Friday, September 04, 2020

September 2020 Reading

Tuesday, September 01, 2020

Postcards in the Coronavirus Days - Part VI

Justinian: Mount Vernon, small dining room

Katie, from Tom Hardy.  Gettysburg, the Weikert Farm.

KatieK from Tom Hardy.  Three postcards on thick posterboard sent individually.  He signed them all 2020 with hearts.

Larry and Janine, Mt Rushmore National Memorial, Black Hills.  Folding Line on the back to append another president into the mountain.  Big ugly.

Kyle: Shrine of Democracy, Black Hills, SD....note, I put a folding line in the back to layer another president into the mountain.  So sad.

Matt Z, Spruce Tree Ruin, Mesa Verde National Park


Postcard Puzzle

 J and E have been sending me a postcard puzzle.  I don't think they cut it correctly.

Sunday, August 23, 2020

Banning State Park Ride

On Friday I pedaled from Eagan up to Banning State Park near Sandstone, MN.  Good trip, although not particularly exciting.

It was mostly on trails: from Eagan into St. Paul, catch the Gateway/Vento, Sunrise, Willard Munger, and a spur.  Total was 107.55 miles.

It was more overgrown (on the sides) then when we were up there 10 years ago or so, so a bit more shade.  But still pretty flat with a slight grade because you're headed north in Minnesota (there's a reason most folks go north to south), and lots of sun.  I started at 6:00 a.m. to avoid the bulk of the heat, but I still stopped twice to buy more water, three 16+ oz bottles each time. The second time I panicked a bit as the gas station was locked up tight due to an electrical outage, but there was another not too far down the road also out of electricity, but taking cash.  Still, it was still almost not enough. 

I did not like the shoulders on 61 where they simply fell apart and hadn't been cleaned in....ever?  I hit a small spot of gravel at one point and there was a loud twang as a sizable chunk of metal went flying.  I thought I had avoided a flat....for about another 60 seconds.  Fortunately, it was easy to fix and despite the size of the shard of metal, hadn't shredded my actual tire.  Simple puncture.  After that I trended more toward the road despite the cars.

Other highlights?  An idiot in a truck with a large Confederate Flag flying high above several US flags.  Hampton Umbrella rides.  Pictured below.  Sort of sketchy looking in this context.  I didn't get a picture of the Scooter ride entrance which was pretty terrifying; a tunnel full of pieces of metal sticking into the center.  It was like it was beckoning specifically to me with my nickname.

A dam on the way there.  I think this is just north of Hinckley, where I really should have stopped for a piece of pie at the Whistle Stop Cafe, even though it would have been outside on the cement.  I've certainly done that many times before on RAGBRAI.

My wife met me at Banning State Park with the convertible for a picnic (abbreviated because of the mosquitoes, but still appreciated - I'd had mostly nuts and fruit snacks and goldfish crackers at that point) and for a tour of the park (abbreviated; we saw the rapids, but the falls were a four mile round trip that she wasn't up for).  Here are a number of pictures of the  rapids.  Pretty area, particularly if you want to hike.  I heard on the news that in Taylors Falls, 50 miles from us, a guy fell off the cliffs and landed on the rocks while we were at Banning.  This didn't seem to get as high over the river as that, but there were some bouldering type areas that went higher than we were willing to hike.

Poot working on her own photo.  She's got a selfie of us somewhere on her camera.

All in all, a great ride, although I'm feeling it in the saddle some today.  I keep thinking my modifications to my bike seat will pan out, but I can find the right level.  Still, close enough and getting new brake pads on is priority one.

Closing with the soothing sounds of the rapids.

Banning State Park Rapids

Postcards in the Coronavirus Days - Part V

Postcard to KatieK on 8/20/2020 from Tom Hardy where Tom inserts himself into all the airplanes at Wright Patterson Air Force Base.


This particular postcard was so very many postcards...

So many...

Bit of duplication there with the photos, but I wanted to catch them all...

Two left!!!  It was difficult to think of things to say for every plane.

Aw....taking a Koala back to Australia that was healing up in the US. 

To Aunt Sue on 8/18/2020: Clock Tower, Great Court, Trinity College, Cambridge

On 8/18/2020 to Katie prior to the airplanes postcard.  From Tom Hardy pontificating on what a manly eruption it seems to be.

Thursday, August 20, 2020

The Incident

My wife and I watched The Incident the other night.  I really enjoyed it.  My take is that it's about tragedy and how someone reacts to (maybe dwells upon, or dwells within is a better turn of phrase) tragedy whether they're old or young and whether they persevere in the face of that tragedy or succumb to it emotionally.  In the case of The Incident whether one thrives or shrivels seems to be based on age.  

