Monday, October 29, 2012

A Two-Netbook "Minimalist"

Go ahead and laugh. I responded to the news about the $500 Windows RT tablet by going to Walmart to buy a second Acer Aspire One (model 722-0473) netbook. This is the first time in my life when I've owned two computers. I panicked into concluding that, over the next couple years, the computer industry will kill off the netbook and leave the chumps only the following sorry options:

1) $800-1000 WINTEL "ultrabooks" or,
2) $500-600 tablets based on ARM microprocessors, similar to those in smartphones, that only offer a "half-internet" experience or,
3) inexpensive 7" tablets that are basically just smartphones without the ability to make phone calls. Or call them vending machines for media consumables from Amazon or the iShackle store (Apple's iTunes). Last but not least,
4) the usual overpriced "walled garden" at the Apple store, built around its notorious iShackle media store, and incompatible connectors and operating system.

None of these is an attractive choice for a no-nonsense, "bang for the buck" type of consumer. But for a camper living on batteries it's even worse. Until I learn otherwise I'll assume that the WINTEL ultrabooks use a couple Amps DC -- tech reviews never bother to say. A year ago I experienced the bliss of replacing an old laptop, that consumed 4 Amps DC, with this netbook that used only 1.1 Amps DC. (Thanks again to Thom Hoch for getting me onto the right trail.) I paid Target's loss-leader price of $200 at the beginning of the Christmas shopping season. 

Despite the (probably intentional) misinformation in tech reviews, this netbook was capable of doing anything a non-gaming mainstream user might throw at it: web surfing, office applications, reading eBooks, Picasa editing of photographs, playing music, and high definition videos. Admittedly you wouldn't want to do computer modeling for NASA with it.

I was appalled when Microsoft announced a $500 Windows RT tablet that has:
1) A 10.5" diagonal screen. Yes it will be a touch screen, but who cares!
2) No keyboard.
3) 32 Gigabytes solid state "hard drive".
4) A subfunctional operating system that is not compatible with all previous Windows applications. Gee, isn't that why we buy Windows?

Compare this to the Acer Aspire One netbook (model #722-0473), normally priced at $325:
1) An 11.5" diagonal high definition (1366 X 768) screen.
2) A full sized keyboard for touch typing. By "full sized" I mean it works for big ol' ape-man paws, not just for Japanese schoolgirls' hands. For ape-men 10" netbook keyboards are too small.
3) 320 Gigabytes (spinning) hard drive, TEN times what that silly RT tablet has.
4) Windows 7 Home Premium, an excellent operation system.

The whole touch screen fad is overrated to users who aren't so interested in mobility, perhaps because they use their computer on a desk at home 95% of the time. Occasionally it gets carried to a library or coffee shop, and at those times it's nice that this netbook is reasonably light and small. It has the same footprint as an 8.5" X 11" piece of paper, so you can carry and protect it in any number of inexpensive items from an office supply store.

The over-hyped touch screen fad is also aimed at pre-literate kindergarteners who don't know how to touch-type. For all I know, the public schools might have abandoned the teaching of touch-typing because it was deemed politically incorrect or perhaps just too rigorous.

How long will this netbook last? Beats me. Every computer that croaked on me did so with a hard drive crash. My guess is that these netbooks will last just as long as a laptop costing three times as much because the hard drives in them are made by the same duopoly that makes hard drives for the entire world, regardless of the nominal "brand"?

Admittedly the keyboard feels cheap. But if it croaks I will just overlay it with an external aftermarket keyboard.

Some people say ol' Boonie is cynical and too hard to please. Maybe so. But that's a two-edged sword, since an endorsement by me really means something! Consider hauling your little patootie down to Walmart and paying $240 for a new Acer Aspire One (722-0473) netbook before the warehouse is cleaned out and the computer industry shackles you into buying overpriced and overpowered ultrabooks or overpriced and sub-functional tablets.

Friday, October 26, 2012

The Internet Versus the Noble Savage

Baby Boomers should have something to say about consuming information as a way of life. When we came into this world, the great blight of television befell the world. Today, toward the end of our passage, the internet is taking over. These are two information revolutions just as big as, but far more sudden than, the invention of the alphabet or Gutenberg's movable-type printing press.

Baby Boomers, destined to eventually become America's Worst Generation, started off life as the first generation raised on television. TV-haters (like me) would love to believe that that proves cause and effect.

