Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

Pre race pump up.

Jo jo

This past fall, I worked for the title sponsor (Grand Dynamics International) of the Ultimate Towner obstacle course race to build and run two of their races on the East Coast. One in Lake Placid up in the Adirondack Mountains, and one in Syracuse, New York. This was a blast.  Basically the race is 4 miles over varying terrain with 25 obstacles (mud pits, walls, more walls, tires, sand bag carries, balance beams, etc) that add up to one challenging course. There are two heats: a fast class (where you are timed and must complete every obstacle) and a fun class (which is as the name implies, for fun.)

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The main thing that distinguishes the Ultimate Towner from say, Tough Mudder, or Warrior Dash, is that they hold the races primarily in small towns, focus on overcoming obstacles through teamwork and passion, get the community involved, and a part of the profits go to a local charity. It is a super fun and inspirational event. Tim Walther (pictured in white, above), president of Grand Dynamics, starts off the race with a large group pump up/ dance/ aerobic work out craziness and it goes on from there. The race is open to all ages, and I think we had a two year old on the course at Whiteface Mountain in Lake Placid.

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So yeah. Lot’s of fun. Great people. Hard race. What more do you want. Oh yeah, also, cheaper than the other races too. So register for one near you. Or travel to it. The one in Jackson, WY is awesome. Be sure to check out the links up top for more info on races near you. Here’s some more pics from the New York races:

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Tuffy Slacklining at Whiteface Mt.

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The Over Under Through walls, in the beautiful Adirondacks

 

Teton traverse wall

Teton traverse wall

 

At mile 3, that's a tough climb!

At mile 3, that’s a tough climb!

The "Love Life" wall

The “Love Life” wall

 

Overcome your Obstacles

Overcome your Obstacles

 

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Potato sack race obstacle

Racers get a fun spray down from a young spectator!

Racers get a fun spray down from a young spectator!

I recently read “The Yellow on the Broom” and “Red Rowans and Wild Honey” by Betsy Whyte. (Bonnie wee Scottish lassie, isn’t she?)

Betsy Whyte

Bessie, as she answered to when she was a wean, writes her memoir of her childhood in the 1930s as part of a family of Scottish “traveller” people. Tinkers. Mist People. Gypsies. (Although they would disapprove of the ‘Tinker’ designation.) The book is wonderfully written and attempts to describe the life and philosophy of travellers. Why they live in tents and move from place to place most of the year, only settling down when they have to in winter. Working on farms, pearl fishing, making willow baskets and many other odd jobs. How they view the country hantle.

And here we are. “Hantle?” Yup. That’s cant for “people.” Her book is rife with strange words. So much so, that I became intrigued. Was this different than Scots? Yes. Was there anywhere online with a good glossary? Not really. So I was pleasantly surprised to find a thorough one at the end of Mrs. Whyte’s book. I don’t think she’d mind if I shared some of my favorite words with you, as she lamented that it was dying out within her lifetime.

The cant that Bessie spoke was unique to the Highland travellers. Irish Tinker cant, often called Shelta, or Gammon, would be completely unintelligible to her. Regardless of which group of tinkers were speaking, the purpose of cant was secret communication, often right under the noses of the country hantle or hornies (police). Two travellers could be asking a cottar if they could boil some water for tea, but if one of them notices something is amiss, they could alert the other one in the midst of speaking to the cottage resident.

What follows is a list of my favorite cant words. This is by no means comprehensive, as I have left out many other words that are included in Betsy Whyte’s books which are published by Birlinn publishing out of Edinburgh, Scotland. (This is reproduced with their permission.) As always, please comment with any thoughts or questions.

agley- in the wrong direction

anonst- unknown (to somebody) going hunting in the field anonst to the landowner.

bagle- a lazy fellow, one who breaks sexual taboos

bang- a crowd, especially domineering and overpowering people.

barming- flighty, foolish

besom- a sweeping brush, an unpleasant woman

birse- to bristle, feel annoyed or angry

bogy roll- a twist or roll of tobacco

breenge- a lunge, an attack

broonie- supposedly a very helpful spirit creature: manshaped, ugly, covered with brown hair, with long feet and red eyes. He usually attached himself to a family, nearly always millers or farmers, and did the work of ten men.

buck- a person who as taken to the travelling life, or with only one real Traveller parent.

bullyrag- to order somebody about, to demand a lot

bung- taken, jailed

burker- an intruder. Originating from William Burke who murdered people and sold their bodies for medical research at the universities. Travellers were often his target.

caber- a heavy log for tossing at the Highland Games, slang for (you guessed it) penis.

