Monday, January 31, 2011

Thank Heaven...for Little Girls

It's so tiring to keep up with all the amazing developments in the Middle East. I need to come up for air and find something light.

This winter I am putting the cold dry air to good use by walking to downtown more than in the past. It takes about 40 minutes, the back way, which is mostly dirt single-track. How nice it is to have a trail in town. Walking in town, away from traffic, is more interesting than an artificial hike in a boring forest.

First we hung out at the coffee shop, where Coffee Girl (my kelpie dog) charmed the socks off 90% of the customers. (And I tend to think there is something wrong with the remaining 10%.) Then we headed over to the food co-op (blush) where I bought all of one thing. Today I decided to wait, since there were a dozen kids' bicycles outside; they were all inside, stocking up on something.

They all came out at once. Immediately a half dozen girls, 8-10 years old, were cooing and giggling and fawning over Coffee Girl, and oh (!) how she gloried in all that attention. Every part of her body, from wet nose to wagging tail, quivered with happiness. It's probably uninteresting to read someone talk about their dog. We all know how boring it is to hear people brag about their kids, or to have granny at an RV park describe how cute this or that trivial thing was when her grandchild did it.

Still, for cynical old bachelor curmudgeons it's rare to have a delightful experience with children. (Think W.C. Fields.) I felt a spasm of joy during all this. If that isn't worth writing about, well, what is?


Above: reader bp's new dog, Copper (?). His eyes are a lot like my Coffee Girl's eyes, shown below.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

A Nation of Non-Wussies

The punditry and politicians in Western democracies are offering advice to Egyptians, as fast as they can type or talk. It is sheer presumptuousness. 

They offer noble-sounding platitudes about "orderly change" and "stability" and "dialogue." Who do they think the Egyptians are rebelling against: high-minded English of the Victorian Age? You don't get rid of a dictator by gradual reforms.

The fact that Western advice takes the form of meaningless platitudes shows that Western pundits and politicians are in denial -- no pun intended -- about the kind of government we have been sending billions of dollars to, over the last thirty years. It also covers their own crimes.
 
Listen to their sanctimonious advice about keeping demonstrations peaceful. Did America use a non-violent approach to throwing off oppression in 1776? What country did?

What gives Westerners the right to pass judgment on the Arabs' revolution? The only merit that Westerners can claim is choosing better ancestors. Six generations ago Americans had balls of steel. Since then, our system of government is nothing more than momentum. Americans of our day are so soft, so comfort and safety-oriented, that they couldn't make the smallest sacrifice for any cause, let alone walk in front of a tank or a line of heavily-armed goons, paid for by "freedom and democracy-loving" American taxpayers.

Considering all the cruel bullying and meddling that America has been guilty of since World War II, many people around the world must think that the American people are inherently cruel. Not so. In fact the average American is completely ignorant of, and uninterested in, the rest of the world. We are content with our lullaby of American exceptionalism. 

So we delegate foreign policy to geeks who are supposed to know about boring stuff like that. It's hard to decide whether our foreign policy Elites or our banking Elites take the prize for corruption and incompetence.


Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Romance of Revolution

The excitement in the Middle East has forked up that mouldering compost heap of half-forgotten quotes that is this old man's mind. First I thought back to the Iranian Revolution in 1979 or 1980. A feminist from the USA went over to Iran -- why, I don't know. Did she really think that mullahs and ayatollahs believed in "You've come a long way, baby!", and that she would help craft a new society?

Maybe she thought she would at least get enough publicity to lead to a career as a professional feminist; after all, fellow travelers in the Media were eagerly hoping for a modern day version of Emma Goldman in the heady days of the Bolshevik Revolution. If memory serves, the American feminist was told to get out of Iran.
 
Other famous revolutions started coming to mind. What was that quote from the poet Wordsworth about the intoxication of hope in the early days of the French Revolution, and something about being young? I tried BrainyQuotes dotcom. What a worthless website! I tried my own journal, started back in the 1980s -- nothing. It's so hard to search poetry online when you can't remember which poem the quote is in!

I spent an hour flailing around online, becoming angrier by the minute at how phony our vaunted "information age" really is. Of course a certain amount of frustration is necessary in order to get any real pleasure from finally finding it. It was in Wordsworth's The Prelude (Book Eleventh, France (concluded)). The dots of ellipses are my editing:
O pleasant exercise of hope and joy!
For mighty were the auxiliars which then stood
Upon our side, us who were strong in love!
Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive,
But to be young was very Heaven!...

