Thursday, July 31, 2014

huge boulder and stone wall corner

last week i was in sucker brook country park in williston, which is part of the lake iroquois recreation district trails. apparently "country park" means "park with nice trails and maybe parking but no amenities like restrooms or playgrounds".  i think they make that distinction so people who were expecting something with tennis courts or a pool will not be disappointed.

me, i like a little wild public greenspace in my cities, and this particular wild greenspace is only about five miles from the state's busiest commercial area, so that's a bonus.

i was there to find a geocache, but also there's an item on the venture vermont challenge to climb a boulder or a tree. i do a lot of each of those activities fairy regularly, but i think i'm going to pick this boulder for my challenge.

i like it for a couple of reasons: one is that it's right on the trail map as "landmark: huge boulder and stone wall corner" its really kind of a fantastic boulder. it is beautiful red sandstone covered with lush green moss. it's also easy to climb.

i took some photos of it, and made a little video of my walkaround.

view at the top

view from the top

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

the speaker sues the president

i think we're watching pro wrestling on the world stage.

it's like the speaker called up the president and said, hey, i have an idea: i'll pile drive you into the mat and then you'll get mad and break a chair on my head and while everyone is watching us our friends will go through the audience and pick pockets. ok?

and the president said ok.

sometimes i feel as if this is the only plausible explanation for politics in washington.

which brings me to another point:

we go into other countries with our military so we can bring american-style democracy to them and then we act all surprised when they don't WANT american-style democracy.

what, are you telling me that american-style democracy is somehow NOT the standard to which all others should aspire?

US congress: whoopie cushion to the world.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

lumbering along

well, this was a surprise.

i was looking for a geocache in downtown bethel and i got back in my car, toweled off, and i was sitting in a parking place looking at something in my database (yes, recreational databasing.) and this log truck pulls up into some spots right in front of me.

now, see, this is a lucky development for me, because one of the items on the venture vermont challenge list is to take a photo of a log truck and to find out where it came from and where it's going.

bear in mind that i have just toweled off and it is raining filthy pelting barrel-busting, slat-blasting rain and i am wearing head-to-toe raingear but i go charging out of my car to run up to this guy's cab because it's a golden opportunity, right?

"hi!" i say cheerfully, running up to him as he goes to step out of the cab. "this is probably going to be the weirdest thing anyone's going to say to you all day, but i'm working on a scavenger hunt type thing and one of the things on my list is to take a picture of a log truck and to find out where it came from and where it's going".

it turns out he came from randolph and he's taking the load of logs to VCI.

i didn't know what VCI is, so i had to look it up.

wow.  i totally did not know that the state of vermont provides some real vocational training for correctional inmates. strikes me that's a good use of my tax dollars. a lot of guys in jails really need marketable skills and experience.

so that load of logs is going to be made into furniture by corrections inmates. i hope it gives somebody a solid second chance.

Monday, July 28, 2014


why does any sane person without specific digestive issues eat margarine these days?

every margarine trumpets itself as being "buttery tasting"  and they all fall over themselves trying to be more like butter than butter.

so unless you can't digest dairy or you're a vegan, why on earth wouldn't you just eat butter? and if you're a vegan, i'd hope that you are more advanced than margarine: giant wad of transfat, artificial flavorings and dyes.

ew. if you can't have real butter, try another natural fat, like olive oil.

the only possible exception to this is if you are baking, because if you're squeamish about lard (and you SHOULD be squeamish about commercially available lard), it is superior for baking cookies, if you need flaky.

i STILL use butter for baking.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

open letter to "mrs. obama"

today i got a note from the DCCC supposedly written by mrs. obama:

