Wednesday, July 30, 2014

What's Good For Poking, Then?

Try some of these.

Last time I wrote about fish bags. This time it's about potato pokers. Not a new series of card games but tools. For those who like to do naughty things to vegetables.

I guess they do have a legitimate use — coaxing potatoes to bake a bit faster. The intent seems to be that an aluminum rod shoved through a raw potato will convey oven heat into the tuber's inside, encouraging it to cook faster.

OK fine. If you really want to.

But baking is naturally inefficient anyway, so why fuss? If you want fast, go straight to steaming, after hacking the lumpy root into manageable pieces. Steaming's wicked fast, but then, who am I to judge those who enjoy the slow, juicy shove?

I did, however notice the points. They are pointy, these implements. And cheap.

I forgot to write down the cost, but it was around $2.75 for the six of them, much cheaper than official tent pegs. And I need a set of pegs, since I recently got two little shelters that I need to try out.

Did I say pointy? Pointy and light. Very light. Large-diameter but light — all aluminum. They should work, but if not, I know where the potatoes live if I want to do some serious pricklement, indoors some night. When I'm in one of those moods.

More:

Potato Bake Rods – 5588

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Fresh, July 27

 Rambling Hemlock:  Umbrella rigging.  Several people have asked how I attach my umbrella to my pack so I can use it 'hands-free."  Go


 Allison Outside:  Four Lakes Loop.  Two women, two dogs, five days in the Trinity Alps Wilderness.  Go


 Black Coffee At Sunrise:  Isle Royale National Park | Day Eight.  We spent the majority of the night awake, cursing ourselves for not putting our tent up inside the shelter, but not wanting to get up and do anything about the situation.  Go


 Guthook Hikes!:  Cuben Fiber: The Wonder Material.  Having never owned any Cuben Fiber gear, I just wanted to see what the stuff was like in person, rather than reading about it online.  Go


 The Luminous Landscape:  Hiking For Photographers.  Adding backcountry chops to your photography skill set can make you a much better wilderness photographer. Here's how.  Go


 Eating Miles for Breakfast:  To Circle.  Owl hooting / Rock slides off bluff / Hissing of sediment / Wind in aspens / Howl from a sled dog up river  Go


 Forrest McCarthy:  Aichilik River, Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.  I like big wild landscapes. And one of my favorites is located in northeast Alaska.  Go


 gypsy by trade:  Alaska Smorgasbord (Last chance, AK).  Whatever time is left before leaving, will always be filled.  Go


 Light & Ultralight Backpacking:  Emberlit Three Fuel Stove.  If you backpack with me at my current age, the first thing you'll likely notice is that I have no interest in running down the trail.  Go


 Nautilus:  Fruits and Vegetables Are Trying to Kill You.  Resilience isn't completely inherent to your body; it's cultivated by outside stimuli. And some of those stimuli just happen to be mildly noxious, slightly stressful chemicals in plants.  Go


 While Out Riding:  To San Antonio de Los Cobres.  Even without the monotony of the cycling that proceeds it, this is a startlingly beautiful ride, following a road that courses first through a mass of elemental rockscapes, before delving deep into the saturated hues of the Calchaquis Valley.  Go


 Keith Foskett:  The Mini Review – Have Sawyer shot themselves in the Foot?.  So why bring out the Mini? I'll attempt to answer that later. First, let's take a look.  Go


 Cliff Mass Weather Blog:  Pyrocumulus.  These clouds looked like a tall cumulonimbus but there was a lot of smoke at their base.  Go


 KUOW:  How A Drone Shot This Stunning Footage Of Washington Wildfires.  Stepanov brought his drone to record video of the destruction. "When I got there, it was just a no-brainer," he said. "People need to see this."  Go


 Mental Floss:  10 Breathtaking Photos of the Elusive Moonbow.  A moonbow, or lunar rainbow, is just like a normal rainbow, but at night.  Go


Ad: Fire In Your Hand: Ultralight backpacking stoves.



Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Bagses For The Fishes

My New Plastic Pals.

A little item, but fun.

Living in western Washington state as I do, I never go anywhere without preparing for rain. For years I've been using three kinds of plastic bags to protect my things:

  • Trash bags
  • Cleanup bags
  • Compactor bags

Trash Bags

One is the ordinary large trash bag or leaf bag. These have a capacity of around 32 gallons (121 L), and are made of extremely lightweight plastic (I'm guessing that it's about 0.7 mil or 0.02 mm). That's good and bad.

Good: These are big bags, big enough to cover a lot of gear inside a pack, but weigh only about an ounce (28.4 g).

