Thursday, June 30, 2011

Supreme Court and Violent Games

Early this week, the Supreme Court of the United States struck down California’s law preventing the sale of violent video games to minors.  At first, I was against this law.  After all, what child shouldn’t be allowed to messily dismember people in the comfort of his own bedroom?  It was high time that the government stopped trying to stop children from killing each other and got back to their incredibly important work of passing bills they know will never become law.

I was going to post the following image of the violent crime rate in America:

If you look closely, you may notice that violent crime has gone down just a bit in the last few decades.  However, if you look even closer you might notice this tiny little blip at the end of the chart.  I’ve highlighted it in red so you can see.

There’s a statistically insignificant upward trend at the end.  You see it?  Now, we call it “statistically insignificant” because it looks tiny on a chart, but what it is really showing is a severe upswing in violent crime, 90% of which has occurred in the last week!  I’ve extrapolated the data based on the current trend and you can see where this will take us:

If you don’t live in California, you probably haven’t heard about this problem yet.  Crime is exploding here.  I live near a hospital and the ambulances are driving by day and night, sirens blaring.  The police are flooded with calls.  In the last few days, children who never had access to a firearm before, have learned to hold a gun, load it, turn off the safety, and fire it accurately.  Kids are shooting each other, themselves, their parents, their teachers, church leaders, even their slower-moving pets.
Found in a basement last night in Riverside, CA
Nobody is safe!  I’ve had to lock up the XBOX in a safe place where my children will never look for it (next to the broccoli).  I left the PS2 out, because the games all suck.  I left the PC out because I can’t get the XP emulator to work on Windows 7.
On second thought, let them play.
Why did the Supreme Court allow this?  Didn’t they heed Andrea Dworkin’s warnings about pornography causing rape?  Didn’t they notice that, with the thousand-fold explosion of pornography on the internet, rape crimes have gone through the roof?

See the upward trend at the bottom?!  SEE IT!

I urge you all to write your local Supreme Court representative.  Tell them you are going to vote them out of office if they don’t vote to re-criminalize video games…

BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Skydiving Pt 11


“You’ll be back.”

That’s what the guy with the broken leg said to me from the couch as I told everyone that I wouldn’t skydive again.

Not that it wasn’t a good experience.  I’ve done something I never did before, something that makes most people wet their pants when I describe it.  I just don’t have any desire to do it again.

Here’s the thing.  I said I wanted to do this as a test of bravery, that I wanted to see if I would do it or would be overwhelmed with fear (like I had secretly hoped).  However, when the time came, I just jumped out.
I ain't that brave.
You know what I was thinking, and sometimes saying, on the way down?

“Hey I’m falling.  Okay, well, I’d better enjoy it, since this is my big 41st birthday present to myself.  There’s the farms.  And there’s the camera guy.  Wow, he moves around fast.  Hi!  Hi kids!  Oops.  Look at the altimeter.  Okay, so now it’s time to pull the chute.  Ow, that hurt.  Now what do I do?  I guess just hang here.  I guess those are the control loops.  I’ll turn this way.  Now I’ll turn that way.  Now what?  I guess I just wait...”
"I find your enjoyment of falling out of the sky illogical."
And so on, all the way down.  I was a bit shocked I was so calm about the experience.

When I first decided to skip a tandem jump and go straight for the class, my experienced friend cautioned against it.  She told me that people who skipped the tandem are so overwhelmed by the experience that they blank out and fail to open their parachute.

It didn’t happen.  I didn’t panic.  I didn’t shout with joy.  I wasn’t felled by sensory overload.

And that was what I had been hoping for.  If any of that had happened, I would have come back.
This would have been nice.
I was after a way of getting out of my own head, to be jolted out of my thinking mind for once and let my emotions control me.  For years, friends have told me about these kinds of experiences, the “full body orgasm” of a drug high, the joy of connecting with the divine through meditation or prayer, dancing because the music overwhelms you.

I’ve never had any of that happen.  I just don’t get overwhelmed.  I will, forever, be sitting back in my mind, analyzing every experience, rethinking every judgment, talking through every event.  If the biggest thrill on Earth couldn’t change that, nothing will.

