Sounds in Woods, Speakers and Audiences

Headed out to national forest. It’s curious that a wilderness area so close to a popular spot is always empty. It’s wonderful. I intended to spend two nights in it, but stayed only one because of the forecast and the desire to have another lunch time diner breakfast.

I don’t usually have pre-trip excitement while prepping, like I did years ago. But once I’m out there, it’s at least as enjoyable as it was long ago. Shortly after walking over the wilderness boundary, I found this lake not far in. I nearly stopped and set up camp up the bank for the night.

I instead camped a few more miles in. So quiet in there, it was. Until about an hour after I fell asleep. A piercing loud coyote call, from about ten feet away. I could not see her. I regret not starting up my phone and recording; it was alarmingly loud and close, followed by faint calls back to her. I’m pretty sure I wasn’t her audience. The sounds were impressive, and as beautiful as something jarring can be. The foot falls were so stealthy I did not hear one step even though she had to have been just feet from me.

The morning was fairly warm for late September at five or six thousand feet. It’s nice to go about starting the day at the right pace instead of the unnatural pace of a workday. Even when I’m alternately moving fast instead of sitting in the green silence sipping hot coffee, the pace is natural instead of rushed. On the way back up from the slowly flowing stream, with water for boiling and making coffee, I see some art by Brothers Rivulet; I always enjoy these patterns left by rain runoff:

And some uprooting art of entropy:

A view of the campsite from a critter’s perspective:

Another stretch of quiet coffee time, after breakfast:

Then pack and move on while deciding whether to complete the loop today thus avoiding a forecast downpour and making a stop at a diner, or stop and enjoy the wilderness for another afternoon and night. I opted for a seat at the lunch counter.

It had been a while since a full pack hike. It felt good to start with a light breakfast. So opposite of a sedentary workday started with a big meal. The small breakfast made me feel light, slightly hungry soon in, and energetic. Scents and sounds of the woods. Birds and little mammals calling to each other, perhaps warning of my approach. Mutual aid, they say, and as Kropotkin did earlier.

A morning glance at the moon that kept my tent mildly lit all night.

Sleeping in a tent led to thinking of ongoing pressure on housing availability and affordability. It occurred to me that we won’t have stabilizing legislation applied to or restraining residential real estate owners until business groups point out that these real estate owners/investors are necessitating business-unfriendly minimum wage hikes with their unregulated residential rent hikes. That is, residential real estate owners are indirectly extracting money from small businesses by raising business employees’ residential rents, necessitating minimum wage hikes and higher pay. (The worker-residential tenant is sort of a pawn and collection agent for the residential real estate owner/landlord; he inadvertently passes an increased chunk of the small business owner’s profit to the residential landlord.) The current speaker-to-audience dynamic is delaying legislation of adequate rent control: currently the speakers are tenant groups and social advocates, and the audience is landlords and legislators; when the dynamic we need is small business groups as the speaker and landlords and legislators as the audience. Seems a simple speaker-audience mismatch. Rearrange a little, and there could be unintended mutual aid. Hmm.

Wilderness and Burger Baskets

Another hop to the woods. I tend to schedule my hiking and other exercise around locations of diners. I like other types of restaurants too, but seem to have really narrowed in on diners recently. And burger joints. This may be because I don’t hike and bike for exercise, but for experiencing through senses, which includes experiencing restaurants. I went south for woods time. Good things about heading south are 1) a certain burger joint is in Springfield, and 2) I pass by my friend’s house, and so stop to rid myself of pruning wood that’s too big for the wood chipper. Some of my yard waste is his wood heat. But the burger joint turned out to be closed; limited pandemic hours. I had vague memory of another traditional looking restaurant slightly west and grabbed a lunch counter seat there. Was a really good veggie burger basket I had.Enjoyed the place, stained ceiling and all. Nice folks running the place and patronizing it.It is interesting how pandemic reaction/restriction falls along party lines, political lines. In hipster-capitalist Portland, there are still signs saying “No mask, no service”, whereas if you go outside the metro area, people who always hated the restrictions are practicing none of it, but in line with current State recommendations. The State recommendations/restrictions/lifting of restrictions just kind of moved in the space between the party lines, but were based mainly on health science and a little on politics. I notice that now that the state has reached a 70% vaccination rate and lifted all statewide restrictions, it is nearly silent on the fact that rates of infection and deaths remain unchanged. Just the numbers are unchanged; the demographic is different in that it’s now anti-vaccine folks who are being hospitalized and dying. So perhaps the State’s silence on the numbers just means, as a statement to anti-vacciners, “enjoy your freedom”. Anyway, the diner is in Eugene’s kind of twin city, Springfield. My guess is that in hippie-socialist, anarchist Eugene, “No mask, no service” signs would have still been up. Whereas conservative Springfield was back to pre-pandemic lifestyle.

