Regarding something I wrote last letter about translating the CDI brochure into Dutch: I wrote a friend in Holland about it and he wrote back: I [think] that it would be a complete waste of time! Every Dutchman that would (plan to) be in the USA for a trip like that would be perfectly able to read English!
And so I wonder again how many Americans learn the languages of the countries they visit?
Now it is almost Spring again and I am just getting around to gathering
my notes and culling the photos to put together another letter. They seem
to come further apart. I seem to be very busy for someone who ... what...
is not working? I'm working very hard, just not earning a salary. Yesterday
I made the first pass through the pile of 2002 1040A forms and come up
with a tax due of over $500.00! Not so good for having no W-2's to go with
it. I must be doing something wrong.
So, now we have to attach the rear mounts, jog the position a bit, shorten the driveshaft by an inch or so, and reconnect all the wires and hoses and control cables. May well be another few days...
El Gato is almost ready to go. In the meantime La Gata has pretty well
pulled out the last of the stitches in her foreleg. This time tho the wound
has closed. It never slowed her down tho. Even wearing that silly Elizabethan
collar she still managed to ravage the rugs and climb the curtains. If
this keeps up I may have to lace her kibbles with Ritalin.
My mechanic, Paul, said at the end of one recent oh-dark-thirty discussion of some of the philosophical aspects of that subject --Well, all that comes with age.
And I replied --All that is about the only thing that comes with age.
The frosting on the cake so to speak was to find that the aluminium straps I expected to find at the plumbing and heating shop, long a mainstay of the insulating ductwork installations, to hold the fibreglass blanket around the exhaust pipe, have been replaced by plastic things not unlike Ty-wraps. Zipties I think they are called. Plastic will not do on this hot exhaust pipe. Have to look elsewhere. Nowhere else in this town. Use copper lashing wire. Look later...
The heat is working. The lights are working. Sarah La Gata has retreated to her place of refuge under the galley table. It remains only to finish a few cosmetic items and wait for the snow to melt in the front yard.
We are on top of it all now. Again...
In addition to all that a letter from the El Dorado Hot Spring place where I am to work this winter took off some of the urgency. The person who was to arrive after me has arrived early so the crunch is relieved and I need not hurry so. Ahh...
The weather this coming weekend bodes well and if the last little project moves along like the several accomplished today then finally the great escape will take place without further ado.
Today's new word: defenestrate. As in I feel like defenestrating.
I am excited to get going. This Cat has more pickup, fairly leaps away from a standing start, and seems to be governor limited to 2500 rpm. That amounts to about 58 mph which is Ok with me, I usually don't drive faster than 50-55 anyhow.
This Caterpillar motor has sounds different to the Detroit. Of course it has been since May that the bus made any noise at all. (When I woke up the GPS it still thought it was on the west side of Wolf Creek Pass, between Pagosa Springs and Alamosa Colorado.) The motor sounds louder, more clattery. Is that why they call it a Clatterpillar? Inside, the bus is quieter, especially the high frequency sound, but the noise in general is much reduced so I am extra happy with the new Soundown Insulation.
The exhaust pipe was rerouted at installation to come out beyond the bumper and at a more shallow angle to avoid blowing up as much dust on dirt surface roads and campgrounds. However, at the bumper it becomes the lowest point aft of the drive axle and, given the overhang of the rear end, there is a high likelyhood of the pipe making contact with pavement under certain conditions of drainage dips and catchments. The first such opportunity presented itself upon pulling away from the dumpstation and I managed to hit it straight on without even aiming. Scruuunnnch! Got to do something about that...
Now it is time to load up the tender and head south at the next high
tide. Someone suggested breaking a bottle of champagne over the front bumper
but then I'd have to sweep up the glass and all the bubbly would be wasted
in the snow. We'll just drink it instead.
Good idea Judy. But too late for today. Somehow now I am tired of wailing--aren't
you all so glad?--so I'll not tell about the water pump and how I turned
around at Concord and limped all the way back to Conway. Now I may as well
stay until thursday when the next food distribution to the indigent &
elderly takes place.
