Courteous Driving

“The Assertive is the creme-de-la-creme of the selfish-driving cars. It doesn’t cost any points to pass every other model and it doesn’t wait for anything, with the possible exception of other Assertives.” says the salesman.

“What happens when two Assertives meet at the same light going in cross-directions?” asks your son.

“They bid for the right to pass first so it all depends on how many points you configure the car for and what your reserves are. If you are in hurry, you post a lot of points and configure the car to bid high.”

“Is it safe?” you ask.

“Oh, of course, the bidding all happens in the blink of an eye and it is completely automated.”

“How much do the points cost?” you ask.

“You shouldn’t think about points, sir, you should think about your son making it to his new middle school class on time.”

“I will worry about the points thank you. What’s the bottom line on the Assertive?”

“50K.”

“Rude,” you say under your breath. “I said my ceiling is 15K, not 50K. Stick to my requirements, or I’m walking.”

The salesman doesn’t look the least bit apologetic.

“Over here we have the Timid. It’s our entry-level model in our line of self-driving cars. It’s completely selfless.”

“Dad, I don’t want a selfless-driving car, they suck. They stop for everything, even squirrels. I will get laughed out of middle school. When the kids with selfish-driving cars come by, they’ll make me look like a wimp. I will never get a girlfriend.”

“Sticking to a budget is more important to me than getting you laid.”

“Dad! You’re embarrassing me.”

“May I suggest the Courteous? You will rule the road over the Timids and you can go into Excuse Me mode if you really need to get anywhere in a hurry.”

“How much do the points cost for that?”

“They are just a little more expensive than the Assertive points, but you can only use so many in a year.”

“How much?”

“You shouldn’t think about the price of points, sir, you should think about getting your son to the hospital as quickly as possible in an emergency.”

“To the hospital? I thought these cars never have an accident.”

“These cars are flawless. I’m just saying if something were ever to come up.”

“How much?”

“A basic model without any add ons is 23K.”

You grumble under your breath. You look at the hopeful eyes of your son. It angers you to go so high over budget but you are a sucker for your kid’s happiness. You cave, “Ok. Let’s go with the Courteous.”

Your son’s face glows, “Yes! Thanks, dad.”

The salesman asks your son, “Will you be driving to other places besides your school?”

“I will drive everywhere from now on.”

The salesman puts his arms around your son’s shoulders and says, “Let’s talk about some of the Intrepid upgrades.”

You are feeling anything but Courteous.

http://www.thetembo.com/clip/?s=feral+cars for a related post, if you enjoyed this one.

Backed Out in the Outback

Okay. I have to come clean. I read the weather report of rain followed by overnight temps in the teens. Although I could hear the call of nature, it was the anticipation of the call of nature four times in the middle of the night in subfreezing weather that told me to wait until next time to take spectacular sun-on-the-peak in the reflection-of-the-lake pictures. A man has got to know his limitations, run his own race, stay within himself, ride his own ride, hike his own hike. I still went on the trip but elected to do day hikes instead. I hiked in with the group I intended to backpack with but turned around about six miles into the trip and hiked out by myself. I spent the next day doing hikes in the Bristlecone Pine forest.

The world is opening up again but there are still many concessions to COVID. If you travel, make sure you bring your mask or you won’t be allowed in. To anything. I’m sure in a pinch, you could wrap a bandana or scarf or something around your face, but if you anticipate needing any service or any interaction with anyone indoors, bring your mask. If you are worried about the disease itself, bring hand sanitizer. Some places have it and some places don’t. I will let you know in a week or so if I managed to escape.

The biggest concession on the hike was the closure of the road to vehicles. We had to walk 3.5 miles just to get to the trailhead. And then I had to walk the 3.5 miles out. For me, that meant over half of my hike was walking the road from the parking lot to the trailhead. More on that later though. All the visitor centers are closed. So don’t expect any support. I imagine this will change in the next week or two.

