Wednesday, November 30, 2011

I want a redo

Everything started to go wrong when I was getting ready for bed last night.  I blame Nazca.  He was being all cute and cuddly on the guest bed, so I went in to pet him.  On the way back out, I rammed my right foot into the pet gate.  I didn't break any toes, but I bruised them pretty good.  In bed, every time I turned over my foot hurt as the blankets pressed down on it.  And I was having a particularly insomniac night anyway.  Between the two I didn't get a ton of sleep.

When I finally did fall asleep, I had a horrible nightmare.  I dreamed I was riding Pluto in a dressage test, and somebody shot him dead.  Right under me.  Two shots and he was gone.  In my dream I was sobbing, those horrible wracking sobs that tear you apart.  I woke up and realized it wasn't true, that it was just a dream, but the feeling stuck with me.  Then I started remembering Playboy's death.

Despite those cheerful thoughts I was able to fall asleep again for a couple more hours, though I was partially awoken by a thumping noise.  I figured it was burglars.  Or the cats knocking over the Christmas tree.  One of those.

The alarm went off at 7:24 as it was supposed to.  I finally struggled my way to consciousness at 7:44.  Upon stumbling downstairs I found the Christmas tree smushed onto the floor.  I think after they knocked it down they trompled on it because it's looking pretty flat.  I set it upright again but it leans now.  The poor star is pointing ninety degrees off to the side instead of up at the ceiling.  JD is going to try to tie the tree up to the ceiling, but given that it comes in three sections I think I'll wake up one morning soon to the top section dangling and the bottom sections on the floor again.  (Still, we have to try.  It's that or no tree this year.  Those rotten cats.)

It turns out that the ornaments we put on the tree weren't entirely unbreakable after all.

At breakfast I realized that we were just about out of milk.

All day it was cold and dark and gloomy - both outside and in my head.  I don't know why a dream affected me so much, but it did.  I'm glad I'll be seeing Pluto tomorrow night, to reassure myself that he's the same old loving, pushy, brilliant, hyper pudge that he's always been.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Word salad

I learned some new words today.  Nominal aphasia.  "Nominal aphasia (anomic aphasia, amnesic aphasia) is a severe problem with recalling words or names."  I do not have nominal aphasia, because I don't have a severe problem.  But I do have trouble with recalling nouns.  I frequently have to scramble for a phrase to describe the thing I am thinking of.  It's normal for everybody to occasionally be unable to think of a word.  However, in my case the lapses increased in frequency fairly suddenly after a severe concussion I sustained during college.

How severe?  Well, I was unconscious for a while.  Then I was conscious again for long enough to see a face over me.  Then I was unconscious.  I remember very little of the time surrounding the injury, and for the next week or so I had to be watched carefully because I had lost my short term memory.  The problem with losing your short term memory is you will end up brushing your teeth five times because you don't remember that you've already brushed.  Similarly, you can eat multiple breakfasts with no idea that you've done so.

I trace my noun problems back to that time.  Prior to that I'd had the normal "it's on the tip of my tongue" feeling that every other person occasionally gets.  Following that concussion (and, unfortunately, more concussions over the years) it became more frequent.

Fortunately, I've gotten used to working around it.  I seldom spend much time searching for a word.  Instead, I describe the thing and let my listener figure it out.  ("You know, it's tall and green and has nuts and birds like them?"  )  And then I move on.  Life is too short to worry about words you can't think of.

The tricky part is the other half of my word problem.  The half where the word I'm thinking of is not the one that comes out of my mouth.  Spinach instead of cabbage.  Door instead of window.  Vi instead of pine.  If I'm lucky, I hear the mental echo and correct myself.  If not, I have very confused friends.

It's interesting to me that it seems to be primarily an oral problem, for me.  My writing is mostly unaffected, although I am prone to inserting any word I might hear into the sentence I am writing.  Works great for dictation, not as well for trying to write while sharing an office.

On a completely unrelated note, I am looking at a USPS "Sorry we missed you!" note and wondering who sent me registered mail.  According to the post office, the sender's name is "Taiwan".  I don't think an island sent me mail.  I could be mistaken.  With luck I'll find out tomorrow.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

In orbit around a shrinking Pluto

Today we went out to see Pluto, visited stores multiple times, and put up Christmas lights.  I'm exhausted.  There needed to be more naps this weekend.

