Sunday, August 27, 2023

Not Even Not Zen 315: Dishonest Recognition

Dishonest Recognition

This is about how people fail to escape the bad patterns forming in their lives. Their friends may notice the trends; and sometimes the people who are causing the patterns see them, too, and realize they are harming themselves; and yet they fail.

At the core of the failures to stop these slides into personal disaster, there seems to be a sort of dishonesty. The person caught in the pattern of bad behavior rationalizes to themselves in any way they can to avoid the responsibility for making a change.

1. They will deny the trend exists regardless of many others noticing it.
2. They will deny the situation amounts to a problem.
3. They will say they need more time to address the problem.
4. They will blame the problem on someone else. Like the other responses, this is a declaration that they don’t intend to change.
5. They will claim the problem is unsolvable, the pattern immutable. Although this is nicer because it doesn’t place the blame on others, it is still an announcement of intent.

Everyone seems to have some of these behaviors. This doesn’t mean no one escapes the bad habits they’ve established but it does point out how insidious life patterns can become. It’s hard enough already to recognize the patterns, the underlying causes, and the solutions; and it seems awfully easy to justify not taking the necessary actions.


1. If you hear something like, “I’ve been drinking more but it’s only social drinking,” you can know this is how your friend is rationalizing something that’s become a problem as being not a problem.

2. If you hear, “Other people eat as much as I do,” or “Other people sleep more than me,” you might recognize this as slightly hopeful, in that the person developing the problem is willing to acknowledge the trend, just not the negative consequences.

3. “I’m working on it,” or “I’ll get to it” may sound positive until you notice the person is effectively declaring they need infinite time. It takes a while to notice. But only when there is no choice or it is, in fact, too late will they try to act.

4. “She shouldn’t have left me,” or “I only smoke because of all this stress,” or even “If everyone would stop giving me advice, I’d be fine” are all hostile attempts by problematic people to not only to avoid change but to paint themselves as helpless victims. Of all the responses, this one is probably the most discouraging. That’s because it can feel so comforting to see oneself as a victim. Not only does the person not intend to change, they’ve managed to feel good about it.

5. “I’ve got ADHD,” “Can’t you see my foot is broken?” “I’ve been depressed,” are all possibly true statements (or outrageous lies that are hard for friends to call out) but they too often lead to a claim of the problem being unsolvable. Everyone has hardships to overcome involving the problems in their lives. Not everyone overcomes the hardships. But everyone must start by trying.

It's tempting for friends and family to feel they can help, as if they can make the change that needs to be made. But only the person who has established the bad pattern can really break themselves out of it. 

Taking a drug addict on a trip for a week of hiking without their drug may, in fact, help them recognize the problem. But it will be up to them to act. Enrolling an obese person in a 'fat camp' may help them make progress. The progress won't mean much if they don't get aboard with the idea of living a more active, measured lifestyle. 

Not all of these problems are equal, naturally. A person with clinical, body-chemistry-related depression may have a longer, more difficult path than someone with, say, bad hygiene habits. But all progress involves effort. The best efforts seem to begin with a decision by the person most responsible for the pattern.

Is it easier for people to make decisions to improve within a moral framework?  Stoicism, Buddhism, or and Quakerism all seem decent for this but maybe most frameworks similar to these can assist people in self-transformations. This is one of those conjectures that sound simple but ultimately would be difficult to prove. 

Hopefully, we who are reading and writing this here long ago established such frameworks in our lives. The structure of them at least *seems* to make for faster, more straightforward decisions. Like the frame of a house, though, the moral logic of our lives needs occasional maintenance. If you're excusing yourself over a problem in a way like those above, it's a reasonable signal that it is time for maintenance work.

Sunday, August 20, 2023

Not Even Not Zen 314: Biomythography - Note 60, Snowy Afternoon

Biomythography 60

Snowy Afternoon

We had lost another swim meet, I think. That's the part I don't remember. Maybe we didn't. Maybe the meet ended early because of the snow.

About a dozen of us from the team met outside the Gaithersburg McDonalds. We had driven through the sleet and slush, which wasn't bad on the main road, Rockville Pike. Some of us had to wait in Gaithersburg Plaza for rides home. 

Others wanted to take the opportunity, with most of us free and unaccounted for by our parents, to hang out for a while and party. Our idea of partying was eating fast food together. We were a semi-rural swim team on a snowy afternoon, not a punk band in the city at night.

