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Showing posts from June, 2021

Journalistic Integrity

The finest things can be appreciated best when they are contrasted with the overall context or milieu. Take the news media. I am convinced it is unhealthy to make a daily habit of consuming their trashy product. Even politicians don't lie as much as the news media. In contrast there are people like Glenn Greenwald. His recent article on Biden's bombing strikes in Syria and Iraq was frank and hard-hitting, but not in an overly emotional way. It was full of integrity and professionalism.  When you encounter something like this you feel optimistic about the future. I am glad to have donated to him. The timing of his article was fortunate. After all, it will be time for another Pentagon-worship national holiday soon, with all the lies and cliches that go along with that.  'Protecting our Freedoms..."  Blah, blah, blah.  

Ultimate Lifestyle for Man/Dog/Horse

  What a relief it is to be out of the tourist belt! It rejuvenated my appreciation for being alone and only hearing the sounds of nature, instead of relentless noise pollution. I was visiting a place I hadn't seen in years. It hadn't changed much -- is that not the ultimate compliment? I rode along, hoping for semi-smooth dirt road surfaces. Ponderosas hung onto the edge of the mesa and immediately transitioned to sagebrush and grass, without the usual buffer zone of pinyon/juniper trees. Nobody was here, no cars blasting by with thumpah-thumpah sounds coming out, no Razrs screaming by. The ultimate luxury.  What is this coming up? Why are there horses here? It was a mobile shepherd's hut. I believe there is a small company in Utah that manufactures them. They come with a broom attached to the outside of the hut. Two herding dogs noticed me and became agitated. The red heeler was not friendly but I wasn't too disappointed -- you aren't supposed to treat workin'

Learning to Like Summer

  What is most people's favorite time of summer? It might be a few weeks from now, when so many vegetables and fruits ripen. But I know what finishes second: taking navy showers in mid-summer. In winter I take a navy shower in the late afternoon when it is warmest inside the trailer. But you always feel a little bit chilly. The navy shower is just OK. But in mid-summer a navy shower is sheer pleasure. When you are wet and the spray is turned off, you feel cool and refreshed, but not chilly. It is quite a reward for making it through another hot day. I said this was going to be the summer when I learned to like summer. And the navy shower can be a big part of that effort. Working things like this out is one reason I like living on a more basic level, such as camping. In a normal, middle-class, stick-and-brick house, you would just crank up the air conditioner, and pay a couple hundred dollars per month to cool 15,000 cubic feet of air.

Animal Linguistics

How nice that the last thing that happened at that vile campground was a nice thing, an interesting thing: I got to watch the parrot eat. His mouth and foot were so nimble and dextrous!   The upper and lower beaks cracked the peanut shell and then the tongue went inside and dug out the meaty seed. With equipment like that it is no wonder that parrots became "linguists". But how and why did their brains evolve to take advantage of their physiology? I always run into this sort of quandary when thinking about how animals evolved. The Wikipedia article didn't help much. It was dry and academic. It is a fairly common occurrence when you get interested in a topic and go somewhere on the internet to learn about it, that you end up reading jargon-filled gibberish. There may be YouTubes to watch that are more informative than jargon-filled articles. Until then I will content myself with imagining a primeval parrot saying, "Well, now that I have this remarkable tongue, what el

Animal Visitors

  What was that squeaking sound? Was my side-by-side's brake squeaking? No, it was the large grey bird, perched on a stand at the campsite I had just driven by. It was an African grey parrot -- the first parrot I had ever met, in person. His name was Jake, which sounds more like a ranch dawg.    He wasn't that loquacious. He did perch on my shoulder for awhile. But the human partner said that he didn't like to be petted, and that he could bite pretty hard when annoyed. It would have been fun to be able to imitate a salty ol' sea captain or pirate, with a parrot on his shoulder. The human partner showed me a video of Jake when he was younger and his English vocabulary was up to 100 words. I couldn't believe the human-like intonations in his phrases. I tried to get the man to admit that he dubbed-in the talk, but he wouldn't confess. It is more fun to suspend disbelief and believe the video to be authentic. One of Jake's reputed skills is to wolf-whistle. La

Eliminating Propaganda From Your Smartphone Calendar

Believe it or not, it wasn't the latest national holiday that made me look for an alternative to the Samsung or Google calendar. I think it was the Google calendar that had one day a month denoted as some Wokester fake holiday of one type or another. You know, "National LGQBT#6&;$ Day" or some such thing.  The best thing you can say about Woke holidays is that they are no more propagandist than traditional holidays like the Fourth, Veteran's Day, and Memorial Day.  These are the fake holidays when we are supposed to worship the Pentagon. Before we had Pentagon-worship holidays, there were religious holidays, be they pagan, half-Christian, or medieval. And they were all based on bullshit, superstition, and lies. So in a sense, Woke holidays are completely traditional. I found "Simple Calendar" on the Google Play Store. The "Settings" allow you to simply not show any holidays. Thank you, Simple Calendar. I want a calendar to remind me to pay a b