When Reason seemed the most to assert her rights
When most intent on making of herself
A prime enchantress--to assist the work,
Which then was going forward in her name!
Not favoured spots alone, but the whole Earth,
The beauty wore of promise--that which sets...
The budding rose above the rose full blown.
What temper at the prospect did not wake
To happiness unthought of? The inert
Were roused, and lively natures rapt away!

...the meek and lofty
Did both find, helpers to their hearts' desire,
And stuff at hand, plastic as they could wish,--
Were called upon to exercise their skill,
Not in Utopia...or some secreted island,
But in the very world, which is the world
Of all of us,--the place where, in the end,
We find our happiness, or not at all!
Ahh dear, the irruption of hope -- all things are possible! It is a violent emotion, as lust is, especially in a young person. But the world has enough history to go on to be skeptical about this Enchantress. At any rate, the emotion only occurs a couple times in an individual's life. So I'll read more of that poem near the famous lines before the opportunity is lost.

Echo of Gdansk?

The Iron Curtain was lifted about 20 years ago. If you are old enough to remember it at all, do you remember how unexpected, sudden, and easy it seemed? It didn't seem real. Why hadn't the possibility of Communism suddenly unraveling been predicted by the Media, presidential candidates, foreign policy experts, or learned professors?

Things are happening fast in the greater Middle East these days. Is it crazy to expect something really big to happen, despite the rather modest events so far? Remember how the protests in the Gdansk Poland shipyard started off modestly around 1981?

I don't think anyone should get carried away and expect Islamic countries in that part of the world to suddenly become "normal." People in the West might start reading wildly hopeful reports about no-more-torture, democracy, women's rights, legalized wine in restaurants, and scientifically-designed playgrounds for children, but recall that most revolutions end up under the thumb of some faction or megalomaniac who is lurking in the wings at the beginning of the revolution. There are few powerful institutions in repressive dictatorships -- other than the Army or Islamists -- who can move into the power vacuum in the aftermath of a revolution.

When the Berlin Wall came down about 20 years ago, the most frightened group in America was the military-industrial complex. (They needn't have worried.) Ironically they should have been feeling triumphant and taking a bow.  Today the nation of Israel has the most to fear from real democracy breaking out in the Islamic greater Middle East. Also, pickup truck and RV drivers should expect more resource nationalism there.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A Thousand Words

The other day I wrote about our financial problems in light of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. If nothing else it was fun to consider the irony, considering who the current president is.

But the other day I saw a word applied to our financial problems that I've never seen before: pensioners are cannibalizing the young. (Sorry, I forgot the source; it might have been myBudget360.com.) A picture is supposed to be worth a thousand words. This was a case in which one word was worth a thousand words. This has never happened before to me, as a reader.

American Baby Boomers inherited the mightiest industry in the world; we bequeath a hollowed-out wreck. We frolicked in the freedom of the 1960s and 1970s; we leave the youngsters a militarized-security-police state. Our parents showed us what a stable nuclear family was like; we raised the young in a bombed-out divorce culture. Just think how cheap it was to go to college or buy a house when Baby Boomers were young; now look at it. These comparisons go on and on. American Baby Boomers are the Worst Generation. I hope that the young rebel against us:
  • reduce the pensions of existing pensioners in the government sector. Use the pensions in the private sector as a basis of comparison.
  • impose lifetime limits on Medicare.
  • apply means-testing to Social Security.
  • drastically downsize the global empire and military expenditures.
  • pull away government subsidies from the housing sector, thus making housing affordable to the young. This will upset the retirement fantasies of Baby Boomers. So what?

Monday, January 24, 2011

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Four Paws Four Wheeling



When I first saw this machine invading my sacred grassland I was disgusted. But I only saw the machine, not the dogs. When I finally saw them and how much fun they were having, I walked over and had a long and friendly conversation with the fellow.  Is there any form of transportation that dogs don't love, as long as they can share it with their man? His machine was quiet and he was using the land respectfully.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Finch in Winter?


Recall that it's all I can do to maintain this blog's infallibility on sex, politics, and religion. So my bird identifications are prone to occasional error. The twigs and chilly finch made me think of all the brisk, dry, and sunny days we've been having this winter. My favorite winter.

The Politics of Pigskin

Suspense is building in the sports world, now that we're down to four teams in the football playoffs; except of course for a few soul-less philistines, anti-American Europhiles who prefer their version of "football", and millions of wives who prefer ice dancing at the Olympics to the NFL playoffs.

