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Showing posts from 2019

A Well-Fed Cattle Drive

Perhaps it shouldn't have surprised me. After all, this is multiple-use public land. I drove around a corner on a narrow dirt road, and saw about 75 black cows walking toward me.

They certainly chose a good year. Look at all the greenery to munch on!

This experience seemed amusing to me because I have been watching old "Rawhide" television shows on DVDs.

I stopped and shut the engine off. The cows plodded slowly around my vehicle. There were what appeared to be three generations of a ranching family. The youngest was a girl about 10 years old.

Actually I really enjoyed seeing such an atavistic scene out of the "Old West." Somehow, the cowpersons seemed to sense my pleasure -- they gave me friendly waves and even talked a little to me.

But of course, there was no camera handy! 

It is funny how Hollywood made the cowboy life look glamorous and interesting. Whenever I have seen a cattle drive, the cowboys seemed hot and bored. Only once did a cattle drive seem interesti…

A Bridge Too Far in Staging a War Incident?

I smirked and rolled my eyes this morning when I read about the attacks on the oil tankers near the Strait of Hormuz.  Does the Netanyahu/Trump administration really have that low of an estimate of the intelligence of the American public?

Then again, maybe I should cheer the Netanyahu/Trump administration on. A good spike in the price of oil might be all it takes to bring on a global recession. The means bye-bye for Trump. It might also slow down the tourist traffic in Colorado this summer. Recessions and low prices are beneficial to retirees, especially ones who are in the market for a new motor vehicle. 

I don't watch cable news but they are probably parroting charges against the Iranians. Until any independent evidence shows up, here is my explanation for 'who dunnit.' Netanyahu finally convinced the Trump administration to bring on some sort of incident that Iran could be blamed for, and would achieve their long term dream of starting a multi-trillion dollar war with Ira…

A Rodeo on the River

The river-runners are going crazy this year, thanks to heavy snowfall. What will the river look like if we have a warm spell and the mountains shed snow-melt like crazy?

Surfer boys on the river? This last guy was like a dancer on the water. Isn't it amazing what human beings can learn to do?!

It is hard not to like the outdoors culture of this state. On the same day, the Ride the Rockies bicycle tour came through town. It was a steady stream of bright jerseys and spandex for about 2 hours!

The Future of the Nomadic Lifestyle?

As always, sunrise was perfect at the campground; but hardly anybody experienced it. With conditions so unbeatable this morning, it seems ironic to have stumbled onto a business news article that brought on a nightmare.

"Wolf Street" had an article about FedEx telling Amazon to jump in a lake.
Amazon is aggressively building up its own delivery capabilities, from cargo planes to last-mile delivery services, and in the process has become a logistics giant in its own right, as it is trying to get control of its shipping costs and move business away from FedEx and others.Does this imply a bizarre future for the 'RV/mobile/nomadic' lifestyle? Can't you just see it? Amazon's "Camper Force" could be upgraded to thousands of nomads pulling small trailers, and doing deliveries for Amazon.

As restrictions on camping increase every year, and as everybody uses internet blabbermouth websites to find the few campsites that are still available, RVers try to adju…

Mother Nature's Song

Never again will I allow anyone to use the phrase 'nice sunny day' in my presence without an argument. How much sunlight do you need for life? What life really needs is Water.

This winter and spring are turning out to be more blessed than any year I can remember.

At this time of year (June) the sky is supposed to be hopeless: a blue-white glare, utterly cloudless, uninteresting, and enervating. You can barely step outside in mid-day without an aluminum umbrella. But it is different this year.

 I hope it snows on the Fourth of July.

But of all the Life brought forth this spring, the best is represented by Greta, a 10-week-old golden retriever pup, who wandered by my campsite the other day.

 She was fearless around big dogs:

Let's see, how did that little jingle in Gilbert & Sullivan's Pirates of Penzance (?) go? Remember the "Three Little Maids from School?" Wasn't it...'Life is a joke that's just begun...'

It took only seconds for her to reduce m…

Can the LEFT Return from its "Babylonian Exile?"

I would like to find some more books on the "post Exilic" career of the Jehudi elite, who returned to Palestine after a few decades of captivity in Babylon. They somehow managed to turn primitive Jawhism into Judaism, one of the most historically important religions of the world.