cannyways- cautiously

chuckie stane- a small smooth pebble

cleek- to walk arm in arm

conyeeched- spoiled, petted

coorie- to crouch or snuggle down

cottar- a farmworker in a rented cottage

country hantle- the settled, house-dwelling country people

Cruelty- ‘A Cruelty’ was an Inspector of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, or any official of a local authority

dander- a stroll or leisurely walk. to take a dander might mean a short walk away from camp to relieve oneself

dreich- dull, wearisome

drookit- drenched or soaked

drumly- applied to stream water, this means disturbed, muddy, unsettled. Applied to a person, it means they are confused, mixed up.

dwam- a faint or swoon

ettling- being eager or impatient to do something

fang- the venomous side to one’s nature. to go off the fang was to lose one’s temper.

forfochen- worn out

gadgie- man

ganch, ganch- to talk too much. to bore someone by talking in too much detail

gaswork cinders- coke (soda)

gie- to give. gie us a crack- give me some conversation, let’s have a chat. gie him his tatties- give him what he deserves

glaikit- silly, senseless

glaggen- the sheen over a field of grain, hay, or over a moor

glaur- mud, ooze

gloaming- dusk, twilight

granny sooker- a pan drop, a peppermint sweet

guffie- a boorish, unfeeling, cruel person

gurly- applied to water, the weather, this means cloudy, rough. So, applied to a person, it means they are grumpy, in a bad mood.

hap- to dress a child; to tuck up in bed

haver- to talk nonsense

hornies- the police

hurl- a lift on the road

in-aboot-  to enter into an encampment from any direction and move about greeting people at their various occupations

John Barleycorn- wiskey

jugal- a dog

keek- to peep

knickit- made pregnant

lee-lang – whole

limmer- a rascal or rogue, a loose girl

moich- foolish, mad

mootyay- a rabbit

nakens- Travellers

nash avree!- get moving!

oxter- armpit, to lead by the arm

paggering- a beating

peekit- sickly looking

peevie- drunk

plank!- hide!

ploops- the police

plouter- to potter about on trifling tasks

pluffen- tobacco

plukie- faced – pimple-faced

polis- the police

puckle- a small quantity

raise the wind- to earn enough to survive

rax- to stretch, overstrain

reel-rall- helter-skelter

reenge- a pot scrubber made from tying heather together

scaldified- behaving like scaldies, town dwellers of the lowest class.

scalpions- roguish young men, eager to work off high spirits by tormenting others

scouff- freedom, sufficient space to romp and play

screich- the first light of dawn

shan- bad. really objectionable, unsavory, causing shame

shaness!- an exclamation meaning ‘bad word’ , ‘bad deed’ or ‘bad situation’ but it can be used in many different ways

shuch- the private part of a woman

sleekit- sly, cunning

smeeked- smelling of, and cheery with, drink

snooled- made to feel low or downtrodden

souch, sough- a murmur: of the sea, a river, the wind, distant voices, birds wings…

thrang- crowded, close together

thrash- scared

thraw- to argue, to contradict

toll- a cant word for skirlie, the dish made from oatmeal and dripping

trauchled- overburdened, overworked

troosh- to humble or frighten someone

tuggery- fine clothes

walsh- dried up and bad tasting

want- When we say that a person has a want, we mean that they are otherwise quite normal, but has an obsession or distorted view about some thing (or things). Such a person is usually very touchy about the subject and the ability to recognize such a ‘want’ helps one to humor the person.

whammel- to turn upside down

wheesht!- hush! be quiet!

yirdy- a toad

younker- youngster, child

Where is…?

Posted: August 27, 2010 in Politics, Travel
Tags: , , ,

In the interest of not being the “Dumb American on the street” I wanted to find a good way of testing my geography knowledge. I just hate watching those videos of interviewers asking average people where North Korea is, and them pointing to Australia, for example. Or not being able to point out where we are fighting two wars, let alone Uzbekistan.

Here it is.

On my trip to Australia, I experienced the worst selection of in-flight movies, ever.

The first was Titanic: a disaster movie about travel where most of the passengers die.

The second was Lost in Space: A travel movie about navigation error while in flight.

The third was Armegeddon: In which the world’s most advanced aircraft, the space shuttle, explodes.

Great job flight crew. I really feel much safer flying now.

I’ve come to the realization that I don’t do campgrounds. I much prefer camping out in the wilderness with no one for miles around and only a stream for running water, than being shoved next to loud strangers to sleep on a patch of mud with a smelly communal bathhouse to really make you feel like you’re “roughing it.”

