Inside Out

Hollowness

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“Never was there, perhaps, more hollowness at heart than at present, and here in the United States.”

Walt Whitman, 1871


The above quote is from Walt Whitman’s essay “Democratic Vistas”. I recommend reading the whole piece, seriously.

“I say we had best look our times and lands searchingly in the face, like a physician diagnosing some deep disease. Never was there, perhaps, more hollowness at heart than at present, and here in the United States. Genuine belief seems to have left us. The underlying principles of the States are not honestly believ’d in, (for all this hectic glow, and these melodramatic screamings,) nor is humanity itself believ’d in. What penetrating eye does not everywhere see through the mask? The spectacle is appalling. We live in an atmosphere of hypocrisy throughout.”

For five months I have been largely sheltered from the news. What a peaceful and harmonious experience in an otherwise chaotic and frantic world.

Unfortunately our internet was upgraded a week ago and I have gobbled up the news like a thirsty desert hiker. Only to be left feeling nauseous.

 

 

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Inside Out, Quote

Heaven Or Hell?

“Go to heaven for the climate and hell for the company.”

Benjamin Franklin Wade


First I though Mr. Wade was a visionary, who predicted climate change in 1856: Pleasant temperatures and a soothing climate in heaven, or the opposite in hell, aka “hotter than hell”. The latter pretty much describes the direction we are currently heading.

Then I found out the above quote was Mr. Wade’s answer, when he was asked to provide an opinion on heaven and hell.

So?

What’s to say about climate change? I believe climate change is real, meaning there is a trend of rising surface and water temperatures that coincides with industrialization and human population growth. There is no doubt in my mind. How about you?

The real questions are:

Is this rise in temperature relevant?

Is it caused or affected by humans?

Should we do something about it?

Can we do something about it?

It is easy to brush this topic aside and leave it up to the politicians to make decisions for us. We will not burn up within our generation, but it surly won’t be pleasant down here in the long run if the average temperatures keep going up.

Then what? Looking forward to good company in hell?

I am not sure Mr. Wade was all too serious with his statement.

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Inside Out, One Man's Paradise

Reflections

Sometimes it’s good to just put the paddle down and let the canoe glide. 

Simon Mainwaring

Chilkoot Lake, Alaska

It feels like i have been paddling a lot lately. Not literally, but figuratively speaking. From Alaska to the Mexican border, to the Canadian Rockies, a short week back to Alaska, and the Pacific Northwest by bike, ferry, plane, and car. 

Time to put down the paddle, for a while. I look forward to some downtime that involves cooking great meals, baking bread and pastries, siting in front of a crackling fire place, and inhale some crisp mountain air. 

Or is that already too much paddling?

Happy Halloween. 

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Inside Out, One Man's Paradise

Goodbye Alaska, for now

“Time to leave now; 
sharpen this feeling of happiness and freedom, stretch your limbs, fill your eyes, be awake, wider awake, vividly awake in every sense and every pore.” 

Stefan Zweig

Moving to a new place means to trade the familiar with the unfamiliar. It means leaving friends behind and meeting perfect strangers. The comfort zone becomes less comfortable. 

Moving also brings excitement, new opportunities, and change, which must have a lot weight in my case, otherwise I would not lead such a nomadic life. 

After living three years in Alaska I am heading South. Not that I couldn’t stand the mosquitoes in the summer or the cold and the isolation in the winter. To the contrary, I liked the serene life style and the harsh weather during the winter months up North. Life may not be easy during the dark season, but it is simple. It takes work to stay alive. Everything takes more effort: going places, fixing things in and around the house. Those efforts made me a appreciate life. 

So why leave? For me it’s like watching a movie more than once. I may understand the movie better after the second time and find a few new details the third time around, but in general I got the big picture. So, I am going to see a new movie next time.

Maybe I find a place one day that I want to call home for the rest of my life. Maybe…

In the meantime I keep wandering. 

Navigating the Inside Passage


Alaska bid a magnificent farewell with a misty Inside Passage and glowing Northern Lights. 

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Inside Out

Earth Day

"The Blue Marble" photograph of Earth, taken by the Apollo 17 mission. The Arabian peninsula, Africa and Madagascar lie in the upper half of the disc, whereas Antarctica is at the bottom.

Image Credit: NASA

The Blue Marble” as taken on December 7, 1972, by the crew of the Apollo 17 spacecraft en route to the Moon at a distance of about 29,000 kilometers (18,000 mi). It shows Africa, Antarctica, and the Arabian Peninsula.


In celebration of Earth Day, I watched “The Martian”, as it portrays the ingenuity, curiosity, passion and compassion of mankind. It also begs the question, why do we look for other places to live in the universe? Shouldn’t we rather take good care of this one good planet we are on?

Today was also the March for Science, very appropriate at a time, when science is questioned or worse ignored by a growing portion of politicians and the general public. This is puzzling to me. Scientists spend years of their lives in search of new frontiers, often times at the expense of personal and financial gains. Why on Earth, would the general lay person dare to contradict scientific findings? Science is so complex these days that we should at least acknowledge scientific findings. The ethical, political, and financial concerns are a whole different story, but they should not confuse the scientific data.

When we are sick, we go see the doctor (most of us). We always can choose to do or not do what the doctor ordered. That’s different from saying the doc is a hack.

Science is not a hoax.

Happy Earth Day.


“I have to science the sh-t out of this.”

Mark Watney, Space Pirate

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Inside Out

Island Living

Although I am not living on an island, it sometimes feels like it.

Unless I make the three mile trek to town I hear no human voices. The only footprints around the house are from feathered or furry friends. I don’t mind the isolation, or should I call it insulation? Insulation protects from outside perils.

Without the moon nights have been pitch black. It is a joy to see the sun rise in the morning. Some days there is fog drifting down from the mountains, slowly burning off, giving way to a breath-taking scenery. Those moments make up for the long, dark nights and gray, rainy days.


“The isolation spins its mysterious cocoon,
focusing the mind on one place, one time, one rhythm

– the turning of the light.

The island knows no other human voices, no other footprints.”

M. L. Stedman


I have not read Stedman’s “The Light Between Oceans”, which is apparently a novel about a couple living in a remote lighthouse.

”There is something that appeals to the human psyche about lighthouses because of their isolation. Their presence offers up a marvelous set of dichotomies the human imagination likes to explore – darkness and light, safety and danger, stasis and movement, isolation and communication”, she says.

I have read Bob Kull’s “Solitude: Seeking Wisdom in Extremes”, which is a diary about living alone for one year on a remote island off the Patagonian coast. He took his doctoral dissertation very seriously. At age 55, he  traveled to Chile with enough supplies to study the effects of deep wilderness solitude on a human being, himself.


“We experience the earth as a stranger we know we should protect for pragmatic or ethical reasons, but until we individually transform our consciousness and come to experience non-human beings as family and the earth as our home, we are unlikely to relax our demands for comfort and security and make the changes necessary for our survival, joy, and sense of belonging.

Bob Kull


His dissertation is available online. It’s an easy and interesting read. You can also learn how much stuff you need to bring to survive for one year on an uninhabited island off Patagonia.

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So what was up with 2016? Was it a good year, a so-s0 year, or one to forget?

They say don’t dwell on the past, it’s history, nothing we can do about it.

Thinking about what happened in the big wide world in the past year my head explodes. I cannot comprehend how humans can provoke and tolerate so much misery.

My way to cope with this is to immerse myself in places far away. Remote, not pristine, but close. Threatened and affected, nevertheless.

Let’s walk gently. This beautiful blue planet is the only one we have.

Conservation, Inside Out

Good bye 2016

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