30 June 2006


I got back to Pocatello a bit before 18:00 this evening. I left Portland at 6:50 (5:50 local time). I get really, really, really, REALLY, really, really, really, really tired of I-84 in Oregon. It's not so bad once it gets close to Idaho. I think the problem is that I don't like not being able to see long distances. The trees and hills in Oregon mean that you're basically driving down a long tunnel most of the time. In Idaho, that happens occasionally, but then there are wide open expanses where you can see for miles and miles. Washington wasn't as bad, or else I didn't have such a long stretch of it that it started to annoy me. Anyway, trip total was 1924 miles, though that may include 15 or so miles just prior to the trip. If I can dig up all my gas receipts, I'll figure Jean Luc's overall fuel rate, but as I recall it ran: 35 mpg from Pocatello to a gas station past Boise; 40 mpg from there to some odd place in Washington; 40 mpg from there to a gas station just inside the Washington border; 47 mpg from that gas station to Pendleton, which was my first gas stop today; 35 mpg from Pendleton to Caldwell. It took roughly half a tank to get from Caldwell back to Pocatello. The 47 surprised me, but that was mostly driving in and around Scappoose and Portland, which keeps the speed right around 50-60 mph most of the time.

Right. Enough with the numbers. Things I learned on this trip:
##>(1) Fibonacci gives good directions
##>(2) Low elevation forests can be quite annoyingly hot (I'm used to upper elevation forests, which are nearly always cool)
##>(3) Road signs are often redundant, ridiculous, or unintelligible
##>(4) I have higher stamina for long-term driving than I used to (I think this is courtesy of my longer hikes)
##>(5) Fish tanks are a pain (just ask Pam and Angus)
##>(6) Wrong turns often provide useful experiences (found a neat import store)
##>(7) It is possible to get free parking in downtown Portland, if you pick a parking garage affiliated with a place you're going (and remember to get the slip validated)

Seven seems like a good place to stop. Especially since I'm not entirely sure I'm coherent at the moment.

Inquire Further

28 June 2006

On Vacation

Not much going on here at the moment. Pam just left for work, and Angus is due back from work in an hour or so (he works nightshift). It's been an interesting trip so far, though. Sunday's drive was a bit longer than planned, as I forget that the speed limit on Oregon interstates is 65. I drove 70 most of the time. To be honest, I don't care very much about speed limits per se. However, I don't see the point of pushing and pushing and pushing to the point that every car you come to is someone you have to pass, and every cop is an enemy. Also, Jean Luc gets the best gas mileage between 55 and 70 mph. Anything much above 70 cuts the gas mileage significantly.

Leavenworth is a rather cozy little tourist town. I felt right at home, as it's a great deal like Estes Park. A bit smaller, much lower elevation, but the same overall flavor. And it was good seeing Fibonacci again. One thing I like about tourist towns is that they're good places to look for gifts. So I now have a large proportion of my Christmas shopping done. However, I think the best attraction in Leavenworth is the riverwalk. Lots of plants, some historical markers, and bridges spanning the river. I'm not sure, but I think it was the Wenatchee River. There's also a nice walking/biking path up by the fish hatchery.

Oh, and I've been introducing everyone to Thai food on this trip. Fibonacci and I found a Thai place in Wenatchee (closed on Sunday night when I got there, but open the next day for lunch), and it had quite good food. No surprise: authentic Thai is nearly always good. Last night, I asked Pam about Thai places here, and there was one close to where Angus works, so we picked him up on our way (apparently when things are quiet, he's allowed to take off for an hour or so; *shrugs*). Also very good food, and the first place I've been where seafood other than shrimp was a meat option. I tried "Ta Ley", which means a mix of all the seafood they have: shrimp, scallops, mussels, squid. I didn't care for the mussels, but they were okay. Everything else was good. It's been a long time since I had squid. Very, very good flavor.

I tagged along with Pam to a mall yesterday (uh...Washington Square, maybe). Mainly she wanted to go to Gifts from Afar, which is a rather nice import store. Lots of stuff I liked, but either I had no use for it or it was more than I wanted to pay. We wandered through the rest of the mall looking for something else interesting. There were really only two other interesting stores. One was a toys/games store, but I had plenty of presents for Spencer and David already. The other was a tea store. Tea-Vana. Lots of teapots and tea sets and LOADS of tea varieties. Finally I have some Thai-tea to make at home again. *grins* Even better, they have a web-site for when I run out and haven't made a trip to Scapoose in a while. The rest of the stores were mall-weeds: the typical clothing/accessory stores that pop up in most malls becase most people don't have the sense to cut them off from their food supply (i.e. money).

Today? No clue. But I think I'll head down US 30 for a while. There's an island with a wildlife reserve somewhere around there, if I can find the road/bridge onto it. I might also head into Portland and see if I can find Powel's. I'm not in book-buying mode (except maybe as gifts for people), but there was an organic-foods market across from Powell's. Nice in-store salad bar.

Final thought: it's been rather amusing to be getting up early local time, and still feel like I'm sleeping in.

Inquire Further

24 June 2006


I'm off for parts northwest tomorrow. Several stops planned. Provisions nearly complete. Car...not quite loaded. The cooler will have to wait until morning. I was so busy this evening that it wasn't until 20:00 or so that I realized I had forgotten to eat dinner. Luckily I had leftovers from last night. Mom decided she wanted to go to the Thai place in Lava Hot Springs again, and invited Markie and family along (Markie is in the Methodist Church's choir and also works at the same place my mom does). Good food. Excellent Thai Iced Tea. Fewer mosquitoes than last time, but we weren't outside very much. Anyway, blogging may be sparse next week depending on the availability of wireless networks for me to latch onto.

Oh, Jean Luc got over 40 mpg on his last tank of gas. *grins* Hopefully he'll do as well or better on this trip.

Almost forgot: Today in taiji we were working on spiraling. Externally, this means making sure the movements flow and there are no "stops." Internally, this means keeping the qi flowing smoothly and evenly (if qi is nothing else, it is AT LEAST feeback from your body letting you know how it's functioning). Don corrected one qigong that we worked on, then asked me if it flowed better his way. I played with them both. "Well, my way was more greenish-blue. Yours is more orange." Didn't phase him a bit. "And which color is the more aggressive one...?" he asked. Yeah. Orange. Joe immediately wanted to know what else I associated colors with ("any other transferrence" was his terminology), so we discussed that a bit. Turns out that Joe had read some books on Synesthesia. I've skimmed some summaries of books on Synesthesia. I didn't read them mainly because I was just nodding along to most of the summaries.