So, no, I’m not going back.  I’m glad I did it.  It was fun.  It just wasn’t fun enough to justify the drive and the expense and the time.  I really can’t think of anything that would make me go back.

Well, maybe one thing (NSFW):

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Skydiving Pt 10

While I was waiting for clearance to jump, I stopped at the porta-potties at least a million times.  My instructor said that, during tandem jumps, people vomit, urinate, defecate, whatever, and that’s why he doesn’t do tandems any more.  I didn’t want to be that person, although I brought a change of clothes to be sure.  (By the way, if you want to lose weight, schedule a skydive; it kills your appetite for days.)  On the way out, I noticed a guy with a cast and crutches going in.  After he closed the door, I realized he had a tattoo on his arm of three chemicals: caffeine, alcohol, and ecstasy.  It was the other student who had taken the class with me a month and a half previously.
What kind of a school lets a kitten skydive?!
I waited for him to come out and we talked.  It seems he had managed to go on three jumps while I was waiting for the wind and a time that worked (Later, I met other people who had gone on six jumps in less time than I had waited; skydiving takes commitment and a lack of other things to do.)  He told me how he broke his foot.  When you finally touch down, you “flare” your parachute: pull down hard to tilt it backwards and brake your momentum.  He was flaring, but started too soon, stopped flaring and dropped like a rock for thirty feet.  They drove him to a hospital, where he got titanium pins in his foot.  Later, the skydivers gave him a barbecue to celebrate him becoming a member of the “heavy metal club.”  He told me he was up there most weekends, was practicing at a wind tunnel in Union City (with his cast on until he could jump again), and was donating video equipment to the company in exchange for free lessons.  Later, as I watched skydivers land way off target on the hills far away, he hopped in a golf cart to go get them.  Some people totally drink the Kool-Aid.
At least he's not this crazy.
Then I was called to get ready.  My instructor, a man called “Ego” (not his real name), threw me a green suit.  I asked for pink, my youngest’s favorite color, but pink suits only come in girls’ sizes.  I now realize why all the women are half naked and jumping in their bras: those suits are hot.  He put on my parachute, which is heavy and sits badly on your shoulders.

I studied the list of things I’m supposed to do while Ego mentions all the things that can kill me.  He also told me that jumping is “sensory overload” and that I might blank out and forget everything.  I was looking forward to it.
All he said to me was: "Oh no, not again."
My other instructor, a man called “Ficus” (his real name), came over to say “hi” along with my videographer, Zack, who became an ordained minister for his friend’s wedding.  While I ask Zack about that, Ego offered me advice “Focus on what you have to do to get in the right mindset.”  Half an hour later, I thought “This is what I do!”
Oh, yeah, there’s a video.  I was going to wait to post it until tomorrow, but that would have been mean:

You take off with the door open, only closing it for a short time.  I kept my helmet on because Ficus told me we couldn’t jump if it rolled out the door.  It’s pretty damned cool to fly without a door, but was disappointed I missed watching liftoff (Zack had to tell me).  Later they took my helmet off to put on an earpiecefor radio commands.  They showed me two small reservoirs that are long and pointy.  They call them the “dick pools” and told me they point toward the drop zone.  I wonder what they would call them if I was a woman.  “Tampon pools?”
When it was time to go, Ego says “You ready to skydive?”  I didn't even think about my answer.
Hanging on the side of the plane was amazingly loud.  You know that sound when they seat you by the wing of an airplane and it takes off?  Imagine that on both sides.  The wind comes through your helmet and into your ears in a deafening roar.
Not at all like this, but my arms are as muscly.
I looked at both my instructors, lift up, squat, and turned into the wind as they taught me so we can all go together.  I got a fleeting glimpse of the wing and then was facing the ground.  You can see me going through the training procedure on the video.  I checked with my trainers, but it was hard to tell if they approved, because the wind makes your face into a smile and there’s no gesture for “You’re fine!”  They did gesture for me to relax.
One of these means: never skydive again.
I arched into a better position.  I smiled at the cameraman, who was zooming around me on bat wings, and wait for six thousand feet.  If you look, you can see Ego give the thumbs up to Zack, meaning: “Go away; you’re distracting him.”  That’s when he started filming me from above.

