Tired of sleeping on the ground, eh?

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After many decades of tent camping, we just made the plunge and bought a little popup camper trailer. When we tell our friends (not the ones we usually tent camp with — all the other friends), the first comment we hear is always, “So, you got tired of sleeping on the ground.”

Aliner Alabama Hills 2016Nope. That’s not it. We enjoy sleeping in a tent. We’ve found comfortable sleeping pads and have bags that keep us cozy. We often sleep better in a tent than at home. That’s probably because we’ve been active all day hiking or climbing before we end the day by crawling into the tent, but still.

It’s the other stuff. We just enjoyed a trip that included a week at Alabama Hills, near Lone Pine, California. You know — the place where so many Westerns were filmed. When we returned to camp (and our little Aliner camper), it was either quite windy or, if calm, the mosquitoes were attacking.

Our friends were either bundled up in long sleeves and hoods, trying to fend off the bugs in the heat, or bundled up, trying to find a way to keep their camp stoves burning while they tried to cook.

Charlie & I were snug in our camper, screened windows open, cooking and dining in comfort.

Bad weather moved into the area. We shifted north a bit and parked in Bishop, where it rained off and on for about 18 hours. No worries about folding up and transporting a soggy tent or trying to dry out our gear.

Will we still tent camp at times? Sure. Are we thrilled at the luxury of a hard-shell shelter from the elements to camp in. You’d better believe it!

I saw it on the Web, so it must be True

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GWIt happens on Facebook nearly every day. Someone posts a meme (like the one above) implying that they are quoting a well-known person about some topic relevant to today’s issues. The Pope says we don’t have to believe in God (no, he didn’t say that). Or people share a fake news story and we see it so often that some people start believing it’s true. Sorry, folks, but the world’s first successful head transplant did not take place.

Some websites intermix real news with the fake stuff. It’s all about gaining web traffic, often through “click bait” — getting readers on social media sites to click on a link to their site. Then there are the Facebook posts asking you to type a word in the comments (“Amen” or “jump”) to see something amazing. Of course, nothing amazing happens when you comment, but a post with lots of comments or “Likes” results in Facebook’s algorithms boosting the number of times people will see other posts from that same page. More visibility translates to more visits to their site, which can translate to higher ad income for them. And if that site happens to have some bad code running on it, and your security software doesn’t catch it, you may start seeing ads for them everywhere you browse or perhaps you’ll end up with a software virus on your computer or device. Oops.

Here’s another little trick to grab as much information about you as possible. You know all those little “quizzes” that show up as posts or ads on websites? “How many of these Beatles songs can you identify?” “What movie star are you most like?” Pay close attention if you’re asked to give permission to a app to use your information before you take the quiz. Do you really want to share all your photos, list of friends, posts, and personal information with some unknown person or organization? Not good.

I love the ability to look up almost anything on the internet, but it comes at a price. For every carefully-researched web page with an answer to your question, there are probably a hundred that “answer” it with an agenda in mind. It’s so easy to make up a quote and create a graphic for people who might like that quote to share, never checking if the meme might be fake. It’s almost as easy to write a fake “news” article about anything.

Reader, beware.

P.S. Here are a couple of good sites to use to check out questionable things you read online:

http://www.snopes.com/
http://www.factcheck.org/

A Few Good Books

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We read a lot. The hours many people spend watching television in the evenings we spend reading. Even when we’re out climbing, hiking, and camping, after dinner you’ll often find us in our tent (or soon, our little popup camper!) reading until we get too sleepy.

I thought I’d pass along a few of the titles we’ve especially enjoyed recently along with my comments. I figure you can read the blurb for each one by checking out the books on Amazon, so I won’t repeat them here.

North of Here

North of Here by Laurel Saville
I loved the way the stories of the primary characters were woven and the rich, clear language of Saville’s writing. A theme seemed to be that wealth can make people shallow or weak, but also that you can’t judge people by their appearance or occupation.

I enjoyed the unexpected deviations from predictable story lines and thought the characters were very well drawn.

 

 

 

The Snow ChildThe Snow Child  by Eowyn Ivey

A unique “fairy tale” combined with a very realistic setting within the harsh environment of an Alaskan winter. I loved the writing style and the mixture of realism and fantasy.

 

 

 

 
 
 

Three Things I Did When My Father Died

Quirky, poignant, and delightful. I enjoyed the character thinking of himself as a series of people: Daniel 3, a youth, Daniel 4, the snide young man who tried to kill himself, and finally Daniel 5, the narrator. Excellent.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

That’s it for today. I hope you enjoy these as much as I did. Let me know in the comments what you thought of them and if you’d like to see more of these mini-reviews in the future.