Even though my politics align more with the left end of the spectrum, I actually more enjoy the company of conservatives, despite the fact that I strongly disagree with some of their politics and values. Just such nice people that I meet and interact with in conservative towns. I really wish the left and the right would interact more; there’s a lot in common between the two despite differences.

The trail was a bit desolate-looking from fire damage. I don’t know how old the damage was. There was a certain beauty to it. Not beauty, but an interesting aesthetic that made me snap photos.The north side of the lake had no tree canopy, so was a bit hot for me from that summer sun. It was nice to see the lake again.Further west I was under the comfort of tree canopy again, but mosquitos were much worse and afforded absolutely no opportunity for picture taking. So unprepared for them I was, that I turned a 3-day wilderness trip into a day hike. I will return in the chilly fall, by which time the Springfield burger joint will likely have returned to normal hours.

Sparkling New Hotel

I only walked in the woods a few times during the winter. I’ve just been walking in town. Near the convention center. By a new hotel directly across the tracks from where I stood during a lunch break. A lot of homeless and encampments about. I hear some of my fellow employed express disdain toward the homeless for not having trash pick up service or toilets, both of which would cost money, which is typically earned through employment, unless its unearned income.

So, again, not much time in the woods recently, even though winter weather doesn’t bother me much. Walking during lunch, viewing this new hotel. Looking up at its countless vacant units and down at its nice ground floor retail space, also vacant. A Hyatt Regency, it is, with countless rooms with kitchenettes, showers and beds, vacant and staring down at homeless people. At ground level where I’m holding the camera, around me are impoverished people living on the streets searching for resources. Some are afflicted with mental illness and perhaps addiction to street entrepreneurs’ retail products. I’m not saying it’s a shame there won’t be a bustling hotel with hopping ground floor retail and office space serving an event-packed convention center across the light rail track. Those activities are in large part unnecessary regardless of economic state. I’m just observing there’s not much use for a hotel intended for that function, especially right now. Just observing the lack of utility in the whole arrangement, the abundance towering over the poverty. The irony of how physically close this idle resource abundance is to the surrounding poverty. Two blocks away is this encampment — one of the countless right now. It’s one of the smaller ones.

I think much of this — the hotel/commercial space vacancy, homelessness, drug addiction, mental illness — is due to moderation: moderation in public policy, in politics, by policymakers and lawmakers. A moderation that declines to establish a safety net. Now the new hotel has no people to sell goods and services to because some members of that market fell in absence of safety net, or they’re not spending much at all because they know there’s little safety net.

Moderation in what sense and for what intended result? I think it’s moderation by policymakers/lawmakers with the intent of not rocking the boat. Not upsetting campaign donor-investors of the DRIT (Democratic-Republican Investment Tool). The DRIT policy/lawmakers practice moderation to avoid upsetting their campaign donors (investors). Moderation to keep their head down. To avoid raising taxes on campaign donor-investors. Such a raising of taxes would cut into campaign donor-investors’ bottom lines. The DRIT lawmaker has to use as its compass the question “If I raise taxes or change certain tax laws even if only for the health of their own markets (an thereby sustenance of my re-election campaign) will my campaign donor-investor prevent my re-election?” The answer is yes, because of the campaign donor-investors’ short-term/shortsighted focus on business. Business as usual leads to a slippery slope of increasing market poverty, businesses vacating blocks of buildings, loss of rent income, vandalism, insurance claims, higher insurance premiums for the now tenant-less commercial landlord — all this giving the street entrepreneur an edge over the white collar entrepreneur in a given area of town. Here’s a spot a Jaguar dealership moved out of.

