Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Be Prepared

I was a Boy Scout in the 1980s and I loved it. No one sodomized me, though I definitely heard tales of innapropriate touching. Despite this fact, scouting was among the most important things I did as a young kid. Everybody knows the scout motto "Be Prepared," and it's been on my mind a lot lately.

Being Prepared in the Baden Powell way is a state of mind. It is a zen practice. The totality of your life should be consumed by preparedness. Learn first aid. Know how to light a fire, drive a stick-shift car, put on a condom, sail a boat, paddle a canoe, ride a horse, shoot a gun, write a letter to your congressman, cook pancakes, pitch a tent, ask a girl out on a date without sounding like a jackass. The list is endless. You may be called upon to do this stuff at some point. Call me a nerd, whatever, I don't care. I'm prepared.

So when the story came out last week about the CNet editor who got his family stranded on a snow-bound road, I groaned. I feel bad for his family. I feel bad that he died, but he didn't have to die and that's the worst part of it. If he just had some camping equipment in the trunk, they could have spent half the winter up there. If he had worn decent shoes and a hat, he propbably wouldn't have frozen to death. If he had stuck to the road when he went looking for help, he wouldn't have gotten lost. This list, too, is endless.

The scout motto is on my mind again because of this new story about climbers stuck on Mt. Hood. Okay, so they went mountain climbing in December. Not the most comfortable time of year to climb a mountain, but whatever. What kills me is that they planned a "quick" ascent of an 11,293 foot mountain, so they didn't bring a whole bunch of burdensome cold weather gear. Oh boy.

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