05JAN2023 – Just a Regular Old Thursday.  The Calendar’s full of Them

As the tragicomedy of Kevin McCarthy continues to unfold in the Emerald City of Oz, I was tasked with filling out and presenting my documents to Cthulhu’s minions inside the precincts of the nightmare corpse-city of R’lyeh.  Well maybe it was the Dunwich town hall.  But there was definitely a lot of eldritch horror somewhere close by I can assure you.

My hand was a virtual claw from having to sign my illegible signature hundreds of times to the various documents.  I was made aware of the 11 billion separate types of discrimination that Dunwich recognizes and prosecutes along with the blessings of diversity, equity and inclusion that seem to seep out of every document that I was forced to read.  It was inspiring.

It was a particularly dreary day weatherwise, drizzling and forty degrees, but I was kind of happy to foray out into the world just to convince myself it was actually still out there.  Apparently not having a Speaker of the House hasn’t managed to disrupt the space-time continuum.  And the zombies wandering around town looked neither more nor less mindless and homicidal than usual.  So, all’s right with the world.

Maybe I’m becoming acclimated to the present levels of dysfunction and unreality in the world around me.  I noticed it didn’t rankle me as much as it used to.  Of course, that could mean I’m becoming zombified myself.  But whatever the cause it eased the pain while moving around town.

I read a post by Curtis Yarvin on his Substack that referenced Heinlein’s story Waldo.  Now Yarvin is a neo-monarchist who is mostly interested in the political situation we find ourselves in.  But he’s also a technologist and here he hypothesizes that one of the more promising areas of technological progress could be in providing human/machine interfaces that allow humans to utilize their manual dexterity at different scales and remotely.  So, he sees a sort of virtual reality setup where a surgeon could utilize microscopic equipment as if he were the size of the miniaturized characters in “Fantastic Voyage.”  Or a gigantic machine hundreds of feet long could be controlled by a human with the point of view of a giant.  His premise is that human intelligence and dexterity after proper training is much more responsible and skilled than an AI.  After reading about some of the failures of self-driving cars he may be correct.  I never thought Robert Heinlein and Curtis Yarvin would intersect in this version of the multiverse.  But there it is.

Will Cain did an interview of Tucker Carlson.  What I found interesting was Carlson’s answer to what had red-pilled him.  He described his mindset as we went through the Iraq War (from 1:36 to 3:19 in the video) and I found myself remembering a very similar evolution.  I went from believing that we were there to make America safer to eventual disillusionment and a sense of absolute betrayal by the Republican establishment.  And Carlson echoed that.  I didn’t watch the whole thing yet because it’s too long but that little snippet stuck in my mind.  Millions of people in this country feel totally betrayed by the Republican party and will never forget that.  And that is the reality that gives me hope.  If people as different from each other as Tucker Carlson is from me can both come to essentially the same point of view about our political system then it must be the truth.  And if it is the truth then I’m finally working from correct assumptions.  And that is what I’ve been trying to achieve all these years.  It’s not that the truth guarantees that things will work out.  It’s that basing your actions on false assumptions guarantees failure.

As this was finishing up I se that McCarthy is still furiously negotiating to buy off his enemies with committee seats and promises of accountability.  Ah, what a circus.  We really should require all of Congress to wear the red nose, baggy pants and size 20 shoes.  And the Speaker should always arrive at the podium in a tiny car.  As I said in a comment on the last post, we must be terrible people to be sentenced to leaders this atrocious.  Robespierre and Caligula were paragons of sanity compared to the bozos we’ve got working for us today.

Well, that’s enough.

Dunwich Complainer – Avalanche 2022 (In Rumble-Rama)

Yesterday as I lolled around in my lazy recuperative stupor, I was suddenly aware of a booming sound and the sensation of shaking.  At first, I assumed I was still goofy from the COVID and had imagined it but then I saw that the dogs had picked up on something too.  I thought, “Maybe a truck came down the driveway and banged into the house.  So, I got up and went to look outside.

And what I saw was a boulder sitting on the lower driveway.  I could see where it broke off from the wall.  What I had heard was it falling, bouncing and rolling to a stop.

I was still kind of lethargic yesterday so I left it as, “to be continued.”  Today I felt more myself.  So, I investigated.  It’s roughly 4’X2’X1.5’ and I estimate it weighs about 1,500 lbs.

