I Went to Church!

Yesterday, I attended the Sunday service of the Lycoming Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Williamsport. I wanted to go, because Dai-En Bennage, the Abbess of the Mt Equity Zendo, was the guest speaker.

She gave a very nice talk on a number of subjects. One of the things she talked about was the relationship between bio-fuels and world hunger.

A couple of the people looked genuinely surprised to learn that putting corn-ethanol in their gas tanks raises the price of corn, and subsequently, people in far-off lands starve to death.

After the talk was over, they had free cookies and apple cider. That was pretty nice.

God Listens (to Slayer)

The Unitarian Universalists were very nice people and I didn’t feel as if I were going to spontaneously combust, or that I might be struck by lightning, the way I do when I go inside most other churches.

They gave me some literature about UUism in general, and it was by far the least stupid of any church I’ve ever been to.

I can’t say that I’d go every Sunday, but when George Bush declares himself King and makes church attendance compulsory, I’ll probably go to a UU church if there aren’t any Zendos around.

Anyhow, if you’re looking for a religion that doesn’t ask you to believe in improbable things, Unitarian Universalism might be the ticket.

On the way home, I snapped a panorama from the Williamsport overlook. The leaves have finally changed color. (Click for big)

Williamsport Airport

Tents are for Sissies

Last night was clear and cold, and I wanted to test the limits of my summertime camping gear.

So, I met up with Klinutus and his jolly band of miscreants in the middle of the woods.

Soon, we had a roaring fire, some festive beverage, and all was right with the world.

The stars were out, there was no real chance of rain, so we camped manly style. No tents, just an emergency blanket, a therm-a-rest, and a sleeping bag.

Sleeping Pods
Sleeping pods

In my case, I was rocking the Ridgerest and a 40° North Face Allegheny.

This is the gear I normally use in the middle of July, but the bag says 40°, so I gave it a go.

It got down to just a hair above freezing, and I was friggan cold. A couple of times I was woken up by coyotes making noise, and I was damn near frozen.

I probably would have been OK, but I’m 6’5″, and I just can’t get my shoulders all the way into the bag.

I have a 20° bag and a -15° bag, and I don’t want any more bags, so I think I may buy a bivy sack to upgrade the Allegheny for colder weather.

Klinutus has made this system work with his quilt.
Klinutus’ bivy system

I think something like the Hilleberg Bivanorak would probably make it possible to sleep out under the stars down to maybe 25°.

Hilleberg Bivanorka

After that I could switch to my 20° bag, and I wouldn’t need a tent until the snow flies.

The Bivanorak is cool because there are sleeves, so you can stick your arms out to hold your beer. Plus it’s a nice shade of green to make it easy to hide from the authorities.

His Dark Materials

A few weeks ago, I was at the movies, and I saw a trailer for some new fantasy movie that had the audacity to compare itself with The Lord of the Rings.

I thought “who in the fuck do these people think they are?”

About a second later, an armour-plated, talking polar bear exploded into the frame.


I nearly soiled myself.

So, I went home, googled around, and found out that this movie is based on a book, and the book sounded pretty darn interesting.

It’s set in an alternate universe where John Calvin is elected pope, and the Vatican is moved to Geneva. There’s a sort of “Calvinist Inquisition” going on.

That sounded like somthing right up my alley, so, I read it.

The book was part of a trilogy as it turned out.

I read the whole trilogy.

It rocked.

Brandi read it. She thought it rocked.

Brandi’s parents are reading it now, and they even think it rocks.

You should probably read it too, because it rocks.

All those people who got all freaked out about Harry Potter’s “occult” witchcraft and whatnot are going to shit in their pants when the third book gets made into a movie. Not to give anything away, but let’s just say that the homosexual angels will be the least objectionable part of the story.

Anyhow, It’d be heresy to say these books are are good as LotR, but I can’t really say that they’re a heck of a lot worse.

Also, there are smoking hot chicks that can fly around on broomsticks


You might as well get the books now. That way, when the movie comes out, you can be all smug like me and tell people how the book was “so much better.”

5 Jihadis out of 5
I give His Dark Materials 5 Jihadis out of 5.


For the past few weeks I’ve been finding it harder and harder to care about the world of cubicles and traffic and the 5 o’clock news.

I decided it was time spend a weekend as a hermit. So, I loaded up the bike and some camping gear and headed for the north woods.

The Pine Creek Rail Trail is 60 miles long and runs through some really nice scenery (especially at this time of year)

Little Pine Creek

I got there early Saturday afternoon and put in about 25 miles before I stopped for dinner at the Waterville Hotel, where I got a “mountain burger” and “freedom fries” (It said “freedom fries” right on the menu, no kidding).

I was lazy and didn’t get a permit for “primitive” camping along the trail, so I pitched my tent in the State Park, which wasn’t nearly as deserted as I was hoping. I was prepared though, and brought earplugs to block out the radios and screaming children, and I managed to get to sleep.

Next morning, I got back on the trail. I wanted to to get in a few more miles, and soak in a little more scenery before I had to pack up to get home for work the next day.

Pine Creek

More Scenery

One of the great things about the Pine Creek trail is that there are outhouses about every 5 miles. This is extremely handy, especially if you were eating “mountain burgers” the night before.

I was a little bit disappointed that the leaves hadn’t changed color more. Things were still pretty green up there for this time of year.

Hopefully, I’ll be able to get back one more time before the snow comes and the valley is overrun with Panserbjørne.

There’s a few more pictures in the Gallery, if you’re interested.

Just Numbers

Big weekend. Pics and stories tomorrow maybe.

This weekend: 50 miles
October: 95 miles
2007: 1006 miles