April 2017


New Background Image

Last week a perfect storm of webcam quality, subject matter, weather conditions and light quality conspired to create the image currently serving as this site's background image.

This view is looking southward along Interstate 25 in southern Platte County, Wyoming, a couple of miles north of the town of Chugwater. If you click that link you'll learn of Chugwater's role in the history of Wyoming's instantly recognizable bucking bronc emblem (featured here) that has appeared on the state's license plates since 1935.

Chugwater has been without an operating gas station since 2012, when a vehicle crash resulted in a fire at Horton's Corner, the only gas station along I-25 between Cheyenne (nearest gas, 41 miles) and Wheatland (25 miles). In the past year there has been an effort to build and open a new gas station on the same site, but the projected opening date has come and gone and its Google Plus profile hasn't been updated since last fall.

(By the way, notice how much that page looks like Facebook? Did Google do that?)

Sunday,  April 30, 2017  McGehee

Apples in Wyoming

And I don't mean the road kind.

John Chapman, better known as Johnny Appleseed, was a nurseryman who introduced apple trees to many parts of the country in the late 1700’s and early 1800’s. He’s known for spreading apple seeds wherever he traveled. The history of Johnny Appleseed will soon spread its roots at Central Wyoming College’s Sinks Canyon apple orchard.

Dave Morneau with the Popo Agie Conservation District explained that during the Garden Expo a few weeks ago in Lander, one of the guest speakers, Scott Skogerboe with the Fort Collins Whole Sale Nursery, brought a surprise tree to be donated to the CWC orchard. This special tree had been propagated from one of the last known remaining Johnny Appleseed trees.

One thing I miss since moving from California is the annual Apple Hill festivities in Camino, a straggling community in the upper foothills of the Sierra Nevada east of Placerville. There wasn't much apple growing going on in Interior Alaska that I ever heard about, and the nearest apple harvest center hereabouts is up in the north Georgia mountains, through which we only go on our way to East Tennessee where Mrs. McG's father lives.

I kind of doubt there would ever be much in the way of apple sales (or bake shops with hot cider) in Sinks Canyon, Wyoming, but at least there are trees there. And now, one more.

Saturday,  April 29, 2017  McGehee

I Order My Jeans from Cabela's

I saw the picture of this... garment last week on Dustbury, and this morning Sarah Hoyt posted about it on Instapundit.

Thing is, I'm not sure that's more egregious than this item:

New jeans made to look muddy splashed onto Nordstrom’s site for the dirty price of $425 per pair!

The description posted on the retailers page implies that it’s hip to be “down and dirty”:

“Heavily distressed medium-blue denim jeans in a comfortable straight-leg fit embody rugged, Americana workwear that’s seen some hard-working action with a crackled, caked-on muddy coating that shows you’re not afraid to get down and dirty.”

Personally, I'm with Mike Rowe:

This morning, for your consideration, I offer further proof that our country’s war on work continues to rage in all corners of polite society. Behold the latest assault from Nordstrom’s. The “Barracuda Straight Leg Jeans.”

The Barracuda Straight Leg Jeans aren’t pants. They’re not even fashion. They’re a costume for wealthy people who see work as ironic – not iconic.

Ain't that the truth.

At this moment I'm wearing what are known as "dungaree fit work jeans" from Cabela's with carpenter-style pockets. I'm not a carpenter, so there's some irony in my wearing these, but on those rare occasions when I actually do work with my hands I do find the extra pockets handy. Also, unlike entirely too many pants sold these days my carpenter jeans actually have belt loops in the same zip code as the button and fly.

Also also, my most recent order — just now — was placed in part because they're on sale for around $20 a pair.

Tuesday,  April 25, 2017  McGehee

Did You Know...?

The National Park Service maintains a live video feed of Old Faithful in Yellowstone Park. The viewing wasn't fantastic just now during the latest eruption, but since the people standing in the cold and (what looked like) snow paid good money for it while I sat in my easy chair in my comfy home watching it on my laptop, I have no complaints.

As I post this, a twenty-minute predicted viewing window has just closed, according to the feed page; I look in occasionally at a static webcam of the geyser and saw people standing watching, so I knew it was getting close to time.

Monday,  April 24, 2017  McGehee

Ever Wonder How Rich People Stay That Way?

Not by spending almost 100 G's for one car.

Thursday,  April 20, 2017  McGehee

Talking Back to Pop Tunes

If you'd listened to me when I told you not to give her your house key and ATM card, lover boy, you wouldn't need to keep asking her to turn you loose.


