Tag: Travel

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.

Mob Justice

  • I’m sure Minneapolis is a lovely place. I know nothing about it other than what I saw in Fargo. What I do know is that in about a month it will devolve into anarchy. Portions of Minneapolis will burn, people will be hurt, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if someone is killed. The degree of pending violence will depend on what verdict the jury in the Chauvin case returns. Anything that doesn’t have the word “murder” in the jury decision and the city will implode. Realistically, even if he’s found guilty of murder in the first degree the city will still erupt in “celebration”. At least one prospective juror backed out, citing fear of violence towards his family if the “right” verdict wasn’t reached. This is the true definition of mob justice. Do what we say or there will be violence, rioting, and burning. I am not passing judgement on Chauvin’s guilt or innocence. Personally I think he’s certainly guilty of something, I just don’t know what the right charge is. There was zero need to keep a knee on him for that long. Did it contribute to his death? Maybe. The significant amounts of meth, fentanyl, and cannabis in his system combined with heart disease and blocked arteries in a highly psychotic state of mind probably was a much bigger contributor. Drug use that day and then committing a crime, fighting and resisting the police is what put Mr. Floyd in that position. It’s a terrible when anyone dies. But Mr. Floyd made multiple bad choices that day that sent him on that trajectory. And now the mob has made him a martyr and mob justice will be served one way or another. I don’t envy the city leaders. What do you do? You know the violence and riots are coming. The George Floyd “memorial” area is already an autonomous zone where police (or white folks) are not allowed. Do you let it happen and hope it blows over quickly? Do you crack down with an iron fist and risk further resistance and on-going violence? It’s a no-win scenario. What I do know is that you cannot tolerate mob justice. Look no further than the lynching’s that happened in America or the unspeakable horrors of many regions of Africa to see what unchecked mob rule is capable of. I’m very glad I’m not making those decisions. The authorities will be wrong no matter what they do. You may want to put off those vacation plans to Minneapolis for a little bit.
  • Speaking of insurrection, the boogaloo bois and MAGA white nationalists jumped out of the bushes and set fire to the Portland federal courthouse last night. Biden and Pelosi ordered in the national guard and set up a green zone, surrounded by razor wire, similar to Washington DC. Just kidding. It was those whacky Antifa kids. Move along, nothing to see here.
  • Biden had his first address to the nation last night. Two things struck me. The first was a review of the various news sites this morning showed virtually no reaction. For the most part all I saw was a few passing mentions of the speech. No fawning rhetoric about how inspirational it was or how substantive the speech was. Crickets. The man is truly a puppet, wheeled out once in a while to read from the teleprompter, then sent back to his room. The second thought I had was that they need better speechwriters. I don’t know what tone they were hoping for, but it came across as dark and not terribly inspirational. Take that with a grain of salt because I realize I’m predisposed to view it harshly. Maybe some folks did see it as a ray of hope? But I’m sorry, when the “ray of hope” that was put forth is “If we do our part… by July 4, there’s a good chance you, your families, and friends will be able to get together in your backyard or in your neighborhood and have a cookout or a barbecue and celebrate Independence Day… Small groups will be able to get together”. Really? By July 4th maybe, just maybe if we all behave and follow the rules, the government will “allow” us to get together in small groups? I’m reminded of the great movie Argo. There’s a line that was one of the central themes that seems appropriate in this situation – “Argo Fuck Yourself”.
  • Went on another ride of the ginormous motorcycle. I think I sorted out the Android Auto issue. It seems like it shuts off if it isn’t in use, e.g. either in navigation mode or playing music. I just had it on the map but not actually navigating to a destination. I need to do more investigation. It’s interesting, I’ve ridden motorcycles for a long time but I find my confidence is very low with this bike. Probably due to the size and weight. Plus that fact that it’s brand new and I’m petrified I’m going to drop it. I’ve had a few shaky moments at intersections that have gotten in my head. I mentioned it to Mrs. Troutdog and she grinned and said, “so now you know what it’s like to be a beginner”. Touché.

