Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Time to Break with Beck [Bryan]

It does not serve my beloved Mormon Church well to have Glen Beck as currently its most prominent member. The guy fosters hatred and fear and turns it all into personal profit and career advancement.

And it is odd, to say the least, to see him try to adopt the Civil Rights Movement as his own, while at the same time pushing the loathsome political ideas of Cleon Skouson and a young Ezra Taft Benson -- both of whom denounced the Civil Rights Movement as a "communist conspiracy." Beck sees himself as the new Martin Luther King. Too bad he is in love with people who hated everything MLK stood for.

Life's little pleasures [Bryan]

I listed some overrated things a few weeks ago. Now let me list some of my life's little pleasures:

1. I love drinking cool water from a garden hose on a hot summer day.

2. I love the moment when the alarm goes off, but you then suddenly realize you don't need to get up. (I actually used to set my alarm on Saturdays so I could wake up with normal dread and then feel the joyous sensation that came with remembering I didn't need to get up for two more hours.)

3. I love peeling off the protective tape after I've painted a room to reveal all the clean edges.

4. I love nose kisses from Nora.

5. I love new, fluffy towels. (We recently bought new towels after using our old ones for 12 years -- they were like sandpaper.)

6. I love finally swatting a fly after missing it ten straight times and then screaming in triumph as man conquers nature.

7. I love the moment, at the end of a workout, when you realize you can finally, gasp, stop exercising for the day.

8. I love the feel of a fish taking my fly.

9. I love coming home and hearing Stephen yell "Daddy!" in delight.

10. I love making neat patterns in the grass as I mow the lawn. My favorite: diagonal slashes across the front lawn.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Trip to Glacier [Bryan]

We returned Sunday from a long trip back to Utah and, for me, a trip backpacking in Glacier National Park. It would be impossible to tell you about all our adventures (and misadventures). I will let Ellie write, if she wants, about how the children suffered a Grade-A, first class meltdown while I was away in the wilderness for seven days, complete with vomiting, fevers, sobbing, staff infections, and all manner of uncontrolled bodily fluids. Overall, though, we were overwhelmed by how welcoming and generous everybody was who shared their time, homes, and food with us, a strange family from Ohio. Highlights included bike rides, eating, swimming, eating, hiking, eating, museums, eating, and getting to know better family and friends.

Now, Glacier was beautiful in a way that is hard to describe. Many of you know that I've been backpacking with my brother and uncle for over twenty years. We've explored many of the great mountain ranges of the West, including the Tetons, Wind Rivers, Sawtooths, Rubies, Uintahs, and so forth. This year we scheduled a trip to the Many Glacier section of Glacier on the east side of the park, a place none of us had ever been.

Overall, we were on the trail 4 days and covered a respectable 37 miles. Glacier is an interesting place in that it felt more alive than most of the other National Parks I've visited. We saw, up close, plenty of big horn sheep, mountain goats, deer, and moose, along with furry little critters of all shapes and sizes. We heard wolves howling at night and, although we didn't see any bears, their presence was obvious from reports of others along the trail, manifestations of bear poop, and so forth. We were armed to the teeth with bear spray and took all sorts of precautions (including hanging our toothbrushes along with our food). We camped at 3 campsites, each more spectacular than the last. Our last night, we camped at Helen Lake, a beautiful green glacier lake surrounded by towering cliffs, multiple waterfalls, and distant mountain peaks. I don't think it is inappropriate to call such a place "sacred."

One of the great things about backpacking is, ironically, how horrifically terrible it is. I won't lie, some of the ascents (including a 2500 foot climb up to Ptarmigan tunnel) kicked my butt, big time. I could barely put one foot in front of the other, and cursed the day I decided it would be fun to strap a 40 lbs pack on my back and go march around the wilderness. The hardness, though, makes is satisfying in a deeply fulfilling way. At the end of the ascent, as you conquer a hill, approach an incredible vista, or simply realize you've survived, you find that there is something strong inside you, something inside you that is worthy of admiration. And the scenery always makes everything worth it. Fishing was good, too.

I don't have any of my own pictures yet. I actually used something called "film" that is being "developed." I stole a few off my brother's Facebook page, though, and here they are (until he calls his lawyers).

Here we are at Ptarmigan Tunnel after climbing 2500 feet.

Nice, fat 14 inch Rainbow.

At Red Gap Pass -- Mountain peaks surrounding us in every direction.

Derek at Helen Lake

Monday, August 02, 2010

Overrated things [Bryan]

1. Thick milkshakes are overrated. You should be able to drink a milkshake with a straw.

2. Making your bed is overrated. You are just going to mess it up again in 12 hours. (Sorry Mom!)

3. The Sunday comics are overrated. They are almost never funny.

4. Things that are "organic" are overrated. I love buying fresh and local, but "organic" has almost no meaning.

5. Coming to a complete stop is overrated. You can almost always adequately survey an intersection rolling slowly.

6. Flossing is overrated. A dentist told me he can't usually tell if someone flosses by looking at their teeth. And he told me that most dentist don't floss regularly, either.

7. Breakfast is overrated. I like pancakes as much as the next guy, but the food traditionally served at breakfast is uninspiring and dull.

8. Fertilizer that claims to prevent crabgrass is overrated. Never seems to work.

9. The United State Senate is overrated. The rules of the Senate seem designed to thwart democratic accountability and reward egoistic grandstanding.

10. Bacon on hamburgers is overrated. Doesn't add much except fat and calories.