Saturday, July 3, 2010

Days Off

Look up Sloth in the dictionary. You'll see a little litho print of TruckeeDave beside the entry!

I just couldn't work up any enthusiasm for digging in the garden or doing the heavy lifting of the plumbing project, so I lounged about all morning surfing the Web.

I did take the time to Chat with the HDMI Switch people, and in about ten minutes of hunt and peck, back and forth, they e-mailed me the Printable RMA Shipping Label.

After I couldn't work up any enthusiasm for watching the local Noon News, I headed downtown to ship my defective HDMI Switch back for re-grooving.

When I walked into the local UPS Store, the proprietor was helping another customer.

Behind the counter, a small HDTV was displaying a soccer game from the World Cup in South Africa. The TV set had the Sound OFF, and the Closed Captioning ON, and the play by play scrolled across the bottom of the "Made In China" 19inch LCD screen...en Español.

The franchisee is a Ukrainian Immigrant, and doesn't speak any Spanish!

When he wrapped up with the other customer, we made some small talk about the World Cup...the game on his TV was Uruguay vs Ghana...Ghana beat the American Team, eliminating them from the tournament. The UPS Store guy cracked that Brazil got beat earlier in the day. I said: "I knew something was up because Twitter was 'Over Capacity' for 45 minutes this morning".

He handed me my change, and I said: "The Internets were reverberating all around the World today" We were both laughing as I smiled and walked out to do the rest of my errands.

Next up, two hardware stores didn't have the little plumbing parts I needed.

So, I braved the local Safeway, and was glad to see my favorite checker, Hamish was working.

Poor Hamish was dealing with a crabby and preoccupied customer while I put my groceries on the conveyor belt.

I felt a bead of sweat rolling down my nose when Hamish said: "Hello my friend, how are you?"

"Hot" I replied, "But I'll be hotter tomorrow" We made small talk about the weather, and Hamish asked me: "Do you know where Mount Atlas is?" "In Lebanon?" I asked.

"No, in Algeria. I'm from Algeria, and I spent some time in the snow up on Mount Atlas" Hamish continued: "I've seen it snow in June on Mount Atlas".

"Did you know that it snowed on Mt Washington in New Hampshire yesterday, Hamish?"

"No" he replied.

I told him that up on Donner Summit, I've seen snowfall during every month on the calendar, including a three foot storm one September back in the 90s!

I was smiling as I pulled out of Safeway's parking lot...I'd just had a Genuine American Melting Pot Moment...twice in a half an hour.


Friday, July 2, 2010

Flying Under the Radar

No wonder I've had a quiet week! My phone's been off for six days! I so rarely turn it off, that I never remember to turn it back on! The 3+ year old Motorola Razr V3m has been on since November, and I turned it off last Friday at the Miller Park Boat Ramp on Tomales Bay when the battery was too low. The phone repeatedly shrieks a warning when the battery gets ears can't take it...besides, there was no cell service there anyway.

I figured it out today when I got an e-mail from SturgeUrge's Dad, SteveO! Seems I missed Jerry Otto's Fish Camp! SteveO was trying to get in touch with SturgeUrge...fat lot of help I was...I replied with the name of the campground they're at, adding that Jerry said he had to go into town to get a cell signal...

So, without interruptions, I've been productive this week...and I had fresh dungeness crab every day until Wednesday!

I took in all the Giants' games, and watched the Tour de France Preview. It's going to be an epic three weeks of bicycle racing!

I resisted the urge to upgrade my iPod Touch (3rd Generation) to the new iOS 4's the same operating system as the new iPhone 4 uses, and it enables multitasking along with 100 other new features.

Back in February, I got stung when I upgraded to Apple's latest iTunes version, and thrashed daily using my crippled iPod until I found the path to return to the previous version that returned things back to May! I thought computers were supposed to simplify our lives! Computers were going to make us into a "Paperless Society" they said, too. I own three printers today, and my hand-me-down all in one does triple duty as a fax, scanner, and copier at the Ancestral Digs now.

