You know it, when you think back that they'd promised you jet-packs by now; And you thought, "f-yes!!" -- "That's going to be a banner day, when the box arrives". So for years you waited idly, patient as a Hindu cow. Of course, you substituted other gadgets into your quiver, which would tide you over whilst your order was processed. First it may have been a Big-Wheel, then maybe a Go-cart that you cobbled together from plywood, and some lawn-mower wheels. Then it was a skateboard that you took some sweet jumps with, which cost your parents a holiday in the E.R. We all know it was that 'crappy board' they got you, and not your mad skills, but you marched onward. Later, to the Bike that you loved, and you began to build ramps to jump that. The bike panned-out, and it took you places, and so you never pressed about why the jet-pack hadn't arrived -- But you knew that somewhere, a really crafty genius was working on one, and it would hit the market just in time for your next birthday. You worshipped the catalogs waiting for it to show up, in the "Big Book", But catalog shopping, like the internet, tends to segue attention toward other things. Over time Bikes and Skates were refined, as well as all sorts of new inventive toys. You'd dreamed of lasers, real Spider-Man web-throwers, Grappling hooks, and capers which would inevitably require the jet-pack a' la James Bond, but it never came. So fast forward a few decades, (or more), and they have them now, They are here!. Really!, Dudes like Branson have Jet-packs, and unfortunately they are way out of reach. Fiscally, you would need to mortgage the house to nab a real-life Jet-pack!!. And... So it goes, you slog through the internet, like the Sears Catalog searching for substitutes.
You religiously muddy yourself with all sorts of adventures, pulling muscles, spraining this or that, and gearing up for things which put you close to the edge, so that you can come home with that "Jet-pack" feeling from sending a rock-face, or racing in a Crit, Hiking the PCT, but alas all of these things fall short of the 30 seconds you and your jet-pack need together to consummate a relationship.
Today you've returned home from a bike ride, and realized that you have "Like literally never washed that thing", and it (your bike) is beginning to resent you for it. Your bike is a shit-storm of residual road poop. Seasons of build-up in crevasses, which dictate how hard you can press the pedals without evoking a creak or grinding sound which make you a laughing-case from a jump-start, considering the cost of that Carbon wonder. Would today be the day?
Today, I left the house at 7:40 am and pressed my pedals to emit a crackle from the bowels of hell, and thought, "That's OK! (he justified), I can merely take a sip from my bottle and squirt some down on the cranks and BB, and liberate some of that filth, so that I don't embarrass myself as I round the next corner. When I caught up to pace, my bike was making less sound, but it struck me, "Must I always be 'That Guy', who never washes his rig, and shows up for a ride with a gilded chain, so clean you could floss with it, but a bike so filthy that I literally need to hose it with Electrolyte Kool-Aid, to keep it from making sounds?" Today would be the day, that IF, I was good Didn't curse at any drivers, and washed my bike), They would bring it. The pact you made with your parents, never came true, and you stopped promising "being good" a long time ago. in exchange, but isn't it time you paid it forward. So, I spun out the usual ride and returned warm and hungry, as the weather shifted from 36 at departure to 56 upon return. One espresso consumed, discussing routes with the fellas, and I returned home to a day of chores. Later, as My fate would have it, my "jet-pack" indeed arrived in a surprisingly small yellow cardboard carton, and as I'd un-boxed it methodically, like a stupid YouTube Video, I became aware of a mis-match of my expectation vs/ reality. It was Small! Quite small.
How could something this small possibly get lift. Immediately, (setting the instructions aside as normal) I set about to figure out how to fill it, charge it and get blasting. Today, unlike the last 45, it would be mild and sunny. I'm sure glad that the weather would cooperate for such a banner day. I lifted the handle which separated the top from the base, and inside was neatly stowed the power brick, a hose, and a nozzle. It was all so neatly packaged and smartly compact that I was quite impressed with it's efficient form. I plugged it in to charge, and diverged for some other tasks.