Ficus told me to look at the altimeter and I said “Oh, crap, six thousand feet.” You have to pull at 5500.  Ficus immediately gave me the pull sign.  “Oh, crap!” I said.  “Pull now?”  I reached for my chute and then realize I forgot to do the “wave off” sign.  I waved them off, which Ego later told me was “cute,” and grabbed for my chute.
"New Game!  NEW GAME!"
The chute handle is a plastic tube that you pull out and throw away from you.  It has a tiny parachute that opens and pulls the whole thing out.  You stop really hard.  The strap across my chest between the shoulder straps whacked me in the mouth, but not hard enough to hurt (although that might have been adrenaline).  The leg loops pulled so tight that my legs still hurt today.

At this point in the video, Zack shows the instructors deploying their chutes.  They dropped 2500 feet more than me and then landed with “sport parachutes” and landed something like twenty minutes before me.
Not that much blood.
I looked up to make sure my parachute is deployed fine, but I really couldn’t tell.  I realized I had no idea what the control straps looked like and grabbed some random yellow things.  Turns out I guessed correctly.  I went through the parachute test as best I could: turning 360 degrees left and then right, doing a flare.  I tried to figure out the right direction to be moving, but it’s hard to tell when you’re high up.  I was bleeding freely onto my suit and checked my teeth to see if any were broken.

Finally the radio kicked in.  Ego told me to go through the test motions again and what direction to go.  Every now and then, the radio crackled to life with:  “Turn left.  Stay on that heading” or somesuch.  It seemed to take a long time to get down because I was in the beginners chute; it’s like having a hot air balloon instead of a parachute.
Wow, now I'm REALLY Lost.
I started to feel nauseous near the end and thought it was delayed nerves; Ego later tells me the leg straps cut off your femoral arteries and that I might have been suffering from a bit of hypoxia.  Didn’t that kill a guy on The West Wing?

Near the ground Ego tells me to flare.  I lifted up my feet, not wanting to break my leg, and landed on my ass.  Ow.  I guess I should have tried running.  I slowly stood up and wrapped up the chute the way I was taught.  It was hard to carry the thing as the straps kept getting caught on my feet.  It seemed sad that nobody came out to help, but there were other people landing, so I walked back to the hangar alone.

I asked how I did and Ego told me that all I needed to do was pull the chute.  Really?  What was the point of all the training?  I’m given a certificate, which I immediately spilled water on.  Ego then told me about the one fatality they had (some guy didn’t pull his reserve until he was almost to the ground), and compares it to the fourteen traffic fatalities on the nearby road.

My colleague with the broken foot asks if I’ll do it again and I say “no,” realizing as I said it that I meant it.

This entry is already too long.  I’ll give you my reasons tomorrow.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Skydiving Pt 9

My report from Saturday morning:
As I sit here at the Byron, California airport, the wind blowing past me, I think about how I can make it through this blog post without resorting to swear words again.  Not that I’m against swearing; I just think I pretty much did that to death with my last Skydiving Report.

Yesterday, I went to the going away party of an avid skydiver who suggested I come to this place and jumped in her pool with my cell phone in my pocket.  While my old, dripping phone sat in a bath of dry rice, I ran out to the Verizon store to get a new phone.  The young woman who helped me (after I got passed off by a man who seemed unhappy about my going with one of the cheaper phone options) begged me to get an accessory kit.  I didn’t want one, but she kept pushing it, insisting I could return it the next day.  Eventually, she admitted that, if she didn’t get her sales figures up, she was going to be forced to go to a training workshop in the early morning.  What can I say?  I’m a sucker for damsels in distress.  Well, she also came down in price from $120 to $20.
I ended up with, shall I say, a few things I didn't need.
Today, after sneaking off to Krispy Kreme with my son, I called in to see if there was any chance I could jump.  Clay, the owner, said it was “dead calm” at his house “ten miles away.”  He suggested I call the computerized Byron Airport weather report number (925-634-0906).  When I called, it said winds were blowing at 210 miles per hour.  (Note: It was only later did someone explain that the three digit number was heading, not wind speed.)  Not knowing what that meant, I decided to come in anyway.  After all, hot weather makes the wind go down, right?  Right?  In any case, I can’t stay all day.  My wife has a hair cut at 2pm and someone has to watch the kids so they don’t grab spare tools and cut their own hair.

