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Showing posts from January, 2019

Failing to Find a Camera with Aperture Control

Supposedly there are people in this modern world of ours who are "addicted" to internet shopping. I just don't understand... I thought addictions were moral failings because they held you enslaved to short term pleasures, with the consequences of long term pain. But internet shopping is not pleasurable, in the short term. Or any term. How could Amazon bury you under so much useless information, while not putting the user's manual at the top of the screen, in a nice box that you could just click? Do they really think you want to read through all that florid (sales) prose, or read 647 reviews by people who have owned the camera for 3 days? But, you say, I should be watching reviews on You Tube, instead of reading reviews. Gimme a break! Show me a You Tube reviewer whose idea of useful information consists of something more than, "Ya know, like, wow dude, this is another really coooool feature of this camera..." in every other sentence. The camer

What to Do When You Murder Another Camera?

Recently my camera 'paid the ultimate sacrifice, in the line of duty,' during a mountain bike crash. That is not good news, but there is an opportunity in it. It is a chance to think about whether I should even bring a camera. What exactly am I trying to accomplish? What is the benefit of photography? And if I do decide to get another camera, should it be one that is strong in macro photography (that is, close-ups). I find macro photography more interesting than bar-coded  landscape postcards. Appreciating the visual arts has been a tough slog for me, but it can be made to work. I have slowly learned to appreciate good cinematography, that is, the telling of a story with moving pictures. Cinematography is what makes a movie different than a photographic record of two people standing in a room talking at each other. I've also learned to appreciate still photographs (or even cartoons) as visual metaphors. It has become a habit to google "photos of X", and the

Maybe Laughter Really Is the Best Medicine

Long-suffering readers don't need to hear me go on another rant about the foolishness of mountain bike culture. Suffice it to say that I let myself get sucked into a bit of that culture the other day, and paid the price by going over the handlebars and smacking onto desert gravel. That was better than rocks! But the camera paid the ultimate price. I was hurting more than I ever had, from a bicycle accident. But bruises are better than broken bones. The bruises were concentrated on the chest/ribs and the hip. A couple nights later I was watching an episode from the third season of Wagon Train, with Mickey Rooney as the guest star. The title was "The Greenhorn." Rooney plays a newbie in Missouri getting outfitted for the western journey. Of course he did all the things a greenhorn should do: overloading his wagon and overdressing. Although the episode was only mildly humorous, the context of Quartzsite made it hilarious! Just think of all those RV newbies over there a

Best Reason For Not Attending Mass RV Rallies in Quartzsite

I can't remember whether I attended Quartzsite mass events more the twice. Naturally it was at the beginning of my career. The reasons for avoiding them ever since should be obvious, but the most important reason takes more thought. As the sub-title of this blog says, this blog is about travel from the point of view of an early retiree -- despite the fact that I am now the standard retirement age. An early retiree used to take some pride in 'marching to the tune of a different drummer.' There was some uncertainty in what he was attempting to do. Would he use his time well? Would the lifestyle be admirable, or would it just be an extended scenery vacation? It was an adventure -- and one that had to be worked out on a personal level.  But when you attend mass RV rallies, you see the industry reduce the lifestyle to a stereotype. The adventure has become a formula. It no longer has to be worked out on an individual basis. The newbie just has to go to discussion forums

Deplorables and Fireworks on Public Lands

You can't set your expectations too low for weekend warriors who are camping on public lands. (And crowded public lands at that!) At the moment the yahoos a couple hundred yards away from me are shooting off fireworks at dusk. I believe that fireworks (even sparklers) are illegal on public lands, regardless of the time of year. You should never tell yahoos that you are thinking of calling the authorities -- it could be dangerous. Besides, would it do any good to call authorities right now? Perhaps the local sheriff would come out, even though the land is federal. I don't know what the situation is with federal law enforcement personnel, right now.  And if they weren't shooting off fireworks they would be (legally) blasting away at tin cans with military-grade firearms, or blasting away with a yellow Chinese generator, or thumpah thumpah music from outdoor 300 watt speakers, or blasting around other people's camp with a UTV or dune buggy...or farting, scratching at

Miracles in the Desert

If there were ever any doubt in your mind that the 'medium is the message,' consider the air right now in snowbird Arizona.  We have been experiencing a couple quiet miracles lately. But even somebody who isn't a standard tourist/snowbird must make an effort to appreciate them. We have had some decent rains. A faint green 'lawn' is appearing across the desert.  That should take your breath away, right there! But if you need more...this morning there were small droplets of water flocculating on this green lawn. In some parts of the world they belittle this miracle by calling it 'dew'. The air is moist. It feels so gentle against the skin. Do you know what if feels like for your skin -- the largest organ in the human body -- not to be at war with its environment! These are small miracles in the desert.  And then people want to show postcards of saguaros or palm trees against a red sunset. (aaarrgh!)

A Tour of the Beginning of Civilization

It was an especially satisfying bicycle ride today, despite the scenery being only moderately interesting. The exercise was less than spectacular, perhaps because of the dog. The morning started off well when I asked a camper about the land around him. Normally it is unprofitable to ask a camper about the land.  But this was no ordinary snowbird. He gave me some useful information about a road I probably would have missed. Then we went looking for access to an interesting campsite visible on the other side of the river. And found it. Also I managed to find one of my first camping areas from a zillion years ago. It looked completely different now that motor vehicles were not allowed there anymore. That was quite a nostalgia trip. One thing followed after another. I was drifting or floating on the bike.  There is so much infrastructure in this area for controlling and using water for agriculture: canals, dams, weirs, watering systems, big tanks, concrete walls, furrow irrigation, a

The Ultimate Natural Experience

I've written before how much I love my new headlamp. But this morning I wallowed in satisfaction. Yesterday's electrical project was still slightly unfinished. It was so satisfying to wake up at 430 a.m., strap on the headlamp, and finish the sucker off! Talk about a feeling of empowerment! Nobody needs 12 hours of sleep just because winter nights are that long. It is misinterpreting evolution and nature to think that homo sapiens is supposed to be happy about winter evenings just because they are 'natural.' Survival does not mean contentment. In its own way this experience shows an appreciation of nature far above the usual mooning-and-swooning about pretty this and pretty that. Your experience of nature is most authentic when you conquer her -- when you bend her to your will. And conquering darkness may be the single best example of that.

Real Heroes

No winter is complete without me railing against the Abomination of Desolation, that is, the Pacific Time Zone. But it is too easy to slam. Instead, let's take a moment to appreciate the quiet and real heroes who defy Pacific Time. Algodones, Baja California Norte, is one of those places, as is the Indian casino on the California side. Other places upriver of Yuma use Yuma time instead of the evil Pacific Time. They are Freedom-Fighters! I salute them. Let us hope their spirit of rebellion spreads to eastern Oregon and Washington, Nevada (including US395 in so-called California), and the Idaho Panhandle. 

Geezers Galore! in Yuma

No winter is complete unless I take a moment to be astonished by the unmanageable hordes of old people in Yuma, AZ. But something was different -- and better -- this year. It was pleasantly cool for a change. I have little patience for being warm in January. The relief put me in a good mood for enduring the traffic and overcrowding in the stores. Strictly speaking it isn't the characteristics of the elderly that is so annoying, it is the fact that there are so many old folks, and they are all in one place, and that place happens to be near me!  Worst of all, they seem a little less old to me every year! ___________________________________ But seriously folks, why is this place so popular? Is it really that important to be a couple degrees warmer than some other place in the Southwest? Aren't their houses, cars, and stores heated? Most snowbirds or campers really don't have  an outdoors-oriented lifestyle, so why is the thermometer so important? And this pl