‘Welcome to Massachusetts,’ the sign says

I guess we’ll see how long that lasts. Honestly, I’m still trying to figure out what I’m doing tomorrow: Nothing is simple, everything is interdependent, and until it’s all in place, I can’t make money.

I know. I’m long overdue for a vacation. I think the last time I took one must have been in October 2000, while I was working for Linuxcare. Before that, jeez, what a load of chickenshit jobs, I think I probably had to take one with Quinn Company. I left that job is 1985, so 1984 is the last possible year I could have had an actual paid vacation before that one at Linuxcare.

So now I’m here, albeit with a verging on stale Ph.D., hoping for something different.

The motel room seems nice enough. It’s a bit small, but it will work. And yeah, it was cheap (thanks Mom for finding it!).

One final observation from the trip. I’m still sorting out what to do about gasoline. Combining Shell premium with a container of the Techron might even work better than just using Chevron. Then I tried Sunoco, which has an extra high octane-rating gasoline, again in combination with a container of the Techron. I think this was even better.

We’ll see. Calm your typewriter fingers my fickle positivist fans (really? are there any?) I know perfectly well that there are at least two variables I’m failing to account for here: Probably the more important of the two is that I only started using the Techron intensively when I ran out of Chevron stations (that was in Wyoming, with a station that one of my phones could find, and the other couldn’t). It could be that, since I’m still using top tier fuels, I’m getting some synergistic effect with the detergents in those fuels.

That’s only probably the more important of the two variables. The other one is that I’m clearly doing a different sort of driving, driving that’s much easier on the engine. I’ve just gotten my oil changed and driven something like 3000 miles across country. Normally by now, with the driving I was doing, my oil would be starting to look moderately dirty. That amount over the full mark on my dipstick would probably be gone and then some. Neither of those are currently true. The oil, when I checked it this morning, was still over the full line and just beginning to show some color. I expect a return to normal behavior when I resume driving for Uber and/or Lyft, but it’s conceivable (IANAM – I Am Not A Mechanic) that this drive has had a beneficial effect on the engine and, further, that I have not yet seen the beginning of a tapering off in improvement.

We shall see, but getting back to the story, the first thing I wanted to do getting out of my hotel room this morning was find gas. I checked: Chevron wasn’t available around Oregon, Ohio, either. I found a Shell station that I guess was far enough away down the road that when I’d fueled up and pointed to my motel, Google routed me a very scenic route around the south shore of Lake Erie. Highway 2 goes through some absolutely gorgeous country, that yes, looks very much like what it probably looked like when I was a kid, and presumably longer.

I hardly even caught a glimpse of Lake Erie and maybe it was just that after Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, and much of Nebraska with hardly any trees, I was needing trees. If so, this was the antidote, the cure, whatever. Early spring has progressed a little further here: More than one species of tree is starting to bud, and they bud in distinctly different hues. I found it absolutely spectacular and, sadly, didn’t have an opportunity to photograph—it just seemed too narrow and too disruptive to pull over for the photograph.

But I stopped at a rest stop in Pennsylvania, in that little nib on the northwest county and took this picture:IMG_20190418_113418.jpgYou just don’t get forests like this out west, at least that I know of. And honestly, I think the winter to early-spring hues of these trees is under-appreciated.

But once again, to return to the story, I was thinking about people who have lived here for generations—this is much, much, much more common here than in the west—who are now to be convinced that what they are doing is harmful to the environment: Sure, some of it is cultivated, but to many, that’s the natural state of things. If what they are doing—and have been doing for generations—is harmful, I’m guessing a few ask, how come they don’t see it in their local environment?

And then there’s the fairly obvious follow-up question (I think one of my relatives might have put it to me when I was a kid) observing that it seems like it’s big city folks who are all upset about the environment, so if that’s the case, couldn’t it possibly be that they have fouled their own nests?

I can imagine those folks in Wyoming asking that last question too. And yes, they might be shortsighted in their premises and their implicit assumptions. Maybe they should be more appreciative of a fragile balance that makes everything they, sadly including livestock, do. But what I’m talking about, albeit superficially looking through the windows of my car, is the lived reality of people who are much more often Donald Trump supporters than not. We have to answer on those terms and I’m still thinking about how to do that.

Oh man, did I mention my mom’s vegan broccoli macaroni and cheese is amazing? I’m having more tonight, now that I’ve partly moved into my motel room. It’s just so much easier when I have access to a microwave and everything is close at hand. What would really have been good here is a way to heat it in the car—except I really didn’t have the room.

It’s going to take a while before I catch up.


Just sayin’. . . .

Jon Christian, “Pepsi Plans to Project a Giant Ad in the Night Sky Using Cubesats,” Futurism, April 13, 2019, https://futurism.com/pepsi-orbital-billboard-night-sky

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