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Showing posts from January, 2020

Improving on Fuzzy Language

What a bizarre process it is to buy a car! The other day I was at a typical dealer's overcrowded lot. The cars were parked closer together than they are in a Portland OR grocery store parking lot. The salesman was a big guy. He would open "my" van's door smack into the adjacent vehicle, actually dinging a newish vehicle. He didn't seem concerned. That really shows the high regard they have for their product, doesn't it?! I suppose I should grateful for the search engines, such as AutoTrader, Car Gurus, Auto Tempest, etc. But they suck! They over-describe unimportant things like the car having a clock, sun visor, intermittent windshield wipers, 16 air bags, etc. Oh, and it has "a CD player," too. But as for the engine, they will just say, "V8". Apparently it doesn't matter that GM made three different V8 engines for the years in question. The poor customer's time is wasted on jargon, abbreviations, the reckless use of prono

Going "Under-Cover" at a Meeting of Van Tramps

Once this winter I camped near the van tramp bunch, with the idea that it could be thought-provoking. And it was. This occurred near Quartzsite. Granted, it is easy to have a negative attitude towards this bunch. The vaunted "lifestyle" of theirs has become such a formula.  from Kombi Life But I tried to put that aside and see what makes them tick. As luck would have it, I checked out an excellent book at the local library by Jerome Blum, "In the Beginning." It sounds biblical, but actually the book is about the explosion of modernity in the 1840s. Some of what happened then is  relevant to today's van tramps. It only takes a couple encounters with them before I concluded they were urban people. Actually you can decide that in a couple seconds. Just observe their dog-leash and clean-up fanaticism, their diet, music, tattoos, dreadlocks, etc. So I smiled when reading Blum's book about the 1840s:   the revolutions [of 1848] were almost exclusivel

Keeping Things Fresh

Coming back from a sunset walk with my dog, I had the pleasure of looking at yet another crinkly chiaroscuro of desert mountains. I hope I never get tired of them. In fact it is quite remarkable how some pleasures never wear out.  Why so? We get used to the idea that most things get tiresome and old very quickly. It is even worse in a media-saturated society, because the media is always chasing novelty. It is worse yet in a citified culture, where people live 'fast', and chase the latest fad as if it will raise their self-esteem. Naturally I didn't have my camera along, but even if I had, the result would not have been a noteworthy postcard. The scene was ordinary, but I loved it. As the opposite of hectic, citified, fad-and-novelty chasing, consider breathing. We never refuse to take a breath because it is old hat, repetitive, or un-novel. Perhaps natural cycles of use and non-use are the explanation. Certain things will always give pleasure, but only after they

RV Vlogs and the Mundane

I must be turning into a sweet little old man. I deliberately drove through Quartzsite, AZ during the madness of its annual crowdfest in late January. Rather than scowl at everybody, it seemed entertaining to me. Anyway, I drove a loop around the town, and made a game out of it: did I know a clever way to get from A to B? The trick to doing this is to renounce certain driving habits, such as left-hand turns. Also, there is a relatively uncrowded freeway interchange on the east side of town. But there is a more fundamental trick: simply renounce excessive expectations about human beings, and your frustrations end.  I used to make fun of the mundaneness and banality of RV travel blogs. But that hardly matters now. It seems that blogs (that you read) have become passé and have been superseded by vlogs, their YouTube equivalent. It might also be that travel bloggers have retired from traveling due to age. Have you watched some of these vlogs? I put one on pause and went to the thes

Including Sounds, and not just Photos, in Blog Posts

There is a great deal of supposedly practical information out there, for RV camping. But I think it misses the point. The lifestyle is not greatly challenged by physical or material difficulties. Most of the struggle is psychological. It is largely concerned with reconstructing habits. This struggle comes to the foreground in the winter, when too many hours of darkness chase you into your tiny den. I have tried to use those hours beneficially by reading, but an answer like that can be spit out too easily.  Reading has never seemed like a very natural activity. Too many hours of it can lead to grimness and sullenness. That is why I posted recently about my efforts to change my reading (and other habits of the evening) into something more light-hearted. It would help if writers used a multi-media approach, instead of relying purely on the written word. So, let's praise photographs and other images that tell a story, or represent a visualization of the ideas being posted about.

