Pages

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Things I Can't Get In Trouble For Saying Now That I Don't Go To Seattle University

If you know me and that title made you wonder if you should call Homeland Security, relax, it's not going to be that bad. There's just a whole class of people who the total alienation of will now have a dramatically smaller impact on my life. These people are the ultra-liberal Capital Hill hipsters, and the following comments are directed at them.
Contrary to what you may believe, especially after reading the remainder of this post, I am not your true opponent. I am the jester in the court, not the enemy at the gate. I will mock your sincerity, criticize your fanaticism, and argue with every one of your illogical formulations, but I am still ultimately on your side. I actually really wanted to be one of you, and if you had been marginally less dogmatic and a great deal less snobbish I would have been. You are the type of people I have been admiring since I was in high school, people I always knew were cooler than me, whose clothes and diets and opinions were hipper than mine and whose approval and acceptance I really wanted and never got. So this is a combination finger in your face and laughing goodbye and if you get to the end (as you probably won't) and think (as you certainly won't), "My god! Why is so brilliant a guy making such crazy arguments?" you have no one to blame but yourselves.

This first one is a bit sober, they'll get more fun, I promise.



What I Learned in My 11th Grade Psychology Class

When I was a junior in high school I signed up for a psychology class. I had no particularity affinity for the field, but I needed to take an IB exam in a 6th subject and I had heard bad things about the physics and biology teachers, (doesn’t-give-a-shit no-one-passes-the-exam kind of things). So I took psychology, and it changed my life. The specifics aren’t that important. The teacher probably needed therapy herself. The guy sitting to my right spent the entire class playing games on his laptop and passed every test. The girl sitting to my left talked about masturbating with a baseball bat. It was all very educational. With things like that psychology class, there’s what you are there to learn and then there’s what you are actually learning, but what really screws you over is what you realize, years later, that you learned without having a clue you were learning it.
If you’ve studied psychology you know that it’s a very young science, historically speaking, and its theories are still very much under development. There are competing groups in every field, but only in psychology do they have to teach high-schoolers half a dozen mutually-exclusive “perspectives.” Late in the year, sometime in spring, we were looking at cognitive psychology. To grossly oversimplify, it’s all about modeling cognition on computer programing – input, output, data processing, whatever. Our final project for the unit was this puzzle we had to solve and then write about the process. Imagine a checkerboard, 8x8, cut into 12 irregularly shaped pieces, each containing from 3 to 7 squares; you have to reassemble the pieces so that they all fit together into the checkerboard pattern. Our assignment sheet had these little paper strips we were supposed to cut out and then mess around with until we found a solution. It was maddening. The pieces of paper wouldn’t lie flat and they slid under and over each other as you tried to arrange them and they were so small the lightest breath scattered them. The day before the assignment was due a friend of mine told me he had figured it out. The problem was impossible; the pieces did not actually fit together and the only reason we were trying to fit them together was that we had been told that it was a puzzle, and puzzles have solutions. This was the point of the assignment, or so he claimed, to understand at what point you have to reassess your input and adjust your expectations.
