Kurt Vonnegut Inspiration and Quotes


If I could have a glass of whiskey with 3 people, dead or alive, they would be Marcus Aurelius, Jon Stewart, and Kurt Vonnegut.  Without knowing it each of these men has affected my life.   As today would have been Kurt Vonnegut’s 95th birthday I wanted to pay my respects by sharing some of my favorite words of his.

To be honest, I’m not sure when I fell in love with Kurt Vonnegut and his writing.  I remember reading Slaughterhouse Five and while I enjoyed it, I wasn’t blown away by it.  As I got into literature and writing I kept coming across more and more of his work and views.  I read more about his views on life, religion, America, the world as a whole, and how to become a better writer.

He was openly critical of a lot of ideas and was never afraid to go against the popular opinion if he didn’t agree with it.  He was a man who had seen war and knew how terrible it was.  He had seen what fear and blind loyalty could do to people and the world as a whole.  He witnessed the destruction of Dresden first hand and never wanted to see anything like it repeated.  He taught me what humanism was and that being a good person is an achievable goal even if you aren’t religious.

For years he has inspired me and his words have given direction when my path seemed unclear. Though I wouldn’t consider him my favorite author he is one of the people I would have loved to meet.  Happy 95th birthday to one of the wisest men who ever lived.

  • “And I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, ‘If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.”

  • “Live by the harmless untruths that make you brave and kind and healthy and happy.”

  • “So it goes”
  • “Being a Humanist means trying to behave decently without expectation of rewards or punishment after you are dead.”

  • “If you can do no good, at least do no harm.”

  • “The practice of art isn’t to make a living. It’s to make your soul grow.”

  • “Self-taught, are you?” Julian Castle asked Newt.
    “Isn’t everybody?” Newt inquired.
    “Very good answer.”

  • “We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.”

  • “If you would be unloved and forgotten, be reasonable.”

  • “The insane, on occasion, are not without their charms.”

  • “In nonsense is strength”

  • “It is hard to adapt to chaos, but it can be done. I am living proof of that: It can be done”

  • “It took us that long to realize that a purpose of human life, no matter who is controlling it, is to love whoever is around to be loved.”

  • “You hate America, don’t you?
    That would be as silly as loving it,’ I said. ‘It’s impossible for me to get emotional about it, because real estate doesn’t interest me. It’s no doubt a great flaw in my personality, but I can’t think in terms of boundaries. Those imaginary lines are as unreal to me as elves and pixies. I can’t believe that they mark the end or the beginning of anything of real concern to a human soul. Virtues and vices, pleasures and pains cross boundaries at will.”

  • “Everything was beautiful and nothing hurt.”

  • “I was a victim of a series of accidents, as are we all.”

  • “A purpose of human life, no matter who is controlling it, is to love whoever is around to be loved.”

  • “A sane person to an insane society must appear insane.”

  • “And I asked myself about the present: how wide it was, how deep it was, how much was mine to keep.”

  • “We have to continually be jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down.”

  • “. . . but the Universe is an awfully big place. There is room enough for an awful lot of people to be right about things and still not agree.”

  • “The function of the artist is to make people like life better than they have before.”
  • “Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard. Do not let pain make you hate. Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness. Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree, you still believe it to be a beautiful place.” 
  • “Never trust a survivor until you know how they survived.”
  • “I want to stand as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all the kinds of things you can’t see from the center.”

Stay gold.


What does it Cost: Backcountry Camping in the Grand Tetons


A few months ago a friend of mine from college asked me if I wanted to go backcountry camping over Labor Day in the Grand Tetons.  Though I’d never gone backcountry camping, I said yes.  One of my many flaws is that I’m not very good at saying no to adventure.    

Now that the trip has come and passed I wanted to write my “What it cost” recap blog.  I started doing the financial rundown of my trips after I spent a month in Southeast Asia earlier in the year and received feedback about how helpful it was.  Below you’ll find a line by line list of what I spent to go backcountry camping in the Grand Tetons for five days.

A few quick notes:

  1. A lot of the gear I bought could have been borrowed from friends but I plan on hiking and camping more in the future so I decided to buy it.  I look at my tent, sleeping bag, backpack etc as investments that I’ll be able to reuse for years (plus REI 10% back for members is pretty neat).
  2. The prices below are what I paid.  For example the rental car was $197 total but there were 4 or us so I paid my share of $49.50.
  3. I didn’t love the price of my flight. Labor day is expensive time to travel and KC to SLC isn’t exactly a hot flight path.  In comparison my flight from KC to Costa Rica at the end of the month is about the same price.
  4. I did borrow some stuff from friends which means I didn’t have to buy.  Here is a list of things that if you can’t borrow you would have to purchase:
    1. Items Borrowed/already owned
      1. Inflatable sleeping pad
      2. Bear can
      3. Headlamp w/extra batteries
      4. Poop Trowel/shovel
      5. Bug Spray
      6. Hiking boots
      7. Sunhat

You can view my full packing list for backcountry camping in the Grand Tetons in a previous blog post.


Pre-Departure Purchases:

Kansas City to Salt Lake City (round trip)- $586
Airport Parking- $37.50
Subtotal- $623.5



Cotopaxi Tent (rainfly, footprint, and alcove)- $383
North Face Furnace Sleeping Bag– $180
Hydration Pack (2.5 L)- $34
Cooking Ware – $45
Stuff Sack (for tent, rainfly, footprint)- $6
65 L Backpack- $104
Compression Sack (for sleeping bag)- $25
Hood Pillow- $27
Food for the hike- $108
Bear Spray- $12.25
Adventure Mug- $10
Sawyer Water Filter System- $20
Fuel can- $5
Subtotal- $959.25


3 pairs hiking socks- $26
3 pairs of sock liners- $12
Subtotal- $38

On the road…
Car Rental from SLC- $49.25
Gas total- $15 (filled up twice)
Teton Lodge Hostel- $36.5
Grand Tetons Hiking Permit/Map- $20
Tetons Taxi-$18 (most expensive 6 mile taxi ride of my life)
Leigh Lake Parking- $7.5
Lift Pass- $42
SLC Ramada Inn- $23.75
Subtotal- $212

Subway dinner- $8.83
Post-camping gas station snack- $3
Me & Lous restaurant (Best restaurant in Malad City ID)- $25
Beers- $7.50
Beerhive Pub- $16.50
Subtotal- $60.83

Grand Total- $1,893.83


If I had already owned the gear I needed for this trip the price would easily have been closer to $1,000.  But I didn’t and I didn’t want to borrow it all either.  Now that I own most of the gear I need to go backcountry camping I’m all set for the next trip (hopefully going to BANFF next year) and it will be a lot less expensive.  Whenever you pick up a new hobby there is always a bit of financial investment and looking back on this trip only has me more excited for the next one.

The best way to keep up with my adventures is to follow me on Instagram- Todds_Tales.

Stay Gold.