Thursday, February 28, 2013


i saw him on the street. he was walking east on route two carrying a backpack and a guitar. nobody carrying luggage is ever walking east on route two unless thy have a place to go with no other way to get there, or unless they don't have a place to go except "away".

he looked hungry, and he looked like he didn't have a place to go, and it was cold out. and sleeting. he didn't look homeless; he looked like a kid who had a home but was far from it and maybe kind of lost.

i had time enough before my appointment to take him to the next town in the direction he was heading, and drop him at the public library.

on the ride there i learned that he had come up from boston for a couple of days because originally he was going to visit some friends but then at the last minute they called and said something had come up and they were busy but he really wanted to get out of the city and the ticket was bought already and the bags already packed so he figured he'd go adventuring.

he hadn't counted on the wether being so messy, though.

and as i left him off there i was thinking: i have now left him stranded in a small town even farther from   the usual amenities. i thought about offering him my home for the night, but i decided i am not comfortabel with people in my house while i sleep. but i also decided i was comfortable enough to offer him a hot meal and a ride back into burlington if he wanted it.

so i called him before my appointment and made the offer and said he could have an hour or so to think about it and he should call me back then.

and he called back to say he'd really like that.

so i picked him up at the library and took him home.

it turned out that he hadn't eaten lunch yet, which was ok by me since it was lunch time in my house.

and get this: it was getting to be that day when i have to be really disciplined in eating the leftovers i don't really feel like eating JUST so the food doesn't go to waste and boo-yah, i will tell you THAT problem is solved.

he ate the leftover winter vegetable stew.

he ate the leftover vegetarian chili over corn chips.

and then he was hungry again and i made him hotdogs, mashed potato and cheese.

day before yesterday i had made too many mashed potatoes because i needed to use up potatoes before they went bad. i didn't really feel like eating them. good thing he saved me from that.

he hung out on my sofa. he played some guitar. he looked at maps. we talked about stuff.

it turns out he has a job and an apartment in boston. he works as a bicycle delivery guy and he lives in a  food not bombs collective.

i got the feeling he was a little broken down at the soul and that an adventure in vermont was maybe what he needed to set him right. vermont was to him a place of happy boyhood days at summer camp and then later just camping, so even withut the friend available, he still came.

if you are following my story at all you know that i get like this sometimes.

and i had been meaning for a couple of days to actually MAKE the quickbread to use up the carrots and the banana and to MAKE the mushroom ragout but i'd kept getting distracted or lost motivation, so the young man's appearance was a good excuse to get those done.

after dinner (he had two large helpings) i sent him on his way with a loaf of fresh quickbread and a jar of my apple jam.

i hope these small kindnesses give him the boost he needs to get him going again.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

little mystery

yesterday in the afternoon i noticed that the snow is melted off the top on my garage, but not my neighbors'.

none of us have heated or insulated garages, so there's no heat to be escaping through the roof, in theory at least.

the best idea i can come up with for why this happened is that i regularly park my car in my garage and my neighbors do not.

this means that yesterday i opened and closed my garage door twice at the warmest part of the day, allowing in warm air to settle underneath the roof, so maybe the lack of melted snow on my neighbors' garages is about an undisturbed closed pocket of cooled air.

still, my door wasn't open all that long; just long enough to get the car in and out, so if that much air disturbance makes a difference, that's kind of impressive.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

view from my desk

i often speak about the view from my desk, and today i have put a set of the photos of that view on flickr.

i'm not sure if i like how that's going to work out, so this is experimental, i guess.

here's the slideshow:

Monday, February 25, 2013

playing in the spambox

you all know that blogs get spam comments. and you probably mostly know that most of the comments are computer generated, and that the spam is even sent by some algorithm.

it's all about link farming and SEO.

it is not surprising to me when a post i have written that mentions a currently hot issue or a major corporation gets a lot of link farm spam bait, but sometimes the spam hits some on pages that are real head scratchers.

by far the most spam comments i get are attached to this post. you should go back and review it for maximum amusement.

i'll wait.

ok, so we've established that there's really nothing in the post at all except a nice little video of my dad pressing the button on his boat's silly little horn. it's amusing in a fluffy sort of junk post way.

here are the comments it's gotten this week. i like to read the spamcomments as if they are actually written for the post to which they are attached. it makes me giggle.

Post writing is also a fun, if you know after that you can write or else it is difficult to write. 

Good information. Lucky me I ran across your website by chance (stumbleupon). I've book marked it for later! 

Hey there! I know this is kinda off topic but I was wondering which blog platform are you using for this website? I'm getting tired of Wordpress because I've had problems with hackers and I'm looking at options for another platform. I would be fantastic if you could point me in the direction of a good platform. 

Write more, thats all I have to say. Literally, it seems as though you relied on the video to make your point. You obviously know what youre talking about, why throw away your intelligence on just posting videos to your site when you could be giving us something informative to read?  

Very good write-up. I certainly love this website. Keep writing! 

Excellent, what a weblog it is! This blog presents valuable data to us, keep it up. 

I was curious if you ever considered changing the layout of your blog? Its very well written; I love what youve got to say. But maybe you could a little more in the way of content so people could connect with it better. Youve got an awful lot of text for only having one or two pictures. Maybe you could space it out better? 

I am regular visitor, how are you everybody? This paragraph posted at this web page is truly pleasant. 

