Jeff Wagg

23Apr/101

Back in VT… and a story about road animals..

So, I'm back in my unsold condo, surrounded by boxes and bags and... I guess I should unpack? I have no idea. Even though the house is on the market, I'm going to take things slow. I'm tired, this isn't fun, and I feel like watching TV for a change.

That said, I would like to tell about the different animal encounters I had on my most recent trip across the country. If you are a sensitive animal lover, I suggest you leave this blog post now. Karen, that means you. I mean it.

The first of any note occurred near Denver airport, soon after I had a nice time with Paperskater (Susie from the cruise) I was on a ramp that led to this bizarre "pay your toll by license plate thing." Oh, brief side note... my license plate wasn't visible because the tail gate was down, so I'll be super impressed if I actually get a bill or something. Anyway, back to the animal encounter...

As I was rounding the curve, the road filled with creatures the size of beanie babies. At first I thought something had spilled out of a truck or something, and then I realized what I was seeing: about fifty prairie dogs crossing the roadway en masse. I noticed that they had holes very close to the sides of the road, and sure enough, they were road savvy. They left a gap big enough for my truck to go through, and then continued the migration. Casualty count: 0.

(Yes, the dramatic rodent in this famous clip IS a prairie dog.)

Next, while heading into Nebraska, a shadow passed over the car... and stayed for a while. I thought I was being followed by a plane... perhaps a "bear in the air" for anyone old enough to remember the 70's, but in fact, it was an American Bald Eagle. It was just soaring there as it headed east along the highway, just like me. It was probably looking for road kill. Ben Franklin was famously opposed to choosing this bird as the symbol of a new nation because of its scavenging habits. He preferred the Turkey, which he thought more dignified. All things considered, I'm fine with having the eagle on the seal and the turkey on my plate.

In Chicago, I encountered a house cat with a rather unusual behavior. When she first saw me, she approached in that casual "hey, a new person.... meh" way that cats have. I knelt down and held out my hand, allowing her to come to me. I gave her the standard chin rub and few strokes on the head, and she seemed grateful. But the SECOND I stopped, she hissed and took a swipe at me. I later learned that her name was Sidney Vicious, and that this, in fact, was her modus operandi. I have no idea about cat psychology, but I suspect this cat needed some sort of therapy maybe involving a shaver and some conductive gel. And yet I feel affection for her and her owner.

And of course there were the deer. Not so many, and not so lively. Just a couple here and there lying by the side of the road. I figure that automobiles have replaced wolves as the major predator these days, and having nearly totaled two vehicles this way, I have an appreciation for the eficacy of hunting.

In Ohio, I saw something that took me a while to identify. It was a large black pile of rotten flesh and blood-matted fur on the shoulder. I analyzed the mental snapshot in my head trying to find a pattern until something finally clicked: bear-muzzle. It was a dead black bear of decent size. I believe that's the first one I've seen dead on the road (though I have seen them in my back yard), and somehow I'm amazed it was just left there to rot. Sure, I expect deer and domestic animals to be ignored to some extent, but somehow the novelty of hitting a bear makes me think that something would have been done. By the way, unless I'm mistaken, if you hit a bear (or anything else) in Vermont, you're allowed to take it home and eat it. I have eaten road kill moose, and it was delicious.

This is where it starts getting sad. I passed a farm house (this was actually in Northern NY, but it fits best in the story here) and kids were swinging on a play set in the yard. There was a low white picket fence next to the guardrail, and in front of the guardrail was a dead house cat. It had gray and white fur, and it still looked soft and "pettable," if that makes any sense, though the animal was quite deformed from whatever impact it has sustained. Of course I don't know the history, but I could only imagine one scenario and I wondered if those kids would spend the rest of the day looking for their lost pet. And this is one of the reasons kids should have pets. They will inevitably learn important life lessons.

Like this one.