It would have been a good day to jump.  The news about New York legalizing gay marriage has me stoked.  It’s a month and a half since I took the class.  The kids aren’t here, so I can afford to wait a while until the winds calm.  And tomorrow I have family over, making it harder to come out.  I guess I want to believe it really is going to happen after all this waiting.  I really need this to happen soon or I’m going to just give up.
Oh, come on.  I would have gone in that!
After a while of waiting, watching tandem jumpers come down and the Fry’s precision jet corps do formation flying, I had to come back.  The winds never calmed that whole day, it turned out.  When I asked why they’d put a skydiving place next to an airport with such high winds, they said they couldn’t do jumps at a place with too much air traffic.  It kind of suggests another question: why would anyone build an airport where nobody wanted to go?  The next day I spent time with friends at breakfast, saw the wife’s family at lunch, and then drove up again. 
See, this is as skimpy as the outfits get.
I’ll cover what happened tomorrow, but there is one think I would like to talk about in this post: snow bunnies.  If you aren’t familiar with the term, it means women who like skiing.  (Actually, it seems I wasn’t familiar with the term either, as there is a second definition that I found a bit disturbing.)  There are men and women who go out of their way to watch/pursue snow bunnies and I’d like to make a suggestion: go after skydiving bunnies instead.
And this is about as clothed as a skydiver gets.
On Sunday, the second day I was waiting to be scheduled to drop, it was very hot and the power had gone out.  Skydiving suits are very warm, so people took them off.  All around me were young women (and men, if you’re into that) stripping off their jump suits in full view of everyone.  Most of them were only wearing underwear.  Some of them even jumped in their underwear.  Call me a pig, but the male brain is hardwired to stare at young women in undies.  It was hard not to stare so, I stared a lot.
"Can you help unzip me?  I'm SO HOT."
My advice to single young men and women: forget about snow bunnies who bundle up in thick outfits and hang out at ski lodges.  Go to the airports where they take their clothes off at the slightest provocation and aren't afraid of anything.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Trinity

Back in the early days of computer games, few people played them.  Those games that did have graphics were blocky, blinky, and slow (ironically, those were the nicknames of the ghosts in Pac Man).  It took decades for games to evolve the mass appeal they have now, where they are eclipsing the film, television, and music industries.

Back in the late seventies and early eighties, however, a few of us were entranced and saw the potential that games had.  We were geeks and nerds.  We were insulted, beaten, and ostracized.  But the games were ours and they catered to what we wanted for entertainment: intellectual challenge, imagination, and cleverness.  You would hardly recognize those games in compared with the graphic-obsessed, violence simulators they are today.
It looked like this.

Let me give you an example: Trinity.  It is because of Trinity and the power of its story, that people began to see games as an art form (although Mr. Moriartywouldn’t agree).  Trinity is a text adventure created by Brian Moriarty at a company named Infocom.  A text adventure is a novel made interactive.  You have to read to understand what’s going on.  You have to write to tell the game what you want to do.  Trinity has no pictures, no guns, no half naked women with breasts larger than their heads.

There are, however, explosions, lots and lots of explosions.
Ah, crap.
Trinity begins right before the end of the world.  As World War Three erupts around you, and nuclear bombs rain down on the planet, you manage to escape to a magical world somehow tied to the development of nuclear warheads.  You travel through time and space to see the devastation and horror cause by the bombs, mainly by meeting those about to be killed.  A dolphin plays catch with you right before being vaporized.  A pack of lemmings get driven over a cliff.  A little girl’s face is burned off.  In trying to save the world, you have to kill as well.  For example, on the instruction of a caged, talking crow, you fish a small lizard (called a skink) out of a cave wall and strangle it to death.

Why do I mention Trinity?  Because you can kill that crow I mentioned above.

Title: Trinity
Severity: 1 (one bird death, one aggravating factor, but many mitigating factors)
Genre: Game
Date: 1986
Description: There is a bird in a witch's cottage. If you put the correct ingredients together in a cauldron in the cottage, it explodes, killing the bird.
Mitigating Factors: You can let the bird free so it doesn't die. Also, during the course of the game, you strangle a skink (a small lizard), trap a large bee in a venus flytrap, and feed a lemming to a snake. In addition, another bird (a roadrunner) helps you several times and never dies. In short, the birds do better than most of the animals in the game.
Aggravating Factors: The bird gives you a formula you need to help you win the game, so you are killing it after it helps you.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Ask your doctor!





