Unplugged

I’ve decided to completely unplug. To stop feeding the evil corporations and their bottom lines. To no longer be a pawn to the latest must-have advertising push. I am officially no longer carrying a cell phone. Free at last, free at last. Thank God almighty we are free at last!

No? Ok, so in reality the laws of physics got me. A weight which shall not be mentioned, traveling at a velocity of v * some meters per second²… or was it divided by? At any rate, it was a large amount of force hitting the ground. My cell phone, in my back pocket, was the unlucky buffer for that force. Physics always wins. Energy has to go somewhere.

Rest in peace Samsung S6. You served well. Enjoy the eternal nap.

Cool! Mourning period over. A new phone, what should I get!?!?

Paradoxically, for a former tech guy I’m not very into “tech”. Clearly evidenced by a cell phone multi-generations behind. I didn’t think that I was that reliant upon a phone. I despise talking on the thing. I’ve purchased exactly one app in my life. I would have told you that I don’t need a phone right away.

It’s not until it’s gone that you realize just how dependent upon these things we are. It’s how I communicate with the outside world. I use it daily for work – communication, setting timers, the flashlight, looking up reference material, and the translator (why oh why didn’t I take Spanish in high school?). I didn’t realize how often I was checking the social webs. I can’t take pictures. It has my stored notes for music I’ll never download and books I’ll forget to read. It has my (free) list making app that I’ve used exactly once. It’s my alarm clock and nighttime bedside clock. Calendars, maps, contacts, the entirety of human knowledge instantly available at all times.

And now I’m without. I actually felt briefly vulnerable driving. What if something happened? What if I broke down? How would I get help? What if I went to the store and couldn’t remember if we had milk – how would I contact Mrs Troutdog? Do I buy a gallon and potentially end up wasting it? Do I skip the cow juice and risk a second trip?

* side note, we purchase milk EVERY single time we go to the store. We do not drink milk. We don’t put it in coffee. We don’t cook with it. We don’t eat cereal. It sits in fridge, quietly going bad, week in and week out. When it goes bad, we dutifully buy a new one. I don’t understand our compulsion to buy milk.

Anyway, I lost track of my point. I’m a little frightened at how dependent we are on these ridiculously expensive devices and how it happened in such a short period of time. It’s only been around about ten years in its modern form. Suddenly we’re all chained to a life long service contract.

Meanwhile I’ll be in a dark hole for two more days. Out of contact. Unable to summon help. Unable to snap that picture of bigfoot or a UFO. A barren, lonely existence, indeed.

* Google Pixel 2 XL is the replacement for those interested.

Solving The Wrong Problem

On this day in the year two thousand sixteen of the common era, 18 days and 15 hours after it began, my green home experiment died a quiet death. My sad little recycle bin only contained several junk mail flyers, a popsicle stick (not recyclable), and a paper plate that probably shouldn’t be there because it’s coated with wax. Do I wish good things for my codyplanet? Of course. I carry the same first world guilt that many Americans do. I fear photoshopped pictures of frightened polar bears desperately clinging to their shrinking icebergs. The image of Iron Eyes Cody, a tear streaming down his face as he watches garbage callously tossed from a vehicle haunts me. But, I’m also terribly lazy and trying to figure out what can and can’t be recycled was a pain so that was the end of that.

After a brief pang of guilt, I moved on. I’m an adaptable guy. But it does highlight a common human problem. We invest tremendous amounts of energy in solving the wrong problems. Trying to solve the solid waste management problem by forcing people at the trashend of the chain to dutifully sort and separate their trash is doomed to fail. National participation rates hover in the 20-30% range. With the exception of aluminum, recycled materials are a net cost and energy loss. Virgin plastic resin costs 40% less than recycled plastics. Raw silica sand used for glass production is around $20 a ton vs $40 to $60 for recycled glass. A quote I either found or made up regarding the efficiency of recycling is:  “There is a simple test for determining whether something is a resource or just garbage. If someone will pay you for the item, it’s a resource. But if you have to pay someone to take the item away, then it’s garbage.”