It seems like self-harm committed by proponents of neoliberalism and austerity. It’s like an economic analogy to anti-environmentalism: eliminating ones own markets instead of ones drinking water. Economically, it’s “don’t tax us. Don’t blow money on safety nets.” Then they watch their own markets disappear.

But maybe I’m all wrong about this. Perhaps it’s not a problem after all for the campaign donor-investors. If one diverts their investment away from goods, services, and commodities (GDP-type stuff) and toward financial markets, then all one really needs is virtual/electronic mechanisms that result in deposits into ones accounts.

Anyway, moderation is the game for a DRIT candidate to win or remain in office. Moderation is austerity. Moderation is the snipping of safety nets. Moderation is lowering of tax revenue and therefore short-changing students and teachers. Anything straying from the moderate is “bold”, “progressive”, “radical”, “fringe”, “extreme” — all those things that cut into DRIT campaign donor-investor bottom line but address topics like health care, education, disaster preparedness, pandemic preparedness, and long-term care for old Gramps who failed miserably to save enough money for his $6,800 a month shared room in a facility that can care for him.

We elected another DRIT moderate president in November, albeit one who is experiencing pressure from and responding to progressives and their critical topics that are inconvenient to wealthy campaign donor-investors. His American Rescue Plan is actually rescuing America not from pandemic economic fallout, but from decades of moderation, decades of moderates who brought us the perfect storm that is the last 12 months or so.

Anyway, back to the topic of playing outdoors next time. Some aspects of life are normalizing. Fortunate to have remained employed, I will be able to ride and walk landscapes soon.

In wilderness again…

…Drift Creek is where I ended up a couple of weeks ago, after looking at the real-time wildfire map and air quality forecast, and road conditions. Not all that far from the coast. Near the trailhead there was a glimpse of the river meeting the ocean.

After gaining that elevation on the drive to the trailhead, the hike was all descent to the creek-side campsites. Listening to birdsong much of the way:


I ran into what I thought was a family (I later learned it was a boy scout group). Right/conservative-looking folks. But really, they were just more army surplus than rei aesthetically. Nice folks. A really nice kid in the group pointed me toward some great campsites along the creek when I asked if they knew of more downstream. My glance at his sheathed hunting knife might have looked like I was concerned, but in fact it was just that it was the same one I almost bought.

Kind of related, it’s odd how people on the left and right seem to fall in line and have hostility toward each other. The Right and Republicans should instead be grateful right now to the Democratic Party/DNC: in effort to protect its (Democrats’) wealthy donor-investors from its strong candidate (Sanders), who probably would have beat the Republican in 2016 and 2020, the Democrats/DNC instead knowingly ran its weak candidate — which handed victory to the Republican in 2016. This Democratic Party/DNC incompetence also paved the way for three conservative supreme court justice appointments (two were confirmed a while ago, one soon to be), plus many, many lower federal court conservative judge appointments already in place now. The Right should be delighted with the Democrats/DNC for bringing the USA a far-right White House and a now-heavily conservative supreme court — and for now re-gifting the Right in 2020 by again removing its strong candidate (Sanders) and instead running its weakling. This weakling candidate pick is also a gift to the Right because even if the president loses this November, it may make the loss so narrow that it bolsters his justification to doubt and contest the results with the help of his new, heavily conservative supreme court that the Democrats/DNC precipitated/paved the way for.

And the Left should not be hostile toward the Right/Republicans, but should instead be furious with the Democrats/DNC, who achieved exactly the opposite of what its supporters (the Left) wanted. Even if their weak-pick candidate were to win this time, the damage is done: we’ve already had about 4 years of a White House opposing the Democrats’/DNC’s supporters’ wishes in terms of domestic and foreign policy, and the supreme court has already been transformed into a service provider of conservative and extremist Republicans. (Out of respect for conservatives, it should be acknowledged that the Republican Party/RNC is currently extremist rather than conservative). The Left who voted Democrat in 2016 is still about to vote Democrat in 2020 even though the Dems/DNC are recycling their 2016 failed strategy of running their weak candidate. Anyway, the Left/centrist liberals/further left should be hostile toward the Democrats/DNC, not toward the Right/Republicans.

