Friday, December 28, 2007

Tank thirty-two

Total miles: 12514. Trip miles: 393.6. Gallons: 8.030. Price per gallon: $3.179.

Screen mileage: 50.5 mpg. Tank mileage: 49.0 mpg. Usual pump. A few longer trips.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Tank thirty-one

Total miles: 12120. Trip miles: 317.9. Gallons: 7.428. Price per gallon: $3.029.

Screen mileage: 47.5 mpg. Tank mileage: 42.8 mpg. Used a different, full-service gas station this time. The guy topped it off, so more gas went in than usual, which probably caused the tank mileage to drop a bit.

Monday, December 17, 2007

A review of "Microserfs"

by Douglas Coupland

I found about the first hundred pages of Microserfs amusing, and then it was more of the same, and more of the same, and yet more of the same. I do not know what the entire middle of the book was for. Perhaps for character development; but the characters never struck me as anything more than cardboard (perhaps they were just too realistically boring). The twist at the end was good, but after being bored for a couple hundred pages, I was just glad to be done with this.

I probably would have actually enjoyed this book, with some heavy editing.

Friday, December 14, 2007


Yay, finished another Holiday Challenge! I think this is the earliest I’ve ever finished it.

Tank thirty

Total miles: 11803. Trip miles: 284.3. Gallons: 6.458. Price per gallon: $3.199.

Screen mileage: 46.7 mpg. Tank mileage: 44.0 mpg. Filled the tank at the usual pump today. Temperatures have been pretty low, and most of my trips have been short, under 30 minutes.

I also took the car in for a wash. High time for that.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

A review of "The Killer Angels"

by Michael Shaara

I picked up The Killer Angels while visiting Gettysburg, this fall. It is a fictionalization of the Battle of Gettysburg, and a good novel to read in conjunction with that visit. It is written well, and does a lot to make the battle more than a set of dry facts and numbers.

The novel focuses pretty narrowly on what happened during the battle, specifically, and only devotes a few pages to discussions about the cause of the war. I would have liked more attention to be given to that broader context. Other than that, no complaints.

I will add that I am somewhat leery of reading fictionalizations of historical events; without expertise, you don't know which part is fiction and which is fact. There are some negative reviews at Amazon claiming that Shaara played fast and loose with historical facts; but I don't see any such criticisms at wiki. On the plus side, wiki claims that the novel "has also been cited by Joss Whedon as the original inspiration for his science fiction/Western hybrid series Firefly."

A review of "Gilmore Girls - The Complete First Season"

Watching Gilmore Girls makes me want a do over of my childhood. Even the arguments are charming. The premise is highly unrealistic – it’s very convenient that this single mom has a set of wealthy parents that she can approach (albeit reluctantly) for favors. And I’m not really very keen on the cast of quirky supporting characters. But overall, it is enjoyable escapist fare for those of us who had a less-than-marvelous childhood and a bumpy educational experience. The scripting and delivery are both excellent! This is one of my favorite TV series.

Monday, December 03, 2007


Two episodes of Gilmore Girls and 13K later, I’ve hit 100K – the halfway mark!

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Tank twenty-nine

Total miles: 11518. Trip miles: 322.3. Gallons: 6.703. Price per gallon: $3.259.

Screen mileage: 49.3 mpg. Tank mileage: 48.1 mpg. Filled the tank at the usual pump today. I also put more air in the tires; they were low by 5 PSI in the front and 3 PSI in the back. No surprise. I haven't checked them in months, and the temperature was about 30 °F when I measured the pressure.

Friday, November 30, 2007

65K so far

I’m up to 65K today. Catching up fast after the slow start!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

A review of "Protocols of Zion"

I rented The Protocols of Zion because I like a good conspiracy theory, and I wanted to see what this one was about. I thought this would be an interesting exposition and debunking of a conspiracy theory. In that sense, it disappointed.

The movie doesn’t go into the history of the The Protocols, although the DVD extras do fill in the cracks there. This is not a documentary about that text per se; rather, it uses that text as a launching point to study the recent rise in anti-Semitism.

It’s a distressing film, even if you are already aware of the existence of such ignorant and hate-filled people as are interviewed here. Why do some people hold to such confused and unreasoning beliefs? It almost seems like a form of mental illness.

