Thursday, February 23, 2017

Winter Finds Fourth Gear

People talk about pretty winter scenes, or watching snowfall, or they'll tell you how they like the changing of the seasons, but all that stuff is pretty fleeting.

   This soggy and drab palette is the day-to-day reality of it.

Wednesday, February 08, 2017


Snowmobiles ("snow machines" in VT) are kind of dumb little contraptions.  They're designed to move by just dragging themselves around.  The dumbness of this becomes exceptionally apparent when you look at one parked on the grass in summer; the light in which it looks most like a completely useless waste of money.  Thing sittin' there on the ground like that with no wheels.  Even a roto-tiller's got wheels.

Even in their own element snow machines are still, for the most part, two-strokes that produce an impressive amount of smoke, noise, and smell.  They require a pretty large dosage of whiny RPM just to get them moving.  They don't turn at slow speeds.  Most don't have reverse.

But... holy crap are they fun.

I haven't done it since the late 80's, and what I remember (besides trying to break land speed records - those dumb snow machines DO fly) is that when you slow down and just take it easy, they are also a great way to explore the great winter outdoors, which is sometimes pretty spectacular.

Not my photo

There's a whole network of snow trails, complete with wooden bridges (sometimes even suspension bridges), and small clearings deep in the woods that most would never know existed if they hadn't found them on a snow machine.  It's a lot of fun to head 15 miles out in some direction, switch off the machine, enjoy the silence and grab yourself a lung full of some of that refreshing, dense cool winter air.  Out in the woods, the snow cover deadens the sound, and with no leaves on the trees, wind noise is often undetected.  It's a unique kind of quiet.  Added bonus: you've brought with you a very comfy bench seat on which you can relax.  And, your snow machine holds lots of snacks.  This could go well.
Not my photo. No one I know.

Also to be found out there is the camaraderie of other snowmobilers, sometimes stopped in a wide spot on the trail just to chat, or enjoying a planned bonfire / cookout / ride-in, or just waving as they pass.  It's a scene, man.  And a friendly one at that.

Not my photo. Only accessible by trail.

And I'm long since out of it, but I decided I wanted to get a little taste again, and I thought it might be something both me and The Wife could enjoy.  We rented a 2-up sled for a 2-hour guided tour last weekend, and you know... it was pretty good.

It was enough to get me to wonder if one of these would be worth staring at in the summer.

Sunday, February 05, 2017

Passion. Close enough!

Amadeus was a great movie, but after all these years I feel like something else about it just clicked for me.

My take on it has always been that the story of Mozart's life was secondary to what the movie really wanted to say, which was that some people have talent, and some have even more talent.  It was about how much humble pie sucks (and when you think about that, the decision to use Mozart to deliver that message is kind of a no-brainer.)

Of course there are all sorts of talents and we're not all musicians,  but the "Well, I thought I was good until I saw that guy" theme is very relatable. And for even more mass appeal, the movie also evokes the frustration of having a passion for something you're not very good at.

What just clicked for me is how well this applies to the fun new sport of having an angry political opinion.  I see an awful lot of people getting all excited and passionate about their political views, but rarely does the logic really add up.  Somewhere along the line the skill runs out and the passion takes over, and everybody loves passion, so it's all okay.

Except your music just isn't good.