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The post office sent me this yesterday:

I don’t know if everyone got one, or just dog owners.

I know that my mutts love UPS because they carry around milkbones. They alert to the distinctive engine of the UPS trucks, and will literally run to any UPS person and beg for treats. I used to tease the UPS person that if they ever got out, I’d just come find the truck, and they’d be following it around. Turns out that wasn’t a joke – that actually happened. The gardener left the gate open. I got a call. They were on the UPS truck. She brought them home for me. Thanks, Jeannine! I called her supervisor to put in a good word. He thought it was great. UPS loves dogs[1]!

That’s a funny story.

The USPS guy on the other hand would have called the dog police. That would not have been so funny. Fines and dog jail at best. Mace and/or shot dogs at worst.

So why doesn’t the USPS carry around milkbones? Having the local dogs love you seems better than carrying around mace because you are afraid of them.

Of course there are still problem dogs that aren’t going to be bribed with a milkbone. The postal worker goes to every house every day. UPS just shows up when there’s a package. There’s a difference of scale.

Still, a difference of attitude.

[1] I’m not linking to the UPS dog page on that social network, but it’s there.

Return to normal

Smokers are assholes. I don’t know why, except I guess that if you feel it’s fine to pollute your lungs, the air, and everyone’s lungs around you, then it’s NBD to throw your butts anywhere, and everywhere. So you do.

Perhaps there’s some mythical smoker somewhere who gets rid of butts properly, but as long as I keep finding butts everywhere smokers congregate, and in random strange places, I just assume anyone who smokes is an asshole. I’m right so far.

Just like anyone who rides a loudass Harley in a residential neighborhood at 6 am. Asshole.

I can’t decide if vaping is worse. Try following one of those down a street. Holy cow, the smoke clouds. It’s like a WWI battleship making full steam to catch the Bismarck. You literally have to cross the street to get away from it. You’re an asshole.

But there’s no butts, so there’s that.

Things that are better part the third

Continuing in the vein of positivity and not just bitching [1]

  • Electric toothbrushes. Just zone out for two minutes and your teeth are brushed, et voilá! And way better than you can do it by hand. Also get a cheap $12 AA battery version for traveling, and using on the dogs. Way better for brushing the mutts’ teeth [2].
  • iPads. I didn’t know what I would use this for [3], but now I use it for everything. I’ve done lots of trips with this and not a laptop. I’d still rather have the laptop in general, but for general use and carrying around…
  • eBooks. I still buy books and check them out from the library, but books on the iPad get read a lot more. Especially when traveling – no more carrying 15 books on long trips, or searching for English bookstores [4]
  • iPhone X swipe gestures. I had both an X and a 7 for a while at the same time, and it was painful to go back to the 7. The gestures are just better [5]. I can’t explain why.
  • iPhone X face ID. Ditto. It kind of changes everything. In small ways, but an improvement. It also means its possible to use the entire screen for display, which is a Good Thing. It will in fact probably drive me to purchase a new iPad with Face ID when that comes out, whether I need it or not.
  • Apple Pay. Ditto. I can not carry my wallet. It makes me think that my driver’s license should be authenticated similarly so I don’t need to ever carry a wallet, except that of course the government (or Google or whoever they contracted it out to [6]) would not do it correctly and it would be both a privacy and functional nightmare [8]

[1] Don’t worry I’ve got those coming up. Cf healthcare, driving, gray cars driving in the rain without lights, US shitty driving habits, ugly modern cars…
[2] Do not mix up.
[3] Well, I did. Pictures. I got it to show photos, when the first Retina display came out. It’s a wonderful portable portfolio device.
[4] Also no more people striking up conversations about the book I’m reading, or meeting people in bookstores…
[5] With the exception of skiing and climbing. I’ve had my fingerprints go away enough doing both that the screen wouldn’t swipe up.
[6] Which is why I don’t use the traveler apps from the US Gov’t, or sign up for Global or TSA Pre [7].
[7] Also because I get them greater than 50% of the time anyway, so why bother. Perhaps when I don’t have status anymore, but then I presumably won’t be flying that much anymore so…
[8] I’m not a libertarian, but the incentives are all wrong for anyone but Apple. Sad but true.


