The Buzz

February 6, 2018

The first thing that I think stuck out to me when reading Buzz was simply how positively bees are depicted in popular culture.  I grew up seeing these positive depictions of bees in books and movies, but I never noticed how much more we admire bees compared to other insects and even many mammals and birds.  While the benefits we receive both directly and indirectly from bees’ labor are undeniable, bees seem to get far more credit and respect for their efforts compared to other animals that we rely on.  Another point that fascinated me was all the comparisons between bee and human society, such as how people used to be sure that hives must have a king, and how drones are seen as indolent and useless members of the since they do not help any of the worker bees in completing the day to day tasks.  The parallels between the daily chores carried out by the female worker bees and the domestic labor that is typically left to women was also interesting in regards to how we speak of humans and bees.  One part of the chapter I remember in particular was how some beekeepers liked to name their queens after their ex-girlfriends while another said that she did not want to “impose” names on her bees because that would imply lordship over them.  The third point that struck me was the chapter on how we talk about different kinds of honeybees.  The Italian bees are seen as docile and soft, Russian bees are seen as hardy, while African bees are aggressive and dangerous.  It seems ridiculous compare stereotypes of bees with stereotypes of humans, but it is hard to deny the similarities in vocabulary when someone is speaking negatively about a group of people or a group of bees.

Man arrested for stealing bees:

A short time-lapse of bee larva:

Desert Solitaire

January 31, 2018

Desert Solitaire was  about Edward Abbey who lived for three seasons in the desert at Moab, Utah, and what he found about the land before him, his general surroundings, and the heart that beat inside, is an intriguing, some of the time rowdy, constantly individual record of a place that has just vanished, however merits recalling and living through over and over.

I personally love how he describes the desert so vividly I felt like I was actually there.  One of my favorite quotes from the book was “A man could be a lover and defender of the wilderness without ever in his lifetime leaving the boundaries of asphalt, power lines, and right-angled surfaces. We need wilderness whether or not we ever set foot in it. We need a refuge even though we may never need to set foot in it. We need the possibility of escape as surely as we need hope; without it the life of the cities would drive all men into crime or drugs or psychoanalysis.”

Blog post Graham Cote

January 31, 2018

In Edward Abbey’s Desert Solitaire we see a unique interaction between man and the environment that surrounds us. Abbey’s isolation in the national park provides him a way to see the environment almost as a third party viewer. He views humans interaction with their environment from afar as he witnesses the spread of agriculture and the loss of biodiversity, especially in the population of desert predators, leading to an overpopulation of animals like rabbits and deer. Abbey experiences the American Southwest in a way that allows him to appreciate the national park without having a significant long term effect on the environment, a concept that Abbey believes should be appreciated by all that visit the park. It is disheartening to see the degradation of wilderness areas due to the greed or even simply ignorance of the government. This is especially frustrating as the negative effects are being ignored by policy makers, and even the national park service itself, creating no easy path to reverse this issue.

This article explains the UK government’s scrutiny of wood and coal fires in peoples homes. The government is looking into this issue in an attempt to decrease emissions and carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. While this legislation seems plausible in Europe, this seems like it would be a far fetched idea in America due to privacy laws.

Week 3 blog post – David Rich

January 31, 2018

Desert Solitaire is a novel about Edward Abbey’s experience in the national park in Moab, Utah. He contemplates wilderness and human interaction coexisting with this the park. He describes the beauty of the park and how it is being mistreated by humans. Abbey agrees with the fundamental definition of wilderness, meaning it shouldn’t be tainted or disturbed by humans. This does not need to be a literal footprint, like a road or a factory, but just the exhaust and the general trash distort the landscape and the animals and plants living in it. The end of the book doesn’t lead us the be hopeful, due to further human interaction with wilderness.


Environmental News: Nearly half of the US military sites have been threatened by weather from climate change. These findings have created strained relations the Donald Trump. Sites that have been damaged include airfields, water systems, and energy infrastructure. Trump still declines the effects due to climate change, even after these findings.

