Friday, October 23, 2015

When Someone Dies

Book: When Someone Dies: The Practical Guide to the Logistics of Death
Author: Scott Taylor Smith
Edition:Paperback from Fresno County Library
Read:October 23, 2015
214 pages
Genre:  Estate Planning
Rated: 4  out of 5

Walks through step by step what you need to consider right after a person dies. This is not a how to book, but more of a check list with brief descriptions.

When my father passed away, he left things in pretty good shape. But there was always a nagging feeling of what am I missing? Am I doing things right? When Someone Dies helped me see what the "else" I needed to do.

This is a book of checklists, followed  by brief descriptions. It is good a place to start to when someone does die. It does not try to explain each special case, or even how to do things in general. The organization of the book gives it away: it starts when someone dies, goes and says what to do for the next few days, months and then at the end of a year, what needs to be done to give up your role. At the end of the book, is a self-examination; not have you done your job right, but are you ready to have someone take over for you?

So if you are a novice in the death business, this is a good place to start.

Book References:
  • American Society of Appraisers:
  • Caring:
  • Veterans Burial:
    •  1-800-827-1000
  • Facebook Deactivation:
  • Federal Employees or Former:
    • 1-888-767-6738
  • Federal Trade Commision on Funerals:
  • Federation of Tax Administrators:
  • Funeral Consumers Guardian Society:
  • IRS:
    • 1-800-829-4933
    • 1-800-829-3676
  • Nolo Press:
  • Obituary Guide:
  • Parents of Murdered Children:
  • Probate Law Resources: 
    • Findlaw:
    • Estate Settlement:
    • Estate Finance:
  • Survivors of Suicide:
  • Social Security Administration: 1-800-772-1213
  • The Boomer's Burden: Dealing with Your Parents' Lifetime Accumulation of Stuff by Julie Hall
  • Death for Beginners: Your No-Nonsense, Money Saving Guide to Planning for the Inevitable by Karen Jones
  •  Dealing Creatively with Death: A Manual of Death Education and Simple Burial by Earnest Morgan
  • The Executor's Guide: Settling a Loved One's Estate or Trust by Mary Randolf
  • What to Do when Someone Dies: A Simple Step by Step Guide for Family Members, Personal Representative and Executors by Scott Richter
  • What to Do When a Loved One Dies: A Practical and Compassionate Guide to Dealing with Death on Life's Terms by Eva Shaw

Good Quotes:
  • First Line: If you're reading this book, someone you love has just died.
  • Last Line: Consult an estate attorney.
Table of Contents:
  • As Death Approaches
  • Immediately after the Death
  • The Days after the Death: Nonfinancial Issues
  • The Days and Weeks after the Death: Financial Issues
  • The Year after the Death
  • You’re Done; Now Make Things Easy for Your Survivors


Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Dead Wake! The Last Crossing of the Lustania

Book: Dead Wake! The Last Crossing of the Lustania
Author:Erik Larson
Edition:Nook Book
Read:October 21, 2015
443 pages
Genre:  History
Rated: 3 1/2  out of 5

The Lusitania was sunk in May of 1915 by a German U-boat. This had an immense impact on bringing the United States into World War I, but not for another couple of years. The book talks about the events leading up to the sinking both from the the British, United States and German perspectives. He shows how British intelligence knew about the U-boat in the area, but did not warn the players to save their lives. Also the book talks about President Wilson, Winston Churchill and the submarine commander.


The Lusitania was simply too big and too well built to sink. (chp Impact) Sort of sounds like banks in 2008-they were made too big to fail, and fail they did. Never thought of the Lusitania was a metaphor for the Great Recession of 2008.

After reading the book and how Churchill was cast in World War I, along with some other books concerning World War II, deception was a major card for Churchill. He tried to get the United States involved in both wars by provoking the Germans to attack objects which would offend Americans. Little by little, Churchill let small or large innocents suffer collateral damage. Was this by design? Larson weaves his story in a way which leads you to think it was deliberate.

Now the $64 questions, how much of a tactic is this for our leaders of the 21st century?

