Terence Yorks
presents a slower blog


The Ruffled Grouse looks at life

These are additional dated drafts, with their inherent errors in both content and details of execution. The latest rough rants and commentaries are found within my current blog page. More finished work may be found through the formal publications pages.

De enjoy the following despite its flaws. The essay's goals are shared entertainment and improved quality of living.

Not so tangent topics:

Background for this blog


Military deaths abroad


Mercury Poisoning




29 November 2009
Re-telling another car story

  We've been through a fall of wrestling with what to do about practical, but still entertaining and controllable transportation within our very limited incomes. My Alfa might be okay in a more hospitable climate, but between the fierce heat of summers and the salt that idiot governments use to coat winter roads to further encourage using already deadly overweight vehicles, it's intrinsic aging complexity becomes just too often compromised for more than occasional use.

  My wife's support vehicle has been a 1983 RX-7, which she bought new, and is the only car she's ever owned. With 186,000 accumulated miles, it had gotten down to less than 90 miles to the quart of oil, mostly through increasingly copious leakage. Beyond trailing a mess, although it still ran very well, it was getting very hard to start from a mucked up flywheel ring gear. We looked hard for several weeks for alternatives, but especially given that anything else would melt away with rust from excessive winter salting, too, as well as problems of less known sorts, Almost all are too damn heavy, so therefore less instantly responsive, and without the superb outward vision at a level where problems to avoid happen of the first generation Mazda, not to overlook its, to her (and me), especially satisfying aesthetics. After a seriously contemplative drive that convinced me it really is a fine machine, I finally put it in the air (on jackstands) in the driveway to assess the seriousness of the accumulated rust, which her past aversion to having me work on her baby had contributed to letting slide. There were indeed several points of concern, but the basics appear to have at least several years left in them. From that, and her tears at the thought of sending so many good memories and so much that was still good to the crusher, we worked together to coat obviously affected bits with phosphoric/chromic acid, rinsed them, then I fiberglassed several floor pan and wheel well sheet metal holes, and we painted the rest underneath (that wasn't coated with oil) with theoretically anti-rust paint.

  Not wanting to mess with the very specialized particulars of rotary innards, and having found a group near Seattle with a good reputation for carefully augmented rebuilds for around $3K, less than what loses driving a new car off the lot, let alone the rest of the prices. The local generalist shop (who has done various good work for us) gave me a bid of $650 to do the rest, plus $80 for swapping the clutch. Not having gainful employment, I figured I could profitably turn the necessary wrenches for the disassembly-reassembly portions, since they wouldn't really know the particulars of what they were doing either, and we do have the factory shop manual, along with the Haynes alternative.

  The process didn't start well, because the extremely oily front cross member led to slippage off the floor jack in the process of getting jackstands positioned in the garage, which destroyed the radiator, and messed up the hood. The radiator was actually no big deal, since it was revealed that then local Mazda dealer (now out of business) 20 years ago ripped us off after I was blinded by dangerously high SUV lights one night in a main canyon, and hit a therefore invisible rock on the road, doing similar damage. I found that they had replaced the original 2 row with single row unit, which was not obvious until it was out. I had always suspected a problem there, because it had run hotter afterwards.

  After a month of intermittently serious work in our unheated garage, finally got the it started on the great Thursday holiday at 7 PM, but only running about a minute before my foot acted up and it stalled. Tried to restart. Nothing at all. Gave up, showered, and had leftovers for Thanksgiving dinner. Early the next morning I had already arranged to take the bus into town to help an engineer friend, who rebuilds engines fairly regularly, take down a large dead tree for a share of the wood, and we talked it through. After getting the wood in, and going back under, sure enough, it was that slightly loose fitting wire I had noticed, which went once I understood what it did, from ignition to starter. Tweak with screwdriver to increase pressure of clip spring. We had liftoff. Noticeably more powerful with the polishing and porting. Some fine tuning left to do, but no visible leaks, and very satisfying feeling indeed. Had our own Thanksgiving a day late.