OK so I'm impatient, and I didn't wait very long for the charge cycle, and with the tank separated, I headed to the kitchen sink to fill it up. It's rather straight-forward, and as such, at no time did I think I may have been "doing this wrong", I merely popped the top, put 4 liters in it, and headed outside. The jet Nozzle rotates like a bayonette into place onto the handle without any effort, and when the tank is returned to the body, lifting the outer handle aligns the tank handle below, becoming one tote handle. It's basically a lunch-box on steroids. Here I go into JPL test one.
The unit has a small rubber cover for the power adapter, to conceal the electric bits from spray. It's good to keep that closed, and also good to not spray oneself, or the unit, as I'm sure a deluge could make for a very unhappy friend. The unit has a power button, but when in use the mere act of pulling the trigger begins the pump. So, when you pause, the pump shuts down, and the unit is silent. Here is the action shot of the jet-pack in action.
Yes, but... is there sufficient lift, to jet this filth into oblivion? Well, yes there is. This tiny toy of a Lunch-box, is no slouch on the couch. My bike literally has NEVER been bathed, except by accidental rides in rain of all sorts. The Jet thing is Que Fuerte! especially for something that could fit neatly in a pannier bag. It's not your Paint peeler to prep the rotted deck boards for a fresh finish, but to clean your Bike, Vintage Vespa, Hub-caps, Deck Chairs, Grille, Dog Bowls, litter-box, Trash Cans, and any other nasty bits its perfect. In fact, I smiled pressing the gas on this tiny toaster sized bathing apparatus. You will of course find all sorts of "Other Uses", and perhaps some of those will be creatively censored by the critics. Not enough lift to get me off the ground, sadly... But I can live with a cleaner bike that will propel me further, with less gas and batteries, than whatever the Billionaires are flying these days. I think that the Karcher OC 3 could be the robot you bring to every Mountain-Bike and Cyclocross event this year. It does with one tank of water enough to get a mucky bike into a clean trunk, and with a few reservoir refills this tot-size shower will shine nearly any toy to new condition. And Heck on a sunny day, who doesn't want a double rainbow. I don't know much about the Marketing Momentum behind the Bumble Bee brand in the U.S. But if you want to clean up some shit with a jet-pack small enough to fit in your messenger bag, then this is the portable super soaker you have been searching for. You may have in mind a far more powerful soul-mate to clean the Siding, and strip the paint off your dog-house, but if you dwell far from a hose-bib, a power outlet, or even a faucet, then you could do worse than to let this one into your coven. As I listen to Jeff Buckley crooning "Hallelujah", I am reminded of the serendipity of a proper sound-track to a lovely afternoon when your poor neglected filthy bits finally get a proper washing, and when it happens, it just makes you feel whole again.
Make yourself one again with your filthy neglected stuff, and 'Dance Yourself Clean' with a miraculously convenient thing you'd never realized you needed, until it was revealed to you.
But don't take it from me, No. Go ahead and ask my Bike what it's done for our relationship. You already have a drawer full of neglected gadgets, and unlike your folding exercise equipment under the guest bed, your drawer full of perfectly good misfit phones, and That Shitty Drone you bought to stave off the Jet-Pack. With this one, you could actually do some good in the world, and clean up something you can't bear to stare at. I read other articles and reviews of the tiny Karcher and think it's fair to chime-in about what may be considered it's flaw. My new Karcher Jet-pack has a 4 liter reservoir, and I filled it three times to get real fresh with my favorite road bike, but heck, have you looked at it in the "Before" image. It was a grimy mess. Today we are re-kindling a relationship of mutual respect, and admiration. I really like my new jet-pack, not as much as my bike of course. The Karcher OC 3 is about a Buck-Fifty, ($129-169) and it's every bit the cool that you thought you were when you first rode a 2 wheeler. Grab one, and do it clean. You will simultaneously thank me for saving you from a creaky filthy bike, and blame me for removing all that stands between you and your weekend chores.