Visualizing a New Style of Camping

  I tried to come up with useful suggestions for dealing with the new era of camping. Here is one that I forgot to mention earlier: never look at your outside mirror when driving, except when changing lanes. I did once, and nearly had an accident. When you cross the state line, from New Mexico to Colorado, you notice the traffic tripling in just a couple minutes. Nobody in Colorado drives the speed limit. I do, so cars were piling up behind me. Well, why not be a nice guy and pull off onto the wide emergency lane while a couple people pass me, I thought.  About eight cars blasted by me, and they were still coming when the emergency lane started to disappear before an upcoming "bridge." No good deed goes unpunished. They wouldn't let me back into the normal driving lane. It was close. ____________________________________ But that is just one technique. More generally we need to visualize the animal personality of a camper in the new era. Did I guess right, or should I have

Return to Life on Planet Earth

When campgrounds get noisy, the best thing for the host is to hitch up and leave, that is, move someplace a couple miles away. In just six hours or so, the noisemakers will settle down, or in a day or two, leave. (That might not seem fair to the campers who stay but some don't mind noise, and in any case it is their own fault for coming to these public campground ghettoes. What do they expect?)  That is what I did the other night. It turned out to be a blessing in disguise.  The roads in the area were sandy -- duh -- considering the local tourist trap, that was no surprise. But I was surprised by how much green vegetation was around. Not trees or shrubs. "Ground vegetation" you might call it. And it was green. That is a color I have almost forgotten. There were a few cactuses with red blooms, some yellow flowers, and my favorites, the white. When I look out at grazing land, I don't really know which plants the cows can eat. But they were finding something: the cows we

Senses of Summer

Last post I used a movie metaphor from "Enemy at the Gates." This motivated me to rewatch the movie. I was impressed the first time I saw it, but over time I have come to appreciate it more. Those British actors are so good! The whole team was good. But my focus is on the work of the screenwriter. That is a job that doesn't usually come real high in the hierarchy of credits, but to me it is what makes the movie fun.  Perhaps some of us just don't have an appetite for the sheer verbosity of a book. But we can love ideas transformed into moving images. _____________________________________ The other day I met a professional painter who said he was going to paint every single one of the national parks. So there were two things I had no appreciation of. He showed me a couple samples. It would have been great to know something about his medium. I feigned an interest in his paintings but he could probably see right through me. ______________________________________ Being he

Saying Something Good About Tourists

  I have been on the war path lately with tourists. It is too easy. Therefore let's focus on touristic success stories. That last paragraph brings up a movie metaphor: remember the speech by the political officer at the beginning of "Enemy at the Gates?" He said that the 'country needed examples to follow -- what it needed was heroes.' Krushchev walked over to him and asked, 'And what about you. Do you know any heroes?" 'Yes, Comrade,' the political officer said, 'I know one. '  A nd off the movie went, telling the tale of the spectacular Russian sniper from the Urals, Valery Zaitsev. from  . Kruschchev (Bob Hoskins) on left, political office (Joseph Fiennes) on right. Well, I too know a hero, or at least an example to follow. A young couple from western Colorado told me they hit the gate at the national park at 430 am. Admission was free, which surprised them, but that isn't why they did it. They were there to enjoy dawn, th

How to Improve Summer Camping in Coluhraduh

1. Confiscatory taxation of UTVs (side-by-sides), ATVs, etc. At the very least, make this apply to Oklahoma and Texas license plates. 2. Deposits of 25 cents on throw-away beverage and water containers. 3. No electrical amplification of sound (aka, music) at campgrounds NOR IN CARS in the campground. No bongo drums. 4. Lock gate of campground at sunset. At Thursday noon, lock the gate until Sunday noon. 5. Campground speed limit of 5 mph. Mechanisms should enforce this speed limit -- something that does severe damage to the tires would be ideal. 6. Inverter-generator usage should be restricted to an hour at breakfast and an hour at the evening meal. 7. Anti-bark collars on dogs. These seven measures would go a long away towards making Coluhraduh camping less disgusting. They might sound a little draconian, but considering that Scenery Tourism is the first thing that needs to be locked-down during the upcoming Planet-wide Climate Lockdown, these steps are the lesser of two evils. You mi

True Progress, Outdoors

Long-suffering readers know that one of the pinatas (tilde on n) of this blog is the modern deity of Progress. That is not because I'm opposed to progress, but rather, to the Media's misuse of the term. The Media chases freakish novelty obsessively and then calls it progress. But when I spot true progress, my heart skips a beat. Look at this wonderful umbrella/parasol for a picnic table at the campground.   Over at another campsite there is this canopy for dogs?  I was fluttering my eyelashes over these two things. It almost seems as though the Gringo has finally come to understand that the art of living outdoors is living partially outdoors, and making it adjustable. Haven't I been preaching that for years? It is such a thankless job being ahead of one's time.  These two illustrations of true progress show characteristics that it typically has: humble, incremental, concrete, and demonstrable. In contrast, phony progress is tipped off by grandiose language, vagueness,

