Quick Hike at Cougar Mountain

Elisa and I did a quick Saturday hike in the sunshine in the Cougar Mountain wildlife area: King County Virtual Map Counter: Cougar Mountain.


We started at the Red Town trailhead and got onto the Cave Hole Trail, to the By Pass to Fred’s Railroad Trail and then back on Quarry to Red Town.

In addition to lots of cave holes (the trail is well named) we saw lots of trees snapped and down from the 2006 windstorm. The caves are considered dangerous due to cave-in and poisonous gasses (methane, I believe). Along the way, we’d see remains of abandoned structures. I have no idea what they were and they linger there in anonymity.

Red Town is one of those settlements that no longer exist. Newcastle / Coal Creek was quite the coal mining area. I flipped through one of our history books, A Hidden Past: An Exploration of Eastside History, and discovered that 10 million tons of coal was harvested from the Newcastle fields (the last company closed up in 1963).


Eric's Favorite Quotes, VI.

(Okay, this is the last bunch of quotes I typed up from the various snippets of quotes I have been collecting over the past few years.)


The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool.
– William Shakespeare

To the right, books; to the left, a tea-cup. In front of me, the fireplace; behind me, the post. There is no greater happiness than this.
– Teiga

What’s here right now? Delusion is yesterday’s dream – enlightenment, tomorrow’s delusion.
– Taizan Maezumi

Work is much more fun than fun.
– Noel Coward

One day at the monastery of Master Fugai Ekun, ceremonies delayed preparation of the noon meal, which forced the cook to hurry. He took up his sickle and quickly gathered vegetables from the garden, then threw it all into a soup pot – unaware that in his haste he had cut off the head of a snake.
At the meal, the monks where highly complementary of the delicious soup, but the Roshi himself found something odd in his bowl. He summoned the cook and held up the snake head. “What is this?!?”
“Oh, thank you, Roshi!” the cook said, and immediately ate it.
– “Eating the Blame” Zen Story

No man is born wise.
– Don Quixote

I know what I have given you. I do not know what you have received.
– Antonio Porchia

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Ayn Rand and Epictetus

I had a nice lunch-time meet-up last week. Topic for consideration: what story or tale affected your life… and how?

At first I thought: ooo, I don’t have any idea on this one. I’ve read quite a few stories, mostly junk science-fiction and fantasy when I lived in Maryland, I can’t think of any -

Oh. Two popped into mind.

  1. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand.
  2. A Man in Full by Tom Wolf.

Like many teenagers, Atlas Shrugged really screwed me up.

Before my senior year in high school, I was fortunate to go on a three-week Europe trip… high-school students from three different locations in the US (Texas, California, and North Carolina) with teacher and community escorts (what where they thinking? “Oh, this will be fun!” Sheesh.).

Anyway, one of the darkly sad poetic girls on the trip talked with me in a shaded patio in Lucerne one day, and at the end wrote something on a piece of paper. Amidst the shade and sunlight, she gave me the paper, and said, “You need to read this book.”

“Atlas Shrugged.”

So I did.

That led to a self-centered ego-trip and me-centric philosophy that spanned well into my college years. Ayn Rand led to more Ayn Rand and then later to Nietzsche.

What’s interesting in retrospect is that recently I took a course where we were introduced to Robert Kegan’s levels of self. A teenager is pretty much focused on getting what they want, and any means to do that are acceptable. It’s an amoral view of the world based on desire. That jives pretty well with Ayn Rand’s point of view. The next level of self is achieved as some level of empathy develops in a person.

Many years, and many philosophical crises later, I picked up the book-on-tape set of Tom Wolf’s “A Man in Full” at Half-Price Books, read by David Ogden Stiers. I had read reasonable reviews of the story and my drive from Graham to Redmond was long. I had time to listen to a good book.

A turning point for two of the characters in the book is their discovery of the stoic philosopher Epictetus. The story has the two men deal with the crisis in their lives by integrating the stoic philosophy into their world view and use it to survive the crushing blows fate deals them.

The teachings of Epictetus resonated strongly with me.

I had been reading Zen teachings for quite some time (it was my next level as I grew out of my dark Ayn Rand / Nietzsche years). I wasn’t so much into the spiritual aspects of Zen / Buddhism as I was in the point of view and the awareness of the now. It was also a pretty inclusive point of view, respecting all enlightened souls.

Epictetus? Some say that the Serenity Prayer, while not by Epictetus, summarizes his core stoic point of view:

God, give us grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, courage to change the things that should be changed, and the wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.

The most important point being realizing what you have an effect over and then realizing what you do not. Do not let those events or those people who you cannot and do not control bother you. Furthermore, it’s developing an awareness of how you react to the events and situations and people around you and being aware that you control your own reactions.

Which brings us back to Kegan. As part of elevating yourself through the levels of “self,” you become aware of an aspect you hadn’t noticed before and turn this from the subjective to the objective. The subject to the scrutinized object. In class, they said this is like realizing you’ve been looking through a lens and being unaware that there was a lens. Now you’re aware that there is a lens and how it has been distorting your view.

Once you’re aware of it, you become aware of how you have allowed this subjective thing to influence you. By becoming aware of the influence, you can change and grow.