Looking at the exposed surfaces it looks like over time the rock has been fracturing and finally the weight was too much for the remaining stone to support.  It’s these lousy New England winters.  Freezing and thawing incessantly wreaks havoc with structural integrity.  It’s why I’m the broken-down husk of a man that I am.

So, this boulder is a metaphor for how the world wears down even the best of us and then sends us crashing to earth abandoned and out of sorts like a modern day Humpty Dumpty.  Very sad.  Very abstract, so deep.

But now I have to move the darn thing and then figure out how to prevent the dirt that was being held in place by it from eroding away.  Camera Girl will see me like a modern-day Sisyphus toiling to roll this huge stone up the hill.  What’s next?  The extinction level asteroid strike?  Yeah, why not?

20NOV2022 – OCF Update – This’N’That – Of Mice and Math

Sunday, the day of rest.  A good day to regroup and sets things in order for the upcoming week.  Especially this week.  Had a blast with the old grandsons yesterday.  Fun outing, good food.  Got home and skipped dinner.  Skipped all food and drink and maybe that was a mistake.  I was still recovering from that virus that was in the house the last couple of weeks.  But I figured I could skip the cold meds.  Big mistake!  Woke up at 4:30 am with a splitting sinus headache.  So, I beat a hasty retreat to the cold medicine and then sat up for a half hour to let it knock down my sinus inflammation.

But today I’m definitely on the mend.  So, I spent time working on minutia.  I’ve been using the Logitech M570 Wireless Trackball Mouse as my pointing device for the last six or so years.  It’s a great device in most ways.  But unfortunately, the switches for the left and right click buttons give out after a couple of years.  So now I have three of these things that double click when they shouldn’t.  I finally looked into the problem and found a YouTube video that shows how to replace the microswitches and eliminate the problem.  Now I’ll have to buy a soldering iron and some other bits of gear and become a technician.  Well, that’s kind of fun.  Plus, I’ll fix the other two mice and become mouse anti-fragile for the foreseeable future.  Yeah me.

The other thing today was about was to delve into vector analysis.  I never had the time back in the day to play around with the more advanced theorems to get a solid handle on the tensor notation.  In the past I’ve been exposed (as if to a disease) to Del Notation, Dyadics, the Laplacian and equally complex concepts.  The Kronecker delta and how to expand the determinant was something I had to memorize in order to solve some problems in physics.  But if I’m being honest there was very little comprehension on my part at the time as to how these manipulations made sense.  Now I’ve got some time I think I’ll take another whack at it.  The question as to whether I still have sufficient brain cells to thread my way around it and whether those brain cells can retain it remains to be seen.  But it might be fun.

So, amid my other occupations I’ve added electronic technician and math student.  That should make Thanksgiving week an interesting time.  Maybe I’ll buy the microswitches and soldering iron on Black Friday and get some huge discount.  I’ll probably also have to buy some kind of giant magnifying glass on a flexible arm just to see the attachment points for the switches.  It’s a pity I can’t purchase new eyes too.  But once again, the future we were promised all those years ago before Blade Runner hasn’t quite materialized yet.  Well, no need to get all whiny about it.  Magnifying glass works too.

So here we go into Thanksgiving Week.  Turkey, gravy, stuffing, pumpkin pie, old movies and family.  What’s better than that?

A Day in the Life – photog Interrupted

I’m back, I’m back!  I was in election jail.  I was being trained.  Oh, the horror, the horror.  Please pity me.  I will live to regret getting involved in this flying circus.  No power in the ‘Verse will be able to make this turn out right.  But I’m committed and the wheels are in motion.

That was last night.  Today I was out of state and helping out a friend.  It involved travelling through rush hour traffic on an alternate route with too many lights and not enough lanes.  Just my luck the main highway had a major accident and copious amounts of traffic spilled onto the road I was on.  I watched in horror as my remaining time and gasoline trickled away into history as I sat in crawling traffic.  The magical E mark on the gas gage and the digital clock on my dashboard competed for my attention.  Finally, the gas gage won and I exited into a station.  Imagine my horror when the gas pump refused to work!  It would deliver about eleven cents worth of gas and then the valve would bang shut.  Like some pre-technological savage, I mumbled some kind of incantation to the gods of petroleum and performed mysterious wrist turns to put the gas nozzle at some undefined angle to align the earth and the flow mechanism to ensure a sacred resonance that would grant me more gas.  After ninety-nine cents of gas had been delivered (or more likely, had been falsely charged) I gave up.  As a beaten man I returned to the road and its molasses-like flow.

