Wednesday, May 20, 2009


My problem is that when things drive me crazy I feel like writing. Just pacing around and seething feels unhealthy. Ranting to my wife, while, like certain other things, feels better than handling it myself, is a little like spousal abuse. So I write. But at the same time (I've liked that phrase since hearing Lou Pinella say it in about every interview, when he was manager of the Mariners, and before and after), I know it's an entirely useless bit of self-indulgence which matters not a whit in the larger order of things. Were this stuff to wash over me like a wave, I'd be happier; of that there's no doubt. (Great video in that last link, by the way.) I've tried ignoring it, I've tried just not writing; nothing really works. I'm pretty sure the healthiest option would be to push an icepick up my nose eye socket and lobotomize myself (that's how it was done, originally, if you didn't know).

Among the latest ladling of idiocy is the vacuous and disingenuous hyperbole in Congress over the idea of "releasing" terrorists from Guantanamo into the US. What, they're gonna sneak them into your town in a van with its lights off, open the door, boot 'em out, and drive away under cover of darkness? And, y'know, if the ACLU has anything to do with it, they'll be given US passports, guns, and ammo. If the revolt had started with the Dems, you'd expect the Repubs would be claiming they're dissing the loyal prison workers who've managed to keep all sorts of terrible people wrapped up in high-security facilities. (And whadya know, just after writing that sentence, I see this, while searching for a quote on another subject I'd seen earlier.)

Of course we've all come to expect this sort of nonsense from Congressional Republicans and the RWS™. There's no level of stupidity below which they won't sink. But now it's Harry Reid, too. What a waste of skin and bone he is. How frustrating must it be for President Obama to know when he deals with these people he's the only adult in the room.

It's beyond parody. It's mortally depressing. And these guys are writing laws!

Like the credit card one, into which Tom Coburn inserted an amendment allowing visitors to bring concealed and loaded weapons into national parks. (How long before some drunk camper kills a guy in the next tent because he thought he was a bear?) Do Republicans really approve credit card protections only when there are Sams in Yosemite? More importantly, why do lawmakers get to decorate bills with entirely unrelated pet projects? And will Obama find no way around it?

So you see my problem. There's an endless stream of stupidity coming from Washington at a time when intelligence is most needed, impossible to ignore. I'm trying to make something out of the tail end of my life, wanting to have a little pleasure as the sun sets, a measure of security, the ability to stop worrying whether I'll even have a future, let alone be able to afford it. Much as I'd love to, I can't turn it off. And given the certainty that there's nothing meaningful I can do about it at this point, I find myself drawn back to writing, even as I know it's a waste of time. Ever since English 1-2 at Amherst, I've found that writing clarifies and crystallizes; it's inseparable from thinking. And even if it's like "Spirit," the poor old Mars rover, well past its time of usefulness, spinning its wheels in sand, I guess I'm doomed to continue. For now. It's not as if there's not plenty of substrate.


  1. The Senate Vote to keep the terrorists in Git-mo was 90-6... would have been 93-6 but Ted Kennedy, Robert Byrd, and someone else called in sick...
    Sounds pretty Bi-Partisan to me...You ever BEEN to Yellowstone?? Grizzly's that make Oprah look anorexic... Anyways, why shouldn't you be able to exercise your constitutional God-given rights in a National Park?? Next you'll be sayin we can't play loud music or have abortions there...


  2. gee, sid, maybe you should take up weight-lifting.

    that's a real shame about the mars rover, though.

  3. Talk to a ranger sometime - one who has actually been around grizzlys.

    He will tell you that could empty your .44 mag into a charging grizzly and he could still disembowel you or rip your head off before he bled out.

    He will say, gun or no, if the bear wants you, he has you.

    Grizzlys are territorial; the best way to prevent a bear attack is to avoid surprising a bear.

    A surprised bear is an angry bear; who will be defending his territory.

    That means that you have to be aware of where bears like to hang out, meadows for instance, just like people.

    Make sounds to let bears know you are there. Don't just walk around blind bends in a trail. If you see a bear, make sure he sees you and knows that you are a human, given a chance, they like to avoid us.

    Bear spray really works, and it will give you a better chance than a gun.

    If you are attacked, lay down, cover your neck and play dead.

    If you can make it up a tree, that's good, just don't try to outrun a bear.

    You need to use your head and be aware in grizzly country.

