Tuesday, June 28, 2005

I've Been Tagged

Thanks to Mags, I have the opportunity to share some very embarrassing trivia.

1. What were three of the stupidest things you have done in your life?
A. I made a Very Large Personnel Mistake That Could Have Ended Up in a Lawsuit at Amazon. Get your minds out of the gutter - I just tried to fire someone without having good (enough) documentation.
B. Buying a 2wd instead of a 4wd truck.
C. Telling my grandmother to "sit on it."

2. At the current moment, who has the most influence in your life?
Hmm. Probably the instructor in my EDST 4000 class. Sure, I call my folks for advice and such, but in terms of "whose actions translate directly to my life," it's my instructor.

3. If you were given a time machine that functioned, and you were allowed to only pick up to five people to dine with, who would you pick?
JFK, Mother Jones, Hunter S. Thompson, Teddy Roosevelt, my great-great-grandfather Peter Bohlen.

4. If you had three wishes that were not supernatural, what would they be?
A. World peace. Seriously.
B. An all-inclusive, bipartisan, and focused effort to radically overhaul the American education system.
C. A better approach game. My irons are atrocious.

5. Someone is visiting your hometown/place where you live at the moment. Name two things you regret your city not having, and two things people should avoid.
A. Laramie doesn't have an East African restaurant, nor do we have anyplace that knows how to make a decent Bloody Mary.
B. Avoid the Cowboy Bar on "Thirsty Thursday," and ventureth not into Wal*Mart on a Sunday afternoon.

6. Name one event that has changed your life.
There are the obvious – 9/11, quitting Amazon, moving to Laramie, etc. – but I think I'll go with seeing the Samples at Mishawaka and then camping on the Poudre River with Timmy during Willie and Jenn's wedding week.

7. Tag 5 people.
Chad, you're up!
Willie, let's hear it.
Timmy, you too.
Leta, something to do.
Leslie, I know you're busy, but this is a fun break from writing.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Michael Berube Gets a Very Special Hug

What happens when an incredibly bright literature professor draws the ire of an incredibly inept political hack? Why, the incredibly inept political hack winds up looking like the complete fucking moron he is, that's what!

Horowitz, if you're reading this: give up. Everyone's laughing at you. Even your friends.

[Editor's note: I took a class from Michael Berube in the spring of 1996 at the University of Illinois. Not only do I like the guy personally - he and his family came to my graduation party, for Chrissakes - but I firmly believe that his class literally changed the way I thought about the world. Michael and David Horowitz have traded barbs, sometimes very personally, for a while now. Actually, a better way of putting it is: for years David Horowitz has yapped at Michael's ankles like the rightwing lapdog he is, and Michael routinely punts the little fucker through the endzone. Horowitz comes back, though, like a miniature poodle who'll take whatever attention he can get, even if it's a swift kick in the head.]

Cheat Day

This summer I'm trying to lose some flab and generally get in better shape. I'm biking pretty much everywhere; I'm doing daily arm exercises with two 20lb. weights; I'm eating a healthy diet.

Except on Thursdays. Thursday is my cheat day, when I eat whatever the hell I want to eat. I still do that other stuff on Thursdays, I just also eat crappy food. Yesterday at lunch I had some nasty cafeteria tacos piled with cheese and sour cream, along with sugar cookies for dessert. For dinner last night we took a pass on the cafeteria's chicken wings and grilled some burgers.

Now, I'm making a concerted effort to not eat beef. I went for almost two years once without eating beef, and I'd like to get back into that frame of mind. It's generally not all that great for you and there are ridiculous ecological costs involved in beef production, not to mention the possibility - however slim - of getting a degenerative brain disease. But last night, one of our coworkers had beef from his own ranch. And, well, I was hungry on cheat day.

"So, did you know the cows that we're eating?" I asked.
"Yup. They were fat and stupid," C said.
"Did you name them?" I asked.
"Yeah. T-bone and Burger."
"Were you able to look them in the eye as they were led away to slaughter?" I asked.
"Kind of. We send our stock into town for that."
"And they come back in little cow pieces?"
"Yup. Little wrapped-up cow pieces."
"Wow," I said, wiping juice from the corner of my mouth. "This is one tasty goddamn burger."

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Guh.

Kind of a rough day.

