Saturday, April 09, 2005

The real story about how the fat are treated

If you want to know how some people, really fit and healthy people, treat the overweight, check out Big Red's trail journal.

I know I've mentioned it before, but this man is incredible. He's a walking anachronism. He's big, tall, weighs 345 pounds at the start of his thru-hike on the Appalachian Trail (AT), bald, and has red hair. He's also educated, witty, and generally a nice guy. Starting out on the trail with no hiking experience, a penchant for real beds with linens and hot showers, and coming from Cincinnati of all places, this man is an inspiration and a revelation. Check him out.

If you think there is a goal you can't reach, you won't think that when you read Big Red's journal.


Stupefyin' Jones ain't nowhere near here but I am definitely stupefied.

I got an email from my new hiking buddy. The subject was THANK YOU. There was nothing else in the email but his initial. I sent back a YOU'RE WELCOME and my initial.

I don't know what I did or what I said, except that, as usual I bugged him about taking care of himself. I worry about him. He says I shouldn't because he's a big boy. Well, I worry anyway. And he worries about me. So it's mutual.

He called today after sending me several emails. We talked for a little while, laughed a lot, and teased each other. It's a habit neither of us seems willing to break. He's been having problems with his back, but he just had surgery a few weeks ago and doesn't understand that when doctors operate on the front the back compensates for the pain of standing upright by carrying a much heavier load than it's used to carrying. But he said he gets sharp pains when he gets up from a chair or sits down. My definition of sharp pains and his are very different. He meant he gets a twinge. That's not the traditional knife I think of (and feel) when I say sharp.

I explained a yoga stretch and another exercise called the pelvic tilt (get your minds out of the gutter) that he has actually been using (he never takes my advice when it includes anything that he has take internally) that have helped. His back has improved since he started the exercises. If he continues at the same rate of twice a day he should be pretty much healed by the time he has his massage this week.

I just can't help myself. Someone is in pain and I want to help. Someone has a problem and I listen and offer advice (sometimes too often). Someone wants to talk and I want to listen. I'm always meddling in other people's lives. But, as you have seen, he meddles in mine, too.

I wouldn't have my ham radio license without his information, input, and help. I wouldn't have set a date for the AT and be hiking the Colorado Trail this year without his suggestions about books. He's even making me a camping stove and bought me a book about the AT today. We meddle in each other's lives. The only difference is that I do it with a heart of gold and he does it to get me addicted to evil things. Oh, well, in life there must be balance. I'm the angel and he's the devil.

And if you believe that one...

Friday, April 08, 2005

Heading up the trail

It's settled. I've decided to hike the Appalachian Trail (AT) in 2007. And I'm not going alone either. I've talked a friend into going up with me. We're going to start training, saving up the money, and working out all the logistics between now and 2007 when we will begin our hike.

I've been toying with the idea seriously for a while now and I know it's something I want to do, but after reading all those trails journals and especially Big Red's trail journal I've decided that this is something I not only CAN do but I MUST do.

I'd rather start next year, but my companion needs more time to arrange things and arrange for a leave of absence from his job. I can wait that long, especially since we'll be hiking a lot between now and then and getting comfortable with each other's trail habits on weekend hikes.

Can you tell I'm stoked?

So to Wingfoot at Trail Place I say, if your idea was to keep us novices off the AT you are doing a really lousy job, and what cinched it for me was not only Bryson's A Walk in the Woods but your elitist attitude. Catch me if you can. This sleeper has awakened.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

sad, bad, mad, glad day

SAD: I finished A Walk in the Woods this morning and I'm sad there's no more. Reading trail journals is informative and interesting and even sometimes fun, but reading Bryson's book gives you a completely different and uproariously funny picture of hiking the Appalachian Trail (AT). Bryson is informative about history and people and the trail, but it is the relationship between Bryson and his friend Katz that makes the book a really good time. Imagine Felix and Oscar on the AT and you might come close to the laugh-out-loud experience of A Walk in the Woods.

GLAD: Seems Paul Newman and Robert Redford are considering making another movie together about -- take a wild guess -- A Walk in the Woods. While I do think they're a bit long in the tooth and, as John pointed out, it would be more like Grumpy Old Men on the AT, it is a movie that should be made. Then again, I doubt they could come close to portraying in two hours the pictures that are still tumbling ass over tea kettle in my mind, but you never know. It's like a little boy once said when asked if he liked TV better than radio. "The pictures are nice, but not as good as the radio."

