Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Soaking up the sun at Snow Canyon and Zions

A little amateur photography by the youngster at Snow Canyon: Long stick of wheat grass against rocks...or something like that.

Less known yet just as beautiful Snow Canyon.

Mini-desert lakes: Snow Canyon

Resting on the first set of switchbacks towards Angel's Landing and only photo we got of Hana hiking.

We are actually heading down here, but forgive the chronology: the last section of switchbacks before it really got steep.

Gives me goosebumps and shivers, both the good and bad kind: that's not merely a beautiful landscape behind us; it's the trail we just came up.

Last half of Angel's Landing: aren't trees amazingly resilient?

This was a good idea, right?

On top of Angel's Landing there was just enough snow to make one nervous.

Seth on top of Angel's Landing gaining a few more feet of elevation than the rest of us.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Sun, what else?

Impossible to express how much I'm enjoying the sun aand 50+ degrees of St. George. Just got back from hiking Angel's Landing in Zions with the family--little ice and snow but not bad. Heading to the Pasta Factory which offer great build your own pasta options. Yum.

Why, I ask, did it take me so long to figure out this simple equation:

sun + christmas break + warmth + travel = a much, much happier Ron

Last year Vegas and St George--from here on out I will travel somewhere warm and sunny EVERY winter break. No doubt.

Friday, December 24, 2010

It's Wonderful Christmas Eve

I'm watching George Bailey walking through the snow, staring into the water, contemplating a jump to end it all. It's all very familiar... Over-warm because Andrew, my youngest, insisted on the once-a-year traditional fire which moves the temp squarely into the 80s. All of us watching a film together--a rarity. A night of Santa-Clausing ahead though, now with two teens, much scaled down as there are no big toys to assemble, no big surprises really. Left-over Chinese food in the fridge from our Christmas Eve dinner.

How many views? A dozen at least. Even I have some of the dialog mostly memorized:

"I'm shakin' the dust of this crummy little town off my feet"

"A flaming rum punch?...Look mister we serve hard drinks in here for men who want to get drunk fast"

"She's an old maid. She never married." (haunting music playing)

And I start to notice details I've overlooked: a squirrel on uncle Billy's desk; a skull on Potter's desk when he offers George Bailey a job; Christmas masks George's children are wearing (btw how did anyone think it was a good idea for a child to run around in a old man Santa mask? creepy!).

And so tonight I celebrate ritual and tradition where life slows and repose is found if but a moment.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Lotsa books III: The end of faith by Sam Harris

I had a fair amount of context I brought to this book: had always meant to read something by Sam Harris once I was aware of him several years ago, had heard him debate Chris Hedges on Truthdig and was impressed with his clear reason in the debate though ultimately sided more with Hedges, had first read Richard Dawkins'The God Delusion as my introduction to the New Atheists.

What I liked:
  • Harris attacks the right and left with vigor, even more so the left especially in chapter 4, "The problem with Islam" which caused me to question every apologetic word I've uttered in defense of moderate Islam.
  • He is much much more readable than Dawkins
  • He, unlike Dawkins, doesn't try to simultaneously take on religion and any "unscientific" discourse like postmodernism (at least he doesn't in this book)
  • So many provocative quotables--I will give you a few:
"Religious moderates are, in large part, responsible for the religious conflict in our world, because their beliefs provide the context in which scriptural literalism and religious violence can never be adequately opposed" (45)

"The only thing we should respect in a person's faith is his desire for a better life in this world; we need never have respected his certainty that one awaits him in the next" (225)

"We have, in response to the this improbable fact, declared war on 'terrorism.' This is rather like declaring war on 'murder'; it is a category error that obscures the true cause of our troubles. Terrorism is not a source of human violence, but merely one of its inflections" (28)

Monday, December 06, 2010

In homage to lotsa books

Having books all around your house leads to 67% more reading though does not, according tot he experts, necessarily lead to actually finishing books; therefore, a celebration is in store every time I actually finish a book:

From the last page of the simply, yet fully explanatory, Bodies by Susie Orbach

"Our struggle is to recorporealise our bodies so that they become a place we live from rather than an aspiration always needing to be achieved"

"We need bodies sufficiently stable to allow us moments of bliss and adventure when, sure that they exist, we can then take leave of them"

NOTE: neither of these quotations was underlined though the previous reader of this book carefully, well not so carefully, underlined many insightful passages. My guess is once said reader hit the last two pages she was too excited, yet tired, to mark anymore. That, or I have no sense of a good quote.

Orbach also offers several critiques of postmodernism's insistence on performing our bodies in an effort to celebrate multiplicity and fluidity, but I won't bother with those quotations as certainly both sides overstate.

Time taken to read this simple, straight-forward, 200 page book: Several months, maybe more.

Context: book got lost amongst amazon and purchases...and I think my wife borrowed it for a bit.

Lotsa books

The good thing about ordering lots of books online is that you get a package every day or two and, because you ordered so many and can't remember which book should be arriving, you get surprised each time you tear through that incredibly tough plastic crap they wrap them in; the bad thing is they cost money and take up space to the point of bookshelf and office overload which threatens to cover every free space (but maybe that's a good thing too because now everywhere I look I see a book and I like books; except I also, then, feel a bit overwhelmed because I have so much to read--possibly a tie between the good and the bad).

Off to open my two packages, the ones I've been eyeying as I typed each of these words.