In class we talked briefly about Greg Michie's book "Holler If You Hear Me," and then watched the first part of a video about school funding with Bill Moyers. The video compared school districts in rural, urban, and suburban Ohio, and demonstrated how the current system of school funding has an immediate and direct impact on the lives of students. I have a few thoughts on this, but I need to preface this with a little background.

For all my liberal tendencies, when it comes to a person's moolah, I'm pretty conservative. I'm not a huge fan of higher tax rates for the wealthy; I think that's fundamentally unfair. I'd be very interested in a flat tax with provisions for the very, very poor - but generally I think that people are rich because they've worked hard to get that way. Yes, yes, we can always find examples of people who haven't earned their money or have exploited (personally or systemically) other people along the way. Those people should be shot. But generally? People have earned their money through hard work, physical, intellectual, or otherwise. Not sure they should be punished for that.

But I'm starting to see a few problems inherent in the economics of our education system, and I'm a wee upset by it all. In fact, now that I understand the basics, I'm a full-on Socialist when it comes to funding for public schools.

It breaks down like so: roughly 44% comes from local taxes (largely property tax), 49% comes from states themselves, and 7% comes from the feds. These numbers come from my professor and will probably vary a little bit by district, but yes, only 7% of public school funding comes from the feds. The rest is left up to states and municipalities.

The U.S. Constitution makes no mention of public education, anywhere. So that measly 7% doesn't surprise me too much, and provides some interesting perspective on the whole "No Child Left Behind" discourse, too. States have a vested interest in educating their populations and will therefore be willing to chip in some cash. No surprise there.

What kills me, and what should kill you too, is that "local municipalities" thing. I'm no economist, but a funding system based on property tax will cause disparity: if properties are highly valued, the taxes will be higher and the schools will get more money. In areas with low property values, the opposite occurs. This point was made obvious by today's film: an urban district was only able to spend $4000 per student while a suburban district spent $18,000. The result? Exactly what you'd expect: crappy, decaying schools in inner cities, gleaming "educational villages" in the suburbs.

Wealthy, attentive white kids eating well, getting exercise, and exposed to art, music, and technology on a daily basis. Poor, worn out minority kids on meal programs and trying to learn in wretched classroom conditions, and some of them had never touched a computer. The schools in some districts had code violations all over the place, but legislation was passed to ignore those pesky water leaks and impending structural problems because that was easier than getting funding to repair or build anew. And my friends, if you think for one second that a child's environment has no bearing on his or her capacity to learn, you are a moron.

In fact, let's switch schools for a year - hell, a month - and see how many suburban kids aren't so excited about their education anymore. Let's see how many minority and/or lower socio-economic students are suddenly driven to succeed in school.

We're setting up the kids in depressed communities to fail, systemically. It's almost like we want them to.

Monday, June 20, 2005

My Daddy Didn't Raise No Quitter, but He Didn't Raise No Dumbass, Either

One of the major geological features in eastern Wyoming is Laramie Peak, 60 miles north/northeast of Laramie (or, if you're looking at a map, it's just west of Wheatland). At 10,272 feet, it seems like a reasonable day hike – just drive up to the trailhead on the west side of the range, grab the daypack and hit the trail. Take impressive pictures from the top, drink some water, and walk back down. I mean, I did Medicine Bow Peak last summer in a few hours, and that's 2000 feet higher. How hard could Laramie Peak be?

Hard. Very, very hard.

After calling my dad and stepdad, I headed out. Finding the trailhead was bad enough. Take 287 north, just past Rock River, and turn right onto a dirt road. Follow it for many miles. Turn left onto another poorly marked dirt road, and follow it for many miles. Turn onto poorly marked Bear Creek Road, which winds through ranches – complete with cattleguards, huge potholes, and cows standing in the middle of the road – and eventually into the foothills. At one point the road actually crosses Bear Creek, a stream about 10 feet wide and a foot deep at the shallowest point.

To ford or not to ford? Ford - my daddy didn't raise no quitter, and I'd come way, way too far to turn around because of a little water. I mean, the very worst thing that could happen would be getting stranded five miles from the nearest ranch. And maybe getting bitten by a snake or bear on the walk. And then knocking on their door and saying, "Sorry to interrupt your Father's Day lunch, but, uh, my truck is stuck in Bear Creek."