But the drama of athletic competition can be appreciated on another level: sometimes a sports championship captures the zeitgeist, the spirit of the Age. There was a classic and famous photograph of the Detroit Tigers winning the World Series circa 1984, as Detroit and the automobile industry were making a comeback from the most brutal recession in decades. More recently the New Orleans Saints starting playing well in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina's destruction of that city.

Besides being a battle between Good and Evil, the upcoming contest between the Green Bay Packers (the Good) and the Chicago Bears (the... well, you guess) symbolizes the contest between two political and economic philosophies. The recent election was historically important. As I argued earlier, the near future will highlight battlegrounds along the interstate 80 axis of decaying, industrial America. But the battleground takes in a wider area: the industrial Midwest, the Great Lakes states. 

Who was the wit who first said that "reputation is a lagging indicator?" We still think of states like Michigan, Illinois, and Wisconsin as the "industrial" heartland, even though most of their industry has moved to Tennessee or Texas, if not overseas.

There are new GOP governors in Wisconsin and Indiana, who are getting a kick out of stealing businesses and jobs from Illinois, one of the poster boys of decaying, dysfunctional Blue Statism. This is particularly timely with the Democratic Chicago pols imposing tax increases on the rest of the state.

How fitting and proper it would be if the Pack crushed the Bears. It will be seen as one more illustration of Blue Statism being headed towards the ash heap of History.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

North Africa

The world seems to have been caught by surprise by the revolution in Tunisia. For Netflix customers it was an excellent time to rewatch the movie, Battle of Algiers, made in the mid-1960s in Italy and Algiers. It is a remarkable movie that seems so timely today. Of course anything is an improvement over the American media's treatment of the "War on Terror."

It's been a long time since I gave any thought to North Africa. It hasn't exactly been insignificant throughout history: the Desert Fox in World War II, the Moors invading Spain in the Middle Ages, Carthage destroying Italian small farmers and then finally the Roman Republic in classical times.

Now we watch to see how pervasive revolution in Arab countries becomes. Israel must be the most nervous country about all this. It would be prefer to be surrounded by American client states. America likes to pretend it's pushing democracy in the Mideast, but real democracy would produce Islamic governments that were unfriendly to American oil companies and to Israel.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

General Essay on the Yuman Condition, part 2

The vague discomfort that I always felt in Yuma overlapped in some way with how I felt around RVers in general. The whole thing seemed like a big revolving door. Every year there's a new crop of newbies with the standard notions. The romance of pretty scenery and escapism is not long-lasting; that and normal human aging soon put them on a lot in Yuma.

Recently Peter Yates died. He directed the movie Breaking Away circa 1980, about growing up in an Indiana college town, with a subplot about bicycle racing. The best speech in the movie comes from Dennis Quaid, who plays the ex-high school quarterback. (All of the boys are 19 year old townies, bored and unemployed, and not college-bound.) With some envious resentment they watch the college football team practice one day, when the ex-high school quarterback soliloquizes:

You know what really gets me though? Here I am, I've gotta live in this stinkin' town, and I gotta read in the newspaper about some new hot shot kid, the star of the college team. Every year it's gonna be a new one, and every year it's never gonna be me.
These college kids out here, they're never gonna get old, or out of shape, 'cause new ones come along every year.
I don't know where Peter Yates died. It was probably on the California coast or in Manhattan. But it would have been more fitting if it had been Yuma.

College towns, RV freshmen, and retirement towns are concrete examples of what the philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer wrote about in his classic essay, On Death and its Relation to the Indestructibility of Our True Nature, a chapter in Volume 3 of The World as Will and Idea, (this latter link might work better, if the first link fails:click "read online" in the left margin, then the scanned book appears, and finally move the slider at the bottom to page 274.)

As the scattered drops of the roaring waterfall change
with lightning rapidity, while the rainbow (whose sup-
porter they are) remains immovably at rest and quite un-
touched by that ceaseless change, so every Idea and
every species of living creature remains quite untouched
by the continual change of its individuals. But it is the
Idea, or the species in which the will to live is really
rooted, and manifests itself; and therefore also the will
is only truly concerned in the continuance of the species. 

[Search for 'waterfall' in the link.] 