It should count against no one who yearns for adventure, when searching for the tools they'll bring with them, mistakes will happen. Being Left to one's own resourcefulness in any environment, is the essence of an adventure. Out-clevering a challenge, will inevitably come back to the tools you have, and those you bring. If you have the sweetest tool, but left it on your dresser, it may require more ingenuity, improvisation, or sadly more suffering. Bringing the wrong tool for the job can end the outing, mid-trip. We have all sorts of "recommendations" which betray the very essence of the utility we seek. Taking advice is tough, because when it comes to the great outdoors, there is a sliding scale; from persons who never check in, to those on the couch flicking the wire control valve of an MSR Iso stove, with no actual plans to use it outside -- Some will troll 300 blogs daily in hopes of gaining standing amongst the elite moderators, although they've never handled the gear. Wherever your virtual adventure takes you, when you do get someplace, it'll be best to have planned well. Let's be honest for a moment with ourselves and look through the top-down photo of anyone's "Gear list" and consider for a moment the Subjective nature of just such endeavor. What is good for one person, may be a burden to another... Some guy on the south island of New Zealand is heading to Rotorua, and splays everything on his bed to show you what he's packing, while another woman is packing for a trip to Namibia, and she sets each item from her pack on the floor to show you the essentials in her kit. What nets out amongst the spectrum, Truly... Is that one in six "Gear Lists", may not be heading anyplace at all. You know the guy, you have met her; She buys the Vintage Toyota Land Cruiser 4-door from an overseas broker, just to slight her ex-boyfriend who had a poster of it in his Adobe Home, before dumping her for being fake. That chick is not going anyplace, but she will chime in on the forum, under a Dude Psudonym, and berate the size and usefulness of your "Pocket-knife". Beware!
My sense is that the internet has a huge credibility issue, and the earnest adventure-bound cannot afford to allow the couch surfing trust-fund blue-blood to edge out perfectly useful tool advice, by an internet slight of hand. Influencers are typically: Hot, Made-up, and Full of shit.
Crap Man!!, If I'd followed the hype, I may never eat, except at a chain restaurant who pays to land in your search box. Have you read who is on Yelp? We all have a precious opinion, but most wont amount to shit when you need to cut your pinched arm loose from a rock. Sound extreme? Broad reach?, Perhaps, but if you are alone, or worse, you are with a few green-horns, then you have the added responsibility to keep them happy too. Don't bring cheap shit with you, and don't buy cheap shit, and your life will be longer and more fulfilling.
You know the TV show where the guy purports to be his one and only camera crew and then ventures into the tundra with a bag of Seal meat, and a Multi-tool? Well there is also another "Choose your own adventure" series a' la Wild Krats where our hero takes you to remote places but you know in your heart that his crew-van is 20ft. off-camera preparing him a barbeque lunch, just as he pretends to eat Bear poop to survive. This said, can we please agree that there is in fact a sliding scale of adventurers, from those who talk about it, all the way up to those who don't take the time to share, because they are "doing" something constantly. Yes? So anyway when you see a review in Esquire about cool adventure gear, and the latest pay to play North Face fashion, you may make time to tune out, and to hit a real reference library, before you push a pile of money across the table. It's OK if you bought a Panerai, or Bell and Ross, because you'd envisioned your next trip to 4 star hotels in Thailand to be "rugged". It may come as no surprise that Pilots don't actually check their Breitling at odd moments when they are turning-blue, and grabbing for the O2 Tank. So dig it, are we all levelled off now?. Someplace out there is a 16 year native kid who can smoke you on any mountain course, with gear a dime-to-dollar below what you so fashionably sport. Lets begin here. Edmund Hillary and Chouinard did it in wool sweaters, and cotton because that's what they had. Right?
