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Showing posts from July, 2020

Rule-Based Robots

I have been surprised (and disappointed) by how subservient many people are to the lockdown, face diapers, etc. But the political angle of this has been talked about enough. There is a different perspective that might go a ways to explaining craven obedience. Think back a few decades to when the digital clock became standard on most nightstands. I always disliked them, and wondered why people put up with them. Circa 1970. Then TVs acquired remote controls, with dozens of tiny buttons. Soon VCRs jumped on the bandwagon, and of course had their own remote control, so now you could wrestle with two of the damn things at the same time. On and on it went: a PC (computer) on every office desk, and more and more people did office wussie work for a living, as America became post-industrial and bureaucratic. Then you started doing your taxes on software such as TurboTax. In fact you did everything on the computer. It became strange to ever touch pen and paper. But the reductio ad

Blending a Travel Experience with Something Else

There have been times recently when I just stand there, outside my camper, and can't believe it: I am not in pain. I am not suffering the relentless onslaught of hot sun, high winds, blowing dust, thorns and stickers, rattlesnakes, and rodents. My skin is healing. So are my fingernails. Even my eyeballs are recovering. So soothing and green. What would be the perfect music for moments like this? The genre of Celtic/New Age would be a good place to hunt. No doubt, a couple of my (male) commenters will accuse me of going soft in the head if I suggest some of Enya's songs. On a classic TV western episode, the cowboys were gittin' tired at night and ready to turn in. A new kid had showed up recently and joined their crew. The cowboys thought it was hilarious that he had a fiddle. He played Brahm's Lullaby for them. Surprisingly, they settled right into it. That was really "valued added" for the screenwriter to combine two ideas like that. But what about

Almost in Tears...

I am almost in tears. Have I ever asked anything from the reader, before? I am going to ask for something now. No, I don't want you to click on something that will redound to my bank account. Nor do I want you to go to my Patreon page. (I ain't got one.) All I ask for is advice on a decent weather website or app. Is that a humble request or what? Actually it would be vital information. So far "Pocket Rain Gauge" is the best app I know of. It gives one -- and only one --piece of information: the MEASURED RAINFALL ACCUMULATION at my present location over the last 24 hours. It updates the number every hour. Perfect! Except for one thing: it only gives the accumulation at my present location. If I want to know about someplace else -- and a traveler IS interested in several other places -- it just won't cooperate.   The big name weather websites probably give the rainfall accumulation in some obscure place, gotten to by stepping down through the menu to leve

Recovering from Photo-phobia

"You came all the way up here, just for shade? the flagger asked. I had stopped for the road paving. She struck up a conversation probably just to kill time. I tried to explain the facts of life to her, but how could I? She was standing there, on a road, in bright sunlight, and didn't even have a hat on. Why waste my breath? From The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly The Idaho forests are darker than the inside of my trailer. A friend calls it "my little cave."  I am really enjoying the opaqueness of these overgrown fuel-bomb forests. It has been a pleasant surprise. It is actually possible to go out mountain biking late in the morning, say, 08:30, and luxuriate in the cool shade, right out on the road! It would be even better if there were a breeze, but wind can't move through an opaque forest. Go to the thesaurus and look up all the words that describe my relief, which is the mirror image of what northern snowbirds feel when they show up along the lower

Do Grizzlies Like Rap Music?

From Franklin's Autobiography: that were it offered to my choice, I should have no objection to a repetition of the same life from its beginning, only asking the advantages authors have in a second edition to correct some faults of the first. So I might, besides correcting the faults, change some sinister accidents and events of it for others more favourable. In going north this summer I have a chance to correct a mistake made my first year RVing: I got suckered into "ursaphobia."  Back then, I read books on bear attacks. This year I have watched GoPro videos of bears attacking mountain bikers. Enough! This must stop. This is strange because I handle other kinds of risk in a rational way: automobiles (when driving or bicycling), rattlesnakes, Covid, medical emergencies (when camping alone), and automobile breakdowns when I had an older van. By "rational" I mean acknowledging the unavoidability of risk in any life worth living, while minimizing unnecessa

Loose on the Palouse

People really should stop asking "Where are you going?" and other questions of that type. I didn't decide where I was going until I was pulling out of the driveway of the relative I was visiting in Spokane. Besides the channeled scablands from the ice dam break on the Clark Fork river, the unique feature of Washington is the windblown dirt hills of eastern Washington, the Palouse, one of North America's most productive growers of wheat. from, taken by Chip Phillips. There was still a lot of green wheat fields, but of course it was transitioning to yellow. I forgive it -- it is mid-July, after all. I even managed to see the small sign where my favorite cycling road intersects the main highway. Nostalgia can be so sweet!  And speaking of nostalgia, I can no longer remember why the Little Valiant One decided to snooze on the dirt in the Palouse, after a mountain bike ride: from the vault... my first dog in harmony with nature,