"Life Is a Joke That's Just Begun"

Change is happening in the world, and it ain't all bad. For instance you see more bicycles and solar panels near Quartzsite, AZ. And there is a new bakery in town, with a decent parking lot. Unaccustomed as I am to squandering time and money at such places, I did make an exception today. Here is what I saw:  That's a sleepy three-month-old miniature Australian shepherd in there. Let's hope the owner was not exploiting her as a chick-magnet. I let the little darlin' chew on my finger with those sharp puppy teeth. My goodness, was her fur soft! He says that the dog didn't need a leash to hold her in the basket. And I believe it. It is a good sign that you see eBikes popping up more and more, and hopefully coming down in price. I refuse to feel embarrassed by my increasing tendency to gush over pretty little girls, young women, or puppies. It is a nice trend in old age. To honor the occasion I will pop on my new headphones and listen to Gilbert & Sulliv

Justifying Do-It-Yourself Satisfaction

After finishing a do-it-yourself (DIY) project yesterday, I felt a perverse desire to actually count up the number of tools it took to finish this project. It would be nice to put a number on it, but I have never actually done that. No matter how trivial the project, it seems to require half the tools I own.  I had just spent half a day building a holder for my Kobo eBook reader, in order to read in bed without tiring the arms. They sell tablet holders on Amazon for $20. So I pay myself $5 per hour, apparently. Just look at my mighty creation. It looks like something done by a grade schooler: a furring strip, a few bolts and screws, an eye-hook, hinge, and of course, a bungee cord. But it was all repurposed stuff! Not a single 40 mile round trip to town was needed. It is fun to laugh at the DIY syndrome. There are blogs and vlogs on the internet that have virtually made a moral sickness out of it. I least I won't imply that you are saving yourself a vast fortune, whi

Talkers Who Talk Like a Book

I already confessed my surrender to Verizon. I was being de-prioritized so often on my cheaper pre-pay plan that the internet was becoming useless. So I went over to a more expensive unlimited plan in order to escape this problem. As a result I am watching more videos, sometimes from news sites. I am shocked at how verbose they are! The people who make these videos would be failures in the movie industry. They haven't even learned that videos should convey information visually, rather than through talking. And if you must yak away, don't use written-English. Don't they understand that written-English is not the same as spoken-English? Use short declarative sentences. Avoid commas and parenthetical clauses. Clauses might be OK as a prefix or suffix to the main clause, but they must not be in the middle of the sentence. Some writer, who has read too many books, must be putting written-English on the teleprompter, and then the talking head must

An Opportunity in the Mideast

Let's indulge in a little wishful thinking, shall we? The killing and bombing taking place between Washington, DC and Iran does offer up a great opportunity to the Trump administration. He probably won't cash in on this opportunity, but he could. For the president to look tough during an election year, killing Soleimani is drastically more important than killing bin Laden by the Obama administration. Bin Laden was essentially a lame duck leader when he was killed. Soleimani was at the top of his game. Therefore Trump has secured his bragging rights. He could claim this represents closure or 'mission actually accomplished'.  There is another argument for 'mission accomplished': the USA was supposedly trying to bring self-government to the region. And now the parliament of Iraq has ordered the USA to leave. Shouldn't this be seen as a demonstration of a certain amount of success in bringing democratic self-government to Iraq? Therefore Trump could wit

The World Goes On, Without Almighty Me

It wasn't a rare experience I had the other day, so why write about it? Perhaps it was the element of surprise and the intensity. Believe it or not I was at the gasoline pump -- hardly the place you expect to have a 'religious experience.' I walked up to the 'office' to pre-pay for the gasoline. A young Mexican-American woman looked down at me, smiled, and I told her what I wanted. There was something about her youthful smile that almost made me fall over. (And yes, she was pretty.) I thought, "Well, the world will have to go on without me in a couple years. That's not so bad, I guess. As long as it keeps producing young lovelies like her. Let her have my place." And I got my gasoline and drove off, completely fortified for a new day.

2020 Is Impossible to Predict

I have never played the game of making predictions for the upcoming year, at least, not seriously.  But I suppose the big issue for 2020, other than the impeachment fracas, is whether Trump and the Israeli Lobby will finally succeed at getting a real war with Iran.  That is why I have no faith in predictions. How can you predict whether Americans "rally 'round the President" and he gets reelected, or whether they have become indifferent or even cynical about the latest war-cheerleading?  How many times in a row can the War Party trick the American public? It is not a crazy answer to say, "An unlimited number of times," as long as the television news feeds people a steady diet of the right sort. Another issue that is hard to predict is whether Middle Eastern people decide that a presidential election year is a good time to take American hostages of some kind. It certainly worked well 40 years ago. Usually a tactic doesn't work so well the second ti