Song of the day: Cake – Short Skirt / Long Jacket

A Close Call

  • I took the new ginormous motorcycle out for its first long ride yesterday. I did an impromptu 100 miles to a couple of very small towns with populations of less than a thousand, rode through a snow covered canyon around a reservoir, then some high speed highway miles to get back home. The bike handles like a dream. The ride was at the very end of a busy day (hint, foreshadowing). I started out with some technological challenges. As I’ve mentioned before, the bike came with Apple Car Play installed. I’m an Android guy, so I was briefly faced with the thought of having to switch over to Apple. Fortunately they released an update supporting Android Auto a week ago. Yay for me! So, I went through the process of updating the bikes firmware. All seemed to go well except… Android Auto won’t connect to my phone. Sigh. After trying everything I could think of, I ran out of time and had to move on to other tasks. One of those tasks was part of operation senior fitness. I went for an honest to god trail run, which I haven’t done since last summer. Very discouraging since it felt like I was starting from scratch. Legs were very shaky and weak by the time I got home. More errands, and fast forward to the end of the day and it was time to ride! Now, if you haven’t ridden a motorcycle before it’s hard to appreciate how tiring it can be. It doesn’t matter how newfangled and fancy your bike is, it takes a toll. They’re heavy, you have constant buffeting of wind, noise, and you have to have a hundred percent focus at all times. It’s not like driving around in a car. On top of all that it’s a new bike, so I’m still trying to figure out all the buttons and ride characteristics. I certainly went into a few corners too fast or sometimes unsure of myself, not knowing how the bike would handle. Plus I’m a mediocre rider at best, even on the old bike I know well. I finished the ride with a high speed highway run which had my adrenaline up a bit. All that was left was a short ride through town and some stop and go city traffic. And sure enough, as a traffic light turned green the cars started moving forward, everyone suddenly came to a quick stop. I slammed the brakes and awkwardly put my foot down, but the bike began leaning over. Now keep in mind this is a very tall and heavy bike. As it leans, at some point it’s mass will be too great to hold unless you’re a world powerlifting champion. Which I most certainly am not. As the bike kept leaning and I started fighting to get it back upright, all I could feel was how shaky and weak my leg felt from the run earlier today and just how tired my body was from the ride. Time came to a standstill as I fought this massive machine. It felt like every car around me was watching this slow motion spectacle. At the last second I managed to win the war with gravity, and awkwardly lurched forward. My leg was quivering and I could feel all the muscles in my lower back. I don’t really remember the last few stoplights or the ride through the neighborhood before I got home. I’m going to drop the bike at some point, but my hope is that it’s in the dirt and due to technical terrain. That I can live with. Dropping it at a stoplight in traffic would be… well, I don’t want to think about it. Lesson learned – don’t ride when you’re tired and not hundred percent. I let my excitement and enthusiasm get the better of me. When I start traveling I’m going to have to remind myself to keep my daily mileage down and resist the urge to just push on to the next destination. Which is hard, because it’s just so damn fun to ride!
  • My brother in law finished his last patrol shift as a police officer in a big city yesterday and begins his retirement. I’m super proud of him. He had a great career and did everything from patrol, metro street crime enforcement, SWAT, and taught at the academy. He did everything right, and is the model of what you’d want in a police officer. Thank god he’s out. This is no longer an environment to be a police officer in. Every stop, people have their phones out waiting to capture something gone wrong. The chance of losing everything you worked your entire career for is high. You will be judged first and foremost by the court of social media. The city and police department certainly won’t back you up. And clearly the bad guys now feel empowered to attack officers with impunity. No matter what you do as an officer, you’ll lose. He made it out and can hold his head high. Congrats!
  • Meanwhile, in other law enforcement news, “ICE officials told staff today that the number of families and minors arriving at the border is expected to be highest in “over 20 years” and the government will use hotels in McAllen, El Paso and Phoenix if it runs out of space for families at ICE rapid-processing hubs “. Yeah, nobody saw this coming. Apparently it’s ok in the middle of a pandemic to let thousands of migrants cross the border. We haven’t even reached peak border crossing season (May/June). What could possibly go wrong?
  • I’ve said it before, but it’s getting increasingly difficult to not wonder who is actually running the administration? It’s clearly not Biden. The other day he had another embarrassing gaff in which at the end of a video call he said: “I’d be happy to take questions if that’s what I’m supposed to do, Nance,” Biden told Speaker Pelosi. “Whatever you want me to do.” They immediately cut the feed. It’s also starting to look very odd that there’s been zero talk of a state of the union speech. Because I’m a dork, I looked up the dates every president has given their first SOTU speech. The latest was January 31st by the first George Bush. It’s now March.
  • I finally finished the series Mr Robot. Fantastic. I love unique plots. We just started a new one (well, new to us), For All Mankind. We’re only a few episodes in, but really digging it so far.
  • I’m absolutely flabbergasted. Shocked. Jaw on the floor. The second great uprising by QAnon domestic insurgents that was supposed to take over the capitol yesterday… didn’t happen. Never mind, the capitol police asked yesterday that the national guard deployment be extended by several more months. I’m just happy that, after a brutal and hard fought campaign against these vicious insurgents, the D.C. National Guard has created a “Presidential Inauguration Support Ribbon” for the tens of thousands of Guard troops who deployed to the Capitol. You just can’t make this stuff up. Bronze stars for “sleeping in parking garages” or “eating undercooked chicken”. Sigh.

