the same slippery scenario

Where's my tinfoil hat?
The other day I was having lunch, and my broccoli cheese soup was rather bland. Thankfully, I keep a small supply of salt and pepper packets, deftly lifted from the cafe, tucked away in my desk drawer. As I pulled out some salt, I noticed the label read “iodized salt.” I’ve always known that most salt has iodine added, and I kinda knew that we need iodine to function (as humans I mean). I guess I never really thought about it though. Down in the cafe, my only option for salt is salt with iodine. Now, I don’t really mind iodine… I’m just using this as another example of the man stickin’ it to me. I didn’t ask for iodine in my salt, I didn’t ask for fluoride in my tapwater, and I didn’t ask for my bread or milk to be “enriched” or “fortified” with vitamins.

Turns out we need iodine for some gland to work, and our body can’t store it so we need constant small supplies of it. OK cool, put it in peoples’ salt. Let’s put fluoride in their water too so their teeth are nice and strong. Oh and lets dose them with extra vitamin D goodness in their bread and milk. Can I get no un-doctored foodstuffs? I guess I don’t really care, it’s just kind of crazy to me that most everything I eat can be manipulated into a delivery system for all kinds of stuff I may or may not want in me. My apples’ genes have been twiddled with to make them resistant to worms, my beef is laced with hormones, and my lettuce had gallons of pesticide dropped on it from the bellies of planes flying above.

Even my milk at one point was driven down the highway in one of those chrome-tube trucks. Sure the outside of the truck is shiny and has a happy cow painted on it, but what the heck must the inside of a milk tank look like? Ugh. From utter to my glass, I hate to think how many pipes, hoses, tanks, and other things my milk went through. Not to mention the various processes by which it’s “fortified,” “pasteurized,” and “homogenized.”

I mean, it comes out of an utter into a mechanical milking thing. Then it travels down a tube into a holding tank. At some point it’s infused with vitamins, heated to somewhere around 70°, re-cooled, and shot through hair-like tubes at extremely high pressure so the fat mixes evenly with the liquid. After all this, it may or may not get pumped (through more hoses and tubes) into a tanker truck, where it might travel hundreds of miles to be piped out again and squirted into the plastic jugs we’re used to.

I wonder, by the time it gets to the table, how many times my milk changed containers, traveled through piping and hosing, and how many miles it came to get there. Would be interesting to find out. Hopefully the same evil government that can use my food and water to hop me up on chemicals has some kinda program in place that regulates this process, because thinking about how often all those tubes and tanks get cleaned kinda grosses me out.

For some reason all that milk talk got me thinking about eggs. Thinking about eggs got me thinking about something I’ve always wondered about: How do birds do it? I’ve never really seen two birds humping, so I’m not sure. The other night I was thinking about it, and try to imagine how hard it would be for some birds to get it on. Take penguins for instance. I mean, these creatures are so awkward with their little wing/fin things and their waddle-only feet. They can basically stand up, or slide around on their bellies. To me, their bodies look fairly inflexible? like a walking Coke can or something. How in the world do these things mate? I can’t imagine it’s easy to mount another penguin – especially since their native environment is ice. Each time you thrust, your partner is propelled across the ice and you have to use your near-pointless waddle-feet to lumber over to her eventual resting point and have another go at it; only to have the same slippery scenario play out again. But birds obviously do it, as do penguins. Just not out in the open or something.

Suckin’ milk from a teat and watching birds hump, Dave out.

leave your ostrich with my trained-monkey valet

Here we go again with that island crap...
Made travel arrangements for the February trip to Taipei today. Gone for right around a week, but I do have one weekend day in there with no presentations. Maybe Ben and I can use it to explore some of Taiwan. I’ve been putting out the feelers to see if there are any good concerts in Taipei while we’re there. Well, I mean “good” in a relative sense – like which of the four Deep Purple cover bands playing each night is the best. We’ll go see them. Stinks that I’ll be coming home on Valentine’s Day dead tired from a fifteen-hour flight though, but owell.

Sharaun started back at work today after a six week break. Must be nice to get regular extended breaks like that. It would be ideal if we were both teaches and could align those kinda breaks, although I’m not sure two teachers would make the kind of money needed to do the things I imagine doing if we did have aligned time off.

Oh man, Sharaun took some DVDs we got a couple Christmases ago and never watched to a store that buys them used. She ended up getting me a copy of Castaway on DVD, the collector’s edition no less. Last night her and Melissa were holed up in the living room watching TiVo’d Friends and ER and other junk about bachelors and survivors and all things “real,” so I decided to watch some of the “extra features” disc on the PC in the other room. They had a featurette that dealt with “survival” training, which the screenwriter went through prior to writing the movie. There were these three guys, who’s job titles were like: “Prehistoric Tools and Survival Expert,” and “Human Survival Expert” and such. These guys were hard-core. One of them spent 20 years in some desert, living on whatever was around. He talked about spear-fishing for stingrays with natives and stuff, it was really cool.

Anyway, one of the dudes talked about how basic of a human fantasy the whole “survival” thing is. They went into an interesting discussion about how the people that are here now come from a gene pool that learned to successfully survive in the past, and that those instincts, although forgotten, are still a part of our makeup. It wasn’t too surprising to hear them mention that those who tend to be more fascinated with the survivor-type daydreams are those who work 9-5 desk jobs. Tell me about it, you know how often I’ve walked myself through a typical daydreamed day of being stranded on a desert island? Telling myself that I could make it, imagining what I would do to keep alive. Unfortunately, the survival experts said that the statistics are against those who are stranded somewhere and have to make do, especially those with no training. Those who do last either have some training, or reach down deep inside and pull out a will to make it that won’t let them give up.

Hmm… whatever. I’d be totally Swiss Family Robinson on some island. You’d roll up in your rescue ships to find me drinking homemade coconut beer from my roughly-fashioned still. Riding the ostriches around the beach while smoking a handcrafted pipe full of fresh-grown tobacco, and sleeping in my treefort replete with a gravity tank full of desalinated seawater for drinking and bathing. Yeah… awesome. What’s that? You wanna come over for braised seagull with banana cream sauce and seaweed garnish? Sure, just leave your ostrich with my trained-monkey valet and come on up my newly-built palm-frond escalator. Proper dress required please.

Dave out.

no vehicle access

tippecanoe and tyler too, we like ike, and all that jazz
Tomorrow’s the big election. And since it’s my civic duty to vote, I am scrambling to read as much about the major players as I can before the I head to the polls. It’s pathetic that I don’t know who I’m gonna vote for, but I’ll do my best. I’ve been visiting the candidates’ websites, which (in my mind) does no good – they’re gonna make themselves sound rosy. So I’ve been reading debate transcripts and whatnot. Basically, it’s down to three choices: no recall, Bustamante, or Arnold. Any other vote would just be a throwaway. Kristi (a federal lobbyist, and by far my most political-minded friend) was kind enough to put together an e-mail for me, collecting some of the better links re: the recall. Hopefully, I can get this all sorted. Argh.

Yesterday, Anthony, Ben, Brontë… and I took the Discovery out for another intended 4×4 romp. The plan was to head to this 4×4 park that’s near my house. When we got there, however, it was closed down due to some special race they were having. We were pretty bummed about that. So we drove around, trying to rack our brains and think of some exciting places we could take the truck. The idea of the Auburn State Recreational Area came up again, as did Ruck-A-Chucky. Ben said he knew of some dirt roads up that way, near the Auburn-Foresthill Bridge and Mosquito Ridge Road. So we settled in for a drive towards the Auburn SRA.

Eventually, we ended up just deciding to try out Ruck-A-Chucky. Ruck-A-Chucky is a famous rapids/waterfall section on the middle fork of the American River. It’s where most of the middle-fork whitewater trips end, and it’s also where Sharaun and I love to go camping. The middle-fork is set in this huge canyon, and it’s really quiet and awesome being down by the river. To get down into the canyon to the river, you take this washed out dirt road that winds down one canyon wall to the river. The road is pretty rough, so we thought it might be fun to test the Rover on it.

We crossed the Foresthill Bridge and continued on towards Driver’s Flat Road, which is were you turn to get down into the gorge where Ruck-A-Chucky is.

<begin tangent>
On the way, we saw some dude in a minivan towing a couple dirtbikes (there are several OHV trails for dirtbikes and ATV’s in the Auburn SRA, so you see bikes being towed all over place). The guy’s tying-down job on one of his bikes wasn’t perfect, and he lost the left one right in front of us. It smashed onto the highway and was dragged for about 30ft before he noticed it had fallen. Sucks for him.
</end tangent>

Anyway, we started down the dirt road at a reasonable clip. The truck effortlessly tackled some washboard bumpiness that would have left lesser cars (lowered Civics) stranded. We drove down to the river and went as far upriver as we could. Eventually we turned right at a sign marked “no vehicle access,” and did some decent offroadin’. The day was pretty fun, and Ben captured it on his new camera. Being the second-best web dev he is, he’s already got the pix up in his gallery section. You can view the day’s events in living color and moving pictures over at this link. (Note: as of Monday morning, Ben’s site was experiencing some technical difficulties – so these links may or may not work when you click ’em).

In other news, the retaining wall is done! Well, let me qualify that. The retaining wall is stacked. It still needs to be backfilled, but other than that it is complete. I will add some pix to the backyard site as soon as possible (it’s on my long list of junk to do).

I’m out.