Along with that, Churchill was willing for the captain of the Lusitania, Turner,  to take the fall for bad captaining rather than the Germans, bad instructions or England itself. The more I read, the more I wonder about Churchill's moralness. Probably not his greatness as part of greatness is to make decision, forced decisions. Decisions not so much of right and wrong, but how to accomplish the greater goals. Morals tend to be lost, as long as the goal is achieved. The burden of being a leader.

As I am reading and admiring the research which Larson shows, I was wondering how he organized things. So when I saw Larson's blog, I stumbled on his strategy in his blog. Interesting and fun. Larson's way of research:

Dead Wake! is a story told well about the sinking of the Lusitania in May 1915. Erik Larson does a good job of giving the back ground leading up to the sinking, including from the submarine's captain. Larson does a good enough job of giving background and setting up situations that you understood how  Kapitänleutnant Schwieger would order the torpedoing of a cruise ship with close to 2,000 civilians on board. Larson combines both his story telling abilities with voluminous research to produce this book-for those who are interested in research, just his notes at the back is worth the book.

But the draw back to the book is that he is weak in his conclusions. He leads you up to the point of a conclusion, but does not state a conclusion. Such as, was setting up the scenario where the sinking of the Lusitania part of Churchill's efforts to bring the United States into the war? Why did Wilson not declare war after the sinking? But we as readers can draw our own conclusions, including my ponderings,  seeing big disasters in the past, are our current big disasters something to be hoped for as a means to move our county in a different direction? (Note: I do not indulge in conspiracy theories.) Just something to ponder.

New Words:
  • lazaret (Chp Menagerie): a quarantine station for maritime travellers. Lazarets can be ships permanently at anchor, isolated islands, or mainland buildings.
  • dyspeptic (chp Halibut): of or having indigestion or consequent irritability or depression.
  • donjon (chp Comfort Denied): The fortified tower of a motte or early castle; a keep.
  • trepanning (chp The Kings Question): a surgical intervention in which a hole is drilled or scraped into the human skull, exposing the dura mater to treat health problems related to intracranial diseases. It may also refer to any "burr" hole created through other body surfaces, including nail beds. It is often used to relieve pressure beneath a surface. A trephine is an instrument used for cutting out a round piece of skull bone.
  • dead wake (chp Beauty): the trail of a fading disturbance, whether from a ship or torpedo.
  • peripatetic (chp The Lost): traveling from place to place, especially working or based in various places for relatively short periods.
  • supervened (chp The Lost): occur later than a specified or implied event or action, typically in such a way as to change the situation.
  • mezzontint (chp Personel Effects):a printmaking process of the intaglio family, technically a drypoint method. It was the first tonal method to be used, enabling half-tones to be produced without using line- or dot-based techniques like hatching, cross-hatching or stipple.
Book References:
  • Danger! and Other Stories by Arthut Conan Doyle
  • Raiders of the Deep by Lowell Thomas

Good Quotes:
  • First Line: I first started reading about the Lusitania on a whim, following my between-books strategy of reading voraciously and promiscuously.
  • Last Line: Her companion, Edwin Friend, had indeed been lost but was reported by members of the reconstituted American Society for Psychical Research to have paid the group several visits.
Table of Contents:
    Mining suspense
    A word from the captain
    "Bloody monkeys"
    Jump rope and caviar
    Dead wake
    The black soul
    The sea of secrets
    Epilogue: personal effects.


From CSU Fresno Osher Book Group lead by Kay Davies

Dead Wake:  The Last Crossing of the Lusitania
Erik Larson, 2015

Erik Larson ushers us aboard the Lusitania as it begins its tragic and final crossing. It is a timely trip, as 2015 marks the 100th anniversary of the disaster.

Setting sail on May 1, 1915, from New York, the
Lusitania was a monument to the hubris and ingenuity of the age. It was immense and luxurious, the fastest civilian ship then in service, and carried a full roster of passengers, including a record number of infants and children.

