Tuesday, November 30, 2010

We say goodbye to a grand old bastard

Last night when I got home from work late in the evening, JD was dejected.  His whole body slumped.

Investigation revealed that he had finally accepted that Trouble was dying.  The cat could no longer eat or drink, and visiting the litter box was an extended journey requiring multiple rests.  And he couldn't jump up to his resting spot on the couch anymore, though he tried and pathetically failed.

We hoped he'd  recuperate a little overnight, as he often has.  But this morning he still couldn't eat or drink, though he clearly wanted to.  JD made the call to schedule euthanasia, then woke me to get dressed so I could come along.  Trouble, uncharacteristically, didn't complain once about being in the crate, being in the car, or being at the vet.  The cat had already checked out of life, but his body hadn't quit yet.

I was sad, and cried, but really I felt as if the cat had left before the drugs hit him.  I'll miss him, even though he never really liked me.  He had a lot of character.

I rescued Trouble from our horse barn eight or nine years ago when he got an upper respiratory infection and the vet told me he couldn't live outside anymore.  I brought him inside so that he wouldn't get hit by cars, die of pneumonia, or suffer other pesky problems that often do in older cats.  Trouble did not appreciate the help.  He would look directly at me and then pee on something that couldn't be adequately cleaned, such as a wicker chair.  He beat up dogs.  He bit you when he was done being petted, assuming he allowed it in the first place.  He just generally wasn't nice.  I figured in case of home invasion, I'd throw Trouble at the attackers and he would just mean them to death.
Over the years he calmed down some.  I think it just got to be too much effort to kick everybody's ass.  And then JD moved in and wouldn't take Trouble's shit.  Trouble bit him, and JD hit him back.  Trouble respected that.  For the first time in his life, Trouble liked a person.  I was glad that in the last years of his life, Trouble actually seemed to love someone.  JD loved him back, and opened up the basement so Trouble could follow him downstairs and sleep on the sofa next to him while JD worked.  They spent many evenings cuddled together on the sofa watching tv.  JD, not a cat lover and not versed in medical care, learned everything necessary to take care of daily subcutaneous fluids and medications for this elderly, crotchety, sick cat.
(This did not prevent Trouble from abusing the veterinary staff at our local animal hospital, who eventually plastered most of his folder with "CAUTION:  WILL BITE" stickers.  When his tail had to be amputated five years ago, necessitating twice weekly vet visits to change the bandages, the vet staff perfected a five-person routine that ended with the cat completely enveloped in blankets, except his tail, so they could safely rebandage him.  And he did the only thing left to him:  he peed on them.  Also, as our nearly completely dead cat was being euthanised today, they still held him properly and firmly as they would for a shot, because "It's still Trouble."  I would have, too.)

It's going to be hard coming home and not seeing that handsome old face glaring up at me from the sofa.  I'm trying to remember all the routines that we've changed to accommodate his infirmities, so I can revert back to "normal".  After we've gathered up all his unopened (and in some cases very expensive) medications, we'll be donating them to the hospital to help others in dire circumstances.  Poor people have anemic cats too.

I've dug up some old pictures of the poor old guy.  Also don't miss JD's moving missive below.

Whatever he wants, you better do it the hell right now!

Portly and now bob-tailed

One of the few times he coexisted peacefully with Batty.

Dammit woman stop taking my picture!

He got sloppy drunk on Xanax.

That glazed look?  Totally high.

Xanax = would let me cuddle him

Not a fool.  Loved down sleeping bag.

No, you may not have your chair back.

The theoretical guest room?  Actually Trouble's room

You can tell he's old because he's letting the other two animals sleep in the room.

If Trouble had been conscious, Andy would have been in big difficulty.  But you could snuggle an unconscious Trouble.

Trying unsuccessfully to find a comfortable spot on his last full day.

JD posted this as a comment online today.  It is a pretty good description of Trouble.

Thanks, folks. We've often noted, he wasn't exactly a good cat, but he was our cat.

The way I figure it, we wouldn't miss critters so much if they weren't worth it. And, on that note, one of my favorite Trouble stories:

Not long after we got ...the dog, I noticed we were getting drifts of fur all over the place. Since I'd moved in with a Roomba, I decided to see just how well it would do on insane amounts of pet fur.

Beauty didn't know what to make of the thing. She stayed back out of the way, puzzled look on her face. The Monster treated the Roomba as he did anything else: he ran away and hid. Andy alternated between ignoring it and fruitlessly trying to convince it to chase him.

Trouble, on the other hand, got up from where he was snoozing, went smack dab in the middle of the room, and plopped down on the floor as it trundled by. And eventually, the Roomba wound up on a collision course for the Old Man. And the Old Man just stared at it. It wouldn't _dare_.

It dared.

Trouble sprang up, claws out, and whapped the Roomba a good one. The Roomba's collision detection algorithm only turned it a little, and it bumped Trouble again, at which point he snarled and lit into the little red disc, attempting to beat the tar out of it in a flurry of speedy claws and gnashing of tooth. (He only had the one by then.)

The Roomba held its own for a moment or two, trying to get away, but Trouble's thrashing eventually convinced it that it had run into too many obstacles. It let out its "Something's wrong, I can't continue!" bi-tone, and powered itself down.

Trouble returned to his afternoon nap, and I never again turned the poor Roomba loose on the floor upstairs.

And that's the tale of how my cat once beat the crap out of a Roomba.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Good advice which you will probably not take*

Internet, I am about to give you some good advice.

If you can avoid it, never move a data center.

That's pretty much it. 

Moving a data center sucks in many ways.  Such as that it has made me hurt all over.  I am going to continue hurting all over until I get to see my chiropractor.  And that is not going to be for a while, because tomorrow the move continues.  Only now it's boxes.  And chairs.  And coatracks.  Doesn't really matter what, it's stuff that has to be managed.  Plus I have to continue dealing with the fallout of the move.

The good news is that I will have put in my 80 hours for the pay period by sometime Wednesday, so it seems likely that I am getting a four day weekend this week.  And that's without having used holiday hours for Thanksgiving.  So four day weekend PLUS extra paid time off at Christmas.  Yay!

And all I had to do is work until I was too tired to think and too sore to walk right.

Anyway, Internet, I wish you all the best.  I am going to go to bed now, and likely snore very loudly.  I apologize for the inconvenience if you live nearby.

PS I wore my shirt right side out and front side to the front today.  Unlike yesterday.  I'm starting to wonder if I have some kind of self-dressing disability.

*Because you probably don't have a data center.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Insert snoring here

Got nearly everything packed up today.  Tomorrow, the directing of the movers, the reinstallation of everything, and the hoping it works.  Now, the tired.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Pluto contributes to a really good day off

Is the Mother Ship still in orbit?  I'd like to send flowers, or maybe a handwritten thank you note.  Pluto's recently delivered Alien Brain is in full working order.  Me likey.