JD isn't happy with the entryway lights, which are cool white vs the warm white elsewhere.  So that may be changing soon.  Me, I want more lights of any kind.  We've been buying LED lights which are crazy expensive but with which you can string 45 strings of lights together.  So that's nice.  I'm thinking maybe we'll decorate the Japanese maple next to the house.  Or cut back the dead summer growth and line the flower beds with lights.  It depends on our gumption levels.

Pluto was happy to see me, but he was looking kind of bony in the hip region.

I am not thrilled, but I have only myself and my stupid back to blame.  He's not thin, just unmuscled.  I need to make the rounds of the horse community and try to find an appropriate person to lease him, I guess.  Or something.  In the meantime I gotta get him in the round pen and make him move around to build that butt back up.  I keep having thoughts of selling him, but so far I can't bring myself to do it.  And I  keep thinking my back will settle down in the future and I'll ride him more.

I am ambivalent.  Obviously.

Today is the last day of our four day weekend and I will be sad to see it end.  Though I will be happy to do fewer dishes.  Three people eating several meals a day at home use far more dishes than two people eating one or two meals a day at home.  Oy.  Perhaps I should have invested in some nice Chinette.  Does that come in a pattern?

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Starting to worry that my continued obvious happiness will become annoying to bystanders

Wow, another great day.  This is the best little mini vacation.

I woke up last today, just in time for JD to make me some breakfast. I left Lori to laze about on the sofa with a book, and I went off on a delightful hike.  No ticks, that I noticed.  Just flowing through the woods, listening to history podcasts.  I noticed that I'm a bit on edge, though. I kept jumping at noises.  I don't know if I've had bad dreams or what.

Typically I would get a good meal and then have a nap, but instead I  got a good meal and then started setting up the house for Christmas. JD hauled all the Christmas stuff out of the basement during half time for his football game.  We didn't get much done - mostly just the big tree and candles in a few windows.  I hope to get a lot of the railing lit outside tomorrow.

It feels so, so luxurious to know that I have ANOTHER day off tomorrow.  With Lori here it's been a very enjoyable time off from work.  I think having a friend here helps me view things with a fresh eye, and helps me to get out of my routine instead of sitting in front of my computer all the time.

Unfortunately my back has decided to start hurting on the left side.  After fifteen+ years of pain on the right, it's shifted.  Probably means some disk has degenerated a little more and started putting pressure on a new nerve.  It's not awful, just annoying (so far.)  Sometimes I feel like I have mild mutant progeria.  I keep hitting aging milestones too early.  Not the obvious ones like grey hair, hair loss, or wrinkles.  Just the internal ones having to do with my internal organs, joints, and brain.

I'm wise before my years, I am.  Or old.  But I prefer wise.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Good night, Chinatown

This morning JD got up in the dark and went to work.  Me, I stayed in bed.  I finally woke up after 8 and toddled downstairs for a leisurely breakfast of leftover blueberry pancakes.  I couldn't see any reason to wake Lori, so I left her to wake up on her own.  And she eventually wandered downstairs too.

Then we did something that I almost never do:  we went into the city to go to museums.  First we went to the Smithsonian's Museum of the American Indian, which was pretty awesome I must say.  Especially once we figured out where the exhibits were.  There were exhibits on modern American Indians, but also on indigenous peoples throughout the world.  Also, the "A Song for Horse Nation" exhibit is showing now.  There's a movie but it wasn't playing today, sadly.  Still, the exhibit was neat.  It talks about the history of the horse in American Indian culture, what changes the horse brought, and what they're doing now.  The Nez Perce are breeding a new Nez Perce horse from Akhal Tekes and Appaloosas.  There was a video playing which showed some of them, and they are some *nice* looking horses.  Very, very nice horses.  Also I was impressed that the guy on the video was in the "stallion field" - which was just a bunch of stallions hanging out together.  And they were no more nippy or fierce than your average band of geldings.  I know some breeds are managed this way, but I can't say that I've ever dealt with stallions in a group.  It's uncommon near me.

We thought it looked like a castle.

You know, I've lost track of what the hell this is, but it's pretty fantastic.

