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Register to vote NOW

July 29, 2016

Not later. Now. If you’re registered, make double sure you’re registered:

And here’s some political commentary from John Scalzi, for good measure. 

How do you fight insurance in America?

July 12, 2016

Insurance just refused to approve surgery for a 7 year old kid – family friend – that 2 specialists says is absolutely critical.

How do you fight that?

A hike in the Rockies – Day 1

July 9, 2016

Fifteen years ago, I went on a solo hike across Rocky Mountain National Park. I started at the Bear Lake trailhead, summited Flattop Mountain (only 12,000-some-odd feet altitude), and through the park on the other side. The original plan was to make a full loop to the west side, then go back along a more northerly trail, and back out Bear Lake. As it turned out, I did the trip one way. (My pack was too heavy, my boots hurt, my tent was flimsy, and I got creeped out by the end of the westward trail.)

I recently got excited about repeating this performance, and my 11 year old son Eric got into the idea, too. So we walked and trained and got gear, and last week we went.

Here are notes and pictures and stuff from day 1.

7-3-2016: Rocky Mountain National Park. Spent two nights in Glacier Basin [a front country camp, to acclimatize to the altitude. We just camped in the back of the minivan…why bother setting up the tent?]  Set off from Bear Lake trailhead at 7:45am.

We had gorgeous weather and a reasonable time to start.

I should note that a couple days before we started out, we assigned roles. I was Hydration Officer, and Eric was Safety Patrol. We each did our jobs admirably. We both stayed hydrated, and Eric was super conscientious about pointing out poison ivy/oak, giving advice on tall steps, and keeping us on the uphill side of the path (away from dropoffs). He probably saved me from a buttfull of poison oak, as he’d mentioned it so much I was on the lookout.

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Start: Bear Lake Trailhead

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My view, for most of the trip: Eric’s pack.

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There were some other views, too.

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NICE views.

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Really, REALLY nice views.

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The summit of Flattop Mountain.


Arrive Flattop Mountain peak at 12:45pm.

Hey, we’re slow hikers. The whole hike up was great.

Am writing this at the peak. Eric has been amazing, and several things have contributed to our success. Planning, water, acclimatization, [trekking] poles, teamwork,and WILLPOWER [as Eric has been emphasizing]. Ahhhh…sitting down!  Now; time to go. 12:52pm.

Trekking poles, as it turns out, are worth their weight in gold. Seriously, get thee some trekking poles on Amazon!

Right as we were packing up to leave the peak, an older lady – maybe 60-65? – arrived, and exchanged notes with us, and hikers do. I noted on my last Rocky Mountain trip that hikers are friendly people, and though then it was a safety thing. Not so: hikers are friendly, because they’re happy. They’re out doing exactly what they want to do, in a beautiful place, with few worries, if any. So it was with she, and – goal met – she turned and started down the way she’d come.

Okay, on to the west side of the mountain…


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We’re actually up in an alpine area. It’s July, so EVERYTHING is in bloom.

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Selfie, proving I exist too.

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So gorgeous.

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Took pictures of a lot of plants, to identify later. Now I don’t care; they’re just pretty.

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It rained. It rains about every afternoon in the Rockies.

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You can’t see it, but it also snowed a bit.

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Not shown: a snowfield we ended up working our way around, stepping from rock to rock, to avoid broken ankles.

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All of these flowers were turned toward the sun. Looked like a Minecraft scene.

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Starting down toward the valley.

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Spotted some elk. Elk are dangerous especially during calving season (now) and rutting season (fall). We avoided.

More notes:

We had some setbacks: snowfield, rain, crossing a river, another snowfield, a cantankerous elk, a very steep and scary snowfield. It was this last, after 12 hours of hiking, that stopped us.

The snowfield – situated in a ravine, and above what looked like a serious drop – scared us. I won’t hit the details here, but the solution lay in roping up together, carefully kicking out steps, using our poles as anchors, and taking just the light pack across on the first go. There was also a too-close-for-comfort encounter with an elk, which scared the hell out of me. But we got across safely, and found that the drop wasn’t necessarily deadly – as it looked from above – but actually just limb-threatening. Still: glad we didn’t fall.

Camp was nothing much to tell, so I’ll write an account of Day 2 (and likely beyond) tomorrow. Ish.

