Thursday, April 28, 2011

He's Just Not That into You-Book Review

I picked up this book at a thrift store for a buck.
Lots of women have issues with their men friends, so I thought," Lets read this thing and pass it on".

One hundred sixty five pages, some of which are "work sheets", are very readable and based on answering questions sent in by baffled women. Greg Behrendt gives brutally honest answers, and Lix Tuccillo gives the women's take on the situation. She sorta stands up for the women who fall for these lame excuses handed to them by the lame, albeit, charming men they've run across.

Its a quick read, and hip. Greg tells us not to waste our time on these loosers, don't waste the Pretty.

I'm definitely passing this book onto women in my life. Somehow its hard to see our choices for the ridiculous reality they are.
In the end , a page is set aside for the reader to list "My super-Helpful standards that I will never ever forget or forsake no matter how hot I think he is" The woman who had this book before me started filling it in. She wrote:
1-No married men
2-no smoking, drugs or drunks
4-ask for money he is gone
5-treat me right
6-calls me

The person didn't finish the list of ten. I think her list is pretty good, except number 3. I would say no religious nuts need apply. No religion. Good honest morals are much more preferable.

Greg was a consultant for Sex and the City HBO hit series and knows his stuff. He's a guy after all, and says men would rather do anything than hurt your feelings, lie, disappear, string a gal along, booty call, make excuses.

I say we toughen up, and quit being so available. Set the standards high and stop impulse hook ups. That's what I got from the book.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Webcams Rock

A friend posted this website, and I'm going to enjoy watching the cams. As I leave warm Georgia for the Grand Tetons in two weeks, its really hard to imagine snow and cold out there. I mean, my garden is edible right now!
Check it out:

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Perfect Day Pack

I made this black silnylon day pack which weighs 4 ounces. I use it everywhere, including all these day hikes in Zion National Park.

I can carry water bottles, rain clothes, tarp, survival in a can.

I found, however, that when the pack was loaded, those straps dug into my shoulders. Without a hip belt and forgoing the fannypack as pack rest solution, I realized a hybrid pack was in order.

I took a store bought day pack that I'd bought at Walmart a couple years back. It was lightweight, but the color, fabric and multiple zipper pockets was not ideal.

I cut off the straps from the silnylon pack, and sewed the remaining bag directly to the back pad, incorporating the hip belt and sholder straps of the walmart pack. I added a silnlyon bag for the front water bottle.

End result, a pack that weighs 12.4 ounces, and rides perfectly on my hips. The weight disappears.
Bottom line, shoulder straps and decent hip belt make life much easier.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Keys to Contentment-the List

I've come up with a list to help me get through the upcoming road trip.
Not that I haven't enjoyed the last few I've taken, but what's that song that begs," I sure hope the road don't come to own me?"

I think it's a Carole King's So Far Away.

The list helps me put the whole picture into perspective, and I realize I used this same list when hiking.

1-Get in a quiet, undisturbed place, in your mind, or in a chair.

2-Verbalize or actually write down what's worrying me.

3-Think back to another worrisome time, like 3 months ago, what were the big issues?

4-Realize in 3 months, the worries of today will likewise be solved, and other things
will take their place.

The beauty of this process is I realize during step 3, I'm hard put to even remember what the worries were. I know there must have been some, no doubt I was likewise consumed with them. They got solved. Bottom line, as long as we keep on keeping on, all issues will be resolved.

It's hard to imagine its been a whole year since that oil rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico. Its been 5 weeks since the earthquake-nuclear disaster in Japan. This fall will mark the 10th anniversary of 9-11. Can it really be nearly 10 years since those trade centers fell?

Thoreau wrote, "My purpose in going to Walden Pond was not to live cheaply nor to live dearly there, but to transact some private business with the fewest obstacles;"

and this next part I'm still baffled by as he continued,

"to be hindered from accomplishing which for want of a little common sense, a little enterprise and business talent, appeared not so sad as foolish."

I'm thinking it means he also went into the woods so that he could actually be prevented by nature, because of his seclusion, from accomplishing some foolish boring job.

I just read they've discovered 647 new islands. Adventure is not over.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A Quote to Ponder

Karen Morss wrote this quote:

Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. The fearful are caught as often as the bold.

Then, Edmund Burke stated: Early and provident fear is the mother of safety.