    I grew up as a shooter and I was formerly a member of the Sixth Army Rifle and Pistol Team.

    I can tell you that most people who own guns cannot hit a target the size of a dinner plate at fifteen feet; so, you would be well advised to avoid entering a situation you might have to shoot you way out of.

    Guns are not brains in a holster.


  4. Eugene...
    you don't have to run faster than the Bear... just faster than whoever else you're with...

  5. ego: Actually I do lift weights, and work out on a home gym. My biceps are the only part of me bigger than they used to be about which I'm happy. Triceps and delts not bad, either. And I ride a bike, mostly indoors.

    Frank: if you hold a gun on her, I think you could do an abortion on a grizzly. Let us know, if you get the chance. And I fully agree that stupidity in Congress is very bipartisan, although in most things the Rs have a clear edge in that regard.

    Eugene: one of the coolest trips we've taken is to Brooks River Lodge in Alaska, where the falls of picture fame is located, at which the grizzlys catch salmon out of the air. So close you could smell the fish on their breath. Walked down a long trail to get there, having had a session at grizzly school first. How to avoid, etc. Standing on a platform at the falls, one end of which was well above the ground, the other approached by a deck with no way to keep bears out other than belief they were happier with their fish than with us, I felt like we looked like a six-pack of people, there for the taking.

  6. that's cool, sid.

    i don't even work my biceps much because they get enough work lifting the weights off the rack. but i get spectacular results on my triceps. you can see each muscle clearly.

    sorry, off-topic.

  7. Frank: True!

    Sid, the good news is that bears seem to be able to count - they are not known to attack groups of over five or six.

  8. Hi Dr S-writing is cathartic. keep on writing.

    Oh..please come back to Surgeon'sblog...someday. :)

    Eugene..interesting info about grizzlies. Thanks. :)

    We have a lot of black bear around here Top of NJ (rural with growth. Small towns that if you blink your eyes your through them.

    We've had some problems with bears in the county but not much proportionate to the population.

    We had one come right up to our sliding door (open and screen only barrier) and then turn away. but they have been known to break into houses or kill home animals and then get put down. rare though.

    I used to walk in woods and fields and never think about bear but there population has increased and I think with all the building.. they are displaced from their natural habitat.

    I am afraid to walk in the dark with the dog because I wouldn't know if they are lurking around...and they do.

    They like to take paths and we have a right of way on our property and they cut through our yard to and walk close to the house. It's really neat.. yet unnerving. :)

    Frank that run faster thing was funny too. :)

    I love your writing Dr S and can't hold a candle to you. I just get stressed when I read some of it... although I do agree sometimes.

    Spousal abuse -also funny line. :)
    I think that's only true if she disagrees. Otherwise..she understands.

  9. SeaSpray,

    What I said about grizzlys does not apply to black bears (yes some of them are brown or even blond) but they are very different.

    Just to clarify grizzlys are brown bears - your bears are black bears.

    The differ in size and attack patterns because of their evolution.

    In short, grizzlys evolved mainly in open spaces; that led to their territoriality, black bears evolved in forest settings where territory does not influence their behavor.

    Grizzly attacks are sometimes predatory, but are usually about defending territory.

    The bad news is that a serious black bear attack (not a bluff charge)is about predation. In other words he wants to eat you.

    This happens with bears that are not familiar with humans.

    In Yosemite valley the bears know humans very well, and attacks are very rare. It is true that the valley bears that have learned to associate food with humans (stealing food from us) can be aggressive once they have the food in their paws.

    You deal with them by yelling at them, throwing rocks and making loud sounds (get a very loud whistle) - get some bear spray too.

    But the back country bears that live away from the valley may be unfamiliar with humans and can see us as something to eat.

    A black bear that comes in circling closer and closer is preparing to attack - you can do the noise and rocks and bear spray, but you must be prepared to fight for your life.

    The bear will try to knock you down and kill you. Do not run or use the duck and cover strategy that is advised for grizzlys. Don't climb, black bears are good climbers.

    How to fight a bear? Bear spray is good. With this animal, a sidearm applies. A good stout stick, a heavy rock or better yet a small hand axe to the head would even things up.

    Just remember, if you are attacked, you must fight.

    I don't want to scare you, just know that you need to think about these things when you go for a walk.

    There is a great deal of information in books and on the web about the subject, I have just covered some basics.




Comments back, moderated. Preference given for those who stay on topic.

Popular posts