28 June, 2008

27 June, 2008

Great Story on the Mysterium Tremendum

This is a letter my friend Jason Price sent in to a group discussing
Sewanee ghost stories. I think this is an amazing story of how
mysterious, wonderful and unfathomable life can be.


I was awarded a Watson Fellowship in 1998 to travel abroad during
1998-1999. My girlfriend (now wife), Kari Palmintier, graduated from
Sewanee in 1999 and worked at the Monteagle Assembly that summer. As
I had no strings attached and no job lined up upon returning from the
Watson, I decided to return to the mountain to be with Kari and to
enjoy some final days on the Mountain. As luck would have it, I was
able to house sit for Bran and Cindy Potter for several weeks in
July-August. It was a wonderful arrangement: eat all the food in the
freezer (I was king-of-the-scrounge in those days), water the plants,
and maybe cut the grass if I felt like it. Of course it was, and
still is, I presume, known that Bran's house is haunted. I already
knew this because I was a geology major, and those types of rumors
circulate among the fold. However, on his way out the door Bran
assured me that his was a friendly ghost and not to worry.

In early August, our good friend, Jamie Blythe (now Wood), c'99,
passed through Sewanee on her way to her family's cotton farm in
northern Alabama. Jamie had spent the last several months as a ranger
in Yosemite National Park and had done a good bit of rock climbing.
As Kari and I were planning our own voyage to Yosemite later that
fall, we picked her brain about great things to do there, including
some recommended climbing routes. There was one route in particular
that captivated her: the East Buttress of Middle Cathedral, a
beautiful multi-pitch (multiple rope lengths) climb that, at 5.10a,
was a challenge but very achievable. It was and is one of the
must-do's in the Valley. Jamie carried on about the quality of the
climb, and then stopped herself, "Wait, I've got the guidebook in my
truck." She returned with the guidebook, and as Kari, Jamie, and I
leafed through it, we came across a cut-off margin where the topo for
Middle Cathedral should have been. Cutting the page out of a
guidebook is a common strategy for climbers on big multi-pitch routes
because a single sheet of paper weighs a lot less than a 300 page
bound book. Jamie apologized that she didn't have the topo and
figured that she had left it with her climbing partner who was still
in Yosemite. Despite this, she raved about the route and told us that
we absolutely had to do the climb.

During that summer in Sewanee I worked two of the requisite jobs for a
Snowdenite: flipping burgers at Shenanigans and painting houses with
George Dick. I can honestly say that both have served me well, as I
can still make a mean spiced turkey melt, and I think of George every
time I wield a paintbrush. Given that both of these are somewhat
dirty jobs, I tended to wear a set of work clothes during the day that
I would change out of in the evening. A few days after Jamie left, it
was back to the grind, so I pulled on a pair of paint-daubed
houndstooth shorts that had been laying against the upstairs bedroom
wall for several days. Why I chose those shorts, I do not know,
except that they were already dirty so what was another few days of
paint and grease? When I pulled them on, I noticed a piece of paper
in the back pocket. I had hoped it was some cash that had escaped my
notice, but instead, I pulled out a folded up, thicker-than-usual,
shorter-than-usual, white piece of paper with black line work. Once I
unfolded it, I almost fell over when I saw that it was was Jamie's
topo of the East Buttress of Middle Cathedral! It was the right page
number, and I could see the relatively clean cut that had been made
with scissors from a leatherman or swiss army knife.

How?? Why? Who can say. There is no explanation for the skeptic.
Jamie did not believe that she had the topo; she did not go upstairs
to the room where my shorts were; I had had no access to the guidebook
since it was in Jamie's truck prior to her bringing it inside and us
mutually and coevally discovering the missing page. Not only that, I
did not wear those houndstooth shorts for at least a week spanning
Jamie's time in Sewanee.

I was not a big believer in ghosts until I lived for several weeks in
Bran Potter's house. Indeed, the Potter ghost was (is) a benevolent
ghost. That he could somehow magically deliver the lost page that had
gone off to Lord only knows where is incredible, extraordinary.