Whether you buy that or not, it is strange how uncritically many parents welcomed TV into their homes in the 1950s. Soon the living room furniture was all arranged around the TV set. Many children grew up with no restrictions on their TV habits.

How ironic that many a traditional father in the 1950s kept a gun in the house to 'protect his family', you know. And yet he allowed this new-fangled thief to steal his family's time and to rape their minds with commercials.
I always wondered why my parents, both teachers, tolerated such a thing.

But the cultural decline associated with television is an old story and need not be rehashed here. Rather than looking back to the TV-blunder of our parents, we should ask if we are making the same mistake today, but with the internet. If we are, there is a bitter irony to it.

Lately I have done a better job at stretching the internet umbilical cord. This has added quite a bit to my sense of freedom, exploration, and the sheer size of North America, which would otherwise collapse precipitously in winter. It has turned out to be strange how invincible the internet addiction seems to be until you snap it; and then you wonder what the big deal was. Maybe this shouldn't be so surprising considering how many more decades a Baby Boomer lived without the internet, than with it. At any rate I'm quite optimistic that I will be able to beat this contemptible addiction. But this is getting ahead of story. First it needs to be explained what is wrong with an internet addiction.

I'll leave Facebook and Twitter out of the discussion since I'm unfamiliar with them, but people familiar with them will usually attest to their trivialness. Internet users with unlimited plans might well have become addicted to news clips from the TV news shows of an hour or two ago. Or perhaps they spent time watching "Wow, look at that!" sort of You Tube videos.

But those of us with limited data plans are forced to read the internet, rather than watch it. Some of the political or economical blogs that I read seem pretty good. But if I'm away from them for awhile, and then come back to them, I usually find the same old issues and soap operas being discussed, e.g., the presidential horse race, the financial crisis in Europe, the fiscal cliff in the USA, etc.

The limiting case of triviality are the travel blogs, of course. But let's be clear: the blogger/photographer is not doing anything wrong in photographing a national park just because his photographs are similar to those of millions of other visitors. He is simply indulging in a natural and harmless urge.

The mistake lies with the viewer/reader, who is squandering his life looking at "information" that is utterly predictable and choked with cliches and stereotypes.

The vaunted high-tech world of the internet has simply become one of those moving, jingling, glittering "mobiles" that Mommy hangs over a crib to keep Baby amused. Our central nervous systems are becoming addicted to continuous trivial (and even annoying) stimulation from an electronic noise and image box.

It goes back a lot further than 1950s of course. The other day I was reading James Boswell's version of the trip to the Hebrides Islands that he and Samuel Johnson took about 1770. He and Johnson  loved the endless bustle of London, and at times Boswell seemed to believe that the short attention span of the city slicker was praise-worthy. But on one of those dreary rainy days in the Hebrides he caught himself:

"I was happy when tea came. Such, I take it, is the state of those who live in the country. Meals are wished for from the cravings of vacuity of mind, as well as from the desire of eating. I was hurt to find even such a temporary feebleness, and that I was so far from being that robust wise man who is sufficient for his own happiness. I felt a kind of lethargy of indolence."
This is the very issue that a serious camper and traveler must confront. They must get good at, and proud of, their ability to fill the vacuity of the day with their own activities. They must entertain themselves rather than depend on habitual consumption of trivial distraction from the outside world, be it from electronic boxes, traffic, stores, restaurants, or the inane chatter of social ritual.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Noble Savage Back in the City

Real travelers -- as opposed to mere sightseers -- might yearn for opportunities to learn of new manners and customs, languages and religions, and ways of life. But it's tough to do that without traveling to third world countries, with all the costs and risks. Even there you would need opportunities to live and work with the locals, rather than just gawk at them as quaint caricatures. 

Perhaps one of the biggest advantage of dispersed camping on public lands is that it makes you so separate from the normal American that you get to experience what could be seen as exotic foreign travel when you return to the most ordinary metropolitan areas in your own country. 

When the ol' desert rat or dispersed camper -- think of him as a Noble Savage -- returns to the city, what exactly happens to him as he becomes "normal" again? Adjusting to the obscene onslaught of noise, 7 and 24 and 365, is the most immediate and obvious change.