I don’t think the Democrats/DNC delivered the 2016 Republican victory and three conservative supreme court justice appointments intentionally; it’s just that they have a business to run — the Democratic Party/DNC, which, with intention, secures its wealth largely by legislating its donor-investors’ wealth. S0 the Democrats/DNC must protect their donor-investors from the likes of strong Democratic candidates like Sanders, and won’t have such a candidate interfering with its enterprise. Protecting donor-investors takes priority. The Dems/DNC did all this damage in the name of protecting its donor-investors from its strong candidate. Again, the left should be hostile toward the Democrats/DNC, not the Right and Republicans.

What a bunch of misplaced hostility there is.

Thwarted from visiting public woods for now…

…by a second force this summer, the smoke. For now I just look at backpack contents until it makes sense to pack again. Early in the summer the pandemic had many trailheads closed. The smoke and fire risk now have a lot of federal lands in my area closed. Some state forest is open though, which is closer anyways, although I loved being in wilderness a few weeks ago.

So lots of time at home lately, resorting to exercise on a mat, seeing from the mat my world that is currently inside my house.

And from above the kitchen sink:

Food-related aesthetics in general, I’ve been noticing while spending so much time indoors.

As I was marveling at the fact that frozen burritos microwave in only 1.5 minutes, it occurred to me: if I run out of burritos before ranch, I’ll have to replenish the burrito supply. But what if after replenishing it I run out of ranch before the burrito supply runs out? What then? Can this ever really end without perfect timing?

Samples of what the smoke mixed with fog was like up until today:

In town there is homelessness growing or simply less harassed during the pandemic and allowed to stay

We’ve got an unemployment rate not seen since the 1930s Great Depression, and it grew in record time. And now in my area, towns need rebuilding since the fires, and roads and trails need clearing since the wind storm. In other areas, towns need rebuilding since the tropical storms. The New Deal comes to mind; there’s a lot of work needing done, and a lot of people needing work. In the 30s the Democrat-Republican Investment Tool (our two party donor-investor bribe system) took turns establishing it, snatching it away, and restoring it. It’s time to restore it again or something like it. Many jobs — in service industry, retail, hospitality, travel, airlines, on and on — simply won’t return after this health-economic-political storm. Public lands have been neglected-underfunded over the decades, and that neglect may very well have contributed to the destruction-by-fire of towns and timber. Instead of care, neglect-and-insure has been the mode. The insurers are going to fail everyone: their shareholders, policy holders, municipalities — I don’t know what all the list of the let down will include. The tax payer will be forced to step up, but we have far fewer tax payers than we had before this spring. And for some in high-fire-risk areas insurance policies will be made unavailable or out of reach pricewise, which means home equity lines of credit will be made unavailable too.

I wonder if employers and populations in tropical storm areas will simply be moved inland. Forest management might be able to reduce disasters in high-fire-risk areas, but not in tropical storm areas.

What will be proposed? I think it will be a combination of universal basic income and some form of New Deal.

I’m going to visit state forest today.

A nice overnight backpack…

…for me in national forest. I was near water on some stretches of the trail.

It was nice to sleep in the deep woods again.

I awoke to temperatures in the high 30s F on this August morning at about 4500 ft., then warmed myself with a hot brew.

But the ongoing political unrest. I guess it’s just one part of the perfect storm underscoring the inevitability of universal basic income (UBI). The storm being the lack of jobs increased by the pandemic, swift rise in unemployment, and political unrest in which years of insufficient income and unaffordable housing and health care factor in. Many of the jobs existing pre-pandemic won’t return. Judging from my town, many people have recently joined the ranks of the homeless. Cars are now parked at homeless encampments, and I think some may have been parked in their lots and driveways not long ago. Blocks where there were sporadic tents near businesses now have shuttered storefronts with side walks lined with tents, in some parts of town. It’s not as hidden as it was, either because the pandemic is causing municipalities to stop scattering and pushing around the homeless, or shelters more easily reach capacity due to social distancing requirements. Many homeless are not what I call needy. I can’t call anyone needy who simply has the same needs as I have: access to food, water, shelter and a toilet and shower. To me a needy person is someone who’s after the unnecessary; like a bullying or controlling individual addicted to the control, an addict needing unnecessary chemicals, other excesses, etc.