And, if you must know, I had too much trepidation about the whole
affair to attempt the East Buttress of Middle Cathedral! Some may
have taken the topo turning up in my pocket as an auspicious gift, one
that should have been capitalized upon at first opportunity. I, on
the other hand, had more of an ominous feeling--the route delivered by
the ghost. Perhaps I would join him in the ether-of-the-between if I
attempted the route. After all, I had just returned from a year in
the mountains and had known people who had been killed while climbing.
So, to this day, despite having climbed at least 40 days in Yosemite
Valley over the last 13 years on numerous classic routes, I _still_
have not climbed the East Buttress of Middle Cathedral.

good luck with your compilation,

22 June, 2008

Re: info - part 2

Did you get both emails????

Well, as for me, I am busy handling my father's estate.  My brother Charles, whom you haven't met is handling most of the business end while I am managing selling the house and organizing the furniture to divide and then auction what is left.  The last two months I've been cleaning out closets and storerooms of junk and trying to find some sort of order to things.
Hopefully my end of the work will be over in three to five months.  If I can get the timing right, I'd like to hop a ride across the Atlantic to Europe, visit a couple of friends and then try a cross land trip to Hong Kong.  And then get back to the boat any way I can from there.

That is my tentative plan, but timing will be key, and timing is too hard to judge right now.

I've enjoyed being home more this time than any time I can remember.  I have a purpose.  I work hard.  And in my free time I help my brother Charles build a 4X4 truck out on the farm.  And last year I started playing guitar.  So I have things to do I enjoy.,  So really all is well enough.  It is very very stressful though.  Last week was one of the hardest of my life.  I've been lonely in some strange way.

But I am engulfed in what I am doing and don't want to be anywhere else for the time.

I read a book that has changed the way I am looking at the future though.  It is called "The Long Emergency" by James Howard Kunstler.  It deals a lot with the effects of Peak Oil on the next thirty years.   Very interesting.  I am thinking I may not sail for the next twenty years like I had wanted to.  Maybe I'll settle down a little sooner.  I want to immigrate to New Zealand and buy a little piece of land there.  Have a garden, some chickens, a couple of goats.  I used to live in a cabin in Montana and I've still never been happier than I was there.  Maybe I'll get back to it sooner than later.

I miss my boat and the life that we've shared at sea together.  But so much has changed for me.  My view on so much has shifted.  I hope sailing still provides the same intensity and direction and meaning that it did not so many days ago.  I miss so many of our friends; I miss our stories--I miss making stories, where now I tire of telling them over and over again.

This is where I need and want to be today.  But I still face the ever-challenging proposition of building a future for myself out of the dreams that now burn in my mind, and not with the residual ashes of the dreams of the past..

21 June, 2008

The beginnings of Oil War

. . . of course, it isn't a beginning (Iraq, ect.)--more an extension--but it is interesting to learn about militia groups working off stolen crude.  It will get worse from here.


20 June, 2008

story on typhoon Fengshen


Araby gets hit with Typhoon


constant work of sailing

This is an excerpt from an email by some friends leaving New Zealand for Tonga this year.  I am going to highlight all the times they use the words "broke", "fix", "rebuild", and things of that nature.  Pretty funny--and a fine score to how sailing really is.

It was cold in New Zealand when we left.
We blew out the head sail just off the New Zealand coast. It took us 20 Day to get to Tonga, although we spent 5 days inside a reef about 300 miles south of here , as we had broken the auto pilot and the wind vane steering gear, The wind at the time was blowing with gusts up to 40 naughts,so the reef was a good place to be. although we broke the bow roller when we had to move to the other side of the reef as the wind clocked around to the south. I was able to make a good repair on that bow roller. it
is sill working, then we broke the chain in the windless , so that was another thing to fix. we tried to fix the wind vane with fiber glass , but it broke about half an hour after we left the reef.
I managed to get the electronics parts for the auto pilot from a German mister fix it , that has a shop here in Tonga, along with some
oratory about US politics , He was preaching to the quire, but it was entertaining.  When we were in New Zealand, Martine decided to rebuild the galley.