Do most people see this Noble Savage as being unfriendly to humanity, as least compared to the supposedly gregarious city dweller? The other day I came into the Megalopolis of New Mexico, Albuquerque. After driving across town I realized that I hadn't seen many human beings -- I'd only seen motor vehicles! Thoreau once said that he walked across Manhattan Island and never really saw a living human being. What would he say today if he drove across the average American city?

It's true that if you look closely enough you'll see a hint of a human being behind the tinted glass of the car's side windows. They appear to be trapped in there and to lead a dim shadowy existence, just as ancient Greeks imagined Hades as a shadowy netherworld from which the dead could not escape.

I had unusually good luck in finding a shopping area that offered REI, Performance Bicycles, Sportsman's Warehouse, and Sports Authority all within easy walking distance of each other -- not that you could walk without being run over by the relentless crush of traffic. (And how ironic that was, considering the nature of the stores in question!) Here was a marvelous opportunity to stand somewhat aside from myself and observe what happens to the Noble Savage as he re-integrates with the most fundamental and revered customs of his "own" society and culture, which basically means buying crap.

There was a time not so long ago when I really would have lusted for many of the items in these particular stores. But the Noble Savage has come to see most of their offerings as silly and useless. Still, you feel a relentless force trying to make you believe that all of this crap is desirable and even necessary.

For instance I lack a rain-proof hat and "need" one for those times when my dogs want to go for a walk, despite inclement weather. Just a couple years ago I used to study rainproof hats at outdoor equipment stores, and came close to buying one, despite the ridiculously high price. At the REI store they had ones for a "mere" $60. But today I just smirked at the idea of paying such a sum. After all, I live in an arid climate. For the few days of rain that the Southwest offers, why isn't it good enough just to take a plastic grocery sack and stuff it under the usual sombrero? That doesn't cost anything. 

And maybe that's the crucial step in getting sucked back into the insane existence of the Metropolis: endless driving through stop-and-go traffic to buy some overpriced and specialized item to meet every possible contingency and to solve every problem, rather than improvising with something that you already own. Soon you see "value" in every superfluous trinket.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

A Train Whistle in the Middle of the Night

It has been some time since I was camped at the right distance (say, 4 miles) from a train. A busy track lies beside Interstate 40. The overall route has been popular over the decades for many forms of transportation, and for good reason. It reaches the Pacific without crossing any mountain passes.

 Appreciating the quiet rumble of the train and its whistle is more intense if you frankly acknowledge how obnoxious they are up close. When you hear that soothing sound from 4 miles off, you have to wonder how it could be the same machine.

In a stationary house you would be quite lucky to be at just the right distance for the train to have the optimum effect. In an RV park you would probably be squeezed between the interstate highway and the train track. But a dispersed camper can easily move a mile closer or further away. With that idea in mind Coffee Girl and I mountain biked downhill a ways yesterday until we could see over the last ridge. There it was, still a couple miles off. I decided to stay put.

Looking at the train isn't really that interesting. It's the sound that counts, the sound in the middle of the night. Not quite plaintive. Searching and lonesome and yet somehow reassuring.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Escaping the Reservation

Or... Navigation on the Navajo Reservation

There is no denying that there has been much "progress" the last few years in GPS gadgets for the dashboard of motor vehicles. Just the same, I'm glad I've abstained, since it might have robbed me of a unique and memorable experience the other day.

I was taking a "shortcut" paved road, supposedly, from Cuba to Grants, NM. The trip began on a secondary dirt road on BLM land. The washboard was so bad that the sewer hose jiggled loose and fell off on the road. When I drove back to look for it, the old superstition about 'retreating being bad luck' came to mind.

As I headed west into the Navajo reservation I kept wondering why it was a dirt road road. The DeLorme and Benchmark atlases had never disappointed me before, except for a minor error here and there. Making a wrong turn isn't normally a big deal. In fact in the past I've accepted the outcome of wrong turns and just kept going, just to see where it would lead. But on the Navajo reservation there are no road signs. There's quite a spiderweb of dirt roads and all are unsigned. The best you can do is look at the sun to keep yourself from driving in circles, and choose the wider, smoother, dirt road.

At first I made an effort to keep a sense of humor about it. OK, so I screwed up. But surely I would hit a paved state highway sooner or later, and get back to civilization. But it didn't happen. What a strange delayed sinking feeling it is to admit to yourself that you are truly lost. It's a bit like drowning. Mile by mile the sense of fun disappeared and I became serious and worried. 