Wonderful items from you, man. I have take into accout your stuff prior to and you're just extremely excellent. I really like what you've got here, certainly like what you are saying and the way in which you assert it. You're making it enjoyable and you continue to take care of to keep it smart. I can not wait to learn far more from you. That is actually a great website. 

Wow, superb blog layout! How long have you been blogging for? you made blogging look easy. The overall look of your website is excellent, let alone the content! 

Sunday, February 24, 2013

resonating pitch

i was looking for this geocache last month and it's located near the boys club road culverts

View Larger Map

and i've always been interested in the resonating frequencies of things, and these culverts are corrugated tubes more or less round passing under the interstate.

so while i was ostensibly there to find the geocache, i spent most of my time on location tromping up and down inside the culverts, because everything has a resonating pitch, but tubes and strings make this especially obvious.

as you walk through one of these things if you listen carefully to the echoes of even just your footsteps, you can hear some of the overtones the tube makes. because it's not perfectly round and not smooth on the inside, the harmonics you hear are maybe not just the plain series, and maybe not just a sin waveform, but if you make a noise that shares a resonating frequency, you can get a better echo.

if you can find a pitch closely related to the fundamental, you can make that thing ring.

so i played with that some.

little things amuse me.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

instant snow

last month, on the morning of 24 january, it was fifteen degrees below zero here. while that's not so terribly unusual, i had been seeing a lot of youtube videos where people throw boiling water into the cold air to watch it instantly poof into snow.

and you know how i love snow.

and home science experiments.

so i got up in the morning and boiled me a big pot o' water to carry outside to throw into the air.

i was not fully pleased with the results. while fifteen below zero (-26 c) is reported to be plenty cold to do this, only most of the water in my pot poofed into snow. some of it fell as water to the ground.

i am guessing that if i had used a smaller sample of water, or let it fall a greater distance, or if it had been colder out i may have gotten a more dramatic result.

but still it was fun.

Friday, February 22, 2013

overheard from the snowflake chair


girl's voice: dad!!!!!! stop it!!!!!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

notes from the glitch diaspora: fleck

i've been playing a little game called fleck.

what i like about it is that is is played on real-world maps, and i have chosen to place my little fleck house and garden near my real life home, expect pretty close to the bouse i'd buy id i could live anywhere and money were no object.

so it's kind of cool to place my imaginary trees and flowers on my real life landscape, although i wish the game offered me more opportunities to plant birches and maples and pines where i live, instead of peaches and oranges and bodhi trees.

game play is basically this: you plant things and prune or harvest them and you have to water them unless it's raining (the game has a cool live weather feature) and while you're tending them, zombie plants spring up which then have to be killed.

so it's cute cartoon gardening with large weapons and a lot of shooting.

plus if you're not there to water your plants they will die, which kind of sucks because those plants either cost you ingame money you earned by harvesting or by killing zombies, or they cost you real life money.

some people buy objects in this game for real life money; don't ask me why.

there is a lot of cooperative killing of zombies, but even though all the areas are public except for your backyard, most players seem to feel entitled to claim public areas and chase out interlopers.

the weird thing is that there's a game-wide veneer of a culture of happy-shiny cooperativeness, but mostly it's about me-mine and GET OUT. unless i need help, in which case you'd better come equipped with special features you paid cash money for so we can all get better drops and collect ALL THE IMAGINARY THINGS.

short version: i like the maps and the weather, and the ability to play on my real life landscape.

everything else is kind of a snooze.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

giant love

on the 40th of bruise, in the year 25 somebody discovered that if you went to a giant's shrine and said you loved the giant, the giant would declare love for you in return.

it was kind of like that night near the end when pot came on and said he's like a sandwich and i fell all over myself getting to the nearest pot shrine to bring him sandwiches, not even knowing what he wanted with them but just knowing that he felt like a sandwich, so i ran as fast as i could and started throwing sandwiches in.

it turned out that he was only preparing to announce the rollout of the new recipes, but dozens of us, it turned out, had run to pot's shrines all over the world just to bring him sandwiches.

and none of us regretted the loss of the sandwiches.

pot loved us.

so on this night i got it into my heat to go to a shrine of each giant and tell them i loved them. later on i learned that dozens upon dozens of us did the same, all over the world.

i went to shrines to my giants in groddle meadow, because i was first imagined in groddle meadow and i wanted to be there instead of the savanas or highlands or caves, no matter how lovely those places were.

i lived in groddle meadow.

anyway, i'm still digging out the snaps and videos of that beautiful little world. and today i've gotten to the day i went to the giants and told them i that i loved them.

love them.

i still do.

so here are three videos of the same thing:

this one is a little walk along the street and the giant conversations, without much else.

this one is just the giants:

and for you hardcores, nearly all of the footage. i wouldn't have bothered, but i know some of you are homesick.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

open letter to my phone company

dear watisfield champlain valley telecom,

you have been my phone company my entire adult life. when i moved out of my mom's house, i happened to have moved to waistfield, back when you were still waitsfield-fayston telephone.

and then on the day i bought this place, you bought this calling area from GTE which made switching my phone service a little tricky because the sale had only gone through at midnight and nobody who knew anything was saying anything about it until somebody over at AT&T took pity on me and told me about the sale so i called your offices and told you that i knew about the sale even though the announcement hadn't been made and could you PLEASE just hook up my phone?

and you did.

took you about ten minutes.

