Random Access Memories

January 19, 2015

Too bad…

by @ 4:54 pm. Filed under Uncategorized

Seems like Kokopelli Wineries in Chandler, AZ and their wines are no more. (Their phone number and website are defunct) I really loved their “Sweet Lucy” red. Oh well. [image: Inline image 1]

Never thought I would see something like this again

by @ 12:53 pm. Filed under Uncategorized

December 28, 2014

Society for the Prevention of Useless Giving

by @ 5:06 pm. Filed under Business, Personal, Politics

Anyone know if this has a modern-day equivalent? I would love to get involved with it.

December 9, 2014

I don’t want to leave you behind, but I will to protect myself

by @ 10:43 pm. Filed under Personal

You’re broken, you have issues, you have pain. Yes, I understand that, we all do.

You’re uncertain, and scared, anxious and worried. Yes, we all are.

You want the pain to go away, you want to feel confident, you want to stand tall. Yes, you and me both.

You want help. Yes, so do I.

And somehow the fates of the universe brought you to my side.

And I can offer my hand, and my kind words, or my tough love.

To help you stand back up and keep walking towards your goal.

I can help you up when you trip, but I can’t carry you to the end of the challenge, i’m not strong enough.

I can fix the car to get you back in the race, but I can’t drive it for you, I don’t have the patience.

I can draw you a map and put it in your hand, but I can’t make you follow it, I don’t have the energy.

I can pull you back from the brink, but I can’t drag you down the steps from the top of the tower, I don’t have the time.

I can make you smile, but I cannot paint a smile on your face forever, I don’t have the skill.

You are my sidekick, my partner, my friend, my playmate, my accomplice, my evil twin.

But you are not my burden to bear. You are not my duty to serve. You are not my clay to mold and shape.

I will not force you to change, I will not demand that you find happiness, I will not tell you what to be.

But I will offer my help, my kindness, my doggedness alongside your own efforts to reach your own ends.

But I cannot, and will not, do it alone.

October 23, 2014

On binding arbitration

by @ 2:11 pm. Filed under Business, Personal

So, I went down to a temp agency today to sign up. They had a myriad of forms to be completed of course. One in particular caught my eye.

It was the opt-out form for their “binding arbitration” agreement. While I could (And had to) turn in the agreement to allow binding arbitration to be used in the event of a dispute on the spot the opt-out form had to be faxed or emailed to a specific department.

I challenge this. It appears quite clear it is a way to make sure recruits end up forced into binding arbitration if there is an issue. Very few will actually follow up and send in the opt-out form. (I took a photo of mine and mailed it while waiting for the interview)

I suppose it’s just one more example of corporate USA complicating things in the hope it will gain them an edge.

September 30, 2014

Unimpressed by the Washington Times

by @ 11:21 am. Filed under Business, Media, News, Personal, Politics, Religion

So, somehow I ended up on a mailing list for the Washington Times. Which is odd because I do not recall ever signing up for such a thing, and checking my back emails shows no signup confirmation.

The ad is titled: “Why is THIS Bible verse changing atheists’ minds?”

Now, maybe i’m asking a lot, but I don’t expect media outlets that I might be interested in readon news on to thump the bible. It’s apparently from this nutjob company called “Health Revelations” that claims there is a cure for cancer hidden in the bible.

And after a lengthy sales pitch explaining how you can cure your cancer it asks you to claim your “free gifts” by of course signing up to pay them money: “1-Year Subscription (12 issues) for just $74.00″

Now I know the Times is just looking for advertising revenue, but it strikes me as poor judgment when their ads are more likely to stop people from reading their site than to get them clicks and more readers. This is what I expect from Faux (Fox) News, not “real” news sources.

September 4, 2014

Ok, i’ve had enough.

by @ 12:04 pm. Filed under Personal, Politics, Religion, Server Admin

I’m finding that some people want to come here to critique my views, attitudes, etc. And yet there is no way for me to return the favor towards them. (IE. Trolls) Those people are now banned from posting here. Have a nice day.

July 21, 2014

Just a little light repair work on the van.

by @ 3:00 pm. Filed under Uncategorized

July 20, 2014

Such a great day

by @ 3:25 pm. Filed under Uncategorized

Someone broke into my car today and stole my custom homemade picnic bag. Such a bummer, I’ll have to build a new one.

Thankfully they ignored the tools, the ipod touch in the console, the stereo, etc. I figured a minivan would be a low-value target for such things.

Oh well, right?

July 6, 2014

Ok, let’s get this out there and get it over with.

by @ 11:07 am. Filed under Personal

So, recently Colleen (My father’s wife) commented here on a post I made over a year ago.

Somehow she thinks that she can complain about me being dramatic and negative all the time. What does she think this will accomplish exactly?

Obviously she is under the impression that i’m wrong, she is right, and that her being insulting to me is the way to change my mind.