I'm pretty sure this is meaningful

Indians for the MTV generation


This told a whole big story.  I can't tell you the story.  But I can tell you that all those rectangular hoofprints in a row indicates travel.

Loved this horsehead saddle.

Hello hello hello hello

Metro is so not sexy

I was starting to flag and Lori was a bit too, so we headed out to lunch.  We went to "Meatballs", a new restaurant in Chinatown.  You get your choice of meatballs (regular, lamb, crab, chicken, or vegetarian,) your choice of base (salad, grinder, pasta, minis (i.e. two small slices of french bread) or creamy polenta,) a choice of several sauces, "extras" of which I don't remember much except for fritos, and a side.  I got chicken balls on polenta with tandoori sauce and spinach cooked with garlic.  It was *fantastic*.  The price is reasonable for DC food, and the portions were pretty huge. I couldn't finish mine.  I hope the place stays open.  It deserves to.  They need more seating, though.

I can't tell if this really conveys how appetizing my meal was.  Just looking at it is making me a wee bit hungry again.  Also?  Thank you, restaurant industry, for starting to serve sauteed spinach everywhere.  I love you.

BALLS!  (The word meat is in tiny letters just above it.)

Lori's all happy and pretty!  Also, she loves spinach.

Refreshed and revived, we walked over to the National Portrait Gallery, which turns out to share a building with the National American Art Museum.  This led to some confusion, as we thought we were heading into portraits and we saw.. it's hard to describe.  Not portraits, though.  At any rate, we made it through two levels of the building before we were entirely pooped.  Both of us were getting kind of achy.  Walking all day is fine, but standing around kind of kills.  So I have no idea what the third floor is like.  I will say that my very favorite part of the museum was the Black List - a collection of photographic portraits of famous or important black people.  They were just really good portraits.  Maybe I liked them more because they're of people I've heard of, in the news?  Or maybe it was just really good photography.  Either way, I recommend seeing the exhibit.
Elvis is everywhere

Yeah, I don't know either.

Proof that obesity is not a modern problem.

You gotta love a military man.

Very fine stained glass.

JD got in touch and we decided to meet in Chinatown for dinner.  Lori and I headed outside, and immediately found a parade!  Or so we thought.  It turned out to be a brass band and a police car blocking traffic with its lights on.  I was a little disappointed that it wasn't an actual parade, but I was happy to sit on the museum steps and enjoy the brass band for a while.
You'll have to trust me, there's a brass band in this picture.

The temperature started to drop so I persuaded Lori to go to Fadó, an Irish bar.  (It didn't take much persuasion.)  We had appetizers and beer while waiting for JD to arrive.  After that we weren't much in the mood for an entree, but appetizers plus dessert seemed like a good idea.  :)

Lori is getting dubious of all this picture taking

Probably you would rather see the food.  Or the awesome bar.  Sorry.

It was a long day of tromping around in the city, but the weather couldn't have been better and it was great to get to see new museums.  Before we went I had a whole bunch of things I wanted to see (like the Botanical Gardens next door to the American Indian museum, and the National Building Museum) but I think I'm museumed out for a little while now.  Maybe next time I'll plan to go only for two or three hours instead of a whole day.  Shew.

Good night, Chinatown.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Turkey Day!

And here's a happy turkey!
 Today I am grateful mostly for friends.  Our friend Lori flew in to spend with weekend with us.

JD and Lori before we laid waste to the bounty.  Technically, it was more of a Beef Day.

JD and Lori looking happier in the morning.  Possibly because we hadn't just spent two hours chopping and cooking and burning things and dropping things and possibly throwing things.

My friend Olli, who likes to recline the chair.

I'm also thankful for my house, which has sheltered me for coming up on 13 years. Which is only 10% of its lifetime but feels like a lot to me.


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

I won! I won!

Today was not what I would call a productive day.  I was pretty much just a warm butt in a seat today.  Or a cold butt in the hot seat.  The point is, my posterior was there.  On furniture.

