29 August 2011

I am Harry Tuttle as well

A while back, I talked about my George Bailey circumstances.  Of course, some people will get confused and say that I am some sort of altruistic credit union sort, which I can be on the odd Thursday.

Archibald (Harry) Tuttle
I am more like Archibald (Harry) Tuttle, the rogue heating engineer in the Terry Gilliam movie "Brazil".
Harry Tuttle: Listen, this old system of yours could be on fire and I couldn't even turn on the kitchen tap without filling out a 27b/6... Bloody paperwork.
Sam Lowry: I suppose one has to expect a certain amount.
Harry Tuttle: Why? I came into this game for the action, the excitement. Go anywhere, travel light, get in, get out, wherever there's trouble, a man alone. Now they got the whole country sectioned off, you can't make a move without a form.
Like me, he tends to be competent, efficient, quietly conspiratorial, and appropriately paranoid.  Harry understands how his world really works and has found his own ways to cope that work well enough, although against all social norms.  Above all else, Harry Tuttle seems to eek out happiness and authentic purpose in a stupid and superficial world!  What a great guy!

17 August 2011

People I Honor: Jon Postel

I love Jon Postel because of his Robustness Principle and how it can be applied far and wide from the confines of computer science. All great truth finds wide application!

Also he had a flowing beard and wore sandals and was the ultimate editor of technology. Yes, I am weird and read RFCs for fun. Jon's RFCs were the best - pure poetry!

The Internet works because Jon Postel wouldn't let it do anything less. He was a model for the benevolent dictator and knew what a good God should be about!

Postel Center: About Jon Postel

09 August 2011

People I Honor: Chuck Moore

I poked around the Forth programming language in the 1980's and really enjoyed it. It really seems to work better with my brain, which strangely acts more like a computer than I suppose other brains do. That was when I first ran into Chuck Moore, who created Forth.

It is simple, it is efficient, it is very, very different, and it is (perhaps above all) esoteric. These are all descriptors of me! I am Forth!

I think Chuck is one of the most unique minds around, which I like immensely. His brain is just wired differently and I feel a kinship there. He has also been accused of being clinically insane, which I probably have been as well.

Chuck Moore's Weblog

08 August 2011

Getting the Best of "31 Flavors"

I was a kid in Clovis, New Mexico and one of the things that my family did occasionally, as a treat, was visit the local Baskin-Robbins Ice Cream Shop.  They had all those flavors (31 varieties was advertised at the time) and I could get a scoop of anything I wanted, although I was very, very shy and always went conservative with "Rocky Road" or some such.  It was a nice memory and good ice cream!

I don't know when I noticed it, but I finally figured out the concept of "taste spoons".  I suppose I was watching other kids and they would buzz around the counter like flies and constantly ask for a stream of free tastes of ice cream.  It didn't take me long to decide that these little devils were working some kind of pre-adolescent scam, abusing the marketing generosity of the shop just to "score" some free ice cream with no intention of ever really legitimately buying anything.

The shop in Clovis is now closed and I can only think it was because too much ice cream was being doled out for free on tiny taste spoons and not enough ice cream was getting purchased.  The whole point of the shop was selling ice cream products, not handing out an unlimited stream of free samples.  Promotional tastes of ice cream are fine, but at some point, you have to discriminate between paying customers and thieves that are taking your stock away one plastic spoon at a time!

This brings up a certain class of people that I absolutely abhor:  "free-stuff" hucksters.  People getting ice cream for free one tiny spoon at a time is just one example.  You have surely seen others.  There are the people selling intricate information about how to get grants and interest-free loans from the government by posing as something they are not.  There are the people who show you how to spend your life cutting coupons and saving hundreds of dollars on groceries that they would normally never have bought.  I have even heard of a guy that sells the free baseball caps he hoards at fairs and farm shows on eBay as his sole source of income!

These things are not illegal of course, but I find them distracting to the sort of honest life people might be living.  It is all just a variant of the classic "get-rich-quick" scheme designed for gullible people with, in this case, little "scamming" money.  Of course, people can spend their time on whatever they choose, but I hope there are better things to do with time and effort than trying to save or make a few pennies by working some small hustle.  For some people, this "free ride" becomes a severely limited lifestyle and desire is lost for a better, more expansive and fulfilling future.

03 August 2011

The Hunt for a Cheap, Long, Light Sleeping Bag

I don't even like to talk about how many sleeping bags I have.

