BlathrWayne Lorentz

Showing blathrs with the tag “Desert.”

Warm fuzzy logic

Wednesday, September 28th, 2022 Alive 18,782 days

A high temperature warning from my iPhone

It's nice that iOS 16 lets people know the phone is too hot when it does things. It used to do things, but not tell you.

When I lived in the desert, just having an iPhone in your pocket or on a table could sometimes cause the phone to turn itself off. If you were lucky, you'd see something very quickly appear on the screen about “Entering thermal shutdown” or some such. A minute later, you were out in the desert without a working phone.

Apple, and most tech companies, build their products for the environment where Apple, and most tech companies, are located — San Francisco. When I talk to tech people who work at these companies, sometimes they simply cannot wrap their brains around weather conditions that are commonplace elsewhere.

Another example is iPhone wired headphones. Theyʼre made with plastic that gets brittle in the cold. Of course, when youʼre bundled up against the cold is when you need your headphones the most. That was how I learned about Bluetooth headphones, and got a set of Sony headphones for use with my SonyEricsson M600c when commuting on the CTA in the middle of the night during Chicago winters. Apple wouldnʼt make its own wireless headphones until over a decade later.

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Howʼs the gift shop?

Thursday, May 13th, 2021 Alive 18,279 days

Saint Therese Mission, outside of Tecopa, California

Today, Darcie and I went to Saint Therese Mission, near Tecopa, out on the border of Nevada and California.

Its exact location is a little weird. Itʼs in one of those slices of the desert that was platted out for homesteading years ago, but ended up only being sparsely populated with a couple of trailer houses.

Itʼs my understanding that this church is popular with the Vietnamese community in Las Vegas. But itʼs a long way to drive for Sunday services.

I like it here. Itʼs quiet. It pays homage to some of Darcieʼs favorite saints. And it has top-notch bathrooms.

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Date ranching date

Saturday, May 8th, 2021 Alive 18,274 days

The road to China Ranch

We went to China Ranch today. Itʼs one of those places that makes me feel calm. If I had no debts, no obligations, and no cares in the world, Iʼd try my hand at being one of the China Ranch farm workers, picking dates in the desert, living in a rusty trailer, and generally staying off of civilizationʼs radar.

Since I do have debt, obligations, and cares in the world, I relish seeing the creatures of the wilderness. The score this trip:

  • Quail
  • Two kinds of lizards, including a cool one with a blue beard
  • Ravens
  • Hawks
  • Three coyotes
  • Crayfish

The crayfish donʼt belong here. Like the bullfrogs that pollute the few water sources in the desert, they were planted by settlers who though they might be useful for food. Unfortunately, theyʼre the reason the entire Pahrump pupfish population has to live in a concrete fish prison out in Corn Creek.

Unlike the Amargosa dace and Devilʼs Hole fish, they didnʼt evolve in a hot spring, so in the winter they just kind of get sluggish and stop moving. Itʼs like aquatic hibernation. And since they canʼt flee, they are easy snacks for the big crayfish that were brought in from Louisiana a hundred years ago.

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DId you bring me a cookie?

Tuesday, April 27th, 2021 Alive 18,263 days

Darcie and I spent a peaceful day at China Ranch. Lots of wildlife running around, getting ready for the Summer ahead.

China Ranch is a place where an earthquake opened up a big crack in the desert letting the usually underground Amargosa River see the light of day for about a half mile. In the 1930ʼs someone established a date farm there, and you can get fresh date bread and date shakes at the little farm stand, and go for long walks hours away from anyone else. Itʼs just a nice place to get out of our heads for a while.

The crayfish donʼt belong here. Like bullfrogs, they were planted by settlers who though they might be useful for food. Unfortunately, theyʼre the reason the entire Pahrump pupfish population has to live in a concrete fish prison out in Corn Creek. Unlike the Amargosa dace and Devilʼs Hole pupfish, they didnʼt evolve in a hot spring, so in the winter they just kind of get sluggish and stop moving. Itʼs like aquatic hibernation. Since they canʼt flee, they are easy snacks for the big crayfish that were brought in from Louisiana a hundred years ago.

People ruin things. But I live in a place where several types of creatures have learned that not only are chihuahuas tasty, theyʼre slow, stupid, and frequently found behind doggie doors. Doggie doors are very common here. Sometimes nature gets even, and it makes the newspaper.

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That red spec is the Desert Truckster

Saturday, April 24th, 2021 Alive 18,260 days

Death Valley, as seen from a hill in the Pahrump Valley Wilderness

My wife bought me a new lens for my camera for my birthday. Seems like a good excuse to visit Death Valley again.

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Monday, April 19th, 2021 Alive 18,255 days

There is no shortage of water in the desert but exactly the right amount, a perfect ratio of water to rock, water to sand.

There is no lack of water here unless you try to establish a city where no city should be.

— Edward Abbey, Desert Solitaire
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Wash me

Monday, April 19th, 2021 Alive 18,255 days

The back of the Desert Truckster, caked in filth

The Desert Truckster usually ends up covered in sand and dust after a day bounding through the desert, but it doesnʼt mind

The next owner might, though.

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Monday, April 19th, 2021 Alive 18,255 days

Darcie taking pictures at Crystal Springs in Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge
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Watch out for Yogi!