A lot of philosophies come back to awareness of self and the unseen influences of who you are that are guiding you. Perhaps in an unhappy direction.

I picked up Sharon Lebell’s book “The Art of Living” which is her version of Epictetus’ teachings, modernized and made shiny. It’s very nice for a quick read. Highly recommended for anyone to have to flip through on occasion and reflect upon. As I hit my personal hardships, I meditated on the teachings quite often and found it very comforting. It helped me a great deal, and I’ve valued the teachings.

Anyway. Two stories that affected my life. It will be interesting to see what the third might end up being.

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An earlier Star Wars script

Bits and pieces of the Star Wars original movie remain: Adventures of the Starkiller. I’ve scanned through the script several times over the years but I’ve yet to read the whole thing from beginning to end. That’s going to take some real willpower.

It’s part of Science Fiction and Fantasy Movie Scripts - which seems to be a very dangerous place for science fiction movie fans to lose hours of their life very quickly.

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University of Washington Digital Collections

Jim sent me a note about the Centralia Massacre, which led me to read about the nearby Everett Massacre. Lots more interesting Washington history for the browsing here: ::: Special Collections :::.

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Eric's Favorite Quotes, V

The believer is happy, the doubter is wise.
– Greek Proverb.

The violets in the mountains have broken the rocks.
– Tennessee Williams

After the ecstasy, the laundry.
– Zen Saying

A beginning student complained to his master that the meditation practice of following the breath was boring. The Zen master unexpectedly grabbed the student and held his head under water for quite a long time while the student struggled to come up. Finally, he let the student go.
“Now how boring is your breath?” he asked.
– Zen Mondo

The only practice that is worthwhile is to ask: “What is this?” WHAT IS THIS?
– Zen Saying

Don’t just do something. Sit there!
– Thich Nhat Hanh

If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete.
– Jack Kornfield

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SCIFI.COM – The Lost Room

I finally got around to watching the SciFi.com miniseries The Lost Room. It was really good. I watched the first episode last night and the second and third tonight.

Nice concept of cursed objects with special powers that can be combined together. Pretty damn fine acting, too. I especially liked Roger Bart as The Weasel and Dennis Christopher as the obsessed Ruber. In a way, it seemed very much like a Stephen King novel, just avoiding being over the top.

It would be great to see it as a series or come back as another miniseries. It certainly left many open story lines, but I can’t imagine them easily reassembling the cast. Maybe if it can be shown again on another network it can build interest and momentum.

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Raymond Chen – Iced-over roads + people who can't drive = very expensive (and dangerous) game of billiards

A follow-up to yesterday’s Portland smash-em-up video of cars on an icy hill: this includes an interview with the young man who took the video, with commentary and, at the end, an on-foot view of the car carnage:

Unbelievable video of people in Portland, OR who should know better trying to drive down an icy road. (Direct WMV link. Interview with the person who shot the video, but you’re going to have to put up with the inane local news-anchor chatter. That last link includes images of cars that, yup, struck the fire truck.)

They said this was at SW 20th and Salmon in Portland… let’s see if I can find a map…

Source: The Old New Thing : Iced-over roads + people who can’t drive = very expensive (and dangerous) game of billiards

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MTVs Rock the Vote Screws Up Big Time

Via Blake Ross: Blake Ross on Firefox » Not the best way to “rock the vote”.

What happens when you’re full of good intentions but too damn lazy to check what you’re linking to: Rock the Vote – Home

MTVs Rock The Vote screws up big time.

You put in a beautiful link to learn more about Dr. Martin Luther King to what surely must be an official site. Unfortunately, the site that seemed legit to the blink of the eye is full of hate and white supremacist diatribes. None of which are too kind to Dr. King. Five seconds of actually using the site would have revealed the deception.

Score one for hate. And laziness.

Update: I checked in this morning and this has been fixed to point to a proper site now, not the one indicated on hover in the status bar in the image above.

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Puget Sound – More Snow For You!

From King5: Puget Sound hit with new snow

This video from Portland shows what happens when you mix wintry roads, hills, and determined (foolish?) drivers.

I met a fellow yesterday who is from the Northeast US and passed something on to me: most of the roads, in say Boston, started as roads used by horses. Horses can bear loads on only so much of a grade of road, so the roads were put in to be gently sloped, rather than laying down a grid pattern. This meant that there’s less slippage as such on those evolved roads. Out here, we’re all about the grid baby, geography allowing, and thus have some crazy hills that are fine 99% of the time but totally impassible when you get a dusting of winter.

What’s frustrating is that this stuff is not expected to melt today; it will get a little slushy and then refreeze. I hope it’s all gone for good by the end of tomorrow. Huge globs of snow are falling off of the trees now.

A strange thing I learned: kitty litter can be used as a snow and ice preventative. When I tried to get the cleaning ladies car up the hill to our house yesterday, I scattered some kitty litter about in attempt to provide traction.

Nope. No good. It wasn’t sandy kitty litter but rather pellet like litter. Probably clay based.

But this morning, where I scattered the kitty litter yesterday, is all melted. It prevented the new snow from sticking plus melted the snow and ice that was there. Hmm! Something to think about when our next time comes.

Just hopefully my road doesn’t become the hang-out for the neighborhood cats.

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