Travels With Oso con Migo

Odyssey In America

OAE On The Road Again — There And Back Again

Nude Sunbathers Ahead

Greetings Virtual Travellers:

Memorial Day 2010

PV Array on The Cat Drag'd InnDid an interesting experiment yesterday concerning the loss of conversion efficiency of Photo Voltaic panels as the surface temperature rises. Reading this paper on the effect of temperature on PV output put me onto the idea after I'd been watching my charge current over the past week wondering why the output was not as high as last month. Or the month before.

My array comprises six panels: three 120 watt, one 80 watt, two odd balls, for a total of about 500 watts. Mostly they lie flat on the roof of the bus.

During the Winter, even with the sun quite a few degrees lower than now at mid day the panels were doing better than 20a at their best. This past fortnight I've noted that as the sun rises the output would climb as usual but never get to 20a. Leveled off at 16a or so.

What sugars off is that at mid-day the surface temperature of the panels exceeds 130f and the max output is about 16a. So what I did was to hose down the panels;  the water cooled them to 100f and the output current went up to the usual better than 20a. (The meters only go that high and then they are against the peg.) As the panels rewarmed the current dropped. Repeated the cycle twice to confirm results. That's about a 20% loss.

Not much in the way of plans. As with your Summer Holiday, travel comes down to a matter of money. I'm still working to pay off the new motor in the bus and thinking about the likelihood that I will have to install a new motor in my truck soon. The pickup is getting about 100 miles/quart (of oil) and BP is pointing their finger at me crying that they are not the only ones having an oil spill problem to clean up after.

Another step down...

...the slippery slope of repression and loss of freedom in this country: "In response to a flood of Facebook and YouTube videos that depict police abuse, a new trend in law enforcement is gaining popularity. In at least three states, it is now illegal to record any on-duty police officer." And yet another step.  See also the current magazine _UTNE_ #162 pp39. Does it never occur to us that the trend ought to be towards Less Abusive Police?

Mourning After The Fourth

OK. I'll take some moments over coffee to ratchet-jaw.

The main fireworks here concerned my attempt to install Linux/Ubuntu on the Betty laptop. Mike and I, we had it working once, after two hours of install and two more hours of updating, and then had to try just one more tweak. He went at it alone after that whilst I went off to BBQ some dead sea squabs (not really--they were some kind of mangled chicken). Another two hours later, not including time off for supper, he had recovered the previous working configuration and the evening was dark enough to ascend a ladder to the roof of La Casa Blanca. So what was the greater more meaningful achievement of this day? I'm not really done yet with the Linux/Ubuntu installation--still have to wallpaper the display and adjust the fonts and get the email client to send and receive. The chicken turned out OK for a change, not burnt to crispy charcoal. Standing on the rooftop watching fireworks was a new sort of adventure. I was reminded a lot of 4ths on the Esplanade, Arthur Fiedler conducting, brass cannon booming, fireworks over the Charles River. But then I was encumbered and surrounded by textiles.

Actually a little cooler this morning. Not at all what one might call a cold snap but clearly cooler: 73f at dawn as opposed to 90f  of a few days ago. My roof a/c has been suffering from low line voltage and stalls when I need it most. Found a window-mount swamp cooler at the corner flea market and have that in the window over the couch but the swamp cooler and the a/c fight over their methods and all the fans make too much noise.

For some reason this past month or two the food bank has been big on meats. Not too many eggs but lots of sausage. I've not eaten so much chicken and steak in years.

Now I'm down to about a week before departure to the cooler climes of Pie Town and Wind Horse and we have to get rid of all this stuff. There is no room for me to carry it all in the freezer in the bus.

Two more of Betty's sunflowers have bloomed and a fourth is about to open. That leaves two that have not yet developed buds. None of them got to be 10-12 feet tall. None even got to much over three feet. There are some sunflowers in a yard next to the food bank that are way tall. Easily 8-10 feet tho I've not got close enough to more than guess. Large heads too. So what about the seeds? If the heads are larger then are the seeds? Or just more of them?