"We need, like, four tables!" One of the girls laughed. 

We streamed through the double-doors, bumping shoulders, saying nothing much as a group, probably, but saying it loudly. We ordered and ate like teenagers do when they are in training. We sat in clusters, mostly close, and leaned between tables to share jokes. 

Our food was gone in five minutes. We talked for half an hour. A few of the young men and women flirted. The rest of us didn't have our significant others along or didn't know what else to do except ignore the flirting. Eventually, a couple parents showed up to take their kids home.

"Did you drive yourself?" one of the fathers asked me. He wore a full parka, not one of the parka vests that were cool at the time. Somehow, he had gotten snow on his shoulders and sleeves.


"Well, be careful! It's still plenty slick in the back roads."

This was when most of our routes qualified as 'back' ones, basically narrow, paved countryside paths, so it was a fair warning. After the last parent left for the time being, the rest of the team gave up pretending to eat.

"Let's go outside," someone said.

In a few seconds, we were out, kicking at the snow in the parking lot. We meandered across Gaithersburg Plaza to a trendy clothing store, a local one, not The Gap, then to a record store. After a while, my friends got bored of watching me read album covers and persuaded me to leave the record racks.

The only male diver on the team, a fun guy and a pretty good gymnast, pointed to a car skidding in the snow.

"We could ski behind that," he said.

"What do you mean?" I'd been skiing once. At a glance, cars sliding through slush and ice didn't add anything to my insight.

"I mean grab a bumper and ride."

"That's crazy."

"I'll show you."

Fifteen seconds later, he started chasing a gray car. The road was slick and he nearly fell. He didn't catch it. He flapped his arms in exasperation. A minute later, he positioned himself in a pile of slush across the road as an orange Mazda XR-7 drifted over the rough patch. He ducked down and grabbed the left quarter of the bumper. The driver never noticed. The Mazda dragged him for a five-miles-per-hour ride.

Suddenly, I saw the potential.

"See?" the team diver called to us after he let go and turned around.


It wasn't hard to do. Some fun things are difficult; not this. I caught the first bumper I aimed for. It was one with a wide, convenient hold on a box-like, heavy Monte Carlo. When the car skidded through a corner, I decided to hop off. Everyone remarked on how I could have kept going. I knew it was true. For a while, then, a few of us took turns. I found that I could aim my feet at the thickest of the slush, so I didn't have to stop just because the car passed over a patch of bare asphalt.

Catching cars in the parking lot felt like catching waves at the beach. I could feel when I had the right timing. We spent twenty minutes or so water skiing, technically, on the snowpack.

"You kids shouldn't do that." An adult passing by on the sidewalk gave us a kind of sad, half-hearted remonstration.

"But it's fun!"

"Everyone should do it!"

What adults probably saw was there was some chance, however slight, of a teenaged snow surfer getting run over while trying to grab a bumper. Looking back on it, though, I'm not sure the worst case scenario was likely. Even deliberately, you'd have a hard time managing to stick your leg under the car. And after making the grab, I'd judge there's nothing that could happen to a snow surfer behind a car travelling at five or ten miles per hour that wouldn't be more likely to happen in a more careless circumstance.

As swim team captain, I felt my mission for the day was fulfilled by the bumper rides. At our school, we lost our swim meets half the time. And our break-even record that year was a serious improvement over the year before. We had no chance against powerhouse high schools with lots of college-bound swimmers. We won our close meets that year, though, and we had fun. 

I was desperate for us to enjoy some sort of foolery together. And thanks to the guidance from our diver, we did.

Sunday, August 13, 2023

Not Even Not Traveling 45 - Valley of Fire

Valley of Fire - Monday, July 3

After our morning in Kolob Canyon, we knew we had to drive the last part of our grand circle into Las Vegas. That's where we planned to catch our flight the next day.

The Grand Circle tour of Utah usually includes Arches National Park, Monument Valley, Capitol Reef, Bryce, and Zion. We'd added much more to our trip. The Grand Canyon, of course, had been our start. We'd kept going through the Cathedral Wash, Horseshoe Bend, Glen Canyon, Mexican Hat, Lower Antelope, Hovenweep, Mesa Verde, Hell's Revenge, Escalante, and Canyonlands. And as much as I had enjoyed all the parks, I liked the towns we toured and their citizens, too, especially Page, Moab, and Hurricane.

Driving, I wasn't as happy about. But it's the American way. For sure, it's the only way to carry out this sort of tour.

On our drive to Vegas, we spotted one more park on the map, a Nevada state park called the Valley of Fire. The name is supposed to refer to the color of the rocks. In this case, it could have referred to the weather as well. We started our first hike in 114 Fahrenheit. The temperatures kept climbing as we traveled from place to place. Even the hardcore hikers and Nevada natives were waving sayonara to trails all over the park - when they even tried to walk them, which wasn't often.

We met a single car at the parking lot for our first trail stop. The fellow who owned the vehicle returned as we were starting out. He kept shaking his head to himself. He didn't speak to us. He simply got in his black sedan and drove away.

"That's the trail." Diane pointed to a path leading up through a cleft in the rocks.

We explored a few cabins at the head of the trail. A sign there told us these were the earliest tourist cabins in the Valley of Fire. Inside, the air felt good compared to standing in the blistering sun. Nevertheless, we couldn't see there was anything much to the wood structures. Each hut measured about ten feet by eight feet. Each had a firepit stove. We didn't feel like lighting one up, of course, and another sign told us the fireplaces were strictly historical anyway, only meant to show tourists how the previous batch of tourists, a century ago, used to live.

They lived with only the stores of food and water they brought with them, it seems. One hopes they didn't occupy the buildings during the height of Arizona summer.
"Might as well move on," I said and left the northmost building for the trail.

A tenth of a mile onto the rock-strewn path, I passed through the cleft we'd noticed between boulders. It was the narrowest section so far. When I wobbled on the clay dust beneath my feet, I stretched out a hand. But my reflexes kicked in immediately. I stood up straight and jerked away my hand to keep from getting burned.

"Don't lean on anything," I warned.

Diane snorted. She and I paused to try to figure out our next steps. As far as we could tell, the ground disappeared down a cliff face for twenty feet. We would have to shimmy along the steep incline and take care not to fall into a boulder at the end of it, which was followed by another drop and another boulder, and another drop, possibly into trees.

Diane put her open palm over a rock. She nodded as she felt the heat radiating.

"Maybe the next trail," she concluded. We turned back.

The next place offered us spectacular sandstone hills and campsites with grills for our picnic that we didn't intend to have. Unlike the formations at the earlier place, this spot provided some shade. But the three hills didn't have much of a trail. Climbing the sandstone outcroppings was not a real option.

The next and the next venue were much the same. We tried forays across the burning landscapes. They didn't have much to offer; they were devoid of trees, wildlife, or wind. All they had was extra heat radiating from the stones beneath our feet. Eventually, I drove us to the Valley of Fire visitor center.

The center proved to be dismayingly grim as well. The artifacts inside looked random. The placards in the glass cases didn't present a coherent story. Sometimes the material showed promise but even then the language about the local tribes, for instance, read in an overly-simple way, like you might write for an audience of elementary school students. There were a few tourists in the center. They seemed to have the same opinion of it that I did. Even the gift shop had a Soviet-era, you'll-take-what-we-give sort of barrenness to it. The single staff member clearly wanted to be someplace else.

Three teenagers walked past the shop and sat on a bench next to me while I failed to make myself interested in a few sentences about local settlers in a display.

"I'll miss this place," said one teenager. My ears pricked up. I tried to keep my face from betraying my surprise.

"The visitor center?" his friend asked in a rather disbelieving tone. It was entirely appropriate.

"The air conditioning," he sighed.


Thursday, August 10, 2023

Not Even Not Traveling 44 - Kolob Canyon

Zion Park - Sunday, July 2

Kolob Canyon

We decided to eat lunch and relax before our next trail. In Hurricane (Herr-ih-ken) we made an effort to stay out of the sun. We cooked downstairs in the kitchen of our bed-and-breakfast. During my break, I wrote down notes about our hiking experiences.

In the late afternoon, we geared up to see the unpopular part of Zion. That's the northern third. There, the park allows visitors to drive themselves all the way to the trailheads. It should be the most popular section but the scenery isn't as iconic, I guess. During our trip, we asked at the two most popular parks why the rangers felt they were so popular. They replied, almost immediately, 'Instagram.' Particular trails look fantastic. As a consequence, people love to have their pictures taken while walking on them.

I don't know if the rangers were right. The most popular sites might be the best liked ones in every generation. It's clear what the rangers thought, though.

"Let's look at Kolob Canyon," Diane decided. She remembered what a ranger had told us about the stargazing from there. Due to the elevation and the isolation of the trailhead, the parking lot at Kolob Canyon was ideal to see stars at night.