Inquire Further

23 June 2006

A Dangerous Combination...

I've got late birthday presents to deliver next week, so I've been wrapping them. I like wrapping presents. I like spending lots of time on them and making them quite, quite, er, interesting (some might say diabolical). They've become a bit less diabolical since I discovered origami boxes. Origami boxes take enough time that I don't feel like I'm cheating people. See, I figure that if I haven't spent some real time on the present, then it's essentially meaningless. Then there's my mom; I've seen her buy something, buy a gift sack, put the item in the sack, and call it good.

However, I've come to the conclusion that wrapping presents while I'm cleaning is a bit dicey. Why? Because I keep discovering things that could be used to make the wrapping more complete! I mean, there's all this tissue paper that I've gotten when buying glass objects. There are plastic and paper sacks. Envelopes. Magazines. Stickers. String. Phone cords (yes, I've really used phone cord; it was a cord that no longer worked properly). Duct tape. Scrapbook paper. Confetti. I even used three foot long bamboo sticks to wrap a present for my dad once. Oh, foil is good. Saran wrap less so. If a towel is part of the gift, I've been known to use it as part of the wrapping. Basically, anything flexible is fair game. Anything else that I can find a way to use is also fair game. I just came across some rubber stamps...but I won't be able to do anything with them unless I also find the ink pad that goes with them. *sighs*

Anyway, back to cleaning. Hopefully I won't find anything else that seems usable in gift-wrapping. [Incidentally, most people would consider the presents completely wrapped at this moment. I consider them acceptably wrapped.]

Inquire Further

22 June 2006

Three-Mile-Island (of Lava)

Okay, this is what I thought was a fern. But ferns don't produce flowers, so I now have no clue. Anyway, it's quite pretty, whatever it is.

This is the first post pointing the way to the lava vent. It is also one of the more difficult stretches to traverse. No nice smooth rock pathways here; you have to clamber over rocks that average maybe a meter around, with jagged edges and points. On the bright side, there's a nice, smooth climb down into the valley after you get past all those jagged edges. I chose that nice, smooth ledge as a good place to eat breakfast yesterday.

And here we have the three-mile marker, aka my turn-around-point. Incidentally, the 1-mile marker is illegible (the plywood has warped and rotted), and there are at least three 2-mile markers on different posts. One of the 2-mile markers faces the wrong way, so it may be indicating the distance back to the parking lot. The others are 100-200 feet apart. *shrugs*

A striking juniper.

Here is a Sego lily. These are edible, but their numbers have been greatly reduced due to overgrazing (Edible/Medicinal Plants of the RM). Considering that I see them rather frequently, I suspect they're making quite a good comeback. :^)

Last, a sort of lava valley that resembles a twisted staircase.

There's been a rather odd side effect of my lava treks. I have a very mild aversion to heights. Slightly more aversion than necessary for simple safety (i.e. the kind that can cause problems if not kept under control). I took rock climbing partly to help overcome that. And it did help. So does walking along a path where you have to step across a sheer drop to keep going. It's not a large step (if it's more than two feet, I look for a way around), but it requires steadiness in the feet. There were places yesterday that I just stepped across that, two weeks ago, I went out of my way to avoid. Incidentally, I don't recommend this hike to anyone with a severe problem with heights, or to anyone with a poor sense of balance.

Inquire Further

21 June 2006

Back to Hell's Half-Acre

I didn't quite make it up there early enough to get all the way to the vent without being late for my sword lesson *sighs* This despite getting up at 5:30, being on the road by 6:15 and getting up there at 7:15 (haven't quite figured that out, since I didn't speed and I thought it was closer to 80 minutes than 60). At any rate, my speed at traversing the rough terrain is increasing. I made it to the three mile mark this time, and got back to the two-mile mark a mite before 10:45 (which was when and where I turned around last time), and got back to the parking lot almost at noon precisely. Which gave me time to eat a small lunch (including some experimental bread using Montina flour: verdict, YUM!). I need to find a better way to get across Idaho Falls to Don's house, though. The two ways I've tried both have problems. 17th is full of traffic lights. The other route involves mondo backtracking. Both take a long time. I need to dig out a map and find a more efficient route. *sighs*

Anyway, I might post some pictures later.

Inquire Further

20 June 2006


I drove my mom to an oral surgeon's office so she could get a tooth replaced. While she was waiting, I walked down to a nearby park and practiced taiji. I had the park entirely to myself. A few people walked by on the sidewalks, but no one actually stopped off at the park until I was leaving. There were two trees directly in front of where I practiced, at the roughly "south" end of the park. Actually, there were lots of trees, but two in particular stood out. They formed the far end of an uneven circle of trees. One was a pine tree with long, green needles. The other was a deciduous tree with yellow leaves. Perfect yin/yang dichotomy. :^)

Best part was that I saw a woodpecker while I was there. I headed back at almost the perfect time. Mom called when I was almost halfway back (it was only a few blocks away anyway). She was already at the car. My first thought was that they hadn't actually operated, as she didn't have the typical word-slurring I expect from a numbed mouth. Turns out that they used a different kind of anesthetic. Mom began a sort of diatribe about getting her regular dentist to use it, and finally stopped when I pointed out it was probably more expensive.

She was already a bit out of it, either from lack of sleep or food or both when I dropped her off. When I went back at noon, she was worse. She'd taken one of the pain meds the doctor prescribed for her. *sighs* My mom and I have orthogonal attitudes in many respects. This is one of them. I will NOT take anything stronger than ibuprofen unless the pain is making me curl up in a ball and whimper (which is what it took to convince me to take even Advil). I also will not tell the dentist if I'm not completely numb so long as I can take the pain. The fewer anesthetic shots, the less time they take to wear off. After I had my wisdom teeth out, they prescribed something-or-other with codeine in it. I took Tylenol. I didn't touch that other stuff. Why? Because I do not like stuff that messes with my head that way. Stimulants I can deal with. Relaxants that make my head fuzzy and make it so I can't even think straight? NO. I can't even drink chamomile tea.

