Dialing up the past

Every so often I drop this link where I think people will see it. BBSmates is like ClassMates.com for the old BBS crowd (minus the gawdawful, unkillable spam). Oh, and also unlike ClassMates, it's FREE. If you were a BBS user, drop in and look for some old friends.

I just reconnected with a whole bunch of folks from fifteen years back. I'm having the time of my life. GAWD, what a bunch of stupid geeky kids we were back then. We thought we knew everything.

Not like now. Now we DO know everything. :>

Hi to anyone from ViewLine BBS who bothered to follow the link to this crappy blog. Just keep on moving to Worth1000 (link's on the right, there) if you're hoping for actual entertainment. You won't find any of that here.

Well, except for the hidden porn link.

Money to burn

I just posted this to Worth, but I'm copying it here, too. Maybe someone else might find it interesting.

When I first started smoking, cigarettes cost about a dime apiece. (Canadian dollars, here.)

Now, even rolling our own, they cost us 35 cents each.

That averages 22.5 cents per cigarette over the past two decades.

I've smoked between one and two packs (at 25 cigs/pack) a day for 23 years. That averages to 37.5 smokes/per day.

That's 314812 cigarettes.

At 22.5 cents per cigarette, I've spent almost $71,000 ruining my health. I've set $71,000 on fire.


Right now I do smoke about 40/day (well, less since I've started cutting back) so I'll keep that 37.5/day figure from up there and work with it.

Right now I spend $13.13 a day to continue my habit. $400/month.



We're definitely on the low-income side of the standard-of-living curve. I sure could use that $400/month for other things.

Having proved that all I would do with that money is burn it, anyway, I've shown that I don't need it to get by. I could just not spend what I'd save by not smoking and put it all into savings.

Or I could add $200 to our monthly budget, eat less macaroni, and save the other half.

We're always looking for little part-time jobs to add to our income. Those sorts of jobs only pay minimum wage. We could stop doing that and spend 50 more hours each month relaxing instead of busting our asses to afford something I'm just going to burn, anyway.


Oh. Mrs. G is quitting, too, and she smokes as much as I do. Guess I should double all of the figures above, then.

$800/month. $9600/year.


We could rent two homes instead of one. We could go on a cruise or backpack through Europe next year. We could replace our sh---y computers and have enough left over to have a weekly date night like we used to in the early years.

That's a lot of money we burn. That's a lot of pressure to earn that money that would be lifted from our shoulders each month. That's our retirement taken care of, *bang*, if we decide to just sock it away instead of smoking it.

I'm looking forward to this quitting thing. The money's only the smallest part of why, but doing the math sure makes quitting look even more worthwhile.



Don't leave it in your car, either. :D


The Galoot Bear-Bagging Method

Wow. Two posts in one day. Lucky you.

Things you should know about bears:

There are a few VERY WRONG ways to bear bag that I've seen. A lot of hikers think that hanging their food five feet off the ground is a good way to keep it away from the bears. This works fine if it's stuffed teddy bears they're worried about, but for real bears it's just a waste of everyone's time. One swat and they've got the food.

I've seen a lot of pristine, beautiful sites marred by dozens of yellow plastic ropes hanging from the tree branches. The hikers who leave these must have tossed their rope over and then secured it permanently to the branch with a slipknot. The only way to get their food back is to cut the rope and leave the excess behind. I have a pet name for people who do this. "Idiots."

One way a lot of folks do it is to toss their rope over a high branch, tie one end to their food bag, then haul it back up. Once it's high enough they secure the loose end to the tree or a nearby stump. The major problem with this idea is that, even if you do everything right and pick the right branch at the right height and distance from the trunk, with no nearby platforms for desperate leapers to get to your food, the bear will just chew through the rope at the bottom. They really are that smart.

A far better way is what they call the "counter-balancing method." The idea is to divide your food into two bags of equal weight, raise one bag as high as possible, then raise your other bag up out of reach using a stick. (Don't forget to leave a loop of rope or something so you can snag your food in the morning.) This is actually pretty safe, but it has some problems. First, if your bags aren't relatively close to the same weight, they will eventually slide back down within the bear's reach. Second, the maximum height you can get your bag is limited by how long a stick you can find to raise it up there. Third, you've got to carry two bags which, for someone trying to shave ounces from their pack, adds weight. Fourth, and most important, it's a royal pain in the ass to get to your food if you forgot something. You've got to re-balance everything all over again after retrieving your dinner. And if it's difficult, people won't do it.

