Friday, January 31, 2014

what are you doing to help the democrats in 2014?

i have been saving my emails from the democratic campaign committee so i can make snarky commentary later, but i wanted to say this now:

who picks the images they use? a republican strategist? because every image they send me of the president (along with text encouraging me to stand behind him) make him look like the personification of evil.

i don't know, maybe that's what they were going for.

and that's another thing: i don't particularly support the president. i think he's an ineffective dispstick caught in a web of blackmail and graft. he's a smarmy tool of big business masquerading as a champion of the people.

i took the survey the democrats sent me this week.

which of the president's initiatives do you think are most important?

what? is there a choice for "none; i believe that no matter what "changes" you guys make you'll manage to take the costs out of the poor and middle class and the obscenely wealthy won't lose a dime"?

they asked which of the presidents issues were important to me. i said "none. stop mass surveillance. no TPP. reverse citizens united."

and they asked me what i'll be doing to help the democrats win in 2014. this is what i  said:

democrats are only republican lite. you are all filthy corrupt warmongering liars and crooks.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

granite shed

i was wandering around central vermont last week and i was at a geocache called a true granite shed, and it was a sufficiently interesting location to tell you about it here.

there's a historical sign at the location that explains that this little building was a temporary storage shed for the explosives used in granite quarrying. apparently the idea was to make the storage shed walls out of granite and the roof of wood so that if (when) there was an accidental explosion of the stored EXPLOSIVES, the granite walls would absorb blast force and the roof would blow up, directing the blast (more) safely upward instead of out.

today it just sits by a roadside, by a trail that's maintained by the millstone trail association.

besides being cool in its own right, just in front of the shed is a strange little warm spot. i was there on a morning well below zero and just in front of the shed was a little patch of scrub ground with mist wafting up from it, and when i looked closer, there were LIQUID WATER DROPLETS clinging to green moss.

this effect was puzzling and the frost flowers on the overhanging grass were very beautiful.

i did not see what thing out of sight could have been causing this thermal anomaly. i am not aware of any geothermal activity in central vermont.


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

american hero

pete seeger died monday night.

he spent his whole life working and fighting for clean water and for peace and for the future of children and for people in general to sit down and settle things best they could without killing or namecalling and speaking of names, he didn't give any, not even when they were going to send him to prison for it and he didn't refuse on the weight of the fifth amendment, he refused on the weight of the rights to free speech and freedom of association and he said that it was un-american to force americans to answer questions like HUAC was asking, which i imagine bothered those sumbitches a lot.

and they needed bothering.

we're seeing a lot of the same problems today, in which governments (and i am not just talking about ours) increasingly place under suspicion those of its citizens who want to speak up and question what's being done in our names. increasingly resistance to corruption and totalitarianism and militarism is criminalized.

when they tell you that if you were a real patriot you would want dirty water and not enough money to live on and you should LIKE government spying on your personal life and make sure you wear your flag lapel pin, you can bet their definition of patriotism has little to do with the actual freedoms and rights of citizens and everything to do with power and political theater.

don't wrap yourself in the flag and demand discussion be stopped; true patriotism demands that the government, every government be afraid. it should always be afraid that if they are not doing a good job, they will be unseated. governments should always be afraid. not the nation, not the citizens; the sitting government.

properly their job is conditional and it is conditional on its performance.

hello, ukraine?

ok, so i don't have all the specific answers to all the problems.

but i know that in a larger sense the solution is for everybody to be working toward decency and fairness and to let people speak.

give people voice.

pete knew that.

Monday, January 27, 2014

'splain this.

ok, so you're six feet from a sidewalk.

WHY do you walk on the active railroad bed?

Sunday, January 26, 2014

top ten things to love about the superbowl

10) because the superbore is not until next sunday, advertising for valentine's day won't start full-on for another week.

9)... nope, that's all i got.

and it was a stretch.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

i miss my glasses

i'm sure you are all dying to know how contacts are working out for me.

outside, which is why i got them in the first place, they are awesome. driving is awesome and more importantly, schlepping through the woods and sticking my head into scratchy places is awesome.

i can wear a face mask to keep the frostbite off my face AND see. i haven't been able to do that since i was twelve.

indoors they suck.

this is because for the last decade or so i have been a bifocal wearer. my contacts (corrected for distance) make everything out THERE nice and clear, but anything closer than just outside the reach of my arms is terribly out of focus. so for cooking, shoe-tying, and pretty much anything that requires me to see what i'm doing but is closer than five feet, i need readers.

and readers are really geared toward READING and not your kitchen work surface or your laundry.

and granted, having good focus while doing laundry is maybe not a critical value, but with my glasses (which are/were a progressive lens bifocal), i could see everything without having to wear a pair of reading glasses around my neck everywhere i go or dangle them from the end of my nose and look through them sometimes. basically contact wearing in the house is contact wearing with a pair of cheap readers that do not come close to achieving the same effect as my glasses, which were only one thing to worry about and my vision was good.

so i am really looking forward to my new glasses being ready in a week or so.

meanhwhile, since i have to wear contacts every day during the trial period, today i am experimenting with monovision; my left eye is corrected for distance and my right for close up which is almost as good as bifocals and it will have the benefit of being suitable for outdoor use.