Of course, I made it across. From there the road gets full of nasty ruts and potholes, and finally, finally comes to the trailhead parking area. Two bucks for the privilege of parking my truck.

The trail itself was well-tended; six feet wide and dusty for the first mile. After dipping down to a bridge across Friend Creek, the trail winds uphill for switchback upon switchback upon switchback. Now, I'm in reasonable shape, but the heat and the pace killed me; yesterday broke 90 degrees for the first time this summer. After an hour on the trail I was still on switchbacks zigzagging through huge pines with other ridges in the range looming high – holy shit, look at how high those ridges still are – overhead. Nowhere close to the top.

At the mile 2 marker I ran into a dad with his two kids. They were on ATVs and he had a semi-automatic handgun holstered (either .45 or 9mm. Big sucker, and technically this is bear country, so it made sense). I asked him about the trail since I hadn't bothered researching further than my Wyoming gazetteer – that map made it look like less than a mile – and there were no signs indicating how long the trail was.

"Five miles to the top," he said. "You still have 3 miles to go." He looked me in the eye and smirked.

3 miles? I was broiling, I only had a 500ml nalgene and worse, having assumed it would be a quick dayhike, no food. I also wanted to be back in Laramie in time to catch the last part of the U.S. Open. If I kept going, I wouldn't make it to the top for at least another hour and a half. It was 2 o'clock, so I'd be climbing in the hottest part of the day and exposed once the trail broke out of the trees (if it did at all). I had only had some doughnuts for breakfast and was already feeling shaky.

I did a quick cost/benefit analysis. I was alone, short on water and food, and already gasping. As much as I wanted to summit that bastard, I didn't stand a chance on this trip. My daddy didn't raise no quitter, but he didn't raise no dumbass, either. Except, I guess, when it came to my planning and research skills for this particular hike.

About face, and a walk of shame back down the trail. Chalk this experience up to poor research and worse planning. I'll know how to find it and do it next time, and you can bet your patootie I'll be better prepared.

Nothing quite like an asskicking by the great outdoors as a lesson in humility. . .

Saturday, June 18, 2005

"'The Day After Yesterday.'" "Oh, so you mean today."

After a busy day in the sun playing frisbee with K and then later with two guys from the summer staff, I rented four movies tonight because I'm bored out of my skull and also sunburned.

First up is Sideways, which I'd heard about but never seen. I'm in the middle of it now but have paused it because the line quoted above just made me cackle for like a minute. I share some uncomfortable similarities with Miles, although I will admit I'm not quite that bald and not quite that obnoxious. Awesome film.

I'm watching it while finishing off a bottle of cheap Australian port which somehow seems wildly inappropriate. But mmmm, port.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Let the Games Begin!

Class is going full-bore and I'm mostly enjoying it. Yesterday we covered major philosophies and just barely touched on how those philosophies might affect education. We've already had a few good exchanges, and the truly touchy stuff is yet to come - our reading assignment last night focused on power structures embedded in cultural behaviors, and how those behaviors are often implicitly racist. If it sounds familiar, it's because it has striking parallels to Derrida and Foucault, and as hellish as those guys made my life a few months back, I'm glad now I went through it.

Long story short, critical theory is tremendously helpful in understanding how my whiteness might affect others who are non-white, and vice-versa, especially in terms of power and complicity. Good stuff.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Ask and Ye Shall Receive

Figures. The day after I write about how shitty the weather's been in Laramie, we get a (relatively) nice day. Sunny. Warm. Almost - not quite, but almost - hot when standing still in the sunshine. Still windy though.

After a Quick Trip Downtown This Morning. . .

Anal Expedition, Anal Ram, Anal Tundra, Anal Legend

Monday, June 13, 2005

Something For Those Long Drives

I came across this gem on Boatertalk:

When you're on the road, use the word "anal" as a prefix to the car names you see out there (Anal Explorer, Anal Rambler, Anal Escort, etc.).

My favorite so far: Anal Probe.

Okay, Mother Nature, We Get It

Wyoming's all wacky and shit with the weather. Fine, Mother Nature, thank you for the lesson.

It hasn't been above 80 degrees once this summer, and it hasn't been above 70 degrees in over two weeks. It's been in the low 60s and windy and/or rainy every single day for almost three consecutive weeks.

Did I mention they shut down the university's boilers over three weeks ago? Because they did. The dorms are therefore chilly, and I'm wearing my trusty yellow UW stocking cap as I write this.

