Monday, July 23, 2012

Can I Yawn?

Not in a narrow and rocky bed.

Canyon: A deep valley with steep sides.

Canyon: A steep-sided valley created by erosion from a creek or river. The walls of a canyon are similar to cliffs.

Canyon: A very wide and deep chasm carved by a river with sides comprised of a series of cliffs.

Friday, July 20, 2012

When You Have Overflow Problems

Rise above it all, if possible.

100-Year Flood: Not one that occurs once every 100 years, but to a flood severity level with a one percent chance of happening in any given year.

100-Year Flood: The level of flood water expected to be equaled or exceeded every 100 years on average. More accurately, the 1% annual exceedance probability flood, meaning that it has a 1% chance of being equaled or exceeded in any single year. Try picking your years carefully then.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Recipe For Disaster

Just add birds.

Sunday, 6:45 p.m.: Bob, Elli, and the kids pack their camping gear back into the car. A small bag of biscuit mix goes missing, but it's overlooked and the family leaves for home.

Monday, 5:37 a.m.: Daylight begins to break. The sound of snoring resounds from most tents. Meanwhile, the formerly missing bag of biscuit mix is being dragged around by two magpies, who create complex, almost geometric patterns as they tussle with the leaking package.

Monday, 6:27 a.m.: A woman named Christina, visiting the campground for her morning jog, sees two magpies making a mess. They seem to be scattering biscuit mix from a bag all over the parking area. She chases the birds off, deposits the nearly-empty bag into a trash can, and heads out on her run.

Monday, 8:42 a.m.: Josh Finkle, a local policeman on vacation with his family, begins crossing the parking area, headed for the toilet, then freezes. Something is wrong. Very wrong. There is a suspicious white powder scattered widely, in an odd pattern resembling a giant, warped pentagram. The hair on his neck bristles. He calls his office and reports what he has found.

Monday, 9:17 a.m.: Finished with her relaxing morning run, Christina gets into her car and drives home for breakfast. Shortly after leaving, from across the lake, she sees two fire trucks, three police cars, and several large vans entering the campground, lights flashing.

Monday, 9:24 a.m.: Twelve police officers, a SWAT team, 14 firefighters, and a hazmat team lock down the campground. All campers are rousted from their tents, the showers, the toilets, and isolated inside a temporary fence in the playground. Armed officers in respirators guard them to make sure no terrorists escape.

Monday, 8:51 p.m.: Preliminary analysis carried out on-site by the hazmat team indicates that the white powder found at the campground is a complex mixture of biologically-active materials, including complex proteins, starches, sugars, and many other unidentified substances. In addition, a scrap of paper is found. It bears the word "Snickerdoodle", along with what appears to be a coded set of instructions written in German. The authorities immediately suspect a resurgence of the Baader-Meinhof "Rote Armee Fraktion", thought to have been defunct since 1993.

Tuesday, 2:17 a.m.: Several black helicopters descend from the sky, absorb all campers and staff, including the part-time janitor, Bob, despite his claims that he was only there to clean the toilets, and vanish into the overhead darkness. By the next day everyone is safely in isolation cells inside an undisclosed democracy-friendly country, except for recurring rounds of enhanced interrogation. Surprisingly, none of the terrorists confesses to the plot, or even admits that there is one, which causes the interrogation to escalate to super-double-plus enhancification.

Thursday, 6:02 a.m.: Christina, returning to the campground for another morning jog, discovers that it is no longer there. Not only that, but there is no longer a road leading to the campground. Puzzled, she pulls her car over and looks around. Nothing. Just the forest and a huge pile of brush covering what used to be the turnoff. Above and to her right, high in a tree, she sees two magpies. They seem to be laughing.

Schneckennudeln (Snickerdoodle) Terrorist Campground Cookies


  • butter: 1 cup
  • sugar: 1.5 cups
  • eggs: 2
  • flour: 2.75 cups
  • cream of tartar: 2 teaspoons
  • baking soda: 1 teaspoon
  • salt: 0.25 teaspoon


  • sugar: 1 cup
  • ground cinnamon: 1 tablespoon


  • Mix wet ingredients.
  • Stir in dry ingredients.
  • Chill, form into balls, then roll in cinnamon and sugar dust.
  • Bake: 8-10 minutes on greased cookie sheet at 400 degrees F.

More: 2 crows plus a bag of flour equals a hazmat scene.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Max Hideroom

Like lizard tongues, but with a richer taste.

Full-Grain Leather: In hiking boots, uppers that use the full thickness of the hide. Full-grain lasts longer and resists water better than split-grian leather.

Full-Grain Leather: Leather made from the full thickness of an animal hide.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Five Tips For Staying Alive

Look out for Number One.

Number 5 On The Countdown

Don't catch anything.

OK, fishing is fine, mostly, but if you pull in one with teeth bigger than your toes, you could be on the wrong continent, or your technique is off.

Most people, when they have any technique at all, have the bad kind, and all they get is mosquito bites and maybe sunburn. You, you're too far off the other way.

Most important, when you're not fishing, be careful around your hamster. If you have a rat instead, this also applies.

Remember, these critters are used in medical research for a reason, because when you're done with them you can just drop them in the garbage disposal and nobody cares.

But the other reason is they catch anything you can. And if they catch it they can give it back to you.

So no more kissing on the lips.

Number 4 On The Countdown

If you are of Caucasian descent, you are likely to die. If not now, then later. This has been documented by science.