Friday, January 24, 2014

you guys are on your own

in the state of vermont, roads get bumpy. if you are driving in vermont and a road crew has bothered to mark a bump with a sign, you'd better pay attention.

last week i was up in buel's gore and the road crew had put our a few signs, but they were not the kind of signs that tell you to mind a specific bump but rather the kind of signs that tell you you're on your own.

it's gonna be a bumpy ride.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

peanut butter

it's cold here today.

like, sixteen below zero fahrenheit in full sunshine cold.

and i noticed that the little chickadees outside are trying very hard to eat enough calories to keep them alive. a chickadee needs to eat roughly a third of its tiny little body weight to run their metabolism and not freeze to death.

it helps them if they can get foods high in fats.

and because it is So cold and expected to stay cold for a number of days, i took a big glob of peanut butter and wiped it on some tree branches outside my window.

then i licked the spoon.

i can tell you that while spruce itself is not a bad flavor, spruce with peanut butter, while interesting, is not delicious.

yep. totally not delicious.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014


i have managed to live this late in my life without feeling i wanted of needed contact lenses. i've always liked my glasses. if eyes are the windows to the soul, glasses are sheer curtains for your windows, a little bit of privacy from your neighbors.

but glasses fog up inside ski goggles. they fog up when you're running or riding or waling in humid weather. and you have to be very careful about getting musplash on your face because that will scratch your glasses.

you know what else will scratch your glasses? barbed wire.

and i get barbed wire up in my face more often than one might think. the first scratch i got on this pair of glasses? i was walking in the woods and steeped on a piece of barbed wire, which spring up. i kid you not.

the scratch on my face? no big deal. my tetanus shots are up-to-date.

but the glasses? oh, the sadness!

and glasses are expensive. and i am always worrying that i will destroy a pair.

and last week i was hiking in the woods and i slipped on some ice which wouldn't have been a big deal except that while i was steadying myself, i caught my glasses on a small tree branch and broke the temple right off at the hinge.

so now i need new glasses.

and it's time for contacts. contacts will not fog. and i will be able to just wear sport shields to protect my eyes from all the other stuff. i will have better dust and wind protection on bikes. i won't have to worry about my glasses dropping out of a boat. i won't have to wear goggles on warm days skiing. i'll be able to read my orienteering compass better. i'm not kidding about this. my glasses frames get in the way of that.

it's TIME.

i'll still have glasses for when i want them, and i will want them. after all, i have worn them for forty years and i like them. i like how i feel in them and i like how i look in them.

but i do not like how they perform in sport conditions.

so now i'll have them and they won't always be getting scratched.

i am SO looking forward to this.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

vermont plate FPC 702

so this is how he drives: he sits there in the lane until the car ahead of him is very far ahead of him, and then he moves up very fast right to its bumper and then he sits there without moving until it pulls forward again maybe fifteen car lengths.

meanwhile, in my lane, were'a ll just moving along at one slow uniform speed.

why does this  hatwipe drive like that? because he's too busy texting or whatever he's doing on his smartphone to be bothered to look up.

he NEEDS to drive this way so that he has maximum texting time because he is far too important not to be on his phone. he is far too important to be actually following the law.

here's a funny thing: when he saw me taking pictures, he stopped doing it quite so obviously. the thing about a camera is that you can whip it out and point it and press the shutter button without bothering to look. you can't guarantee the quality of your pictures, but some of them come out ok.


i was out in the woods and i came across this little home, traditional construction and modern materials.

 it's pretty nice inside, as these things go.

this is the view from the front of the house.then a little while later i saw this little home. it looks like a smallish animal dens here, so i started looking for scats near the entrance, because if you wake up on a warm day, the first thing you do is go outside and take a dump.

 it appears that rabbits live here.

Monday, January 20, 2014

televised sports

yesterday afternoon i was installed on my sofa, glued to televised sports.

what, you might ask, would i be watching? if you have been paying attention to my story at all you know how i abhor football, and it it's early in the season for me to care about college hoop.

but you put international curling on television and i am ALL over that.

so i'm there watching every shot.

OH! BABY, BABY! i shout, loud enough for them to hear me in jericho.

but seriously? what's this format of north america against the rest of the world? is this some ploy to get more US viewers for curling? team up with canada and hope american fans will care?

because curling is kind of a canadian thing. canadians are good at it. it could just be canada kicking everyone's butt, but i guess they want to try to draw US television.

which is why they're holding it in las vegas, that famous powerhouse of curling fandom.

either way, i get to watch curling.

what is there not to love about curling?

and i WANT a pair of those shoes.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

so good you could die

i'm serious about this.

and i need to stress tat this is not a paid endorsement. because i'm about to go all crazy about a commercially available product and i need to stress that while if asked i might be willing to review products provided to me, i have never been asked to do so and this degree of my enthusiasm can't be purchased anyway.

if you are some promotional person looking for my honest review because you think i will LOOOOOVE your product and i will then crank out some glowing copy you can use, think again because what you will probably get is a little reflection on how favorability bias creeps in when people evaluate free stuff.

