- 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)
- While I’m not a particularly gifted writer, I do much better at communicating my thoughts in written form than I do speaking. My mouth and my brain are not always in sync. In my head I may have a completely logical and well thought out opinion, but what comes out of my mouth is “that sucks”. I did this exact thing yesterday to Mrs Troutdog. She made the innocent statement that “I should watch SD Governor Kristi Noem’s CPAC speech, it’s really good”. My response? “How do you watch that crap? It’s just a bunch of politicians auditioning for their next office”. Way to go Troutdog! She reminded me of it later that night, telling me that I can come across very negative about everything. She’s probably right. The problem is that in my head I don’t feel negative. That’s actually not what I’m thinking at all. In reality I actually feel more positive than I have in a while, mostly due to stepping away from the non-stop barrage of political news we’ve experienced this last year. I have a bunch of goals and new activities that I’m really excited about. So when it comes to some random political speech, I really could care less. It won’t impact my life one bit, regardless of who the politician or which side of the aisle they’re from. Politics are fake. More so than any other profession. I have a deep distrust of all politicians. That distrust leads me to view anything they say as something purely calculated to achieve their next elected office. That’s unfortunate because I’m sure many of them are lovely people, and there probably are some politicians out there who truly feel that they’re trying to make a positive difference for the future. The unfortunate part of my dismissing the Governor’s speech is that it’s actually a really good speech. She really is a rising political star. Now, I don’t agree with everything she stands for. As is probably true for many more centrist folks, I agree with most of her political ideas but I don’t agree with her on social issues. I suppose that’s the case for most people, regardless of political side – you pick the few issues that are important to you and choose a politician that most closely espouses that. Meanwhile, you hold your nose and ignore the other parts. There will never be a perfect candidate for everyone. And Governor Noem is certainly not perfect. Noem has received 26 traffic citations, including 20 speeding tickets from 1989 to 2010, stop sign and seat belt violations, no driver’s license, failure to appear notices, and two arrest warrants. That’s impressive. I don’t know if she’s a rebel, giving a big FU to the establishment, or just a really bad driver. One thing I do know, she clearly has a workout routine that makes me feel very inadequate. I suspect most men and women in that audience spent much of that speech wishing they had her shoulders and arms. I’m thinking a Noem / Tulsi ticket in 2024 would be pretty powerful. Question is, who gets the top spot?
- I smoked some pretty good baby back ribs the other day. I confidently stated that I think I’m ready to try a brisket this summer. If you’re not familiar, smoked brisket is the holy grail of barbeque. It takes twelve plus hours to cook and there’s no in-between when it comes to quality – brisket is either mouth wateringly good, or it’s awful. It’s an expensive piece of meat and a lot of hours to find out which one you’ve got. Plus it’s so big you have to have a bunch of people over to help eat it, which guarantees a large audience for your potential failure. In preparation I watched Aaron Franklin’s instructional series on cooking barbeque and quickly realized… I’m not ready for brisket. I think a more realistic goal for the summer is mastering pulled pork. I’m good with that. Being able to crank out a good rib or pulled pork are still worthy items in the “basic dude stuff” toolbox.
- Speaking of South Dakota, it’s been on my todo list for quite some time. It’s a little out of the way from where I’m located so it’s just out of reach of the quick roadtrip. But the Badlands, Black Hills, and Rushmore… is a motorcycle dream ride. I need to start figuring out what trips are realistic this summer. Lots of moving parts to coordinate. Will Mrs Troutdog have a suitable bike by then and is that type of trip even within her new rider skills? Is that where we want to spend the bulk of our vacation budget this summer? Who’s going to watch the dog, or do I need to install a sidecar and get some doggles? Am I overthinking this or not planning enough? It’s always interesting when you plan on doing things you’ve never done before. It’s hard to know what to expect. Fun thinking about though.
- I don’t do well without sun. And this winter has been weird weather-wise. Normal for us is three or four days of storms, a week of sun, and repeat. It’s normally a pretty good mix. A few powder ski days followed by some blue sky groomer run or cross country ski days. This winter feels like it’s just been grey non-stop. I’ve missed most of the powder days due to bad timing with work. My mood slowly drifts south with lack of sun. On top of that I have this new motorcycle obsession, so my thoughts are on warm summer days lately. So anyway, yesterday I went cross country skiing with some friends and my hound. Halfway through the ski, the sun came out and it was glorious. I think there was a five minute period where we all just stopped and stood there, not speaking, faces turned towards the sun. It gave me hope. We’re only a few weeks away from blue sky spring skiing. And a month from actual motorcycle time. Now I just need to stop eating cookies or I won’t fit into the new fat Elvis motorcycle suit.
