Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Definitions: Endangered Species

(1) Food that is not fun to eat, and the people who don't eat it, and get hungry, and die out.

If your food is fun, it's because it has flavor. Flavor is good. If food is not fun it won't get et, but will get dumped behind a rock. And then if you don't eat, you die, so listen up.

Food that was fun once, but isn't fun any more gets that way when its natural flavoring substances grow old and feeble, and join the ranks of the undead, like that stuff creeping around the bottom of your pack. Go get a light and peek in there sometime — you'll see. (Prolly more than you want to.)

Hey lookie. Spices.

Spices help. And sometimes spices partly revive even moribund food. The original four spices were saffron, cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg, but they are outmoded now. Luckily we have beer. Beer goes with anything and improves everything. Beer is especially great because it contains its own water, plus vitamins, minerals, and bubbles. And it comes in sealed containers and requires no intelligence to use — just keep opening additional, pre-measured beer units as needed, anytime, and you'll do fine mostly.

For example, here is a simple recipe for a life-saving, nutritionally-complete beer soup:

  • Pour beer into a bowl.
  • Eat delicately with a spoon, or, if no one is looking, stick your head in and lap it up.

And here's another, higher-calorie version:

  • Fry bacon.
  • Grate a slab of cheese.
  • Simmer vegetables with butter, salt, and any seasonings you have or can steal.
  • Crumble dark bread.
  • When the vegetables have quit struggling, add bread and beer and simmer a little more.
  • Dump bacon and grated cheese on it and eat.

Even simpler bacon-cheese-beer soup:

  • Buy more beer. (Always fun.)
  • Toss stuff into a pot. (Vegetables and whatever. No one cares what, you know?)
  • Simmer.
  • While that's going on, sit in the shade and drink beer until you get really, really hungry.
  • Eat the soup.


  • If at any time you can't stand up without help, you had too much beer. (However unlikely that is, though it has been rumored to happen.)
  • If you can't find the soup, use a bigger pot next time, and paint it red. Tie a string to it and then to your pants, unless you are naked. If so, then tie to your Uncle Wiggly. (You won't wander too far — we guarantee it.)
  • If you feel fancy, throw bacon and cheese into the soup, on top of whatever it was you already put in there. Seriously — no one gives a honk what, but bacon OMG, eh?
  • If this recipe is too hard, skip all the work and just eat the bacon and cheese. Tastes good. (But don't forget the beer. Never forget the beer.)

"Going Commando Soup" — strip your soup to the basics and let your stomach do the work. Here's how:

  • Open a bag of chips.
  • Eat from the bag.
  • Drink beer.
  • Repeat until the chips are gone or you can't find the bag even with both hands, or you are out of beer. The calories will take care of themselves.

(2) Endangered species are animals that can't compete, due to ineptness at marketing or reliance on primitive, outmoded technology like dialup internet. This also applies to some plants, usually the duller, plain green ones that no one really cares about anyway. Meh.

As always, Effort or Eff it. Your call. No sniveling.

Source: How to talk in the woods.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Definitions: Water

(1) Water is a well-known but clear, odorless, tasteless liquid said to be necessary for life (such as all the animals and plants you are familiar with, 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 researchers 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?

Water occurs at room temperature as a clear, colorless, odorless, tasteless liquid. (I know — we keep repeating that too.) It solidifies at 0 degrees Celsius and boils above 100 degrees Celsius (or 32° and 212° Fahrenheit). Beyond that, no one really has a lot of info 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, was that?

Water also frequently shows up for work as snow, as ice in glaciers, ice packs, and icebergs, as droplets in clouds, in fog, and in 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 almost 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, maybe. Pretty sure about it in fact.

So until we find out more, it might be best not to trust water too much. At least keep your eyeballs peeled for anything suspicious. 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 you as soon as we have additional info.

(2) Water — a perennial favorite, for some reason. It can be rub-a-dub-dubbed or glugged from a jug, but look out.

Water in the back country may have very, very small critters living in it, so small that they are visible only to scientists with advanced degrees. Sometimes these critters (water cooties) make a hiker sick. To avoid this, hikers often boil their drinking water or carry chemicals or filters to purify it. Killing water cooties makes their friends and relatives even angrier and even more eager to bite, so this may be, ultimately, a self-defeating exercise, the way that everything turns out to be.

Water is essential for hikers because they like to drink lots of it, lacking anything else to do besides walking, and that gets old.

Most hiker foods, too, are inedible in their natural state because of a process known as "dehydrating", which removes water, or the other way around if you prefer, removing the food and leaving the water at home. Doing either one works, but can get a person into trouble by inducing said inedibility. So that's why hikers also carry water — so they can add it back into their food, thereby rehydrating it.

Sounds tedious, doesn't it? But anything to help pass the time.

Anyhow, that's where water and food get you.

(3) Dihydrogen monoxide (DHMO.), a colorless and odorless chemical compound, also referred to by some as dihydrogen oxide, hydrogen hydroxide, hydronium hydroxide, or simply hydric acid.

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.) ( )