so even if i love your product, you'll probably get a lot of me wondering about how much i really love your product, or that it was free.

on the other hand, i have a fairly well-established record of deep product loyalty for subaru wagons, camelbak hydration packs, asolo boots, and i TOTALLY love both my giant and bianchi bicycles, so if anybody over there at those companies would like to give me free stuff to endorse them, i'd be toasty with that.

garmin GPS products, not so much. garmin, i like your devices, but your maps software and customer service both suck. i mean, individually your representatives are competent and pleasant, but the fact that i have to spend so much time talking to them after wading through your byzantine contact queue really ticks me off. and when one of your otherwise lovely representatives suggested that delorme GPS units are somehow of lesser quality, it was all i could do to bite my tongue and not say that if the unit freezing up entirely and needing to have its batteries removed before it can be restarted and set to right several times a day due to a KNOWN hardware issue typical of an entire model line is higher quality, i'd have to agree.

uh, anyway.

i was talking about fudge.

you knew that, right?

specifically fralinger's boardwalk fudge. somebody gave me a box of it last month and i was all, like, ok, fudge. i could probably eat that.

because in general fudge is a thing i can pass on. it had been years since i had eaten a piece of fudge because while it is not unpleasant, i don't like it enough to take any when i pass a bunch of it on a plate.

so i opened this fancy shiny box of "famous" fudge and was confronted with a giant brick shaped confection i had to wrangle out of its package and cut.

but all right.

so i ate some. i eat some every day, while it lasts. and for a large part of each day i am having fantasies about the next time it might be appropriate for me to eat more.

because the hit of sugar and cream is so intense that i can feel it in my fingers even NOW, and it was a half hour since my last piece, not that i'm counting.

i'm eating my daily piece and i'm thinking: do i sense a creamy undertone reminiscent of high quality condensed milk? notes of coconut? and then my piece is gone and i have a momentary panic because even though the piece is gone, i am not emotionally ready to be done eating it.

oh. this is so good, i say to nobody in particular, you could... and then i just trail off, eyes glazed and ready for my nap.

you might could order yourself a box, but you'd be treading dangerous ground. this is a fudge of great power and must be treated with care and respect.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

pan roasted cauliflower

i made this thing last week. my mom had a head of cauliflower she didn't feel like using and i was happy to take free food and also food that would drive decisions about what to make in my house because sometimes i just don't know what to make and end up having ramen because by the time i think of what i might feel like cooking, the hour to start cooking has long past.

so i made that thing. i didn't take any lovely pictures of it because it's just not that attractive in the dish plus i'm not really into food styling. i am starting to be annoyed these days when i just want to look at a recipe and i have to wade through  gallery of pictures that include artfully positioned hardboiled eggs and peels scattered on some twee little kitchen linens and HOLY COW, COULD YOU JUST MAYBE COOK THE THING?

pictures are very nice as is a cute little narrative about how sweet and sunshiny life is in your fabulously stylish home, but i just start to feel like i'm thumbing through the williams-sonoma-martha-stewart-event-planner catalog.

let's face it ladies, there are a limited number of eyeballs out there just looking for a nice recipe and mostly you're just elbowing each other out of the way to be more specialer than each other while you reblog the good recipes and invent "stunning new creations" and let me tell you: if in 60,000 years nobody has ever thought to put those two foods together, there is probably a reason WHY.

i think what i'm saying is that content is suffering.

a couple of years ago i found a recipe for a thing that was good. i liked that i could just look it up on the interwebs when i wanted to make it. but apparently it was "discovered" by the lifestyle bloggers and now if you look up this recipe, you get a dozen versions of it, all meticulously photographed and accompanied by a moving and sunny life story to give it MEANING.

only the meaning i'm looking for is here is a food. it is tasty. here is how you can make it. here are parts of the recipe that can be changed and here are parts that are important. in case you have leftovers, it does/does not freeze well.

yes, i'm fine with an actual narrative about your life and your cooking, but by golly i can sniff out the real deal from smarmily troweled on sunshine commentaries designed not to communicate, but to build readership. one makes me care about you, and the other makes me roll my eyes and start writing a diatribe about what's wrong with lifestyle blogging.

i do not care how it looked on your st. swithin's day party table. i do not care how special you felt when you were thinking of how your mom used to make something that was tangentially related. i do not care how popular you feel you are going to be for rewriting a perfectly fine recipe in a cute font and writing a novella about the thought process that led you to cook it.

and just take this as an example. it looks like a decent enough recipe, but i don't think i want to take cooking advice from someone who apparently has THAT much trouble peeling eggs.

there are basically two kinds of bloggers: ones who are trying to communicate something, and ones who are trying to manufacture a large following.

follow me! tell all your fiends to follow me! the second group will shriek. when i have enough people following, i'll really start to write stuff!

they don't realize they have it sort of backward there.

look, as a reader, i am STARVED for good original content. starved.


and the pan roasted cauliflower? it is very good. and it's good leftover.