Later that night I was procrastinating on my paper and I decided to try something a little different. I loved fighting with puzzles like the ones we had been given, but I was finding it  heinously frustrating for no better reason than that the pieces were so difficult to manipulate. So I recreated the whole thing with Legos and figured out something pretty quickly – finding ways they fit together was difficult, but not impossible, so the real problem was finding a solution that made the checkerboard pattern. The whole thing just seemed so improbable, like there was no real reason to believe that there was one perfect way that it fit together. I had been assuming that the puzzle had been created by cutting up a checkerboard, but there was no way to know if the pieces had just been created randomly instead. There was the right number of squares to fit an 8x8 grid, but I knew of no way to verify that it was possible to combine them perfectly. Yet I also knew of no way to prove that it was impossible, and I was still feeling pretty uninspired about typing up my friend’s conclusions, so I kept at it. Later that night I found myself looking at a gap that fit the pieces I had yet to use and in a few moments it was finished. I can’t tell you how I solved it. I don’t remember what I wrote in my paper. I don’t think I had any grand theory of how it all worked.
This was all well and good, I’m sure I got an A on the project, but I kept the Lego pieces at my desk and continued to play with them for months. I would dump them out of the little tray I’d made and then forget how they went together and mess with them for awhile before I dug out my write-up and reassembled the checkerboard. All of this until the day I found another solution. Not just another way the pieces fit together, I’d found 2 or 3 of those by this point, but another way the checkerboard pattern could be made. If there were 2 perfect solutions, I wondered, could there be more? I tried and have continued to try ever since and have not found a third but that does not mean that one does not exist. When there was one, that one existed because it had been designed that way, but now I wonder if my friend was right, if the pieces had been assembled at random and I had forced my own expectations upon them.
This is what I learned but did not know it at the time: the problem precedes the solution so that there is no solution before we find it. I imagine the world as a problem needing a solution and I imagine that a solution can be found because the world is like that checkerboard, cut apart and awaiting reassembly. Because it has been disassembled it must be possible to put it back together. It’s like when you get a spring-loaded caming device stuck in a crack while rock climbing, you have to believe that if the lobes worked their way in, the process can be reversed and you will be able to get it out. You tell yourself this over and over to maintain faith that what you are trying to do is possible. But the world isn’t like that; it’s all one thing, no intervention but a single movement. So imagine instead a loose chockstone stuck in that crack. It may be possible to get it out or it may not, it may come out the way it went in but it may never have gone in at all (it could have broken off from inside the crack). For that puzzle I found multiple solutions but I didn’t have to find any. It could have been impossible but my faith that it wasn’t, based on a false certainty that there was one and only one true solution, gave me the perseverance to find a way.
We are thus faced with an inexpedient truth, a reality that is not helpful. It is better, for the purposes of solving the puzzle, to believe that there is an intension behind it. Another rock-climbing analogy will help clarify what I mean. When attempting a route at a climbing gym one has the assurance that no matter how difficult, it was designed to be climbed ­– there is an intended sequence. Outdoors, on real rock, there is so such security. Any given new route has the potential to be simply impossible. We are using the rock for purposes foreign to its origins and its conformity to our needs is coincidental. There may be no solution or there may be many because the puzzle has no objective existence. When something in the world is causing us difficulty, a rock climb or anything else, there is not a solution hidden within it – making things work for us is not a reassembly or an ordering. The implications of this, on both macro and micro levels, are frightening. What I feel is wrong with my life is not a single element I have missed, a misstep from the path; there is no answer, no code that will unlock my joy and contentment. The wider world is the same way. There is no lost perfection: no world without sin, without economic classes or gender roles or racial inequality. No utopia from which we have declined. We can certainly deal with the problems facing the communities that we inhabit, but we have to remember two things, that what we are doing is creating something new, and that what we are doing will not result in a perfect world. 