*sigh* good times.

anyway, i went ahead and used you as my internet provider because back then i didn't have very many alternatives.

you probably don't remember the day i went and got myself an airport extreme because i had decided i finally wanted to be wireless here at home and i couldn't get anything to connect up and apple tech support was friendly but unhelpful and as a last hail mary pass i called you up and it took someone on your staff about three minutes to get me all configured properly even though it wasn't YOUR equipment and therefore not technically YOUR problem?

that was sweet of you.

so sunday night when my aged moden sputtered its last and i spent an hour in hold hell and another accumulated hour speaking with your after hours tech support office offsite somewhere in iowa, they were very lovely and they told me they were "escalating" my ticket, which i was told meant that you would be getting back to me as soon as you could.

since it was sunday night and monday was president's day, the nice lady warned me that i might not be hearing from you until tuesday but if i had not heard from you by then, i should call back and refer to this case number.

it seemed reasonable.

i settled in for a coupe of internet-less days.

ten minutes later (bear in mind this is a sunday night) i got a call from your office. the nice man asked me what color my modem was.

"black", i said.
"you need a new one."

this was not really a surprise to me. what WAS a surprise was that even thought the office was closed for president's day, i could come down first thing monday and get me a new modem.

so i did.

and i plugged everything in just how he told me to and it works just fine.

now, i don't have a choice about who my local telephone company is.

but this is why you are still my isp as well. if i could buy my heating oil and groceries from you i would, because you are reliable and kind and a lot of things you maybe don't HAVE to be, but you are anyway.



Monday, February 18, 2013

election day 2012

well, no. this isn't very timely.

next question?

it's not an election analysis, either, nor is it a political piece.

if you'd like to know what i said about it back then, you can read that here.

what this is is an account of how i spent election day, because i was going through my pictures from election day and it turns out i have a collection of stuff.

first thing in the morning, apparently, i took a picture of a pair of popovers that i have had sitting in a ziploc bag since last may. i don't have pictures to show you of that yet, because i took pictures of the progression of that and don't want to get ahead of myself here.

then i got my stuff together to do a little light geocaching.

i took the liberty of putting together the pictures from that into a nice little flickr set that you can view here, but you should be cautioned that there is a spoiler image for one of the caches.

i found three caches, went to vote, and then found two more caches. my town clerk (on the left in the photo) gave me permission to take that picture in the polling place, which was otherwise deserted.

while i was looking for the last geocache, i saw an interesting drill hole through a rock and decided to play with depth of field and because that sort of thing is interesting to me, i am making all those pictures available to you.

then i took a pretty picture from my desk,

worked on a project,

and watched election returns.

you know the rest.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

ricker 3400

at some point later on (maybe much later on) i will get around to writing up my geocache log for this cache, but in the meantime let's just say that i took the vista chair up, mad a lovely walk over, and didn't find the cache.

i did, however, take some lovely pictures of the whole thing so i have all that to share with you in the meantime.

photo album:


ricker 3400 take 1 at EveryTrail
EveryTrail - Find hiking trails in California and beyond

Saturday, February 16, 2013

does it make a noise?

last saturday morning i had to go into town to see my mechanic because my car was making a worrying long digital beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep that was coming from under the hood but not apparently related to anything and if you go out to the garage right now you will hear the sound right up until the point you turn the car on or even get in, because the sound is best heard some feet off the port bow.

when the car is off.

of course i made this noise in the mechanic's parking lot and then mysteriously stopped making the noise as soon as they had it on the lift. so we took it back out to the parking lot to have a listen.


and i got it home.


next day? it's baaaaaack. tomorrow i will probably bring it back to the mechanic.

anyway, it was COLD saturday morning. and of course i had to go out and find a geocache, but there was one conveniently located in the woods behind my mechanic, so i went there.

and near the geocache was one of those many trunk trees and it was making the most cool cracking noises. so i thought: i should put my camera in there and record that.

so i did.

Friday, February 15, 2013

tow truck

last friday i went out in the fizzard.

the storm itself was a great disappointment because, quite frankly, i'm just not happy unless there's a couple of feet of snow coming down.

and there wasn't more than six or eight inches here, which is TOTALLY UNFAIR.

but it was enough friday for the roads to be bad on account of all the wind and the drifting. it was two-handed-pay-attention driving, and even then you needed to be a little lucky.

on my way out to go geocaching i got stuck behind traffic while a tow truck pulled a blue car off of a pond.

i say "off of" because happily the pond was frozen enough that the car did not sink in. the guys has sailed off the road in most dramatic fashion, though, and was down there pretty good.

and the AWESOME thing was that when they got him towed out he just got int the car and drove it away. it didn't even look like it had a scratch on it.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

depot deer

it's a good thing neither of you reads me for any sense of temporal continuity, because i skip around a lot.

i am, however, cleaning up a lot of the photos and videos i took in october.

on one of those days near the end of the road trip i was looking at the quality of light and thinking that if i went just then, i'd get up to the seneca falls depot just in time to see the deer at sundown.

sunrise and sunset are very good times for deer activity, but also if you catch the white deer in a good sunset, they are fiery and red which makes it even cooler than just plain seeing them, which is pretty cool already.

sadly, there was no red sunset, but there was some good deer viewing.

we managed to see a white buck bump antlers with a brown one, but they quit fighting before i had my camera going  and those boys prefer not to do a lot of antler fighting if they can help it.