Another problem with both of these methods is that good branches for bear bagging are relatively scarce. That means you're probably using the same branch as the last 1000 hikers, and 1000 more will use it after you've gone. All that raising and lowering of food with ropes scars the branch. You're pulling a 20-pound bag up by pulling down with 20 pounds of force. That's 40 pounds of pressure sawing away through the branch. If you care about having as little impact on your surroundings as possible, you should care about hurting that tree. If you DON'T care about no-trace camping, then maybe you'll care that a scarred branch will drip sap all over your food bag, leaving it sticky and making a mess inside your pack in the morning, or that your rope could cut partway through the branch and bind there, leaving you stuck for food.

So, the goal is to raise your food high, not anchor your rope where a critter can chew through it, not saw through the branch with the rope, and to MAKE IT EASY to raise and lower your bag fifty times if necessary so you actually don't mind bear-bagging.

All you need is your rope and two carabiners. The little ones they sell at dollar stores for 50 cents will be more than strong enough. If you don't have carabiners, a couple of key rings will do in a pinch. 50 feet of rope should be plenty, but if you have more then you have more options.

Now here's how to do it. Tie one end of your rope to a rock and chuck it over your favorite branch. Twenty feet up is good, higher if you like. Watch the rope slip off the rock and get tangled in the lower branches while your rock goes sailing into your neighbor's campsite.

Oops. Skip that idea.

Handy tip: If you store your rope in a small bag, feeding it in by the fistful, it won't get tangled. Pull on the free end and all is good. I use a lightweight plastic mesh bag that nuts come in at Christmas. It weighs a fraction of an ounce.

Start over.
  1. Take your rope from the rope bag. Slip your rock inside the bag and tie your rope to the bag. Chuck it over a suitable branch.
  2. Lower the rock to the ground and untie it. Tie a small loop in the end of the rope and clip your carabiner through it.
  3. About a foot above the carabiner, tie a pencil-sized stick to the rope. Attach it at one end of the stick, then at the other end, so the stick runs in the direction of the rope. When you're done, what you'll have is basically a rope with a rigid part in the middle.
  4. Clip the free end of your rope through the carabiner and start raising it up toward the branch. You should be pulling down one rope and pulling up a long loop of free rope. Hang on to the loose end. You don't want to lose it.
  5. Keep pulling until your stick reaches the top. Now, gently, work your rope so that the stick is on one side of the branch and your carabiner is on the other side. Because you'll be putting weight on that carabiner, it will want to come down. The rigid stick will prevent this.
  6. Now, what you should have is the end of the rope in one hand, leading up to the carabiner then back down to your feet, then back up to the stick, over the branch, and ending at the carabiner up there. Are you there yet? Good. Next step.
  7. By your feet you've got a loop of rope. Clip your second carabiner to it. Clip your food bag to this carabiner. SLIP THE FREE END OF THE ROPE THROUGH THE SAME CARABINER.
  8. Pull on the free end to raise your bag all the way up to the branch.
  9. Reach up as high as you can and tie a quick slipknot. Slip a little pencil sized stick through the loop and tighten.
  10. Let the bag come back down. The stick you just placed will catch in the lower carabiner and prevent the bag from coming down further.
  11. Now look up. There's your food, dangling far out of reach of the bears.

It takes ten minutes to explain. It only takes about three minutes to do (one if you're a good rock thrower). The only other reliable method, counter-balancing, takes longer and is a bigger pain to deal with, meaning it's easier to choose not to bag than it is to do the right thing.

Your food is now too far above the ground for a bear to reach it and too far below the branch for a raccoon to jump for it. The rope's free end isn't anchored anywhere, it's just dangling there below your bag, so chewing through it won't drop your food to the ground. Your rope has "sawed" at the carabiner rather than through the branch. Instead of requiring 20 pounds of effort to haul up a 20-pound bag of food the old way (putting a 40 pound strain on the branch), due to the magical mathematics of leverage and pulleys you are using only 10-pounds of effort, meaning you can choose an even slimmer branch, giving you more choices.

Tarnation! You forgot your granola bars up there! Pull the rope down, pull the stick out, then gently lower the bag to the ground. Dig out your snack and haul it back up there. Total granola-retrieval time: 30 seconds, and it's actually kind of fun. Total time with the counter-balance method: 5-10 minutes, and it's a pain in the cushions.

This method really IS easy. Give it a shot. If even one other hiker gives it a try and decides it's not a big job after all to properly hang their food, then it was worth writing about.

A fed bear is a dead bear.

Hiking at Sombrio Beach

Our last hike, earlier this year, was... challenging.

Dear God, we were out of shape.

We're STILL out of shape, but we're getting better. That last hike changed us. Doing something new and exciting often changes people, but then they tend to settle back into their old ways and forget the experience. Me too. I've been "changed" many times, only to revert back to what I was before the change. But some changes are very different, like the day I first met Jaq was different. Sort of like finding religion changes people, I think. Maybe. Maybe stronger, too.

