Give Me A Call

  • The year was 2017. The number one song on the Billboard 100 was Slide by Calvin Harris. The best picture that year was Moonlight. The bad orange man was sworn in to office. And Google (don’t be evil) released the Pixel 2. That was a different decade and I was determined not to get sucked into the iPhone cult, so I switched from my crank operated flip phone to the Pixel. Actually, my only reason for going with the Google phone was the camera. I’m all about the Instagram selfies. I’ve been pretty happy with it (the phone, not the selfies). I’ve had zero issues other than a loose USB-C port that’s been the source of some charging and connectivity problems. But, technology marches on and it’s time to upgrade. Well, I don’t want to upgrade but I have to solve the navigation problems with the ginormous motorcycle and this is step one. So which phone? I pulled up a comparison list of specs for the top sellers and after 30 seconds my eyes glazed over. I don’t care about specs. I’m not in the corporate world any more, so I’m not trying to do Zoom meetings on my mobile. I only do a few things with my phone. I send text messages so I don’t have to actually speak to humans. I take pictures. I attempt to use navigation/maps. I look up random facts on the internet while waiting for the coffee to brew. Oh, and once every month or so I actually make a phone call. That’s it. I don’t need a 1.21 Jiggawatt processor to send text messages. So, which phone to buy? Between the latest Samsung, Pixel, and iPhone models the cameras seem roughly equal. I’m not taking pics for museum quality prints… I don’t need an f 1.7, wide angle, super view, dark mode, lidar enhanced, espresso capable, quad lens. I take pictures of the dog for Instagram (he’s very popular). Mrs Troutdog is a faithful citizen of the Apple ecosystem and has been putting out some heavy pressure to switch over. I wouldn’t necessarily be opposed, but I’m a Microsoft guy and I’m just not ready to switch to iCloud to try and get cross-device syncing to work. So it’s between the Samsung s21 and the Pixel 5. Samsung’s camera is probably a touch better, but I’m not a fan of how they over sharpen their images. I’d rather ruin images by over saturating them myself. Besides, I’d have to sell off some Bitcoin to afford the latest Samsung. Looks like I’m staying with team Pixel. I’m heading to the store this afternoon so stay tuned. I’m extremely gullible and susceptible to salespeople, so who knows what I’ll actually come home with. I might be sporting a fancy new Xiaomi Redmi, featuring background data sync with China’s office of state telecom security cloud service. Free cloud storage!
  • If you haven’t been following along, the Chauvin trial doesn’t appear to be going well for the state. The possibility of a finding other than murder is looking more likely. And as I’ve said before, Minneapolis will burn if that happens. I wouldn’t schedule a vacation trip to catch a Minnesota Twins game anytime soon.
  • 60 Minutes was once the pillar of investigative journalism. After their hit piece on Florida gov DeSantis, it’ll be hard to trust anything they publish moving forward. If you haven’t seen it, here’s what 60 Minutes aired vs what his full answer to the question was. I don’t care if you like the governor or not, you can’t watch that and still say it was unbiased reporting.
  • A baby elephant trying to be fierce. Because who doesn’t like baby elephants?
  • Today is the official end of winter. Well, for me. I had fully intended to get a couple of last days of skiing in this week before the resort and ski trails close this weekend. Life got in the way and I’m not able to go. So that’s it. Done. Winter 20/21 is over. Now starts the countdown to full snow melt and summer activities. Around these parts it’s known as “mud season”. I’m not a fan. Guess I’ll just have to ride the motorcycle for the next month.

Song of the day: Bush – Swallowed – 7/23/1999 – Woodstock 99 East Stage

I Got Lost

It was supposed to be a simple, short, day trip (Gilligan’s Island, a three hour tour plays in the background). If you haven’t been following along, I’ve declared this year as my “summer of George”. The plan is to travel, mostly by motorcycle, and visit as many off the beaten track sights as I can. Phase one was changing my work hours to make this possible, and purchasing the right motorcycle. With that done, it’s now time to start the actual adventures. I have a handful of rides on the new bike under my belt, so I felt ready to do a mini-adventure to test things out before I hit the road on a multi-day trip.

The plan was to ride to a quirky museum I’d found on-line called Cleo’s Ferry Museum on the banks of the Snake river. It was about an hour and a half away, traveling entirely on backcountry farm roads – no interstate travel. I also wanted to experiment with how to document the trip (and future adventures). Do I want to make YouTube videos or just photography? I’ve seen plenty of YouTube motorcycle travel videos and it looks pretty simple. A couple of GoPro cameras, chat about the scenery as you cruise through the countryside, then give insightful commentary once you arrive at your destination. I got the GoPro’s all set up and loaded up my tank bag with extra batteries, memory cards, various accessories, and my regular camera. Time to ride!

The ride out to farmland went great. I was busy chatting away to the camera and enjoying the first real warm day of spring. Discovery number one was that turning on/off cameras one handed while riding a motorcycle and wearing leather gloves is challenging. It’s impossible to see if they’re recording or not. I had multiple instances where I was babbling away like an idiot only to realize the cameras never started recording because I didn’t fully push the button. Or that I’d thought I’d turned them off and ended up recording another 15 minutes of nothing, draining the batteries. You think texting and driving is bad? I can easily see myself riding into a ditch as I stare intently at the GoPro and fumble with the on/off button with gloved fingers.

