Thursday, January 18, 2018

up mount elmore

strategically mount elmore is not a big target in the game (#ingressresistance we're the BLUE team!), but it makes a nice anchor in a core area around which i like to play, plus it's a nice walk with a good payout. it's not too hard, not too dangerous in winter, and feels like an achievement, plus you can sled down if a lot of it.

tuesday i marched up it because monday it had been taken, but i had some trail intelligence that post thaw that last tenth of a mile may or may not have been hairy, so i decided to go up by way of the ridgeline trail, which is a mile longer each way, but presents less in the way of ledges you could fall down.

it took me longer than i expected, because snow conditions and also i wanted to make sure as i went up that i cleared all the steps and ladders to make a safe descent for myself and anybody coming after.

also i think i was just slower because i'm either in the middle of or just coming out of a flare-up.

it's hard to tell. a lot of days i have as much pain as i used to before i started taking antimalarials, but i do more stuff before i get to that layer of pain.

anyway, the temperature was challenging in that when it's REALLY cold out you just bundle up and keep moving, but when it's moderately cold out you have to dress for not sweating too much if you're going to stop at the summit for any length of time because then you will freeze.

and when i got to the summit, i was under a green field that hadn't been there in the morning when i left the house, so not as big of a triumph as i'd been hoping, but then because that guy robbed the bank, one of my teammates got called into work early and was available to clean that up for me instead of at home sleeping.

i thought "that's ok. i'll just hang out up here and have a nice hot drink of tea."

and then i opened my bottle to find my tea STILL TOO HOT TO DRINK.


anyway, by the time i got down to my car it was well dark, so that was an adventure.

but it was seriously cool waiting at the top of that mountain for the field to come down.

and now we have a link from elmore to spruce, which we had not had the opportunity to do in some time.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

local news

yesterday i blew you off because it was my day to walk up a mountain. i did not walk up the mountain i originally planned to walk up, but sometimes the green bastids take back some mountains and it's more fun for me if i take them back next day.

later on i will tell you about that adventure, but it happens kind of in context of some local news that happened while was blithely on my way up a mountain.

on my way home afterward, i heard that a guy had robbed the montpelier branch of the Vermont State Employees Credit Union (which is a credit union any vermont citizen can use) (but not rob. that part bears noting), which is across the street from montpelier high school, the lawn of which being as far as the guy got before he was apprehended and later shot.

i maybe would be more saddened about this loss of life, but the guy had a long string of convictions including one for BANK ROBBERY so clearly he was not a good fit with the rest of society. i'm not saying he necessarily deserved death, but when you're waving a gun around on the lawn of a high school after having robbed a bank you're about as much asking for it as you can get.

in other news, the state of vermont is about to offer a nonbinary option to people for their driver's licenses. i was reading that linked article there to learn about the proposal because the story gets weird after that and i noticed that one of the very sane explanations about why such an option is needed comes from the interim executive director of the pride center of vermont, a man named Rex Butt.

the cheap joke center of my brain is going into overdrive. that doesn't even sound like a real name; it sounds like a pornstar name.

anyway, for some reason the editor of the burlington free press (which used to be a moderately respected local paper) decided to have some personal opinions on gender nonconforming on teh twitterz and when called out on it he doubled down. monday night he was fired.

now i have to go to the hardware store.

Monday, January 15, 2018

random stuff

hey, hi.

here's some stuff i've been keeping on my desktop because it may be interesting to you.

of course, we're all following the story in which the president calls various nations of the world "shithole countries", but you may not be following the reaction by linguists.

the world is a risky place. maybe you like to live dangerously. or maybe, like me, you have menu fatigue and are paralyzed by choice. either way, maybe you want to play pizza roulette with your local domino's.

if you have randomly ordered your pizza, perhaps you would like to allow a neural network to say grace. "and he brought forth his praise to pants"

in local news, recently i was in the town of plainfield, vermont (#ingressRESISTANCE) and i saw an official looking sign on a post in the middle of downtown. it said


and i thought that was weird, so i went around the block to have another look and there was also another handmade sign that said


and below it was a small toy stove. do NOT ask me how i missed that the first time, and i thought i might get out of my car and take a picture to show you, but it was well below zero and i was just warming up from my hike up spruce mountain and didn't feel like it.

you're in luck, though, because i thought "there HAS to be a story behind that" and it turns out there is a story and it has been duly reported on in the news AND there are pictures.

i love local news.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

nation building

my scout troop is working on a merit badge about government.

one of the requirements involves solving government problems in an imaginary scenario and as i was thinking about what activities to offer the girls, i realized that the requirement would be satisfied easily by playing nationstates.

and why reinvent the wheel?

nationstates even has an educational setting that will insulate your class group from the other players and do other things that make it suitable for group study with children but it turns out you need to be a legit school to get that kind of region set up for you on account of there are people out there who will call themselves schools just to gain political advantage.

