FORESTS AND TECHNOLOGY: the impact of transition

Nathan Rott's article for NPR, "A Fire Lookout On What's Lost In A Transition To Technology", captures encroaching technology's impact on the U.S. Forest Service jobs.

The article shook an old memory loose this morning. Coffee in hand and with a desire to write rather than tweet, I decided to take another trip back in time.

It was a crisp Autumn afternoon along the California coastline. The trees had not yet donned their brilliant hats.  Regina and I had grown weary of playing with the surf, thus we took to wandering in pursuit of adventure.

I was very young, perhaps no more than six, and our neighbor down the way had invited me to their Baptist youth activity for the Thanksgiving break week. Though we were Catholics, my weary mother was eager to be shut of me.

And I, a painfully shy girl that seldom spoke to strangers, found myself thrust into a massive collection of children. It was overwhelming. I slinked off early Saturday morning, unnoticed by adults, for …

THE GREAT RECOVERY: Goodbye, lady parts

Apologies to my readers.  I haven't been able to post in a while.  My activity has been limited to Tweet-grumbling about politics.

I had surgery.

Considering the current war on opioids, I felt it was better to tear everything out than to deal with seven days of horrific pain every month.

This agony has been part of my life since I was nine years old; I've bitched about it over the years.  Though I've had prescription narcotics since I was twelve, I have never abused them for fear that any addiction would lead to having nothing at all each month.  The thought scared me, to be frank, and so I only used the medication when I had reached my pain level maximum.  And, when medication failed, I went to the ER and they'd hit me up with Dilaudid.

When you are a chronic pain sufferer, you build up an endurance over time.  I learned to live with any and all pain provided it didn't reach the level of my "cramps".

And so it was that I walked around with a necrotic g…

ROAD TRIP: (Pre-op appointment) navigation

One of the bad things about living where I do is the lack of health care professionals to meet specific needs. We have plenty of good surgeons in the area.  We just don't have an OB-GYN or an operatory capable of handling a total laparoscopic hysterectomy and bilateral salpingo oophorectomy. For that, I need Canton OH.

My insurance will pay for transportation on the day of surgery, thank goodness. As the only driver for the household, I won't be anyone's taxi for two weeks after surgery, possibly four if there are complications.

I'm not looking forward to it.

My pre-op testing is tomorrow.  It's a good hour and a half drive for us.  Better Half and I will make it into something fun. We always do.

That said, I learned from my Baltimore trip that my smart phone is a pain in the ass when it comes to displaying driving directions.  I'm going to drop the route here, in nice big letters, so the husfiend can navigate for us.

1. Get on the 7

2. Continue on OH-7 N. Take U…


I haven't blogged since arriving home. It's partly because I didn't reach my town until the wee hours of the morning, then proceeded to nap much of the weekend away.

A few final shots:

Yeah, I could have stayed one more night, but it wasn't financially feasible. So, after an 8 hour class, I got on the road for home and then drove over 5 hours.  I'm no spring chicken these days, but it wasn't that difficult a drive for me, either.

Thursday morning was another story.  I was 45 minutes late to class thanks to an obnoxious tourist.

Baltimore's rush hour traffic isn't anything to sneeze at.  You have to be a bit aggressive but also keep your head on a swivel. Quick reaction times makes this doable. That wasn't the case for the tourist. He decided to run a red through the intersection just as my driver launched forward.

It wasn't a heinous crash though I was still wincing from it on Sunday, and my neck is killing me tonight.

The other man was fully …

BALTIMORE: First full day

Beautiful Baltimore.  While the sites are lovely, the people are more so.

My hotel is located in an area teeming with humanity. It's a melting pot personified by the hotel's staff, the Uber drivers, and the employees working at the Marriott where the convention is held. It's a warm feeling that I haven 't experienced since leaving California.

I had also forgotten about traffic.  Pittsburgh has its share but, overall, the driver's are polite. Baltimore is a demolition derby.

This morning's driver cautioned me about evening rush hour.  "Don't blink," he chided.  He hailed from Jamaica and, after three years here in the US, he still hadn't adapted to Baltimore's streets.

He was somewhat correct - shutting one's eyes is better than blinking.

My training started at 0800.  I arrived at the Marriott amidst a sea of uniforms.  Yeah, I found the convention.  I wasn't able to explore any vendor areas; IG training was on the ground floor. V…

BALTIMORE: Land of road boats, loud honks and friendly people

So I drove to Baltimore today.  Against my will.

No, seriously, it's a required training course. Required. I wasn't keen on going, mainly because it's a financial strain for a household already burdened by upcoming surgeries and other expenses. Sure, the course is free. The lodging, gas, parking, food, and more parking aren't covered.  I plan to take the bus tomorrow (I'm at a different hotel) to save funds rather than pay double parking garage fees.

That said...

So I drove to Baltimore today. And it was raining. Sideways.

No, SERIOUSLY.  It came like a sheet that rocked my car as I took the exit for Inner Harbor. I can handle rain.  Better Half and I have driven through all sorts of shit.  What I can't handle is my Explorer turning into a road boat.

A road boat, people!

I should compliment Ford on their watertight vehicles.  I never planned to float from Baltimore to D.C., but I'm sure I could with enough determination and some good GPS directions. (I…


I'm sitting here watching two dogs share the same Nylabone.  Gus and Hershey have developed a powerful bond, one built on trust and perhaps unspoken empathy.

Our environment and experiences guide our actions. This process is hardwired into most animals as a form of preservation. The more potent the lesson, the more likely it is to be remembered. 

Gus was found waddling downtown Steubenville with his litter. A young man packed them up in a box and brought them to the humane society.  He couldn't find the mother, and feared he hadn't caught the entire little.  It's possible that the mother was struck by a car.

That moment of separation touched Angus' life, a bit of baggage that he still caries with him even if he can't remember the event itself.  To this day, Gus backs away if you reach out to pick him up. He frets if anyone in his environment cries, shouts, or expresses pain.

It may also account for his fiercely protective nature, and may be the reason he'…