Monday, September 17, 2018

Travel Security: Digital Prey

My brick phone in Caucasus Georgia, June 2012.

After leaving Ferguson at the end of October, I've got an international trip planned. Ooo, yeah.

Since my last sojourn out of the country (well, other than walking over to Juarez from El Paso), an ugly law enforcement practice that's spread across our national body like a case of poison ivy: Border officials demanding to see communications and other data in travelers' phones and laptops without good cause. Putting travelers in untenable positions if they protest the exposure of their devices' contents to border officials.

Am I likely to be singled out for such attention? Probably not. But I object to abuses of power on principle.

So on my trip, I'll take with me:
  • An old phone that is stripped of everything personal except the barest essentials I might need for travel; and
  • Little Red, my sweet, childlike laptop with a toddler's memory. 

There's another advantage to the above decision. Although my complexion, dress, and accent might not trip the typecasting alarms of border officials, my gender, age, and solo traveling status might juice up the salivary glands of tourist hunters on the other side.

Hopefully, a penetrating gaze that suggests I can kick your ass, despite appearances to the contrary, will ward off attempts to cull me from the herd. But in case that fails, well,  I might get my phone or Little Red ripped off, and that would suck.

But they are my expendable Star Trek extras, and my lead actors will be safe at home.

My brick phone in Caucasus Georgia, June 2012.

A useful article about digital security: The traveler's guide to keeping electronic devices secure during international travel, published in Travel and Transport, February 2017

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Stuff: That bucket

Although a minimalist, I am not immune to shiny things.

Years ago, a folding bucket - or its pretty sister, that folding sink - called to me. I wanted one. It took effort to walk away.

But recently, I walked into my neighborhood Aldi's and saw something similar to this:

I brought her home.

I am only human, Lord.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Ferguson: Winding Down

Stuff of times past, Jefferson City, Missouri. 2009.

It's mid-September and my year in Ferguson will end on October 31. Time to wind down.

In my annual winding-down times, these are my thoughts:
  • What have I accomplished? What am I proud of?
  • What haven't I accomplished? What do I regret?
  • How was the year different from what I thought it would be? In which ways better? In which ways disappointing? In which ways surprising; neither better nor disappointing?
  • What do I want to do before I leave? 

I inventory my stuff. Make preliminary decisions about what to with it before I leave:
  • Consume?
  • Return to the person who lent it to me?
  • Give it away?
  • Toss?
  • Sell?
  • Take with me, at least for the next leg of my annual relocation?

In my inventory check thus far, I know that one of my tasks will be to organize my electronics paraphernalia. For example, do I really need all six ethernet cables that skulked into my space like feral cats? Isn't it time to let go of that years-old, European-currency router? And that peaceful, Caribbean Sea-colored, turquoise Otter phone case (that cost me a pretty penny!) that fit my old smart phone, which is of a size no longer being made? Time to just let it go, let it go, right? And, yes, it's time to say good-bye to my geriatric HP laptop that I actually replaced two years ago.

Stuff of times past, Jefferson City, Missouri. 2009.


Some past inventory experiences

Monday, September 10, 2018

Missouri: Of Wooly Worms, Vultures, and Trance Music

Wooly caterpillar crossing Highway 94, Missouri. September 2018.

Highway 94 is one of Missouri's gems, unbeknownst to most cross-country drivers who zoom through Missouri along Interstate 70, dismissing the state as a boring four-and-some hours they must endure before entering another snoreful passage in Kansas or Illinois, depending on which way they're headed.

But for much of its length, Highway 94 is the Missouri River's playful younger sister. The roadway zips through flood plains, corn and soybean fields. She sidles alongside river bluffs. She chuckles up and down and around hilly woodlands and bosomy pastures.

Wineries dot Highway 94, as do riverine villages. The Katy Trail is a fellow traveler; it is the longest developed rails-to-trails pathway in the country.

I took a Sunday drive the other day, following Highway 94 from Jefferson City to up north of St. Charles. Come join me for a bit of this drive. Put your seat belt on, sha, and listen to Tinariwen's trance-inducing music while you look out the window.

In September, before the leaves begin to turn, the wooly worms dart and scuttle across the road.

Wooly caterpillar crossing Highway 94, Missouri. September 2018.

They move faster than you might imagine, sniffing to the right and left like puppies.

There were so many wooly caterpillars crossing Highway 94, it reminded me of several experiences in New Mexico, also about this time of year:

Wooly caterpillar crossing Highway 94, Missouri. September 2018.

But what were these wooly caterpillars so busy about on this Sunday in September on Highway 94? I'm not always the sharpest crayon in the box, but I was pretty sure caterpillars didn't engage in sex, so I didn't think they were looking for love. So what was the deal?

  • Here is an annoying non-answer. 
  • Still no answer here, but the writer may be a kindred spirit of mine. 
  • This offers an explanation I've read other places, but September seems awfully early for house-hunting in Missouri, so I don't know. 

But there is consensus about how fast these critters move!

On my drive, I also saw a vulture who had to get out of my way during its snack. Normally, I don't think I would have taken this video of a vulture, but earlier in the day, I interrupted a hawk or other bird of prey while it dined, and I regretted not having filmed that. So the vulture shot was likely a compensatory thing. Here it is, accompanied by Tinariwen: