I’m Only Gonna Ask Once

His name is Alfeo (Al-Feh-Oh). We met at one of five (!) micro-breweries my friend Joe and I stopped at during an urban bike ride recently in Anchorage. As I was petting his friend Effie (below), Alfeo moved toward me and took my forearm (the one attached to the hand I was petting Effie with) into his mouth, big as a catcher’s mitt! Probably because I’d been drinking I wasn’t alarmed (plus just look at that face). He then turned his head (and my arm) away from Effie as if trying to place my hand on his back. “I get it! Alfeo wants me to pet him instead!” Once I obey he releases my arm and all is well. With the possible exception of Effie, who looked to me with those mournful eyes.

You will pet me now
No, pet me plz

Ho ho ho!

Sadly, my Deer are no longer being Feared. 🤨 However, if consolations matter to you, know that 27.5 (of 28) quarters had been played before it was clear who the winner of the Bucks-Celtics series was. And I bear no shame joining the chorus of yeah-buters that if not for the loss of Khris Middleton’s expected contributions on the court, The Deer would still be being feared right now in Miami. Anyway, hat tip to a great season men, it just wasn’t to be this year.

Let’s turn to politics! 😬

You may have heard Alaska’s one and only congress critter, Don Young, died inflight on a plane from LA to Seattle (he was headed for Alaska). He was the longest-serving Republican in congressional history, 49 years. And to think I was a naive 13-year old learning how to kiss girls when Don Young first entered the hallowed halls of congress. Amaze balls. Many voters in Alaska have been saying for decades Don Young has to go, he’d become the poster boy for term limits, but I don’t think this is what they had in mind. (Although in private, certain people exasperated by multiple failed attempts to replace him have in fact conceded. “I guess we’re just gonna have to wait for him to die.“). In many elections over past decades Young ran unopposed. In others where he faced a challenger, it was never close. His record in congress is mixed, though one thing’s for sure, when it came to bringing home the bacon Don Young was no Ted Stevens, aka ‘Uncle Ted’ (who, curiously, also met his end inside a plane). 🤔

So now, finally, we really do need to replace Don Young. There’s a special election being held to do that. There are an eye-popping 48 candidates on the ballot. Interesting, isn’t it, that in past debates around the value of public service, certain of these candidates might well have waved a petulant fist and spasmed, “Government is the problem!” Yet now, evidently, they want to be employed by it? 🙄 And look who else is on the ballot! Why, it’s the world’s best known bringer of gifts

He literally lives in North Pole, AK. You cannot make this stuff up. Judging from his campaign web site Santa is a Sanders-style democratic socialist. A worldview consistent, I presume, with his reputation as the bringer of gifts. You may recognize other names on the ballot. Perhaps most notably, the deservedly besmirched Sarah Palin. I mean c’mon, the last time she held public office (AK Governor, ’09) she suddenly quit, offering the lame excuse that all the distractions and pressures of ethics investigations were inconsistent with finishing out her term. (Ha! You ain’t seen nothing yet, hon. Wait’ll you get to DC, people like that will eat you alive). Anyway, she subsequently built a big house in Arizona and moved there with her husband (now ex-husband) and family. Although they kept their house in Alaska which continued to be her state of primary residence? Not 100% sure about that last part.

In any case, now she wants to be Young’s replacement. In order to do that, she first needs to be one of the top four vote-getters in this special primary election, to be held June 11th. After that a general election will be held among those four to decide the winner. I didn’t cast my vote for Palin or Santa. I voted for the gardener.

Defense!

Whenever the topic turns to NBA basketball and I’m asked what I think wins championships, I always answer: Elite, sustained defense. You win a game if you have more points than your opponent does when time expires, duh. But some people forget there are two ways to do that, score more points on offense is one; limit the points your opponent scores to fewer than what you scored is the other. You do that latter with elite defensive plays.

I submit the following into evidence. Game 5, Milwaukee Bucks vs. Boston Celtics. That is pure poetry, Mr Jrue Holiday, pure poetry. Aka elite defense. Not to mention the save immediately following this block, itself another example of elite, presence-of-mind defense

Jrue Holiday’s clean block on Marcus Smart in the wee seconds of game 5 to keep the lead for Milwaukee. Because sans that block the shot surely would have been made.

