Dog Mountain Road Trip – Day One (May 30, 2022)

I’m taking Sweet Potato on a trip to visit Dog Mountain, in Saint Johnsbury, Vermont. Stephen Huneck was an artist who created art (mostly in wood cuttings) which featured dogs. When he passed away, he specified in his will that his estate should be used to create a public dog park (150 acres!) where anyone can bring their dog.

Why am I taking my dog to Vermont to go to a dog park? Two reasons really. First off, if you had a dog, and wanted to take a brief vacation, why wouldn’t you go to a place named Dog Mountain? Second, and perhaps more importantly, Sweet Potato spends a lot of her time waiting for humans to be done with work, this is an opportunity to let her “dog it up” and have some stories to share with her friends in her old age.

Today’s leg of the trip took me to Level Green to wish Mom a Happy Birthday in person.

While I was there, I took Sweet Potato for a walk along the Westmoreland Heritage Trail, which is built on the former right-of-way for the Turtle Creek railroad.

Sign explaining that the Saunders Station depot was named for the family farm established by King Saunders in the 1800s. The farm was sold to developers in the 1990s or early 2000s to create Level Green’s “Kings Manor” neighborhood.

Growing up, I always somewhat assumed Saunders Station Road was named for a train station, but the above sign is the first actual confirmation I’ve had.

Aside from running across a couple flatbed cars which derailed near the Saunders Station Road crossing, I never saw a train on those tracks. (Now that they’ve been replaced by a bike path, the odds are I never will.)

Sweet Potato and I walked in a North-Easterly direction toward Murrysville. We were somewhat time constrained and only walked about a mile out, but there were still things worth seeing.

Less than a quarter mile from the road, the Heritage Trail crosses underneath the Pennsylvania Turnpike. Unsurprisingly, there’s a lot of graffiti. What surprised me was that not all of it was random tagging. I suspect the pop-culture images (e.g. Dexter and Homer) may be something that was done for the Heritage Trail project, but I’m not entirely certain.

Then there’s this one. I recognize “Squidward” as a reference to Sponge Bob Squarepants. But “Squidward Tortellini” seems an odd thing to scratch into a railing.

I’ve driven past this house on Abers Creek Road any number of times. I just knew it looked like it was made of stone. I had no idea of its historical significance, nor that it was called “Valley Tower” until I ran across this sign.

Sign explaining that the “Valley Tower” on Abers Creek Road was designed by Pittsburgh architect Henry Horbostel.

Vampires and Health Care

Vampires are, of course, unable to enter a dwelling to which they have never been invited to enter. So for a time, it became common for ambulance companies to be staffed entirely by vampires; after all, only a fool would turn aside the local aid society.

This arrangement has become less tenable however as humans have become addicted to increasingly noxious chemical concoctions.

(Image by Phil Gyford. Used under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic license)

Midwest Radio

I like to listen to the radio during the day. It provides a nice level of background noise without being nearly as distracting as working in an open plan office.

But, about a week ago, I got bored with the local stations I’ve been streaming and told my Google device to “Stream a random radio station from somewhere in the midwest.”

To my surprise, it worked.

The first song I heard was Loretta Lynn’s “Coal Miner’s Daughter.” OK, it’s a oldies station. This is consistent with “somewhere in the midwest.”

Next came a station break and the DJ had what I can only describe as a brogue. It had been a while since St. Patrick’s, but OK….. I don’t know what schtick he’s in the middle of, so I’m not gonna judge.

The next commercial break, I heard more people with what I decided were probably Irish accents, but the ads were targeting the farming community (plowing contests, farm supplies and the like). The brands weren’t anything familiar, but there are still some regional banks and supermarket chains. So I kept listening, wondering where this station might be located.

Google had identified the station as “Midwest Radio 96.1 FM” so I put those words into the search box.

And yep, it turns out the station really is out in the Midwest.

Midwest Ireland that is!

So, I may have a new favorite radio station.

(Image via, public domain image under Creative Commons Universal license)

Tracking Billionaires’ Planes

So, this is fun. CNet did a story about a college kid wrote a bot to track the whereabouts of Elon Musk’s private plane and post it on Twitter. Musk offered him $5,000 to take it down, the kid counter-offered, asking for an internship, but Musk apparently wasn’t interested.

So, the kid now has an online store selling merchandise with an image of Musk smoking “something” with the slogan, “I know how high Elon is.”

So, would you like to know the location of Elon Musk’s plane?

Not interested in Elon Musk? He also has trackers for the planes belonging to Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos. (It looks like he’s set up trackers for a number of other planes as well.)

(Photo via flickr user Anna Zvereva, used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Wordle strategies

Like many folks, I’ve jumped into playing the “Wordle” daily word-puzzle. I think what impresses me most about it is that, not only is the game engaging, it also doesn’t appear to be monetized. (It does utilize the Google Tag Manager, but that just seems to be so the game’s creator can find out how many people are playing it — answer: A LOT!)

My usual approach to the puzzle is to start with something like STARE; a word with a lot of common letters. Assuming I get any letters right, my next step is to think up another word which uses those letters as my next guess, and so on.

Today, I used a different strategy. My first guess yielded three letters (albeit, with none in the correct position). For my second guess, I used five entirely different letters. This time I had two letters right, and one of them in the correct position.

At this point, I had all five letters; I just had to figure out where four of them belonged. And I was able to solve the puzzle in three guesses. (It generally takes me four guesses, sometimes five.)

I’ll need to consider whether to continue with this strategy or go back to the old one.

What strategy do you use?

