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Showing posts from October, 2012

A Two-Netbook "Minimalist"

Go ahead and laugh. I responded to the news about the $500 Windows RT tablet by going to Walmart to buy a second Acer Aspire One (model 722-0473) netbook. This is the first time in my life when I've owned two computers.I panicked into concluding that, over the next couple years, the computer industry will kill off the netbook and leave the chumps only the following sorry options:

1) $800-1000 WINTEL "ultrabooks" or,
2) $500-600 tablets based on ARM microprocessors, similar to those insmartphones, that only offer a "half-internet" experience or,
3) inexpensive 7" tablets that are basically just smartphones without the ability to make phone calls. Or call them vending machines for media consumables from Amazon or the iShackle store (Apple's iTunes). Last but not least,
4) the usual overpriced "walled garden" at the Apple store, built around its notorious iShackle media store, and incompatible connectors and operating system.

None of these is an attr…

The Internet Versus the Noble Savage

Baby Boomers should have something to say about consuming information as a way of life. When we came into this world, the great blight of television befell the world. Today, toward the end of our passage, the internet is taking over. These are two information revolutions just as big as, but far more sudden than, the invention of the alphabet or Gutenberg's movable-type printing press.

Baby Boomers, destined to eventually become America's Worst Generation, started off life as the first generation raised on television. TV-haters (like me) would love to believe that that proves cause and effect.

Whether you buy that or not, it is strange how uncritically many parents welcomed TV into their homes in the 1950s. Soon the living room furniture was all arranged around the TV set. Many children grew up with no restrictions on their TV habits.

How ironic that many a traditional father in the 1950s kept a gun in the house to 'protect his family', you know. And yet he allowed this n…

The Noble Savage Back in the City

Real travelers -- as opposed to mere sightseers -- might yearn for opportunities to learn of new manners and customs, languages and religions, and ways of life. But it's tough to do that without traveling to third world countries, with all the costs and risks. Even there you would need opportunities to live and work with the locals, rather than just gawk at them as quaint caricatures. 

Perhaps one of the biggest advantage of dispersed camping on public lands is that it makes you so separate from the normal American that you get to experience what could be seen as exotic foreign travel when you return to the mostordinary metropolitan areas in your own country. 

When the ol' desert rat or dispersed camper -- think of him as a Noble Savage -- returns to the city, what exactly happens to him as he becomes "normal" again? Adjusting to the obscene onslaught of noise, 7 and 24 and 365, is the most immediate and obvious change.

Do most people see this Noble Savage as being u…

A Train Whistle in the Middle of the Night

It has been some time since I was camped at the right distance (say, 4 miles) from a train. A busy track lies besideInterstate 40. The overall route has been popular over the decades for many forms of transportation, and for good reason. It reaches the Pacific without crossing any mountain passes.

Appreciating the quiet rumbleof the train and its whistle is more intense if you frankly acknowledge how obnoxious they are up close. When you hear that soothing sound from 4 miles off, you have to wonder how it could be the same machine.

In a stationary house you would be quite lucky to be at just the right distance for the train to have the optimum effect. In an RV park you would probably be squeezed between the interstate highway and the train track. But a dispersed camper can easily move a mile closer or further away. With that idea in mind Coffee Girl and I mountain biked downhill a ways yesterday until we could see over the last ridge. There it was, still a couple miles off. I decided to…

Escaping the Reservation

Or... Navigation on the Navajo Reservation

There is no denying that there has been much "progress" the last few years in GPS gadgets for the dashboard of motor vehicles. Just the same, I'm glad I've abstained, since it might have robbed me of a unique and memorable experience the other day.

I was taking a "shortcut" paved road, supposedly, from Cuba to Grants, NM. The trip began on a secondary dirt road on BLM land. The washboard was so bad that the sewer hose jiggled loose and fell off on the road. When I drove back to look for it, the old superstition about 'retreating being bad luck' came to mind.

As I headed west into the Navajo reservation I kept wondering why it was a dirt road road. The DeLorme and Benchmark atlases had never disappointed me before, except for a minor error here and there. Making a wrong turn isn't normally a big deal. In fact in the past I've accepted the outcome of wrong turns and just kept going, just to see where it …

Two Flawed Candidates

The outcome of the first presidential debate has been historically important. (Remember, I don't watch the debates themselves.) Spinmeisters are probably correct when they say this is the first time President Obama has gone in front of so many potential voters without the protective force field set up by his adoring fans in the news media.

I'm not for either candidate. The great Quotemeister of the Internet, Edward Frey, found a quote (see his 12 October 2012 post) from Business Insider pointing out that Ben Bernanke has not been mentioned yet in either debate. How careless of them! Yea right. The only solid reason for voting for Romney is that he has said he won't reappoint that narco-Keynesian clown.

But what Romney has completely failed to do is come out with both guns blazing about breaking up the Too-Big-To-Fail banks. From George Will today we have:
It is inexplicable politics and regrettable policy that Romney has, so far, flinched from a forthright endorsement of brea…

New Travel Link Added

So far I've resisted adding links to dozens of "me too" mainstream RV travelogues because, when I'm the reader, a mile-long list of such links is too daunting to even dig in to. So I've restricted the list to friends' blogs.