Song of the day: Big Head Todd & the Monsters Boom Boom

In The Doghouse, Again

  • 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

Long Way Down And An Emu Museum

  • Normally I love winter. I downhill ski, cross-country, skate ski, or snowshoe at least three to four days a week. You might ask why I’m still getting fatter then, but that’s a topic for another post. This winter I’ve been busy preparing for my “Summer of George” moment. New motorcycle purchased, new riding suit, tools, updated video gear, endless hours of motorcycle travel videos consumed, and many late nights pouring over maps planning routes. I’m almost ready to hit the road. Except motorcycles, snow, and ice don’t mix very well. I’m probably a tiny bit more rugged than the average guy, but not Long Way Down rugged. If you haven’t watched this motorcycle travel documentary you should. It’s interesting to see the effort it took to film something before the GoPro existed. Anyway, the point is that it’s another month in my part of the world before road-tripping becomes enjoyable weather-wise. I’ve never looked forward to winter ending before. So, I’m forced to spend my time pursuing maps and travel websites to build my list of must-see destinations. I’ve been mostly focusing on unrealistic epic trips across the west, so I hadn’t looked much at what’s close to me. This morning I stumbled upon the motherload of interesting small town America just a few hours from me. I found a little town perched on the Snake River that hosts what they bill as “Lawson’s Emu-Z-Um”. It was an emu ranch that has become a museum full of artifacts and dwellings from the 1800s early settlers and early small town America memorabilia. Looking at the map more, within 40-50 miles of that town are deep canyon overlooks, sand dunes, birds of prey conservation areas, and a ghost town. Plus a couple of promising looking BBQ and burger places. This is the perfect day trip to kick off the Summer of George! Another month of quick rides around town in-between storms to get used to the new bike, and then it begins. Because I love winter, I’ve never looked at the weather report before and cursed when I see another week of storms coming. It’s a strange feeling. Sigh. Back to the maps for now I suppose.
  • A California democratic representative, during an interview on CNN, stated that those businesses that cannot afford to pay their employees $15 an hour are essentially not worth preserving. This simple statement encompasses everything wrong with mostly liberal, big government-centric thinking. The thought that some mindless bureaucrat gets to pick and choose what businesses are worthy of keeping is appalling. And naturally it’s a statement from someone who’s been primarily an academic/lawyer/politician his entire career. A thirty second investigation into the representative (a.k.a. Wikipedia) shows a bit of a contradiction – he has a degree in economics, wrote a book titled “Entrepreneurial Nation: Why Manufacturing is Still Key to America’s Future“, yet still makes statements like the one he did. My interest is piqued enough to read more about his philosophy. Maybe there’s something I’m missing? At the moment, in regards to the $15 minimum wage, I still feel if people are resorting to entry level jobs to feed a family then it seems like the government focus should be on enabling creation of middle income opportunities instead of simply raising the bottom wage. Otherwise, let’s just adopt Andrew Yang’s proposal and give everyone a universal basic income. We’re already printing money, what’s a few hundred trillion more?
  • There’s been so much global warming, Niagara Falls froze over this week. Of course polar vortexes are cyclical events that happen from time to time and shouldn’t be counted as climate. Climate is measured in decades. Interestingly, in the cult of global warming, a cold event like this doesn’t get much press but an El Nino warming event causing a hot summer will be treated as non-stop climate Armageddon. It’s all about the narrative baby.
  • Speaking of printing money, the Federal Reserve expanded its record holdings of US Treasuries in the fourth quarter of 2020 as it continued monetizing the massive federal debt. I don’t understand much of this, but it does seem like they’re trying to push inflation. Most of this is way over my head, but it certainly feels like if we continue to simply toggle the levers… at some point it’s going to collapse. I guess as long as it’s not on my watch we’re all good.
  • I know that there is no actual censorship or purging happening on the part of Twitter towards folks who don’t tow the woke orthodoxy, but they just suspended Steven Crowder for simply saying he can confirm that people voted at address that do not exist. That is some serious insurrectionist talk. Thank god we’re being protected from outrageous statements like that.
  • I don’t know if this is real or staged, but it’s pretty funny regardless. You need to watch to the end.

