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Showing posts from April, 2018

Some Surprises in 1950's Television

Many people have a negative stereotype of 1950's television: too conservative, sexist, etc. In watching a classic show from this era, "Wagon Train," several things have surprised me.

For instance, the writers' treatment of the military was different than I thought. After all, it was only a decade after "The Good War." Weren't all the "boys" heroes? Think of that iconic photograph from Life magazine of the sailor stepping into the leaning, tango-like position of the nurse. And 9 months later, the baby boom took off like a rocket.

So why was the television writing so disdainful of the military? The martinets, the mickey-mouse rules, the glory-hounds, the civilians who were on the losing side. Didn't that offend the "heroes" sitting in their living rooms?
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Although it may seem like I am breaking the continuity of this post, the explanation of the above may be buried in a wonderful recent essay from Fred Re…

Smartphone Map Apps Versus Hansel and Gretel

Nothing convinces you how blind you normally are, outdoors, like getting lost on a disappearing trail. Until the moment of panic hits, the process is fascinating: it is a paradigm for outdoor experiences in general.

As the trail starts petering out, you need to become more and more observant. At some point, it really seems like you are imagining mere hints of a trail, and that is such a magical point!

I got frustrated trying to use a mapping app on my smartphone today, mainly because I lost the internet signal occasionally, and then the app didn't work right. Therefore I 'sorta' got lost.

These mapping apps are not designed for outdoorsmen, by outdoorsmen. They are cooked up by city boys -- cubicle rats -- at some software company. If the app works in their parking lot, they think they have succeeded. They are proud of all the features they have built into the app -- but that just means a more complicated menu. 

Could anyone really use all those features when the sun is too br…

A Joey in My Jammies

Being a propagandist or proselytizer is not one of my core skills, apparently. No matter how hard I have tried to talk my fellow campers out of their evil ways, they still put furnaces in their rigs, and then go on, hypocritically, to praising the usual pieties of Frugality and Simplicity.

Still, it is worth praising an approach that has become very satisfying. Earlier I gave an advertisement for camping with insulated bib overalls. 

These are even more effective with a bladder of heated water inside. I used this technique again last night. What satisfaction! Since I sleep in those insulated bib overalls,  I call them my "camping jammies."

When you put the bladder of heated water inside the jammies, you can think of yourself as a:

Lust in the Dust: Selling My 27.5 X 3" Full Suspension Mountain Bike

What has happened to me? It's bad enough, resorting to putting cat pictures on the internet,


...but resorting to shameless commerce, too?!

Less than a year after stepping up in mountain bikes to a full suspension with 27.5" wheels and 3" wide tires -- a so-called "plus" bike -- I have fallen into lust for a 29 inch bike with 3" wide tires. The reviewers call it "a monster truck" of a mountain bike. Sounds like the ultimate machine for crashing over whatever gets in the way.

So consider this post just a probe into the issue of selling my current bike, a model year 2017 Cannondale Bad Habit 2,  size Large, all aluminum:


It was purchased in August 2017 from REI. Here is their spec sheet for it.

The bike I am selling has a few upgrades not on the spec sheet: the biggest being the Specialized Command dropper seat post. These extra goodies add up to about $600.

The list price of this bike, without the upgrade goodies, was $2600.

I would like to see if there i…

The Internet Scold Syndrome

If it weren't hurting so many people, it would be funny: this hypocritical indignation by the warmongers of the West that 40 Syrians were killed by chemicals! This from the people who have killed a million people in the Mideast since the first Persian Gulf War.

Of course TNT and gunpowder aren't 'chemicals'; and they and embargoes (of necessary things) are not 'weapons of mass destruction'. 

But why even talk about it? Americans don't care how much suffering their government causes in foreign countries. To even talk about it just reduces a blogger to a crank, or even worse, an unpopular scold.

I ran across a phrase, in "The Closing of the American Mind" by Allan Bloom, attributed to Saul Bellow. And it really made me flutter my eyelashes, as metaphors are prone to do.

Let's paraphrase it by saying that the internet allows someone a chance to turn a blog 'into a kind of ghost town, into which anyone can move and declare themselves sheriff'.…

The Puppy-Girl of Pie Town

After all these years I finally had a chance to visit the famous "toaster house" of Pie Town, NM. People doing the Great Divide mountain bike ride love to stop in here. Thanks to some good luck, I walked in on the proprietor who was checking up on things. She filled me in on the history of the toaster house: she had raised four kids in that house, before turning it into a donation-only hostel.

Thanks to the riders' blogs I knew where to go for wifi. And let me tell you, getting on the internet is a challenge in this town. I -- or rather, my dog -- was noticed by a family of campers. After a certain amount of observation, their little girl insisted on making friends with my dog.

I was then surprised and delighted to have a one hour conversation with this little girl, age 4. She was so well spoken. A cynic might say that her skill at adding inflections and nuances to her statements was just a mimetic skill, gotten from observing her parents. Still, it amazed me. 



This is the …

The Songbird in the Grocery Store

(Click on the three short parallel lines in the upper right hand corner for information that used to be in the margin.)

I only had to wait for one customer in the line at the grocery store today, just before I left town. Oddly enough, he started singing quietly as the checkout lady worked through his items. He accompanied a pop music song that was playing over the store's speakers.

At one point he teased the checkout lady about how slow she was, but she joked that she didn't want to finish before the song did. So he went back to his singing. He wasn't showing off. It was quiet and natural singing, and he had a good voice.

When it became my turn, the checkout lady told me I could take over now; but I said I couldn't sing the way that the other fellow did. I am glad that he could probably hear us talk about him.



This is the first time I ever heard a man singing in the checkout line before. Why so? I wonder what an experienced world traveler would say. I'll bet it isn'…

Robinson Crusoe in New Mexico

The roads that my dog and I were biking on were excellent. I am addicted to not really knowing what the answer is, when I go on a ride. There are no websites to spoon-feed you 'practical' details about these dirt/gravel side roads and two-tracks. (Contrast this with single track riding, where some smartphone app answers everything in advance.)

There were pleasant surprises on today's ride. Granted, it doesn't take a lot to please me, as long as it is a surprise. Recently graded roads, flattish terrain, and nice grazing land with higher country in the background.

I was so contented I wondered why it had bothered me for years that I had to do all that riding by myself, or rather, with just a dog for a companion. I am now longer bothered by it. Perhaps enough years of committing the same mistake makes a guy adopt the attitude of the old horse in the movie, "Babe", who told the farm's malcontents, "The only way you are ever going to be happy is to accept t…