antler fighting is dangerous business and you only want to do as much of it as you have to to assert dominance, so a few bad stares and a little head butting is usually all they have do in order to know who would win in a real fight.

sometimes a ballsy young buck will insist on a real fight, but mostly everyone knows herd order already.

so here's the video of those two boys, and another video where i was trying to get a shot of the white buck but a brown one came waltzing into the shot big as day.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

the secret to sammidge making

today my friend gohawk reminded me that i have not yet posted the secrets to making fabulous sammidges as i promised last week.

a long time ago i was on a boat some friends and our friend elaine (whose boat it was) had brought the sammidges.

let me just say this about elaine: if she ever volunteers to bring the refreshments, let her. she is very, very good at refreshments.

better than you, probably. it's not that you suck. it's just that she really is that good.

anyway, we were all on the boat and there were turkey sammidges and they didn't look terribly fancy but we all agreed that OUR turkey sammidges are NEVER that good and elaine told us the secret to sammidge making.

it's really simple, and it goes a little beyond just using good bread and good fillings.

i have been using this secret for years and now people always want to know why my sammidges are better than theirs.

elaine's secret rules for making awesome sammidges

1) coat with inside of the bread with a thin layer of some kind of fat. this is usually butter or mayo. the purpose of this is to keep the bread from absorbing moisture and also fats transmit flavors. thin layer. gotcha.

2) put anything that will leach moisture (like tomatoes) between the meat and the cheese or in the case of vegan sammidge-making, between items of relative waterproofness.

3) and this is the important, least known rule: ADD A SECRET INGREDIENT.  it does not matter whether the secret ingredient is mango chutney or a splash of miso or a smear of tomato paste. whatever it is, pick up something besides the expected fillings and just add that extra note of "something". just a little. it wakes up the other flavors and maybe you can't figure out what it is but it is a whole nother sammidge.

elaine was trying to explain this to us, and were all, like, secret ingredient? what ingredient?

it doesn't matter.  a tiny bit of anything that's sweet or bright or salty or sour, anything that's flavorful and unexpected: that's your secret ingredient.

when people ask you about it, you can be coy and say "secret ingredient",  or you can just tell them.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

soldiers' lot

last october i was in the valois cemetery, because there is a geocache at the back corner, up where the vineyard borders it.

i think i have mentioned before that it is my habit to look for the civil war dead and that i sometimes look them up.

on my way i stopped at the soldiers' lot to read the monument and the headstones. despite the fact that every so often new flags get put on the graves, the men who are buried in the soldiers' lot typically do not have people to remember them.

the men buried in the soldiers' lots often did not have families to be buried with or else they were too poor to afford cemetery plots. occasionally it is a matter of pride to be buried with the other veterans, but usually these lots are marked, as this one is, "dedicated to the burial of indigent soldiers and sailors".

we do not look too closely at why these men were indigent in such large numbers.

anyway i can't say for sure why i picked just these three men to look up when i got home, but i have spent the better part of a day finding their records and thinking of their lives.

samuel lindsley (var. linsdsey, lindsly) served with the 109th NY infantry, company G. although this unit was present at spotslyvania courthouse, wilderness, and cold harbor, its casualty listings for those battles suggest that this unit was not among those thrown into the thick of the fighting. they saw their worst casualties in the siege of petersburg where they took daily losses and fought in the battle of the crater.

have you seen that thing? the crater?

he was discharged with his unit so he made it through the war standing up, but there's an 1883 invalid pension record for him.

john d. pulfrey was a challenge for me. it was hard to read his headstone, which was maybe why i chose to take its picture. a lot of the time if i can't make out the soldier's full name on the stone i can figure out who he is by his regimental history.

it's tricky with the 19th new york infantry, because the regiment was redesignated the 3d light artillery after a little disturbance regarding terms of service that ended up with some of the men being sent to prison camps for it. there's an interesting newspaper account of it and the subsequent celebration of the returning soldiers.

clearly pulfrey was among the soldiers returned to duty, since the record indicates that he was discharged with disability at newburn, north carolina some time later.  regimental records show that his company (K)  met action at whitehall bridge and it is here that i believe he was injured.

on the 1890 census of surviving soldiers his disability is listed as "varicose veins" and he is described as "old, lame, deaf and poor".

i was only able to find records of him through the listing of the valois cemetery, by searching men buried in the soldiers' lot from this regiment. there's only one of him, so the trail runs back from there.

edward d. hall served with the 23d ny infantry, company I.  the regiment saw blessedly little action and took relatively few casualties.

hall mustered in and out with his regiment, and the 1890 census of surviving soldiers makes no special note of him.

in the 1875 census he is seen to have a wife and children living at home, but in the 1900 census he is widowed, living alone, and 4 months unemployed.

view album

Monday, February 11, 2013

GAR in vermont hill cemeteries

i'm from vermont.

i'm not a vermonter, because i wasn't born here and we make that distinction. but we have a lot of hill cemeteries here in the old towns "offrum" the main roads. it's been a thing i do, ever since i was a kid, to look at the old headstones, trace the families.

and one thing you notice here is that a LOT of the old graves are civil war veterans. you get used to it. you just expect to see clusters of graves with GAR stars and death dates that tell you those boys died far from home.

one thing i have noticed travelling in some other states, new york in particular, is how many civil war dead there aren't. i know my history; i know that new york men died on those battlefields just like everybody else and in many places with extreme valor.

but you just don't see the density of graves.