Song of the day: Red Hot Chili Peppers – Higher Ground – Live at La Cigale

I Might Be Lost

  • Many moons ago in a former life I was a member of a search and rescue team. I had training in many subjects; rope/technical rescue, swiftwater rescue, tracking, land and open water navigation, incident command, etc… Trust me, it sounds way cooler than reality. Nowadays I’d get lost driving to the doughnut shop without my phone navigation. Anyway, two things happened yesterday that drove home the importance of embracing the old boy scout motto – Be Prepared. The first was a quick snowshoe outing. Well, I thought it was going to be quick. It was to a place I’d never been and we have multiple feet of brand new snow. I brought nothing. No water, no gear, no first aid kit. We didn’t let anyone know where we were going. We wandered through the woods for several hours and by the time we got back to the car it was snowing pretty good. I know better and should have been at least minimally prepared. In my head I justified it with thinking it was a pretty highly visited area and our distance wasn’t very far. I didn’t think much more about it until late in the evening. Some folks we know in another part of the state managed to get lost and caught out after dark in the wilderness. Temps were dropping into the teens and snow was expected. We were on the phone on and off for hours as family tried to coordinate search and rescue efforts from afar. I fully expected to be heading north on a multi hour drive to start searching come first light. Details are still sketchy, but they were located and everyone seems to be ok. What’s the point of all this? We all get complacent. We put off planning and preparing. I’ll do it tomorrow. The problem with emergencies is that they happen when you least expect it. Do you have an emergency kit in your car? In your home? (Texas residents certainly never expected to be in their predicament) I’m not saying you need to go full on prepper mode, but could you and your family last three days if something happened? A week? If you’re heading out for some outdoor fun, does someone know where you’re going and when to worry if they don’t hear from you? I think society today has become conditioned to feel safe. Someone in authority will always be there to bail you out. I can always call and someone will come rescue me. Fortunately in this country that is true more often than not. I think the winning attitude is to assume that isn’t true and prepare accordingly. I know this was a wakeup call for me to stop being lazy and get my shit together. We have a local apparel company here that’s run by an ex SEAL called 30SEC Out. They have a sticker I really like that says “Expect to self rescue. No one is coming”. I think it’s a great motto for life in general. I may have to buy a few just remind myself.
  • According to VP Harris, they’re starting from scratch with their Covid response because there was no existing plan. Curious since the U.S. has carried out more vaccinations than any country in the world, and given a first dose to a higher percentage of its population (12%) than all but five small countries. Covid cases have plummeted by 77% in the US. There’s talk we’ll reach herd immunity by April. Which is also interesting because when the previous administration was in power, to mention herd immunity meant you were a science denier. Ain’t politics grand!
  • I bought a drone. Well, technically I’m on on the waiting list with an option to buy a drone when it’s available. I’m not exactly sure what I’m going to do with it yet. It’s capable of some truly amazing footage. I suspect I’m telling myself that the only thing keeping my little YouTube channel with 12 subscribers from going big time is not having a drone. Well, that and not actually making very many videos. I’ve got the adventure bike, the gear, the plans, the time, and soon the drone. I guess there are no more excuses. Bummer. Now I’m going to have to actually execute on all my grand plans for adventure content. As they say, talk is cheap. Planning is easy. It’s the doing that’s hard.
  • Is it just me, or does the new press secretary always seem unprepared? She had absolutely no answer when asked “Biden suspended a Trump Administration executive order that was aimed at keeping foreign countries, specifically China, from interfering in the U.S. Power grid… why did he do that?” As press sec, I would think you’d have an answer ready for any executive order your president signed. Especially one potentially related to a natural disaster that’s currently happening.
  • I don’t know what happened here, but yeet is right! Watch this seven second vid. And with that, I’m off to do my last full-time shifts. As my coworkers tell me, I’m moving to the princess shifts. I’ve been working since I was fourteen. It will be very strange to not be full-time. Exciting, worried I’ll be wasting my time, nervous about not being productive, looking forward to a new chapter, and a little apprehensive about the unknown. Time to face all those fears head-on!