They returned to the unimportant province of Judah, where they could have been seen, almost, as foreigners. Apparently most of the "Hebrew Bible" (aka, Old Testament to Christians) was written during this post-Exile. And they did such a good job of it, with dramatic stories of ancestral heroes, that a Jewish identity was made solid and lasting.

But until I get a chance to learn more about this process, around 500--450 BC, I wonder how this example compares with more recent ones. How many times has an Elite been overthrown (taken captive, etc.) and then returned to its homeland, only to blossom into something much greater that it was, originally. 

It is a rare experience, is it not? Oh sure, t…

The Best Camera in the World... the one that you actually brought along. I experienced both sides of that double-edged sword, today.

Is it the miracle of moisture that has brought Mother Nature back to life in this godforsaken hot arid wasteland? Lately a Western Tanager seems to have established residence in my campground. And for the first time, I met the "Mrs." as well.

What a little lens-tease he was! He would light upon a bush right next to the road Coffee Girl and I were mountain biking on. Since I take my new camera in a handlebar bar, it is easy to grab it. But there are still a few more steps to fumble through -- do you remember that classic scene in "The Unforgiven", when Little Bill Daggett (Gene Hackman) tells the hack western writer, "Being quick with the draw don't do no harm, but a man who stays cool will kill ya..." or something like that.

And I just barely missed photographing him four times. He would move down the road ahead of us another 50 feet, and I would pa…

How About a Progressive Tariff?

I admit to doing a poor job of following the discussion about tariffs on Chinese-made goods. Perhaps that is because the public discussion of this topic degenerates into 'free trade versus protectionism', which seems to belong in the 1800s.

Why are there only two choices? How about sticking tariffs on luxury goods, while leaving 'necessities' alone, that is, tariff-free?

Tariffs on luxury goods would not hurt the consumer of luxury goods -- they are not buying luxury goods for engineering, design, or utilitarian reasons. They are buying luxury goods for ego-gratification. If the tariff makes the toy or status symbol cost 20% more, that should be seen as a good thing. Now the consumer can feel 20% 'better about themselves.'

Since society is finally becoming more aware of economic inequality, a tariff on luxury goods can be seen, effectively, as an income redistribution plan.

Words like 'luxury' or 'necessity'  can be subjective or even judgmental. Bu…

The Lonely Demise of the Baby Boomers

You don't see three-legged dogs all that often. I met one the other day. She got along pretty well, all things considered. Her human partner said she had been hit by a car, some years ago.

She was quite a sweetheart and wanted to get into a 'play position' with my dog. But it was too difficult with only one front leg. 

Her owner was 70 or so, and alone, except for his old sweetheart, this three-legged dog. He said she was a happy dog, and I believe it. He called her "Annie."

My mind drifted onto memories of my grandparents when they were as as old as this Baby Boomer is now. My grandparents had spouses. There was visible affection and loyalty between those older people. This was quite impressive, considering the lifetime of forbearance of each other's faults that had to be slogged through.

What about the owner of this dog? He seemed to be capable of showing all the loyalty and affection that a two-legged Annie (a woman) would love to experience. Perhaps his perso…

Is There a Good Bluetooth Speaker?

I spent much of an afternoon struggling to find a good Bluetooth speaker. Some of this time was spent at a Walmart. They had a large selection of them, laid out with nice looking displays. And yet, I was shocked and confused by the experience.

Few of the displays and boxes would even bother to tell me if the speaker could be charged through a USB cable. It is so convenient to do so when you are in a 12 Volt-DC vehicle, such as an RV. From any auto parts store, you can buy outlets that put out USB signals. Thus you don't have to run an inverter followed by a "power brick" that converts the AC voltage back to DC! 

At first I was the only customer in this aisle. I pushed the button to sample 'music' through the speakers. The music made my skin crawl. Then a couple knuckle-dragging primates came and started testing speakers. Soon they had a sound-volume war going on. Clearly they liked the Bluetooth speakers and the music.

Once the knuckle-draggers left, I tested the Bl…

The Artfulness of Irony

Long-suffering readers know that I use the term 'art' in the Tolstoyan sense, not in the more conventional sense of 'that which is beautiful.' Tolstoy thought that art could be defined as words, images, or sounds that transfer emotions between people, regardless of whether these images are pretty or not.