  Pictures are of basic engine from the rebuilders in Puyallup connected to the transmission (which I thought would be simple process, but alone taking three frustrating days),

engine in place

then with all the decorations reattached and/or upgraded,

complete engine

and finally the container.


  Weird angle on the last to fit it all in within my little Olympus digital's limits.

  Took it out today for a nice longer ride, running quite well. Not a bad result for an old man of limited understanding and practical skills, eh?


4 November 2009

  My wife recently had her yearly exam by our women’s health physician, who is one of the very best out there in just about all possible ways. Because there have been issues that have required detailed skills and require careful monitoring within a particular area of expertise, I kept pretty much silent about her latest seemingly tangential recommendation to check and likely up our intake levels of vitamin D, since recent studies were underlining various connections for its importance, along with unanticipated limitations in most people’s intake. From my own education in nutrition, both in its chemical and public health aspects that is about as good as likely to be available, but then having concentrated on other things, thereby not having to use that area of knowledge for a while, with situations always changing and having learned more about making assessments in the interim, it was necessary to delve into the literature for a refresher. The recheck had the doctor winding up with more kudos for noticing an health issue that has become more pressing than commonly assumed, appropriately nailing a number, about a thousand IU, which is 2 and half times the current National Academy of Sciences “Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA)” but confirmed as a reasonable target, even if I have remaining quibbles about perception of underlying mechanisms. The result became nice to see a system working well at the practical level for once, while revealing yet another health area in need of wider appreciation.

  I looked especially hard at this advocacy, having watched through the passing of enthusiasms by other physicians and scientists, ones that were magnified by those more ignorant and/or profit takers, for increasing vitamin C, various parts of the B group, and E. All those upward reaches were, not really surprisingly, eventually scaled back, despite areas of validity within their contentions.

  Nutrition is a particularly squiffy science, one assumed to be robustly understood, but that gets thinner the harder one looks into it. With my father being a chemist, and mother who was teaching the subject at Syracuse University when she met him, I grew up with its questions routinely all around, in almost unique detail. With vitamins, Mother had intersected in two ways with one of the key lines in the fine on-line writeup from the National Institutes of Health, “The UV energy above 42 degrees north latitude (a line approximately between the northern border of California and Boston) is insufficient for cutaneous vitamin D synthesis from November through February...” This vitamin, clearly so important to bone growth and other health, but an evolutionarily skin manufactured compound, is at the same time not easy to gain from foods, since it is essentially present in significant quantities only in fish. Growing up as my mother did on a homestead very close to the Canadian border in Montana, also a long way from the ocean, under especially difficult conditions, left as one result for her of a moderate case of the now uncommon serious deficiency disease rickets, which played a more than small role in leading her into the study of nutrition.

   For me, also growing bones in a winter sun deprived area in the days before widespread artificial supplementation of milk, as a child it meant a morning ritual encounter with a squirt from a dropper of an unpleasant tasting orange vitamin concentrate, described with a word it has long been since being thought about, one I remember phonetically as being “percomorphen”, which draws nothing on a quick Internet search. Routinely, my sisters and I were told how thankful we should be that it was better than the more traditional cod liver oil. As an adult, with more widespread supplementation sources and being outdoors regularly, I gave the issue little further thought. until yesterday.

  More widely, given the primary route for vitamin D’s creation being exposure of skin to fairly intense sunlight, social changes in America have meant the majority no longer come close to even the modest theoretical need of 10 minutes twice a week, even where the natural light is sufficient. Children I have observed are as bad as the adults. Most scuttle from house to offices, schools, or shops by the shortest distance, all the while protected from active sunlight by glass, solid walls, or enveloping clothing. Even so-called outdoors people have wrapped themselves up quite totally with protective clothes, not least including helmets with facemasks. For black people, since the melanin that colors their skin was evolved for protection from the highest planetary levels of light, thereby reducing internal synthesis efficiency, the issue has become especially dire.