I was in Indiana about 100 miles from the Illinois border when I noticed the cars on the opposite side swerving madly. I immediately canceled the cruise control and scanned the roadway for danger, when a shape in the median caught my attention. It was a black lab, intently sniffing grass and weeds and completely oblivious of the speeding cars whizzing past her. I was marveling that in this dense traffic she had made it that far... when I saw the golden retriever on the opposite shoulder. Clearly an older dog, I caught sight of her just as she caught sight of her companion. She bolted across the highway, making it to the middle lane before being struck by a Toyota Corolla at about 70MPH. Her instantly lifeless body rolled and slid across the highway like a car with a blow engine... seeming to move backwards as it passed a variety of vehicles undergoing evasive maneuvers.

I, of course, was going 70MPH in the opposite direction, so these cars and I were traveling at the equivalent of 140MPH away from each other. I was at the exact right place to see this unfold. And the very last thing I saw was the black lab looking at her companion and taking a step forward towards the onrushing traffic.

For a moment, I considered stopping and then I called 911 to report the incident. I had absolutely no illusions of saving the black lab or any other dogs that might have been there... after all, just because I had seen two dogs doesn't mean there weren't more. But this was a major traffic hazard and someone could get seriously injured. And this leads me to two thoughts.

1) What on Earth were two traffic-naive dogs doing on the highway miles from the nearest house or business? I can only speculate, but my unsupported conclusion is that some human somewhere failed them completely.

2) A message to all the swerving cars.... DON'T. Yes, your instinct will be to avoid man's best friend on the highway, but unless the animal is large enough to cause you to lose control of the vehicle (deer, moose, bear) please... hit it, especially if you're in heavy traffic like this. The driver of the Toyota Corolla who hit the golden retriever probably feels terrible that this happened, but whoever that was did EXACTLY THE RIGHT THING. It may seem cruel, but in the end it is not worth risking human life to save an animal in the road. If you find yourself in this situation and can keep your wits about you, drive straight ahead and hope for the best. Swerving is likely to kill you and the others around you, and you have no idea what the animal will do anyway; it might very well run into your swerve path.

So there's my animal story from the road. I have a tale of three dogs that I might tell some other time, but in many ways it's sadder than this one, and I don't feel up to it just yet.

Location:Highland Rd,Underhill,United States

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14Apr/101

Just a quick note from Cozad, Nebraska

The last time I was in Cozad, Nebraska was about 1990, when my folks gave me an old 1984 Civic Wagon (ironically marketed as the "Wag-O-Van" for late models), and I was driving it to Salt Lake City.

A very good, but now estranged friend of mine named Lora Duda, though her name changed through marriage in the 90's, claimed that Cozad was the strangest place she'd ever been. She described an odd scene in a gas station (it's still there) where the clerks, at about 3AM, were hiding under the counter, and when she went in to pay for gas, they looked all embarrassed. In retrospect it seems pretty clear what was going on.

On my first trip here, I did see something strange... an orange kitten, maybe 4 weeks old... completely flat and embedded in the pavement behind that same gas station. I've seen plenty of road kill, but this kitten was the width of a piece of paper, and it had a sort of "oh no!" look on it's face. While it was quite horrific, it was also beautiful in a way.

I'm staying in a room with a leaky ceiling, a full size refrigerator, and some really fast WiFi. I am content.

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10Apr/100

Diary 2

I'm going to try posting a picture of the diary page just once more, and if it isn't legible, I'm going to have to abandon that idea and just type the contents. Besides, my handwriting is truly awful.

Old friend of mine's birthday today, Roger Martin. Haven't seen him in about 20 years.
Ok, let's digest this. My day was certainly "out of order." Broken stuff on randi.org occupied much of my time, and when I was delivering the trailer, one of the lights decided not to work. (I used it as a excuse to show the buyer how to fix the lights.) Oh, and the window on my car broke; not the glass, but the actuator. That meant $317 and five hours working from a Starbucks. So yeah, out of order.
I am great company? Nay. Not today. 
"Loving, living, everything" has absolutely no meaning to me. 
I think English is one of the most expressive languages. It borrows freely from other similar languages, and there are endless options for imparting color and cadence to ideas and instructions. Not to put spanish down, but I'm always amazed when I learn that they only have one word for things like turtle and tortoise (tortuga) or alligator and crocodile (cocodrilo). I really hope I'm wrong about that, but I've asked around, and spanish speakers have agreed. 

