Saturday, December 27, 2008


As happened before, I got home from my walk, and about an hour later, my knees were aching pretty badly. It was actually hard to move up and down the stairs. I think what I should have done was take a painkiller. I admit I had reached a point during the last part of my walk when I was popping twice the recommended dosage to keep my right knee from screaming, but now that I've been "dry" for months, I'm thinking it might be time to try a single tablet per day-- or per walk, as I'm not walking today, and hadn't intended to.

Right now, the knees seem fine after a night's rest. Whatever the ache is from, it's not related to the ligament strain; yesterday's pain didn't have the same quality. This state of affairs probably puts a damper on my New Year's plans, alas: if eleven miles can produce a near-debilitating ache, imagine 36.6 miles.


Friday, December 26, 2008

those horrible, horrible words

According to this Yahoo! News artice, a woman in Florida claims that her insistence upon saying "Merry Christmas" got her fired. I'm not too concerned with the particulars of the case, which seems to involve stupidity on both sides of the dispute, but I do want, once again, to talk about the question of whether the phrase "Merry Christmas" (and its cousins in other religious traditions) has any place in the public sphere.

To me, it's a no-brainer: "Merry Christmas," earnestly said, is completely inoffensive. My problem is with the people who object to the utterance of that wish on the grounds that it is somehow oppressive. To those folks I say: you obviously don't know a damn thing about oppression. Want to know what it's like to live under someone else's thumb? Ask some older black folks about life before the 1960s. Ask some older Koreans who remember the Japanese occupation, or Koreans who've recently escaped from North Korea. Talk to Holocaust survivors and to people who made it through Stalin's time. Talk to the victims of apartheid in South Africa. There are millions of people out there who, even today, actually suffer under the yoke of real oppression, and I'm pretty sure they're not too worried about the impact of a phrase like "Merry Christmas." You might say that I'm offended by the easily offended, and this PC nonsense that has turned simple religious greetings into verbal minefields bugs me to no end.

I'm not offended to hear "Seong-bul hashipshiyo" ("May you attain Buddhahood") from a monk or lay Buddhist. If a Jewish friend wants to wish me a Happy Hanukah, that's fantastic. Why should anyone of any religion feel they have to keep their religious sentiments bottled up? What would be so wrong about a public sphere in which echoed a cacophony of diverse greetings, all expressing heartfelt good intentions, varying according to culture and season?

What are your thoughts on the matter?

UPDATE: Superblogger Ann Althouse seems to agree with what I'm saying:

The majority of Americans may be Christian, but even within this majority, many prefer for the shared public forum to be secular. And most of those who want to see more Christmas displays and to hear more wishes of "Merry Christmas" are not expecting nonbelievers to celebrate the religious holiday. They may also think -- as many nonChristians also think -- that it can be happy and heartwarming to see the signs of other people's religion -- at least in a free country where no one is trying to make you do anything other than passively witness what other people choose to do.

In that same blog post, Althouse quotes a blog post by her ex-husband, a Jew, who puts things in proper perspective.

The only thing that confuses me about the above-quoted paragraph is the intrusion of the word "secular," which doesn't quite fit the point Althouse may be trying to make. To me, "secular" is the opposite of "religious," and I think what she and I are really advocating is something that might not even have a name: a neutral playing field where various religious traditions and secular positions are tolerated and granted parity in terms of how they may express themselves in public. What's wrong with humorous celebrations of the Flying Spaghetti Monster or shouting a facetious-but-not-spiteful "Happy Festivus" in response to the "Merry Christmas"es of others? Open the arena to all and sundry, but don't call it "secular." There has to be a better term for that sort of forum.


10:24AM to 1:56PM-- 11 miles, 3.11mph

Back from my walk, which started off cool and bright, warmed up a bit, then cooled down again as the clouds rolled in. When I checked the weather last night, they were predicting afternoon showers, which may account for the current gloom.

Lots of dog-walkers and joggers (and dog-joggers) on this, the day after Christmas. It was also interesting to see that the Mile 0 sign (which I always pass two miles into my walk) had been knocked partway over by someone; it looked almost as if the sign had engaged in some premature New Year's binge drinking.

