Alone in the Mountains

I have a conflicted passion for hiking alone in the mountains, simultaneously reveling in and terrified by the solitude. This Aqaara excerpt reflects that:

It was clear ahead, the sky suddenly bright, all the trees gone. The summit was close, the trial suddenly steep. A small tree acted as a handhold and then a shelf of rock. It was unavoidable to not kick the edge, to not let it gouge into my ankle and thigh. The pain was almost good. It wasn’t a surprise to see it not there, to see more trees ahead, that this was just a blow-down, the trees twisted into a brambled heap, like a massive hand had swiped through. I watched my hand reach out ahead, pulling me up, watched the sleeve rumple up and flatten down again, over and over again, like I was a machine, reaching, pulling, moving ahead, a marvelous, thoughtless thing, moving on, knowing there were miles yet to the top. It was good knowing that it would not stop, that my legs and feet would have to not stop, that the path would wind ahead to the next false summit and I would turn and find more ahead. There was something on the horizon, far off through the trees. It was coming, slowly at first, seeing me move away, and was then moving faster. That feeling ground into me, about to be eaten, as I returned down the trail, jumping rock to rock and then climbed up into a tree, breaking the branches. The beast was still far and yet it wasn’t. It was awful how it crept closer, watching my ridiculous attempts to climb further, knowing what I would do, more than me, dreadful. The thing was still coming, methodical. It looked like a lion but stood on its hind legs and looked at her like something else, with awareness. I broke the final branch and clung to the peak, but the only escape was jumping now, and that is what I had to do, except the thing grabbed me by the neck and held until I stretched out like a cartoon, and then shook myself awake, and lay there, still, the images still hard and real.

Gerald Durrell’s “My Family and Other Animals”

But the shyest and most self-effacing of the wall community were the most dangerous; you hardly ever saw one unless you looked for it, and yet there must have been several hundred living in the cracks of the wall. Slide a knife-blade carefully under a piece of the loose plaster and lever it gently away from the brick, and there, crouching beneath it, would be a little black scorpion an inch long, looking as though he were made of polished chocolate. They were weird looking things, with their flattened, oval bodies, their neat, crooked legs, the enormous crab-like claws, bulbous and jointed neatly as armor, and the tail like a string of brown beads ending in a sting like a rose thorn. The scorpion would lie quite quietly as you examined him, only raising his tail in an almost apologetic gesture of warning if you breathed too hard on him. If you kept him in the sun too long he would simply turn his back on you and walk away, and then slide slowly but firmly under another section of plaster. I grew very fond of these scorpions. I found them to be pleasant, unassuming creatures with, on the whole, the most charming habits. (153)

Franz Kafka’s “Amerika”: Nightmare Travels

It was so dark that Karl could not tell at first whether the curtains were drawn or the room was perhaps windowless; finally he noticed a little attic window and pulled back the cloth, letting in some light. The room had two beds, though both were occupied. Karl saw two young people, who were fast asleep and seemed less than trustworthy, especially since for no apparent reason they slept fully dressed and one even had his boots on. (85) In the morning, the two men had no objections to Karl’s accompanying them. Karl had no sooner agreed than they gave him the friendly advice that he should take off his beautiful suit, for it would be a hindrance in finding jobs. Actually at this very inn there was a great opportunity for disposing of the suit since the chambermaid dealt in used clothing. They helped Karl, who had not yet reached a final decision about the suit, remove it and took it away. (91)

Nathaniel Philbrick Explains How to Eat People

Philbrick’s In the Heart of the Sea details the tragedy of the Whaleship Essex in 1819, a journey that ended in cannibalism. And he describes the procedure fully:

He, like most sailors forced to resort to cannibalism, began by removing the most obvious signs of the corpse’s humanity – the head, the feet, feet, skin – and cosigned them to the sea. They next had to remove the heart, liver, and kidneys from the bloody basket of the ribs. Then they began to hack the meat from the backbone, ribs and pelvis. After the lighting the fire at the bottom of the boat, they roasted the organs and meat and began to eat. (166)

Dumpster Office

I got a job. And it’s a good one.Flexible hours and a place to hide.

Florida Keys: After Hurricane Irma

Four months after Hurricane Irma, the Florida Keys are still covered by the detritus of the storm. Although many residents have returned, abandoned homes are still a common sight. Big Pine Key, the worst hit of the keys, remains cluttered with boats, refrigerators and motor homes. And yet the Key Deer, an endangered species, seem to be as plentiful as ever. 

Make Up Your Mind, Stubhub!

Stubhub messed up. Sold me tickets for the Inter-Milan Derby and then didn’t send anything. After three weeks of emails and one hand-written letter later, I got this: And then I got this: Not sure what it all means.

Roman Vespas

When you are stuck Just park it And leave it So that you can get back to it When you can deal with it

Airport Hell: Cutting Lines

There are the lines for check-in, lines for security, lines for identification, even lines at the duty free. But if that’s where you’re going to dilly dally, buying booze and chocolates, don’t try to cut the line for passport control because now you’re late for your plane. You’re not as important as you think. Especially if you’re looking for deals at duty free.

That CNN Hurricane Guy

Why does he stand out in the rain? Is it to help the man with the three-legged dog get safely home? Or is it just to say he did?