Travels With Oso con Migo
Odyssey In America
OAE On The Road Again — The Last Letter - 2009v7
Sara(h) La Gata conMigo Booger Mesquite La Rubia Frankencat Sinte
Ikusheya Cat o' Mine Tales objects to being treated so problematically,
as if she were a machine and all that. Imagine being labled "Version 7"!
2009march10th I've got a toothache
Owww! Just when everything was going along nicely I've got a toothache.
Always something. I've not been to a dentist in so long it was in
another country. I needed a passport before I needed an appointment.
There is a dental clinic next door to the foodbank, with an opening
wenzday afternoon, so I've an appointment after foodbank. Have to
remember to bring along my toothbrush—along with the usual kit of GPS,
mobilephone, wallet, coffee mug and private stock creamer, tools and
test meter—so I can scrape out all the stale pizza-for-lunch. When I
went to get acquainted and make the appointment the deskie asked what
insurance I would be using. Insurance? Medicare or Medicaid, whichever
it is. They don't cover dental. I'm not sure. She asked if my problem
was an emergency. I said, It Hurts! She said, if it hurts then it's an
emergency. And I said: For everything else there's MasterCard.
And now for the next question: Who gets the gold recovered from gold
filled teeth upon death?
Friday The 13th Again
Reading Sylvia Townsend Warner's bio
of T.H. White. Interesting. Several perceptive squibs worth
quoting as they enlighten me about some of my own motives. Townsend
writes: "[White] was drawn to fear, as people of a more straightforward
courage are drawn to danger, and felt respect for it. Much later on,
when he was discussing with a younger friend [...] his theory of
deliberate fright. He reckoned that it was therapeutic to be
fundamentally scared every few years to release adrenalin, reawaken
gratitude for life and generally shake oneself out of complacency."
Apple-raisin-walnut-brandy Pi with mincemeat turnovers for dessert.
Verizon has recently completed their purchase of my cellphone company
UNICEL. After twelve years of loyal use I am being dragged kicking and
screaming over to the competition. Ostensibly it should be a good
thing, like it or not, for me to migrate from a small regional company
to a large national one. NOT!
Unicel provides GSM service, the world standard, everywhere but good
old backwards U.S.of A. where there is a tug of war going on between
GSM and GMRS. A typical Verizon phone will not work anywhere else; a
Unicel phone will typically work EVERYwhere else.
One would think that Verizon bought Unicel in order to acquire that GSM
capability and that my GSM phone would continue to work. NOT! Verizon
will send every Unicel customer a new GMRS phone comparable, but not
compatible, to their old one. Keep the old one or throw it away.
Unfortunately I'd just paid (about this time last year) 400$ for my
Motorola M-930 GSM handy new digital Bagphone and while Verizon will be
happy to send me a Motorola M-800 GMRS Bagphone nobody has offered to
buy back my M-930.
And furthermore: While Verizon will change all its new customers to
GMRS they will continue to maintain Unicel's GSM towers for the use of
Unicel's roaming partners. Interestingly enough here in Tonopah, far
removed from Unicel's home area, it is another GSM company which
carries my calls.
I will NOT change to Verizon. Fortunately there are other GSM companies
with national service. AT&T for one.
But while AT&T has GSM towers they have their own stupidities and
silly rules: When I commence to work through all the forms necessary to
port my 207 (Maine) number to AT&T the first question asks for my
ZIPcode. Where I am? Where I get my bill? Where I have my most use?
When I put in Tonopah 85354 the computer says NO! You can't have a
Maine number in AridZona. When I put in Center Conway 03813 the stupid
machine says We don't know, maybe? And when I put in Nashua 03060 they
say OK! I don't understand the arcanum of all this foolishness and
neither do the people at the local AT&T store, after all AT&T
does have service in all these areas. In the end it doesn't really
matter. The computer is stupid;
at the AT&T store when we put in the 207 number it was accepted and
ported without a hitch. But underneath the service area maps one can
assume or surmise that here, in Tonopah AridZona, the AT&T service
is provided by AT&T; in Conway NH service for AT&T GSM
customers has been provided by Unicel. What it all sugars off to is
that here with Unicel as my company my calls have been handled by
AT&T; when I get to NH with AT&T as my company my calls will be
handled by Verizon nee Unicel.