It was chilly today, with wind gusts up to 35 mph.  Just the wind would have been enough to make me call it off two years ago, but I have more faith in Pluto now.  And he didn't let me down.

Tara was already hooking up the trailer when I got there, so I hustled and grabbed all my tack to throw in the trailer.  Pluto thought I was up to something hinky and didn't want to be caught.  Mystery didn't care, he knew I had cookies.  So Mystery got a cookie and some scritchies, until a white nose interposed itself between us.  Pluto hates it when somebody else gets the attention.  Thus captured, he acquiesced and walked down to the trailer with me.. until he saw the big silver tarp somebody had put over their trailer.  MAN he was not going past that.  He just stood there gaping at it.%  It took me and Tara and two crops tapping to get him limbered up enough to actually walk into Tara's trailer.

He and Timber were a little excited with the wind and whatnot, but when I lunged Pluto at the park he said "eh."  So I got on and he was all "yeah, sure, you betcha, I do this all the time."  SRSLY?  Horse?  You are a lying.. liar.  I know for a fact you have never been to Greenbelt Park before, so there.

Anyway we rode around and it was fun.  Cold, but fun.  We had two teeny little incidents.  A branch fell somewhere in the woods and we had a spontaneous gallop for a few strides until we reached the safe harbor of Timber's butt.  Um.  His butt-adjacent zone.  %%  What I'm saying is he felt much better being RIGHT BEHIND Timber for a little bit.  Just in case that branch was going to sneak up and attack him.

About a mile later a holly branch scratched on the top of my helmet and Pluto had a little skitter but a holly branch doesn't really compare to a Giant Attack Branch of Unknown Dimension so it was over quickly.

Timber, BTW, settled quickly and acted like the distinguished gentleman that he is, despite Pluto's occasional scared forays into his butt-adjacent zone.

Pluto spent the whole time tripping over roots.  I encouraged him to, I don't know, maybe look where he was going?  But he was averse to that idea and instead kind of felt around with his toesies.  It was an odd sensation.  The only time I've felt it before was riding a blind horse.  Since Pluto refused to look at the ground, that was effectively his condition.  He got a good gander at everything else though.

We haven't done a lot of hill work, so I was happy for him to have some time to figure that out.  The first few he went down, it felt like he was on his tiptoes.  Which is not a fun way to go down a hill, for either of us.  I am pretty sure that by the last hill, he figured out you have to bend your hocks a little.  He might be sore tomorrow, as he isn't used to actually working or anything.

So, that was it.  No major excitement, no bruises, and a safe return home.  I call that a perfect trail ride.

PS If you're thinking of taking horses to ride at Greenbelt Park, call ahead first.  There were no signs, but a park employee told us (fortunately after we were done) that horses weren't allowed.  Despite the "horse trailer parking" sign and the "horses and pedestrians only" signs all along the trails.  Apparently there is an unsafe condition somewhere.  Perhaps they have an infestation of Attack Branches.

%What was he thinking?  "Bad fashion decision!  Bad!"

%%Walk-Gallop transitions are not something I have practiced recently.

Friday, November 26, 2010

There is a light at the end of the tunnel

That light might be an oncoming train.  Or it might be the end of the tunnel.  Alternatively it might be one of those little one-car dealy-bobbers with an engineer on it.  Or a medic.  At any rate, the light and I should be intersecting on Monday and ONE WAY OR ANOTHER the last several weeks' frantic journey will be over.

First I have Saturday and Sunday.  Saturday I'm meeting Tara, not very early, and we are going to trailer our horses to somewhere where, we hope, we have a minimal chance of getting shot.  Unlike the environs of the farm, where it is fairly likely due to it being hunting season.  Frankly this makes me very nervous, but the hunters seem to be pretty good and so far no horse has ever been shot there.  That I know of.  And the horses are fairly blasé about gunshots now, so that's good.  When Playboy lived near a skeet range he heard gunshots all day and could not have cared less.  I, on the other hand, get a little jumpy.  I've never been shot but I've been shot *at* and it made an impression on me.  On the psyche part of me.

Anyway we're going somewhere else to ride.  I hope very, very much that nothing exciting happens.  Or that if it does, Pluto keeps his shit together and I keep in contact with the saddle.  Because after the riding I plan to have a nap, and that's harder to do if you're bruised all over.  I figure our most likely suspects for excitement are a) joggers%, b) loose dogs%%, c) bridges%%%, or d) road noise.  The park has big roads on all sides and Pluto isn't really used to a lot of road noise.  I hope he's too busy being in a new place to really focus on the tractor trailers going by at 75 mph.

Then we take the boys back to the farm, and then I go home and nap.

Sunday, my coworkers and I are shutting down the server room and securing everything for travel.  Everything is only being shipped one building away.  Fifteen years ago, we moved most of it by rolling it downhill.  But we have a lot more stuff now.  Also, I'm fifteen years older, and it's all uphill.  So we're using a moving truck.  Also, professional movers. 

Monday morning I guess I'm getting up early so I'm there when the movers arrive.  I won't have much to do on the near end, I hope, but on the far end somebody needs to tell them where to put things.  And then, the fun.  Finding out which machines jiggled something loose in transit, or took their opportunity to mysteriously quit working for no obvious reason.%%%%  Also, which ones I was successfully able to change the IP on before they shut down, and which ones didn't take.  Or DID take but won't talk to the network anyway.

I've moved machines before, and I've moved networks before.  So I've seen a lot of failure modes.  I can only wonder what new problems I will surely encounter.  And hope that my temper holds until the end of the process.%%%%%

% I mean hell, I do that myself.

%% Which will either be terrified of Pluto as the biggest dog they ever SAW, OMG, or potentially growly.  Pluto is not scared of dogs so far.  He has tried to stomp one before.  I think if Pluto stomps a dog it could lead to incivility, so I will try hard to avoid that.

%%%For some reason Pluto hates to cross running water.  Maybe he's a witch.

%%%%You know it happens.  It's the dang server gnomes' fault.

%%%%%I'm sorry, coworkers.  I'm sorry, world.  Somebody is going to get yelled at.  It is inevitable.  If you're all lucky, the one getting yelled at will be the ancient VMS machine.  It's used to it.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Warning: Incoming Urges

I am slowly but irrevocably getting into a Christmas mood.  It's been dark outside all day.  We have delicious foods cooking.  I'm drinking red wine.  "Baby, It's Cold Outside" is playing on iTunes.  I crave the bite of cold air on my skin, the winter crowds merrily walking around the shops, the speculation on what presents my nieces might like.

Until today I had not felt it.  But now.. watch out world!  Christmas is coming, and I am ready.(1)

1)  Coworkers, be warned that Christmas lights are going up as soon as I find them in my boxes.  Also, I may hum Christmas tunes and/or be in a good mood.  This is your only warning.