Lessons learned on or before day 1:

  • Assigning roles for specific, important things is good. Safety Patrol is really Eric’s bag.
  • Warm sleeping bag = good!
  • Our little stove was perfect for the two of us, and our “just heat up some water” style of cooking. Strictly freeze dried foods, cocoa, tea, oatmeal.
  • We just bought 4 stainless steel bowls at a kitchen supply store; again, perfect. Lightweight, cheap, solid.
  • The freeze dried Mountain House mac & cheese was meh. Couldn’t get it cooked beyond “mildly crunchy”. Their lasagna was great, though.
  • Eucerin lotion is great – basically nonscented, and good for hands and lips.
  • Trekking poles are worth every penny…especially if you pay $30 instead of $125 for them. We had one each, which was fine.
  • The Sawyer Mini water filter was wonderful. No problems at all, very simple to use and maintain.
  • It was great for Eric to have a Lifestraw and a Personal Locator Beacon. Planning for the worst.
  • We loved our packs and tent…ask if you want to know which ones. My pack is an Osprey, and it was wonderful.
  • Hot cocoa and marshmallows are also worth their weight in gold.


Interim post: what we tell men and boys about sexual attacks

June 8, 2016

I wrote a few days ago about what we should say to women before, and after, a sexual assault. I’m still thinking about what to tell men and boys about these subjects.

In the meantime, here is a wonderful thing that touches on this subject.

Thanks to User Actions Follow Emil Hofileña

Thanks to Emil Hofileña


And: Women are not the only ones who get attacked (see statistics from NSVRC). Things we say to women about prevention, we should say to men, with slight alterations. (“Be careful hon, just because you’re a dude doesn’t mean some total waste of groceries won’t attack you.”) And the response after should be EXACTLY the same. (“THAT COMPLETE WASTE OF GROCERIES**. Let’s get the police, let’s prosecute him to the fullest extent of the law. This is WRONG, he is EVIL…” etc etc etc.)

On sexual attacks: prevention and response

June 2, 2016

After years and years of thinking and talking about this, here is what I have in terms of clarity:

Before a woman is attacked, here is what we should tell one another and our daughters: “Listen, it sucks, but you need to be careful. Get your own drink, guard your drink, don’t get so drunk that you lose judgement, be careful about who you’re around and the spaces you’re in. And be aware that some assholes take it as an invitation if you wear something tight, or low cut, or high cut*. It COMPLETELY sucks, but these are the things you should know.”

After a woman is attacked, here is what we should say: “THAT COMPLETE WASTE OF GROCERIES**. Let’s get the police, let’s prosecute him to the fullest extent of the law. This is WRONG, he is EVIL…” etc etc etc. After a woman is attacked, people who even hint at it being her fault should be universally shamed and corrected.

The best analogy I have is getting into a wreck with a drunk driver. “Honey, it sucks, but you’ve got to be careful on the road. ALWAYS wear your seatbelt, pay attention to the road, watch out for other drivers, and drive slower in bad weather.” But after the person ends up in a hospital after being hit by a drunk driver, you don’t say, “Well were you wearing your seatbelt? Did you see him coming? How fast were you going?” It’s the asshole drunk driver’s fault, and it’s ridiculous to hold the other driver accountable.



*Of course, some assholes will take it as an invitation simply that you’re female.

**Language toned down for public consumption.


Stand to pee

May 18, 2016

All I’m saying is, this is one of the greatest products for women in all the history of everything. Stand to pee.


Vote Sexist, Racist, Xenophobic and Pro Violence!

May 6, 2016

I have a pretty simple question for Trump supporters:

Why isn’t it a nonstarter that Trump is sexist, racist, xenophobic, and pro violence?

I don’t want to hear from pro-Clinton, pro-Sanders, or pro-anyone else people, unless you have direct quotes from Trump supporters. I really want Trump supporters to explain that to me.

I don’t want to hear conjecture that Trump supporters are sexist/racist/xenophobic/pro violence. Some of them undoubtedly are, but I’ve talked to many pro-Trump folk who would never say anything sexist/racist/xenophobic (most of us are at least pro violence in certain circumstances, so we’ll leave that out).

You won’t vote for a divorced candidate. Or a gay candidate. Because those are against your morals. So how do you support a candidate who has shown time and time again that he’s sexist, racist, xenophobic, and pro violence?

And don’t tell me that he doesn’t mean what he says. I don’t know or care if he means it; he says  it, and especially for someone who has never held public office, what they say is the majority of our yardstick…we simply have to measure the man by how he says, and how he’s conducted his business.

To pull from old dating advice: “If a guy is telling you who he is, listen to him!”


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