I'm signing up for a prepay-as-you-go service. Not sure what the
advantage of a contract is—mostly dis-advantage from the looks of the
terms. I'll get to keep my old number. And I'll not have to start over
programming all my numbers into a new phone. When the dust settles I'll
be back, after a long absence, with the mother of all phone companies:
More bars in more places as they say in their adverts.
Getting Beyond The Equinox
At The Cat Drag'd Inn Ms La
Gata brought in some critter which I was not fast enough to catch from
her before it was in under the bed. She quickly lost interest in
finding whatever it was and went out to find another playmate to bring
home for lunch. This one I was ready for, a small rabbit, and caught it
in a dish towel on the second bounce. But what was under the bed? I did
not want to wait for it to crawl out later and conflate my nightmares.
In addition to working at Julies I went critter mining under my bed.
There are two storage areas under there. The WayBack place is where I
usually find all manner of forgotten dirt and dust, spare parts, and
Ian's school books; there is a partial partition that refuses entry to
La Gata however smaller critters and beasties can slither through.
Sure enough. After I pulled out the box of wine corks (for keeping
score and building cork boards) and the tub of cat litter, and my tent
and laundry bag, I was able to remove the partition. Then there was the
box of furnace parts and spare alternator and the case of Ian's books.
Behind all that was one lizard. Very much alive.
The lizard ran past faster than I could grab it. Under, behind, and
back again. Keep in mind that I am prone, under the bed, about thirteen
inches of headroom, in the dark but for the feeble glow of an electric
torch. I backed out and returned with the vacuum hose and brush
fitting. Gotchya Mr Lizard! Crossways in the brush and relocated to the
yard, one stubby-tailed lizard immediately ran in under the bus,
perhaps looking for a lift inside.
So my next project was to make a critter-proof gate to replace the
partial partition. That done and I was able to return all the boxes of
stuff in time for lunch and a nap.
The yellow-blackbirds are passing through. Each evening this week is
like a scene from The Birds;
the sky darkens as clouds of screeching croaking blackbirds land in the
several tall trees along the east fence line. Hundreds of them, yellow
markings flashing in the sun, wheel and soar, clustering in the trees,
along the power lines, chattering about the cabin service on their
flight no doubt.
The Cat Drag'd Inn Summer Camp On The Road Tour for
2009 will take place during July/August and include attendance at the
Northeast Naturist Festival and skinnydipping at various holes and
beaches along the Way. I'm looking for a few campers to ride along and
share the adventure. See the Summer Camp on The
Road storey of last year's camp. Other year's tours are described
at links in the Summer Camp Brochure. For this coming year's tour see Summer
Camp 2009 Itinerary. and the Summer
Getting to NH for the start of Summer Camp will be an adventure in
itself for anybody looking for a long slow road trip. Part of the route
from Tonopah to
New Hampshire is described but who knows which way the wind will be
Potential campers should write me treemail at p.o.box 313, Tonopah
AridZona 85354 or email at the eddress below.
Ok, so now I'm 68. What next? Another year older and deeper in
The interesting thing is all the junkmail that came with ecards from
sources I don't know about/of/who/how. Even with some of the
pseudonymous login names I use "they" still are able to send greetings
at the right time. I think I am supposed to be grateful of the
reminder. Actually I'm scared.
News Item Prompts Bragging
to the American Radio Relay League, two other ISS astronauts had
made an earlier contact with Palmer, in 1992."
"In 1992, shuttle astronauts [aboard
mission STS-45] David Leestma, N5WQC, and Kathryn Sullivan, N5YYY,
also worked Palmer Station [KC4AAC]
to complete their WAC list." Those contacts were with k1oIq operating
I knew before the launch of STS-45 that the Atlantis crew would be
looking to make WAC during their ten day mission and that they would
have only one or two opportunities where their orbit would put them in
view of Palmer Station. Through correspondence with the NASA Goddard
radio club I relayed the message that KC4AAC would be waiting for them.
Palmer at that time sent and received most of its email to the ATSVAX
at an earth station in Malabar Florida via two transponders on ATS-3,
an already "old" geostationary satellite. The hardware at Palmer
comprised two pair of seven element crossed dipoles, one for transmit,
the other for receive--that's 28 elements total each way. Other
equipment included a 200watt 2m amplifier plus the exciter and receiver
and modems necessary for voice and data communications.