I wasn't taking any chances this time around, so after working in the Diggins, and shopping at HomeDepot today, I went to Apple's iPod Touch Support Forum to reconnoiter. Sure enough, the new update was playing havoc with iPod Touches...even the latest Gen3 units. After the whiz-bang upgrade, battery life plummeted by half. 165 posts in just one of the discussion threads...everyone whining at Apple. Glad I missed it...multitasking can tech disaster averted...

Out back in the Ancestral Diggins, I've been making progress. I finished plumbing a new irrigation circuit, made up some soaker hoses, flushed the lines, and began installing the soakers in their raised beds.

My basil sprouted, and the last of the privet branches went into the green waste can. I mixed up 48 cubic feet of planting mix (1.77 cu yd). The gladiolus and tiger lilies are blooming, and Dad's roses are rallying after the Black Spot Siege.

Tomorrow, I turn the water off for an hour or two, and do some serious re-plumbing. I'll be digging more raised beds, and planting some squash and herbs. There's a geranium and a begonia to move, rhubarb to cut back, and sunflowers to sow.

That'll fill the morning...after a shower I have another tech battle to fight. My new HDMI Switch (the Replacement Unit) was defective out of the box, so I'll be "interfacing" with MonoPrice Support before they RMA it, I box it back up, and hit the UPS Store, again.

No rest for the wicked! Did you know that it snowed in New Hampshire Thursday? Mt Washington 6228 ft It didn't stick and turned to rain before any measurable accumulation.

Thursday, July 1, 2010


The title above has worked it's way into the American Lexicon over the past twenty years. It's the exclamation that comes from the mouth of TV's "Number One Dad", Homer Simpson when yet another something blows up in his face. Today it's shorthand for "Dolt gets surprised" It's Wiley Coyote getting crushed by a falling cliff in the evergreen Warner Brothers "Roadrunner" cartoons, updated for the 21st Century.

It's the word that came out of my mouth Tuesday morning.

Over most of the month of June, I've been dealing with the biggest weed I've ever seen. It was a 20+ foot tall volunteer privet tree that sprung up sometime in the past 4-5 years in the backyard landscape. Privets are often spread by birds, they are a popular plant in the neighborhood, and this particular specimen sprouted inches from a privacy fence, and did some damage to the fence during the growth of it's trunk to six inches in diameter.

At it's ultimate height of twenty or so feet, it was shading a generous portion of the Ancestral Diggins sector of the backyard. I must have pulled 200 tiny privet seedlings that emerged looking for all the world like dichondra, in the rose garden my Dad put in when he first retired.

I attacked the interloper with pruning loppers. These "Homeowner Grade" loppers were up to the task until the branches were over an inch in diameter. A couple of hours of lopping and threading the branches through the rose garden, resulted in a big bushy pile of privet branches beneath the big apricot tree around the side of the garage.

A couple of days before garbage day, I wheeled the green waste container ( we have full-service curbside recycling here in the Inland Valley) back to the pile and methodically cut the limbs and branches up with an anvil pruner and filled the can in about three hours. I woke up the next morning with what felt like Popeye's right forearm after a can of spinach! We're talkin' Pumped Up!

Garbage day came and went, and the gardeners come the morning after the garbage man. I returned to the task at hand once the gardeners were done, and found they had taken a branch or two from my privet pile, and stuffed the green can to the brim!

The next day, I deployed my trusty Milwaukee Sawzall and finished the removal of the remaining standing privet. Over the following days, I hauled the remaining branches to a second, much larger pile...this one under the magnolia tree adjacent to the apricot. I set up my Hitachi 8 1/2 in slide saw, and made smallish, green can-sized pieces of the larger branches and trunk pieces.

I pulled out and cut up the stuffed branches, added some more cut-up privet, and topped up the can with the branch and trunk pieces and waited for next week's garbage day.

All this didn't happen in a vacuum of course, I was coming and going, doing the errands, and one afternoon I realized that there was a whole lot of tree work being done in our subdivision...all of it by professionals driving the requisite big trucks towing big, noisy, woodchippers!

