Musings of Navigating The Finite remainder of life from Porchville, with the hope of a glimpse of The Infinite

Friday, July 9, 2010


Snowberry Clearwing.  Click to see full size.
Yesterday I had an appointment to get my car inspected and aligned at the dealership. My appointment was for 9 AM. At 7 AM, I realized that I forgot to take the wheel locks off my car and re-install the standard wheel nuts. A wheel lock is nothing more than a standard wheel nut that is round instead of a hexagon. On the outer face of the nut is an impression of a fancy design. The key for the wheel lock, doesn't look like a key per se, but it acts as one. It is a round cylinder of metal and on one face it has a raised copy of the fancy design on the lock. The back face is a 19 mm hexagon. So you fit the key into the wheel lock and then use your wheel wrench on the back side of the key.

When ever I get the car serviced, I like to remove the wheel locks because I fear that garage may use an air operated impact gun on them. So yesterday at 7:15 I go out to the car to remove the wheel locks. I open the glove compartment where I keep the key and low and behold no key! I look all around the car, but can't find it. I look in my various tools boxes. Still can't find it! I look places that I would not ordinarily place it. Still no key. I search and search as the clock marches onward to 9 AM.

Then I stop and think, remember back in April, when I changed the rear brake pads, I distinctly remember seeing the key on the tightened lock after re-installing the wheel. The key had remained on the wheel lock rather than pulling off with the socket on the torque wrench. I also distinctly remember saying to myself, "make sure you get that off there." The disheartening realization slowly seeped into my being, that was the last time I remember seeing the key. Then a couple of other realizations come to mind. For the past few months, CD covers, Red Box DVDs, and my Kindle have slipped right into the glove compartment with no problem. No jostling of the contents to get these items to fit. I had actually noticed this but did not make any connections. So now I am feverishly looking in my driveway and the section of street in front of my home. No key. How could there be, it was months ago.

Then in the stupid way that my brain will make a Pollyanna suggestion, grabbing at straws that do not exist, "well just get the spare key." Yeah that's it, you simpleton, get the spare key. The one that you thought about three years ago when you bought the damned locks, but thought "oh I'll get to that later." Well later came at 8 AM yesterday morning. I sheepishly called the dealership and canceled the appointment.

Now my mind is in a tizzy! What if I get flat tire? What did I do with the registration papers for the locks? What am I going to do if I can't find those papers? What if the company went out of business?

I start looking for the registration papers for the locks. Well what do you know, I did at least put them in with the rest of the car documents. I start reading the papers, it is rather disheartening. Register immediately, failure to register will result in delay, blaw blaw. Well what can I lose? I call the 800 number. Thank God, no problem, I can register the locks now and purchase the replacement key. I decide to get two of them and BTW way can you overnight them? Sure, no problem. So in a few hours, hopefully I will be able to remove my wheels. The cost $13 and some cents for the key, and $22 for the overnight charges. A bargain!

I talked to my brother-in-law again. Ahhhh, now he is waffling on the 300 species. "Well I don't know. I am going with 3 other people. I won't get to spend the time or go where I want, etc etc". Ok so what is the revised number? Well 200, or 150 if things really go bad! So I am laying mental bets. I give him 250. Why, well there are several types of kelp that he intends to identify. Well several types of kelp is a far cry from 250 species. But who the hell else would even think of kelp?

I was in southern California for 2 1/2 years while in the service. OK, I was at an age where I didn't give a damn about species except fully biped females (sans feathers). But I did see kelp, sea anemones, sequoia trees, Joshua trees, a ton of scorpions, black widow spiders, chaparral and a couple of rattle snakes. I ran into a flower called California Lupine. I also saw whales migrating off the coast of San Diego. But for most part I couldn't identify these things, I just saw them. Species that I could actually identify after 2 1/2 years. Probably 5, perhaps 10 if I really thought about it.

My brother-in-law is a birder. There is an element in birding that would sell their mothers or first born into slavery to get another 5 birds on their life lists. It is a numbers game. I saw the same thing among Geocachers (hunting for hidden Tupperware containers of trinkets with a GPS) . I would read some of the cache logs of people with thousands of finds. "Found it, TFTC", (thanks for the cache). They could log between 10 and 20 caches in one day. My wife and I got 5 on a really extraordinary day. But my writeups might be 3 paragraphs long and contain 3 to 6 pictures of wildflowers or some beautiful scene along the way. So I wondered, who had the better time, somebody mindlessly rushing from cache to cache collecting numbers, or my wife and I pokeying along collecting memories?