Friday, January 17, 2014


why, yes. i am still going on about things that happened at christmas, thank you very much. later on if i get ambitious i will tell you about some things that happened in january 2011.

so anyway, my mom has these friends. let's call them sharon and jane.

they are crazy people. if there is a super involved craft project that will yield something mind-blowingly fabulous, they are all over it.

especially if it involves food items.

this one time they showed up at my mom's house not with a gingerbread house, but with a gingerbread RV. you know, complete with transparent windows made of sugar. i'm not sure it didn't have working headlights.

ok, i exaggerate a little. i do not think it's possible to make edible working headlights.

let's just say that jane and sharon possess the high amounts of imagination, motivation, and skills to pull off some pretty impressive little projects.

this christmas they showed up with little gift bags full of hot chocolate swizzle sticks. basically, these are a chunk of fudge and a chunk of homemade marshmallow mounted on a stick so you can dunk it in your hot milk and when it melts you have some outstanding hot chocolate.

if all of the fudge doesn't happen to dissolve, you get a little bonus at the bottom of your cup because fudge can act just like, well, fudge.

it is delightful.

and for the record (because i am very scientific about it), these also work very nicely in hot coffee. get a medium light coffee half-sweet and have them pour it in a large cup. then you will have room for swizzling.

i'm told that the recipe for these things can be found online. because i do not own a stand mixer, i will not be making homemade marshmallows anytime soon.

but i have a small saucepan. i'm going to go heat up the milk.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

mug shots

for christmas i was given this fabulous coffee mug of shakespearean insults.

you will, of course, want to read the text out loud for maximum enjoyment:

thou highly fed and lowly taught beetle-headed, flap-ear'd knave; thou art not so much brain as ear-wax and i do desire we may be better strangers.

it's fun to say. i bet it would be equally fun to carry into a staff meeting or something with your morning coffee.

the bottom of the mug is amusing, too:

for best results, use other side.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

about the numbers

i geocache. geocaching is a sport that lends itself to statistics and the nerdy sort of person who plays this game naturally loves statistics, graphs, and maps.  also when you go to a party with these people, it will likely be the largest social gathering you have ever been to where the majority of people in attendance have social deficits, enormous amounts of gear hanging from their belt packs, failure to be able to make eye contact, or all three.

it just the demographic. this is not a criticism; they are my tribe.

and do not get me wrong. i love my numbers. i love to look at my graphs and analyze my patterns. i love to make little goals and projections, like raising my percentage of puzzle caches to 17%, or averaging two caches a day for the year, or seeing how many i can find in a twenty-four hour period.

and there's a thing called the first find: it's a thing to be the first one to find a cache and sign a clean logbook. i confess that i have driven some hours across more than one state or taken a ferry and driven out over ice with a stepladder strapped to my car roof just for the privilege of signing that clean logbook.

but i draw the line at the place where people need ME to know how many first finds they have, or every log they write is certain to tell you how many they have found overall and how many they found that day, and i REALLY draw the line where on meeting you for the first time, the first thing they say to you is "how many finds do you have?"

i found myself in a very short conversation once with a man i had only just met: we ran into each other at a cache and after the brief introductions, the first thing out of his mouth was "how many finds do you have?" followed by "you're from vermont? do you know..." and he named two cachers who have found a great deal of caches.

my answers to his questions were "a few" (at the time it was closer to a few thousand, but let's not quibble), and "yes, i know them." (he had named a friend of mine and my father) and then i extricated myself from his presence as quickly as possible.

now, there are basically two sorts of persons who ask you how many cache finds you have. one kind is the bemused outsider who cannot wrap their head around the idea that there are probably a half dozen geocaches hidden within a mile of where the conversation is taking place. really? they always want to know. how many of these things are there? how many have you found?

the other sort of person who asks how many you have found only wants to compare your find count with his own. i think from now on when i am asked this question by a valibator, i am going to answer by asking "so exactly how much money do you make?" or "how big is your dick?"

and as far as that sort of person goes to the first find, when they are first finder, they will make a special note of it in the log, along with the time of their find, and a short list of who they beat to it. sometimes when you find a clean logbook the cache hider will have left a special place in the logbook all labeled up for the firstfinder, but when this tedious little valibator makes a first find, if there is no special labeling in the log, he will draw it in himself, as if his signature at the top of the first page isn't enough to let you know he was there.

he will write something like

FTF!!! (his name)!! i can't believe this is still unfound at eight in the morning! my 44th FIRSTFIND! it only took me an hour to run the five miles in. not bad.

some of these hatwipes, if they are beaten to the firstfind, will race to be the first to log the find online and then they will crow "first to log!" as if having a mobile phone and opposable thumbs somehow validates their awesomeness.

and they will tell you that the only reason that you think their behavior is unpleasant is because YOU couldn't get there before them. it's like showing up to a mountain bike race and sandbagging down to the children's race and then telling the beaten seven-year olds that they only think you're an ass because they're losing losers.

recently i was making my slow way to a cache that i did not care so much if i was firstfinder at. mostly i was there to try at a cache i'd been looking at for a number of months. if i had really wanted that firstfind, i would have gotten the cache the previous day when i was there, or maybe just gone straight to the cache instead of tooling around for a couple of hours after my arrival.