Top three reasons why men and women arguing about feminism is stupid:

1. In 80% of generalizations about men and women, the term “humans” can be substituted. Humans like having power over others. Humans feel entitled to what they want. Human reduce other humans to objects for their use.
2. There is a power dynamic between men and women that is inherent in our basic biological makeup. It can be manipulated one way or the other but, for the simple reason that human societies are not static, there is not and will never be an equality equilibrium.
3. Men want power over women (duh). Women want power over men (see reason #2). Neither has a right to this power. 
(with a little substitution, points 1 and 3 work equally well for arguments about race)


Bullet Points from a Treatise on Homophobia

- After writing a lengthy examination of what homophobia is and how it can be combated through rational argumentation I decided that most of what I had written was presumptuous, uneducated nonsense, in large part because I am not a target for homophobia and am therefore likely blind to its true nature. What I am presenting here are a few of the most salient points.
- Homophobia is not a very useful term. It does not mean what it means. It is used to mean being opposed to homosexuality, but the word means an irrational fear of homosexuality.
- Here are some useful terms: conservative & liberal. The liberal calls the conservative conservative and the conservative calls themself conservative and when they say the word they mean the same thing; for the conservative this is a good thing and for the liberal it is a bad thing. This allows the value judgments being made to be completely clear. No one wastes time arguing about terminology and the actual goodness or badness of conservation and liberation can be discussed. This is what we need for homophobia.
- “Homophobia” hides a diversity of human behavior behind a single generalizing term, making it seem more alike than it actually is.
- “Know your enemy” - Sun Tzu said it, sort of. If you want to combat something you must first understand it on its own terms. Homophobia must be understood not by how homosexuals experience it but by how homophobics come to express it.
- There are four types of “homophobia.”
- True homophobia exists. It is the people who find homosexuality disgusting and want it to be purged from the earth. This belief has something to do with gender identity equating to self-worth. There’s not a lot you can do about these people except vote them out of office and pass laws making their actions illegal.
- A lot of homophobic people spout biblical justifications, most of this is bullshit but for a few it is their essential reason for what they believe. These people tend to be biblical literalists. I have yet to find an effective way to argue against them. Hell hath no circularity like the conservative Christian.
- Most “homophobic people” are basically societal hetero-normatists, they think that civilization needs the traditional family to function. There’s all sorts of evidence to the contrary and it is worth presenting it in a calm, non-militant, non-alienating way. No one, not even the most open-minded person is the world, is going to believe you if you start the conversation calling them spawn of Hitler; it’s called dignity, and people like to keep it as long as they can.
- There is a fourth kind of homophobia that is difficult to get a handle on because it stridently denies that it is opposed in any way to homosexuality. But these people still mock homosexuals. They find them weird and ridiculous even if they are all for gay rights. If you’ve seen Louis C.K.’s stand-up you know what I am talking about. I think it’s a residue of the other three forms, but I’m not sure.
- What we seem to be talking about most of the time when we say “homophobia” is not really a fear of homosexuality but a fear of its effects on society, which is rooted in a belief that people are basically heterosexual and that homosexuality is aberrant. As human sexuality is culturally constructed, not biologically determined, societies can be structured around any configuration of human relations. This is the case that has to be made, and its not really all that difficult to make, and I am consistently amazed at how many homosexual activists would rather parade their moral superiority and demean their enemies than actually try to win the national discussion.
- How trans-sexuality fits into this I haven’t a clue, and that’s one of the biggest reasons I abandoned the treatise.


Problems with the Redefinition of Rape

There is a strand is current feminist thought that seeks to reduce violence against women by making it very clear that violence against women is unacceptable. While I do not disagree with this in theory, I doubt how effective it will be. Men who commit violence against women are unlikely to be guilt-tripped out of it. We all know rape is wrong, it’s just that some of us don’t care. Part of this strand often seems to be statements along the lines of, “no means no, anything short of full consent is rape.” Again, I do not disagree, but also again, I have a quibble or two. First, definitions of rape do not exist for the sole benefit of victims and potential victims of rape. As callous as this may sound, you don’t get to insist that the definitions of words serve your cause, that’s just not how language works. It’s like when disabled people try to redefine the word “disabled” to mean something other than less able. If you don’t like the implications of a word then you are free to use a different word, but you don’t get to redefine that word or insist that everyone else avoid it. Our society should have a definition of rape that makes sense for both victims and perpetrators of rape, so that if someone is raped they should know it and if someone commits a rape they should know it. Rape is like murder, you can’t do it accidently. This is why I object to attempts to redefine rape so that it covers a wide range of iffy sexual behavior, i.e. sex with drunk or initially sleeping persons.
Now any feminist who is reading this and does not know me is likely to think I am defending myself, that I am insisting on a definition of rape that is to my own benefit. Anyone who knows me is likely wondering why I am concerned about this at all. I don’t date, I don’t go to parties, I have never been drunk around a woman. I think that the objectification of women is implicit in male desire and also completely unacceptable. If that means that male desire is inherently unethical then so be it, I’ve made it this far keeping my desires to myself so I might as well go all the way. This entire argument is premised upon the fact that most people do not feel the way I do and believe that their desires are valid.
Returning to the problem at hand, my real issue with these redefinitions of rape is that they tend to minimize any responsibility women have for themselves. In actual rape the full responsibility of course falls on the perpetrator (“she was asking for it” argument are pure bullshit), but if a man approaches a woman and convinces her, against her better judgment, to sleep with him, he is not raping her. No matter how many times she refuses him, if she agrees to it, and going along with it constitutes agreement, it is not rape. That last comment is pointed at the line of argument that seeks to redefine consent. Here’s what consent looks like: two people having sex with neither person having threatened violence or beaten the other into submission. To define rape and consent in the ways that I have been seeing it defined is to say that women are not responsible for their own choices. If a woman does not want to sleep with a man it is her responsibility to not do so unless physically forced. Of course, if a woman makes it clear that she does not want to sleep with a man it is his responsibility to leave her alone, but in the circles that this little rant is directed toward that point is not exactly under discussion.


Oh, and while I’m at it, 

There is a difference between being racist and being racially insensitive and only the former is a hate crime.