Discovery number two was a known issue that I thought I was prepared for, but failed miserably. As I’ve chronicled previously, I’ve had an issue with the USB connection on my phone, Android Auto, and the navigation display on the motorcycle. It’s been randomly shutting off leaving me without a map. I’m 90% certain the USB C connection on my phone is the problem as it connects/disconnects if I wiggle the cable around. No biggie, I’d looked at my route on the computer pretty carefully and felt like even if it cut out a few times I still had a good sense of where I was going. Almost on cue, as soon as I hit the winding backcountry roads the navigation display started cutting out. In person these roads looked nothing like they did on the computer. Remote, no signs or landmarks, and all kinds of random unmarked side roads everywhere. Pretty soon I’d made multiple turns and had zero idea where I was.

Not an issue except that every time the navigation cut out I’d have to stop the motorcycle, dig out my phone from the tank bag and wiggle the cord until the display came back. Stopping on a motorcycle is not the same as a car. You need a reasonably flat surface and many of these country roads have no shoulder, just a steep ditch on either side. By the time I’d stopped a half dozen times I was getting frustrated. I’d pull out the phone, try and memorize the next few turns, wiggle the cord, put everything back in the tank bag, put my gloves back on, then take off. Two minutes later the navigation would cut out, I’d forget the name of the next road and have stop and start the process all over. Multiple times I’d find myself on a dead end road and have to backtrack. My carefree ride was quickly losing the enjoyment factor.

After several hours of this I finally found my destination. I pulled into the gravel parking lot, found a shady spot and shut the bike down. I was tired and dripping with sweat. Fully armored riding gear is great when there’s airflow. The last several hours of stopping/starting in the increasing spring heat left me soaking wet. No matter, I was here and it was time to capture some fun video and pictures of my destination! Discovery number three – a motorcycle is not like a car. You can’t just take off your jacket and lock it in the vehicle. I have an expensive helmet and jacket I can’t just leave sitting on the bike. So even though it was getting ridiculously hot I kept the jacket on and lugged the helmet, a GoPro camera and my regular camera with me as I set off to explore the museum.

Turns out, the museum wasn’t really a museum and there weren’t any ferries to see. It was a mile and a half “nature” walk with some old buildings and an eclectic and bizarre collection of hundreds of lawn gnomes, sculptures, and wandering peacocks. I’m sure someone like Mike Rowe could have made an interesting video segment about this place, but I was hot and tired. I was fumbling with the GoPro, the heavy helmet, and my regular camera was hanging on its strap around my neck and bouncing around. Somehow in that jostling a button got pushed and the camera’s display turned off. Standing in the hot sun in a heavy motorcycle jacket, sweat running down my back, I couldn’t figure out how to get the camera display back on so I had to abandon taking any pictures. At this point I’d had enough of Cleo’s Ferry Museum and trudged back to the bike.

The batteries on the GoPro were all dead, so at this point I was ready to just get back home. I packed everything up, mounted the bike and headed out on the most direct route back. I hadn’t eaten anything since early morning and had no water. The prudent thing to do would have been to find a café or something and grab a bite to eat and some water. I didn’t want to deal with the navigation again and rationalized it was only an hour ride going the direct route home. I am not the sharpest crayon in the box sometimes and should have known that this trip was destined to not go well.

I hit construction zones that detoured me in circles. I got stuck in traffic that had the bike nearly overheating. I got briefly lost again navigating a downtown I’d only been in once before. I pulled into my garage just before dinner, tired, hot, hungry, and with an aching back and dull headache from dehydration. My several hour adventure turned had turned into an all day affair without food or water. Virtually nothing had gone as planned.

Clearly my path to YouTube stardom will be harder than I thought. On the bright side, I know what I need to address before my next adventure. Better to find out now I suppose. All in all, I still love the idea of what I’m doing. And I have to laugh at my level of ineptness sometimes. I’m sure this won’t be my last epic failure. But I’m looking forward to whatever ridiculousness comes my way on these future travels. Life is too short not to have these experiences.

A Technological Disaster

Why can’t things just be easy? When it comes to technology, things have a way of becoming unnecessarily complicated for me. Which is slightly ironic since I was a tech guy back in the stone age. The issue isn’t that I can’t figure out how to fix things, it’s why do they happen to me in the first place? I had a planned motorcycle ride yesterday (the fifth or sixth on the new ginormous bike) and wanted to make a video and practice some navigation stuff. I shall now entertain you with a list of my technological failures:

  • I couldn’t get the audio on the helmet to GoPro working. It worked before, now it wasn’t. I ended up pulling out all the wires and reconnecting everything which didn’t fix it. After some internet search time I found a GoPro setting that somehow got changed. Audio now working. Time spent, 45 minutes.
  • Camera mount on the handlebars suddenly won’t hold up the camera in the wind. It worked on the previous bike, but not now.
  • I managed to yank out the audio cable for the camera while opening up my visor at the gas station. In a fit of frustration I decided to abandon filming the ride and stuck the camera gear in the tank bag. I decided to focus on learning to use Android Auto with the bikes built in display unit.
  • Ten minutes down the road, Android Auto disconnects. I pull over and wiggle the connection to the phone and it reconnects. My phone is old and the USB C connection is loose. It’s a known issue, but I’ve been reluctant to get a new phone since I’ve spent a truckload of money already this year. I came prepared for this and used some rubber bands to keep the connection tight.
  • Twenty minutes later, Android Auto disconnects again. Pull over and this time my Bluetooth headset powered off for some unknown reason. Turn it back on and reconnect.
  • Another disconnect. Pull over and the rubber bands both broke. Wiggle the connection and back in business.
  • Another disconnect. This time the phone overheated and powered off. Turns out the tank bag has a clear plastic top where the phone sits. That clear plastic acts like a magnifying glass and the phone was burning hot.

At this point I gave up. Fortunately I knew where I was going, so just concentrated on enjoying the ride. But why does everything have to be so difficult? Is it just me or does everyone face these challenges? On top of these things, it turns out that neither Android Auto or Apple Carplay are able to utilize a custom route. This is important since they navigate based upon the fastest route. Great for commuting, but I don’t want to take the fastest route, I want to enjoy the backroads and roads less traveled. Otherwise, how am I going to find the worlds largest ball of string? Very frustrating since I don’t want to have to buy a separate GPS. I suppose that’s the purpose of these shakedown rides – to get everything dialed in before I go somewhere unknown to me. But would it be too much to ask for something to just work, first time?

  • Yosemite National Park to Install Auto Belay System on El Capitan. Bravo Climbing.com. For a minute you had me. First day of April and all.
  • We started re-watching the Sopranos from season 1. We watched in real time when it originally came out and I hadn’t seen it since. What a fantastic series. I honestly don’t think you could make that series today. Someone would get all butt-hurt about something and protest.
  • Facebook and Instagram have taken down Trump’s interview with daughter-in-law Lara. FB told Lara Trump that “content posted in the voice of President Trump is not currently allowed on our platforms (including new posts with President Trump speaking) and will be removed”. Think about that for a minute. One of the largest media platforms on the planet decided they will censor a former sitting president. If you had told me that a few years ago I would have laughed. What’s frightening is how many people get most of their news from FB. No bias there. I suppose it’s ok. Words are scary. He might incite the bugaloo bois to jump out of the bushes and, you know, do some insurrection or something.
  • Ya’ll have a great weekend. I’m off for a three day work stent, so I’ll be tired and grumpy. Fingers crossed for warm weather and no wind next week.

Song of the day: Alabama 3 Woke up This Morning (The Sopranos Mix)

Follow The Advice Of The Galactically Stupid

  • Breaking news, onetime actor Mark Hamill and director James Mangold announced that they are attempting to spawn a Hollywood boycott of Georgia. They don’t want to film in a state that “doesn’t allow people to vote”. I honestly wasn’t going to say anything more about this, but the sheer stupidity boggles my mind. Forget all the other crazy misinformation about this Georgia law being spread by politicians and the media, I want to focus on one thing. Voter ID. Take a deep breath… so what you’re telling me is that there are thousands upon thousands of people in Georgia that do not have an ID? You’re asking me to believe that there are massive numbers of functioning adults in the state, who are legal residents, that do not have a home, car, cell phone, etc… because they can’t figure out how to obtain identification? Seriously? With a straight face you want to tell me that there are armies of people, aimlessly wandering the streets because they don’t have an ID, and yet they desperately want to vote? News flash, we’re a few years past the 1950’s. It’s 2021. We have frick’n self driving cars. There is not a single reasonably functioning person above the age of 17 in this country who does not have an ID. But you knew that. And so does the left, Hollywood, and the media. And yet, politicians trot out this nonsense constantly. And the media simply smiles and helps them spread the word without ever challenging them. Even more offensive, the media happily lets them frame it as, wait for it, racism! Clearly you are a white supremacist by supporting this law. Probably even an insurrectionist and member of the bugaloo bois. If you spout this garbage, you are either galactically stupid or you’re willing to lie to push your agenda. If you find yourself agreeing with this crap, or ignoring it because it helps your side… time to take a look in the mirror and think about what kind of person you want to be. I’m not disappointed in the politicians – I expect them to do this shit (on both sides of the aisle). What disgusts me are the “journalists” and everyone else happily willing to go along with the lie because it’s in their interest. There’s nothing you can do about the pure partisans. It’s the people willing to put aside common sense in the name of being on the right side of woke that should be shamed. Sigh, ok got that off my chest. I’ll be quiet now, promise.
  • Nobody likes to be disliked. And who doesn’t like a grandpa? Apparently a large percentage of the White House’s YouTube videos get massively more “dislikes” than “likes”. Reportedly YouTube is going to remove the “dislike” feature so grandpa Joe’s feelings don’t get hurt. Well, to be fair I don’t think ‘ole Joe could tell you what YouTube is but I wouldn’t be surprised if the Whitehouse press office said something to Google.
  • Today shall be the first mountain bike ride of the season. The four stages of this ride shall be: 1) Oh my god, I’ve missed riding, this feels great! 2) Wow, this hill is really steep. I don’t remember having to walk up last year. 3) Oh crap I’m really tired. I don’t know if I’ll make it home. I wonder if someone can come pick me up. 4) Stage four takes place two days from now when I’m wondering why I can’t walk down the stairs because my legs hurt so much. Stage four disappears sometime in April. Stage three in May. By June I’m no longer walking up hills. Come July, I’m thinking I’m ready to sign up for races. It’s a cycle that happens every year.
  • Cassie Maier is 5′ 4″ and rides an adventure bike the same size and weight as my new one. I stumbled across this video of her talking about and demonstrating mounting and dismounting techniques. She makes it look easy. It’s time for me to get past my fear and start practicing. If she can do it, so can I. I suppose it’s time to bite the bullet and order the crash bars so I can start working on this. I know once I get past the fear (and the first few bike drops) I’ll be a much better rider. But committing to something you know may result in a fall is hard.
  • If you don’t follow the Oatmeal, you should. Anyway, he posted something to Instagram yesterday about his dog passing away unexpectedly. I don’t know why, but it gave me some serious tears in my eyes. I had to go pet the Troutdog and give him some extra treats. We seriously don’t deserve dogs.