Given that the movie is so emotionally exhausting, is it worth watching? It is educational for anyone who is unaware of what is going on in the world. But if you are aware of these things, it may simply make you feel discouraged, helpless, and hopeless about human nature. In the DVD extras, in a Q&A session with the director, someone suggests that the movie lacks a suggestion about how to deal with these offensive ideologies. The questioner points to organizations like the Anti-Defamation League. Perhaps a better answer is to improve education, in the US and around the world, so that more emphasis is placed on critical thinking skills.

The DVD extras are worth going through. There’s a timeline for the “Protocols” which you can flip through, starting in 1903 and ending in 2005. This gives you some of the facts about the history of that text, which were missing in the documentary itself. There is also a good set of interviews, including one with Will Eisner, whose work I love.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Tank twenty-eight

Total miles: 11196. Trip miles: 362.9. Gallons: 7.429. Price per gallon: $3.199.

Screen mileage: 50.0 mpg. Tank mileage: 48.8 mpg. The usual pump today. And yes, I really did buy the exact same amount of gas this time as I did last time - 7.429 gallons. Weird, but true!

I tanked up around noon and drove off to Sleeping Giant Park for my hike. When I drove back past the gas station about three hours later, the price per gallon had been raised by six cents, making me feel extra lucky.

Driving music

I've been listening to Chateauvallon in my car. It's good music for long drives, almost entirely instrumental. It's the kind of music that puts you in a pensive mood, almost a dark mood - it's not cheery, high energy stuff. But it certainly doesn't put you to sleep. It's just the kind of thing I want to hear, lately. I'll definitely keep an eye out for more albums by Chevreuil.

Sleeping Giant hike

I hiked from one end of Sleeping Giant to the other and back again, today. I took the yellow trail out, and the violet back, in 2 h 20 min. Total distance: 5.4 mi, for a good pace of 2.3 mph. The yellow and violet trails are not particularly steep, but they can be a little hazardous when they are wet, as they were today. I did slip a few times. It was a very pleasant hike, regardless.

A review of "In the Shadow of Ragged Mountain: Historical Archaeology of Nicholson, Corbin, & Weakley Hollows"

by Audrey J. Horning

In the Shadow of Ragged Mountain is a study of the people who lived in the area now occupied by Shenandoah National Park, during the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Apparently, around the time of the Great Depression, the people of this area were publicized by certain parties as being extremely primitive, stuck in a different age. This may have been done to promote certain agendas that were not in the best interests of the residents. One of those agendas was the development of the area as a resort, with the use of eminent domain to remove the land from their owners, for creation of the park.

The book focuses a lot on refuting excessive claims of the primitiveness of the residents. I was unaware of this history and the conflict at the time, so the arguments and counterarguments seem a bit moot. It’s interesting to read about it, though, in the context of current events.

The book would have been a little more lively if actual writings by the residents had been presented. It is not clear if no writings could be found. One might expect that illiteracy was high amongst the residents, but given that at least some of them are reported to have been readers, one might expect to find some old letters about the development of Skyland Resort and the dispossession of the various properties from the point of view of the owners. Instead, we mainly get some “recollections” of the residents, mostly after they had been removed from the area, some of them collected as late as the 1970’s.

The book suffers from being rather academic, and a bit dry. On the plus side, it covers some interesting history and characters, and is filled with illustrative photos.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

View over Myerhuber Pond

Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.

This is a view from the Mattabesett trail. The fall foliage is getting more scarce, lots of russet and gold now.


Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.

I went back to the Mattabesett trail for another hike today, the same logged section that I hiked a couple of days ago. I took a few more photographs of the areas where the trees have been cut down for documentation. They're even cutting down the blue-blazed trees - very rude!

Instead of turning back at the intersection of the Lone Pine Trail, I went for the same loop that I did a few years ago. This time, I did the loop counter-clockwise. The hike went more quickly: 3 h 5 min now, as opposed to 3 h 45 min back then. I don't know why it was faster this time, but I did kind of keep my head down because there are so many leaves on the ground that the footing is dangerous. This probably kept me going at a speedier pace.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Lost eyeglasses?

Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.

I did a little hiking around Sleeping Giant today. Up near Hezekiah's Knob, to the side of the trail, I found a neatly folded pair of eyeglasses. I think they might be a cheap pair of reading glasses since I didn't find a name brand printed on them.

Anyway, I figured they'd quickly get damaged on the trail, so I picked them up and left them at the trailhead on Chestnut Lane, in the map box. I hope the owner will find them there.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Mattabesett mess

Mattabesett mess
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.

I went hiking on the Mattabesett yesterday, east of Rt 77, in the area known as Broomstick Ledges. There is some logging going on at one section of that trail. There are trees cut down and stacked up everywhere, and a tractor is parked just off the trail too.