I need your help.
Barack is working hard on the issues that matter to so many of us, but there's only so much he can do on his own. The truth is, in order for him to keep moving this country forward and finish what we started, he needs leaders in Congress who are willing to work alongside him.
And for that, he needs you.
Will you sign your name and commit to vote for Democrats who will fight for you?
Today, organizers all across the country are reaching out to voters to talk about the importance of this election. Together we want to reach 1 million new commitments to vote in 2014.
It's a big goal, but I know we can get there if everyone does their part.
Click here to let me know that you're committing to vote in 2014.
Just think about what we can accomplish together with a big Democratic victory.
We can promote equal pay for women. We can raise the minimum wage. We can pass immigration reform. We can ensure that women are free to make their own decisions about their bodies and their health care.
But in order for us to do all of this, we need to get organized, get mobilized, and get to work electing a Congress that will fight for us and our families.
Take the first step: Commit to Vote today.
Thanks for being a part of this.

dear "mrs. obama",

i don't notice that the president is doing all that good a job working on the things that are important to me and so many of the people i know.

for instance, i don't notice that he's done anything to close guantanamo, or to stop the torturing of prisoners in american custody. i do not notice that he's done anything to stop or even place limits on the mass surveillance of american citizens by our own government. i have not noticed a decrease in the brutality of the police or the prison system. i have not noticed any policy changes to step away meaningfully from the war on drugs, the war on young black men, or even just the war.

i have not noticed that the affordable care act has truly and unequivocally benefitted anybody but the insurance industry, and i do not notice any attempt to reign in the gross profiteering, environmental damage, and disregard for life and safety by the energy industry.

the only thing i think we can credit him for is jumping on the gay rights bandwagon once it was already rolling, and mostly declining to decrease the possibility of 52 percent of the population to have a chance at equal pay, equal healthcare, and equal rights under the law.

so, uh, good job?

bottom line: while i will absolutely commit to voting in the next election and every election, you can't really count on my support. if i HAVE to vote for your husband's people because i simply have no better alternatives, i will.

that's not exactly a ringing endorsement.

love, flask

Saturday, July 26, 2014

today i... to ring the bell at a UCI junior men's race.

...saw a mexican journalist interview a canadian rider.

...ate a brisket sandwich so good you could forget where you are.

..saw a forty-nine year old three time tour de france finisher and retired pro mountain biker ride on a day license with the pro men.

...drank a maple lemonade that was so good it could be life-changing.

...saw the US national champion win a race on her home field.

...ate two slices of wood-fired pizza. once again, spectacularly good.

some other stuff happened, and maybe i will tell you about it later. i'm tired.

Friday, July 25, 2014

jeezum crow

the vermont state bird, of course, is the hermit thrush.

today i went paddling on the lamoille river and i saw a number of handsome birds, including a bunch of kingfishers, sandpipers, a few great blue herons, and a merganser with a dozen or so chicks.

later in the day i saw a crow walking on some rocks just below the surface of the very shallow water, which gave it the appearance of walking on water.

many people joke that the state bird is actually the jeezum crow.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

to be with his friends

today i was thinking about a young man i knew some time ago.

he did not see any value in his high school education except it was time he got to spend with his friends. he did not see a point in working especially hard, nor in learning things that did not interest him.

he was polite about it, but he knew the futility of most of it, and he knew you knew the futility of it.

you all knew he wasn't going to live to graduate.

he knew who he was, he knew what he wanted, and he knew the one inescapable sucky thing. there's a lot of stuff you do in high school because people tell you that you'll need this later. sometimes this kid should have been wearing a t-shrt that said thank you for not wasting my time.

when people tell you to live as if you're going to die tomorrow, do you get all ambitious and study all the things? or do you kick your feet back and try to have a reasonably good time under the circumstances?

i think if i had a year or so to live, i would not be all in a hurry to learn calculus.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

bike at little river

hey, gang! this will surprise you: it's a post about a state park but has nothing to do with the challenge.

my friend barb and i went up there to practice our land navigation by bike, because geocaches stand in very nicely for orienteering bags.

some of the trails open to bikes are the old roads, and some were obviously cut by mountain bikers so they ride pretty.

we rode up the dalley loop and then took the connector over to cotton brook but we had full packs so we decided not to go up cotton brook, which is kind of a project.

