The Week’s Tweets (2009-11-28)

  • Bear suit! #
  • Yes, I did wrap my turkey with bacon. #
  • My family sleeps in the living room as I prepare to google what it means to "brine a turkey." #
  • Missoula parental units: learn first aid skills for caregivers of kids at the Kiddo Care Course. #
  • Off to the store. On the day before Thanksgiving. May God have mercy on my soul. #
  • RT @ArmedwScience: Stuffing should be 165 degrees and other FDA safety tips for healthy holidays. #
  • Sparkman suicide a reminder to question assumptions. #
  • Field note: four elderly Sarah Palin fans at next table (men, natch). One of them is explaining who Tina Fey is to the rest of them. #
  • Thank goodness Obama is not the kind of president Maureen Dowd would like him to be: #
  • Will someone please kill either me or the guy at the next table making the loud, protracted tech-support call? #

Deciding to Start Surviving

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A Montana hunter recently got stranded in the back country for four days after a heavy snowfall. Sounds like he did everything right, although he was lucky to find some sheds with a propane heater.

Worried that night was fast approaching and that his wet clothes might lead to hypothermia, he trudged to a small collection of sheds he’d spotted earlier in the Tenderfoot Experimental Forest. He forced open the door of a 4-by-4-foot plywood shed with metal siding, stripped off his soaked clothes and lighted a small propane heater he’d found in the shed to dry out. That took five hours.

One thing I always look for in a tale of survival is the moment when the subject recognizes he is lost and “starts surviving.” This step looks different depending on the climate and terrain, but basically it’s when you stop casting around for the trail and start figuring out how to shelter from the elements, as when this hunter realized it was time to kick in the doors of those sheds.

What’s interesting to me about this moment is that (1) survival absolutely depends on it but (2) I think it must be a very difficult step to take, psychologically. It requires acknowledging that you are not going to find the trail “any minute now,” and that you will probably not be sleeping in your bed or camp tonight. You not only have to admit defeat but also have to start thinking completely differently about your next steps.

A lot of people never make it around this corner, and I suspect they account for the majority of people who end up getting carried out of the woods.

When I think about having to survive in wintry weather, I think of John Muir’s essay “Stickeen”, in which he relates his thoughts upon realizing he’s about to be caught by darkness in the midst of exploring a crevasse-riddled glacier. (The “we” refers to his companion, the small dog whose name gives the essay its title.)

Doubtless we could have weathered the storm for one night, dancing on a flat spot to keep from freezing, and I faced the threat without feeling anything like despair; but we were hungry and wet, and the wind from the mountains was still thick with snow and bitterly cold, so of course that night would have seemed a very long one.

For inspiration in the event that I ever have to start surviving, I have tucked away that calm understated “doubtless” next to the image of crazy old John Muir, calmly dancing for his life in howling wind and blasting snow.

Cheap Christmas Present: The Recipe Filer

To kick off the traditional Christmas-shopping season, here’s an idea for an inexpensive but thoughtful gift.

It’s useful. (Possibly even vital.)

It’s kind of “hand-made.” (At any rate, the recipient will know you were willing to put some time in-although no craft skills are required.)

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It’s the Recipe Filer, a convenient box where all of your favorite recipes are stored, easy to find and use.

Continue reading “Cheap Christmas Present: The Recipe Filer”

What a Presidential Link is Worth

Obama links out.

[W]hen a president regularly links out as well as getting linked to, it’s also a sign that he gets the “ethic of the link–connecting people to knowledge wherever it is;” he’s paying attention, and hopefully responding, to the comments, criticisms and suggestions that are buzzing around the public sphere.

Huey Lewis and “the Saga of Mitchell Slough”

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Ever wonder what became of Huey Lewis? Why, look, here he is in Montana, feeding the ducks.

Here’s the back-story in a nutshell: First, I and two of my friends lip-synched the Huey Lewis song “If This Is It” for the fifth-grade talent contest. (I did not get to be Huey Lewis.)

Many years later Lewis bought a ranch down the road from Missoula along this little creek/waterway thing called the Mitchell Slough.

More recently, Lewis and his neighbors lost their court battle to have Mitchell Slough designated man-made. Such a designation would have exempted it from the state’s public-access law, which allows fishermen and duck hunters to do their thing on natural waterways that run through private property, even without the landowner’s permission, so long as they remain below the high-water mark.

So, in other words, the court found that Mitchell Slough is just as huntable and fishable as any other natural waterway in the state.

Until two months ago. That’s when Lewis started positioning duck-feeding stations on his property. The Missoulian explains just what a crafty move this was:

It is legal to feed game birds and waterfowl. It is also legal to boat or wade below a stream’s high-water mark, even if it passes through private property. But it is not legal to hunt waterfowl in an area where they are artificially fed.

So Lewis has effectively shut down duck hunting on his property, and he didn’t even have to get lawyered up this time around. The heart of rock and roll is still beating!

[Update] This is a good question:

“How are they going to retrieve ducks they shoot?” Hebner asked. “There’s not a landowner along the Mitchell that will allow any duck hunter to retrieve a duck on his property.”

Sparkman Suicide A Reminder To Question Assumptions

Cross-posted at Went West.

The story of the census worker found hanged with “Fed” scrawled on his chest remains a sad one, but at least now we know he did it to himself, according to the Kentucky State Police and the FBI.

State police, working with the FBI, said at a press conference moments ago that Sparkman had recently taken out two life insurance policies that would not pay out for suicide. It appears Sparkman hoped that the scheme would benefit his son, Josh Sparkman.

I know or at least know of people who will be disappointed to see the story of Bill Sparkman turn out this way. It’s always a thrill when your political opponents show themselves to be even more awful than you thought. Now everyone will finally see them for the monsters they are, you think.

I suspect this thrill is part of the fun of being a Tea Partier or Glenn Beck fan. The details of public policy are boring; politics is a lot more fun if you throw in some horror-movie elements. “Hold onto your guns,” the Tea Partiers say, sounding not quite as anxious as you might expect them to if they really thought disagreement over health-care reform was about to turn into a shooting fight. (Although I suppose they probably assume that they have all the guns.)

It certainly makes sense that the inflammatory language currently being employed by Republican Party leaders and conservative opinion makers could inspire violence (it seems to be inspiring a resurgence in armed militias), although at least CafePress won’t sell you a Psalm 109:8 t-shirt anymore. But still, as a general operating principle, the more a story confirms your worst suspicions, the better reason you have for questioning it.

Sparkman… “had discussed recent federal investigations and the perceived negative attitudes toward federal entities by some residents of Clay County.”

In other words, [police] suggest, Sparkman deliberately played on rural Kentucky’s reputation as a hotbed of anti-government sentiment to create the impression that he had been murdered because of his job.

Poor rural Kentucky! But anyway, suicide disguised as something else so as not to scotch an insurance policy is an old story. It’s why so many farmers die in “thresher accidents.” Sometimes the simplest explanation really is the right one.

So, Postpone the Wedding?

The bright lights of the big city apparently proved too heady for a bachelor-party group from Frenchtown that ran wild in Missoula last Thursday. By the time the Missoula Police Department forced the evening to a close (at Red’s Bar, naturally), the revelers had racked up numerous assaults, including on their own limo driver.

The groom is in the most trouble, first for punching a woman in the face after she objected to his groping her, then-while handcuffed-headbutting a police officer in the temple. “I’ve got a good lawyer,” he is reported to have announced. He’ll need one, because that last thing got him booked on a felony charge.

Word to the wise: when your own limo driver finds it necessary to pull a gun on you out of fear for his life-before you have tipped him-you may have gone too far.