I wonder what's going on? I don't see anything listed at the CFPA site.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

A review of "The Contract"

by Bruce Beresford

I’m giving The Contract three stars entirely because I enjoy so much watching John Cusack and Morgan Freeman perform.

These two actors are typecast in my head. John Cusack is the hapless sweet romantic guy who wins over the girl. Morgan Freeman is the fatherly godlike figure who guides people to do the right thing. It’s not their fault; I want to see them in these roles because they do it so well.

So it takes a lot of work to shoehorn them out of these stereotypes… not enough work, in this movie. It’s impossible to believe that Cusack can put karate moves on anyone, even when you see it happening. And Freeman is just so nice and avuncular, I found it impossible to believe that he really meant to viciously throw that guy under a car – it was all a terrible misunderstanding.

If you enjoy seeing these two actors, no matter what, then I guess The Contract is worth the time. But this movie does have a lot of problems aside from ill-fitting roles – too many moments when it’s impossible to suspend disbelief. I don’t even consider this a good thriller/action movie. It is just done poorly.

Thornton Gap

Thornton Gap
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.

This is a view of Thornton Gap from Shenandoah National Park. I'm back from a sweet vacation in the park. I hope to get back there soon. I have not yet had my fill of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

A story about "The Office - Season Three"

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Tank twenty-seven

Total miles: 10833. Trip miles: 358.1. Gallons: 7.429. Price per gallon: $3.169.

Screen mileage: 53.8 mpg. Tank mileage: 48.2 mpg. It's getting colder, often in the 40s. I tanked up at a different pump today.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Economics made entertaining (rated 5 stars)

by Alan Greenspan

Sometimes, The Age of Turbulence wanders into the territory of pontification. Mostly, though, I found that Greenspan’s conservative and libertarian views do not cloud this fascinating presentation of his substantial knowledge of economics and unique perspective on the last few decades of history.

This book would make excellent fodder for a book discussion club (except that it must take at least a year to cover!). I plan on listening to it at least one more time, and may very well buy the book for more detailed examination.

Caveat: I’ve listened to the audiobook on my daily commute to work, and often found it a little hard to focus on the material. It requires some concentration to get the maximum understanding of the material.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Tank twenty-six

Total miles: 10475. Trip miles: 413.9. Gallons: 7.348. Price per gallon: $2.899.

Screen mileage: 54.8 mpg. Tank mileage: 56.3 mpg. Usual commute plus a long interstate trip at highway speeds of 65+ mpg.

Another rare inversion of the tank to screen mileage. I tanked up at a different pump this morning.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Tank twenty-five

Total miles: 10061. Trip miles: 432.8. Gallons: 8.393. Price per gallon: $2.859.

Screen mileage: 55.9 mpg. Tank mileage: 51.6 mpg. Usual commute. I used the heater a couple of times, it's been that cold.

Morning fill-up, usual pump. There was a light rain.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Tank twenty-four

Total miles: 9628. Trip miles: 424.0. Gallons: 7.385. Price per gallon: $2.819.

Screen mileage: 58.4 mpg. Tank mileage: 57.4 mpg. Mostly 45-min commutes, a few highway trips. The weather has been cooling down.

I tanked up at the usual pump, this morning. It was raining lightly.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Mine island

Mine island
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.

Today's hike: 2 h 10 min | 4.4 mi | 2 mph.

This section of the Metacomet is really quite beautiful. I should come up this way more often.

For more views along the Hanging Hills section, go have a look at Connecticut Museum Quest.

Black snake

Black snake
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.

Up near Castle Craig, I met up with a black rat snake stretched out across the trail. It did not demonstrate any reaction to my presence. I photographed it from all sides and hiked on, giving it an admonition to be off the trail by the time I returned, which it was.

Castle Craig

Castle Craig
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.

Today, I went for a hike along the Metacomet trail once again. After the ignominious events of last week, I felt the need to jump back on the Hanging Hills horse and prove that the Metacomet is no challenge for me.

I drove up to the parking lot of Hubbard Park, planning to hike up to Castle Craig from there. However, there was a suspicious character hanging around the lot, and I decided to look for a different parking spot. I drove up to the Castle itself, where there was plenty of parking and no suspicious characters.

I had planned to hike west, but was inattentive and hiked east instead. I didn't get lost, per se; that would have been really annoying!

I've hiked this section of the trail before... there are some very nice views up near the Castle. The day was excessively hazy, but I enjoyed the hike nonetheless.