More Visualization Tricks for Tourist Areas

I forgot to mention a trick that has worked well for me in overcrowded situations. Remember the old days when you went Christmas shopping at brick-and-mortar stores? Many people thought that was a dreadful experience, and so did I. One day I was at a crowded mall and suddenly a "crazy" thought popped up: what if I became numb to the hordes around me by thinking of them as bushes, shrubs, or trees. After all, when you walk through a forest you aren't reduced to a nervous wreck. So what is the difference between shrubs and people? All I had to do was renounce certain traditional thoughts such as humans as sentient beings with free moral agency. Actually, this was quite easy. Once you have become numb and neutral about the hordes around you, you can relax. Don't make eye contact with anybody. Never initiate a conversation. If somebody asks you a question, you can politely smile at them, try to answer their question in three or four words, crack a little joke, and sneak o

Damsels in Distress

We don't have water at this campground. Three young women came by and asked about water. Their options weren't appealing. Being an old blowhard, I started going down a track that seemed wrong, so I quickly shut up.  Recall the old story of a wino panhandler who asked for help from a passerby; it was followed by advice. The panhandler then interrupted the passerby by reminding him that he had asked for help -- not for advice. They would have thought it was politically incorrect to inject some common sense and tell them that three attractive young women are more than capable of getting lots of help on lots of things. My goodness, that would have been such an awful thing to say! But to hell with political culture. Look at it from the point of view of nature. It is an advantage that young attractive women have, from the evolution of our species. Why doesn't that count?  Meanwhile, we were looking off into the sunset. The rain was over and the sun was coming out. Pretty and chee

Visualization During the Coluhraduh Tourist Season

  Why would somebody be in Coluhraduh during the summer tourist season unless they were desperate for the job? It is an obvious question to ask. The answer takes a bit of thinking. Voluntary psychological torture seems worthless but actually it is a wonderful chance to see if you are made of the Right Stuff. But first, let's recall a TV western metaphor I saw once: Cowboy #1 and his buddies were trying to start a fight in a western saloon, so #1 poured beer over the head of a stranger, let's call him #2. They expected the response to be immediate and violent. But #2 barely reacted. #1 asked, "Ain't you even mad?" #2 responded, "No, not really. But don't do it again." That is how to visualize your own central nervous system in Coluhraduh during the tourist season. People impinge on you in a dozen unpleasant ways -- your normal response would be to flare up in anger. But like Cowboy #2, you must visualize your central nervous system as being so inert a

The Windward Side of a Fourteener

  After all these years of practice, I have finally come to appreciate the western (windward) side of major mountain ranges. How embarrassing it is to be such a slow learner. Well, I'm not the only one. Look at many of the population centers of Coluhraduh -- they are on the eastern side of a major mountain range, making them ghastly, dry, fire-prone, and rattlesnake-infested. The perfect altitude is 9000 feet, so I'm dialed in just right. But there is another feature even more important. Clouds, of course. I used to campground-host on the eastern side of the San Juan Mountains, and get perpetual miserable burning sunlight. But on the western side of a fourteener, I have finally found bliss.

Waltzing With Mother Nature

Do you think it is fair to praise Sergio Leone's spaghetti westerns as works of genius? The plots are lame or copied. The dialogue might as well be dropped. The real star of those movies is the musical score of Ennio Morricone. And yet there are some great visuals. Leone understood the climate of the American Southwest and he could express it so brutally and powerfully with the camera. (The movies were shot in southern Spain where the climate is equally horrid.) That is a rare achievement. And yet, I can't think of a scene in his spaghetti westerns when the miracle of rain is portrayed. Maybe a camera isn't the right tool. That is what I thought about on our second day of rain on the mountain. The poor campers! But they seem to make the best of it -- I don't know how , in those tents, and with children and dogs inside. The "pen" isn't any better than the camera for truly expressing rain in the Southwest. That leaves music.   This was a real challenge. Solo

The Answer Was Blowing in the Wind

Only old people remember when beer cans or bottles were the favorite form of litter. Starbucks paper cups came up in the litter-world for awhile, but they never really established hegemony. For the last twenty years or so, disposable water bottles have been the most common litter. A week or two ago I started to notice the appearance of blue cheapie Fauci masks as litter.  Was I reading too much significance into this? I didn't pick them up -- "safety" was my official excuse. But the real reason was that I enjoyed the metaphorical significance. I only leave my mountain once per week, or so. Perhaps that makes gradual changes seem dramatic and exciting. Down in the city, two-thirds of the peasants were in open rebellion of the mask mandate. That is putting it a little melodramatically of course. Just say that they were ignoring it. Even a coward like me got brave. I stuck my chest out, and swaggered into the Walmart without a mask, almost hoping that some little runt would