The passengers were surprisingly at ease, even though that morning a German notice had appeared in the city’s newspapers warning that travelers sailing on British ships "do so at their own risk." Though the notice didn’t name a particular vessel, it was widely interpreted as being aimed at the
Lusitania. The idea that a German submarine could sink the ship struck many passengers as preposterous, a sentiment echoed in Cunard’s official response to the warning: "The truth is that the Lusitaniais the safest boat on the sea. She is too fast for any submarine. No German war vessel can get her or near her."

German U-boat captain Walther Schwieger—known to rescue dachshund puppies, but to let the crews of torpedoed ships drown—thought differently.
Dead Wake switches between hunter and hunted, allowing readers to experience the crossing, and the disaster itself, as it unfolds.

Along the way, Larson paints a portrait of America at the height of the Progressive Era, and brings to life a broad cast of characters, including President Woodrow Wilson, awash in grief after the loss of his wife, awakening with the blush of new love; famed Boston bookseller Charles Lauriat, a passenger carrying an irreplaceable literary treasure; Captain William Thomas Turner, who took the safety of his  passengers very seriously, but secretly thought of them as "bloody monkeys"; and Winston Churchill, then First Lord of the Admiralty, whose ultra-secret spy group failed to convey crucial naval intelligence that might have saved the Lusitania and its passengers.

Discussion Questions

1. In his Note to Readers, Erik Larson writes that before researching
Dead Wake, he thought he knew "everything there was to know" about the sinking of the Lusitania, but soon realized "how wrong [he] was." What did you know about the Lusitania before reading the book? Did any of Larson’s revelations surprise you?

2. After reading
Dead Wake, what was your impression of Captain Turner? Was he cautious enough? How did you react to the Admiralty’s attempts to place the blame for the Lusitania’s sinking squarely on his shoulders?

3. Erik Larson deftly weaves accounts of glamorous first-class passengers such as Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt with compelling images of middle-class families and of the ship’s crew. Whose personal story resonated the most with you?

4. Charles Lauriat went to extraordinary measures to protect his Thackeray drawings and his rare edition of A Christmas Carol, but eventually both were lost. In Lauriat’s position, which possessions would you have tried to save? Why does Larson write in such great detail about the objects people brought aboard the

5. Edith Galt Wilson would come to play a significant role in the White House after Woodrow Wilson suffered a massive stroke in 1919. What made her a good match for Wilson? What other aspects of Wilson’s personal life did you find intriguing?

6. Why was Wilson so insistent on maintaining neutrality even as German U-boat attacks claimed American lives? Was his reluctance to go to war justified?

7. How did you respond to the many what-ifs that Larson raises about U.S. involvement in the Great War? Would Wilson have abandoned his isolationist stance without the 
Lusitania tragedy? Could Germany and Mexico have succeeded in conquering the American Southwest?

8. By attacking civilian ships, were Captain Schwieger and his U-20 crew committing acts of terrorism? Does it matter that Germany ran advertisements declaring the waters around Great Britain to be a war zone?

9. How did Captain Schwieger’s leadership style compare with that of Captain Turner? Did you feel sympathy for Schwieger and his crew?

10. Though the British Navy was tracking U-20’s location, it didn’t alert the
Lusitania, nor did it provide a military escort. Why not? Do you consider Churchill and Room 40 partly to blame for the sinking? How should countries balance the integrity of their intelligence operations with their duty to protect civilians?

11. Some have argued that Churchill deliberately chose not to protect the
Lusitania in hopes that the sinking of such a prominent ship would draw the United States into the war. After reading Larson’s account, what do you think of this theory?

12. While Germany’s advertisement scared away some would-be 
Lusitania passengers, most placed their faith in the British Navy to protect the ship, and some laughed off the risk altogether. In their position, would you have cancelled your ticket?

13. What lessons does the sinking of the
Lusitania have for us in the twenty-first century?

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Sintram and His Companions

Book: Sintram and His Companions
Author:   Friedrich de la Motte FouquĂ©
Edition: online from Gutenberg
Read: October 6, 2015
124 pages
Genre:  Fiction
Rate: 3 1/2  out of 5

This is a story of knights and Norway when all was not civilized, while Biorn, Sintram's father is the ruler of the area. When Sintram was young, Biorn made a rash vow on the head of a golden boar. His wife intervened and prevented the fulfillment of the vow. She left for a convent after that and worked towards holiness. But from that time forward, Sintram was given a wild spirit, that is,  till a ship from Normandy appears.