Lately I have stumbled onto some Irony which is having quite an effect of me.  Consider first the bluffmanship of the Trump administration in trying to get Iran to give Trump the excuse for starting a war with them. It is the oldest trick in the book: and one that makes a mockery of the idealism of the writers of the U.S. Constitution. Those poor naive fools thought that if people governed themselves, they would stay out of the wars that kings and emperors loved to start.

What matters most is that Israel wants the stupid goyim of the USA to fight and weaken their enemy, Iran. And that is where the irony kicks in.

Some people think that much of what we now consider Judais…

Caption Contest for Mothers' Day

Who was responsible for setting Mother's Day on the second Sunday of May? Whoever they were, they loved their mother, because that time of year usually has excellent weather in most of the USA.

And then there is Colorado.

If we made a photo caption contest out of this, my offering would be, "Gee, Pops, where are all the customers?"

I guess this means that the tourist trade is headed straight for the crapper this weekend.

Why Is Crappy Camping So Popular?

I'm glad I have persisted through Mark Twain's "Roughing It." The trick is to just skip the 'humorous tales'. He was camped near Lake Tahoe with some fellow travelers:

It was a hard, wearing, toilsome journey, but it had its bright side; for after each day was done and our wolfish hunger appeased with a hot supper of fried bacon, bread, molasses and black coffee, the pipe-smoking, song- singing and yarn-spinning around the evening camp-fire in the still solitudes of the desert was a happy, care-free sort of recreation that seemed the very summit and culmination of earthly luxury. It is a kind of life that has a potent charm for all men, whether city or country-bred. We are descended from desert-lounging Arabs, and countless ages of growth toward perfect civilization have failed to root out of us the nomadic instinct. We all confess to a gratified thrill at the thought of “camping out.”It is quite a mystery, this strange popularity of "camping out." A…

Can Great Writing Last?

Why have I avoided reading Mark Twain? He wrote several books about travel that should appeal to a traveler like me. Perhaps it was because he was on the approved reading list put out by American public school marms -- you know, like "Wuthering Heights," and the like.

But in reading "Roughing It," another factor became clearer and clearer: Twain was popular because he was considered humorous. And the brutal fact is, that humor does not age well.

In fact I was losing motivation a third of the way through the book. But just then...

He was describing the stagecoach trip west of Salt Lake City.

but now we were to cross a desert in daylight. This was fine— novel— romantic— dramatically adventurous— this, indeed, was worth living for, worth traveling for! We would write home all about it. 

This enthusiasm, this stern thirst for adventure, wilted under the sultry August sun and did not last above one hour. One poor little hour— and then we were ashamed thatwe had “gushed” so. …

The Beauty of Kindness

It is strange that I can't even think of the word to describe a certain episode, "The Dust Flower," in the second season of "Rawhide." It is centered on the predicament of an "old maid," who the cattle drovers ran into, by accident. I don't like rehashing books or movies, nor giving away endings. So let's talk about this episode on a different level. 

Many people have a condescending attitude to the 1950's, when this episode was made. They might be surprised to enjoy this episode -- after all the modern person is endowed with advanced and progressive attitudes about a Woman's role in society, while the episode was written in the out-of-date 1950s.

When you look at episodes written in the out-of-date 1950s, you actually seen the building blocks of many of the ideas that we associate with the 1960s. It is similar to the theme written about in Alexis de Tocqueville's "The Old Regime and the Revolution." 

Tocqueville discussed h…

Where the West Hasn't Vanished

Why didn't I read Mark Twain's "Roughing It" a long time ago? It is an enjoyable book, especially for a traveler in the American West.

Of course a modern reader will become envious of Twain. He crossed the West in an Overland Stagecoach when America was mostly empty. Those days are long gone...

...But not completely.  Today I crossed one of the few empty places that still exist in the McMansioned West. How marvelous!

Surprisingly there was a Verizon signal. I pretty much carry in my head a map of Verizon-spewing cell towers. There must be a new one out here. I still can't believe it.

Upon reaching the metropolis of Datil, NM, I made the classic mistake of asking a local where the new cell tower was. A question like that always draws a blank look from my victim. You'd think they would want to know.

