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Showing posts from December, 2020

Back to a Sub-Yuman Existence

  In case there was any doubt that 'absence makes the heart grow fonder,' it was removed yesterday as I drove around the Yuma area. The green irrigated fields look gorgeous, especially in the context of the barren backdrop. As I drove through town I wondered why traffic was so light? Was it the absence of Canadians? -- no, that couldn't change the traffic by more than 20%. Normally traffic is one of things that makes Yuma my least favorite place in the Southwest. Is Yuma finally coming up in the world? That is, is it now my second-least-favorite place, with St. George UT being the least favorite?  Perhaps I was feeling semi-euphoric just because it wasn't hot for a change. A bicycle shop had relocated downtown Yuma. There was a little bit of life downtown. It used to be dead. It always seemed like downtown Yuma was under-utilized and under-appreciated. Perhaps I am a Kunstler type guy after all, and become sentimental when a downtown has some life, pedestrians, and bic

The World Gets Smaller

Looking back on 2020, it seems to have been a (soft) war year. That makes it special for Americans who haven't really experienced a true war-time situation. (Perhaps 1968 was as close as we got during my lifetime.) I keep trying to latch onto the most fundamental characteristic of the war-time experience, even though it is a better idea to explain anything by looking for a conjunction of multiple causes, instead of obsessing over one, all-important cause. It is tempting to claim 'evil-ization' as the true defining characteristic of war. Thomas Fleming did a good job of explaining evil-izaton before the American War Between the States in his "A Disease in the Public Mind." But now I am ready to declare something else as the defining characteristic of war, soft-war, coup detats, or kultur-kampfs. Recall the old saying that 'Truth is the first casualty in War.' During 2020, censorship became a part of the MSM, google, corporate advertising, and the rest of th

Desert Pavement is Under-rated

  After bad-mouthing rubble of the desert, it might seem ironic to praise a gravel surface, but the gravel surface in question is called desert pavement. It behaves just the opposite of loose gravel rubble. Desert pavement is a gravel surface that is hard and non-loose. Heavy vehicles don't even make ruts in it, which is probably why the BLM encourages campers to congregate where there is desert pavement. In fact it is fairly rare. Wikipedia has an article on it, with several theories about how desert pavement is formed. The only theory that made sense to me is the one about wind and water carrying away the dust and sand, which leaves the gravel to settle and pack into itself. Desert pavement is not perfect for a camper, but it is better than anything else. When rainy, a camper won't get stuck on desert pavement. Nor will their vehicle leave unsightly ruts. The gravel is not sharp enough to cause flat tires in bicycles and sore paws for a dog. I would like to see desert paveme

Revenge of the Rubble

I certainly have been generous this year with derogatory words for the deserts of the Southwest: barren, oppressive sunlight, aridity, stickers, fangs, rubble, etc. In fact 'rubble' is my favorite insult. Did I not give Mother Nature credit for having feelings? There are consequences to insensitive behavior like this, I learned. The other day, I heard a 'whooshing' sound from the rear tire on the mountain bike that sounded almost explosive.  The big tire, 29" X 3", went flat in a second.  The culprit was easy to find because it was slobbered over with creme-colored Stan's No-Flat fluid.  I have a special tool that is meant to patch tears in a tire larger than 1/4", but the tear was big enough to stick a pinkie finger through. So a $95 tire went into the dumpster. The good news is that that is the first time for me anything has ripped a slice in a mountain bike tire. I only had to push the bike home for 1 mile. 

Raising a Dog in the North?

There are times when it isn't fun to be a dog owner. Last evening was one of those times. The desert wind had kicked up, and I have lost all patience with the wind. So I was a grouch during the walk. But wait...what would it be like in the North to take a dog for a walk in winter? How could the dog-partner possibly enjoy a walk through gloom & grey, freezing rain, and slop & slush? It is difficult to imagine the ordeal, if you have never experienced it. Does the dog-partner just open the back door; the dog quickly runs out into the backyard and does its doggie business; and then scampers back inside the house? What kind of 'walk' do you call that? What happened to "animal rights!?" Here I was, grousing about the wind and the rubble, but the temperature was mild, and sunset against the mountains was gorgeous. And rubble is still better than mud. Obviously, there is seldom any precipitation here. At the very least my dog gets an off-leash frolic twice a day