For a while I really hoped it was a dystopia in the vein of The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas.  e.g. the noise was a machine of some sort splitting off a very bad dimension/possibility and screwing over some version of yourself, so that an individual could enjoy a probable good turn in the timeline that had the technology.  Personally, I think that's a creepier take on the whole thing.  Confining some version of yourself to hell so that you can enjoy a less painful reality.  How many alternate yous would you be willing to banish to hell to be happy?  Would you justify it with "it's me, so they'd be happy for the happy me?"

Inventive and well worth watching and I agree with Variety, that it's got a smattering of Borges, enough so that when it tries to explain things at the end, it almost screws up the movie.

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Postcards in the Coronavirus Days - Part IV

Sent to the Boss on 8/11: Geocaching Whitehouse. 

Sent to AnneT on 8/11: House of the Seven Gables

Sent to ChristineC on 8/11/2020: Arizona Desert in Bloom

Monday, August 17, 2020

Hot Summer Nights

 My new neighbor trades beer with me.  Between him and Kyle and myself, I may never have to drink the same beer more than twice unless I really want to.  I've taken to buying warm beer and storing it under the steps and I'm developing quite the esoteric collection.

This was one of the incoming trades.  I had it while playing D&D on Sunday.  I'm generally against fruity beer, but this had a seriously light taste (and light alcohol at 4.4%).  The lower alcohol level was a bonus because anything above 6% tends to make me a bit fuzzy for playing my character.

Speaking of Warbear the Invincible, Warlock, here's his character sheet.  E, Kyle, Chris, his son, and I have been playing for about two months on most weekends with a few skips.  Last time I played consistently was in the Richfield house maybe 25 years ago.  We're having a good time, although I have a theme.  Fire my biggest spell, Scorching Ray.  Take a hit, and "blow up" with Hellish Rebuke.  Either go down, or get in an Eldritch Blast and then go down.  It's not 100%, but I think it's at least a 60% go to strategy.  Mostly I'm waiting for my patron (a fiend, in this case Demogorgon) to decide he's going to chew on my brain and spit it back into my skull.  I hear that's how he makes friends.

Sunday, August 16, 2020

Finnish Bistro Bike Ride

Yesterday I pedaled up to the Finnish Bistro in the Como neighborhood of St. Paul.  Very close to the State Fair.  Given the Fair is going to be shut down this year due to Covid concerns (rightly so), it's about as close to my bike ride to an Americano at the Farmer's Union there that I'm going to get.  Kind of a bummer - I'm usually there earlier enough to see some interesting sights.  Last year it was Governor Walz stopping by my table to say hello.  I'm still getting a little bit of rub on the back tire even after my deep cleaning during a streaming Sarah Morris concert  We'll see if new brake pads will take care of it.  I may have to bite the bullet and do a little bit of truing.  I did take a trip later in the day to find tires for the other bicycle (which has a bald back wheel), but Gateway and Strauss didn't have anything with tread due to Coronavirus stocking issues.  The wait is like 4 weeks at the moment.  I bit the bullet and ordered a pair of tires off Amazon.  They seem upscale compared to what's on the bike after a bit of research.

Some cool animal sightings as I was out at 6:00 a.m.  A bunch of turkeys wandering around near the river.  And when I went past Fort Snelling a deer in the parking lot was close enough for petting for a thirty seconds.  Not that I'd pet him.  Deer ticks make me nervous (after two rounds of Lyme's).

Here's my bike nearby (the old one) while I eat Oat Cakes with cardamom, reindeer sausage, and an Americano on the bus bench. I think my biggest issue was lack of a metal fork.  I should put one in my pack so I always have one.  It would have made the meal much better.  Not that it wasn't delicious, albeit a bit too much.


Part of the reason I was up there was to drop a book off for Alex.  No one answered, but with Covid I've been wrapping drop offs in quart bags, so I was able to leave it hidden in the weeds behind a pitcher and send him a photo.  Although it's a Cthulhu book, so hopefully it doesn't leave an evil, otherworldly essence behind to infuse his plants.

As I neared home, I pedaled past a bunch of guys packing up their bicycles after a morning ride near Hwy 13.  I was amused that there one guy explaining that his bicycle was "not a road bike" and he could move to a road bike if he wanted to in order to be more efficient.  His definition of "not a road bike" had treadless, razor thin tires, and a light frame.  I wanted to yell, "THIS IS NOT A ROAD BIKE." But I refrained.  