Then there's my mom. She has no pain tolerance whatsoever. If she feels the slightest twinge, she asks the dentist for more anesthetic. She almost had them knock her out for the thing this morning, until she found out how much more it would cost. As soon as the anesthetic showed ANY signs of wearing off, she took one of the pain pills. *sighs* I do not understand.

Inquire Further

19 June 2006


A forget-me-not! I've seen some at Gibson Jack, too. It took me a while to figure out what they were. The first forget-me-not I saw was in Rocky Mountain National Park, on an exposed hillside at around 10,000 feet. They don't get so tall there. :^D

There are at least two varieties of snake-grass up at Cherry Springs. They seem to be a sort of fern, rather than grass. The bottom one was the only one I found, but my resources for ferns are rather sparse. It seems to be Common Scouring Rush, Equisetum hyemale. Cool. Their stems feel rough, and this is due to silica crystals. Apparently natives used them to polish all sorts of stuff, and they "make excellent scouring pads." [Plants of the RM] Oh, the leafy things in the background there MIGHT be wild ginger, Asarum Caudatum.

This is the promised thorn. Scale? The thorn was about 3/4 of an inch long. I didn't get any embedded in me, but they were rather scratchy. The bush did have some berries, but I haven't made it to figuring out bushes yet.

Next, I finally got some pictures of junipers, and learned something very, very new. The top picture is a male juniper, producing male cones. The bottom juniper is a female producing female cones (that I always thought were berries). So there are male and female junipers. Incidently, these were so intertwined that I thought they must be a single shrub, until I looked up what the male cones were. I'd never seen them before!

Here is the rockslide that may or may not have once been a trail. Interesting footing, I must say. Directly above, nothing that looked like a genuine trail.

I've seen this SO many places lately. Lava Hot Springs. The zoo. Gibson Jack. Gem Lake in Idaho Falls (Hmmm... I may not have mentioned that I stopped off there on Saturday). It's climbing nightshade, Solanum Dolcamara. Apparently it's originally from Eurasia and contains all sorts of toxins (so I'm surprised they tolerate it at the zoo).

Well, this is certainly not a penstemon. It seems to be in the phlox family. Scarlet Gilia aka Skyrocket, Ipomopsis aggregata. My book mentions that hummingbirds like this flower. So did the butterfly in the next picture down.

Last, a scenery shot from one of the places I stopped on Scout Mountain:

Inquire Further

Cherry Springs

Eh, some pretty scenery, but not particularly interesting. The most interesting thing was the side trail going straight up a mountainside. I didn't make it all the way to the top, as the trail turned into a rockslide, and then seemed to disappear. There were bits further up that looked like they might be trail, but could equally well have been more rockslides. The rest of the area, except for a side loop leading to the straight-up trail, has an asphalt walkway all the way through it. Though in this area, I'm minded to be more forgiving of that: I saw some unpaved sidetrails that were practically buried in overgrowth and fallen branches. It may be that the only practical way to have a trail near the streams IS to pave it. *shrugs*

Anyway, lots and lots of wild geranium and Fool's Onion up there. Plus a lot of others. Also some spots to fish, should I ever purchase a fishing license and pole. :^D The best part for me was seeing several lizards running around (mostly to hide from me). They were quite cute. Any day when I get to see wild lizards is a good day. It's possibly I may revise that statement if I ever meet up with a rattlesnake... However, note that most snakebites are the result of people trying to "interact" with the snake, whether to pick it up or play or harm. Most of the rest are the result of not watching where you step or place your hands (which is why I'm hesitant about climbing rocks around here, much as I love to scramble up and down; unless I can see the handhold before I reach for it, uh, BAD).

I must protest, however, that I have never seen poison ivy. I've seen pictures. The stuff I thought was poison ivy for years has turned out to be Oregon grape. There was a sign at Cherry Springs specifically warning about poison ivy. So where was it? *sighs* The sign also warned about rattlesnakes and nettle, yet did not warn about rosebushes or another bush with very long thorns (I've got a picture of one of the thorns for later). The nettles aren't too bad, anyway, unless you're barefoot. I tromped through some for a picture of forget-me-not. Ah well.

At any rate, after my not-quite-hike, I decided to drive up to Scout Mountain and see if I could find a trailhead for a future hike. The only oddity was that I had to drive through the picnic area to get there, and the picnic area really looks more like a campground. Each picnic table has its own parking place. But the trailhead it just past the picnic area, so I know I can find it. On the way down, I took a different road, and I THINK I found the road that goes almost to the peak. I would have tried to find out, but there was a rather wide forest service truck blocking the rather narrow dirt road. Turning Jean Luc around there was an interesting exercise. Envision a narrow dirt road with a steep drop off on one side and a hill on the other. *grins* Then I headed back down, and started to wonder if the road I was on really did connect with the paved road I'd come up. It did. Eventually. After a very rough section that had me wondering if I should turn around.

On the way down, I drove past some brilliant red flowers that I'd been seeing along roadways all over the place lately, and there was conveniently a parking area nearby. I had been expecting firecracker penstemon. I'm pretty sure these were NOT penstemon. They were the right brilliant red, but the petals made a pretty 5-pointed star. Further back was another pretty flower I would have liked to capture on film, but the road was quite narrow and had no convenient parking area. Anyway, pictures later.

Inquire Further

18 June 2006

Today I brought my dad and Buster their Father's Day presents. No clue yet whether Dad appreciated the book or not, but he seemed to like the not-quite-tennisball that I found for Buster. It's closer to the size of a softball, but still made to look like a tennisball. Dad liked it because it was easier to see in the yard, so he'd be less likely to mow over it. :^D I've seen the remnants of some regular size tennis balls he HAS mown over. This one is too big for Buster to get his mouth around, but he can pick it up by digging his teeth into the fuzz. He's at least three times as big as he was. (Ji'e'toh was sleepy all day today; apparently she spent the whole night outside)

We had dinner at Golden Corral this evening. Not my favorite, as there's very little I can eat, but we let Dad choose. We got there twenty minutes too early. When we arrived, it was a madhouse. Several buses were parked outside. However, most of them were finishing up, so that twenty minutes later it was almost deserted.

