Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Days #30, #31 and #32: John Barleycorn...

The computer is still in the shop.

Outdoor activities have been limited to walks with the dog and a little work on the house. This vacation has been good for me. Spending large amounts of time away from paid labor makes a person appreciate just how much working for pay takes out of a person. Now, after only working one day in the last thirty days, I'm starting to feel like myself again.

And I've been reading. A lot. I finished "Into Thin Air" by Jon Krakauer. Climbers seem to know how to write books. This is a tragic adventure story about the 1996 expedition to Everest that ended in half a dozen deaths. Climbers still march past the bodies that are forever entombed on Everest's slopes.

And last night I finished Jack London's "John Barleycorn". Written in 1913, essentially this book is about Jack London's alcohol use (and abuse). Jack London died from alcoholism three years later. "John Barleycorn" is London's word for alcohol. London admits he voted for women's suffrage because he thought once women had the vote, they would vote for Prohibition. As long as alcohol was legal, Jack London said he would always drink. London helped Prohibition's cause by writing this alcoholic memoir. It fueled the movement. Ironic that Jack London never liked the taste of spirits. He considered himself a social drinker--although towards the end of his alcoholic dance he needed alcohol from morning til night. A good read.

And I brought my bike into the shop to be serviced. Soon we shall start training for the Wildflower 100. But I haven't decided whether I'll do the "Mildflower 65".


Anonymous said...

And I've been watching the Discovery Channel series on Everest. Several years ago, daughter #2 and I got into a jag of reading most of the books written about the 1996 Everest season. Fascinating.

Glad to hear you're getting your bike ready...


Tim Koppenhaver said...

Krakauer is indeed a good writer. Try "Into the Wild" next.

Now that I know what "John Barleycorn" really means, the song "Let it All Hang Out" by the Hombres makes a little more sense.


Take care.


Allan Stellar said...


I've caught a couple of those Everest episodes. Amazing! I pick up the refurbished bike today. :)


I really liked "Into the Wild". Jon K. was so compassionate towards that young man's folly. And he gave examples of his own (Krakauer's) foolishness that could have ended just as badly. Since most of us have survived being a young man--I think we can all relate. :)


Anonymous said...

Krakauer's book was one that we read, and there were several others written about that year. It was fascinating to see different perspectives. I'm a bit fuzzy on it, but seem to recall thinking that Krak was a bit cocky and condescending compared to some.

Allan Stellar said...


I felt that way too about K. But then again, most climbers I've met have that kind of personality. You have to be a bit cocky to climb like that.

Although a quick peek at wikipedia on K. supports your claim.



Ian Woofenden said...

Hey Allan,

In the Discovery channel series there are several climbers who have their egos in check -- we just hear more about the Krakauers and Medvetzes...