My hero and favorite author, Edward Abbey, sometimes referred to himself as a redneck philosopher. Abbey was born and raised in Appalachia, but lived most of his life in the Southwest. He was a Fulbright Scholar and attained a Master’s in Philosophy, examining the relationship between anarchy and morality. He did a post-graduate writing fellowship at Stanford and published over 30 books in his lifetime. Not bad for a hillbilly kid from rural Pennsyltucky.
Rednecks have a poor reputation in modern American society, and deservedly so. Stereotypically, rednecks are under-educated, insular, bigoted, xenophobic and narrow-minded. But that’s just the stereotype. Of course there are exceptions to every stereotype. It’s interesting to see what happens when the redneck rises above the stereotype. Continue reading “The redneck awakening”
His parents were wise, building their nest high under the eaves of the house, where the downspout from the gutter formed a sheltered platform inaccessible to all but the most determined of predators. I noticed them early in the spring, flitting about the back deck, gathering materials for their home construction. Continue reading “The Little Cardinal”
Upscale Shack readers will recall my 2014 review of Dr. Richard Carroll’s first book 2000 Miles around the Tree of Life, which recorded the author’s experiences hiking the Appalachian Trail from start to finish in the mid 1970’s. In his latest book, The Emperor and the Elephants (ISBN: 1935925709), Carroll recalls his Peace Corps service in the Central African Empire (today known as the Central African Republic, or CAR), in the late 1970’s, and his subsequent years working as a conservationist in Central Africa .
Continue reading “Book Review: The Emperor and the Elephants”
For nearly 100 years, the land that is today the Bubye Valley Conservancy (BVC) of Zimbabwe was not wilderness. The land was a cattle ranch. Wild animals were intentionally wiped out, for fear of disease transmission, and to eliminate predators that would kill cattle. For nearly a century, the land hosted a cattle monoculture, devoid of wildlife; and elephants, rhinos, leopards and lions were completely wiped out. For a century this land was the furthest thing in the world from wilderness. Continue reading “The Myth of Wild Africa”
For no particular reason I’ve been thinking about gadgets lately. Those inventions that claim to “make life easier.” If a gadget could truly make the trials and tribulations of life easier, then I’d be all for it. But I’ve never seen a gadget that could mend a broken heart, or deal with the horrible attitude of a surly employee on a Monday morning. If only there was a gadget that would pay my mortgage, that would make my life easier.
Here are five examples of inventions that I could live without: Continue reading “Most Useless Inventions”
Yesterday, as I was waiting for the train, I leaned against a column at the station and recognized it to be of the Ionic style of columns. From somewhere deep within the recesses of my brain I recalled the 3 basic styles of columns: Doric, Ionic and Corinthian. We had been forced to memorize these in elementary school for reasons that escape me to this day. Perhaps the curriculum was a vestigial remnant of the classical education. Rather than teach us Latin or Greek, they taught us about columns instead. Maybe thinking that a smattering of knowledge about classical architecture would help us in some way down the road. Continue reading “Useless Information”
When you use a kerosene lantern every day the globe eventually becomes blackened from soot and starts blocking the light. It’s gradual, hard to notice. But slowly and surely, the light dims. So one day you tear off a piece of discarded newspaper and remove the globe and wipe it clean of soot. It’s not hard to do, the soot wipes away easily. Then you reinstall the globe and light the lantern and wow! It’s like you’ve been blind and had your sight restored. The lamp is now so bright that it almost hurts your eyes. The lamp hadn’t failed to burn, it was doing its job, but something had been blocking its output, keeping it from reaching its full potential. Continue reading “The Light”
This blog turned 1 year old this week. Hooray!
Thanks to all my faithful readers for sticking with it. What started as a whim, as an outlet for my rambles, has matured into something I take more seriously now, thanks to your views and your inputs. Looking forward to the year ahead and many more to come!
Thought I’d share some statistics for you, thanks to the good folks at WordPress. Continue reading “Happy Birthday To Me!”
It’s 9/11 again. And along with it comes the chorus of pleas to “never forget” along with hashtags of “where were you?” But what does it mean to never forget? How could we possibly ever forget something so traumatic? I will never be able to erase those images, for the rest of my life. The repeated slow motion loop of a jumbo jet slamming into a building. The plumes of smoke and dust as first one, and then another tower collapses. How could we ever forget that? The horrific scenes of ash-gray dust blanketing everything like snow, of people running panicked down canyon-like avenues, chased by a growing spread of ash and smoke and dust like something from a horrible Michael Bay movie. How could we forget? Continue reading “Never Forget”
We live in an era of outrage. And frankly I’m tired of it. You might say that I’m outraged by all the outrage. Everyone is pissed off about something all the time, and everyone is constantly telling each other that they should be pissed off, too. Righteous indignation is the new normal. The internet is the perfect medium for spreading outrage. Twitter is tailor-made for angry people with short attention spans with its 140-character outrage nuggets. Continue reading “Can Everyone Please Just Chill the Hell Out?”