We are not going to solve the enormity of our waste problem by imploring people to rinse out their plastic mustard containers and carefully place them in a special bin. The problem needs to be solved upstream. Radical changes to packaging, incineration and reuse of the ash, building a dedicated monorail and shipping it to the desert to create a giant pyramid future historians can marvel at… these are the ideas we need to focus our energy on.

It feels as if much of the United States is stuck in a conventional thinking mode. The old guard is longing for a time when we clearly dominated the world without really trying. Uber is a great example. My city just recently fought a protracted battle with the transportation upstart. The old guard was trying desperately to protect the cab companies and the way things have always worked. I recently took a trip and used both Uber and a cab company. Leaving for the airport at 4am, I checked the Uber app and there was a driver a few blocks away. It took him a few minutes to get to my house. His car was new, clean, and he was a pretty nice guy. $9 for my trip, taken care of by my credit card already on file. The return trip I took a cab from the airport. The cab was a rattling death trap that smelled of stale cigarette smoke and was driven by someone who grunted monosyllabic answers. Nearly $30 for that lovely experience. Why would anyone spend energy to defend that sort of old school business?

Politics, foreign policy, artificially created “shovel ready projects”, bringing back industrial manufacturing, the Eagles and Rolling Stones reunion tours, Hollywood remakes of movie classics like Vacation and Point Break – why? Move on. The world has changed. It’s time to think forward rather than wistfully dreaming of the days of the Sony Walkman and killer mix tapes. As Homer Simpson famously said, “Lead, follow, or get out of the way”. I think he meant the line to the Krispy Kreme, but donuts or global innovation… it’s all the same.

We’ve had a pretty solid run. We can feel good about it. CNN can continue to crank out mtvspecials documenting each decade. But we need to come to grips with the fact that it’s over. The world is changing at a remarkable pace. We need to make sure we’re solving the right problems or we’ll look up and wonder why our standard of living plummeted. My point? I’m not sure. I think I’m just frustrated because my Zune music player finally died and the new music landscape is just so… confusing. Sigh, why can’t we just bring back the original MTV?

Mediocrity And Whatnot

If there’s one thing I excel at, it’s being average. I’m not trying to be self-effacing. It’s true. I “do” a lot of stuff casually but I’m not really good at any one thing. Except eating maybe. You’ll be hard pressed to find someone who can consume bacon like I can. Pork products aside, I just don’t have the drive to master something and that pisses me off. Of course not enough to actually, you know, practice or anything.

It’s not that I don’t want to. I’ve proven that I can be focused and motivated in brief spurts. Recent highlights include:

  • The group weight loss challenge of ’14. Dropped to near high school weight and won the contest. Kept he weight off for approximately 2 days. I’m currently back in the comfortable sweat pants category.
  • There was a brief burst of photography promise. Won critical acclaim from tens of people. Now I only take blurry pictures of the dog with a cell phone.
  • This one time, I wrote a blog post about dogs and cats. Several people laughed. The zenith of my writing career.
  • This one time, I cooked up a really good batch o’ barbecue ribs. That was it. I really like ribs.

Why do I share this you ask? Because all these motivated people on the damn twitter and facebooks are really pissing me off. It’s a non-stop barrage of new year motivational challenges, positive attitudes, and ridiculous encouragement. I’m talking to you Rock with your 3:45am wake up and be the hardest worker in the room attitude. Don’t get me wrong – I like the idea of it. I just don’t like the “doing” part of it.

This onslaught of be all you can be enthusiasm does work. I’ll verbally tell everyone that I’m re-embracingrule number 5 (NSFW) then go off and eat large amounts of cheese. Gym equipment, paleo instruction books, and an embarrassingly large REI dividend check all prove that I’m really good at starting something. It’s the follow through part that lacks.

My point? I don’t remember. Probably due to my ADD, lactose and gluten intolerance. I think I was trying to make a new year resolution without actually, you know, committing to anything. I resolve to keep my resolution from last year (or was it the year before?). To be motivated and get good at least one thing. I’m not sure what that is yet. My ’15 goal is to hear from someone who heard it from their non-gender-role-stereotyped cleaning persons cousin – “that troutdog dude… he’s a damn good <insert verby-noun that is at least more interesting than sudoku puzzle solver>”

Meanwhile I’m going to go organize my camera and sporting equipment. Maybe I’ll be inspired to use some of it. Or not. I think there’s a Walking Dead marathon on TV.