This ship brings Folko and his wife Gabrielle, the best which knighthood has to offer, and a distant relation to Biorn. With Gabrielle, Sintram's wildness seems to be tamed and Sintram does great things. In addition, Biorn becomes Folko's vassal. But Sintram has two other companions which we gradually get to know has death and the devil. The devil tempts Sintram with lust after Gabrielle and he gives in with consequences he only recognizes, not too late, but with repercussions.

In the end Sintram makes right choices and is re-united with his mother.

Fouque, according to Charlotte M Yonge in her introduction to Undine, Undine is part of a quartet of stories based upon seasons:"Sintram", to winter; the tearful, smiling, fresh "Undine", to Spring; the torrid deserts of the "Two Captains", to summer; and the sunset gold of "Aslauga's Knight

Death and the Devil
Death and another are closely pursuing me!" Said by the young Sintram (chp 1) Fouque's story in essence is that Sintram struggles to overcome the one and recognizing the other as a companion throughout his life. They are called up by Biorn in the second chapter. Fouque shows us that the struggle with the devil is not a once and for all thing, but a constant fact of life. Sometimes we humans give in, other times we overcome. In Sintram's case, he gives in early, but he gains strength and understanding not to give in to his "Little Master".  This strength is chiefly through two people, Rolf, his foster-father who is godly. But in the background is his mother, never seen until the last of the book, but always praying for her son and husband. Fouque shows that prayer works mighty things, enabling to mighty to do their work.

Deception is shown as the Little Master's trade. He knows all of human history and shows it when he says in chapter 7: I am master of all secret knowledge, and well versed in the most intricate depths of ancient history. And his aim is not truth and understanding, but in lies and lust. He tries to show how Helen of Troy was won by Paris and compares Sintram to him. But Rolf, is one like a statue before this Little Master, but goes to one important strength: he stood as if spellbound and made the Sign of the Cross. Satan cannot stand before the Cross. This is a lesson to be learned.

Another lesson to be learned is that the devil; is persistent. He tempts again and again with the same mission: to bring people under his own power. He does this with the Helen of Troy story, several times. As an example:  And with detestable craft he wove in that tale with what was actually happening, bringing in the most highly wrought praises of the lovely Gabrielle; and alas! the dazzled youth yielded to him, and fled (Chp 17).

The other companion is death. While Sintram is wary of this companion, as time goes on, he welcomes him. He sees death as an escape from his "Little Master." It is interesting to me that Sintram has a name for the devil, but not for death.  To us death is something to be feared, something to avoid its company. As Sintram understands the nature of death, he starts to welcome his presence, not in a morbid seeking to die, but to understand that death is his  key to avoiding his Little Master. This is also the conclusion of Biorn on his death bead: it is the right companion! It is sweet gentle death (Chp 28)

Further references include:
  • One of them was a great tall man, frightfully pallid and thin; the other was a dwarf-like man, with a most hideous countenance and features. Indeed, when I collected my thoughts and looked carefully at him, it appeared to me— Chp 2  The tall one is death; short is the Little Master
  •  was starved with cold in our country, and that his own was much warmer (chp 10), refering to the devil
  •  Who are those two sitting yonder by the frozen stream—a tall man and a little one? (chp 18)
References to the sacred reverberate throughout this book. From Rolf, the foster parent, always being at Sintram's side trying to calm him, protect him and be his companion, to his mother praying for him. she resolved, in the walls of a cloister, by unremitting prayer, to obtain mercy in time and eternity for herself and her unhappy child (Chp 2) or the concern which the castle has for Sintram: "who is there now to watch over and protect our poor Sintram?" "The prayer of his mother," Chp 2
  • "I have prayed for thee most fervently, and I shall never cease doing so—but God alone is Almighty." chp 3 - Rolf says this
  •  they both sanctified their happiness with a silent prayer. (chp 18) This is Folko and Gabrielle.
  • committed his deep heartfelt cares to the merciful God, trusting that he would soon come to his aid; and the merciful God did not fail him (chp 20) speaking of Rolf concerning Sintram
  • Reconciliation through confession and forgiveness (Chp 21) This is what we have lost today, the thought of reconciliation, or even the desire. But then what do we have to confess to or why should we forgive. All of them are needed in our world.
  • We have overcome. Oh, how soft and easy does the good God make it to us! (Chp 24) I had not thought about making our ability to overcome sin and temptation easy. It has always seemed hard. in what way is it easy? Fouque has Sintram calling on Jesus' name to overcome..
Rolf's cry of O Father, help Thy servant! I believe, and yet I cannot believe.(Chp 1) sets the tone for the book. Rolf understands that only through faith can  the tragedy which engulfs Biorn's family be overcome. But it is so hard to see and believe that anything will change. It is the cry of the boy's father when Jesus heals his boy of an unclean spirit after Jesus' transfiguration (Mark 9:24). It should be the cry of each Christian as he is working towards better faith.