Furthermore when I called her and asked what else she wanted to bitch about she did not want to talk to me. So the impersonal attitude of posts and emails is just fine to be insulting in but she can’t dare deal with someone on the phone.

But anyway what I really want to say is why I will never trust anything she says ever again. Because of family.

She believed her son, without any doubts over me. End of story.

Her family matters more to her than her husband’s family. Fine, terrific, but it kind of makes her conservative attitude that “family matters” really mean “some family matters”. And that I am not one of the family that matters.

So now we have all-out-war. Why? Because that’s what Colleen wants. Why else dredge up a post from a year ago and make a drama-filled comment on it?

I don’t want to fight with her. Nor do I want to fight with my father, but he never wants to actually talk to me anyway. He just lets Colleen talk for him. I find this a real shame. However my father has also showed me this behavior. He mentioned once that he believed a friend rather than believe me, his own son.

How am I supposed to take that? It’s been made clear to me that they do not value what I have to say if what they hear from anyone else they trust disagrees with it.

So, i’m done trying. They have made it clear there is no point in trying. They do not want to be logical with me, they just want to believe what they want to believe. They want to remind me over and over how I do not live up to their expectations and desires, well, tough shit.

Why do I fight? Because in the end I thought family meant something. And I fought to try to get them to understand that I am my own person and I am allowed to be my own person and that I have the right to be accepoted for that.

But little by little I am reminded that I am not their family.

May 23, 2014

On overqualification

by @ 4:56 pm. Filed under Business, Personal, Politics, Technology

Recently I applied for an opening I found on Craigslist. I received the following reply:

“Thank you for your interest in this position. It would appear yours skills are above the stated entry level for this position. We will keep your resume on file should any positions befitting of your skills open in the near future.”

I consistently hear from conservative minded folks that “There is always work out there if you want it bad enough, you just have to swallow your pride”. Well fucking guess what, sometimes there isn’t, even if you do swallow your pride.

What I also think is funny is this came from the “QA Manager” and contains a spelling error.

May 1, 2014


by @ 6:50 am. Filed under Uncategorized

Trailer hitch lock vs cement curb. No contest.

March 30, 2014

I don’t know what this is, but I kind of want one.

by @ 5:14 pm. Filed under Uncategorized

March 18, 2014

What a day

by @ 3:57 pm. Filed under Uncategorized

Rough day at work, then the bus driver closes the door on me when I try to get on the bus. Time to go home and relax.

March 10, 2014

Overheard in the office this morning

by @ 7:06 am. Filed under Uncategorized

Carrie: “I don’t know what this is, but I’ll eat it.”

March 3, 2014

Front end Vs. back end security

by @ 8:59 am. Filed under Business, Personal, Technology

So we are all aware that when we use our bank accounts there are multiple types and layers of security.

When we login to them online that is one secure portal. Often with multiple passwords, verification questions, pictures we choose to make sure it is us, etc. And when we use the cards and the bank takes or stores that information it is another layer. Unfortunately I cannot tell you how secure that one is or what methods they use because, well, they don’t tell us.

But increasingly it seems that back end is less secure than we think. The recent Target mess showed how the point of sale terminals can be hacked. And just today the replacement card I got after that compromise was itself somehow compromised.

Someone tried to run a large transaction at a drug store 2800 miles away. While this transaction failed due to some level of security the bank was still unable to tell me if the attempted transaction was via Credit Card signature or PIN code.

Let’s think about this a second. So we are relying on their security, which does not record the simplest of details of an attempted transaction.

I don’t know about you, but this worries me far more than having my card compromised.

February 8, 2014

It is looking a tad white out there

by @ 10:54 pm. Filed under Uncategorized

February 5, 2014


by @ 7:18 am. Filed under Uncategorized

This is one of those mornings when it is somewhat less enjoyable to live in Seattle. The thermometer read 26f when I headed out the door.

February 2, 2014


by @ 4:34 pm. Filed under Uncategorized

Good day to go out to eat with Velma. Everyone else is watching the stupor bowl.

January 4, 2014


by @ 9:41 pm. Filed under Uncategorized

My first homemade LEGO bricks.

January 1, 2014

Hoorah, I found them!

by @ 10:38 am. Filed under Uncategorized

Was hoping I still had the old LEGO bricks around.

December 27, 2013

Rainbow web

by @ 4:14 pm. Filed under Uncategorized

I saw this on my way to work this morning, figured it was worth taking a picture of.

December 25, 2013

A solid signal that my desire to leave the USA is justified.

by @ 7:25 am. Filed under Personal

So this quote was mentioned to me recently:

“It is understandable that the perspectives of men and women on safety are so different–men and women live in different worlds…at core, men are afraid women will laugh at them, while at core, women are afraid men will kill them.”
- Gavin de Becker, The Gift of Fear: Survival Signals That Protect Us from Violence

And it struck me, this is true. And it shows that this issue is relative, not universal. This is something that is based on culture, change your nation or region and you change your culture. Levels of violence in Iceland for example are radically different than those in the USA.