I fretted my way through the morning, and inexplicably got in a loud argument with my coworker.  About unix.  About linux.  About which was which and why.  Apparently, this is one of the few issues he feels very strongly about.  It wasn't just the regular "I'm a man so if I yell louder than you I've won" kind of yelling.  He meant it. He was upset.  When I realized that even though I thought he was wrong, (not that I could prove it without a time machine or a personal reference I was never likely to have) I really didn't care, I backed off.  Wow.  I so do not ever need to be in an argument about linux.  I mean, not a philosophical/historical one.  Because I really DON'T care.

Between sitting and yelling, it got to be time to leave for Toastmasters.  I was all ready, with just the right amount of time to walk over there and not be early.  (Most people do not appreciate me being early.)  I walked out the door and across the parking lot and realized that I had left my pen on my desk.  Shit!  I turned around and hustled back into the building at a fast walk, mindful of my spine's pissy mood whenever the topic of running comes up.  When I got there, no pen.  WTF! I had a white pen with a green cap.  On my desk.  Specially placed there so I could take it to the meeting with me.  I stared at my empty desk for a few seconds, then grabbed a pen with no cap and resigned myself to writing on the inside of my jacket with my uncapped pen.  Then I walked back out, now on schedule to be late.  Dammit.

Once at the correct place, I walked in, signed the guest book, and sat down a minute before they started the meeting (five minutes late at 11:35.)  I am never going to be able to convince myself to leave in time to show up just on time again.  For the next year, or however long it takes me to work through the program, I'm going to be early to Toastmasters.

Surprisingly, even though I agitated about it all this week and this morning, I was fine in the meeting.  Calm.  A total turnaround from last time.  I wonder if Pluto has worn off on me?  That's how he learns.  He totally freaks out the first time, has major hissy fits, and two weeks later he acts like he's always known the thing in question.  We might have more in common than I thought.

As I was a guest, I had no formal role in the meeting.  Almost everybody has a role - to count ballots, or start the meeting, or keep track of grammar, and so on. The two speakers were two of the oldest members, so of course they had very good speeches.  I paid close attention, trying to pick out behavioral details.  Repeated use of a phrase for emphasis, facial expressions and gestures, movement about the room.  I'm sure my materials, once I eventually get them, will fill me in.  Both speeches were apropos.  The first encouraged us to take a break from our gadgets over the holiday, and to use that time to interact with the people in the room with us at home.  (An especially well directed message in a room full of nerds.)  The second was a reading of a speech written by another, in this case a story that I had only heard before in song form.  I was a little distracted by my constant mental comparison of the story to the song, but the story was good.  The story was "The Gift of the Magi" by O. Henry aka William Sydney Porter, and I recommend it in either short story or song format.  The song version (there are several) is "Gift of the Magi" by the Squirrel Nut Zippers.

Following that we entered the dreaded (by me) Table Topics portion of the meeting.  This time, the Table Topics Toastmaster decided to do a round robin format.  She started a story about Thanksgiving, and then the person on her right took up the thread.  We all had one to two minutes to add our part, and then the next person took over.  It was actually fun.  I can't believe I wrote that.  It was fun.  Not scary.  I enjoyed it.  I also didn't quite make it to the one minute mark, but I did better than last week.  Last week I made it 25 or 30 seconds before my brain went blank.  This week I made it to 55 seconds.  Without my own timer I had no way of knowing how long I had spoken, and I wasn't actually sure they were timing because I hadn't seen the green light go on for the first speaker.  Anyway, I said my part (which involved the dog stealing the turkey (based on a real incident in my life)) and turned to the fellow next to me.  My brain wasn't blank, it just seemed like the right point to hand the story over.  5 more seconds!  Next time I keep watch for the light and make something else up until it glows.

Almost every portion of the meeting is voted on - best speaker, best evaluator, best table topic.  And I am proud to report that today, on my second try, I won Best Table Topic.  (Technically, it was a tie between me and the vice president, but she graciously gave the ribbon to me.  I'm sure she has 497 ribbons.)  As it's a ballot vote, my five second lack didn't count against me.  And I have proof!

I wrote the date on the back and pinned it to my cube.
I am not proud of many accomplishments in my life.  Either they came too easily to me, or I felt that I had not achieved my goal as well as I wished.  But this stupid little ribbon?  This I am proud of. It is a concrete thing showing that I am overcoming a phobia.  And it's something I did all by myself.  I feel as though I have just taught myself to play oboe and have won my first amateur oboe contest.  Also, as I am hypo-competitive, I have had very few opportunities to win contests in my life.  Although now I suppose I'll have an opportunity every two weeks.