My anger was increased when I observed that there had been no increase in the remaining milage in my tank according to the gage’s wisdom, none at all.  Those eleven cents-es were completely false.  If any of the people on the road were watching me at that point, they would have seen someone screaming to himself and gesticulating like a demented idiot at his dashboard and this witness might have been tempted to call the police for my own good.

When I finally reached my destination, I was a half hour late and below E on the gage.  Luckily, the time limit turned out to be either incorrect or a ruse to get me there sooner.  This caused very mixed feelings in my soul.  But eventually I saw the humor (somewhat).  And once the race was over the rest of the errand became suddenly stress free and enjoyable.  It was another one of those beautiful fall days that inexplicably appear out of the teeth of typical drab New England clammy cold.  It was sunny and in the mid-sixties.  I had a nice snack and very good cup of coffee before heading home and at the next Mobil station I filled the tank with no other pain than the usual financial outrage that is now the standard reaction to life in Creepy Uncle Joe’s America.  Now with the needle on the right side of the F, I drove with a smile in my heart and a country song on my car’s music system.  It was Tobey Keith’s “Red Solo Cup.”  And in my new-found joy I sang along with Tobey and suddenly I hadn’t a care in the world.

When I got home Camera Girl saw what a good mood I was in so she told me to empty the mouse bucket traps in the sheds.  Well, that brought me back to reality.  Nothing like bloated soggy rodents to put things in perspective.  But still.  It was a bright warm day and the crows looked happy to see my dead mice down by the swamp.  The circle of life, and all that.  And I saw some good comments on the site and I was reminded that Senator Murkowski is about to be fired in favor of someone on our side of the fence.  And that cheered me up quite a bit.  And tonight, is split pea and sausage soup which is a very hearty and savory delight.  So even though the day was interrupted, I feel that life provided the right ingredients for a successful foray into the world.  Life is good.

Seasonal Activities

 

So today is the last official day of summer.  Tomorrow is the Autumnal Equinox but here in Dunwich fall is well advanced.  The crickets are hiding under stones and digging down to avoid the chill well before sundown.  Their chirping is becoming slower and weaker each day.  The frogs are still enthusiastically croaking and piping in the swamp but even they haven’t got too much longer to go.

We’ve gotten tons of rain in the last couple of weeks so the grass is green again and growing.  But the vegetable garden is on its last legs.  There are some peppers and eggplants almost ready to pick and a couple of butternut squash in a race to ripen before the death of the vines they’re on.  And the flower gardens are down to a few new cone flowers and some black eyed susans that haven’t given up the ghost yet.

Even the dragonflies are so lethargic that I think I could catch them with my hands if I tried.  Camera Girl saw a hummingbird a couple of days ago but they must be ready to head south already.  I haven’t seen any butterflies in the last couple of days so maybe they’re all gone.

So, it’s officially time to shut everything down and winterize the grounds.  All the lawn and pool furniture has to be stored away.  My fence repairs will have to be completed before the ground freezes.  And there are some incidentals.  I have to install a tree swing for Princess Sack of Potatoes.  I’ll use my weight as a test for the branch we’ve selected.  It’s in an odd spot because of a slope but it’s the only convenient branch.  I’ve also got to replace the transmission on my snowblower.  The parts are in but I’m hemming and hawing because I don’t want to do it.  It’s supposed to be straight forward but you know how that is.

Then there’s the rotten wood that needs to be replaced.  I’ve been stalling on that too.  Realistically I can skip this year but I promised myself I’d get the ball rolling and tackle one or two problems before winter.  At the least I should cover the problem areas with some tarps to avoid additional damage.  Maybe I’ll flip a coin.

The shorter days are already noticeable.  After dinner the sun is behind the hill in the west.  The light is gone by seven o’clock.  But the good news is that I mourned the end of summer on the last day of July.  After that I’ve already skipped ahead to thoughts of winter and any incidental good weather is all gravy as far as I’m concerned.  So here I am concentrating on Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas to get me through the end of the year and into the new one.

