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Showing posts from May, 2019

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..." o

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 jud

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. Perhap

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 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. "I am that I am." Some people think t

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.&q

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 thatw