I've been pink-slipped by Census. Never did get a day of real work out of them. Lots of training. Interesting experience over all but the management of the programme seems such a waste of money. On the other hand Camilla is still working long hours for them. Seems just like most companies these days in that they prefer to work some people overtime rather than have more people working anytime.

Summer Solstice Slipped Through

 I guess I didn't even notice that for a whole fortnight the days are getting shorter.

"Mount Washington, [I used to live there once upon a long ago] in the Presidential range of the White Mountains of New Hampshire ... is notorious for its erratic and often severe weather ["The World's Worst Weather" it says on the T-shirts]... Since its opening there has nearly always been a cat at the Observatory..."

2010vii22 Rubber Tramps at Camp Kaibab 14-Day Area

Another of those places in the forest where people have for a long time set tents and wagons, built campfires, ate meals, and lived for Summers away from the desert heat. The Cat Drag'd Inn is perched on a low knoll among sparse long needle pines (Ponderosa maybe) in a field of red and purple wild flowers. Indian Paintbrush, Palmer Lupine, thistle and some white flower that might be a phlox.

Departing Tonopah last week we, me and Sara(h), leaving the heat behind, climbed, over the course of three days, several thousand feet onto the Kaibab Plateau. Along the way I managed an hour of paddling kayak in Watson Lake, a six mile bike ride on the Peavine Trail, one afternoon of trash picking in Ash Fork, and arrived in the cool of the morning at Williams Rodeo Grounds for a gathering of Ham Radio friends. Unloaded enough old radio stuff to at least pay for the fuel to get that far and then into the tip with a lot more junk I've been carrying around long enough. Made a tasty Hobo Stew to share with other "Rubber Tramps" camped around The Cat Drag'd Inn.  See Ken Kesey and _On The Road_.

Aside from selling all that radio junk, and buying some parts and materials, the most exciting happening was a neat thunderstorm which dropped an inch of rain in an hour. Raindrops were falling on my stew, causing fits of flame failure to the fridge, making puddles large enough to float a kayak.

Three delightful days passed quickly at the Williams Rodeo Grounds and then a short move to this Kaibab National Forest campground where I am sitting still, decompressing, enjoying the view through the trees. Sara(h) too seems to be enjoying this place. Running through the grass, napping in the sun. Tuesday half an inch of rain, fell all at once, splash! Came down so fast there was not time to close the roof vents. Bed wet, floor in the head wet, mudslides close nearby roads.

This morning I'm making a male banana bread. More for the excuse of running the oven to get up some heat in the galley than anything else; still, this is the first banana bread since last Winter and the aroma is friendly, the taste yummy. Who to share with? My nearest neighbors are far enough away their slice will be cold by the time I walk there.

2010vii25 Sunny Sunday

Kaibab Cabin from the northwestStill at Camp Kaibab sunday but leaving tomorrow for sure. Much longer and I will be running out of time to get to all the other places along the road 'twix here and Pie Town New Mexico.

Been a Very Special week here and this sunday is a most special day: This morning was the first the rising of the sun was actually visible! The sight of the terminator sliding across the hillsides was exciting; tips of trees flashing brightly whilst their trunks were still in shadow, eventually even the roof of the bus lighting up, and the warmth of sun touching my shoulders.

Yesterday's walkabout and trash collection netted one sack of cans and bottles and the most interesting sight of a huge old alligator-bark juniper. The tree must be at least several hundred years old. Against the bole is built a small cabin which incorporates several of the lower branches into roof and walls. The "Kaibab Cabin" has a tin roof and a vacant doorway. The door frame was a little short for me to step through but I could stand up inside. The cabin has a corrugated tin roof and used to be insulated with duff held in place by cardboard inner walls and ceiling. Someone lived there long ago.
East side of the tree. Seven feet L-R
To the right is a closeup of the juniper bole from the south side. Note GPS device in the major fork about in the middle of the image. The GPS is six inches long and from that the width of the bole at grade can be determined to be about 7.8 feet. The north side of the bole measures about 3.5 feet across. I guess the height of the tree to be 30-40 feet. Below, a shelf cut into one of the large branches serves as a place to park my GPS and provide scale for this interior photo.Inside from the doorway

Tuesday Morning Coming Down.