it's enough of a project to climb back up to the top of the dalley loop, because essentially from the start of our ride there was one long brutal climb followed by a long descent and then more climbing.

here's some video of the ride back.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

surprise party

tonight i got invited to a birthday party.

in itself this is not unusual.

what is unusual about his is that the woman whose birthday it was invited me as we finished our race tonight.

it's a funny thing, the race venue, because you can be friendly with people you see every week for years and years and years and not know their names but you like them and i was running with a big ol' pack and this woman i've sort of known for some years comes running by and she's talking to someone about some food they have and i think they're just talking about food to pull them around the course so i say "ooooh, tell me more about that", which makes everyone laugh and i run faster so i can hear her talk about the roasted tofu and the watermelon and the cupcakes with the ginger buttercream frosting and the next thing i know, i'm invited to dinner.

so happy birthday, nice lady with whom i've run every tuesday for years and whose name i have only just learned.


happiness and joy and prosperity.

Monday, July 21, 2014

farting around

i'm not going to pretend here.

i love farting.

i'm a veteran of enough years with a poorly functioning digestive system to know that if you are constipated or your digestion is stopped, you are not farting properly.

but there's another thing: did you know that while you sleep your body normally shuts off your bowel motility? it's a nice feature of being a mammal. we tend not to poop while asleep. that's because of hormonal signals that shut you down during sleeping hours.

that's why piles of deer or moose poop often tell you where they slept.

when you wake up, your bowels resume their regular programming.

for me this is especially nice because i have a hard time telling when i wake up in the morning if i am really done sleeping or not.

yeah, when i wake up in the morning i often can't tell if i have slept enough to get up. i can't get back to sleep once i've gotten up and dressed, so it's best to know if i'm refreshed before i get out of bed.

this is where that farting thing comes in.

if my body has started farting, it is ready to be awake.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

just a blur.

no, you did not imagine that. yes, i did break a prodigious blogging streak and take a couple of days off.

i would have posted something for you, but i was off in some forest somewhere and had no wifi for a few days.

and i had nothing queued up to autopost because until right about the last minute before i went, i was not planning to go.

too much sharing? right now i smell catastrophically bad. i smell kind of like i haven't had a real shower in about four days. i smell like i spend a good part of my day kayaking and portaging.

and i smell kind of like i got in my car after that without changing clothes and drove four-plus hours home.

and i am about to have a nice shower and change into my pajamas and have some delicious food.

tomorrow i have tentative plans to go march up some mountain. maybe i will do some laundry or clip my toenails or, i don't know- unpack or something.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

the big ring

so last night i had my best ride of the season.

i got up through a lot of the climbing and just before that last steep part i thought maybe i would bump down from the middle chainring to the little chainring.

only i was in the big chainring, which means i still had a LOT of gears to go.

and i got to the thing called the green mountain parkway, which is a trail built over the remains of an old rock wall, a place where the big dogs habitually pass me, and i made it through without them.

looking over my shoulder the whole time and riding as if death itself were on my heels, i kept going, wanting them to catch me in the open, before the singletrack.

i was all the way up the last climb, in the field  and coming out of the last turn before the front of that huge rattling, roaring pack came up on my back, but i was sprinting up the chute and they were in the lap lane.

ride of my summer.

i feel GOOD.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

one day on the NFCT

hey, everybody! you're probably sitting there wondering if i have anything new for you about the venture vermont challenge. i don't even know why i keep giving you the link. by now you all have it bookmarked or are carrying around a copy of the checklist on your clipboard.

so anyway, paddling a portion of the northern forest canoe trail is an item on the list, and guess what?

there's a part of the trail that just HAPPENS to have a paddlecache on it.

huh? paddlecache? yeah, that's a geocache for which you need a boat. or, you know, thick ice.

but water.

so yeah, we went out to find that baby and we put in at the swanton dam and we paddled upstream while practicing navigation by compass (easier on a river than in deep woods) and when we got to the island, we got out and struggled through the vegetation (surprisingly robust) and then after we found the cache we were sitting on the bank swishing the sand out of our shoes and in general relaxing and some little fishies came and nibbled at our feet.