Gems in a Ghastly Landscape

There are some goodies along the lower Colorado River. In order to appreciate them to the fullest, it helps to contrast them with their context, and be candid about how hideous the land is. It is no exaggeration to call it a disgrace to planet Earth: there is hardly any organic material in the 'ground.' You can't even call it 'soil.' It is nothing but rubble and thorns. With that grim reality in the background, it is easy to get a real kick out of an unexpected, non-thorny plant like this: With some effort you can get some enjoyment out of the macro-rubble:  Remember that silly internet meme from last week, about the metal monolith? Not to be outdone, we too have our obelisk, seen here from the side: The other day a couple owls haunted the mountain at dusk. I wish I could hear and see them more often. Wildlife is not plentiful where the land is vegetation-free. It makes you appreciate how hard these critters work for a living. Locally the grass is rather plentiful,

Speech Therapy Needed for the Brits

Since I strive to keep this blog "fair and balanced," the last post should be followed by some praise of nomad videos. That is easy. I am in love with "Tinie Planet" on You Tube. How can a guy resist her?: European scenery (instead of the hackneyed Arizona stuff), excellent drone photography, and she never stays in boring campgrounds. If that isn't enough, she has gorgeous eyes, effulgent young-womanish hair, and a pleasantly feminine manner. What a darlin' ! ...except for one thing: I have a hard time understanding her, even though she is supposedly speaking "English." Relatively late in life I have acquired an interest in spoken languages. Written languages don't intrigue me, since dictionaries and pedagogues freeze spelling at certain points in time, whereas the spoken language keeps evolving. Understanding "English" is also a problem in podcasts and audiobooks. I can barely understand Australian, and English "English" i

Why Are Nomad Videos Popular?

It seems odd that videos by "nomads" are so plentiful and popular on places like yoob toob, (aka, You Tube.) It is easy to explain why they are produced: for advertising income. But why would anyone want to watch this drivel? The videos are amateurish -- the makers don't even understand the medium of video. They shouldn't just sit in their car, and give the viewer a talking head to look at. Or they talk about their rig -- which is only interesting to the 0.1% of the audience that has the same rig, accessory, or problem. Or they show themselves heating water or talking about whether their breakfast will be porridge or corn flakes. Many viewers are armchair travelers who like romantic escapism about pretty scenery. Many nomad vloggers have drones that show the van sauntering down a curvy road, with mountains and lakes in the background. That is quite engaging to the viewer because it helps them think, "Ahh, I too could be doing that." That's fine, but they

Vikings of the Desert

  It is refreshing to take a vacation from yourself, every now and then. This is being manifested right now by camping within sight of Lake Mead. Avoiding camping near water became a habit for me the first year, as an RVer. Bugs, crowds, noise, fees, restrictions, etc. And besides, I didn't have an activity that involved water. I have no desire to relive my sea kayaker/Viking days. Being near water is helping to revive an interest in taking photographs. Is it wise to try to will yourself into a new or old interest? The short answer is No. But is seems to be working a little bit right now. This is a big issue for a retiree or anybody who doesn't live the standard lifestyle of 'the hamster wheel' in a big city. I don't feel like taking it up right now, but am interested in comments on this topic.

Empathy During Civil Strife

  The other day I got email from a friend who is a different kind of traveler, compared to me. They are airplane-oriented, so their lifestyle has really been shut down compared to an RV traveler (like me) in the USA. Just think how unevenly and unfairly hardship is distributed right now during the virus stuff! And when you get lucky, it is so easy to ignore people who are unlucky -- even if you know them well. Sigh. Since I sometimes wonder if I have wasted too much time in my life reading useless books (or other media), this might be an interesting case. What is the best book that helps you experience what it is like to be a lucky one, when others are unlucky? The limiting case might be, say, Missouri or Kentucky during the War Between the States. Or what about Germany during the 30 Years War? There must be something written about a society 'circling the drain,' and misfortunes landing on individuals unfairly and unevenly. from

The End of the Public Library

I went into the library the other day to look for a couple DVDs to watch. It was strange to walk in there. There were only two cars in the parking lot -- the librarians. There were no patrons, customers. Normally I struggle to find a DVD worth watching, despite them having hundreds to choose from. But this time I gave up after 5 minutes. As I walked out of the library I realized something quite important: that I was unlikely to ever walk into a public library again. This was a sad thought. Why so? After all, when was the last time I walked into a brick-and-mortar travel agency, video store, gym, bookstore, aquatic center, bank, bowling alley, or movie theater? But there are no nostalgic connections to this last list of places. With public libraries there are memories.  Helping my (librarian) mother at a small town library, and being so pleased with making a perfect impress of the due date on the label of the book. Being pleased with an unusually good library -- or even a Carnegie libra