First of course one has to go up. And up, and up some more. Two Flat camp, at about 7,000'MSL, used to be a WWII Internment Camp, there are yet some of the concrete slabs of old buildings visible in the woods. I've camped here before now but in dryer times. Now the roads are wet, muddy, soft, and the flat spots where one might park are even softer, not as well drained as back there at Kaibab.

At Two Flat I left Sara(h) guarding The Cat Drag'd Inn and drove Tiny Truck to the AridZona Snow Bowl. The road up is much like the Carriage Road on Mount Washington except that the surface is paved to within a half mile of the base of the Triple-Chair at 9,500'MSL. Senecio franciscanus (San Francisco Peaks Groundsel), rare and endangered as with Potentilla Robbinsiana on Mount Washington, grows only here and so one is not allowed to walk about unless there is snow cover. Being ever the good tourist I took the lift up and down.

I was just returned to my camp in Two Flat from that excursion to pee in the Highest Toilet in AridZona when the warning came on the NOAA Radio that Flash Floods were to be expected during the evening. Must have been all that coffee. Getting dark fast; lightning in the hills helped illuminate the process as I hitched up the toad to effect a hasty escape. Not quite in the nick of time The Inn Drag'd out of Two Flat south to Belmont. Slid off the mud onto the pavement--Phew! and barely found space at the truck stop where I sit now, wenzday morning, having a nice breky under continued cloudy sky.

2010viii8, Saddy Nagasaki Day

What else can today be? So much water down the gutter since my last entry. Only the highlights remain.

Following the last entry, way back, miles, and weeks, ago in Belmont, The Cat shook the rain off her back and Drag'd eastward to Flagstaff. Thanks to the Harkins11 movie house we spent a peaceful albeit soggy night of pizza, beer, movie--"The Last Airbender"--with Lovely Lady Laura Lampwick, formerly friend of Fred Franakerpan, late of Cape Cod, near the Highland Light. David of NOAA also stopped by and commenced a lively discussion of barometer setting, altitude conversion, and lapse rate.

Standin' On A Corner...Next stop on my itinerary: Standin' On A/The Corner in Winslow AridZona.  Such a fine sight to see. The weather held good long enough to shop for postcards and cop a couple of caches. Besides "The Corner" immortalised by The Eagles, Winslow also boasts a very fine old railroad station and The Last Great Railroad Hotel.  The hotel lobby, on the National Register of Historic Places, doubles as a museum and Geocache and should be to all Rubber Tramps, and other travellers as well, a must visit. Get Your Kicks at this window into the past along Historic Route 66 at the east edge of Winslow near the Flying-J caravanserai.
Recognise me with clothes on?
Another day, another rest-stop, eastward to Holbrook, then south through Snowflake--none on the ground, too warm--Show Low, and Springerville. Coming into Springerville from over the hill, the rain was sudden and intense; visibility reduced to one-quarter mile, on a shoulderless two lane u.s.60, no place to pull over, naught to do but keep going, IFR, into town. This is the monsoon season after all.

Next rest area is Red Hill in The Land of Enchantment and is one of my favourite places to pull off and pick up a bag of trash. Also had some radiator maintenance to do. Just ahead was Pie Town on the Continental Divide.

Bill had been busy all this time trenching a yard at Nita's Cabin to relocate the power and water service and when I called to let him know I was finally in the area he was delighted. Justin Time! he exclaimed. There's work to be done. Cables to splice, pipes to mend, and now, after several altercations with more wind and rain and thunder, two torn awnings. I wonder if my 1921 Singer can handle that heavy a fabric.

In an Age of Uncertainty...

I used to care /all/ of the time, at least I used to think I did anyhow, but then I learnt how futile that is and gave up caring at all; now my caring is trying to find the middle Way and care better only some of the time.