Song of the day: Smash Mouth – All Star

News Of The Weird

  • When I was a kid, every once in a while my friends and I would pick up a copy of the Weekly World News. They bill themselves as “The worlds only reliable news”. As kids we knew it was just a silly tabloid with articles containing headlines like “5 things to avoid during an alien abduction“. But also as a kid, something in the back of your brain would wonder if maybe, just maybe, it was true? Reporters couldn’t just make stuff up could they? As a so called “adult” I’ve always been firmly in the skeptical bigfoot camp when it comes to UFO’s. Billions of people on this planet… if aliens have visited we’d know about it. Government isn’t competent enough to keep a secret like that. So imagine my surprise when I saw this article – “Pentagon admits it has been testing wreckage from UFO crashes & findings may ‘change our lives forever”. This comes from 154 pages released by the Defense Intelligence Agency after a three year FOIA request by researcher Anthony Bragalia. Could this be real? I honestly don’t know what to think. If it is, what other secrets has the government managed to keep? It is odd the Kennedy assassination still hasn’t been declassified after all these years. Maybe we really are holding the bodies of aliens from the Roswell UFO crash at Area 51? Could there actually be a Bigfoot type creature running around the pacific northwest? My skeptical roots have been shaken a bit today.
  • Speaking of journalism, I saw an image this morning of the giant 1st Amendment plates being taken down from the former Newseum in Washington DC. It’s an interesting image given the current dissenting speech purge and cancel culture of today. When we visited DC a few years ago I had never heard of the Newseum and only went as an afterthought on the recommendation of a friend. It ended up being in the top three things we saw. Interestingly, the thing I was most looking forward to was the Smithsonian Air and Space museum. That ended up being the most disappointing attraction. Meanwhile a little museum about journalism I’d never heard of became one of my favorites. Sadly it closed down at the end of 2019.
  • Meanwhile, it appears Sen Ted Cruz left with his family to Cancun while the state he represents freezes over because of their decision not to join the East and West power grids. While I don’t begrudge anyone going on a planned vacation with their family, how do you not have any political awareness of how this would look? Not that he could actually do anything about it, but still. More proof that politicians from both sides of the aisle really don’t care about you.
  • The other day former MMA star turned actress Gina Carano was cancelled by Disney for sharing a dissenting opinion from that of woke Hollywood. She’s probably one of those domestic insurrectionists we’ve been hearing about. Anyway, despite the clumsiness of her tweet, there are some parallels to today and 1930’s Germany. This post is worth a read.
  • I broke the law yesterday. Despite being a contrarian, I am a rule follower so this was definitely out of character for me. I’d run an errand and on the way back home I realized the streets were mostly dry. I have not been able to test drive the new motorcycle due to large amounts of fluffy white global warming that have been falling from the sky lately. The bike has not been registered, titled, and does not yet have a license plate. All that went out the window when I saw an opportunity to go for a quick ride. I’m in love. It’s smooth, powerful, and rides like a dream. Super agile for such a big bike. It exceeded all my expectations. It does however have more buttons and switches than the space shuttle. I can easily see myself riding off a cliff as I try to navigate the touch screen display to change riding modes or turn on the heated grips. It’s so complicated, Honda created an online simulator so you can practice while not on the bike. I don’t care. The sound that engine makes when you twist the throttle makes my heart skip a beat. It was worth being a lawbreaker. Spring can’t come soon enough.