During Biorn's last days, he settles into a heathen belief, helped by the Little Master. Sintram comes along and struggles against the Little Master, calling on God's name to defeat him. After a long, all night battle, the Little Master is forced off and Biorn feels gratitude to Sintram in doing this. I think Fouque  shows how we can defeat the devil and that it does not need to be a personal battle, but we can fight for someone else.

One of the problems I have with this book is that Fouque sets up his characters in a way to be confusing. Such as Sir Weigand is mistaken for death all throughout the book. Chp 26 says: I am not Weigand. I am that other, who was so like him, and whom thou hast also met before now in the wood. I think Fouque knew he had that problem, but could not figure out how to get out of it. But Fouque does not let us in on the secret, even though you suspect something. Also Fouque has a large cast of characters for the reader to keep track of.

Sin has an effect on a person. When Sintram allows the Little Master to work on his behalf, Sintram changes. When Folko sees Sintram next, he exclaims, What have you done? (chp 15) Even Sintram can see the change which sin has worked in him when he looks into a polished mirror. Folko notes: still this youth has cause to watch himself narrowly; he whom the evil one has touched by so much as one hair of his head. (chp 15)
You should rather wish to live, that you may prove your repentance, and make your name illustrious by many noble deeds; for you are endowed with a bold spirit and with strength of limb, and also with the eagle-glance of a chieftain (chp 6). Purpose in a life. We each have a purpose which we were created for. To fulfill God's plans. Some are of small of nature, others have out-sized power. But each will despair at some point in their mission from reaching the grow. God help us to be the person whom we have been made to be. Sometimes this help comes through the intercession of another person: when struggling with temptation and deadly fear, how the heavenly breath of holy men floated round me and aided me. (Chp 28)

In chapter 23 there is a great Yule feast. Biorn is somewhat Christian, somewhat heathen. He knows he should be worshiping the one true God, but at the Yule festival he brings out the gold boar. This is where his people swear an unbreakable vow on the boar's head. Folko identifies that this is a heathen practice celebrating the Norse god Odin. I had not realized that the practice of celebrating Yule had its origins in idolatry. Fouque makes this identification. Christianity over time converted Yule celebrations to a celebration of the Christ's birth. I wonder if our Christmas celebration has now been converted to a heathen holiday of materialism and capitalism.

Other Comments:

CS Lewis from a letter to Arthur Greeves on March 6, 1917:

I am now (in German) at 'Sintram' a tale by Fourque. It has some good eerie touches in it, but none of the homely beauty of   'Undine' - indeed 'tis rather tawdry as a whole. The edition is so horrible that it ought to emanate from 'Satan&Co' & sometimes I have a ghastly suspicion that it is 'scripted': for these school editors are absolutely without conscience & wouldn't hesitate to mutilate a book and then publish it with a word of explanation.
In Louis May Alcott's story, Little Women, Jo wants to have Undine and Sintram for Christmas.

The Bamboo Bookcase blog makes a case that Sintram is a Christmas story.  Many parts of the story revolve arouond the Christmas time at succeeding years. Each Christmas brings a new crisis. So this is not one of those  A Night Before Christmas type stories, but more like The Nightmare Before Christmas.