  At the same time, vitamins do remain part of the limits of practical understanding, since their need and dangers vary so much with individual conditions and are never absolute, rarely quick in appearance, requiring appreciation of subtleties, longer-term effects, and risk probabilities, none of which most people are comfortable. For the vitamin D that is naturally manufactured from cholesterol in humans, the potential complications are not just for cancerous melanoma from excessive exposure to sun, but paralleled for supplementation, since the level where problems from artificial inputs have been documented is just twice the newly recommended number. Calculating such intakes is not simple, depending upon one’s acquisition choices, as widely varying amounts are present in purchased foods from their being added in rather unpredictable patterns by manufacturers, not just to milk, but in arbitrary seeming quantities to such things as breakfast cereals. Behind it all, scientific understanding of both mechanisms and results of differences is not as robust as putative authorities would like it to be, to notably understate the case.

  At the moment, some remaining keys to the issue arose as potential dangers from too much intake left milk supplementation at less than optimal levels, although the level chosen was supposed in the ‘50s to solve insufficiencies. It was followed by how milk consumption has been dropping over time, like sun exposure, thereby raising questions about levels for children during bone growth. For the rest of us, internal synthesis becomes less effective as we age, so the overall situation indeed needs revisiting for both ends of the age spectrum.

  At the personal level, after running a calculation for our own dietary intake, I came up with less than 600 IU per day on the average. That included finding out that our local dairy followed local custom of being afraid governmental suggestions, so in a flip side of avoiding using almost surely nasty BST, their products are unsupplemented with vitamin D. Hence, our own potential additional needs, assuming the physician and related sources' conclusions are in the right general area, are more than I expected, despite how, with my convertible sports car and our daily outdoor exercise completely outside of machines, we get more direct sunlight than most. We are, however, most likely to need more when in the depths of our gloomy winters.

  For others, useful additions are likely to be higher yet, year-round, although the dangers of too much remain, so more care will be required in judging just how much than most are willing to take for optimum health. Willingness to take that care, like other areas of deeper than common thought, would nevertheless have a substantial potential payoff, both for those that take it, and for those who will have to help pay for the consequences echoing from all those not bothering to try.


21 October 2009

  In deciding what to do about the rapidly deteriorating RX-7, which still looks nice from 20 feet away, with a good interior, but the local propensity to compensate for regular snow with heavy applications of salt has wreaked rusty havoc on its underside, not yet dangerous, but punched through the sheet metal at a couple of points, and needing some serious effort to keep it from progressing even faster. In wrestling with what to do about it, overhaul the existing car’s engine or replace the whole with either another or something else, I wound up internally debating in the middle of the night about what would happen to auto factory workers if everyone pursued the approach of keep on fixing one purchase, instead of throwing so much away every few years.

  My wife responded at breakfast, let the labor switch to making parts, and decentralize repairing the rest. That reminded me of an essay of mine, filed somewhere, about how the auto industry could decentralize after making a fleet of decently lightweight machines that would last far longer than the resource intensive, deadly to others behemoths they now crank out, and whine about when they don’t sell enough. There is nothing new comparable to what she has driven so happily for so many years, with its quick response in all senses, thanks to good design and execution with its relatively light 2,300 pounds, with its working parts easy to access at need, and its superb outward ability to see around, unlike the little bitty windows and expensive/fragile mechanical complexity that have now become so dominant.

  The available Mazda replacement, the RX-8, is more than 600 pounds heavier, packed solid under the hood with heat emitting mechanicals so therefore being less likely to last and more expensive to maintain along the way, thirstier with fuel, feels more closed in, and is fully three times as expensive as the RX-7 was originally (relative to a bushel of wheat, with most other monetary inflation factors being hand waving). It is nice enough looking and to drive when we tried one, but almost insanely out of touch with what speeds really can be achieved without being frustratingly held up by the mass of even more grossly overweight road slugs or arrested when there is enough room to try out its capabilities. The other rear drive option from Mazda, the Miata, is just too small inside, with poor outward visibility with its top up, even if one can fit in. Among the other choices out there, front wheel drive cars are inherently just too difficult to predict or control in emergency maneuvers, if heavier, as most are (with rest anymore simply too cheaply made), while decent current rear drives, like BMW, Porsche, and Mercedes, are both too heavy and way too expensive for us to even seriously consider.

