Thursday, October 25, 2007

Kid Story

The four-year-old daughter loves dance, so much, that for the past couple of years we have had her in several dance classes. Her appetite for dance is insatiable. Her little brother has tagged along to all of her classes and, also wants to dance .

He is not nearly as coordinated or graceful as the the three and four year olds in his sisters class, but has at least as much passion. His dancing consists of running around in a circle and occasionally a simulated leap. (As much of a leap as a toddler can manage) He ends up on the floor a lot, being almost two falling down is de rigueur, it does not phase him in the least.

The few times which he has successfully invaded his sisters class, and the dance teacher allows him to stay, the girls generally don't mind him but they often just think he is so cute, they end up too distracted to keep dancing.

Maybe he can take this lesson into his teenage years; girls love a guy who really wants to know ballet.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Two Good Wheels

One of the reasons I wanted to move to Eugene was it's bike ability. Eugene is a relativley small city, it is easy to get around on a bike, plus there are several designated bike routes. My goal has been to use the bike instead of the car whenever I can to run errands. So far, we have been doing pretty well.

This goal is not a recent goal for me, it is something I have been thinking about for years. When I was a kid, pre-drivers lisence I got around either by foot or bicycle all the time. Of course when I turned sixteen it was all about cars too me. I lived in a suburb and for fun me and my friends would go to Salt Lake City. When I finally moved there I was still in "car mode;" I would drive places that were only a five or ten minute walk away.

I would return home feeling stressed; I would sulk into my apartment with my groceries and listen to Ministry. I would sit there in my black clothes and think about how great it was that I did not have to drive so far to get to my favorite dance club.

Then one day, I realized that I did not have to drive. I walked to the store, it was liberating. I did not have to find parking, I didn't have sit there and wait to turn left. (these were all very stressful things for me. I was a nervous driver. I used to get really upset that other people thought that they could drive in front of , behind and to the side of me; or drive at all while I was using the road.) None of that concerned me while I walked.

When I arrived home with my bag of groceries I felt so good, I did not want to sulk inside with my Ministry tape (yes, that was before cd's were all the rage and way before mp3's) Soon enough, if it was close, I walked to my destination. Eventually I rode my bike to destinations that were further away.
One of the first things that I noticed was that distances were not nearly as far as I had originally thought and I got to know the city a lot better.

For two or three years I did not even own a car. When I eventually did buy another car I was already used to getting places on foot so, I only used the car for long trips. Like going to San Francisco or New York.....heheh....or more interesting and fun places like Canyonlands National park and Yellowstone.

Of all the reasons I chose to, and choose to, get around by bike the environmental reasons are minuscule. (If I were really hard core, I would not even use a bike, the metal and rubber had to come from somewhere and will eventually end up in a landfill)

It really is about ease and pleasure for me. Plus it is about the only exercise I get on a regular basis

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Mike: Desert Explorer

My Brother -in- law lives in Moab Utah where he is able to go out and explore. I am fairly jealous. He has told me several times that he would take me out on one of his trips; I will take him up on that someday.

This is the text of an email he sent; there is a link at the bottom for his Flickr page.

I just got back from a great journey out into the San Rafael Desert; meeting with Chris Schiller, who was just coming up from Natural Bridges and a visit with Dave and Peggy, and (briefly) Mike Painter.
We met at the little kiosk where the dirt road splits to either Hans Flat and the Maze, or north toward Horseshoe Canyon and Green River, both arriving within ten minutes of each other--not bad given the distance/terrain. The dirt road was generally in decent shape, but got a bit more rugged as we passed the Horseshoe Canyon turnoff, following alongside of a wash on the sage plains with little sign of the canyons that cut deeply into the seemingly sandy desert.
We located our turn-off, parking the vehicles for our trek into Moonshine Canyon, as suggested by Chris a little while ago, one that I hadn't heard of before (and then saw a picture taken by Aaron Ralston at his talk last week of this same canyon). The weather couldn't have been better for a slot canyon hike--zero clouds and a reasonably cool day (there was frost on the windshield when I left Moab), the temps getting to maybe the mid-seventies. Perfect.
We noted another vehicle down the side road a bit, hard to believe, but it looked like someone else had the same destination. Oh well.
We simply headed overland until we came to an opportune drainage, which in turn led us right into the canyon that we sought--which at this point was a medium sized wash with walls of thin rock strata layers.
We indeed located two pairs of fresh footprints in the sand.
The wash quickly started to go deeper, usually by the big steps of pour-offs, many of which included some pretty massive chokestones to get over and down from. The plunge pools below started dry, but as we got further into this deepening gorge, they got slick first, then had over-the-boot deep water, making the going with dry feet a challenge (we both maintained dry socks!).
We stopped for a snack, and poked around a little side canyon; it didn't go very far until each of it's two branches became vertical. Soon after resuming our journey, Chris noted that the pair of prints we had been following were gone. Strange--neither of us noticed any "escape" out of the deep canyon, and we didn't pass anyone.
The narrows run out after you pass under an old sheepherders bridge--I doubt highly that I'd try to cross it myself. We followed for another hour maybe, meandering in a beautiful scoured drainage lined by the constantly changing character of the sandstone walls--sometimes smooth and curving, with huge water streaks running down the vertical walls, sometimes highly textured by strata or water and wind. Awesome.
After debating for a second, we decided we needed to head back up the canyon to get back to the vehicles before dark. It was a hoot climbing back up and over all the obstacles we came down, stemming over the narrow canyon by wedging ourselves between the two walls and shimmying our way along. We once again noticed the two sets of tracks that didn't belong to us--still no sign of where the owners went, or how they got out of the canyon.
We had no trouble finding our way back to the vehicles and a couple of almost cold beers--and noticed the other car down the road was gone. Weird. Chris made a great red bean, rice, sausage and salad dinner, and we chilled out until we had our fill of shooting stars and the getting-cold air.
We woke this morning to a colorful sunrise, and absolute silence.
We went our separate ways after some more chatter, including the idea of checking out sites for AFXII--possibly near Goblin Valley/Little Wildhorse Canyon--Chris might have more to say later.
The ride home was great, a slow journey over the San Rafael River and on to Green River, then the frontage "road" along the freeway to Clay Hills, finally hitting the pavement by the Moab airport, only fifteen miles from home. I even got to meet Collette for lunch before going home and getting mauled by the dogs--who would have never made it through the obstacles of the surprisingly pretty slot canyon.
some pix can be found:

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Us and Them

After spending the last ten years sort of practicing meditation I finally decided to become more serious and start attending services at a Zen temple. So far, I have been happy with the choice I made.

There have been times ,though, that I wonder why it is so important to me to belong to a religious community and to even explore "spirituality" ( I really don't like using this term; mainly because it seems to be so vague. What the heck is spirit any way and what do all these various practices have to do with it.)

I always just put it up to my L.D.S upbringing. I was so concerned for so long that I adhere to all of the commandments, directions and prophets; that even after leaving the L.D.S. church it was inevitable that I continue to want to perfect myself. Figuring out what God is and what God wants seemed to be the way to go in order not to go to Hell.

Recently, I decided to take the next step in Zen and commit myself to it as full-time practice. I feel that I have done this already, now I am making it official. What is odd for me is, now, in my little un-enlightened lizard brain, I have recognized the us and them mentality. I had this before, it just was not as prevalent. The challenge of course, and the Buddhists emphasize this, is to take on the path and learn that there is only us.

The L.D.S. church seems to emphasize that there is an us and there is a them and we must work to make the them an us. Not being much of a salesman, this mentality made me pretty uncomfortable, so much so, that when it came time for me to put my Missionary papers in, I split.

I learned over the years, or told myself, that everyone is OK how they are and it is totally up to the individual how they conduct themselves. I still have this lingering thought though, that if everyone wants to be happy they should all become Buddhists.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

It Is The Carter Family's Fault.

I blame the Carter family.

When my mother- in- law visited a couple of months ago she observed how I get Chas to take his naps. I sit in our recliner, rock him back and forth and sing to him from Rise Up Singing; a collection of popular and folk songs.

Up to this point, the only people who were privileged to hear my voice have been my wife and kids; None of them have complained about my singing. ( I am really not too bad.)

Before I started, my mil stated that I could not really carry a tune. My mil and I get along so well that I was not a bit bothered by the comment and I began singing Sound Of Silence (Simon and Garfunkel) . I mean it's folk music right how can I really mess that up?

Well, OK, if I were singing say...some of the songs the Carter family made famous you could not say I was messing it up. They sang the way they would sing in church, which is about my level of ability. They may have been great singers in their time but just about everyone, regardless of skill sang. On the other hand, Simon and Garfunkel's music is much more refined, to sing one of their songs even sort of well, takes practice.

So my mil has a point, I can't carry a tune but compared to whom. I listen to music a lot and I sing along, loudly, to whatever is playing and I know the words to many of the songs. Most of the singers I listen to have much stronger vocal ability than me, of course being the pros that they are, probably have to practice and some probably have access to voice enhancers.

What do I blame the Carter Family for? I blame them for becoming radio stars and recording artists. Granted back when they were playing the recording industry was very different. I am only guessing that the general public new the songs the Carters were performing and also sang their own variations at home and at church.

The difference between the Carter Family and the general public though, was that the Carters were being paid for what they did so, were able to refine their style. They made it possible for other aspiring musicians to become professionals and of course every new generation of musician became better and better so that eventually their musical abilities are much more refined than their audiences abilities.

Now days, many of us are mere consumers of music and would not even try to make it ourselves. Why bother, we would never be as good as a lot of artists who probably spend years training their voices, before they ever record. I don't think the Carters had vocal coaches and they would resent the blame I am resting on their heads. If they had not made that first recording we all might still be singing.