So pick-out your own flipping multi-tool, and wear your 21-jewel watch, when you flip it open, to cork a bottle of Bordeaux... but don't whine when you are actually ill-equipped to enjoy and finish a trip. You can thank Men's Journal, and your myopia, when you need to phone a friend for an ex-fill, half way into a cool adventure. For the rest of us, let's talk tech. The multi-tool, what is it? I want to believe that Gerber, Leatherman, Sog, and Victorinox, all have people in the field giving them feedback, but that's not true for most brands. What is true is that the net material cost of "X", with the Marketing Cost of "Y", measured against the Sales Team's forecast for sell-through and returns numbers from the largest retailers, will net out the product that is built just for you. Getting the right tool is simple. Hold it, try a few, and ask some people who actually use them. What they carry daily, is likely functional.
Mine comes from Victrorinox, and I have literally kept one on my belt for two decades. For me, it works everywhere. For you, there is a tool perhaps like mine, and your use will vary, so will the brand. For me, there is no other tool. I have read about and held others. I have taken two or three into various places, and have yet to find a place where I'd wished that the manufacturer (I've chosen) had only been more thoughtful. I have filed screw heads flat to remove with the pliers, cut sections from a pole, stake, or metal post to create a make-shift part. I have cut through fences, Opened Walls, and Trimmed Copper Pipe. I have sawed lumber, splints, branches, and cut and fileted fish, beef, bison, elk, my own muscle, and changed the oil and plug on a vintage Vespa. My tool has built shelters, pruned Fruit trees, and re-tuned carbs and camp stoves. I have re-wired a small electric grid, cut my hair, nails, and diced garlic. We all mend sails, and splice line with our Multi-tool, right? There is a myriad more means to prove their salt, but we don't brag. It's just that you only have this one tool with you, and so you "make do". When you buy yours, you should consider the mechanics in your hand, the pivots, and hinges and how they will behave when strained, wet, salty, and clogged with sand. You need to know that when you open the blade, pliers, of file, that the mech wont break your last remaining thumb-nail just to get the awl out to sew your tire closed.
When you pick out your multi-tool, you should look around and listen to what others have to say about theirs, and remember what your multi-tool is for, and what it is not. It is not an Axe, and will never be one, so don't buy one with an axe handle, or hammer built in. Your multi-tool is not a Spoon, Spork, or spatula, although you could probably coax some food from a pan or fire with it. Your multi-tool is not a flint, compass, nor Time-piece, and it probably wont have 64 Gig of memory in the handle. Your Multitool is your best friend when you have it at the moment that it is useful. If you select well, your Multi-tool may save your life. When you find the right one for you, you will know it. Once you have one which works for you, you can go and buy all the things that your multi-tool is NOT, including an Axe, a Spoon, a Compass, and even that watch you think you need. What's funny about the watch thing, is that you will know your pace, Lunch-time, bed-time, and when you are tired, without the Rolex, or the knock-off crappy multi-tool. If you bother to adventure someplace, with a clever tool, (even if it's your friend's house, where they don't have a screwdriver or pliers), you can whip out your thing, and make it happen. l I can't endorse all models, and brands, and wont tell you that you will find my favorite tool as useful, as I do -- But I can say that you will not be disappointed with the dynamic duo or the Victorinox Spirit, in any version paired with the Gransfors Bruks, Belt axe. You can literally carry each on either side of your belt, and forget they are there. Both are perfect tools for me. You can get the Axe from WesSpur, and the Multi-tool from Victorinox
I’m so glad that I found out today that “Global Warming” is a hoax, this way I don’t have to ride my bike to work any more. Anyway we've had biblical rain, and I'm tired of it. I read the news today, oh boy, about a lucky man who saved the planet. He did so, by sticking his head in the sand, and when he pulled it out, he convinced his influential pseudo-scientist friends that “Global Warming” was a farce. For so long I had been worrying about the constant rain, that floods all the underpasses, and basements. I was concerned that it really shouldn’t snow in warm places, and certainly shouldn’t snow in May. As local rivers burst their banks, and bomb cyclones and tornadoes thrash great-plains towns, it’s comforting to know that people didn’t have any hand in the acceleration of extreme weather. I’m so happy to know that someone just made-up a myth to help explain why my summers are shorter and hotter, and my winters are longer dry and far colder. I’d thought that I’d agreed with science, when they told me why post card mountains were no longer snow-capped. It’s great to know it’s all a hoax. I’m going to bike to work anyway, but, “Global Warming”, is a bad label, because it doesn’t explain why some places are getting colder, so let’s call it “Climate Change”. This way we can account for all of the extraordinary weather sweeping the globe, which of course is not really happening. So while we are making shit up, and whether the rain ever let's up, or not... let's share the ideal of "Bike to Work" and "National Bike Month"
"Climate Change, is caused by Carbon, Hamburgers, & Ride-share, right?, not people..."