Things I am thankful for: 2010

Y2K turned out to be No Big Deal.
Although they are not the same horse or same dog that they were ten years ago, I still have a great horse and a great dog.
I'm married to a wonderful man I've known since he was in his teens, and he has only gotten better with time.
My parents are still alive, plus I married into a second mother and grandmother.  And I hope to see all of them soon, and get the kind of hugs you can't get anywhere else.

Thanks to the generosity of others (mostly my husband and my boss, but also of other family, friends, and strangers along the way) I was able to hike for five months of this year, and it was one of the greatest gifts of my life.  I know it's not for everyone, but if you have the chance and it's something you're interested in, do it.  If nothing else, being in the middle of natural beauty all the time is good for the soul.  And not having a job for a long period of time is restful for the brain.

The aforementioned boss is still good, going on 17 years in.  Thanks, boss.

I feel lucky to be content with what I have.  Not that I'm poor, far from it.  But I know plenty of others who constantly hunger for more.  A fancier car, a bigger house, a more important job.  I have things I love now.  My beloved, if dinged up, Eddy.  My creaky old Gothic Revival Victorian house.  My role as a sysadmin.  They work for me.

And my friends.  The ones who are there for me day after day.  The one who texted me first thing this morning to wish me a happy Thanksgiving.  The ones I seldom see, but when I do it's like we were never parted.  Love you all.  Thanks.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Work, shmerk.

If I say what I'm really feeling right now, it might be libel.  Or that other word.  Slander?  Whichever.  So I'm just going to tell you that there is not enough Xanax in the WORLD to keep me from being pissed off right now.

Everything will work out in the end.  But Joe should probably keep all the carpentry tools away from me until all the connection issues are resolved.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

dirt > pavement

I paused in a parking lot this morning to appreciate the warm touch of the moist morning wind on my face.  Fall is not usually so gentle. The irony of appreciating nature in a parking lot did not hit me until later.

My doc told me yesterday that I needed to get back out on the trail.  "You do better there."  The same doc hadn't wanted me to thruhike this year because she figured she'd be the one who'd have to put me back together afterward.  I may possibly have convinced her that hiking is good for me.  No decision yet on horseback riding.

I can't really disagree with her on the hiking thing.  I do do better out there.  However, nobody pays me to hike.  Some people do get paid to hike, but nobody pays super slow hikers.  It's not like I'd be an inspiration to the masses.  Maybe I'd be an inspiration to paraplegics.  Anyway, I have this paycheck addiction, and I like the idea of retiring eventually, and being able to afford vet care for the old man.  So I work.

I did find a few minutes to go for a walk today, for a wonder.  Haven't done that in a while.  Actually I jogged most of the way, and I found out why jogging shoes are preferred over hiking boots.  My shins hurt.  Also, I had a thought.  (I know!  I'm shocked too.)  The current theory of shoes, with those five toed thingamybobbers?  Says that we didn't evolve to run with big shock absorbers on our feet.  And since our feet don't feel the shock, we do more damage to our other joints.  The thing is?  We also didn't evolve to run ON CONCRETE.  That stuff is death to joints.  If you ask me, if you run without good support you should run on dirt.  I like running on dirt anyway, but I am a well known wimp and also a well known nature freak.  But nevertheless I may have a point.(1)

In other news, work was much better today.  Yay Xanax!  I had several moments when I wasn't in a crisis, and I tried really hard to remember what I usually do in my job, but it didn't work out.  So instead I packed some more and started pulling unused (I hope) cables out of our switch.(2)

After work I stopped by the pharmacy to drop of a prescription, and managed to surprise a real smile out of the pharmacist.  That may have been my favorite moment of the whole day.  So often the people who work the desk are jaded, bored, pissed off, and generally hating everything.  So when I get a real moment of connection, a moment of shared happiness, I love it.  Thank you, pharmacist, for smiling back at me.  You totally made my day.

1)  It's hard to tell sometimes.

2)  Somebody will probably yell tomorrow if I was wrong.  And then I'll know!

Monday, November 22, 2010

TSA avoidance

Is it just me or is the driving getting worse?  In the last two weeks I've seen my local roads turn into parking lots at rush hour, which is unusual for here.  I've nearly been hit at least five times.  It's been so bad that now I feel like I'm on full alert every time I drive.  It's not relaxing.  At all.  I don't like the feeling of adrenaline pumping when I'm not doing something I typically view as hazardous.  Is everybody uptight about something, and this is causing them to drive like maniacs?  Is it that they are all worried about the TSA groping them, or making fun of their spare tire?  Because they would probably make fun anyway. They would just have fewer detailed graphics on which to base their comments.  So please relax and stop trying to hit my car.  The two bullets it already took are sufficient.% You don't need to take out my bumpers too.

Speaking of being uptight, I've had multiple medical professionals tell me recently that "you can't let stuff get to you."  And I was wondering how, exactly, you not let stuff get to you.  It's not like I have road rage.  (Seriously.  I am unragey.  Even though my car got shot.)  But sooner or later, enough red tape and bureaucracy will cause me to lose my shit.  As you may have noticed, if you have ever read this blog before.  How do you go about maintaining a zen attitude?  Do you "OM" a lot?  Do you drink to excess?  Do you pet doggies?  (I approve of this method, but we can't bring pets to the office.  Or booze for that matter.)

I suppose first you have be prone to annoyance in the face of.. I can't think of a good way to describe this.  Let's just call all annoying bureaucracy "TSA" for short.%%  Some people seem to just let it flow over them.  I envy those people.  I would love to just not care.  But it's like every incident is a slap.  The first slap you can shrug off.  The second slap you maybe frown a little.  The third starts to sting.  And by the fiftythird you have a giant throbbing bruise, and you start to swear that if it happens again you are going to give that slapper what-for, by gum!  Even though it's ill advised, and possibly illegal.  Depending on the what-for that you have in mind.

%Poor Eddy.  Eddy being the car.

%%The Shit that Annoys

Sunday, November 21, 2010

I shall be sawing logs shortly.

I feel like a lot should have happened today.  Certainly I'm tired enough to account for a great deal of activity.  Instead, this is how my day went:

9:00 am Stumble out of bed
9:01 am Drag a comb across my head (okay I'll stop now)
9:15-10:00 am munch through breakfast and Pero
11:30 am realize I'll be gone mid-afternoon, eat lunch
12:30-2:30pm ride Pluto, hang out with Bonnie and Tara
3-5 pm hang out
5 pm EAT.  massively hungry.
6 pm Feel as if the heat death of the universe has occurred in my brain

So sleepy.  So very sleepy.
Apparently I'm not the only one.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Far, a long, long way to run

What a good day.  The weather is good (clear blue sky, temps in the 50's), I went for a nice jog, I therefore had a guilt free lunch, and I'm meeting friends for Oktuberfest* tonight.

