Discussion: How to not be a jerk

A while back I saw one of those “ten things” lists on Facebook. It was titled “Ten Things to do to Make Your Girl Smile.” It was one of the most condescending and superficial things I’ve ever seen. Filled with things like “tell her she’s pretty,” and “buy her nice things,” and “make reservations and take her to a nice restaurant where all she has to do is show up and look pretty.” Because apparently women are just interested in material items and being told they are pretty. Continue reading “Discussion: How to not be a jerk”

Because Africa is an Adventure

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Intrepid travelers experience an authentic African adventure when their bus gets stuck in a riverbed in Namibia.

Bring fancy quick-dry clothes made of rip-stop nylon (because the cruelest thorns in the world are found in Africa). The type of clothes that cost a lot of money in Patagonia catalogs. Preferably the pants that have legs that zip off and become shorts. Because you never know when you might have to zip down and run from a hungry hyena. Because Africa is an adventure. Continue reading “Because Africa is an Adventure”

Honor or hatred?

Up to now I have waged a passive protest against racist sports imagery, most notably the Washington DC NFL team, whose name I refuse to acknowledge. I’ve never been shy about talking about it to anyone who will listen, but I’ve never taken an active role. My personal boycott of this team means that I skip over pages of the newspaper that talk about them, I flip past TV stations showing their games and I refuse to speak their name, calling them the Washington Racists or R-words. But ignoring a problem doesn’t make it go away. It’s time to speak up. I will be passive no longer. Continue reading “Honor or hatred?”

Thoughts on the Scottish referendum

This is not a political blog. I’m not going to get in the habit of espousing my political views, there are far too many sites focused on every narrow political perspective under the sun, and frankly most of it bores me. Because it seems that 90% of politics focuses so narrowly on single issues that it misses the bigger picture. Instead, I want to focus on what makes us all similar, not what drives us apart. Continue reading “Thoughts on the Scottish referendum”

What is an upscale shack?

This should have been my first post. Belatedly, let me explain the name of this blog.

In 1845, Henry David Thoreau quit his job and built a small house in the woods. It was essentially just a shack. But it was an upscale shack, not just some thrown-together lean to. It was small, even by the standards of the day, measuring only 10 feet by 15 feet, containing a single room with a bed, a table and a writing desk. A fireplace kept him warm throughout the winter. He lived comfortably in his upscale shack for a bit over two years, and documented his simple lifestyle in Walden. Thoreau’s most salient advice, which defines the spirit of this blog, was “simplify, simplify.” Continue reading “What is an upscale shack?”

The Arab Mare

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The author on an Appaloosa gelding named Ringo

Grandpa came home one day with a blood-red Arab mare named Suzy. We all thought he was foolish for buying her; a 65-year old man had no business on such a hot-blooded horse, a mare no less, which would be coming into heat every month and acting crazy. We were all afraid he would get thrown and break a hip. But Grandpa didn’t listen to our protests. I think he was attracted to her beauty rather than her practicality, like a man in a mid-life crisis purchasing a flashy red sports car. And Suzy was a beauty, lightly built with sleek graceful lines and a delicate head with the dished shape characteristic of her breed. Beautiful, but entirely impractical. Continue reading “The Arab Mare”