Of men and mountains

Last weekend I saw a Toyota 4-Runner in a parking lot near Penn State with a very enigmatic bumper sticker. In a symmetrical arrangement above a large triangle with rounded-off corners were five smaller, upside-down triangles, all of them white against a blue background. It reminded me of a stylized depiction of a mountain emitting clouds, such as one might encounter in a Tibetan Buddhist thangka painting. The other possibility was that it might have been intended to represent a lion’s paw. Given that Penn State’s totemic animal is the Nittany Lion, this would seem to be the more reasonable interpretation. However, mountain lion tracks don’t ordinarily have five toes. Is the Nittany Lion a product of inbreeding?


A book idea, for whoever needs one: The Useful Idiot’s Guide to Conspiracy Theories.


Yesterday, my cousin H. was talking about her diet and exercise regimen, which involves a gym membership. The membership includes regular consultations with a personal trainer, whom she likes in part because she’s female and won’t let her off the hook as easily as a male trainer might. I hadn’t realized the importance of continuing to challenge oneself. Simply sticking with one set of exercises won’t do, it seems, because as soon as the body becomes habituated to one regime, it relaxes, or something. So you need a trained professional to keep substituting new exercises for the ones that have grown too familiar. Familiarity breeds contentment, as it were.

Does this mean I should be changing mountains every few weeks? Richard Nelson once said, “There may be more to learn from climbing the same mountain a hundred times than climbing a hundred different mountains.” But this presumes that one is able to look each time with new eyes and not let the apparent sameness dull one’s vision.


Possible new motto for this weblog: Just because I said it doesn’t mean I agree with it.


The down side of the holidays is that they make it really hard to hide my crack problem.

No, not that kind of crack. I mean the kind that happens when you let your waist grow bigger around than your hips – even if only by a little! – so that when you bend over to pick something up there’s a sudden, cold draft where you never felt one before.

Do I disgust you? Hell, I disgust myself! I never thought this could happen to me. I’ve become one of those guys now. I’m a cracker.


Every Tom, Dick and Harry is named Dave. But my Indian name is Hangs Out With Chickadees.


Back when I was skinny I used to long for a little avoirdupois, but being a skeleton wasn’t always so bad. I remember once, about 15 years ago, when some of my punk friends and I went to a nearby state park – a dammed lake in the mountains – to play bocce. There were a couple of beach volleyball games going on, but we set up in the grass, near a picnic table so we’d have somewhere to set our cups. We were, I think, five guys and one female, N., who did wear a pro-forma bikini. The rest of us all took off our shirts, and found ourselves competing to see who was the palest and skinniest. N. – herself reasonably curvaceous, albeit untanned – insisted that M., her boyfriend, took the prize, and who were we to argue?

We had a great time strutting around in the shade while the buff fraternity boys and their tanned “little sisters” bounced and leapt vigorously in the hot sun a few yards away, each moiety carefully avoiding any overt sign of awareness that the other was present. Lawn bowling was still a pretty obscure sport back then, and in retrospect I imagine they didn’t quite know what to make of it. I’m sure they guessed what we were drinking from our 64-ounce soft drink cups, and wished that they, too, could smoke cigarettes while they exercised. And the women, at least, were probably able to tell why we acted as if we owned the place. We had way more balls. And they were hard.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.