18 June, 2008

Water-fueled engine is a scam

Cool idea, but there are many-a-skeptic and no evidence.


Looks like Fox News got played.

On Hope

This is an email sent to me by a friend (from another friend named "joey"). It says it better than I could, and I now don't have to bother trying.


We all know that something epochal hangs in the air.

Shrinking sea ice. Changing weather patterns. The price of oil has increased five fold since 2002. (Last week the US energy czar stated that recent spikes are a matter of supply and demand, meaning that peak oil is upon us.) In the face of population and economic pressures, commodity prices, especially food, are increasing rapidly. This threatens the world economy with dramatic recession, inflation, and harbors ill for the United States with its falling dollar. (What would America be like if a gallon of orange juice cost $15? What will America be like when the price of oil is $300 dollars a barrel and a gallon of gas costs $10?)

These things are happening whether or not we spend our time learning about them. They are also dramatically reshaping the world of our future and our children's future. Learning about this stuff is depressing, and as we increase our awareness of the challenges/potential catastrophes that await us, it is easy to become fearful and negative. To avoid these feelings, we usually choose to ignore what is happening beyond the scope of our daily lives. The problem with this is that it prevents us from accepting and confronting the fundamental realities that, to a great extent, determine to the context and content of daily life. Our individual denial is particularly pernicious when it leads to collective denial and, therefore, paralysis.

Much of the existent literature on issues such as peak oil, overpopulation and environmental challenges, including climate change, are either themselves pessimistic or can easily lead one to pessimism and cynicism. I do not think these reactions are inevitable or necessary because there are powerful reasons for hope. We have extremely advanced technology, the largest pool of knowledge any civilization has ever known, and the ability to disseminated it instantly to everyone we known through the Internet. With countless others I share the opinion that our assumptions about our own capacities and about what is possible are the greatest obstacles to human progress. While ignorance and inertia often dominate our lives, each of us knows that we also have the capacity to learn and grow and change. While most of history evidences the inability of groups to overcome their differences and unite, there are scattered instances when they have and, in doing so, achieved the 'impossible.' Humanity's heart can awaken, the mind can imagine solutions, and man's indomitable spirit can find a way. But we must act. We must learn about what lies beyond the scope of our lives. We must learn to connect the actions of our lives to larger patterns of cause and effect. We must change the ways we live as individuals. Over time small steps add up. The key is to focus on what we have learned and accomplished each day rather than being overwhelmed by all that we have left undone.

Attached is a PDF of a very short book (73 pgs.) entitled, Eating Fossil Fuels, which provides an excellent (and brief) overview of several issues at hand. I have also included the following links which are 20-30 minutes TED talks. Both are informative and incredibly inspirational.

http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/view/id/243 - Al Gore discussing climate change and collective paralysis.
http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/view/id/11 - Jane Goodall discussing reasons for hope.

Lastly, my friend Tommy and I plan to disseminate more information of this kind to anyone who is interested. If you are, please respond to this email. If not, I won't bother you any more about the future.

Thank you for your time.


I, Jonah, would like to add that the book, "The Long Emergency" by James Howard Kunstler is one of the most influencial books I have ever read. He is a skeptic certainly--but his analysis of the problems we face in the upcoming decades is fierce and honest. I, like Joey, hope for the middle ground, a reprieve from the seemingly inevitable train wreck that looms before us. If you don't understand what this train wreck is, then I suggest you read and then decide for yourself.

oil alternitive

17 June, 2008

Weekend in Mac'ville

see photos at: http://picasaweb.google.com/carolinepmauldin/25thBirthdayFestivities

Invitation to view a photo from Caroline's Picasa Web Album - 25th Birthday Festivities

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Message from Jonah:
nice mask
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06 June, 2008

Where I have been

The Last Walk

After Christmas, I sailed from Japan for the Philippines.

