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Showing posts from September, 2016

A Different Kind of Colorado Postcard

When embarking on any new project, the most important precaution is to keep expectations quit e a b it lower than what seems 'fair.' Give the world a chance to surprise you on the upside. This is what I tried to do in the first post on campground hosting. Some of the campers did just that. One fellow -- and I swear he was the one who initiated the topic -- ranted about how much he preferred semi-open land to thick-as-dog-hair forests. What a relief it was to hear somebody more fanatical than me, on that topic! Actually, in five days, I have had more quality conversations than in five years of solitary camping.  The trick is to encourage compliance with the campground rules without becoming officious; to be briefly friendly without being intrusive; and to resist my entrenched habit of steering the conversation in the direction I want, the excuse being that the other person is too much of a blockhead to talk about anything other than 'so where you from?'  I also

Selling Out to the (Camping) Establishment

What can you say about a camper who sells out to the Establishment, by flushing his principles and ideals down the toilet -- and a vault toilet at that!  Yes, reader, the unthinkable has happened: this old boy has become a campground host. I feel compelled to justify aberrant behavior of this type.  If there is a better way to finish off a life than achieving Moral Perfection, go ahead and tell me what it is. Good ol' Ben (Franklin) would not have approved of this project if it were just a sterile sentimentalism. In order for Moral Perfection to be real and solid, there must be some way of objectifying and validating it.  Otherwise, a person would just fool themselves with feelings that bounce around in the echo chamber of their own skull. One way of validating this project is to look at the effect we have on other people. That is why solitary camping needs to be abandoned. In the tab at the top of the screen, entitled "Summiting: Ideals and Suffering," there are m

The "System" Shows Itself in an Innocent Sport

I was being foolishly optimistic on a mountain bike ride on the west side of Colorado's San Luis valley, by giving the benefit of the doubt to a trail that was likely to be too rough. At one point we saw a fellow standing and looking at something, as if he were earnestly studying it.  He said he crashed on his bike at that spot, a couple years ago, and had broken a couple ribs. And today, he was out to even the score with this rocky obstacle. He enlisted my help in standing on one side of the rock, with the intention of preventing his fall and crash, this year. His second weapon was a new mountain bike. It looked like it cost over $5000. He succeeded quite easily this year. If fact he did it twice. I kept my mouth shut, that is, I resisted the urge to remonstrate against his foolhardiness.  This man in his sixties had a right to risk his own neck and wallet as he saw fit, without any criticism from me. What interests me is whether it really was his idea. The American mou

The Golden Age of the Internet Blogger

I was surprised to enjoy the book, "Martin Eden," by Jack London. After all, it wasn't an adventure about the sea, or about sled dogs and wolves in the Great White North. Rather, it is a semi-autobiographical (yuk!) story about a young man of working class origins who gets it into his head to become a writer. He goes from wild and romantic notions about Truth and Beauty to the sordid reality of being a professional writer. The book can certainly make an amateur blogger of our times appreciate their chance to write publicly, without the miseries of Martin Eden.  As the old saying goes, 'if you want to take the fun out of anything, just try doing it for a living. ' Before the internet era, keeping a diary was perhaps the only outlet for somebody who enjoys writing. And that wasn't public. A mateur bloggers must usually content themsel ves with only a small bit of applause, if they write sincerely. The alt ernative is to write to please the marketplace . Tha

Unfair Videos of Mrs. Clinton's Medical Episodes

O nce, I almost read a book of the under-rated role of the health problems of famous leaders and events. For instance President Kennedy was a symbol of youthful vigor and charisma as the baton of leadership passed to men who had been soldiers in World War 2. Apparently he took some very strong medications for his bad back. Did I say "apparently?" That's the problem: how much was hidden at the time? What can ever really be proved? How open was the press with President Roosevelt's wheelchair? Hitler might have been heavily drugged by a quack doctor. How did this affect the fortunes of the Third Reich? Did the masses in the early Soviet Union understand the strokes that Lenin had had? A few years before that, how open was the press allowed to be about the quackery of Rasputin in helping the doomed Romanov dynasty in dealing with the hemophilia of the heir-apparent? I read a biography of Bonaparte recently. The historian thought that his famous stamina had been und

American Civilization Finally Bottoms Out

There is something to be said for hitting rock bottom. You've survived the worst the world can give you. It's all 'up' from now on, you c ould say. The other day I was at the library of a small town in New Mexico. On the way to the men's restroom, I saw a funny sign on the "women's" restroom. It was just a simple black-and-white line drawing of... what the heck is this? It was an explanatory diagram that clarified what female anatomy looked like. I hadn't known that there was any confusion about this. But then I remembered the President's transgender diktat was making the news. I went away thinking, 'Has it really come to this?' _________________________________ Recently I went to the men's restroom at a Walmart. I'm sure you've noticed how gigantic stores will sometimes only have a single stall, which is big enough to handle all the motorized wheelchairs that 1/3 of the customers require. I was in a bit of a hurr

A Heart-breaking Song in Sagebrush Hills

I wrote the last post after being so affected by the contrast between holiday tourist traffic and the total isolation I had just enjoyed on a mountain bike ride, earlier in the morning. If uncrowdedness were so great, why doesn't everybody avail themselves of it? I suppose it is just human nature to go where everybody else does, by chasing brown signs put up by the forest service, park service, and BLM. It seems undesirable to think for themselves. But the mass-tourist would probably n ot agree with that. They would argue that crowded places are crowded because they are more beautiful than the average place. If you then asked him, "What is beauty?', he would think you are being silly or argumentative, since beauty is "obvious." He means anything that is BIG, vertical, or freakish. Although few tourists would consider the location of my morning mountain bike ride to be ugly, t hey would think it less entertaining than where they were. But I was quite ent

Watching the Summer Tide Drive Home

Unaccustomed as we are to wasting time and money at coffee shops, Coffee Girl and I were sitting in the cool September shade outside a coffee shop in Gunnison, CO. We had just finished a satisfying mountain bike ride up steep sagebrush hills. Just think: it was Labor Day weekend, and we didn't run into a si ngle person out there. Not even any " Texas wheelchairs!" Great views and land, and pretty good dirt roads. But it wasn't a "brand name" location. (And if you don't lea rn anything else from this blog, Grasshopper...) Looking at the stream of gigantic vehicles drive by (mostly from Crested Butte), I was at a loss for the right word to describe my feelings. Earlier in life, when I was a hothead, I might have looked at this tidal flow with disdain. A few years later, I would have rolled my eyes. But what about now? 'Perspicacity' comes to mind. Normally that word seems right for high altitude, when looking down towards all the little scur

Thinking About Work Over Labor Day

The Labor Day weekend is a good time to think about 'work'. Lately I have felt a desire for a project of some kind. Don't most people need a project to be happy ? Channel-surfing-with-gasoline is not my idea of a "project." Nor is looking at pretty scenery. Laugh if you will, but I am going to look into applying for campground host jobs for next year. Perhaps it will help to apply in person this year, while I am still in the area. Many, if not most, retirees give some thought to volunteer work. I did too. Perhaps I gave up too quickly. Most of the volunteer jobs, that I know of, are rather petty tasks that should be done by a teenager or a minimum wage employee, if the organization in question could actually afford a minimum wage employee. Worse yet, there is some (paid) officious 'volunteer coordinator' who sits in her cubicle and dreams up rigid and arbitrary schedules for the volunteers, complete with pages and pages of guidelines, application