Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Yellow Matter Custard Dripping from a Dead Dog's Eye

That pretty much sums up my appearance at the moment, as I've developed a case of the conjunctivitis which has been going around here. The doctor I saw yesterday said he'd contacted Public Health last week because he'd never seen such a large outbreak.

It got my second eye overnight so now I'm blurry on both
sides and taking my second sick day while only at the beginning of my third week here. It's frustrating because usually the only sick days I took were mental health days, and at this early point I'm still actually enjoying having a good job to go to.

But the magic drops do seem to be helping a bit already as my worst eye has improved from swollen to baggy. I'm hoping to go to work tomorrow because we're scheduled to do a highway cleanup in the morning.

Here's a photo from a couple weeks ago to give you the layout of my little village. You'll probably have to click it larger to see anything I'm writing about.

The many small buildings on the left are cabins for tourists. The three large buildings along the road from left to right are the general store, the restaurants, and the hotel. The larger building behind them is half the office where I work and half the employee recreation hall for everything from basketball to bingo, but more importantly where you can sign up to go on events like hikes and trips to nearby towns or the whitewater rafting trip a couple coworkers took Saturday. My dorm is the dark grey building to the right and behind the hotel.

I'm signed up for a short hike next week at Trout Lake which comes after another drive through the Lamar Valley, and hopefully will do this hike to Cascade Lake and Observation Peak the week after.

The many orange roofed buildings on the right are the old Fort Yellowstone. The first of those buildings is the Visitor's Center where the rangers answer questions all day long. Yesterday I asked one if running from Elk was actually a good idea; she said it would be her first choice. So far, I've been able to simply walk away from them with them following but making no effort to actually catch me. Maybe humans running simply stimulates them to run after the humans. Do Elk have a predatory instinct? Certainly they wouldn't have any trouble overtaking and trampling a person if they actually wanted to do that. From what I've seen and heard so far, it seems all they do is trap people somewhere without actually trying to hurt them once they're trapped.

In the yard of the building next to the Visitor's Center is a tree with a Great Horned Owl's nest. And just outside the door where I work is a tree with several Magpie nests. I'll try to get some photos of these soon.

Earlier on the road from Gardiner and not seen in the photo are the campground and more houses where I think the rangers and other folks live.

None of the books I've been reading are candidates for review here although The Tiger by John Vaillant has some interesting material mixed in with a lot of history of Russia and human lives. Maybe there will be something good in the Vine newsletters this week and next.

Just this morning I learned of a book which sounds interesting--Pandora's Seed: The Unforeseen Cost of Civilization by Spencer Wells. Here's Amazon's blurb from Publisher's Weekly:
More food but also disease, craziness, and anomie resulted from the agricultural revolution, according to this diffuse meditation on progress and its discontents. Wells (The Journey of Man), a geneticist, anthropologist, and National Geographic Society explorer-in-residence, voices misgivings about the breakthrough to farming 10,000 years ago, spurred by climate change. The food supply was more stable, but caused populations to explode; epidemics flourished because of overcrowding and proximity to farm animals; despotic governments emerged to organize agricultural production; and warfare erupted over farming settlements. Then came urbanism and modernity, which clashed even more intensely with our nomadic hunter-gatherer nature. Nowadays, Wells contends, we are both stultified and overstimulated, cut off from the land and alienated from one other, resulting in mental illness and violent fundamentalism. Wells gives readers an engaging rundown of the science that reconstructs the prehistoric past, but he loses focus in trying to connect that past to every contemporary issue from obesity to global warming, and his solution is unconvincingly simple: Want less. B&w photos.

I learn of many interesting books from Publisher's Weekly, but the reviews always seem to have a mainstream cultural bias which I have to ignore. Of course, I guess I pretty much have to do that every hour of every day.


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