Bad: They're extremely easy to tear, either by stretching if grabbed the wrong way, or by snagging on the smallest, most innocent-looking thorn or bramble.

If the weather is likely to be gentle I may use these inside the pack, and take an extra one as a pack cover.

Cleanup Bags

Cleanup bags or contractor cleanup bags are seriously hefty. They're about the same size as the ordinary trash bag, but each one weighs four ounces (113 g). Add a few of these to your load and, although you probably can't actually feel the weight difference, you'll feel guilty anyway.

Good: These bags are extremely tough and durable. And large. So if you don't need the bag's full volume, you can cut it down to size.

Bad: Heavy and stiff. They're heavy enough to make you wish there was an in-between weight. But there isn't. Not for this size of bag — it's either the too-light trash bag or one of these, which feels more like a wooden box than a plastic bag.

Compactor bags

Trash compactor bags are smaller than the previous two types, with intermediate strength and weight. They weigh two ounces each. In slightly less amiable weather, I may use one to hold my sleeping bag, but they're too short. Usually I take two, one with its open end up, holding the sleeping bag, and a second compactor bag as a lid, going over both the other bag and my sleeping bag, with its open end down.

This way, I get lots of protection and since nothing is tied shut, it's easy to squeeze the air out of the sleeping bag and both protective bags as I close up my backpack. And if anything goes wrong and one compactor bag goes out of commission, I have a backup plastic bag to put my sleeping bag in.

I normally use this type bag for my food. I bag my food as individual meals, collect and bag separate meals as a bunch, and keep the whole shebang in a compactor bag. The more layers the better, because my goal is to be aromatically undetectable, food-wise. The bags' white color also helps me to keep track of it while it's hanging overnight, and in re-locating it the next morning.

Also, using compactor bags gives me a target.

When I stop at the end of the day, I lay out a compactor bag flat, and then put my loose things on it. No matter how dark things get, I can always see where that bag is, and know that the last little thing I laid down is right there, on top of it. Although morning light is stronger, I use the same technique — the white square is a flag I can't miss.

Meh.

But there is a problem: all these bags are opaque. The first two kinds are black or brown-black, and the compactor bags are white. White is an anti-stealth flag, but has its uses, as just noted. Black, gray, or any other dark color is more stealthy but hides the bag's contents just as well as the white bags.

Which is where fish bags come in.

Hmmm.

At the moment I'm living next to salt water. People fish in it. Less than two blocks from my place is an old-fashioned general store which leans toward the hardware end of things. You never know what they have until you wander through the entire store and look at everything one more time. It's amazing. And they have fishing equipment.

One item I walked by about two dozen times without looking was a box full of polyethylene bags. Clear polyethylene bags. Big ones. Huh. Ninety-seven cents each. I didn't know what I'd found until I tugged at the corner of one. Wo. Large, tough, heavy, and transparent. That's what I've got now. I bought five.

I don't know how common this sort of thing is. I found only one reference to it, which says 'These are heavy duty bags that are great for keeping your catch it [sic] until you can get it back home. They are 22"x39" 4 mil poly ice bags.'

That sounds about right. I thinks that's exactly what I've got.

Now I'll try them out on the trail, hanging my food in one, and, well, we'll see. Maybe one for food and one for bedding this time. They're perfectly transparent so there will be no doubt about what's inside, and the way they're built, each bag should be good for several trips — maybe the whole season.

More:

Heavy Duty Fish Ice Bags

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Great Opty With BLEK.

---- This message contains blocked images ----

Hi Dave,

My name is Vini and I am a sourcing specialist with BLEKSysTemps. I am writing to you regarding your skills and work experience, with relation to job opportunities through BLEK.

Below are some job descriptions for your review please let me know if you are interested in this positions or if you would know any of your friends or colleagues who may be interested in the below positions. Please feel free to share my contact details as below.

Please let me know if you have any clarification do not hesitate to email me back.

#6108-1 Web Developer II / Seattle, WA (6 Month Contract)

Work Location: SEA27 -- 14345 Boring Avenue North, Seattle, WA 98109

Job Description: Web Developer

Are you passionate about delivering great customer experience, collaborate on product definition with business teams, and love to be in the thick of action? Do you pride yourself as somebody who speaks the language of both engineers and artists?

Do words like JQuery, web-services, and CSS excite you? Are you interested in learning how the next generation of Client family of websites are being built? If so, you have found the right match.

Our client is one of the differentiated stores focused on Cell Phones & Services, is looking for talented Web Developers to join their Customer Experience team.