but one of these valibator guys comes blowing by me, racing me to it, even though in his log he states multiple times that he believes i am not a geocacher and did not know what he was doing. he was in such a hurry to whip out his mighty dick that in his log he crowed about being all sneaky and not attracting the interest of the nearby muggle plodding along on her skies (sic). he also mentioned how easy it was for him to outpace and outdistance her.

first of all, that "muggle" (and for some reason perfectly competent adults have chosen to stupidly use this word to denote non-cachers) was me. i knew exactly who he was and what he was doing. and i knew he did not recognize me, so i let him go on not recognizing me because i did not wish to have to talk with him.  he's a real alpha boyscout type.

i kept doing what i was doing, which was taking pictures.

it's one thing to race past a person you believe you're in competition with, but kind of another level of dickishness to need to create a competition with a person you already said was a non-cacher and brag about it in your log.

i somehow doubt he would have spoken about that "muggle" the way he did if he had known that it was someone who knew him and was going to be able to both read his account and make a rebuttal.

and of course, when he got to the clean logbook, the cache hider had not made any special place for the firstfinder, so he wrote his own fanfare. in red ink.

and he destroyed the container to get that log out, later describing it as a "cracked lid".

mmmmHm. good job, boyscout.

i somehow doubt he would have described his destruction of the container as a "cracked lid" if he'd known that "muggle" was going to come along ten minutes later and take pictures of the damage and post it online.

how you behave when you think you're not being watched is a better indicator of who you are than your whole badge sash, eagle scout.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014


librarians are superheroes.

do you doubt it for a second?

let's say that maybe you do get all your reading material online. and maybe you only read fanfic written last week and bought through amazon.

me, i DO get most of my reading material online. but those public domain digitally scanned special interest books i read online? it was librarians that curated and kept the books so they COULD be digitally scanned. the audiobooks i listen to are purchased and curated by librarians.

and if you have a question and your normal research comes up blank, ask a librarian.

librarians are the guardians not only of the accumulated knowledge of our species, but they are also the people who keep the materials so we can find them and also -particularly in public libraries- are dedicated to a mission of free access to information and literature and often other cultural or intellectual treasure.

if you are not a rich person or not currently affiliated with a good university and you want full access to information, it is your public librarian who hooks you up.

not only that, but your public librarian is on the front lines every day fighting for your rights to free information.

there are a lot of people out there who want to restrict your access to information, and who want to spy on you based on what information you are looking at.

libraries function in some ways in the background of cultural awareness, but public libraries are so fundamental that in my state if your town has no library, your town is required to pay for your library card at a neighboring town.

so while i live in bolton, my library is in richmond.

services provided by my small town library include the lending of digital books, both print and audio formats. it includes language lessons you can take from home, admission passes to a selection of museums and state parks, and online catalogs of the whole honkin' state interlibrary loan system.

if there is a book i need in any public library in this state, a librarian can get it into my hands within a week.

and for the increasing numbers of america's poor, public libraries can be their only access to the things we affluent consider basic: books, newspapers, periodicals, internet access.

that's right.

in the increasing age of internet connectedness where you need the internet to pay your bills or apply for jobs, people of limited means often have to rely on a public library to keep them connected to basic services they used to be able to do in person or by mail.

heck, i have even received mail at a public library because librarians are awesome that way.

i even read an article last week about a public library that's taking the usual GED prep classes even farther and just becoming an institution that grants high school diplomas.

now tell me that isn't more impressive than x-ray vision.


librarians are superheroes.

Monday, January 13, 2014

jonesville by water

yesterday morning i got up and got dressed to go out to play. i got to the bottom of stage road and route two at downtown jonesville was closed.

really, really closed. as in water in the road half way to richmond. i talked to the road crew guy and he said the ice jam stretched a couple of miles each way from the bridge. the water was going down already by eight or so this morning, but there was more warming on the way even if it wasn't still raining.

with an ice jam, one hopes the water makes its way through kind of gradually or spills out into nearby fields. there is always the worry that the jam will release suddenly and pour all that backed up water into the downstream towns.

this isn't an idle concern. it's been over two years since the flooding from irene blew through downtown richmond, but the neighborhoods down by the river still aren't all rebuilt.

when i came down out of huntington around noon  i saw at the bottom of the hill what appeared to be a huge lake. if you didn't know the area, you could be forgiven for not realizing it was a cornfield. richmond was still ok, but i noticed the people by the bridge had moved their chicken tractor to higher ground and route two was still closed into jonesville.

for a while cochran road was closed too and i didn't see so much of that, but i think they took some damage out there. i did see a little of the road as far as the staties were set up, and there were huge chunks of ice right across it where the water had left them.

not pretty.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

ice jam

i live on the offrum roads. in winter you're pretty much always driving on ice because we don't use much salt out here.

so you get good snow tires and you learn to drive ice. the important thing going uphill is to maintain momentum, and the important thing going downhill is not to gain too much momentum.

it's kind of important to drive in control enough so that you don't need to make any sudden maneuvers, or depend on your tires to hold going around any corners, because enough grip to keep you moving forward prudently is not the same amount of grip to keep you from flying off the edges.

and out here there doesn't need to be an ice storm for us to be driving ice. even in very cold weather, the weight of rolling vehicles compresses what snow there is into an ice layer. the road crews obligingly come and sprinkle sand into it which then gets compacted into little slippery studs which is better than smooth slippery ice. it's still ice.

we're used to it out here.

if it rains on top of that, it will be some messy driving and everybody knows the flattest ways to get where they're going.

so saturday morning i left my house to go down bolton notch road to go see about some geocaches up in waitsfield.

it was raining, but the outside temperatures were in the range at which notch road is manageable with some care.


and i was nearly all the way down it when i heard on the radio the state police warning for everybody to STAY THE HELL HOME and then i was down on route two where the road looked pretty good, but just after that i ran into the back of the huge traffic jam. whatever was holding up traffic was a LONG way down the road but we were on a part of the road colloquially called bolton flats -"flat" being the operative word- so i thought i'd stay with traffic just to see how conditions went.

i know the road well enough to know where the turnouts are in case i want to reverse direction, and how many i have left before that hill that's banked wrong for ice, so i hung in the line for a while.

i went as far as the last turnout before that hill that's banked wrong for ice, where i could see traffic on both route 2 and on the interstate was backed up, and that the rest area on the interstate just before it was jam packed with trucks (a sure sign of something bad farther up the road), so i decided to take advantage of the turnaround point and turned around.

what i noticed is that in any place the outside temperature was 37 degrees or above, the road was clear enough to be safe if you weren't being stupid. anyplace the outside temperature was above forty, the road was totally safe.

on that stretch of route two in bolton flats down to the hill that's banked wrong for ice, the temperature was 35 degrees.

but i hadn't found a geocache yet, so i drove up ("up" being the operative word) into huntington where, on account of a temperature inversion it was already 41 degrees and rising.

up in huntington it was possible to see quite dramatically the larger story of the weather of the day: ice jam flooding.

see, when it rains heavily on frozen ground, none of that water is absorbed by the ground and it rushes into the rivers. also when it rains like that, there's a lot of snow melt and none of THAT water absorbs either. and then when the water gets to the rivers, the ice that's already in the rivers breaks into chunks and floats until it gets hung up on something and a jam forms.

when a jam forms, water levels rise FAST.

so in the hour or two i was in huntington, pastures were filling with water.  once i was home i listened to my roof leak (well, now at least i know whether or not the repairs were successful) and watched inches of rain fall in a very short time.

it's going to be damn poor skiing for a while.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

all dressed up

lately when i go out to play i have fallen into the habit of taking selfies because my outfits are so cute.

here is a selection of them for your "enjoyment".

Friday, January 10, 2014

underwear and mountain bike trails

what underwear and mountain bike trails have in common is that other people's skidmarks frighten me.

i only mention it because i am going to use the word "skidmark" as an epithet for politicians.

chris christie is shocked -shocked! that his top aides caused the four day traffic jam in fort lee to retaliate for the mayor not endorsing him. skidmarks.

congress wants to extend unemployment benefits to the unemployed people their failed policies create, but ONLY if they can scrape money out of somewhere else to pay for it. oh, i don't know...  how about cutting back on that war? skidmarks.

speaking of the war, al-quaeda have retaken fallujah (a place that did not HAVE an al-quaeda presence until we invaded it) and robert gates is all upset that the president isn't firm enough in telling the soldiers that their prodigious sacrifices in blood and treasure are meaningful and important.  why aren't we telling the people who put their lives on the line the truth? that our government has asked them to die and suffer for the sake of  corporate interests and we are very sorry, but they can all come home now and we will never waste their lives so stupidly again? skidmarks.

and the democratic congressional campaign committee wrote to me to offer me the opportunity to instantly click on a link to send michelle obama birthday greetings, because they think somehow it would be good to send "100,000 well-wishes from some of her biggest fans". they think i want to be a part of that. surely they can find 100,000 people who are bigger fans of michelle obama than me?

because i'm not particularly a fan.


Thursday, January 09, 2014

quick response

last week one of my neighbors smelled a propane leak, so she called our gas provider.

they said they were too busy to come out.

interestingly, when the fire department calls them out, they suddenly have guys available to come out right away.

RIGHT away.

i can understand it if you call your florist and they're too busy to respond right away to your floral arrangement emergency, but gas leak can equal explosion. and explosion equals homelessness and possibly death. i don't care what your office schedule looks like. you are not too busy to come.

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

how to eat an awesome lunch

i know you want to know how to have an awesome lunch like mine. you want this information even if you are unaware of it.

first you may wish to spend your morning outside at six degrees below zero with a -30 windchill and then come home toasty for a little sumthin.

this first part is optional, but it will increase your enjoyment of what follows:

toast an english muffin. any bread thingy will do, but i like an english muffin. while your english muffin is in the toaster, heat up a wad of those caramelized onions you have leftover in the fridge. go on, use a lot of them.

then when the toast is up, spread it very, very liberally with the boursin you happen to have in the fridge because your mom went overboard with cheeses at christmas.

put the onions on top of that.


do not look up from your plate until thirty seconds after the food is gone. lick the plate and your fingers. if you dropped any on the sofa, lick the sofa.

then when you are absolutely finished, scarf down a half dozen oreos.