Tomorrow I'm helping Mom move her bed upstairs. I'd prefer to do it another day, but Mom's having a tooth replaced on Tuesday and isn't expecting to feel up to much of anything for a while after that (guess who the designated driver is :^). Hopefully we'll get that done in the morning. I'd like to drive down to Cherry Springs in the afternoon. Looks to be an easy, paved walk, rather than a hike, but I don't think I've been down there since a few gradeschool field trips.

I'm also thinking of teaching myself how to fish sans boat, as Dad seems less and less inclined to go on fishing trips. See, I know how to troll. You put the sinker on, put on the popgear (chosen for the type that the fish in the area prefer), put on a leader, put the hook on, and thread a worm onto the hook. Then you let the line out for 80-120 feet, depending on the water temperature, and wait. If you don't get any bites you (a) adjust the length and thereby the depth; (b) reel it in to check bait and/or change popgear. Problem is that trolling requires a boat with a motor, and I don't have one. So I figure I'll try bobber fishing sometime this summer, as it at least is somewhat similar (in that you throw the line out and wait). I know next to nothing about fly-casting, except that if you have the right fly after a major insect hatch, you can catch a LOT of fish. (Hmmm... I'll also have to teach myself how to clean them; I know the "theory" of what needs to be done :^D)

Oh, random tip: When heating up lasagna in the microwave, make sure it's covered. It's a lot easier to wash a bowl, say, than to scrub out the microwave. And, no, I didn't find out the hard way. I covered it to keep it from drying out too much and saw afterwards that it was a good thing that I had done so.

Inquire Further

The Jungle Book(s)

I read the last poem in Rudyard Kipling's Jungle Books last night. I'd finished the last story two nights before. I didn't like it as much as I liked Kim, but it was certainly enjoyable. The common thread that runs through the book is Mowgli. There are a series of stories involving this lost human who was raised by wolves, which most people probably know already from the various film versions. I must register a protest at the treatment of Kaa, at least in the one version I've seen. Kaa was never a villain in any of the stories. A bit frightening, yes, not someone you wanted angry at you, yes, but certainly not a villain. The fact that they felt at liberty to make the snake a villain, regardless of the text, says a lot about our culture, then and now. But since the Mowgli stories are at least vaguely familiar to most people, I'll focus on the other stories.

The White Seal
Story about a seal growing up and looking for a place where human hunters cannot come after him or his clan. Enjoyable, and not something I would have expected from a writer in the 1800's. Not one of my favorites though.

This is probably my favorite story from all of them. A mongoose is taken in by humans and protects them from some very dangerous cobras. I love the writing in this story, especially where it pokes fun at the dominant culture of the time.

Toomai of the Elephants
A young boy who wishes to work directly with elephants (to the dismay of his father), sneaks along when some "tame" elephants escape to join their wild brethren in the elephant dance. The 'elephant dance' strikes me as one of those legends that arise when people come across some major destruction, full of elephant sign, and start making up stories about it. But it makes for a good story.

Her Majesty's Servants
A bunch of animals who work for the army are discussing their relative merits and the status of the campaign. The interesting twist is the POV character.

The Miracle of Purun Bhagat
A disillusioned politician takes up residence in a holy shrine, and becomes holy thereby. There is, of coures, more to it, but I don't want to give too much away. This one is another favorite, both for the writing style and the overall message.

The Undertakers
This one is beautiful. Somewhat similar to Her Majesty's Servants, in that it's mostly a bunch of animals sitting aroud talking, but these are wild animals. Kipling has invented a hierarchy of relationships for them. The title is wonderfully ironic, but you'll have to read it if you want to know why. ;^)

Set in the far north, this one follows the (mis)adventures of an "Eskimo" (That term is now considered pejorative, but Inuit only refers to a specific tribe, so I'll stick with Eskimo unless I know the tribe involved). I have no idea how accurate a depiction of "Eskimo" society this is, but it's all plausible, at least, and does not have any obvious condescension in it. I like this one for its description of the northern ice floes, and for what the quiquern (mythical monster) turns out to really be.

Each story has a related poem after it. This is one of my favorites and it comes right after The Undertakers:

A Ripple Song
Once a ripple came to land
In the golden sunset burning—
Lapped against a maiden's hand,
By the fort returning.

Dainty food and gentle breast
Here, across, be glad and rest.
"Maiden, wait," the ripple saith;
"Wait, awhile, for I am Death!"

"Where my lover calls I go—
Shame it were to treat him coldly—
'T was a fish that circled so,
Turning over boldly."

Dainty foot and tender heart,
Wait the loaded ferry-cart.
"Wait, ah, wait!" the ripple saith;
"Maiden, wait, for I am death!"

"When my lover calls I haste—
Dame disdain was never wedded!"
Ripple-ripple round her waist,
Clear the current eddied.

Foolish heart and faithful hand,
Little feet that touched no land.
Far away the ripple sped,
ripplerunning red!

Inquire Further

16 June 2006

Some pictures from City Creek

First some views of the city from the hillside. Jean Luc shows up in the first one. The second one was that trail that went straight up the hillside and met up with a dirt road.

Next some familiar flowers:
First up, blue flax (incidentally, this IS European flax; it was imported and spread)

This is purple aster, closely related to flea bane.

Here's some crimson globemallow. It looks crimson just as it's starting to bloom, but the flowers are really more orange. At least, all of them that I've seen are. This is an old friend, first encountered at a rest area on the way to Littlewood Reservoir.

This is from a willow. I'm used to these as being small, spindly bushes. Because I usually see them in places where they don't get much water and/or sun. I've only recently discovered that they can be HUGE under the right conditions. I also had never seen them in bloom before. Oh, these make good hotdog roasting sticks if you're camping. (I wouldn't recommend them if you're allergic to aspirin, however)

Last familiar one (to me, anyway): Snakegrass. That's the common name I know, which is what Spencer told me when we encountered it once years ago. It has other names, which I'm not going to look up just now.