Sunday, October 07, 2007


Season 3 of House surpasses the previous 2 seasons (which were extremely good, already). I admit that I'm completely smitten with the cynical, pill-popping character of Dr. House. But even if that weren't the case, I'd still find this program the best thing to happen to TV since Buffy hit the airwaves. Brilliant scripting, delivered masterfully. Pass me the Vicodin, I'm hooked!

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Tank twenty-three

Total miles: 9204. Trip miles: 434.5. Gallons: 7.905. Price per gallon: $2.839.

Screen mileage: 58.0 mpg. Tank mileage: 55.0 mpg. Mostly 45-min commutes.

I tanked up at the usual pump, this morning.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

View from the Metacomet

View from the Metacomet
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.

My sister and I went hiking on the Hanging Hills section of the Metacomet today. I am mortified to admit that we got lost, and were saved by a charming and gallant gentleman who drove us back to where our cars were parked. Chivalry is not dead.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Tank twenty-two

Total miles: 8769. Trip miles: 479.9. Gallons: 8.355. Price per gallon: $2.859.

Screen mileage: 58.7 mpg. Tank mileage: 57.4 mpg. About a week of 45-min RT commutes on this tank, plus a long 3-hour RT at highway speeds. Excellent mileage!

I tanked up at the usual pump, this morning.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Black Bear Hollow Cafe - the Westkill

Black Bear Hollow Cafe - the Westkill
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.

This is the "Westkill": scrambled eggs, cheddar cheese, and sausage, all wrapped lovingly in a flour tortilla. I got it at the Black Bear Hollow Cafe in Phoenicia, NY, after coming down from Panther Mountain this morning. Of course, I got another latte as well. Both were astoundingly delicious and satisfying!

It was a great trip, altogether! I did forget to bring some items (a flashlight would have been useful but I did without it OK). Doing a backpacking trip like this without much planning is always a risk, but the internet makes it possible... thanks to Catskill Hiker for providing the info that was so useful.

Black Bear Hollow Cafe

Black Bear Hollow Cafe
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.

The Black Bear Hollow Cafe has a small windmill in front of it. If you do a hike of Panther Mountain, you should really stop in here. Your tastebuds will thank you!

Fox Hollow parking lot sign

Fox Hollow parking lot sign
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.

This is the sign to the Fox Hollow trailhead parking lot, off Fox Hollow Rd, south of Rt 28, between Allaben and Shandaken, so well described by Catskill Hiker.

The sign says it is 4.9 miles to the summit. It took me about 3.3 hours of hiking to reach the summit, putting my pace at about 1.5 mph. Not bad. My pack weighed about 20 pounds without water.

On the way back down my pace was faster, almost 2 mph. Without poles!

View on the way down from Panther Mountain

morning view
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.

There are no really excellent views on the Fox Hollow Trail until you get to the summit; even at the summit, the view is only so-so. This is one of the best, at a small lookout on the way.


Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.

Around 6 pm I decided that it was likely that no one else would come and interfere with the peace at my chosen site. So I set up my tent. I left the fly open, thinking it probably would not rain.

I did get to watch the sky turn dark through the mesh roof of my tent. But soon after, a light sprinkle of precipitation hit the mesh, and I scurried to close the fly, trying to avoid getting my sleeping bag wet. I fastened the fly with only one peg. Almost immediately, a drenching rain came down. I was a little worried, but the fly held up fine.

As usual, I neglected to bring enough sleepwear and my toes got kind of frosty. By morning, the clouds had cleared up, bringing a brighter, colder, drier day. Once I packed up and got moving, I warmed up pretty quickly.

reading at the campsite

reading at the campsite
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.

After reaching the summit of Panther Mountain, I turned back and settled into a small makeshift campground slightly below 3500 feet. I had brought along Amy Chua's "World on Fire", and finished a good chunk of the book before it was time to set up my tent.

The book is not good campground reading because it deals with some particularly gruesome subjects. However, I needed to make headway in the book since it's due back at the library this week.

View from Panther Mountain

view from Panther Mountain
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.

Panther Mountain

Panther Mountain
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.

I made it to the summit! This little slip of paper left behind by some other hikers proves it.

3500 feet

3500 feet
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.

Once I got to 3500 feet, I stashed my backpack off to one side of the trail. No use packing it up since you can't camp above that elevation. Good thing, too. The trail gets steeper in spots from then on, and the air was full of moisture that was condensing on the rock scrambles, making the going quite slippery.

red leaves

red leaves
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.

