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Showing posts from November, 2012

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

The Lion Hunters

We were taking a hike on the Continental Divide this morning when a couple super-athletes came by. Both dogs made Tour de France cyclists look like pudgy marshmallows. They had enormously long legs, exposed ribs, and tortilla-sized floppie ears. They had no interest in being petted or drinking water. They were not unfriendly to me or my kelpie, Coffee Girl.   All legs and lungs -- and ribs! But there was an indifference that I'm not used to seeing in a dog. I don't like it. A dog should be your friend and come back to you when called. The "generalist" makes a better pet than an obsessive-compulsive specialist, like these two workaholic hounds. Still, you have to admire a critter that is good at what it does, and does exactly what it was "meant" to do. That certainly describes these two. They were serious professionals on the job, hunting for something. Their earnestness was accentuated by the GPS collars and foot-long antennas, which gave them a b

A Twinkies Bailout Coming?

You can easily imagine president Obama taking a few days off, maybe even a vacation, after a hard-fought reelection campaign. That's not to say that the next four years don't look frightening enough; in fact, "winning" the White House in 2012 might ironically turn out to be a curse for his party, or for the other one if it had won. But still, shouldn't he be able to act like a human being and soak it up for awhile? Alas, political life can be cruel. His post-election Era of Good Feeling is already cut short by the crisis at hand. I'm not referring to the General Petraeus scandal or the Israeli invasion of Gaza. Those are just sideshows. I'm referring to the liquidation of Hostess Brands, the makers of Ho Ho's, Ding Dongs, and Twinkies. Although it's good to see that a crisis of this gravity is being given proper attention by the business media, nobody is yet discussing the necessity of a bailout. (Perhaps in a day or two, we'll see pro-bai

Moving Beyond Postcards

A n experienced traveler has to move onward and upward when it comes to his appreciation of the outdoors. The postcard-worship of the newbie/vacationer is no longer of much use to him. Many people are uncomfortable with statements like this because they think they are negative. Was it "negative" when you graduated kindergarten and were promoted to first grade? A year ago I experienced an unusually powerful example of "aesthetic evolution" near Socorro, NM. Explaining it seemed like a big project. And we all know what people do when they are dreaming things up into a big project. They procrastinate. Since I ret urned to this area recently let's see if it I can knock it down to size, this time around.  I went into a certain area along a dirt road. My expectations were very low. In fact I remember henpecking myself about the choice of road and the waste of gasoline. It was a complete surprise to encounter some sexy and naked "structural geology."

Pop Quiz on 'How to Read a Book'

Occasionally it is fun to see if I can catch the readers sleeping by giving them a pop quiz. A couple comments about eReader gadgets recently revealed an opportunity for me to move in for the kill (grin). There seems to be a misunderstanding of what it takes to read a book comfortably .  This is an important topic for those of us who see internet addiction (on trivial and repetitive websites) as a serious problem to overcome. Has anyone ever beaten a vicious habit by trying to replace it with a vacuity? I doubt it. They need to replace it with something that has a positive existence; something that is tangible, lively, and takes up time. In my case that means giving up the insulting trivialities of the blogosphere and going back to reading "books." Now for the multiple choice quiz: which factor has the greatest beneficial effect on your comfort, endurance, and attention span when reading a book? Display size of the eReader, i.e, 7", 10", etc. Operating system

A Setback Along the Trail to Internet Addiction Recovery

The other day Coffee Girl and I were mountain biking on some fine land near Grants NM at the border of BLM and na tional forest . Even if huffing and puffing di dn't inform you that you were climbing, altitude leaves a track by transitioning from  high grasslands (with deser t charac teristics) to juniper shrubs to pinyon trees to ponder osa s. One area was spider webbed with old two- tracks that went into a firewood-cutting area. Naturally all of this exploring was free of silly encumbrances such as maps and gadgets. T rial and error. After many dead ends it was time to ask why I wasn't better at finding my own tracks: mountain bike tire tracks are easy to see. Why was reading tracks so interesting and important? It sounds like a boring topic. But I experienced such a strange near-obsession over it.   As alw ays, it is fun to stand somewhat apart from yourself and wonder what the heck was going on, and then explain it.  Having free time lets the mind become interested i

The Right Set of Balls (Updated)

Who was it that coined the phrase, "Nothin' beats a great pair of legs?" Cyd Charisse, Ann Miller, Juliet Prowse? Whoever it was, what counts is that the expression, whatever its veracity, is not of universal utility and applicability. For instance there are times when nothin' beats having the right set of balls. While doing some backroad exploring near Socorro, NM, I took the wrong road. (There was no sign.) The road surface was hard and smooth, b ut very steep, well past negative double digits in percent slope. When the road deadended at a ranch I realized my error, got turned around, and started to go back up the hill. Whoa now, st op, breathe, think.  It was time to let half the air out of the tires. We all probably forget to do this as often as we should. Even when extra traction/flotation isn't needed, lower ti re pressure makes washboarded BLM roads less brutal. The trick is to buy a good tire inflator so it doesn't take forever to put the air pr

Sniggering at a Cervine

It's rare to get a chance to smile at animals, aside from our domestic pets. The best shots at this occur when a normally boring or stupid animal suddenly becomes clever. For instance, ungulates don't seem like the brightest bulbs on Mother Earth, but under the right circumstances... Going down a road in the Socorro NM area I was surprised at the number of "hunters" parked along the road. Which season is it now ? But then again, maybe they were joy-riding four-wheelers, rather than hunters. The "lower" Rio Grande starts at Socorro by my estimate. It is reminiscent of the Mojave Desert, even though it is the Chihuahuan Desert, officially. Although I postpone "winter" locations in order to keep North America from shrinking too soon, it was fun to start walking arroyos again, which is something I only do in the winter. What really makes walking these arroyos delicious is the cold, dry air. On today's walk there were some cows. That'

Why Blue Votes Blue and Red, Red

Near El Rito, NM. It was finally time to come down from the high ridges and head to town to get the usual supplies. Hunters said that the only store in town was a restaurant that was humble, but offered tasty food. Victims of Bernanke's Zero Interest Policy like me have no business "eating out" but sometimes it is irresistible in small towns. It seems like you are really "making a difference" in a place that has the weakest commercial pulse imaginable. As it turned out, the restaurant was closed anyway. Typical. I drove through the town looking for a small grocery store, but found nothing. Ahh but there was something else. There were huge school buildings and athletic fields; police headquarters with high tech and expensive squad cars parked outside; and a Forest Service office. It was a large, modern, air-conditioned, office building, decked out in nice office furniture and the latest computers. Outside was an astounding number of motor vehicles; not just h