I took my boat up the coast of Cebu Island to Zeke’s boatyard. The rent was something like a dollar a day, and when I explained to Zeke that I would be there only a week or two, he said I could forget about rent, just pay his guys for handling the dock lines.

That was the plan.

I only wanted to repair my sails, paint the deck, and look at some means of alternate propulsion—like an outboard engine bracket. To the south of the Philippines is some to the most windless sea on earth.

But plans change. . .

I received an email from my sister saying that our father was diagnosed with leukemia. Being 80, he refused Chemo- and chose to die at home with his family. Even though my dad was always an extraordinarily healthy person, his illness somehow wasn’t a surprise to me. I don’t know why.

I told Zeke that I would perhaps not be leaving with my boat in a week or two, but would instead be leaving without my boat and could not be certain of the time of my return.

Zeke was more than accommodating. He assisted in helping me find the best tickets home. He assured me of the safety of Araby. We agreed that he would pay my friend Malou to swab the inside of my boat once every two weeks (for mould). (This would cost me a dollar.)

I spent a day in boat prep and left the following day. I flew to Portland, rented a car, picked up my brother Will and his two dogs and drove back to South Carolina in two days nonstop.

I find it rare to be in a place and in a time where there is no doubt. . . no doubt at all. . . that you are exactly where you should be, doing exactly the thing that you should do. So much is hidden from us in life that we must constantly wonder, ‘what if. . . ?’ To not have that question is special.

I’ve only felt so grounded in my life once before, and that was the time of the death of my mother.

And yet this time is so very different, nearly diametrically opposed in certain respects, to the last time:

My mom was young, my dad was old; my mom was in an accident, my dad had a disease; my mom’s time in the hospital was short, only two weeks; my father never went to the hospital, his time of dying was two months; my mom’s spirit blew out like a candle, my father’s lingered, savoring the time to make peace.

They felt very different to me. I rarely thought of my mother in this time unless my father mentioned her. If you haven’t experienced the dying process, it is interesting to learn the patterns carried on by those moving on. And it is surprising to learn how eerily universal the patterns and behavior can be.

Blondell is my ‘other’ mother. She has raised me since I was born. She has been caregiver to the passing of both of her parents in the last two years.

She said this: “When they start talking to the dead, it won’t be long.”

Blonny was my guide through this process. And Susan Ueling, the hospice nurse, who was more wonderful than I can possibly explain. They taught me what to expect and what to be aware of, what would matter down the road.

He ate. He occasionally had company. He was weak and slowly grew weaker. First he would sit in his chair for much of the day, but after a month, he more and more rarely moved from the bed.

He ate well. Friends and family brought food daily. It was a tough (but wonderful) job for me to eat the myriads of leftovers. He woke every morning thinking he was four miles from home. “I think we’ll go home today,” he’d say. Then he’d laugh at how impossible his mind was. “I’m confused. I’ve never been so confused.” Everyday.

As the weeks passed he spent more and more time in some degree of delirium. And his body slowly withered with his mind. He was still determined to go to the bathroom on his own and this was the greatest risk to his health. We had to set up a baby monitor in his room and listened to it intently for the squeaking of his chair or the rustling of his bed. If he was confused he may choose to ignore his walker.

My mandate was to keep him home, to keep him safe. To let him fall and injure himself was my greatest concern. He was in little pain and was sparsely medicated. He was comfortable, well fed, and surrounded by family. A fall could ruin that.

For the last two months of my father’s life I slept in the bed next to him. He would regularly get up twice in the night to pee, but he was also most confused in the night, and had a mild propensity for nocturnal ventures.

Before I came home, my sister found him in the kitchen wearing a suit at three a.m. He scolded her, “why aren’t you ready? We’ll be late for the dance.” Another time he was found, well dressed, sitting in a chair waiting peacefully.

“Dad, what are you doing?” he was asked.

“What time is it?”

“It 2:30 am, dad.”

“Damn, I was supposed to be dead half an hour ago.”

We tried to log his more memorable saying in a small notebook.