BAD: Wouldn't you just know it? AT thru hikers and AT hikers in general are up in arms about the proposed Redford-Newman movie because it would bring too many people to the AT and spoil their fun. They don't realize that by writing trail journals, talking about the AT, and buying books about others who have hiked the AT they are publicizing the trail, too. They in general do not like the book because Bryson was not a true thru-hiker and he did not portray the trail as they wish it to be portrayed, but the same can be said of them. Everyone has a different experience on the AT or on any trail. What I see is not what you will see or experience and certainly not what someone else -- anyone else -- will see and experience. You bring to and take away from any experience what is within you. So, to those purists I say, GET OVER YOURSELF!

ADDITION: It seems my comment on Trail Place was not appreciated and my comment was deleted and my membership at the site has been terminated without notice and without responding to an email query. Guess I hit a nerve? Like John said, I can't keep from commenting on something that strikes a nerve. I asked him if that was a challenge and he said it was no contest. He could be right.

MAD: This post is all John's fault. He's the one who got me going on the AT, suggested Bryson's book, and sent me the links for the proposed movie and the hiker's board where I stumbled over the holier-than-thou-head-up-their-butts purists who want to keep the AT all to themselves. They don't realize they have done more to bring hikers to the AT in the past 10 years than in its entire 81-year existence. So a big fat raspberry fest to everyone who wants to keep the good stuff to themselves. And thanks to the fella who is responsible for giving me so much joy and so much to laugh about by sharing his views, his dreams, his goals, and his taste in books.

Oh, and it looks like some of the homosexuals in the country are up in arms about Battlestar Galactica because it is heavy on the religious themes and procreation. I have lots of gay friends and always have, but to those who think every single solitary show, movie, and book ought to at least mention them and every political platform include them, GET REAL! You are entitled to sleep with whomever you choose in whatever fashion you choose, but you wouldn't be here at all if it weren't for the heterosexuals. Live with it.

I'll shut up now.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

I doesn't pay to trust a friend...

Especially when said friend leads you down the primrose path and then drops you over a cliff into a chasm.

Okay, the Evil One hooked me on BSG and he sent me the season finale -- a two parter. I got it today and since I had nothing else to do (except for work) I decided to watch both parts. We talked about this last week and he told me I would love and hate the finale. Well, I love and HATE him right now. We talked about this. There I was going on and on about Adama being crucial to the show and since Lorne Greene, who played Adama in the original series lasted quite a long while, didn't die I didn't expect THIS Adama to bite the dust or to be killed by one of his own. I wasn't prepared. I should have listened to my instincts when he gave me that Texas Side-Step bit about waiting to see the show. I even promised not to go to to look up the episode guide, even though it didn't cross my mind until he mentioned it AND I got the latest issue of the newsletter inviting me to check it out. I kept my word and didn't go there, didn't read the episode guide, and got blind-sided. That's what I get for trusting a friend.

And the raven quoth, "Nevermore."

See if I trust HIM again. And this is the guy I'm supposed to trust my life to while hiking this summer after I move. Well, just for that HE can take point.

Monday, April 04, 2005

With the good...

...always come the bad, and today was no exception.

Let's start with the good.

I made a trip to the library and was rewarded with eight items: three horror books, two movies, an audio book, Walden, and a book on hiking the Appalachian Trail. It was a good day. The older librarian was there today and we have had some lively discussions. Today was no exception.

I had just returned Talk to Her and told her about the silent film in the movie, which I still find fascinating. Some guy was standing there waiting to check out his books and listening to us talk about a tiny guy rolling around between two giant rosy-tipped breasts like a cat rolling in a field of catnip just before he spies the promised land -- that inverted V of fur that hides the pathway to pleasure and lust. I think we shocked him a little -- or rather I shocked him.

She asked me about Blue Collar Comedy Tour and how I liked it. I blushed a little for admitting to getting a big kick (and nearly wetting my pants during a couple of monologues) out of the low class humor that one friend of mine, who recently had surgery, enjoyed and was worried the doctor had removed some brain cells because he liked it so much. Although I seldom admit to enjoying such low brow, redneck, mentally challenged humor, I have to admit I still love the Three Stooges and Laurel and Hardy, not to mention Harold Lloyd. So sue me.

Then came the bad part of the day.

Ever talk to someone that made you feel like you needed to take a shower with a wire-bristled scrub brush and full strength Clorox? I did today.

It isn't like I haven't talked to them before; I have. And I have been irritated by their Uriah Heep hand wringing, Mr. Collins endless and tiresome apologies that never end and never say anything except to make you feel like you just stepped in a pile of rotting compost, but today was really over the top. The only thing that disgusts me worse than blind stupidity is someone who apologizes in such a way as to make it seem as though you are trampling them into the dirt while they look up at you and smile, begging you to do it again because they deserve to be treated that way for ever having offended someone as wonderful as you are.