And as if that wasn’t brilliant enough, mere seconds later Mr. Holiday does it again, to once and for all cinch the victory for Milwaukee. These two defensive plays (arguably three) by the same player back to back will surely be entered into the NBA annals of legendary, game-deciding plays.

With mere seconds to play Jrue Holiday steals the ball from an unsuspecting Marcus Smart, again foiling what might have been a game-tying 3-pt shot.

Fear The Deer!

Big Head Todd Was In The House!

Us by “night” at the venue. This would’ve been ~11:00 pm? Happy Wife showing a little perspiration on her brow. Not surprising given we were packed liked sardines near the mosh pit. Fantastic show!

Quack

I don’t want to work
I want to bang on the drum all day
I don’t want to play
I just want to bang on the drum all day

-Todd Rundgren, Bang The Drum All Day

A Long Drive

One look into the night sky is all it takes. To feel irrelevant.

Consider that light travels through space eleven million, one hundred sixty thousand miles a minute. So in one day it travels sixteen billion, seventy million, four hundred thousand miles. To drive that distance (@ 60 MPH) would take (roughly) two hundred sixty eight million hours.

I have been alive on this planet roughly five hundred forty six thousand hours. Call it a lifetime. If I had spent every hour of that time driving a straight line into space (@ 60 MPH) I’d be roughly thirty three million miles from earth by now. It would take me four hundred eighty six lifetimes of continuous driving to reach the same point in space that light travels in one hour.

(For perspective: @60 mph it would take 165 days to drive to the moon, roughly six months, allowing for pee stops along the way).

Stop and think about this a second (by which time light will have traveled~186,000 miles!). Especially in light of the latest report from NASA that its newest telescope, the James Webb, recently crushed its predecessor’s record (The Hubble) for furthest object in space observed. Which was…wait for it…roughly thirteen billion light years distant. Which, if I’ve done the math correctly, is on the order of ten Sixtillion ( 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000) miles away. Pretty far. And growing! Since we understand the universe is expanding.

The James Web detected a galaxy roughly 2 billion light years to the right of Hubble’s record

There are a lot of galaxies (actually, galaxy groups) out there rapidly moving away from each other. Eventually, if the universe continues to expand at this rate, the galaxy groups will be so far away from our Milky Way even our most powerful telescopes won’t be able to detect them. It’s not all bad, though. To the average earthling a million years hence, the night sky will appear unchanged, pretty much like it is now, since expansion isn’t occurring within our galaxy (or even galaxy cluster, so far as I understand it).

When I hear certain people imagine heaven, I imagine they imagine it is out there beyond the Reionisation Era somewhere (see figure). Still others believe it exists beyond the Big Bang, or, more precisely, that the Big Bang was God. The idea that instead of being opposed in their fundamental worldviews, physicists and religionists are in a sense talking about the same thing. I don’t believe science has an answer for every question, certainly not to the level of satisfaction we would like. On the other hand, I resist, and have always resisted, any committed belief in supernatural things. About as far as I am willing to come in that regard is: “I can’t necessarily rule it out.” Overall, though, when I ponder the night sky, accept my insignificance in the grand milieu of a mysterious universe, the sheer vastness and mystery of it all is enough unknown for me to grapple with in one lifetime.

The night sky over Sedona. Looks like a big question mark to me. Wonder how long it would take to drive there

The Happy Uterus

While in Utah stuck in traffic somewhere near Salt Lake City (SLC) we spotted a tandem Ad across two billboards separated by about 1000′

My first thought was Utah is the last state where I’d expect to see the word uterus appear on a billboard. On second thought, no, maybe the most likely state. I admit this arises from an assumption I have about the people who live in Utah. That is, pro-family people who generally speaking have an exaggerated interest in encouraging Utahans to make more babies, especially babies who will themselves grow up to make even more babies!

Turns out the Ad sponsor, mixhers, according to their About Us page, is a company that makes an holistic elixir formulated specifically to “stifle our monthly strife,” aka menstrual inflammation. The main takeaway: A smiling uterus is a competent uterus! Also from the About Us page, a photo of what I assume are some of mixher’s employees

Those are some wholesome-looking white women. Each of them possessing, I presume, a smiling uterus. From a local marketing perspective this kinda makes sense. Only two in one hundred people living in SLC are black, compared to my hometown, Milwaukee, where roughly one in five people are black (source). On the other hand, if your goal is to expand your product reach to uteruses country-wide (mixher’s offers free shipping nationally on orders >$150), then you might consider peppering that photo a little bit. Although, to be honest, I claim no particular expertise in marketing products to make uteruses happy. So what do I know.