Onto the new ones. This one has been frustrating me. It looks a LOT like some carnations my mom had in her flower garden, but wild carnation seems to have a huge...pod right beneath the flower. I haven't been able to find a match. Maybe someone's tame carnation got out and started spreading. *shrugs* There were quite a few of them.

In case you're wondering, the background is my camera bag. The camera would not focus on this one without encouragement, and the sun still glares off of it something awful. I haven't had a chance to look this one up, but at first glance, the flowers make me think it's in the pea family. *shrugs*

Last, a pretty yellow one that I THINK I've looked up once before, but I'm going to leave it for now.

Inquire Further

Lasagna is Go

The lasagna did get made tonight and is almost finished cooking. A surprise bonus, Spencer called while we were still working on it and indicated that lasagna was one of his favorite foods. So I invited him over. Naturally that means Kim is coming. Not sure if the younglings will be with them or not (also naturally, they're running late--I'd be more surprised if they were on time).

In other news, I just finished installing Mom's DSL modem. They've improved their instruction/setup stuff since I did mine. Also, Buster apparently ran off with a screwdriver and left it somewhere in the backyard. No one knows where. Anyone got a metal detector we can borrow? :^D

One more thing: I hate washing my down comforter. It takes forEVer to dry. I ran it through four cycles (with tennis balls; otherwise the down gets all icky), and then draped it over a chair.

Inquire Further

15 June 2006

A City Blinded by Lasagna!

This morning, I hiked up Pocatello's City Creek Trail. Insanely easy compared to all of my recent hikes, even though I often chose the most difficult route. There's a straight up bit right at the beginning (depending on which direction you start), but it only goes on for a hundred feet or so. Then it's flat at the top. Flat flat flat flat flat flat flat. Maybe a slight upward slope. After a while, a trail to the left headed up a steep incline, so I took it. Nice climb through some roses and next to a valley full of trees and bushes. The trail met up with a dirt road (probably only used by bikers and hikers now) with my choice of direction. I decided to head back down towards City Creek, as I'd already had one misadventure by going off the wrong way this week. :^D The road eventually turned into a single-track trail (with hints of the other track here and there). The walk by the creek was gorgeous. Shaded by willows and all sorts of trees and bushes that I didn't recognize (after learning the flowers of the area, I plan to start on trees and bushes; a few I know already). Incidentally, willows in bloom have a wonderful fragrance. I went up a ways through a sort of campground up there (fire rings and clearings; no labels that I saw), then decided it was time to head back. Next time I think I'll try to find the road to the campground. Then I'll probably try for Kinsey peak (more elevation gain).

At any rate, I saw many familiar flowers (including lots and LOTS of flax), and a few that were entirely new to me. I'll definitely post the new ones later, and any of the familiar ones that I really like. Also, I got some nice shots of the city, and a few of the stream.

So that was my morning. Most of my afternoon was taken up helping my mom return the blinds she'd ordered. Why? Because they got length and width backwards on every single one of them. They're redoing the order free of charge, almost. There's a small charge because the correct dimensions require a bit more of the, er, solid bit that supports the blinds. But that we agreed was reasonable. Between that and rescuing my mom's cell phone from the clutches of a lawyer's office >>>insert ominous music here<<<, my original plan of making lasagna tonight was impractical. So we're going to do it tomorrow night. Fred Meyer just got some GF lasagna noodles in (brown rice flour and...fiber, I think), and I want to try them. But I don't want to make a whole lasagna just for me (for one thing, I generally can't have cheese several days in a row without problems). So that's set for tomorrow night, unless something interrupts it.

Also for tomorrow: mowing the lawn. And folding laundry. I finally got several loads of delicates done (anything I really like gets washed on delicate so it will last longer), as well as getting blankets washed. My comforter isn't done yet, but it takes forever to dry and must be started in the morning. Okay, babbling now. Stopping now.

Inquire Further

14 June 2006

Maps, anyone?

Here's a map of the Gibson Jack area. Cool thing is that I have a pretty good idea where I was when I turned around. I was on the opposite side of the road I hiked down at Corral Creek! And from the looks of that map, I was close to four miles off course, so I'll keep my estimate of 15 miles otal. Also judging by that map, it would not have been closer to go back down the side of Gibson Jack I'd come up (though it may have been faster as there would have been less elevation gain). Though now it might be cool to deliberately try some of those trails, with the intent of having someone pick me up at an opposite parking lot. *shrugs*

Inquire Further

13 June 2006


*sighs* What do I have to do to get my legs seriously complaining? Seriously. I mean, an unplanned 12-15 mile hike over massive hills really OUGHT to be enough, wouldn't you think? They aren't even as bad off as they would be after a one day Benjamin Lo taiji workshop. Fine, it's an odd thing to complain about, but I'm strangely disappointed. Also somewhat pleased. The only real soreness is in my right hip flexor, and I've known that I carry tension there for quite a while. There's also some mild stiffness in my calves. And my feet are still a mite sore. But other than that, nothing. And it feels like it'll all be gone by tomorrow.

Anyway, the title is because I acquired season 4 of Babylon 5 this afternoon. Fred Meyer was having one of their intermittent 20% off all DVD things. I'm currently watching the first episode...and am reminded of some of my own writing experiences. Basically, large meetings are best avoided. :^) I break this on occasion, but it's very difficult to make them work well. Speaking of writing, I'm going to have to make a clean start on my most recent efforts. The elements are all there, but they don't quite fit together. Ah well. I'll get it working.

Inquire Further

Status Report

I went to bed early last night, though I'm not sure I got to sleep any earlier. For at least an hour, every time I closed my eyes, scenes from the path replayed and mutated themselves. At one point, I was mentally going through a circuit of "towns" that my subconscious had invented on the route, one of which made it to a dream at some point (not very interesting; racist general store, house, birds in back yard, water spilling). When those circling images finally died down, I think I drifted into sleep.

My feet are sore (no new blisters, however; I love my moccasins). My right hip flexor is sore. My calves...are complaining slightly, but not sore really. Quads? Just peachy. Because of taiji, my quads can take a LOT. My quads do complain slightly on stairs at the moment, but compared to a taiji workshop, yesterday was a cakewalk for them.

