Of mountains & history

Day six of 66 days of in the moment (6/66) – history.  We spent a couple days at Fallen Leaf Lake just north of South Lake Tahoe.  At around 6,377 feet, we were well into the Sierras, plenty of fresh air and spectacular mountain views. 

In addition to appreciating a great view, Fallen Leaf Lake also includes other features along the lake trail, such as a 1934 Depression-era dam.  One thing, like this dam, represents volumes of history and a multitude of human experience.  So many stories can be told from material culture the past – history is truly amazing.

Mountains are awe-inspiring to me.  But it is history that comforts, gives me pause, and helps me make sense out of life.

History reminds me of how many people have come before me, how little has really changed, and that life keeps moving forward.

And appreciate that I have a choice – most in the past did not.



The mud & the blood & the beer

mythical creatures, treks through forests and streams, good and evil

It all started with a story…

Johnny Cash’s A Boy Named Sue served as inspiration for the “Sue” in Tobey Sue.  The lyrics describe a rough and tumble, and unlikely, story of a son confronting his father for giving him the name Sue and being a deadbeat dad.  The song includes a brawl between father and son:

“…kicking and a’ gouging in the mud and the blood and the beer.”

Johnny Cash, one of my favorite singer/story-tellers, and his hit song inspired half of the name of a boy named Tobey Sue – Photo credit

It’s a fun song, but rather unsettling if taken too literally.  When I listen to it, I think of the need to make the best with what we are given.  I think we have all had our own internal brawl.

Not to be confused with the cliches of a midlife crisis, my brawl was more tasteful than the boy named Sue, complete with mythical creatures, treks through forests and streams, and epic struggles between good and evil.

the mud & banishing my Golem

It’s easy to let your guard down and settle.  It starts with the little day-to-day things, then develops into habits.  A quick assessment a while ago found that I was starting to serve a greedy and uninspiring master, like a Golem shaped out of soil.  I took note and made adjustments and have exorcised my Golem.  I work to stay in the moment, keep inspired with one foot firmly grounded and one just outside my comfort zone.


Golem – dull and uninspired, this magical, mythical, metaphorical creature is singularly focused on doing its master’s bidding – Photo credit


Rediscover your inspiration, I have been reminding myself why California is amazing and why I enjoy change

As promised, below are my travels through forest and stream.  In September 2015, Kent and I took a nearly 10 mile hike along the Panorama Trail in Yosemite.

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To stay inspired and just outside my comfort zone, last week I started training for a half marathon.

the blood & living guilt free

I have sought to have a blood-less existence by not eating red meat.  My motives are mostly based on ethical grounds, but there are many health benefits too.

I have a choice – if it causes pain and I don’t need to do it, I don’t

And I have been working to apply this simple choice to the other areas of my life – there are always alternatives so I’m trying to keep it simple.

It’s great to stop, drop, and roll every so often and take a self inventory and make sure you can answer this question – Photo credit

and the beer?

Step back and think how pervasive booze is in our society.  How many Facebook memes and Hallmark moments include a reference to a bottle of wine as part of the humor?  How many movies and TV scenes include overindulgence?  And look at all the many problems it causes…

Consider the fact that we amended the constitution twice over it.  Wow.  It ranks right up there with the right to vote, bear arms, trial by jury, due process and the abolition of slavery – indeed many of the foundations on how we as Americans define ourselves.

And then there’s a CONSTITUTIONAL prohibition on booze.  Anyway,… ’nuff said!  I challenged myself to really notice its presence around me and in my life.  Then I decided to give it up as an experiment.  I have been truly amazed with the results, but that’s for another time.

Right now it’s time for me to run 4 guilt-free miles.

Crossed signals

Why we don’t talk about WOW every day of our lives?

The short story, What I Intend, by Robert Reed in Asimov’s describes as its premise the big question – are we alone? – and the conundrum this question presents.

“The WOW signal from back in the seventies. For one brief moment, our sky was filled with a radio song that was both powerful and almost certainly not from around here. And why we don’t talk about WOW every day of our lives… well, that’s another conundrum.” – Robert Reed, What I Intend.

The story was great and it got me to wondering about the WOW signal so I read more. My surf through Wikipedia and Wikimedia Commons, revealed fascinating complexities of the 1977 signal and subsequent work to find other signals. Even better is the 30th anniversary report of the event.

A scan of a color copy of the original computer printout, taken several years after the 1977 arrival of the Wow! signal. Credit: The Ohio State University Radio Observatory and the North American AstroPhysical Observatory.
A scan of a color copy of the original computer printout, taken several years after the 1977 arrival of the Wow! signal. Credit: The Ohio State University Radio Observatory and the North American AstroPhysical Observatory.

On the 35th anniversary of the Wow! signal the Arecibo Observatory beamed a response from humanity, containing 10,000 Twitter messages, in the direction that the signal originated. It certainly is a sign of the times – the triumph of social media.

While it’s quite remarkable that humankind has decided to use Twitter to provide the format and content for possible first contact. My historian side can’t help thinking of more enduring formats and better content to communicate with other intelligent lifeforms.

Then again, people may have said something similar about the golden record placed aboard Voyager, which now plunges through space, to tell our story.