  Tomorrow will probably be spent under the RX-7 with noxious chemicals touching up the accessible rust, like I should have started years ago. Then pull the engine, take it to a rebuilder, and carry on from there. We figure about $3,500 for the process, equivalent to, or less than, the value anyone loses when they drive a new car off the dealer’s lot. Buying a used car is just accepting someone else’s troubles, and no cheaper for the repairs that inevitably would be needed. Whatever else we would buy would also start rusting away because of the local propensity to coat our roads with vehicle melting salt during our snowy winters.

  The joker is that the repaired car, because requisite parts are no longer available, would not be likely to pass emission testing, which may be coming to our area because the air quality is terrible enough that even the locals and the EPA notice sometimes. The probable failure is another frustrating issue because of the rotary’s unique characteristics and the way we drive it, the prescribed form of test results are misleading for the total contribution it would be making, which are in total less in a typical full day’s operation, even on the rare days when we do use it, than a test-legal pickup truck just warming up in a driveway. Most days, unlike other folks, it sits in the garage. What I could argue for during a testing process establishment, to reach through to a government inevitably ignorant of technical details and individual differences, would be an exemption category for older vehicles that would not be driven during the red flag days. That would be something already true for both of ours, and still satisfy what the regulators are after, just like we put up with not being able to use our woodstove then, even though the way I use it contributes less to the overall pollution than the aforementioned arrogant idler. 


14 October 2009

More on bluegrass and other music

  A cousin, who continues to be a better musician than I, has questioned my posted apparent dislike of bluegrass. It is important to respond that the intent was to underline specific characteristics more commonly exemplified within it that displease my ears, not that overall grouping, which has given considerable pleasure through the years. The Grateful Dead, musically vital to me as for others, after all started out as a bluegrass group, with their members’ later forays into the genre consistently good, not least as “Old and in the way,” with David Grisman and Peter Rowan (who started out in the band of the man considered as the originator of bluegrass, Bill Munroe), both of whom admired for their own tangents. I thought enough of what I heard from Alison Kraus with Union Station to add them to my own collection. As usual though, name boundaries do have problems as well; the first time I heard the term, it was being applied to continuing personal favorites, Ian and Sylvia, who only rarely crossed into what would now be considered that format.

  One of the drastically limiting factors for satisfaction with it is a thump-thump, two note, endlessly repeated bass line, especially without percussion for it to play with and against. A couple of the most fascinating discoveries read in past years in an obscure technical corners during my varied library browsings (sadly amidst so much intellectual noise that their precise origin has been lost) have been about how the human ear can differentiate some sounds that are less than a ten-thousandth of second apart, with a key problem coming from that for electronic rhythm generation of being just too precise. This ties with feeling anything but alone in needing the movement and interaction of more than one bass line, subtly or openly responding actively to one another, and to the melody or melodies. The interplay of what I consider as good stuff almost always has quite a bit of instantaneous and general variability around a central beat placement, be it rock, folk, or classical. Even the best minimalists, like Arvo Pärt, Philip Glass, and Henry Gorecki have it, at least when played well.

  Bluegrass as a live performance, particularly with dancing allowed, has more flexibility than in recordings for satisfaction, just as country does. One can more easily forget about inadequacies when one is in company and moving, or playing with the music oneself.

  For tuning, another more detailed difficult reading was into a book on the origin of active notation, which suggested that before J.S. Bach, western music tended to focus on fifths as a basis, but after the “Well-tempered clavier”, on thirds. Bach in particular had difficulties in adapting to the sonic dissonances that appear in eight or more octave instruments, no matter how tuned, from interactions of their overtones. Some he played with, not being afraid of intentional dissonance, but working from thirds and octaves as a basis for tuning allowed for fewer surprises. This was more codified with the development of Steinway pianos, made easier for moderns with even more precise indicators than tuning forks. Nevertheless, even the most careful working up of instruments or voices has issues as the range of tones involved expands. In between, one can come closer to innately harmonious interactions through careful attention.