This is a strange, layered and complicated book. It can be read both at the level of a fairly decent piece of literature written in the early 1800's, or you can go deeper in trying to figure what is Fouque trying to communicate to us.

And that is the problem with this book. There are just too many stronger characters in this short book some of them seem nearly identical. This caused me to wonder who is this which I am reading about. The action is non-stop, which does not lend to pondering what is Fouque getting at.

But before I get too negative, this is an interesting book, once you figure out what Fouque is trying to do. It is a myth type book where the hero, Sintram, is confronted with two companions throughout his life: death and the devil. As such, he is very much faced with choices and he often chooses wrong. But there is always redemption and grace in the mix, So when you read it, read it look for something deeper than just knights in shining armor and lovely pure ladies.

New Words:
  • Palmer (chp 4): a pilgrim, especially one who had returned from the Holy Land with a palm frond or leaf as a sign of having undertaken the pilgrimage.
  • Shawms (chp 6): The shawm is a conical bore, double-reed woodwind instrument made in Europe from the 12th century (at the latest) to the present day. It achieved its peak of popularity during the medieval and Renaissance periods, after which it was gradually eclipsed by the oboe family of descendant instruments in classical music.
  • thereat (chp 6): at that place, or on account of or after that.
  • Margrave (chp 6): Margrave was originally the medieval title for the military commander assigned to maintain the defense of one of the border provinces of the Holy Roman Empire or of a kingdom.
  • philtres (chp 7): a drink supposed to arouse love and desire for a particular person in the drinker; a love potion.
  • castellan (chp 7): the governor of a castle
  • samite (chp 9):  a luxurious and heavy silk fabric worn in the Middle Ages, of a twill-type weave, often including gold or silver thread.
  • pallidness (chp 20): Having an abnormally pale or wan complexion: the pallid face of the invalid.
  • presentiment (chp 20): an intuitive feeling about the future, especially one of foreboding
  • Hecla (chp 9): A volcano, 1,491 m (4,891 ft) high, of southwest Iceland. In medieval Icelandic folklore, Hekla was believed to be one of the gateways to purgatory. It is Iceland's most active volcano, having had more than a dozen major eruptions since the 1100s.
  • Portamour (chp 14):
    Montfaucon (chp 14):

Good Quotes:
  • First Line: In the high castle of Drontheim many knights sat assembled to hold council for the weal of the realm; and joyously they caroused together till midnight around the huge stone table in the vaulted hall.
  • Last Line: Gotthard Lenz and Rudlieb were pressed to Sintram's heart; the chaplain of Drontheim, who just then came from Verena's cloister to bring a joyful greeting to her brave son, stretched out his hands to bless them all.
  •  O Father, help Thy servant! I believe, and yet I cannot believe. Chp 1
  • how could we, any of us, stand before God, did not repentance help us Chp 17
  • We have overcome. Oh, how soft and easy does the good God make it to us! Chp 24
  • when struggling with temptation and deadly fear, how the heavenly breath of holy men floated round me and aided me.-Chp 28


Saturday, October 3, 2015

The Pass

Book: The Pass
Author: Stewart Edward White
Edition: pdf from Google Play Book, copied from Stanford Library
Read: October 3, 2015
195  pages
Rated: 3 1/2 out of 5
Genre:   Biography

White, his wife Billy (Elizabeth) and a hand named Wes travel through the Roaring River drainage, seeking a way to the Kaweah River. The result was about a month long trip. While not inherently dangerous, it is exciting because at this time, there was no established trails so we explore this unexplored area through the eyes of White, his wife, his friend, his dogs and pack horses--all of which are part of the story.


The Big Meadow Trail
No mere corral could adequately have exercised these lusty young mountaineers.Talks about a group of young men building a coral and "over engineering" it. White is impressed with the enthusiasm of these young men. He notes that no horse could jump over it or force it because of the depth the lumber was sunk and the height of the trees used. I think White uses this as a metaphor for the energy which are in the mountains making men alive.

