Marble and Mud

Life is made up of marble and mud.
—–Nathaniel Hawthorne

The Trinity River was still boiling, but it had obviously been higher a couple days earlier. The dropping river left it's burden of mud. Soon enough all will be  dust.

The Trinity River was still boiling, but it had obviously been higher a couple days earlier. The dropping river left its burden of mud.
Soon enough all will be dust.

Writing is like walking in a deserted street. Out of the dust in the street you make a mud pie.
—- John LeCarre

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Love Lock Dead Drop

I wanted to put out another USB Dead Drop.

When I stopped by the local electronics store to pick up a replacement for the USB drive that I used in my Spring Creek Nature Trail USB Dead Drop I came across a two-pack of small plastic 8 gig USB drives. These looked good for making a Dead Drop and were inexpensive, so I bought the pair.

These have a nice hole in the plastic housing for mounting on a keychain and I had an idea. I took a red plastic padlock I had lying around and drilled a small carefully placed hole. Then I used a washer and a pop rivet to permanently attach the USB drive to the lock.

You see, one of my favorite spots in Dallas is the Santa Fe Trestle Trail. This is an old unused train trestle that has been converted into a biking/pedestrian trail across the Trinity River just south of downtown. People have copied the French Tradition of placing “Love Locks” – padlocks with two names – along the fencing of the bridge.

What a perfect spot for a USB Dead Drop – The Love Lock Dead Drop.

I caught the train down to the Corinth and 8th DART station, rode my bike down the trail to the bridge, and put my lock with attached USB onto the bridge. Easy as pie.

Closeup view of my red padlock - Love Lock USB Dead Drop, on the Santa Fe Trestle Trail bridge.

Closeup view of my red padlock – Love Lock USB Dead Drop, on the Santa Fe Trestle Trail bridge.

Medium view of my red padlock - Love Lock USB Dead Drop, along with the other locks on the Santa Fe Trestle Trail bridge.

Medium view of my red padlock – Love Lock USB Dead Drop, along with the other locks on the Santa Fe Trestle Trail bridge.

Distant view of the Santa Fe Trestle Trail in Dallas. My Love Lock USB Dead Drop is on the bridge.

Distant view of the Santa Fe Trestle Trail in Dallas. My Love Lock USB Dead Drop is on the bridge.

USB Dead Drop in the Spring Creek Nature Area

The other day I wrote about Dead Drops – places where people have put USB thumb drives out into the public for others to place and exchange data files. There was one in Exposition Park here in Dallas that I visited and took a look at the files within.

Really, if you don’t understand why this is an interesting (as opposed to good) idea, I don’t think I can explain it. But I found it fascinating.

Oh, one hint right off the bat… if you are interested in USB Dead Drops – get a simple USB extension cable. There are all these photos with folks shoving their laptops up to the wall – that seems crazy to me. Digging around my stuff at home – I found two cables that I already had. One of these will make life easier.

The next step, of course, was for me to put one out myself. I started thinking about a good location. I didn’t want to put it in a wall that belonged to someone or that was public property… that seems too much like vandalism. As I thought about it – I realized I wanted to place Dead Drops in more remote locations – places where people wouldn’t stumble across them, but where they could be reached easily. I also wanted to find a place where I could check it fairly regularly. When you look at the Dead Drop Database – so many of them are missing, broken, or vandalized (people are such assholes). I’ll try to keep mine repaired… as best as I can.

There are a lot of web pages with instructions on how to place a USB Dead Drop, but I was most interested in an Instructable on how to Create a USB Dead Drop in Nature.

After thinking about it, I remember an old abandoned concrete bridge piling along the concrete hiking/biking trail that runs through the Spring Creek Nature Area. That would be perfect. Nobody could accuse me of vandalizing a huge hunk of ancient abandoned concrete in the middle of the woods. It is, however, right off the trail and would be easy to get to.

That complex of trails is only a few miles from my house and is my most common recreational cycling route – so I can keep tabs on the drop. The only downside is that those woods are popular with kids and they are the ones most likely to discover and destroy my drop – but that’s something I’ll have to risk.

The first step was to prepare the USB. I dug around and found a cheap, generic, 4 GB drive – a local electronics store sells these at a very low price.

Cheap Generic USB Drive for Dead Drop.

Cheap Generic USB Drive for Dead Drop.

With some pliers, I pried off the plastic case to minimize the size.

Innards of the USB drive.

Innards of the USB drive.

Then I wrapped the electronics in Teflon tape – for insulation from the sealant I would use to set the thing.

Drive wrapped in tape.

Drive wrapped in tape.

Most people use fast-setting cement, but I thought I’d go with adhesive sealer – mostly because I had a tube around the house. I put a readme.txt and the deadrops.txt on the drive, along with a PDF of a story I wrote and a couple other little things. I packed the drive, the glue, and a chisel onto my bike and set off.

Stuff used to install a USB Dead Drop.

Stuff used to install a USB Dead Drop.

The place seemed to be as good as I had supposed. There was a hole in the concrete, I enlarged it a bit until most of the drive fit in. I glued it in with the adhesive, packing in some pebbles around for filler.

It only took a couple of minutes. Then I took three photos:

The concrete pillar off the trail where I put the Dead Drop USB.

The concrete pillar off the trail where I put the Dead Drop USB.

A medium view of the USB Dead Drop off the trail.

A medium view of the USB Dead Drop off the trail.

Close up view of the USB Dead Drop mounted in the concrete.

Close up view of the USB Dead Drop mounted in the concrete.

Then I put it on the Dead Drops database to help someone find the drop. Here’s the description I put on the Dead Drops site:

Spring Creek Nature Trail is a concrete bike/pedestrian trail in a beautiful bit of thick creekbottom woods south of Renner Road, just East of US75 in Richardson, Texas.

The USB is right off the Spring Creek Nature Trail. It is in the side of an old concrete railroad trestle just to the west of the DART train overhead – which is just west of Routh Creek Parkway between Glenville and Renner. If you are walking, you can park at Renner and US75 and follow the trail into the woods. When you reach the DART train overhead, turn and you can see the concrete trestle, right off the concrete trail. Walk down to it and the USB is glued to the North side, in the center.

Here’s the location on Google Maps.

Now I wait. It will be interesting if anyone visits the thing.

The Mark Of Steel Upon It

“The immappable world of our journey. A pass in the mountains. A bloodstained stone. The marks of steel upon it. Names carved in the corrosible lime among stone fishes and ancient shells. Things dimmed and dimming. The dry sea floor. The tools of migrant hunters. The dreams encased upon the blades of them. The peregrine bones of a prophet. The silence. The gradual extinction of rain. The coming of night.”

― Cormac McCarthy, Cities of the Plain

Steel in the forge, Frisco, Texas

Steel in the forge,
Frisco, Texas

Unseen Crooks

“You clearly don’t know who you’re talking to, so let me clue you in. I am not in danger, Skyler. I am the danger. A guy opens his door and gets shot, and you think that of me? No! I am the one who knocks!”
—-Heisenberg, Breaking Bad

Trinity River Bottoms Dallas, Texas

Trinity River Bottoms
Dallas, Texas