Breakneck Ridge

Hudson from Breakneck Ridge

This last weekend, Dan and Britt headed north out of the city. Driving along the Hudson River, not quite to Poughkeepsie, their destination was Hudson Highlands State Park. The going in plan was to fly their drone there, but wind conspired against them. Instead, they ended up hiking Breakneck Ridge. Aptly named, as it appeared in the photos that were sent. This “trail” involved scrambling up near vertical rock cliffs, but look at the vista that they saw. I bet it took the river a few million years to work its way through these hills, but maybe a glacier or two helped it along the way?

It could have been their weekend story, or their photos, or that Internet ad, but I took the plunge. Following in the footsteps of my brother and Dan, I bought a drone yesterday. Don’t you already have a drone? Well yes, but at fifty bucks, it’s not good for much more than crashing. I ordered a Mavic Mini, which is a smaller version of the drone that Chris has used to take his breathtaking movies along the rugged California coast. It should arrive today. Woo-Hoo!

Yesterday, started off quite balmy, still shorts weather, at least for those hardy few. We walked in Forest Park, which was doing its usual Sunday afternoon booming business. Boats were out and about, rented from the boathouse. However, today’s news reports that police are now searching those waters that we strolled along on Picnic Island yesterday. Boat rentals have been halted and state police divers called in. Authorities won’t disclose what they are looking for or why. Nearby, we encountered a couple looking for a lost wedding ring, but I think that the cops are looking for something else.

Over the course of the afternoon, the temperature began to drop. By the time we made it back to the car that was parked in De Mun, it was beginning to get brisk. It being midafternoon by then and we being still sans lunch, we decided to order takeout from Barrio, a café that had been recommended to Anne, when she got her hair cut. Recommended were their burgers, which are to die for. Poor choice of phrase? The one thing that I have really missed while in lockdown has been a good burger and these were really great.

Shortly after finishing our repast, the skies opened up and the rain fell down, buckets of it. We haven’t had almost any rain for months, but we got a couple of inches. Gone are the wildfire warnings and quite a few leaves from the trees. It is also quite a bit cooler today than it was before the front passed, but later this week the temperature is supposed to rise again, into the eighties and the shorts will be worn again, but maybe for the last time.

The Brave Little Toaster

Smeg Toaster – During Its Burn-In Cycle

Just before we last departed this town and rocketed north for another luxurious turn at Anne’s cabin in the woods, our brave little toaster of many years died. The mechanism that held down the bread was getting flakey and had become increasingly more difficult to use, leading to frustration in trying to get it to lock and hold down my English muffins in the morning. It was too late to do anything about this situation then, we were too busy, hell bent to get out of town. At the cabin, I did some research (looked up toasters on Slate) and selected our new appliance. It was expensive. Anne correctly pointed out that we could afford six cheaper toasters for the price of the one that I selected, substituting quantity for quality, but it looked so cute. Styled in mid-20th-century modern, it comes in a selection of ’50s retro colors, suitable for both Avant Garde hipsters and aging boomers. We chose a stately cream color.

I allowed our order to sit in its virtual shopping cart for the three weeks that we were out-of-town, and only pulled the trigger after we had returned home. In the interval I had heard that there is now currently a run on all things appliance like, but our new toaster arrived unexpectedly early. Yesterday, when I retrieved the morning paper, it was sitting out on our front porch, likely all night, having been deposited by one of Jeff Bezos’ minions. The fuse kit package for the RAV4 was there too, but that’s another story. With excited anticipation, I rushed the package to the kitchen table and opened it. Inside was another cardboard box and inside that one was a third box. Anne made a joke about nested Russian dolls and a tiny toy toaster, but three boxes were all that there were. I extracted our Smeg, my precious, and began unwrapping all of the plastic that still contained it.

Anne began reading the owners manual, out loud, starting with the lawyer’s part about what not to do. Imagine, one should not take a bath with the toaster and imagine further that they would not have stated that unless someone already had. Moving on to the more useful part of the manual, she explained its features. In addition to the browning selector knob and the bread lift lever, both of which the old toaster also had, this new one has a bagel button, which allows one’s bagel to be toasted on only one side. Somewhat counterintuitively though, the sliced bagel must be inserted insides out. There is also a defrost button for toasting frozen bread. You wouldn’t want to have to move the browning selector, once you’ve discovered its optimal setting and because among two people there can sometimes be a difference of opinion about the correct amount of browning the best toast should have, there is a reheat setting, for that little bit more. Because I had not expected the toaster’s arrival, I had planned a no-bread breakfast. Instead, I first used our toaster to brown bread for lunch sandwiches. I was quite impressed with the toast that it produced and am pleased with my purchase.

Fiber Arts

Walk Softly, but Carry a Big Chainsaw

It was a beach day until it got too windy. We then adjourned to the deck, but first we had to free some deck chairs from the shed. Even though I spent twenty years opening combination locks for a living, I always defer to Anne, when it comes to unlocking the little gym lock on the shed. I waited, while she went to fetch said chairs. After a while she came back chair-less. She had unlocked the lock, but it still wouldn’t open up enough to clear its housing. I tried several times myself and still no joy. Where’s the WD-40? In the shed. Where are Harry’s tools? In the shed. I left to get my BFH adjuster out of the car and beat that old lock into submission, but before I could find it Anne finally had success. I really squirted that old lock, for all the good that will do. Now that it is unlocked, we might still consider replacing it. It would be a lot easier to get off the shed now than later. Where is the hacksaw? In the shed.