Just thinking about it makes me feel the urgent need for another gallon of Clorox and that wire scrub brush. I feel like something slimy crawled across my skin.

Honestly, I'd rather someone slap me in the face than Uriah Heep and Mr. Collins me. Ick! Time for another bleach bath.

Sunday, April 03, 2005


I have a headache and it hurts to think but something keeps popping up in my mind while I'm working on operative notes for a hospital in New Jersey. Figures. And, no, it isn't about hiking and backpacking this time, but they are never far from my thoughts as I take trail journal breaks in between sending and getting more work.

Here goes:

I finally got through the movies I took out from the local library. Two of them turned out to be foreign films. (Well, Monty Python and the Holy Grail is also a foreign film come to that, but it doesn't need subtitles because I speak nearly the same language as the Brits.)

Anyway, The movie is called Talk to Her/Hable con Ella. There are two women, one a dancer and the other a bullfighter, who are in comas in a persistent vegetative state (no, it's not like Terri Schiavo -- may she rest in peace and her husband fry in whatever hell he believes in). The dancer, Alicia, was hit by a car in the rain four years before and the bullfighter, Lydia, was gored by a bull just days/weeks before. Part of the story is told in flashback. Alicia's nurse, Benigno, took care of his mother for 15 years because she was too lazy to take care of herself and did so during his teenage and early adult years until she died. Alicia took classes in the dance studio across the street from Benigno's home and he watched her and fell in love. One day she dropped her wallet and he raced out of the building to pick it up and return it to her, following her to her home to find out her father was a psychiatrist. He makes an appointment in hopes of seeing Alicia and does -- but not in the usual way. A few days later when it was raining, Alicia failed to come to the studio and she never came again.

In the meantime, Benigno has been hired by a local hospital as a nurse and her father hires the best nurses to take care of her while she is in a coma. Benigno is the best. He cares for her every day and most nights, giving another of the nurses the night off to be with her children after a messy divorce, and unbeknownst to the hospital administration. This is a no-no, but you don't figure that out until later.

Benigno talks to Alicia while he takes care of her, sharing all his experiences on his day off when he goes to see the ballet or the cinema when they're playing silent films (seemingly of modern vintage), and even reading magazines to her in the sunshine. He cuts her hair. He bathes her with another female nurse. He massages her muscles to keep them supple for when she wakes up and begins to walk and dance again. He loves her.

Enter Marco, a journalist who has fallen in with a female bullfighter just coming out of a messy breakup with another bullfighter, El Nino de Valencia, and phobic about snakes. She finds one in her kitchen and runs out screaming. Marco goes in and kills the snake and throws it in the trash with tears in his eyes, but Lydia will not return to the house or take anything out of it. Everything has been tainted by the snake's presence.

Several months later, she is gored by a bull before she can tell Marco something important, something that will change their relationship.

She is taken to the hospital where Benigno works and sees a naked Alicia who is being bathed and changed through a crack in the door. Marco and Benigno become friends and the rest of the story you will have to find out for yourself. Just remember, these two men have brushed against each other before at a ballet.

The real interesting part of the movie is the silent film about the Shrinking Lover, a movie that changes Benigno's view of life and how he sees the comatose Alicia, whom he loves. The imagery in the movie is stark and fragmented like all silent films, but there is a scene with the now approximately 10-inch high lover where he waits for his scientist girlfriend, who created the formula that made him shrink, is asleep in bed and he pulls off the covers, exposing her breasts. He climbs the rosy-tipped mountains, rolling like a dog in clover between the creamy mounds, and looks down the length of her naked and exposed body. He hikes down to the inverted furry triangle between her thighs and climbs down to the sheets, gazing up in wonder at the fur-rimmed opening. He inserts one hand and wipes the moisture off on his other hand and down the insides of her thighs. Then he takes off his shirt and looks inside, awe and excitement clearly stamped on his face. he gasps for air and turns back toward the opening, slides off his trousers and climbs back inside...and never comes out.

It is a very fascinating scene and reminiscent of the old joke that men fight their way out of the womb and spend the rest of their lives trying to get back in.

The movie is definitely worth watching and the story lines and issues are those Americans never discuss, and therefore all the more worthy of seeing.

Get a little culture in your life and take the extra time to listen to the commentary by director Pedro Almodovar and Geraldine Chaplin, who plays Alicia's dance teacher. The ballet scenes alone are worth seeing, but the movie itself is sheer fantasy with a dagger at its heart.

No wonder I have a headache. Doctors who can't speak English properly dictating intricate surgeries and the morality and wonder of other worlds.