A few observable excessive phenomena may contribute to extraordinary weather episodes are: Trash, Deliveries, and Ride-share, all of these are at a scale which we've never witnessed before. All of them sadden me like that iconic 1971 native, Iron Eyes Cody touring a trashed planet. The video we watched growing up is linked HERE. It's not surprising that when I ride my bike to work, 3 out of five cars have a border-state license plate, a ride-share tag, and a single passenger in the back seat. During “rush hour” there seems to be a giant increase in ride-share traffic, and a proportional decrease to Public Transit, Bikes and Pedestrians. Come to think of it, I was wondering yesterday why the French and Italians don’t “work out” like Americans, and think it might have to do with their walk to: work, lunch, the grocery, the bar, cafe, etc… When we ride-share, we encourage people to not ride their bike to work. May is Bike to work month, and when we take a Lyft, we collectively encourage a doe-eyed suburbanite to cluelessly drive through the density of the city to chauffeur lazy Millennials around while both the driver and the passenger stare at their phone’s glowing screen. Normally I’d say "live and let live", but because it’s “Bike to Work Month” could we please watch the road for bikes?, or learn to drive without blankly staring at a screen?, Please!!.
Today, when I take out the trash, every can is full of delivery cartons, plastic, and foam packaging, and the streets are regularly blocked with delivery vans. It’s tough to put the trash out, because the overflow of whole cardboard and packaging is everywhere. Five years ago one trash can per house would suffice, now each needs three. It’s good to know that somebody comes each week to take all of my shit away by some magical sleight of hand, but where does it actually go? It used to go to China, Indiana, Barges, and Hulking incinerators, but now it just piles up in my alley. I think it may be nice to save all of my neighbors whole cartons, and trash (offsite) for a year, and then return one sunny afternoon in May, and pile it in their yard. What a strange annual lottery we could have, if some un-witting neighbor who never broke down boxes nor sorted their recycling, got it all re-delivered one fateful Earth-day. I think the pile would exceed the volume of their home.
Perhaps that sort of lottery would incentivize people to see the scale of the issue. Perhaps it has nothing to do with Climate Change, but could it be that a steep penalty or tax on new boxes, and deliveries could offset or shift the status-quo mounds of shit piling up?
Riding and walking is simple, and even fun, but why bother, when some poor slob can do it for you. It’s not that I’m advocating a single child policy, but have you looked around at how many people there are? Quite a lot… We seem to be in need of companionship, But do we need to keep a driver and delivery guy, on staff. Seems like we first get a dog or two, (and we can't be bothered to open the lid to ditch their poop bags) -- Then we get a few SUV’s, and then a larger house, and then a few kids, and before you know it the carbon foot-print is quite a bit larger than when they were in college. In college most of my furniture was second hand. In fact now that you are in full consumer acceleration making diapers, and such, with a few kids, the shoe shopping really accelerates, and a critical mass of boxes begins to mount.