This year I have the elections to distract me from the shortening days and cooling temperatures.  The horror of Biden, Pelosi and Schumer along with their henchmen in the Deep State and the Media should provide stimulation that can’t be overlooked.  After all we could be looking at the official end of the republic as a legitimate political institution.  That’s got to be a noteworthy event to live through.  And even if we are saved by a shocking Republican victory I don’t think that will be something to sleep through.  And who knows, World War III might be in the wings if Biden keeps poking the Russian bear.

And I have a long list of tasks that I can perform indoors.  I’ve got a ton of pictures that need adjusting and all kinds of writing that has to be done so I’ll be anything but bored.

But it’s funny.  Once it gets chilly at night, say in the forties, we close the windows after dark.  And then there’s no outdoor sounds to hear.  No frogs, no owls, no coyotes even.  And that’s a big change.  You become detached from the natural world and plugged into the artificial one.  Electric light takes over and you tend to go to bed later and get up later.  Well, not Camera Girl.  She’s plugged into the dogs’ schedule and they’ll get her up at 6 am even if the apocalypse descends on us.  But I start to stay up later and read too much and watch too much television.

But that’s normal.  We compensate for the change of season as we do.  And there are family activities coming up.  Kids’ soccer games and birthday parties are in the offing.  And it’s almost time to drag out the Universal Classic Monster movies and introduce the youngsters to the hokey joys of Dracula, Frankenstein and the Wolfman.  I think I’ll indulge in some popcorn for that film festival.

Okay, Autumn 2022, let’s see what you’ve got.

17SEP2022 – OCF Update – This’N’That

Busy day.  Had lots of yard work to get ready for the end of warm weather.  I even cut the grass today.  I didn’t notice how long the grass had grown on account of all that rain.  Man, what a mess the clippings made.  But soon enough all that will be done with.   It was nice to get out and look around the fields.  There were tons of honey bees on the goldenrod.  Now that I’ve renewed my interest in keeping bees, I was looking at the varieties of bees that were on the flowers.  And I noticed they were almost exclusively Italian bees.  These are a southern bee and they don’t fare well in cold winter areas.  But they’re the kind of bees that people get when they buy a package of bees from one of the big breeders down south.  So most likely these bees aren’t feral bees but some beekeeper’s hive.

Funny, I got a little annoyed that someone was encroaching on my goldenrod.  What the what!  The only advantage of the Italian bees is their mild tempers.  They’re the least likely race of bees to sting you even if you’re in their nest messing around with the frames full of honey and brood.  So, knowing there are a lot of apiary hives around me was a little bit of a downer.  I’m hoping to catch a swarm next spring.  But if there are a lot of apiary hives in the area chances are that the swarm will come from one of them.  That means the bees will be southern bees and most probably also bees that have been living under a regimen of chemicals to ward off varroa mites and other plagues.  I won’t be using those chemicals so the bees will have to depend on their natural robustness to survive.  But since they’ve been dosed with various chemicals, they may be quite weak.

That makes me think that I may as well purchase a bee package from a breeder who keeps northern bees under a natural beekeeping regimen.  I know there are several breeders in Vermont who have this type of bee.  I’ve read about these northern bees.  They’re known either as Russian bees or dark bees.  They are extremely cold hardy and are specialized to collecting a large amount of nectar in order to survive the long cold northern winter.  Of course, that might mean a very long drive back and forth to Northern Vermont.  That’s a hike.  It’s possible they’ll mail the bees but maybe not.  Anyway, interesting things to think about today.

While I was working on the garden, I saw both grasshoppers and katydids that were so worn out that I was able to go up to them and pick them up by the wing covers.

Even the few butterflies I saw, some fritillaries and painted ladies, were flying very slowly.  And they were much less skittish than normally when I approached them while they fed.  Of vertebrates, there were some turkeys in the yard, a few small frogs and a vole that shot out of the garden and headed into the blueberry bushes when I approached.  I managed to get some shots of the turkeys as they noticed me and retreated into the forest.

Then I walked over by the swamp.  It was looking very beat up.

But this time of the year has its charms.  A good day out in the air.

