Only mad dogs and Englishmen…
“But, it’s a dry heat.” So is my oven, tell that to the pot roast!
The temperatures are hovering around 110º F (43ºC). There is a stiff breeze. The sky is cloudless, not even a stray wisp of cirrus. What better excuse to take a short hike in the mountains?
The ground is parched, dusty, barren. The desert grasses have long since turned to straw, the springs and washes long ago abandoned by the sparse waters. A few ground squirrels bounded across the barren landscape, lizards hiding in the shadows of the rocks. Even the omnipresent bees have seemed to migrate towards cooler climes. As Kipling wrote, “Only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the noon day sun.” Kipling wrote the line long before Noel Coward turned it into song.
Suffice to say, I didn’t hike too long, didn’t wander too far from the trail head. I brought plenty of water, wore a white shirt, and had my head covered. It amazes me no end to see tourists venture out without water. In Arizona it is illegal to turn down somebody’s request for drinking water. And you do not go into the desert wearing sandals. Even on the hottest of days I wear jeans and hiking boots. Heatstroke and dehydration are real threats. It only takes twenty minutes to find yourself in danger.
The Job Search
I had to get out of the house. There is only so much time can be wasted in job searches on Craigslist. I really love the people that post such descriptive headings as “Now Hiring” or “Workers Needed”. My goal is to send out at least two resumes daily. I have five separate resumes, depending on the position I am applying for.
I am pursuing one good lead. It is a job I think I would love. It is a technical job, field service. The pay is exceptional. I answer every incoming call on my cellphone, but the only calls I get are from criminally negligent telemarketers telling me I am qualified for a business loan. I have been on the National Do Not Call registry since six months before the registry was officially active. I am convinced that the registry is nothing more than a list of confirmed telephone numbers freely used by telemarketers. They are never prosecuted, there is no real penalty for those that abuse the list. I have personally filed over one hundred complaints, and not one has ever been followed up. The DNC registry is just another way for politicians and bureaucrats to pretend that they are actually doing something positive.
Everybody Behaves Badly
I am reading an excellent book. Hemingway has always been an idol. The first novel I read by this giant was The Sun Also Rises. Everybody Behaves Badly is a biographical work by Lesley M. M. Blume (her name is a bit pretentious) about Hemingway’s early days, leading up to his groundbreaking novel.
I had a boss, Chuck Meola, who despised Hemingway. He claimed Hemingway was “too verbose.” I beg to differ. Stephen King is verbose. Hemingway was sparing in his words. His sentences were succinct. He spared adjectives. He allowed the reader to fill in the blanks. Every sentence told a story.
Despite his reputation as a fighter, as a drinker, as a drinker and fighter, as a carouser, fighter, drinker; he was a writer. He was a workaholic. When writing, he was single-minded. Purposeful. When he wasn’t writing, he was a drinker, a fighter, a carouser. He also loved cats. He didn’t like punctuation.
The Sun Also Rises is the definitive novel of the 1920’s, if this biographical masterpiece can be called fiction. Sure, the names had been changed to protect the not so innocent, but this book was journalism before the gossip column became mainstream news. Hemingway completed the novel in less than two months – I said he was a workaholic.
I first read The Sun Also Rises in high school. It was an assignment. But I was an avid reader long before reading was assigned. At age nine, I had a bad case of strep throat. My dad bought me a copy of Huckleberry Finn. Not too long after that he gave me a copy of Thoreau’s The Duty of Civil Disobedience and Walden. Since my father is deceased, I suppose it is safe to mention he also gave me Che Guervara’s Guerilla Warfare. It is kind of late to put him on the watch list.
My English teacher, Neil Van Gilder turned me on to Vonnegut and Updike when he caught me reading Joseph Heller during class. Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, another class assignment, led me to Cannery Row and Sweet Thursday.
I suppose it is safe to say these early forays into literature have shaped me as an adult.