This One Time, At Band Camp…

I like to go on walks. And runs. I’ve been told I have a lot of energy, but seriously what’s the point of getting up in the morning if you’re not going to go at mach 7 all the time? Let’s just say that I like to go… wait, was that a bird? It’s a bird, did you see the bird?? Sorry, what was I saying? Oh yeah, walks.

I have some pretty good humans that take me someplace every day. At least I think it’s every day. They don’t let me wear a watch so time gets a little fuzzy. Was that a squirrel? Sorry, I’m getting ahead. It happens. I’ll start by introducing myself. Don’t be intimidated, but I believe I’m some sort of God. I must be as I have humans that attend to my every wish. Like most deities I have many names, but I usually respond to Bodie.  A.K.A The Bodie Zafa – The Enlightened One. I’m also known as Red, Big Red, The Bodster, Monkey Boy, Dammitbodie, Cutie, Sweetie, Bubba, Bodiedog, and Goodboybodie. I’ve heard there’s some human who skis with the same name, but that’s not me.

Anyway, walks. We do something different all the time. Walks in the neighborhood, in the park, running in the hills. I’m attending a school lately where I’m learning to go through tunnels and climb over things. Pretty fun, but there’s a lot of rules. Gods such as myself shouldn’t have to follow rules in my opinion. My favorite thing to do is go up in the mountains where they let me run wherever I want and chase all kinds of things. I love that. Personally I think we should do that all day, every day, but my humans seem to have some sort of schedule they’re forced to follow. I feel bad for them.

So anyway, this one time we’re going for a walk. We get in the truck – which is a good sign as we’re probably going to the hills someplace. But we’re driving and driving and we’re not in the hills. We stop at this building. I’ve been there before. It’s ok. They poke and prod me a little bit, but everyone seems to like me and I get treats. It’s cool. But this time, my humans leave me. What the hell? So… wait, did you hear that? Did you hear it? Did you hear it?

Where was I? Oh yeah, my balls. Did I mention that I’m really proud of my balls? They’re pretty big for my age and I really like the way they swing when I run. I spend a fair amount of time attending to them. You laugh, but a God like myself needs to spend some quality maintenance time with balls like that. Can’t go outside and have them all frumpy.

So I’m at this place and I suddenly needed to take a nap. It happens. When I woke I thought maybe it was just a bad dream… but no, something was seriously wrong. I felt really loopy and there was a giant piece of plastic around my head. And down there – something was not right. It hurt. It itched. And something seemed… missing.

The Red Dog, keeping his human in place.
The Red Dog, keeping his human in place.

It took days before I felt better. My humans were clearly concerned and I got lots of treats and time on the couch. The worst part is this nagging feeling that something is… different. From time to time I look down at these two bags of skin and feel like something used to be there, but I just can’t place what it was. On the plus side, it does seem to take less time and maintenance to get ready in the morning.

The moral of the story? Wait, was that a bug? I swear a bug flew into that bush. Anyway, you need to stay on top of your game. Keep your head on a swivel. Follow the rules. Love your humans. Enjoy life. Because at any moment… you might go for a walk and wake up missing parts.

Puppy Diaries

Day One

9:48 pm
The puppy has arrived! Oh my god, he’s so cute! Look at his big ‘ole paws as he bounds down the hallway. We’re instantly in love with this little creature.

2:20 am
I was sure he’d have slept a little by now. Oh well, he’s still so cute.

Day Two

11:15 am
Wow, this little guy has crazy amounts of energy.

1:45 pm
Seriously? I take him out and he does his business. Less than two minutes later he poops on the most expensive rug in the house.

3:45 am
Doesn’t this thing ever sleep? No, I don’t want to play fetch.

Day Three

2:00 pm
There are approximately 732 dog toys strewn about the house. 700 of them have squeakers in them. What insane person thought that putting a squeaker in a dog toy was a good idea? Is that some sort of cruel joke?

10:20 pm
Grandmothers hand-crafted statin pillow, handed down from generation to generation is now the favorite chew toy. I’m sure she’d understand.