That said, I'm sure learning English is an absolute bitch, and I'm glad I don't have to do it. It's a shame I never bothered to learn any other languages, spanish included.
I'm suffering from a wicked Cassandra complex lately, which explains my "avoid predicting the future" thing. I should start keeping a log of these "predictions" to see if I'm suffering from confirmation bias or not. I feel like Willy Wonka in this scene (Stop. Don't. Come back.):
Do I know more than I think? Yes, and I think everyone does, which is a bit recursive. I certainly don't know as much as I want to know though, and a great deal of what I know is incorrect. 
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9Apr/101

Diary 1

Here is the second page


of the simple brown diary. I'm sending this from my iPhone, so I don't know what the results will be. I'm finding the resolution of the images to be a bit of a challenge.

I imagine this will happen quite a bit, but today's entry seems terribly fitting. My day has been a U-turn. Literally. I'm almost certainly moving back to Vermont in the next couple of weeks.

Yeah, I did a face palm too. I'm beginning to respect my own tenacity as I continue to face these self-made hurdles and yet overcome them.

The primary reason for me moving to Las Vegas is gone, and though I really like living here and it's very affordable, economics are forcing me back. Not that it's terrible; I love Vermont and it will be easy to make the best of this, what I'm going to describe as an "opportuniy."

Today's quote, "if it's not there, there's nothing to find out" is dead on. It describes my Vegas adventure completely.

The animal part works too. A neighbors dog has been staring in my window and barking at me, but know she's gone home. Nice enough dog, but it's hard to work with fangs flashing in your periphery.

My hair looks great lately. 🙂

And yes, there are some that take advantage of my generosity. I wouldn't have it any other way.

I'd love some comments or suggestions. I hope to branch out a bit in the future.

I'm looking forward to saying that I'm from VT again.

-- Post From My iPhone

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8Apr/100

TwitPics

I realize that the twitpics you see on the right here lack context. I wish the actual tweet that went with them was also visible, but since I don't know a way to do that, I'll consider it an art project and you'll have to imagine why I took the pictures that I did.

Currently, there are cards featuring "escorts" who all seem to have stars instead of nipples, a duck, and in stark contrast, pictures of my kids. Yep, they ALL make sense, but without context, only the kids seem appropriate.

Follow me on twitter as jeffwagg, and you can have the context too. (Or just look here)

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8Apr/100

The Diary Project

A very nice person gave me a diary for Christmas. This isn't your normal diary with blank pages... this one has options. The very first page, which isn't attached, is enclosed here. I'm going to try to fill it out and upload a scan/pic of each page as I do, and then try to relate what's on the page to what's going on in my life at the time. Here's the first pic:

Let's see how this relates. Of the first options, I chose a) like dollars because the other two didn't fit as well. I actually do like marzipan, and I am no longer a farmer, though I once was. Like many, I'm at a low point in my financial history, so some dollars would be nice right about now.
What I might need right now: I have to admit to feeling some guilt for not choosing 1. Giving blood is a wonderful thing, and I wish everyone did it. I fell out of the habit after being rejected three times in a row, but it's been a long time since I tried. I should get off my ass and do that. I don't like jokes, don't see the point of window shopping, need a relationship far more than a fling, don't have money for an auction, don't have a garden, can deal with dust, and there are too many fragrances here as it is. A group activity is always nice, but I think I'd like a majestic crest, even though they could simply be referring to a large-size of toothpaste.
At least I get to relax now.
I don't know how to play the piano, and though I often use my imagination, I think taking charge best applies to me. If there's no one driving the bus, I'm going to do it. This doesn't always serve me well, but I don't have the trust or patience to sit idly by.
The last paragraph seems awfully astrological, though I agree with most of it. Heck, I agree with all of it. At least I certainly hope that my constitution is stronger than I thought. I think I'm going to need "Old Ironsides" to get through these next few weeks. 
Thanks for reading; more soon.
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