The Forest Ranger

The material he gathered in the lowland he digested and ruminated in the high lands. The forest ranger would need to pick up odd jobs in the Valley because the government would not pay enough to make a go of. But this unnamed ranger did not count the time in the Valley as wasted, but picked up things to ponder. And the mountains give you time to ponder and meditate.  We lead a much too rushed lives when we are around others. A person needs time to himself just to walk with his thoughts, if he has any thoughts worth while thinking.

I made up my mind some time ago that I would rather have a horse weak in his hoof than a boy weak in his intellect.   This is Forest Ranger talking. Too bad we do not bring up our children in a way they can learn from their mistakes.  'I would rather have a boy on one sober leg than two drunken ones,' and that is about right, I do believe." We also protect our children. So they do not know how to live. So they resort to other means to feel alive.

I know many who spend a large part of their wages in the improvement of their districts, and each and every one lives in the high hope that some day the service will get its desert of attention and compensation. With a strong and able leader these men would go far. When was Pinchot chief ranger? Looks like he was just starting to be Chief Ranger when this book was written. When you read Pinchot's writings (The Training of a Forester and The Fight for Conservation) and other histories of this time, there is similar complaints.

I think she knew that we would never turn back once we had tasted the adventure of a first repulse. The "she" is Bille, White's wife. This statement is so true. Once I see a task it is hard to turn away. Once you set a course, it is hard to back down.

Roaring River
Evening, always big and fearsome in the mountains, hovered imminent, ready to swoop in its swift California fashion. I just liked this description. Depending on which way the canyon, valley or basin is turned, the sun can either linger for ever or it can get dark and cold at 5 in the afternoon.

Bloody Pass
I went over it once to find the easiest route, then set myself vigorously to rolling boulders aside, and to " chinking the worst holes. This was rather good fun. The big stones went bounding and jumping away like living things, Once again, just liking the way White put these words. To me he shows the fun he enjoys is the simple fun of rolling boulders down  a slope.

Finally we did gain the saddle, and looking back with deep breaths of relief named this Bloody Pass. Not an official name, just the recognition of the effort the people and horses took to get up this saddle, and the literal blood some of the horses spilled. But this was for naught as when they got to the top, they needed to go back the way they came as there was not a good passage to the Kaweah.

We Fall Back
In climbing a mountain at a high elevation you start out comfortably enough. The first symptom of trouble is a shortening of your breath, the next a violent pounding of your heart ; then come sensations of heavy weights attached to your feet, ringings of your ears, blurring of your eyes, perhaps a slight giddiness. It is now time to stop. After a moment the landscape steadies, the symptoms subside. You are ready for another little spurt. The moment you stop, or strike level ground, you are all right ; but at the highest elevations, even a slight incline or a light burden will bring you immediate distress. At just what elevation this dis tress becomes acute depends on your individual make-up. Some people cannot stand even six or seven thousand feet. When I read this, there was a silent Amen. He accurately describes how you feel at elevation and the effort it takes until one gets used to it.

The Permanent Camp
You stretch luxuriously, and extend your legs, and an unwonted feeling of satisfaction steals over you. You wonder why. The reason comes in due time. It is this: a whole glorious woodland day lies before you, and in it is no question of pack rope, horse or trail. You can do just exactly as much or as little as you please.  I do not take enough rest days! In this chapter White talks about having to take ten days off to have a horse recover from a leg wound. After reading this passage, it was an inspiration not only to hike but to sit back and enjoy as well.

During a fairly extended experience in snake countries I have made it a point to proffer that inquiry, and up to date I have found just three men in whose veracity I had confidence who claim to have seen a man dead of snake bite. Hundreds could prove cases by the next fellow... I am not a fan of being in rattlesnake country. But I think White is right, while deadly, the rattlesnake probably holds no more danger than crossing a street in a crosswalk. I am also nervous about that as well.

It is astonishing how instantaneously the human nerves react to the shrill buzz. A man who has never heard it before, recognizes it at once. And the moment the sound vibration strikes his ear-drum — long before it has had a chance of interpretation by the brain — his muscles have accomplished for him a record-breaking broad jump. I can validate this. I was once crossing a log which two other people had crossed. Saw a rattlesnake under the log and got hit by brush at the same time. My first step was five feet in the air and five yards down the trail.