EXT. – SANDY BEACH – DAY

MOTHER (an attractive older woman, mid-forties) is walking along the beach with her DAUGHTER (pretty, mid-twenties).  They’re enjoying the walk and the breeze, but Daughter is clearly troubled.

DAUGHTER
(embarrassed)
Mom, have you ever had…  You know.

MOTHER
(smiles knowingly)
You mean it’s one of those days?

Daughter nods.

DAUGHTER
I just don’t feel right some times.  I love Dave and
he loves me, but I just don’t want to commit to him. 
There are times that I scream and yell at him and I
don’t even know why.  Other days I just can’t seem to
get out of bed because I’m so sad.

MOTHER
I’ve had those “not-so-sane days” myself.  Have you
 tried taking antipsychotic medication?


Daughter reacts with shock.

DAUGHTER
I’ve heard about them, but they sound so scary. 
The side effects are horrible and they don’t cure anything,
anyway.  Drugs are just the way big pharmaceutical companies
steal money from an ignorant public.


Mother smiles and puts a proud arm around her daughter’s shoulders.


MOTHER
I taught you well.  Yes, western medicine
is a big scam.  The best cures are natural. 
If we’ve used them for thousands of years, they
should still work just fine.

DAUGHTER
Then what should I do?  Take St. John’s Wort? 
Rub the fat of a freshly killed goat behind
my ears?  Bury a potato under the light of
a full moon?


Mother shakes her head and guides Daughter to sit down at conveniently placed towels on the beach.  Mother gets a serious expression.

MOTHER
Do you really want a cure?  Something
powerful that will drive those personal
demons out of your head forever?


Daughter nods enthusiastically.


MOTHER
Maybe you should consider trephining.

DAUGHTER
Trephining?  What’s that?
MOTHER
Trephining is the ancient art of banishing
evil spirits. 


Image of a woman’s head appears in cross section.  The brain graphic is filled with shadows of bats and ghosts.

MOTHER
(voice over)
You see, evil spirits can get caught in
your skull and cause you to act crazy. 
Trephining lets them loose.

DAUGHTER
(voice over)
How?

MOTHER
(voice over)
It’s very simple.  The practitioner
drives a metal spike into your head to
let them out.


An ice pick smashes into the top of the head, making a hole.  The spirits pour out of the hole like steam.  We go back to the beach, where the daughter is looking nervous.

DAUGHER
Isn’t that dangerous?

MOTHER
Oh, pooh.  People have been using trephining since
we lived in caves.  How dangerous can it be?

DAUGHTER
Okay, mom.  I’ll talk to my
naturopath.

MOTHER
That’s my girl!


They laugh and turn to stare out at the waves.


ANNOUNCER
(voice over)
Trephining is the original method for
curing mental illness.  There’s no pills
or anesthetics to take; it’s all natural. 
Side effects are severe, but we don’t
have to reveal them because natural
remedies and vitamins aren’t regulated
by the government.  Don’t waste your money
on scientifically proven western medicine! 
Don’t hesitate!  Ask your wellness
practitioner or holistic counselor
if trephining is right for you!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Child failures

Everyone on Facebook was posting this article in the Atlantic, so I read it.  The general gist of it is that, by not letting our kids fail and by trying to keep them happy, we leave them unprepared for a life that isn’t always happy.

I began to think: what about all the children’s books?  Pretty much every child’s book tells children that, if they try hard enough, they’ll get everything they want.  We need a new kind of book that embraces failure.

I’ve posted my suggestion for one below:

You gave it your best,
Gave it all that you got,
But still you lost in the end.
You’re just not that hot.

Yes, you’re a failure,
But don’t feel sad,
The world is full of losers
Who are just as bad!

So remember this
When you just can’t win
Life is going to crush you,
Until you give in.

But don’t you fret,
And don’t you cry.
‘Cause the day you give up
Is the day you die!

No one loves a quitter
And no one loves the dead
Just shake those bad thoughts
Right out of your head.

