Hacking the free throw

It was my senior year of high school. Our school was small, or perhaps dinky is a better word for it, but even so we managed to put together a formidable basketball team that year, and we were undefeated going into the Christian school state tournament. Even though we were a school of less than a hundred people (junior high through high school) we had a miracle year, even beating several public schools, in a state renowned for their obsession with hoops.

It was the championship game of the state tourney, and it was everything you dream of as a kid: with seconds left on the clock, we were down by one point. Dan Miller, my bff and our point guard, received the inbound pass, put his head down, and dribbled the length of the court. I was open on the wing, but Dan had tunnel vision — he didn’t look up, he just charged in for the layup.

Dan missed badly but was fouled, and so he stood at the line, in position to take two shots. He held the ball and the state championship in his hands.

Read more

The luxury trap and that random car in the Staples parking lot

Just yesterday I pulled into the parking lot of a Staples, running a quick errand, and I spotted this license plate:

A post shared by Jonathan Erdman (@erdman31) on

 

A big fan of the human race? I asked myself as I drove by the car, or is this person, like me, an enthusiastic reader of Yuval Harari’s Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind. I immediately assumed it was the latter, parked my car, jumped out and snapped a quick pic.

It might perhaps seem odd, to you, that someone would advertise their favorite non-fiction book on their license plate, but don’t dismiss the possibility. Harari’s Spapiens really is one of those kinds of books, the kind of book that makes you think in new ways about human beings and about our place in the world, or as one reviewer said Harari’s Sapiens is making the world strange and new again. Read more

Fall Colors

 

A post shared by Jonathan Erdman (@erdman31) on

From yesterday’s hike. I get to experience an August/September fall in Alaska. In a typical year, the leaves have all fallen and winter is ready to move in, by the time I leave AK in late September, early October. So I post my fall pics from AK then I return to California, where it’s still summer. Finally, on the cusps of Thanksgiving, we’re getting some good fall leaves.

Look, I ain’t complain’, just explainin’

Captain John Smith, reporting from Santa Cruz

The guy at the Santa Cruz bus stop introduced himself to me, twice, and each time he made the same joke (about me looking like the historical/colonial John Smith) and laughed as though it were the first time he’d ever heard such hilarity — so it came as no surprise to me when he told me that he had taken the bus to Santa Cruz (as opposed to driving) so that he “could get real fucked up.”

The first time he told the joke, the guy next to him started rattling off the top of his head all of the facts surrounding the historical Captain John Smith and Pocahontas. The guy really knew a lot, and he was still going, later, when we re-introduced ourselves, me saying my name was “Jon,” and he finishing by telling me that my last name was Smith, like the guy the English guy. Read more

Socialism and the American nomads

I met Aline this summer. She’s a like-minded adventurer who really squeezed the most out of her first summer in Alaska, spending almost all of her free time hiking and camping and exploring the mountains and trails around McCarthy, AK. She’s also from France, originally, though she’s been in the States for quite some time now.

She read some of my posts on capitalism and socialism. We were eating together, outside on a sunny afternoon in July, and we started talking about it all. Aline’s perspective was international, it was interesting, and I’m still mulling it over.

Basically Aline’s main point (or at least the one that really stuck with me) was that she appreciated American mobility, the kind of uniquely American ability to be transient. We talked about it, and Aline expressed a good deal of sympathy for my pro-socialist and anti-capitalist writings, but said that there were many things about American individualism that she appreciated, and she wondered if we’d lose some of these things, were America to embrace socialism. As a quasi-nomad, I immediately understood her point.  Read more

MXY AK

20170907_103923
McCarthy, Alaska, 2017

This bad ass truck has a hellacool license plate: MXY AK. I’m not sure who’s truck this is (though I should probably know) but I’m wondering if I might be able to steal that plate number and put it on a California plate. I can almost guarantee that if I’m driving around Cali with an MXY AK plate, there will be someone, somewhere who will know at least a little something about McCarthy. At the very least a McCarthy license plate would help me deal with Alaska nostalgia.

20170907_103701
McCarthy Creek, 2017

Race Day

 

Tamara handed me my race number.

“Can I have that one?” I ask, pointing to number 8031.

“Uh, sure.”

“Thirty one is kind of my lucky number,” I say, a little embarrassed, feeling the need to explain.

The truth is, I’m anxious, and I feel like I need all the luck I can get because I’m about to begin a half-marathon, a 13.1 mile race, and my prior two half-marathons had ended in major injuries to my back and joints.

For those two races, I’d been training, running distances that at least approached 13.1 miles. Coming into this race, though, my running had been zilch. In fact, I couldn’t even remember the last time I’d “gone for a run.”  Read more

United we sit, and the seats are small

There isn’t much to pack for this trip. It’s less than a week, and so I grab a few things on the way out. I have plenty of room, I think to myself. A book? Ha ha ha, I laugh, I’ll take two!

I check in with United and then learn the terrible truth: my ticket allows for only one “personal item.” No overhead baggage allowed.

Read more

Smokey lake on a brisk Alaskan fall morning

20161005_084110.jpg

Coldest morning of our camping trip in the Kenai. The weather has been good to us, despite how late it is in the season. By Alaskan standards, snow can fly at any time in October, so we were pushing it to try to squeeze in one more week, but the weather has been fantastic. I’ve have been in McCarthy since March — not even so much as a trip to Glennallen (the closest town, four hours away) in the last seven months — so it’s been enriching to me to get out and explore! This pic is from a campsite in the Kenai Wildlife Preserve, Kelly Lake, where we were the only campers. Fog in the early morning makes the lake look smokey and mysterious.

Vanlife

Taking a few days to tour the Kenai Peninsula. The weather has been amazing, especially here in Homer, where the bright sunny beaches make me feel like I’m already back in California. This is the view from our campsite in Homer (out the back of our rented mini-van), where we can see the Pacific Ocean spread out before us in a campground we have all to ourselves.

20161006_102459.jpg
#vanlife

Beginner’s Pen

I’ve redesigned my blog, simplified it a good deal. I’ve always been excited about the Internet, and I realized the other day I’ve been blogging and whatnot for something like more than 15 years now. The first time I really plugged myself into the World Wide Web was while I was working my second corporate gig, a job that had a boat load of inspiration for a satirical writer of comedies like Dilbert or The Office. Read more

Changes

People often ask me about the culture shock that I must experience, travelling back and forth between places like remote McCarthy Alaska and Silicon Valley, the mega-bucks techie epicenter of the world. Well, I’m kind of used to it. After a while, it becomes familiar, I suppose the mind eventually realizes that there’s really no reason to freak out, just switch into that other way-of-being and roll with it. A friend of mine who has travelled a lot more than myself says that when she is travelling she will sometimes forget what city she is in. Like, for more than just a few seconds.

Read more

A wind that passeth away

For he remembered that they were but flesh; a wind that passeth away, and cometh not again. ~ Psalm 78:39

At the moment, I’ve not got the patience to count all the miles that I traveled on my road trip from McCarthy, Alaska to where I am now, the Bay area in northern California. I had purchased a conversion van, intent on seeing more of Alaska, to see sites I’ve not yet seen and to hopefully gather material for my winter writing, a novel set in Alaska.

Read more