Being opposed to gay marriage (which I am not) is not a justification for total societal ostracization. 

Ostracization should be a word.

Whiskey is disgusting.

The film of Ender’s Game sucked. 

Iron Man is an un-compelling superhero.

To say one could care less about something does not emphasize how little you care about that thing and I’ve been saying that for years and not just since it was featured in Orange Is The New Black.

Being condescending and high minded toward people that have been dead for hundreds of years does not make you a good historian, no matter how racist and sexist they were.

Pointing out that men who commit violent acts against women are misogynists is about as effective as pointing out that child molesters are pedophiles, unless you are actually willing to dive into their psychology, calling them names doesn’t do any good.

It is downright hilarious how fast everyone flipped on Macklemore (who I don’t and never did listen to) as soon as he won a Grammy.

John Darnielle is still the greatest living songwriter.

George Martin is a serialized comic strip compared to Tolkien.

No one born in the 20th century gets to put two middle initials on their published works.

I think I’m done now, It’s been fun.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Best Way to Procrastinate


The best way to procrastinate on a 1500 word essay: write a 2200 word essay for fun.

Problems in Punctuation

The punctuation in common American English use is inadequate. Its point and purpose is to allow written language to mimic the logical formulations of speech, to distinguish one thought from another and to define the relationships between thoughts, but it is far too simple for this task. One symbol, the comma for instance, is often used to for several, quite different, functions, creating a fair amount of ambiguity as to its meaning. For example, in the previous sentence four commas were used to offset interjections and one to distinguish a clause. It might otherwise have read, “One symbol – the comma for instance – is often used to for several – quite different – functions, creating[…]”, but the em dash has other uses and could just as easily replace the fifth comma. Another option would be, “One symbol (the comma for instance) is often used to for several (quite different) functions, creating[…].” This emphasizes that both interjections are not necessary for the structure of the sentence, but overstates their separation; parentheses generally indicate a greater degree of separation from the main idea than in this instance. The basic logical problem is not one of clarity, for the intended thought is perfectly clear in all three versions, rather it is that the relationship the comma indicates changes, and therefore the symbol serves only the relationship to spoken language in that it indicates a pause in speech. The first set of commas indicates an interjection, a clarifying phrase that could be entirely dropped out. The second and third commas as used for a similar reason, but are not identical; they set apart the two adjectives applied to the noun “function,” but without the word “quite” they would not be necessary, as what is “several” is the difference of the functions, but what is “quite” is only the difference. The fifth comma indicates neither an true interjection nor an adjectival interjection, a series of adjectives, but a clause; it is an extension of the thought that cannot stand alone, as a semi-colon would indicate, but is not grammatically integral to the rest of the sentence, meaning that the attached thought serves it, but it does not serve the attached thought.
The ambiguity of the comma is only the tip of the iceberg of our punctuation problems. A more fundamental issue is how to indicate relationships between complete thoughts that are not reliant on each other grammatically. We have, essentially, five levels of separation, only three of which are clearly defined. The paragraph break, the period, and the semi-colon indicate progressively lesser degrees of separation. The colon and the em dash can also divide complete thoughts, thoughts that could form their own sentence grammatically, but their meaning is ambiguous and their usage debated. The colon’s most common use is to set off a list, as in, ‘here are some types of punctuation: commas, periods, semi-colons.’ This could be re-written as ‘some types of punctuation here are commas, periods, and semi-colons,’ demonstrating that the colon is really just a way of saying that what comes after is to be equated with what came before. The em dash has a very similar usage, except that it can also, as shown above, be used as a comma or an set of parentheses.
Other failings of American English punctuation include the misquotation that arises from the demand that quotation marks go outside punctuation and the limited nature of the question and exclamation mark symbols, which can only replace periods despite the turns of speech they indicate sometimes occurring within sentences, as in, “Am I asking a question, because the question mark is at the end of the sentence and this second clause is just a statement?” It would be preferable, as it is the first clause and not the second that contains the question, for the question mark to be where the comma is and for the sentence to end with a period.