Thursday,  April 20, 2017  McGehee

Canine Longevity

This morning I decided to repost some old dog-related entries from my long-offline archives, in light of Lucy's age which, as it happens, we may have been underestimating.

I'd been estimating her age as "pushing 15," but I found a post from almost 13 years ago with a vet estimate that she was 2½ back then — which means she must be at least 15 now. Of course, back then I'd been guessing she was much older, but that turned out to be a health thing that we saw her through.

Anyway, no sooner had I finished reposting all of those entries than I heard what has become a familiar sound of late: Lucy whining because she wants to get up from her bed and can't, or she has fallen and can't get up. When that happens I go down (as I did minutes ago) to the basement shop where she shelters, and help her to her feet and steady her until she can get outside.

It doesn't happen every day, but often enough. She's on prescriptions for her arthritis and it seems likely the best her vet will be able to do for her is up her dosage. The thing is, once she's on her feet and moving she toddles right outside to take laps around her rather large enclosure. I think her difficulty, when she experiences it, is from not having done any walking around overnight.

Her appetite is still good — I'll worry when that stops — but 15 is well past the typical expected lifespan for a dog her size.

Contrary to the speculations in the old posts, we eventually learned from a DNA test that her parents appear to have been a purebred Jack Russell terrier (hence her youthful energy and excitability back then) and a Canaan dog (hence her size). We hope for her mother's sake that the terrier was her father.

We currently have ten critters under our care: Lucy, our own three cats, and six inherited from Mrs. McG's late mother a year and a half ago. The age range of the inherited cats spans maybe a bit more than a year, and the youngest of them is about the same age as our current oldest. We're about to enter a period of mass attrition over the next few years; Suzie Q was the first of what will be a rather large graduating class.

Update, November 11: This past week has seen a mass graduation, with at least three of the six inherited cats — Caramel, Gigi, and Cashew — passing away. A fourth is Schrodinger but as time passes without sight or sound of her it's unlikely she'll be found alive.

Saturday,  April 15, 2017  McGehee

If You're Sober, Drive Like It

That, my only-half-joking advice to local drivers who may or may not be texting while driving or farding in their cars, has a more serious corollary:

If you're at war, fight like it.

Clearly, President Trump grasps this as Obama did not. Dropping the Massive Ordnance Air Blast (a.k.a. "Mother Of All Bombs") on ISIS in Afghanistan achieved more in one earth-shattering kaboom than all of Obama's sternly-worded hashtags and invisible-ink "red lines" throughout his eight years in office.

Leftist academics who think they know more about smart diplomacy than Theodore Roosevelt did, would have been the death of civilization if we had let them have their way for much longer.

Friday,  April 14, 2017  McGehee


Mmmmm.... Bacon....

But no, that's not what the headline means.

Back when I quit Twitter, I anticipated withdrawal pains — and I believed I might still need to follow certain accounts for severe weather information, etc. So I didn't go cold turkey.

I didn't follow anyone who would know me, and I plainly stated in my profile that followers would be blocked. I changed my handle and avatar a couple of times. Eventually I found that without interaction Twitter held no interest for me, and Twitter being the way it is no one needs an account to check the weather or emergency services accounts. In fact I had already deleted the withdrawal account by the time of last week's tornado warning.

And I just realized today, more so even than last week, that I don't even miss it. Twitter truly is now as dead to me as Facebook has been for lo these many years.

I do still regret that Pitchengine Streams has gone belly up, the last post to be found there is ten days old. I hope it wasn't my Zuckerberg lawsuit joke...

Thursday,  April 13, 2017  McGehee

There's No Need to Feel Down

Mrs. McG was disappointed to discover that the hospital's cardiac rehab program's hours are too limited for her to participate, so we've joined the local YMCA.

They have a program called "Coach Approach" that promises to offer direction and monitoring in the workout center that, we hope, will approximate what the hospital program would involve. I imagine she'll need to consult with her cardiologist too, so he can monitor what she's doing and provide advice along the way as she gets stronger.

As for why I joined too? Well, my daily regimen of chairobics doesn't seem to be the fitness breakthrough I hoped it would be.

Monday,  April 10, 2017  McGehee


What ultimately serves to keep me off social media turns out mainly to be the omnipresence of scolds.

