Monday, May 13, 2013

Separation Anxiety (from gear)

I was standing in a phone booth in Mojave, California, trying to talk a North Face rep into sending me a free backpack so I could continue hiking the PCT.  My pack was slowly self-destructing, and hiking the trail was still exciting enough to the big gear companies that they were willing to sponsor random dirtbags such as myself (or at least that's what we had heard).  She was balking, I was talking, and then she said, "Wait a minute - is that a real bird singing?  Like, you're actually out there in the desert?"  I said yes, gave here a general delivery address in Kennedy Meadows, and she agreed to send a big new Badlands pack.

Then, when we got to Kennedy Meadows, it was generally agreed that going up into the Sierras at that point was a bad idea - one guy tried, got lost in the snow, and then spent days fumbling down the Kern River to get out of there.  Of course we could have gone on - and the next year I did so (in even more snow), but at the time we didn't know any better.  I had barely picked up my pack at the General Store when our prospective ride was leaving, and there we were riding in the back of a pickup truck down into the Owens Valley while I was transferring my stuff from one bag to the next.  A policeman kicked us out of the truck near, where, Ridgecrest?  I left my old bag in the back, and we got another ride.

And now, fifteen years later, the big red backpack is sun-bleached practically pink, the mesh gear pockets are practically torn off, and it's time to sell a few things here so we don't have to pay for extra bags on the way home.  I don't want to sell the Badlands - it still fits well and has a good suspension.  On the other hand, I don't need it, I have better backpack at home, and it's too heavy for the trips I do now.  Did I mention I don't want to sell it?  But it's time to sell it.

I end up walking over to a dental lab and handing it to a Japanese guy who is getting into tramping.  I don't understand most of what he says - he likes the pack, even though it's probably overkill for what he's doing.  He hands me the money - I hand him the backpack.  I stupidly tell him to call me "if he has any questions," like he just bought a complicated software suite.  I try to linger for a minute, but he takes off back  into the lab with the bag, and I go back out into the sun.

That North Face Badlands was a good backpack, and it went on a lot of trips - I even lived out of that thing for how long, a year?  Two years?  Wow, it was even longer than that.  Now it's gone, and I'll have to use another one.  Now that I think about it, I was way too attached to that old thing.    

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Truck with two different-sized wheels

I love this truck - but it has 14-inch wheels in front and 12-inch wheels in back:

(Toyota Dyna 250)

Does it have two spare tires?  Yes, it does.

I haven't heard of any other vehicles with two different size wheels - are there any?

Monday, May 6, 2013

Will-J Live Blogs Star Wars!

Will-J turned six, and demanded to see STAR WARS.  All his friends had seen it.  I thought maybe he was too young – I saw it at seven (I think), and the trash compactor scene scared the crap out of me.  Finally, his frequent references to “Clone Wars” made me realize he had already seen whatever Star Wars cartoon that they’re doing these days at his friends house (and even apparently once at school) – he knew all about the Star Wars world, anyway. 

We got the movie, and we agreed I would sit with him and turn it off in case he got scared.  He wasn’t scared, and actually found it a little boring.  I hadn’t seen it for at least 20 years, and forgot what a strange movie it is – it’s basically just a shell delivery device for cutting edge special effects (yes, like Avatar).  Also, I can’t see Star Wars and not think of THX 1138 – they’re quite similar, from the set design down to the evil yet bumbling bureaucracy – especially the throwaway dialogue between stormtroopers.  Also it seems like there are some basic scenes missing.  But you knew that already – Will-J’s thoughts were far more insightful.  Here is his live review of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope:  

-[On Leia’s ship]: What happened!?  Did we miss the real beginning?  Make the movie go back to the REAL start!  The bad guys are already winning!  That’s Darth Vader, but who is the woman?  Why don’t the good guys fight better?  The good guys are losing!  They are in space, on a spaceship!  Getting eaten by another huge spaceship!  This part is great.”
-[On Tatooine] “You are telling me this is on another planet, but obviously it is in California.  I have been to this place – Joshua Tree AND my grandparents’ house.  This movie is pretend because there are dinosaurs and ice age animals, as well as people – those things did not all live at the same time.  You are telling me they are aliens, but really they are dinosaurs and ice age animals.  Everyone knows California has only one sun – that is pretend, too.”

“Are the Jawa people good or bad?  Also I don’t understand the sand people – why do they attack the good guys for no reason?  Wouldn’t the sand people have killed all the Jawa people already?  Also they would have attacked where Luke Skywalker lives already.  Is Obi-Wan a Jawa too?  He dresses the same as them.  Where is yoda?  Yoda is better at battling than these guys.”
“The robots talk too much.  They are constantly in trouble, but nothing ever happens to them because they are not really alive.”  

“In the bar, there are all kinds of made up animals!  One is part elephant and part alien, one is part polar bar and part alien – it’s crazy!  I love this part.”

“What is Chewbacca, anyway?  Is he a giant gorilla?  Or a gorilla alien?  I think maybe it’s a man in a gorilla suit.  Why does he yell so much?  Is he good or bad?”

[Will-J and I decided that the bar scene on Tatooine is the best part of the movie – absolutely.]

-[On the Death Star] “Why does Darth Vader breathe that way – is he sick?  If he’s a bad guy, why does he keep hurting the other bad guys?  Is Darth Vader an alien?  The Clone Wars cartoons are better than this movie.  The bad guys are just not that tough.”

“Why did they jump into the trash?  There is a huge octopus in there!  How can an octopus live on a spaceship!?  That’s amazing!  HAAHAAHAHAHAAA!!!” [not scared at all].

“Why does Obi-Wan fight with his hood up?  Does he do this because he is a Jawa person?  He could fight better if he took off his robe – I would be able to beat Darth Vader if I was there!”

Me: “Did they really let the good guys escape?”
Will-J: “Yes!  The bad guys’ ship is so much bigger – clearly they are just following the good guys.  Those people are dumb.  This part is boring.”

-[On Yavin IV] “This part is clearly on earth in the jungle – I’ve seen this place on TV before.  I think maybe it is Mexico.  That is not an alien planet!  It is earth!”

[Generally, Will-J didn’t think much of Han Solo, and didn’t know why he had to be in the movie.]

“I don’t think the Death Star will blow up their planet – the good guys will win.  Are those airplanes or spaceships?  They look like airplanes.  Why don’t the bad guys just kill them?  This part is too long.”

-[On the awards ceremony]  “This part is boring.  Yes, I already told you, the Clone Wars cartoons are better than this.  This movie is too long!”

[And there you have it.]