You must wear appropriate behavior at all times

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

When I read that the Indian Ocean quake had altered the earth’s rotation slightly and may have even caused the earth’s tilt to wobble a bit, my first reaction was to write a post pointing to this writing at Jonathon Delacour’s, referencing the comment he made last year about …the only way “the planet will slow on its axis, stop, and then slowly begin to rotate in the opposite direction”? is if I switch back to the Macintosh. I was going to ask in the post if he’d received his new Mac yet, but just as I titled the post and was about to publish it, I came to my senses.

“Horrors! What are you thinking, Shelley!” I remembered the condemnation that met Robert Scoble’s post on Sunday, when he wrote in complaint about the lack of first hand experience coming out about the tsumani:

It’s really disappointing. Citizen Journalism is really failing here. Almost no first-hand reports.

Scoble actually had to take a vacation from weblogging a day or so, as penance for his words; returning with link after link related to the earthquake, like doves of peace scattered across his page. If the reaction to his words was scathing condemnation, imagine what the reaction to mine would have been?

So I then thought about just sending Jonathon a quiet little email, pointing to the planetary wobble and asking if he’d received his Mac. After all, I’ve known Jonathon for years, surely he wouldn’t think that my comment showed that I was indifferent to the tragic nature of this event. I thought if anyone would understand the nuances of black humor, it would be him.

But I hesitated. Yes I’ve known Jonathon for years online, and have helped him through server-side issues, as he’s helped me with design; exchanging emails, phone calls, even books and music. We are friends as much as anyone can be in this disconnected environment. But I’ve never met Jonathon, face to face, and black humor is one of the most subtle and complex communication forms that exists (though the Shaklee Relief Pack comes close). I had to ask myself would he really understand the nature of my note, without there having been direct interaction between us? Or would he think that I was being, as Robert was to later call himself, “an insensitive boor”?

In the end, I didn’t write the post, or send the email. Perhaps this is just as well, because now I’m reading comments such as the following, in a post by Dori Smith:

How was the geek dinner tonight? I ask you that also regarding the recent tragic events in South Asia! Was it mentioned and if yes, was there some fund raisings for all the poor having lost shelters and loved ones?

or in a post at Joseph Duemer’s (who has been involved in rather fascinating cross-weblog comment discussion, more of which I will write about later):

Hey Joe, how about pouring those prodigious verbal energies into attention to our neighbors in South Asia? Lest the wail of suffering make all of us look small.

How uniquely 2004: the wisdom of the guardians of our conscience now being delivered to us as comment spam.


Duct tape hiking

We’ve had unseasonably warm weather this week, with temperatures expected to reach 70F today. Warm enough to drive around town on errands with the windows down (and the music up — an unfortunate hold over from my youth). I have an OsCommerce application to finish by year end for a client, so unfortunately haven’t been able to take advantage of the pleasant days to do any hiking. (More on OsCommerce in a later post. Someday.)

Speaking of hiking, I went to REI (a sporting and outdoor recreation store) yesterday to pick up a couple of things as a favor for my roommate. While there I checked out various brands of trekking poles. They are rather nice, especially the ones with the shocks, but I like my wood hiking stick. When I have it in hand, I feel more secure. I may actually have better balance and be more stable with the poles, but they don’t provide the psychological reassurance I get from my stick. Besides, my stick is paid for.

I did pick up a new day pack for hiking that was on sale. It has a long, narrow zippered area in the back, which I can use for my 400 telephoto lens, and a pocket in front of that for whichever of the zoom lenses I’m not using. Two side pockets made of a net-like material will hold containers of water or other liquids. In the main bag area is a compartment for my extra battery and camera memory card, and another for matches, compass, whistle, pain pills, and SPF15 lotion for plant and cold rash. The rest of the bag is more than big enough for my emergency blanket (the super small, lightweight, space kind), camera bag, orange slices and trail mix, topo maps, and duct tape.

I don’t carry a formal medical kit because if a scrape or cut is small enough for bandages, it’s small enough to wait until I get back to the car. If it’s too big to wait for the car, it’s too big for the typical bandages in medical kits. With duct tape, though, if you need to splint, just grab some branches and the tape; if you need to bandage a big gaping wound, use a bit of your clothing against the wound and then wrap it to your body with the tape.

There’s lots of things you can do with duct tape in the great outdoors.

I hesitated to spend the money on the pack, but after getting lost in the woods last week, I realized that I’m hiking in increasingly remote spots and on trails that are rugged and not necessarily well marked; doing so without the gear necessary to survive a night if I were to get lost. Last week it was a simple matter to recover because I was hiking around a lake and could just head in the direction of the sun over the water. However, I didn’t have the lake as point of reference, I could have been in serious trouble as the temperature ended up below zero degrees F that night. If I ended up wondering too far off the trail, I could have been very difficult to find. With the pack, I’m prepared.

No cellphones or computers though — the former because there is no signal where I hike; the latter because, well, get real. I’ve thought about getting one of those small voice recorders, and start podcasting/audio blogging my hikes. Then if I were to disappear, y’all would have a recording of my final trek.