Today you may have masonry blocks propping up your make-shift shelving, and a door slab set atop two saw horses for a desk, and you may be drinking from your only thrift-store, cup, or coffee mug, and that’s O.K. …Actually that’s kind-of ideal from an environmental perspective. So, you are not the problem… yet. Until you start the new job, and ride-share to and from everywhere, (even during Bike to Work Month). Your dog is not the problem, but when you consider the Food delivery for both you and Scraps, and the cardboard, utensils, and packaging, from Chewy, boxed-meals, and take-out food, we just don’t compress and up-cycle like the Market down the street. The local Grocer is selling their compressed cardboard back to a paper mill, and re-selling it to you, so you can buy soft tissue, and wipe your butt. I think if everyone could pump the brakes a bit on buying everything in a package, and then having the same delivered by a truck in yet another box, with foam peanuts; We may find that the neighbors (whom you’ve never met thanks to delivery and Netflix) are actually friendly engaging people. When you walk your own dog, in-stead of having a service pick them up, you can perhaps meet the neighbors walking theirs. If you visit the grocery on your own, you may be able to skip the gym. If you bike to work this month, you could use your ride-share money to eat ice-cream, which won’t go to your waistline, because you rode to work…
I know it’s all a environmentally unsound, but you could eat ice-cream every night, and not work out at all — and still be fit and happy. If you'd walk your own dog, walk to the store, prepare your own meals, shop for your own stuff, and ride to work, you are basically "French". All of this suave behavior can be done while meeting and interacting with other people, who may become your best friend, or the one you settle-in with to watch Netflix.
I’m no saint myself, and I do have a lot of shoes that I don’t wear, (I can only wear one pair at a time). Would you know it?, the ones I don’t love were all purchased “on-line”. The ones I wear daily, I got at a store. You know those tidy white boxes with glass, and easy-listening music? --The store, not the shoes... Anyway, you can actually buy shoes in a store, and see how you like them before you pay. That store also recycles their cardboard boxes, compacting them clean and flat to be reused so you don’t have to pile them whole behind my house. If you buy shoes at the store, you can ask them to keep the box, and you can ride home wearing your new shoes, like you did when you were five. Romantic.
I’m glad that I have plenty of stuff, but stuff takes it’s toll on the environment. I'm trying to offset my carbon foot-print by owning more carbon bikes, (e.g. repurpose Carbon to offset it's global increase). I may be using some bad math, as excess carbon bikes have loads of metal parts which net a ton of energy, and waste, to produce. I do ride them however, every day. I never drive to work, nor to the store, nor to the shore, or even to camp, so I am at least pretending to do my part riding my carbon. Just the same, Climate change is(n’t) real, so you can relax on the couch, and continue to wreck the earth with cardboard delivery boxes, gas, smog, ride-share, styrofoam, and other pollutants, such as cheeseburgers.
Mmmm! Cheeseburgers...!! Did you know that factory farming produces an average 16% of greenhouse gas emissions, 17% for Beef... While cars and Trucks about 14%. Here is the rub; It is worse to eat a burger (ecologically) than to drive there to get one. The real issue is that greenhouse gasses such as methane from cattle production is 23 times more hazardous to the environment than C02 from your car. You could however, eat all of the burgers you want, if you could cut some of the other junk from your wasteful world. Nobody wants to hear that they've, "...Pretty much always been a dick-head, and that's why, we need to break-up", but the facts show that White People's fetish with beef, is hugely bad for Climate Change.
Here is the reason we need to break up with Beef, a study on food–energy–water impacts of the average American diet by demographic group, published 25, March 2019, by Bozeman, Bozeman, and Theis, finds that Beef really is the worst food for the environment.
Perhaps when you do get your next meal (if you didn’t already have it delivered), and you did take ride-share today, then you should offset some of your misplaced Carbon, and some Methane, and choose to eat something else.
If you became that one person in a thousand, who rode their bike to work every sunny day in May. Congratulate yourself and eat whatever you want, perhaps a cheeseburger, and make a plan to ride a bit more this year. May is “Bike to Work Month”, and you are saving the planet, compared to your deadbeat neighbors, who are jointly responsible for the constant rain.
