Malfunction

The website vanished for about a week there. My host’s tech support says it was hacked, although that makes it sound more intentional than I think it was. My diagnosis is some malware burrowed deep into my WordPress, lying dormant until it was activated by an internal timer. Regardless, support was able to restore the site from back-ups and all software has been scoured and upgraded.

If you missed any of my signings for Samuel Smedley, Connecticut Privateer, I’ll be at the Stratford Historical Society in November. I may have a few more appearances before then as well.

Signings July 9 and 10

I’ll be at Bank Square Books in Mystic, CT from 1-3pm on Saturday, July 9 to speak and sign copies of Samuel Smedley, Connecticut Privateer.

Then at 1pm on Sunday, July 10, I will be at the Fairfield Museum and History Center for another talk and signing. This is part of their “Burning of Fairfield” events this weekend.

Be sure to bring enough rum for yourself and to share with the author — book promotion is thirsty work.

Samuel Smedley Tour 2011

I will be giving presentations and signing copies of Samuel Smedley, Connecticut Privateer on the following dates:

Bank Square Books, Mystic, CT – Saturday, July 9, 1-3pm.

Fairfield Museum and History Center, Fairfield, CT – Sunday, July 10, 1pm.

Governor Jonathan Trumbull House and Wadsworth Stable, Lebanon CT – Saturday, July 16, 1pm.

More appearances to come!

Also: if you’re planning to purchase the book on Amazon.com, please do so on Thursday, June 16. The reason I want friends to buy on that date is because (I have been told) having a large number of sales on a specific date does more for the book’s Amazon ranking than if just a few folks order copies every day. If you forget or can’t do it — no worries, just buy it some other time.

And if you have read the book — please write a review on the Amazon page! Tell me what you liked. If you think I made a mistake, let me know. Again, the ranking is determined by activity on the Amazon page, so the more reviews, the better. Thanks!

Upgrade!

If you’ve visited this site over the past few weeks, you may have noticed odd things. Like parts of the sidebar vanishing. Or giant 40-point typeface. Or broken code.

Like a caveman reverse-engineering a spaceship, I’ve been futzing around with the design of the site. I’m very pleased with the result. There are a few minor additions I’ll be making in the near future — including the cover art for Samuel Smedley, Connecticut Privateer, which is amazing — but any weirdness you may have experienced (I’m looking at you, Russian spambots!) should be at an end. Well, the technical weirdness anyway.

A huge thank-you goes to Jeremy Tolbert at Clockpunk Studios for the new title banner above. It’s difficult to find recommendations for good designers; whenever I ask my IT friends if they know anyone — naively believing that maybe, you know, the guy or girl in the next cube over does graphic work on the side — I receive such helpful advice as, “Try Craigslist.” Jeremy’s price was right and he worked unbelievably fast (a matter of hours) to deliver the product. He does whole WordPress themes in addition to his graphic design. Please consider him if you need a job done.

With the behind-the-scenes work complete, hopefully I may now devote more time to content. Meantime, give a shout if anything is still acting wonky on your end.

Photos

You know what this blog needs? More photos. Big honking ones.

I solo hiked Hadrian’s Wall in 2001. These are the Peel Crags after I traversed them, then turned around to photograph the route. That’s the wall on top.

Stonehenge, from my first trip to England in January 1991. Megaliths lend themselves to black and white.

Grand Canyon, summer 1992. Somewhere in Bright Angel Canyon. My brother and I hiked to the bottom and camped for a couple of nights. If you ever have the chance, go see the Grand Canyon and the Giza Pyramids for yourself. They are much, much bigger than any photo or movie can render.

Fly Swatting

For reasons near and dear, I enjoyed this narrative of a dad entering a standup-paddling race with his six-year-old:

As the starting horn blasts, we hang near the back of the pack to stay clear of the really gung-ho racers. But soon I realize most of these folks are pretty new to SUP. Like a cheetah in a herd of wildebeest, I’m off. My inner competitor is awakened.

I start stroking. And we start passing. I decide then and there I’m not going to let anyone pass us. Nobody.

“Shit. The guy with the kid just passed us,” I hear a pair of twenty-something guys laughing. “That’s not good.”

Others weren’t as chill about it. In particular, a fit brunette in her early 40s on a tricked-out SUP whines as we pass.

“That’s not fair. His kid is paddling too.”

She’s serious.

Oh really? I think to myself. Wanna borrow my 45 pounds of extra baggage?

I haven’t done any SUP racing (yet) but I can totally imagine this same scenario playing out in my life. The woman is healthy and wealthy and yet somehow believes she’s being disadvantaged.

Over the last few years I’ve been enrolling in fewer road races even though I’ve been running just as much or — especially in 2009, when I was training for the NYC Marathon — more so than ever. I think that as my running has become more internalized, more ingrained and inscribed — it’s not something I do, it’s something I can’t not do, if that makes any sense — I’ve begun to prize the solitude of it above all else. Just experiencing the mile I’m in is what I want. A few months back I blocked an account on Twitter — the feed of some big racing group — because its manic aphorisms were being retweeted into my timeline, stuff like, “If you didn’t come to win, go home,” and I was like, Oh fuck you. Block. I’ve encountered similar stuff in real life too, from people like the woman above to race officials — most often from race officials, in fact, who are usually school coaches too small-minded to divorce the act of running from competition. The only people who need to worry about winning are elites, and just because the majority of runners aren’t elites doesn’t mean we should cower at home in shame. You compete against yourself. That’s the beauty of running.

Last night Mrs. Kuhl and I watched Fight Club, which I hadn’t seen since its 1999 theatrical release. And just as before, I was enthralled by a film so existentialist it might as well beat you into the basement concrete with a copy of Existentialism and Human Emotions. Yet if you click over to Wikipedia and read the various critical interpretations of the movie, you’ll find nary a word about Sartre or Camus or inauthentic living. The closest you’ll find is a reference to Tyler Durden being a “Nietzschean Ubermensch” — which he is, although it’s clear the writer means it only in the physical sense of Brad Pitt’s six-pack.

Is there any of Nietzsche’s concepts so misunderstood as the Ubermensch? Maybe will-to-power. The Ubermensch has been distorted into a villain, into a Greek god, genetically sculpted yet callous to anything but his own wants. Whereas what Nietzsche intended was neither somatic nor carnal; rather the Ubermensch is that person who transcends the pettiness of others, who rises above social conformity to embrace his passions ideals, whether they’re running or paddling or veterinarian medicine or whatever. To exist and enjoy existence, like a father and son on a paddleboard, free of the moral judgments of those who desire to reduce you. “I see you wearied by poisonous flies,” spoke Zarathustra, “Before you they feel petty, and their baseness glows and smolders against you in invisible revenge… Flee, my friend, into your solitude and to where raw and bracing air flows. It is not your lot to be a swatter of flies.”