Here is my personal list of pros and cons for staying overnight at a campground:

Pro: Easy. Just back the car right up and unload everything right into your tent.

Con: Easy. Anyone with access to a sleeping bag can sleep there. Loud radios are easy to pack when your car comes equipped with one.

Pro: Extras. Bathroom, showers, clean water, playgrounds… they have it all.

Con: Extras. You can even get sites with electric hook up so you can run your microwave, TV, and refrigerator…when you’re camping. Getting in touch with nature? Nah. Change the channel.

Pro: mmm, I’m out of Pros.

Con: LOUD people. I get out into the woods to escape from our modern society, not be crammed closer to it. If I slept out in my backyard in the city, I would have had a quieter night.

Con: Too much light. I tried to enjoy the stars, but the light from the bathroom was too bright.

Con: Cost. Why pay $20 to set up my tent ten feet away from my car? I can do that for free in my backyard. I know many areas that I can car camp at that are totally free. Just find the right trailhead and set up camp.

That’s all for now. What do you think? Are you a campground camper, or a backwoods camper?

When I tell people about how I made my own wallet to protect myself from arphid snoopers, they look at me like I’m crazy. When I say it has aluminum foil in it to block the signals, they know I’m crazy. Like tin-foil hat so the Government can’t hear my thoughts, crazy. And maybe, in a way, I am. Crazy like a FOX!

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RFID, or Arphid in lingua franca, stands for Radio Frequency Identification. They are tiny computer chips implanted in things like hotel key-cards, quick-fill gasoline keychains, ID badges, and easy-pay credit cards. This last one concerned me the most. Ever since I opened a new account a few years ago, my new credit card has the “convenient” Pay Pass option. When I go through a grocery store checkout, instead of going through the labor-intensive process of getting my card entirely out of my wallet, I an just hold my wallet up to the Arphid Reader on the register, and it will scan my card and read all the relevant information it needs. Bank account numbers, my name, date of birth, etc. Quick and easy. Great! Right?

Wrong! With a little know-how (easy to glean from teh intarnets these days), and some cheap hardware, any punk kid can make their own arphid scanner/cloner. These devices are usually about as big as a pack of cards and can easily fit into a pocket. With an antenna coiled in the palm of his hand, an arphid hacker could brush up next to you in a supermarket aisle, and walk away with all your bank account and credit card numbers. You would not feel them touch you, they would just need to be close (2-4 inches). The arphid chips themselves do not actively transmit your vital information at all times, and do not have their own internal power source, but when in close proximity to a reader, they will transmit all they know to whoever just gave them a little wireless elbow in the ribs.

So what can you do about it? Do what I did. Make a radio frequency proof wallet. At first, I didn’t believe that the whole tinfoil thing would work. I mean, I read it on the internet. Home to crazy conspiracy theorist who where tinfoil hats. But I found a site with simple instructions, and more importantly, a way to test it. When you’re all done, slip you cell phone into the dollar section of the wallet and watch as the signal strength drops to zero. Close the wallet completely with your phone inside and get someone else to call it. It shouldn’t ring.* ( the very first time I tried this, my phone rang, and I was mightily disappointed. I made sure the flaps were closed, waited 15 seconds or so, and tried again. No ring.) But the best way to test it is out in the real world. I went to Wegman’s and brought a pack of gum up to the register. When it was time to pay, I said, “Here goes!” and held my closed wallet right up to the arphid reader. Nothing. I flipped it over and tried again. Nothing. I pumped my arm in the air and said, “Yes!” while the cashier just looked at me funny. Why was I happy about my card not working? Still holding my wallet up to the reader, I pulled up my credit card from the little pocket. As soon as it cleared the top of the wallet, the reader picked it up and the transaction went through. Whoo hoo!

So make sure that you protect your privacy by covering your Arphid devices so no one can steal your precious information (and maybe even your money!) You’re welcome.

072009_sky_1Why did I not hear about this sooner? Some guy went and made a real flying car. And I’m not talking about the Moller car that looks nice and shiny and red but actually doesn’t fly. This is the real thing. Kind-of.  I was a little disappointed by the parasail wing, but it looks awesome.

Around the world, the debate over using genetically engineered food is heating up. This is an article from Yahoo and the AP.

“Influential voices around the world are calling for a re-examination of the GM debate,” says C.S. Prakash, a professor of plant molecular genetics at Alabama’s Tuskegee University. “Biotechnology provides such tools to help address food sustainability issues.”