This is a view looking down a cliff wall at a red-leafed maple, stretching up for the light.

red leaves, blue trail marker

red leaves, blue trail marker
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.

There are some maple trees turning red up on a rocky "false summit" on the way to Panther Mountain. This red-leaved tree is host to a blue trail marker as well.

Catskill Hiker says

The trail is not very well used and would be hard to follow except for the blue trial markers.

That may have been true at the time, but right now the blue trail markers are practically not necessary. It seems that the trail has been maintained recently. There are still lots of brambles that cross the trail, in spots, and I've got the scratches on my arms and legs to prove it. It could be better, but it's not so bad.

magic latte

magic latte
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.

For my trip to the Catskills, I had decided to take the hike up Panther Mountain, described by Catskill Hiker. This is the first time that I've planned a trip based entirely on an internet description. So I went to my local Barnes & Noble, hoping to pick up some trail maps, in case I encountered difficulties (parking lot too crowded, missing, or whatever). The closest I could get was a book of day hikes in the Catskills. I figured at least one of those hikes would work for me, if Panther Mountain did not.

On impulse, I also picked up Greenspan's new memoir, "The Age of Turbulence", unabridged, in CD format. Good thing! I'm enjoying it a great deal. I finished three of the sixteen discs on the drive to and from the Catskills.

Once I got to the vicinity of the trailhead, I began scouting around for a spot to pick up extra water. I had realized, belatedly, that I had not checked to be sure that there would be a water source somewhere along the trail. I spotted something that was too tempting to pass up - a cafe! This was the Black Bear Hollow Cafe. It is to the south of Rt 28, near Phoenicia, NY. They had breakfast sandwiches and - gasp - lattes! I got a "Highmount" (bacon, scrambled egg, cheddar cheese on a hard roll) with a latte. It was utterly delicious.

By the time I reached the trailhead, I had barely touched my latte, so I brought it with me. I think it was this magical latte that made my hike up the mountain less difficult than usual. I haven't been backpacking in two years, yet I felt very strong and my feet were light on the hike up.

Friday, September 21, 2007


Backpacking weekend
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.

Sunscreen, potable aqua, compass, bear bag.... what am I missing?

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Tank twenty-one

Total miles: 8289. Trip miles: 402.5. Gallons: 7.686. Price per gallon: $2.819.

Screen mileage: 54.6 mpg. Tank mileage: 52.4 mpg. Trips are mostly suburban driving for about 45 minutes.

I tanked up at the usual pump, early this morning.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Too early for fall

Too early for fall
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.

I went hiking at Alice Newton Street Memorial Park today. The leaves are really coming down there. It's happened all too quickly, it's only the middle of September!

Thursday, September 13, 2007


Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.

A gravestone in the ruined graveyard off the Woodtick Trail in Wolcott.

The gravestone reads
"In memory of Eunice
wife of
?uar Brocke
who died
March 11, 1833
AE.t. 81."

That is a long time ago.


Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.

This is a closeup view of the stele in the graveyard off the Woodtick Trail. The engraving is partially obscured. It reads:

Seth Wiard
Died July 4 1870
AE. 60.
Jennette B. Co?es
Died ??"


Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.

This evening I finally got the opportunity to take a hike along the Woodtick Trail, in Wolcott. I have been trying for the past week or so, but I could never find enough time, or a good parking spot.

The Connecticut Walk Book lists the Woodtick Trail as a side trail to the Southington section of the Tunxis Trail. The map in the book indicates that there is parking at the trailhead off Woodtick Rd, and the description says "Very limited roadside parking". "Very limited" is putting it lightly - in fact there is practically no parking at all. I actually did not park north of the powerlines as suggested in the book, but just south of them, to the west of Woodtick Rd. There is a very small dirt pull-off there. The unpaved ground beyond the road has eroded, so if you're not careful, you can get stuck by parking here. I pulled out in reverse to avoid that situation.

You can access the Woodtick Trail via the powerline trail, or walk a little further north along the road to get to the trailhead. This is not a spectacular trail; it seems to be used by dirt bikes quite a lot. I only saw tracks of dirt bikes on the trail, no sign of boot prints at all. The trail is loose and gravelly for as far as I took it, which is not far.

Following the trail, you very quickly come to this ruined cemetery. I was filled with sadness as I walked through this graveyard tonight. I think it was the sign of all these ruined headstones, perhaps vandalized or maybe only aged. The dates on the graves are as old as the early 1800's. It was somehow painful to think about those people long dead.