It is hard to imagine yourself as one of these mobile and transient droplets. You seem more important and permanent than that, at least in the middle of life. It is only at the beginning and end of life, when the droplets are near the infrared fringe -- and then finally the deep violet edge of the rainbow -- that you can sense your own rapid motion and insignificance, unless Schopenhauer is right, and "we" associate ourselves more with the rainbow than the droplet.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Sorry, But I Can't Resist

General Essay on the Yuman Condition, part 1

Recently I was commenting on someone else's blog when the subject of Yuma AZ came up. It is a snowbird magnet, as are Sun City and Green Valley. I rented a lot there during three winters. It was interesting to me to rethink Yuma because so many issues about retirement and relocation seem to coalesce there. 

Yuma is famous with retirees and snowbirds primarily because it is the warmest place in the southwest, although not as warm as south Texas or Florida. And there are practical advantages, such as low cost dentistas and farmacias right across the border in Algodones, one of the few border towns that won't frighten middle class gringos. Years ago Yuma was considered a bargain: you could buy a gravel lot and plunk down an RV for a few months, or you could even build a normal house, although living in Yuma for twelve months per year is a perverse idea.

On the negative side, Yuma is desperately congested in the winter. Just going to the grocery store can be a nightmare unless you time it right. It's a game of demolition derby in the parking lots, as seniors back out without the ability of twisting their necks to look. The most memorable nightmare for me was the laundromat. Yuma is surrounded by ugly land, which is rare in the state of Arizona. It has its fair share of windy, dusty days. By the first of March the hot sun already drove me out of town. By then most visitors are completely sick of the stereotypical "soooo, what part of Livingston Texas are you from?" conversations that you've had hundreds of times over the winter.

But back to the benefits of Yuma, which in fact go way beyond the merely utilitarian. A newcomer might not appreciate them at first. Neighbors will hang out together in the Foothills. It's actually warm enough in the evening to party outdoors. There is an ambiance there that you'd better have fun and enjoy life while you still can.

The shrinkage of North America in the winter causes RVers to concentrate in the Yuma area. Even without definite schedules, a traveler can drop-in at Yuma and count on bumping into people he knows. Even die-hard proponents of the Constant Travel Syndrome might be surprised how much they end up appreciating a break from feeling odd or isolated.

I stopped going to Yuma several winters ago, after I finally learned that a warm winter was unhealthy for me psychologically. I needed to "suffer" cold a little bit in the winter so that I yearned for summer again. Otherwise I would obsess over the dry heat in the summer.

Perhaps the real root of my grudge against Yuma is that you get sucked into going there because other RVers are. Then you find out that it's not about RVing -- its about being old, digging in, turning in the keys, the slippery slope. Yuma is the favorite town of RV Yoostabees. Since that eventuality is no longer laughably distant to a baby boomer RVer like me, a certain amount of resentment is understandable.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

2012 and Interstate 80

My sporting advice to liberals is to keep blaming Palin for the Tucson shooting, despite its apparent failure as shown by recent polls. Oh dear, here comes a military metaphor: they can fail tactically while winning on a strategic level. Attacking Palin solidifies the notion that she is the front runner, the heir apparent. If Republicans fall for this and "rally 'round the Palin", the liberals will end up getting the last laugh, since she is a weak candidate. 

Palin is unqualified, dumb, and unpresidential. Is it not obvious that Palin was chosen to fight the "tired old white guy" image that McCain had? (Think Bob Dole in 1996.) Also, the first (half) black candidate for president was generating a lot of excitement on the Democrat side, so the GOP didn't want to be completely left out of the affirmative action presidential sweepstakes.

I think that trend has become passe. The example of Obama will bring Americans back to the sensible notion that a half-term in the Senate is really not very good training for the presidency. The governor's mansion is. And all the interesting new governors are Republican: they are the ones who are making reputations at having the guts to confront the issues of 2012, such as persistently high unemployment, municipal and state bailouts, pension crises for unionized public sector workers, and finally fuel and food inflation. 

The Democrats must distract the Republicans with their Palin ploy so that this new and promising crop of governors is neglected, thereby denying the GOP the fruits of its recent victory. Meanwhile the Democratic governors are seen as urban-machine politicians, who are slaves of the public unions.

The presidential election of 2012 could be won along the eastern half of Interstate 80. Start on the Atlantic in New Jersey, with quite a few electoral votes which normally go blue: Governor Christie is quite popular there and making a reputation for being a real leader. Perhaps his halo extends to electorally-rich Pennsylvania; normally Filthadelphia keeps the state from going red, but just barely. Filthadelphia will probably be begging for a bailout.

Moving west, we pass West Virginia. President Green Energy has been trying to destroy their coal industry. Driving west, we now go through red Ohio and Indiana.

