Tuesday, June 19, 2012

When the outbreak occurs, now you can more easily spot me

For Father's Day, Doug (by way of my boys) gave me some much needed vehicle regalia for my zombie pack:

We don't have a cure yet, but we can quarantine.

I haven't done much with my pack as of late, but I did add one important component -- water sanitization:

Since one of the themes of my zombie survival pack is that very few consumables should be used, using ultraviolet light to sterilize water seems apt. The addition I am making to my bag, therefore, is a simple one quart mason jar. I opted for a glass bottle instead of plastic for two reasons, the first of which being that plastic will break down over time (and especially exposure to UV light), becoming brittle and ultimately unusable. The second reason is that plastic bottles -- particularly as they or their contents get warmer -- will leech chemicals into the water.

The downside, of course, is that glass is heavier, rigid, and can break. Also, one quart isn't a lot of water, but that's the tradeoff.

I will likely also buy some iodine tablets, though they don't kill crypto.

Some of the additions I intend to make to my pack in the near future are for fire. I've been looking at the Backcountry Boiler, rocket stoves, Swedish torches and large Fresnel lenses.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Memories of a forgotten hat

Last October, Reed and I went to Riverside, and we unfortunately lost his hat and mittens in the river. He still remembers.

Yesterday, the boys and I dropped Andrea off at church before the three of us went to Riverside Park. I wanted us to have some unstructured exploration since the weather was so nice, and that's just what we had. Starting off by finding some sticks, Jacob and Reed wandered around, inspected insects, and chased ducks and geese (multiple times).

We stayed at Riverside for around an hour, and they were happiest simply sitting on these rocks, talking to "Catery" the caterpillar, chasing waterfowl, and sitting on the park's benches and swings.

There are few things I want more for my kids than a love of nature. Cultivating that love on Sunday morning is a great way for me to end what was already pretty good week.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Hearing voices and the wonders of technology

A month and a half ago, I wrote about my fuzzy memory of hearing a recording of Matt reading from some books many years ago. After writing about that memory, I talked with my mom about it, asking her if she remembered any such recording. Without hesitation, she said yes, and in fact, the cassette was in their entertainment center. I am still not sure which is more surprising: that we have that cassette or that Mom knew about it all these years and I could only hope for it to still exist somewhere.

So Mom gave me two tapes that she thought I might be interested in. Last night, I hooked up a cheapy boom box to my computer and listened to them while I recorded with Audacity. On one side of the first tape, I listened to what must have been a 30ish-year-old broadcast from somewhere near Houghton, MI, during a particularly bad snowstorm.

When I put in the other tape, I heard a little over seven minutes of my brother reading from some books with which I was not familiar. Thanks to Google, I was able to find these books based on a short phrase from each. The first was Lentil (Robert McCloskey), followed by Lon Po Po (Ed Young) and The Kid in the Red Jacket (Barbara Park). Immediately after recording, I saved the file and uploaded it to Google Drive and shared it with Nate and my parents.

Something very unexpected happened when I listened to this tape: I found that I didn't recognize Matt's voice. I immediately thought that it was a recording of Nate. (In fact, when I talked with Mom this morning, she said he sounded a lot like Nate, too.) Not only did my brain completely mis-remember the factual data of what book he was reading (Frog and Toad versus three other books), but it also completely missed on what his voice was like.

With the exception of some home videos from when Matt was maybe a year or two old, I think this is the first time I've heard his voice since he died in 1995. It was, needless to say, rather odd hearing his voice 17 years later.

We tend to believe our brains are very much like computers -- retrieving memories is just like opening a file; experiencing something new is creating a new file that is written to disk. Sometimes the file becomes corrupted (due to old age, disease or simply the passage of time) and we lose a memory. This is completely wrong, though. When you remember something, your brain literally re-creates the memory by taking a few pieces of data, re-interpreting it into a more complete story, and writing it back to disk. To remember is to change - if only a little - the memory itself.

After seventeen years, my memory was, as I expected, not accurate. But it's good to hear Matt's voice again.