Monday, April 19th, 2021 Alive 18,255 days

A hungry Darcie

Hereʼs Darcie sitting in the trunk of the Desert Truckster, waiting for me to set up our picnic lunch.

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Itʼs not easy being green

Sunday, April 18th, 2021 Alive 18,254 days

An unwanted frog

I like toads. I always have. But I donʼt know if Iʼm supposed to like this toad, or not.

Itʼs a California Toad, a subspecies of the Western Toad. The problem is that itʼs living on the edge of a very small spring that is the only home of the hyper-endangered Amargosa Dace, a type of pupfish.

The pupfish only live in this one little hole; nowhere else on earth. The toads live all over the West, from the Rockies to Alaska to Mexico.

In centuries past, settlers populated the isolated springs and oases of the Mojave Desert with frogs, in order to use them for food. Tiny, slimy, amphibious cattle. In doing so, they wiped out many populations of endangered fish.

Thatʼs why this toad may not belong here. He may be a descendant of hungry and industrious settlers of the 1800ʼs. Or he may have been here all along, since this is still California Toad territory.

Iʼd ask someone, but these are COVID times, so none of the nearby ranger stations are manned.

A California Toad and his mate, basking in the sun
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One bad ass

Saturday, April 17th, 2021 Alive 18,253 days

A posse of burros in Beatty, Nevada

You think youʼre a bad ass? You think youʼre hard core? You ainʼt nothinʼ compared to the burros of the American West.

The lesser-traveled parts of this nation are infested with feral burros. They were brought out here to help the miners. When the miners went away, they left their companions behind. Itʼs all very sad.

Heʼs so lonely

Today, there are far more burros than the sparse desert environment can support, and many of them suffer. The federal government spends your tax dollars doing what it can to try to keep the population down, but a burroʼs gotta burro. Every now and again, there is a roundup of feral burros, much to the howls of online environmentalist poseurs who have only seen them on the internet, have never actually studied them in person, and donʼt have a better solution.

The captured burros are offered for adoption, but just like with humans, there are never enough homes for all of those who need one. Unlike humans, some of the adopted burros end up in illegal slaughterhouses, and thence as food for people and and pets in Asia, and rumor has it — France.

These burros are in the town of Beatty, Nevada. Theyʼre so used to being around people, and not giving fuck one what anyone thinks of them that they regularly block traffic, stare in windows, and generally make a comic nuisance of themselves.

They are the unofficial mascots of Beatty, and there have been some efforts to make them a tourist attraction. But tourists generally donʼt cuddle up to attractions that take a dump wherever they like.

“None shall pass!”
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Monday, April 12th, 2021 Alive 18,248 days

A day in the Valley of Fire with Darcie.

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Bullfrog works

Saturday, April 10th, 2021 Alive 18,246 days

I think one of the reasons that people like the ghost town of Rhyolite is because it balances itself in that special state of decay where you can see that itʼs all going to be dust soon, but thereʼs enough left that you can imagine slices of what it used to be when thousands of people lived here and it was called “The Chicago of the West.”

Rhyolite used to have bars, hotels, gold mines, and several competing newspapers. Today, it only has one resident. But that may change soon. A Canadian company is doing some work to determine if itʼs worth re-opening the old gold mines again. If it happens, it would be really interesting to see if the town comes back, or if its designation as a quasi-state park will make that impossible.

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Go go Desert Truckster

Thursday, January 14th, 2021 Alive 18,160 days

I drove to the drug store today, and realized that I'm still using the same tank of gas I bought in July. And it's still half full. Itʼs hard to believe I used to drive across the country, bounding through the dunes and mesas and tumbleweeds just a year ago.

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Walking works, too

Sunday, June 28th, 2020 Alive 17,960 days

Maybe if I didnʼt drive on “roads” like this, I wouldnʼt have transmission problems

I left the house today. Just a short trip down the road to Walgreens for medicine and M&Ms. Itʼs the first time Iʼve driven my car since Saint Patrickʼs Day.

It started OK, but it wouldnʼt go. When I tried to move it, it just sat there and the dashboard showed “Transmission error. Place car in N, turn off car. Turn on car. Place car in R or D1.”

Iʼve had a lot of odd problems with this carʼs transmission over the years. Once while driving off-road across the desert in deep sand the screen showed a red message with some gears icon and the message “Transmission overheat.”

A couple of years ago, I had to replace the transmission computer entirely for $400, plus labor. Iʼve also had to replace every single light bulb on the car at least twice.

The engine and transmission were made in Italy. The rest in Serbia. I guess thatʼs why they say FIAT stands for “Fix It Again, Tony.”

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Whatʼs the number?

Tuesday, January 28th, 2020 Alive 17,808 days

An ad for women in suits who will scrub out your dog pee

If you get flyers stuck to your front door advertising a service to clean the dog pee off of the rocks and AstroTurf in your yard, you may live in the desert.

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Should have listened to the Fiat GPS

Monday, October 21st, 2019 Alive 17,709 days

A dirt road across the Nevada desert

Dear Apple Maps,

This is not State Highway 87.

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Thursday, September 20th, 2018 Alive 17,313 days

My carʼs warranty expired September 4.

Itʼs now September 20, and the car needs $600 worth of repairs that would have been covered.

Yet another reason Iʼll never buy another Fiat.

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