Song of the day: Devo – [I Can’t Get No] Satisfaction

Do You Have The Passion?

  • Last night I watched adventure photographer Jimmy Chin’s Master Class episodes. My biggest takeaway was his passion for what he does. His description of how he got his first big “break” really struck me. He was in his early twenties, living in his car, and drove to Berkley to try and see a big name adventure photographer. He showed up Monday morning at his gallery and was told the photographer was too busy, come back tomorrow. Jimmy waited in the gallery all day. Then came back Tuesday and waited all day. And Wednesday, and Thursday, and Friday. At the end of the day on Friday the photographer came down and gave Jimmy two uninterrupted hours of his time, which eventually helped spawn his career. While I was watching this, all I could think of was “never in my life have I had that level of passion for anything”. Sure, I have hobbies and things I enjoy doing. But I’ve always been very casual about them. I might practice a little. I’ll do some research to buy gear, find locations, etc… but I can honestly say I’ve never gone all in, 100%. The same thing with work. I’ve always been successful with my careers. I work hard and do my job well. But I’ve never been interested enough to take more classes, join committees, or fully immerse myself in my profession. It’s always just been a job. So is the problem that I just haven’t found my passion yet, or I’m too lazy to actually fully commit to something? I don’t know. I’m happy be-bopping around from hobby to hobby. But I also lament not being very good at any one thing. So, maybe today should the day I fully commit to something and go all-in? So when introduced at parties people will say, “I hear you’re a really good <insert amazing activity>”. Hmmm. Now I just have to pick one. I wonder if doughnut connoisseur is a thing?
  • As I wrote “doughnut connoisseur” I thought, you know that might be a good YouTube channel. Travel around giving doughnut reviews. You laugh, but I stumbled upon a YouTube channel that’s a guy who posts minute long videos of “day in the life of a school bus driver“. He has half a million subscribers. There’s simply no telling what will work or not. I’m willing to go all in on doughnuts.
  • I was going to go all outragey on the Georgia voter suppression, voter ID, Jim Crow story. But I just can’t. Don’t have it in me. Unless you’re a zonked out meth head sleeping in the gutter, you know damn well that you have to have an ID to function in life. What strikes me the most about this is that the democratic leadership, along with the helpful idiots in the media, keep pushing this narrative that it’s racist and voter suppression to require an ID to vote. How do you look yourself in the mirror and then go push what you know is a false narrative? Are voters really that stupid? Wait, don’t answer that.
  • The military’s Special Operations Command decided that what the really scary, badass, and most dangerous units in the military needs is a “Chief of Diversity and Inclusion”. SOCOM proudly announced the hiring of Richard Torres-Estrada, proclaiming “We look forward to his contribution in enhancing the capabilities and effectiveness of #SOF through diversity of talent”. Terrorists everywhere will feel better about themselves knowing that the folks coming to kill them are appropriately diverse and woke. Apparently the military no longer bothers to do background checks however because they then had to immediately reassign him while they investigate his string of anti-Trump posts, one of which compares Trump to Hitler. You can’t make this stuff up.
  • I’m done with winter. I had a bit of a funk day yesterday. It was cold, gray, and crazy windy. I had zero motivation to go outside and that led to a full day of moping around doing absolutely nothing. I hate when I do that. It’s time for sun and warm weather activities.
  • Biden will remain in office for at least the next two years. Why? The Senate is split 50-50. The Vice President breaks the tie. Should they decide grandpa Joe needs to go, Kamala becomes president and the Senate is deadlocked. It takes both houses of congress to approve any new VP President Harris appoints. So… they will continue to wheel out Biden for proof of life from time to time until we see what happens in ’22.