CFPM in Action

Here at the Compound, in the soggy land of endless wet, our water comes from a well.  And in between that well and my alimentary canal is a large capacity sediment filter with a nominal 25-micron rating.  And when they say nominal, they mean that’s a make-believe number your supposed to take with a grain of salt (which would also pass right through it).

This filter comes with a filter life rating of six months.  Now in as much as I’m an engineer who has a very intimate relationship with filters from reverse osmosis pore size that can restrict the passage of atom sized particles up to bag filters that stop more or less nothing, I feel qualified and even privileged to insert my own factor onto this rating.  And the factor I used turns out to be twelve.  It was about six years ago that I installed the last edition of this handy household protective device.

I know, I know, I’m a monster.  I’m endangering my plumbing, my heating system, the well pump and the very fabric of space-time in the general vicinity of the Compound.  Fine, guilty as charged.  But look at it from my point of view.  I’m terminally lazy and keeping track of all the stuff I’m supposed to care about is just too much.  My system of maintenance is called the catastrophic failure panic method or CFPM for short.  Under this nifty protocol I more or less let things run on their own until catastrophic failure or the fear thereof concentrates my attention on some terrifying effect, like flood, fire or downed power lines crackling and buzzing like a giant nest of angry hornets.

I won’t claim that this lifestyle choice doesn’t have some difficulties.  It’s definitely expensive in the long run.  But it goes hand in hand with my belief that I live a charmed existence.  Somehow, I’ve managed to sidestep the consequences of my negligence and laziness pretty much entirely.  Sure, I have to pay a lot of money to fix the things I neglect but not worrying about all the things I should be taking care of and concentrating on the things that interest me has meant that life is a wonderful adventure with just enough excitement (or fear) to keep it interesting.

Take this filter thing as an example.  I remember about three years ago Camera Girl said to me that the clear plastic filter housing looked really gross.  Now gross is her layman’s term for filled with silt and rust.  And she may have thought that I ignored her warning.  But she couldn’t have been more wrong.  Her words were recorded and analyzed by my subconscious and became a part of the enormous algorithm that is my brain’s response to the great big wide wonderful world that I imagine surrounds me.

And at precisely the right time I remembered that filter and so about a week ago I looked at that filter and was repulsed at how gross it looked and some other part of my brain measured the pressure drop that the water system was experiencing coming from the well to my faucet (well indirectly, actually I was noting the lower flow rates I’ve been seeing lately).  And my fear of catastrophically destroying the well pump triggered CFPM action and I bought the new filter and installed it today.

The system works!

You might think, “What the hell is wrong with this guy?”  Many laymen confuse the CFPM with complete imbecility.  But there’s nothing complete about it all.  After all I brush my teeth every day and that’s annoying so I definitely have my limits.  But this whole thing has made me think I should change my factor from twelve to two.  After all, an annual event would tie it into the celestial cycle and trigger my interest in all things occult.  Just as the Druids sacrificed captives at the Autumnal Equinox (okay maybe I made that up) so I could celebrate the changing of the filter as a sacrifice to the great gods of pressure drop; Moody, Fanning, Darcy and Reynolds.

Well, it’s been a taxing day.  I ‘m going to go relax before tackling the last episode of “The Terminal List.”  Camera Girl’s initial reservations about the show have evaporated due to her love of cinematic blood-thirsty violence.  But this brush with disaster has made me more thoughtful.  Maybe I should take a look at that gage on the propane tanks.  I’d hate to run out of fuel for the generator this winter.  Ahhh, there’s plenty of time.  I’ll just make a mental note.

Waiting for Significance

You may have noticed I haven’t had many political posts in the last few days.  I scan the headlines every day.  After all, railing against the outrage of the day is sort of my schtick.  But for the last few days all I see is “same old, same old.”  The FBI raids Trump associates.  Political polls from Left and Right claim advantage for their side in the mid-terms.  Economic indicators and business events reinforce that we’re in a recession and statements from politicians on both sides confirm that we hate each other’s guts.  You, see?  Same old, same old.

There have been some stories about CNN firing some frothing at the mouth Trump-haters.  That I consider newsworthy.  That’s something different going on.  So that’s an example of the kind of thing I’m looking for.  New developments.  News!  When I see a story about someone on the Left waking up to the anti-freedom excesses of the current regime, I think that is newsworthy.  Anytime I see some establishment type waking up to the reality of what our government has become that’s sort of newsworthy.