These problems demand a variety of solutions. The simplest is the last – we need to have comma versions of question marks and exclamation points and quotations marks need to go inside punctuation if the quote demands it. While almost prohibitively difficult to implement on a personal scale, this would require no substantial modifications to the way we write. The comma, em dash, and semi-colon issues are more vexing. We could eliminate almost all use of all three marks in favor of their verbal replacements. ‘The comma is one instance of a symbol that is often used for multiple and quite different functions and this creates a fair amount of ambiguity as to its meaning.’ This is obviously a poor idea, for not only is the translation approximate, “multiple” must be used in place of “several” because “several” was being used as a determiner and not as an adjective, but, despite its technical integrity (the first “and” refers only to the words on either side of it, meaning that the second is permissible), it reads like a run-on sentence and the average editor would suggest the deletion of the second “and” in favor of a period or semi-colon. This would add a whole new set of a problems; with a period one might wonder what “this” and “its” refer to, while the use of a semi-colon might restrict the continuation of the thought; while not technically incorrect, the use of multiple semi-colons (“…as to its meaning; this is obviously a poor idea”) is considered bad form.
Instead of the escalating dilemmas minimizing the use of punctuation creates, what we need is a redefinition and sharpening of their meaning and use. Sentences like the example we have been using seem littered with commas, yet there is no good way to express the same thought without them. Many writers choose to simply neglect their use, just as they neglect the use of the semi-colon, but this leads only to imprecision, with breaks in sentence structure unmarked and relations between thoughts ambiguous. What this attitude amounts to is an admission that written word cannot have the same complexity as spoken word. Were one to read the sentence before the last aloud, with its three commas, it would sound perfectly natural, yet written it is cumbersomely complex. The basic problem, as we described earlier, is that the comma is serving two functions – it is setting off an interjection (“just as they neglect the use of the semi-colon”), after which the thought continues, and setting off a clause, after which it does not. The sentence we just wrote solves this problem by using an em dash to insure that every comma sets off an interjection and using a set of parentheses to avoid an awkward double interjection. That the thought does not resume after the interjection set off by the last comma should not cause one to confuse it with a clause; “after which it does not” is to “setting off a clause” what “after which the thought continues” is to “setting off an interjection.” As this last sentence demonstrates however, a semi-colon may be just as easily inserted as an em dash. The difference should be one of connectivity; when one thought applies very closely to the thought that has preceded it, a semi-colon should be used instead of a period. An em dash should imply a even closer connection – a connection between a thought and the part of the thought that preceded it, almost like a colon with only one item in the list. In a way these are all forms of commas – in speech they all translate to pauses where one would otherwise need a verbal connection. That last em dash could be replaced with ‘because’ or ‘[comma] for.’
None of this, however, solves the problem of the original sentence. If em dashes and semi-colons set apart two complete, if closely related, thoughts, they cannot set apart clauses that are not independent of each other. The previous sentence serves just as well as a example. Neither an em dash nor a semi-colon can replace the comma between “thoughts” and “they.” What we need then, is another way of setting off interjections so that commas can be exclusively used to form complex thoughts. For this, there is no existing mechanism. If brackets ([ ]) are used to clarify quotations, the existing punctuation marks on the standard keyboard without a common usage in American English prose are braces ({ }), chevrons (< >), the underscore ( _ ), the tilde (~), and the vertical bar ( | ), and all of these are on the keyboard because they have common uses outside American English prose (most notably in musical and mathematical notation). Regardless, all of these are too elaborate for our purposes, which is to find an alternative to the unobtrusive comma is its most unobtrusive form. One can imagine some sort of simple point (•) being used, but already there are complications – used like an ellipses this might seem natural for true interjections, but it would be cumbersome for adjectival interjections (the difficult• problematic• frustrating• punctuation mark).
The common answer is to write more simply. It is to restrict ourselves to those styles of communication that are not broken by punctuation because they construct their thoughts in a uncomplicated and straightforward manner. Yet, while this has a time and a place, it is not always the way one wishes to write; smooth prose, flowing off the pen and tongue, imparts a very specific tone, one that is not always appropriate or desired. The function of punctuation, and the laws of grammar that pertain to them, is to make written language as easily understood as spoken language and at this task it is failing. This is evidenced by the fact that throughout this paper we have deliberately written many intricate, convoluted, almost impenetrable, sentences, not one of which was grammatically incorrect. To some of these problems there are simple answers, to others the solutions are complex; some of these solutions can be easily implemented, others will require the creation of new punctuation marks, still others will result in frequent corrections by well-meaning editors. What they all have in common is an admission that the system as it currently stands is in need of revision, that proper American English grammar contains serious logical flaws and lacks the specificity to deal with truly complex sentences. For the moment this admission is enough.