Song of the day: George Thorogood – Bad To The Bone – 7/5/1984 – Capitol Theatre (Official)

An Unprecedented Storm

  • The media is garbage. They churn out crap with sensationalist headlines and most people simply read it and assume it’s true. With much of the country encased in some pretty cold temps there’s been plenty of attention on Texas, who’s electrical grid has spectacularly failed. Headline after headline proclaims Houston is being hit with an unprecedented storm. If journalists employed the internet search skills of your average twelve year old, they’d discover there’s nothing “unprecedented” about this. Valentines day, 1895, Houston was hit with 22″ of snow. So, yeah, it’s happened before. Multiple times. Apparently the dictionary definition of unprecedented has changed. I understand you need over the top headlines to sell the modern equivalent of newspapers. I’m ok with that. It used to be if newspapers went too far down the sensationalist road too often, they’d be lumped in with the “weekly world news” tabloids. Today there seems to be no shame in baseless propaganda. I wouldn’t really care except that I guarantee you it won’t be long before our new climate czars will start lumping in the “unprecedented winter storms” with all the other ridiculous and false claims of record hurricanes, rising sea levels, and record wildfires as evidence of rapid acceleration of global warming (sorry, “climate change”). And that false narrative is being used to shut down the fossil fuel industries and funnel billions upon billions of newly printed dollars to more “green energy” boondoggles. Hey, I have no problem with trying to come up alternative sources of energy. But snow covered solar panels and frozen windmills isn’t it. Meanwhile, in 2020 China built over three times as much new coal power capacity as all other countries in the world combined – the equivalent of more than one large coal plant per week. In addition, over 73 gigawatts of new coal power projects were initiated in China, five times as much as in all other countries. China and India do not give a crap about the Paris Climate Treaty. While we watch people in Texas dying from carbon monoxide poisoning trying keep warm, China is eventually going to kick our asses. We have a clean, safe, and reliable source of green energy already. It’s called nuclear. Our failure to embrace it is going to come back to haunt us when it’s too late. Meanwhile, I’m going to go enjoy some powder skiing for the next week in the several feet of global warming expected to fall in our mountains.
  • Meanwhile, lets check in on how mask mandates vs no mandates work. Looking at that chart I’d say mask mandates had no impact on Covid, but then I’d be labeled a denier. Therefore I fully embrace the new CDC policy of encouraging double masking. Oh wait, you told us any face covering works to block viruses? Now I have to wear two? This almost sounds like a face covering doesn’t really work. I’m so confused. It’s almost like the only face covering that actually blocks viruses is, oh I don’t know, a properly worn and fit tested N95 respirator?
  • Speaking of media as garbage, this piece by Glenn Greenwald is excellent. It’s disturbing how easy it is to sensationalize the chaotic initial “reporting” of an event and turn it into an accepted narrative. Again, I wouldn’t really care except that the false narrative is going to be used to implement new Patriot Act type laws giving the federal government broader reaching scope to collect data, spy, and enact further domestic restrictions. Much of the capital region of Washington DC is still a militarized green zone. Why?
  • On a recommendation from several friends, I signed up for MasterClass to get me some more learn’n in my head. With my soon-to-be increased free time (only one more full time shift to go!) I figure I may as well be productive. I just started my first class and so far I’m enjoying it.
  • With the fancy new motorcycle sitting in the garage, due to the unprecedented global warming that’s fallen in our area lately, I also needed a new riding suit. I’m big believer in ATGATT (all the gear, all the time). My previous motorcycle armor is from an earlier century and Mrs Troutdog has been on me to wear something a bit more modern. Once my standard 5,000 hours of YouTube research was done and I settled on which brand/model I was going to get, all that was left was what color? I had to laugh at myself. At my age I still find that I’m somewhat vain like a high school kid worried about how something “looks”. My new bike is mostly white. The outfit color I happened to like the most, and will be the coolest in the summer, is a very light grey. I was worried about looking a bit too much like a vintage Evil Knievel or Fat Elvis and almost ordered a green color I didn’t like, simply because I was concerned what people may think. Fortunately I’m old enough and (somewhat) mature enough to realize that A) nobody gives a shit what I look like, and B) I really don’t give a shit anymore what people think. I wish I’d learned that sort of confidence when I was younger. Peer pressure and the need to conform is a very human trait, but also a very destructive one (see global warming, mask wearing, woke culture, etc…). So, if you see a Fat Elvis looking guy riding down the street on a ginormous red white and blue bike, give me a wave and a big thumbs up. It’s good for my fragile ego.