But outrage for the sake of having something to say is becoming boring and even painful to write.  We all know it’s bad.  Only the brain dead could miss the fact that things are awful.  Only the hopelessly clueless don’t see where the awfulness emanates from.  Only a Democrat flak can listen to a Joe Biden speech and pretend that what he is saying resembles reality.

But what I write has to have some freshness, some life to it.  Even for me it can’t just reiterate the same old thing.  So, you may see some days when my post will be a review of a movie or a book.  Or it may be about something else I’m interested in like photography or beekeeping or some aspect of science and technology.

And this is all to the good.  Just banging the same old drum doesn’t really accomplish anything except wear out the reader’s patience.  There are always plenty of things going on in the world and there are even the beginnings of alternative cultural and social organizations doing things in the world.  These will give us things to talk about.

So don’t be alarmed if I haven’t ranted in a week or so.  It’s simply that there’s nothing new worth saying about life in Oceania.  I can’t record every last word and deed of Big Brother.  I may have to say I love him but I can’t claim he isn’t boring as all hell.

Summertime and the Living is Easy

Day after day of bright sunny weather has spoiled me.  I’m now hopelessly cheerful which is disastrous for a conservative blogger in Creepy Uncle Joe’s America.  Whereas I should be railing against runaway inflation and fascistic FBI activities, I’m too happy.  Whenever I get bored in the house I go outside into the blinding light and I feel my batteries recharging.  This Saturday is the last big summer party of the season and I’m anticipating the fun of seeing all the kids one more time before they have to start school again.  Burgers and dogs, sausage and peppers, potato salad and watermelon, lemonade and ice cream, and ricotta cheese cake.  Just a great way to end a nice hot summer.

I’ve been watching good movies and eating good food for the last couple of days.  Brando in Julius Caesar, Mutiny on the Bounty, A Streetcar Named Desire.  Chicken chop suey and homemade chicken pot pie.  Even watching that goofy Wolf Man movie the other day was a summer indulgence.  The end of summer edges us closer to the next milestone of the calendar, Halloween.  And that means classic monster movies and not so classic horror movies.  And that spells shorter days and the first nip of frost in the air.

Last night it was fifty degrees.  The cooling trend is there.  Backsliding into the mid-eighties is predicted for next Thursday and onward but the writing is on the wall.  Soon the air conditioners will be put away for another year.  Lemonade will be off the menu and hot coffee back on.  Watermelon will give way to apples and hot soup will reassert itself in the weekly menus that Camera Girl will present me with.  And all of this should make me SAD (seasonal affective disorder) but somehow, it’s just too bright and sunny to work the trick.  Maybe September will work its melancholy magic on me.  But until Labor Day rings the bell on summer I can’t seem to believe in winter just yet.

Looking a little ahead we have “Liz Cheney Appreciation Day” coming up on Tuesday.  That’s gonna be a humdinger.  I have to see what special celebration I’ll select for that.  I’ll try to capture my joy in a special schadenfreudian post that sings the praises of representative democracy when it actually works.  Also, Camera Girl has promised to bake me a huckleberry pie from real Montana huckleberries.  Wednesday, I meet with the Dunwich Committee to Re-elect Cthulhu.  Thursday and Friday I’ll have my chores in support of Saturday’s party and Sunday will be the cleanup.  By next Monday I’ll try to develop some post-summer let-down.  That will stand me in good stead when trying to summon the gloom and doom needed to opine about the current state of this fallen republic.  I’m sure by then Biden or one of the other odious carbuncles that supposedly run this country will have offended the public decency with various high crimes and misdemeanors.  By then I’ll have built up a level of bile sufficient to vent my spleen at these toads.

But until then I’m just too darn merry to groan.  I’ve got thousands of Yellowstone photos to review and process.  I’ve got a load of bug photos from around the grounds and I’ve got repair projects to address.  So, pardon me if I whistle a happy tune and luxuriate in the season.  Misery is sure to have its day soon.  La dolce vita.

Yellowstone Expedition – Post 5

Now that I’m back I can start gathering my thoughts and describe various natural history facets of my trek.  But I think I’ll start with the adventure that is flying back and forth to this crazy corner of Wyoming (with just little slivers of Montana and Idaho added because of rounding errors on the map.

