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 ℉.