Wordle 211 3/6


Does the name Pavlov ring a bell?

Oh, the random stuff that pops into my brain…. What was the name of Pavlov’s dog?

Turns out I’m not the first to wonder that. In 1992, a researcher named Tim Tully went to Russia to visit the last location where Pavlov worked and wrote an article about his search for the dogs’ names (it turns out there were at least 40).

The article includes photos of the dogs, with their names (technically, photos of the photos in an album), but only lists a few of them in the article text.

Doing a bit more searching I found a Quora article which has the full list of the dogs’ names. Some of them translate as names we might give dogs today (Buddy, Clown, Jack, and the like).

  1. Bierka
  2. Nalyot
  3. Golovan
  4. Arap
  5. Arleekin (Clown)
  6. Avgust
  7. Baikal
  8. Barbus (Big Dog)
  9. Box
  10. Chingis Kahn
  11. Chyorny (Black)
  12. Diana
  13. Drujok (Buddy)
  14. Ikar
  15. Iks (X)
  16. Jack
  17. Joy
  18. Jurka
  19. Krasavietz (Beauty)
  20. Laska (Ferret)
  21. Lyadi (Lady)
  22. Martik
  23. Mikah (Nice Girl)
  24. Milord
  25. Moladietz (Good Boy)
  26. Murashka (Cute Little Thing)
  27. Nord
  28. Norka (Mink)
  29. Novichok (New One)
  30. Pastrel (Fast One)
  31. Pingiel
  32. Rex
  33. Rijiy I
  34. Rijiy II
  35. Rogdi (Old Russian Prince)
  36. Ruslan
  37. Tungus
  38. Umnitza
  39. Valiet (Jack)
  40. Zloday (Thief)

Leaving Facebook

The Washington Post ran an article recently with the title You’ve decided to quit Facebook. Here’s how to migrate your online life elsewhere. That’s a little misleading as the article covers more than just the how, but also gets into some of the complexities of leaving, and even why leaving may not be practical for some folks.

And it is difficult. I’ve been on the verge of leaving Facebook for several years. Partially because I have no great need for Mr. Zuckerberg to track me in more and more detail. Partially because of the potential to lose entire days of my life scrolling through the feed. Partially because I’ve seen enough to be convinced that social media is indeed responsible for the spread of misinformation and the resulting social ills.

But it’s tough to leave. As that article points out, there’s a huge network effect. Which is to say “I’m on Facebook because that’s where most of my friends are online.”

I held off on joining Facebook for a long time as I didn’t see the purpose of a “micro-blogging site” as Facebook and Twitter were described at the time. I already had an active blog, and didn’t see much point in posting things twice. (Indeed, with my own blog, I own my words as opposed to letting someone else make money from them.)

The turning point came in 2009 when a friend’s baby was born, and the announcement went out on Facebook and I only found out when another friend forwarded the news.

I’ve been on Facebook ever since. Posting memes, letting people know what’s going on in my life (most of our friends found out via Facebook when my wife and I got engaged).

Over the past several years, I’ve been reducing my presence on Facebook. I still post things that made me laugh, photos of my dog (who also frequently makes me laugh), and Facebook pages are still an effective way of promoting various other activities.

And it’s still how I keep up with what my friends are doing. Kid photos, news of my nieces and nephews, vacation photos, and more.

But I tend not to share my day to day routine. If something requires more than a sentence or two (e.g. “Glorify the Lions“), I’m more likely to put my words on a site I control (i.e. one of the “Chaos and Penguins” sites). Instead of Facebook Messenger, I’ll send text messages or emails when it’s possible.

I don’t know if I’ll ever completely leave Facebook, but I doubt I’ll ever fully embrace it again.

Glorify the Lions

A friend recently shared an African proverb, leading me to wonder about the other side’s perspective….

Until the Lion Learns How to Write, Every Story will Glorify the Hunter

“And so you see young one, as we once hunted the humans, they too eventually learned to hunt us. First with the spear, then the bow and arrow, and with time, they learned to come for us with guns.”

“But we remember the old days. While we would only hunt for food, and to protect ourselves, the humans hunted us for sport. Yes, for their own barbaric entertainment.”

“In the year the humans called 2019, a great plague fell against them, diminishing their numbers to but a fraction of what it had been. And now, 100 years later, we return to the hunt; looking not only for food, but also culling their herds ‘lest they become so populous again as to threaten all within the great Circle of Life.”

Sailing with Magellan

A random memory….

During a high school discussion of Ferdinand Magellan’s expedition to sail around the world, one classmate asked, in all apparent seriousness, why Magellan didn’t just go through the Panama Canal.

The question may have possibly led to some merriment.

In these more enlightened days, I assume everyone understands he was either trying to save some money on tolls or possibly had left his E-Z Pass transponder in the other ship.

(Spanish Galleon image used according to Pixabay license.)

No Ordinary Sneeze

It was no ordinary sneeze.

A particularly vigorous sneeze of the ordinary variety might, at best, upset a small gravy boat. This was not such a sneeze.

A sneeze of the super-human variety might propel the entire Spanish Armada across the world so quickly that would be no time to drop a coin in the toll basket at the Panama Canal, even if one had existed at that time. A sneeze of this sort would not be troubled by such an anachronism.

No, this was a category 45 sneeze. The sort which, had it occurred within the pages of a Fantastic Four comic book, would have caused even Galactus, Devourer of Worlds, to stop midmeal to say “Bless You” while offering you a solar-system sized handkerchief.

(Header image: public domain via WikiMedia Commons.)