Now go to sleep my darling
Underneath the evening moon
Another chance to fail
Is coming real soon!

Monday, June 20, 2011


If you’ve ever been camping, you know how painfully boring it is.  Once you’ve figured out how to start and maintain the fire, there really isn’t anything to do.  Well, you can go to sleep and listen to mice rub their hantavirus-covered butts over your toothbrushes.  But, really, not much else.

(Seriously, sing songs and tell spooky stories?  You can do that ANYWHERE.  It’s like people who sunbathe by the water, but never swim.)

I wasn’t too thrilled with eating a hot dog after it had been riddled with charred wood and dead bugs from the decayed twig we used as a skewer.  Boredom was overtaking me and I was thinking of going to bed three hours early (as were my kids), when I remembered the MREs.

MRE stands for Meals Ready to Eat and is what the US gives soldiers in combat or when they can’t get to a McDonalds.  They’re designed to withstand being dropped out of an airplane, set on fire, or shot with a Howitzer.  MREs can last for years; one soldier said the worst part about eating one was looking at the label and seeing that it had been made in World War II.

I bought myself a twelve pack of MREs back in 2006 during the bird flu epidemic.  I stocked up on canned goods, dried food, and water.  I found a supplier of military-spec MREs (meaning, besides the Tabasco sauce, they were almost identical to the stuff the soldiers ate) and ordered a box.  Then I bought a bottle of Tabasco and watched the world end outside my steel fortress of a home.
And now I wait for society to rebuild.

OR DID I?
That thing is really hard to take down from the top shelf.
Anyway, years later, the box still sits on my shelf and waits for some disaster to make me open it.  I was always curious about what they were like, so I broke them out on our camping trip.  Here’s what I found:

The MRE comes in a durable plastic bag.  It’s easy to see why they last forever.  The bags are stronger than I am.
Also not easy to open a bag with one hand while taking a picture.
Inside was an array of stuff in bags and boxes.  They were all so pretty and friendly.  This must be what it’s like to buy an Apple computer!
Now, throw out your computer and buy a real one.
There was even entertainment!  One of the boxes had helpful survival and nutrition tips on the back.
For soldiers, this is just like the Twilight novels.
Another box had a postcard built into it.
Oh, how thoughtful.

No, wait, now how do I cut this thing out?

Two hours and sixteen cut fingers later...
I started with the Ranger Bar, which I can only assume was made of ground up Rangers.  It tasted like coconut.
Or, maybe it's Ranger poo...
Next, I had the lemon-lime powdered drink that tasted almost, but not quite, entirely unlike Gatorade.  The instructions say to use half a canteen cup or 18 ounces of water.  How should I know how much either of those are?!
Mmmm.  Greeeeeeen.
After that came the pears chopped up like applesauce.  I had the most trepidation about this one, after all the pears were five years old, but they tasted fine and only tried to crawl out of the baggie once.
I guess it's hard to screw up applesauce.  Unless, of course, you make the mistake of using PEARS!
I moved on to vegetable wafers and grape jelly.  The grape jelly tasted like sugar (which, according to the packaging, it was) and the vegetable wafers tasted like dried snot.  I figured out pretty quickly to put those two together.  Then I figured out how fast I could run to where I kept the Tums.
Even less appetizing than it looks.
Finally, I got to the main course.  These MREs came with “flameless ration heaters,” which is another way of saying “human death traps.”  The idea is that they heat your food without using fire, but I think they’re really some kind of food-based grenades.
Looks simple enough.
The instructions are designed to get you killed.  First, you tear off the top of the bag.  Second, you put your food next to the chemical pack.  Third, you put water in to activate the pack.  Fourth, you realize you were supposed to put a lot less water in than you should.  You pour some water out, while frantically reading the instructions, and then you realize you have too little water.  The MRE starts HISSING AND STEAMING at you and burns your fingers, so you throw the thing into the underbrush where it explodes, killing a bear.
Mmmm.  Beeeaaar.
Then you eat the bear.

The utensil pack comes with non-dairy creamer (which your wife will use as a bookmark without telling you), two packets of sugar, salt and pepper.  If you mix all those together in with the instant coffee, it ends up looking like this.
Foamy means its good for you!
If the flameless ration heater didn’t kill you, the coffee will.
Now you know why I didn't enlist.
It also comes with an incredibly heavy-duty spoon which the modern soldier can use to eat with and then cut themselves open to get the food out before it kills them.