so i have for you a video of our hack through the brush, a video of the fishies, and a lovely video of some of the paddle.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

emergency dominoes

i've talked about what's in my emergency kit.

you probably know that there are a couple of versions of the kit. the heavyweight version includes a set of emergency dominoes.

yes. that is not a joke.

you never know when you're going to get stuck somewhere with nothing to do, and a little set of dominoes comes in handy.

one of the things on the list for this year's venture vermont outdoor challenge is to play a game outside.

granted, i think they mean kickball or tag or something like that but i am already spending so much time outside that sometimes in between sporting activities it's nice to just sit down and play something quiet.

so a couple of weeks ago my friend barb and i went for a mountain bike ride in little river state park and then we sat on the grass near the parking lot and had delicious (of course) sammidges and some nice fresh cherries and we played dominoes because i had my emergency dominoes with me.

Monday, July 14, 2014

honey, i'm home!


it is six o'clock in the afternoon and i am showered and in my pajamas. dinner is made and i am on the sofa.

later on i will have pictures for you. and stories. and cool things. i promise.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

leaving a trail

today i was looking for a geocache and i was about to reach for it when i felt a sting at my right elbow.

"damn", i thought. "that's an awful hard sting for a horsefly."

and then i was stung again.

i took off running and screaming. the little devils followed.

they kept stinging. i lost track exactly how many times.

they were IN MY CLOTHES. i did what you'd do: i kept running and screaming, tearing off my clothes as i went. some three hundred feet later i was rid of the hornets (we think they were hornets), but also rid of my pack, my helmet, my shirt, and my pants were around my ankles.

i had to drop my pants because they were IN MY PANTS. i have a sting in there to prove it. i had left a little trail of clothing and gear. so carefully, carefully, i started putting clothing back on and moving in an orderly fashion back toward my pack, which is where i keep my inhaler and epipen.

i kept waiting for the reaction, but there was none. i mean, i have some swelling and  great deal of pain, but no anaphylaxis.

so that was a nice know, especially since i was four miles from my car.

so no emergency room.

but i sort of feel like crap.

Saturday, July 12, 2014


yesterday i walked up to the glastenbury firetower.

no, you go google it yourself.

and after some hours of walking in solitude i got up to the top and all of a sudden there was a crowd.

by "crowd", i mean four guys. there were two german speakers, both long distance hikers, and two AT through hikers. neckbone, who was northbound, and mr. blister who was headed south.

the other guys all moved along pretty quickly but mr. blister was hanging out for a little while, which is what selected him for the windfall.

see, when you are distance hiking, you don;t get a lot of fresh food. you get what you can carry, and you eat a lot of dense nasty stuff with high caloric content that will keep in your pack or in your resupply cache you mail to yourself at some remote post office.

but i was up there on the mountain with a great deal more food than i needed, just in case.

and you KNOW i can make a sammidge.

so i turned to mr. blister and i said "would you be interested in a turkey sammidge?"

you'd have thought it was christmas.

turkey with cheese on a sundried tomato herb wrap with fresh vegetables and a little secret ingredient.

it doesn't matter, really. bonus calories are bonus calories. food you don't have to carry yourself and wrappers someone else packs out for you are magic.

yeah, magic.

Friday, July 11, 2014

well, that was a day.

no, i don't have links for you.

i am balancing my computer on my lap in my car just before i go to bed.

this morning i woke up in the green mountain national forest and then drove a half hour deeper into the forest so i could walk the short way up the back to the glastenbury fire tower.

because geocache.

and then after all those hours of walking it was only two in the afternoon when i got out so i went paddling at lowell lake.

because geocache.

i am tired now.

nighty night.

pictures later.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

bikes in the crosswalk

look, boys and girls: you can't ride bikes in the crosswalk.

crosswalks are for pedestrians.

