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Showing posts from February, 2021

Surrendering to the Internet Subscription Model?

To anyone else, it would be comical to see the efforts I will go to, to avoid paying for any kind of subscription on the internet. But it isn't funny to me. My face is red with fury whenever I go to a new website and they try to force me into setting up an account, providing my email address, come up with one more damn password, and get lured in a certain direction. I probably went to the website because it seemed to offer something interesting, for free. But then it starts: could you please turn off your adblocker?; if you upgrade to the Silver Plan, you will get an ad-free environment; or maybe I should install their app, which will take adblocking away from me. Consider music on the internet: an old school, first generation internetter wants to buy music -- rather then paying rent on it for the rest of your life.  There is something visceral in that issue to people of a certain age. When we were young we heard our relatives talk about some poor sap who paid rent all those year

Unplugging From the World We Live In

  People usually don't take their own New Year's Resolutions all that seriously. In fact, failing at them is almost expected, or even joked about. Thus I am pleased to be doing rather well at reducing the amount of time squandered on the internet. It seems doomed to failure to focus on 'Thou Shalt Not.' That just fires up your own rebellion. It must be preferable to focus on what you will be doing with all the time previously squandered on the internet. That will be different for everybody so there is no point in wallowing in my own details. Suffice it to say that I feel mentally healthier and proud of the respect shown my own mind and life, by de-emphasizing the internet. It is strange how many health fads and food phobias there are in the world. Sharing a meal with another human being has become something to be avoided, and this was true long before the virus. And yet, where is the concern for what we are doing to our minds with all those hours on social media, news s

Struggling With Tawniness

Despite being away from a northern or eastern climate for many years, I still expect some goodies in spring. I should know better by now. This part of the Southwest is nothing but tawny, dead grass in the spring. And flowerless. So what is supposed to delight you on an outing in such an environment? I was struggling with this question on the morning ride. The route was a good one. The weather was excellent. So who wants to entertain disappointments on a day like this? But when your dog slows down with age, a mountain biker can no longer get a buzz just from the exercise. On the way back, two ravens disported with the wind along a grassy ridgeline. Ahh, that is what I was looking for. Although my dog can no longer hear well, thereby killing her obsession with ravens, I remain infatuated with 'ridge lift.' And there is something expansive and liberating when a camper finally leaves the hideous rubble and thorn pit of the lower Colorado River.  Thus the only 'flowers' pos

Two Different Ways of Making a Living

  For once I did my TurboTax without steam coming out my ears. They finally provided sidebars that explained things as you moved through the software. So they are getting better. Of course they took the opportunity to try to upsell their products to the sucker (me), using fear and anxiety in subtle ways.  Amazingly they wanted another $40 to do my state taxes. (My state prefers we use a free program to do our state taxes.) Most state's taxes just work from a certain line in your federal taxes, such as the adjusted gross income, and add one or two things, usually optional. Done. Simple. And TurboTax wants $40 for that! How stupid we must be to pay for tax software, when the IRS has essentially already written the software that calculates what you owe, and what you would be penalized for. Of course, somebody would have to make a simpler and more taxpayer-friendly version of the IRS software. But, really, the IRS should just do our taxes for free. Some people are in such a good busi

Alpine Flowers for a Beautiful Girl

Valentine's Day, almost. My sweet old valentine is doing quite well, for a 14-year-old. I was interested in doing something special for her this year. Granted, she would probably prefer something edible to flowers. But the 'medium is the message.' Not so many years ago, when she was still in her prime, she posed in an alpine meadow near El Rito, NM. Shame on me for saying "when she was in her prime." She is still prime. She still loves her arroyo-walks and her mountain bike rides. But now let's switch media, and go to sound. Recently I was going a little crazy listening to songs from the movie, "Barry Lyndon." I was saving the "Love Theme", which is actually "Women of Ireland" by the Chieftains. It seemed like a good match on Valentine's Day for my beautiful girl.

Practical Benefit of Language Podcasts

Over the last year I have spent quite a bit of time listening to language podcasts and reading about the early history of Indo-European languages. Has it done me any practical good? Quite often I get the seditious thought that reading/listening/viewing media is a waste of time, and that thought was popping up again when I needed to improve passwords for my new computer. When you set up passwords, they can be be long and impossible to remember when the computer itself generates them. That is fine when they are stored in a password manager. But you still need to remember a couple passwords to gain access. You would think that all this amateur linguistics I've been playing with would actually help me choose and remember passwords better. For instance, they want you to use both upper and lower case letters. You can't remember randomness, so something better is needed. How about using upper case letters for the stressed sounds in words? Each person stresses words slightly different

Bedraggled Wildlife Near the Border

It is popular with wildlife in this area to roam around in town, where I saw the biggest javelina I've ever seen. Apparently he has gotten quite good at foraging in town -- in fact, there might be a lot more to eat in town than in the desert. A couple times I have seen a half-grown coyote wandering the streets in town. He was so thin and bedraggled.  It doesn't look like he is having a successful career at panhandling in town. Perhaps town people know the threat he offers to their pets. What seemed odd was that I had to fight feeling sympathy for him. It seems as though the canids of the world have made a slave of me. And yet I haven't forgotten how my first dog, a miniature poodle, was attacked in the city limits of a town... From the archive: my little dog after I luckily fished him out of an arroyo, after he was attacked by a coyote. It seems ironic that this is happening near the Mexican border, where progressives make a humanitarian cause of helping illegal immigrant

Bernard Herrmann and Soft Desert Rain

Long-suffering readers have heard me yearn  (pine, moon&swoon, lust) for water and life and soil, for green plants and flowers, and for happy little creatures that gambol and frolic across the alpine meadow. After years of unfulfilled longing, I am finally getting what I wanted: a secondary rainy season in the desert Southwest. And I am wallowing in it. Let's put some color on that word 'wallowing.' It means doing more walking through arroyos. Slow walking, not gym workout crap. I sauntered and stopped at every occasion. Just stand there and visualize the air as an unguent, an analgesic. Allow yourself to heal. Long ago people might have celebrated rain in a rowdier fashion. Who knows what they did? Flop around naked in the mud, have orgies, perform animal or human sacrifices? It was justified. They had more at stake than us. I will put off some of the mountain biking until the air is warmer.                   (from maxresdefault) Thus I am giving it my best

Trying to Blog on a Smartphone

It's not so bad having computer problems. It is helping me reduce the time I waste on the internet, since working with smartphones is so unappealing to me. It isn't just my mental health that is improving.  Cool, mercifully moist, desert air is a rare treat. Human skin starts to become human again, instead of rhinoceros hide. We'll see if things get easier on the Blogger app rather than on the internet-browser version. Normally I avoid apps because the whole purpose of them is to be able to bury you under advertisements. Ideally the app user would shut up entirely and just click on some box to buy something. After all, the smartphone screen is just big enough for that.