Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Definitions: Ow!

OW is a word used most often for the amusement of companions.

It really works best this way, which is a good reason to have friends, or at least one or two random people who have nothing better to do than to go hiking with you. And if that doesn't work, there is probably a cell phone app so you can pay someone to pretend they can stand you for a couple of hours.

Anyhow, OW.

OW is rarely used alone. It's a start, but is usually accompanied by other words like @#$%&!, expressions which convey a special enthusiasm, or by ritual body movements, such as sucking on fingers or shaking one hand wildly in the air while hopping on one foot. (The "OW Hop".)

There is a statistically significant association between these words, these actions, and activities such as removing hot cookware from a fire without a pot gripper (dumb), or using random lumpy rocks as hammers to pound stakes (more dumb).

In this sense OW is sometimes mispronounced as OUCH (or even OWICH), "an interjection that denotes pain", as your high school English teacher might put it, clueless. (Why do we need to study English anyway? For those of us who already speak it? Why don't we have an expression class? Learn to share ideas and think and write? Have fun? OW! There's an idea.)

OW! — Over Weight.

If you've been bitten by the packweight bug then you've entered a new dimension, one in which you are judged by numbers. Random, arbitrary numbers.

If the numbers you choose to associate with are smaller than the next person's numbers, then you are not over weight, they are. (Note: the term "over weight" applies only to pack weight, and size. If you are a big hootin' hollerin' honking doofus, nobody cares, mostly, if you bathe regularly, if you have a pack so small, so tiny, so light that you can only pick it up with the tips of your fingers.)

Over weight is a sin, the first sin, the original sin, the Sin of Infinite Stink for ultralighters.


Because we need a standard to judge you by. Because. Because if we don't judge you then we have to judge ourselves, and OW! — we don't want to do that.

Because if you have a standard to judge other people by, then you can do it and say because. "Because it says so right here on the weight chart. Your base pack weight can't be over 9 pounds (4 kg for metroids), or you're a total dick. We don't talk to dicks. They can't be in our club. OW! So go away. But not so far we can't see you and keep judging you."

Which results in another OW! response for you, a bad one. You go home and wonder "How Far Along Am I, Really?", and you think about life and if it's worth it, and if you'll ever get there even if you take out a second mortgage and buy that three-and-a-half ounce (99 g, eh?) crinkly titanium-foil pack that's too small to actually carry anything in. (So it stays at three and a half ounces forever, right? No matter what? Right?).

And then you think some more and finally have that enlightenment moment when you say "OW!, hey. I'm owl wright just liek I am — I'm gonig to HMOH and ful speed ahead and so on," completely forgetting how to use a spell checker and picking up random acronyms without knowing what they mean but it's all OK now. You have moved beyond OW. You are no longer Over Weight.

You now know everything. Everything that matters anyhow. Because. Because you just know it. And so, by a simple change in attitude you have become Omnisciently Wonderful (OW!). So you start your own dance meditation studio (PrancyDancyMed), but no flapping hands and hopping and howling in pain any more. Now you help others move from a life of bumping into walls and slamming their fingers in car doors to one of grace and light and hip humping and cool booty grooving. (If they purchase the premium plan of 12 easy monthly payments.) Life is good again, such as it is. OW!

Then you die.


Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Definitions: Water

Water is a well-known but clear, odorless, tasteless liquid said to be necessary for life (i.e., your familiar animals and plants, plus a few creepy things you don't want to hear about).

Water is also known as a chemical substance composed of hydrogen and oxygen and vital for all known forms of life, which we just said. (Were you paying attention there?)

Anyhow, water is a chemical compound, officially, and its formula is H2O. Meaning that it has two atoms of hydrogen and one of oxygen. That sounds significant and definitive. However no one really knows what atoms are. No, not really.

It is possible, with the right equipment, to capture various kinds of images of atoms, mostly the big, slow, dumb atoms that can't get out of the way or hide in the bushes when they hear scientists coming, so who knows about the other ones, the smaller, more nimble, and possibly cleverer ones like hydrogen, and even oxygen? Eh?

That's a puzzle right there.

Water occurs at room temperature as a clear, colorless, odorless, tasteless liquid. (I know — we keep repeating that too.) It solidifies at 0 degrees Celcius and boils above 100 degrees Celcius (or 32° and 212° Fahrenheit). Beyond that, no one really knows a lot about it, except that water is commonly and widely used as a solvent. So is paint thinner, but how often do you make coffee with paint thinner? Not really much help there, was that?

Water also frequently occurs naturally as snow, as ice in glaciers, ice packs and icebergs, as droplets in clouds, fog and dew, in subsurface aquifers, and as atmospheric humidity. Talk about being shifty and hard to pin down — water is all over the damn place, in everything, and goes under a wide variety of disguises and aliases.

So is there more to this story than all those smart people are letting on? Maybe. Pretty sure about it in fact.

Until we find out more, it might be best not to trust water too much. At least keep your eyeballs peeled for anything unusual. Drink sparingly. Wash only if you have to. Spend more time talking to the cat. Cats and water, you know — there's something going on there and it might pay to clue yourself about it. We'll get back to as soon as we have additional info.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Definitions: YMMV

(1) Yum-vee. The faded red, dented, rattling 1956 Ford pickup truck whose driver unexpectedly finds you on a deserted anonymous gravel road 25 miles from the nearest town, where the trail just happens to cross it, for no particular reason, and takes you and your pack into town, and buys you all the food you can eat at the town's one cafe, buys you a few beers, and lets you stay in his basement bedroom for the night, and then drives you all the way back to the trail the next day, just because he's always wanted to hike out there but never really knew where the trail went or what it was all about until you came along, and when he finally drops you off he hands you a whole, carefully wrapped, precisely-made apple pie that his wife baked overnight, for you. Yummy victory. You cry quietly. After eating the pie, and licking the pan. And thinking about eating that too.