For clarity’s sake, here is, in outline form, how you can implement our conclusions and what you can expect when you do:
- Mention, as often as is it arises, how question mark and exclamation point usage can be improved, and improvise those improvements when writing by hand.
- Insist on correct quotation, even if it results in awkward double punctuation (,”.). If a word or punctuation mark is in a set of quotation marks and is not inside brackets it should be exactly as it is found in wherever it is being quoted from; anything else is misquotation.
- Also, and this was not mentioned earlier, us the double quotation marks (“”) only when YOU are actually quoting something; use single quotation marks (‘’) when either something you are quoting is quoting something or you wish to use a word or phrase as a word or phrase and not as meaning whatever it means; this is a somewhat difficult concept to convey, but I have been careful to use both forms correctly throughout this paper.
- Use the fine distinctions I have outlined between colons, em dashes, semi-colons, periods, and paragraph breaks. These are generally issues of degree of connectivity and so the goal is to be consistent – any two thoughts set apart by a period should be about as separate from each other as any other two thoughts set apart by a period. Overuse of the period results in awkward, choppy, prose. Using the more gentle colon, em dash, and semi-colon shows connectivity between thoughts and helps the reader understand how your ideas work together.
- Use commas to offset interjections that can be removed without harming the integrity of the sentence.
- Separate elements, even the final, of an adjectival interjection (interjections that consist of lists of adjectives) with commas, but note that lists of nouns still function as true interjections and do not need a comma after the last item.
- Note that these last two are provisional; a better way of setting off interjections that does not litter sentences with contradictory commas needs to be found.


Simple
Complex
Easily implemented

Correct use of commas for interjections and clauses
Requiring non-standard marks
Improvement of ? and !
Revision of punctuation for interjections
Prone to correction
(based on 8 years of my grammar being corrected by highly educated people)
Correct use of quotation marks
Logically consistent use of semi-colons, em dashes, and periods

Funny story: my peers are generally the ones who attempt to vivisect and reform my labyrinthine sentences; my professors, I suppose, are either discerning enough to know that technically I am right or are more worried about my clear lapses in reason on an analytic level (they don’t so much care how I am saying it, they are more concerned that what I am saying is wrong). In a rare moment of triumph an English professor corrected a student who was critiquing my “run-on” sentences, saying that my compositions were actually quite architecturally impressive, if difficult to read at times.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Tolkien Fun Time

The stack on the right is higher than the stack on the left, I don't know what that means.

I don't know where my copy of The Hobbit is, but I also had to return Tolkien the Medievalist to the library, so each side is missing one text.

Keep in mind I still have ten books about Tolkien up in my room that are not relevant to this paper.

It's possible I'm writing on the correct subject.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Update

So last Sunday was two weeks since the accident up on Mount Baker and I thought I'd post something of an update.
Overall things are progressing quite well, I can drive again and carry a backpack, laying down for more than about five hours is pretty bad, but that's what the painkillers are for.
Looking at another two weeks before I start (very slowly) training again, in the mean time it's been a lot of Starcraft and actually doing my school work.


This photo was from about a week ago, but it looks about the same now.
The big one is from the tube the emergency room people put in, the smaller one was for when the pneumo came back after they took the big one out (having a plastic tube pulled out of your chest cavity is one of the most indescribably unpleasant experiences I can recall).

On a slightly different note: why is there no bruising? I collided with a pine tree hard enough to fracture seven ribs, why am I not black and blue from armpit to pelvis? I don't get it.

Edit -
This is literally how I felt every time they asked me about my pain in the hospital:
http://xkcd.com/883/
They kept seeming surprised when I would say 2 or 3, yet would wince when I sat up.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Whitehorse

Adam, Josh, and I climbed Whitehorse, it was an awesome time.
These photos are not exactly in chronological order, not sure why.

First view of the summit, almost hidden behind the spire.

Looking up toward High Pass

Ice flows along the traverse

Three Fingers visible just over the ridge


 High Pass is just to the left of that spire

Summit block, high point is actually on the left



Adam and Josh approaching the summit block


Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Regarding the Anonymous Person Who Stole My Laptop Last Summer


Unless they immediately wiped the hard drive someone somewhere was or will be really weirded out.