Despite the ruination, the graveyard is not abandoned. I saw a few little flags planted around some headstones, and one very new, large tombstone - but still with dates from the 1800's.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Tank twenty

Total miles: 7886. Trip miles: 422.0. Gallons: 7.409. Price per gallon: $2.859.

Screen mileage: 57.4 mpg. Tank mileage: 57.0 mpg. Trips on this tank have been mostly 45 minutes at 30 to 50 mph, like last time. I did two longer highway trips, about 1.5 hours each way.

I tanked up at the usual pump, again, this morning.

Sunday, September 09, 2007


Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.

This is the cairn at Elderslie Preserve. From the trail, you can't tell that it is U-shaped. I wonder how old it is?

This is not the first time I've seen elaborate cairns in the New England woods. I used to think they were built by boy scouts as little engineering projects, but after reading some pages at the NEARA site, I'm not so sure. I don't know what to make of NEARA, whether to take them seriously or not. I'm not the only one to be intrigued by cairns.

Damaged letterbox

Damaged letterbox
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.

Last weekend, I went letterboxing at Elderslie Preserve. The last box that I went searching for was called "Triple Fork". I discovered it easily. It had been damaged - the box had a crack in the bottom of it, allowing moisture to seep in. Apparently this happened months ago, judging from a comment left by the last boxer to stamp in. That boxer had rebagged everything in the box, which was nice. Unfortunately, when I found it, the logbook was practically dripping wet, sealed away in its bag. Everything else in the box was pretty dry, so I took the logbook home to dry it out thoroughly. I returned the log today, and replaced this split box with a brand new one.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Tank nineteen

Total miles: 7464. Trip miles: 448.6. Gallons: 8.101. Price per gallon: $2.849.

Screen mileage: 56.4 mpg. Tank mileage: 55.3 mpg. Trips on this tank have been mostly 45 minutes at 30 to 50 mph, like last time. I tanked up at the usual pump this morning.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Colonial foundation at Elderslie Preserve

colonial foundation at Elderslie
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.

glacial erratic

glacial erratic
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.

This glacial erratic is directly on the blue trail, at Elderslie Preserve.

Elderslie Preserve

Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.

The weather has been very cooperative this Labor Day weekend, and I've been able to get out every day.

Today, I went hiking (and letterboxing) in Elderslie Preserve (PDF trail map). It's not just the usual nature preserve, but has some old colonial ruins and a few glacial erratics. There's supposed to be a cairn on the property, as well, but I didn't have time to look for it.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Tank eighteen

Total miles: 7015. Trip miles: 389.1. Gallons: 7.529. Price per gallon: $2.859.

Screen mileage: 57.0 mpg. Tank mileage: 51.6 mpg. Trips this last week were mostly 45 minutes at 30 to 50 mph. Some city traffic, not so much highway. I expected a better mileage at these moderate speeds, no explanation.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Tank seventeen

Total miles: 6626. Trip miles: 471.8. Gallons: 7.946. Price per gallon: $2.919.

Screen mileage: 56.5 mpg. Tank mileage: 59.4 mpg. I'm guessing this higher than normal tank mileage is a measurement error, due to the fact that I tanked up at a different-from-usual gas station last time. My trips are currently approximately 45 minutes, mostly at 65 or 70 mph.

Coginchaug Cave revisited

Today's hike: 2.3 h | 5.8 mi | 2.5 mph

Weather: spectacular, cool, dry. I did the Coginchaug Cave section of the Mattabesett today, starting at Harvey Rd and going out to Old Blue Hills Rd. I guess the last time I was there was about a year ago on July 8, 2006.

After crossing Higganum Rd, I began to hear the voices of hikers ahead, and slowed my pace because I didn't want to run into them.

After hiking for about five more minutes, I felt a sharp pinching pain on my right ankle. I looked down to see about 10 yellowjackets grasping tightly to my socks and boots (left and right). Obviously, one had managed to hit my ankle with its stinger! I began frantically to brush at them with a stick. They seemed incredibly determined to finish me off, even at the cost of their lives, and would not easily release their grip on my socks. At some point I began to notice a few flying around, so I took off at a dead run down the trail!

I stopped again soon to continue brushing them off my feet. I do not understand why they went for my ankles. My socks were a kind of heather blue and my boots are brown. Do yellowjackets find those colors particularly provocative? I can't understand why they didn't land on my skin, but I'm glad that they didn't. Anyway, I started off running again, when it seemed there were still a bunch flying around me.