I hatched my "Evil Plan"...I'd take a spin around the neighborhood, locate the tree service truck, park the car and introduce myself and offer $20 or so for them to chip up what I had left of the privet remains! I'd throw the remains in the back of my pickup, and haul it to their location, feed 'em my twenty, and hand 'em a sixer of cold beer...project complete!

OK, fired up with my new mission, I made daily laps around the subdivision...suddenly, the tree services were nowhere to be found! This continued all week until it was time to fill the green can again.

Another week passed...I started making special reconnaissance trips every morning...still not one tree service truck or woodchipper.

The privet pile was drying quickly in the summer heat. I needed to fill the green can once again. This week, I got the jump on the project, and allotted two days to cut up the now crispy remains. With the leaves dried, it was easy to just strip them off with a gloved hand, making quick work of reducing the bulk. I had the can half full when the gardeners arrived to trim the hedges and wisteria. Again they filled the can with fluffy clippings, which I removed before resuming my clipping and filling duties.

I did two shifts this Monday to finish the job. The new, fluffy cuttings had dried enough to easily crunch down to fit atop the now nearly full can. It was scorching hot Monday, so I left the can under the apricot, and headed for the shower.

This morning I needed to move the can to the driveway to make room to wheel my crab pots to the shed. They'll come out again in November when Dungeness Crab Season re-opens. Tonight I roll out the cans for Wednesday pickup.

I opened the gate and rolled the green can out to the front of the garage with the other cans. I looked across the street and there was a tree service truck and chipper parked at the neighbor's house!


Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Don't Say It Outloud!

Ouch my ears!
I was lounging in bed Sunday morning, waiting for the coffee to brew, before settling in to view the Formula One Race from Valencia, Spain. These lazy Sunday mornings are very dear to your's truly, and the only real change in my routine over four decades is that now I read the online version of the Sunday Chronicle instead of the paper version.

Back in the day, I'd crack open the Sunday "Pink Section" first. The Pink Section is still printed on pink paper, and it's real title is "Datebook". It's the Arts & Entertainment section. In the 21st Century, there's much more live motorsports shown on television, so my first look at the Sunday Chronicle is now the Sporting Green, so I can check to make sure I'm not missing any racing action...Motorsports is a Spring-Fall sport...gotta make hay while the Sun shines!

For most of my life, the Sporting Green was printed on green newsprint. Sometime in the past 10-15 years, the publisher quit using the green paper due to the ongoing belt-tightening in the Dead Tree Sector. In the last year or two, they've tried returning to form in their attempt to lure back some wayward readers, and now they print the green background on plain newsprint. I'd venture that this pleases the paper's habitual readers, but I doubt that it will be an effective siren song to the lost readership.

Thursday night before our Tomales Bay trip, I laid eyes on the new Sporting Green, and it really looks weird. It's shiny green now, it feels weird, and I admit that my choice of sports has evolved over the years.

I don't follow NFL football much anymore. The last fair weather weekends in the Fall are too valuable to spend indoors in front of the TV from 10AM 'till 10PM (don't forget Sunday Night Football is every week of the season now) So, along with unfettered free-agency's effect on the League, I'm just not that into Pro Football that I feel the need to read every word on every team anymore.

I guess the NFL finally figured out that guys like me wandered off the farm, so to speak, enabled by ESPN's "NFL Primetime", that returned our Sunday afternoons, but gave us every high- and low-light in a snappy hour once the games ended for the day. Now I don't even actively watch the NFL until playoff time.

The NFL Strikes Back...hello "Sunday Night Football"...goodbye "NFL Primetime"...sigh...

NBA Basketball? No interest. NHL Hockey? Not enough to read about it. Baseball? I'm a Giant's fan, but I get everything I need from the TV Broadcasts...the Giant's broadcast team of John Miller, Duane Kuiper, and Mike Krukow are the best since I grew up listening to Russ Hodges and Lonn Simmons. Today, I follow the SF Giants on Facebook, so everything Giants comes to me there.