Naturally, the first notice we saw on our arrival was a warning about cougars spotted in the area. The advice emphasized how guests should remain vigilant or, preferably, absent at night.

"I think I'll want a walking stick tomorrow morning," I remarked.

Diane didn't entirely roll her eyes, a sign she took the warning seriously, too.

"Okay," she said as she got out. "Let's go partway in. I want to see what it's like before we hike it in the dark."

"Ugh." I still had the cougars in mind. 

"We won't hike it to the end," Diane emphasized. "We'll just go look."

Spoiler alert: this is not how it worked. 

At first, we entered a broad trail wide enough for three or four hikers. It turned a corner and headed down rocky stairs and, very soon, just rocks. As deeply as we descended, we ascended soon after on a winding path. And that is how the trail proceeded for a while, up down and around on a narrow dirt path that turned into a wooded lane.

The terrain felt interesting and the heat of the late afternoon sun didn't bother us under the cover of the trees. After a while, our path led us into a stream. There were stepping stones laid in the water and it was fun to cross.

After a little while longer on the trail, Diane added, "I feel pretty good. Let's keep going."

A quarter of a mile later, we crossed the stream again. This time, our path lacked some of the stepping stones that would have made it easier. I looked around and found a broad, flat one to use. After I placed it, Diane tried it and pronounced it good. 

In maybe an eighth of a mile, we crossed the stream again, our shoes mostly dry thanks to boulders and flat stones, which lay flat and brown above the water. We started to wonder how often we were going to do this. Not much later, we turned east and hiked along a sandy ridge beside the stream. And we crossed again. Eventually, we made five crossings. I added more large slabs to give us the capability to stay dry, night or day. 

We made the crossings as easy as we could. If we were going to do this by moonlight, I was sure we wanted the stones to be as wide, flat, and as stable as possible. An hour or so into our march, we still hadn't reached the end of the trail. 

"I think we've got to head back," I said, expecting an argument. 

"That's fine," said Diane. She surveyed the green boughs over the trail ahead for a moment. More or less an instant after her pause, however, she turned around. "We'll be back."

In fact, we weren't. On the hike back, we continued to adjust and test the fordings. We left them in fine shape. When we got up the next morning at 4:00 a.m., though, the moon shone high overhead. 

"We're cutting it close," Diane muttered as we packed into the rental car. 

What she meant is the moon didn't look close enough to the horizon. It wasn't. We drove back to Kolob Canyon. Our car was alone in the parking lot. We got out to check for the best stargazing. But there was none. The brightness of the moon blocked out all but the brightest landmarks in the sky. With a stargazing app on my phone, I located Jupiter. But even Saturn was too dull or too low in the sky to spot. 

Eventually, the moon set and the sun rose at the same time. It never grew dark enough to see the Milky Way. No constellations shone bright enough to see. 

Wednesday, August 9, 2023

Not Even Not Traveling 43 - Emerald Pools and Turkeys

Zion Park

Emerald Pools and Turkeys

Soon enough, the stars faded. To our east, the mountain ridges grew backlit with the glow of the approaching sun. 

We still had our parking space in Zion. Unlike the other Zion hikers, we didn't need to take a chartered bus to get into the park. We were in it already. We only needed to claim our place in the line for the Zion trail buses. 

We reached our car in the lot at dawn. When we'd arrived at four, we'd been alone. Now we weren't. Other folks had parked around us, occupying most but not all of the spaces. The tourists were still arriving. Diane and I tried to rest. After a while, we knew we couldn't. There were too many lights, engines sounds, and people getting out to talk right next to us. We hopped out and followed the other hikers, who were forming a line at the shuttle bus stop. 

After a few minutes in line, I felt awfully glad to be early. We weren't even going to make it onto the first bus. Before dawn, hikers travelling alone or in pairs had crowded to the front. What's more, the people arriving after us formed a human snake that wove back and forth between the guided fencing for a hundred yards and spilled out to become an unruly double-wide line for another hundred.

Eventually, slathered in sunscreen and wearing our sensible hats, we climbed aboard the second shuttle. Diane had decided our course of action. We were headed to the Emerald Pools Trail.

The Emerald Pools walk requires multiple trails, really. They aren't supposed to be particularly popular ones, either, but this is Zion National Park. We saw people ahead of us. And behind us. This, despite how we had arrived on only the second bus taking tourists into the lower park. 