Song of the day: The Romantics – What I Like About You

Weekend At Bernie’s

Clinton, Bush, Obama, Trump. I don’t care what you thought of them personally. I don’t care what you thought of their policies or political bent. What is undisputable is that all of these men were leaders. Type A CEO’s. When they came into a room it was clear who was in charge. You cannot with a straight face tell me that Grandpa Joe falls into that same category. Yesterday’s press conference was an embarrassment. The few answers he actually gave he read directly from prepared notes given to him. When he tried to speak extemporaneously he wandered off on tangents and lost track of what he was saying or what point he was trying to make. The hand picked press core (complete with a handy dandy cheat sheet. With pictures!) were complicit in this farce by lobbing a few softballs at him. A stark difference from a Trump press conference. I have two thoughts about this disaster.

The first is an observation about the reaction on social media and by the press. I have a fair number of links to fairly liberal folks on social media. The last year (and more) my feeds have been inundated with a non-stop barrage of Orange Man Bad postings. Daily I’d see postings from various friends lamenting the outrage of the day that Trump had committed and dear god will we ever return to a time when we had a “real” president? Well… that time, in theory, is now. And what do I see on my social medias? Nothing. Crickets. Radio silence. I expected to see never ending, nausea inducing, praise of how eloquent, smart, and serious a president Biden is. I was sure I’d see non-stop memes comparing how well Biden is doing vs Trump. There’s nothing. It’s refreshing, but I find it odd the folks so desperate for him to win are so quiet. CNN, as of this morning, did not have a single story about the press conference on the top of their site. I find that strange. Where are all the liberals singing the daily praise of Biden?

My second thought is one I’ve posited before. Given that Grandpa Joe is clearly not in charge, who is? Who’s really running the show at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave? It’s not Kamala, she came to the game late and was selected by whoever’s in charge. Is it Klain the chief of staff? That would make the most sense since he was a long time “senior advisor” during the campaign. Is it Susan Rice? Perhaps it’s a coalition of them plus the DNC brass and Obama in the background? Doesn’t it seem like something the public should know?

Independent of “who’s in charge” I do find in odd that there’s almost zero coverage of the overall White House staff and cabinet. During the Trump administration there was wall to wall coverage of virtually every member of the administration and how evil/incompetent/racist/etc… they were. Many in the administration were household names. Now, I’d wager that many of you had never heard the name Klain or even knew that Susan Rice was part of the administration. I bet, until the China meeting gone bad, you had no idea who the new Secretary of State was. Why is that? The only reporting seems to be around the edges, mostly centered on the diversity aspect of some rarely seen cabinet post.

No, I don’t think it’s some giant conspiracy. I simply think it’s a press corps that’s reluctant to give negative coverage to team Biden. They tread carefully around the edges and don’t press too hard so they can tell themselves they’re providing fair and equal coverage. Maybe that’s for the best. If the majority of the public loses confidence in their government, bad things tend to happen. The most worrisome part of this, in my opinion, is that world leaders respond to strength and confidence. They will take advantage and exploit any signs of weakness, as bullies and strong nations are prone to do. We will be tested. Who is going to make the decisions about how we respond? Two months in and this administration has been already been steamrolled and/or thrown shade by China, Russia, North Korea, and Mexico. We finally wheeled out our President in an attempt to show he’s mentally sharp and in command. What came across is that he’s a confused old man who clearly does not belong there. This does not bode well. The next four years do not fill me with confidence. But hey, at least we will have sorted out the proper pronouns and saved the climate!

