Saturday September 15, 2018 – Columbus

Friday September 14, 2018

An early morning battle with Time Warner, who now calls themselves Spectrum, but who are still spectacularly unreliable. All week my internet has been in and out, but mostly out. On the phone now with a guy who is very sorry for the inconvenience and I can hear him clicking away on his keyboard pretending as if he can do something about it. I end up calling these Yahoo’s about once every 6 weeks—when an interruption in service lasts for more than an hour. They fumble around as if they have some ideas about what is going on and then schedule an appointment to send someone out. Which means I have to organize to work from home or wait until a weekend and then someone comes and they walk around the house looking at wires and cables, inside they check connections, pick up the router and look at it and then pound around a bit on their custom iPad and then say everything seems fine so they don’t know what is causing the interruptions.

We have now danced to this tune 4 or 5 times in the past 12 months. So it goes.

Saturday now

Internet is down. It was working and then just quit again. So now I must make a change to another provider.

I finished reading ‘The Shadow of the Sun’ by Ryszard Kapuściński this week. I started just before leaving for Italy and have had reduced reading time since we got back. A truly beautiful book. Probably my favorite book about Africa, although I still love to read ‘West With the Night’ every few years. Kapuscinski has that rare elusive talent for truly capturing the essence of Africa—although even that is an amateurish statement, for as both Markham and Kapuściński agree, there are a thousand Africa’s.

“There are as many Africas as there are books about Africa — and as many books about it as you could read in a leisurely lifetime. Whoever writes a new one can afford a certain complacency in the knowledge that his is a new picture agreeing with no one else’s, but likely to be haugthily disagreed with by all those who believed in some other Africa. … Being thus all things to all authors, it follows, I suppose, that Africa must be all things to all readers.

Africa is mystic; it is wild; it is a sweltering inferno; it is a photographer’s paradise, a hunter’s Valhalla, an escapist’s Utopia. It is what you will, and it withstands all interpretations. It is the last vestige of a dead world or the cradle of a shiny new one. To a lot of people, as to myself, it is just ‘home.”

– Beryl Markham, West With The Night

And from Kapuściński

“The continent is too large to describe. It is a veritable ocean, a separate planet, a varied, immensely rich cosmos. Only with the greatest simplification, for the sake of convenience, can we say ‘Africa’.
In reality, except as a geographical appellation, Africa does not exist.”
– Ryszard Kapuściński
Kapuścińsk ends ‘Shadow’ with a beautiful story of a great bull elephant emerging out of the night to stroll through a Christmas party in Tanzania. It is a haunting and chilling description because a lone bull elephant can be very dangerous. Everyone stands completely still, trying to ascertain if the animal will remain peaceful or destroy the gathering and perhaps charge and stomp them. A native explains why the elephant, above all other animals, is perceived to represent the soul of Africa; “Because no other animal can vanquish an elephant. Not a lion, not a buffalo, not a snake.” And so we are left to understand that the continent that nurtured the earliest forms of human life, may well endure even while the ‘more developed’ world endeavors to create chaos and sow destruction.

And one more quote that the nomad in me identifies with wholly and completely.

“We do not really know what draws a human being out into the world. Is it curiosity? A hunger for experience? An addiction to wonderment? The man who ceases to be astonished is hollow, possessed of an extinguished heart. If he believes that everything has already happened, that he has seen it all, then something most precious has died within him—the delight in life. There aren’t many such enthusiasts born. The average person is not especially curious about the world. He is alive, and being somehow obliged to deal with this condition, feels the less effort it requires, the better. Whereas learning about the world is labor, and a great all-consuming one at that. Most people develop quite antithetical talents, in fact – to look without seeing, to listen without hearing, mainly to preserve oneself within oneself.”
Ryszard Kapuściński


I always feel a bit sad when finishing a book. I haven’t yet started anything new because I need to work on the canoe and camper projects. I have been reading a little of ‘Life on the Mississippi’ by Mark Twain—which is a nice little read about the history of that river told through the eyes of a young riverboat pirate and pilot.

On the canoe build, I am sort of stuck until the plans show up. I need to finish the strongback and cut the molds, but I need to have the plans to make sure that goes well.

On the camper, I met with the engineer about the infrastructure design. I am 90% sure I am going to hire them to design and provide the aluminum frame. I am still having a hard time getting my mind around how the outside skin will attach to the frame in a way that is waterproof and also looks good. I also need to decide on the final materials for the outside. I am leaning towards 1/4” marine grade plywood painted at an auto body shop for a perfect shiny finish. But there are a lot of cutouts and hardware to mount so I still need to figure some things out. But it is getting closer. I also need to make a final decision on a trailer. I am yet to find exactly what I want, although I have a few that are close. Next week at work will be full-on because I have 3 new guys starting so I am unlikely to find 30 minutes to call and talk to the trailer guys. Maybe next Saturday.

I am still scheming ways to quit working and get moving again. This morning I was exchanging texts with Greg and he said he knew when I took this full-time job it would not last and of course he is right. I bounce between extremes—no travel and normal job (albeit more hours than I want to work) and full-on travel. I am never happy it seems. It’s like being a sailor. When in port we want to be at sea; but when at sea we dream of being in port. So now I am trying to figure out how to take a year off to hike the AT and do some exploring, camping, and canoeing around the country. Financially it would be a devastatingly irrational and immature choice—but I see it coming. Just not yet sure if it will be in 2019 or 2020.

We closed on mom and dad’s house yesterday. I am guessing this will be the last house Fourth and Sunset will buy, considering we are all slowly migrating away from real jobs. Terri quit years ago to run her flower shop. Larry quit a couple of years ago and is semi-retired. I am scheming and dreaming about quitting and Shannon just flat doesn’t like her job. But we have the two little homes in Somerset and it is enough. It’s good to know that Mom and Dad are settled and have a place for as long as they are around. I will likely wind up in Perry County at some point but will put it off for some years. I still have some wandering in me.

Last night I met the usual suspects (Stefanie, Chad, Brody, Sukanti, Pete and Sony) at Hoffbrau House. It was a gorgeous night and we sat outside and drank a lot of beer and good German food. Was nice to get caught up with my old gang from Cardinal.

Mandela seems to be whole again, which is a big relief. She has her energy back and is eating well and generally back to being the world’s greatest dog.

I have to work a few hours on some budget spreadsheets this morning for my boss, and then on to working on final camper design so I can get my informal plans to the engineering company so they can convert to true engineering drawings. Probably get the hound out for a good long walk through the park after while.

Tonight, Beef Bourguignon for dinner and I think I will make a Key Lime Pie to take to the family dinner tomorrow. Why not.


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