At some point, we may change life direction. One of my favorite quotes, applicable in every walk of life: Quitting while you're ahead is not the same as quitting.
This came from the movie, American Gangster.

I'm pondering these thoughts while preparing for my upcoming road trip.

I could avoid the danger of the open road; I could stay home and get bit by a snake, mauled by a bear, wreck my car going into town.
Another quote comes to mind, We sit as many risks as we run. I think that's Thoreau.

Life is short. Thats got to be one of the tritest phrases on earth.
The key is to repeat it until we actually believe it.

Friday, April 15, 2011

A Little Each Day

I grew up in Madison, Wisconsin, hippie capital of the world, at least that's what we thought.

I studied Marxist theory at "the House", a campus student rental that had three stories and no telling how many residents. We radical high school students would just drop in, hang out, and join reading groups. We had an underground newspaper, too.

At times, we'd discuss how the Chinese would solve problems. Because of problems with farming, drainage, and inadequate insect control, mosquitoes were rampant. Part of the solution was each citizen was to kill ten mosquitoes each day. Doesn't sound like much, but you get a billion Chinese each killing 10 mosquitos, you have some serious insect control in progress.

Really. I remember thinking about that solution. A little each day, and the eventual payoff was problem solved.

That's sort of the way I deal with a long hike. One proverb among hikers is you put enough 10 mile days together and next thing you know, you've got a through hike. If you look at the whole thing at once, its mind boggling. How can anyone carry a pack and hike over 2,178 miles in one season? The logistics, the money, the bad weather?

Just get ready for a week long hike. Then do it, head into town, and re supply. Head out again and just focus on that week. Repeat until you make it all the way. I like the Little Each Day Plan.

If you're downsizing, driving across country, killing off mosquitos, saving for retirement, heading down the trail, stay in the moment.

I read about a woman, Roz Savage, who rowed alone across the Atlantic Ocean in 2006. Then, she rowed alone across the Pacific Ocean. This month she intends to do the Indian Ocean, which is the last one of the Big Three. I'm impressed. Each day, rowing across the water. Read her blog at .

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Toshiba Laptop Review

I'm loving my new laptop. I bought it through Walmart's site to store program, so shipping was free. Cost: $528 plus tax. Specs: 3 ghz processor, 4 GB Ram, 500 GB Hardrive, a host of ports, built in web cam with built in microphone, Red. Yes, a dark reddish, very lovely.

According to a video on YouTube, which I watched at April 13,2011, you better get stuff now cause Japan is having trouble, which will spread world wide. I'm confident the global economy will figure something out, but I'm glad I got mine yesterday.

Its fast. I can watch net flicks while e-mailing. The Windows 7 is much better than Vista. I had an Acer which lasted 4 years. The main problem with that brand is the volume is too low. Toshiba has plenty of volume which allows you to share without getting external speakers.

Included in the package is the Office 2010 Starter, a basic word program with advertising on the side. Non obtrusive, I think it will work fine. Initial tests are great.

Another advantage of this Toshiba over Acer was the ports are on the sides and front, not on the back. Every time you wanted to plug something in, relocate or adjust something it was a matter of feeling for it, reaching over the screen. If you're at a Mc Donald's surfing back to back with another person, this gets tight.

I love the fact I can take this back to my local Walmart if things aren't working right in 30 days. I'd drove to Best Buy over 50 miles away last time I purchased a laptop, and when it had blue-out screen issues, and missing software, I had to drive back over, wait for inspection. That's another reason I wouldn't have one shipped here.

The Norton Virus protection is faster than I expected. I may stick with them and not install MacAfee like my Acer has. I'm loving the wide screen and other perks this Toshiba offers. Its better to go online at
than picking out something at your local Walmart. There's better prices, and you can get exactly what you need.

Monday, April 11, 2011

True Scoop on Cat Holing

During my long hikes I've developed some easy and cautionary tales of cat holing: where you dig a 6 inch hole, give or take, for the down loading and disposal of personal waste.

No, I have never ever ever carried it out.

Bears, bison, elk, deer, fox, wolves, raccoons, dogs, turkeys, mice, squirrels all make deposits in the forests. Check out horses and cattle in wilderness areas. Their waste is considered natural fertilizer.
Humans can carry parasites, bacteria and viruses which are specie specific, so do it right and no one's the worse for wear. Nature will break it down, and all will be well.