Return To The 18th Century

  • Our power went out early yesterday morning. There I was reading another fascinating online article about the benefits of juice vs coffee cleanses, and poof, the world went dark. My heart began to race as I sat there, plunged into darkness. Was this it? The beginning of the apocalypse? Did that plump little dictator in North Korea set off an EMP over the US? Thank god I have years of prepper know how-under my belt. I stumbled downstairs in the dark and struggled to find a flashlight. Should I grab the bug-out bags or the weapons first? Damn, I think the truck has only a quarter tank of fuel. I’ve already violated a pepper rule by letting it get below a half tank. Meanwhile, Mrs Troutdog was tearing apart a junk drawer looking for a second flashlight. Once located, we realized the batteries were dead. Another frantic search in the dark for batteries and we were back in business. A brief moment of panic set in – I don’t remember if I replenished our toilet paper supply. This could get ugly in a hurry. I may have to start looting the local co-op before the zombie hoards realize how vulnerable we are. Then out of the corner of my eye, I spotted it. A twinkling of light outside. I moved to the front windows and and realized my neighbors have power. A deep sigh as a wave of relief washed over me. We can stand down from DEFCON 2. It’s only a local power outage. As we sat there, huddled in the dark, I contemplated my pepper failures. When go-time came, I wasn’t ready. I have brought shame upon the prepper community. By the time the power was restored an hour later, I had resolved to better prepare and rehearse our defensive strategies. The credit card is coming out and truckloads of supplies will be ordered. Well, maybe tomorrow. I want to go skiing today. Ok, this week for sure I’ll get it done.
  • I haven’t written much lately. I think I’m on outrage overload. I keep reading and seeing the ridiculousness that this country is plunging into and vow that I’m going to write a blistering and brilliant essay on that topic. By the time I sit down I realize that I just don’t care. It’s pointless. From time to time shouting at the moon may make me feel better, but it really serves no purpose. I do have some sympathy now for the left though. Four years of perpetual outrage at the bad orange man must have been exhausting. I can see why they were ready to vote for anything that had a pulse that wasn’t Trump. I feel that way and it’s only day 60 something of the Biden administration. I can’t imagine how I’ll feel after four years. I might even be tempted to vote for Jeb! just to get rid of President Harris.
  • Watch this short clip and honestly tell me this man is the one who’s in charge, setting the agenda, and running the country. It’s a little scary. Today’s press conference should be interesting.
  • I took a motorcycle class. Mrs Troutdog signed up for a 102 level class to gain some additional skills on a heavier motorcycle before her new one arrives. I joined her in support. Plus it’s always good to learn and practice skills. Unfortunately this turned out to be a beginner course for people who need to get their motorcycle endorsement but have ridden before. Oh well, it was still fun to practice on a different bike. And I passed. It would have been embarrassing if I couldn’t do the skills after riding so many years. Now I just have to improve my confidence on the new ginormous motorcycle.
  • I know it’s blasphemy, but I’m ready for summer. Normally I love winter and don’t want ski season to end. This year has been weird. We’ve had virtually no blue sky, spring skiing days. Lots of gray and low visibility days. It wears on me. And with the new motorcycle my attention just hasn’t been as much on skiing. Having said that, it’s currently dumping snow. I guess I’ll get one more powder day in. Life is rough.
  • I have no idea what this video is for, but I can relate to many of the accidents. I’m not as smooth and suave as I think I am in my head.
  • Sorry for this, but I’m going to waste the next twenty minutes of your day. This website lets you draw an iceberg and then it will show you how it would float. It’s bizarrely addicting.

Song of the day: Lo Fidelity Allstars – Battleflag

Everyone Likes Popup Ads, Right?

  • I have two computers. One is powerful enough to dim the lights when I turn it on, which I use with a nice large monitor. The other is an older tablet with a fairly small screen. The older one does just fine for writing the occasional email, looking up directions, or crafting a fabulously witty blog post. What I can’t do with it these days is surf the internet. Not because of the processor or memory, but because of the screen size. The last few years the number of popup ads have gotten so out of control on some web sites you literally can’t read the article or content when you have limited screen real estate. There’s now the EU mandatory cookie acceptance popup. Twelve other ads that will be in various states of loading. A popup apologizing for the popup, but while you’re here will you subscribe to our newsletter? The X or cancel button on these ads are either tiny or sometimes fake so you accidentally click on the ad. Once you’ve cleared out enough popups that you can start reading the content, video content from some ad you didn’t see will start auto-playing. Some news sites have a layer of ads every paragraph and a half you need to navigate past. The latest fad seems to be letting you read 1/3 of an article, then forcing you to click a button to “Continue Reading?”. I get it, everyone needs to generate revenue and page clicks/views. I should know, I’ve generated a grand total of $0.49 cents in ad revenue from this blog since 2019 (yes, that is the real number). That’s practically FU, make it rain money. I know it’s a plea that’s as pointless as trying to stop the old school paper junk mail, but is there any way we can limit the number and amount of screen real estate devoted to ads? If an single, well placed ad, is compelling and relevant I actually might investigate. If I’m swatting ads away like mosquitoes in the Alaska backcountry, I’m angry, stubborn, and will boycott any ad I see on general principle. I don’t fault the advertisers, I understand how it works. I fault the content providers. They control the real estate, look and feel for their site. There are a few news sites that have become so hard to navigate due to the ads that I rarely visit any more. Sigh, I guess that’s the price we pay for “free” content since I’m too cheap to actually subscribe to any paid content.
  • The Biden administration has put a gag order on the border patrol and DHS about releasing any information about the current self created disaster on our border. This order has supposedly been passed down verbally so there’s no written record of it to tie back to the administration. The spokesperson for the Ministry of Truth, Jen Psaki, deftly performs her “you need to speak to DHS on that” dodge, knowing full well DHS simply refers requests back to the White House. Either that or “I’ll need to circle back on that”. So much for the most transparent administration ever.
  • Biden’s former aid said he’ll most likely propose $1 Trillion in new taxes. Yesterday they had to clarify that the proposed income threshold wasn’t $400,000 but $200,000 for some “modest” tax increases. Ever notice that government never proposes “modest” cuts to spending? I wouldn’t necessarily be opposed to increasing certain taxes if the government first made an honest attempt to slow down spending. But don’t first spend like drunken sailors, and then tell me you need more money. Maybe we should stop borrowing so we can send aid to foreign countries? Sigh, just like the popup argument, it’s pointless and only makes me mad.
  • Rules are only for the little people. After countless stories of families being kicked off flights because their two year old struggled with wearing a mask, our Climate Czar John Kerry was caught on a flight without his mask on. His response? “Feels like there’s some St. Patrick’s day “malarkey” afoot on Twitter. Let’s be clear: If I dropped my mask to one ear on a flight, it was momentary.” These asshats never take responsibility for anything. Meanwhile American Airlines has dropped the investigation. See if the same will hold true when you get caught without your mouth diaper on.
  • A week from today the White House confirmed President Biden will hold a press conference. I suspect that’s the amount of time needed to prep and coach him with answers. Well, and to properly vet all the questions beforehand.
  • I’m taking a motorcycle class on Saturday. Mrs Troutdog took the beginners class to get her license and now wants to take the level two class. I’ve never taken a motorcycle class, even though I’ve been riding for years. I agreed to take the class to support her, plus learning new things is always a good thing. I’ve found that the most dangerous people are those who think they know everything. There’s always something to learn, no matter how experienced you think you are. Besides, it may help boost my confidence on the new ginormous motorcycle. This class is taught on Harley Davidsons… and I’m a dirt guy. Who knows, maybe after this I’ll be buying leather pants and traveling to Daytona Bike week?