Cohen's Rule: "Some of us don't care all of the time, but all of us don't care some of the time."   --Sociologist Stanley Cohen

Rolling in Dough

The mail mule must be not getting fed enough. Time to raise the rates. Hereabouts the postmaster herself applies old lick-'em&stick-'em stamps without benefit of a sponge let alone a postage meter machine. The newest addition to the postlogcabin is the mandatory wheelchair ramp which leads between a door that doesn't close tight and a carpark fraught with ruts and rocks that would wreak havoc on any handicapped habitué.

Rabbit-Rabbit (Must be August by Now)

Over the past month, two even, I've been following, by means of the USPS Package Tracking Number, the travels of a book ordered from an store-front in New York. Originally ordered before I left Tonopah, delivery just missed my departure to Williams and so got caught up in the vicissitudes of my forward order to Pie Town.

So off it went from coast to coast. Twice. Starting in New York, to a Sort Facility in New Jersey: Phoenix, Tonopah which forwarded it, presumably to Pie Town, but it never got there: Bell CA, Denver CO, Phoenix AZ, Tonopah AZ (again), Flushing NY, Jersey City (again). The last entry on the log says "...left our Jersey City facility on August 15..." But according to the sender my book has not been returned to them. The rest of the storey is detailed later. Amazon has issued a refund.
Denali practicing to be a Moai
Denali's Visit... Hardly what one might call a Summer Camp this time. Only a fortnight of flying here playing in the dirt and flying home. But we had a good time anyhow and she got to meet the Bike & Build team that pedaled through Pie Town on their way from Boston to Santa Barbara. Nita operates the dwelling in which she raised her family as a hostel known as The Toaster House and it is here in this rambling building of nooks and crannies that hikers on the Continental Divide Trail and cyclists going coast to coast often stay for a few nights of R&R.
Bike & Builders at The Toaster House
In addition to the progressive lack of heat hereabouts there is now the distinct latening, the delay, the regression, of the time of sunrise. Sara(h) the Alarum Cat has yet to notice, but I have. Oh-Dark-30 is later and later every morning, sky is still dark at 06h00 and I am perforce obliged to delay my weather observation until 06h30 when there is enough light to see clouds however I can still see a few stars then too.

Now we are at the eve of september. This morning at dawn the temperature was 39f, a new low for the Summer. Furnace on for a few minutes. For most of the past month I have been playing in the dirt, trenching and plumbing at Nita's Cabin, a few miles west of Pie Town. This place, like The Toaster House, is an eclectic collection of artifacts and art, things and stuff, thises and thats, not to mention 1500 feet of trench, three cats, two tomato bushes, and a hot tub with a great view of the sunrise. This picture of me playing in the dirt is by Nita.
Playing in the dirt

2010ix11 Pie Town 30th Pie Festival Ripieno

I didn't roll all 250 crusts on my own. There were 10-15 other high rollers there too and a few who were sitting down on the job. Also some fillers and weavers. I learnt how to weave a lattice crust. And brought home some leftover crust to make cinnamon rolls. I'll try to save some for a Winter Solstice Pie at Ajo--a tasty filling for that would prob'ly have to include garlic!
rolling pins of all sorts
"I'm Just an Innocent Piestander!" as it says on the tee-shirt, and if you don't believe that you can "eat my crust". Here follows the only storey of pieticular significance to Pie Day to escape uncensored from Pie Town; the tale is fraught with impiefections, some words you will find in your piectionary, some will be found only in Pie Town. Let the reader pieruse:
What do you think it looks like?
The drivepie throwing was the scene of a gathering of piegophiles the likes of which had never before been seen. A "30th" only happens once. This reporter was only an innocent piestander. Watching through pienoculars from a safe distance one could observe the filopietistic groupies incipient at the centerpiece. Some folks came by piecycle to the affair on Pieway 60 at Mile Marker 56. The sole impiefection of the early morning was the cold. 34f at The Cat Drag'd Inn made for my fingers a difficulty typieing. As the day became pierogenic the concession stands of the Pienderosa Ranch commenced to opiening their doors.
chocolate cream piety for kids
Piety contests commenced late morning--chocolate cream pies for the kids--followed closely by a bonspiel of horseshoe tossing. Later in the afternoon, after sufficient excipients had been consumed from the various pie wagons (A pie chart of flavours was offered: the mundane apple, cherry; the exotic ginger; this reporter's favourite: pierola-oatmeal on graham crust.), the piece de resistance of the affair: the crowning of Her Royal Pieness! The ball that followed was a piebald pierrhic ripieno with pieticipants young and old. "Eat my crust!", the caller called to the music of "American Pie". The pielotis of the ramada trembled in antisipietion of next year's Pie In The Sky.