Rules of responsible cat holing include a minimum of 100 yards from any water source, 6 inches deep and covered with degradable material, use simple unbleached t-paper, as little as possible. If necessary (due to a bout with town induced diarrhea) use broad leaves which you are certain are not poison ivy or oak.

Albert Einstein wrote in 1879 :Make things as simple as possible, but no simpler.
I love him, he's a genius whose teachers thought him a failure in kindergarten.

My simple procedure on the Appalachian trail is get the body used to a routine where by either early morning before leaving the shelter, with accompanying privy, or after supper before bedding down, try to use the outhouse. The body can establish routines which greatly diminish the need for a cat hole.
On the AT, its a lot more crowded, so be sure to go way off trail, in a hidden spot, and dig responsibly.

On the Pacific Crest Trail or Colorado Trail, lots of nice pine or cedar forests with huge trees can be found. These trees have no poison vines climbing them, and a soft earth beneath their wide spreading branches. Its easy to dig required depth near the trunk, and you can brace yourself when squatting. I use hiking poles for quick excavation.

A teen age girl taught me this one: find a downed log, sit on it with your butt hanging over the side. A very nice chair, but check for snakes with the pole or branch, dig a receptacle first, and don't forget to cover it when done.

A warning: if you have to go far off trail for privacy, be sure to remember the way back. Once a person, we won't name names (yours truly) headed back in the wrong direction, her camp mates having dropped the tent. No signs of humanity to guide her, she was reduced to yelling out loud for directions. Needless to say, that never happened again.

I know people who claim to never have shat in the woods. They somehow hold it til they reach town. If that is true, either they are way compacted, so unhealthy, or else they never were out very long.

Happy holing.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

This One Could Happen To Me

I love reading survival stories, true life adventures with a life threatening twist. I especially love it when the people survive to tell about it.

Most of the stuff will never happen to me. I don't see myself snowmobiling down an ice covered river in Wisconsin. Everest holds no lure, or bushwhacking through the Amazon.
But, a cougar attack out west? Yes, this one could happen to me.

Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, we went through a lot of country where cougars roam. Near the Hat Creek Rim in northern California, the prints were enormous, larger than my foot. Of course I was backpacking with my partner.

So was this couple. The avid hikers, Mr. and Mrs. Hamm, age 71 and 66 were on a trail when he let out a scream. Nell Hamm turned to see him on the ground with a cougar on his back while engulfing the guys head in his mouth.
She picks up a large branch and attacks the cougar, mostly body blows to avoid hitting her husband. He tells her, "get the pen from my pocket and jam it into the cat's eye."
She tries, but the pen buckles, the cat hangs on.
Note to self: a tent stake would not buckle.
He grabs the cats tongue, the cats shakes him furiously.

Personally, by this time, you'd think the cat would realize two against one is too much. Not so. Not until the wife shoves a large jagged "log" into the cat's snout.
Personal note: the snout!

The cat lets go and prepares to attack her. She responds by yelling, raising her arms while holding a huge stick to appear larger. It works, the cat walks away.
Note to self: a backpack makes me look larger, hiking poles help, but these cats are serious stuff!

I am so impressed that this couple not only survived this attack, but continue to hike together even after he spent three weeks in the hospital,recovered from a life threatening infection and four surgeries.

Jim Banks, a wildlife pathologist with the California Department of Fish and Game says he wouldn't hike in lion country alone without pepper spray or a knife. I think both are in order. Use the spray first, then cut if necessary.
He noted that the lion in question was just 68 pounds, a lightweight female. Female lions reach 100 pounds and males can be more formidable.

While I prefer to trail with a compatible hiker, its not always possible. Rather than not go at all, I will go well prepared, face the risks of such an encounter, and thank the trail gods every time I return unscathed.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Free Entertainment-A Downsizer's Dream

Run on over to:
and watch Andy Borowitz do a 40 minute comedy at Joe's Pub. He's hilarious, normal voice, and mellow. I loved it, and it costs nothing but the electricity to power your PC.
Andy's website, and his twitters are so worth it, too. Check out his facebook page, or his website: for instant comic relief on today's news stories.

For more on his bio, watch the featured video at his website. Who knew he wrote for All in the Family, a hit show when I was growing up?

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Elimination-The Downsizing Process

"...but the monkeys on my back are all my belongings. I'm fine with selling all the furniture and kitchen items but it's all the small stuff and photos and photo albums and other sentimental items that need a place for safe keeping. Don't want to be carrying it around or paying to store it. It is a lot of %^&$.