The antennae were optimised for frequencies for the ATS-3 link which
were just outside, above and below, the 2m Ham Band, but what's a
little SWR between radios, eh? I had brought with me a pair of 2m
handhelds, IC-O2AT. (It must have been that "AT" in their name that
made everything work together.) Between the spatial separation of the
transmit and receive antennae and the frequencies to be used for STS-45
I was able to arrange the two Icoms, the 200 watt amp, and the antennae
for full duplex operation. On the computer we had running a satellite
tracking programme that displayed the orbital path of the shuttle and
when the spacecraft was indicated to be above my horizon I called.
STS-45 answered right away and after the pleasantries of callsigns the
first words of the pilot were "You made our day!" Palmer Station,
KC4AAC/k1oIq, was their seventh continent. WAC! It was a short contact;
they were cruising only a few degrees above the local horizon and
moving along at orbital velocity so Atlantis was not visible for very
long but about ninety minutes later, on their next orbit, we did it
again just to be sure. Months later several QSL cards, confirming our
contacts, arrived in the skuamail.
Spring Cleaning Progress
I started out last week to do one cupboard a day. Went through the shoe
bin/chemical storage first. Let's see: two pair of fine moccasins,
unsafe at any pace around here; a pair of Jesus-shoes two sizes too
large, I don't remember why I bought them except that they have good
soles but the toes stuck out so far I had to amputate (but that's not
the right word, eh?); and then of course there are the boots and
plimsolls that I mostly wear. In the chemical department: aerosols of
bug dope, hornet killer, spray foam, windscreen treatment (three of
those), battery preservative, engine degreaser, electronic parts
cleaner. Other odds & ends: a pile of clean rags; two bicycle
saddlebags containing air pumps, tools and theft prevention hardware; a
box I've not opened in years containing several fusees; and two spare
blades for the folding saw.
All that stuff out for dusting and under a pile of litter in the corner
I found the pair of computer-glasses lost for so long my arms were
shorter when they went missing. The only item not returned was the two
saddlebags and they went into a deeper cupboard aft where they will be
found again one of these days when I get that far. But I've been
sidetracked from cupboard cleaning by a galley appliance upgrade.
This week's treasure from the foodbank was a juicer I sold off to Julie
and a windup microwave newer and powerfuller than the one I have in
place above the dish drainer. By way of comparison--Mike helped me with
the impetus and the numbers--the old one, built in 1989, 43% efficient,
400 watts output for 860 input, burns a small bag of popcorn in just
under five minutes; the new one, built in 2004, 63%, 600 out and 960
in. We conducted a serious formal test: Two mugs, identical even unto
the designs thereon, were arranged with 8oz of 70f water each. Each
microwave had three minutes, timed with a stopwatch, to heat its cup of
water. The old Sharp made it to 170f; the newer Sunbeam to 190f. That
Time to remodel the galley. The form factor of these two appliances is
different so the cubby where it sits has to be reshaped. That entails
relocating the power-strip and that begets a cascade of other moves and
arrangements. By the time all is accomplished Spring Cleaning of the
countertop has turned up a missing jar of vanilla extract and the
recovery of about thirty square inches of shelf space for more spices!
Finally, the test we have all been waiting for: Popcorn! The Sunbeam
actually manages to get the last kernal popped before the first ones
burn! Now that's progress.
Revisiting Mud Slide Slim
Jerry just returned from his round the world jaunt and writes that he
has a mountain of mail to read:
> I could not believe it when I saw your house on wheels stuck in the
> mud. It must have been quite a challenge to push it out!!!
It was quite a scary challenge stopping the
slide before she rolled!
Nightmares and "instant replays" still crowd my mind whenever cause to
recall comes up. I am so glad I was going as slow as I was at that
moment the tyres lost traction on the slick clay-like mud. Thanks to
the people who warned me of that quality. Probly the only thing missing
from that storey is photos of the equipment and words to describe the
Pardon me whilst I digress. First thing I did when the bus stopped
sliding was to call for help, via ham radio--mobile phones don't work
much in that black hole of central New Mexico, from the friends, CyB,
who I was going to visit; this whole debacle took place within a
quarter mile of their front gate. They responded with a 4WD Geo and the
tractor. The big 10-wheel Kenworth dump truck was already parked at the
But the dump truck was stuck where it was parked and had to be pulled
out with tractor and Geo. In the meantime I'd managed to unhook the
toad from the bus. From the looks of the tracks back up the hill it was
the truck first sliding off the crown of the road that pulled the bus
with it. With the dump truck first in line, then the tractor,
then the bus, everything was chained together. That's when we should
have stopped to
take a photo. This photo was taken much later, after all the mud had
been washed off.