I can’t fix the level of violence in the USA unfortunately, but I can decide to run from it.

December 23, 2013

Gifts that get given for the wrong reasons

by @ 9:15 am. Filed under Uncategorized

Let me start by saying I like giving gifts. I also tend to like receiving gifts. But I dislike gifts given that have no real “meaning”.

Case in point, this gift today from the temp agency that I work with. It was a leather portfolio. With the company name embossed in HUGE ugly letters on the front. (I dislike such corporate advertising, but I digress)

Why did they give me this? I am guessing because I make them money, without them doing much of anything. Which to me is the wrong reason to give gifts.

Perhaps it’s just me. But even “obligatory” gifts should only be given when someone is doing meaningful work in my opinion.

December 20, 2013

Suddenly, everything went white.

by @ 7:28 am. Filed under Uncategorized

Snowed last night. Thankfully it is above freezing out so the roads are not iced. Looks pretty.

December 13, 2013

Not something you see every day.

by @ 9:38 am. Filed under Uncategorized

I walked past this Weiner Mobile on the way to work. Didn’t think these things existed anymore.

December 11, 2013

Stained glass at the Neptune theater.

by @ 7:37 pm. Filed under Uncategorized

Just… Wow… I have no good words to describe this.

December 10, 2013

Wickr, for those times when you really do not want anyone to hear you

by @ 10:13 am. Filed under Personal

I heard about this on NPR recently. It is a free chat app for android and ios that offers extremely powerful encryption and other security functions.

Nico Sell, co-founder of Wickr told Cnet recently that the FBI had approached them and asked for a backdoor. They said no.”

Now I’m not a tin-foil-hat-wearing nut, but I think security is something we should just “have”, not something we should have to think about.

December 9, 2013

The frozen fountain at my office

by @ 3:43 pm. Filed under Uncategorized

I thought this looked cool so I took a photo with my new tablet

Perhaps it’s time to do away with the power of the US States.

by @ 10:14 am. Filed under Personal

So today is the last day for states to submit proposals to Boeing to get them to bring their new 777X proram to their state.

Each state is stumbling over itself and the other states to throw money, perks, tax cuts, etc at Boeing. In the end who loses? The US worker.

The states should not be allowed to screw over each other this way, it is not good competition, it is bad competition.

December 7, 2013

And we celebrate the life of Nelson Mandela. Who also happens to have been a terrorist.

by @ 5:14 pm. Filed under Personal

Even the US government considered Mandela a terrorist until 2008. He was jailed for 27 years for acts of terrorism.

I’m not poking sticks at good or bad here, just saying that perhaps we should be careful how we view labels.

One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.

November 21, 2013

Same day shipping, for $3.99

by @ 5:32 pm. Filed under Personal

So I ordered the new Nexus 7 2013 edition today from Amazon. And while I have prime I saw at the checkout “get it today for an extra $3.99″. Hrrm, yeah, hard choice.

So I did it, ordered at 10am and got it at 4pm. Pretty sweet. :)

November 13, 2013

Goodbye Dyndns!

by @ 3:45 pm. Filed under Personal

So I have had a free account with dyndns.com (now dyn.com) which was once a paid account in 2005. As some of you are aware they started requiring that people login every 30 days to maintain their free accounts.

This does not sit well with me, why? Because it’s flatly stupid. If you want to migrate your free users to being paid users you try the carrot approach first. If that fails THEN you try the stick approach.

The heavy stick approach lost them my repeat business. Rather than submit to their demands I figured out how to update Comcast’s dynamic IP at my house onto my Dreamhost hosted domains myself. This means I do not need them at all anymore, too bad, so sad.

I wonder how many other people have jumped ship.

November 12, 2013

My current world

by @ 8:48 am. Filed under Personal

So, some of you might know that things are looking rather decent for me at the moment.

I have a steady job at Amazon (Cheers!) and my private life is trucking along decently (Cheers again!)

Now I just need to figure out how to handle no time and money after a long stretch of time and no money. Hrrm…

Google and Android

by @ 8:40 am. Filed under Business, Personal, Technology

So Android is “supposedly” open source.

And in general that is true. But I found this article: http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2013/10/googles-iron-grip-on-android-controlling-open-source-by-any-means-necessary/3/ that shows that Google really controls Android much more than I realized.

As the article states:

While it might not be an official requirement, being granted a Google apps license will go a whole lot easier if you join the Open Handset Alliance. The OHA is a group of companies committed to Android—Google’s Android—and members are contractually prohibited from building non-Google approved devices. That’s right, joining the OHA requires a company to sign its life away and promise to not build a device that runs a competing Android fork.