With our mild-mannered, semi-professionally hiker-dressed crowd, we crossed the road to the trail head. We formed a line and marched in. Fortunately, it was a shared trail, early on, which meant it soon branched into multiple paths. Different hikers chose various ways. Others who stayed on our trail fast-marched far ahead of us. I suspected we wouldn't see most of them again.

"Which way?" I asked Diane, pointing to where we had reached our split. 

"Not the Lower Emerald," she replied with an eye to the hikers who had proceeded us. 

"Upper, then?" I felt pleased by her choice because we were venturing onto the path almost no one had taken before us this morning. 

"Oh, yes."
As it turned out, the route to Upper Emerald got fairly steep and rocky. Mostly, though, it proved to be a winding, wooded lane that led us upwards, mostly gently, to a small, mossy pond. The source of the pond was obviously (now that I understood what generating one entails) a seep spring to my view. The emerald pool gets filled by way of the drips from the cliff overhanging it. 

Still, it's a pond. Even with the tadpoles in it, there's not much to do there except glance around, nod with satisfaction, and move on. 

We hiked down to the Lower Emerald, which was a bigger and better site than Upper Emerald. We could see at once why it was more popular. Fortunately, the place had emptied after the first rush. We strolled around it and found ourselves on a different path, which was also marked as belonging to the Lower Emerald. According to our map, it should have looped around to take us back to our launch point. That's not what happened, though. It didn't curl back. Instead, it took us south next to the Virgin River all the way to the Court of the Patriarchs, a mile away. 

When we realized what was happening, we shrugged and continued because we had come to hike. A mile in the forest, even an unexpected mile, is not too much. Soon enough, we could make out the bridge leading over the river. We knew we could cross there and hop on the bus to have a rest or find another trail head. 

Except we couldn't. A sign there said the bridge was closed. The park service hadn't updated the map they gave us, obviously, but the bridge was in pretty terrible shape and must have been that way for a couple of years. So they had time to update it but they didn't. They had posted a sign instead. It told us that if we wanted to get back to the other side and catch the shuttle, which by this time we certainly did, we needed to go to the bridge at Site Six, which we had just left, or at Site Four, which lay to the south by way of a trail called Sandy Bench. We chose to continue to Site Four, which was named Canyon Junction. 

"This is a horse trail," Diane announced as we dodged piles of horse poop at the entrance to Sandy Bench. 

"We expected it." A hundred yards earlier, we had pointed to the stables. 


For a while, I dreaded running into a line of horses in the narrow pass. We would have had to climb out of their way. There was barely room for a single animal so large. We had seen no place at all where a horse could fit comfortably with a pair of hikers. However, the Sandy Bench trail soon widened and turned to sand. Sand is a tough surface to hike but we slogged through it. Along the way, we spotted wild turkeys followed by their peeping, meandering babies, some weird insects, squirrels, turkeys again, lizards, and more. And turkeys again. And more lizards. And more turkeys.

Everywhere there was sand, we saw lizards. Everywhere there was underbrush, we saw turkeys. There was a lot of sand and underbrush along Sandy Bench.

Finally, after more than three hours of hiking, we emerged at the Canyon Junction bridge, which was Site Four according to the signs and map. We paused to stare at a unicycle someone had abandoned in the woods, shook our heads in disbelief, and crossed the bridge back to the road. We saw the bus shelter and marched for it. 

When we noticed three hikers emerge from another trail and turn toward to the shelter, I glanced at my watch. 

"I think," I said, doing the math, "it's been more than ninety minutes since we've seen other people."

"You complained," said Diane. She was right. I had. 

"It wasn't a good sign that everyone else disappeared." My thinking, such as it was, had been: experienced Zion hikers knew about the inaccuracies on the map. They knew about the horse poop on Sandy Bench. They understood about turkeys and the risk of cougars hunting them. They weren't impressed by lizards. They had learned the difficulty of slogs through the foot-deep sand. 

"I thought it was nice," she concluded.

And it was. I was almost always pleased to see the turkeys. I'm still sort of impressed by the lizards. 

Sunday, August 6, 2023

Not Even Not Traveling 42 - Satellites of Love

Zion Park - Saturday, July 1

In the town of Hurricane - natives pronounce it Herr-ih-ken and will give you a startled look if they hear any other inflection of the word - we settled into our bed and breakfast. 