Day Five

Time unknown – daytime I think
Only slept a few hours in the last week. We’ve run out of Band-aids. The little bastard has razor blades for teeth. Wearing knee-high plastic wading boots to protect the last remaining pair of pant cuffs.

Afternoon
The $300 iComfort dog pillow is a shredded pile of memory foam. We’re out of dog treats and afraid to leave the house for re-supply. Currently feeding the puppy the last of the saltine crackers.

Nighttime
Trying to sleep on the couch. Puppy wanted the bed. For the love of god, make the howling stop.

Day Seven

Puppy became self-aware at 3:28 in the afternoon. This may be my last diary entry. I’m hiding in the closet. Puppy does not like subversive activities. We’re sleeping the garage, visiting the house only to attend to puppies fickle wants and needs.

Shush! I think it heard me. I hear paws on the hardwood. And the squeaker…

On Art. And Bacon.

Once I came to grips with the fact that I wasn’t going to win American Idol this year, I had to find something else to do with my time.  Lately its been taking pictures.  Or, ‘capturing photographs’ if I want to sound all fancy.  There is an odd side of me that needs to be creative.  It’s a strange feeling since I have almost no artistic ability (except that diorama I made in 3rd grade – 1st place!) and very little knowledge of art.  As the saying goes, “I can’t tell you what art is but I know it when I see it”.  Or was that pornography? I get them confused.

Posting the pictures I take makes me feel somewhat awkward.  On one hand, what’s the point of taking them if nobody ever sees them?  Am I turning into a Kardashian-like creature desperate for attention and trolling for compliments?  On the other hand there are 2.3 billion (approximately) other people out there doing the exact same thing.  And a fair percentage of them are actually creating stuff that’s damn good.  Heck, take a mediocre snapshot with your cellphone, slap an instagram filter on it and you’ll get a bunch of people on Facebook all liking it and commenting “wow, great shot!”.

So why bother publishing pictures to the various social medias du jour?  I’m never going to be an “artist” (I don’t even own Birkenstocks and I’m not a fruitarian).  I’m never going to be a professional photographer.  Other than baby and wedding photos, I’m not even sure it’s an actual occupation anymore.

From a technical perspective I’m at about a 5th grade level in the photography world.  I have visions of real photographers looking at my stuff and saying (always in a heavy French accent) “how cute,  someone found a copy of Photoshop”.

So why do it?  Because I can’t paint.  I can’t draw.  I can’t sing.  I can’t carve wooden bear statues or ice swans with a chainsaw.  Sometimes I see an image in my head and taking a picture is the only hope I have of getting it out.  Most of the time they don’t match what I was thinking.  But every once in a while… it feels like you get one right.  And if just one person out there sees it and thinks to themselves “hmm, that’s sorta cool” then I suppose it was worth it to share that brief image I had floating around in my skull.

The problem I have, as a non-artist with limited brain cycles devoted to creativity, is that the majority of the images in my head are about bacon (don’t worry, I’m in a twelve-step program for my addiction).  And bacon, while a delicious super food, doesn’t photograph well.

http://troutdogphoto.wordpress.com/

F-Bombs On The Bunny Slope

While my life achievements have been numerous, impressive, and intimidating to most mortal men, I tend to not publicize them.  After all in today’s age we have at least seven different social media accounts (five of which you can’t remember the passwords), LinkedIn, blogs, Christmas newsletters, and on-line “brag books”.  I have no idea what that last one is, but every professional job search service says you must have one.  I usually just bring an old photo album of baby pictures.

So, imagine my horror when a friend sent me someone’s “climbing resume”.  Seriously? With everything else going on in the world I now have to stress over my lack of a climbing resume?  I’m a busy guy.  I don’t have time to be searching for climbing resume examples on the internets.  I have nymph fishing videos to watch (yes, this is a real thing and how I spent my morning).