Now we come to one of America's premier "failed states", Illinois. Naturally it's blue. It is the poster child for the connection of Blueness with Bankruptcy, job losses, and shrinking population. Republicans could make a real billboard of Obama and the Chicago Way.

Finally we jump out to Nevada. It has been borderline blue just because Las Vegas has become a refuge and overflow bin for Californians. But as Las Vegas sinks into the desert, the stink of decay will poison the whole image of blueness. Nevada, outside of Clark County, will reassert its redness. 

In summary, Blueness will be so connected with financial problems that it will be perceived as being of the wrong side of History. Decaying, failed Blue states will be seen as the moral equivalents of Greece.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

More Good News from Las Vegas

No doubt I need to do a better job of highlighting positive news instead of offering my usual complaints about the decline and ultimate demise of Western Civilization. Once again there is some perky news about the decline of Vegas, which is a proxy for hope for America.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Why so Much Acrimony?

It is a common complaint, almost a cliche, that politics has become increasingly partisan and bitter over the last few years. Everybody bemoans this, but nobody does anything about it. The aftermath of the Tucson shooting -- more than the shooting itself -- seems to suggest a frightening political volcano lying dormant just below the surface.

For a sense of perspective let's look at a quote from Boswell's Life of Johnson, circa 1770. Johnson says:
I would not give half a guinea to live under one form of government rather than another. It is of no moment to the happiness of an individual. Sir, the danger of the abuse of power is nothing to a private man. What Frenchman is prevented from passing his life as he pleases?
It was easy for Johnson to make that argument. No matter how tyrannical a government was in his day, it could have only the smallest impact on everyday life compared to what it can do today, whether it be tyrannical or benevolent. The machinery simply didn't exist.

Every year there is less and less of the economy, civilization, or Life in general that hasn't been gobbled up by politics. Is it any wonder that politics has become full of vitriol, the buzzword du jour? And who is responsible for politics consuming most of Life: the very people who are sermonizing against hate and vitriol today.

Bluebird Rivalry?


Why is the old boy on top conquering the female's heart? The lower male seems more colorful.

Monday, January 10, 2011

A Comeback in Round 2?

If, in the privacy of their own hearts, many Leftists jumped to conclusions or even felt a brief moment of dark glee upon hearing of the Tucson shooting, they shouldn't be blamed too much; after all, most restrained themselves while waiting for more evidence. The most notable exception to responsible behavior was Paul Krugman at the ever-shrinking New York Times. But that was expected.

After all, the Democrats took quite a "shellacking" in the midterm election, causing it to be compared to 1994. Naturally a shocking act of violence instantly brings to mind the Oklahoma City bombing, which Clinton was able to use to his advantage in becoming the Comeback Kid.

My advice to the Left is that they not be misled by seductive analogies. So far, Obama has shown none of the political acumen or good luck of Clinton. In the mid-90s, Talk Radio was the only crack in the Leftist hegemony over the Media. (Fox News didn't hit the big time until later in the 90s.) But today the internet blogosphere is eating Krugman and the New York Times alive.

There is a perspective that you are unlikely to get from all the Breaking News, but I can't remember the source. (Maybe it is from Machiavelli's Prince, or maybe from Robert Penn Warren's All the King's Men.) But the gist of it is that a political tactic that is fresh and successful the first time around, seldom works as well in Round 2. 

The opponents have wised up, and it no longer has that magical novelty that can charm the masses. It is analogous to a plague that has lost its punch the second time around. 

Or, if you can stand another analogy, trying a successful political maneuver twice is rather like a stand-up comedian trying to get an easy laugh from the audience by telling the joke a second time.

Rather than pinning its hopes on a replay of Clinton's Oklahoma City bombing comeback, the Left should focus on its archenemy, the Internet. Until they can incorporate it into their hegemony over the Media, Academia, the Courts, and Hollywood, they are at risk. It is a truism that a good politician never lets a good crisis go to waste. Somehow Obama, without being obvious about it, needs to use the Tucson shooting to gently tap in the "thin end of the wedge" of internet controls. Obviously he must good-naturedly laugh off the accusation of attempting internet censorship. 

Too far-fetched? Here's a plausible argument he can use: if Congress members can't even have open public meeting with their constituents, then our Democracy is at risk. And if vitriolic, hate-filled messages fill up the internet and encourage kooks out there to acts of violence, well then, some sensible and mild safety guidelines for the internet are the lesser of two evils. I don't agree with this argument of course, but it would be attractive to many modern Americans who actually put little importance on personal freedom.

