Sunday, September 30, 2012

Let the Dog Read

Jacques, reading Gerard Manley Hopkins. 

It’s Banned Books Week again, so I’ve been going through my shelves deciding which books to forbid Jacques, my dog, from reading. So far, The Call of the Wild (dog kills people), Old Yeller (dog dies), and Puss in Boots (cat too smart) have been sequestered. And now Jacques, and all the other dogs in the neighborhood, are safe.

“But what about Swimmy?” you ask. Rest assured, I have banned Swimmy the goldfish from reading The Rainbow Fish (socialist propaganda), Jaws (the fish dies), and Mastering the Art of French Cooking (many fish die). The neighborhood fish are safe.

As for the human children, I can think of several dangerous books I would rather they did not read, including How to Build a Bomb Using Common Household Items, and The Kama Sutra for ToddlersReading has its perils, certainly. As a child, I once attempted an aerial maneuver based on something I read in a Batman comic. I knocked myself unconscious. But in the larger scheme of things, the dangers a child might encounter in a book are vanishingly slight, and not nearly worth the risks posed by the ignorance and parochialism that comes of not having read widely, boldly, fearlessly.

Before I forbid any child to read any book, I will first ban the following hazardous activities.

• Sports. Every thousands of young people are killed or permanently injured playing football, basketball, hockey, volleyball, etc.

• Riding in cars. Every year, tens of thousands of young people die in automobiles.

• Bathing. The bathroom is the most dangerous room in the house.

• Eating. Choking, allergic reactions, and obesity-related diseases kill more people every year than all of the above combined.

• Walking. Pedestrian fatalities are on the rise!

I’m going to try to post something every day during Banned Books Week. Celebrate by reading a book that scares you.

Jacques is getting old.
Some days he needs reading glasses.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Glacier National Park

Mary Logue and I just returned from a rail trip to Glacier NP, where we spent five days of trail walking ("hiking" might be overstating things) without seeing any grizzlies or glaciers. It was a great trip. 

Normally I do not take photos on trips like this--I prefer to let my memories develop a patina all on their own. But this time I brought a camera, and took about a dozen photos. 

Glacier is an enormous park, with spectacular vistas around every bend. I find that I become quickly jaded to such super-size panoramas. The intimate encounters are more rewarding. 

I could look at tree trunks all day.

If these little guys had been fifty yards away with a gorgeous snowy mountain backdrop, I wouldn't have bothered turning on the camera. But they were only fifteen feet from us, and we could see their tiny horns, just beginning to show. Too cute. Their mother is just off to the left, glaring at the stupid effing tourists (us).

Mary likes looking at things close up too, so we were well matched. We hiked to a stunning waterfall one afternoon, and this is what she did most of the time we were there. Meanwhile, I was looking at a water ouzel, one of the few birds capable of walking underwater. Way cool.

Mary looking at wet rocks.
I like rocks too. And lichen. The photo below is now serving as wallpaper on my computer.

My new desktop image!
The only disappointment of the trip was a dearth of mushrooms, due to a recent spell of dry weather. I guess we'll have to go back next year!