Basic Qualifications

  • Must be able to pass a 7 year criminal background check
  • Bachelor's Degree in Fine Arts, Computer Science, or related field, or 2+ year relevant work experience
  • 1+ years professional experience in web development
  • Expert in modern client-side web technologies such as HTML, CSS, Javascript, AJAX, JQuery, Browser compatibility & graceful degradation
  • Fundamentals in object-oriented design, data structures, algorithm design, problem solving, and complexity analysis
  • Proficiency in, at least, one modern programming language such as Java, Ruby, PHP, C, C++.

Preferred Qualifications

  • Ruby
  • Perl
  • Spring MVC

Regards,

P VINI Dreevip - Sourcing Specialist

Global Talent Acquisition Center (GTAC)

Please take our quick online Q-n-A test

Q: Are you passionate about delivering great customer experience, collaborate on product definition with business teams, and love to be in the thick of action? Do you pride yourself as somebody who speaks the language of both engineers and artists?

A: I prefer to play with hamsters when I'm not napping. I like beer a whole lot too. Can we drink on the job?

Q: Do words like JQuery, web-services, and CSS excite you? Are you interested in learning how the next generation of Client family of websites are being built? If so, you have found the right match.

A: What?

Q: Our client is one of the differentiated stores focused on Cell Phones & Services, is looking for talented Web Developers to join their Customer Experience team.

A: Oh. A differentiated store. Well.

Q: Must be able to pass a 7 year criminal background check

A: Does this mean I have to stop breaking into cars? And why does the check take 7 years? Because the criminals doing the checking really, really dumb? Or do they work by the hour? Can you get me on with them? You know what they say: "Crime doesn't pay", but in my experience if you want to make a lot of money fast, do crime. Lots of it.

Q: Bachelor's Degree in Fine Arts, Computer Science, or related field, or 2+ year relevant work experience

A: How about a BFA in horseshoeing? (Is there such a thing? If so, I might enroll.)

Q: 1+ years professional experience in web development

A: A professional is someone who does if for money, right? I think I qualify, but what is web development?

Q: Expert in modern client-side web technologies such as HTML, CSS, Javascript, AJAX, JQuery, Browser compatibility & graceful degradation

A: Does disgraceful degradation count? If so, I'm still not interested.

Q: Fundamentals in object-oriented design, data structures, algorithm design, problem solving, and complexity analysis

A: We covered these in kindergarten. Around 1954. Does that make me too old?

Q: Proficiency in, at least, one modern programming language such as Java, Ruby, PHP, C, C++.

A: English? Spanish? German? Not modern enough? Ah, life. I can purr like a cat. Is that OK?

Q: Regards, Vini

A: You make me tingle, girl. (If you're not female, are you at least mostly hair-free, in the spring and fall?)

Q: Highly desired: Working knowledge of Linux

A: Is this the character from that comic strip? I didn't like him much. I preferred Lucy. She was really, really short, but kind of sexy in a mean way. I probably deserve anything she'd like to do to me. Can you get me a date with her?

Q: Photoshop skills

A: Do you want to buy some used photo equipment? I'm trying to sell some old stuff on eBay right now, so I guess that's a Photoshop, and I have some inquiries right now, so I guess I have some skills. What does this have to do with that little mean girl from the comic strip? Please send a complete dossier.

Q: "This message contains blocked images"

A: Wow. Pretty hot, Vini, my friend. I didn't know your people did that kind of stuff.

The lighting is a bit of dim there, but if I actually was successful in sorting out all the characters, then judging by the tattoos, you must be the guy with the tub of horseradish. I didn't know it could be used that way without a license. Impressive application of imaginative technique, to say the least.

And I do like your playmates. Well, the human ones. At least a little. But, you know? As far as work, I did some of that stuff once upon a time. Mostly, I've found that I like backpacking better. I think I'll stick with that if you don't mind.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Clothing For Hiking Fung

Look good out there. Avoid evil spirits, etc.

According to the founding precepts of Fung Shway, there are five elements — wood, fire, earth, metal and water. To create and maintain harmony according to the Ruling Fung Principles, these various elements must be properly employed.

But Backpacking Shway is a little different. Wood and fire you can understand — carefully place the wood into position, apply the fire element, and stand back. If the wood and the fire are comfortable with one another, and decide that you're OK too, you get to cook supper.

Likewise with water. Perform the proper ritual dance and you can cross just about any stream you find, without losing it. Earth — OK, but metal? Kinda off to the edge, don't you think, for backpacking?