I can just imagine,
"This iTunes library is equal parts Alan Parsons Project, scandinavian death metal, and Enya, what the hell?"
"There appear to be in depth plans for a futuristic floating city-state based on Puritan moralism, anti-imperial warmongering, and kelp farming, who was this guy?"
"Is this a project to re-write the Old Testament?- I can't quite tell."
"These can't possibly be his bank records, no financial institution in the world calculates interest like that, and why would he spend so much money at the post office?"
"Who creates an excel spreadsheet to log their Age of Empires progress?"

No calls from homeland security yet though, so we're all good.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Fictions (3)

The assignment for this one was to write from the perspective of someone either of the opposite sex or someone older than sixty. This is actually somewhat longer than what I originally submitted.


You Are Going To Burn That Photograph

You are driving home. Empty beer bottles are rolling around in the trunk. The floor of the car is littered with garbage. The seat beside you is empty. It has been empty your entire life.
When you arrive you will turn off the engine and sit and wait for the song to finish. You have been doing this your entire life. And then you will go inside and pour yourself a tall glass of water and drink it down in one long draught. You trained yourself to do this when you where a teenager and you have been doing it ever since. The house will be empty. It will be full of cheap furniture and hand-me-down cutlery and long, hand-made, shelves of books, but it will be empty. In the garage will be boxes of children’s toys that have not been opened in half a century and will not be opened until you die, at which point, like the other contents of your house, they will be thrown away.
After you drink your glass of water you will take a book off the shelf, an old copy of The Lacuna that you have read probably twenty times, and from between pages 224 and 225 you will remove a photo. This is another thing you have been doing almost your entire life. You used to take that photo into the bathroom and open your fly and try to forget that empty seat and those unopened boxes, and for a short time you would. That is the beauty of the act, that it never lost its singular ability to bring upon you a frantic forgetfulness. But now you look at the photo and you barely remember what you were trying to forget. The image of the face, half obscured by her hand, is an old friend with whom conversation has become superfluous, and so you will replace the photo and replace the book and in the corner of your eye as you turn will be a shadow along the edge of the open door.
This little ribbon of blackness will squirm in your periphery and before your gaze can turn you will see within it the wing of Apollyon, bat-like and tattered, and perhaps an eye and part of a claw reaching across the carpet. This sight used to wrench you toward it all your senses buzzing but now it will only bring a faint smile and half a glance. The demons that have follow you everywhere since you were a child and closed in whenever you thought of them have long since ceased to frighten you. With what would they threaten? Are they going to pull you from the causeway into the slough or the chasm? You know all the bitter little sentiments they are going to whisper into your ear, you know their truth and their import and that this day they will have all of one and none of the other. And so you will nod gently to your old enemies, a gesture brimming with a thousand battles fought and lost, and then you will sit down at the rickety card table in the center of the room and consider the game.
It is a game, or a form of it, that you have been playing your entire life. The board is a map of the world drawn by someone with an excellent eye for coastlines but only the dimmest conception of politics and a gross underestimation of oceans, yet the balance is perfect and you have made of its dynamics a science. It is a game of chance in imitation of history, you role the dice and men die, you turn over cards and they are born. You will play for all six nations, each turn a rotation of the compass within your mind. You have become exceedingly nimble at this and only in the faintest way do you still catch yourself lamenting the fall of your momentary opponents.
You know this as you drive home. You know that you will play the game until you hunger and then briefly until you tire and then you will sleep. You know what you will eat and you know what book will calm your mind for bed. A bed which is empty. A bed which has been empty your entire life. You know all of this and you knew it yesterday and you will know it tomorrow. So pull over your car! Crash it if you have to! Send it spinning into the guardrail, have you not ever wondered if those wooden 8x6s could withstand a collision? Then, if you still live, get out and run! It does not matter which direction, pick some direction you have never, in your entire life, gone. Fall on your knees when you tire and scream – not that whisper-shriek you used when you were young, scream until you cough blood, and your vision blurs, and you don’t know where you are anymore. Scream until that wretched cavity somewhere above your lung implodes and your emptiness itself begins to be heard.
Now, while your mind is quiet, listen. Go home. Go to that place you have called your home. Take a cup from the counter and smash it on the floor. Throw the card table against the wall. Those boxes, you are going to take them to the church down the road and leave them with whoever you find there, but first, first that photograph. You are going to burn that photograph. You are going to cut that picture out and cauterize the wound it leaves. You are going to exorcise those demons if it leaves you bleeding on the floor, and then you are to get up, and set your house in order, and live like your entire life is still before you.