The staircase of the bed and breakfast was old, high, and narrow. People apparently had tripped on the polished, wooden steps with some regularity because the owner no longer allowed her guests to wear socks when ascending or descending. The rule was 'bare feet or shoes only.' We talked with the owner for a while as we prepared to see the nearby parks. We mentioned needing lunch; she recommended the Main Street Cafe. It provided a straightforward selection of sandwiches and fountain drinks, mostly local and good. We would recommended it as much as the bed and breakfast owner did. After our meal there, we felt ready to see the park.

Or we thought we were. 

Zion is a crowded park, even in the off-hours. Imagine deciding to go camping in Central Park, NYC. That's what Zion is like during the day. If you think you're getting away from the city or from people, you're not.

It isn't like the other national parks in the area, either, in that you're required to take a shuttle bus system to see most of it. No cars traverse the southern two thirds of the grounds. Alternatively, you can hike across the same land. Completing the journey entirely on foot isn't easy, though. You might not cover as much distance as you think you should in the 106 F summer heat. 

The visitor center parking lot seemed perpetually full, too. We were able to park due to 'sharking,' a practice of following someone to their car so you can be the first to claim it. (When we left, we experienced a driver sharking us in return. Everyone was resorting to it; this young man was very polite and asked where he could meet us at our parking spot.)

Anyway, as we visited the Zion center for the first time, Diane took us to the information desk. There, she asked a park ranger about their bus and trail rules. The ranger gave us advice on stargazing, too. Finally, Diane and I took a brief hike on the Pa'rus Trail. It's one of the few trail heads available from the visitor center. We needed no bus, at least not for the moment, and we explored the landscape where we planned to see the stars that night. We developed a plan based around the clearings near the Pa'rus Trail. In some of them, we would be able to lie on the picnic tables of abandoned campsites and gaze straight up.

Zion Park - Sunday, July 2
Satellites of Love

Our phones told us the moon would set at just a few minutes past four in the morning. We rose at 3:40 a.m. We grabbed our packs and hopped into the rental car. It took us twenty minutes to drive to the visitor center. There, we found Zion to be blessedly empty, all buildings dark. Six streetlamps shone along the main avenue. In their glow, we could find our way around easily, but we also knew we needed to start by getting as far away from the lamps as possible. We hiked over to the Pa'rus Trail and tried to put trees between us and any artificial illumination. Overhead, we could see we had another problem.

The moon hadn't set. We needed to wait longer than we'd planned. Although we could occupy ourselves for a few minutes with the hike to the abandoned campsites, we would need to linger in the cold. Even along our way, we encountered other, problematic sources of light. A car passed by and blinded us. A hiker strode through the Pa'rus with a light pinned to his jacket. 

We reached a campsite picnic table with no trees around it, followed closely by another. We chose the second one and set down a blanket on the table's surface. Carefully, we cuddled up on the tabletop and wrapped the edges of the blanket around us. We were as warm as we could be. With the moon still lingering on the horizon, I took out my phone. 
from Wikimedia Commons

I'd loaded it with two star-gazing apps. One was called Night Sky. The other was Star Walk 2. Both promised I could point my phone camera at the sky and let the app tell me what I was seeing. Both were correct. I stuck my arm out and, even in the waning moonlight, I received a rewarding panorama of stars and constellations, most with names in the app. 

Mars and Venus had long ago sunk below the horizon. To my left, probably in the southeast, I could see Jupiter bright over the mountains. Below it, obscured by the branch of a tree, lay Saturn, dim but visible. 

During the next twenty minutes, the moon set below the western horizon. The constellation Pegasus above us grew bright enough to see. The Milky Way emerged. So did the occasional cyclist on the Pa'rus Trail nearby. Every time a bicycle pedaled past, we had to close our eyes for a minute to try not to get blinded by its lamp. A group of laughing hikers strolled through. A lonely jogger with a reflective jacket.

from Wikimedia Commons

"Shooting star," Diane said. I'd seen it, a streak of motion in the sky.

We pointed them out to each other, almost one every minute. After a few minutes, a different but bright pinpoint of white started drifting across the sky. It moved southwest to northeast but it looked nothing like a plane. It couldn't be a star. I held up my phone. The app said: GEMINA-2. 

It was a satellite.

Over the next twenty minutes, I spotted another, then another, then another. Some had names like ARC or JPSS-1. Some didn't have any label the phone could give me. Those motes sailed by anonymously. Yet all of them were unmistakably satellites. They were like nothing else in the sky.