Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Definitions: Single-Wall Tent

Single-Wall Tent

If a regular tent has four sides, then this, having one, is a very light tent indeed.

Some tents have six or eight sides, so by comparison a single-wall tent is way lighter. Call it a tarp. No matter if it's square or rectangular or some other funny shape that got designed and puckered somewhere in the manufacturing process, a tarp is still one piece of fabric. It's a multi-sided shelter that magically actually has only one side, something like that mythical coin which if you drop it, and it lands face down, you never find it again. (D'oh indeed!)

But tarps do have two sides to each piece, so you can find them even in the dark just by feeling around, or by listening for the flapping sound if you didn't pitch it right. However tarps do lack all the unnecessary things, like an inside. Tarps don't know from inside or outside. They don't have floors, or bug nets. No pockets. No zippers. No instructions. No nothing, practically. Just the one wall, which you can pitch any way you like unless you got one of the fancy designed and puckered ones with extra seams.

Now other shelters are actually rated not by how many sides they have but by how many layers. Your standard tent (the double wall tent) is not notable because it has two walls on each side (though it actually does). No. How they measure these things is like, if you tossed a cat toward one of these tents, and the cat had really sharp claws, and when it hit the tent it cut right through the wall, like how many walls would the cat go through to get to the middle?

Well, if it's a double-wall tent, the answer is two, no matter how many sides the tent had, unless the cat went entirely through the tent and came out the other side, but most cats don't have that kind of stamina, so they usually find a nice spot once they get inside, and then have a nap there.

Though if you try this, then never, ever go inside the tent while the cat is there. Let it come out when it's ready, especially if it's a cat you picked up around your campsite. Some of them weigh 80 to 100 pounds or more (35 to 45 kg no less), and are actually strong enough to kill deer, and elk, and sometimes cows, so it's a wonder you even managed to pick it up in the first place, let alone throw it at your tent. (Another word to the wise here too — don't push your luck — try this trick only once per cat. They catch on fast and tend to get prickly if they think that they're being taken advantage of.)

Now that you know how to decide whether you have a single-wall tent or a double-wall tent, take a break. Wait for the cat to make a proper exit after its nap. You will have lots of patching to do, and it can be a lot of work, and you want to be rested up for that. Anyhow, that's the story on the number of walls.

Single-wall tents have some advantages and some disadvantages. For one, there's less material to a single-wall tent, usually, so they are lighter, and simpler. They are more likely to be floorless. Once inside you can set up housekeeping using only a simple ground cloth, and if you turn out to be a messy person you can just sweep debris off the edge of that, but then on the other hand you have less protection from vermin.

Vermin, indeed. Always with the vermin.

A bug net is usually a necessary option with a single-wall tent, and you may not need one right up front, but when you need one, you need one for sure, so think about that for a while. Like how many bugs can you stand to have in your ears? While you try to sleep? And like that.

Double-wall tents do get condensation on the inside, but it's inside the outer wall, and you can't touch it because of the inner wall, which is handy because it keeps you from playing with the outer wall when you shouldn't but does add weight.

And we could go on and on like this. Sometimes it makes you dizzy just to think about all the options and permutations, and you get to the point where you simply want to pick up your stuff and go backpacking for a while, but there you go then, because you still have to decide what to take, so you're kind of hosed no matter what, which is pretty much the story of life, in a nutshell.


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Me? Still looking for that damn coin.

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Definitions: Wend

Definitions: Wend

"Not all who wander are equipped with a full box of rocks." -- Saint Doofus Obtusus of Bushwhaeck

Just because you can spell it doesn't mean you can do it. Like my cousin Ferdwin, who won a spelling contest in third grade on the word "carjacking", but thought that lipstick was a good disguise, and thought that a mildly bluff note, a smile, a close lean in, and the word "please" would result in a new car that he'd get to keep after he used it to drive across town for ice cream.

It isn't like he was stupid — he could jumpstart a cat like nobody's business using nothing other than a finger and static electricity, but had his criminal career seriously derailed before he even got past grade school, due to that one misstep of his.