I plan to do a bit of "rehab" walking this week and next, building my endurance back up, as I'm thinking about walking down to where my buddy Mike lives. It's a 36.6-mile trek, and I'm estimating that I'll need about 14 or 15 hours to do it. At an average speed of about 2.9mph (I'm sure I'll be slowing down toward the end), it'll take 12.6 hours to cross the distance nonstop, but trust me, I intend to stop a few times!

If I plan for a total of 15 hours, this will mean leaving around 5AM so that I can arrive around 8PM-- tastefully post-dinner and in time for the evening festivities which, if they're anything like what happens in our house, will include cheese, crackers, chips, soft drinks, a goofy movie, and, at midnight, crystal wine glasses filled with sparkling, non-alcoholic wine. (Actually, I'm pretty sure Mike won't be going for the kids' stuff. He's no lush, but he's also no sissy when it comes to alcohol, unlike yours truly.)

Plenty of walking (and at least one run) to do between now and New Year's.


all that remains of the deer's remains

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almost home from the stroll (11 miles)

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Mile 2.6: the Park Service has finished the new boardwalk

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Mile 0 must've been knocked over recently (yeah, I'm walkin')

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contact Kevin!

There are a few ways to get hold of me. (Revised as of April 28, 2011.)

1. Email: kevinswalk [at] gmail [dot] com

Note: write "Kevin" in the subject line, or your email will be shunted to the trash folder. I created an anti-spam filter that does this; nothing personal.

2. Twitter: send a Direct Message (DM) to me. My Twitter URL is Many Twits in the Twitterverse will write this as "@kevinswalk."

I used to be a Facebookian, but I rapidly tired of Facebook's security issues (on the technical front) and its plethora of useless gewgaws and doodads (on the aesthetic front). I might be persuaded to rejoin Facebook purely for walk-related purposes, but the potential persuader would have to make a pretty strong argument for why I'd need a Facebook presence on top of a blog and Twitter presence. About the only advantage I see is Facebook's ease-of-use when forming groups or committees dedicated to particular tasks, topics, or events.


Thursday, December 25, 2008



My good friend Max writes a thoughtful, reflective post.

My good friend Charles posts a hilarious Christmas poem on Liminality.

The Party Pooper provides an interesting, not-for-kids link at Christmas.

From Skippy:

The American people have made their preference clear. They’ve voted with their noses. When 5% of the world’s population consumes 50% of the drugs, it becomes crystal clear that the United States should deal with the demand, if they absolutely insist on the childish demand that drugs remain illegal. Once that happens, the supply takes care of itself.

I'm beginning to come around to this point of view.


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

in the Yuletide spirit

Christmas represents many things to many people, but if you see it as a time to be humble and mindful, you might enjoy this video, something of a YouTube classic after first having appeared on the now-defunct DivX site. The vid combines Carl Sagan's reading from his book, The Pale Blue Dot, with cute visuals and decent-- if occasionally overbearing-- background music.


UPDATE: From the Maven comes this glorious monstrosity: the pizzagna.


Tuesday, December 23, 2008


One woman sees an "angel" while in the hospital, and her Christian faith is strengthened thereby.

Addofio, meanwhile, writes an interesting post on why she's not a Christian.


question for my buddy John in En-Zed


Koreans largely seem to have lost interest in studying English in New Zealand (their loss), but am I correct in thinking that Thais have been showing a great deal of interest in you Kiwis and your primitive ways? Which reminds me: is there any running water in New Zealand yet?

You're all gonna love Obama, I think: he's probably going to promote nuclear energy, which I know is something your country has desperately coveted for years.



Agent Smith tells Morpheus what it's all about

Here's your moment of cosmic humor this Christmas. This had me rolling.


apologies to all

For what I hope should be obvious reasons, I'm not sending out Christmas cards or gifts to anyone this year. I'll craft an e-card and display it both here and somewhere on Facebook, but I'm afraid that's about the best I can manage. Things have been busy here, as you know: renovation continues, I'm proofreading/editing on a regular basis, and the time has come to restart the exercise program. All of this takes time. I'm also low on funds, as are the parents, who have invested very heavily in the house's renovation. We're not in much position to be as giving as we'd like.