As a final note, I just did some reading and found my MREs may have expired some years ago.  See the things I do to keep the both of my readers informed?

Friday, June 17, 2011

Camping

There is a kind of person who, every now and then, has to leave the difficulties of modern life behind, to live in the wilderness, to go “roughing it” for a while.  This is the kind of person we call “mentally ill.”  Okay, that’s not fair, brain damage would also make a person want to give up sanitation, good food, and entertainment.  Or maybe you’re going camping with a hot woman.  I have to admit, showing off that you can build a fire, set up a tent, and fend off vicious chipmunks could get almost any woman to make your sleeping bag move like an inchworm, if you know what I mean.
Remember, real campers bring all their advanced electronic equipment with them.
If you fit one of the above three categories, and you have decided to go “roughing it” in the wilderness, you may want to bring the following things:
  • Food and cooking utensils
  • Drinks
  • Sunscreen and bug spray
  • Tent
  • Sleeping bag and pillow
  • Firewood, kindling, and matches
  • Cook stove
  • Lamp
  • Propane (at least two canisters)
  • Bandages, tourniquet, antibacterial gel
  • Maps
  • Change of clothes
  • Garbage bags
  • Soap and towels
  • Emergency money (quarters for toilets)
  • Toilet paper
  • Cleaning wipes
  • Tablecloth
  • Backpacks
  • Batteries
  • Emergency radio
  • SOMETHING, ANYTHING to do
You may want to leave behind:
  • Children
Almost ready!
Once you get situated at your campsite, you’ll want to build a fire.  Building a fire is simple, if you following these easy steps:

Purchase firewood and kindling at store.
Kindling is another word for “thin wood chips we’re going to throw in because it turns out fire doesn’t actually burn wood.”

Put kindling in small pile in center of fire pit.
Or, have your child dump the kindling all over the campsite so you can scrape them all out of the dirt.

Light fire with match.
Due to winds and the aforementioned resistance of wood to burning, it will take about nineteen matches.  The kindling will burn up quickly, not starting any of the bigger pieces on fire.

Find replacement kindling.
Most campsites are covered with twigs, leaves, pine cones, mouse droppings, dry mold, and infectious agents that burn handily.  It helps if you don’t read the sign prohibiting you from burning anything you find at the campsite until after you get the fire going.

Add big logs.
To get the big pieces of wood to burn, you’ll need to get them very hot for a very long time.  Since wood naturally puts fires out, you’ll have to start with only a few pieces, watch them not burn, move them around, take them out, etc.  You may want to consider siphoning gasoline from your car’s tank and pouring it on top.

Add more logs.
Remember, each time you add wood, the fire will go out again.

Move logs.
You have to keep adjusting where the pieces of wood are so they don’t go out, put other pieces out, or fail to create any heat.  Keep moving the logs around for six to eight hours so they burn up completely.

Put out fire.
After ten to twenty hours of waiting for the fire to go out on its own, you’ll have to pour water on it so it doesn’t somehow get out of the metal ring, crawl over to the nearby trees, and burn down the entire forest.  Make sure you lean way over the fire when you dump the water on it to get a big gulp of the healthy dust and smoke the fire kicks up.
"Don't mind me.  I'm just in for a quick bite.  Go back to sleep."
After you have eaten, cleaned up, recited the three camping songs you know over and over again, and told your children stories that aren’t scary, but will still give them nightmares, it’s time for bed.

Some things to remember while you try to sleep:
  • One child will wake up every thirty minutes to scream: “I CAN’T SLEEP!  I WANT TO GO HOME!”
  • Your other child will push you off the bed, trying to crawl inside you for warmth.
  • No matter how hot it is during the daytime, it will be freezing at night.  One of your children will show you how to close up the giant screen windows in the morning.
  • Those mice that run all over your floor, eat open your bag of rolls, crawl in your garbage, and poop in your shoes have lived in the campsite for years.  It’s not nice to throw things at them.  Besides, they’re too quick for you to hit them.
Next time, I’ll cover MREs: the food that tries to kill you.