Sigh… not wanting to be left out of the next social media, job hunting fad, I present my climbing resume:

  • 1975   Climbed the big kids playground at the junior high school.  Solo ascent.  (class II 3.7+)
  • 1977   Group climb of the Matterhorn.  Seated climb, Disneyland-style.  (class II 5.1)
  • 1982   Ascended some hill in the dark to drink two beers we’d stolen from my friend Roberts house.  (class I 1.0+)
  • 1994   Summited high point in Houston (some office building downtown).  Done in classic alpine style, carrying only a briefcase and sack lunch.  (class I  2.2++)
  • 2007   First ascent of Funny Bunny Express, Heavenly Valley, Tahoe.  Expedition style, utilizing both “magic carpet” and “rope tow” methods.   (class III 5.10)

Speaking of climbing and rope tows, I attempted to teach a friend how to ski this past weekend.  First off learning how to ski when you’ve reached middle age, while commendable, has a few challenges you may not have anticipated when you were a little tyke.  It’s not like a golf course – there’s no beer cart lady who periodically comes by to serve you tasty beverages.  Your center of gravity is a few feet higher and further in front of you than it was as a youngster.  This tends to have a negative impact on your relationship with Newtonian physics.

Also, the bunny hills tend to be filled with little kids and moms.  It turns out they don’t appreciate expletive filled tirades when you fall.  I tried to explain to the ski patrol dude that some little three-foot tall psycho went screaming by at mach II and cut us off.  Anyone who wears an all pink “My pretty pony” ski outfit should have their pass pulled just on general principle.

The lesson learned?  Don’t drop the F-bomb on the bunny slope (hey, that’s T-shirt worthy!).  Also, knit ski caps give you really bad hat hair.

A Single Resolution

For this new year, I had resolved to have no resolutions.  (well, starting after that one)  Done.  Move on with 2014.  Now happily enjoying my structure-free new year, I attempted to impress some friends with a smug, Cliff Clavin-like factoid.  After some rumbling and discussion we were forced to consult the device of all knowledge and look it up (smart-phone+search engine of choice+Wikipedia).  My information was wrong.

Boom, mind blown.  How could this be?  It came from what I believed to be a very reputable source.  Shortly afterwards, another statistic on a printed government map and trail sign.  Consult the device of all knowledge… the map was wrong.  How could this be?  My faith in humanity, government, and the fundamentals of science have been shattered.

At that moment I un-resolved my original non-resolution and resolved to have one resolution for 2014.  “QUESTION EVERYTHING”  I was so impressed with my new quote I thought about a line of T-shirts… then discovered I’m not as original as I thought.  Joe Rogan has a TV show by that name.  Some old dead Greek guy (it was either Euripides or Homer Simpson, I’m not sure) said it.  Whatever.  It’s still a good creed to live by for the next year.

What if everything you thought wasn’t true?  Maybe Miley Cyrus didn’t invent twerking?  Perhaps Hillary really hasn’t made up her mind about running?  What if skier packed powder just means we haven’t groomed in a few days?  Maybe the Koch brothers really are hatching a massive conspiracy to take down the government?  What if, gasp, Justin Bieber really is retiring???

The possibilities will shake you to the core if you start thinking about it.  So, the next time you tell me something don’t be offended if I immediately consult the device of all knowledge to confirm.

Food For Thought

I like food.  As a general rule (and I am a rule follower) the worse it is for me the better I like it.  But being the enigma I am, there are also fleeting attempts at being healthy.  Clearly some sort of foodie Jekyll and Hyde thing going on.  A few years ago in brief burst of health I read The Omnivores Dilemma and immediately resolved to eat nothing but food that was locally sourced, grass-fed, watered with unicorn tears, and lovingly harvested by nubile young virgins.  That lasted only a few weeks.  It’s just so damn easy to go to the mega-mart instead.  It wasn’t a complete waste however – I did buy a cow and will do so again once I finish the approximately 276 pounds of hamburger in my freezer.

Anyway, last night after catching up on the Kardashian channel  (E! News) I stumbled across Michael Pollan’s movie “Food Inc.”.  It wasn’t bad.  A little disturbing and very sensationalist.  Like his books it does make you think about your food and that’s a good thing.  It would be a wonderful thing if we could all afford to buy from farmers markets and not be slaves to the evil corporate machine.  Evil-doers I tell you!

Unfortunately it’s not reality.  The US population is 317 million.  The world population is 7.1 billion.  By 2050 those numbers are projected to be 400 million and 8.92 billion.  We do not have the capacity to feed those numbers with sustainable chickens running free through the woods and listening to Miley Cyrus on their little iChicken headphones prior to slaughter.  Here in the US, we have already exceeded the soil’s capacity to grow.  If it wasn’t for the miracle of modern nitrogen-based fertilizers we’d be living in some sort of futuristic Mad Max dust bowl already. 

