Wednesday, April 26, 2017

How to Croak Alone in the Woods, Without Killing Your Pet

The marketing department here at the Institute for Advanced Recreational Studies barely approved of this post. "This isn't the topic to increase clicks," they tried to explain.

Still, the problem remains for a solo camper who wants their pet to survive their sudden and unexpected demise while camping alone. Just imagine the situation for a ranger or emergency personnel: they must bust into a rig, and what do they find? Pet urine and feces, and probably vomit. The pet might still be alive. They also encounter a partially eaten human carcass. If your pet is a dog, it would have actually felt bad about that. But what choice did it have?

Presumably, this would not look good on your pet's post-partem adoption resumé. Then again, a clever worker at the animal rescue place might advertise, "Fluffie has shown herself to be self-reliant and resourceful..."

There is a solution on the marketplace: a doggie door. Few products in this price range have improved the lives of owners and pets so much. The typical customer works long hours and doesn't want their poor dog to have to 'hold it' for 10 hours per day.  

I saw one of these doors in action at a friend's house. It was impressive how much her dog depended on it -- and liked it. Doggie doors are available at Lowe's, Home Depot, pet stores, online, etc. I bought the Ruff Weather model by Ideal Pet Products. 

Campers with cargo trailers have an advantage in installing a doggie door. But most campers have wives, who wouldn't be caught dead (oops) in such an unfashionable rig. But most conventional camper-trailers have flat surfaces, at least on the sides. All but the largest doggie doors would fit between the 16 inch studs of any conventional camper trailer, if you could find the studs. 

Rigs such as vans or Airstreams have curved surfaces that would complicate the installation of a doggie door. Perhaps thick enough weather stripping or even a curved board would accommodate the curve.

But does my Coffee Girl appreciate this improvement?  


Friday, April 21, 2017

Thinking My Way Out of a Dead End


Finally I have some good news to report about my new tow vehicle.  There are so many headwinds to face, thanks to easy financing by the Federal Reserve and more restrictive regulations coming from Washington, DC.  I have complained about these trends before, so today I want to discuss this on a different level. Let's think of it as an example of problem-solving in general. 

There's no point in pissing and moaning about these negative trends because I can't do anything about them, other than work around them as well as I can.

Even though I have fewer options for tow vehicles compared to the past, I have more options than other campers. 

Depending on how you categorize these tow vehicles, I have a half dozen options. None of them are terrible. So what is the basic approach here? So far, I have always thought myself half to death by trying to come up with one more option: one magical, exciting, new option that revolutionized the situation  -- something that I had somehow overlooked.

This approach seemed so irresistible. But it produced nothing. Finally I faced up to the fact that this was just juvenile romanticism.

Look at what I was doing to each of my half dozen half-decent options: I was immediately assassinating them with a 'yea, but...'

What if I actually acted like an adult, for a change, and accepted these half dozen options as being the 'hand of cards that I have been dealt', and tried to improve one or two of them, instead of running off to escapist romanticism about a whole new option? Well, I did it, and it worked: nothing radical, but a noticeable improvement of what existed before.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

A Predatory Truck Consumer Smacks His Lips

One of these days I will give up the bad habit of reading doom-and-gloom financial blogs. They don't do their readers any good. They are the proverbial 'broken clock that gives the right time, twice a day.'

These days they are screaming about how bad automobile sales are. Through the alchemy of confirmation bias, I seem to see a glut of automobiles for sale in make-shift parking lots where they don't even belong.

It is time to actually believe the doom-and-gloomers when the prices actually go down. Still, it is easy to believe them after the insane auto industry trends of the last seven years. The very apotheosis of these trends is the ridiculous size and popularity of pickup trucks. But don't let me get started on that...

Right now, all a consumer can do is visualize a serious predator, like a mountain lion or wolf, spotting a herd of unsuspecting deer. The predator moves in carefully, so as not to alarm the herd. And the predators allow themselves no demonstrativeness more than licking their chops.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

An Alternative to Being Angry at the News

It happens so often: you see a couple options on some issue, and you're not happy with either of them. So, where is the third choice?

With all the depressing news these days, the two obvious choices are:

1. Sit in front of the television, and passively allow yourself to be brainwashed by the spin and lies from the corporate media and the American War regime.

2. Read the alternative media, and try to maintain the integrity of your own mind, as you spew anger out your ears or stew in sourness. It becomes exhausting after awhile.

As an alternative, I have praised reading history as a way of escape.

The other day I accidentally hit on another alternative. I happened to listen to Richard Rodgers's musical theme for the 'Good War' myth-making classic, "Victory at Sea." In fairness, this documentary wasn't nearly as narrow and jingoistic as you would expect.

The music sounds so noble and uplifting. It had just the right balance of optimism and gravitas. It was a musical expression of the great foundational/creation myth of the War Regime in Washington.

Like any memorable movie score, it combines synergistically with the visual images. The subject matter of "Victory at Sea" was drastically better at myth-making than a realistic depiction of infantry war would have been.

In "Victory at Sea" you see the most powerful weapons of the Age, blasting away at each other. You don't see any human bodies that got in the way of those 16" shells.
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I don't know why, but it soothes me to wash my hands of the daily ephemera in the News, and run off to something timeless and classic. A calm detachment. As if lies aren't bad enough, there is something degrading about a human being's 'soul' being caught up in daily trivia.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Trump's Post-White-House Career

I am officially going on record as predicting that Trump is going to be a one-term president. It is reasonable to ask what his plans are for his emeritus years. An ex-president should do something with a certain amount of importance; but it shouldn't be too strenuous, either.