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

suiting up

because it's cold out and also because the kind of playing outside i do very likely has me marching through snowbanks or crawling on the ground, i have to suit up.

if it's four degrees out your enjoyment of creeping around in the snow is increased by wearing good longjohns underneath your goretex ski pants and gaiters from knees to toes.

problem is that it takes a long time to get dressed.

Monday, January 06, 2014

things you never learned in high school chemistry

there is actually a molecule called fucitol.

i'm not kidding about this. i saw it in a wikipedia entry about glycerine as a related molecule.


g'head. look it up.

i'm sure they pronounce it "FEW-si-tol" or something like that, but still.


you're welcome.

Sunday, January 05, 2014

thanks for your support

nearly every day the democratic congressional campaign committee sends me emails trying to whip me up in their frenzy of beating and humiliating john boehner, because for them i guess, politics isn't about governanace. it's about beating people in expensive contests.

yesterday i got TWO emails from them thanking me for my support this past year, without which they wouldn't have been able to have the stunning successes they did.


stunning successes? were they watching a different washington than i was? because from where i'm sitting, they best they could claim was a few modest not-total-failures, but then again they are thanking me for my support, which apparently was important.

it's important that i renew my membership. you know, to make boehner pay.

let's start here:

Thanks to your support this year, we’ve already started our offensive against anti-Obamacare Republicans. Right now in 44 districts we are making sure that Republicans are forced to answer for the people they would hurt by repealing reform and putting insurance companies back in charge of your health care.
But in 2014 we need to hit the Tea Party harder than ever before if we want to rip away Boehner’s stranglehold on the House and win a Democratic House.
Will you help us win a Democratic House for President Obama in 2014? Click here to give $3 to renew your membership for 2014 >>
Let’s make sure Boehner and his buddies pay for their repeal obsession, government shutdown disaster and general inability to govern.

renew my membership?


i've never given those hatwipes any money at all and my support has largely been limited to statements that while they are bottom-feeding scum, i am slightly less afraid of them than i am of the republican scum, which is hardly a glowing recommendation.

i notice that neither of those sets of asshats has done anything to end the war, stop torturing people, stop taking the property of citizens in bogus drug raids, imprisoning citizens on false charges, and holding political prisoners.

i notice that both groups of asshats have been happy to reduce unemployment assistance, food stamp assistance, pensions for federal workers and soldiers, but at the same time hand out huge hunks of corporate welfare to corrupt companies that turn around and take all their money to tax havens so they don't have to give any to the government.

i don't have the solutions to all of the problems of governance, but one thing i do know is that if you take all the money from the citizens so they can't afford homes or cars or food, they are not going to be buying your luxury dogfood and diamonds and plastic toys, asshat corporations. if you strip all the value from a country, you can only do that for a limited time before the people have no money to buy your products with no matter how much you aggressively advertise.

the only laws you assholes in washington seem to agree on are the ones that take all the money and resources and give them wholly to your corporate sponsors who then in turn "double irish" it so THEY don't actually have to help the poor people they're creating.

so, joe america. no pension for you. we can't afford to pay you what we owe you because our CEOs need fatter bonuses. we need you to pay more taxes and pay more rent because we need you to not be able to afford a home or a car. we'd really like to make you all unemployed, uninsured, and hungry.

why? because our corporate sponsors are happier that way. they have a lot of money, but they want ALL the money.

and no, we won't be taxing our corporate sponsors. they can't afford to give up even one jet or luxury home. and they need to be able to pay for their private security contractors and private schools, so we won't be taxing them to help pay for police departments and stuff like that.

see, if we simply give ALL the money to our corporate sponsors, they will be able to buy their own security and fire protection and their own hospitals and if the rest of you want roads or hospitals or schools you're just going to have to pay for them with all that money you save from not having a home anymore.

and shame on you! you should KNOW better than to expect your employer to pay you enough money from your full-time job so you can buy groceries! shame on you. if you're so poor, why do you have a phone? or a television? greedy, dishonest poor people. don't you KNOW that if the two jobs you're working don't pay you enough, you have no right to have a television or a computer or a car? those things are only for people who have GOOD jobs. fresh food is only for good people. safe homes are only for smart people. you know, not you.

because you weren't good enough or smart enough to get a job as a CEO of a large corporation that buys up congressmen wholesale.

thanks for your support.

