American History MMXX – Communal Violence

It’s possible for a house to be flooded to the ceiling and on fire at the same time.


On social media, I see a lot of white folks posting news articles and photos of little black kids who were killed over Fourth of July weekend. Either they or the commenters always say the same things.

It’s important, in these contentious times, when everyone is putting their energy into fortifying their rhetoric, beliefs, and political alignment, to not forget about each other’s humanity.

Do you really think that black people don’t care when we’re killed? Picture one of those little boys or girls who died for no reason. Do you think that their family doesn’t care? Or their friends? Do you think their classmates aren’t heartbroken? Their church members? Do you think when all of the parents in the community look at the faces of their own babies that they aren’t overwhelmed with heartache and anxiety?

Do you think that the people who are holding up and supporting the mourning families don’t care?

Can you imagine how devastating it must be to be protesting in the streets, risking health and safety, life and limb, for weeks on end to demand justice and accountability from your government, only to have your community’s children, the babies, slaughtered by a subset of the people you’re putting your wellbeing on the line for?

You think we don’t care?!

My Presidential Address

Obviously, I’d be voted out of office after my first term for being too centrist.

I.

My fellow Americans.

We live in troubled times. America is at a crossroads. Rarely, have we faced bigger challenges. Our mettle and our ideals are truly being tested. And yet, rarely have we been more polarized and more divided. A crisis that should have united us, we have allowed to divide us.

No one will be satisfied with what I have to say here tonight. I don’t have the ability to solve our problems or heal our wounds with words.

In the past month, the murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breanna Taylor, and George Floyd have come to the fore of our attention and national discourse.

I will not tell you to be calm. You’re right to be angry. I’m angry. Still, as your President, I’m expected to walk a fine line of compassion and empathy without appearing to be weak.

I’m expected to comfort and console some of you, be righteously indignant in solidarity with some of you, while somehow not offending our brothers and sisters on the political Right.

I condemn criminal acts of vandalism, rioting, and opportunistic looting, while identifying with the rage of dreams deferred, as Langston Hughes penned.

Lungs on Fire

Here come the drums

I. Am. Enraged. Raw.

I try not to watch the news, but inevitably get caught up and it’s brutal on the psyche. There’s so much appropriately righteous anger and so many are breathing fire — frustrated rage, a bloody trail of history, atrocities never punished or rectified or even acknowledged, and yet another insult, another injustice, while we reel from the other.

Peaceful protests. Powerful and peaceful. But they’re easy to ride out with no subsequent change unless something visually and narratively spectacular changes the course of our society.

I don’t like the looting and arson and property damage. I really don’t want any more loss of life. I want it to stop. (We’re in the midst of a pandemic, man.)

But property can be cleaned up, rebuilt, even remodeled.

George Floyd is dead.

Begging for his life. People who witnessed Floyd’s murder were begging the police officers for Floyd’s life. And officers responded with snark, with attitude, while citizens tried to de-escalate the situation.

Quarantine: Year Two

Dearest Liza,

We find ourselves in the third month of the Bidet Wars. Our troops remain steadfast and clean of tush. All quiet on the western front.

Let’s start here…

The Downside of Political Correctness

I believe that political correctness, as with anything else, has a limited return on investment.

Quarantine: Year One

This shit is bananas!

Just so you know, I have a dark, absurdist, and sometimes irreverent sense of humor. So, you know. If you don’t appreciate humor, more or less, amidst tragedy, I’m probably not your cup o’ tea. I understand. Take care of you and yours and be well. And on that note….

We’re doomed.

It seems like this li’l pandemic is revealing all the structural weaknesses of our global and national ecosystem and its structures and pillars.

First of all, we’re a bunch of assholes, which would explain the hoarding of toilet paper. Mystery solved.

My rule #1 is: don’t panic. Be anxious, even afraid, at a loss. That’s natural. But don’t panic. We have to look out for each other and not just ourselves. Granted, we could use some firm but not completely totalitarian leadership.

China is able to lock things down because they will lock your ass up if you step out of line. They don’t mess around, which is a strength in times like these when you’re fighting a viral contagion and human nature. Of course, if that same big sickle and hammer energy is directed toward keeping things on the down low — welp. Oops.

Rest in peace, Aunt Alice

Auntie A. called me Faffa because when I was little I couldn’t say my middle name, Arthur. Gary, say your name. “Gary Faffa Young”

Our family has three March babies: me, Debbie (RIP 2015), and Aunt Alice — 2nd, 4th, and 10th. We would celebrate together, and after, “How old are you now? How old are you now?” everyone would try to add our ages. She never really wanted anything for her birthday and would say, “Don’t get me anything.”

She was fun, and had a quick wit and sharp tongue, and made a concerted effort to pass those life skills and a sense of independence to her daughter, nieces, and nephews. I always thought of her as the griot of the family because she would teach us children’s songs and tell stories.

Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree
Merry, merry king of the bush is he
Laugh, Kookaburra! Laugh, Kookaburra!
Gay your life must be

I remember sitting on the porch with her at my grandmother’s, with the family gathered, reluctantly hand churning ice cream, taking turns with my sister and cousins. It’s literally a bucket with a container inside surrounded by ice, with a handle that you had to turn for, like, an hour. It was so Amish. No work, no ice cream, she told me.

Even though it’s been decades since she had it, I loved that green Volkswagen Beetle she had. Remember those? Good times. Partial to VW Beetles.

Rest in Peace, Grandma

Edythe Booker Mason, 1918 – 2019

Who are we without her? Grandma was and is the heart of our family, and the hub of our family.

Aging isn’t for cowards, she’d say. A hundred and one year old body is going to decline and there’s a precipice at the end of that process. It’s the most natural of things, but it’s still brutal. Her passing wasn’t a surprise but it’s still a shock. It’s hard to believe she’s gone. She’s just always been there.

When the storm of the century is forecast to hit, knowing when and where it will land does absolutely nothing to lessen the damage. You just have the opportunity to take cover, steel yourself, and resign yourself to the fact that life will be different after it passes.

Backpacking Load-Out

GEAR DUMP

  1. REI backpack (it’s amazing) with detachable daypack and J-zipper so you can get into the bag from the middle (and not just the top and bottom)
  2.  3L water bladder
  3. Cap
  4. Buff
  5. 50 ft. Paracord with prusik knots and mini Bic lighter on Spool Tool
  6. Toilet paper
  7. Stuff (night light, bug repellant wipes and…)
  8. Toiletries
  9. Electronics (wires, charger) & fire starters
  10. Rain cover
  11. Platypus water “bottle” x 2
  12. Hammock, tarp (in snake skin), straps, gear storage, bug net, ridge line organizer
  13. Sleeping bag 15 degree
  14. Under quilt
  15. Stakes
  16. REI Flexlite chair
  17. Compression bag (to act as a dry bag)
  18. Socks and underwear
  19. Folding bowl
  20. Gloves
  21. JetBoil Mini Mo
  22. Trowel
  23. Folding saw
  24. Compass
  25. Energy gels
  26. Head bug net
  27. Alleve and salt pills
  28. Snacks in odorless bag
  29. Life Straw (water filter)
  30. Camp knife – Buck reaper

35 lbs. including water so about 29 lbs. without. Like hiking carrying a 16kg kettlebell. Notice that I’m missing food and a first aid kit. And no SPOT gps. Also, no camera in the pic. I need to condition myself more if I’m going to do this more than once a year. You definitely feel the weight. It’s work. I wouldn’t mind shaving 10 lbs. off of here, but I like to go plush. Base weight is all of the stuff except for consumables and what you’re wearing.

  • Below 20 lbs. is considered lightweight backpacking.
  • Below 10 lbs. is ultra lightweight backpacking.
  • 30 lbs. is … backpacking.
  • 40 – 60 lbs. is packing for two or 20 to 30 years ago.

Trade offs, y’know.

PACKING YOUR FEARS

If you want to go light, you’re not supposed to pack in terms of “what if”. Someone said it’s called “packing your fears”.

What if there aren’t any good trees for hanging a hammock? I’d better bring the longer (heavier) straps. What if other people don’t bring xyz? I’d better take super extra water.

There are lessons to be learned: knowing one’s limits, comfort, goals, skills, and companions (or lack thereof).

For Sh*ts and Giggles

TLDR: Count your blessings. We could have cloacas instead. Also, BRAT.

I’ve been having some stomach issues recently. I have no idea why or why not, what, who, how, etc. But as things start to improve — knock on food — I find myself appreciating our bodily processes more and more.

Farts

No, don’t go!

Where was I? Oh, right. Farts. They may not be ideal in most social situations, but the amount of information and sensory feedback is astounding. It doesn’t make it any less rude to talk about or any less hilarious in multiple ways, but the fact remains.

LGN 136: Snow Good

  • The struggle continues. But why?
  • Upgrades?
  • Representation

Why?

Here’s a question for you.

Why would anyone drive for hours possibly in dangerous snowy and icy conditions, fly across countries and oceans, pay hundreds of dollars or even thousands, stand outside often in freezing temperatures, brave crowds, wait sometimes for half an hour in a lift line on a busy day, all while not knowing exactly if the conditions will be decent, risk life changing injury or even death, frustration and humiliation and embarrassment for beginners, just for two to four minutes (at these smaller East Coast resorts) of actual skiing/snowboarding time per run?

Instructor stylin’

A Private Lesson

Flight hours. I need flight hours.

Bryce is one of the closest and more reasonably priced resorts nearby, so after obsessing, checking the weather constantly, and basically being incredibly bored and purposeless, I went for it. I signed up for a two hour lesson.

Hot tip: Or cold tip?? I’m willing to drop a few dollars on lessons for two reasons:

  1. You get to jump to the front of the line on chair lifts when you’re taking lessons.
  2. It’s not a whole lot of fun being on the slopes alone when you’re struggling.
  3. If things go well, I’d have someone with a lot of experience who could get gopro footage of me.

Here’s what I did not know