Saturday, September 30, 2017

where i've got myself off to

well. i was good about writing and then i dropped off the face of the eath because camping and then i was good for a few days and what's happening now is that i've gotten it into my head that i would like to hit level 16 (the level cap) in ingress (remember, boys and girls, join the RESISTANCE!) before i get my black sojourner badge.

a sojourner badge is for how many consecutive days you hack a portal, and you get your black at 360. my sojourner is a PURE sojourner, which is a term some people use to refer to a soujourner streak that started the first day you started playing and has continued uninterrupted.

that seems kinda cool to me, and getting level sixteen before that puts me in before my year anniversary, which i also think is cool. you only get one first year ever, so if you think it sounds cool, you'd better do it when you have the chance.

so i have just short of a hundred days to make seven million Action Points, and the sooner i get that done the better, so i'm pretty much just sleeping and playing ingress these days. my house is in a shameful state. i have given up wearing matching socks. dinner in my house the other night consisted of a packet of tun in a leftover half can of soup. occasionally i run the laundry machines or the dishwasher, but only because i need dishes and clean clothes.

really and truly i think i can cross the finish line in about thirty days, and the sooner the better.

it's still camping season.

Friday, September 29, 2017

2017 venture vermont: Build a sand sculpture at a state park beach

it's been a long time since i was at sandbar state park.

when i was young we went nearly every week.

here's my sand sculpture.

and here's the view.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

2017 venture vermont: Attend a state park interpretive program

we intended to go to the program about dragonfiles at little river, partly because it's new this year and partly because bugs.

but the schedule i was looking at was the peak season schedule the day it got changed to the late season schedule, so we were an hour or so late to that but in a little while the mushroom thing was starting and we like mushrooms, so there it is.

i really need a copy of that book brian has.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Friday, September 15, 2017

last of its kind

younger people may not recognize this thing.

it is a public telephone.

it has a current phone book on the shelf.

yep, you can use it to make phone calls. you pick up the receiver and you get a dial tone. you press buttons and voilĂ ! you have a phone call.

local calls are free.

if you still remember how to charge a call or make a collect call, you can call anywhere.

this miracle thing is located in downtown waitsfield, vermont.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

the dark corners of my soul

i think i have just realized why it is that i am enjoying the trump presidency so much.

when i was a small child, i learned that germany had been partitioned and i cried when grownups told me that it could never be reunited even though it was very sad because that's the way things were.

and then i learned that money corrupts politics and elected representatives can be bought and all the grownups told me that there is no other way to do it and it's very sad but it's the way things are.

i have been waking up every day in a world where i am overwhelmed with a sense of terror and outrage over injustices that nobody else seemed to care about very much.

and now it tickles me to turn to the news each day and find out what asinine thing the president has done or said and i have not been able to sort out why this delights me so.

until i realized that suddenly the level of terror and outrage in society as a whole has suddenly been raised equal to or above my own internal level of terror and outrage for the first time since the nixon administration and i think i find this odd equilibrium bracing.

because really? things are not so much worse than they were last year. the same people are making the same moves to deprive other people of a living or their rights or their lives. the same climate change that's been happening is still happening. the same institutional racism that's been going on for centuries is still going on.

what's different is that the ugly that's been hiding under rocks wants to come out into the light and decent people everywhere are forced to look at it up close.

it's not a good time to shrug and say that's the way things are.

all of a sudden it's stylish to fight back against the ugly.

late to the party, but hey. better now than not at all.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

seriously you did NOT just.

i was in mac's market in stowe because i was in stowe and shaw's can be a pain to get to and it was day three of my never ending search for some nice fresh ravioli. not even FRESH ravioli but the kind they sell in your average grocery store.

only for some reason i have been to stores three days running and no fresh ravioli.

because i made tomato sauce, which i will tell you about later if i remember, and i thought it would be especially delicious on ravioli.

anyway, on day THREE i walked into mac's market in stowe and i asked the guy if he had any fresh ravioli and he said no, but then he said maybe and he managed to find one elderly container of buitoni cheese ravioli and that was totally not what i had in mind because in vermont there is no shortage of pasta companies selling precious little ravioli and i remarked that this should not be so hard to find and that's when the guy said the THING.

i did not even realize what he had done until i was in the parking lot and i wanted to go back in and give him whatfor, but ugh.

the guy looked at me and said "this isn't the big city, you know. here in vermont you can't always get everything you want."

