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Showing posts from October, 2016

Clicking the Camera Versus Taking a Photograph

This is the wrong time of year to talk about this photograph, but I can't help it. It should be presented at the end of May or whenever tedious speeches are given all over the country at graduation ceremonies. You know how it goes. The speaker drops into a stentorian tone of voice, "...and furthermore, students and parents, let me remind you of one more thing: that this is a Beginning, not an Ending." Or something like that.

The idea is basically correct. We shouldn't be throwing tomatoes at the pompous speaker just because the phrasing is so hackneyed. 

Take this as an opportunity. Many of the most important truths in life lose their force with repetition. Rather than switching our attention to trivial novelties, the timeless and classic Ideas need to "reincarnated" in particular situations, with characters that we actually care about, so that the Truth matters once again. That should be the mission of novelists, screenwriters, painters, and photographers.

Mo…

Metaphorical Caption Contest

After an evening rain I awoke to fog and low clouds playing games with the mesas of central Utah. Actually it seemed more like a rapid military invasion and conquest.


I was quite sincere in my Photographic Manifesto that there is a worthwhile purpose to cluttering the internet with one more photograph. That purpose is the visual representation of an important idea, rather than trivial prettiness and entertainment. Visual representations of ideas have advantages over the tedious word-wrangling of authors.

The trick is to photograph things that suggest -- that lure -- the viewer into finishing the connection between different objects in the photograph. But it must not be too difficult to make the connection, or the viewer won't even try. They will just say, "This photograph really ain't that purdy." And then turn away from it.

It would please me to see readers offer metaphorical captions to the photograph above. For my part, it reminds me of the essay by William Graham Su…

Democracy and Football: the Gods that Failed

An optimist would say that it can only get better from now on: that America has hit absolute bottom in this year's election. For my part, I feel pretty good about ignoring the long primaries season. Just think how much cultural pollution my mind was spared, because of that. Besides, thinking about politics just makes a person sour and angry.

I still think the best way to handle this frustration is to channel it into reading history. Look at the two candidates America has chosen to run for president, and ask yourself if you were brainwashed in school about how democracy really works, and why it was so great.

Perhaps I should read the book, "Democracy: The God that Failed." But I am afraid the book may be academic and full of abstruse libertarian theology.
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The older you get, the easier it is to be content with small accomplishments. I am feeling pleased with myself for ignoring the NFL professional football season, so far. Actually it ma…

Finally, Finding Hope in Moab

I have been struggling to make 'lemonade from the lemons' of Moab. The pressure was made worse by a Utah school holiday coming up. But I'm glad I didn't give-in to defeatism. 

Surprisingly good results can come from remembering that 'the early bird gets the worm.' There is a jeep/ATV road that is easy to see from my campsite. It looked quite appealing to mountain bike on. Should I be so foolishly naive as to try?

I started a few minutes after sunrise, when it was still chilly. For the first hour and a half, not a single motorized device passed me, despite this trail being well-signed and well-known. Then I popped out on a dirt road and had a nice conversation with a young couple who was taking their niece on a walk. My dog loves children, and vice versa.

It is not surprising that this worked, but it is that it worked so well, and in Moab! There is probably quite a wind chill factor when 'four wheeling' in an open jeep, ATV, or Texas wheelchair ('side b…

Part 2: Hopeless Moab

What is that crazy dog up to now?! She took off running up a cliff. But I have learned that bizarre behavior on her part is usually due to ravens.  The raven sat right at the top of this strange, ugly geologic feature. 


She never learns that the raven will simply fly away before she gets there. On the way down, Coffee Girl seemed to pose for the camera, with a look of contentment in her body language. 


It seems that I am content to look at things from her point of view. 

Often I run across unpleasant and impractical dogs, and wonder why the owner was so 'stupid' as to choose that dog. But to be fair, it really isn't about stupidity. Didn't the Bard say (more or less) that 'a young man falls in love with his eyes, not with his heart.' The same could be easily said about most people as they choose their pets.

It would be better to choose a dog blindfolded. Lower your hand to its mouth for an eager, but bashful, lick. Feel its body start wriggling when you petit. Hear…

Moab Is Hopeless, But Is That So Bad?

Is there something cheerful to think about when you are in Moab, UT? Let's be playful and take it as a challenge. (And no, red rock scenery doesn't count.) So far I am drawing blanks...

1.  And yet look at all the people milling around town: they seem pleased to be here. They must be doing something right. Enjoying Moab vicariously seems like the only approach that might pay off.

To fail at this completely is still good news, if it helps me to appreciate novelists and scriptwriters. This could be a big deal to me. Just think how good they must be at putting themselves into other people's 'shoes' in order for their novel or script to be the least bit interesting!

2. Quite separate from the angle of vicarious enjoyment, there is a second approach thatties in with the book I am reading, by Siedentop. Why did early Christians choose Hope as one of their cardinal virtues? I think it is pernicious. It only leads to disappointment and disillusionment.

I came to Moab without …

The Pleasure of Meeting Intelligent People

What do people think of when they first think about intelligent people? Is it somebody with little personality who grinds away at their career all the time? Or is it somebody who appears superficially polite, but actually is snide and supercilious?

I'll bet they don't think of the pleasure an intelligent person can give to other people. Let me give you a little anecdote about being on the receiving end of this. But first you must bear the set up.

I was in Cortez Colorado, looking to buy a new Utah atlas, either the DeLorme or Benchmark version. This area caters to tourists, and it is the closest small city to the Four Corners. So you would expect it to be easy to buy an atlas for any of the four states.

Wrong. I failed to find these atlases in a half dozen places. The frustration was worsened by driving from place to place while pulling my trailer. Towing a trailer is a terrible way to knock off errands in a city.

If a sensible person were replacing a hardware or mechanical part, …

A Single Man Finally Tastes Legitimacy

I started noticing something strange during my couple weeks as a campground host. Quite unrelated to this, a mountain biker dropped by yesterday. We ended up having a conversation unlike any I've had before. Its conclusionprobably explains what I was noticing as a campground host.

People were treating me in a more friendly manner than what I was used to. Had I suddenly become four times better-looking or developed irresistible charm?

He mentioned that he avoids talking to people in public situations. He attributed this to his socially-marginal status as a single (heterosexual) male, without a wife, recent girlfriend, or children. He routinely senses hostility from the wives of male buddies.

Well, that is easy enough to explain: at the very least, wives don't want their husbands to come under the baleful influence of unmarried male friends, the sort of irresponsible, self-centered, spoiled clowns who are used to spending their own time and money on exactly what theyplease. She has…

The Mark of the Beast

You would expect something bizarre when you are traveling in the greatest volcanic explosion in Earth's history. Something unearthly. And sure enough, we found it. 


In case you didn't catch it the first time:


Busting My First Campers?

Some observations from my campround:

1. It is pleasant to talk to anyone who has some special interest and knowledge. They are rare. One camper was a serious jeeper. He taught me about the "pull-pal," a type of land anchor. It is a steel plow that digs its way into the ground when you pull on it with a winch. Perhaps even a "come-along" hand winch. Then it collapses/folds so that you can store it in your vehicle. Made in Carbondale, CO.

2. Had our first bicyclist from the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route. (Adventure Cycling, Missoula, Montana.) Wish we had more of them. Maybe we aren't on their map.

I have to admit that doing nothing but cycling all day and camping in a tent don't really appeal to me as a mode of travel.  Still, their stamina is certainly impressive. 

3. One campsite had a large number of kids sitting on rocks, waiting for their meal. They looked so enchanted by the campfire. It would be fun to be invisible and hang out there and watch them. Pe…