Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Merino Wool

Merino Wool

(1) A kind of wool that provides a good balance of insulation, durability, odor resistance, and moisture absorption. Due to its fine fibers it feels soft and does not itch like normal wool. Often used in socks and some brands of underwear.

(2) Sheep fuzz of such insanely high quality that it very nearly has its own religion.

It is warm in the cold and cool in the heat. It wicks away sweat. It sheds water, retains its warmth when wet, and doesn't stink even when given permission to. And it is soft.

And not itchy. And has a great warmth to weight ratio. And a knack for regulating body temperature. And repels flies, mosquitoes, ticks, mad dogs, and unpleasant hiking partners.

True merino also adds a spicy yet clean almost peppery dimension to salads, though when stir-fried with vegetables or added to stews it paradoxically produces an unexpectedly rich, deep, mushroom-like flavor.

If combined with a little fresh fruit and yeast, tightly corked and left in a cool dark place, merino brews itself into a stimulating lightly carbonated drink that is hopping with vitamins and anti-oxidants yet surprisingly never intoxicates.

Besides all that, merino makes great socks that wear almost forever, and are so single-mindedly committed to keeping you safe and comfy that if you ever really do get deep into trouble, just kick off your shoes, tap your woolly heels together three times, and repeat "There's no place like home."

If you are wearing Genuine Merino Wool FuzzySocks, you'll instantly be whisked back to the safety of your very own childhood bed, even if you were a homeless orphan and fended for yourself in the streets and alleys from age five, and never even had a bed, only a pointy stick.

Of course if your socks say Genuine Merino Wool but are actually Genuine Fake Merino Wool, well then you're probably screwed. Might as well eat the socks to at least get a little roughage and some salt back into your system, and then hope for the best, if that is even possible any more.


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Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Lichen Woodland

Lichen Woodland

And there it is, maybe slowly creeping this way, even.
(Map stolen from Wikipedia.)


1) Sparse taiga.

Trees are well-spaced and lichen covers the ground.

In far northern taiga, the forest cover is more sparse and also stunted.

Ice-pruned trees are common.

Thoughts you might have there: "I'm likin' this lichen woodland 'cuz it's sparse an' ice-pruned. Too bad the flies got Ed though."

2) A woodland, definitely, but what about this other thing? How do we fit it in? This lichen thing. What is a lichen anyway?

The ancient Greeks called it what eats around itself. Yeep! I know, it's supposed to be a "symbiotic organism", one that is composed of two or more different and unlike organisms, one living inside the other, with both benefiting from the arrangement. They say. They say this is how it is, but is it?

The pod people claim it is so, at those times when they speak. When they speak. Without enthusiasm. Without any noticeable emotion at all, at those times when they speak, but still looking through you the way they do.

"It is good" is what you hear, if you hear anything. Aside from that odd tinny buzz. Even though silent and emotionless, you see them wandering everywhere. Wandering by day, wandering by night, with wires dangling from their ears. Is the pod in control or the person? Is it even a person any more?

And those wires, what are they doing in there? Seeing pod people makes you wonder about these things and about many more things. Likely you won't even think about lichens, but they are just as strange, comprised as they are of an outer, shell-like fungus wrapped around and sheltering some inner algae.

Lichens aren't even vascular plants. If they are plants. Are they? No, not really, one supposes.

Vascular plants stand up and have roots and leaves and internal plumbing that moves water and nutrients around, but lichens, no. They lie there, flat, crusty, almost inert, waiting among the trees, or on rocks, with that little dead zone around them.

Waiting for something, it seems, whatever it might be. And then there you are. Oh, yes. You come hiking along, in this pleasant, open woodland with colorful, licheny patches on the trees, listening to your music player, with those wires coming out of your ears. And the lichens, then they perk up. Yes? Yes. They perk up then.

They may even follow you for a bit, but discreetly, of course. Silently. Through the woodland. You don't even notice. And who knows what may come next?



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Me? Seem to be leafing out again.

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Kelly kettle

Kelly kettle

Boiler in a bottle: Shiny, contains fire, makes hotness.


This is also often called a volcano kettle. It's a one-piece pot and stove thingy, designed vaguely like a thermos bottle, but these things are useful only for heating water.

Some were used by Irish fishermen in the early 20th century, though other versions of the story vary. Anyway, damn clever lot, they. Another reason to love the Irish, if you're so inclined.

The place where you'd have your coffee stored is a firebox. The part around that, where the thermos bottle would have an insulating vacuum chamber, is actually a water jacket surrounding the firebox. Hot gases from a fire of burning twigs heat water in the water jacket as they rise through the central chimney and escape out the top. Kettles like these can rapidly boil water even in windy weather.

More names: Benghazi Boiler, Storm Kettle, Ghillie Kettle, Thermette, Survival Kettle, and so on.

More: "How the Kelly Kettle Works", and what is it, really? And some other stuff...
Company site., Internet Archive, Wikipedia.


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Me? Getting all hotted up.

Wednesday, May 4, 2022



1) A small opening designed into a stove through which pressurized fuel passes so it can mix with air and burn efficiently. Jets were slowly developed over centuries by legions of engineers patiently working through a deliberate process of trial and error just so you could have a backpacking stove, you selfish, thoughtless bastard.

2) An opening in the burner of a stove where the flame is produced. Also, the flame itself. (Ffffft!)

3) Still not sure? It's like a snot rocket, but hotter, though generally should not be fitted nasally.


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Me? Looking for my pipe cleaner.