takeout. I think the next time I go back, I will look for more flow, both to avoid rocks and to speed up the trip. Even a difference of a half mile per hour makes a big difference on a 5 mile float trip.
Waterfowl in the Kachina Wetlands, with Woody Mountain in the distance.

The next thing that happened was that I apparently dropped my eye glasses somewhere on a 2.5 mile hike at the Kachina Wetlands. This necessitated losing a morning to an eye doctor appointment. Now I'll have to wait two weeks for up-to-date eye glasses. I'm using outdated prescription glasses in the interim.

When you like adventure, you have to be prepared for the inevitable misadventure that goes with it.

Still worth it though. We got in two and half hikes and a paddling trip. Not bad.
Mount Elden from a hot, dusty Fat Man's Loop trail. Is that the "slabs" route? This was the last hike of the weekend.

Monday, October 12, 2020


It's still smoky in Northern Arizona, but that didn't stop us from enjoying the magnificence of autumn in the high country.

M took me to a "secret" spot to view the fall colors on the San Francisco Peaks. We were alone on the trail at a time when many thousands of people flooded the Arizona high country to see the fall leaf change. The view from the high point brought me a sense of euphoria and glory.

Life is still good.

Friday, October 9, 2020


That week was too long. I was very productive at work but there were too many tasks required. Even though my job is a sitting job, I sometimes find myself exhausted. It isn't a physical exhaustion. It's an exhaustion of the mind. The brain needs rest too.

When I was younger, I felt a sharp inquisitiveness about work. I wanted to learn everything about technology. I dreamed of success as a leader or a software entrepreneur. Now I feel like I have a rusted coating on the outside. It looks good. It looks like experience. But the rust makes it difficult to move and think as quickly. It's difficult to get new information to the inside.

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Intermittent Feasting

We went hiking last weekend. There weren't enough aspens but the ones we had were beautiful.

I've been "intermittent fasting" to control my weight. We used to call it "skipping a meal," and were criticized. Now it's trendy and called by a medicalized term. The problem with it is that intermittent fasting usually causes me to feast when I break the fast. It's intermittent feasting.