Any groupies who might wish to pieticipate, please pen me a piepyrus:

Oh yes. My book is still missing. I've written to the Inspector General of the United States Postal Service.

Next Up: Autumnal Equinox

The link to the Postal Service USPS Package Tracking site for 420853549102805213907317659347 I is good for only a month so I will make my own copy here just for the record. The book was ordered on 22 July; Shipping estimate for these items: July 23, 2010 - July 26, 2010. Delivery estimate: July 29, 2010 - August 13, 2010.

Here, copied from the USPS Package Tracking site for the item 420853549102805213907317659347, are the Detailed Results: [Read from bottom to top.]
19    Delivered, September 20, 2010, 9:20 am, PIE TOWN, NM 87827
18    Notice Left, September 20, 2010, 8:40 am, PIE TOWN, NM 87827
17    Sorting Complete, September 20, 2010, 8:07 am, PIE TOWN, NM 87827
16    Processed through Sort Facility, September 18, 2010, 11:26 pm, ALBUQUERQUE, NM 87101
15    Processed through Sort Facility, September 18, 2010, 1:27 am, LAS VEGAS, NV 89199
14    Processed through Sort Facility, September 17, 2010, 10:18 pm, LAS VEGAS, NV 89199
13    Forwarded, September 04, 2010, 8:07 am, TONOPAH, AZ
12    Processed through Sort Facility, August 15, 2010, 9:11 am, JERSEY CITY, NJ 07097
11    Processed through Sort Facility, August 14, 2010, 5:35 pm, JERSEY CITY, NJ 07097
10    Processed through Sort Facility, August 09, 2010, 12:35 am, FLUSHING, NY 11351
9    Forwarded, August 05, 2010, 5:53 am, TONOPAH, AZIs this where my book went?
8    Processed through Sort Facility, August 04, 2010, 8:21 am, PHOENIX, AZ 85043
7    Processed through Sort Facility, August 03, 2010, 8:34 am, DENVER, CO 80217
6    Processed through Sort Facility, July 31, 2010, 9:26 pm, BELL, CA 90201
5    Forwarded, July 28, 2010, 5:31 am, TONOPAH, AZ
4    Arrival at Post Office, July 28, 2010, 5:10 am, TONOPAH, AZ 85354
3    Processed through Sort Facility, July 27, 2010, 11:11 am, PHOENIX, AZ 85043
2    Processed through Sort Facility, July 24, 2010, 4:53 am, JERSEY CITY, NJ 07097
1    Electronic Shipping Info Received, July 22, 2010

However! The package as delivered was EMPTY! Well, almost empty. When I opened it, with the Pie Town Postmaster as witness, we found only a form letter that said in effect "Sorry about that."

Then the inspector general wrote back and said if I would describe the missing book they would conduct a search. I'm impressed. Just the fact that they wrote back will make the next postal rate increase a little easier to bear. Well, that was weeks ago. Nothing to report since then.

Sara(h) has added another appellation to her tail. Since she likes to sleep in one and because the naming conventions of the Basque peoples tend to identify their family place of origin Ms.La Gata becomes a "basquet" case. Speaking of names, The WAMFAHOOFUS (Limmertakus boottii.) has been recently brought to mind again.