The Navajo reservation makes Mexico look as organized as Switzerland. I tried to wave down a couple motorists but they ignored me. They drove those washboarded dirt roads at amazing speeds.

What if reservation police stopped me and chewed me out for trespassing on the reservation? Paleface is allowed to use the paved roads, but I wasn't sure about these secondary dirt roads. Then again, maybe I should actively look for reservation police and turn myself in -- at least I would find out where I was.

Finally somebody stopped and gave me directions to a federal highway that was only 5 miles away. I'm proud to say that my location was pretty close to where I thought it was, just by navigating with the sun and without a single road sign.

So what is the moral of this story? Should I rush out and buy a Tom Tom or Garmin for the dashboard. Hell no. I'll never stoop to those unmanly and unsporting gadgets. How is it "progress" to reduce travel to security, predictability, and blandness?



Sunday, October 14, 2012

Two Flawed Candidates

The outcome of the first presidential debate has been historically important. (Remember, I don't watch the debates themselves.) Spinmeisters are probably correct when they say this is the first time President Obama has gone in front of so many potential voters without the protective force field set up by his adoring fans in the news media.

I'm not for either candidate. The great Quotemeister of the Internet, Edward Frey, found a quote (see his 12 October 2012 post) from Business Insider pointing out that Ben Bernanke has not been mentioned yet in either debate. How careless of them! Yea right. The only solid reason for voting for Romney is that he has said he won't reappoint that narco-Keynesian clown.

But what Romney has completely failed to do is come out with both guns blazing about breaking up the Too-Big-To-Fail banks. From George Will today we have:
It is inexplicable politics and regrettable policy that Romney has, so far, flinched from a forthright endorsement of breaking up the biggest banks. This stance would be credible because of his background and would be intelligible to voters because of its clarity. As the campaign reaches what should be a satisfying culmination, they would be astonished by, and grateful for, the infusion of a fresh thought into the deluge of painfully familiar boilerplate. Having tiptoed close to where Fisher [ed., the president of the Dallas branch of the Federal Reserve] stands, Romney still has time to remember Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s axiom that, in war, all disasters can be explained by two words: “Too late.”
George Will put it mildly. What the American people really want to vote for is someone who promises to send the Too-Big-To-Fail (TBTF) CEOs to the guillotine.

Speaking of inexplicable and regrettable policy, why do Romney and the Republican Party in general think that 'All war, all the time' is a vote-winner? Do they still think this is six months after the Twin Towers fell and the American people are solidly behind any act of revenge aimed at the Muslim world? When are they going to get it through their heads that a solid majority of Americans are sick of being lied into useless wars?

Thus it would be good for the Republican party in the long term if Romney's opportunity were lost because, in the second debate, he sounded like a George W. Bush-era, neocon warmonger. Perhaps only a disaster like this would break the neocon choke-hold on the GOP once and for all.


Friday, October 12, 2012

New Travel Link Added

So far I've resisted adding links to dozens of "me too" mainstream RV travelogues because, when I'm the reader, a mile-long list of such links is too daunting to even dig in to. So I've restricted the list to friends' blogs.

In other cases I haven't listed links to certain blogs because they already have huge readerships, so my referrals wouldn't give them the slightest bump. (Examples are toSimplify.net and theBayfieldBunch.com)

But even more fundamentally I don't list mainstream RV travelogues because they are stereotypical to the point of self-parody. They are too much alike and too predictable. Does it sound like I'm in curmudgeon mode today? I admit to being fairly hard to please. But there is a constructive way to use reputed "cynics" and "negative thinkers": when they give a recommendation it really means something.

I added cheapRVliving.com to my list of links. It's been built by somebody who I have never met personally. It's a website that has something unique and valuable to offer.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Smiling at a Road Repair Delay

I was checking out dispersed camping opportunities near Grants, New Mexico. Specifically I was driving along the side of El Malpais (the Badlands) national monument, a huge and rather recent volcanic lava field, all jumbled and black. Then I encountered a road crew doing some road repair. The flagman stopped my direction of traffic. Traffic was light so I didn't expect a long wait.

But after 10 minutes of waiting I was starting to get irked. Finally the escort truck came to our end, reversed his direction, and led us off. Some monstrous truck was laying down a 2 foot high strip of hot steaming smelly asphalt, followed by another machine that spread it out to a uniform 4 inch thickness. Hey wait a minute...