  This leads to how for me there is a great deal separation between intentional use of quarter tones (liking much of Arabic and similar output), or other forms differing from standardized scales, and the unintentional or unnoticed random dissonances that arise from shoddy instruments, playing, or singing that are all too common among bluegrass purveyors. It is one thing for great possibilities to have been put together in the hills by people who had no better tools, but another for those not to evolve once more sophisticated ones were available.

  Surely, part of the reason I am such a priss about those deviations from postive harmonic conjunction comes from unusually broad hearing capabilities, making for literal awareness of becomes personally painful stuff from above or below ‘normal’ ranges. More comes from the privilege of having grown up listening regularly to Stradivarius and similar instruments played by some of the world’s best classical players, at close range in intimate surroundings. At times, these quite specifically effectively pointed out and illustrated the differences of what they did from what they considered to be lesser expectations. This allowed knowing in detail, from early on, what is possible, what ought to or could be done with instrumental and vocal tools. From an active imagination, with classical and some other performances, I am often able to adjust what is being done inside my own mind when parts or all are less than especially well done, nudging what is happening in fact, using it as a basis towards what it might have been. Additional musical exploration and learning through the years, through many genres and performers, continues to help that capability, as well as to celebrate when the possibilities are more closely approached, or expectations pleasantly exceeded.

  The problem with much of bluegrass, like most electronic bass line stuff (including nearly all hip hop, etc.) is how it is so far off in harmony, tuning, or lack of rhythmic and/or lyric interest as to become painful, so has just to be turned off or otherwise gotten away from. Bluegrass has a tendency, too, for yet another personal push-away, when it drifts into gratuitous violence (noting that folk and rock sometimes are guilty there to), or selling religion, with either being more satisfyingly done when sung in a language that I don’t understand, and so not as bothered by the implications. Thus, when the genre is good, and it quite certainly can be, it is indeed wonderful, but more often than many other musical categories, it is left simply horrid, matching audiences that thoughtlessly chatter their way through performances.

  For folk music, my wife just commented that its goal was to sensitize, to make people more aware of issues needing to be dealt with, but people now already have too much to deal with. I responded that the world has indeed gotten worse (because there are so many more of us, using so many more resources), hence the dominant Prosac/TV/religious right culture, with desensitization quests having become the norm. She has also argued that useful change is practically impossible, with my response today being, look what has happened so often to the Russian people, fighting for something better, then getting Stalin and other gangsters instead, while the U.S. parallel gets their corporate near equivalent. Cervantes was all too right; old Don Quixote and I have a lot of overlap. Nevertheless, good folk music is still being written and performed; Willy Porter’s “how to rob a bank” is an accurately targeted hoot.


13 October 2009

  Milestones are sometimes expressed in little ways. I turned the other day to the Internet radio stream section of Itunes, looking for something calming and interesting for my ears, and clicked on the “Folk” classification. In response, it vanished. Thinking of having done something by mistake, as happens sometimes with fingers hitting wrong areas as well, I looked for help comments about reestablishing categories, found none, then restarted the program. Still gone. The next day, still gone; so I searched its ‘eclectic’ ground, and found ‘Folk Alley’, the semi-commercial stream that concentrates in the desired general area, now listed there. Thinking further on it, with Mary Travers having left us in the final way a few weeks ago, apparently the whole genre is following her into oblivion, it being significant that Apple, with its leftover sixties aura, would certify that direction. Her death thereby marks a deeper passing of an era, and deserves further sad reflection.

