Shredded

‘My bones are ringing the way sometimes people say their ears are ringing, I’m so tired.’
‘I’m waiting til the last possible second to even breathe.  I’m not expanding the cage till driven by necessity of air.’
‘So tired it’s out of tired‘s word-range,’ Pemulis says. ‘Tired just doesn’t do it.’
Exhausted, shot, depleted,’ says Jim Struck, grinding at his closed eye with the heel of his hand.  ‘Cashed.  Totalled.’
‘Look.’  Pemulis pointing at Struck.  ‘It’s trying to think.’
‘A moving thing to see.’
‘Beat.  Worn the heck out.’
‘Worn the fuck-all out is more like.’
‘Wrung dry.  Wacked.  Tuckered out.  More dead than alive.’
‘None even come close, the words.’
‘Word-inflation,’ Stice says, rubbing at his crewcut so his forehead wrinkles and clears.  ‘Bigger and better.  Good greater greatest totally great.  Hyperbolic and hyperbolicker.  Like grade-inflation.’
‘Should be so lucky,’ says Struck, who’s been on academic probation since fifteen.
Stice is from a part of southwest Kansas that might as well be Oklahoma.  He makes the companies that give him clothes and gear give him all black clothes and gear, and his E.T.A. cognomen is ‘The Darkness.’
Hal raises his eyebrows at Stice and smiles.  ‘Hyperbolicker?’
‘My daddy as a boy, he’d have said “tuckered out”‘ll do just fine.’

-Infinite Jest (p. 100)

Somewhere during my eighth or ninth stop for a break on the Sweat Heifer Trail, I finally found enough strength to not hate climbing for ever and ever.  Carrying a backpack loaded with supplies for the night along with my heavy camera, every body part ached – except for my legs.  My mantra of “SHUT UP, LEGS!” was useless, and I was lost.  I could feel blisters forming, bruises on my hips from my pack, and just to top it off, a little sun burn on the back of my neck.  I was only squeezing out single syllable grunts in between gasps for air, clearly spending my time in the anaerobic zone, and just from walking uphill a bit.

Granted, it was 2000 vertical feet climbed, and the trail never, not even once, dipped down or flattened out a bit to give some respite, so by the time I’d had another handful of dark chocolate covered raisins and drained my water bottle of Gatorade, it seemed like walking on clouds to finally meet up with the Appalachian Trail.  Only another mile down the mostly level section of that trail, and we ended at the shelter where we’d spend the night with other through-hikers, nearly 5 hours after we started earlier that afternoon.

The next day, we hiked down.  The day after we hiked to the Chimney Tops and back (~1700 ft climbed and had to scale some off-trail sheer rock faces in the process).  A few easier hikes to waterfalls followed later in the week, but through the huge jump in difficult mileage and corresponding calories consumed to compensate, my body was toast.  “Shredded” is the word I believe I used to describe my legs to Matt when we got out of the cold rain on Thursday evening to catch a March Madness game in Gatlinburg.  Maybe “Tuckered Out” is all some need to describe the complete satisfied exhaustion from a day of physically pushing the boundaries, but I like the fresh hyperbole.  Be ridiculous, I say.

Unpacking is always easier

lapse of thought

I’m back from a week in the Smoky Mountains, which was both relaxing in the “sitting around a campfire all night drinking beer” way, and strenuous in the “let’s hike 30 miles during the week, half of which will be directly up a mountainside” way.

I made some rookie mistakes regarding my photography throughout the week.  Above is Exhibit A.  Sometimes, you only get one night of clear skies, and when that happens, know that f/22 with an ISO of 100 is a dumb combination of settings.  Even with a 52 minute exposure.  I wish I could take that one back.  It’s something where I really do know what I’m doing, yet I can’t explain how my brain shut off and I ignored what I knew was right.  Anyway, this is the only shot from the night, and I had to bump it up 4 stops in post processing to even save what little I could, hence all the noise.

Later in the week I took a dozen shots without the auto-focus on, but I didn’t notice until afterwards.

Urban Planning

the pros and cons of suburbia

My urban planning experiences are confined to hours engulfed in SimCity (the original, 2000, and 3000 (by SimCity 4 I realized I had an addiction and had to quit)), and staring at maps playing “land developer” in my head to most efficiently carve out swaths of land.  There are, of course, the numerous flagrant fouls committed here in town that I deal with on a daily basis and inspire my own unique solutions, but I don’t think this town is urban enough to get a city planner who knows anything besides “this would be a good spot for a strip mall.”

There’s currently a heated discussion in New York City about the miles and miles of new bike lanes being built, peaking with a daft piece in The New Yorker.  It’s already been torn to shreds by BSNYC, the NY Times, The Washington Post, and The Economist, among others, but it stirred up my urban planning fantasies.  Clearly, the logical thing to do is to build tons of bike lanes and support for other transportation options besides cars.  But people are not so logical, and we cling to the “freedom” offered by our cars.

Now, I’m not living in a densely populated area by any means, and the extent of the public transportation here is a bus that runs to the grocery store, so I can’t claim expertise in “city living”, but I’d like to think I’d ride my bike around a lot more if driving wasn’t so darn easy.  In fact, I can’t wait to ride my bike downtown for all my happy hour needs instead of calling things off after 2 drinks so I can still drive home, but this continuous string of bad weather is really the main culprit, not infrastructure.  The curious thing is that the city was talking about installing a bike lane right here in town when they tear up and fix Central Ave. this summer, and I don’t really see the point.  What good is a mile or two of bike lanes on a single street when, aside from a few main arteries, most of the streets in town are already very quiet?  Maybe it’d kick off a network of new bike lanes around the city, but I can’t really see the need.  Would I use and enjoy it?  Sure.  But I already bike downtown as often as the weather permits, as it takes all of 10 minutes to do.  Why I still get weird looks for doing so, I’ll never know.

Anyway, I haven’t heard any recent plans, but I kind of doubt the bike lanes will get built due to nobody wanting to spend an extra cent on the project, and outrage from the reduced amount of parking the change will create.  People.  Not so logical.  See also: High Speed Rail debate.