Once comfortably ensconced on the back deck, we watched the developing floor show, while I waited for the call that never came for my Shipt pickup order. Anne had her two at a time toe up socks knitting to add to her entertainment. The floor show here being the local Internet fiber installation. Pictured is their digger and its operator. It took some coaxing to get him to pose for this shot. As we watched, they kept working closer as my Shipt pickup window kept sliding further away. I eventually moved the RAV4 up to the top of the hill, just in case I needed to get out to go to the store. Once, I thought that they had finished for the day and by that time I had punted on grocery pickup until tomorrow morning. They had left their little digger parked on Curmudgeon Court and I was all set to park it in for the night, but instead was able to squeeze past it. Then they returned from their dinner break. That big chainsaw on the digger’s front-end would have easily cut our SUV in half. Their unexpected returning became a repeated theme of the day. They got fiber laid to the end of the Green Tunnel Road, but none of it’s hooked up yet. That must be someone else’s job. It looks to become a saga continuing over many days yet to come.

Strawberry Moon

Strawberry Moon

We went out last night to view the International Space Station (ISS) as it flew overhead. I attempted to photograph it, but was unable to get a decent image. I did however capture the waxing gibbous moon, what tomorrow will be the full strawberry moon. The ISS pass over started at 9:38 and lasted three minutes. A beauty of the space station is that it is never late. It was distinctly visible as it passed nearly directly overhead. To the naked eye, it looked like a fast moving plane. Interestingly, it first just appeared, well above the horizon and likewise it suddenly disappeared also well above the horizon. I later figured out that this phenomenon is caused by the ISS itself, first passing into sunlight and then back out of it again. I was a little concerned going out last night. Because of all of the civil unrest, here was a curfew in the city and not in the county, where I was, but sometimes these situations change rapidly. We were on the old AB Green ballfield and were the only ones out. My only mishap last night was collecting some chigger bites. Interestingly, when Anne and I walked this morning, our path brought us close to the city-county line. Suddenly, both of our cellphones simultaneously squawked then with an emergency security warning that announced last night’s city curfew. Good to know!

And Now This…

Last Week Tonight Stamps

A few weeks ago, comedian John Oliver had as the theme for his weekly HBO comedy show the plight of the postal service. In this episode, he explained the situation and offered a remedy of sorts for the post office’s woes—buy more stamps. After all, it is through the sale of postage that the mail service sustains itself. Leading by example, he went one better, when he advertised the sale of his own brand of vanity stamps. Who knew that vanity stamps were a thing? Not I. His show airs on Sunday, but it wasn’t until the following Thursday that I watched it. By that time, when I attempted to order a sheet of his special stamps they were already backordered, which actually tickled me pink. This being a clear demonstration of the power of liberal slacker activism.

The reason that Oliver chose the post office’s problems as his show’s subject is that the president has decided to lambast this institution, because it would be the servant of something that Trump fears, vote-by-mail balloting. Something that in this time of pandemic would allow Americans to safely use to express their political will. He claims to fear voter fraud, but disenfranchisement is his real goal. He wants to limit the vote of older, poorer, blacker Americans and aid his own reelection this November. To this end, he has been tweeting of late baseless lies about voting-by-mail and voter fraud. These lies have been accompanied by others, most pointedly involving the unfortunate death of a woman who had been working for then congressman Joe Scarborough, now of MSNBC. In his tweets, Trump dredged up twenty year old conspiracy theories, in an attempt to smear a political opponent.

What he did though was to elicit a heartfelt plea from the woman’s widower, asking Twitter, not Trump to cease and desist. The resulting kerfuffle so embarrassed the execs at Twitter that when Trump returned to the subject of his voter fraud lies, Twitter had the temerity to add an “asterisk” on to his posts. This minor recrimination of course triggered another Trumpian temper tantrum.

Never one to hold on to a thought for long, last night Trump tweeted about the ongoing civil unrest that is occurring in Minneapolis and is the direct result of the apparent murder of Floyd George, a black man, by city police officers. His tweet echoed verbatim the threat made in 1967 by former Miami police chief Walter Headley, “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.” Obviously, Trump did not get the hint, causing Twitter to nuke that tweet for “glorifying violence.” Twitter later explained that it was in part the historical connection of that tweet’s last line that caused the company to take action.

Is there a new sheriff in twitter-town? I doubt it, but perhaps this moderating action will result is some small measure of moderation, before people get shot. I am reminded of the tale of the troll and the three Billy-goats Gruff. One-by-one, the troll threatens the three goats, only in the end to butted on down the river This week one-by-one, Scarborough, voter fraud and Minneapolis, Trump has employed his bully pulpit to threaten others. Only to learn, he is just a user.