Class

I started my first summer class today. EDST 4000, Foundations of a Diverse Society, promises to be a rollicking three hours every afternoon for the next three weeks. Okay, maybe not "rollicking," exactly, but at least it's intellectual stimulation. I mean Christ, I can only read 250 pages of Patrick O'Brian daily for so many weeks before I start looking for other forms of entertainment.

The class itself looks pretty cool, focusing mostly on multiculturalism issues in education. I say "multiculturalism issues" instead of just "multiculturalism" because the concept alone is complicated and not readily classified. Multiculturalism is an approach, a theory, a practice, an effect, but perhaps most importantly, a state of affairs. The term is often brandished like a lead pipe by conservatives, but the fact is we live in a multicultural society. Even in Wyoming.

The reading assignment tonight, taken from the introduction to a text, discussed various subgenres of multiculturalism and the pros and cons associated with each. Luckily it avoided hippy-dippy leftist rhetoric and provided a fairly balanced evaluation.

In more personal news, my friend A (she was in my Young Adult Literature class this past semester) is in this class, and she's a riot.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

A Good Day Fishing is Better Than a Bad Day Wor. . . No, Wait. . . A Bad Day Fishing is Better Than a Good Day. . . Nevermind.

After a twelve hour shift at the desk, we still had enough light to head into the hills for a few hours of fishing. A and I debated on the 1/2 hour drive how many people would be at the lake, a tiny but well-stocked secret in the Snowies' foothills.

There was only a group of three other guys there, but what they lacked in physical presence they made up for in behavior. Picture the most redneck, backwards goombahs you've ever seen, add a wet and hyperactive mutt, and you'll have an idea. Actually they were pretty nice guys, but their fishing etiquette sucked - instead of catch-and-release they were keeping anything over eight inches. At one spot on the bank I came across the site of a recent fish massacre; at least 15 fish heads and guts strewn over rocks. Not cool.

A and I fished for two hours; me with my Wal*Mart spinner and A with his flyrod. I pulled in four and A pulled in a few more before a storm came up right at dusk. I think I could get addicted to this.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Pardon Me, Your OCD is Showing

I'm working a straight 12 hours at the desk today, from 6a to 6p. Due to a rather heavy mail day yesterday I didn't have it all done by 2, when my shift ended. I let the next person know about the remaining mail and she seemed to understand what needed to happen; namely, two plastic crates of magazines and stray letters to be forwarded or returned.

This morning, when I relieved my fishing buddy A (who worked overnight from 6p to 6a), the mail still wasn't done.

Now, this isn't a really bid deal. H was probably too busy with checkins yesterday afternoon, and A probably just spaced it or was distracted by dreams of 15 inch rainbow trout snapping at his lures. Either way it gave me something to do this morning.

So I sat down to do the mail, a process which is actually kind of therapeutic: first you sort out the "presorted standards," which don't get forwarded and in fact get tossed into a recycling bin, then you look up names in little rolodexes, write out their forwarding address on the envelope/magazine, and finally cross out the little barcodes and the incorrect address with a permanent marker. If someone isn't in the rolodex their envelope goes in the Whiskey Tango Foxtrot box (WTF - get it?), which then gets investigated via UW's online student directory. If there's no listing there, it gets returned.

The best part for me is writing out their new address. Somehow I find weird satisfaction in writing tight, neat script on an envelope. Dunno why. Just do. The trick, though, is that I have to write that script with my Very Special Pen.

You see, Dearest Readership, I'm a little picky about certain things: coffee, the volume of my TV, and perhaps more than anything, my writing instruments. Weird, I know. Obsessive even. I know. But for some reason the "Uni-ball VISION EXACT Micro" (Micro, Micro, NOT, for Christ's sake, the Micro's sloppy and undignified first cousin the "Uni-ball VISION EXACT Fine") writes exactly like I want a pen to perform.

And this morning when I sat down to do mail and looked in my bag for my Very Special Pen, it wasn't there. Suddenly doing the mail seemed like a very problematic task indeed; writing addresses with a pedestrian ballpoint Bic was a thought too horrifying to contemplate. Oh sweet Jesus, tell me my pen is in here somewhere . . .