It's just a guess, but I think I am going to have difficulty with humor when it comes to the real speeches.  If I do have to have people hear me speak in a group, I am most comfortable making a joke.  I *always* make a joke.  Jokes are not always appropriate.  But I will deal with that when the time comes.

I was pretty high on life with my fancy ribbon when I left the meeting, but I was immediately brought back to earth on the walk back:


A tick.  Yay.  It didn't bite me of course but I'm feeling mighty paranoid now.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

It was blurry, but nice

It was a no-good, dreary, rainy day.  It was like that yesterday too, but sans rain.  At least yesterday I could go outside, even if I couldn't go out and soak up some sun.  Yesterday I went out and walked for a couple of miles, and there were even some pretty leaves.

See?  Pretty.

Today it rained.  Pretty much the whole day.  I went to see my dentist, which might have been awful if he were somebody else, but my dentist is not awful.  We always have good conversations.  And his daughter, whom I like, works for him, and I love to listen to their back-and-forth.  So that part was nice.  Not so nice when he was doing hurty things to my gums with small metal instruments, but nice other than that.

Around two today, on the second day of the sun not having come up and what the hell?  The sun is supposed to come up EVERY DAY.  It's in the rules.  The physical, astronomical rules.  But no.  No sun.  Stupid sun.

Anyway, around two today, I got an email asking me to go to another building.  Something that should have been working was not working, and somebody needed to go push a button.  You would think that at NASA we would have button-pushing robots, or telepathically stimulated on switches, or something.  Instead, we have a middle aged system administrator who walks over and pushes the button.  Cheaper.  More reliable.  No firmware updates.

I was happy to get the email.  I had been trying to convince myself to go for a walk out in the rain, and the parts of me that dislike being wet had been winning.  I took off my glasses first.  I am not really very near sighted, and I don't need the glasses for either walking or button-pushing.  And I hate the raindrops on them.  So glasses off.  Then I put on my rain skirt (see yesterday's blog) and my raincoat, and I stuck my phone in my pocket, and off I went.

I don't really mind walking in the rain.  What I mind is my face getting wet.  This is only a problem in light rain, when those tiny raindrops are more like mist blowing.  Very wet mist.  Today was a very wet misty rainy day.

I walked over and hit the button, and stayed to verify that the thing had really turned on.  Then I walked back to my building and emailed the fellow to let him know that his machine was working again.  Then after all that, he emailed me to say that he hoped the weather wasn't bad.  He had heard it wasn't nice out.

Huh.  I was mostly thinking about what a lazy git I was for not going out on my regular walk.  I just needed a nudge.  I had forgotten that in fact most people would not have walked the mile over to the other building.  Most people would have driven.  Or made an excuse.  "Can't do it right now, in the middle of something important.  Will get to it first thing in the morning.  (When the sun is out.)"  It would not have made a nice, if damp, change for them. 

I think this is one of those things that sets hikers aside from other people.  It's not that we necessarily enjoy going out in the rain.  Although some do.  Or being uncomfortable.  (Although some do.) It's that we've forgotten that going out in the rain isn't a regular thing.  It's just one more way to have a walk.  A sunny day, a windy day, a day with mosquitoes, a day with deer, a day with rain.  They're all different types of walking days.  

Love walking days.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Less expensive hiker things

An aside:  I'm pretty disappointed in my digestive system.  Today I ate lunch and my the lower half of my abdomen swelled up like there was a basketball in it.

I really enjoyed that year of eating.  I'm going to miss it.

Okay, so yesterday I suggested things to buy your hiker if you're rich.  Which I realize most of us aren't.  Today I thought I'd point at the more affordable things that most hikers are likely to use.