It's about "safety" and "democracy", you see.  And if you oppose him, you are just a paranoid crank, a hate-filled 60-year-old white guy, or a hard-hearted bastard who doesn't care about 9-year-old girls getting killed, like in the Tucson shooting.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Nice Tuft


I'm not any good at identifying birds in silhouette. But the tuft grabbed my eyes from a long distance, and he let me approach.

Update: the two commenters were right. It's a phainopepia. I forgot to check my own Picasa web album before giving up on the silhouette above:

Thursday, January 6, 2011

What Happened to the 14th Amendment?

There should be more pundits and "news" sources that take a time-agnostic point of view: "Oh so that's what happened today, is it? Well who the hell cares." But the Media focuses on the trivial and ephemeral. I'm afraid the internet is just making it worse, with its obsession with how things are "trending", and with who's hot and who's not.

In the political news, the Media obsesses over tweaking this or that tax policy or government entitlement program to the Left or Right. When are we going to focus on something important for a change?! We live in a Democratic age, as opposed to the earlier era of an Aristocracy or Monarchy. We think that the very legitimacy of our political establishment is based on "the consent of the governed."

And yet, we have created trillions of dollars of debt or unfunded entitlement programs that will have to be paid by people in the years of 2020-2050 A.D. Some of them aren't even old enough to vote yet, or they haven't even been born yet! Consent of the governed? 

This is an old guilt trip that people are sick of hearing. Maybe it wouldn't be so boring if, instead of guilt-mongering, we switched the discussion to whether our vaunted democratic system is even a fundamentally legitimate form of government. I would argue, as others have done in the past, that unlimited democratic government is inherently despotic. And yet, we teach kiddies in (government-run) schools that "freedom" and "democracy" are symbiotic.

Saddling people in the future with the debts that enable us to whoop it up today is a type of slavery for citizens in the future. How I would love to see a presidential candidate in 2012 rub this irony into the face of the country's first (half) black president who bears some of the responsibility for this crime. If the candidate keeps pressing on this issue, the president will be perceived as being on the defensive, essentially making excuses for a type of slavery.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Snowbirds


What's that brown stuff behind this meadowlark? Oh that's right, it's snowless dirt, just after Christmas. How I wish the white stuff left by the recent storm would disappear. Snow might be marvelous when it is falling or recently fallen, but soon it turns ugly. Most of all I resent any restriction to my walking and cycling lifestyles.

The recent four inches of white powder is taking a while to melt off and I was getting cabin fever, so Coffee Girl and I walked to town. It was not fun. Nobody in this town bothers to scoop off their sidewalk. So we struggled with ice or packed snow the whole way. Every time a raven flew overhead, Coffee Girl would lunge at it and nearly pull me over onto the hard surface. The hatred of the Easterner for old snow (read, ice) came back with every step.

Finally we made it to the coffee shop, where we sat outside and watched drops melt off the awning and fall onto the sidewalk with a loud splash. They were backlit by a bright Southwestern sun. The drops seemed like pyroclastic, melting glass with a high lead content. I felt so relaxed and content just to sit there watching it, while nibbling on the banana bread, sipping the hot coffee, and smiling at the slow-drip process driven by the sun.

Perhaps this explains why a human snowbird would spend his winter in a town like this. Most snowbirds head to places where they can sit around in wide-body, folding chairs, while wearing only shorts. There is a lot to be said for being occasionally delighted -- and then quickly annoyed -- by snow that disappears pretty fast. It took me years to understand that a winter of 70 F degree days is not just boring, but it fails to refresh your appetite for summer.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

The Death Cry



When I first saw this photo of Coffee Girl (black) launching an attack on Gabby (neighborhood friend) I was disappointed that it was out of focus. But notice how focused the carabiner is, on the end of the red leash. Later I started to like it because it captures the frantic earnestness of dog play. You'd think that Gabby was screaming in agony, in her very death-cry, instead of enjoying play with her best friend. Coffee Girl is biting Gabby in the shoulder, the same location that the coyote bit my little poodle about a month ago, except that the bite left a two inch long gash.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

What a Way to Start a New Year


(Photo looks better after clicking to enlarge.) The blizzard hit a couple days ago and here we sit, a hundred miles from the Mexico border, with four inches of powdery snow to frolic in. Which is happier: my dog or my camera? Never before has the water in the dog bowl frozen at night -- inside the RV, I'm talking about!