Acer was bit by this requirement when it tried to build devices that ran Alibaba’s Aliyun OS in China. Aliyun is an Android fork, and when Google got wind of it, Acer was told to shut the project down or lose its access to Google apps. Google even made a public blog post about it:

While Android remains free for anyone to use as they would like, only Android compatible devices benefit from the full Android ecosystem. By joining the Open Handset Alliance, each member contributes to and builds one Android platform—not a bunch of incompatible versions.

This makes life extremely difficult for the only company brazen enough to sell an Android fork in the west: Amazon. Since the Kindle OS counts as an incompatible version of Android, no major OEM is allowed to produce the Kindle Fire for Amazon. So when Amazon goes shopping for a manufacturer for its next tablet, it has to immediately cross Acer, Asus, Dell, Foxconn, Fujitsu, HTC, Huawei, Kyocera, Lenovo, LG, Motorola, NEC, Samsung, Sharp, Sony, Toshiba, and ZTE off the list. Currently, Amazon contracts Kindle manufacturing out to Quanta Computer, a company primarily known for making laptops. Amazon probably doesn’t have many other choices.

While I use and enjoy Android this is rather disconcerting to learn. I suppose time will tell how this all plays out.

August 29, 2013

Note to self

by @ 7:50 am. Filed under Personal

Do not try to have a conversation about physics with someone that calls Stephen Hawking, “some damned cripple”.

August 12, 2013


by @ 3:30 am. Filed under Personal

So a long-time friend of mine has published his first book on Amazon. I’ll give him a shameless plug here. :)



by @ 3:27 am. Filed under Personal

It’s kind of odd to look around my apartment and see all the things that I don’t need. Or all the things connected to a pastime I do not indulge in anymore.

I guess I need to take a shovel to the place and do a purge. I also need to reevaluate my list of enjoyments. Kind of funny how the “what” matters much less now and the “who”, “where”, “when” and “why” are critical. I think that might violate some law of US materialism, but I think I can live with that.

I realized recently that I was using my “powers” of solving problems or fixing things to try to make up for my lack of social skills. Which tends to go over relatively well, especially when people need their computer fixed. But the outlay of materials, time and money on projects where the interest is minor and the fulfillment is unlikely has been one of my major failures.

Interesting, so interesting.

August 10, 2013

Things change

by @ 1:53 pm. Filed under Personal

Some of you near to me have noticed that I am actually *GASP* happy lately. Yes, things for me have changed in drastic ways. I found a group of people that I enjoy being around. And I have gotten myself involved in a torrid love affair.

I guess for now I am staying in Seattle. Time will tell, but it is looking more likely.

In other news my father and his wife have decided that now is the time to try and inflict their world views on me again. (I suppose this happened because USAA tried to contact them on my behalf and ask them to sign up for insurance so I could) It’s actually kind of funny how they think they matter to me anymore. I did not get to choose my family, but I now get to choose who I want to care about, they would do well to learn that.

Sunny outside today, I think I’ll go for a walk and play Ingress for awhile.

August 3, 2013

And life changes channels.

by @ 1:42 pm. Filed under Personal

It’s nice when what one believes is situational depression turns out to in fact be situational depression.

June 29, 2013

Why do we treat mental healthcare so differently than normal healthcare?

by @ 9:03 am. Filed under Personal

So patient #1 goes to a doctor and says “I can’t smell things, flowers and food have no pleasure for me”. The doctor notices he has a broken nose that never healed right. The doctor sends him to to a plastic surgeon for Rhinoplasty to fix the problem.

Patient #2 goes to a therapist and says “I feel so alone, there is no pleasure in my life. I just don’t get along with people well.”. He is prescribed multiple Antidepressants while the doctor tries to find the right one to make the patient feel happy.

Patient #1 Really DOES have a broken nose, and a damaged sense of smell. Patient #2 Has limited social skills and needs more human contact in their life. Why is patient #2 not diagnosed correctly much less treated properly?

Opinions differ, but for me it’s a combination of several things.

#1 The drug companies are pushers. They shove new drugs onto the market looking for a band-aid simple cure, and the mental health community is happy to use it.

#2 Society doesn’t like to help people with mental or social problems. We laugh at them on TV, we avoid them in public, but they’re people too, who need help. Help that people are unwilling to give.

Dr. Des Spence, a general practitioner from Glasgow, said that “”we use antidepressants too easily, for too long, and that they are effective for few people (if at all).” Though he acknowledges that depression is real, he argued that the definition of clinical depression is too general and is “causing widespread medicalization.”

Spence also points out that antidepressant prescriptions in the U.K. rose to 46 million in 2011, a 9.6% increase. He questions the view that depression is a simply chemical imbalance, and believes antidepressants are becoming “a distraction from a wider debate about why we are so unhappy as a society.”

“But even if we accept that antidepressants are effective, a Cochrane review suggests that only one in seven people actually benefits,” said Spence. “Thus millions of people are enduring at least six months of ineffective treatment.”


We’re broadening the diagnosis, treating the symptoms and ignoring the causes.

May 28, 2013

Transponder keys

by @ 2:40 pm. Filed under Business, Personal, Technology

So recently I bought a used 2000 Toyota Sienna Van.

I learned that it uses transponder keys to allow the car to start only if the correct chip in the key is near the ignition.

These keys sell for an astronomical amount (Home Depot wanted 80$ for one. The Toyota Dealership wanted to sell me a blank for 80$ and then charge me another 80$ to program it).

Needless to say I did not want to pay this to have a few spare keys made. Enter, the internet.

I searched and found that there was a procedure to make the car add another key to it’s database by pushing pedals in a specific combination. This meant that I could program my own keys. Now I needed keys to program. I found blanks on Ebay, from a seller that had a feedback score high enough to suggest their success rate was high. (It helped that the keys were 8$ each, so if i failed I would only be out 16$ from trying two keys) I got the keys and opened one up, it contained just a simple chip. (hard to get, but not really “special”)

Now to program them. After about 20 minutes I managed to make the programming sequence work, and I had 4 master transponder keys. Now, the cutting.

When I buy a vehicle I like to go to the dealership and get a new blank cut from the VIN. This blank becomes the “uncirculated master” if you will (I got a basic key from Toyota cut from the VIN for 10$. It won’t start the car but it’s the best key to make more keys off of). I was not about to try and ask Toyota to cut my new aftermarket transponder blanks, i’m sure they would have had a fit.

I heard online that often key cutters in big box stores or hardware stores will refuse to cut blanks, and I’ve had the same kind of thing happen to me. I guess they want to sell you their key blanks and might think you’re breaking the law. (Tho frankly getting the blanks is often more useful when breaking the law, but I digress).

Enter the small local locksmith. I found one just down the road from where I worked, went in and showed him the 2 transponders and the master. I said “I need those 2 keys cut from this master”, “no problem” he said and grabbed them up. 5 minutes later I had 2 cut keys for an astoundingly low 2$ each. No mess, no fuss, I was so elated that I gave him 10$ and said to keep the change.

The cutting was good, and both worked perfectly. End cost? 15$ per transponder key (including the cost of the VIN master) and some brain CPU cycles.

The next time you need a “special” key for your car, remember they aren’t all THAT special. Likely you can get one yourself FAR cheaper than the dealership is gouging you for it.

May 25, 2013

Houses are the graves of the living. – Tuareg Proverb

by @ 6:21 pm. Filed under Personal

May 15, 2013

Why “Leave no trace” is destroying the environment.

by @ 8:01 pm. Filed under Personal

So most anyone interested at all in the outdoors has read about the “Leave no trace” or LNT principles. Which in short state that nature is to be seen, not touched, not trampled on (IE. the outdoors is a museum to be looked at not interacted with).

I find fault with this, on many levels.

Let’s take the basic principles of LNT one by one. In the interest of simplicity in this post i’m going to break things down into “energy” meaning energy used and “impact” meaning physical environmental impact. Also “wilderness” refers to any wild area where mankind has had a minimal impact not designated Wilderness areas.

#1 Plan ahead and prepare.

This one is good. It’s hard to argue that preparing is an excellent idea. But, what kind of preparation are we talking about? Let’s compare a modern backpacker with a wood/bushcrafter.

Backpacker – Modern ultralight gear

Impact: High to Extreme. Consider everything in a modern backpackers gear. Titanium pot and cup, modern backpack, modern aluminum and steel stove, ultralight tent with nylon and aluminum, down sleeping bag, carbon fiber trekking poles, nylon or gore-Tex clothing. All the materials to make these things had to be mined or synthesized, almost nothing in a modern backpackers gear is natural. Think of the environmental impact of titanium and bauxite mining, fiberglass and epoxy resin for carbon fiber, not to mention all the chemicals required to process all these materials. Even if we say a modern backpackers gear will last a reasonable amount of time we all know that people upgrade their gear, and that gear breaks or wears out. Is that gear repaired? Usually not, it’s mostly just thrown away and replaced with something new which adds to landfill impact. Along with this add the packaging for many of these materials which is often not recyclable. (Think for example how some ultralight backpackers remove all the tags from their clothing, but do they bother to wonder of the impact of what they do with those removed tags?) Also consider those things that are intended to be disposable, such as fuel canisters, i’m sure many recycle them but many also just throw them into the garbage.
Energy: High to Extreme. From the mining of the raw materials, to the transportation, then the processing on to the processing to the construction then finally the transportation to the retail establishment and it’s purchase by the consumer there is significant energy expended here. There is also the energy of the petroleum fuel that is being used in the stove. It has to be brought up, refined and delivered.