there are a number of reasons why vermont men went off in such large numbers to fight a war so far away. vermont was an early and strong abolition state. a lot of the trouble in kansas was caused by vermonters who wanted to spread their abolitionist views there. but also vermont was an isolated state, a prideful state. and boys wanted to go see the elephant, and some just wanted to show they were as good a group of men as from anywhere else.

but the arithmetic of it is shocking and sorrowful.

vermont sent roughly 9.7 precent of its total population to that war, and out of those fifteen percent died. can i break that down for you?

let's just say that of the total population roughly half were male, and of those boys and men let's just say that 40% were of soldiering age.

that means about 43 per cent of vermont's men went to that war, and three out of every twenty who went died.

the "old brigade", the First Vermont Brigade, the only brigade in the army of the potomac known by its state name, suffered more casualties than any other brigade in the history of the united states army.

over a thousand men died in one afternoon alone at a god-forsaken crossroads in virginia.

that is a lot of water for a small state to carry.

vermont schoolchildren all learn this by the time they visit the statehouse.

in the south and in the border states you had to go to the war because the war came right up to your doorstep whether you wanted to go see it or not, but in vermont they went in huge numbers and took by far the largest casualties per capita of any northern state.

so it's a habit for me to look for the GAR stars when i visit old cemeteries. and there are a lot of them here.

not so many in new york, where maybe they had more sense and less dogmatic views about abolition and union.

often when i visit an old cemetery in new york state there are few civil war veterans and of those veterans very few war dead.

the reason i'm writing this post, i guess, is that back in october i was in a handful of new york cemeteries and did find some civil war veterans, but none of them were war dead. i looked up their service records as i often do and i started to write a post about that, but i got to thinking about the heavy toll of the war on vermont, which is my home.

later on i will tell you about those new york men in a post of their own. the two trains of thought are related, but they are not the same. and those three men i spent my afternoon researching deserve their own place, regardless of their state of origin or their luck in having been assigned to regiments with low casualties and high survival.

they all threw their lots in the same.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

nashville road

some of my internet friends live in places with flat landscapes, and i keep wanting to show them the drive out nashville road, which is more or less how you get to my house. i live at the edge of a long high flatland that sits right at the foot of bolton mountain. of course, i'm defining "long flatland" in the way that vermont hill framers define it, and not the way, say kansans do.

because out on the praire a five mile stretch without a mountain in it wouldn't be remarkable.

anyway, this is the trip out nashville road. about halfway through the video you'll see a half dozen houses together. that's nashville.

when you get to the stop sign, that's downtown west bolton.

in real life the trip takes about six, but through the magic of video, it's timelapsed just a little.

Saturday, February 09, 2013

sunday morning in trumansburg

one fine sunday in october i went to church at the first presbyterian church of ulysses, where i sometimes sit in with the choir.

on this particular sunday the bell choir was playing, and here are some clips from their rehearsal.

the director is andrew mattfeld.

Friday, February 08, 2013

city of vaughn

this is just too funny and maybe neither of you follows social news media from the suburbs of toronto.

this morning i was hanging out with my invisible friends (ok, it's an IRC chat) and somebody laughed that the city of vaughn, ontario had just posted an amusing tweet on its official account:

we had a laugh about it, we did.

That's a highly professional city representative.
I totally want that person representing my city.
someone else
hey, he can write
yeah, because saying "fucknuts" in official communication is a sign of professionalism.
newsflash: your twitterfeed is not your persoanl notepad.
if you are a public official, you are representing your agency.
someone else
in this case, badly
person who lives near toronto
yeah, that was likely someone having the wrong profile up when they posted
person who lives near toronto
government representative son;t need to appear hip and edgy. they need to appear competent and professional.
person who lives near toronto
yes, that's why people are so amused by it.

and then we went back to talking about knitting or whatever.

and then the twitterfeeds and news links started to be funnier.

their facebook page got all full of stupid:

and we were very amused at his line from the city's official website:

Now you can find even more ways to connect to the City of Vaughan! 

well, apparently now one less.

morning moon

look, i don't know what you do when you wake up in the morning and the first thing you think is "HOLY CRAP! what is all that light?!?!?"

i do not know what you do, but i grab my camera (yes, i sleep with it) and i run downstairs and put on shoes and rush out to the back of the house without bothering to put on a coat and then mess with a bunch of different exposures.


pretty, that's why.

never mind freezing cold and no clothes besides pajamas. if you stopped to put on a coat, you might lose the light.

so here are three of those shots.

27 january.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

i thought i was special!!

you know i was engaged in a correspondence with mr. wang, which was very entertaining, at least to me.

i am very sad that he has broken it off. i was really hoping that as my responses got progressively more bizarre he would continue to send me instructions in his fraud.

really and truly, though, i doubt anyone bothered to read my carefully crafted emails until the very last round. what i think happens with this particular scam is that there are set responses and it matters not one bit what you write so long as you do write, until they get to the part where they ask you for actual information.

and of course i took a moment or two to google mr. wang and found a couple of interesting things.

mr. wang hongzhang is actually this guy, a legitimate chinese bank executive. the CATER ALLEN PRIVATE BANK, i am surprised to learn, is a legitimate bank.

i had never given internet scams much thought before this because i don;t give an awful lot of thought or analysis to what goes directly into my trash bin.

but it makes sense that a scammer would use the names of real persons or institutions just in case the greedy credulous of the world wish to google the project and check for legitimacy.