I did the jogging a little differently this time.  Instead of running for several miles straight and then walking the rest of the way, I ran for a while, walked for a while, ran for a while.  I'd move down to a walk whenever something felt a little owie, such as a knee or a foot.  I'd wait for it to feel better, give it another minute, then move back up to a gentle jog.* In this way I was able to continue jogging all the way around the park.  Toward then end it got to be more of an effort, and I was more likely to walk on the longer inclines, but I definitely jogged more than I walked.  I think it was about a 2:1 ratio, but it might have been higher.

It made me so happy.  I love the feeling of trail running.  It lets me see the trail from a different perspective, and it holds my focus in a way that walking no longer does.  Jogging like that is extremely meditative for me.  The landscape flows by and I feel a deep peace.***  For a good hour of my jog I simply felt grateful that something free and easy to do is something I love so much.  If the trail were a person I'd have invited it out for lunch afterward so that I could spend more time with it.  Instead I bid it a fond farewell at the parking lot.

I didn't listen to any music today, for no obvious reason.  I had music with me.  I just never bothered to get out the earphones and start listening.  Instead I listened to the crunch of leaves under my feet, and had thoughts.  I can't tell you what they are because I no longer remember.  I had them and then I let them go.  Which is a pity, because I'm pretty sure I came up with some good ideas for Christmas gifts for people, and also for a Christmas wish list for myself.****

Afterward I stopped by Five Guys for a burger loaded with veggies and a ludicrously large serving of fries.  Five Guys does not understand the concept of "small".  I had to rip open the bag to get past the fries to my burger, which was hidden at the bottom.*****  I didn't attempt to eat everything.  I just wanted some salty fried potato goodness.  Not several actual potatoes worth.

There have only been two flaws (so far) in an otherwise perfect day.  One, I woke up with a hangover.******  A few aspirin fixed that.  The other flaw was that I didn't get a nap.  I planned for a nap.  I scheduled time for it.  But then I had a little coke with my burger.%  It doesn't take much caffeine to make napping impossible for me.  Perhaps tomorrow afternoon.

Last but not least, I have poison ivy again.  I didn't mention it last weekend, but on Saturday we had to scramble over some downed trees blocking the trail.  One of them had a furry vine on it.  I said to Delee "I hope that's not poison ivy, or I'm going to get the world's worst case."  The tree was at the height where I basically had to balance my full weight on it.  I couldn't just step over.  And sure enough, I now have poison ivy on my heinie.  Not a lot, so far.  I fear how far it will spread, as pretty much all of my personal fun bits were in contact with the tree (through pants, but nonetheless..)  This is neither the first nor the last time I'll have hike-related poison ivy, I'm sure.

*Annual gathering involving tuber-related comestibles.  Ginger ale, latke, root vegetable casserole.  It's all fair if it involves a tuber.  JD made a lemon-ginger cheesecake to bring with us.

**I'm not actually capable of much more than a gentle jog.  Yet.

***Unlike my beloved, who feels aggravation at having to exercise.

****There isn't that much that I want in the material sense anymore.  Even less that I want that people could buy for me.  You can't really buy jogging shoes for somebody else, for instance.  How would you know if they fit?

*****This is the smallest size fries they sell

******Totally worth it.

%It mixed with the Crystal Lite grape flavor drink I had first, so I had grape flavored coke.  Pretty good actually.%%

%%Are different footnote markers easier to read, rather than longer and longer lines of asterisks?  Do I maybe have too many footnotes?  I just tangent so easily.

Friday, November 19, 2010


Today was *much* better.  Two Xanax better, as a matter of fact.  After that I was brave enough to check my phone messages.  I discovered that all those times The Tool called, that I didn't answer?  He didn't leave messages.  I guess it wasn't that important.

Things went wrong, though.  Firewall rules I begged for didn't get implemented.  X servers mysteriously didn't start.  I had to put a server on my desk and the fan is freaking loud.  But the good news is I was out of my office for much of the day, so nobody could find me.  Human interaction is not my favorite thing right now.

I convinced six friends to go the new buffet, and they all vigorously agree that it is good.  I fear for my beloved Chanan.  It is small, and family friendly, and a dollar more expensive.  It may die.

At home this evening I was greeted with appetizers.  We had appetizers for dinner.  It was delicious if not nutritionally sound.  JD used up most of the frozen appetizers we had gotten for our disastrous Halloween party.  So I got to have samosas and things made out of puff pastry and also pigs in blankets for dinner.  Also most of a bottle of wine.*  I may be a little cross eyed.  I may be regretful tomorrow.**

I actually had time to pee today, which led me to discover that the women's room in the new building has been spruced up:

Would m'lady care for tea?

Also, now I have the hiccups.

*Clos du Bois merlot

**If I say I'm never going to drink again, I'm lying.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

One of us is unbothered by the situation

Today was better, Internet.  In case you were wondering, curious little bastard that you are.  Want to know what made it better?  I didn't answer phone calls.  Also, I took Xanax.  Otherwise I think it would have been a repeat of yesterday.  Also the day before.

I'm sure you're glad I got that off my chestal region.

Anyway, I got a lot done at work, and I feel good about that.  Though I am slightly curious what was in all those voicemails.

Also I had lunch with Delee and ate mass quantities of comfort food.  Mmmm, Reuben on pita.  Not those Sahara pitas with the accurate name*, but the flatbread-type pitas of deliciousness.

Tonight was Pluto's mani-pedi, so I hied me to the farm and fed him treats while he got his nails did.  It was nice to see him and Bonnie and Mystery.  There's nothing better than horsey kisses.*******  They have the softest smoothest muzzle, even a rough tough horse like Pluto.**  I love it when he puts his lips on my cheek and gives me little kisses.*** 

My husband took off to have fun with his car friends**** so I'm batching it tonight with the frozen pizza.  I'm not real adventurous feeling so that's the extent of my whoopee.  Soon I will clean the kitty litter and then give the old man fluids.  Are you having more fun than me?  Liar.*****

I realize there is still one more workday to go this week, but I have already leapt ahead to the weekend in my thoughts.  Day one I'm thinking viciously hard hike******, then nap.  Then Oktuberfest.  Day two, something equine.  If it's good weather.  I'm no glutton for punishment, despite all evidence to the contrary.

Unfazed by his working conditions

*If you eat one straight it makes your mouth feel like the desert.

**Seriously, the horse has Rasta mane.  There is nothing shiny or sleek about him.  It's like he sands his fur when I'm not there.