Song of the day: Presidents Of The USA – Lump Pinkpop 2005
- The other day at work I was suddenly told I had to go to a “labor law” class. They brought in additional workers to help cover shifts for an hour. All very confusing since they typically don’t spring for additional staff for anything. Anyway, the “class” consisted of someone from HR reading sections of the labor law act and telling us that unions rarely deliver on their promises. Ahhh… I get it now – suddenly the hospital is worried about union organizing. Sure enough, after consulting the official breakroom gossip pipeline it turns out that some folks are trying to spark some union organization. Also, the house just passed the PRO act which would undo states (like mine) right to work laws. Right now, even if a union forms at my hospital, it’s my choice to join or not. The PRO act would force me to join the union and pay dues as a condition of employment. Additionally the bill would force employers to turn over employees’ private information—including cell phone numbers, email addresses, and work schedules—to union organizers. Realistically I don’t think it has a chance of passing the senate, but you never know. I suddenly find myself conflicted about unions. In my previous life in the corporate world, I was stanchly anti-union. They tend to be massively corrupt, drive up manufacturing costs, and generally stand in the way of innovation, flexibility, and time to market. They’re ginormous political machines, lobbying to feed at the public trough. Look at the current ridiculousness with the teachers unions. Can you honestly tell me that they’re looking out for the best interest of the kids? It’s somehow safe for the poor schmuck at Walmart to go to work, but not for someone to stand in front of a handful of kids? As I’ve said previously, the way we teach kids has barely evolved in the last 50 years primarily due to teachers unions reluctance to change. But I digress… The hospital world is a mix of union and non-union. As a semi-libertarian, I’ve always believed in the free markets ability to set wages in response to availability and demand. I never thought about it much because my previous profession was one in extremely high demand and a very small labor pool. Wages were high. Other professions with a glut of applicants paid a much smaller wage. Fast forward and I find myself in the opposite scenario. My town has two hospitals. With very little competition, they have no incentive to pay higher wages. In a big city with many hospitals they do have to offer competitive wages. So at this late stage in my career, I would have said if a union can force higher wages or at least better patient ratios, fine by me. But then the China plague hit and I honestly don’t know how the hospital will stay in business. They’re hemorrhaging cash and have cancelled every capital improvement project that was on the books. It will be years before they recover. I don’t see how potential union demands right now helps anyone? Sigh. I don’t think there’s any good answer right now. I should probably just move to the clean energy sector. Biden has promised those will be the good paying union jobs.
- Barbeque is a noun, not a verb. Today it’s dumping snow and I am cooking up some barbeque in the form of baby back ribs on the smoker. And in proper insurrectionist form, we are having a bunch of friends over. Suck on that, lock down states. P.S. please don’t tell the high priest of Covid, Fauci. I don’t want the secret Covid police coming to my door.
- I casually look at new trucks from time to time. At some point that day will come when it’s time for a final vehicle. Right now the super popular truck in the overland market is the Toyota Tacoma. Peruse through the Instagram feeds and you see plenty of very cool, tricked out Tacomas. I look at that and think, hmm it would be kinda fun to build out a truck from scratch like that. And then I read this article in Outside magazine imploring people not to do that to these trucks. I had no idea about the gear ratio limitations and payload weight issues. Coolness over functionality. I would have easily fallen into that trap. Because, you know, it’s all about how you look on Instagram.
- Here’s an account to follow that posts very cool maps.
- The Biden administration will push a massive high speed rail initiative as part of it’s build back better infrastructure plan. All built with good paying union jobs of course. Perhaps they should check in with California to see how their high speed rail project is going? It’s been more than a decade and costs have gone from the original $33 billion to more than $100 billion. And for what? A single track that will run from Bakersfield to Merced that has yet to see a single train, and initial testing is still six to seven years away. But I’m sure the federal version will go much smoother.
Song of the day: LL Cool J – Mama Said Knock You Out