All of a sudden I started smiling, if not giggling out loud. There was something about the juxtaposition that was just plain cute. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

In Love, at Last!

After getting sick of looking at infomercials on the internet I finally had a chance to kick some tires on real cargo vans, which we have all agreed are the ultimate towing machines for a serious RV camper. The exciting news in the cargo van biz is the new Nissan NV cargo van. (And once again I thank the commenter who brought this vehicle to my attention.) I found a used one for sale. Unlike the usual Chevy Express on the lot, this particular Nissan NV had both an auxiliary transmission lubricant cooler and an engine oil cooler. 

Notice how square and planar the inside of the van is. Down with those rounded and irregular ribs that are on older Chevy and Ford vans! This Nissan NV van looks so easy to convert. The planarity of the top and sides ensures that only a slight bend would be needed for insulation and Luann plywood.


 

It even has threaded holes on a regular basis so you can add shelves, etc.



At 5' 11.5" I can stand completely upright in the van. But by the time you add an inch of insulation on the floor and ceiling, somebody over 5'10" would have trouble living in this van full time. I only am interesting in using it as a tow vehicle/storage facility in combo with a small trailer for living, probably a non-stealth cargo trailer.


One more good thing: it has 17" tires, a real plus for backcountry camping. The Chevy and Ford vans have 16" tires. Sorry, I forgot to measure installed-tire diameter.

If I could find one of these babies with traction control, I'm sold.

These are not over-priced like those Daimler Sprinter vans of a few years back.

Monday, October 8, 2012

It Ain't Havana Weather No More

BLM land near Cuba NM, 7100 feet. Many a Northerner, in Florida for the first time, has been amused by the weather guys' and the locals' talk about a possible "hard freeze." The very term seems ridiculous to the Northerner, and he might easily conclude that Floridians are thermal sybarites. 

This morning I remembered that experience of long ago and my disgust (grin) toward Floridians when I had to get out of bed because it was too cold to sleep. In fact there had been a "soft freeze" overnight. But on this blog, hard and soft freezes refer to the temperature inside the trailer. It had reached 30 F inside, so the water pump wouldn't work. But it was just a soft freeze since the water in the dog dish was still liquid.

So I had to crawl through some sagebrush under the trailer and turn on the propane shut-off valve for the catalytic heater. Gosh I dislike the inconvenience and cost of propane. In the summer I can go as long as 4 months on one small (5 gallon) bottle of propane, since it only gets used to cook and to heat water for a navy shower. (I downsized my water heater and RV hydrogen/ammonia refrigerator years ago.) 

But don't think I'm making a pitch for sympathy. I could say it a thousand times and would still feel like saying it again: there is no weather more glorious than scalding sun and cool air.

The reason I'm going through this right now is that I switched the migration "theme" from the Rio Grande to the "Great Divide Route" in order to take advantage of the warm Native American summer (smirk) weather we have been -- had been -- having. Don't confuse the Great Divide Route with a dedicated trail like the Continental Divide Trail; rather, it is a route, a selection, of extant forest service and BLM dirt roads made by and promoted by the Adventure Cycling Association in Missoula, Montana.

A couple times I've been dispersed camping next to the route and have seen the heavily-loaded mountain bikes go blasting down the road. I've learned not to bother the cyclists; they get tired of the same questions, and most cyclists are focusing on reaching camp or a motel that is 70 miles away. Too bad. I would like to visit with them. Their activity does have a certain appeal, except for the tent camping and motels. 

It's funny about migration "themes". Why is it so satisfying to connect one day with the next by some idea? Isn't each day sufficient unto itself? Apparently not.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

The Upcoming Foreign Policy Debate

I never watch presidential debates since they are all about personality and image in front of the TV camera. There is no substance, and when there is, it's mostly lies. So I didn't watch the recent image-fest between Romney and Obama.

But the result and post-debate spin were interesting. Spinmeisters on both sides admitted -- or at least hinted -- that President Obama has been so spoiled and pampered by the New York/DC media establishment that he was too out of shape to face a competent opponent. They couldn't bring themselves to be more candid: Obama is America's first "affirmative action" president, therefore many guilt-ridden whites think they owe it to Something to treat him with soft gloves. 

