Thursday, April 27, 2017

Definitions: Attractive Nuisance

This is something along a trail that attracts people but is potentially dangerous.

Probably the best example is a mine shaft without a fence around it, something that makes you want to go and play there but will kill you, or will try to kill you.

On the other hand this term applies to a lot of people you may have met. You may even be one.

You know, the real hottie who turns out to have only two talents — looking good and being trouble.

Kind of like a mine shaft without a fence around it.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Definitions: Yum-Yum Bag

(1) A barf bag, in case you get motion sickness while hiking.

A barf bag is essentially where you put discarded yum-yums (already-eaten food). Or yum-yums you don't want anymore, or need, or like. Or have decided are actually toxic waste. Or what your body has decided, without your conscious input, is toxic waste, or wretched excess.

Anyhow, need for a barf bag is probably a strong hint that hiking isn't for you. Better not to even think about backpacking, at least until the nausea passes.

(2) A bear bag. You score bonus critter points if you sleep directly under it. If you don't know what a bear bag is, you'll probably find out sometime, when you wake up during the night to find your tent full of big furry things ripping your pack to bits, looking for yum-yums.

Good luck with that, Bud.

(3) A garbage bag. For leftovers, anything that can't be eaten, or what no one wants to even think about eating, but that something non-human might eat (or fight you for). The garbage bag concept is especially useful for a gaggle of boy scouts who haven't learned the rule to eat all you cook and cook all you eat, or die trying.

This sort of bag of glop is great as an implement of punishment, by making anyone who breaks the rules or is just too sleepy to get up on time carry and look after it, thus ruining for life another person's attitude toward the outdoors and the whole idea of spending time with others having "fun".

(4) A bag for snacks, or a bag of snacks. But if you're a rat, it can be a garbage bag too.

Who cares, really?

Dinner-plate scrapings are as good as anything else. Especially if you're a rat. Or a grizzly bear.

(5) One of those plastic bags that you can roast critters in, and when used as a garbage bag, doubles as that critter's last resting place. I.e., a crinkly, see-through casket. (You can watch the dead eyes follow you around as you try to get away, and so on.)


Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Definitions: Berm

Living on the edge, trailwise, and giving you the dirty shoulder.

(1) Berm?

Yes. There is often a slight ridge or lip along the outside or down-slope-side of a trail. That's a berm.

It is like a curb on a street.

It is higher than the center of the trail.

It can be soil, rock, wood, or any other debris that has collected on its own, or if the trail was improperly designed or built, the berm was there from the beginning, and it shouldn't be. (Since it's messy and all, and allows water to collect on the trail.)

Berms will develop from the tramping of thousands of feet in big gnarly boots even if the trail was originally set up right.

The tread in the center of the trail gets compacted with use, and soil gets eroded and displaced to the sides of the trail when the trail is loved to death. Eventually some maintenance has to be done to remove the berm and heighten the tread, and make everything all neat and tidy again.

Berms trap water on trails, keeping them muddy and soft, and that speeds erosion too.

(2) A low, narrow layer or mound of sediment deposited on a backshore by storm waves.

(3) And...on a trail a berm is a curve in the trail where the outside of the curve is higher (banked) than the inside of the curve to allow for easier and faster turning with a bike or on skis. A berm is also any raised mound of earth.

(4) "Berm" is also a misspelling of "brem", which is a Balinese rice wine. (Who said that dyslexia can't be fun?)

In some cases brem can be handier than berm. Make that most cases.

But you may not be able to get brem easily, even in Bali.

See, the deal is that this is real Balinese food and real Balinese food is kept away from tourists because it takes too long to make and has to be done up in large quantities, and tourists are often dicks anyway. (To be honest.)

And then the food has to be consumed when fresh, which means pronto.

And they use banana leaves for plates, and so on, which can be awkward on its own, especially for tourists (a.k.a., dicks).

So really the only way to get the real item is to be invited to someone's house.

This is already a lot more complicated than you expected, isn't it? And there is so much more.

There are etiquette rules you have to follow, according to Balinese culture, such as never using your left (impure) hand to eat with, to offer or accept food with, or even to wave at anyone with.

No news yet on whether waving at your dinner is acceptable at all, with either hand, so you'll have to use your best judgment there, but if you do that, people will think you're flat out crazy anyhow, so maybe it doesn't matter.

If you are sitting there having dinner and anxiously waiting for some brem but are served tea or coffee instead, expect some cake with it. Apparently cake always comes with the tea. Try not to wrinkle your nose or make a dumb face - you're already seen as a dick, so surprise your host already, and act more human than they expect, if possible. Try hard.

