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Showing posts from October, 2010

Morning Torches

Boys and their Toys

In over a decade of full-time RVing I've seldom had the chance to hike or bicycle with another RVer, their proclivities and demographics being what they are. And I've never had the chance to hike with another camper, my dog and his dog, the hiker personality-type being what it is. I've tried to accept things as they are, without too much complaining. So I want to honor the occasion by bragging it up. My dog, Coffee Girl, and I went for a hike with a fellow camper and his Aussie shepherd, here shown getting suited up with water and snacks.   Coffee Girl hasn't gone for a car ride in two years so she was delighted even before the hike began. It was better than a car ride: it was in the other camper's new Jeep Wrangler! She and the other dog disported on and off the trail all the way to the top. They're both herding group dogs, and are of the same size and age. All good things come to he who waits, apparently. But 12 or 13 years seems a bit excessive to

Field Feathers

The Unvanquished

Fourteen days after being attacked by a coyote , my little poodle got his stitches removed. Believe it or not he insisted on returning to the field where the attack took place. He was walking tall again, casting a long shadow over the golden West. He really wanted to kick some coyote butt.

Back in the Saddle Again

The local chamber of commerce likes to brag up the highlands of southern New Mexico as having "four gentle seasons." Who are they kidding? Our climate is a continental one, at 6000 feet above sea level; it has two semi-gentle and real seasons interleaved with two mathematical concepts known as spring and fall. If you're really serious about a four season climate, full-time RVing is the best thing to do. But I'm a townie now. Neighborhood gossip revealed that some of my neighbors were already using heat. In mid-October! How could they do such a thing after trying to sleep in the summer with noise and heat? The cooler the air the better you sleep, but only to a point . I merrily switched sleeping bags, put pants and socks on, and finally covered my head, but when I actually had to turn on the heat I felt profoundly defeated. Why take it so seriously? It wasn't just the seasons that transitioned quickly; so too was the switch from road cycling to mountain biking.

Photo Cliche

How many prrty pichers of sunsets are there on the internet? How many million, I should have asked. That's why I only burden readers with sunrises , which of course are completely different, and therefore fresh and original. OK seriously, how much of an aesthetic snob should you allow yourself to be, when you are a blogger? I am prone to rolling my eyes at travel blogs by newbie RVers from the East, who show photos of, say, Monument Valley. Maybe this is churlish and unfair. After all if I were to adopt a new kitten, should I fail to get pleasure from its play with a ball of twine because that's a cyootsie-wootsie photo cliche on calendars and Hallmark cards? Recall the chapter, "Zest," in Bertrand Russell's classic The Conquest of Happiness:  "... the fastidious person who condemns half the pleasures of life as unaesthetic. Oddly enough, all these types feel contempt for the man of healthy appetite and consider themselves his superior. From the heigh

The Raven Wrangler

Every morning these days the ravens gather and wait for Coffee Girl to enter the field. Neither they nor the dog disappoint each other. This photo shows only one raven flying low to taunt "poor" Coffee Girl, but in fact there's usually a dozen of the naughty scoundrels. She gets noisy about it. Although she is in the cattle dog family, she has a lot more fun promoting biological diversity.

The Lens of Politics

If it's hard to believe the political situation that the Obama administration has fallen to, perhaps the explanation lies in the initial expectations. The mainstream Media treated him like the messiah. His adoration in Europe was even more unrealistic. Back then I started to notice how consistently the Media photographed him: his eyes were always inclined at about 25 degrees above the horizontal. I wouldn't have expected his eyes to be looking at the floor of course, but his eyes never looked horizontally at the camera either, like a normal mortal's would. It was easy to recall the famous painting of Christ in profile, looking upward towards heaven, which used to hang in an honored spot in many Americans' houses. When that image popped to mind, it seemed like fair game to poke fun at the Media's adoration of Obama. (A political cartoonist could have achieved immortality if, during those salad days of post-inaugural euphoria, he had drawn Obama in a humble white

October Gothic

Movies Enhancing Music

When geezerhood brings a man one step from the glue factory, it's natural for him to fantasize about being young again. If he were to step into that time-machine and return to youth, what would his greatest pleasure be? No, not that one. For my part it would be sleeping -- deeply and uninterruptedly -- all night long. Bereft of that sweet pleasure, geezerhood has at least granted me the post-lunch nap. I'll never tire of saying that half of the reason for being retired is the freedom to lie down for a few minutes after lunch. Although this blog occasionally throws mud pies at the Idol of Progress, the modern mp3 player represents true progress. Sometimes lying down for a nap after lunch with music of your own choosing is the best time of the day. What makes it especially sweet is the half-consciousness and dreaminess of it all. Earlier a friend had introduced me to the Portuguese musical group, Madredeus. They were featured in the movie, The Lisbon Story , by Wim Wender


Late afternoon in the autumn

Dancing with Wolves, part 2

My little poodle has recovered wonderfully from his wounds after the coyote attack of 12 days ago. He even insisted on returning to the evil field today, with the leash on, of course. In the aftermath of that attack I was amazed by the generous care of a woman in my RV park who used to be a veterinary technician. Then it got better: another woman who used to live here heard the news of the attack. She is only five feet tall and weighs about a hundred pounds; but if I had blocked the door, I think she would have knocked me out of the way on her way to cooing over the little poodle. When she lived here, we barely acknowledged each other's existence. This recalled the opening of Arthur Schopenhauer's dreadful essay On Women , which nonetheless started well with a quote from Jouy: " Without women, the beginning of our life would be helpless; the middle, devoid of pleasure; and the end, of consolation." Nature was certainly erupting that day, if you are willing to see ho


I didn't notice the fine structure on the edge of the wing or the "mustache" until the photo was blown up.