There is a finality about the abandonment of a permanent camp to be experienced in no other household removal.

This is a fatal practice. Just as soon as you begin to make up your mind that you will catch some trout, or do the washing, or some thing of that sort before supper, the trail is sure to lose itself, or develop unexpected difficulties, so that at the end you must cook by firelight. An inch on the map is a mighty deceiving thing. 

The Side Hill Camp
marmot (ground bears). His relating of the interchange between some marmots and his dogs is hilarious. Worth reading the chapter just for this. Also learned that a ground bear is a marmot.

[Old miners] must save his own self-respect, and, be sides, the game is interesting — and shoot a deer or so, and smoke a lot of strong, rank tobacco, and concoct wonderful things with onions in a covered and for midable frying pan, and just have a good time. They are engaging conspirators, and I advise you never to pass by one of their camps. Conjures up images of a pleasant evening sharing stories, some of which are even true.

...we acquired gradually the feeling that we were living out in the air, away from the solid earth that most people inhabit — as a man might feel who lived on a scaffold above a city.   I live another life when I am in the mountains. It seems like you are living on another plain, the place which we were meant to live in.

Again, we early fell under the illusion that somehow more sunshine, more day light, was allotted to us than to less fortunate mortals.  There is a tendency to be more optimistic when out in the Sierra's. Even though they can be deadly,  there is still the feeling of being blessed when you are up there.

The Ledge
Picking a way is good fun. You must first scout ahead in general. Then you determine more carefully just where each hoof is to fall. I love walking cross-country. You see the country side so much differently, more as a navigator than a tourist. You see the terrain and the brush. In essence, it is not one foot in front of the other hiking, but hiking with your eyes wide open, and your senses open for adventure.

On re-reading the chapters of The Pass it has occurred to me that some might imagine that we consider the opening of Elizabeth Pass an extraordinary feat. This is not true. Anybody could have done it. I have attempted merely to show how such things are undertaken, and to tell of the joys and petty 'but real difficulties to be met with on such an expedition. I hope the reader will take this account in that spirit. Amen Stewart Edward White! When I write in my journal, it is not because of something special I am doing, but because I feel the specialness of what I am hiking through.

I have a hard time evaluating this book. Mostly because what is magically about this story for me will not be for most people. The writing is ok, reads more like a journal and personal story, and as such it is not exceptional. But for me I enjoyed his writing because I have been to many of the places he talks about Big Meadows, Cloud(y) Canyon, Roaring River. When I read about his travels in 1906, I can see the area, whats more I want to visit the parts I have not been to-Deadman Canyon and Elizabeth Pass-the pass the book is named after. Some of the stories there is a touch of humor-read the story about ground bears(marmots) and you will chuckle. But if you are not a hiker you may not appreciate this book.

New Words:
  • imbecility (Chp We Fall Back):  utter foolishness; also :  futility or  something that is foolish or nonsensical
  • tunate (Chp The Side Hill Camp):

Good Quotes:
  • First Line: We had already been out about two months, Billy and Wes and I, and were getting short of grub.
  • Last Line: For this was the Trail.
  •  Men who work for the love of it are too scarce to lose. chp The Forest Ranger
  •  I wish I had a dog's vivid interest in mere living. Chp We Fall Back 
  • There is a joy in the clean, accurate labor — a pleasure in stretching your muscles. Chp: The Permanent Camp.
  • The moment your back is turned, the forest begins her task of resolving it to its original elements.  Chp: The Permanent Camp.  
  • An inch on the map is a mighty deceiving thing.  Chp:The Permanent Camp.

Table of Contents:
  • The Big Meadow Trail
  • The Forest Ranger
  • Roaring River
  • Dead man's Canon
  • Cloudy Canon
  • Bloody Pass
  • We Fall Back
  • The Permanent Camp
  • The Side Hill Camp
  • The Ledge
  • Appendix
  • Field
  • Notes