first, a word about to greedy credulous of the world. if there are big wads of cash floating around in the world, somebody has found a way to claim them. they do not need you to pretend to be next of kin or open an account or help to make transfers in any way. big wads of cash have plenty of claimants and big banks have procedures for just that.


i also learned that email scammers LOVE to pretend to be mr. wang. here is a correspondance with my very same "mr. wang" and someone else, and here are two instances of either a different "mr. wang" or at least a "mr. wang" with a different address and text body.

in this second listing, i particularly like the note way down at the bottom:

NOTE TO DUMBASS SPAMMERS: My scam e-mail filtering system is pretty good but it isn't perfect. Occasionally a regular spam e-mail will get mistakenly published here as a 419 scam. This is inadvertent. If you are a spammer and you don't wish to have your crap mistakenly published on this website as a 419 advance fee scam, the solution is simple. Don't mail your crap to harvested e-mail addresses.

later on, maybe, i will analyze soem of the spam emails and talk about what's really going on.

in the meantime, i may just write mr. wang one last letter about my sadness over not hearing from him for lo these many days.

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

a day at the museum: PRI

i think what i said to you is that the part of the day in which i went to the museum of the earth deserved its own post.

i do not think i was fully prepared for the visit, because even though i know that the Paleontological Research Institution is home to one of the world's finest fossil collections i was just not prepared for the scope of the thing.

yeah, i get that we exist in a tiny little slice of time and occupy a tiny little biological niche and that there were things before us and probably things after us but i was just not prepared for the sheer hugeness of it to be laid out so graphically and solidly.

i had spent some time in the maine highlands casually looking at some of the geological formations there and of course because i was around ithaca i was looking at some geological formations because, really, if you're in ithaca and you are not looking at the geologic history you really have to be purposely looking away since everywhere you go there are displays of the geologic eras right there in the open.

so pretty soon after my museum visit i wrote a post that was kind of about my being all agog and i promised loosely to write another post with some pictures and junk and this is that post.

the first thing you notice when you enter the building is the giant whale skeleton hanging from the ceiling. you can't really say it's in the entryway, because it takes up rather a lot of space on two floors. it is very, very big.

it is not a fossil, but the remains of north american right whale #2030.

that's right. there are so few right whales left that each one of them is assigned an identity number for tracking.

this one, when she died, was acquired by the museum so her bones at least could be seen.

so then the next thing you notie it the really big mind boggling multi-panel painting that occupies the ramp down toward the display areas. if you are a patient person and have the time, the museum offers a doohickey (free of charge) that you can hold to your ear so you can listen to an audio tour of the painting and i really recommend it. it's an amazing painting and it illustrates some stunning life science concepts.

it kind of blew my temporal tracking gasket, though, because it turns out that i am not very good running a story time line in reverse. iam not able to think seamlessly in reverse time; i have to start where the story starts and go forward and then think "ok, but before that?' and then i can run the chunk of the story before that and link it up and i know when you're looking at the painting the idea behind setting it up in reversing time is to put you in the frame of mind of going back through the geological record from the surface where we live down to places that were exposed long before we lived and it works to illustrate depth and passage through time in preparation for looking at the exhibits, but sometime i will return and look at that painting starting at the bottom and think about that story seamless and moving forward.

and the first thing you get to after that is the dinosaur coprolites, which is an amusing placement of some things you don't have to think too hard about before you dive right down through the eras and have a hard look and a long think about the stunning scope of life on this planet and the life OF this planet and it's really hard not to notice all the mass extinctions.

i took some pictures for you, and made a little video of an interesting and nicely mounted ammonoid fossil.

and one of the things i notice about my pictures is that often i take pictures that serve no apparent purpose except to remind me to look something up later, because while the seismograph drums were very interesting and i understand the general concepts, there were some very specific labels with some terminology i did not understand, so i took pictures of those so i'd remember what to look up.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

old macdaniels had some nuts

last october i was looking for some geocaches over at the macdaniels nut grove up on cornell plantations. first of all it is way cool that a university has these incredible areas. it's the kind of thing universities with ag schools just have, but that doesn't make them any less cool.

but cornell does a really fabulous job welcoming the public into a lot of these areas so we can not only enjoy what are essentially working parklands, but also see for ourselves the kinds of plants they're working on and learn about it a little ourselves.

so i come over the hill and all of a sudden it's like disneyland for me! there are trails! and plants with labels! and work areas! and - get this- MAPS AND BROCHURES AND INFORMATION KIOSKS!!!!

oh- em -gee, oh- em -gee, right, right? i know!

i am hopping up and down on one foot excited and i sort of forget to look for the caches because i'm too busy going around to EVERY part of the garden and taking pictures and reading EVERYTHING and i'm even somehow pleased to see a handsaw belonging to the professor on the project, like it's a sign of work in progress and he might be back at any minute.

and now i'm looking at their website and i notice they have a link to the UVM extension service which is fun because i live very near a UVM research forest and there's also a link to a lovely little map of noertheastern mushroom growers, which makes me think i will grow those mushrooms i got for my birthday.