Saturday, January 04, 2014

insomniac nights

last week i had two insomniac nights.

i do not often talk in this blog about chronic illness because this blog is about things that interest me and chronic illness is neither edible nor entertaining and is therefore of little interest to me although it figures prominently in my life.

but a couple of nights of insomnia will scare the pants right off of me, because i have learned that if i get lots of sleep and fresh air and exercise and good food and have projects to do i live almost normal and i hardly can remember being very sick and then if i have too many nights without sleep it gets deadly dangerous.

your body needs those hours of sleep to heal itself. there's a lot it can do while you're awake but there are actual mechanisms of healing and cleaning that take place on a cellular level only when you're asleep.

i live close enough to the edge that i pretty much NEED all my sleep just to keep me going. it is the physiological equivalent, i guess, of living paycheck to paycheck.

one insomniac night makes me feel unwell for days and puts me at risk.

two insomniac nights and things start to break down. i can't regulate body temperature, my digestion goes wonky, i lose some muscle control, things that hurt hurt a LOT, and the crazy comes and sits on my shoulder.

happily, i have been around the block enough times to know that it's time to change the sheets and do all the little things that will lull me into a night of lovely dreamless sleep even if it means putting everything else on hold.

i have done this enough times to know that when this happens i should not make any life-changing decisions, nor should i take on any stresses, and that may very well include the stress of leaving the house or getting off the sofa.

whatever it is, it can wait.

and then i get a good night's sleep and i feel almost normal again.

two nights sleep and i'm ready to do laundry and roast cauliflower and go snowshoeing.

it's a delicate dance.

Friday, January 03, 2014


so here's a thing i've been working on: i've been  writing a little story for a geocache puzzle and at the risk of being all spoilery, i'm going to tell you that i've taken the puzzle and written it out in west saxon literary dialect, which is the version of old english that was being spoken in about the year 900.

while you can see in places its relationship to modern english, you can also see many many differences, starting with alphabet. many of the letters simply looked way different than they do now, and old english had letters that don't exist anymore.

additionally, old english was a case inflected language, like german or russian, or mostly case inflected, because already the instrumental case was mostly gone.

nearly nobody in my family thought to speak any english until they migrated to north america in the late 19th century but nonetheless i feel as if old english is part of my heritage.

and why not? i am a native english speaker; why should not the history of my language be my heritage as much as my blood lineage?

i'm not FROM vermont, but i consider vermont history to be my heritage as well, and also US history from before my ancestors arrived here.

so anyway.

i wrote out a little story that somehow contains coordinates and directions to the geocache in question, and here is what it looks like:

please note the image at the bottom of the second page.  spiffy, huh?

i giggle.

here's a recording of me reading it out loud:

Thursday, January 02, 2014


i am something of a fixture at first night burlington. when you go out for new ear's eve you maybe don't have to think about what you will say to reporters or just strangers who stop you to talk.

and maybe i should tell you that it isn't really me who's famous; it is my hat and scarf.

the scarf particularly. for new year's eve every year i wear black clothes, a charcoal grey tweed greatcoat, a top hat decorated with star garland, and THE SCARF.

the scarf has on it every first night button from first night burlington, ever. this year that's thirty-one.

they told us (i have not verified this) that first night burlington is the longest continuously running first night in the nation, which means that at some point first night boston had to have gone on hiatus.

when you wear every first night button on your scarf, people stop to take pictures with you. reporters photograph and interview you. children stare. strangers come right up and talk to you.

tuesday night the driver of the bus i was on gave me a package of homemade candies. i was walking through a parking lot and i heard a security guard shout "she's here!" and i looked around to see who was here, and then i realized that she had been looking for me.

or rather, my scarf.

but you know, there's something special about a collection of all of the first night buttons that adds to the general festivity. burlington is a beautiful city, and it's a small city, so a first night celebration pretty much takes over the whole downtown.

it is a beautiful celebration, and i think what my scarf is saying is "i am happy to be here. i am proud to tell you that i come every year. and i'm happy to see you here, too. let's meet again next year."

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

against the darkness

the dark of the year used to weigh very heavily on my soul.

this year i am hardly noticing. i attribute this change in my recently acquired (july) habit of rising early. this time of year you're going to be awake in a lot of dark hours any way you slice it (you know, if you're awake a normal amount), and you can't control that.

what you CAN control is where you place your dark hours relative to your sleep.

what i have learned is that i rather enjoy three or four hours of darkness in the morning when i get up. by the time the sun rises i always feel as if i have ACCOMPLISHED something, by golly!

and when the sun goes down and i feel tired, it's only natural because it's almost bedtime.

used to be when the sun went down at four in the afternoon i felt tired and also depressed because there were still HOURS before bedtime.

it's not without its inconveniences. i have to remember not to do noisy things too early in the morning and that running the dishwasher and printing documents and vacuuming the stairs are better left until after 6:30 because my neighbor gets up around six most days and even though i don't like her i prefer to be polite.

also if i want to go out to dinner or something with other people i have to adjust my sleep because even though *i* consider four o'clock a perfectly fine time for an evening meal, other people will prefer to dine around six.

whatever. i can be flexible.

you know why? because i am not crushingly depressed! when your seasonal affectation grinds you down so far that you can barely move, it's hard to adjust to anything, including putting on clean socks.

rising early has sort of inoculated me against the darkness, and if i decide to sleep in (you know, until six or so) i don't feel i've lost too much of the day.

i find that laundry and changing the sheets and all kinds of chores seem insurmountable in the afternoons, but just as the sun rises i get a boost of energy and i am supergirl.



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