So my apologies to all and sundry for what will be a rather barren Christmas this time around; even within our family, we're not planning on any huge gift exchanges. My brother Sean will be away for Christmas, so the remaining four of us will delay any real celebration until after Sean is back. Christmas Day might see us making some fondue, which is simple to prepare. Turkey and all the rest will have to wait until later.

Try me again next Christmas. I'll be in one of three places: (1) at home, done from the walk and preparing to jump back to Korea, (2) in Korea already, or (3) still on the road somewhere.


not the sort of news you want at Christmas (or any time, really)

In Wisconsin: 2 men freeze to death. One was barely a mile from his home.

My hometown is in an area rated "Top 10 Most Polluted" in two out of three such top-ten lists. See here, and look for the "Baltimore, Md./Washington, D.C./Northern Virginia" area.

Seattle, one of the cities I've walked through, tries some municipal craziness.

Joe Ratzinger, a.k.a. Pope Benedict XVI, acts in a manner consistent with predictions.



Stayed inside last night. Should've gone out. Would've been interesting. But the siren song of the comfortable mattress was too much for my already-weak will.


Monday, December 22, 2008

the decision

I'm contemplating sleeping out in the tent tonight. I'm likely to wuss out and stay inside, but tonight-- with temps well, well below freezing-- would be a good night to see what real winter camping is all about.


Facebook photos

Rather grudgingly, I've begun adding photos and captions to my Facebook profile. If you've been following this blog consistently, you won't see anything there to surprise you. If, on the other hand, you're more attuned to the pretty pictures and useless gizmos on Facebook, then this added visual stimulus might finally draw your attention to my profile and allow you to see that I've actually had a life in the months since I left Korea. 2008 has been an exciting year for me.

I'm one of those people who hate to repeat themselves, so it's vexing when someone who knows about the blog writes in to say, "Hey, long time! What's been going on in your life?" One of the primary purposes of the blog is to keep people caught up. Renseignez-vous before asking me that question, dang it. There are plenty of pictures and blog posts there to give you some idea what's been going on.


"Arab" does not mean "Muslim"

Another interesting post about the way the press handles (and often bungles) ethnic and religious issues over at Get Religion.

Now, the anonymous Egyptian woman uses the term “Arabic” to describe these young women — inside a direct quotation. That needs to stand. But that makes it even more important to note that “Arab” does not mean “Muslim.”

Who cares about this?

Well, millions of non-Arab Muslims care about this issue quite a bit. Obviously, Arab Christians do, as well.

But the story marches on and on in this fashion. Clearly, no one at the Times copy desk was sensitive to this issue. Toward the end, there is even a reference to the airline trying to keep “Arab family values in mind” when working with these young women. What might this phrase mean?


Sunday, December 21, 2008


My Dad and I looked at the path that stretches along Route 12 from Walla Walla to Missoula, Montana. Using the Google Earth ruler tool, I estimated the length of that stretch to be about 330 miles, and that's 330 miles of almost nothing. It would be a tough walk. Without Les Stroud-level survival skills, I'd almost certainly need a chase car.

I've promised to let people in on my thinking process regarding the Big Picture, but there's still a lot I haven't nailed down. One thing I do know, though, is that I'd like to finish the walk by my 40th birthday, which is August 31, 2009. If I can manage that, I'll have done the walk in nine months, just like George Martin, the ex-footballer on my sidebar (A Journey for 9/11-- scroll down to the "Inspirations" section). Setting this goal as a fundamental parameter may allow other priorities to fall into place, and will make the walk's mission more focused than it's been.

More thoughts later.


cool preview

Kathreb, now at her new blog, has a cool post at her old blog (dated November-- sorry, Kate) in which is embedded the preview trailer of a Korean movie called "The Good, The Bad, The Weird." Very cool-looking. Check it out.