It has been leaning to the right (Right maybe?) and antagonising passers by in the companionway where it took up residence upon coming on board the bus back in April. Now it appears that one husky leaf has broken off. Perhaps due to La Gata jumping on it, perhaps due to its tenacious grip upon those textiled visitors I chance to have once in a while. My worst experience with this plant is an occasional scratch on my ankle.
So, the question is: It has been too long since the breaking to try surgical reattachment. Will this leaf survive if I jam it back into the soil?
Today I am visiting with one of my sisters who lives in Nashua. There was a bit of snow this morning and more is forecast later today. I hope to get out of here this evening and move a little further south. I told Paul, my mechanic in Conway, that I would look for help elsewhere if I could get as far as the MAssachusetts border. He breathed a sigh of relief and wished me a speedy deliverance. There is little chance I will get to El Dorado in time for Thanksgiving now, more likely that holiday will happen in Z'hills, or Nawlins. Stay tuned.
In the early '50's, my first Boy Scout Merit Badge was Stamp Collecting.
Since then I have been purchasing plate blocks of new issues. Now that
there are piles of them and I am trying to clean house I find that they
are not such a collectable after all. About the only good use today for
old mint plate blocks is to stick several of them on a letter and mail
it to someone. Attached here is a list of some of
the blocks remaining intact since I have been tearing them apart to
pay postage. If you see anything you need to flesh out your collection
The wheelbase of the bus and the length of the concrete slabs are such
that when combined with the harmonic relationship of the springs and the
road speed the result is a pitching and tossing not unlike that aboard
the RV Polar Duke whilst crossing the Drake Passage between Punta Arenas
and King George Island. I stopped along the Way to take another Dramamine
and survey the damage. The bookshelf of genealogical tomes and Guy Davenport
novels had emptied itself all over my pillow. All that heavy reading could
have really put to sleep anyone in the bed. Over by the telly the VCR was
hanging out by its cables. The Wandering Jew had leapt from its shelf;
the wet soil was strewn about on the bed and the sprigs of plant looked
like an unforecast diaspora had hit with a vengence.
A big tank truck is parked next to me with a company name of "Womanized" on the side. A man is driving.
Today's new word: lum-pen (lum'puhn, loom'-) adj.
1. of or pertaining to disfranchised and
uprooted individuals or groups, esp.
those who have lost status.
Some of the roads in North Carolina are like that and I felt right at
Thirty-five at five-thirty outside The Cat Drag'd Inn in Hudson this morning. Down in the hollow below David's home, around the alligator's pond, there was frost upon the grass and a steam rising from the water. Safe to open Sarah La Gata's hatch, David said, Gators don't feed unless the temperature is above 85f. He has a large duck wandering around in his yard. As long as the duck is about then he knows it is safe for his dogs.
This David is the one on the right in the green shirt in this photo from the old days. Thanksgiving was with Cousin David who lives in Venice a few days south of here. Three generations gathered around two tables for a fine day of rememberance.
Of Eggs and Ex's... Ted has brought to my attention a shift in the pronunciation of the allophone "ex" as in words: example, exit, exonerate, exfoliate... In some such words, he says, the shift from "ex" to "eggs" --indicated as "ek" or "ik" and "ig" respectively in my dictionary--is readily apparent in today's speech. A cursory inspection of the dictionary pronunciation of the wordlist *ex* indicates about as many words "ex" as "eggs". In the case of "exit" both pronunciations are given: (eg'zit, ek'sit). So, who is right?
Perhaps it is a matter of regionalism? New Hampshire v.s. everywhere else? Maybe Ted's noticing the influx of dialects from other parts of the country?
5th December 2002, Visiting Neighbors and Walking in the Sun
Sunnny Oaks Haven camp/club is on the north side of i-10, 60 miles east
of Tallahassee. El Dorado is on the south side, 40 miles west of Phoenix.