So enough of the self-righteous condemnation of the modern food industry.  If, as Warren Buffet said, you’re one of the winners of the ovarian lottery be thankful. Drive the 20 miles to Whole Foods in your eco-friendly Prius and be grateful you can pay $6.99 for Chilean Blueberries while sipping a $7 mocha-latte made from beans sourced from Brazil.

GMO’s, drought and pesticide resistant seeds, massive corporate food production slaughterhouses and assembly lines, cheap immigrant labor… these really are good things.  Why?  The alternative is third-world food scarcity everywhere.  If you have a true, viable, alternative to feed the planet I’m all ears.  Meanwhile I’m going to go get me some .99¢ deep-fried chicken tenders, feel bad about myself and resolve to eat more salads.

On Weight Loss. And Banana Hammocks

So, I recently lost some weight.  Not “oh my god did you have gastric bypass surgery” amounts, but enough that’s its noticeable.  It started after an Easter meal.  Everyone was loosening belts and groaning about how full they were.  This led to the inevitable mutterings of “damn, I’ve got to get in shape/lose a few pounds/get ready for summer”.  Someone joked that they should try to get on that Biggest Loser show.  You can guess what happened next… “hey, why don’t we do one of those biggest loser contests ourselves?!”  Start and end dates are set, entrance fees and weigh-in criteria created, and a winners prize is defined.  A line in the sand is drawn and off we go.

With clothes on, probably nobody would call me fat.  My face gets kinda full and my upper body isn’t quite in proportion with my little toothpick legs.  However, lurking underneath my stylish hipster outfits was a BMI of 27.  Man-boobs drifting towards support-worthy.  A spare tire that actually qualifies as a tire.  I had the consistency of Jell-O or one of those Tempur-Pedic mattresses.  It sorta looks firm, but touch it and it’s surprisingly soft and jiggly.  Are you getting turned on yet?  Never mind, don’t answer that.

Anyway to make a long story short, much of that is gone.  Not completely. There’s still plenty of work to do.  It’s a little disturbing how vain you can get once you start feeling better about yourself.  I don’t leave the house now without just the right pair of skinny jeans, Justin Bieber belt, and enough product in my hair to trap pigeons.  Now that the excess adipose tissue is gone, I’ve discovered that I was born with a shockingly complete lack of muscle tone.  I’ve purchased a Jane Fonda Thighmaster and a ShakeWeight from craigslist and am working on rectifying this genetic injustice.

Completely unrelated to the start of the weight loss contest, I enrolled in a nutrition class.  This, combined with the fact that A) I lost weight, and B) I read the Intranet, makes me extremely qualified to advise you on weight loss strategies.  Here are a few tips from chapter 113 of my upcoming autobiography:

  • Ice cream, pie, soda, and massive piles of steak nachos are not part of any diet.  Sorry to burst your bubble, but there is no magic combination of pills or “toning” exercises that will counteract that number of calories.
  • I ate about 1500 calories a day.  Yes you need to keep track.  Life’s a bitch like that sometimes.
  • There are no “free” days.  It’s simple physics. To lose weight you have to burn more than you take in.  Exceed your calorie target and it will either take you longer to reach your goal or you’ll need to run a marathon to break even.
  • Lots of protein, frightening amounts of steamed vegetables, and saturated fat.
  • Water. Lots of water. Get used to peeing. Often.
  • Exercise. Not just stroll on the treadmill while reading a book “exercise”, but real work.  Like you might barf up a lung levels of work.  Not what you wanted to hear. Sorry ’bout that.
  • Get the ab toning “flex belt” http://www.theflexbelt.com/  It’s a miracle device. Builds abs of steel without working out. Trust me, would I lie?

With an upcoming trip to a Mexican beach, it’s time to go shop for a bathing suit for my newly svelte self.  One last tip guys (apologies to any European friends), unless you’re swimming competitively, a speedo is not ok.  Yo, pasty white British dudes – only about 1% of the male population has the body to legitimately wear a banana hammock. You’re not one of them.  A real man wears jorts.