  Local concerts have been fading in frequency for some time, with declining turnout for passing singer-songwriter types, while airplay even on volunteer-run radio has fallen similarly, turning to the tuneless, electronically generated rhythm, mindless few words, endless repeated stuff that apparently pleases attention deficit plagued youth (and apparently many elders). Folk itself as a category had gone through the intermediate stage of ‘bluegrass’ with increasingly uninteresting bass lines and grossly out of tune fiddles and singing, so I suppose it should have been no surprise. Yet, before figuring out Apple’s choice, with the local radio that I used to rely on playing pap, I had put on Judy Collins’ 1963 third album (simply titled “#3”) yesterday morning. So much musical detail, creativity, care, focus, and beauty remains encased there! Reading the notes, then mixing up the two Pete Seeger tunes in memory did lead to a good laugh as well, when thinking that words in the first of them had come from the Bible, but hearing “…even God is uneasy” in the ‘Bells of Rhymney’. The Biblical lines, of course, were for the similar backgrounded ‘Turn, turn, turn’ (12 string guitar arranged by Jim/Roger McGuinn, later founder of the Byrds, with hits for both those songs). The inadvertent thought juxtaposition made me realize how humorless that document, on which so many focus, is, something never contemplated before, which is probably another point worthy of serious meditation (thereby generating another immediate laugh).

   Judy, meanwhile, having passed through an extended attempted Broadway phase, is now singing ‘standards’, not folk anthems, in hotel lounges that cater to aging richest business types. I expect she does it very well, and have slowly gained some grudging appreciation for that sort of presentation myself, but still must mourn the further passing of the intense desire for positive change and the musical synthesis that folk music at its best represented.


12 October 2009

   Rereading recent entries as posted online underlines how unnecessarily vituperative my comments about heavy vehicle classes can seem, especially to those who operate them in a context surrounded by similar choices. It does feel dangerously exposed when one seems the alone in trying to lighten up; some of the relative monsters get mileage that seems high enough; it is indeed pleasant to be more isolated while travelling from the noise, slowing, and ruined surfaces on most roads; while most operators run for years without higher cumulative probabilities for error catching up to them personally. Most unfortunately for useful comparisons, manufacturers, insurance companies, and the law make finding decently made lighter weight choices for vehicles practically impossible, since costs and development efforts are not being apportioned anywhere nearly rationally or fairly. Decent choices almost no longer exist, even though they remain ever so possible. Meanwhile, people who have to, or feel they have to, use vehicles for considerable distances regularly, are understandably unwilling to put up with the compromises that I do to get the responsiveness that I know is possible, and do in practice get.

   Contemporary transportation is a vicious cycle, in complete depth of the terms. The few honest statistics available continue to support the expectations of physics, with large pickups well proven more than eight times more likely to kill or injure someone else than lighter vehicles having the same passenger capabilities, with their own operators less likely to remain unhurt over the same miles traveled. Intermediate sizes vary accordingly, however much industry propaganda tries to hide this. More routinely, equally well-made vehicles make the world noisier, worsen air quality, and damage roads in proportion to their weight, but manufacturers' profits from lazy design and hidden-cost fuels rise with it inside their short-sighted balance sheets, so isolation and apparent protection remain immediately rewarding. The increased overall problems from the situation are just not routinely obvious enough. But for me, trying to engage the world as it is, to reach towards what it could be, all those issues are not just theoretical, but literally in my face at least several times a day, so they remain close to the surface, hard to be humorous about.


10 October 2009

  “I’d forgotten how walking unbuttons you. You can’t walk unconsciously for long—things thrust themselves right into your ears, up your nose. When you’re on foot, life vibrates.” William Least Heat-Moon (quoting Clive Chisholm). 1991. PrairyErth (a deep map). Houghton Mifflin, Boston, p. 611.

  Along a road, those sounds and odors of life are overwhelmed by the passage of vehicles, the heavier the more powerfully so. As one increasingly is able to become attuned to the natural background, when such unnatural sounds and smells are sufficiently distant, the more obvious—and eventually terrifying—the huge pickups (and their close kin) that have become so casually common emerge into fuller consciousness, as they close in upon one. Their drivers wonder why I hate them so, with the partial exception of the few that are both doing useful work and driven with appreciation of how threateningly uncontrollable their especially unstable and inherently destructive machines are. The rest should get out and walk where they would be impinged on so by their what, if they could see more thoroughly, would be understood as a truly careless choice, after walking among relative silence long enough for that to settle fully in.