Like a pepsi can stove.  Totally not fancy, but lightweight and very functional.  This, or a variation on it, has been my caping stove for a few years now.  You can make your own (my first was homemade) or buy one for $12.
AntiGravityGear Alcohol Stove .4 oz Pepsi-style

Also, a pot cozy.  I made my first several from Reflectix purchased at Lowe's.  It's meant for insulating water heaters, but it works fine on camping pots.  ~$10 if somebody else makes it.  Really if you're going to need more than one, it pays to buy the roll of Reflectix.  And some metal tape.  That and scissors are all you need to make your own cozy.
AntiGravityGear Pot Cozy

The tent I use these days is a Lightheart Awning Tent.  I used to use a Tarptent Rainbow all the time, and I still have it.  The LightHeart tents are effectively regular tents - there is a ton of mesh, so you get no condensation.  In suspect weather, that's my preference.  For good weather, the Rainbow has more useable space inside, IMHO, and can be set up free standing.  That can be very handy.  The Rainbow is mostly a silnylon surface, so in heavy rain (common in Appalachia) you definitely will get misting inside.  Which is annoying.  However I note that Henry is now selling a new tarptent that looks competitive with the Lighthearts - The Tarptent Notch.  All of the tents are in the $200-$260 range, which is fairly standard for a one man tent.
The Lightheart Awning tent
Tarptent Notch
Tarptent Rainbow

Unfortunately, I don't know of any really reasonably priced sleeping bags.  Maybe on clearance?

Most hikers will want a knife.  They don't need anything more complicated than a tiny swiss army knife.  You need a small blade and a little pair of scissors.  That's it.  $13.  Like this:
Victorinox Swiss Army Classic Translucent Pocket Knife

I don't have a handy link, but trash compactor bags are very nice and helpful.  Maybe they don't make great gifts, but they make *great* pack liners.  Because pack covers?  Do not keep backpacks dry.

Also, pint sized freezer Ziplocks are very, very useful for repackaging foods into single portions.

Your hiker probably has very specific sock needs for hiking, but most everybody could use a nice fluffy pair of wool or fleece socks for pampering their feet at night.  $10-$20 depending on how fluffy we're talking.

They aren't common but they're one of the most useful items I've used:  a rain wrap.  It's basically a waterproof skirt.  It might not sound like much, but after a few hours in the rain, your upper half might still by dry (not likely!) but your lower half definitely won't be without more protection than a rain coat.  Dryish pants can make or break your day.  $30

Also, a 3 ounce wind jacket is nearly indispensable.  You can hike it in it when it's too hot for a raincoat but too cold and windy for just a shirt.  It makes a great layering item too - stopping the wind makes a huge difference.  A bit pricy at $80, but I've yet to have one tear or otherwise wear out.

I use these gloves for everything, and as such I go through a pair every year or two.  I love, love, love them.  Power Stretch gloves.  They're on the order of $25.  I have enough feeling to handle gloves and zippers in them - I only have to take them off to pee or fiddle with my iphone.  Which might be too much personal information.
Mountain Hardwear Power Stretch Glove

Sunday, November 20, 2011

What to buy your hiker (if you're rich)

Titanium Jetboil stove   I've been using alcohol stoves for years.  I used to use a canister stove but it was wobbly and scared me.  Before that I used a Whisperlite and had a couple of scary "oh god I might catch the forest on fire" incidents, so those were out.  Alcohol suits me really well, and I'm fairly skilled at using it.  Only problem is, at lower temperatures its vapor pressure drops and it doesn't want to light or stay lit.  So, back to canister stoves for cold weather.  Jetboils seem to be beloved by those who use them, by my observation.  The stove itself is securely attached to the pot, so no wobbliness issue.  And there are little feet you can attach to the canister, just in case.  They've been out for a few years, and I've watched hiker after hiker just be totally in love with their Jetboil.  I started reading up about them this fall, and found that they now make a titanium version.. which is to say a lighter weight version.  8.5 oz not counting the extra feet.  That includes the pot and its built in cozy. Which isn't shabby, actually, even compared to my virtually weightless alcohol stove made out of a soda can.  You can boil 12 liters of water (according to the website) using one of the fuel canisters, which weighs 6.8 oz when new.   I figure a 20 oz soda bottle of alcohol probably boils 10 liters of water for me.  It could boil more, but I find it difficult to be accurate when preloading the stove with alcohol.  I err on the side of too much, which is better than running out of alcohol before the water boils.  My new .75 liter pasta pot weighs 3.2 oz, and the cozy for it probably weighs half an ounce or so.  Say 4.5 oz for pot plus stove, plus ~10 oz for my fuel.  14.5 oz. vs 15.3 oz for the Jetboil and a full fuel canister.  Which I guess isn't a fair comparison, but that's the smallest increment of fuel I can carry for it, at least when it's new.  Basically, it's a wash, weight-wise.  Wow.  How did I never do that math before?  (It's actually worse than that, because I was carrying a larger, heavier pot before.. and a woolen mitten just for handling it when it was hot.)

