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Showing posts from 2012

Time's "Creature of the Year" Award

How many years has it been since Time magazine switched from their famous "Man of the Year" award to "Person of the Year? " But that's still anthropocentric, you know. The award would be more PC if it were opened up to all species. Coyotes come to mind, especially wily ones. Since the financial turmoil of 2008 it has become almost common to picture our economy -- actually the world's economy -- as Wile E. Coyote running over the edge of a cliff, finally looking down and realizing the situation, and then disappearing into a shrinking point and a final poof at the bottom of the canyon. Despite its aging, th e coyote metaphor is so perfect that it should get the award for 2012. Just think of all the time and effort you could spend discussing so many issues and problems of our times; it tires you just to think of it. And we are sick of it anyway. Sometimes the metaphor seems to apply to someth ing perfectly, but the coyote in question just hang s out t

Christmas Combat in a Snowbird Laundromat

People think of retire ment and snowbirding as a low-stress lifestyle. Well it is in many ways, but not in all . After shopping i n the Walmart and putting the stuff away in my van, out in their p arking lot, I threw a couple standard plastic bags full of household trash into the shopping cart, and started rolling the cart to one of the corrals in the middle of the parking lot, where I could throw the trash bags into the waste cans. But before I got ten feet, an old biddie started chewing me out, "That's not a garbage truck!", or something like that. I guess she thought I was going to just leave the trash in the cart, instead of throwing it in the trashcan at the cart corral. What gave her the right to assume the wrong thing? But then I noticed the Old Biddie's license plate: B.C., Bolshevik Columbia. That explains that. Albertans, Saskatchewanners, and Manitobans are the nice Canadians, you know. You don't suppose that I'm displaying the longitudin

Sometimes It's Easy Being a Good Sport

There are huge advantages to hiking or bicycling with a group, and yet, it is difficult to make it work. T here are plenty of compatibility issues: where, when, how far, how fast? At times it makes you just want to chuck it. But in the case of road cycling one simply must try harder to make it work -- your safety depends on it. It's too bad more women don't cycle. Cycling requires no upper body strength, and women have strong legs. Perhaps they are bothered by the occasional boorish male motorist; or maybe they don't like the way they look in spandex.  When they manage to overcome such issues and form a girl's club, they always seem to have a great time, chattering away on the bicycles or off. Male cyclists have a special problem: they don't like getting their butts kicked. Think back to one of the platitudes of your school years: that 'sports build character.' I never really believed that pearl of wisdom back then, perhaps because I wasn't especiall

How to Find Something Worth Reading

Isn't it strange how little training we get as schoolchildren in finding stuff that's worth reading? I can't help but think about this enigma now that the euphoria has worn off from my project of breaking the internet blog habit and going back to reading real books. In olden times idealistic school teachers might have thought it impertinent to guide students towards what they should read; after all, that should be a matter of personal choice for the reader; and they were paid to educate, not to brainwash . But if individual teachers still practice that today, when the teacher's union is an integral part of a political party and teachers are state-paid priests of political correctness, well then, they are indeed idealistic. In theory teachers and librarians should be just a s qualified to aim readers towards certain books as they are to choose academic courses for youngsters. Of course there was a time, circa 1970, when it became an educational fa d to "like,

Real Progress in Batteries?

Hey, I'm excited about what I read this morning about lead-carbon batterie s. I've never heard of them before. So far, an RVer has only had two choices: good ol' flooded lead-acid batteries, and expensive AGM batteries. But it's really nice to read about a third choice. This is an investment article  -- we're not talking about a science lab show-and-tell project here. Do you know of anybody who uses the new lead-carbon batteries in their RV?

Part 4, Beyond Postcards: Drowning in Earth-Cracks

It was an odd and pleasant experience to walk into the "breaks" near Socorro, NM; and of course that means I have to try to explain it. After all, if I don't think about and write about odd and powerful experiences, what should I write about? I don't know if most readers caught it, but d uring the discussion of my last post on this topic, history was quietly made: one of the outdoors-blogosphere's most notorious and incorrigible optical-sybarites (grin) admitted that a breathtakingly beautiful, 1200-foot-high, sheer vertical, redrock cliff is not necessarily 1.3333 times as breathtakingly beautiful as an identical cliff that is only 900 feet high. It is time to be a good sport and move on. I will nobly resist the tendency to be greedy by also trying to get him to admit that: We should stop calling things beautiful when they are just freakishly large, and therefore have been made into a national park. The freakishly large is certainly entertaining, but only

Snowbirds, Don't Ask THAT Question

Yuma, AZ. You don't have to be in a snowbird town more than a couple hours before somebody pops the question. Yep, that question. I've tried everything: boycotting the question in a obviously jocular manner;  ignoring the question, and immediately changing the subject to, say, the weather or the condition of the roads; groaning out loud;  pausing for a noticeable period of time, then sighing, before finally giving a desultory and halting answer. (This is aimed at making them feel guilty.) I've tried 'em all. I've even tried just answering the question in a brief and neutral way. Nothing works. What question am I talking about? Aw come on, in a snowbird capital like Yuma? There's something about the body language that usually gives the culprit away, but sometimes they blindside you. "Soooooooo, where 'ya from?" My entire body locks up in a wince. The worst culprits are those who insist on taking a deadpan answer as a challenge. You ca