With the exception of the SF Giants, all of my sports are "Second Tier Sports" in Newspaper-Speak. Motorsports, Bicycle Racing, Sailing, Wintersports, Outdoor Recreation, Fishing and Camping. Niche Sports are not well served by newspapers anymore. Still, the Chronicle does have an Outdoor Section in the Sporting Green every Thursday (though I hate that they dropped the Fishing Report) Maybe it's not ironic that I gladly pay $25/year to for access to the Fishing Reports Forums, but won't subscribe to the paper. It's here that newspapers will never be able to compete with Internet sources.

In Truckee, the daily Chronicle is a dollar...($3.00 on Sundays!), it's not the Final Edition, it's the Early Edition, printed at midnight or earlier, it requires that I get up and get dressed and drive a half mile...where I need exact change to buy a copy from a newspaper it's hardly accurate to call it a Newspaper when compared to the up-to-the-second nature of the 'Net.

The Chronicle's Outdoor Section is anchored by Tom Steinstra, NorCal's Outdoor Writer Emeritus. I've linked to Tom's Winter Prediction Columns here, I own several of Tom's Guidebooks, and read him regularly. In Tom's Thursday Column this week, he coined a new word: "Sprinter"

This hurt my ears:
"One phenomenon this year in the Sierra is that a new season called "sprinter" has arrived. That is when the weather doesn't seem to know if it's winter, spring or summer. At Caples Lake, for instance, nestled at 7,800 feet along Highway 88 near Carson Pass, it was 20 degrees at dawn Tuesday and yet in the 80s by Wednesday afternoon."

It's bad enough to endure this cool lingering season...but the cutesy name is just plain cruel! Say it's ain't so, Tom! Take it back...Hello Kitty is an indoor pet, Hello Kitty doesn't do!

Sunday, June 27, 2010


I slept in this morning. A long day pulling crab pots and chasing halibut on Tomales Bay really takes it out of you.

I thought I'd just do a little cleaning up around my world. Nothing too strenuous, mind you...

I retrieved my crab gear from the SurgeUrge Compound. I climbed into the boat to grab the second pot and I heard SturgeUrge's Ex call my name through the lush fig tree. She was there to pick up BonnieDog...they've been sharing BonnieDog since they split up a few years back. I hadn't talked to Ex in at least a year. We spent a few minutes catching up, and she seemed interested in this blog. I gave her a TruckeeDave business card so she didn't have to remember CorduroyPlanet's address. Returning to the Ancestral Digs, I washed the crab gear and the bait cooler, and they're drip-drying out back in the Diggins.

Last night, while SturgeUrge was cleaning our crab after dinner, I tore into his home PC which bedly needed some tidying-up. I dumped his temporary files (all 3500 of 'em), updated and ran AdAware, downloaded Spybot Search and Destroy, updated and ran it, and made a mental note of stuff to investigate before I sit down to his computer, download Revo Uninstaller, install it, and do a thorough cleanup.

In an hour or so, the sun will be off the last pile of privet trimmings, and I'll chop them down to size and put the bits into the green recycling container.

In the Ancestral Diggins, my arugula seed sprouted...I'm still waiting on the basil seed to sprout...

After Sunday's Formula One, the European Grand Prix, and a quick run to the farmer's market for some vine-ripe tomatoes, I'll turn off the water and do some re-plumbing for the 21st Century Irrigation Project.

I plan to savor these chores...for their restorative value, don'tcha know! I am a cockeyed optimist, no doubt about it!

I spent some time poking around @CorduroyPlanet's Twitter Feed. @PistenBullyUSA linked to a story about their Beach Tech machines going to the Gulf Region to help clean up oil from the beaches.

I still think the best strategy is to keep the oil off the beaches and out of the wetlands and salt marshes in the first place! I guess that the Feds are still not accepting help from foreign countries. Pity that we can't enlist the Dutch...they know a thing or two about keeping the sea out of their country, much of which is below sea level...they have a huge fleet of skimming vessels and support vessels to deal with North Sea spills.

I see Boreal is going to turn it's Castle Peak Quad Chair the weekend of July 10th and 11th! In past years, My Mountain has turned one lift on the Fourth of July...not to sell tickets to the public, but to entertain our stockholders!

With all these pesky Baggy Troughs hanging around well into Summertime, I wonder if there will be a High Sierra lift turning in August...I wonder...