On a sailboat, you become accustomed to sleeping lightly or waking up to any change of sound. Therefore, the night watch was mostly mine. As the weeks passed, I was more regularly called Burwell at night. Burwell is my dad’s dead brother.

He was an incredible patient from start to finish. He never would tell you when he wanted to get up, but he was always kind, always accepting of the care we gave him. He’d take his pills without a fuss, he’d let me bathe him, clean him, change him, all the control we find so difficult to release. My dad died gracefully.

There were luminous moments. He was living mostly in dream and memory. One morning I asked him about his favorite pony—polo being his undying passion. He took me through years of polo and Argentine ponies named, Pistol, Vanessa, Poker Chip, and of course, the one that got away. And how his face would light up in the telling. . .

One morning he woke up and said, “I was not aware that I owned the whole world.”

Other times he’d wake up and ask to call Leila, or my mother, Bootsie. Both are long passed away.

Or ask me to call Jeff and tell him that he was very sorry but they’d have to reschedule and play 18 holes next week.

I’ve never spent more time with my father. I’ve never felt closer to my father, never had the opportunity to give so much back to him. He’s always provided so much for me. He told his girlfriend that he was afraid to die alone. Our whole family was determined not to let him.

After nearly two months of slow decline, he woke one morning markedly different. He hardly opened his eyes; he could only mumble. At this point he had already declined to such a place that we guessed his time to be within two weeks. I had the day off of work and was going to the farm to bury my brother’s truck in a pond and then see if we could excavate it. My sister Mary Locke was with Dad.

When we returned we were amazed at his change. His lips had become so chapped that they cracked against his teeth and bled. He was unable to drink water.

That same day, a friend came from out of town to see her grandmother (who wasn't well) and invited me over for a dinner party. I went.

At the party was a family friend named Becky who had just lost her husband to cancer in the last few months. We sat alone and talked for an hour. It was amazing time and I felt so grateful for it. It instilled in me the sanctity of this time of life. . . and death.

“Do all you can do, now. You never want to think, ‘if only I had done more,’” she said.

Later that night my brother Will called and said I may want to come home. I hugged my friend’s goodbye and drove home.

Dad was really struggling to breathe now. For the first time, he was fighting. He swung between being too hot and sweating, and the chills. Mary Locke had to cover him with towels to catch the perspiration and was changing them regularly.

It was amazing to see how fast he had declined. Susan Ueling said to administer morphine each hour. It was more for our comfort that his, however. He had less than two days now.

I relieved Mary Locke and, the tv being on already, thought I might watch a movie. I flipped a few channels and then realized that the room had gone quiet. I looked at my Old Man and he was breathing quietly. I quickly turned off the tv and swung around to sit next to him Indian-style on the bed. I held his hand and told him that it was okay (Beckie McCutchen had said this was so important). “It’s okay Dad. You can let go. We’ll be fine. If I could, I’d walk down that path with you, but I can’t. It’s only for you. My time’s not come.”

His breathing was so soft. And then it stopped.

I smiled. . . amazed. There it was. He was gone.

And then he took a deep long breath again. . . and once more started breathing softly. I laughed to myself and told Dad that he had tricked me; I had thought he had taken the last walk.

. . . and then he stopped breathing once more.

I wasn’t going to be so easily fooled this time, however. I waited, quietly holding his hand. Once again he breathed deeply. . . he took a few peaceful shallow breaths. . . and was still once more.

And those were the last breaths he ever took.

I figured I’d wait to be sure. Death apparently wasn’t so black and white as I had thought. He had no pulse that I could find. I could hear nothing from his lungs. After ten minutes I called my sister and brother. It was 12:45am.

An hour later Susan Ueling came over and we dressed him and called the morgue. They agreed to come in the morning for his body, after the family could have a chance to view him. I cleaned up all the medical things, all walkers, wheel chairs, oxygen tanks, towels, ect. I made his room look like it always had.

He was wearing his white slacks, black belt, and a pink Brooks Brothers shirt (and his bedroom slippers).

My dad took a nap every single day after his lunch. Dressed and laying in his bed, he looked just like he was napping.