We opted to drive back to Seattle via Utah, Idaho, Oregon, and Washington. Driving down to Sedona we stuck mainly to the west coast to avoid snow in mountain passes. I was struck by the massive number of trucks on the road. In fact for some of the longest stretches it was mostly trucks, only punctuated here and there by a few passenger vehicles. And I hear truck drivers are in high demand, we need a lot more of them. HW was struck by how much of the American west, at least from the perspective of major highways, was wide open and barren – no people, no services, no nothing except parched desert and tumbleweeds. I commented that a lot of it is owned by the federal government, some of which has been leased to ranchers (e.g. cattle grazing), although I didn’t have an estimate at hand. Turns out it’s larger than I thought, close to half

Federal government claims ownership of about 47% of American West.

In Alaska it’s close to 70%. The libertarian in me would like to see most of this land sold into private hands, maybe to building contractors who can build big homes for all those babies the Utahans are gonna have. The tree-hugger in me would prefer to see it all turned into one big national park as we transition Americans to eating Impossible burgers.

Speaking of national parks, this was the taken at the south rim of the Grand Canyon (Navajo Overlook), HW’s first ever visit

The spiritualist in me would prefer this cathedral remain untouched, left just as it is, forever.

Among the Red Rocks

HW performs some needed trail maintenance. This was very near the White Line “trail” looming above the Chicken Point overlook in Sedona, AZ. You can see portions of it behind HW, a thin white streak set against the ferruginous sandstone. I put trail in quotes because to observe the White Line from the overlook below you’d think a person would have to be daft to try and traverse it on foot, never mind on a mountain bike. One slip up is all it would take to fall to the canyon floor below, some 150-200′ (?) Yet certain intrepid souls attempt it all the time

Completing the challenge requires cycling along the line right to left, and then at one point descending while turning 180ยบ to ride a lower shelf back to the starting point. Seriously, take a look at that verticality! This is the most terrifying point in the traverse, because as you descend that 25′ or so you’re pointed directly downhill, right into the jaws of the canyon 😲 Like that first guy up there. The rider behind him stopped at that point, evidently deciding he’d prefer to live to ride another day, and butt-slid down it while holding his bike in front of him. On reaching the shelf below he carefully re-mounted his bike and pedaled back to the start. Even that part would be terrifying to ride if you ask me.

Yes, one could very easily die attempting this feat. According to locals nobody has, although some have fallen off their bikes but managed (somehow) to grab hold of the rock and “stick” to it to prevent falling to their death. Their bikes weren’t so lucky. The canyon floor, I assume, is littered with bike debris.

Unable to resist a closer look my friend Scott and I hiked up to the start of the line. The rest of our group followed a bit later. This is Scott with his hand on the start of the White Line. Gives you a real sense of the steepness and exposure of this beast

For sure we have ventured out on mountain bikes ourselves, to explore the red rocks and their various declivities. Although we limited our rides to the blue trails (intermediate) avoiding black diamonds altogether. As they say – Live to ride another day!

Guess Where

We’re here for about five weeks, chilling at a VRBO, with numerous friends visiting throughout.

By night, other visitors parade through the front yard. Black Dog’s never seen anything like em 🤨

On The Road

We’re on the road. We shipped one of our cars to Washington state, I’m here with it now awaiting the arrival of HW and Black Dog. The car arrived days ahead of schedule and sat in a warehouse until yesterday. The battery was dead and even after a jump none of the features on the key fob worked (door lock, auto-start, open/close rear hatch). Drove to NAPA for a battery test, it passed, but barely. Stopped and restarted the car but the key fob features were still non-operational. So I drove to a nearby dealership for a new battery and key fob reset. Amazingly, service was open and not too busy, they got me in straight away, in about an hour I was good to go.

Shout out to Sharps Roasthouse. 1/2 rack of fruit-wood smoked St Louis ribs, mashers, coleslaw, rings of grilled corn. Played well with a glass of Washington State Pinot Noir. First restaurant I’ve been to that required proof of vaccination or a recent negative test to get in. Fortunately, I’d brought my vax card along.

Ukraine…smh. Can we get some adults in the foreign policy room, plz.

Headed further south this afternoon!