101010 Binary to Decimal Conversion

A Once A Millennium Date of special significance.

The Muddle of Octvember

There is something else about which I am supposed to write but I canna remember what it is.  It is not the aspartame in my diet, I don't imbibe any of those druggie beverages--only plain old unadulterated gin---but then again who really knows anymore what we are eating and drinking.
grader calendar pinup. Printable copy available on request.
Just before pulling up stakes at Nita's Cabin I helped Bill reinstall the wheels on the roadgrader he's been working on all Summer and finished filling the last of the ditches and partook of several sunrise soaks. The best green flashes are at sunrise and watching them from a hot tub on an otherwise frosty morning is the cat's meow. "Green flashes and green rays are optical phenomena that occur shortly after sunset or before sunrise, when a green spot is visible,..."
Adrian takes a hike

All Downhill From Here

Really. All the way around the Mogollon Rim the road was mostly at the same elevation as where I started, give or take a thousand feet. A little west of Heber there is a wide spot and a sign admonishing one to "check brakes--use low gear--6% grade next umpteen miles". Aside from a short respit of flatness going through Payson the highway descends more than a mile, something on the order of 6,000 feet, in several such 6% grades. The inverse adiabatic lapse rate rule dictates that as the altitude goes down the temperature goes up. Hypothermia gives way to hyperthermia. I can only take off so much clothing...

"Home" again to Tonopah, the Land of Hot Water, just in time for All Hallows Eve. No trickertreaters make it this far in off the street but I manage to catch one small goblin. This one's not even housebroken yet but that's not a problem here in the desert.

Scott's Missing Toilet Paper Caper

I've been a loyal consumer of Kimberly-Clark's "Scott Unscented Bathroom Tissue" (recommended by my RV club as being Safe for use in an RV holding tank) for many years and I suppose I might not have noticed if I'd not seen an old roll on the shelf right next to a new roll. But there it was at Smith's, in Grants New Mexico, a few weeks ago, "Now Stronger" emblazoned across the package of 4 rolls, nearly an inch shorter than its taller "Safe for RVs" neighbor.

“So!”, I wrote to MM.Kimberly & Clark, “You perhaps thought I wouldn't notice?” I perused the fine print carefully. Still the same 1,000 sheets however the narrower roll amounts to about 40 square feet less toilet paper for the same money. “What is this? Your latest attempt to cut costs? I am not favourably impressed.”

"Now Stronger"? Why don't you say "Now Smaller" for the same price? Why don't you say something about fewer wipes per roll? Less space taken in an RV holding tank could even be an additional selling point. But wait! The package no longer proclaims "Scott Unscented Bathroom Tissue" is safe for RVs.

Is "Now Stronger" the tradeoff for the lack of "Safe for ... RV…"?

4.1 inches wide vs. 4.5 amounts to forty square feet less toilet paper per roll—for the same price of course—and I suppose that means I will have to go shopping that much more often, hardly a savings on my behalf.

Couldn't you just have raised the retail price 10% and saved yourself the cost of all that retooling? Doesn't look much like "Common Sense..." to me.

“My main concern at this time is the missing blazon "Safe for RV". Does this mean my RV club should no longer recommend this Scott product to its members?”

How much further along this road of smaller packages for the same price will we go before there are only ten eggs in a dozen?

Predictably enough Kimberly-Clark replied—in a letter signed with the tag line Lead the world in essentials for a better life: "We recently increased the strength of our tissue and aligned the roll width to match other tissue products on the market. [ K-C has gone from being an industry leader to second rate?]

"In answer to your inquiry, SCOTT bathroom tissue passes water breakup tests and is, therefore, considered safe for use in RVs and boats."

They also sent along three silvery dollar-off coupons; not a bad return for a first class postage stamp.


And with that this letter ends. Long enough and late enough.

Be Well, Do Good, and Please Write.

Love, ajo

front page trailerI 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 © 2010, A.J.Oxton, The Cat Drag'd Inn , Tonopah AridZona 85354-0313.