if you are riding a bike on a road, you are TRAFFIC. you may in most towns ride on the sidewalk, but if you're going to take advantage of pedestrian status to hold up traffic to use a crosswalk, you SHOULD BE ON FOOT.

conveniently, there is a solution to this.

the thing about biking is that you can go from being a rider to being a pedestrian in two easy steps:

1) dismount
2) begin walking

that's it. as a cyclist you have the right to travel like a regular vehicle. you also have the right to use most sidewalks and pedestrian bridges. and you can walk your bike where regulations or courtesy demand it.

if you are using a pedestrian crosswalk, BE A PEDESTRIAN. that is not a magic "let all bicycles turn left" button.

and for goodness' sake, if you are riding a bike, never never, NEVER ride on the left facing traffic as if you are a pedestrian. if you are in the roadway, you ARE the traffic. if you are stupid and do this, you are a safety hazard for everyone around you.

oh, and by-the-way: when i'm driving on the road and i see a cyclist on the shoulder and it may be an unpredictable surface, i gradually move out as far to the center as i can, which alerts oncoming drivers that i will be giving those riders space.

in this state we have a lot of laws governing how cyclists should be protected as "vulnerable road users" and it makes me happy to see that often a driver oncoming will anticipate that the driver passing the cyclist will be using more space and already have moved to make room.

it's just good practice to watch out for other road users, and those users include motorcycles, bicycles, and pedestrians.

plus it's good manners to share nicely.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

boat building


well, i'm still fighting with my hard drives. bit by bit i'm getting it worked out.

i only mention it because i wanted to make you a cute little video about making my little boat for the venture vermont challenge, only yesterday afternoon the little bits of video that showed the introduction and the part where i use the stone tools and the part where i explain my plan- essentially, most of the good parts- those disappeared.

i made a video of what's left, so here that is.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

just make it stop.

so today i went to edit up a cute little video about making a little boat for the venture vermont challenge, only i went to look for the videos, and sometime since yesterday afternoon those files have disappeared off of my computer.

so then i tracked them down and they still exist as stills somehow.


corrupted and file type changed and i can't get them back?

..rebuild photo library.

still missing.

and some new ones are missing.

one of my older hard drives has taken up the charming habit of suddenly disconnecting itself without bothering to unmount.

so the progress of backing up all the data to the new hard drive has been somewhat impeded.

so now i'm just taking for days or so to totally back up the older drive that's NOT turning itself off randomly and then i'll figure out what the problem is. i think i can manage to partition the new drive or something while i get the problem sorted out, but i would just really like ONE complete backup before i start messing with things, you know?

Monday, July 07, 2014

things and more things

i am still fighting the data crash wars.

i got a new hard drive that will let me put my music on one drive and my photos on another and then have enough room to back things up properly, but now all of a sudden one of the older drives has decided every few hours to suddenly disconnect itself, which means i can't migrate any of the data from the other of the old drives, which means i am STILL short of space simply because i have extra copies of too many things while i'm trying to get everything cleaned and backed up.

meantime, i still go out and find a geocache every day. today i found thirty of them.

i am still training for my race on august 2. today i am carrying a midweight pack.

today i saw a little spotted fawn walking up a road.

i also saw a traffic control lady who waved happily at all of the passing cars. of course i waved back.

Sunday, July 06, 2014

stand up

a while ago i wrote of my ambition to learn to pee standing up.

i know you have been wondering how that's going.

i made some initial progress, but it's never really convenient to test those skills, because if you're wearing pants or even shoes mistakes will cost you a large portion of your day unless you're located conveniently near somewhere it doesn't matter if you miss and also you can change clothes.

so a few weeks ago i decided to do a diagnostic kind of test run, working barefooted in my bathtub.

i had a disturbing amount of leakage.

the matter of aim is kind of critical for women, because there's no obvious spigoty thing to  point away from the body, and it's frighteningly easy to get a split stream, one of which just runs right down your leg.

and that's no good.

so i've made it a bit of a discipline to practice every day in the shower, sans pants, until i can start and stop the stream without any running down my leg and then i'll try again with pants.

the reason why is that i am TIRED of being places where a quick stand-up pee would be easy, but i can't quite find a place to squat, plus it is a PROJECT to have to drop flaps to squat on a january morning at twenty below.

less exposure of my big naked butt is a thing i look forward to.

plus it's badass.