***Though sometimes I have to clean up afterward.. it can get a bit muddy.

****Which I do not begrudge, because my eyes glaze over when car talk starts.

*****If there is anything more fun than cleaning cat litter and poking old bastards with needles, please don't tell me.  I'm feeling very fragile right now.********

******I.e. the same easy six miles I always do.  But with vigor.

*******From Pluto.

********PS if my dog could please stop puking randomly and making me worry about her health, that would be awesome.  Or if the cat could stop puking in dog-adjacent areas.  Whichever.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

What the hell Wednesday

Today was kind of scary. The chest pain I had yesterday continued, with bonus shortness of breath. A friend rather strongly suggested I get an EKG. My doctors office wasn't open, so the boss recommended I head over to the medical center on site.

There I lay shirtless on a gurney as three medical professionals attached things to me and determined that my EKG was totally normal, my blood oxygenation was excellent, and my pulse was in hummingbird range. Verdict was "probably stress", or a dissecting aortic aneurysm. One of those. I got a recommendation to follow up with my regular doctor.

I was relieved to hear I wasn't having a heart attack. I don't have a good legal way of relieving my stress. This isn't Texas so "he needed killing" would get me nowhere in court.

With all that going on I made an executive decision to come home early and pet a cat. So far, so good.

I'm exhausted, I think emotionally. But it's translating pretty well to physical exhaustion. Early bedtime is looking quite likely.

No funny stories today, Internet. I'm not in the mood.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

I'm taking the night off.

Today was a little scary, Internet.  My job, as I have mentioned, is really stressful right now.  I had a phone call that blew all my fuses, and my chest started to hurt.  I wondered if I were having a heart attack.  And after a little while I realized that nothing I do for my job is worth my life.  What I need right now is a strong dose of "it's not important" and a more laid back attitude.

So I left the office only half an hour late, and I am going to spend my evening relaxing.  Dammit.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Beer and sherbet: I don't recommend it, but it works for me.

Could you hand me a beer, Internet?  Maybe a porter?  I feel like I deserve a frosty one.  In fact I handed myself a beer earlier.  I didn't really enjoy it, because immediately after I opened it JD suggested we go out to dinner.  And I was eager to do that so I chugged the beer and off we went.  Waste of a good beer, really.*  Pity.

The dinner out was fantastic, though.  A new buffet opened near us.  Near enough that if it hadn't been dark we would have walked.  Given the day I've had, I foresaw us being run down at the intersection, so we drove.  But it's close.  It has sushi (with fish!  which I can't say about the other buffet near us) and a Mongolian-ish grill, and I think nine buffet tables.  I pretty much stuffed myself.  Stress eating.  But yummy!  I had many sushis.  Also other things.**  But the sushi was the best part.  Also?  Rainbow sherbet.  A tiny little ball of it, all rolled up from the neat ice cream scooper thing.  I love tiny little balls of sherbet.

Stress eating actually relieved some of my stress, as did hollering.  It was a big restaurant so you could do some hollering without offending.  People just assumed I was raising my voice to be heard.  I bet.  Also JD is large enough to absorb some hollering without taking damage.

Trouble, our old bastardly cat, was not feeling well last night.  Twice (TWICE!)**** he fell off the sofa with thumping sounds, then howled very unhappily.  He howled with overtones of pain, confusion, and indignation.  I got up and checked on him both times.  I hate it when old bastards are pained and confused.  They are supposed to be mean and angry.  Pained and confused sounds make me feel sorry for them, and then I'm confused too.

Between lack of sleep, moving pains*****, and unwelcome new security restrictions, my day pretty much sucked until I got home.  Oh, and the migraine that my lack of sleep led to.  Sherbet may fix migraines.  I may have to keep some on hand for next time.

I raise my virtual beer to you, Internet.  And to tomorrow.  May it be a bright shiny new day****** with fewer problems and more smiles.*******

*Yuengling Black and Tan

**Such as fried plantain, fried spring rolls, and a fried wonton.  I also ate some non-fried food but who really cares about that?***

***I had some vegetables and fruit, Mom.

****The second time about an hour after the first time, at which point I had just barely fallen asleep again.  I would not call me well rested today.

*****Holy excrement I hate moving.

******It's supposed to rain.

*******The real kind, not the one I do right before I eviscerate somebody.  Also, may I drop the f-bomb less around my coworkers.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

November 2011 hike journal day four


I finally got my sleeping bag system worked out last night, right before it was time to come home.  I managed to fasten my down quilt around my sleeping bag so it would stay put all night.  It's the small victories, isn't it?

The night was quite a bit warmer, so waking up was easier.  It's a huge effort for me to get out of the sleeping bag in the morning when it's freezing.  This morning I sat up to watch the sun come up, then got up and moving quite easily.  I was sad to have no more drink mixes left, but I knew I was getting a soda at the end of the day so that helped.

Oddly, a couple of women walked down to the shelter before anybody had left, looked around, and left.  It doesn't seem like a normal tourist destination to me, but there they were with a giant camera and pointing fingers.  I felt like an exhibit.

I had not remembered the big hill going south from the shelter.  Fortunately, we were not quite awake when we started it.  It would have hurt much more if we had been there for it.  We chugged up the thing in fits and starts.  Like yesterday, we went much faster than we did on the first two days.  Part of that is the lack of roller coaster, but part of it was just getting our trail legs back. 

I eagerly looked forward to lunch at Manassas Gap Shelter with my fully re-awakened thruhiker appetite.  Just before we got to the shelter, we smelled smoke.  Some yahoos were trying to get a giant log to catch.  At 65 degrees out.  They were burning whatever they could find under it to try to get it going, which included many leaves.  I sincerely hope none of them were from poison ivy, as Delee and I ate lunch in the path of the smoke.  And I really hope they didn't get the log to catch, because I'm pretty sure they were leaving after having lunch.  Grump.

We passed some of the last two miles singing "The Ants go marching one by one, hurrah, hurrah" (and so on).  It took me a while but I think I got up to twenty three.  A personal best and perhaps a new world record.  For all I know, anyway.

JD arrived at the trailhead shortly after we did, bearing icy cold sodas and a whole container of chocolate sex cookies.  OMG.  Is there anything better?  The ride home was pretty quick, and before long I was clean, dressed in non-stinky clothing, and devouring all the food in the household.   Thus ended a wonderful hike.

The author, with an old stone wall

A leaf the size of my boot

Sunset at Dick's Dome Shelter

Dawn view from my sleeping bag at Rod Hollow Shelter

Dang, trees can be pretty

November 2010 hike journal day three

Dick's Dome shelter

Today had some unexpectedly hard sections. But the weather was fantastic, so was the company, and the trail flew by. We did our nine miles in 6.5 hours total, including getting water and taking breaks. We're pretty happy about that.

Sky Meadow was slightly less pretty than I had hoped. The leaves were mostly gone. We enjoyed the big open space none the less. We were a little weirded out by the many snooty yuppies who passed us as we sat eating lunch.

