and To Frogs

It was much too sunny not to go to Nisqually today after a week of steady rain, but the sunshine didn’t seem to draw much of a crowd of birds. In fact, the only good shot I got was one of the Cedar Waxwing which seem to have returned to feast on the fruit and berries.

No, perhaps cued by our extended rain, the frogs were out in great numbers today, if you took the time to slow down and notice. Actually, this frog was pointed out by a young lady who was trying to get her sister and mother to see it:

Frog on  log

He was too big to miss, but with his camouflage, and some shade, he wasn’t at all easy to pick up .

I’m sure that I would have missed this even better camouflaged frog if I hadn’t stopped to take some pictures of wasps feeding on the leaves:

Frog on Leaf

But both of these were relatively easy to see compared to this small tree frog pointed out by another refuge visitor when she saw I was actually taking pictures of them:

I don’t think I really knew that there were frogs this small.

Tree Frog

I think the Frog Gods must have taken mercy on me today, since the birds seemed unwilling to talk today.

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

After reading Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and discussing it with a friend for several hours, I’m beginning to remember why I urged other English teachers to read it but never had any desire to teach it in the classroom. In retrospect, I think I was more impressed by the book when I originally read it than I am now, though it still seems one of the few books that raises vital questions about why so many people are unhappy even though they have material wealth undreamt of by our forefathers.

One wonders why our society still hasn’t addressed most of the questions Pirsig raises thirty seven years ago, which, of course, is all the more reason why individuals have to address them. The book is a tour de force, but I remain doubtful that Pirsig has truly found the Grand Unification Theory, which seemed to be Phaedrus’ goal.

When the book appeared in 1974 many in my generation were beginning to doubt that the living the Great American Dream was really going to bring happiness. After all, I had graduated from college, owned a brand new home in the suburbs, had a new Mustang and Dodge Dart in the garage, had the perfect son and daughter and many people who knew us felt that we were the perfect American family, unaware that within a few years the marriage would dissolve and our family would be living hundreds of miles apart.

No wonder the life the narrator finds on the backroads of America suddenly seemed so appealing:

The whole pace of life and personality of the people who live along them are different. They’re not going anywhere. They’re not too busy to be courteous. The hereness and newness of things is something they know all about. It’s the others, the ones who moved to the cities years ago and their lost offspring, who have all but forgotten it. The discovery was a real find.

I’ve wondered why it took us so long to catch on. We saw it and yet we didn’t see it. Or rather we were trained not to see it. Conned, perhaps, into thinking that the real action was metropolitan and all this was just boring hinterland. It was a puzzling thing. The truth knocks on the door and you say, “Go away, I’m looking for the truth,” and so it goes away. Puzzling.

Of course, those of us living in the suburbs were beginning to wonder if the the cities of our childhood weren’t preferable to the suburbs where nuclear families played in their own backyards rather than gathering on the stoop to watch children play baseball in the street.

Like Pirsig, many of us were also beginning to realize that owning the “latest thing” was no guarantee of happiness:

In this Chautauqua I would like not to cut any new channels of consciousness but simply dig deeper into old ones that have become silted in with the debris of thoughts grown stale and platitudes too often repeated. “What’s new?” is an interesting and broadening eternal question, but one which, if pursued exclusively, results only in an endless parade of trivia and fashion, the silt of tomorrow. I would like, instead, to be concerned with the question “What is best?”, a question which cuts deeply rather than broadly, a question whose answers tend to move the silt downstream.

Even those of us who should have know better had fallen victim to the corporate sell that new was better than old and that the happiest people were those who had all the latest toys, whether it was a new car every three years or a gold refrigerator when the green one had gone out of fashion.

In our mad rush to replace the old with the new (he says while longing for a new Intel Mac Pro to replace his ancient G5) we had somehow forgotten that the only important things are those things we really care about:

I talked yesterday about caring, I care about these moldy old riding gloves. I smile at them flying through the breeze beside me because they have been there for so many years and are so old and so tired and so rotten there is something kind of humorous about them. They have become filled with oil and sweat and dirt and spattered bugs and now when I set them down flat on a table, even when they are not cold, they won’t stay flat. They’ve got a memory of their own. They cost only three dollars and have been restitched so many times it is getting impossible to repair them, yet I take a lot of time and pains to do it anyway because I can’t imagine any new pair taking their place. That is impractical, but practicality isn’t the whole thing with gloves or with anything else.

I’ve already done a blog entry describing the most valuable things in my life, all of which added up to a monetary value of less than a dollar, and I long ago decided that money couldn’t buy the things that made my life richer. Even in college I felt Emerson was right on when he said, “Things are in the saddle and ride mankind” so it came as no great surprise that I moved further and further in that direction. Good thing, too, since every time I changed jobs I took another cut in pay.

Of course, these weren’t new attitudes when Pirsig introduced them, though most of society had managed to forget them, relegating Emerson and Thoreau to the Great Trash Bin of History, where ideas go to be forgotten.


Theresa Williams of Theresa Williams-Author [Exile Edition] has awarded me with an

Inspirational Award

which orginated at Writer’s Reviews.

It is an award:

For those bloggers who inspire others through their words and actions. With a positive attitude, and an uplifting spirit these bloggers make the blogosphere a better place, and encourage others to do the same. This award is for bloggers who rise up to set an example but continue to reach out and support others.

I doubt many who know me would consider a “positive attitude” one of my defining traits, but since I’m still contemplating (i.e., stalling) on Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Riding at least until Wednesday, I thought this would be a good chance to recognize some blogs that have recently inspired me.

A few readers have already made their way over to Old Girl From the North Country, but if you haven’t been there recently you need to go see her recent artwork.

I’ve only recently added
Beyond the Fields We Know to my RSS reader after I found a link to my site in my referrer log. It’s well worth the read.

I’ve also been reading
One Thing I Know regularly since Will linked to my site and left comments. It’s inspirational in a more traditional sense of the word than most sites I visit regularly.

Brian at
Sprintedon Hollow contains some powerful, original poems.

kenju of Imagine What I’m Leaving Out, my most frequent commenter lately, probably best fits the original definition offered by Writer’s Reviews. If you need a lift, kenju’s site offers a delightful sense of humor.

Of course, most of the sites I link to inspire me or I wouldn’t link to them, but I’ve already offered more than enough praise for alan, rb, and all those sites that inspire me to think a little more than I would have otherwise.

Upgrading WordPress to 2.2.1

Ever since my site was hacked a few months ago, I’ve known I had to update WordPress to the latest release to improve my site’s securtiy.

Unfortunately, I actually know about as much about the code that makes this blog run as I know about the drive system in our new Prius, which is to say I know virtually nothing at all except that I like how they look and how they run.

I spent considerable time in the last two weeks collecting and reading the information on how to use phpMyAdmin so I could save my database (which includes all the articles and your comments) in case something went wrong with the upgrade.

So last night after a couple of failed attempts I did manage to save my mySql database and a backup of my whole site in case I needed to restore my site.

After fiddling around and stalling for nearly two hours, I took out the directions and started deleting WordPress files so that the update would go seamlessly. Then I started up my ftp program, uploaded the new files, found the online installer script, reactivated some plugins, and here we are back where we started.

Hopefully you didn’t notice at all.

Except for feeling a little embarrassed about all my fear and trepidation, it was a relatively painless experience, and confirms my overall satisfaction with WordPress.