seriously did he just city slicker me?


i live in bolton, a town that does not have a library or a pizza place or a stoplight.

stowe, for the record, has more than one art gallery. it has a sculpture garden, a bike path, a quiet path, land trust trails, tennis clubs, and polo fields.

and just for reference, they carry a half dozen varieties of fresh ravioli at the richmond market. i was going to tell you that richmond is a far smaller town than stowe, but really its year round population is about the same as stowe. i was going to tell you that richmond is not as wealthy as stowe, but it actually has a higher median income.

and this is where statistics are misleading.

most of the people who live in richmond actually live in richmond.

stowe is a town of high end resorts and ultra expensive vacation homes and there are a lot of service industry workers who don't make a living wage in a town where a plain cheeseburger costs $20.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017


most of the things i meant to tell you about after tropical storm irene were things that in the end i did not tell you. i took pictures of some of the lighter parts of the work, but mostly i was too worn out and i had seen some things.

it was kind of a long time ago.

i get a shiver when i go by a building i helped put back together, or one i helped tear apart, but we all did what we could.

everybody who lived in the hills bought facemasks and crowbars and trashbags and we went down into the valleys and we just started helping.

sometimes the best help we could give was to stand there and listen to people cry.

watching the hurricane tracks has been hard for me, especially the one over florida.

because i know how thin work crews get stretched, how there's more work to go around than there are people to do the work, even if you can afford to pay workers.

my dad lives in florida.

and i'm the only child who would have been free to go help him if his house had been flattened. when i realized this, i started to remember the feeling of going through mounds of debris in someone else's house, looking for a few bits that can be saved before we put everything else in the dumpster.

people would rather you weren't there, but also they'd be lost without you. it's an odd unfamiliar etiquette. the smell is horrific. you have no idea what diseases you might get. the worst part is not the heat or the backbreaking work, but the waves of other people's pain.

so anyway, it's been some sleepless nights as i thought about the possibility of going to help pick up my father's house if he lost it in the storm.

it took some damage, but it's all right.

Monday, September 11, 2017

2017 venture vermont: Create a state park song or poem and send it to us

856 vermont route 12

i am standing on new ground
new to me at least
because here's this trail
and these steps carved in rock
and this stream of travelers-
college kids in sneakers, families with toddlers-
but i have climbed above the place
where more than once in winter
even with crampons
i could not safely pass
and turned back.
in summer it is a whole different trail.
every day it is a different trail.
today, above that place, i call myself queen of the world,
champion of everything.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

2017 venture vermont: Take a picture with the biggest boulder you can find

this isn't the biggest boulder i know of, because off the top of my head i can think of two others, but not near here, but i have pretty big boulder out here, and this one is big.

it's hard to appreciate the scale of a really big boulder in a photograph, because to get up close enough to really see the rock, it's too big for the frame. and it can be hard to get a smaller thing, like you or your car, in the frame so it looks good.

so yeah.

in this picture there's nothing that smells bad. i'm just having trouble framing the shot.

i'm still not happy with it.

Saturday, September 09, 2017

2017 venture vermont: Draw a detailed map of your neighborhood or yard

for about two and a half months a year, i live on various campsites, mostly on waterbury reservoir.

i often draw little maps of my site and my neighborhood to send in letters, mostly to mb. here is a map i drew of my home and neighborhood when i was on remote site #2.

Friday, September 08, 2017

2017 venture vermont: Get up at dawn and go on a bird walk. Attach a list of the birds you saw and heard.

i decided that for the purposes of this challenge it would be just as good to get up at dawn and go for a paddle. it's really the only practical way to leave my campsite, plus dawn birding is dawn birding, and you get a different set of birds on the water.

so here's my list:


3 double crested cormorant
1 american bittern
1 great blue heron
1 osprey
1 bald eagle
2 ring-billed gull
3 mourning dove
5 belted kingfisher
2 red-eyed vireo
2 blue jay
2 common raven
5 black capped chickadee
1 gray catbird
5 cedar waxwing
1 yellow warbler
1 song sparrow
1 american goldfinch

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

2017 venture vermont: Skip stones and watch the ripples

because most of the time i am on the water i am on the res, i am not often in a place with good skipping stones.

if you're good at stone skipping you can do it with lesser stones, but i'm a wee bit out of practice.

i managed to find some reasonably flattish stones one morning, though, and even managed to take some video.

so here.