In other cases I haven't listed links to certain blogs because they already have huge readerships, so my referrals wouldn't give them the slightest bump. (Examples are toSimplify.net and theBayfieldBunch.com)

But even more fundamentally I don't list mainstream RV travelogues because they are stereotypical to the point of self-parody. They are too much alike and too predictable. Does it sound like I'm in curmudgeon mode today? I admit to being fairly hard to please. But there is a constructive way to use reputed "cynics" and "negative thinkers": when they give a recommendation it really means something.

I added cheapRVliving.com to my list of links. It's been built by somebody who I have never met perso…

Smiling at a Road Repair Delay

I was checking out dispersed camping opportunities near Grants, New Mexico. Specifically I was driving along the side of El Malpais (the Badlands) national monument, a huge and rather recent volcanic lava field, all jumbled and black. Then I encountered a road crew doing some road repair. The flagman stopped my direction of traffic. Traffic was light so I didn't expect a long wait.

But after 10 minutes of waiting I was starting to get irked. Finally the escort truck came to our end, reversed his direction, and led us off. Some monstrous truck was laying down a 2 foot high strip of hot steaming smelly asphalt, followed by another machine that spread it out to a uniform 4 inch thickness. Hey wait a minute...

All of a sudden I started smiling, if not giggling out loud. There was something about the juxtaposition that was just plain cute.

In Love, at Last!

After getting sick of looking at infomercials on the internet I finally had a chance to kick some tires on real cargo vans, which we have all agreed are the ultimate towing machines for a serious RV camper. The exciting news in the cargo van biz is the new Nissan NV cargo van. (And once again I thank the commenter who brought this vehicle to my attention.) I found a used one for sale. Unlike the usual Chevy Express on the lot, this particular Nissan NV had both an auxiliary transmission lubricant cooler and an engine oil cooler. 

Notice how square and planar the inside of the van is. Down with those rounded and irregular ribs that are on older Chevy and Ford vans! This Nissan NV van looks so easy to convert. The planarity of the top and sides ensures that only a slight bend would be needed for insulation and Luann plywood.



It even has threaded holes on a regular basis so you can add shelves, etc.



At 5' 11.5" I can stand completely upright in the van. But by the time you add an …

It Ain't Havana Weather No More

BLM land near Cuba NM, 7100 feet. Many a Northerner, in Florida for the first time, has been amused by the weather guys' and the locals' talk about a possible "hard freeze." The very term seems ridiculous to the Northerner, and he might easily conclude that Floridians are thermal sybarites. 

This morning I remembered that experience of long ago and my disgust (grin) toward Floridians when I had to get out of bed because it was too cold to sleep. In fact there had been a "soft freeze" overnight. But on this blog, hard and soft freezes refer to the temperature inside the trailer. It had reached 30 F inside, so the water pump wouldn't work. But it was just a soft freeze since the water in the dog dish was still liquid.

So I had to crawl through some sagebrush under the trailer and turn on the propane shut-off valve for the catalytic heater. Gosh I dislike the inconvenience and cost of propane. In the summer I can go as long as 4 months on one small (5 gallon…

The Upcoming Foreign Policy Debate

I never watch presidential debates since they are all about personality and image in front of the TV camera. There is no substance, and when there is, it's mostly lies. So I didn't watch the recent image-fest between Romney and Obama.

But the result and post-debate spin were interesting. Spinmeisters on both sides admitted -- or at least hinted -- that President Obama has been so spoiled and pampered by the New York/DC media establishment that he was too out of shape to face a competent opponent. They couldn't bring themselves to be more candid: Obama is America's first "affirmative action" president, therefore many guilt-ridden whites think they owe it to Something to treat him with soft gloves. 

Although I have no great animosity to Obama, as I did to his predecessor, it has been gratifying watching spinmeisters deconstruct the Obama Myth. So far the best quote I've found comes from Andrew Klavan:

Even before his inauguration, Barack Obama was an imaginary…

A Rival Form of Hunting

Arriving in Cuba NM I made a mistake that an experienced traveler has no excuse for: I asked some low-level employees in a couple stores where the Verizon cell tower was. If you want an assured, blank, uncomprehending stare from a local, that is the question to ask. But in fact I first asked two firefighters this very question, and they gave me the wrong answer. (Please don't tell me the answer is on the internet. The internet is full of inaccurate and obsolete information. Nobody ever corrects any of it.)

I went away feeling like a fool for even asking. After such an experience it is always tempting to conclude that the average person is a know-nothing. But there might be a kinder and gentler explanation: most lives are actually quite circumscribed. Most people have little curiosity about things they have no immediate need to know. "Life" consists mostly of routines built around work, driving to work, household chores, shopping, and television.

Asking where the cell tower…

Release the Hounds!

On Mogote Ridge, near El Rito, NM. Would you smile about being woken up at 5 in the morning? No? Well I do, and remember, I'm the alleged curmudgeon. Hunters really do keep some strange hours. The funniest thing is when they go by at 5 am with six hounds in kennel boxes in the back of the pickup truck, all baying at full volume.

One bear hunter stopped at my campsite today and told me that one of his hounds was lost or perhaps stolen. The dog had a GPS tracker on its collar, which went blank a couple days ago. He said the hound cost him $4000-5000, after training and other overhead. On top of that he has five other hounds, a thousand dollar rifle, a hunting license costing several hundred dollars, GPS gadgets, and a $50,000 four-wheel-drive pickup truck, which of course is a requirement for getting to the places the bears are or might be. That is getting to be one expensive bear.

So much for my stereotype of male consumers as sensible, no-nonsense sort of guys.

How strange and wonder…