ok, not how i was hoping that would turn out, but the nationstates moderator who splained it to me was very knowledgeable and nice.

so yesterday i went on a research bender looking for online government simulation games.

i found republic of you, which seems to be little more than a thinly disguised argument for democratic socialism, which i'm not against, but it has only fourteen issues to solve and there aren't really any consequences for your decisions. if you solve your poverty problem by simply giving everyone living wage ( a thing i support by the way) the only consequence you get is an angry text from a corporate CEO, which in no way illustrates how anything works. it will, however, tell you what percentage of other players thing that's awesome too, and that's kind of a no-brainer, because people who are interested in playing oxfam games have self-selected to look at things that way.

there's filteries, a wonky little simulator that more or less shows you alignments and costs. it has a pretty graphic, but exciting it isn't. fun for me to play with, but probably a snoozefest for kids.

cybernations is text rich and slow playing (nation simulators all tend to be slow) it's low on social policy content and high on resource management and empire building. it has the option to let you play it in peace mode, which lets you concentrate on building an economy rather than defending yourself from the other countries.

nations has a pretty graphic interface that i am finding difficult to learn but easy to use once you figure it out. it's less about policy than it is about resource management, and its quest chain requires you to use combat to succeed. i STILL can't figure out how to get more cows. i like that it has sports teams, but i REALLY don't like that all the terrorist groups have vaguely islamic sounding names. there's also no pacifist mode; if some other country wants to have a war with you, i don't think you have any protection from it, which is pretty realistic, i guess.

ars regendi seems to be the most realistic of the lot. you can really get into the weeds here with budgeting and policy and it has the interesting feature of assuming that your country WILL eventually fail. the trick is to make is as good as possible for as long as possible. it has the added benefit of letting you play two countries at once in the free version. it is also slow. there are a limited number of actions you can take per game day.

that's my list.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

mount hunger by the waterbury trail

last week i went up mount hunger because ingress portal. (join the BLUE team, everybody! we're the RESISTANCE!)

i have been up mount hunger, but never by the waterbury trail, which is uh, steep. i was not at all sure i could actually succeed in getting to the summit, but no knowledge about that is gained by sitting at home, so i packed up my gear and marched up it figuring that i would either succeed or i would know it is not possible for me to do in winter conditions.

i'm a level 16. i don't need AP. nothing is lost by trying.

anyway, it was about 30 degrees at the trailhead, which means colder farther up the mountain, but the trail mostly goes up in a crease between two mountains and is out of the wind. most of the way up i went bare-booted. i would have preferred spikes for traction, but the snow was soft and clumpy underfoot and that was more trouble than it was worth.

snowshoes may have been a good option, but unless i really need them i do without because the wider stance required is hard on my hips and back.

about two thirds of the way up i changed over to ten point crampons, which was awesome because all the way so far i'd had to kick in a lot of my steps and that really wears on your feet and knees.

near the top it becomes VERY steep, and although it's steeper on average than the firetower trail on mount elmore, it's less frightening because the stakes for a missed step are lower.

i don't know if either of you does a lot of winter hiking, but if the trail is wide and the footing is good you can just creep up things surprisingly close to vertical and as long as there's a periodic soft landing you can aim for if you miss, it feels pretty safe.

sometimes you might only have a little ledge to get over, but you're painfully aware that if you miss that one step, it will be a long way down before you stop falling.

so. up the trail. i passed out of mixed forest and into boreal forest, and then up to the treeline. the worcester range has pretty spectacular views, but up near the summit in a twenty mile an hour wind you don't really stop to admire it.

in fact, i could reach the portal from just below the summit, so i found a place in range where i was sheltered from the full wind, but it was still frostbite zone. not so bad with my back to the wind, but i did turn into the wind for a few seconds to take a picture of the view. you will excuse me i hope for not taking the time to frame a really good shot.

here's a picture of the trail on the way down. the image does not do justice to the steepness of it, but you do get to see the pretty mountain ash berries in their snowy hats.

Friday, January 12, 2018


you know how it goes: a local scout troop calls you up to ask if you can help them with a merit badge that happens to fall in an area of your interest.

you go camping with them to finish up that activity and while all the adults are sitting around a fire, the leader talks about the challenges of the upcoming year and warmly includes you with some well placed "we" pronouns and next thing you know, you're a scout leader.

then the girls are looking for a service project that has to do with animal conservation and you've been thinking about whether the loon conservation project doesn't appear to be active at the place where you camp because they don't have an interest or because they don't have the manpower and you call them up to see what the deal is and whether there's an opportunity for your scouts to do a service project with loon conservation and the next thing you know, you are a loon conservation volunteer.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

bottle sling knot

i have a thermos i really like, but it has no handle, which makes it hard to just grab along with my handled things for transport.

but of course there is a knot to solve that problem.

it is ABOK #1142, the bottle sling knot!

i went ahead and tied an overhand knot in the free ends of mine to keep it in place without loading all four strands.

here's a method for tying it.


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