  Useful work, incidentally, almost absolutely does not include pulling a trailer full of ATVs or snowmobiles, which will carry mechanized insults even further into where natural sights, smells, and sounds could more likely be sensed and celebrated. At the site pictured on the 5 October entry below this one, after walking more than a half mile without interrupted perceptions to get there yesterday, we encountered a pair of the mechanized monsters, too wide to fit comfortably into their lane and towering over us, driven as usual faster than they could avoid any surprise, leaving a stench and sonic plume lasting many minutes, making later finding the quote particularly telling. This morning's drive to our local farmer's market allowed noting literally dozens of flattened creatures that others, almost certainly truck-likes, had indeed failed to miss.


7 October 2009

  This is the time that many cultures consider to be the end of the year, with many plants going gloriously into hibernation, and for others, death being rampant. The rebirth part seems far more likely for trees and grasses than humans, who are the species by far most advanced at self- and group-deception. Nevertheless, with so much death in the air, it did bring closer thoughts of what would become of some of the more intensive, at least completed to the fine draft stage, work that I have done, but that has never seen even modest formal distribution. With the "rejection collection" of cartoons from The New Yorker in mind, although its artists cannily figured out how to be paid, the idea of giving suggested itself strongly enough for me to go ahead and clean a few of them up, then post them, with links as at the end of my publications. After all, most of the overtly scientific work had to be paid for in advance to be distributed, so being revenue neutral, with the space already available, should be a step forward towards profitability from the effort.

  If any of it could be useful to someone else, and better groups, that would be the real point. Nicest of all would be that plus someone thinking it worth giving me credit for it, even to the point of shoveling more dollars my way. That brings the essay full round to self-delusion…but one never knows. Keeping it in the invisible bowels of my computers any longer just about utterly negates any possibilities from it.


5 October 2009

  While walking up our canyon along the same road as at the end of last month this morning, I made this image of the snow not so far above us, following some fall even closer to home.

Snow on the mountains, no so far above us

  In response to my cousin’s posting on Facebook of early depositions in Bozeman, the trees (at least the ones not dying or dead) seem well aware of global climate changes, keeping their leaves green at least two weeks later than 15 years ago, even when faced with this early snowfall. In my image, especially because weediness from maltreatment of the land is less apparent at low resolution, it does look as bucolic as it feels whenever there is not a heavy vehicle within a mile on the road, or some other neighborhood sonic or fume trespasses on those around them. Still, overall, interacting with this scene remains a lot better than most folks in this ever so grossly overcrowded world are able to enjoy.


1 October 2009
  Having been snotty about Facebook, thinking about the issue got me to come back to this format. That led to discovering not just how far I've fallen behind in bringing my internal first drafts forward to postings during the last couple of years, but also a bunch of broken internal links from a changeover in servers in the interim, which hopefully have now been corrected. Having someone else do part of the work is indeed easier, but quality does not correlate well with ease.


30 September 2009

  Part of the reason for putting up living where I do is illustrated by this image from a drive up and hike further into Logan Canyon yesterday, despite reproduction colors only a fraction of the depth in the original image, and that of the even more transient reality.

blind hollow autumn leaves

   Walking along a nearer-by road this morning during a break in the rain from the first storm if approaching winter, I remarked that it seemed the most overweight, and therefore dangerous, vehicles (pickups, vans, and SUVs) seemed to be going even faster than usual, exactly when their lack of sensation about what slickness might be underneath them, along with their lack of ability to control skids if and when they did break loose, become even more important. My wife responded that her longtime friend in Atlanta, Charlee Lambert, had noticed the same thing, saying that their owners behaved as if they thought themselves the Wicked Witch of the West, internally expecting that they would melt if they didn’t get home faster, out of the rain.