Song of the day: Pearl Jam – Alive [Pinkpop 1992]

My Little Town Has Changed

  • When we first moved to our little town the population was 242,000. Not small, not too big. Just the right size to have some culture; a university, theater, museums, great restaurants, and a few larger employers. Not so big that we had traffic, crowds, and all the other blight that comes with bigger towns. Today our population has grown to 455,000 and much of that in just the last few years. People are fleeing the big cities in droves looking for a better quality of life. I can’t blame them. As cities grow the small problems become big ones and quickly become unsolvable. And that’s exactly what we’re facing here. I can’t blame people for wanting to move here, as that’s what we did. But the common refrain you hear from us longer term residents is “don’t bring your California attitudes”. And sadly, that seems to be what’s happening. Although I don’t know if it’s specifically due to California, but more likely just a facet of increased population. Traffic has increased dramatically. Just in the last year or so I now have to check what time it before getting on the road so I don’t get caught in commute traffic. People used to happily let you merge and it wasn’t uncommon to see a tractor driving on the road. Now it’s road rage time. Nobody lets you merge and frustrated tailgating is common. I’m starting to see graffiti pop up all around town. The homeless problem and panhandling is now noticeable. Property taxes are skyrocketing and there are now bidding wars on any houses that go up for sale. We’ve talked about downsizing, but we couldn’t afford to buy even a smaller house or condo now. There was no such thing as a lift line at our local ski resort, and now it looks like some of the Tahoe crowds on the weekend. It gets hard to find parking at local trailheads and the number of clueless people on the trails is discouraging. We used to be able to walk downtown on a Friday or Saturday night and go to just about any restaurant. Now, reservations are mandatory and parking is a challenge. Crime is becoming an issue. Just last night there was a shooting at the university, something that would be unheard of when we first moved here. I’m honestly not complaining, I understand it’s the nature of an ever swelling US/world population. That growth isn’t going to stop and all those people will continue to look for something better. With the current push (and ability) to work from home, the exodus from big cities will only increase. It just makes me a little sad. It’s hard to see your town change. Maybe someday we’ll escape and go find a new small town, but I doubt it. The older you get the harder change becomes. Meanwhile I’ll look back fondly at that brief moment in time when our town was just the perfect size. Oh my god, I’ve become one of those people – “I remember when…”
  • I may or may not have solved the Android Auto issue with the ginormous motorcycle. I decided the other day that the problem was the USB connection on the phone. It’s always been a little loose (it’s a really old phone) and I think what’s been happening is that the connection comes loose with the vibration from the motorcycle and then Android Auto disconnects. This is a pain because on a motorcycle you have to pull over and fiddle with your tank bag to reconnect the phone. I started the research into a new phone and then stumbled on a new bug being reported with the latest release of Android Auto. When the charging reaches 100%, Android Auto disconnects from the head unit. It’s a known and well documented issue. Well… I never bothered to look at what my charging level was when I pulled over to reconnect. Sigh. Apparently more research is needed. How did people even travel without smartphones?
  • Suddenly ski season is reaching a close. We’re down to just a handful of weeks left. This is point at which I panic and wish I’d done more skiing this season. I shall now commence to ignore most responsibilities for the next few weeks so I can ski. It’s not my fault… I need to maximize my ski passes. Every additional day I go reduces the cost per day from what I paid for the pass. We’d be losing money if I don’t ski!
  • Speaking of changing seasons, I put shorts on the other day to go to the driving range. It’s time to start chasing that silly white ball around the course again. I don’t know how it happened, but my shorts somehow shrunk. I could barely get the top button fastened. Dammit. Operation senior fitness needs to really kick into gear soon.
  • While on the subject of eating, I committed a blasphemy. I cooked baby back ribs in the oven. Gasp! The barbeque gods may smite me down. Anyway, they turned out pretty darn good. Not smoker good, but decent. Don’t tell anyone, but I’m not opposed to doing them that way again.
  • I wonder if Biden has recovered enough from his teleprompter speech to come out of his room yet? Still no sign of an actual press conference or state of the union. Nah, that’s not strange at all. Meanwhile, gas prices are skyrocketing, the crisis on the border is getting worse by the day, and the administration is starting to talk about tax increases. Yeah, didn’t see any of this coming. The longer we go without an appearance, the more the press will become restless and less amenable to keeping their questions to what flavor of ice cream the president prefers. I honestly don’t know if Biden has the ability to field non-scripted questions for any length of time without committing a serious gaffe or becoming hostile. It’s hard to decide which is better, a puppet being run by an unseen group, or a President Harris? Y’all could have had Tulsi. Just saying.