Things that are better part II

Adding to list:

  • Airpods. Didn’t think it would work. BT is a POS. But they Just Work. I carry them, and use them, everywhere. No more tangled cords.1
  • Wireless charging. Wasteful. Unnecessary. But just dropping the phone on a flat surface is pretty nice.
  • GPS watches. Instant on is great, compared to the old Forerunner 305 taking five minutes and yoga and an open spot to catch lock.2
  • Hydration drinks. Nuun, Skratch, etc. are all better than Gatorade. I’m not sure if I need it, but I like it.


I got a new bike. Not really because I wanted to1, but because it’s basically impossible to get replacement parts for the groupset on the old bike2, and replacing the groupset would require new wheels, and… for want of a nail, etc. At some point maybe it’s just better to put that money into a new rig. So the G&T said anyway late one night when I was surfing the intertubes and came across almost3 the bike I wanted for 20% off.

It’s a nice bike! I really enjoy riding it. Disk brakes are pretty awesome. As is a suspension on my old butt.

But the old bike is faster! I looked down today and saw that I was cranking up the hill at 90 rpm and 18.5 mph. Which is pretty fast for me and that hill. Usually I only hit 17 on a good day4. This is consistent. Me on old bike faster than me on new bike. It’s not double-blind but mostly I’m concentrating on not getting killed, and only marginally on how fast I’m going. Of course I’m always shooting for a new PR. But those are few and far between – it’s hard to beat that since it depends on traffic and lights.

I thought it was because the new bike with the big tires and the big wheels and the disk brakes and the monster wide frame5 are heavier. But data says the old bike is 8.13 kg. New bike is 8.30 kg. Not that much! Same amount of crap appended to both for the daily driver. The old bike has better wheels than stock, and a carbon seat post and drops, so maybe it’s a pound less than spec. The new bike sure feels heavier in the hand. But I guess I’ll have to find a different reason why the old bike feels faster. Maybe is faster, except Garmin has decided to stop updating the old Mac app and now I gotta go to the cloud to compare data. Fuck that.

I mean, the old bike was a Nice Bike, BITD. Maybe only one level down equivalent from the new bike, which is a Really Nice Bike, but not the Nicest6. But even only Kinda Nice Bikes these days are the equivalent of the old bike. Bikes are one of those things that have gotten way better.

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I keep running into self-designated “trad” [1] climbers at well-known sport crags. They make their disdain of this bastardization of their religion clear [2] but so many of their friends do it, and seem to have fun, they grit their teeth and give it a try. But never let you forget that this isn’t “real” climbing, and they’d rather be in Yosemite [3]. Even if they’ve never been to Yosemite.

Never mind that every single person in the last three decades who has pushed trad standards higher has been a serious sport climber. Start with Piana/Skinner (Hueco, Wild Iris), Hill (World Cup Champion), Huber(s) (possible first 9a), etc. etc. etc. [4]. Jeff Lowe, one of the finest alpinists ever, was the first person to bring a sport climbing comp to the US, fer crissakes.

Just this week, I heard “But they don’t know how to place gear.” Again. [5]

Sigh. You have trouble placing gear, because you are weak and don’t know how to climb. If one can climb 5.15, and onsight 5.14, and the highest standard of trad climbing is low 5.14 but mostly way (way) less, then placing gear on anything less than that is not the thing holding one back. Anyone that good can learn to place gear, better than you, inside a few days in Yosemite.

“But they don’t know how to climb cracks”. Sigh. Climbing 5.13 cracks (8a) is just not a big deal if you can hang onto 9a or V14.

The truly strange thing about all these “trad” people slumming about Europe is they don’t really know how to climb trad. At least as far as I can tell from watching them sport climb. Liebacking is a lost art. It seems like they’ve never been taught to stem. They’ve clearly never climbed in Tuolumne or Tahquitz, because footwork is completely missing. Watching them try to smear up a delicate slab is like watching a duck paddle up a hill. Underclings are a complete mystery to them.