  Massive group wrecks were being reported on the radio from Salt Lake City, underlining the apparent situation’s reality. I then reflected that for all my perceived problems, by active choice at least rarely having to deal directly with the multi-level insanity of multi-ton personal vehicle commuting.


6 August 2009

  Facebook is the current fad, with one of my cousins having recently prevailed in getting me to give it a try. I did not like at all fissures in its privacy policies that at the least open users to commercial intrusions, within and outside use of the interchange. For that reason first, I joined under a thin pseudonym, and have not reached out far within it. Not at all surprisingly, additional reasons to hold back quickly appeared upon trying to use it a bit.

  Yes, arguments are valid that the program and its background support need to be paid for. The problem is that there are a bunch of already rich economic vultures salivating around its popularity, with massive expectations for profits far beyond those costs, which will reach only their favored few. Paying back their artificially generated debts surely will result in associated annoyances, likely to extend to extortions, far out of scale to those needed to carry out the expressed purposes of the program itself. These are immediately visible in targeted advertising that appears alongside postings, if one does not use a program like Camino that effectively can block most intrusive material, if one asks it to.

  Camino not incidentally exists and continues to evolve from the alternative computer paradigm, that good stuff should be created from a gift perspective, one having a lot of overlap with potlatches, peer reviewed science, and the original Christian conceptions. In this ethic, one gives freely, and is eventually rewarded more thoroughly than through seemingly more straightforward greed driven transactions. The focus thereby stays not upon returns, but on the product itself and the joys of sharing it. This is likely to bring about more quality, at many levels. Of course, such goals are bloody difficult to keep from being perverted, through simple drifts from one’s own apparent immediate needs, or more maliciously by those without sufficient scruples.

  The laudable idea of protected casual conversations, with easy postings of words and pictures, among networks of selected friends is certainly a most useful one. From what I’ve seen in brief exposure among my own extended family, their snippets can indeed be a refreshing addition to our too disbursed and artificially isolated society. Instant postcards, these, and from the good ones, offering a similar pleasure to the best of the old, but more widely shared. I do like that part, and can see why others have found it so satisfying.

  On the other hand, beyond the discouragement of extended reflection and deeper thought, the addictive lure of empty play becomes like much of the rest of the fast food culture that has devolved in America. Meanwhile, the supposed barriers are quite obviously being readily penetrated by predators of many sorts. Another of my cousins posted a linked supposed celebrity quiz, which was quickly revealed to investigative skeptics as a mining system for personal data, readily available for potentially nefarious purposes.

  Of course, not everyone shares my distaste for commercial marketing, whether or not more specifically targeted, or for other forms of surveillance, whether active or potential. Most people haven’t felt what it is like to be unfairly targeted for persecution, either by government or smaller groups. They probably have been at some level, but they’ve remained oblivious. As an activist at times, I’ve felt those hot breaths directly, without doubt, and all too nearly completely, as well as seeing what happened to those less lucky or careful. Both history and fiction offer plenty of realistic confirmations of what can follow, often on a larger scale. It helps to be too small for such paranoia to be fulfilled, but that does not mean letting down vigilence based on experience.

  More certainly, the thing is easily addictive, pulling users toward what seems likely to be even more diverting from potentially useful uses of time than what I am doing at this very instant. However, tu quoque could very well apply. Briefer wastes of time than extended rants can quite effectively be argued for...


then from the past, breaking the most prolific posting years into more digestible chunks at the solstice:

 Links to more commentary, from 2008, late 2007, earlier 2007, late 2006, early 2006, late 2005, early 2005, or 2004...


Text, Design, and Images © 2010 by Terence

all rights reserved -
further distribution or postings in any form without written permission is strictly forbidden -
however, hotlinks to what you find interesting are encouraged, as is feedback

Concept created 1 December 2004.


Yorksite homepage / Origins / Projects / Education / Experience / Publications / Quotations / Web trolls