Song of the day: Elvis Presley – A Little Less Conversation (original)

Innovation And The Road Trip

  • On a recent two day road trip, it dawned on me just how behind the technology curve the automobile industry is. With the notable exception of Tesla, the interior of the modern vehicle hasn’t changed in a decade. For the most part every car still uses the same knobs, buttons, and analog gages they’ve always used. The most aggravating lack of progress has been around the phone. The modern smart phone has been in existence for 14 years. The smartphone controls everything in your life – navigation, music, your wallet, contacts, and communication. It’s a required piece of equipment for virtually every human being in the modern world. And what have today’s vehicles done to integrate this vital piece of hardware everyone uses? Nothing. They’ve added a USB port. Ever single driver today is using their phone for directions and communicating while driving. And you still have to go buy a third party plastic phone holder of some sort with a suction cup to mount somewhere. Cities are still having to pass “hands free” laws because making a phone call still isn’t nicely integrated into the vehicle. How hard could it possibly be to design a phone holder and charger that’s a seamless part of the dash? And as Tesla has so capably proven, there is zero reason why vehicles can’t have a smart screen display showing every possible bit of data about your car as well as, gasp, interfacing with your phone. Ignoring the electric part, Tesla continues to highlight what dinosaurs the auto industry have become.
  • Speaking of electric, I started the series “Long Way Up” with Ewan McGregor. It’s a continuation of the classic Long Way Round and Long Way Down series of long distance motorcycle trips. The twist this time is that they are on all electric motorcycles traveling from the tip of South America to Los Angeles. I’m only on episode three, but spoiler alert, it’s not going very well. Let’s just put it this way… they have a giant truck following them with a massive diesel generator to keep them charged. As I said in a previous post, we have a ways to go with electric charging infrastructure.
  • And while on the subject of motorcycles and phones, I have a decision to make. My new motorcycle has Apple Car Play integrated into it’s touch screen dash (which is more modern than most vehicles produced today). The problem is that I have never entered the Apple ecosystem. For whatever reason Honda chose not to support Android Auto. So for me to fully utilize all the fancy wiz-bang features on the motorcycle, I have to switch to an iPhone. Except, breaking news, literally just a day ago Honda announced support for Android Auto starting in Europe. So, do I hold out for eventual integration or switch over to Apple today? Sigh, why can’t everything just work?
  • Who knew you can order completely customizable Oreo cookies?
  • A violent BLM protest/riot injured two police officers in NYC yesterday. The mob also attacked and injured a journalist because the crowd started shouting “he’s a cop”. I’m not clear on the state of things now – do we still care about riots, or is that not a thing anymore?
  • The recall Gavin Newsom has obtained enough signatures to require a recall vote. This should be interesting.
  • We’ve had a pretty mild winter so far, with nothing but a bit of rain. I was super excited to get the new motorcycle out for it’s first ride. And… we’ve gotten 3+ inches of snow the last few days. I suppose I’ll have to spend my day planning out trips for this summer. I think the goal is to see how many quirky roadside attractions I can visit.

Song of the day: Joan Jett – Bad Reputation (Live)