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

don't leave the door open.

there's a guy on the other ingress team who is kind of a dickhead.

by "kind of a dickhead" i mean he's the kind of guy who thinks "hey, faggot" is an appropriate way for a grownup to address another person and he will happily threaten to run you over in a parking lot because he likes to be intimidating.

over a game.

even most of his OWN teammates hate him.

and so, when he took it upon himself to message me with some little pleasantries intended to be intimidating, i chose to respond because i was feeling jaunty.

he opened with telling me to be sure to link everything up because he needs the AP (action points). this is a fairly common little bit of trashtalking, but it rings hollow coming from a guy who's already hit the level cap. i was two days from leveling up, so we made some empty little chitchat about helping each other level and then i said i had corn to roast and a hammock to put my feet up in, so i was done for the day.

and this is where it got interesting.

him: you'll learn to love me
me: nobody loves you
him: that's not what my mother tells me
me: i dunno. last time i was out with your mother...
him: do you have something to say about my loving mother?
me: she sure is loving.

so then he stopped talking and spent the next hour wiping out every portal he could find that i had made, which is really what gave me enough things to blow up and link to level up the next time i played.

fool can be played like a fiddle.

and i'm a brand new level 15.

Monday, September 04, 2017

down the video hole

i got home from the campings and all my internet friends were talking about this video, so you've probably seen it, but wow.

and then i just started watching videos.

Sunday, September 03, 2017

narrowly averted disaster

a gopro camera housing has two backs: the standard waterproof back and what they call the skeleton back, which is not waterproof, but gives you good sound quality.

you see where this is going, right?

so i was out on site 13 on waterbury reservoir and i thought "what a lovely day to toss on my gopro and film myself jumping into the water and hanging out with the fishies."

so i tossed the camera on without checking which back i had on it and hit record and jumped into the water.

only way too many bubbles were coming up from the case. there are always some because the outside of the housing captures a little bit of air on the way in, but this was too many bubbles and right away i knew what had happened and i got out of the water lightning quick and opened everything up and TOOK THE BATTERY OUT and then took out the sd card and shook out as much ater as i could and used a towel to absorb what i could and i left it open under tarps for a couple of days and then tried it with the battery and it was working, but not well so i shook it out some more and let it dry about a week and then put it back together and now it's working fine.


Saturday, September 02, 2017

2017 venture vermont: learn to tie three new knots

slipped buntline
i own an ABOK, thanks to MB.

because of this, there is never any shortage of authoritative information on how to tie knots that i don't know yet.

back in the spring when i was learning how to pitch my new tarp i learned how to tie a slipped buntline hitch (ABOK #1712), which is now in my standard repertoire of the knots that hold my campsite together.

later on i show you a little video of those knots, but right now i'm telling you about the three i learned this year for the challenge.

monkey's fist
then i learned to tie a monkey's fist (ABOK #2202). for some reason i am still carrying around a cord with a prettily tied one on the end.

then because i use clove hitches all the time but never learned to tie one without reeving through, i decided to learn how to tie a clove hitch a few new ways (because you can do that with clove hitches), which i am counting as my third knot.

i learned it as ABOK #1773, ABOK #1777, and the really spiffy-looking and eyeblink-fast #1778. i have not yet reliably learned to tie the one handed or the neat method of picking one up off the floor with one hand. i'll keep trying.

here's that video.

Friday, September 01, 2017

2017 venture vermont: Build a fairy house

i thought i was going to pass on this one, but i was hanging out on a campsite and thought it would be fun.

so i built the doorway first, a stone arch. that was a bit of an engineering feat and took two days for me to get it right. then i had to make some kind of roof and i don't know how you are with your fairy houses, but i wanted to make the fairies (ahem) something waterproof so i whipped up a little covering framed in knotweed and covered in knotweed leaves.

side note: while i was working on it i mentioned this to some very nice religious ladies of my acquaintance and the were HORRIFIED. "you don't believe in fairies, do you?"

"heck, no!" i said. what i did not say is "i don't believe in any invisible magical friends, including yours." i'm sure they would have been willing to do me the favor of pointing out the grave error of my ways in believing in fairies had i done so, but i'm more polite and don't consider myself to be doing people a favor to point out their shortcomings.

anyway, i built a fairy house.

it was fun, because i had friends coming to visit with children, and i was just waiting to pretend i didn't know anything about it, but maybe own up to having heard tiny little construction noises in the night.


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