Archive for December, 2011
Over the course of what seemed like a very busy year I found time to do more reading than I have in many years. Two themes dominated my titles: the years of the Great Depression and survival literature. My two favorites for the year were books I read very early on: Jared Diamond‘s Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed and Douglas Brinkley‘s biography of Theodore Roosevelt, Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America.
Both Diamond and Brinkley are gifted writers and impressive researchers. There’s also an interesting convergence in that Mr. Diamond and the 26th President are/were ardent birders. Collapse is in many ways a sad, sobering tale of how some cultures persisted in stupid behaviors that so ravaged their ecosystems that the societies perished. The final pages suggest that humanity has the wisdom to not repeat these kinds of self-destructive choices but I don’t share Mr. Diamond’s optimism.
Then there’s the phenomenon of Theodore Roosevelt. Wilderness Warrior offers wonderful insights into the unfathomable Roosevelt spirit. Our America would be a much less beautiful place had it not been for Teddy and many of his passionate conservationist contemporaries like John Muir and Gifford Pinchot. Reading this book certainly changed my views on the role of government vis-a-vis big business. It’s not much of a stretch to imagine, without the efforts of these few individuals, the Grand Canyon as a massive mining pit and Yosemite and similar locales lined with countless fast-food emporiums. I’ll never again pass through a national park or forest and fail to offer thanks to T.R. for preserving so much of America for future generations.
Here’s a list of the rest of my readings for the year:
- The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl
- American Made: The Enduring Legacy of the WPA: When FDR Put the Nation to Work
- The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire that Saved America
- Light This Candle: The Life and Times of Alan Shepard
- Overboard: A True Blue-Water Odyssey of Disaster and Survival
- Lost in Shangri-La: A True Story of Survival, Adventure, and the Most Incredible Rescue Mission of World War II
- Chasing Greatness: Johnny Miller, Arnold Palmer, and the Miracle at Oakmont
- Priceless: How I Went Undercover to Rescue the World’s Stolen Treasures
- No Way Down: Life and Death on K2
- Ted Williams: Biography of an American Hero
- Sole Survivor: True Account of 133 Days Adrift
- Before the Dawn: Recovering the Lost History of Our Ancestors
- Deep Survival: True Stories of Miraculous Endurance and Sudden Death
- Alone: Orphaned on the Ocean
- Dark Summit: The True Story of Everest’s Most Controversial Season
- Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption
- Over the Edge: Death in the Grand Canyon
Just a little note to recall that good old Jupiter, my first Brittany adopted from the animal shelter in Iowa City, was born 35 years ago toady.
The weird weather continues. After the rainiest April in history, we had a very mild summer and now a nearly rain-free fall. Just a week before the beginning of winter Seattle has had less December rainfall than Los Angeles, Phoenix and San Diego. It’s been a bit chilly –27 degrees this morning– but little rain. Climate experts are still warning, however, about a wetter than normal winter ahead.
- La Niña? December setting records for cold and dry (SeattlePI.com)
- Despite dry weather, La Niña winter coming (SeattleTimes.com)
- Seattle sets all-time record high pressure reading (KOMONews.com)
We dropped off our packages at the post office this morning and Trisha has almost finished decorating the house. I don’t think we’ve ever been ready Christmas this early. Here’s a photo of Wamu, the little steer who was a gift from Trisha’s sister Lisa. He looks prepared for the holidays too.
After a two-hour frost delay I played the Bandon Trails course this morning. What a whopper! The bunkers, rolling fairways and devilish greens present a huge challenge to the casual golfer. The back nine includes par 3s of 220 and 163 yards along with the infamous 14th hole that drops some 200 feet from tee box to fairway. And it’s very long walk, some seven to eight miles. I played bogey golf through 12 holes before fatigue and head winds set in and I struggled to a woeful 102 score. Here are some photos.
- The Bandon Trails Course…Complimenting the Extraordinary (GolfTheUnitedStates.com)
- Links Golf for the Ages (TravelGolf.com)
I finally made the pilgrimage to the Bandon Dunes Golf Resort in Oregon. Today I played the Pacific Dunes course, a stupendously beautiful tract on the edge of the Pacific Ocean. The current issue of Golf Digest lists Pacific Dunes as the 18th most difficult course in America and number 14 of the 100 best public courses in the country. I’m pretty excited that I shot an 87 even with mediocre putting. The Bandon facility is superb and the Pac Dunes course is the most beautiful I’ve ever played. Here are a few photos.
- 10 Places Every Golfer Should Visit in Their Lifetime (bleacherreport.com)
- Bandon Dunes Climbs over Pebble Beach to No. 1 … (OregonLive.com)