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Showing posts from February, 2012

Update on Surprise Speeding Tickets in the Mailbox

When I got together with a Tucson friend yesterday my first question was about the photo-surveillance cameras used here; then a ticket is mailed to the citizen-criminal. I was concerned about tardy payment penalties being added to the speeding tickets of travelers who only get snail-mail forwarded every month or two. My Tucson friend has indeed gotten a camera-based ticket the past year, and his wife got three. Each was over $200. Hers were at the same intersection, but on different days, which helped her think that they were repeated notices of the same "crime". (She didn't read the dates or times apparently.) She didn't pay all three tickets and got her driver's license suspended. The good news is that the Tucson reich sends somebody to your house before raising the stakes. At another time they called on the telephone. What a relief that was. It keeps the citizen-criminal from being completely at the mercy of snail mail delivery, which alarmed me the

Owl in a Cactus

I've only gotten close to an owl once before today, and that was when mountain biking in a ponderosa forest. They are larger and more powerful than I expected. They seem more exotic and menacing than other raptors. So I grinned from ear to ear when a friend walked us over to an owl nest on the southwest side of Tucson. (Gee, maybe I should provide GPS coordinates so readers will have the ultimate in convenience in finding the owl. Isn't that how "RV blogs" are supposed to work?) An impudent Malevolence in the shadows...  

A Surprise Speeding Ticket in Your Mail Box

In Tucson yesterday I noticed a sign alerting drivers of photo-enforcement of the rules of the road. As a bicyclist I should probably approve, but I don't have the guts or the foolishness to ride my bicycle on these busy highways anyway, despite all their efforts at putting in shoulders for bicyclists. What happens to a traveler who is caught by one of the surveillance cameras going ten miles per hour over the speed limit? Is a $350 ticket mailed to his mail box in South Dakota or Livingston, TX? There must be a time limit for paying the ticket. What if the traveler only requests his junk mail be forwarded every month or two. Has the speeding ticket now become a $1000 ticket? Does he need to appear in court because the ticket is unpaid? Will he need to hire an attorney? At the end of the year, I wonder how the traveler would categorize that expense? I would put it in the "transportation" category or whatever you call the cost of being mobile. Now please don&#

Down with Dog Shows!

There are readers of a mild and sanguine disposition who probably think the opinions on this blog are excessively cynical and critical of contemporary American culture. Oh very well, live in your rose-colored dream world, if you must. But let's put your happy-spin to an empirical test: consider this year's winner of the Westminster Dog Show, and tell me that our society hasn't already gone past the tipping point. Photo by Seth Wenig. Of all the weird looking dogs to choose from, did they have to pick one that looks like a rap star?

Deadly Skies in the Sonoran Desert

The skies have been weird around here lately. Blame most of it on stormy skies, especially in the mornings. Later in the day the Fly Boys strafe my trailer. They go over at 12 o'clock high, maybe 500 feet above my roof. (It's hard to judge heights like that.) Maybe I should complain that such low flights interfere with my Fox News TV reception. (satiric grin.) You'd think they would have an adequate playground over the Goldwater Bombing Range, which is bigger than some states in the northeast. But no, they need to fly over an American citizen legally camped on public land. Why don't they at least fly over and intimidate illegal immigrants in the desert? I wonder how many (borrowed) dollar bills per hour squirt out the ass-end of these Air Force Warthogs. Wikipedia says the rotating 30 mm cannon (visible in my photo, taken looking up from my RV) fires 4000 rounds per minute -- what a fine addition this is to the Killing Machine that our country has become.

Three Flavors of RV Blogs

Soon after most people become acquainted with the RV travel blogosphere, they start to see patterns, enough so that they might classify them like this: RV 101 blogs. How to. Chock full of useful information for newbies. They work pretty hard for their nickels and dimes of Google ad income. Too bad there are so many minute details, which are intended to be practical but really aren't, since the reader's circumstances are different than the blogger's. Readers can feel insulted when such blogs appear to offer friendly advice to a "fellow" RVer, but then the reader learns he is just a chump being hit with a thinly-disguised ad. (The Linkbait Syndrome; it gets 'em every time.) Ah dear, the sordid topic of coin... RV travelogues. Where are Fred and Mildred today ? Aimed at armchair travelers and RV wannabees, these blogs offer pleasant entertainment as long as you live life purely through your eyeballs; mentally you will leave the blog completely starved. Final

Valentine's Day: Pulling Down the Goddess's Statue

Once again it's time for the annual Valentine's Day peroration. Hopefully this version won't make me as unpopular as the last one . It would be nice to have the advantage of my boondocking neighbor: she nonchalantly dismisses RV wives as "all needing mansions on wheels" or being afraid to dry camp and preferring to stay in RV parks with hookups. Nobody is offended when she says it. I should be so lucky. I probably wouldn't be writing any of this if an ad during the Super Bowl hadn't outraged me. Yes, outraged -- somebody who isn't a part of TV culture can retain the ability to be outraged at cultural depravity. The ad featured a half-nude "ho" giving a pitch for some kind of Valentine's Day goodie that men were supposed to remember to buy for their honeys. Her punchline went something like, "It's simple, guys. Give and ye shall receive. (wink, wink.)" Try to imagine the male analogue of that trashy ad. I can't come

The True Colors of a Flower

Small flowers are popping up everywhere right now in the Sonoran Desert, courtesy of the rain last November and December, presumably. Nothing seemed extreme when I took this photograph, but now I have to wonder whether the camera was malfunctioning, perhaps because I was aiming too close to the sun. No, the camera seems OK. The backlighting is bringing out the yellow in the desert flower that ordinarily is not noticeable. It's strange that our notion about "color" in nature is usually aimed at reflective colors rather than transmitted colors. We hardly ever think about it. This suggests some idea of wider applicability. But what is it?