I got a "C+" for a paper in school digging deeply into Emily Dickinson's angst-oozing winter Poem by the same title. It took me many years to get over the arguments I'd had with the English Department Chair, who didn't see it my way. The thing about subjectivity is that you don't have to get my drift, People don't need to agree -- One just has to make a solid case for their position, or perhaps not at all. There was the rub. In a class, I was under duress to convince an academic sophisticate to look at this "another way". I'd cited all sorts of books on "seeing" and aesthetics, but the department believed that, (my) "way of seeing it was wrong". I've kept that maudlin bit of Mid-January in my rear brain for more than a few decades, and still it brings unrest. I've spent the gap years showing others how we own very little but subjectivity and creativity belong to us. Your Creativity and Subjectivity, are not things which you have to share, but the world can be a better place when you do. Take the case of this certain slant of light, Most assuredly not Dickenson's intended imagery, but just the same a theme which may evoke a different interpretation for each beholder. Primitive shadow puppets may be the first animated theater, but if you cast a long enough shadow, you'll note that the dark spaces makes for interesting conversations. Such that it was with Emily Dickenson, who seemed to cast quite a long dark shadow, struggling to breathe clean air above troubled water. May we all be more joyful than she. It seems rather easy to out-happy Dickenson. In fact even if we dwell in the "little things" as she did, what we cull out of their nuance can be the cup half full. Children can have more fun with a cardboard box, and a pile of sand than any moulded plastic figure you can buy them. Thorough Danish Studies Published recently, and shared here prove that kids are happier when they spend time in nature, and so it makes sense that earthbound is not housebound. A glowing screen version of a sandlot, doesn't substitute the real thing, and the long shadow of the sun before dusk cannot be substituted by anything in the basement. Sure you can shine a flashlight over your hands and cast the shape of a heart, but there is no supplement for the impending danger of darkness, or the thrill of pushing the bounds of being scolded for staying out past the street lights. Thrill comes to us in nuanced forms, from the surprise, and elation of doing even the simplest things which we'd thought impossible, to the freedom to be dangerous. Its perhaps not surprising that spending time outdoors makes kids more happy and happier as adults, if we understand what being outdoors provides, that the indoors cannot.
The graph above is a map, which can be tough to follow unless we just look at the left column numbers which are higher for kids in the city, than the country. Lets, also consider that all kids spend way too much time indoors, so we need to skew for the heavy effect of being shut-ins in general.
Danger as an Elixir:
Outside has plenty of danger, and danger, and risks bring both fear, and exhilaration. It's taking chances, and calculating the risk of jumping from this rock to that, or climbing a tree, that you can't fathom how to climb down from, that stimulate us toward happiness. The fallout from jumping from one roof to the other, provided the outcome was positive, will be Thrilling. Being thrilled seldom comes from a screen, or in another Two-dimensional form. Slip off a rock and skinning your knee before dragging one foot under an icy river current is a tough sensation to bring about in a VR rig.
Dirt, and all things which make us dirty,
make us happier. Happier to be clean perhaps; But filth is the Yin to the Yang of clean Pajamas. For kids this dualism, of our interconnected/ interdependent world gives more meaning to a balanced life. Nobody needs to be a buddhist, to understand the primary chaos of material energy, everything has energy. The proof can be found in a hug, even hugging a tree. Dirt has energy, and knowing clean may follow, makes that energy more potent. It seems strange that something so elementary could be true, but consider the Prince who is pampered, carried, chauffeured, and quaffed…, is it surprising that the description brings to mind someone’s Bichon? An idealized description of that one lady in the elevator, as dolled up as her dog, but her pocket-pooch is adorned with ribbons, painted nails, a Longchamp sweater, and a rhinestone collar… In animated films that is the most miserable dog, barking anxiously at anything to compensate for being emasculated in this way. A pet kept to this standard would certainly like very much to eviscerate that squirrel, but decorum forbids this. Being over-maintained separates pets and people from primal grounding elements. Some of these come in strange form from Mud wrestling, to Pottery class, Color Runs, Finger-Paints, A sandbox, The Beach, Camping, A Mosh-pit, We have opportunities to get filthy, sweaty, exhausted, and we exit the other side of that experience somehow more whole. I don’t pretend to know why, but it seems true that if we don’t get dirty or feel some strain, then we lose reference for comfortable contentment.
