Varden Conservation Area, quick but steep tour

I took Amy for a hike on the trails I jog at VCA every other day. This is the shortest but steepest option that begins on Wildcat Trail (across from the WW Middle School), turns left on Wood Tower Trail, bends right onto Whitetail Trail, becomes Tannery Trail, turns right on Tall Timber Trail, then exits in reverse on Wood Tower Trail. It’s a 25ish minute jog, or a 50 minute hike in which you lose and then gain 200ft of elevation.


Here’s a no-frills photo tour from start to finish:













































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A letter to the Western Wayne School District President

Dear Mr. Olsommer,

I am a Western Wayne School District resident seeking information on behalf of two students who contacted me electronically to ask that I approach you on their behalf. I have never to my knowledge met the teenage students, but friends of my daughter confirmed their identity. Both were too fearful to attend a School Board meeting, or even to write you directly, which was my initial advice to them.

The students want to confirm they are free to use the restroom and locker room that matches the gender to which they identify. While they have no current wish to use facilities not matching the sex on their birth certificates, they want to know if they will face punishment if they do. To be clear, a student who has a birth certificate that indicates the child is female, self-identifies as a boy, and would like to confirm that he is free to use the boys’ facilities at Western Wayne High School. Also, a student who has a birth certificate that indicates the child is male, self-identifies as a girl, and would like to confirm that she is free to use the girls’ facilities at Western Wayne High School.

These kids were upset that School Board members AJ Gaudenzi and Roger Shaffer Jr. posted on Facebook that they would seek to block Western Wayne School District’s compliance with the newest Title IX mandate. Both students have also asked me to reach out to the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania for guidance, which I have done. My involvement is solely because their parents are not supportive, and I could not turn them away after they shared their stories of being bullied at school.

Thank you in advance.

Cole Alpaugh
Salem Township, PA

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Sometimes you gotta say “What the Fuck”, make your move.


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Senior photos

Some things for your senior think about: what places are especially important to her. They can be anything from a backyard garden or pool, to a grandparent’s farm, to a high school field. It’s best to decide on a minimum of three locations, although one of them can be my little favorite outdoor space here in The Hideout (there’s a stream and boulders, etc.) Also, she’ll need to pack a suitcase – it’ll help if you have a spacious rear seat and a sheet for changing (I strongly recommend a mom, sibling, or best friend be present to help.) Six or seven changes are common, even for senior boys. And don’t forget the shoes.

Again, the most critical part in making these HER unique session are the locations. Sit down with a her and a pad and pen at the kitchen table. Props: absolutely bring props. Athletic gear, musical instruments, stuffed animals (live pets, too.) Buy her a small bouquet or cut some wildflowers from your backyard. Six or seven props are common. Also, I need her to finish this sentence: “My favorite thing about me is my … ”

Senior pics take from three to four hours to come up with 1000+ raw photo choices. I like to take advantage of late day sun, so most shoots are from 2pm until sunset.

The session is $249. Travel beyond your house is 50 cents per mile, although I’m flexible with many close locations. You receive 600+ images on a flash drive, at least 12 are Photoshopped for blemishes, and a variety of special effects are used at my discretion (these include Splash and HDR). You’ll own the full copyright to all images and therefore are free to print them, post them, or upload to a commercial printer such as to get the wholesale price on images (it takes out the middleman fee for you – currently, 8x10s are just $2.99.) My guarantee is that you’ll love them, or hand the flash drives back for a full refund – and keep any samples. I don’t want anyone to ever not say ‘wow’. Western Wayne seniors/parents can contact me for an invitation to view prior senior albums on Flickr and Zenfolio, where photos remain private and unsearchable to the public.

Oh, and, 100% of the proceeds from my senior shoots fund soccer programs for kids in Haiti.

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Soccer Balls for Haitian Orphans Campaign

Here’s the GoFundMe link to kick a few bucks toward a really awesome cause. Thank you!

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Is Caitlyn Jenner a hero?


Here’s the reason some otherwise very kind and open-minded people have it wrong about Bruce Jenner. And I only use her former name instead of Caitlyn to be sure they know who I’m writing about. But let’s first find something we agree about: America is a great nation, the land of freedom and opportunity. Now we might diverge when I say it hasn’t always been that way.

We spit on soldiers returning from a nightmare war into which they were drafted.

We turned dogs on people only because of their skin color.

We did not allow women to vote.

We arrested people of the same sex for consummating their love.

The list is pretty long, and there are people like Louis Farrakhan who will happily extend it indefinitely.

So I’ll continue with my four examples, and ask you what we’ve done to correct what most Americans have come to see as grievous wrongs. Recent Presidents have awarded posthumous Medals of Honor to soldiers’ families. We have channeled billions of dollars into education and inner city programs. We passed the 19th Amendment to our Constitution. Laws have been changed and the US Supreme Court has spoken about same-sex marriage.

It took Presidents, the SCOTUS, vast treasure, and changes to our founding document to BEGIN to right some of our country’s historical wrongs.

So what do we do with people whose self-identity does not conform unambiguously to conventional notions of male or female gender? We’ve beaten the tar out of them in grade school. We pissed on them in the gym shower. We refused to hire them and we failed to protect them from crime. We tried to make them commit suicide, just like we did all the fags and dykes in high school. Often we were more like Adolph Hitler than, well, Adolph Hitler.

But America is a great nation, and the land of the free. We are imperfect, but we keep trying to fix things. America is great because it wants to get things right.

Naming Caitlyn Jenner a HERO is not a slap in the face of our nation’s veterans. Those men and women are still heroes. America is simply trying to fix a wrong. We treated transgender people like “coloreds” and “slant-eyes” and “queers” and “baby killers” since we first discovered they had the audacity to lurk among us. This has been a moment for a bit of hyperbole in order to grab the Adolphs of this great land, shake them hard, and say “knock it off.” You don’t have to marry Caitlyn Jenner, you just need to quit pissing on her, because there are countless more generations of transgendered kids yet to come into this world, and they have one crucial trait that matches everyone else: they are human beings. Caitlyn Jenner is a hero because future generations needed someone as badly as we all needed Rosa Parks not to give up her seat. It’s that simple. Jenner said here I am, and Parks said no I won’t.

This is America. A great nation, the land of freedom and opportunity. We just need some polishing from time to time.

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Necessary Fiction review of Dash

A friend messaged me with a link to a new review at Necessary Fiction earlier tonight. ‘Nuff said …

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to my skier friends


I’m posting here instead of on the ski message boards because I’ve not wanted to seem to be encouraging anyone’s support. Not to say I don’t appreciate it

Anyway, guys and girls, if you’d like DASH or any of my books in your local library where you can read it for FREE, the best thing to do is pay them a visit and fill out a purchase request form. This is also a perfect opportunity if you don’t already have a library card, which is also why it’s better than trying via phone or email. Even if your library is small, there’s a great chance you can get any book delivered from your county, and there are even more opportunities for ebooks.

Now back to some spring skiing.

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Dash with Paris.


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