Monday, February 04, 2013

winter vegetables

yes, i know you are all asking the question "how can i cook more like flask?"

because flask is an awesome cook.

anyway, yesterday i made a thing that is delicious and filing and lovely to look at and oh, so nutritious, so of course you will want some.

i got my first slow cooker recently, so i'm learning how to use it. this represents a bit of a challenge for me, because when i'm thinking about making dinner it is not usually eleven in the morning.

so it's a discipline.

i had a bunch of things in my fridge that i wanted to use up and i thought a little winter vegetable stew would be just the thing.

so here is how you make it:

take inventory of the things you have to use up. in my house that was half a butternut squash, some spinach, some cabbage, two carrots, two parsnips, and a sweet potato. i also wanted to use up potatoes and onions because while they keep a while, they don't keep forever and i try to use what i have.

toas a tablespoon or so of olive oil (or whatever) into a pan and hot it up. drop your cut up onions (i used one large one) in there and cook them down until they;re translucent and maybe browning just a little at the edges. make a space in the middle of that and toss your spices in. stir it around and coat the onions with that mixture. cook it for a minute or two until the spices smell nice and fragrant.

just in case you're curious, i used some red curry power, a pinch of garam masala, some smoked paprika, a little allspice, some ground black pepper, some cayenne pepper, and a wad of minced garlic. it's not an authentic any national cuisine, but that's what struck my fancy at the moment.

use some wine or vegetable stock or even water to deglaze the pan so you get all the flavors out of there and dump all that in the slow cooker.

then add around a quart of vegetable stock (really any kind of stock will do, but i use my own vegetable stock which is cheap and delicious) and toss in the toughest of the vegetables in the kind of sized chunks you would like to eat.

in my house on this day, i knew the parsnips were going to take by far the longest to cook, so i put them in the pot a full forty minutes ahead of everything else.

after a while toss in the next hardest of the vegetables. carrots and then maybe twenty minutes later put in the sweet potato and potato.

toss in a can of beans if you feel like it. i waffled over this for a while but in the end i decided to put in a can of black beans. if you are using both beans and tomatoes, though, save the tomatoes until later because tomatoes will stiffen those beans right up.

let it cook a while - an hour or so? because you're cooking that stuff for four honkin' hours, maybe five and there aren't any real critical values here- and then add the cut up squash and cabbage. squash doesn't take nearly as long to cook as parsnip, so you'll want to put it in relatively late so it doesn't get all mushy.

all along the way (every hour or so) you may wish to stir and adjust seasonings. i did. i added a tablespoon or so of miso (umami and salt), a couple of tablespoons of tomato paste (umami and sweet), and some umeboshi (umami, salt, sour).

cook it until the vegetables are tender.

the spinach gets added gently just at the end, and cooked down until it just wilts.

then you toss it into bowls and eat it.

it's good.

Sunday, February 03, 2013

golf and fall planting

i am all caught up not in my geocache logs to october 19, which means i'm looking at october 20 which according to the record was a day of a few different activities.

apparently in the morning i went to find a geocache that was near where i woke up and then i remember going in pretty urgent search of a restroom, and no, there aren't pictures of that.

you're welcome.

then apparently -(i am judging by the photographs i took because quite frankly i rely on notes and pictures to tell me where i have been)- apparently i went up east hill a ways to play disc golf at a course behind a school which is thoroughly unremarkable except for the pretty views and also while i was there i saw a bunch of brown paper bags in the school garden and i don;t know what you do when you see a whole bunch of brown bags placed out as if they might be bulbs waiting for planting, but of course i look in the bags. and take pictures.

 the trail of pictures then indicates that i went out to the slaterville spring to try to fill my water jugs and i know from talking to people that it had been a droughty summer and it was being a droughty fall and although the spring was flowing just fine when i was there on monday today there is no water.

then, on a whim, i decided to go out the the paleontological research institute, otherwise commonly known as the museum of the earth.

you know, i think that probably deserves a post of its own.

Saturday, February 02, 2013


you know, i really thought that my last  response to the spamscammer was going to lead him to write me off as a bad mark.

but no.


i am apalled. apalled and delighted. here is the text of his most recent message, along with his attached "documents":
How are you doing? Great I suppose! Thanks for choosing to do this project, you will never regret this decision you’ve made because we are truly doing the right thing. Also, thanks for the information you sent of yourself. I have now harmonized them with our record here at my bank and i have also sent the needed information to the attorney for the WILL of testament at the Probate registry, it will be ready by next week and everything will be in your name. Everything is just perfect as there’s no call for apprehension now. Everything is under control and there is absolutely no risk because our record now proves you as the valid next of kin and beneficiary to the funds I transferred to the private banking arm of CATER ALLEN PRIVATE BANK. I will be sending instructions to you with secret numbers along with an ATTACH DOCUMENT (FINAL WILL). Those shall be the information/documents you’ll be making available to the private banking arm of CATER ALLEN PRIVATE BANK for them to authenticate you as the beneficiary to the wire remittance that I made to their bank. It’s that simple.  All you need do from then onward is to always consult with me and follow my instructions as we proceed so that there won’t be any mistakes. Also, once again I expect our correspondence to be 100% CONFIDENTIAL, this is because of the nature and circumstances of this project. May I have your word(s) on that, please?
I will not attempt to contact you by phone or fax except it's very important. As a matter of caution, it’s very important that I and you are not linked in anyway except maybe on an official level. Even this email address I am contacting you with is an anonymous one that can't be traced to me in anyway. You are the only that I communicate with here as no one else has this my email address except you. For an even better understanding between us, I will like to know the following:
(1) Your occupation and how old you are?
(2) Assurance that I can get your total devotion and trust to see this through?
(3)Have you handled large amount of funds before?
(4) Do you have the ability to open strategic accounts within or outside your country for the purpose of safe guarding the funds?
(5) Can you truly keep this to yourself only? Even keep from your partner? Till we secure the funds at least. Can you do that?
Please, once again, ensure that you keep this project confidential; do not discuss it with anybody because of its nature. It's going to be our secret forever.  For your perusal and as a gesture of my sincerity and dedication to this project, I’m attaching a scanned photograph of me and also that of my international passport. Please send same of yourself too. Any ID at all will just be okay. I’m sorry but I need to be 100% sure that I’m dealing with the right person. This is for my protection please.
Yours Sincerely,