After thinking about it, I think 12 miles is the extreme low end of the estimate. Gibson Jack itself is 8.5 miles. I walked two hours out of my way, and got a ride for maybe half of the way back. When I'm hurrying, I generally walk 4 miles per hour. I was not hurrying, however. So make it 2 or 3 miles per hour. That makes the total off-the-track distance 4-6 miles, add half of that back in for 6-8 miles total off track... Probably 14.5-16.5 miles. If I actually made 4 miles per hour, it could be as high as 20.5 miles. I'll call it 15 miles until I look up the distance to that road I came across.

Anyway, the guys who told me I was definitely on the wrong trail were up there to pick up guideposts from the snowmobile/ATV trail. The guideposts are bright orange, to be easily visible against snow in the winter. There were three of them, with two ATV's and one trailer. I rode with the youngest one in the trailer for part of the way back. He was probably 30-40. Heavyset. Dark mustache and matching curlyish hair. The drivers were some indeterminate age over 50. They seem like the type of guys who would look about the same from 50-80, barring major accidents. Grey beards and long grey hair. One had a Harley Davidson leather jacket. Unlike two other ATV's I came across on the trail, these did NOT smell horribly of exhaust. Presumably the engines were newer and more efficient. Beyond that these guys worked for some group connected with trail maintenance, I have no clue who they were, but I figure I'll send out a big Thank You, whether they're likely to see it or not. (Nice guys; kept asking if I had enough water with me. I almost did.)

Inquire Further

12 June 2006

An Attempt at Coherency

Ah, food and rest do wonders.

Anyway, to fill in the gaps of my last post, I arrived at Gibson Jack around 7:30. Started up the foot-path-side. No problems, quite pretty. It was rather nice to recognize most of the wildflowers and not worry about capturing them for future identification. I ran into Annik and Cathi Kunicki from the math department. Annik has a rather elaborate "baby backpack" for her infant. Looks like there's space under the baby's seat for carrying other stuff, though it seemed to be empty today. Anyway, she and Cathi turned around at a bridge, before there was too much of a climb. Annik said this was because her dog was 12 years old (and very friendly; probably a golden retriever). She asked me to keep an eye out for a baby's hat, as her husband had brought the baby up there the day before and lost it. Amazingly, I did find a baby's hat. Presumably it's hers. :^D

Everything was going well. There's a gate towards the top of that side, likely to keep ATV's off of that side. Then there's a bit of a down-slope. And there was a fork in the trail (Hecate is supposed to be the goddess of where paths meet; I think she hates me ;^). Anyway, I managed NOT to see the arrow pointing LEFT labelled GIBSON-JACK, and continued straight on my merry way. On the bright side, I saw a bluebird. On the not so bright side, I hiked two hours out of my way before realizing something was wrong. I knew something was wrong when the ATV trail turned into a drivable dirt road. Luckily at that point I heard a motor not too far from me, and asked the guys whether this was still the Gibson Jack trail. Uh, noooooo.... They gave me a ride back for a ways, then I got off when they turned to go another direction on the loop. I would have been better off staying with them; we got to the turn-off at about the same time.

Up to this point, I was mostly doing all right. A bit tired, but no real problems. Then at the place where I SHOULD have turned, the trail went up. And up. And up and up and up and up and up. I made it maybe halfway up before my body rebelled and insisted on resting and eating one of my fruit/nut bars. Well, half of it; any more would have made me nauseous. This was around 13:30. Up some more, and finally I recognized a ridge from my prior visit. Incidentally, it seems both of my hypotheses were correct: a trail DOES come out where I lost it, and the trail to the left ALSO leads back to the main trail. I took the high trail, over quite a gorgeous ridge. On flat or slightly upward areas, I was still okay. If the slope got too steep, I was at the point of resting every hundred feet or less. There was a set of switchbacks below the sharp turnaround that would send me back down the other side. Part of me looked at the switchbacks and debated going straight up, rather than side to side. However, there was the slight problem of exhaustion. The flatter slopes weren't as hard on my body, even if the path was longer (it was somewhere in this area that I found the baby hat).

Once I started downhill, and once the food started kicking in, I was a whole lot better off. At least, until the water ran out. I hadn't planned on a 12+ mile trek. At a guess, the water ran out around with two miles left to go. Doable, but not pleasant in the afternoon sun. So I was quite relieved when the parking lot came into view, and very impatient with the last set of switchbacks (which weren't avoidable unless I wanted to scramble over bushes and trees). I got back to the car a bit before 16:00. Anyway, I had more water in a cooler in the car (lesson learned on previous hikes, and never so welcome as this trip) as well as a fruit-smoothie. I badly needed the calories in the smoothie, but I had to take it slowly to give my body time to process it.

I was plotting to call my mom and get her to take me to Chang's at this point, when she conveniently called my cell phone, wanting to know where I was and if I'd gotten lost. "Oh, yeah. I did get lost." She wasn't happy to hear that, strangely enough. But she did agree to take me to Chang's after she finished running errands. We got there a bit before 17:00, and I ordered their version of a Thai Iced Tea (not nearly as good as the ones real Thai places have). The calories in that kept me going until the food got there. Then I ate more than half of my dish. For reference, I usually eat roughly half of the dish if I DON'T have a Thai Iced Tea with it. If I do, I generally manage a third of it. I think I ate close to three-quarters of it today. I was starved.

So that was my day. Oddly, I'm not as mentally and bodily exhausted as I was last Wednesday. Longer hike, but less heat. The heat just wipes me out.

Inquire Further

"Fire bad; tree pretty."

Gibson Jack, 7:30. Trail pretty. Climb nice. Gate weird. Wrong turn: BAD. Ride back: good. Up, up, up...BAD. Down...better. Food good. Water good. Out of water bad. Car: GOOOOOOOOOOD!!!!! Hungry now. Bye.

(I'm not quite that incoherent, but pretty close; I think I hiked 12 miles)

Inquire Further

11 June 2006

The Effect of Music

I don't think people realize how much effect music has on their perceptions. This may be because we've been trained by movies to associate certain types of music with certain situations. Anyway, the effect can be quite entertaining. I put the Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves soundtrack on while doing dishes, and then turned on Discovery channel during "Everything I Do." TV is muted and showing images of ants and termites fighting, feeding, etc. with "I would fight for you...I'd lie for you...Walk the world for you...Yeah, I'd die for you!" playing. Quite amusing.