Each just about the same distance away from the median but three time zones
I picked up an old man who was hitching along i-10. He was returning to Texas from burying his mother in Chicago. He told me this was only the second time he had hitched in his life. The first was when he returned home from basic training in 1953. This time he started out from Chicago on a bus but he was robbed whilst changing buses and took to hitching. Strange guy tho. I would have taken him all the way to his home, it was not far off my route, but he wanted to get off most of a day away from there. This guy has to be about ten years older than me and here he is hitching a ride. I felt more remorse about his being robbed than that he was just coming from burying his mother.
Then there were two guys, one old, one young, with all manner of climbing hardware dangling from their packs, coming from Montana and going only another twenty miles west on i-10. Dropped them off and just up the road, not even up to speed yet, and there is another old guy.
This one has been hitching back and forth across the country for years he said. Lives in a little tent or sleeps under bridges. He was in FLorida last week and left about the same time as me. During the day I was walking around the Live Oak park picking up trash he was hitching and then when I spent a day driving in the rain he was hiding under a bridge. His last ride left him off at an exit ramp halfway down the west side of the Mississippi River bridge and he walked from there at noon to where I picked him up a few miles, and a few hours, later. We had bean burritos for supper and I left him off at the next truck stop where I planned to fuel and sleep before turning south to Galveston.
Interesting that I had not seen any hitchhikers so far this trip and
then there were these four, and several others I passed by, all in one
day, all in a few hundred miles.
The kids behind the counter of Old Doc's Soda (and gift) Shop at the
TeXas Dr Pepper bottling plant did not recognise "Sgt Pepper". Not
even after I added such words as "Beatles" and "Band". The plant at Dublin
has been bottling Dr Pepper for 111 years and is "the only one which continues
to use the original pure cane sugar recipe." The tour through the plant
and museum includes a bottle of the famous 10-2-4 Dr Pepper.
But over all the new insulation performed well. Hard to make any seriously
objective comparison with the old insulation since the motor changed at
the same time. The new motor is larger and mounted differently. My impression
is no doubt influenced by my desire to justify the expense of the insulation
however I am satisfied that the bus is quieter and the temperature I observe
on the cabin side of the firewall is somewhat less than before. Before,
150f was not unusual. Now, I think 121f was the highest I saw.
The only snow I have seen since departing Conway fell from the underside of a truck just down from the high country to the north. There has been some frost on the lounges in the soaking areas I start up each morning. Mostly the day time temperatures are climbing into the 40's but still a little too cool to be comfortable in anything less than what I learned to know at McMurdo as ECW gear.
Between the weather and the traffic even the view of Saddle Mountain to the west of the Sunset Pool has been obscured.
On Christmas Eve there appeared in the carpark of Alice's Restaurant a 1963 Superior Coach. --Only eight of this model were built, said Jack, the owner/driver who appeared as I was taking a picture of the headlight detail. This one was constructed as a motor home for Ernest Borgnine but he never drove it and it was later sold.
Stef made a nice ham dinner. Me'n'Ian made my famous apple-raisen-brandy
pie. Perhaps in view of the truth in packaging rules I should call it apple-brandy-raisen
pie but then some parents mightn't let their kids partake. Lots of leftovers.
No longer a Master, not yet a Mister. Driver's License next...
I missed you at the Magic Circle. But it was great fun anyhow.
Ian managed to cop a week off school and the weather was the best in three-four years. Wind enough to fly kites, sunny and warm so as to sunbathe at the same time. Lots of nude hiking and bike riding until my front tyre blew out a mile away from camp.
Found a used handheld GPS at one of the fleamarkets. New toy to learn and new "hobby" to play with. Have you read about geocache yet?
Now back at Eldo to have a soak and return to work. Ha!
I met Ian at his home and we had a fancy lunch with his mum and sister. Thence by bus to the venue. The bus was a half hour late so no fare was collected; that was nice. Then we got pointed in the wrong direction by a driver when we asked where the Pavillion was. The driver sent us to the corner where his bus would have gone round the block. About ninety degrees off to the north of where we wanted to be for the front gate. The venue rises like a monolith above the surrounding ticky-tacky housing developments but there is no sign proclaiming such. I didn't know. So we walked well out of the way around the block to get to the gate. The bus never passed us. Just as well we walked.
