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Showing posts from August, 2019

A Loyal Friend on Duty

Many times I have praised the habit of catching things out of the corner of your eye. It happened again today. I was driving to town on an errand. Fifty yards off the road was one of the rental outhouses at this recreation area. There was a large chocolate labrador retriever (lab) close to its door.  Clearly, his human partner was inside the outhouse, doing his business. The dog's head and body language were so curious, expressing the great importance and significance of the dog's supervising or guarding. The dog was unnaturally stationary for quite a long time. What an expression of loyalty it was! The best I could do was take a smartphone photo from the van. It was disappointing. The photo doesn't seem to express the endearing behavior of the dog that I thought I "saw". But this isn't the first time I saw something out of the corner of the eye, fluttered my eyelashes over it, and then later, wondered if it was actually real. This suggests that the

The Truth About the American Southwest

It is a healthy sign of our culture that YouTubers are starting to make fun of #vanLife videos produced by illiterate charlatans who look good in a bikini. But why didn't old-fashioned blogs -- you know, the kind you have to read -- go through the same phase of healthy self-criticism? Consider their presentation of the American Southwest. The bloggers are here for a couple months, when it is sheer frozen hell in the rest of North America. So they have an 'easy audience.' Typically they are sitting out in a folding chair, in front of their rig, while reading a book. They are wearing shorts and a straw hat, perhaps. The readership sees this and thinks, "And it's January. Paradise." In case the suckers haven't been sold yet, the blogger then shows 30 postcards of saguaros at sunset or red cliffs and arches. That really gets the armchair travelers to flutter their eyelashes.  The sort of half-truths you can tell with a digital camera and a free blogsi

Willie Leaps!

She was a funny-looking little dog: a red heeler, more or less. But she was too stubby and a little porky. Her name was Willie, short for Willow. But she had talent. I watched her human partner throwing a small diameter frisbee to her. She was better at retrieving than he was at throwing. Twice she ripped the frisbee out of the sky. The second time was spectacular! If only I had my camera along, with it set on multiple exposures. From .  I especially like the photo on the right. My own dog has no airborne tendencies at all. She won't even chase a tennis ball on the ground. Her only real talent is turning on the charm to newcomers and immediately conquering them. Actually I prefer her personality to these super athletes of the air -- they are usually obsessive. They can get tiresome quickly. Still, it is fun to watch them in "small doses."

Email Ping-pong with Car Salesmen

I am beginning to think that I can no longer communicate with my fellow American. Sure, you expect this kind of thing when calling 'customer service' or some kind of 'call center'. But that is because you are calling India. Lately I have been drowning while playing email ping-pong with car salesmen. Yes...the great day of replacing my 1995 Ford Econoline van, with 292,000 miles on it, is approaching. But the ping-pong is driving me crazy. It is understandable that we could all stand some improvement in our email style -- after all, none of us was taught in grade school how to write useful email. But car salesmen are professionals, so they should be good at writing emails. Now, I needn't reiterate my rant against pronouns, acronyms, and abbreviations. What these guys need to learn how to do is write a self-contained message, because only then is it actionable. For instance, they start off saying, "But that car is not..."  Which car is "that&

Epstein's "Suicide": The Last Straw Before a Political Explosion?

Will the supposed suicide of Epstein finally cause a populist political explosion in the USA? Unlikely but possible. What will it take for the general public to wake up from their sleepwalking about how America actually works? In the mean time, let's be realistically optimistic that enough documents are already in the hands of prosecutors that can incriminate some very wealthy and powerful people.

Celebrating the Waning of Another Summer

It is worth exulting over the passing of another summer, even though it was a merciful one, that is, cool and wet. Summer is a season that must be suffered stoically.  Oh certainly, August is still a summer month. But the small improvements compared to July are noticeable: slightly later sunrises and longer shadows in mid-day; and cooler temperatures, even if it is only a couple degrees. The proper equipment for enjoying the outdoors in the Southwest. It is a fundamental fact of human existence that a couple percent of improvement from a given base seems to affect a person more than the base. Even easier to appreciate is the waning of the tourist season in Colorado. Some of the big school districts restart in early August, these days.  The icing on the cake is that we are getting afternoon thundershowers that might not bring a lot of rain, but they bring clouds, shade, and a 10--15F cooling off. How magnificent!

Success at an "Art Booth"

I have long accepted that I am artistically challenged, in the sense that visual arts have no effect on me. Rather than taking that issue on by direct frontal attack, I prefer an indirect, flanking movement. That is, it seems preferable to stretch the definition of what "art" is. The other day, my dog and I were bicycling by the Rocks. Out of the corner of my eye I caught a dog and a half dozen small children frolicking on the rocks. Talk about the indirect approach! There is a lot to be said for catching things on the edge of your vision. Photo taken a couple years ago at a festival in Silver City, NM. I guess readers don't expect photos taken on the same day and at the same place as the written post. I look for photos (and why do they need to mine?) that are visual representations of the ideas I am writing about. I am not trying to document the Here and the Now. Something about it fired my imagination. It made me turn in to the campsite and give the parents