Internet (Blog) Dieting

An internet dieter does not have the advantage that food dieters do when they finally step on the scale. Perhaps there is an app out there that keeps track of the hours you are on the internet. Nevertheless, at the risk of fooling myself, I claim to be making progress with my internet diet. When wireless internet access got better around 2005, I really thought I was done with book-reading, and that the internet would be my main venue for reading in the future. But experience has shown that most blogs are too trivial and repetitive to waste much time with. Of course the internet is still good for many things other than reading blogs. Ever m indful that one can't cut b ack on a vice without replacing it with something else, I've gone back to reading books , which thankfully has become much easier the last few years. For one thing , reading is no w easier on the eyes.  Th is is crucial to older eyes on winter evenings, e s pecially when they are camping in an RV without el

Part 3, Beyond Postcards: Gulliver Goes "Break" Dancing

Earlier I posted about learning that I lacked the 'right set of balls' for exploring some BLM land near Socorro, NM. Something else happened that day. It was an area called the "breaks," which I take to mean interesting topographies carved out by side st r eams of the Rio Grande. It w as a fascinating area . It ma de me regre t not seeing the Missouri Breaks in Montana before I gave up on going north in the summer , after the cost o f transportation got so high.  As always, I doted over the vertical sidew alls of the arroyos: Although only 12 feet tall, this sidewall was as vertical and re d a s any cli ff in XYZ National Park that is gawked at by 4.6 million visitors per year when doing the obligatory "auto loop tour." (Wasn't it Edw ard Abbey in "Desert Solitaire" who griped about a new loop being added to the park where he was a seaso nal ranger ?) Conglomerate is a su rprisingly durable material: Further upstream I

An Under-rated Outdoor Folk Dance

Yuma, AZ. Didn't Aristotle say that the aim of a good tragedy was to give the audience a katharsis, a violent expurgation of the soul? But who needs a tragedy? Wouldn't a rousing folk dance do the job? Before the television era, many people would have answered 'yes'. There are still sporting events in large stadiums that can provide a catharsis to the audience. There are even more examples of how to purge the soul, and I just got back from one. After being a mountain biker/hiker for the last couple years, I got back on the road bicycle and did a club ride, my first in 5 years. If more people just understood what they are missing... Many of the people in the club are 70-ish. They are fast! They used to hike on Wednesday, for variety's sake; but that tradition has been eliminated, perhaps because too many people were complaining of sore this and that when hiking, although they can pedal a "metric century" on any given day. They are few moments sweete

Perfect Driving Through a Not Quite Extinguished America

No readers obliged me when I begged them to talk me out of going to Yuma this winter. (Thanks a lot, guys.) For th ose unfamiliar with the snowbird culture of the South w est, Yuma is in a uni que position to love and hate. Although many places in the Southwest offer sunn y, dry mid-days in winter , most get chilly-to-freezing at night. Yuma is one of the few exceptions. On the downside, Yuma isn't the bargain it once wa s, and it is hellishly overcrowded. But it has the single best (roadie) bicycle club that I know of, and I've known a few. I only mountain bike when I'm dispersed camping on public lands. For safety's sake if nothing else, I think road cycling requires a club , which means "la rge city ", bleahh . After finding a half-lot to rent through the grape vine, I decided to drive to Yuma for a nother "round" of winter. Besides, isn't it a good idea for a person to take a winter sabbatical, a break, from whatever they do the res

Some Lifestyles Make Thankfulness Easier

There must be many people who consider Thanksgiving to be one of our best holidays.  And least corrupted. Granted, its proximity to Christmas, our most obscene holiday, gives Thanksgiving a halo. But even without the easy comparison, Thanksgiving is easy to feel good about. Even people who dislike the vague religious overtones of the word "thankful" can still be comfor table be ing grateful to a "what", rather than a " who". Wouldn't it be nice if the fine sentiments expressed at Thanksgiving really meant something -- something beyond mere ritual? Maybe they do , for some of the people who express them. They have a different life story than mine, or they have more imagination, or are making more of an effort. Who knows? My guess is that most p eople have difficulty feeling genuinely thankful at Than ksgiving, although of course they all like to say they do. The holiday tradition should de-emphasize the meal and the ensuing food coma. Aren't

Will the Windows/Nokia Phone Succeed?

"Postscript": At the end of the day I noticed that NOK stock had gone up 13% in European trading. Gosh, I didn't know that this blog had so much clout! Being a "market mover" is just too much responsibility. (grin)  _____________________________________________________________  People who have no interest in the world of investments are missing out on a fascinating part of our culture. What's worse is that they are doomed to poverty in old age since we will probably be in a Zero Interest environment for many years to come, while real inflation cruises along at two to three times what the government officially admits to. People tend to underestimate the damage that inflation can do to their standard of living. (Unlike cynical ol' Boonie, a true optimist and positive thinker would hope to die before too many years of negative real interest rates reduced him to panhandling.) Readers know that I'm not a qualified investment adviser, so they mu

Part 2 : Beyond Postcards

For years now I've tried to appreciate the beauty of travel on a high er level than the postcard-kindergarten level . ( Must I take the time to add the tedious disclaimer t hat there is nothing wrong or evil about postcard kindergarten, whe n you're a vacationer or an RV newbie . I t's just that years of experience at being a full-time traveler encourage s one to progress so that travel remains challenging. That's only natural and healthy. Geesh, the time you have to spend smoothing feathers. )    Wh at I aim to do is replace the " eye as the window of the soul" with a different metaphor: one of try ing to imagine " Total Experience" as a real and tangible sensory organ -- the main organ that can truly appreciate this rather different way of life. Normally my successes on this project are singles, bunts, and sacrifice flie s. Home runs are rare indeed. But since one did occur l ast year near Socorro, NM, I wa nted to write about it, bu