Sunday, June 01, 2008

John Muir and Hunter S. Thompson's Love Child

Just finished reading Ed Abbey's Desert Solitaire. Basically, it's a collection of essays and narratives from a few years in which Abbey worked as a ranger in Arches. He asks the question, "What is the peculiar quality or character of the desert that distinguishes it, in spiritual appeal, from other forms of landscape?" But I find his answer unconvincing. There are some pretty cool travel narratives (being one of the last people to raft the Colorado before Glen Canyon was filled, hiking to the floor of the Maze, etc.), interesting historical tales about hardscrabble locals (miners, ranchers, Mormons) and polemics against industrial tourism (it is Ed Abbey, after all), but I had trouble plowing through the long stretches that were either philosophical mumbo-jumbo or lengthy descriptions of desert scenery. Maybe this is just my innate preference for mountains over desert canyons coming out, but I feel the same way when I read John Muir talking about the Sierras--when you're telling stories, I think people are much more interesting than rocks.

A friend of mine told me about this org that he used to volunteer with a bunch, One Brick, which basically creates easy low-key no-commitment volunteer opportunities in a social setting. So I spent the afternoon shadowing this photographer getting photo releases signed for her at a fundraiser at the Randall Museum, a kid's nature museum in SF. Good times.

I also decided to be smart and back up my computer. So I newegg'd myself a 500 GB hard drive, and while I was at it I loaded up the computer with 4 GB of RAM. So now I can browse four times as much of the interwebs. Or something.

I did actually start studying this week, which is pretty awesome. In reading about voting models I read some stuff on Keynes' beauty contest and guessing 2/3 of the average guess. (The latter is actually pretty cool, check it out.) I also realized that, as cool as economists, myself included, like to think Arrow's Impossibility Theorem is, the proof is way harder than I remember it being in the first year of grad school. Oh well.

Also, I watched Network again. It is the greatest film ever. There is only one holistic system of systems.

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