Overall, it reminded me of the Craft Beer Drinkers Be Like series that Kyle forwarded me:

Friday, August 14, 2020


I've been eating hummus lately.  My blood pressure leveled out and I know beans are supposed to be a natural healthy option (and losing weight), so I'm trying to up my fish and bean intake.  I bought a few store options and they're sort of boring, even those labeled as spicy.  I hear the "everything" option, akin to an everything bagel, makes some top 10 lists, so I still intend to try that.  As an experiment, I mixed some ghost curry power into a store bought dollop.  No good.  You can bury a LOT of ghost curry powder in store bought hummus to no effect.  And when you finally do get it to cut through, it tastes more like powder, less like hummus.

So I have made my own.  Anyone who knows me knows this is not exactly my thing.  But it seemed worth a try.  Most of the recipes out there are some variation of this (basic ingredient mix below).  I wanted to try this variation (video below), but finding dried peppers online is a little more difficult than I expected, at least Anaheim variety.  Ghost peppers, not so hard.  I suspect they aren't purchased as often.  And, with the USPS nonsense underway, I didn't want to wait for two weeks.

So I compromised.  Washed the garbanzo beans (what a pain, but in the end worth it).  Used a whole lemon (too much, although I wonder how other citrus bases would work, like a lime).  Used two cloves of garlic (too much, although if you're not going to eat hummus and make out with your vegan friend, maybe not an issue).  And then in addition to what's below added 1 t. of ground chipotle (fresh is probably better) and .5 t. (roughly, maybe a little more) of ghost curry powder from Savory Spice.

Outcome: better than the store bought.  Smoother, sharper flavors, and I can at least feel the heat although I erred on the side of caution and sampled it as I slowly added chipotle and ghost.  A few issues like the lemon and garlic amounts I used.  Just a little heat (in my opinion) without being overwhelming.  I may have to try real chipotle and ghost peppers (dried) and see if it's any different, although the curry aspect works pretty well and I may try some of the other Indian spice mixes I have from Penzey's as an alternative before I worry about that. It'd be good on naan, although as a general snack pita is a healthier option from a sheer calorie perspective.

1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas or 1 1/2 cups (250 grams) cooked chickpeas

1/4 cup (60 ml) fresh lemon juice (1 large lemon)

1/4 cup (60 ml) well-stirred tahini, see our homemade tahini recipe

1 small garlic clove, minced

2 tablespoons (30 ml) extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

Salt to taste

2 to 3 tablespoons (30 to 45 ml) water

Dash ground paprika or sumac, for serving

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Accident Posters

 These are interesting.  They're from my iPad1 (!) circa....2012?  They must be from after I came back to work with the cane.  My brain was operating a little different from standard at the time and these are definitely me, but something about them puts me in memory of a state of mind that was a little strange during meetings.  If I was SVG savvy, I'd create some real posters with the National Park / Workplace Productivity feel to them.

This is a Stone Angel Free Workplace: Your Accidents Are All With Your Future Self

This is a Dalek Free Workplace: Although We Do Exterminate Anyone Who Might Cause an Accident

This is a Cyberman Free Workplace: If There IS an Accident, You Won't Feel Pain

And then we switch from Doctor Who to Elder Scrolls!

This is a Sweet Roll Free Workplace: 324 Days Since Anyone Took an Arrow to the Knee.

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Postcards in the Coronavirus Days - Part III

 To Joe: Headwaters of the Mississippi at Lake Itasca.

To Jessica and Drew.  This was a gift from Dan when he was in Hawaii.

To JonZ.  Really old hipsters.

To Kyle: Cathedral Spires, Needles Drive, Black Hills, SD.  Sung to the tune of The Beatles Rocky Raccoon.

To Ming: Mount Rushmore.  Sans posers.

To Vonda: Tower Soudan Mines in Northern Minnesota.

To ChristyF:  Walnut  Canyon National Monument.  Sinagua ruins.  The Boss is hiding in the darkness.

To JulieL: Wupatki Ruins at Wupatki National Monument.  Trimmed that bit of tape off.  It's holding a picture of her house to the card as it sold back in 1984.

To KatieK: from Tom Hardy.  He's taking a barrel over the falls to see her, but he's afraid he lose his shirt and be all wet.

To JanineL: reminder to give Larry a cognitive test because he keeps losing at Carcassonne.

To Jestine (and Erik): Erik mowing Buckingham Palace grounds shirtless.

Sandy (and Mark): The Knife Ridge, Mount Katahdin, Baxter State Park, Maine.

To Dele: tell me what kinds of t-shirts you like so I can leave them in the pot at the end of the rainbow.  Badlands, SD.