Genetic manipulation to insert desirable genes or accelerate changes traditionally achieved through crossbreeding can help make crops resistant to insects and disease or enable them to tolerate herbicides. Livestock similarly can be altered by inserting a gene from one animal into the DNA of another.”genetically engineered food debate heats up

I believe I can finally say I found the solution to my cameras doing badly on my various adventures.img_14961

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This is my new Pelican Case! I now have a waterproof, moisture-proof, crush-proof place to store my video camera. There are also spots for: an extra battery, my phone, an extra tape, and my Canon Elph as well. I got this because my video camera has seen some rough times over the years documenting my various adventures. Whether it was filming surfing on the beach during a hurricane (wind, salt water, sand) to filming ice climbing in the high peaks (wind, snow, freezing temps) to snowboarding (sudden falls, being buried in snow) to whitewater kayaking (water, snow, river slime). Hopefully this precaution will prevent some of the extensive maintenance I have had to do with this camera. The lens has frozen shut twice and the zoom was stuck from a combination of salt and moisture.

I am so glad that the election is over. The American people have made a brave decision and shown the world that we are sorry for the last eight years and we want to change. Just by the results, people all over the world have changed their mind about America . I think there is still hope for our foreign alliances. I also hope that the Republicans won’t skulk so much that they refuse to work with the new President on anything. Barack seemed very gracious last night and I wish him well.

My sister is in Europe right now and she says that everyone is thrilled that Obama will be president. Since I live in NY, it was almost a certainty that it would swing for Obama, but looking at the county by county map, there were several Repulican counties. But Barack got all the big ones that mattered. My own county split 118,390 for Obama, 80,476 for McCain. This have been a weird election for me because I work at a Christian organization where many of my co-workers are staunch McCain supporters and see anyone who would consider Obama as somehow (how do I say this) un-Godly, maybe. My church is the same way. However, I feel that alot of people were narrow minded when it came to certain issues. Like I have said before, Obama’s stance on abortion is regrettable, but you can’t let that one issue decide the election for you and cloud over everything else. We have had a pro-life Republican president for the last eight years and how much progress has been made on that issue? Not much, in my own estimation. I like to think that I have a broader view of the impact the next president may have on the world and I’m glad everything turned out the way it did. On a selfish note, I am also thrilled that I won’t see any more of those negative campaign ads. Yay! We’re done.

wrx = Awesome

Posted: October 10, 2008 in Travel, Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

I wanted to mention my car. While I work close to home and commute by bike, I still love to drive my Subaru WRX. These days, I have been trying to do many hyper-miling techniques to increase my MPG. However, having a turbo-charged sports car is not the most fuel efficient means of transportation. I also need to buy Premium Gas (91 octane or above) because of the turbo. When I bought it new, in 2003, that wasn’t an issue. Regular was $1.20 and Premium was $1.30. Now it’s a different story. Even though most of the time I try and save gas and coast in neutral, there are times when I treat myself and really let the turbo rip and press me back in the seat as I fly off the line, going from 0-60 in 5.4 seconds. Whooo hoooo! The first year I got my car, it came with a membership to the Sports car club of America which holds races all over the place. I entered into a few of them and won several. It was a blast.

Well this week is my 24th week commuting by bike this year. Last year I rode 29 weeks so this year I should be able to ride right up until December to make 34 weeks. I love it. It gets me energized for the days work, and sweaty and sexy for the ride home uphill so when I walk in the door, I have my business shirt all unbuttoned like Superman. Plus I estimate I’m saving 384 miles on my car, or $76.80 on gas so far this year. That may not seem like a lot because work is only two miles away from home. I planned it that way when I bought my house. But every little bit helps when you have a baby. Plus I get exercise everyday. It’s a good deal all around. I suggest you try it. I have another post that explains it a little more. Cheers for now.

Trip to Australia & New Zealand

with People to People. July 1998

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Trip to Germany 2005 Journal

Posted: September 3, 2008 in Travel
Tags: , ,

Trip to Germany 2005

With Lydia & Hans Heinz Würslin

Day 1 1/5/05 We are waiting in Hancock Airport ready to go to Atlanta GA & then to Zurich, Switzerland. I have been learning snatches of German so I can have some idea of what’s going on. I can’t wait to drive on the Autobahn & see the mountains!

Day 2 1/6/05 The hours passed quickly flying East so it was the next day in no time as evidenced by the announcement right after we boarded that we would be arriving in Zurich shortly. Yeah, 9 hours of shortly. (more…)

The Presidentials 5-4-04

Snow sifted down through the screen mesh in the tent. Outside, the wind howled past the rock we were huddled against. There isn’t much forgiveness for being slow in the mountains. As we lay shivering in our sleeping bags, I contemplated on what brought me here in there first place. (more…)