They mostly can’t even clip a quickdraw efficiently. Talk about knowing how to place gear – that’s the simplest part of trad placements when you’re pumped out of your mind and about to whip – can you get the fucking rope into the fucking carabiner.

God help them, they don’t know how to manage a rope so it doesn’t get fucked up, the most basic skill of moving fast on a real trad route – mountain, alpine, or wall.

Though often they have a permanently attached daisy chain [7] and a belay knife just in case a sun-bleached sling shows up at the top of a sport anchor – they’re 100% equipped to 100% handle that situation 100% of the time. Never mind that that will never happen in Siurana or Ceuse where they are slumming.


[1] Mostly they are self-defined as “trad” climbers because they don’t do anything else, not because they do it particularly well.
[2] To wit: “Sport climbing is neither.”
[3] Which the sport-climbing of trad anyway. Come on. The Nose is a 15 minute hike from your #vanlife. They never say “I’d rather be in the Dolomites” (or Alps or Patagonia or Alaska) – you know, where there is serious real trad to be had. If you can pay your dues.
[4] Yes, all those folks had serious trad experience. But they got strong by sport-climbing.
[5] You know, despite the evidence of Ondra coming and making short work of the Dawn Wall [6]. And Verhoeven the Nose. And, and, and…
[6] Not that Ondra didn’t have some serious trad experience – this wasn’t his first rodeo. But come on. Aside from a rainstorm, he almost onsighted the Nose. With his dad. As a warmup.
[7] What’s a daisy chain, ahem, “personal anchor system (PAS)”, most useful for? Signaling that this a person with whom you don’t want to climb. See also: belay knife, rappel device (esp. figure 8), prussik, and gym card.

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New climbing words

When did “multipitch” become a thing? The same time “trad” became a verb? “Multipitch” is also verb, and adverb.

I can’t remember what we called it BITD. Just climbing, I think.


Another example of BWare’s Law of Security Breaches: Whatever the first number they tell you is, it’s wrong, and it’s not going in the good direction1.

I think this is a contra to Hanlon’s Razor: never assume malice when stupidity will suffice. Surely these folks lowball it every time. They don’t want the big number in the headline. On the other hand, having to go back and release a bigger number just keeps them in the headlines 2 longer. I assume their media advisors are smarter than me though.


I get to drive a lot of different cars. Whatever Hertz has to offer for zillion-mile Gold or whatever my status is called. These are typically nicer in Zurich than they are in Munich. Mercedes, Rover, BMW (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7 – no 6 as yet), Audi, Jaguar, vs. Peugeot, Skoda, Citroen, etc. But not the super-high premium Jags, Maseratis, Porsches, high-end Mercs that I gaze lustfully at 1.

Last time I got called away from vacation on short notice, Hertz Munich offered me the powder blue 435 HP 5.0 Mustang. Even though I had the airline-max 32 kg TNF rolling duffle full of climbing gear, I said yes. How could I not?! I was going to leave the bag in left luggage if it didn’t fit.

After I John Candied the bags into the trunk (not easy!), I took off down the autobahn. Well, after I sat in airport construction for the best part of an hour. “Autobahn” is German for “construction.”

Six manual speeds. Tons of horses. Even though it was 0 C and drizzling, I got it up to 240 kph on the bahn. No problem. It’s a nice enough car. I was amused at the sticker saying that I was not to take this to the Nurburgring.

But what the heck is up with that hood? I’ve driven 4WDs with more visibility. Certainly a lot of the cars listed above have similar performance specs, and I had no problem driving them down the autobahn. But the Mustang has such a prominent hood, it’s like looking over a truck hood topping a hill – no idea what’s on the other side. If it had quad Holleys under the scoop, that would be one thing. But I don’t think there’s any reason for the limited visibility low-rider driving position of this car, given the performance. Especially compared to say, a Porsche. Or an M3. Or any Merc.

Seriously – it was seriously bad. Not suitable for 200 kph autobahn driving at all, even though it could do it in fourth gear (it goes up to 6!) without breaking a sweat.

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I’m waiting for Jabez to come back as a hot new trendy baby name.

Go get it helicopter parents! Guaranteed to be unique in their classroom.