On the trip out the most memorable event was the taxi ride to the airport.  Instead of picking me up at 4:30 as they recommended, I got a call at 3 am stating the driver was outside waiting for me.  Luckily, I was up and packed but what I wasn’t ready for was my driver.  She was very old, very obese and she wanted to tell me her story.

She volunteered that she had had a driving accident a year ago and this was her first ride since recovering.  She also told me that at night she couldn’t see the road because of the lights of the oncoming drivers.  And to demonstrate the truth of this statement she several times wandered onto the rumble strip when there was oncoming traffic.  Then she told me about her drug dealer neighbor and her abusive bosses who want her to drive faster.  And finally, she told me about her cancer.  When we finally pulled up to the airport, I gave her a good tip and fled her cab like my life depended on it.

The rest of the outgoing journey was uneventful.  But on the way home things got interesting.  From Bozeman to Denver everything went smoothly.  I even managed to have a very nice Reuben sandwich plate in Denver.  And when I was ensconced in my window seat with no one in the middle seat I thought my flight home would be relaxing and comfortable.  Ah, foolish me.  As our departure time approached a thunder storm engulfed the airport and stowing baggage had to be postponed until the lightning subsided.  When the plane was ready to take off twenty minutes later, we were behind six planes on the tarmac.  By the time we took off we were thirty-five minutes behind schedule.

It turned out the row behind me in the back of the plane was occupied by a single father and his two sons, Mal and Max.  I’d guess their ages as four and six.  The six-year-old, Max, was sitting behind me and he early demonstrated that kicking the back of my seat with both feet was something he needed to do.  His father begged him endlessly to stop kicking it but the boy responded by going into hysterics.  Finally, I told the father to switch seats with his son so the son could kick the back of the empty seat next to me.  This worked but it couldn’t prevent me from having to listen to the endless screeching from both boys demanding that they be allowed to leave the plane.  Somewhere over Kansas or Missouri I contemplated how I could help them fulfill this wish.  But eventually I rejected the idea and spent the rest of the flight contemplating which of my earlier crimes was being atoned for by my proximity to these howling lunatics.

As we travelled along our flight path, we were constantly surrounded by a line of thunderstorms that buffeted the plane.  Somewhere in the Midwest we took a detour to escape these storms and this caused our arrival time to slip further.  And finally, before landing the captain came on the radio to inform us that the long runway was unavailable to us so we would be making a screeching halt on the short runway.  And he wasn’t kidding.  The plane hit the ground and skittered around the runway like a jitterbug.  Inevitably the terror twins behind me were inspired to even louder ululations of outrage at their imminent demise.  But as we bounced to a stop, I smiled knowing it would all soon be over.  How wrong I was.

The captain came on the intercom again and in a jovial manner explained that we had been given a different gate but that there already was a plane at that gate and we would have to wait about twenty minutes to use it.  This twenty-minute delay and the time it took for the rest of the passengers to exit the plane in front of us sparked a performance from Mal and Max that can only be equated with some passages from Dante’s Inferno.  I’m surprised none of the stewardesses administered a tranquillizer dart from across the cabin but toward the end I would have welcomed a bullet in my direction just to distract me.  Finally, as the moment approached, I turned around and told the father of the M & M boys to leave ahead of me.  He thanked me and I assured him no thanks were necessary.  I left the plane last.  I wanted as much space between me and those whirling dervishes as I could arrange.  The last I saw the two of them were attempting to push their poor bedeviled father down an escalator.

So here I was at 12:30 am, about an hour after my scheduled arrival.  I gathered up my luggage and headed for the taxi stand.  By some miracle the taxi was still there and the driver wasn’t the poor pathetic woman who had driven me out.  She had made it seem that she was the only driver on the night shift and I was dreading the suicide run she was fully capable of providing.  Instead, it was a younger guy who drove with considerable skill and speed and I was home in record time.  I gave him an even handsomer tip and was greeted by Camera Girl with marked warmth even considering the fact that I badly needed a shower.

So, there is my tale of woe.  Now that I’ve recovered from the trip it almost seems silly to let things like these bother me.  But at the time I had dark thoughts about the way the universe was being organized.  In the next post I’ll limit myself to a photo exposition of Yellowstone natural history.