Immediately after sky meadows was a "wildlife management" area, i.e. A hunting ground. I tied my blaze orange water bag to DeLee's pack, and right after that we heard lots of rustling. Three Hispanic men emerged from the woods carrying a deer tied to a branch. I called a halt for a few minutes so I didn't have to hike immediately behind the grisly procession.

Dinner was mashed potatoes with spam. I had pringles for an appetizer and a piece of chocolate for dessert. Mmm, nutrition. In my defense, I did have sprouts with lunch.

Tomorrow JD picks us up (after another day of hiking. ) I'm looking forward to returning to the world of a warm nose at night, vegetables, and chairs with backs. Frankly I don't feel grimy enough for a shower yet but I suppose I will just so they'll let me in at work on Monday. .

November 2010 hike journal day two

Rod Hollow shelter

A thruhiker rolled in after dark last night. Y2K is doing 20 miles a day on a tight budget. We had a good time talking to him, especially as it was pitch dark but still hours too early for sleep. 

In my two sleeping bags I slept quite well except for a disturbing dream. I dreamt I stayed in a hostel and when I got up in the morning somebody had hidden my clothes. I found everything but my pants. I was anxiously searching when I woke up, and was happy to leave that dream behind. 

We walked the rest of the rollercoaster today. I still don't see the big deal. They are mountains of no great size. I mean, yes, they kicked my ass, but any mountains would have after two months of no backpacking. DeLee compared our leg muscles to a combination of jello and wet noodles. I was quite happy to stop for the day after slightly less than seven miles. Kinda pitiful, but still a good time. 

Dinner was on the skimpy side. I planned for my regular section hiking appetite but I think I still have a thruhiker appetite. I'll go through my foodbag in the morning and ration out the remaining food. DeLee had a little extra I can use too. I won't starve but I may be hungry when JD picks us up. 

Saturday, November 13, 2010

November 2010 hike journal day one

Sam Moore shelter 

DeLee and I had a really nice, if short, walk from Snickers Gap to the shelter. We're in the feared "Roller Coaster" section of the Appalachia Trail. So far I am unimpressed. As roller coasters go it's dinky.  We didn't holler even once, though we did meet a dog who hollered after DeLee stopped petting it. (he was a shepherd lab mix with amazing blue eyes. )

It is shortly after six thirty and full dark. We aren't sleepy but we are already in our sleeping bags to stay warm. It's going to be a long night. I predict I will be ready to get up at dawn just so I won't have to lie on my pad anymore. 

Tomorrow we have more roller coaster (Woo! Put your arms up!) and more nonstop conversation, I hope. It's great to spend time with DeLee after I was gone all summer backpacking. 

Yay for good friends and beautiful fall leaves. :)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Thanks for yoga, India. Seriously. You rock with the stretching.

My friend L convinced me to make time to go to yoga tonight rather than working late(r).  And I feel a lot better.  Not stress-free, but better.  I don't think the tight knot around my heart is going to go away until December.  But I could feel tense muscles all over my body letting go as the teacher led us through the many poses. 

As much as I've worked my butt off for the last couple of weeks, it's amazing my pants stay up.*

Today is WedFriday for me.  Tomorrow JD drops me and Delee off on the trail and we have several days of my personal choice of relaxation, which is hiking up and down mountains all day.  It's difficult enough to keep my mind occupied and prevent me from thinking about things that might bug me, and it's tiring enough that I'll sleep like a log at night.  Combine that with several days with a wonderful friend, and it's all I could want.**

I was amused by several people who today who were shocked that I was hoping to walk thirty miles.  THIRTY MILES?  ON FOOT?***  And I was thinking we were doing super low mileage.  Non hikers are astounded whenever anybody walks farther than the parking lot.

I spent all day packing boxes for the upcoming move at work.  I'm pretty sure I'm going to hurt tomorrow.  Which is okay.  I need to use my upper body more.  All the hiking I did this year left me with T. Rex arms.  The riding hasn't helped much in that department, either.  Horse people get strong upper bodies through farm work, not riding.  I pay somebody else to feed Pluto.  Now I am a weakling.  Serves me right.*****

*I'm so hip, I can't see over my bum.

**That, and a coke.

***Or on your butt, depending on severity of terrain.****

****Maybe I talk about heinies too much.

*****Still, I feel like all those years of toting hay and water and what not should have counted for something.  Alas, bodies do not give credit for previous activities.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Sysadmin Habitrail

No time, Internet!  No time!  Too busy!  Must run in hamster wheel!

I think the pace at the office is affecting me.

Okay, A) did anybody take a moment to stare up at the moon tonight?  Crazy gorgeous.  It was just hanging there in complete disregard of my earthbound notions of gravity.  B)  No repeat on the horse ride tonight, which is fine.  Because I had a crapton of stuff to do that I wasn't sure when I could do it, so it's happening tonight.  C)  Everybody, and I mean everybody, has the farts.

That is all.

Monday, November 8, 2010

InterContinental Ballistic Lipizzan

My horse has a cat.

I went out to the farm to ride in the dark this evening.  It was our first dark ride of the year.  Pluto thought it was a little exciting and maybe a little scary.  And the scare factor was heightened by the cat.  He showed up when I was grooming Pluto, and that was fine.  He announced himself with a meow.  I petted him, and he went off to inspect some machinery.  But then he started following us.  I was wearing a headlamp, so I'd look back and there'd be two glowing eyes in the dark.  It's a quarter mile walk to the arena (or a half?  I've lost track) and he went all the way over there with us. 

I thought he'd run off, but when Tara and Timber came to the arena he showed up again.  And I commented on the cat, and Tara let me know that in fact Pluto was friends with the cat.  They hang out.  Pluto then demonstrated by nosebombing the cat, who was totally cool with it.

How did I not know that my horse had a cat?*

The non-cat portions of our ride were slightly excitable.  I decided that our first dark ride of the year could all be at the walk, except for the one spook/canter.** After I noticed I had nearly all my weight on one seatbone, I spent the next fifteen minutes or so focused on keeping my weight even.  Pluto totally got into it and started paying all his attention to my hipbones.  For some reason we both found it a really valuable exercise.  I kept the seatbones even and then expanded my chest, keeping my shoulders back.  To be honest he didn't seem to care much about my upper back posture.  But getting my shoulders back let me keep a lighter hand on the reins, and he kind of dug that too.  So for a night where it was dark and scary and catty out, we got some good work done.  He gave me a few excellent steps of leg yield.

Also, for the first and perhaps only time in his life, Pluto was the Good One tonight.  Timber was being a handful.  One wonders if Pluto deliberately was on good behavior after he noticed Timber acting up? There's a very good chance that the Good One will get extra cookies, so maybe.

