Mahayana

Pure comedy genius. After a rough week (sinus infection and a dead car) this made me laugh.

Mayahana Bicycle T-shirt

Click the link if you don’t understand the pun.

Mein Volkswagen ist Kaputt

After 8 years and 150,000 miles of faithful service, my trusty Volkswagen has abruptly shit the bed. It’s going to cost me almost a month’s wages to get it back on the road.

Bummer. But, it’s still cheaper than buying another car. They say it will take at least until next Wednesday to fix it, so I’m back to being a bicycle commuter for at least the next several days.

I’ve kind of been all obsessed with hiking and backpacking lately, and I’ve been neglecting my bikes, so this is as good an excuse as any to get back on the bike.

Books: Walden

This is another book you can download for free from Manybooks.net

Pretty much everybody I know who is into the woods / outdoors / nature scene loves this book.

If you don’t know the story, the author goes into the woods, builds a cabin, and lives kind of like a hermit for a while, an writes down his observations on how nice it is to be in the woods, and why being a farmer or a merchant in town is a waste of time.

Everybody knows a thousand and one famous quotations from Walden, but here are a few of my favorites.

For my fellow curmudgeons and misanthropes:

I find it wholesome to be alone the greater part of the time. To be in company, even with the best, is soon wearisome and dissipating. I love to be alone. I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude.

Perhaps of interest to vegetarians:

I believe that every man who has ever been earnest to preserve his higher or poetic faculties in the best condition has been particularly inclined to abstain from animal food, and from much food of any kind.

Certainly no nation that lived simply in all respects, that is, no nation of philosophers, would commit so great a blunder as to use the labor of animals.

And, my all time favorite:

As for the Pyramids, there is nothing to wonder at in them so much as the fact that so many men could be found degraded enough to spend their lives constructing a tomb for some ambitious booby, whom it would have been wiser and manlier to have drowned in the Nile, and then given his body to the dogs.

I give Walden 5 Jihadis out of 5
5 jihadis out of 5

Studious people may also want to read Ken Kifer’s analysis of Walden. It’s a little over my head, but maybe you are smarter than me, and will enjoy it.

Hiking: AT – PA325 to Horse Shoe Trail

I spent the past week battling an evil cold / flu thing. I was just starting to feel better Friday, so Saturday, Klinutus and I set out to hike the section of the AT from PA325 to Swatara Gap. The weather was supposed to be warm and pleasant.

The weatherman was somewhat misinformed. We found the trail covered in a sheet of ice. It took us all morning to slip and slide our way to the top of the mountain, and then it started to pour icy rain on us.

The snow started to melt into a steamy, icy fog, and ice-covered tree limbs were crashing to the ground all over the place.

Steamy Snow

After a bit of calculations, it became obvious that we were not going to make it to Swatara Gap without some night hiking, and I really hate night hiking, especially on ice-covered rocks.

We bagged the hike, and walked back down the mountain. It’s probably a good thing, because I’m sick as a dog again, and I probably would be worse off if I had spent the night under a tarp sleeping on the snow.

Books: Juniata, River of Sorrows

Juniata, River of Sorrows

Juniata, River of Sorrows is two stories in one. One of them is about the author’s 100 mile fishing trip, where he floated the whole length of the Juniata River in a Jonboat. The other story is about all the grizzy conflicts between white settlers and the Indians who lived along the river in colonial times.

The stories are interwoven every other chapter, so you don’t get too bored. I personally don’t much care about how many bass the author caught on his fishing trip, but it helps to cut away to the fish stories when you can’t stand anymore talk about the Indians disemboweling settlers and burning people alive.

I think it’s really cool to hear about how much crazy stuff went on around here, where most people think nothing exciting ever happens. I grew up not far from Sunbury, so I had heard about Shikellamy, but I didn’t know he was such a badass.

I live only about 10 miles from the confluence of the Juniata and Susquehanna rivers, so this book is perhaps of more interest to locals than to the general public, but if you like to hear exciting stories about Indians and stuff, you might like it even if you live way out someplace in the Louisiana Purchase.

I give Juniata, River of Sorrows 4 Jihadis out of 5

4 Jihadis out of 5

You can read a free chapter online, if you want to get a feel for how it goes.

