Thursday, June 28, 2018

gear review: anker powerport solar lite

first up: i do not receive products from manufacturers nor any other compensation for my reviews.

ok, so last december my stepmother got me one of these things as a gift. i've seen a solar charger or two, but those mostly only worked as a trickle charger you had to charge up in an outlet anyway.

i am heavy on device use when camping: i like to keep abreast of the weather forecast (because even though i can read the weather pretty well, modern forecasting gives you much more detailed information that can really help you plan your day with regard to safety and shelter.)

and i love apps that help me identify plants and critters, and apps that help me report on biodiversity. i'm a big fan of citizen science and it turns out that biologists are making great use of apps like ebird and inaturalist to gather information about species range, which changes too fast these days for printed guides to keep up with.

you used to have to be a bona fide scientist to do this science, but now anybody who can use a field guide and has a phone can help do real science, which is cool.

and i am now off topic, which will not surprise you if you have ever read anything by me.

so anyway, i am a heavy device user. my phone seriously cuts down on the number of actual books i have to carry with me while camping. so i need to keep it charged.

i have some very fine battery packs, but they have their limitations and they do run out.

enter the powerport solar lite. i used mine for the first time this week, on days when there was strong sun for only part of the day. i was able to get full charges on two devices, which goes a long way.

i'm very pleased with it. it has a sturdy, durable feel, and you can leave it out or even tie it to your pack (tiedown loops provided).

and it just works.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

2018 venture vermont: take a swimming lesson

i thought i wasn't going to get this one, because i know how to swim.

but recently (you know this unless you just walked in) i took lifeguard training, and i think that counts as a swim lesson.

i learned to swim to a distressed swimmer for rescue. i learned how to swim while towing another person. i learned how to escape a distressed swimmer who tries to grab onto you.

i think that all counts as a swimming lesson.

there are no pictures of it, but i can furnish my brand new shiny lifeguard card upon request.

Friday, June 22, 2018

tab time

my browser is clogged with things i saw and want to share with you.

the world is terrible:

bullied students told to stop being part of the problem, as if they do not already wish to be involved in this problem.

it sucks that we even need this.

and rape jokes, are still a thing, but for the time being you can watch cameron esposito's show of that name for free. you should totally do it. i promise you will not regret it.

but also the world is amazing:

there have always been awesome people. read about one woman here.

and there's this. (full disclosure: the wrier of that post is a friend of mine)

and besides libraries, there's architecture.

and candy.

and music.

isn't that lovely?

Thursday, June 21, 2018

2018 Venture Vermont: visit a (state) park that is new to you


i was thinking that i would have a look at the park finder and pick one i'd never been to, but i was up on thetford hill and apparently there's a state park there.

i did not even know that was a thing.

so i went.

thetford hill state park.

who knew?

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

ze frank

recently i watched this video:

maybe you're already a fan of ze frank; maybe not. i am. i have run across his games and videos and projects of different sorts from a lot of corners of the internets.

then last month i saw his 2010 TED talk, which i recommend you watch right to the end.


so then because he talked about it in his TED talk, i went back to his website and played with some of his toys. here are some of the ones i like especially:

animated kaleidoscope
string spin
memory game

and if you like, here's his whole catalog. go ahead, dive deep.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

are you sure you're registered?

i'm generally a fan of the supremes, but sometimes their latest thing is a flop.

like that whole "states can go ahead and purge voter rolls of people they wish weren't registered" thing.

there's a piece of crap.

do yourself a favor. do me a favor. do the whole planet a solid: check if you are registered to vote. you cannot count on being registered even if you OUGHT to be. you can use this tool if you don't mind them sending you emails.

me, i LOVE being on political mailing lists, because it gives me great pleasure to ask democratic leaning organizations to take me off of their lists because as a progressive i'm not having any of their neo-liberal shit, but that's just me.

Monday, June 18, 2018


ok, so my scout troop decided in the spring that in early summer we should go on a two night campout. TWO NIGHTS! this is a big deal in the life of a scout troop.

the campground we chose has a pool. the girls were SO EXCITED ABOUT THAT.

but it is a swim at your own risk pool.

concurrently, i started going to trainings because even though i have a boatload of outdoor skills and knowledge, i lacked appropriate certifications to take girl scouts out to do things because someone at the council has to put a stamp of approval on you which i do not think is a bad thing.

when leaders just make up safety stuff, you get wide variations and conflicting procedures and that's just begging for trouble.

anyway, if you have a lot of skills, the training are more of a skill check and a making sure you're on the same procedural page.

but there is a little bit of a bottleneck since the MERGER (nope, not going into it here) and there are not enough opportunities for adult training in my area which is a problem because nobody ever starts taking a hatful of outdoor trainings to get certified to take scouts out on activities they haven't asked to do yet.

what is more likely to happen is the girls learn that a thing is possible, ask to do it, the adults check into the needed certifications, and then learn that not only do they not have the requisite training, but they can't get it right away.

and i was at one of these trainings shooting my mouth off about this training bottleneck, and there are two kinds of people who complain: people who complain about things, and people who complain and offer to be part of the solution.

so all of a sudden i'm piling on certs which can be expensive, but if you're an INSTRUCTOR at a week of training you can take any courses being offered for free in return for your work, which is how i could afford to become a lifeguard just because my troop wanted to go swimming.

it was mentally and physically taxing and i came away from the in pool training with the worst sunburn i have had since my youth on account of usually i swim in long sleeves and long pants and SHOES because i get sunburned through clothes but you can't afford to be wearing all that much stuff during your lifeguard training.

and then during our camping trip everybody could go in the pool except me, because why yes, that would have required a lifeguard and i was the only one.

ten year olds do not really have an appreciation for what you go through so they can have an awesome weekend.

totally worth it.


Saturday, June 09, 2018


i keep crying a little over anthony bourdain.

i'm not sure why. i am not usually this sad over celebrity deaths, even celebrity suicides.

i wasn't even that huge a fan; i don't watch much teevee anymore but i used to like to watch him sometimes.

you've probably seen a lot of travel shows and food shows and food travel shows, just like i have. there was a trend for a while of being kind of snarky, and bourdain certainly had snark. he sort of WAS snark.

but when he was offered hospitality, when people made him food or showed him their lives, he was grateful and respectful.

world class restaurants, holes in the wall, waffle house.

he loved what he loved.

the world is sadder and poorer without him.

Friday, June 01, 2018

current events

in  a couple of weeks i'm going to try to be lifeguard certified.

i've always been a strong swimmer, if not a stylish one.

so i thought tonight i would go down and swim in the river against the current for a little while. first off, that water is COLD. it might be uncomfortably warm out, but the river is still cold.

also, the water has been high even though may was a little drier than usual.

and tonight there were scattered heavy rains.

none fell on me, but in the hour i was in the river i felt definite fluctuations of current strength.

near the end i became frightened because it was too strong to maintain footing against, and then i got out and then when i could see up the road i could see a locally heavy downpour maybe a half mile upstream.


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