Wood/Bushcrafter – Old traditional gear

Impact: Low to High. Consider what a bushcrafter might carry. Hatchet, knife, plastic tarp, wool blanket, backpack. Some of these things might be modern, and they might be old. For the sake of this post I’ll consider the bushcrafter with old gear. He uses a military pack he got at an army surplus store, and a hatchet he got there as well. His knife is a hand-me-down from his grandfather, the wool blanket he got from a local store made with homespun yarn, he carries a WW2 mess kit and canteen. He’s likely also wearing wool and cotton clothing. Yes, many of these things have impacts, but they are much lower than modern day gear, also they are more likely to be secondhand, which have no packaging or modern construction impacts. There is also the fact that his gear is likely going to last much longer than modern gear. A WW2 canteen is simply going to outlast a titanium cup due to it’s strength, the cup is built for minimum weight, the canteen was built tough. The wool blanket will outlast the modern sleeping bag, and replacing a tarp is much less impact than replacing an entire ultralight tent. Yes, he has impact of gathering wood and putting together a camp, but this can be undone. It does not leave things in a pristine state but the impact is usually minimal. If one leaves poles laying around for another to use in building a lean-to there is even less impact since the second has no need to gather so many resources.

Energy: Low to Medium. Since he is not making use of modern materials he has limited energy impact. Some things might be delivered between retail stores, and there is all the energy expended in the past to make his gear. He is having an energy impact by gathering wood to cook with, but this is considerably less than that of the petroleum fuel stove user.

#2 Travel and camp on durable surfaces.

Durable, exactly what is “durable”? Dirt? Granite? Asphalt?

If we try to say that hikers using a trail have less impact than those going off-trail is that true? The impact of this one is going to be the same for whoever is going into the wilderness, how much is that impact really? We see impact because, well, humans have an impact when they go someplace, step on something or touch something. Are we really trying to say “Stay on the trails” and expecting people will listen? And in telling people to use existing trails what have we done, in many areas we have paved the wilderness to allow more people into it, is that “low impact”?

This one is more wishful thinking than reality, people do not all color inside the lines, and if more people went further off-trail the impacts would be much less concentrated. However think about this really, to a deer or a rabbit does it matter if a slope is eroding? No. Does it matter to a fish is there is more particulate matter in a stream? Yes actually, because that means more nutrients.

The outdoors is not a fine glass figurine that must be treated with delicate care lest it shatter forever, it is a living thing, that can repair itself into new forms, the problem is that repair takes longer than humans are willing to wait, and the new forms are not what people want to see.

#3 Dispose of waste properly.

What is “properly”? For the sake of this post let’s assume that everything besides human bodily waste is being disposed of someplace besides the wilderness, or by fire.

Modern waste – Freeze-dried food containers, broken modern gear, aluminum foil packaging, plastic packaging.
Impact: High. Even if people pack out everything how many throw it into the garbage? This is still having an impact, it’s just not having an impact that we see in the wilderness areas. Rather we’re putting it into someone Else’s backyard. Plastics can be burned to ash in a fire, but that releases their toxins into the atmosphere.
Energy: Medium to High. Trash and recycling has to be transported and dealt with.

Natural waste – Paper, broken wood and steel gear, tin cans.
Impact: Low to Medium. Broken wood implements and paper packaging can be burned with minimal impact and no need of collection or modern disposal. Steel knives and hatchets can be reforged or re-hafted and reused. Tin (steel) cans can be recycled of course, but some people melt them down and directly reuse them, however even if steel is left in the environment it will eventually rust, and at a pace far greater than it would break down if thrown into a landfill. (I’m sure we have all seen 100+ year old tin cans rusting to bits)
Energy: Low to Medium. Self-made gear has little to no energy impact is made from natural materials. Someone forging their own hatchet or their own knife, or getting one that is handmade, will have much less impact than getting something mass-produced. Yes, there are still impacts but buying from a blacksmith 2 miles away where he makes knives from old car parts consumes much less energy than buying a brand new knife made in China.

#4 Leave what you find.

How much of what I find? Should I consider a rotting and rusting hulk of a covered wagon “historic?” What about an old Plymouth? How about a modern abandoned truck? Of course this is in the eye of the beholder, but any archaeologist will tell you that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

So let’s consider this to mean anything “Natural”. Dirt, rocks, native plants, deer antlers.

Does this mean that I leave non-native species? Should I tear out something I see growing that is invasive and then try to explain my actions to someone on the trail that thinks I’m not practicing LNT? What about a meteorite? (Yes, you can get extremely pedantic when considering these things, but most people don’t want to go there.) How about taking apples or nuts in season? Think about that in the “Respect Wildlife” section.

Yes, not following this rule could easily lead to taking massive amount of materials from the wilderness, but on the other hand collecting rocks, minerals and dead wood is often allowed in wilderness areas. If the contentious LNT follower wants to leave the wilderness pristine they might be better served by changing the law than acting morally superior to their non-LNT counterparts.