So regrettably I turned down my Grand Canyon offer. There was no way I could organize myself in 6 weeks...

A friend posted this on a forum, prompting advice to pour in to assist her dreams. I gave my two cents, and thought I'd share the plan here.

J, a parkie taught me this trick, in 2009 : each day you get rid of one thing, you get one big photo album, and start filing all of it, you stop using 5 different hair care products, use it up, but don't replace it.

Downsize in small steps. If you got rid of one thing a day, which also includes using up but not replacing one thing, each day that would be 365 things by next spring. If you get ambitious, make it two.

In our society, its easy to suddenly find yourself with 20 pairs of shoes, 6 winter jackets, 5 tents, etc.

Best wishes, don't wait too long cause this world is changing so fast we don't know what it will be like in 3 years!

Well, the person admitted to being a procrastinator, having issues with this idea, so I continued:

See, that's the beauty of the One Thing A Day Downsizing plan....if you follow this plan, it becomes a habit. How hard is it to choose one thing per day (or use up one thing a day) and get rid of it? After 21 days, it becomes second nature, and you're well on your way to mimimalist lifestyle.

For instance, get one large box for donations and start in the closet. Is there anything you haven't worn in a year, or that makes you look fat, or is stained, or old, or makes you feel old...? Either cut it up for rags, throw it away, or place in the donation box.

There, done for the day.

Of course, this also means implementing Moratorium of Purchaces. If you buy something, you must eliminate something. When the box is full , donate it. Worthy cause benifits from your generosity.

In the course of a day, you may see a knicknack you bought on a trip to you really love it? Do you love dusting it, taking up space? Donate it, there done for the day, nothing else required.

Psycologists tell us sometimes we really don't want to implement our dreams. Its way easier to just stay in a routine.

Routines are like ruts: a grave with no end.

This is my brand of minimalism. Some call it extreme. It won't help the "economy", but it will free you.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

The Long Term Vacationer

I loved reading the article on CNN's Money page about Rolf Potts, a 40 year old "location independent professional".

Time As Wealth, the Long Term Vacation

He advocates exotic travel, vacations of duration by getting out of the tourist mainstream luxury trap and going as "backpackers" do. I love this article. It espouses a concept my partner and I have used for, my god, can I say it, decades.

Its looked down upon by many. Eating like the locals do, finding that small, back street motel, walking everywhere, and forgoing the tour bus mentality.

I know we're not the only ones, either. I've learned in my travels to leave all that jewelry at home. Better yet, sell it to fund the next adventure.
Leave all that foo foo stuff for yuppies who sport an ego on the chest. If you dress simply, in non-new clothes you'll still be recognized as American, but less likely target for those with get rich quick schemes.

This young man is writing a book about the concept and I hope he does well. Getting off the main street, off the grid and hamster wheel takes mental fortitude. It takes rejecting all the fears we've been taught.

As we're told of improving unemployement statistics, I'm inclined to chuck it all in favor of the vacation. By researching how these numbers are manipulated, I'm more inclined to travel, work as a location independent professional (cooking in National Parks) and love life even more.

Happy Simple Frugal Trails.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Is All Adventure Really Over?

Werner Herzog is attributed with saying" Adventure is over. All the white spots on the map have been discovered. It belongs to differenet centuries than ours." Tom Vanderbilt wrote the article about this gifted film director who did Grizzly Man and Rescue Dawn . I beg to differ. We may know something or some place exists, but there is always a new way to experience it on a personal level. Like the guy who circumnavigated the globe using human muscle power alone. I wrote about that on
on March 28, 2011. Pretty amazing stuff. We know the world exists, that's not the point. The adventure began and continued until 13 years later Jason Lewis completed the journey.

Many are heading down the Appalachian Trail right now. To each it is an adventure. The people, the food, the gear, each town stop, each trail shelter. I can visualize it. Even though its already been discovered the adventure remains. Lives will be changed, mellowed out, gaining new aches and pains, meeting crazy wonderful people.

People are sailing around the world,a couple teenagers have done this alone, breaking records, meeting waves to shatter a pirates resolve. Now, don't say that ain't an adventure. Its an adventure for me just to take a ferry up to Alaska.

So many adventures, so little time.