Few things benefit an independent lifestyle like curiosity in knowing 'how things work' in the things that your life depends on. Cell towers aren't the only…

Serendipity at Sunrise

What perfect timing! The coffee shop was just about to open, almost at the second the rising sun hit its front door. Ahh, how nice. It is summer in southern New Mexico, and the mid-day sun is already an enemy; but of course that means it is still winter at sunrise. I was looking forward to sitting outdoors in the chilly air, feeling half-frozen in my winter parka, and maybe catching some warming rays on the face, while drinking hot coffee.

But I wasn't the only customer with this idea:

At first I thought she was just a cute little street urchin, looking for a handout on her morning rounds, like Benji in the original Benji movie. But she was keeping an eye on her human partner who was inside the coffee shop.

Click on the photo and blow up the warning sign near her eye level. She came so close, but she wouldn't cross the threshold. Girls like to follow rules.

Her human partner came out to sit and bask in the chair. I learned that the little dog's name was "Honey." And …

The Ultimate Triumph for a Consumer

Dare I hope? Or will that just jinx me? After years of pining and yearning, I may have finally found the ultimate flashlight for my camper. But why waste words:

Glorious isn't it?! For years the industry plagued me with those damn cylindrical flashlights that would roll around on the floor when you tried to use them for anything.

Even worse, they used those cursed little AA and AAA batteries. If that wasn't enough, the switches were always flimsy, or the battery holder door would pop off.

And so I dreamed the impossible dream, and found it. At Walmart of all places. It was a sensible price: that is, not as high as the 'jewelry/boutique' flashlights, but not as low as low end consumer junk.

The label calls it "Hyper Tough", made by Intertek. It is USB rechargeable. The battery is lithium.

I just love those little elastomeric bumpers at the four corners. So touuuuuuugh! This must be a Guy Thing. 

Perhaps this post seems facetious to the reader, but it is not meant th…

A Bourgeois Philistine at an Art Show

Somewhere in Ben Franklin's Autobiography he rises to the defense of Pride as a Virtue, rather than Humility as a Virtue. I see his point, for I have just finished going to an art show that my friend invited me to, and am feeling like a Big Shot because I actually enjoyed looking at something there.

In fact I came perilously close to even buying something there. It is hard to believe. 

There was one table full of ceramic bowls, plates, and mugs. The colors appealed to me, even though I am usually indifferent to colors. Perhaps it helped that the colors were somewhat muted earth tones instead of the garish and girlish colors that are more usual at an art show.

Or maybe it was the possible functionality of the ceramic work. If only my brain didn't automatically go into "optimize the equations" mode, and block any kitchen receptacles other than melamine, the lightest and most durable material for a traveler.

Another way of looking at art is to de-emphasize the end result an…

Obsolete for a Quarter of a Century

There is no point in an amateur blogger reacting to the daily news, especially if they just hashed-and-rehashed the same stuff picked over by professional bull-shitters.

There is something to be gained by an amateur blogger questioning the assumptions of the professional bull-shitters. The latter don't overtly lie so much as they tacitly agree not to discuss certain questions; that is, they lie by omission, not commission.

With that preface out of the way, NATO is "celebrating" its 70th birthday. There has been a bit of discussion about NATO, but they safely avoid discussing anything important. For instance, the media considers it safe to discuss whether European countries contribute enough money to this worthless cause. 

Does anyone ever say, "NATO has been obsolete for a quarter of a century?" Probably not. That would get you accused of being a crank, radical, or Russian Collusionist.

There are even more fundamental issues. Europe is ceasing to exist. It (or rath…

A Star is Born

It has been quite a challenge to be a doggie's uncle; especially when the dog is a one-year-old, intact male. He was a street urchin picked up by my friend. His coloration reminds you of a blue heeler, but the body type isn't right for that.

I concluded that his other half is Mexican Grey Wolf, based on the body, head, teeth, and behavior!

At first I resisted zapping him with his electric training shock collar. But after he rammed his muzzle and canine teeth into my chin, I have become a training nazi.

On the other hand, he is a real lover boy, friendly, athletic, and good-hearted. His name is 'Hopi.' He has been learning to mountain bike with me. We only had one mishap, which cost me a knee cap. But I still have one good one, left. Unrelated to that, cattle gates still confuse him.

