For part of the year, my wife has a gig that brings us into northern Alberta. To save money and make the most out of being here, we live off the grid in our RV for weeks at a time, relying on our rig's power system, propane and water tanks to keep us going. I connect to the internet through my T-Mobile phone plan. It’s quiet, I have a beautiful view of the Rocky Mountains and, when I want to go for a hike in the woods, all I need to do is grab my bear spray and step outside. There’s just one thing I’d change about being out here.
The frigging mosquitoes.
They’re plentiful enough that I can’t step foot out of the RV without for more than a minute in the late afternoon without being chewed on, instantly. They’re small enough that, even when I haven’t opened the door in 24 hours, they still manage to find a way inside. Today’s been a bad mosquito day: we had some pretty heavy rain last week, which resulted in a lot of big puddles being created around where we camp. Mosquitoes breed in standing water. There’s thousands of the little bastards outside right now. Despite having stuffed paper towel into the space between all of my screens and windows to buttress the weather stripping that’s already there, I’ve killed 12 of the buggers since I sat down to work, just over an hour ago. On days like this, I break out my Thermacell and set it up inside. Read the rest
When you live full-time in a motorhome, no matter how big it is, there’s not a lot of room for extras. In order to have enough space to be comfortable, its necessary to strip your belongings down to the essentials. A library full of books gives way to e-readers and tablets. Full-sized anything? You’re gonna want to swap it out for a compact model or, better still, a version of it designed to collapse down to a smaller size to store when its not in use. My Montague Paratrooper Pro mountain bike does that. I love it.
Bike designer David Montague put together the original Paratrooper folding mountain bike for the U.S. Military. It was designed to accompany parachutists out the door of a flying airplane and, once on the ground, be used to get the soldier riding it to an objective far more rapidly than if the approach were made on foot. I’d known about these bikes for years. I was obsessed with them. Moving into an RV gave me an excuse to finally get one: it’s a full-sized bike that collapses down small enough that I can stow it in one of our rig’s basement compartments, out of site and out of mind.
The bike I ride, the Paratrooper Pro, comes with a few bells and whistles that the original Montague Paratrooper lacks. It’s front forks can be locked for riding on pavement in the city, or unlocked for a smooth, suspension-aided ride down trails and dirt roads. It’s got 27 gears to the OG Paratrooper’s 24. Read the rest
Solo: A Star Wars Story, the latest Star Wars feature film and Disney's fourth, offers something new even as it stays connected to the old. I have a few gripes, but Solo is a nice side chapter to the ongoing Star Wars mythos.
Set roughly a decade before A New Hope, the original Star Wars film, Solo chronicles the journey of a 20-something Han Solo from an orphan looking for a brighter future to the swaggering but lovable scoundrel originally portrayed by Harrison Ford.
Standard backstory fare includes Solo meeting the Wookiee Chewbacca and fellow miscreant Lando Calrissian. We find out where he grew up and how he came by his surname. He acquires the Millenium Falcon and his biggest claim to fame: making the Kessel Run in a record-breaking twelve parsecs. Solo brims with action and humor—I think it's a great stand-alone film.
With guns on the public mind, now might be a good time to read Melancholy Accidents: Three Centuries of Stray Bullets and Bad Luck, an anthology of newspaper accounts of accidental shootings, mostly fatal, compiled by Peter Manseau. Spanning 1739 to 1916, they’re brief, only a half-page on average, but their old-fashioned diction, formal as a wing collar, and the ironic distance between their deadpan recitation of the facts and the mayhem they recount gives them a prosaic poetry. They uncover the matter-of-fact madness of what Manseau calls “a nation that fancies itself created and sustained by guns, yet remains resigned to being culled by them with unnerving frequency.”
Some of the book’s entries have a Fortean absurdity that splits the difference between tragic and comic, like the February 13, 1739 item from The New England Weekly Journal about some men trying out a new firearm on the broad side of a barn. As fate would have it, “one of the Bullets struck upon some piece of Iron and split it (the Bullet) in two, one piece of which flew to a considerable Distance from the Barn.” A Doctor Rice was traveling along the road; it cut him down. The other half came to rest near a cluster of people but “did no Hurt.” One of them, the Reverend Mr. Sterns, “sent the piece to the Men who were firing, with a desire that they would take more Care for the future.”
Other reports are contenders for the Darwin Award, testimonials to the stupidity of the species. Read the rest