Oh, let's see, last but not least:  Pluto has figured out that he should not use his teeth AT ALL when he gets cookies.  This is a welcome change.  Also he was stumbling around, tripping on the mounting block today, and it didn't worry him at all.  In the past he would have gone ballistic.***

*I'd have taken a picture but it was dark out.

**And that wasn't my choice.  Thank goodness for full seat britches.

***As in ICBM ballistic.  Lipizzans can go UP.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Excuse me while I kiss this guy

We had a lovely walk around the park today.  I've been so slack (because of my head being so busy) that it was actually a little bit strenuous.  It was really nice to have a chance to talk to Delee for a while.  The woods are getting colorful with leaves, but I think the most visually loud thing we saw was a bunch of mushrooms.*  I badly wanted to run but that wouldn't have worked out at all with company, so I didn't.

After hiking, we hustled back home and all took showers, then went over to the community center.  I don't want to be too negative, so I'll just say that community theater is not for me.  I enjoyed the orchestra, though.  And when they had the audience sing along.  That was nice.

I'm pretty bummed about only having one day of weekend.  It's my own fault, of course.  I didn't *have* to work yesterday.  I just would never have gotten those tasks done with others in the office.  And I may be constitutionally incapable of half-assing it.  Especially with NASA officials yelling at me periodically.  That was a motivator.

Looks like it'll be another busy week, with horseback riding after work two days, yoga one day, and then four days of backpacking.  Oy.  I'm going to need a vacation from my recreation.


Saturday, November 6, 2010

Glad I'm sleeping indoors tonight

It's chilly out today.  I'm decked out in high tech fabrics, but not for hiking.  I'm going out to ride the horse later.  Still, the clothes make me think about hiking.  And the cold makes me remember the not so good parts.  I can (and probably will) name a bunch of things I dislike about backpacking, and yet I crave it.  I'm looking at maps and wishing I could thruhike again.  Perhaps enumerating the dislikes will help me be happy with dayhiking and short trips.

In the order that they occurred to me:

Being cold while trying to sleep.  This SUCKS.  On the other hand, once you get warm it's awesome.  But I've spent nights awake because I was too miserably cold to sleep.

Slippery rocks.  These can show up anywhere.  They sucker me in.  They *look* dry and normal, but you put a foot on them and it's like you stepped on a banana peel.  Sometimes you know it's slick but there's no other way around (large tilted rocks at the tops of ridges, usually*) so you just hope for the best.

Eating trail food.  The gorp and bagels are only fun for so long.  Then you want real food.**

Missing your family and friends.  Oh lord.  This sucks.  If you get in with a tight group it's not so lonely, but if you're by yourself all day and all night?  Yeah.  Miss them bad.

Stinky clothes.  Stinky backpack.  Stinky tent.  The clothes smell good for about three minutes after you wash them, then they reek again.  A wind blowing past your armpits can make your eyes water.  It's embarrassing to get caught in an enclosed space with non-hikers, because you know they're wincing away.

Nope.  Still want to hike.  Dang!

*Kind of like this.


Friday, November 5, 2010

I'd step back if I were you

Did you ever take the SAT?  Do you remember what it felt like?  Frantically answering question after question, pummeling your brain for forgotten knowledge, making up answers if you just can't remember, carefully checking to make sure you're filling in the bubble for the correct question because god forbid you should be off by one and your life would be ruined forever?

Then the proctor makes you put your pencil down, and then you do it again.  The SAT has a lot of sections.

After taking the SAT, I left the building feel drained and a little lost.  Like maybe I had actually left a part of me back there in the booklets.  The brain part of me, if I had to guess.  I thought I would be happy to be done with it, maybe a little triumphant.  But no.  Sagging shoulders, empty head, sore all over from the physical tension that is the result of thinking really hard.

What I'm saying here is it was pretty rough.  The sort of thing you need to recover from.

My job right now is like taking the SAT every day, combined with frantic "oh crap Mom's going to be here any minute" housecleaning.  Every.  Day.  And I expect it to be like that through the beginning of December.

My coworkers are going to have to develop a sysadmin synonym for "going postal" if they don't leave me the hell alone to get my job done.  F-bombs are about to start flying around.

Also, am really sick of chivying others into doing what they need to do*.  Am starting not to care if they survive the month or not.

*There is a single bright shining exception whose name I can't use because I haven't asked, and it's kind of rude to call somebody out on a blog that way.  But her initials are DM.  :)**

**I just thought of another exception.  KS.  But this will not stop me from going sysadminny all over everybody else.

Thursday, November 4, 2010


I wore a hat nearly all day.  I didn't even think about it.  I didn't notice until I was in the car on the way home and I saw my reflection in the rear view mirror.  It's not a particularly nice hat, either.  It's just a black fleece watch cap type hat.

I gave up on stylish in favor of warm a number of years ago.  Especially when I have short hair.  To be fair, I work in a basement, and it's chilly in there.  When I go to other buildings I am prone to taking off a layer.  We're moving out of the basement in a few weeks (after more than a decade of occupancy) so my everpresent hat may disappear.

Seeing that hat in the mirror made me realize just how often I've worn a hat this year.  I bet my head has been covered more than it hasn't.  I wore a hat nearly all the time while hiking, and also while asleep on the trail to provide darkness.  Before that it was cold out, so I wore a hat most days.  My most naked head days have been since I got home from the trail.

I'm not really going anywhere with this, I just thought it was weird.  I wasn't raised to wear a hat.  I mean, I wasn't raised *not* to wear a hat either.  You just don't see my mom sitting around with a hat on.  But then she keeps her house warm.

Just noticed am still wearing hat. 

Well, it's chilly.  What you gonna do?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

When there are bees in your head

When you're super tired and buzzy, it's best just to go home.  A good meal and a nice rest make a world of difference.

I'm not sure that a bowl of nuclear chili and sleeping with El Nutso Muttso qualify, but it's all I got.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

More on hiking in the rain

Corey from the class of 2011 asked me some follow up questions, and I realized I left out some details.

What is enough protection from the rain?  For your precious gear, almost nothing is enough.  But you have to be able to carry it, so a giant reliable Tupperware container is probably out.  I used layers of protection.  My most precious items were in dry sacks, and those dry sacks were tucked into a trash compactor bag with the top rolled up.  Those precious items were my sleeping bag, dry and warm clothing, first aid / medicine, and electronics.*  My sleeping pad went in there too, but it wouldn't have been a big deal to wipe it down before I used it.

My food bag and cook kit, which were going to get wet anyway, went outside the trash compactor bag.**  In theory the food bag was a dry sack, but in reality stuff got wet inside when it was hung up in the trees at night.  So my food all went into heavy duty (freezer bag) ziplocs.  Name brand.  The cheap generics do not do the job as well.

My water sack didn't need any special protection.  :)

Outside of the backpack, things like my UV pen for water sterilization, my toilet paper, and my map all went into ziplocks.  On top of that, I had a pack cover keeping some moisture off the pack.  The pack cover was less efficient than you'd think, but it was better than nothing.