So, actually, in most cases, it's tea or water that may come with your meal, not brem.

If you do get brem, then nuts or krupuk may be served with it. You, in your own lovely way, will have to come to terms with that. Krupuk is prawn crackers. (No - never had them either, or imagined that they existed.)

It is said that the host does not usually eat the guests. Or with the guests, or something. (Because you're a dick? Maybe. And maybe they hope you'll just take the hint and leave soon? Remain alert for clues.)

So back to dinner. A traditional dish you might encounter could be "lawar", strips of turtle or mango or coconut (apparently depending on what's in season, or what can't get away) chopped up and mixed with uncooked blood to provide a lovely red coloring.

This is prepared by men. What was your first clue?

Or you might get some "babi guling". Babi guling is roast suckling pig ("although the pigs are usually too old to be suckling"). OK.

These roast (possibly non-) suckling pigs are "stuffed with spices, impaled on a wooden pole and turned over a fire of coconut husks and wood for one or two hours". Can't wait. No, seriously - I have to pee.

OK, that was a relief. Now where were we? Ah.

More info: Note that this sort of meal is not too far off from your average trail supper might be, aside from the whole pig and the pole and all that impaling and so on, but it could be fun with the right people. (As companions, you know, not as the main course. In case you didn't quite follow, or have had a lot of brem recently.)

So that's about it for today. Bye.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Definitions: Cape

(1) A headland with a big head. (A headland is a piece of land that sticks out into the ocean. An ocean, some ocean, any ocean — there's more than one these days.)

Anyhow, if you can imagine this thing, then imagine it with three sides. Then imagine those three sides surrounded by water, and therefore it's really suited only to one-way hiking.

But this headland thing is still attached to the rest of the world, which leaves you an escape route. The escape route is a good idea because you're probably a dork and wandered out there by accident, and might panic otherwise.

You should know enough to turn around and go back but maybe you don't.

Maybe you're a lemming.

A lemming is a small arctic rodent that is not really good for much at all, unless you have tiny feet and will settle for small furry moccasins made from the hides.

The word lemming comes from the old Norwegian phrase lemmti njgaard which means something like "small weird furry things that fall from the sky", first used around 1530 by Zeigler of Strasbourg, a geographer, who claimed to have seen a whole bunch of these things dropping like hailstones as he walked around one blustery day studying tussocky hummocks in a field.

However Ole Worm, a Danish physician and proto-scientist (who also went under the name of Olaus Wormius), disputed Zeigler's claims and dissected a bunch of lemmings to prove that they were really only ordinary, disgusting, hairy rodents, just like all the other rodents back in those days. (This was before hamsters were discovered. Hamsters are actually a lot of fun, and mostly not disgusting at all, and cute and stuff.)

Anyhow, then Ole hung his hacked-up rodents permanently in his private "Museum Wormianum", a collection chock full of many similarly disquieting discoveries. Go figure.

But old Ole Worm wasn't all about stale breath, death, and decay, and nails.

Nope. He was a mover.

In 1626 Mr Worm published his magnum opus "Fasti Danici", the original "Fast Dancing" (maybe we'd say "Fancy Dancing" today), and partied his way to near immortality as the Late Renaissance Boogie King until he was suddenly and utterly forgotten following a scandal involving sales of fake unicorn horn, after which he was sent away to a solitary cell on a bluff overlooking the sea.

Hey — here comes some serendipity. Watch for it.

Because Worm's cell was on the Grenen Headland near Skagen, out on the tip of the Jutland Peninsula, which you could also call a cape, since it's really big, way bigger than a headland, big enough to affect ocean currents, as capes do, but then this is all an uncertain matter of linguistic taste. At any rate, if there were lemmings leaping around out there, he'd see 'em on his turf, no matter what you call it.

Cape. Bluff. Headland. Peninsula. Whatever — people still call Florida a peninsula, after all.

Go figure.

(2) Or cape can be a fancy bathrobe-like tent worn by drama queens.

Drama Queen, incidentally, was the Danish entry in the Eurovision Song Contest in 2007.

It was in fact the first appearance of a solo drag act in Contest history.

How spooky is that? No capes either. (Or hamsters, at least not officially, but who knows what went on backstage?)

And it was all too late for our dear old Olaus Wormius who croaked about 300 years earlier, was stuffed and hung on a hook in a dark place where he could continue his penance unnoticed and unheard. In the dark, among the spiders. Without even a feathered cape for comfort.