Perhaps he should get on the board of United Airlines. Maybe he can drain the swamp there.

Friday, April 7, 2017

President Obama/Trump Makes America Great Again

I wasn't paying any attention to the news for a few days. So it was shocking to learn of President Dubya/Obama/Hilary/theDonald's attack on Syria. But why was I surprised?

Donald Trump doesn't have the patience for walking important legislation through Congress. He is no deal-making, arm-twisting, cajoling political leader. Who cares whether Americans can afford health care, college,  or $60,000 pickup trucks. He is simply an egotistical, knee-jerking, publicity hound, who is going to enjoy military bluster around the globe.

That's why I wouldn't vote for him (or the other candidate.)

I have a lot of catching up to do with reading editorials. So far, they look pretty good. But then again, they are missing the point. It doesn't matter about the Why or the Who Did It. It only matters that a large fraction of the American public likes having a militaristic strong man in the White House.

They ain't got no interest in nambie pambie doubts and complaints such as:

1. What legal right did Trump have?

2. Has Syria attacked the USA?

3. What vital American interest is at stake?

4. What reason would Assad have to play with chemical weapons, when he is winning the war anyway?

5. If president Obama/Trump did succeed in deposing Assad, who would replace him, and why would he be any better?

6. What the hell is the USA doing in Syria anyway?

But jingoes don't care about that. They want to stick out their chests and walk with an extra bounce in their steps because they feel strong. Their country is strong. They wanted a president who said he'd make America great again, and -- according to the jingoes -- the president has. No arguments matter.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

The Apotheosis of the American Dream

What a pleasure it has been to learn how to use my Android smartphone! Granted, everybody else on planet Earth went through this seven years ago. I even took a couple photos, just so I would know how. But I think I'll continue to carry a regular digital camera, with its 18X optical zoom.

Perhaps I should reconsider that. After all, the smartphone is always with you. For instance, yesterday I missed a potentially great photograph. Long-suffering readers know that that means a photograph that tells a story, or is a visual metaphor of an important part of the human condition. They also know what it doesn't mean: a purdy picher.

I had just finished the appointment with an attorney who made my last will and testament, then went to knock off other errands before the migration north begins. I got rid of an annoying aluminum extension ladder that I have carried in my van, after replacing it with a collapsible telescoping ladder.

As I rolled into the landfill to dispose of the ladder, it struck me how strange it was to be there on the same day that I signed my first will.  There was a message here. But composing an essay takes time. It would have been nice to take a photo of the dump, and think of a good caption or essay later. 

There is something thought-provoking about visiting a landfill -- as there is at a graduation ceremony, wedding, or funeral -- even for people who don't do a lot of deep thinking. 

Saturday, April 1, 2017

The RV Boondocking Blabbermouth Syndrome

No doubt, over the years, many ex-readers noticed that this blog just wasn't what they hoped for. It wasn't helpful to beginners. It wouldn't wallow in practical details. It didn't even give google map screenshots or GPS coordinates of boondocking sites.

The disappointed reader probably thought, "What a selfish fellow! He wants to suppress information that would benefit his fellow RVers. To hell with him then, I'll just read a nicer person's blog.  They have more pretty pictures anyway, and I won't have to keep looking up words..."

The disappointed reader is certainly right about one thing: there are other blogs to go to that will give them want they are asking for. But what if they eventually decide that the easy and popular approach is destructive in a subtle way?

Wouldn't it be more constructive to look at the philosophical significance of the Boondocking Blabbermouth Syndrome? Romanticism and escapism motivate most people to travel. There is nothing wrong that, as a beginning. But it should move on to something more solid.

For instance, RVing is besotted with hackneyed phrases, 'living the Dream', 'starting our new adventure', etc. And yet, virtually everything on the RV blogosphere is aimed at taking adventure away from it! How can anybody see this as the "positive" approach of a "nice", helpful blogger? Hell, it's the approach of a blogger serving Mammon, not their fellow RVers.

Adventure? Do they mean being spoon-fed the answer, as an overly indulgent teacher does with lazy and timid students? Does a parent who loves their child want to keep that child weak and dependent on the parent?

When a newbie or wannabee thinks they need to be told where to camp, it is probably because their rig is too big and awkward. In other words they want their cake and to eat it too. Is it really such a nice thing for a blogger to pander to phony readers of that type?

But there is another reason for the Blabbermouth Syndrome -- a sociological reason. RVers are bourgeois couples, for the most part. That is good and bad, of course. It affects everything they do when they travel. They don't really want adventure; they want comfort, security, and bourgeois respectability. That comes from consuming travel, rather than experiencing it. 

Therefore they want to remove risk, effort, or spontaneity from RV boondocking. They want a campsite to be domesticated into a bar-coded product that they can consume. Despite their hypocritical posturing as adventurers, they don't want any adventure in going out there and finding it.

A blogger should try to be a good mentor: helping others get started in approximately the right place; teaching them to fish instead of just giving them fish; and giving them encouragement to become stronger and more knowledgeable. And when they do, finding that campsite will be half the fun. 

In summary then, I hope this has been constructive because I have convinced some people to allow their RV adventure to actually be an adventure.