Soon thereafter, I almost ran straight into a crowd of hikers. They asked if I had been stung and one guy noticed a yellowjacket on my (olive green) shorts! Apparently this group of hikers had just been through a similar experience with the yellowjackets. I asked if they knew why these insects had attacked - I've never been attacked by yellowjackets, although they do sometimes bother me when eating outdoors. One hiker thought that someone at the front of the group must have disturbed a nest of them, though it wasn't really clear what happened. Perhaps there was a yellowjacket nest built in the ground along the trail? Scary stuff.

I crossed through the group and moved onward quickly, hoping to leave them behind because I had planned to hunt for a letterbox up ahead. I kept my pace fast, got to Coginchaug Cave, and found the letterbox quickly, retrieving it and moving off into the woods to stamp in. The hikers began arriving shortly after that, but I don't think they noticed me where I was sitting. Since I couldn't rehide the box at that point, I left the letterbox at my hideaway and circumvented the hikers via a side trail, hiking on out to Old Blue Hills Rd. By the time I got back, the hikers had left and I could hide the box back where it belonged - whew!

I wasn't sure how long the yellowjackets might hold their grudge, but apparently things were back to normal soon, since the trip back was uneventful. The sting on my ankle hurt a lot at first, but by the time I'd hiked to the Cave, it was feeling a bit better. This evening it only hurts a tiny bit, on occasion, and I can hardly see where I was stung. I regret that I panicked when seeing the critters on my socks. I wish I'd had the presence of mind to pull out my camera and get a photo.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Tank sixteen

Total miles: 6154. Trip miles: 474.0. Gallons: 8.832. Price per gallon: $2.979.

Screen mileage: 55.8 mpg. Tank mileage: 53.6 mpg. Tanked up at a different-from-usual gas station today.

I started my new, longer commute on Monday. So far, I'm not seeing any significant difference in mileage.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

A review of "Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace . . . One School at a Time"

by Greg Mortenson

Three Cups of Tea is an interesting story, I grant that, and it is worth reading. Greg Mortenson’s work is admirable, and he seems to be reasonably effective, if not perfectly efficient. But I have some quibbles with the book.

The two authors are listed as Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin. Greg Mortenson is depicted in such a rah-rah hero-worshipping light that the book comes off as being a self-congratulatory work, a monument to himself. The book would have been better written with more objective distance, leaving the readers free to judge the acts of Mortenson for themselves, rather than having this viewpoint foisted on them; as it is, I find it a bit hard to swallow.

Second, there was some disdain [293 ff] reserved for Rumsfeld, which is certainly appropriate (and which should have nothing to do with Rumsfeld’s cologne, his polished shoes, the shiny hallways of the Pentagon, or the fact that Mortenson was not offered a seat during his interview with Rumsfeld!). However, of an Afghani warlord, Sadhar Khan, we hear a much more favorable treatment [p 327]: he’s a “good” man, who just happens to sometimes draw and quarter his enemies. Khan greets Mortenson like a brother, and seems more than happy to work with him; from then on Khan’s peccadilloes are forgotten. One might get the impression that Mortenson is happy to pal around with Khan because he was offered respect when they met (or perhaps because he doesn’t wear expensive shoes). Hopefully one would be mistaken.

I understand why Mortenson would not want to take money from the US military, even if it were laundered [p 295]. But if you don’t take the money, then it rings a bit hollow to conclude that the US military is not contributing to humanitarian aide in the region – perhaps they found some group who were willing to accept the offer that Mortenson declined.

Further, I do understand that certain practicalities would cause him to associate with underworld characters in Afghanistan. However, for the same reasons that he refused to take money from the US military, it may be difficult for well-meaning Americans to give money to Mortenson, wondering just whose pockets the money will line. I suppose if one is going to give aide to regions in such chaos, this is a risk one has to be willing to take.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday!
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.

I did the annual celebratory birthday hike and cupcake ceremony for my friend today. Belated, I admit.

It was a fine day for a hike. The humidity that has been hazing up the sky has vanished.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Moody Blues

Moody Blues
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.

The Moody Blues played at the Oakdale this evening. What a great concert! Awesome music and a great performance! I'm thrilled that I managed to get tickets!! The Moodies are so cool!!!

This is a partial list of the songs that they played, in no particular order:

Off the album "Days of Future Passed":
Off the album "In Search of the Lost Chord":
From the album "To Our Children's Children's Children":
From the album "Every Good Boy Deserves Favour":
Off "Seventh Sojourn":
Off "Question of Balance":
Off "On the Threshold of a Dream":
The Moody Blues is one of those rare bands that have published numerous albums loaded with good songs. Their albums are thematic and worth listening to straight through. Mighty good stuff!