Our first hike as a couple caused one of those changes. We both had an epiphany on that hike. As difficult and painful as parts of it were, the payoff was very, very worth it. So we've vowed to make it less difficult and painful so we can do it a lot more often.

And that means getting in shape. For Jaq it means getting back down to an earlier weight and quitting cigarettes. For me it means getting back UP to an earlier weight and quitting cigarettes. Living long didn't really mean much to either of us before if we could enjoy the short life. But now we've found something so enjoyable to both of us that we want to keep doing it into our 70s. So we've decided that the long-term goal is more important to us than the short term pleasure of a cigarette or a bag of chips. Maybe it's a typical middle-aged thing to suddenly realize that your health is more important than you used to think. I don't know. I've only been this age the one time.

Anyway, this particular entry isn't about getting in shape. It's about our second hike, this time to Sombrio Beach. It's a rocky beach on Vancouver Island's west coast where the waves crash into the piled-up cobbles and carry them up the beach. When the wave recedes the smaller and rounder cobbles roll back down toward the water, making a musical clicking noise. It's really pretty. There are sandy spots scattered about for camping, too.

It was only a short hike to get there, so we arrived right around lunch time and set up camp. One major change we made in hiking style was to leave the tent at home and use a tarp instead. It was a lot lighter, and we found ourselves warmer than our neighbors when it was chilly, and cooler than them when it was hot.

Yeah. I know. A tarp? It's something you have to nerve yourself up to try. If you've only heard about those crazy tarp people but never believed it, start believing it and give it a shot. It really is a better experience for a lot less weight. Really. It is. But, before you try it, read about it. There are wrong ways to use one that'll make your trip miserable.

The tarp took about half the time to pitch as a tent, and with practice it'll take even less time. In fact, it was so successful that we'll be making a lighter and better one for next summer. We'll also chuck the sleeping bags and start using a quilt, saving more weight. We were warmer with the bags unzipped and thrown over us like blankets than we were with half a bag lying uselessly underneath us.

We ate. We watched the ocean. We laughed at the squirrels. We gathered bits of driftwood for a small fire and collected and purified water for dinner. We relaxed in the sun.

This time we wore sneakers instead of boots and that made a big difference, too. We also brought extra footwear (and wouldn't you know it, but Jaq's shoes DIDN'T break this time) and were happy to have sandals for messing around at camp.

Often it fogs up at night, but our first night brought us the clearest and darkest skies I've ever seen in my life. It was truly breathtaking. We let the fire die and just sat together in the dark for an hour, gasping at the sky. Pretty romantic.

Then we climbed under our tarp and went to sleep. Or, sort of. Sleeping on sand sucks. It's not a soft, cushy forest floor. Sand is hard like cement, and no matter how flat your site is when you first set up, when you move around in your tent/tarp you make holes and mounds in the sand with your feet, knees and elbows. So figuring a way to soften the sleeping without raising our pack weight is the next thing on our to-do list. I've got some cool lightweight ideas that I'll share if they work out. Anyway, we managed.

The next morning Jaq woke with the creepy feeling that she was being watched. She turned her head and opened her eyes and saw a baby squirrel not five feet away just staring at her while eating his breakfast. Mama squirrel shouted and the baby ran away. It was cute as heck, and something that wouldn't have happened if we'd been in a tent.

We got up, ate our breakfast and proceeded to do some *serious* relaxing. Actually, Jaq relaxed. I played macho and gathered wood and prepped the fire for the coming evening and did some other stuff.

While hunting for wood I looked for something I'd read about in a local guidebook but had missed our first time here. I found it. A beautiful hidden waterfall. I came back to the camp and dragged Jaq over to see it. We ooohed and aaahed and cooled off in the mossy mist before returning.

Then the fog rolled in. It started misting, not really raining, but enough to thoroughly soak anything that was left out. So we grabbed most of our stuff and put it under the tarp to stay dry, then lit the fire early to sit by and keep our clothes dry. We could have sat under the tarp and played cards or yahtzee, but we didn't much feel like it. It was too pretty outside.

We managed to keep what we were wearing dry, me drying the front of my shirt, then wearing it backwards to dry the other side several times, but Jaq's pants got wet at the waterfall and we had a hell of a time drying them. We got them to the "damp" stage, but that was about the best we could manage. Next trip: nylon.

Once we turned in, her damp pants were too cold to sleep in. She stripped down to shorts and we cuddled. We stayed warm enough, and perfectly dry, but the lumpy sand made sleeping difficult.

We wound up waking at 6:00. It was still raining, so we decided to leave a few hours earlier than we'd originally planned. We shook the sand out of our bags, pulled up stakes and shook the water off the tarp, and broke camp in about 20 minutes. Then we downed a quick cup of coffee and hiked back out.