Hiking: AT – Susquehanna River to Peters Mountain Road

Yesterday, I finished up the hike I intended to complete two weeks ago. I mistakenly looked at an outdated map, which listed the distance as 4 miles, when it was actually more like 7.

Map

The dashed red line is where the map in my Topo software said the trail was. The squiggly back line is where the trail actually is, as recorded by my GPS.

It’s a short, but strenuous climb from the river to the top of the mountain. You can see the river the whole time you work your way up the switchbacks, which is very disorienting, because the river is visible on both sides of the ridge.

Here, you can see across the river to Duncannon (on the right). You can also see where Sherman’s Creek empties into the Susquehanna (in the middle).

Sherman's Creek

This hike also afforded me the opportunity to test out a new piece of gear.

2009 ULA Conduit backpack

This is a brand-spanking-new 2009 ULA Conduit. It weighs an astonishing 17ounces, which is about 2 pounds lighter than the daypack it replaced.

ULA backpacks are nice for a number of reasons, not least of which is their use of the Heavy Metal Umlaut.

ULA Conduit

The Conduit was very comfortable on this trip, but it was a short hike, and I didn’t have very much gear with me, so I hope to give it a more rigorous (overnighter) test soon.

Oh, Tannenbaum!

In order to bring myself into compliance with mainstream American culture, I have erected a plastic replica of a pine tree in my living room.

Isn’t it lovely?

Tree

I have a bicycling Kermit-the-Frog ornament to let everyone know that I am a badass bicyclist.

Kermit on a Bicycle Ornament

Back in the old days, when Christmas was invented, and when people still believed in Jesus, they also believed in “Angels” (people with wings who could fly around in the sky). Nowadays, because of modern science and telescopes, we know that people who fly around in the sky are actually space aliens, so I have updated my tree-topper accordingly.

Space Alien Cristmas Tree

Happy Solstice, Saturnalia, Christmas, shopping!

Hiking: Mid State Trail

This weekend, I once again joined forces with Sophie the Adventure Dog (and the regular cast of human characters) to knock off a couple of miles on the Mid State Trail.

Sofie the adventure dog

Klinutus Futzing with his camera

It snowed pretty hard for a while.

Snow!

Sophie was rewarded for her bravery in the snow with a doggie biscuit.

Sofie gets a biscuit

Another 6 miles down, about 770 to go.

Books: What Makes You Not A Buddhist

What Makes You not a Buddhist

I saw this one laying on a table at the bookstore, and the belligerence of the title kind of sucked me in. I kind of expected this to be one of those “I’m more Buddha than you” holier-than-thou sorts of books, but it really wasn’t.

Mostly, the Author is just making a case that acceptance of all four Dharma Seals are necessary and sufficient for someone to call himself a Buddhist.

He doesn’t belabor the point though, and most of the book just reads pretty much like any other introductory Buddhism book for a Western audience.

It’s not the Author’s fault, but I’ve read a few too many of those, and this one felt a little redundant.

I’d really like to find some books that delve a little deeper, without reading like textbooks for a graduate program in Buddhist Studies.

Anyone have any suggestions?

Anyhow, since I only accept three of the four Dharma Seals, I disagree with the whole premise of the book. I also find the title needlessly combative, so I give What Makes You Not A Buddhist only 2 Jihadis out of 5.

2 jihadis out of 5

Hiking: Hawk Mountain Sanctuary

Last weekend, Klinutus and my evil sister decided they wanted to hike around the Hawk Mountain Sanctuary.

It seemed like a good idea at the time, although I rather grossly underestimated the difficulty of some of the trails.

They were a tad rocky for my taste.

Rocks

The trail they call the Skyline Trail, is really not a hiking trail at all. It’s almost entirely rock scrambling. I do not enjoy rock scrambling very much, especially when I was thinking we were just going for a leisurely walk in the woods.

Climbing

It was not long before the hills rang out the obscene echoes of my shouted complaining.

Climbing

After what seemed like an eternity clinging to the rocks, we were rewarded with a nice view.

View

The View


Klinutus and Evil Sister take in the view

In any event, I survived, and actually had a good time. Strange how that works; even if you’re miserable out there, you always remember it as having been fun — once you get home.

More pictures in the Gallery, if you like pictures.