It looks like every other Jetboil.  I'm just taking their word on the titanium.

Zpacks Hexamid tent  Oh these are light.  So very light.  You can get a tarp version that is 3.2 oz.  Perhaps you didn't hear me clearly.  I said THREE POINT TWO OUNCES.  That is insane.  The tent version (with netting, which I would totally get if it were me because bugs have an unnatural love for me, but if not for that who could resist the 3.2 oz tarp?) is 9.3 oz.  And you probably want to get the groundsheet, because this tent has mesh on the bottom, not a regular floor.  Strange but true.  You'd have to read the description to find out why.  Also, there is an "extended beak" which adds .9 oz, but gives you privacy to do things like change your clothes.  Which is nice.  So all things considered it's probably closer to 15 oz, which you must admit is not much for a fairly sizeable tent.  I mean it's 9 feet long and over five feet across at the middle.  It's approaching Taj Mahalish.  No pool though.

Taj-ish Zpacks Hexamid Solo Plus

Zpacks ground sheet  These are made to go into the Zpacks Hexamid tent, but are equally useful in a shelter or just on the ground.  They're made out of Cuben fiber so they're very tough and light.  The ends are sewn together so they stand up like a bathtub - keeping your stuff inside and rainwater out.  They might be a little large if you're in a really crowded shelter, but you could always fold the edges in a bit.

Zpacks Cuben groundsheet, Solo Plus size

Gossamer Gear LT4 adjustable trekking poles    Okay, so most everybody uses trekking poles.  Or not everybody, but enough so as to make no difference.  We use them for hiking, we use them instead of real tent poles, we stick them in the ground and dry our socks over the handles.  Regular poles typically start at 8 oz per pole and go up from there.  These are 3.6 oz per pole for the regular size.  They are definitely not as sturdy as some of the heavier poles, though.  My classic "trip over the hiking pole, bend it, and continue using it for two years" move would result in "trip over hiking pole, break it, have to carry it back out of the woods with me."  The LT4 is nice because it's adjustable.  They have non-adjustable ones which weigh less.  I don't know about you, but I'm constantly adjusting the height of my poles, so those don't appeal to me.

Oddly, I found no picture of these that showed one full length

Skhoop insulated mini skirt   I can't be the only one whose butt gets cold every night.  Wear a mini over your tights.  Wear it in your sleeping bag.  Wear it around the campfire.  Protect your parts!

Suitably, a tiny picture of a mini skirt

Friday, November 18, 2011

All the things in my head are unrelated

A few of my favorite pictures from my hikes in the last few months.  In retrospect?  Maine was really effing hard.  Seriously, who decided the trail in Maine should be insanely athletic?  Why? Isn't walking 2000 miles hard enough?

In less hikey thinking, I made a snap decision to go to the movies today.  "Breaking Dawn, part 1" came out today.  I went directly from work to the movie theatre.

I missed the sparkles.  (No daylight vampire shots.) And frankly the wolves did not spend enough time without shirts on.  But, I can see why they cut some stuff.  They already had to break it into two halves, and if they had kept true to the book they'd probably have had to break it into quarters.

Spoilers ahead.  Don't say I didn't warn you.

Things I liked:  the sympathetic portrayal of Leah. The skeletal-to-healthy transformation.  Bella changing into sneakers at her wedding.  The sympathetic portrayal of Rose.

Things I missed:  wolves running laps, Bella suffering during the transformation, Leah and Seth as they get used to being Jacob's Pack.

Things I can't wait for:  Bella's first day as a vampire.

Also, and completely unrelated:  World, you must stop doing the cat claw gesture.  You look like a buffoon.  Nobody who has ever made cat claw gestures with their hands has ever been effective.  You must stop now.