Consider the person who picks up a stick for walking, then discards it back into the forest against the one that buys a set of trekking poles whic will eventually be discarded into a landfill.

#5 Minimize Campfire impacts.

While this is “minimize” most modern backpackers seem to have taken this to mean “NO CAMPFIRES!”. Should we figure that burning the underbrush and dead wood in a forest is a bad thing? Well, forest fires are much less devastating when smaller fires come through from time to time and burn out the small growth. Many areas where humans are common have not had these preventative fires, mainly due to humans thinking that any fire in the forest is a bad thing.

While this rule is optional to modern backpackers it is a requirement for the bushcrafter who wants to stay warm. Is it more environmentally friendly to craft a modern sleeping bag and deliver it to it’s end user, or to burn some of the available wood for warmth? Which one will have an ongoing impact? (Consider at this time that sleeping bags cannot be recycled, and only the sleeping-bag maker Golite accepts it’s bags back for recycling, tho only to store them until they can someday be recycled)

#6 Respect Wildlife.

While the LNT folks say they have literature on making their principles work with hunting I cannot believe how they could. Killing the wildlife seems completely and directly opposed to the concept of respecting wildlife that modern environmentalists swear by.

Often this is taken to mean that humans should not “get in the way” of wildlife, but exactly how can we prevent this? Sure, we can not pitch camp in the middle of a trail, but simply having the scent of humans around is going to spook wildlife that might need to come near to drink from a lake or stream, etc. This is another one of those times when LNT = Stay at home.

And also if I go out and kill a rabbit for my dinner am I disrespecting it? Let’s think for a moment about the two sides of this issue.

Killing a rabbit or catching a fish in the wilderness
Impact: Minimal, animal is removed from the food chain. This opens up opportunities for another animal to fill. Sometimes this could even be considered helpful, such as removing an overpopulation of rabbits because the natural predators are gone (Once again, thanks to humans) or catching and eating invasive fish. (Crater lake for example allows no-limit fishing and all invasive fish are to be killed)
Energy: None save human energy to catch/prepare/consume animal.

Bringing your own food to the wilderness
Low to high. Depends on the packaging used and how harmful the creation of the food is. IE, home picked fruit is better than an orchard is better than a pig farm, etc.
Energy: Low to High. If I am bringing in freeze-dried food sealed in a foil bag how much energy was wasted by preparing that food, moving it, packaging it, and on making the packaging itself. On the other hand if you’re bringing in apples, grapes, nuts, pears, etc that you bought locally, or better yet picked from your yard the energy spent is low to minimal. In both cases there is still the energy spent hauling that food to the wilderness trailhead.

#7 Be considerate of other visitors.

On it’s face this is a good idea but like anything it can go overboard. If we go by the “Golden Rule” of do unto others as you would have them do unto you then we’re always going to have people with varying views of good behavior.

In the end there is a difference between being loud because you are just normally a loud person and dumping your trash into someone Else’s campsite. The slider here can be moved towards either end depending on your personal views of what is “considerate”.

In the end can we truly expect others to act the way we want them to act, especially in a space where the “rules” are so ambiguous? Do we have a right to impose our judgments when their views might simply differ from ours but their end goal is the same? And the culmination of this point is that perhaps LNT folks would not try and force their views onto others, right?

Sure, we’re having an impact, but my point is we will ALWAYS have an impact, sitting at home looking at pictures of the wilderness on the computer uses energy, but people have ignored those impacts and focused on the impacts they see firsthand in their own environment. We have been fed nice clean “rules” to follow, and just blissfully ignored the damage being done by the companies making the gear to fill the needs created by those rules. In the end I believe that is far worse than what the rules were made to prevent and that it has become too easy to ignore the harm we are doing because we feel we are doing good.

In the end the only way to truly leave NO trace, is to not go into the wilderness at all, and even then humans are having an incredible impact on the globe. When is it time to say the game is lost and throw in the towel?

I believe we are far past that point.

May 9, 2013

Daring to be a liberal American with conservative hobbies

by @ 7:48 am. Filed under Personal

It’s always fun when you end up on both sides of a huge political gulf.

One side doesn’t like you because of your hobbies, the other side doesn’t like you because of your attitude.

Life is just so peachy sometimes isn’t it?

April 16, 2013

The response of the nation is likely to be worse than the incident that caused it.

by @ 9:12 am. Filed under Personal

While it’s horrible that someone bombed the Boston Marathon there are a few things that I need to stand on my soapbox and say “no more” to.

#1 Having it on every news channel still after 24 hours and explaining it’s repercussions around the USA accomplishes what exactly. Here in Seattle do we really need to step up police patrols? This is just the connected world making the media and law enforcement concerned that they are going to miss something. Of course they’re going to miss something, they’re human, perfection should never be expected.