Then at the gate the security drones are inspecting bags. Ian has yet to learn to be somewhat less than enthusiastic, a little more circumspect, and is helping the gategoon paw through my bag. What's in these bottles? Water in this one. Can't bring in your own water bottles. Only sealed commercial bottles are allowed. It doesn't say that on the ticket, nor on any of the promos for the show. And what's this? A pocket knife. No pocket knives!
What am I suppoed to do with these things you won't permit me to bring in? Take them back to your car. My car is miles away on the other side of Phoenix, we came by public transportation; do you have a place to check things? Over there--the gategoon points over my head past the end of the queue--there is Guest Services.
It gets worse...
At Guest Services there is a line of people checking water bottles and in some cases whole daypacks. I line my water bottles up with all the others. What are we afraid of today? I ask. We don't know what some people may have in their water bottles. And then I bring out my small Swiss Army Knife in its fine leather holster that I have been carrying for twenty some years. Oh! the guestgoon reacts as if the blade were open and pointed at her. We can't check pocket knives, sorry.
That did it. I started frothing at the mouth. Ian was cringing and telling me to calm down--yelled at me: STOP IT! I asked to speak to a supervisor. Took them five minutes to work up through three layers of overgoons to find one capable of thinking. Take it back to your car. I went through my routine again. Frothing all the more. What kind of an operation is this? I don't mind that you are pawing through my bag. I don't mind that certain things are not allowed. But this is ridiculous that you are unable to check my pocket knife!
The overgoon talked on the radio to a Supervisor and then to a SUPERvisor. Finally as the preshow warmup is starting they agree that this time, once only, they will check my knife--but I should know better than to bring a knife next time.
It gets worse...
Inside at the food place(s) one can purchase a cheepsburger for six dollars. Six! dollars... And a bottle of Arrowhead Mountain Spring Water, one pint-8 fluid onces (710ml) is THREE DOLLARS and seventy-five cents! I just happen to know that such water is around fifty cents a bottle by the case so it does not sit well with me to see it being sold at 600% markup. And to make matters worse all the twenty or so people working the food stand are VOLUNTEERS. Its not like the exorbitant markup is going to pay their salary or anything. Three dollars and seventy-five a bottle. No wonder the venue won't let you bring in your own water.
Talk about right by the ...s.
I suppose I should remark that the show was great. I will remember some of the lines and when it comes around on reruns I will remember that I was there amongst the applause, with my three dollar and seventy-five cent bottle of Mountain Spring Water.
In the sketch near the beginning of the show about "The Lives of The Cowboys" Dusty and Lefty are having their usual dialogue. Their body language, and watching the sound effects man, requires a division of attention worthy of a split brain personality. Dusty has been practicing a song which has a loud WHOOP-i-ty-yi-o at the start of the chorus. At the WHOOP! Lefty spills his beans all down the front of his shirt.
After a few of these WHOOPS--which are also causing his horse to buck and neigh--he admonishes Dusty: --Don't you think your song could get along with a bit of a quiet whoop?
--A quiet Whoop? Now that would be an oxymoron if there ever was one.
--You watch who you're calling a oxymoron young feller.
The programme goes on to its conclusion and we eventually get out past the gate and head by a different route for the bus back to Ian's house. Walking this time along the smooth verge between road and another field Ian says: --Its smooth here; how about if we run now that we're not so much in a hurry.
--Now that's an oxymoron if I ever heard one.
--Watch out who you're calling an oxymoron old man.
But he didn't get it! We rehashed the dialogue from the Dusty and Lefty
skit before he realised where he got the line from and then I had to define
oxymoron before it all made sense.
I do not know what I may appear to the world; but to
myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore, and
diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier
shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered
before me. --Sir Isaac Newton
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Copyright © 2003, A.J.Oxton, The Cat Drag'd Inn , 03813-0144.