But back to the political unrest, on the electoral level. It doesn’t take a lot of imagination to envision the worst case November scenario. We’ve got a president with a real estate development and entertainment background who wants a show, be it his reelection inauguration or a dramatic rejection of defeat. If he can’t have an inauguration, he’ll have a bigger show. Worst case, I’m imagining. If he holes up in the white house after his defeat, I can see white supremacist and other right wing militia trying to guard the white house. But retired military brass oppose his reelection. Powell has said the president’s “drifted from the constitution” (and Powell said he’s voting for the Democrat instead). Mattis is not voting Republican in November and has said the president is actively dividing the country, which smells slightly of succession. These are politically heavy endorsements of the Democrat. Retired military brass are likely in touch with current military brass. If the defeated president holes up in the white house guarded by right wing militia after the Democratic win, the USA military may very well shew away the militias and evict the squatting president to vacate the building for the president elect.

The president could lose in November. Prominent Republicans including the agriculture-tied Lincoln Project, and the retired military brass, have abandoned him and endorsed the Democrat. Libertarian-Republican Weld is now endorsing the Democrat. Evangelicals haven’t abandoned the president, yet. If the president loses the evangelicals, all he’ll have left is the white supremacists, which are too small a voting block for success. I’m sure I’m leaving out some voters.

The current chaos threatens domestic and world markets. The market will be protected, maintained, propped back up. UBI may play a role in the USA.

I admittedly think about in-town life when I’m in the deep woods.

I’ve been spending time on…

…the floor of my living room for the first time. It’s because since working primarly from home, my stretching and exercises are done at home on my mat instead of on the floor of the gym at work. Being on the floor is giving me a glimpse into my dog’s perspective. Dog rest her beautiful soul.

The quiet of home during work hours has me examining my work. Thinking about whether it’s really even worth doing — aside from the purpose of getting paid. Thinking about whether it really accomplishes much in the scheme of things. Do I really accomplish much more than my dog did? Probably not even as much. She set an example. She was a role model in terms of what quality behavior is. She spent her life just being and experiencing, interacting.

The juxtaposition of backpacking with motorcycling (that’s a moto jacket). On a backpacking trip with my hiking buddy, she said “you don’t exactly seem like a motorcycle guy”. It’s this assumption that we identify with our activities. I don’t think I do identify with what I do. I really enjoy riding and motorcycles. But the activity doesn’t constitute me. I think we’re just experiencers. We’re looking outward. Seeing the road and landscapes pass, while occasionally noticing our hands on the grips. Enjoying the tactile experience of clutching, shifting, being moved through surroundings by a machine that someone and other machines built.

I went to see a friend’s band play, and he introduced me to someone as the drummer of such and such band. My reaction, which I didn’t state, was “wait; no no no…I’m not a drummer. It’s true, I played drums in my friend’s band for a few years. But I’m not a drummer.” Our activities don’t define us, I don’t think. Although I think our attitude and behaviors do. Anyway, I enjoyed the experience of hitting percussion thingies with sticks, the sounds and vibrations interacting with those of bandmates’ instruments, which they were also exerting some kind of finessed and timed force upon to produce some patterned sound. But they too are only people doing that, experiencing that. We just experience daily until we’re unconscious for about eight hours each night. We do this for about 80 or 100 years, and then what? I’ll have to look into that part more.

Hikes and Rides

Being homebound during the week got me out for the weekend. Yesterday was for a big loop ride. Rode all day, and even stopped for a break for a short hike to catch-up with a friend south of home. But just after Redmond, I had to stop for a shot of these senior members of the Cascades SW of the town:

Then today a hike in an area closer to the hometown. For some reason the rivulet patterns in the ditch caught my eye. Mini dams made of pine needle, twig, and silt. Can’t discern them well in the picture, but I consider them the sculptures of winter rain runoff:

Sounds in the woods again captivated me. The wind, creaking, and birdsong:

And this bird beautifully flew over me when I was experimenting with the zoom on my camera. (You really need to select the high definition setting at playback):

Being stuck at home all week is really making me and allowing me to explore on the weekends. It’s mainly solo, but still very nice. Seems to occur at the right pace when solo.