Art Imitating Life and Vice Versa

On a human level we're all happy that the Chilean miners got out safely. But let's look at it as a media/entertainment product. Isn't it amazing that ye olde 'men trapped in a mine' drama still works in the internet age?! By dumb luck Ace in the Hole arrived on the same day. The movie was made in 1951 by the wonderful Billy Wilder (Double Indemnity, Sunset Boulevard, Stalag 17, The Apartment, Sabrina, etc.) In it, Kirk Douglas is a reporter who is trying for a comeback. He accidentally comes upon a situation that might turn into a big-time story: a man is trapped underground at some Indian ruins in New Mexico. Kirk Douglas takes over the situation and cynically twists it into a headline grabber. Although the Media couldn't admit it out loud, the Chilean miner story turned out to be an anti-climax. As Kirk Douglas said in the movie, Bad News is news; Good News is no news at all. The Chilean miner rescue was so orchestrated with safety precautions, high budgets

Milkweed Season

October is the season for milkweed. Wikipedia has an interesting article on it.

A Real Brownie for the Boonie?

A camping neighbor enjoys walking his Australian shepherd with Coffee Girl. He asked if I was interested in photography. That was a simple yes/no question, but I had trouble with it. When I started living in this RV park two years ago I was delighted to have a large field to run my dogs in. But as a former full-time traveler, it seemed boring and unnatural to do anything twice. To put my mind at rest I decided to bring the digital Brownie along and put more effort into looking at the small things that the change of seasons brings along. It has been a successful project. The neighbor offered to let me borrow his digital SLR Canon camera. He showed me a whole bag of lenses and equipment and a tripod. What if I dropped this camera! As impressive as this was on one level, it was repulsive too. When he tugged on the zippers of the side-pouches, I cringed. Using impedimenta like this would completely change the outdoor experience for me. It would be great for setting up near a bird nest or


A front went through recently and produced this. I've never quite seen a cloud development like this.

Too Close to Ignore

Yes, I promised no more curved bill thrashers, but this bird landed three steps away and held the pose. Love those eyes.

Green Goes Splat

Let's make a guess how Media consumers are reacting to the SplatterGate video or to lesser known videos of that genre, put out by Green organizations. NPR and the BBC watchers don't know what I'm talking about. Mainstream Media watchers have heard of Splattergate, but it was dismissed as unimportant. Internet addicts are screaming bloody murder about it: the biggest news since ClimateGate. I had a strong reaction to the video but for a different reason: I like classic books as a context for many topics, and by chance I was rereading a mid-20th-century classic, "the god that failed," ed. Richard Crossman. That book contained the testimonials of some well known ex-Communists about their psychology during their Communist years. Thus my sensitivity to Authoritarianism was at a peak when I watched the video. The Green belief system only partially overlaps with other Authoritarian belief systems of the 20th century. The latter were studiously unsentimental. In con

The Defiant Ones

Dixxe wondered about letting a miniature poodle wander off leash. Well in hindsight, I wouldn't of course. But there's always a trade-off between quantity and quality of life with pets, and the best we can do is hit some reasonable balance and hope it works out. At age 15.5 years, he is slowing down and sleeps most of the time of course. If an older pet spends 10 minutes a day doing something other than sleeping -- exciting stuff like eating, pooping, and peeing -- that adds up to 61 hours of "life" per year. But out in the field he prances and explores like the little poodle that I remember. Maybe seeing him get old is harder on me than him. So it seemed worthwhile to tolerate higher risk in order to enjoy some life while he still could. It was after all private property inside the city limits, and my larger dog, Coffee Girl, swept the field free of critters before the little poodle went across it. We only saw coyotes three times in 1800 walks in that field, over

Dancing with Wolves, part 1

The coolness during our morning walks is really enjoyable. If only there were some place that had ten months of autumn, and two months of suffering, just to remind you how lucky you are most of the time. The autumn patterns with flowers, seedheads, and migrational birds seem a little different from last year. One yellow flower has taken over the field, so I stopped to photograph it: But I never really finished the photo-op. There was a "hurt animal" sound nearby that sounded like my little poodle. I charged off in that direction, while yelling as loud as possible. I saw what looked like the back end of a coyote run off toward the main arroyo. I didn't see his head, but assumed that he was carrying off my little poodle to kill and eat in a minute.   The worst thing was knowing that my actions in the first few seconds might have life-or-death consequences, but I could only guess what to do. If only the little poodle wasn't such a non-barker! I looked for him in the di


Didn't I promise recently to renounce grassy texture photos on this blog? Well, I lied.

Nice Little Family

Every couple days we see this horseman, followed by a free-ranging adult horse and a sprightly colt, who gets visibly bigger every week. I wonder if they are all the same family? When a horse runs, it really is a beautiful animal.

Quinn on the Consumers

If only I had a nickel for every hour I've wasted on the internet, reading junk. Now and then an article seems really worthwhile, and it's fun to advertise it. James Quinn might be the last of the Puritans; his attitude about the American debt culture is more moralistic and scolding than mine, if such a thing is possible.  But what if a person's values or political views are different? The article might still be worth reading since it is an antidote to thinking that 1980-2005 is the "normal" we are destined to return to.  "In the good old days, before the advent of the credit card in 1969, Americans saved up to buy a house, a car, or an appliance. Consumer expenditures as a percentage of GDP stayed in a range of 61% to 64% from 1960 until 1980. This range was reflective of a balanced economy that provided good paying wages to blue collar workers who produced products that were sold in the US and in foreign countries. What a concept. America ran a trad