The other big concern was conditioning, or more accurately, lack of it. Today, walking is painful, my calves are completely worked. Judging by when it hurts the most, I think it’s the downhill more than the uphill that worked them the most. Surprisingly, my wind and my heart rate felt pretty good even on the eleven thousand foot hikes in the Bristlecone Forest. My feet held up and my back was fine, despite problems during my few training hikes (Daley Ranch, http://www.thetembo.com/clip/2020/05/24/stanley-peak/ Daley Ranch 2 http://www.thetembo.com/clip/2020/05/28/daley-ranch-addendum/ , and Daley Ranch 3 http://www.thetembo.com/clip/2020/05/31/daley-ranch-3/). I think basketball must have been sufficient training in the past because I didn’t have this problem on previous hikes but not playing is another concession to COVID.

On the first day, I hiked Shadow Creek about halfway before turning back. I did the easy half, descending from 9250 ft elevation at the parking lot, to about 8400 feet along the river, with my friends. But then I had to come back. So I did about twelve miles total and close to a thousand-foot elevation gain, though most of it was on the road. The road back by myself on this hike compared to the trip I took two years ago is a study in contrasts. Two years ago, I stood on a packed bus that weaved in and out of heavy traffic for the slow ride to the trailhead. Instead of squeaking brakes and exhaust, I had the road entirely to myself. I could hear birds chirping, water running, wind whistling through the trees, and smell perfumed plants. Several times, I stopped on the road to take pictures of the Minarets in the distance. A couple of scooters scooted by. Two guys on electric bicycles went flying past. Their batteries died on the uphill and I ended up catching up to them pushing their bikes complaining about technology. But that was it.

On the second day, I drove to Bristlecone Forest. The Bristlecone Forest is on the other side of Owen Valley. It’s about an hour’s drive from Bishop to the visitor center at Schulman Grove. The gates were open but the visitor center was closed. I did the four-mile loop trail through the grove. It’s well-marked with mile markers, has strategically placed benches, and a self-guided tour but no brochures or maps stocked to tell you what they want you to see.

Trees dot the distant hills seemingly spaced like a planned forest without any undergrowth. The wildflowers that do grow are all miniaturized. In addition to their incredible longevity, Bristlecones have an amazing range of deep colors from tan to red to brown, twisted wood particularly as they age, and haunting shapes.

I drove the eleven miles of unpaved road to Patriarch Grove over the eleven thousand foot mark. There are a couple of steep grades, at least from the point of view of a Prius C. The road is well-graded with only the occasional washboard. The last mile is a single-vehicle rough but not uneven road. I had to slow down to the five to ten mph range to get through that stretch without rattling pieces of the car off onto the road.

There are two short loop trails. One through the grove about a quarter-mile long and the other to an overlook, about a half-mile. Given the time of year and lack of atmosphere at that altitude, you might be worried about sunburn. But with temperatures in the mid-forties and gusty wind, I didn’t have any skin exposed to burn. The grove is right at the tree line. At eleven thousand feet, there is not much growing. It’s easy to see why the bald mountain is called White Mountain.

The views from the White Mountains are incredible. To the west, you can see hundreds of miles of the Eastern Sierras. To the east, the entire Great Basin unfolds out as far as you can see, including views of salt flats and sand dunes in Death Valley. It’s a big sky country that a camera can only begin to catch. That’s my way of telling you, you should go see it for yourself.

Here are the pics, hope you enjoy.

https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1PgheqcV0EEZjbd72dfnPwS_luhshkaI0?usp=sharing

I Forgot to Remember

H: Remind me if I forget.

Y: How will I know if you forget?

H: Forget what?

Y: To remind you of what you forgot.

H: How would I know if I forgot?

Y: Because you told me to remind you to remember.

H: To remember what?

Y: Whatever it is that you forgot.

H: How am I supposed to remember what I forgot.

Y: Well, I’m reminding you to remember, just like you told me.

H: I forgot what I told you to remind me of.

Y: You told me to remind you if you forget.

H: Forget what?

Y: You weren’t specific. Forget it.

H: I can’t forget it.

Y: Why not?

H: Because you just reminded me to remember whatever it is that I forgot.

Y: So you remember?

H: Remember what?

Y: Whatever it is that you forgot.

H: How could I forget?

Y: It just happens.

H: What just happens?

Y: I forget.