Black and white (and red all over).

There has been a lot of buzz and even vitriol lately about Rachel Dolezal, the white woman in Spokane, Washington, who has been passing herself off as a mixed-race black woman for the past few years. Mostly the talk has been about the disbelief that she would falsely claim black heritage. But the one part that is almost always overlooked is her dubious claim of Native American ancestry. She even claims to have been born in a teepee in Montana. Because Indians were still living in teepees in Montana in 1977, apparently. Continue reading “Black and white (and red all over).”

How Soon is Now?

At risk of sounding curmudgeonly, the world is speeding up and I don’t like it.

Our human ancestors walked out of Africa, and eventually walked all over the entire planet. Or built boats and floated to the parts they couldn’t reach on foot. Granted, it wasn’t one continuous trip, it took millenia. But they were in no particular hurry. Those bipedal hominids’ feet were made for walking. And that’s just what they did. Today we express surprise when someone walks a 10K race for charity. Yet our earliest ancestors did nothing but walk. They had no alternative. Continue reading “How Soon is Now?”

Book Review: 2000 Miles Around the Tree of Life

Disclaimer: I know the author personally. He is a friend, and for 10 years he was my coworker and mentor. I make no claims of impartiality with this review. 

Today I’m reviewing 2000 Miles Around the Tree of Life, by Richard W. Carroll. (ISBN-10: 1935925512, ISBN-13: 978-1935925514), published by Peace Corps Writers, 2014. I have known Richard for ten years, and worked under his guidance for much of that time. I consider him a friend and a mentor, and so I was excited when I learned that he had published a memoir of his 1975 thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail.  Continue reading “Book Review: 2000 Miles Around the Tree of Life”

Chapter 7: Extensions

Next installment of “For Tomorrow.” This is another flashback to Jake and Wakesho’s days in Kenya. 

Remember to read the previous chapters 1,2, 345, and 6

DISCLAIMER: This is a work of fiction. All characters are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual people, alive or dead, is purely coincidental.

“Can’t you have one of your girlfriends do this?” Jake complained, shaking his hands to try to restore feeling to his fingertips.

“They all want money. Or they say they’re too busy. Besides, I like the way you do it, you’re very gentle,” Wakesho said.

She was sitting on the floor on a foam cushion from Jake’s sofa with her head between Jake’s knees as Jake sat on a stool from his kitchen. They were on the front porch of Jake’s house facing the ocean, watching the tide come in. Continue reading “Chapter 7: Extensions”

You know what? F*#@ Columbus

Hooray, it’s time again to celebrate the man who got lost, washed ashore on a land that had already been inhabited for tens of thousands of years, claimed it for his financier, the King of Spain, enslaved its inhabitants, left behind smallpox and syphilis, never really figured out whether he was in Asia or not, and was such an inept and brutal governor that he was jailed by his King. Continue reading “You know what? F*#@ Columbus”

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

ringo2
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”