Sure enough, it was hiding beneath a few books. 45 minutes later, with the mail done, I'm sitting here with my iPod playing my Grateful Dead playlist and surfing the Net. 10 1/2 hours to go. . .

Friday, June 10, 2005

How Bored Am I?

Partly because of Leslie's suggestion, and partly because it's cold out, and partly because I work from 6am to 6pm tomorrow and will be going to bed soon, but mostly because I'm just bored, I'm about to weigh each and every piece of camping gear I own. Then I'm going to - because I'm nerdy - enter that data into an Excel spreadsheet. Then I'm going to - because I'm really nerdy - categorize each piece into some level of priority. Then I'm going to use my sweet Excel skills to create the ideal pack, but without actually touching the gear.

Wheeee!

Thursday, June 09, 2005

With Apologies to Willie Dudie

One of my alltime favorite interstate rivalry jokes:

Q: How do you know it's springtime in Wyoming?

A: All the license plates turn green.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

"At Least You Won't Starve"

Of the six summer RAs, five of us are from Orr Hall’s staff this past year. One of them, A, is also a Secondary Ed major (although he’s focusing on Science) and as it turns out, one hell of an outdoorsman and fisherman. We’ve been talking lately about how cool it would be to hike through the Wind River Mountains, maybe from Pinedale to Lander. That trip is 40 miles as the crow flies, at an average of about 11,000 feet of elevation, and we’d have heavy (40 – 50 lb.) packs. Part of the trip would involve fishing for food, with backup foodstuffs just in case. All in all it sounds like a hell of a good time.

Two problems with this plan became apparent on Monday. First, I haven’t fished for years. Second, I’m out of shape. Seriously out of shape.

A and I both had the day off, and he’s had a serious fishing jones for weeks, so while he was at class in the morning I went out to Wal*Mart and got a season pass fishing license and a collapsible pole (perfect for backpacking). The license was surprisingly cheap for residents and surprisingly expensive for non-residents. Not that that sort of thing keeps Coloradans away.

We aimed for Hog Park Reservoir, a relatively big lake 70 miles west/southwest of Laramie. If you have a map of Wyoming handy, find Saratoga. Due south of Saratoga is Encampment/Riverside, twin burgs at about 7300 feet. Southwest of these towns, at 10,000 feet and near the Continental Divide in Medicine Bow National Forest, is Hog Park Reservoir. You turn off of Highway 70 onto a National Forest road and wind southwest. In theory, this dirt road goes all the way to Steamboat Springs, Colorado.

In theory, this very same road goes to Hog Park Reservoir. We didn’t make it.

About 9 miles shy of the reservoir we encountered snow drifts – melting snow drifts, but drifts nonetheless – that were ultimately too much for A’s Monte Carlo. We were able to dig/plow through the first few, but finally we stopped in front of a deep one straddling the road, with a 25 foot cliff off the side. We didn’t have a shovel, and neither one of us particularly felt like getting stranded, so we turned around.

Coming back down we passed the North Fork River, maybe ten feet wide with a hell of a current. We’d seen it going up and had pondered its fishability (I just made up that word); with all the whitewater I was thinking more in terms of kayaking. We decided to pass on it and check out another lake near the Continental Divide but right off Highway 70.

It was frozen over, so we turned around to explore some beaver ponds we’d seen from the road. We pulled off, threw on our daypacks, and headed down a six hundred foot embankment. The upper four hundred feet were open and steep, with few trees and covered in sage. A huge strand of Aspens and evergreens covered the valley floor, past which was an open meadow of marsh and ponds, but no fish.

We followed the ponds downstream until they turned into a running creek, and we followed the creek as it drained out of the relatively flat meadow and plunged down a valley. After maybe a mile of hiking downstream, we turned around and headed back to the car. Coming back up the valley's hillside was remarkably hard going, even though we were following worn-down vehicle trakcs. Going up 600 feet at around 10,000 feet of elevation turned out to be a LOT of work.

Back at the car we decided to check out Saratoga Lake, and once there decided its whitecaps probably made for bad fishing. Coming back over the Snowies eastward we both admitted we were starving and decided on dinner at a cafe in Centennial, a little town in the eastern foothills of the Snowies, 25 miles from Laramie.

Somewhere around the pass A got the bright idea to check out a lake he'd remembered seeing on a map. I'm not going to tell you the name of the lake, Dearest Readership, because according to A, he's never seen that many fish jumping at once. Coming from A, this is saying quite a bit.