Friday, August 03, 2007

Tank fifteen

Total miles: 5680. Trip miles: 478.8. Gallons: 8.783. Price per gallon: $3.039.

Screen mileage: 56.8 mpg. Tank mileage: 54.5 mpg. Tanked up at the usual pump. I did several longer trips, upwards of 45 minutes, and the weather has been very hot and humid, around 90 ℉.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Tank fourteen

Total miles: 5201. Trip miles: 370.0. Gallons: 7.338. Price per gallon: $3.099.

Screen mileage: 55.4 mpg. Tank mileage: 50.4 mpg. Tanked up at the usual pump. Note that the difference between tank and screen mileage is larger than it has been, strange.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Crescent Lake and Castle Craig

Crescent Lake and Castle Craig
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.

I never get tired of this view over Crescent Lake, with Castle Craig off in the distance.

Today I went letterboxing by Giuffrida Park, hiking around Crescent Lake and all the way up to Chauncey Peak and back again. Nice day for it, although it is still too humid. There was a breeze, which helped.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Computer recycling

This week, I decided that I should get rid of a couple of old CRT monitors that have been cluttering my apartment, and I wanted them recycled. The Connecticut DEP has a little page listing companies that recycle computers and tvs, although many of them are out of state.

I tried The Computer Recycler first, since their site says they offer a free 24/7 drop-off bin for monitors. Fortunately, I called before going there - they've suspended that service ("temporarily"). Next I tried Computer Recycling & Refining, L.L.C.. I called and yes, they accept monitors. So I went on over there with my two monitors: it cost $12 for the smaller one and $15 for the larger.

I did briefly wonder if they were legit; they seem to be, but how can you tell for sure? They've got a Federal EPA registration number, which inspires some confidence. I recommend them: they were nice.

I'm under the impression that you don't have to recycle CRTs in CT (at least for non-commercial residents), but it still seems like a good idea...

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Graffiti art

Graffiti art
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.

Is it graffiti or is it art? To me, it is both. I like it. This was done on the shed off the red-diamond trail at Sleeping Giant. I like the fact that the artist has (so far) refrained from "defacing" any geological features, but sticks to the old human structures around SG.

I'm pretty sure the guy on the right is supposed to be Buddha. But the left guy, I'm not so sure about. Is it Martin Luther King, Jr.?

Monday, July 16, 2007

Baby snake

Baby snake
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.

When letterboxing, you often wind up picking up stones to see if there's a letterbox underneath. A somewhat risky procedure, I guess.

It is hard to imagine how this little snake had managed to cram itself under the rock that I picked up. I guess it was at least as shocked to see me as I was to see it. Nevertheless, it took several minutes before sliding away. Probably going to tell its snake friends about the alien monster that flashed lights at it.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Tank thirteen

Total miles: 4831. Trip miles: 417.9. Gallons: 8.038. Price per gallon: $3.159.

Screen mileage: 55.1 mpg. Tank mileage: 52.0 mpg. Tanked up at the usual pump, today.

The car got its first oil change on Monday of last week. Free of charge, the dealer does all oil changes free!

North Farms Trails map

North Farms Trails map
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.

I did a quick little hike over at North Farms Trails, in North Branford, Connecticut, today. Letterboxing, of course.

The park is pleasant, though small. The stream running through it gets pretty wide in spots, and the trails that I took were nice and shady.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Naugatuck Trail hike

Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.

Today's hike: 4 h 30 min | 11 mi | 2.4 mph.

I did most of the Naugatuck Trail today. I've been there before, but this time I also went letterboxing. While I only hiked for four-and-a-half hours, I was out there for about eight hours, with lots of letterboxes to hunt down! Whew. I'm wiped out.

The Naugy Trail was peaceful and pleasant, not a soul around. The heat was excessive, but other than that the day was perfect. Well, except for the fact that I picked up a deer tick! Yargh!

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Black Pond

Black Pond
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.

Another day of letterboxing. The weather was far from perfect, but once I reached this great view of Black Pond, high up on Beseck Mountain, there was a nice, constant, cool breeze.

Shagbark hickory

Shagbark hickory
Originally uploaded by wereldmuis.

Another look at the shagbark hickory. The leaves are pinnate (i.e. feather-like), with three, five, or seven leaflets.