Inquire Further


I woke up on a small pallet inside a larger room (which also contained a much larger bed). At first, this was the room of the king and queen (possibly my parents; possibly not). Then someone came to wake me, with presents for those in the room, and suddenly it was the room of my stepmother and one of her daughters. Anyway, the person with presents was a sixteen-year old girl in a blue nightgownish-dress. She gave me my present first, before my stepmother could wake up and forbid it. It was a blue pasteboard jewelry box, maybe 4 inches by 4 inches by 16 inches tall. It had small drawers running up and down the length of it, lined in black velvet as for holding jewelry. I hid it under a sort of vanity/counter just outside the bedroom.


I'm not in the hallway outside the bedroom any more. I'm in a hallway in a large, sci-fiesque city. Mostly white. There's a sense of energy, as of a bustling metropolis. I've just received news that a very bad thing has happened, involving the arrival of someone who looks like the priest who cuckolded Duncan in Sci-Fi channel's Children of Dune. This will require explanation. This guy, dressed in his brown leathers and white shirt, was a combination of the two most recent Stargate villains: replicators and priors. For those who don't watch the show, replicators started out as mindless machines that existed only to produce copies of themselves. They would consume all existing resources on a planet, and then move on. Eventually they somehow developed/acquired intelligence (I haven't seen the intervening episodes; just ones on either side of the change). In this case, I think the new arrival had some sort of mental control over technology. The priors are "missionaries" of the "Ori" (pronounced OR-aye), who claim to be ascended beings trying to help humanity achieve enlightenment. In fact, they're power-hungry parasites who feed off the worship of human beings. The priors have been altered by the Ori to have special powers (telekinesis is common). So this guy was bad news on many many levels. (Incidentally, all who refuse to worship the Ori will be summarily killed in the least pleasant way the prior can think of; sound almost familiar? It should.)

So Adam and I (Adam from Mythbusters, he's the one with the orange beard) were trying to get into the city's main defense grid. I'm not sure whether we were going to use it to get rid of the prior/replicator, or if we were just trying to lock it down so he couldn't get to it. At any rate, this involved getting into an elevator that would take us up (possibly down) to the grid and the rest of the city's machinery. This was not a normal elevator. It had a glass door (that looked suspiciously like the door of my new toaster oven), and a timer. I think the timer was less about how long it would take for the elevator-car to arrive (since it seemed to be there already), and more about waiting for the atmosphere inside to be breathable. Adam comments that "The elevator moves at exactly the rate of gravity, so we'll be in freefall on the way." This is why I think the machinery must have been down, below the earth's surface. If the elevator moves at the same acceleration as gravity, it will feel like freefall inside. The only question becomes, how does it stop without killing us?!??. That question wasn't addressed, as the dream ended shortly after the timer reached zero and we stepped inside the elevator.

The prior/replicator was visible, probably less than 50 feet away. I have no clue why he wasn't trying to stop us. It seems likely that he could jam the elevator if he wanted to. Perhaps he didnt' know what we were up to, or was planning to jam the deceleration device and let the elevator kill us. *shrugs*

Inquire Further

10 June 2006

On the Lava Trail

Some more scenic lava, for your viewing pleasure. However, the first three pictures are to give you a flavor for what following this trail is like. In each one, the next guidepost is visible. Can you find it? (I thought about circling them in red, but I decided it would be more fun if I didn't; in the second picture, the near guidepost is also visible :^)
Anyway, finding the guidepost is only half the battle, sometimes. Then you have to figure how to GET THERE. In some cases, this is easy. In other cases, it involves casting around looking for an easy route. If the guidepost you've spotted is, in fact, the next one in the sequence, the easiest path is usually straight towards it from the previous guidepost. There was at least one exception.

In some cases, due to elevation differences, a later guidepost was easier to see. Then it was easy to head off in the wrong direction and wind up in a "how the devil do I get a across that?" spot.

I did this on the way out to the vent trail from the loop.

Basically, I saw a guidepost clear across the loop and headed for it. It was doable, but it would have been a lot easier going on the real path. My route was shorter, but I doubt I saved myself any time. I also got into trouble second guessing myself when I was nearing exhaustion.

I knew I was getting close to the parking lot, and was convinced that the next guidepost would lead me back away from the parking lot and into the desert again. Uh, no... I was one ridge back from where I thought I was. That little...confusion had me scrambling up and down rocks frantically, convinced the trail should be there.

Which is why on my next expedition I'm planning to get there MUCH earlier, and bring much more in the way of caloric refreshment (i.e. food). The guidebook suggests that this trek is difficult enough to require an hour per mile. I was making 30-35 minutes per mile.

So...4 mile trail, plus maybe a mile to get to it... I need to allow 5-6 hours. If it's as hot as it was last Wednesday, I'll probably give up sooner. I suspect I was nearing heat exhaustion. Oh, and, yes that is my shadow in the picture to the left (unless your browser has shifted things around; then pretend that the picture with the obvious qalmlea shadow is directly left of this paragraph).

Tomorrow I may go for a harder but easier hike (easier but harder?). Gibson Jack. Harder in the sense that there is much more in the way of elevation gain.

Easier in that it won't be across lava rocks that absorb and radiate heat constantly, and in that I won't have to negotiate huge cracks and loose shards.

Inquire Further

08 June 2006

Hell's Half-Acre in Two Movements, with Sword

Hell's Half-Acre is quite a large lava flow (8 by 18 miles, according to the sign, or 144 square miles; Here is a link with a satellite image). The wilder section is roughly 20 miles west of Idaho Falls, on Highway 20. I've been there twice now, both times on Wednesday morning before my sword lesson. Yesterday I decided to see how far I could make it along the trail to the vent before having to turn around. I made it to the two-mile marker, which had a rather nice place to sit and drink some water and eat a fruit/nut bar. I don't mean a bench. This was just a nicely rounded rock ledge with a view of the continuing "trail." Which had a few difficult spots where the junipers had gotten so tall that the guide-flags were hidden. Luckily, I seem to have picked up the knack of seeing the "trail" in areas where there's enough dirt for this to be feasible. I didn't see it at all on my first visit, except right close to the parking lot. Yesterday, I could see the difference immediately in many places. Very helpful when the guidepoles are hidden.

