Jan 5, 2014

Applied science

My high-speed internet has become low-speed internet. Fortunately I understand and can explain the process. As temperatures approach absolute zero on the Gore/Kelvin scale, internet molecules slow way down and lose interest in feeling one another up.

Jan 4, 2014

You CAN TOO plan for everything

It's just that you may miss a spot or two.

Firewood: check. Propane for backup: check.  Electric heaters near vulnerable plumbing points: check. Neat piles of super-cold-emergency clothing and bedding: check.

Some other things too, because I'm not anxious for a Sam McGee outcome of  this outbreak.


...And there sat Sam, looking cool and calm, in the heart of the furnace roar; 
    And he wore a smile you could see a mile, and said: "Please close that door. 
    It's fine in here, but I greatly fear, you'll let in the cold and storm — 
    Since I left Plumtree, down in Tennessee, it's the first time I've been warm."*


Not to over-dramatize, but people die when consecutive daytime highs peak at a windy 15 or 20 below. Poor planners suffer disproportionately to better ones, and I hope I'm in the latter group, especially since the Commandant's residence here at Camp Jiggleview is, at heart, a summer cabin. Years of rebuilding, insulating, window upgading and so forth have made her snug, but she doesn't often face a challenge like this. 

'course, I could be missing an opportunity for another 15 minutes. Maybe I should just find a shelter,  kick back, wait for the television truck to come around, and tell the camera that the government didn't even offer me no help no how.


*Robert Service, of course. "The Cremation of Sam McGee."

Jan 3, 2014

What gun for cougar?

Our informant is utterly reliable. It's a cougar on my friends'  old family farm southwest of here, not too far from the pretty little Maple River and on the fringe of the semi-wild Loess Hills.

The cat report his morning touched off a small Facebook gigglefest about a trick one of the guys played on my No. 2 grandson a few years ago on the hunt where he came of age. He had just been promoted to armed hunter from his previous condition of servitude -- barehanded, bipedal, auxillary bird dog. The party was walking a wooded draw on the farm when the wag warned him, "Watch out for the cougars." -- sending the lad into a full tactical crouch for the second it took him to realize the chain jerk.

The boy, now man, is, of course, being reminded today that as an experienced lion  hunter, it is his job to venture forth and slay the beast. The old people are advising him on weaponry. The female (who, sigh, routinely outshoots all of us) suggested a mag tube extension for his shotgun. I countered that he had a new .30-06. It's only a matter of time before he's told that nothing less than .50BMG will do.


I've seen only a couple of cougars (far west of here a long time ago)  and never encountered one up close. So I know Jack Schidtt about it. From my reading, though, I don't think the gun bore makes much difference. Br'er Puma apparently likes to jump you from above and behind. He shakes you by the neck a few times, snaps off an appetizer, takes a minute to pee on the gun you never got into play, and hauls you off to a nice picnic spot.


Cougar sightings are becoming almost, but not quite, routine here. They're rare enough to be interesting. They're common enough to make a guy smile when he thinks of the Iowa DNR  experts who for years said there ain't no such critter round these parts; then that, if there were, they were just pets that grew up and got dumped. Or escaped from the circus.  It's only about now that the game cops are admitting that the big cat, like many wild things, can be highly adaptable. Unlike your basic game cop.

Jan 1, 2014

Happy New Year. (or) The Maelstrom Cometh. Again.

Ogden Nash told us about it:

Tonight’s December thirty-first,
Something is about to burst.
The clock is crouching, dark and small,
Like a time bomb in the hall.
Hark, it's midnight, children dear.
Duck! Here comes another year!”