#2 There isn’t anything I can do about it from several thousand miles away, so I refuse to allow it to get me down. Is that cold? No, it’s simply logical. Sure, I’m empathetic to the victims but I refuse to feel bad because I can’t run and help with the investigation or donate blood to the victims, etc, etc.

#3 I’m seeing the same knee-jerk fear that happened after 9-11. I refuse to live my life in fear from day to day. Bad people are always going to do bad things, that does not mean that my life is going to be better if I cower in fear because of it. Nor am I going to agree with giving up civil rights over it.

Use your brain, it’s your best weapon. Do not give in to fear, uncertainty and doubt.

April 2, 2013

Just a few questions about your application

by @ 12:29 pm. Filed under Personal

I found this on a website today while searching for work, it was attached to an opening for a network technician/admin position. I think it is absolutely brilliant.

How to Submit Your Application
Everything about working at Groundspeak sounding awesome so far? Now it’s time to begin showing us why you’re the one that we should choose. To submit your resume, just solve this puzzle and provide your work and answer in the “Comments, additional information, best time to contact you, etc.” box on the Application page. How do you get to that page? Just click on the “Apply for this Position” button down below!

Calculate A + B – (C + D + E – F – G)/H and convert the result to hexadecimal.

A = The decimal value found in the third octet of the subnet mask for a network with a prefix size (CIDR notation) of 23.

B = The total number of IPv4 addresses in (all address ranges) reserved for private networks as defined in RFC 1918.

C = The DHCP Option Code for MTU Timeout.

D = The exact time when GPS selective availability was turned off, expressed in POSIX time.

E = The output of the following command when run on the default “hosts” file from a copy of Windows 7, Server 2008, or Server 2008 R2 and copied to a system running a recent linux distribution or Mac OS X: sed ’4,8d’ | grep -cv ‘c[ao].*m’

F = The ascii character code (in decimal) for the portion of a line break (EOL marker) in Windows format that’s NOT present in the UNIX format.

G = The number of different FSMO roles that can be transferred using only the Active Directory Users and Computers snap-in in Windows Server 2003/2008.

H = The permission mask in absolute mode for changing a file’s permissions to “-rwxr-xr–” in unix.

January 5, 2013

On society and trust

by @ 8:52 pm. Filed under Personal

So the basis of western society is rugged individualism. IE. do what you can for yourself and screw anyone not part of your family group.

So exactly how are people supposed to form close lasting friendships when the entire point of life that we are taught is to only care about ourselves?

The very basis of trust is to signify that someone else isn’t going to screw us over, but in fact that is what we are taught as general principle. Screw everyone else over to get as much as you can as fast as you can, because the one with the most money wins.

So instead we only end up with a spouse, children or parents to trust because those bonds we’re “born into” instead of trying to develop, and therefore they are stronger.

Frankly I smell bullshit all over this.

December 7, 2012

Ahh yes…

by @ 1:58 pm. Filed under Personal

Nothing quite like putting a ton of effort into something, then having some greedy ass come along and take it all away from you.

Today I got a “slap-upside-the-head” reminder about the pointlessness of trying to be socialistic in a video game.

November 26, 2012

Something that pisses me off

by @ 4:58 pm. Filed under Personal

So, I just got back from grocery shopping at QFC, like most human beings I need food. Yeah, thrilling I know. But today something a bit different happened.

Now, those that know me know that I have little patience for children, and I have even less patience for their parents. I made the horrible mistake of trying to be a nice person and give a kid a compliment on their clothes.

A neon green shirt in particular (BRIGHT frigging green, like painfully bright), with the saying “R is for Rad!” and the second “R” had an atom drawn in the eye of the letter. I noticed it, it made me smile and as the kid wearing it (a girl about 10 years old I guess) walked by I told her “Cool shirt”, to which she replied “Thanks!” in a happy chirp.

Then all hell broke lose.

Now let me interject at this point that I’m 39, wear black and have hair down past my waist. I don’t look like an axe murderer but I don’t look like a lawyer either. I’m guessing that had something to do with what followed.

From behind me I hear “WHAT THE HELL DID YOU SAY TO MY DAUGHTER!!” in literally a scream. Apparently her mother was watching and lost it.

I knew this was not likely to end well, took a deep breath, turned around, and in the calmest nicest tone I could I said “I told her that her shirt was cool.”

“DON’T YOU FUCKING LOOK AT MY DAUGHTER! AND IF YOU TOUCH HER!”, at this point she was seething with anger, as if she was going to break her own teeth and her eyes were going to pop out of her head.

Thankfully an older lady that was standing next to me when this happened said “He did what he said, he just gave her a compliment.”

At this point I realized that there were a dozen shoppers looking on that had stopped to watch the goings on here. I wanted to say something but caution got the better of me and I turned and walked away. I was surprised the mother had no parting words.

So yes, when people ask if I like kids this is why I avoid them like the fucking plague.

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