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Showing posts from August, 2012

Update -- Scenery Compared to Food

It's easy to predict what kind of food a child will choose: the more sugar the better. Adults move on to other foods that are more interesting in a non-teeth-sticking sort of way, which means that they have to apply quite a bit of imagination and discipline to develop a good diet. Naturally the adult looks down on the child's food preferences, but not in a mean sort of way.
How many times has restaurant food really knocked your socks off? I can't remember a dessert doing so, at least during my adulthood. But recently I was having breakfast with a friend (a professional caterer from Patagonia AZ), when we both commented on the hash browns as being the best we had ever had in our lives. Their mighty secret: they made the hash browns out of potatoes  -- fresh. They barely needed any tabasco sauce to make them interesting. Most restaurants presumably thaw out ready-made hash browns from the Sysco truck.
I also had some natural scenery knock my socks off recently, and that is say…

The College Loan Bubble Explained, Photographically

During presidential election years it is typical for the two main political parties to rent an empty store in a strip mall and use it for their local campaign headquarters. I happened to be going by the Democrat headquarters this morning, in the college town of Gunnison CO, when I saw this. 

This isn't aiming any specific accusation at the Democrats. I doubt that they were doing anything illegal, and if I knew where the Republican headquarters was, I might have seen a similar sign. 
The "college loan bubble" has been been getting a lot of attention lately, at least on the internet. Is it a "complex" issue? Or does this photograph undercut the need for, not only a thousand words, but also a thousand pages of a book about government funding and the ability to corrupt everything it touches?

New Rig Dreams

When your RV rig gets old you might as well start window shopping early, since finding something might take a long time. Of course, that problem is worse when the shopper is stubborn about camping in quiet and interesting places and avoiding unnecessary expenses and luxuries. You would make it easier on yourself, during the shopping process, if you thought like a mainstream RVer, but then the negative payoff would come later when you end up with a rig that is expensive and troublesome to repair, and you can't camp where you really want to camp. 
Here's my most recent heart-throb:

It's made by Tiger RV, circa 1990. What a nice camping experience these lucky people must have had! They had gotten to a campsite that big or "overhang-ey" rigs couldn't get to. They could walk right out of their rig to dozens of mountain bike/multi-purpose trails. Here is RV camping at its finest: the perfect balance of outdoor flavor combined with realistic and hard-shelled comfort.

Where is the Outdoorsy Athletic Middle Class?

These days there is quite a bit of discussion on business and investing blogs about the slow decline of the once-mighty American middle class; we are splitting into losers -- 99% of us -- and a 1% who are benefiting from bankster and Washington DC corruption. That is, we are becoming a kleptocracy of the kind that is common in Latin American or third world countries. Indeed, it is in such countries that an American traveler might first notice that "most in the middle" is not the global norm, and that he has been taking it for granted all his life.
How long has this phenomenon have been noticeable? Boswell reported an outline made by Samuel Johnson after his one and only trip to France, near the end of his life. Johnson remarked that everybody in France appeared desperately poor except for the few who were unbelievably rich, and how different that was from England. A historian would probably explain this in the context of the rising bourgeoisie in the late Middle Ages in Europ…

Blog Revisions--Update

At the beginning of Tom Jones, one of the first and most enduringly popular novels in the English language, Henry Fielding tried to give the reader a succinct and accurate description of what was coming in the novel, analogous to the bill of fare that a prospective customer might see on the door of a restaurant. 
As a reader of blogs I can sometimes get annoyed with vague or misleading titles. They are used, presumably, by writers who want to harvest the greatest number of eyeballs, regardless of whether the reader's time is being wasted.
It seemed long overdue to refine the subtitle on this blog so that readers can immediately decide whether they are barking up the wrong tree or not. So I've added "television-free" to the subtitle. Why is this important? A person can eat junk fast food on a frequent basis and not blimp out or develop health problems for a while, but it will catch up with you eventually. So too can you fill your eyeballs and brain with mental and cultu…

Rage in the Sage

Sagebrush-covered flats and hills were my first love as a dispersed-area-camper/mountain biker in the West. It's fun to be back in it. Greater Nevada and Utah are really the place to be if you like sagebrush, but Gunnison (CO) has a lot of it over 8000 feet. It would be more interesting if it was mixed with more grass. Would that be the case if controlled fires were used more?
This hillside seemed odd when I first looked at it:

You can't appreciate it as a postcard. What matters is what it represents. Presumably the dark (sagebrush) streaks are barely-visible troughs that collect rainwater and snow melt, allowing the sagebrush to survive -- barely. How much strife there is in Nature! Normally this brings up an image of scratching claws and bloody fangs, but that isn't the case here -- unless you see these streaks as the curved talons of a drought-beast, reaching down to rip at the soft flesh of the lower hill. 
One way to insult a place is to say that it is 'in the middle…

Chic in the Sagebrush

Gunnison CO. I've never been in town when the college students were back in session, so the town seems crowded. Colorado, with its exercise and non-obesity culture, makes for some enjoyable girl-watching. Now, I think we can all agree that the decline of girl-watching is one of the things that shows America's inexorable moral and cultural decline.
But I had more fun watching some of the middle-aged women in town. I'm not being facetious. Colorado has developed a "Copenhagen chic" bicycle culture that has spread even to backwoodsy Gunnison. What an improvement it is to abandon the uni-sex athletic jock look, with a boy's bike, spandex, and a plastic/styrofoam brain bucket; and then to see real women -- in flouncy summer dresses no less! -- jump on ("into", actually) an old-fashioned girl's bike with chrome fenders and wicker baskets and streamers on the handlebars; and off she pedals to a store to do some errand. Girls will be girls after all, so …

Visualize Whirled RVs

Once, a friend in a bicycle club told me a little about his job driving a mini-bus for the city -- one of those buses that responds to individual calls to pick up people with special needs. His supervisors were quite systematic in the training they gave him to visualize big clockwise loops, with no left hand turns, and with no back-and-forth wastefulness.
An RVer would benefit from training like that, especially now that the era of cheap oil is over, and the cost of maintaining motor vehicles escalates at double digit rates. I have found this easy to do on a "strategic" level. Even as a newbie RVer I had no interest in the mainstream RV cliche of 'visiting every state and Canadian province' on some sort of bucket list, and then buying one of those silly maps that you put on the door, and coloring in each mighty conquest as it happens.
The freshman year was the last year for RVing east of the Rockies, for all the obvious reasons. It was also the last year for visiting B…

"Of Two Minds" Rocks!

This morning I had the pleasure of reading the best financial post in a long time, on "Of Two Minds." Why doesn't the destruction of middle class wealth by the ratholes of health care, higher education, and housing get more attention than tanned female Olympic athletes frolicking in cheeky leotards or exultant NASA nerds imitating Olympic victory celebrations for their latest successful Giga-boondoggle?

Firewood Cutting on Public Land

Uncompahgre Plateau, west of Montrose, CO. I am pleased to stumble upon my second "forest miracle" in one summer. Up here at 9000 feet the locals are busy as beavers harvesting firewood in various areas where it is allowed. It's nice to see them actually get some use out of their oversized, overpowered, and overpriced pickup trucks, the official car of Colorado. Maybe one of them will tell me how much a full load of firewood is worth, compared to buying heat from the power company.
Of course, I just love seeing downed timber get cleared away. It makes the forest a lot more attractive and removes "ladder fuel" from a potential forest fire. And Coffee Girl can chase squirrels up tree with fewer speed bumps on the forest floor. (Then again, she has amazing buoyancy in bounding over logs.)
Progress is being made in this forest, and I don't want to sound greedy, but do you think that commercial companies can get permits to cut firewood and then sell it to the gene…

What a 25 year old SHOULD Do

With the exception of a doctor repairing our body, is there anything that relieves us of worry like getting our motor vehicle repaired? I thought about this after a long-distance tow to town, recently. Both the van and the trailer were towed, so I could sleep overnight in the repair shop's parking lot. Being stranded at an inopportune place could cause a lot of worry for an RVer.
I envied the owner of the repair shop. He did a job that was tangible and crucial to his customers. Contrast that with some insignificant college boy in a cubicle at a large organization, wasting his life by writing reports that no one will read, attending useless meetings, following arbitrary organizational rules, laughing at the boss's jokes whether they are funny or not, and hoping to dodge layoffs in middle age. Of course there are a number of reasons why my mechanic might think that running a car-repair business is a hard way to make a living. Do you think he subscribes to the one-time American Dr…