Fred Reed Rocks!

Fred Reed is one of my favorite writers. I don't know how many venues he uses; LewRockwell dotcom is the one I'm used to using to read him. Yesterday he really outdid himself . It seemed worthy of a long quote: I wonder whether something else is not involved. Today most of us live in profound isolation from the natural world. People in large cities can go for decades without seeing the stars. Should they drive through the countryside, it will be in a closed automobile with the air-conditioning running. On a trip to the beach, the sand will be overrun by hordes of people, half of them on whining jet skis. We exist utterly in a manmade cocoon, as much as desert termites in their mud towers. This, I think, profoundly alters our inner landscapes. Live in the rolling hills around Austin, say, as they were before they were turned

Why People Don't Like Political Essays

It's so much easier to find political opinions on the internet these days, compared to the dead tree era. Remember how you could travel from one end of the country to the other and buy newspapers that featured the same six pundits on the editorial page? But even though there are more choices today, dualism gets in the way of enjoying political essays. You're either on my side or the other side, Good versus Evil, left versus right, big government versus small, blue versus red states, etc. That's why the ideal political essay should try to stay away from this trap. It should reach out to opinions and values that aren't necessarily "political" in the normal sense of the word. Besides avoiding simplistic and divisive dualisms, we should also avoid excessive consistency and predictability. For instance Eric Peters writes about automobile regulations from a libertarian point of view. At times I agree with him; at other times, he irritates me with his gearhead cu

Capturing the Perfect Cactus Photo Cliche

Somewhere and somehow I got a photo cliche into my head: a Gila woodpecker or a cactus wren or a curved bill thrasher sticking its head out of a cactus lacuna. These rascals are always interrupting my bike rides by tempting me with the expectation of capturing this photo cliche. But as I approach, they skedaddle.   Phainopeplas are not rare around here. What I liked about this next guy is the geometry of the ocotillo stalks that he chose to frame his portrait with:   And then there is the bird with the sexiest curves of all, the curved bill thrasher:

The Music of the Night, II

Based on a comment on the last post, perhaps I overemphasized how much noise an RVer has to put up with. It's hard to fairly partition the blame (for poor sleeping) between old age, the Early Bedtime Syndrome, the RV lifestyle, or boondocking, since all of these factors overlap. But for today it doesn't matter which factor is more important; it only matters that poor sleeping -- whatever the cause -- can be mitigated with the right music. Most people struggling to sleep learn that the worst approach is to lie there concentrating on trying to sleep. Totally self defeating. The mind needs to be kept busy, relaxed, and ultimately tired of it all. The other day I was watching the audition tape of the female lead for a recent movie version of Madame Butterfly . My gosh, how does a human being learn to do something like that? Emoting, bleeding, and practically dying in front of the camera, followed by instantly relaxing when the audition was over. This was proof -- not that any

The Music of the Night

Or, Eine Kleine (uber)NachtMusik for Kampers. Most of what you can read about RV travel is just promotionalism, even when it's a blogger who is not being paid to sell anything. Why this is so is the subject of another essay. Today I merely want talk about a challenging reality of RV life. (Wannabees will want to push the "channel" button now; this is not the "RV Dream" channel.) It's a brutal truth -- and most truths are brutal -- that sleeping on top of noise is something that an RVer has to get good at. This is probably more difficult for an urban boondocker, all in all, than for an urban RV park camper, and it's worse the older you get. I've been advised to use silicone ear plugs -- not those useless yellow foam things that won't even stay in the ears. I bought some, but haven't tried them yet. In the summer it helps to run a vent fan, and not just for ventilation of course! I used to generate "semi-white noise" by run

Home Improvement, Gila Woodpecker-style

Sometimes you can hear his "hammer" frantically working on his "house". But I've never caught the little rascal in the act. Here is as close as I've gotten to seeing him crawl into his residence.    

Sunset Without Sadness

You needn't have too scary of a misadventure outdoors to develop a sudden interest in the "wilderness survival" genre. It's an interesting sub-cult. These books emphasize how deceptively dangerous it is to go out for a sunset walk in the desert, alone. "But it's just a nice stroll," the victim says, "to take some pretty sunset pictures." What happens to somebody who twists an ankle or runs out of light and gets lost when the sun goes down in the winter desert and the temperature plummets? In contrast, the morning misadventurer has all day to get rescued by a motorized or foot-powered passer-by. We should all be as lucky as some people, who have a trail-chewing spouse to share their outings with. Those who go adventuring with dogs should not be so naive as to think that Lassie will really run back to get help when that blockhead Timmy (once again) falls into a well. In reality the dog will just be one more worry, as I found out the o