Although I have no great animosity to Obama, as I did to his predecessor, it has been gratifying watching spinmeisters deconstruct the Obama Myth. So far the best quote I've found comes from Andrew Klavan:

Even before his inauguration, Barack Obama was an imaginary man, the creation of his admirers. Think back to the 2008 Time magazine cover depicting him as FDR, the Newsweek cover of the same year on which he was shown casting Lincoln’s shadow, or the $1.4 million Nobel Peace Prize awarded to him “for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples”—this in 2009, less than a year after he had taken office. It was not that Obama had done nothing to deserve these outsized comparisons and honors—it was not just that he had done nothing—it was that he seemed for all the world to be a blank screen on which such hysterical fantasies could too easily be projected, a two-dimensional paper doll just waiting to be dressed in leftist dreams...
The Obama of the imagination is the media’s Obama. Out of their fascination with the color of his skin and their mindless awe at his windy teleprompted rhetoric, they constructed a man of stature and accomplishment.

But I might watch the debate that discusses foreign policy. What will Obama claim as his major success: Libya? American-trained and financed Afghan troops killing Americans? Drone attacks across the Muslim world?

But it will be more interesting to watch exactly how Romney lies. Surely his political advisors have seen all the polls the last decade. They know how unpopular these endless and useless wars are, especially with independent voters. But if he has the guts to come right out and repudiate the George W. Bush/neocon/police state legacy in order to win over some of those independents, he risks offending the Republican base in the defense industries and in hinterland Bahbll churches. 

Therefore he will have to do the great dance of Duplicity, a performing skill that any successful politician must excel at. Obama will have an easier time in this next debate: he only has to get up there and say, "Sure, I might be the serial Assassin-in-Chief of planet Earth and there will be plenty of killing at the end of four more years of my administration. But I won't be quite as bad as a Republican."

I predict that Obama wins the next image-fest.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

A Rival Form of Hunting

Arriving in Cuba NM I made a mistake that an experienced traveler has no excuse for: I asked some low-level employees in a couple stores where the Verizon cell tower was. If you want an assured, blank, uncomprehending stare from a local, that is the question to ask. But in fact I first asked two firefighters this very question, and they gave me the wrong answer. (Please don't tell me the answer is on the internet. The internet is full of inaccurate and obsolete information. Nobody ever corrects any of it.)

I went away feeling like a fool for even asking. After such an experience it is always tempting to conclude that the average person is a know-nothing. But there might be a kinder and gentler explanation: most lives are actually quite circumscribed. Most people have little curiosity about things they have no immediate need to know. "Life" consists mostly of routines built around work, driving to work, household chores, shopping, and television.

Asking where the cell tower is is about like asking "where does the city water supply come from," or where is the wastewater treatment plant, or what's the nearest electricity powerplant.

But I got on the (rumored) trail of the only Verizon tower in the area and worked to get camped out there. In fact, one of maintenance guys  -- in a white cargo van of course -- passed my mountain bike on a dirt road; so I knew I was getting warmer. It's absurd how much pleasure I got from this accident. It gave me the same kind of thrill that the bear hunter (of last post) gets from his sport.

Let's keep this in mind when, a couple days from now, I brag about how I'm kicking the internet habit.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Release the Hounds!

On Mogote Ridge, near El Rito, NM. Would you smile about being woken up at 5 in the morning? No? Well I do, and remember, I'm the alleged curmudgeon. Hunters really do keep some strange hours. The funniest thing is when they go by at 5 am with six hounds in kennel boxes in the back of the pickup truck, all baying at full volume.

One bear hunter stopped at my campsite today and told me that one of his hounds was lost or perhaps stolen. The dog had a GPS tracker on its collar, which went blank a couple days ago. He said the hound cost him $4000-5000, after training and other overhead. On top of that he has five other hounds, a thousand dollar rifle, a hunting license costing several hundred dollars, GPS gadgets, and a $50,000 four-wheel-drive pickup truck, which of course is a requirement for getting to the places the bears are or might be. That is getting to be one expensive bear.

So much for my stereotype of male consumers as sensible, no-nonsense sort of guys.

How strange and wonderful it was to be up there at 9500 feet in early October and to be comfortably cool and dry. Nobody was around, except for strange animal calls made by hunters; those calls wouldn't fool any bear! World War III (elk-rifle season) doesn't start until this Saturday. Maybe I should practice urban boondocking on that weekend.

Whether the hunters were having enough fun to justify the expense or not, I sure was on that 9000+ ridge, except for the lack of internet.