Saturday, July 05, 2014

behind the curtain

so i was out kayaking with a friend and her phone rings.

i know, right?

i don't keep a phone on while i'm kayaking.

but it's someone from work, so she picks up. "something's going on in BT", she tells me casually.

after she's done talking on the phone, i ask what BT is.

"biological terrorism."
"oh. that sounds worse than what i had in mind."

well, it turns out that there are a number of biological thingies you can be exposed to environmentally. you know, while you're just working in your garden or something and if you get sick and the hospital cultures you for whatever you might have and the profile of it MIGHT match something on the CDC's list of worrisome things, a team of people from the state lab gets called in to work from whatever they were doing.

a courier gets called to pick up the specimen and at least two people from the lab have to go in and prepare cultures and grow them and check them.

it's kind of a pain if this happens, say, over the fourth of july weekend because the microbiologists might be at barbecues or baseball games or, you know, an hour and a half by paddle up a river somewhere.

it's kind of nice to see them organizing that work, because the state health lab moves kinda snappy to sort things out for one sick patient on a holiday weekend, which suggests to me that they are prepared to move quickly when there is more urgent need.

it's nice to know that the lab doesn't get to it when they get to it; they get to it NOW, holiday weekend or not.

Friday, July 04, 2014

my pack

if your're a long time follower of this blog or if you came in from the GMARA website, you are probably wondering but flask, isn't it july? shouldn't you be pack training?

how clever of you to notice. why, yes. it is july. and as of july 2 i switched over from my little camelbak to the larger daypack i will be carrying in the bitter pill, but last week i made a little video about what's in my pack because there are some pack related items in the venture vermont outdoor challenge. one of those things is to go on a hike of at least three miles carrying everything you need in your pack, and the other is to make an emergency kit and list what's in it.

i am often going on hikes of three miles or so, and i always carry a little more gear than i perhaps strictly need. i've always carried a first aid kit, but last year i upgraded my first aid kit to be in compliance with the mandatories of the equipment list for the bitter pill, so that's pretty much what's in my emergency bag that goes in my pack.

Team First Aid Kit:

Each team must carry a first aid kit with at least the following items, or equivalent:
[  ]  1” bandages
[  ]  3x4” gauze pads
[  ]  2x5 yd gauze roll
[  ]  1/2” adhesive tape roll
[  ]  Tweezers
[  ]  Anti-bacterial creme/towlettes
[  ]  Ibuprofen
[  ]  Iodine tablets or other water purification system

besides the mandatories, i also include benadryl, immodium, acetominophen, my inhaler and epipen, and some other small niceties.
in cold weather, i will also carry extra clothing, and TWO working lighters, along with firestarter and hand warmers.

Thursday, July 03, 2014

educational disservice in language study

everybody ready for a personal refletction on a lost educational opportunity?


ok, so i took french all through middle school and high school. i was a passable speaker and a pretty good reader.

but when i was in college, i realized that while i had some good beginnings, what i did not have was a solid gasp of grammar. so i thought taking some french in college would be just the thing. i looked at catalog listings and syllabi and came up with a nice solid second-year grammar course that i thought would make me a stronger speaker and a decent writer.

you can be sloppy in your spoken french because so many verb forms sound alike from tense to tense.

and you can gather a LOT of clues in reading by sorting context.

so i went to ask to take this second-year grammar course that was just perfect for my needs and they said i'd have to test out of first year french, so i took the placement tests. i warned them, though, that i was going to look a LOT better on paper than my actual skills.

you know, because i had good comprehension and weak grammar and if they weren't taking a writing sample or asking me to make more than small talk, they weren't going to see my glaring deficiencies.

you see where this is going?

i ended up in a senior level conversational course where i was that one kid nobody wants in their group. i was completely over my head. the teacher felt i had a poor grasp of grammar.

and i was too ashamed to stand up and say TOLJA.

i knew how good i was, and how good i wasn't. i KNEW i belonged in a second-year grammar course and that's what i tried to get into.

i could still use a second year grammar course. i feel the sting of it every time i want to speak french, which, because of where i live, is pretty often.

the moral of the story is that an enthusiastic learner will often be able to tell you what they need. if you are a teacher, you should listen.

