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Annual Praise for Canyon/Badlands

I don't post much about the weather but there are exceptions.  Right now I am experiencing a miracle: no horizontal gravity (aka, no desert wind), lows in the 30s F, highs in the 60s F, and p lenty of sun for charging the battery.  That means it is unnecessary to use heat.  Good sleeping weather. And no bugs! Many snowbirds are dissatisfied here because it is not warm enough for them.  They want it warm enough to sit around in chairs, in a conversational circle, while wearing shorts.  I try to remember where they are coming from.  Still, warm weather is not necessary to make me happy. Every year I stop in at this canyon/badlands area in southeastern Nevada and praise it. (The land, not the snowbird neighbors.)  Many people are attracted to topographies with weird, eroded features. Mere prettiness is a bit insipid for my tastes.  A landscape becomes more interesting to me if you add some fear and horribleness to it.  (Recall the old saying that a movie is no better than the villain.

Needed: A Positive Vision of a Post-Imperial America

  Do you remember the fundamental changes that were happening to the world around 1990, when the Soviet Union rode off into the sunset?  President George H.W. Bush used to acknowledge the "vision thing" problem that he had.  (People criticized him for not providing leadership for what America would be like without the Soviet bogeyman.) The same thing seems to be happening now, except that this time it is the American Empire that is falling apart.  Will anyone emerge during the next election who provides real leadership about what post-Imperial America should be like?  I have my doubts: for the most part they will just provide a vision of perpetual war abroad and authoritarianism at home.  For a time I thought RFK Jr. might provide that kind of leadership.  But he has shown himself to be a craven ass-kisser of Israel. America still has the Pacific Ocean on one side and the Atlantic Ocean on the other.  Nobody in the world really has a blue water navy besides us.  So it is not

Finally, a Miracle Technology for Campers!

For the first time in my life I regret being a late adopter of some vaunted new technology. And this is bad news for Bic and all the companies that make those horrible little butane lighters that you use to light your gas stove or start a campfire.  In RV lingo, they are called "flame throwers."  I have used so many of those crappy little things.  I've tried refilling them, buying more expensive ones, or getting by with just the piezo spark.   It has always been a good idea to maintain a cache of wooden matches as a backup. Just recently a friend liberated me from butane lighters by showing me a new-fangled electric lighter. No piezo element.  No butane.  No fumbling with child-proof, Ralph Nader-approved buttons that require three hands. And no buying a new one every six months, just to learn that the price has gone up again. Electric arcs are not a new idea.  They have been around since Benjamin Franklin's kite.  Wikipedia actually has a good article on them, appa

You Mean that Kids Can Be Great?!

As a camper heads south in the winter, they find conditions more and more crowded.  Be that as it may, I have had some nice conversations in my present overcrowded location in southwestern Utah.  It even went further than that. I stopped in at a neighbor who had an unusual trailer.  But what really drew me in was his "Let's Go Brandon!" flag flying over the trailer, combined with his California license plates!  We joked about that for a while.  His wife and son came out and fawned over my little dog.   I have since run into his 11 year-old son several times.  The lad impressed me every time.  One day he was flying a kite!  You mean kids still do things like that?  Without a battery or smartphone app? An RV friend and I turned to each other and said "What a great kid!" after we had talked to him one day.  My friend speculated that the lad had been home-schooled;  it was hard to believe he was a product of the public schools of California. This seemed like it was