Two-Culture Gap in a Bozeman Parking Lot

Google Maps guided me in to Sportsman's Warehouse in Bozeman, MT. I was surprised to be met outside the store by a virus-mullah insisting that I wear a virus-burka before entering the store. They were polite about it, and offered me a free mask. Actually it was funny. Years ago I was job-interviewing in the Northeast. At a restaurant that night, the snooty waiter said, "We have a tie and jacket available for you." I was confused and offended. I had never been to a place that required a uniform to eat. Anyway, I went into the store, only to find out that it was an REI instead of the Sportsman's Warehouse I was looking for. It turns out that they were right next to each other. But of course, they had opposite policies regarding the virus-burka.  Maybe REI's version is made of Polartec and costs $115. The REI had warning sign after warning sign inside the store, micro-managing every aspect of standing, walking, scratching your ass, etc.  But they seemed

Still Fluttering the Eyelashes, After All These Years

When I first started seeing the color green, it was like a long disease was finally ending. But it was better than mere green; it was rolling hills of green grass, with the mountains of Yellowstone in the background. I even found a place to camp alone. It would have been a great place for a mountain bike ride except for the sign warning about grizzly bears. And I forgot to buy a can of bear spray! But I was delighted that the right kind of scenery can still have this effect on me, after all these years. There is nothing special about my central nervous system or brain. So why has this success happened? The likely explanation is that I have never allowed travel to collapse into a one-dimensional worship of pretty scenery. I have let it rest, from time to time. And then the appetite comes back.  For instance, green grass represents something of fundamental importance: humans and other animals actually need nature to live, to eat, and for shelter . We can't get necessities fro

Out of Gas at South Pass

I am traveling north, and trying to use a different route than in the old days. What a relief it was to finally get out of Colorado, with its high speed drivers and tourist hordes! But I didn't let them bully me. Wyoming: so much of it is rather ugly and barren. And the wind blows worse than in New Mexico! There are historical markers around the North Platte River that got me thinking about South Pass, WY, where the old Emigrant (wagon) Trails crossed the continental divide, just south of the Wind River mountain range in Wyoming.  from It's funny how many classic television westerns I have watched as sleeping pills, at night. But have they ever mentioned South Pass and the Sweetwater River? Just think of all those miles across the Great Plains, with a continuous track of water right to the continental divide at South Pass! What a piece of geographical luck! I camped at South Pass. The gasoline gauge was getting low. There I was, experiencing a ti

Sharing a Campfire with Jack London

It doesn't seem like such a great thing to get out of bed at 3:30, but oddly, it was . I had been listening/sleeping to an audiobook of Jack London's "White Fang," narrated with great skill by Seth Thompson. His voice and London's story had lulled me into a state of unusual satisfaction. It was like sharing a campfire with friends, when the inane chatter of the early evening has worn down to the subdued voices of a later fire; quiet, dignified voices that imitate the steady breathing of a bed of orange coals. Here was a satisfaction that could never come from the written word.  Maybe it was anticipation of my upcoming trip that made me get up at 3:30. There is only one more day of waiting! It has always been like this, before a trip. Usually this mood hits at the end of summer, while anticipating a new autumn. But this time, I anticipated going north for the first time in years, thanks to a new tow vehicle. It won't exactly be a new experience to me. But

Celebrating Your 'Freedoms' this Fourth?

My neighbor in the campground had something that interested me: she had an Elizabethan collar around her dog's head. The dog had had some surgery done around its eye recently, and the collar kept the dog from pawing at the eye. The woman said the dog was not fighting the collar. It was working quite well. Perhaps there is a lesson here for governors and the CDC. It is easy to visualize Americans submitting to this: Oh, there might be a few Deplorables in rural areas who object to the collar -- for awhile, anyway. But they will have to submit eventually.  It takes no effort to predict the cultural stereotype that will submit quickest and most easily to the collar. In the mean time, I hope the reader is enjoying watching fireworks on their yoob toob or Boob Toob tonight, and takes some time out to thank The Troops for protecting our Freedoms.  _________________________________________  Rather than call it an "Elizabethan collar," I like to think of the "

The Tangled Mess of Written and Spoken Words

Recently I was gushing with enthusiasm over the world of podcasts and audiobooks. This was a new discovery to me -- everybody else discovered them in 2005. But you would think that, by this time in life, I would stay guarded in my expectations about any new thing or person. Perhaps I was overenthusiastic over podcasts and audiobooks. Discovering "History of the English Language" podcast (Kevin Stroud) might have been beginner's luck. Since then I have struck out several times when looking for other "sound media" products. It is easy to get trapped between the world of written language and the world of spoken language. The gap is pretty big.  I tried the "History of Spain" podcast, but the guy had such a thick accent that it took too much concentration for night-time listening. His content is excellent; so why didn't they have him write the sound-script for someone else to vocalize? Sometimes I just can't stand the narrator's voice