But back to my brother-in-law. He is a birder, but also a treer, a mushroomer, a dragonflyer, a grassers (yes he can ID numerous species of wild grasses), a butterflyer, beetler, moth-er, pond lifer, tracker, mosser and lichener, ferner, algaer, and clouder. Apparently he is about to be a kelper. He can look at a woods, a meadow, or pond and tell you the general condition of it. What is out of balance with it, what species are too dominant and generally how mankind has influenced this habitat and got it out of balance. I think of these things and I change my bet to 275.

But in some sliver of remote envy, his trip has influenced me. I identified my wildflower, the garden phlox. But also I got a fair picture of a hummingbird moth on my hanging petunias. I then could identify it as a snowberry clearwing. If I could figure out how to post the photo, I would. So a week of being on vacation, in porchville, I can add two new species of living things to my life lists, although I don't keep a life list, perhaps I should. If I did keep a life list, number one on it would be the Andromeda Galaxy. I "discovered" it about 22 years ago with a pair of binoculars. I wasn't looking for it...I had heard of it but didn't know you could see it with binoculars. Just ran across it while scanning the night sky with my binoculars. What a phenomenal discovery! I wonder how many species did I look at in that dull yellow smudge?

EDIT: I figured out how to post a photo. Ain't my moth cool!


  1. Grim, grim, grim. Now, if there were a species called "wheel-lock-key," your brother-in-law could have found the missing item before leaving for California. He'd have been one ahead in his count, and you'd have had the key. I have birder friends. They begin to look like birds as time passes. Tufts of hair. Beady eyes. Awkward limbs. And they all have marvelous binoculars. Oh, my. My "name" just popped up all by itself although when signing perhaqps I should call myself "the" baguette."

  2. Here I am again, having navigated the computer despite my finite abilities. (I remembered to add it to favorites.)

  3. AOB (for An Old Baguette--not to be confused with and OFB which would be me, the Old Fat Bast---)

    Thanks for dropping by. You are my sole reader, that I know about. I haven't seen anything that appears to be a view counter.

    Sorry about the huge URLs. After I wrote the comment I found that simply using

    will get you to the top of Blog so that you can see the most recent posts. I didn't want to put yet another note in your Blog, (turning it into an advertisement for mine) and it does not appear as though you can edit or delete comments.

    On your name popping up, I don't think it gets recorded in the final post. I notice my email address is always being bandied about until I hit the Post Comment button. It is worrisome though.

    My brother-in-law hasn't quite achieved the look. He is three years older than me and has a head full of black hair. I am bald on top and have silvery to snow white hair (what's left). While he is somewhat caught up in the typical birding numbers game, he, as I have indicated, is a polymath of nature, which I suppose makes him a naturalist. The other people on his trip are all birders, a couple who have been there before. They will come back with 1 to 5 birds on their life lists. My brother-in-law hopes to have 20 to 25 more birds on his list--only because he hasn't been there before. But even if he only gets 10, which would be a disappointment, he is still going to come back with a 130 to 280 new species (for him--he is not discovering new life forms) that will be duly recorded in his journal. His birder friends will only come back with the far more finite handful of birds. I hope that his friends give him enough time to poke about in the marshes, the tidal pools in the rocks, the fields and meadows, and simply don't rush him off to the next bird area.

    The above is thoroughly the wrong usage of finite. Five is no more finite than 280, but it sounds cool, as though I am a man of letters and can stretch the meaning of words that will cause literary types to clasp my words to their bosom in a full swoon and sigh. When quite actually both literary types and mathematicians will think--what a pompous ass!

    AOB, thanks again for stopping by, you have provided the light in the dark wilderness of un-readness.

  4. Oh, you have more readers than you think. Alas, few make comments, and that's part of the fun.

  5. Well it is good to know that someone looks at this stuff. As I mentioned above, there is no view counter, so the only indication is either comments or followers.

    Speaking of which, I have a follower now! Welcome NanookMN. I take it the MN is for Minnesota, so you must be one of the Baguette's readers. Well thank you stopping by and please comment.

    OK, you fair citizens of the Great State of Minnesota, back in the late 80s or early 90's I subscribed to a magazine called the Utne Reader which was published in Minneapolis by Erik Utne. I believe that somehow through the Utne Reader, I ran into a writer named Brenda Ueland. I seemed to be quite taken with her at the time, but now remember virtually nothing about her. Is this a big name out there in Pillsbury land? I read the Wikipedia article on her, and I know I bought at least 2 if not all her books, but now I can't remember anything other than she took a 6 mile walk around a lake no matter what the weather. Have any of you read her works? Her book on writing is supposed to be a classic.