The next scariest part was that once the bus started moving she didn't
want to stop. Only inches separated my windscreen from the backhoe
shovel when forward motion finally ceased. That would have been another
occasion for a photo. Phew!
I suppose the only way I would get photos now is to stage a reenactment
I do believe I don't want to go there.
Reasons to Choose a Nudist Vacation by Liz Egger. "It's that
time of year when my loved one and myself set aside an evening to open
a bottle of wine and discuss one of the most significant events in the
Egger family calendar, to whit, the Great Annual Holiday.
Arguments and Observations In Support of Naturism” A bit dated but
still a good read.
May Day or Mayday
My Summer Camp on The Road is about to get under way. Alone again,
naturally. All those campers who might benefit most from such an
adventure are too busy being bored; locked down by paranoid parents and
a society bent upon stifling the curious.
It was said early on last year that we would have a black president
when pigs can fly; well, here we are, an hundred days in to President
Obama's term and swine flu...
Sinko de Mayo
Last year, a year ago, we scattered some poppy seeds in Camilla's
Flower Garden. Some of them germinated and the garden was bright with
yellow flowers for a while. This Spring the poppies have scattered
themselves. A few are still in the garden but hundreds of other plants
escaped and are growing in three clusters around the outside. I've tied
collection bags around bunches of the seed pods so we can propagate the
flowers even further afield than they might get on their own. The
poppies out back in the desert around Saddle Mountain did not do so
well this year, not as well as last year anyhow, but here the yellow
flowers continue to come on in wave after wave.
Summer Camp on The Road 2009 is about to get under way, ready or not.
Still looking for campers to ride along with and deep pocket sponsors
to help out with but Oh Well.
The time has come, the Walrus said,
The bus is about to board;
If you're coming along, time to make
Else you're left behind with the
It is That Time, the Walrus said,
To get on the Road Again;
The Tyres are Pumped, the Oil is
And the Water Tank is Full.
We're going to Drive
To seek a Sunrise,
And if the Cat in the Back can't Push,
Then we've Always got the Cat in the
And a bike we can Pedal and Pull.
Time to get this show on the road before my get up and go gets on
without me. But wait! Shades of further procrastination:
Urinals Revisited Reprise
Last day at the Food Bank: an arduous few hours fixing things donated
to be resold in the Thrift Shop and
viewing the first few minutes of a pile of VHS tapes and CD/DVD disks;
got to make sure they will at least load and play before they can be
offered for sale. I was wandering around, on my way to the "men's
room", checking the trash, and in the background, as I inspected the
small waste baskets under each desk one of the office staff was telling
a new client something about the history of the food bank, how the
building used to be a church.
In the Men's Room, stuck on the mirror above where one washes hands
before and after, there is a bumper sticker: "My Boss is a Jewish
Carpenter!" In the stall, at the urinal, doing my thing—we aim to
please; you aim too please—it occured to me that this urinal was most
appropriate to be employed in a church—the pattern of holes of the
drain in this porcelain receptical perfectly resembles a Celtic Cross. A
typical 3 by 5 cross with a circle/halo superimposed and connecting the
mid points or the arms with points on the vertical member at equal
radii. And then I remembered the urinal
head at McMurdo...
Perhaps a year or so later, after I had left the ice, I learned from an
inside source that a few weeks after that squib hit the streets the
urinal had to be replaced; it seems that a carpenter dropped a hammer
into it, smashed the porcelain. No word on whether the carpenter was
Jewish. No more pissing on the Star of David! Now, years later, here,
in Buckeye, in this former church, I discover this representation of a
Celtic Cross in the same position. Is this some passing coincidence?
Did some plumber actually, with malice aforethought, choose that
I may have to take up a quest to visit other churches, inspect other
urinals, see if the pattern of drain holes resembles the icon of that
particular building. Perhaps in a bank, a dollar sign? In a school, a
dunce cap? The search is on.
So this is the last letter for a while; at least this is the last
letter from Tonopah. Until and unless I get back here after a while.
Be Well, Do Good, and Please Write. And send money!
I do not know what I may
appear to the world; but
myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore, and
diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a
shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all
—Sir Isaac Newton
Back to Oso
Back to ajo
Copyright © 2009, A.J.Oxton, The
Cat Drag'd Inn , Tonopah AridZona 85354-0313.