Wednesday, July 02, 2014


unless you just walked into this blog about ten minutes ago, you already know that this summer is kind of heavy on posts about things i happened to see or do while working on this year's venture vermont outdoor challenge. one of the items on this year's list is to photograph and identify two kinds of mammals in the wild, to identify them and record their behavior.

while i seem to have a knack for getting decent pictures of frogs and toads, i am finding class mammalia an altogether more difficult thing.

while i'm seeing a lot of deer and even the occasional moose or mink, there's really nothing in the behaviors of those animals that make them sit still while you get out your camera. bunnies, on the other hand, will freeze right to the spot and pretend you can't see them. sadly, my one really good picture of a rabbit disappeared mysteriously in a minor data crash.

when you meet people out in the wild they will often happily pose for you, but most will draw the line if you take notes about their behavior, plus i think that while people definitely qualify as mammals, they are not really what the state parks department had in mind with this item on the list.

so one morning i was on the border of some woodland in rockingham looking for a geocache and i spotted a little thing in a crevice of a tree that looked a little out of place. it turned out not to be a small geocache, but a bat. there is little to say about its behavior except that it was sleeping sufficiently soundly as to make me have to look closely to see that it wasn't dead.

of course even it there was no venture challenge i would still have to go look up what kind of bat it was, because i'm like that. so i hit the identification guides, which were of little help to me other than to narrow it down to four or five of the nine species found in vermont.

so i did the thing you'd do, right?

i called up the department of fish and wildlife to ask a wildlife biologist because i figure bats are an item of interest for those guys and they probably see them all the time and can recognize this one right away from the photo.

plus if you work for the state as a wildlife biologist, i imagine you get more calls about scary or pesty or huntable critters than you do about critters that somebody just wants to know more about.

alyssa bennet, the wildlife biologist who returned my call, was able to identify my sleeping beauty as a big brown bat, which i thought was something of a misnomer since this little guy is all of nine centimeters long.

later in the day i was having a look at a historical marker along the crown point military road when i got a good scolding from a pair of chipmunks. i thought the thing i always think when i'm being scolded by a chipmunk, which is, "you're kind of cheeky for a groundsquirrel, aren't you?"

while it's easy to SEE a chipmunk in a cute pose, it is somewhat harder to photograph one that way, because you kind of have to be quick with the camera. they don't stay too long in any one particular cute pose, but i was noticing that this one kept coming back to the same spot on this rock to strike more or less the same pose at me while chattering loudly whatever chipmunk-based invective that chipmunks chatter when you have disturbed their gathering.

so i just focused on that spot on the rock and i waited for the chipmunk to come back.

kind of cheeky for a groundsquirrel.

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

open letter to a chipping sparrow

dear that chipping sparrow that sings outside my window all. damn. day. long,

i realize that you have a lot of business to conduct and that most of it involves guarding your territory and your sweet little mate, but let's face it: it is rather late in the season and while your mate must be some kinda hottie for you to have to sing to ward off competitors all day, every day, without a rest from a half hour before the sun rises to a half hour after it goes down, most of the other guys in the neighborhood have scaled back on all the chipping song to a couple times every ten minutes or so.

don't you need to go eat or something? or feed your young? you have a nest full of young, right? or are you the last unmated guy in the neighborhood trying to attract a mate to your small territory right outside my bedroom window?

i'm having a hard time seeing that the territory right outside my bedroom window is any kind of prime real estate for a bird.

it's getting old, dude. give it a break.

love, flask


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