(2) Yo! Mama! Make veggies! The perennial howl of the thru-hiker walking off the trail famished for fresh foods like mashed potatoes and melons, like carrot, cantaloupe and cauliflower crepes, wafer-thin water cress, winter nellis pear, walnut, wheat and wasabi waffles, french fried green tomatoes, fig, filbert and fruit salad served on a bed of flaming hot Cheetos, or perhaps radish, raspberry, red grapefruit, relish, red bean, ricotta cheese, romaine lettuce and rye bread sandwiches. More veggies, please! Of course during your hike your system has grown totally unaccustomed to real food, so you will, for a while, do a lot of running. How much? No one can say for sure, so, in other words, your mileage may vary.

(3) Yawning Man of the Mountains of Vermont. A creepy but sleepy East Coast cousin of Sasquatch. Said to like nothing better than to sidle into a camp and slide into someone's sleeping bag while the campers are out exploring for the day. Usually leaves after a short nap, but telltale signs that you've been YMMV'd are a lingering smell of dog-monkey, long, stray, bright red hairs in your sleeping bag, and occasionally, feces left in the tent, usually inside or under the sleeping bag. So whenever you're out camping, lie there for a while and listen as night draws near. If you hear a yawning sound, that may be your companion in the next tent but maybe not. And if, the next morning, your companion in the next tent isn't in the next tent but is missing, and you find long, stray, bright red hairs, and experience the lingering smell of dog-monkey, well, don't waste your time searching. Your friend will not be back. But on the bright side you have inherited some camping gear, and you can always use more of that. (Be sure to wash it thoroughly before use.) ( )

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Fresh, June 4

APOD Shadowrise and Sunset.  The scene records the warm light of the Sun setting in the northwest and the planet's dark shadow rising in the southeast.  Visit site  ▷

The New York Review of Books The Paris Catastrophe.  If Trump's withdrawal is potentially disastrous for the planet, it is even more catastrophic for America.  Visit site  ▷

ENO — Eagles Nest Outfitters Quilts or Bags?.  [infographic]  Visit site  ▷

Euroschirm Swing-handsfree, Wanderschirm — Rucksackschirm.  The handsfree umbrella system.  Visit site  ▷

Knowledge Weighs Nothing What To Do In Dangerous Wildlife Encounters.  [infographic]  Visit site  ▷

Ecology Cartoons Cartoons Ecology Biology Environment Wildlife Nature.  By Peter Ommundsen.  Visit site  ▷

ALDHA-West "Monumental" Opportunity for Comments.  The Department of the Interior (DOI), has issued a notice to the public that it is inviting public comment on 27 National Monuments which are under review.  Visit site  ▷

DiscoverMagazine If the West Antarctic Ice Sheet Collapsed...  What happens there could reshape life along the coasts.  Visit site  ▷

The Independent Atacama Desert, Chile.  Exploring one of the world's most extreme environments.  Visit site  ▷

The Adirondack Almanack Tim Rowland: Adirondack Ticks.  Ticks have moved up on the Most Feared Insect ladder, thanks to the spread, and the greater understanding, of lyme disease.  Visit site  ▷

Adventure Journal When A Rattlesnake Comes to Call.  Our home welcomed us with open jaws.  Visit site  ▷

Bogley Outdoor Community Hypothermia — Scary and no joke.  This is my first experience seeing someone with real hypothermia. Unfortunately, that someone was my son.  Visit site  ▷

Gore-Tex Blog Poison Ivy Cures: How to Avoid & Treat Poison Ivy.  And if you make contact?  Visit site  ▷

The Ultralight Hiker The Lie of the Land.  Whichever way you move, whether up or down, or in any direction, you are always conscious of being in a sort of bowl.  Visit site  ▷

The Ultralight Hiker Whoopie Slings - Great Hammock Idea!  These would work with any kind of hammock, and can be bought separately from them.  Visit site  ▷

PopUpBackpacker Set Up Your Compass Faster & More Accurately With A Map Protractor.  Today one can get the declination of any location in the US at  Visit site  ▷

PopUpBackpacker How To Become (or not become) A Famous Backpacker.  Tracking The Pilgrim's Progress.  Visit site  ▷

PDN Photo of the Day What Is It about Owls?  Maybe it's that piercing gaze. The owl is the only bird with eyes in the front of its head.  Visit site  ▷

Olga Petroff Filed under photography landscape.  Dubai based editorial designer and photographer.   Visit site  ▷

Colossal New Balloon Sculptures Depicting Animals and Insects.  Masayoshi Matsumoto.  Visit site  ▷

My Modern Met Drone Photographer Captures Stunning Aerial Photos of South Australia's Coast.  Photographer Bo Le  Visit site  ▷

Feature Shoot Eerie, Fantastical Photos of Wildlife and People.  The deer, the moose, the owls, the bears.  Visit site  ▷

— Links to external images are removed after one week. —