My block list when I was on Twitter was never less than twice as long as the list of people I allowed to follow me. Way too many of the blocked accounts struck me as devoting too much energy to nagging people into opinion conformity. If it wasn't liberals peeved at the idea heath care is a transaction, not a right, it was Trumpers accusing anyone not slobbering over Trump of slobbering over Hillary instead (I'm neither a toddler nor senile, so I choose not to slobber at all).

Nor has the end of the 2016 campaign led to abatement of the problem. Since non-protected Twitter timelines are available to people without accounts I can still look in once in a while, and even people I like are prone to letting the scold rear its ugly head now and then.

Bossy third-graders ceased appealing to me for social interaction when fourth grade was still months away.

Thursday,  April 6, 2017  McGehee

August 1969

It's commonplace to marvel at how toxic American politics are in the second decade of the 21st century. Yet there was at the original Woodstock music festival nearly 48 years ago a performer named Jeffrey Shurtleff who, in introducing a duet he was about to sing with Joan Baez, dedicated a song to then-Gov. Ronald Reagan of California.

The song was "Drugstore Truck Drivin' Man," and the second line was "He's the head of the Ku Klux Klan."

When I first heard this song — after my brother received the album in 1970 — I was no fan of Reagan, who was still in his first term as governor. But even then I couldn't see how the man in the song resembled him in any way.

I was eight years old.

Thursday,  April 6, 2017  McGehee

The Answer, My Friends

I knew there was bad weather in the cards today, so hearing the county warning siren at about a quarter after eight this morning wasn't so much a surprise as an incongruity — I'd only ever heard them being tested before, and it took a moment to understand that this couldn't possibly be a test.

None of the weather apps on my phone showed a tornado warning. A glance at the official Twitter timelines didn't turn up anything either, at least initially. The better part of valor was to get to the most tornado-proof room in the house, but we really don't have one.

While I considered, I finally found the tornado warning both on Twitter and the weather apps, and the radar app showed an approaching storm with a pronounced tailhook shape. What's more, the home acres were smack in the middle of the warning polygon

The vast majority of tornadoes, as it happens, don't level homes, so the biggest danger in our case would be from falling trees. I could be safer downstairs, even with windows in almost every room, and heavy appliances overhead of the sole exception. So, hoping the odds would hold, I went into the finished basement to wait out the warning.

Over time the storm's hook faded out, reappeared, and re-dissipated, all before it got here. Mrs. McG was at work, where she was well able to track the big picture, but I texted her a more home-centric series of updates, including a wry observation that the train sound I was hearing was from an actual train. In the end, I came back upstairs as the warning ended, not with a roar, but with a whisper.

It's possible we may have to go through this all again later today, but I'd rather not, thanks.

Wednesday,  April 5, 2017  McGehee

Sync or Swim

I still remember when being able to sync files with a cloud service such as Dropbox, live, to your Mac or your Windows PC, was a huge deal. Now of course pretty much every cloud storage service has a live-sync app for the Applesoft duopoly, and there are good Linux apps for Google Drive and Dropbox.

They, along with Microsoft's OneDrive, also have third-party-created almost-live sync apps for Android devices, if you've shelled out, as I have, for the models with more storage.

Having more storage means the 1,300-plus tracks I now maintain in my primary listening rotation can all live on both my phone and my tablet without crowding the system files, apps and other user files I keep on them. Using Google's cloud-centered services like Gmail, Docs, and Keep, among others, helps too.

But today I discovered that Google's Play Music app wasn't finding and indexing all of the MP3s I have in my Music folder tree. I tried Amazon's counterpart and found exactly the same problem, leading me to wonder if Amazon merely licensed the guts of Google's app to power theirs. So now I'm using VLC, which also happens to be the standard music player on my Linux Mint laptop. Since it's not wedded to a cloud music stream, it can easily understand and deal with an entirely local music library — ignoring ring- and notification tones, for example, unlike Play Music.

Yeah. Google's app wouldn't serve up all of my actual music, but it did insist on little now-for-a-word-from-our-sponsor interludes of Carme and Callisto.

Apparently VLC can access streaming services, but I haven't played with that. I don't pay either Google or Amazon to force-stream me music I can't stand, so I wouldn't get but so much out of it. Google won't accept certain tracks I bought with a different Google account, and the utility I used the last time that issue came up isn't available for Linux — neither is the uploader for Amazon's music storage service — so even using VLC to stream only my own music library isn't an option.

Yet. Looking back up at the first paragraph, I have to invoke the Y word.


Sunday,  April 2, 2017  McGehee



April 2017


Original content and design © 2017 Kevin McGehee. Images and excerpts are © their respective owners.