As things worked out, I should have turned around 15 minutes sooner than I did; I was a wee bit late for my sword lesson. :^) Don, however, blamed it on the construction around his house. They had completely blocked off his street, and not bothered to leave any openings for local traffic. To get anywhere, Don and family had to drive across an unpaved vacant lot. I did skirt around one "road closed" sign, then parked about a block back from Don's house (before the next "road closed" sign) and walked the rest of the way. I was rather exhausted (more from the heat than from the hike itself), so I think I was a bit out of it yesterday. Don worked me through several extremely nitpicky corrections. We spent the most time on "Dragon Winds around the Pillar": a move where the sword makes two circles in front of you as you make a twist step to change directions. I'm having several problems here, most of them due to tension in my right shoulder. There was also a timing issue, and yet another realization that it's the waist that drives the movement. Oh, I had also picked up a habit of getting the sword to horizontal when it should have been poined at the ground. Impossible to keep fair-maiden's-wrist that way.

Okay, back to the lava field. Yes, there were wildflowers. I'm sort of backing off from posting a huge assortment with identifications. Later, perhaps, but I would like to post pictures of my new favorite flower: the prickly pear cactus. *grins* Absolutely gorgeous. And edible. And an emergency source of moisture in the desert, should you need it. On the first trip, the cactus hadn't bloomed yet (which is the first picture). But yesterday, there were blooms everywhere! One of my flower books claims that these blooms are hard to find, as they don't last very long. I beg to differ: if you're in an area that's chock-a-block full of prickly pear, you're going to find blooms this time of year. Now, if there's only one or two prickly pear in the area, then the claim is probably valid. Anyway, I'm not going to worry about finding out what kind of prickly pear all of these are, so just enjoy the pictures.

These are from Massacre Rocks, not Hell's Half-Acre, but I figured I'd keep all the cacti together:

Inquire Further

06 June 2006


A strange movie. Melissa asked if I wanted to see it with her. I didn't know much about it, but I knew it had stirred controversy, so I figured, why not?

The style of this movie is a style I am very fond of, but it's also a style that alienates people who are looking for sound bytes. For one thing, it actually has a plot. A serially intertwined plot. It jumps right into the story with no background information, no hints, no roadmaps. Just characters interacting. It isn't at all obvious at first that there's even any connection between the shifting characters. This requires paying close attention to detail. A blink in the wrong spot could mean missing a very important detail. I absolutely loved that.

A few cautions: there is some strong language and one very graphically violent scene. In no case is this gratuitous. In some places, it would be stranger for the characters NOT to be using strong language. The torture scene...was certainly powerful. I'm not one hundred convinced it was necessary, but anything less seems inappropriate. *shrugs* Anyway, be warned.

So, what was it about? Oil. Money. Blood. And the people involved with them. I have no idea how accurate the scenario presented in the movie is, but it is frighteningly plausible. Essentially, oil interests are presented as imperialism in disguise. American monetary interests rule above all else, no matter who suffers. That sounds like our government, all right. The overall theme is that every decision affects everyone else at some level. And so it does.

One oddity: there's some sort of water symbolism going on that I didn't really get. Basically, as soon as you see water (or even a semi-clear liquid like tea), something bad is going to happen. I also wonder if the strawberry juice that some oil execs were drinking at a celebration was supposed to represent blood. It would fit this movie.

At any rate, I highly recommend this movie, for its style and for the theme of interconnectedness. I hope that it overstates the callousness of American business interests, but I suspect that it's dead on.

I found a very accurate review, but it contains more details than I would recommend for someone who has not seen the movie.

Inquire Further

Belated Flowers (Gibson-Jack the third)

I'm behind on these. Luckily on more recent trips, I've seen lots and lots of repeats, so there won't be as many new ones. Anyway, these are the last flowers I'll be posting from Gibson Jack. Yes, that means there are more that I have not posted. I've got others from Hell's Half-Acre (Wednesday), Lava Hot Springs (Friday) and Massacre Rocks (yesterday = Monday) that I haven't even sorted through yet.

Oh, and if you've been wondering why I'm so into the flowers, it's mostly because I like to know what I'm looking at when I go hiking. Carrying guidebooks with me is not practical. They're heavy and awkward, and generally I'm more interested in just hiking than in stopping to pull out a book. If I capture the flowers in pictures, I can look them up at my leisure. At the very least, I like to know the basic identities (there's a lupine; that one's fleabane; some sort of penstemon...) and which ones are edible. More importantly, which ones are poisonous. :^D Posting them here gives me incentive to actually get the looking-up part done, and also gives me a record of which ones I've encountered already.

Oh, one source that I don't think I've used yet was helpful on a few of these: National Audubon Society: Field Guide to the Rocky Mountains.

Mountain bluebells, Mertensia ciliate. These were in a shaded area, near the Solomon plant. I'm not sure why they were growing up-side down.

Wooly sunflower, Eriophyllum lanatum. At least, that seems to be the closest matching sunflower. I often ignore stuff that looks like sunflowers because it's often difficult to tell which is which.

American Speedwell, Veronica americana. This was all over the place up at Gibson Jack. Seems that all Veronica species are edible, but become bitter as they get older. High in Vitamin C.

The larger, more prominent flower is Moon-Rose, aka White Evening Primrose, Oenothera cespitosa. "Evening" primrose seems to be because they open in the evenings and are pollinated by night-flying insects, especially moths. I didn't try to find the smaller flower at the bottom left.

Pale Comandra, Comandra umbellata. In small quantities, its fruits seem to be edible (in large quantities they may make people nauseous). Oddly, the fruits are said to be tastiest before they are fully ripe.

Curlycup Gumweed, Grindelia squarrosa. This one took me a while to find, but it was the almost bead-like center that identified it. These aren't fully in bloom yet. You can see a few of the petals just starting to open out. Anyway, the name comes from natives supposedly chewing the blossoms as gum.

Heartleaf Arnica, Arnica cordifolia. Hmmm... some native tribes used leaves from various arnica's on cuts and bruises, and one tribe used the leaves as a love-charm. *shrugs*

Inquire Further