We busted out our fishing gear (I borrowed a spinner from A) and after about, oh, three casts we each had caught a smallish rainbow trout.

"At least you won't starve," A called out as I tried to grab a very slippery and very scared little trout as it dangled from my line. Had we been fishing for food, I would have needed about five more fish this size.

We wound up fishing for over two hours, and we each pulled in a few rainbow that were maybe 9 or 10 inches long and not much over a pound.

At the Beartree Tavern in Centennial I had my second hamburger of the day (we'd stopped at McDonald's on our way out of town). For a semi-vegetarian, that's a whole lot of beef. Didn't get stick though.

So now I completely understand the fishing bug, and will be doing much more of it this summer. But I also need to get in shape if I want to do any serious backpacking.

Tonight is Game 1 of the NBA Finals, and although I usually don't give a shit about professional basketball, I'm a Detroit Pistons fan by birth, so I plan on watching. Class starts Monday. It's rainy and doesn't feel like summer.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Wyoming is that Little Corner of the Yard Mother Nature Saves for Experiments and Meteorological Jokes

Last night at 6:30 several summer staffers and a few friends piled into two cars and drove to Saratoga Springs, about 70 miles away when the pass is open. Laramie sits in a wide valley with the Laramie Range bordering us to the east and the Snowy Mountains on the west. The Snowies are actually about 20 miles away and five thousand feet higher, so Wyoming 130, the road that cuts across the range, is usually open from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

By the time we made it to the pass we only had a little bit of daylight left. We stopped at the Libby Flats observation point and took some pictures for the benefit of the guy on my floor from California. Normally the mountains loom almost overhead when you're at Libby Flats, but last night they were clouded over. We didn't think anything of it.

On to Saratoga Springs, where we hung out for an hour or so, soaking in mineral water. The springs themselves are located more or less in town, and the town constructed a small facility for public use. The main pool is about 20 by 20 feet - not a huge springs by any means, and last night, being a Friday in a small town, it was crowded with locals.

On the drive home it snowed a little bit at the pass but nothing too major. On the last stretch into Laramie the rain picked up again, and we unloaded the car in cold, hard rain.

This morning we woke up to six inches of the wettest, heaviest snow I've ever seen. Power was out until an hour ago, and tree limbs are down all over town. Heh. I love Wyoming.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Things I Want To Do at Some Point in My Life

See a hockey game in Canada. This goes hand-in-hand with a burning desire to hang out in Canada. For years.

Skydive.

Build a model boat from the early 19th century. I'm in the middle of Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey/Maturin novels. 'Nuff said.

Build a real boat. I'd probably build a kayak or canoe from a kit supplied by these folks.

Participate in a physical competition. Something harder than rec league softball but less intense than an Ironman triathlon. Mostly the desire to do this stems from a complex I've had all my life about being athletically inclined but oddly enough, not athletically gifted.

Hike in Germany. You know, the whole romantic hike-through-Europe thing. Only focus pretty much on Germany, especially during Oktoberfest.

Hike in New Zealand. Just because the place is so cool.

See an active volcano. Complete with lava and everything. Wispy steam vents don't count.

See the headwaters of the Amazon, Nile, Missouri, and Mississippi rivers. Those first two will be tricky. The Amazon's headwaters were actually disputed until recently, and it would involve a long high-altitude trek through the Peruvian Andes. This one may have to wait until someone decides to give me a lot of money for no good reason.

Climb Mt. Rainier. I lived in Seattle for four months before I even saw the damn thing. I moved there in October, just as the rainy season started, and then one February morning I was driving south on I-5 when I came around a bend in brilliant sunlight and there, many miles away, loomed the biggest goddamn mountain I've ever seen. I could probably be convinced that a backpacking trip would be good enough, but I'm told that for some routes to the top you don't need mountain climbing experience. Which is good, because – how many times do I have to say it – I hate heights.

Cross an ocean by boat. Preferably a "tall ship" with masts and shit where I have to earn my keep on the fo'csle or get flogged. Although an oceanliner with an open bar would be okay too.

Hike the Mann Gulch trail. This one's probably the most doable, possibly this summer if I get the time. If you haven't yet, read Norman Maclean's Young Men and Fire and you'll understand why I want to do this.