Sunday, December 28, 2008

Looking Back 2008

Many television shows, especially the news and information ones along with specials, take a look back at 2008, the people who left us, the events which changed the times, and places changed. And we all do that individually sometime between Christmas and New Years. I'm no different, so here's my thoughts looking back.

First, I didn't know John Stewart, the musician and later member of the Kingston trio died suddenly in January. I just now heard on a CBS Sunday Morning's look at people. I'm sorry. I followed the Kingston Trio with my brother from their founding to the split, and I saw them in concert later in the 1970's at a reunion show. I have many of John Stewart's albums after he left the Trio. A great writing and performing talent. I'm sorry.

Randy Pausch. What else is there to say, except watch his video or read his book.

Food. I love to eat many foods, and especially Mexican, Italian, German, and Japanese (no sushi though) foods; almost any meat, such as seafood and fish, poultry, and a really good roast and steak; and especially good old fashion American, from Pizza to hamburgers. But this year food doesn't like me, or worse, my body, namely my digestive system, doesn't like food. The tests to date can't find the cause or a cure, only that food, while enjoyable, isn't fun anymore.

Alas, I miss food. There's a hope an answer will be found in 2009. And it left me feeling tired most of the year making it harder to get back to where I was when it started. The best I can do is try, and I will.

Running and hiking. I didn't do enough. My mountain bike collected a lot of dust too.

Photography. I'm better but didn't do enough. I'm still learning large format (4x5) photography and it's still fun. Sometimes frustrating, mostly because you work for 30-60 minutes setting everything up and it's all in the last minute when you insert the film holder, cock the shutter, remove the film cover, trip the shutter, and put the cover back.

And you won't know if it worked - the exposure - until you get the film back from the lab. At $4+ a sheet now, there's not much room for many mistakes. And you feel good about your work when it does work. There's nothing like a 4x5 slide.

Ok, enough of not doing enough. The Mt. Rainier NP photography guide got a lot of new Web pages on-line. I have more in the works or on the list to do next year. But it was the 1896 expedition and the first USGS maps of the NP that took on a life of their own.

The period, 1890-1899, was a very important time in the work to get Mt. Rainier designated as a National Park. There was a lot going on in and around Mt. Rainier, namely a lot of people living and working in the area, and within the eventual NP boundaries, and a lot of pressure to develop the area and mountain.

It's turned out to be an interesting venture in learning about something we take for granted today, and see the history behind the work for its designation and the work afterward to preserve it with the pressure to develop and promote it. And overall they succeeded to give us the NP we have today.

Tying the past to the present is the fun part as well as learning about that period in the Pacific Northwest. To find archive material, from unpublished manuscripts and letters to published reports, is more than worth the work. To stand in the same places and see the same mountain, what more could you ask? And then read their thoughts expressed.

You can read all the reviews and news of the national events of 2008, I've added my opinions over the year in this blog and my other news and opinion blog. Mostly they're just thoughts and ideas in passing. I still believe what I wrote, but time has put them in perspective, sometimes right, sometimes wrong, and sometimes just there.

I'll continue into 2009 to do more as there's always something to say about the news, events and people. So, until this time next year, I'll just write about life as it is or I see it.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas 2008

I'm not a Christian, so the whole Christmas season and especially the day has different connotations and values for me. It's not that I don't believe in God, or some higher universal power, all religions and faiths and even agnostics believe in God. It's the religion and all its tenets, arbitrary values and innane practices that bothers me about all Christian religions.

And no religion is immune from the criticisms I level at Christian ones and Christianity. Being a Taoist I understand it's simply human nature and the social contract people create and make with each other. It's the simple reality and simply just is. There is no value judgement of good or bad, right or wrong, us or them, and so on with all the issues that Taoists believe, but the simple reality of humanity.

This doesn't mean we accept everything that happens. No one can argue that people do bad things, whether it's a common crime that occurs everyday in this country or you swindle people of $50 Billion. No one can argue that discrimination happens every day by ordinary people, many believing their faith assures or affirms it's right and just. It's not, but that fact doesn't stop them. And no one can argue that we're all self-centered and self-serving for most, all to some, things in our life.

Knowing it happens doesn't alter the truth and reality of it, only keeps in present in our consciousness that it's ever present. And we're just one of 6-plus billion people on this planet. Nothing more, nothing less, just one of the many. The difference is the qualitative judgement we make about it. And that always leads to the saying, "Everything is relative."

So, it's always our relative. Just don't make it universal to others. Be understanding and forgiving. After all, they're doing the same to you.