so here is my answer, along with my "license of drive" and "passport":

i am very fine, thank you for asking. i am practicing holding my breath underwater for short periods of time, say, 6.5 seconds because gelatin. it is really no choice to do this project because obviously i am heir legitimate and i could do not other thing than my to honor the memory of  deceased decedent your domicilary account client by me, mr. fabian fabian surname entering into marriage with you.
i am very happy that your records are properly harmonized and i think you will find your car keys also if you look underneath the laundry hamper where you droppend them last week. i feel so lucky that you are fully in control as i am just now going through an awkward time in which some of my leaves are falling off and my friend susan is skiing CATER ALLEN PRIVATE BANK in palau.
i am proved to be a small yeast organism WILL probate registry CATER ALLEN PRIVATE BANK auspicious totally legal no risk toaster.
beneficiary secret instruction numbers! i LOVE secret instruction numbers!!!!! can we have a secret handshake too? and a hat? it proves valid authenticate confidential and no apprehension you are.
ATTACH DOCUMENT i am so happy and also crenellated.
here are my words: woot woot meezlehooper funderthins
very simple no mistakes.
yes, please do not contact me by phone unless it is social since we are very close or if i am actually on fire and i am so glad i have sent you all my phone informations forthwith authentic #4 combination plate. you are the only one i communicate with because quite frankly i am just not that good at it and i am lucky to have found in you such a close friend and CATER ALLEN PRIVATE BANK totally legal 100% CONFIDENTIAL remittance and for greater understanding and deep intimacy between us i will tell you:
1) i am a size six angiosperm technician
2) you have my devotion and trust and please pass the lotion.
3) i was once a cashier at a large discount store and i currently have twelve united state dollar and fifty six
4) if i open a saving account at my bank my new bank will give me a toaster oven. or free checking.
5) i am very sorry. i know you said to tell no one but all my friend are in awe of your true greatness of spirit and with such champion honest man doing good in  i can only tell, tell, tell of my great fortune to finally meet you and i, mr. fabian fabian surname have written a song of your greatness which i have perform nightly in our public square for you will bring much good fortune to me and my elderly grandmother and our town, where we are preparing to unveil a statue in your honor.
of COURSE you are dealing with the right person!!! do your records not harmonize with my name? you found me by this very email, did you not? you are such a talented finder of persons that you have found me, the one and only valid next of kin and totally legal beneficiary!!!

so of course since we are to be married you here is my driver license and passport.
mr. fabian fabian surname.

Friday, February 01, 2013

storytelling of the geolocated kind

i probably won't get around to writing the actual log for a good long time, but this week i went to the vista peak geocache, which, oddly, is at the top of what they're calling vista peak even though it isn't really a peak and doesn't have a view.

one of the great things about bolton valley is that once you get to the top of the lifts you are surrounded by both the bolton valley nordic trail network and the catamount trail.

and at the top of the vista chair the old tower looks like it'f falling out of repair but it is both sturdily built AND i notice that it is being maintained. it gets a lot of traffic in ski boots which are hard on the ladder rungs and even though the thing looks all fall-apart-y i've noticed that periodically rungs get replaced.

anyway, when i'm out i'm always taking pictures and stuff and i am always looking for an interesting way to tell the story or just to show where i was.

f'rinstance, a couple of years ago i made some annotated maps of two of the chairlifts at bolton just because i could.

and then a little while ago i wrote you that i had learned to use some little online doohickeys so i could map a couple of bike loops and show you.

it takes three doohickeys to make that: one is garmin basecamp, which i do not particularly recommend but i have to use it to turn my garmin data into data i can play with in other formats. i really, really like my garmin GPS receiver. i would have to, because i hate garmin's sucky customer "service" and garmin's  restrictive policies regarding maps you have already legally bought from them.

it turns out you have to buy the maps and then purchase the right to use the maps on the garmin devices that you also own. and if one of your garmin devices breaks or is lost, you cannot deauthorize one of your permitted uses and transfer it to another device. you have to buy a new license.

to use a map you already paid hundreds of dollars for.

WTF, garmin?

i think what i'm saying here is that if you like the devices in the delorme line at all, you should maybe look into buying one of those. they are very good units, have excellent maps, and good customer service. the only problem with starting out delorme is that they don't have much in the area of starter units and you have to go whole hog high end at the outset.

unless a lot of my devices break all at once i am too heavily invested in the garmin line to make the change easily.

uh, anyway.

once i get the .gpx files extracted there are a lot of ways i can play with them. for my cache trip, i took the .gpx file and loaded it into this cute little site that lets you do a LOT of fun things with the data, but it won't let you store or display the results, so i tossed it up onto a third site that not only lets you store the map data, but it lets you attatch pictures and video and i am not sure how i will end up using it, but it sure is fun.

vista peak geocache

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