I also used a layering system on my body.  From the inside out:  wicking / mesh bra, wicking long sleeved shirt (because the raincoat sticks to wet bare arms),  high tech breathable shorts, hiking socks.  Raincoat***, rain skirt****,  gaiters over boots.  Baseball cap inside the raincoat's hood to help keep the hood off my face.  In long downpours, or cold rain, it can help to put your hands into plastic bags too.   Because losing the feeling in your fingers sucks.

Corey asked how I packed up in the rain.  There are two parts to this answer.  One, I tried not to pack up in the rain.  If I knew rain was coming, I made an effort to stay at a shelter or in a motel or hostel.  Two, I packed up everything inside my tent first.  I got myself dressed, put my packcover on the pack, and put my pack outside the tent up against a tree.  My tent goes on the outside of the pack for this very reason - so I don't have to deal with stuffing it in there in the rain, and so I can get it out and set it up quickly in bad weather.

I'm afraid there is no real secret to packing up a wet tent in the rain.  You shove it in the bag as well as you can and hope for dry times later.  Or a motel room where you can set it up to dry out.

Motel rooms are handy places to stay when it's raining.  I've done that more than once.  And while I was feeling guilty about not hiking in the rain, I'd run into other hikers who had done the same thing.  So it's not that uncommon.

If you do get soaked and you have to stay in your tent or in a shelter (or hammock, etc), hanging your clothes up to dry will not dry them out.  Wring them, let them drip dry, wring ends again, then bring the items into your sleeping bag with you, one at a time.    This is not a fast process but it works.******  Start with the essentials (say, your gloves and underwear).  Put the item on your torso, where you put out a lot of heat.  An hour per item will probably do it.  Whenever you wake up to roll over, if the thing on your tummy is mostly dry, put it in the foot of your bag and bring in something else.  And in the morning your clothing will be only mildly damp.

One other point is that neither a tent nor a shelter will keep you completely protected from the rain.  Rain will blow in sideways.  Condensation will build up on your fly and then splatter down on you as more raindrops shake the fly.  So in heavy rain, everything that is not essential should stay packed or covered.  In a shelter I've used my groundcloth as a supplemental wall to keep wind driven rain off of me.  In my tent I covered my face with my hat and waited it out.  My body heat was enough to keep my bag dry despite the tiny splatters from the ceiling of the tent in cool weather.  In hot weather, I took advantage of the misting by lying there naked.  It felt amazing after a hot, sweaty day.

A motel room is a great place to dry out
When possible, bring a kitten to camp for entertainment

*Except my iphone, which went with me everywhere.  In really serious driving rain I double bagged it in ziplocs.  In steady drizzle I double bagged it, but with the ziplocs open.  Ziploc one went in ziploc two oriented 90 to 180 degrees away from ziploc two's opening.  Ziploc two's opening was pointed down or to the side in my pocket, or up but folded over.  This way my earphones could snake out without getting the iphone wet.  It was a tricky balance.

**Btw I've tried using just the trash compactor bag, or just the drysacks.  Either method alone has led to wet gear.

***Marmot Precip

****ULA equipment.  Looks silly, works *great*.  Can also be used as a small tarp for shade or sitting on.  The skirt is a lot cooler than rainpants, temperature-wise.  And wet shorts chafe so this item is worth its weight.*****

*****That's a whole 'nother post.

******Better than not drying them at all.

Monday, November 1, 2010


I'm playing Bejeweled online.  The game lets you win "coins" which you can use to buy advantages in the game.  I am so anal about money that even though the coins are not real, and I don't use them in any other way, I can't bring myself to use them all up on the game.

Long distance hiking in the rain

When you're hiking, you have a lot of control.  You choose your own gear, food, and itinerary.  You often choose your companions.  You walk at your own pace.  You can listen to your own music.  You choose what days to take off.  But there is one thing you can't control.


Generally speaking, when you picture yourself hiking, you probably imagine nice weather.  What kind of masochist automatically pictures pouring rain?  But the reality is that if you are long distance hiking, you will eventually end up walking in the rain.  Or sooner than eventually.  Both hikes I started at Springer Mountain started in rain (and a little snow.)  Going out for long periods means you give up the ability to plan around the weather.  You can't say "Oh, let's not go this weekend.  It shouldn't be raining next weekend."  For one thing, you may not know if it's currently a weekend or not.* 

But for another, you're already there.  Likely you don't have handy transportation.  And you have a limited** amount of time (and maybe a limited amount of food) to get where you're going, so you can't just not hike when it's raining.  Thruhiking means walking when it's beautiful and also when it's utterly crappy out.

Both conditions often happen on the same day.  Multiple times.  Sun, rain, sun, rain, until you lose count.  To some extent, you might stop noticing.  You know your gear is stowed as securely as you can get it in your backpack, and you just keep hiking.  You probably think most about it when you want to get something out of your pocket, and remember that you shouldn't because moisture will damage it.***

Just hiking in the rain isn't so bad.  It can be fun.  Remember stomping in puddles?  Still fun now.  For a while.  But hiking in rain that goes on all day, or for several days or weeks at a time, loses the attraction.  Wet feet are unhappy feet.  How many pair of socks do you carry?  And how long do you think the dry pair will stay dry after you shove your blistered feet back into those wet boots?****

The first time you get soaked, you will probably want to wear your dry clothes the following day.  This is a mistake most only make once.  Because once you've gotten them wet, you have nothing dry to put on when you stop.  And that's hypothermia time.  It's vital to keep dry clothing in reserve.  And what this means, every damn wet morning, is putting on your cold. wet.  stinky. clothing.  It's shudder-worthy, but necessary.  Knowing that you have to do this is a survival skill.

If you're lucky, when you wake up with wet clothes, it's sunny and warm out.  You can put on those clothes and they'll dry while you wear them.  But likely it's not sunny and warm.  Likely it's still drizzly.  So put those dry clothes back in their drysack, camper.*****  Put on your wet stuff.  Scream if you must.  Don your raingear****** and get moving.  Stay moving until the time comes when you can set up camp and get back into your dry stuff and your nice warm sleeping bag.  Or you will be one very, very sorry person.

*Weekends are best defined by day hikers.  You see dayhikers for the first time in a while, it's probably a Saturday.

**Six months is still a limit.

***Your ipod, your toilet paper, your journal, your food, your guidebook, your one remaining dry item of clothing.

****15-65 seconds, depending on your socks.  Btw, don't wear socks at night if your feet are blistered.  Even dry socks hold in moisture.  Let your feet dry out as much as possible.

*****Or double layered trash bag, or ziplocks, or whatever method you use to keep dry things dry. 

******If you have any.  Some people don't.  I think they're nuts.