You got to realize that those traditional Five Elements are mostly a city tradition. Backpackers require a different focus because of their specific needs. Especially when it comes to clothing. So therefore we have our own subset of Fung — the Five Clothings. These embody the principles that enable us backpackers to survive out there.

They deal with dirt, bugs, wind, rain, cold, and stink.

  • Dirt: Black, next to food, may make it look less appealing, but it'll do the opposite for you, especially if you're sloppy and attract dirt. And after a few days on the trail we all need help. Wear black. Black may dampen your inner chi, but we're talking about your outside here, and anything that hides telltale stains is a good deal.
  • Bugs: It's well-known that bugs can see things we can't, because each of them is born with a tiny evil eye, and that's how they find us. Happy clothing is your pal, especially anything covered in smiley faces. Bugs can't stand all the joy so they go bite the people behind you. (Always walk in front.) Or bring a bug zapper.
  • Wind: Everyone knows about wind chimes. It's how you attract cooling breezes on a hot day and annoy the hell out of your neighbors. But what's the opposite? How to use Essential Fung Principles to make wind go bother someone else? By making anti-wind chimes out of chicken bones, and hanging them from your pack. True, it's not clothing, but when wind hears the telltale sound and comes looking for lunch, and finds only dry, picked-clean bones, it'll go away disappointed, and leave you the hell alone. Cozy.
  • Rain: A tough one. The term fung shway literally means "sloppy wet", which makes you wonder how this stuff got to be so appealing to trendy new-age idiots, but backpackers know about rain. True, several major civilizations were built near water, but you don't want it running down your backside all day, do you? With that in mind, look for striped clothing. Vertical stripes resemble rain gutters and give a subtle hint to the rain that you wish it would go somewhere else. Might work. Who knows?
  • Cold: Easy to deal with. Just wear red clothes, preferably with the color side next to your skin. This always works, but you can think warm thoughts as well. If blisters develop then you overdid it. Peel off a layer or two.
  • Stink: There are very few ailments that can't be alleviated (or completely cured) by using the power of Fung and a bit of color. Hiker stink is one of them. Until you can actually bathe, try carrying a picture of some Uncle Wu's All Organic Shway-Skrub pinned to your shirt and think clean thoughts. If you're past that stage, then wearing bio-hazard orange may at least keep others a safe distance away. As a last resort, blame it on the dog.


Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Ask The Expert

How to remove a tick.

The easiest way used to be stop winding it. Then if you waited long enough, it quit on its own and fell off. You didn't even have to touch it. You just listened, and when the ticking sound stopped, you were good to go.

But that all changed with miniature electronics. Discover a tick under your waistband now and it's got a five-year lithium battery planted in its butt.

It could keep going for years. You never know. (Suck-suck.)

No telling what might happen, and every time you take your undos off, there it is, looking up at you, looking you right in the eye. "What's it to you, buster?" says the little voice. How can you answer that?

You can't do a damn thing until the voltage drops and the critter falls off due to electron starvation.

Used to be, back in the organic, analog days, someone would tell you to slather axle grease on it, but that only made the tick slippery, and killed it besides. Then you had a dead tick stuck on your backside. Dead ticks regurgitate, pumping those juices (blood, saliva, germs, viruses, unnamed cooties) back into you. Not so good.

Used to be, someone else would tell you to hold a lit cigarette near its behind, but that killed it too, by roasting. Followed by the same kind of sludge pumping.

Try any of those tactics on a 2014-model digital droid tick and it's likely to laser you. (Those eyes aren't just for looking, you know. And ticks are crazy buggers, capable of anything. They have attitude.)

Want to get relief, get technical without being too fancy. Think mechanical. Try a set of pointy-fine forceps. (Forceps are tweezers with a graduate degree). Get the narrow working end between your skin and the tick's shoulders, and lift the critter straight away from anything that is you. Carefully. Slowly. Slowly and carefully.

If you're low-tech, use the tip of a pen-knife. Push down on your skin upstream of the tick's head, and move the blade (held at a 90° angle to your skin, sharpened edge down) toward the tick. Do a slow scrape.

Bulldoze the tick like you're squeezing a pimple from one side only. It's a kind of Zen practiced against the eight-legged.

Either way, the tick comes out alive and whole. Then you can hit it with the flamethrower. (Don't listen to anything the tick says either — it's all lies.)

Good stuff to read:

How To Remove A Tick — And Why A Hot Match Won't Work

Ticks

Tick Identification Submission Form (PDF)

Anaplasmosis

Babesiosis

Lyme Disease

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF)

Rodents

Search for a Repellent that is Right for You

Tick-borne Relapsing Fever

Tick Paralysis

Tularemia