Song of the day: Kid Rock – Bawitdaba – 7/24/1999 – Woodstock 99 East Stage (Official)

The Enlightened State Of Wokeness

We are fast approaching an inflection point in this country. I like this definition of inflection point from investopedia: “An inflection point is an event that results in a significant change in the progress of a company, industry, sector, economy, or geopolitical situation and can be considered a turning point after which a dramatic change, with either positive or negative results, is expected to result.” Our inflection point is the cult of wokeness. Failure to embrace all things woke means being branded as anything from an intolerant rube to a white nationalist Nazi. The fear of not being woke enough has intruded upon virtually every aspect of our lives. Schools, your work, corporate PR, social and news media – every public statement or action taken today must be weighed against the sin of offending the woke army. That army will come down on you with a fury if you trespass against their dogma.

A trio of events made me think of this. The first was Tucker Carlson’s rant this week about wokeness in our military. He commented that the signal the Biden administration was giving is that our military is embracing wokeness by providing new maternity flight suits to pregnant pilots (I don’t know if I’m allowed to say female any more), while China’s military is becoming increasingly, well, militaristic. By pointing out the focus of our military seems to be drifting, Tucker committed the ultimate sin – he seemingly disrespected women. The woke army instantly began falling all over themselves to condemn and shame Tucker from every corner of the social media world. Cancel culture is in full effect with calls to boycott advertisers to the show, etc… Who cares what his actual point was – he implied women aren’t capable of fighting wars, which we hate anyway (wars, not women or whichever pronoun is preferred), but that doesn’t matter because this week we love our military again, I think (it’s hard to keep track), because we’re purging all those MAGA people from the military because, you know, Nazi’s.

Meanwhile, I watched Bill Maher’s monolog highlighting China’s relentless push forward while America gnashes their teeth and wails about being triggered by statues and the naming of sports teams or pancake syrup. Maher: “In China alone, they have 40,000 kilometers of high-speed rail. America has none. … We’ve been having Infrastructure Week every week since 2009 but we never do anything. Half the country is having a never-ending woke competition deciding whether Mr. Potato Head has a dick and the other half believes we have to stop the lizard people because they’re eating babies. We are a silly people,” You know things have gone bad when an ultra lefty is the one calling out the ridiculousness of our wokeness.

Last night I had a moment of sadness while watching the series “For all mankind”. Excellent, highly recommend. Spoiler alert – it’s about an alternate reality similar to “The Man in the High Castle”. What made me sad is I realized that our brief moment of American exceptionalism is probably done. Sure, there are still plenty of pockets of innovation scattered throughout the country. But every step forward will be dragged down by the burden of being woke. As a country we seem determined to quash our can-do spirt by ensuring that every endeavor spends equal amounts of time devoted to having the exact right minority representation, that we properly highlight all ethnic and religious celebrations, and that #internationalindigenouspeoplesday is appropriately celebrated. We’re probably not far from the government mandating that all businesses have an office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) that reports into the Federal Office of Fairness.

It’s not that social progress is a bad thing. We’ve made huge strides from our past in how we treat people in this country. That is a good thing. The problem is that equity is not the same thing as equality and we’re losing that balance in our rush to make everything fair. We want everyone to have the same chance at life. While it hasn’t always been upheld, that principle of equality is what made this country exceptional. What you make of your life is entirely up to you, your life choices, and your work ethic. While some people have more roadblocks than others, you have the freedom to determine what course your life will take. Yes, the rich and societally blessed will always have an advantage. It’s been that way since the beginning of time and will always continue. If your parents have the means to send you to an Ivy league college, you probably have one step up on the gal who has to go to community college and work nights to pay for it. But the beauty of today is that community college gal has the same opportunity to start a business, run for office, or become a fabulously wealthy Instagram influencer, as the Ivy league guy if she’s smart and works hard. There’s a reason much of the lower income world aspires to move to America.

Equity and wokeness is pulling our society towards mediocrity. Nobody is allowed to be exceptional because of the fear that someone’s success was at the expense of someone who was less fortunate. We cancel anything that doesn’t reflect the group think. Corporate PR departments heavily influence business decisions as they run them through their DEI filters. Today, any individual is one poorly worded tweet away from losing their job and being ostracized from their local community. We just had two presidential elections in which people were actually afraid to publicly express their choice for fear of retribution. Depending on what city you live in, having the wrong bumper sticker on your car could mean a smashed window, or wearing a the wrong political red baseball hat could result in harassment (or worse) if you walked in the wrong woke area. Is that really the society you want? I suppose it’s all good as long as you’re on the right side of the mob.

Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe the inflection curve will turn towards something more sane. I hope so, but I have my doubts. Personally, I think we’ve already crossed the inflection point. We’re going to have to follow this curve down for now and see where it leads. At least until a new inflection point arrives.