It's like that with walking too, though not for Ferdwin. He hated walking, which is why he was keen to get the car, but for the rest of us, "walk", "hike", "march", "stride", "tramp", "strut", "trek", and so on might sound overly strenuous at times, and indeed they can be, hence "wend".

There's nothing better than a decent wend to prepare one for a nap — not even a promenade, a saunter, a stroll, or a mindless perambulation, though a mosey is close, and will sometimes do in a pinch.

Wend then, "To go or proceed along some course or way. To betake oneself." Which is about as good as it gets, peregrination-wise, though Ferdwin was limited by being on probation all through high school, and couldn't get a date if his life depended on it, wending or no. And, of course, no cats befriended him.

So there.

Postly script: I send, I sent.  I spend, I spent.  I lend, I lent.  I go, I went.  I wend, I wended. Oops, WTF. Go, went? Wended?

Used to be "I wend, I went", but then they changed it on us. And the other used to be "I go, I gaed". They changed that too. Some things never do make sense, not unlike all too many of my relatives. There is still hiking though, for those who can handle it and are disciplined enough to do it without any wending.


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Me? Still working on that wind problem.

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Definitions: Manky


The smell of man-KY, man-of-Kentucky, of Kentucky men. (Alleged.) Possibly of those from the Outer Bluegrass Region, above the Knobs, whatever that means. It probably refers to one who doesn't bathe, or hasn't bathed, even though he (allegedly) knows how.

Manky is like funky without the panache or the gold chains, and rating higher on the Stink-O-Meter.

Manky might be like the odor of polyester underwear that has been driven beyond its design limits, but worse. Nasty, wet, or soggy is used sometimes, though it seems to fall short of that gaping, horrific, vertigo-inducing malevolence that we are trying to express. Unpleasantly dirty and disgusting, as it is sometimes described, makes manky sound all too much like a nearly harmless something you could encounter under your maiden aunt's sofa. Possibly, because you don't really know how dark and mildewed her secrets are, do you?

So that could be right. But think, if you have to think of something, of repulsive mustiness.

Think of over-filled diapers, though not in your lap necessarily, or open before you. Near though, too near, near enough so you can think of nothing else, and then imagine yourself being totally played out, blind to the edge of death with weary fatigue, immersed in a cloud of this thick, fetid, creeping stench while trying to eat so you can simply stay alive until morning, so you can go on, and then realize that the mank is you, and your clothes, and you have to sleep in these clothes, and this skin, somehow, and live until dawn, and then go on for another full day, and then another. This is the joy of backpacking.

Welcome aboard.


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Me? Hoping never to fill another diaper.

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Definitions: Grade-Separated Crossing

Grade-Separated Crossing

(1) This is an intelligence scale for trails.

Dumb trails get lower grades, so they stay at the bottom of the list, and have to keep to the back of the room.

Smart, cool trails come in at the top of the list and get all the hot dates.

And (you guessed it) trails of different grade ratings don't hang out with each other.

Sometimes the untidy, wandering rambling lower-grade trails are mean to the smart trails. Sometimes it's the other way around.

Rarely do you see mismatched trails finding common ground, and forming friendships, but if they do they keep it secret and don't let on at crossings. Been there, right?

(2) Engineering again, for those so inclined...

At-grade trails intersect at the same level (or else they technically couldn't intersect, see). But that isn't the whole story. Never is.

Like, take a map, and it shows one road cutting across another one? Or a railway and a road intersecting? But if you go there you see that maybe one road is on a bridge over the other, or goes below the tracks. That's a grade-separated crossing.

Works with a bridge, a tunnel, stuff like that.

Mostly trails meet at a common level, but maybe a trail will cross a railway on a foot bridge, or if this is all in a city, the trail or foot path might pass under a road in a shallow tunnel. Anything to keep the two incompatible routes separated, even if it's only by grade.

Keeps you safe and you don't even have to wear a condom.


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Me? Recently awarded second place at this year's Doofus Awards. Hoping for third place next year.