Article link:

Desert Solitaire

January 31, 2018

Throughout my reading of Abbey’s adventures in the wide and barren lands of Utah I was continually confused, and sometimes aggravated. However, there were moments where his words deeply resonated within me. First I would like to state my firm agreement with his plan for the national parks: no new development, nothing but bikes on old roads, and only necessities. In addition, I am deeply in love with his canyon travels and time in Havasu, “I went native… (200).”

Abbey preached a lot throughout this collection of stories about the respect for wildlife and the natural order of things, which I felt some of his actions did not reflect (like rolling a tire off the Grand Canyon). Here is one particularly shocking example… the killing of a rabbit. How does killing an animal grant freedom from guilt? I JUST DO NOT UNDERSTAND. The animal may have died at any moment from the talons of a hawk, but does that justify Abbey’s actions? No where in his mentioning of this did I sense this was done for the cause of the birds of prey. I read on with confusion and sadness for the rodent.

His preaching (existential in nature mostly) was a bit much for me at this time, and perhaps that is because existential thoughts stir emotions in me and those emotions take time to feel, recognize, and process. Unfortunately, I did not get that time this past week, which is sad, but does happen.

Desert Solitaire and Salt

January 31, 2018

Desert Solitaire had many stand out moments to me.

The craziest thing was when he decided to just pick up a snake and bring it back to his home. You see a lot of the fearlessness of this man, Edward Abbey. I know of literally no one, save the late Steve Irwin, who would have the guts to do this. In addition to just “adopting” this snake, Abbey allows the snake to cohabit the hut for a little while, in order to deal with the rat problem. However, this snake is not caged, nor restricted in any way. Abbey also decides to carry around the snake around his waist, and just have it poke its head out when dealing with visitors. To me, that’s pretty badass.


“There’s another disadvantage to the use of the flashlight: like many other mechanical gadgets it tends to separate a man from the world around him” (page 13). With a lit flashlight, you only exist within the bubble of light, and cannot see beyond. However, when the flashlight turns off, your eyes adjust and you can see the whole world. You aren’t limited to the designs of someone else’s mind. Abbey goes back to this thought when he uses the generator to light his hut: “I am shut off from the natural world and sealed up, encapsulated, in a box of artificial light and tyrannical noise” (page 13). This passage is beyond relevant to today’s society – most people can’t look beyond their phone, much less into the world beyond the city buildings. Abbey is really mad that the parks want to build roads into the wilderness that will destroy it. However, it is for the “preservation” of the parks, because otherwise there will be no tourism. It is a tough debate, because on one hand I feel the parks should be accessible, but not to the point of harm to the environment. But where does that point lay?


On the first page, Abbey talks about how all people have a perfect place in mind, and that his is Moab, Utah. But mine would definitely be right in the middle of Hocking Hills, at Camp Oty’Okwa. In my mind, there simply is no finer place. As seen below, it is even at the bottom of the rainbow, where gold is to be found.IMG_5055


For an environmental issue, I have found that road salt which is used to keep the roads safe is actually poisoning the waterways with its runoff, which threatens the natural wildlife. One of the most critical points is that the massive salt increase threatens local zooplankton, which are crucial to the food chain of life. Alternatives being considered are beet juice, beer, or cheese. However, none of these are as abundant or as cheap as salt, basically meaning that no one is willing to make the switch..


blog post

January 31, 2018

Desert Solitaire is an autobiography based on the experiences of Edward Abbey, who worked as a park ranger in Utah. The theme of the book is almost always driftings to a comedic effect and that is understandable since I agree that sometimes sarcasm is the most effective way of getting a point across to the audience. The book comprises of various short stories, a lot of which cracked me up because of how well written they were. On page 97, Edward talks about the life outside the buildings we live in and the nature that awaits us if we just step outside. He talks about his experiences of eating dinner outside near a bonfire with his feet embedded in sand, which to me sounds serene and beautiful. I loved his remark on solipsism about how one shouldn’t be confined to the walls of a library to understand that. He says that “in order to refute a solipsist, all you have to do is take that person out and throw a rock if they duck, then they are lying.” It is a beautiful book in general and should definitely be read by anyone who is looking for a refreshing, sarcastic outlook on life.