For years, in my camping and hiking adventures, pathetic though they may seem, I have always struggled with the problem of sleeping bags.  I am too tall apparently, and only relatively short people are supposed to do such things.  Of course, I am an anomaly in a lot of ways from other camper/hikers (besides all the other anomalies I have generally with humans), as I prefer my equipment ultra-cheap and relatively light, in that order.  If I pay more than $50 for a piece of equipment, I must really, really think it is going to save the world or some such.

Over time, I have collected an assortment of bags, each with features I had hoped that I would like, hoping one day to stumble upon that "holy grail" of fit, comfort, and utility.  Lightning hasn't struck yet, but even so far as yesterday, I keep trying.

Of course, when it comes to sleeping bags, cheap and light rarely come together.  I am told that part of the fun of camping and hiking is the procurement and testing of new equipment, but I have never gotten into that aspect particularly.  If a bag is lightweight, it costs a ton, as it is typically stuffed with down (a whole bunch of it) or contains some new-fangled synthetic batting that hasn't come down in cost yet.  The cheap bags end up being crammed full of shredded jeans or other recycled fluffy stuff (they may even have an asbestos one for all I know), so they end up weighing 5 or 6 pounds.  That's heavy, as Marty McFly would say on several levels.

Then, you couple that with the length issue.  I am 6'3'' tall and standard bags are cut all wrong for me, just like beds, pants, and just about everything else that seems to be standardized back in the days when 5'0" must have been the average height.  Tall bags are definitely made, but they seem to be a specialty item and the price reflects that.  By nature, a tall bag needs more material and more batting to cover more area, so it will also be heavier than standard, to add insult to injury.

Some cheap, tall, and light bags are actually starting to make an appearance, but I can now add a new criteria to the mix:  thermal rating!  The bag that meet my original criteria are often only rather down to 50 degrees and get described as "summer-only" bags.  That really doesn't work for me because I often car-camp on into the edges of winter, ending as late as December and picking up again as early as February.  However, as my lovely wife will attest, I am one hot-blooded guy and put out heat like a furnace, so I higher-temp-rated bag might actually work for me out of its intended season.  This would be the first example of a hope that I have always had about life which I call the Psychic Proximity Principle:  You will gravitate toward a place and circumstance that actually fit you and your nature.

So, I am brought back to the cunundrum.  But, I happened to be a Sam's Club yesterday and they had a Coleman 4-in-1 sleeping bag for about $30.  Of course, it weighs like it is filled with rocks, but I bought it and will try it out tonight for the car-camping that I do when I overnight for my work.  I have yet to even try a bag made for tall people (they say it works up to 6'6" or 6'4" depending on who you ask) and I am hoping it goes well.  I am really tired of having to fold myself like a pretzel to fit in a bag and stay warm!

Update:  Well, I used the bag on 8/3, but it was so hot all night long that I just opened it out and slept atop it.  It has a nice-feeling liner, which you can take out and use separately, which is one of its selling points.  So, I cannot say if it even fits, but I am hanging onto it.

01 August 2011

People I Honor: Bob Pease

It is with great sadness that I learned in the creation of this post that Bob died just a few weeks ago in an accident while driving his beloved VW Bug. I am very sad that I will no longer partake of any new "Pease Porridge". My list of "people I honor" continues to be more of a list of folks I will have to meet in the hereafter...

Bob Pease is a brilliant analog engineer who enjoyed a rich set of avocations (hiking, biking, deep thinking), which is a sign of greatness to me. I enjoyed how he thought and wrote and respected most of all his unpretentious yet still scientific methods.

I also once saw a picture of his office, which looked like a cave with walls made of technical documents, much like mine at home.

Bob Pease - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

People I Honor: Don Lancaster

I have a wall of pictures of people I really, really like. They have different attributes that I value and they are very, very smart. You likely have never heard of any of them, unless you are heavily into electronics, computers, philosophy, libertarianism, or Mormonism, which says a lot about what fields of endeavor I pursue!

Here is one that is actually still living and is still incredibly productive (which is the attribute I treasure in him along with his staggering common sense) - DON LANCASTER!

This is a link to his "What's New" page, which looks suspiciously like a blog. He doesn't mind passing out his ideas and experience for free, which is also something I admire.

Guru's Lair: What's New? for 2011