So, some tips to prolong your stay are in order. Like avoiding scorpions.

Scorpions, as you may not be aware, are notoriously difficult to reason with, so if you find one in your pants, then offering it a bite of your sandwich — meh. Too little, too late, especially if your sandwich has mustard on it. Mustard sends scorpions into stinging frenzies.

Another good bet, avoidance-wise, is crocodiles.

No matter how cuddly they look, each and every one of them seems to have a permanent "bad attitude" thing and may take an arm or leg home with them for the heck of it. Without the rest of you.

Don't let this kind of thing ruin your day.

Poisonous birds? Once bitten, twice shy, if not dead. OK?

Number 3 On The Countdown

Being in the South may kill you. Meaning the southern United States. No one knows why. It could be the cooking. Or the slower pace of life may be too stressful. Anyway, now you know. Stick to Michigan.

Number 2 On The Countdown


Almost all mammals are smart enough to be dangerous, and some have been to college.

They can learn tricks, and an especially nasty one is cheating at poker. Remember that painting of the dogs playing cards? Each and every one was cheating.

If you see a dog with a gun, keep still, especially if it has a cigar in its mouth, and a weak hand. Dogs can't see you unless you move, except if you smell like food.

Also, never hoot at a moose. Some really crazy things have been known to happen.

Number 1 On The Countdown

Steer clear of backpackers.

Not the dizzy flipflop-wearing drunk looney-tunes on summer break, but the ones who sleep in the dirt. These tend to be highly infectious.

Most victims are close friends or even family members. Simply watching a backpacker preparing for a trip can have irreversible results.

First you watch, then you talk, and then, before anybody knows what's happening, you've gone over to the other side.

Oh, true, some do come back, apparently alive, but permanently mentally damaged after a summer of hiking. They never again return to what they once were.


More: The Deadliest Animals In the United States

Monday, July 9, 2012

Hard Shell Fabric

They said with a straight face.

Hard Shell Fabric: A fully waterproof, but breathable outer garment.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Dangle Cord

Dangle Cord: An extra piece of line hanging from the bottom of a bear bag or food bag that is hung in the trees, and allows you to pull the bag down again if friction prevents it from descending.

Don't forget to hang by your thumbs.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Never Say Die!

But you can say "ow". If you really have to.

Yellowstone National Park has 3900 bison.

Massachusetts has one Robert Dinwiddle.

On that basis alone, it might seem like a mismatch, but let's review some typical statistics.

Bison are herbivores inhabiting the North American Plains. They have shaggy brown furry coats, which they wear all year, even in summer. This sometimes makes them ornery.

Bison may be up to 11.5 feet (3.5 m) long, and stand 73 inches (186 cm) high at the shoulder. Both sexes have short curved horns as much as 2 feet (61 cm) long. They use these to poke things and to settle arguments.

Typical bison weigh as much as 2200 pounds (1000 kg), though the largest known specimen weighed 3800 pounds, or 1724 kg.

Larger humans, if deploying all four legs in a horizontal posture configuration, may reach 30 inches (76 cm) at the shoulder and weigh around 185 pounds, or 84 kg.

So, given this, when Mr Dinwiddle (who had been quietly sitting on a stump eating a ham sandwich) saw a male bison approach one day, you might imagine that he thought about the situation.

Apparently he did. Apparently he decided that he had the advantage.

And, although humans appear more presentable in public than most other primates, having traded excessive amounts of body hair for Vibram-soled boots, denim pants and waterproof-breathable jackets in a range of fluorescent colors, and being less likely to throw feces than to hurl insults or crushed beer cans, they do retain some of the territoriality seemingly baked into the genes of all primates.

So it was that Mr Dinwiddle decided to hold his ground and retain a protective grip on his sandwich in Yellowstone's Norris campground.

Round 1 - Insults

Bison: Snort.

Mr Dinwiddle: Ah theah, yeah mutha is a cow. Just a big cow. Go botha someone else, heah?

Bison: Snort.

Round 2 - Threats

Bison (Stamps its hooves, lowers its head): Snort.

Mr Dinwiddle: Now heah this. I am not done with this heah sandwich. I will not be provoked. Run along, I say, or I will take swift and sure action.

Bison: Snort.

Round 3 - The Approach

Bison (Beginning to circle.): Snort.

Mr Dinwiddle (Throwing breadcrust at bison.): Run away now, you. I am busy heah, you heah me? Skedaddle.

Bison (After being hit on forehead by breadcrust.): Snort.

Round 4 - Locking Horns

Bison (Charging.): Snort.

Mr Dinwiddle (Standing on stump. Waving handkerchief at bison. Holding remains of ham sandwich in left hand.): Shoo! Shoo now, heah?

Bison: Snort!

(Bison makes contact, throws Mr Dinwiddle into the air, then uses left front hoof to pin Mr Dinwiddle down after Mr Dinwiddle thuds back to earth.)

Post-Game Summary

After being medevacked to Idaho Falls, Idaho, where he was diagnosed with a broken collarbone, a broken shoulder blade, several broken ribs, and a groin injury, Mr Dinwiddle was later awarded a fresh bag of DummNutz Donutz ™ for his bravery in standing up to nature and protecting the dignity of his species.

"We see a lot of stupid people out here doing a lot of stupid things, but Mr Dinwiddle is an inspiration to all of us," said Danni Hottle, Yellowstone Park Cheerleader/Referree. "All I can add is WooHoo!"


Yellowstone visitor gored after failing to yield to approaching bison.