The Glowing shimmer of space:
Shimmering sunlight and the vastness of space. Everyone cannot travel into space, but every kid can wander there or wonder about vast space by looking toward it. Playing in the sunshine, is immensely underrated. Going someplace dark to see the stars, the vast galaxies of stars, which boundlessly shimmer above us every night is an increasingly rarified experience. Children and adults generally have little face time with the cosmos, our moon, and even the sun. The long cast shadow that the sun creates before dusk and after dawn is invigorating because every object we thought we knew in the 2-D world becomes far more three-dimensional when the shadows, and light stretch and animate plain forms. Ask any photographer, and they will tell you that their job is not to control the photograph, nor the subject so much as it is to control the light, and that interest comes from interesting light. From the boundless shimmer of galaxies, to the cratered moon, to the healthy glow of the Sun, The absorption of fascination & vitamins from the sun & cosmos cannot be understated. When darkness comes, so too comes the thrill exclusive to the dark. With the regenerative power the next day brings, we pause our playtime at dusk, to return tomorrow to the very same spot, to pick-up building a fort, or a castle, or to venture further afar. What is postponed when darkness falls, has it's surrogate in the cool shimmering air of the night sky. Fear not that certain slant of light.
Wonder comes from Wandering:
...And getting lost is essential to playing. Going places with a friend, or solo through a field, across a railroad, or through a graveyard, with the risk of losing ones way, is a sure-fire way to have a blast. It is not suggested that anyone travel out of range and keep on that way with no sense of boundary, but orienteering oneself outdoors, is an essential life skill, and is it's own antidote for structure, and routine. Part of what makes wandering through the woods so much fun, is the seeming randomness and chaos that surrounds us. Like a constellation, certain trees, and rocks, ruts and piles, scatter like bread-crumbs in our minds to define a pattern for dead reckoning. If we feel lost even for a moment, or rev that up to sustained fear, then we are tapping into something which is useful. We are engaged in the smallest way, with our own survival. Skills build confidence, and with confidence comes new tools to create solutions which we'd never know if we didn't first get lost. The singular focus on the problem of perhaps not making it back home, develops a rational understanding of what we are capable of, and what we need to work on. Wanderlust builds wonder, and is wonderful for development.
I think that unhappy Emily Dickenson never got out much, and whatever the circumstances, I'd much prefer to travel, than to read about travel. What I read form her poem was that she wasn't a happy kid. Creating happy kids requires nature, and daylight, green-space, and adventures to develop. Kids are healthier when they stray, when they play outdoors, and even middle-aged late bloomers who learn to fly-fish at 50, can enjoy the same benefits. It's far simpler to imagine the greatness of the outdoors, from the dim boundary of our indoor lives, but that system is not sustainable! There's this certain slant of light, which one can only know when they have seen the same from all other angles. Go outside.
Full article from the PNAS Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
There's a certain Slant of light, (by Emily Dickinson)
There's a certain Slant of light,
Winter Afternoons –
That oppresses, like the Heft
Of Cathedral Tunes –
Heavenly Hurt, it gives us –
We can find no scar,
But internal difference –
Where the Meanings, are –
None may teach it – Any –
'Tis the seal Despair –
An imperial affliction
Sent us of the Air –
When it comes, the Landscape listens –
Shadows – hold their breath –
When it goes, 'tis like the Distance
On the look of Death –
Blurred coastline passes