We consider our most recent hike a huge success. We had two wonderful nights, one sunny day and one rainy day, mucho surf, a beautiful hidden waterfall, a cute squirrel family, a bunch of Steller's Jays, a crazy variety of shorebirds and killer otters.

Oh yeah. I forgot about the killer otters. They had warning signs posted at the trailhead.


It was intimidating. They grow big up here in Canada. I read somewhere that in the past three years over a dozen hikers on the west coast have been mauled by otters. They scurry up to you in groups of three or four, running like the wind on their stubby little legs, and suddenly you're surrounded. They're all wet and shiny and cute and playful, but they're like a pack of wolves. Very menacing. Once you're surrounded they pummel you with oyster shells until you fall to the ground, then grab you in their little otter teeth and drag you to the sea where they tear you apart.

Oh, sure, they LOOK all Disney harmless, but never trust the otters. They're all business.

Actually, and I'm being serious now, there were bear warnings posted this time out. Too many idiots leaving their food about have attracted a bear to the area. Bears are smart. They can smell it, so they come. If they can't get to it they go away. If they CAN get to it they stick around because, hey, easy pickings. And it usually stays easy, because the next idiot leaves his food out, too. Soon, you've got a bear that sets up camp in the same area as people do and it begins terrorizing them for their food. They relocate the bear, but it either comes back or finds itself a similar set-up at a different camping area. Eventually the bear becomes a risk to people and they have to shoot it.

It's not the bear's fault. It's the idiots who reward the bear with easy pickings. I feel sorry for "Sitka," the name they've given this one. He'll probably be shot dead before the end of fall because people left their food within easy reach. Damn people.

Anyway, that's my trip report. Back to you, Chet.



No, not Jinx as in JinxRLM, the fine Worthian, but jinx as in "you'd better knock wood to cancel out the bad ju-ju."

I've been jinxed. *Someone* (I won't mention the name or even give a hint on gender, but her initials are 'Jaqueline') went and spilled the beans about our plans to quit smoking.

Seeing "we plan to quit" in print is scary. That's, like, committing to something. Ugh.

So this is my knock on wood post. I'm not quitting. I'm "cutting back." Sure, I'm cutting back to zero but I'm not quitting. I'm just, uh... not smoking as much.

If you thought I was a grouch before, just wait until next month. Maybe I'll unplug the modem so I don't lose all my friends or get myself banned from Worth. Maybe I'll sleep in the car while I'm at it. We're *both* doing this, after all.

Actually, I'm sounding a lot more intimidated than I really feel. People a lot weaker than me have done it. People for whom I have little, or no, respect. That'll be my motivator. "If [insert name here] can do this, *I* sure as hell can!" That magic phrase has gotten me past more hurdles than any other. Arrogant? Maybe. Do I care? Heh. Riiiight. I'm too arrogant to care.

Don't wish me luck. You'll jinx me.


The Weather Pixie

The Weather Pixie is some silliness I spotted on hbomb's blog. It's cute. Too cute to put a permanent link in my sidebar, because then people might suspect the crack in my curmudgeonly exterior, but not too cute to make an entry out of it.

The WeatherPixie


Hey, who the hell are you? I can't add you if I don't have a name, and I'm too out of the loop to "just know." :(

Other Worthy additions coming soon.


Sorry, I've been busy

Oh yeah! I forgot about this place. I've been really busy, so I haven't had a lot of time to update this page.

Last Monday I cleaned the dust and stuff out of our electric fans. They were really gross. Our vacuum isn't working right so I had to take them apart and spray the blades and grilles outside using the hose, then scrub them with a brush. Now they're shiny.

Tuesday night I had hot chocolate too late in the evening and I had to get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom. I was a bit more tired than normal the following morning.

On Wednesday I changed the light bulb in our kitchen. It had burned out, otherwise I wouldn't have bothered.

Thursday was pretty interesting. We ran out of coffee and had to go to the store to get another can. Those new plastic Folgers cans with the molded handle on the side are neat.

Friday evening I had a bowl of generic honey nut Cheerios as a snack. Normally I like raisin bran, but I decided to do something different.

On Saturday I dumped all the old crumbs and stuff out of the toaster. That was kind of gross. Jaq says the burning smell is gone, though, so it was worth it. Oh yeah, we ran out of bleach, too. I'll write that down so we don't forget to buy more next time we go shopping.

Right now it's Sunday night, and I just got finished defragmenting my hard drive. There were 1,283 excess fragments before I started, and now there are 0 excess fragments. That's 100% less. (Disclaimer: There are probably a few fragments now because I surfed a bit afterwards.)

I can't wait for next week. It's recycle day on Tuesday, and the old papers and cereal boxes are starting to really pile up. I'll keep you updated.

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