Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Camping Stuff

A couple weeks ago I went through some of my gear, mostly in an attempt to consolidate and organize what I have. It's not a whole bunch but it's enough to take up a fair bit of space, and it's not all new or top-of-the-line but it all works well enough. Despite having enough good-enough stuff, my Amazon wishlist has plenty of links to my Backcountry.com wishlist and I can't help but check out new stuff when I'm close to a gear shop. It didn't really sink in until fairly recently, but my interest in camping equipment-- from the cheapest to the elitist-- goes back years.

My earliest memory of any sort of camping gear of my own was a toy camp folding spoon-fork thing when I was about four or five. I'm not sure why I remember that specifically, nor do I know why my parents got it, but I thought it was cool because it was a spoon and a fork that folded up. For camping! I remember my mom not letting me eat anything with it, which I felt was really unfair. Like, if you give me a spoon-fork combo, I expect to be able to eat my Berry Berry Kix with it, but since Mom got the final say my camping utensils went unused for anything more than pretend meals in the back yard.

As I grew up I wanted real gear of my own. I got the Campmor catalog delivered to me regularly, and there was one thing I wanted out of it more than anything; the Wenzel Starlight tent. I don't really know why I wanted it so bad. It probably had something to do with it being cheap enough for a kid without a job to theoretically afford on his own after a few months allowance. It was circled in almost every catalog I got from Campmor, along with different backpacks, sleeping bags, and cook sets for the least weight efficient but coolest backpacking setups my kid brain could dream up, but I never got that tent (or anything else from that catalog for that matter).

Time passed and I still didn't have a tent of my own. When I went camping with my dad we'd always share a tent, but something in me wanted my own independent sleeping space, a little slice of heaven in the form of a little cloth shelter, but I didn't have the forty dollars to shell out for the tent I wanted. One day, though, while looking around a yard sale, I found an old, stale, dirty green canvas pup tent. It had to have been decades old, with patches and stitching all around it keeping what was left of it together, stains from leaky storage and god-knows-what scattered around it.

I loved it. It was only five bucks, too! I bought it without a second thought, though later on I did have second thoughts during that one time with the bear, but that's neither here nor there. I don't remember what happened to that tent, but I think I tossed it out after the splitting headache that came from trying to sleep in the moldering green tube. Of course, it wasn't the last tent I'd get-- not even the last tent I'd pick up from a yard sale for under $10-- but it was definitely the last canvas relic of a bygone era I ever attempted to sleep in.

I now have a lot of stuff for car camping and backpacking, some of it name brand, some K-Mart quality. I want to build an ultralight backpacking kit under seven or eight pounds, but I've also been eyeing a tent-cot and queen size sleeping bag that'd probably be closer to 50. Maybe it's the variety of options that fascinates me. It could be a callback to childhood curiosity of camping and getting outside. It's probably at least partly because I work at a desk most of the week and daydream a lot. Whatever the case may be I think gear is pretty cool, and I may not go camping as much as I'd like or have much room for new gear but that won't stop me from ogling at shit.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Here We Are

I try to keep an even keeled and neutral tone in the things I say and do. Most of my Facebook posts, blog pieces, and tweets are non-partisan as to not anger or hurt anyone that knows my online presence, and at work I make no mention to issues in the news or politics even when guest clientele looking for validation bark their opinions at me. I don't rock the boat because I don't care much for conflict or making my opinions known.

However, in light of current events, I feel the need to speak up for a sec.

I'm going to go ahead and throw it out there that I'm a registered Democrat. I watched the housing bubble pop when I was in college and how entire developments dried up and were abandoned, and Republican allowed lack of regulation in the banks was to blame. I believe in spreading the wealth around and helping the less fortunate. I'm a big fan of hope and change, though I also understand that these things take time. Change isn't a bad thing, and trial and error is something necessary to build something worthwhile.

A lot of my family are Republicans, and I accept that. "If it ain't broke don't fix it" isn't such a horrible idea. Over-regulation can get in the way of the growth of certain business I guess. Big government dictating every action in a person's life is a bit scary in concept. I get all that. I don't agree with it all wholeheartedly, but I can see where they come from. However, it's not the party I'm wholly against; it's their candidate in this election.

The United States of America voted an unstable xenophobic businessman into office. Donald Trump is a man that has called Mexicans rapists and criminals, proposed a ban on an entire religious group, objectified and demeaned countless women, made numerous ableist comments, will be on trial for child rape in December, and has been endorsed by the Ku Klux Klan. He is, by many accounts, not a good person, certainly not a good businessman, and really not someone that should be elected into the most powerful position in the country.

Yet here we are. In a nation of immigrants, diversity, and opportunity, we voted in the antitheses of it all. The country I live in, the one that lauds itself as the greatest nation in the world, gave itself to a man that was selling frozen steaks not all that long ago.

And why? Are we as racist, sexist, ableist, xenophobic, Islamophobic, and terrible as the votes show?

People may cite the scandals with Hillary Clinton as reason to not vote for her, such as Whitewater and the like, but if you really want to get into an argument about development and bad land deals you can look at Trump. She was head of the State Department during the Benghazi attack in 2012 that killed four , but the Bush administration started the war in the Middle East that killed 4,424 soldiers, and the Reagan administration gave Osama bin Laden a lot of munitions to work with and get the ball rolling with Islamic extremism. She had a private email server too-- big fucking whoop. She wasn't perfect, but at least she can keep an even temperament and has experience within government.

Yet. Here. We. Are.

Sure, I'm disappointed the party I'm registered in didn't get the presidency, but what I find devastating is what the results reveal about us as a nation. We're scared. We're scared of each other. We're scared of different cultures, religions, and lifestyles. We, as a nation, apparently don't consider women or POC worthy. We are more than willing to vote a incompetent joke into the White House because we are too afraid of deviating from the status quo. We'll continue to be the nation fighting its native peoples for the sake of an oil pipeline. The systemic racism that keeps the black community oppressed and targeted by police will remain. The glass ceiling will still loom over the heads of women. The LGBT community will continue to face violence. The Muslim community will keep facing discrimination. We're going to go back on decades of social reform because of cowardice and fear.

To readers who are women, POC, LGBT, disabled, Muslim, or any combination of those; I'm so, so sorry. Do your best to be safe. Hate won't win in the end. Stay tough; you know you've had to be tougher than the shitty old white men that have called the shots for so long, and I believe in you and the positive changes to come in the future.

I'll get back to writing my usual innocuous shit again later but I'm fucking embarrassed by the state of this nation. This nation is far from great. It's an embarrassment and its true colors are showing.