Posts Tagged ‘Lake Washington’

From the Editor’s Perch…

August 1, 2013
Have you questioned Authority lately?

Have you questioned Authority lately?

Modern Life is (becoming) a Beach


            I was yelling, “This place is a f$*cking gulag!”

My son was embarrassed.

The strawberry-blonde lifeguard was giving me a frozen smile with a bit of wry twinkle to it.  I liked her.

I explained to my son later that Speaking Back to Authority was in the Grand American Tradition.  But I can’t say that at the time I appeared particularly grand.  I probably looked a lot like a big, fat older guy swearing at a young, trim, attractive life guard.

I also explained in curt words to my son that Talking Truth to Power was often not very attractive and that at the moment I didn’t care.

“You should just do what they tell you to do.  And if you don’t want to do it, don’t say anything.  Just leave,” was my son’s loud advice.

Well, I did leave.  Actually, we did leave.


What began this whole dustup was my son’s desire, when he visited me in my home office, to do something with me that day.  So I said, “This is a great day to go swimming.”

We piled everything in the car, brought the dog and drove off to find a swim area on Lake Washington.   It was a perfect day, but after driving and walking a bit around a large park on Mercer Island, there was only one place with lake access which allowed swimming.  So we piled all of our stuff into my son’s inflatable boat and walked the block through the woods from the parking lot to this swim area.   Signs surrounding the swim area though said “No Dogs Allowed” within the perimeter.  Apparently they didn’t want dogs fouling the same water as the children swam in.  Or perhaps dogs caused too many confrontations.  Whatever the reason, we attached Noodle (our dachshund) to a shady tree well back from this area and proceeded on to swim.

We’d just about gotten everything arranged on the sand when the male lifeguard yelled, “Who has the dachshund?”  We raised our hands and he said, “You can’t leave your dog unattended.”

I said the signs had only said that they had to be on a leash.  But he just repeated, “You can’t leave your dog unattended.”

So, while my son took our dog back to the car (which we had luckily parked in the shade), I watched our things.  A small blue-eyed boy wanted to use my son’s inflatable boat (with oars) while my son was gone, so I let him.  When my son got back, he was a little miffed that I’d let the small boy use his boat.  But I told him the boat was fine.  He hadn’t hurt it.  So, we got ourselves arranged in the water.

After getting myself situated on my deluxe air mattress (with cup holder and back rest!), and my son testing out the oars and arranging his life jacket and food supplies to suit himself within the inflatable boat – we decided to head south along the shoreline.  The shoreline curved and protruded with docks and yachts and cattails and water lilies.  It looked like fine exploration.  I’d just gotten over the rope barrier and was trying to help my son over the corks in his inflatable boat with oars, when the woman lifeguard yelled through her amplified megaphone.  “Come back within the swimming area.  You cannot go beyond the rope boundary.”

This ticked me off.  We were just ready to have fun and go exploring.  And I considered tapping my ear and ignoring her.  But the attitude of these people got under my skin, so I decided to paddle back and have some words with her.  Also, I imagined this escalating into a confrontation with the Lake Washington Water Police if I didn’t abide, and then I’d have a huge ticket to pay (or worse!), which I didn’t want.

So I strode back and said, “We’re just going to float down the way and do a little exploring.”

The lifeguard meanwhile had alerted her supervisor, who interceded.  “You can’t swim beyond the rope boundary,” the strawberry-blonde supervisor said.

“This is the only spot available to launch our little inflatable boat,” I said.

She nodded, but said, “We can’t allow you to leave the roped area.  We are responsible for your safety.”

“Well, I surely feel a lot safer,” I growled.  “What if we had rowed our boat up to just outside the roped area from across the lake, or from a boat.   Would you be responsible for us then?”

“That’s a different situation,” she said.  “If you enter this swim area, you can’t go beyond the rope float boundary.”

“So you’re saying that if a person uses this beach to access the lake, you have dominion over the whole lake?”

“We’re responsible for your safety.”

“Over the whole lake?”  I asked.

“If you enter the lake from this beach, you are not allowed to go beyond the rope boundary,” she repeated.

My thoughts ground their teeth.   ‘Why, in the world,’ I thought, ‘can’t this lifeguard just protect those people who stay within the rope boundary, and leave those of us who want to go beyond to our own devices?’

But she wouldn’t change her tune – or her words – and the disagreement escalated from there.

"Stay inside the perimeters!"

“Stay inside the perimeters!”


So we picked up our things, got back in the car, left the area and found a beach on Lake Sammamish – free of lifeguards!  We explored.  The dog swam.  No one drowned.  But as I floated in the sun on my air mattress with my life-jacketed dachshund, Noodle, lying on my stomach, it shaped these current thoughts I’m having about our government and its takeover of our healthcare system.   (It’s amazing what an immersion in Nature can do!)


If we ask the government to take care of our health needs, some nameless government employee – who you have probably never met, nor will you ever meet – will decide what our health needs are… just as this woman had decided what our access to Lake Washington would be.  And they will decide what the treatments we receive are.  And they will decide if and when we receive them.  They may also make it illegal to pay a private physician to provide care needs, as they do in Canada as I’ve heard, feeling that it undermines the system.  So, if a government bureaucrat decides to leave you to suffer or to die, there’s no practical way (besides appealing to this same government?) of escaping this fate except to fly to a foreign country for treatment, as many now do.  In other words, they are going to do their best to keep us all ‘within the floats’.

Do we want this?

There is no end to the entanglements and torments bureaucrats can provide.  Read Kafka or, visit Germany.

In Germany the government provides unemployment insurance.  If you decide to take this unemployment benefit you must be willing to accept work, within your capabilities, when it becomes available.  The Government also decided to legalize and regulate prostitution.   Then it followed, according to the bureaucrats, that if you were accepting unemployment benefits and a prostitute’s job was available – you were obliged to take that job.


It’s not that only the government bureaucrat will think and act and perform poorly.  Everybody and anybody can and will.  The problem is that the government is the ‘only game in town’.  Do we want our lives taken out of our own hands?  This was my thinking, floating on my air mattress on Lake Sammamish while my dog Noodle, lying on my stomach, chewed on his Frisbee.

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