Although he isn't going to become my dog, it has been fun to become a type of foster parent, or uncle, to him.

So much of his significance comes from considering what he represents. Seeing a…

"do svee DAH nyah" to the Democratic Media

So what happens now? Will there be an investigation of collusion between the Democratic National Committee and the Clinton campaign with FBI employees and members of the Obama administration?

I predict there won't be a forceful investigation; in part, because of fatigue, and in part because of the mild milquetoast-ness of many Republicans.

But there may be a more sinister reason: perhaps they are afraid to investigate the FBI. The FBI's dirty tricks over the years would be brought to light, and besmirch the authority of the Central Government.

And perhaps the FBI simply has too much dirt on politicians in both parties. It would be easy for it to get revenge against Congress.

The FBI has the same position relative to the American Empire that the Praetorian Guard had to the Roman Empire, or the Janissaries had to the decaying Ottoman Empire.

Although I feel no real rage towards the Gullibles (the competitors of the Deplorables) who believed the mainstream media feeding frenzy over th…

If Only There Were More Artists!

The title of this post seems facetious, considering I am located in a small town that appears to have too many artists.

But what kind of art? It is 'pretty' stuff that is bought by well-heeled matrons from the big city, to cover white spaces on the walls of their new McMansion. Cyootsie-wootsie and useless.

And then, by chance, I ran across another type of art that really affected me. Recall Tolstoy's essay, "What is Art?", wherein he defines art as sounds, words, and pictures that transfer emotions from the artist to the viewer/audience.

The cartoon was lifted out of I am not sure where he lifted it from, but at least the cartoon is signed.

What an under-rated artist a cartoonist can be! Expect to see this cartoon show up again on Fourth of July and Veteran's Day posts.

Individuals Versus Political Stereotypes

It seems as though there are twice as many Arizona Trail walkers as there were last year. It has been cool and rainy, so none of them have had the silver umbrellas strapped to their backpacks that they've had in the past. I loved those para-sols. Taken as an individual thing, a parasol almost makes me sympathetic to what I call 'los peregrinos,' since that is the only way I can visualize somebody being motivated to pursue such a slow, plodding sport through so many miles of ghastly heat. Yes, peregrinos of the Church of the Holy Green.

At least they fit in with the town. There is some mine exploration or cleanup of old mining areas in the vicinity. Most of the town dislikes the mining industry, and tried to stop it from reviving in the local mountains. I am the misfit in town, because I was pro-miner. Still, I can't say I enjoy sharing the narrow dirt roads with their big trucks.

On the way back from today's ride, I could see a giant red dump truck approaching from t…

Finding a Way to Get Interested in Nature

This part of Arizona is crawling (literally) with caterpillars and poppies. Some moisture in the winter certainly has done this place some good.

There seems to be a caterpillar monoculture right now.

They are not particularly fun to look at; except for one thing. They crawl surprisingly fast across the roads and driveways. It's a good thing they do: it's a dangerous way to make a living! 

Perhaps because of their high speed, dogs notice these caterpillars, and come up to investigate. The dogs do not harm the caterpillars; they just come up slowly and sniff at them.

It's odd the way the caterpillar slams on the brakes and becomes completely motionless. In the past I've noticed rabbits playing the same trick on dogs.

After 10 minutes or so, the caterpillar shifted into 'Drive' again. It was a close call for this little critter. Humble though they be, there is a drama to the situation. It seems that there must be some sort of drama, or at least motion, for me to get in…

Time to Abandon Microsoft?

The other day Microsoft sent me a love letter notifying me of the end of their "support" of Windows 7 in January of 2020. Does that mean I should stop using my Windows 7 computer at that time? 

Running to the Google empire is not such an attractive alternative. Google's original scheme with its Chromebooks was to get the user paying them annual rent for cloud storage, but more importantly, running algorithms on your data to find out how to target advertisments at every aspect of your life. Presumably, all of your data would be turned over to Washington DC spy and police agencies.

Why would anyone need cloud storage? Have you seen how cheap storage is? You can carry it around in your pocket in the form of a thumbdrive or SD card. (Of course there are people who hoard terabytes of photos and videos. Presumably, they don't read this blog.)

And you would need an unlimited data wireless (cellphone) plan if you were doing everything in the cloud.

So I'm not sure what to do…