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Showing posts from August, 2022

Reacting to Different Animals

  Driving to town the other day, a brownish black bear ran across the road, about 50 yards ahead of the van. It was only half-grown. Q.t. π had no reaction to the bear whatsoever, and she must have seen it, because she hangs halfway out the window when we drive at low speeds. Anyway, I was relieved that bears don't fit her 'prey profile.'  It is bad enough that she goes crazy when a chipmunk runs across the road ahead of the bike.  She did that the other day and got her left forepaw under the front wheel.  She screamed, but was not injured.  In fact that might be one of the most beneficial experiences she ever had while biking: hurt -- as in 'ouch' -- but not injured.  The same principle probably applies to us! By the way, it is not necessarily dangerous if you have a dog that chases bears.  My late kelpie, Coffee Girl, once took off after a black bear on the Uncompahgre Plateau in Colorado.  The bear had no cubs, and ran away so fast that Coffee Girl surrendered an

Some Sweet Pleasures of Summer

Since I promised to stop apologizing for writing about the sweet pleasures of camping: Maybe a North American boondocker should come up with a blog/vlog aimed at the European audience, since living in a normal house or 'flat' for them is becoming similar to boondocking. The trouble is: how do you monetize it?  Isn't making money off of Europeans a bit like getting blood out of the proverbial turnip? Too bad.  North American boondockers could certainly give them great advice on taking fewer showers and using less water, too.  On the other hand, my navy-style showers are always taken with hot water, which a good European is supposed to abandon. During a recent late-summer heat wave, I warmed the shower water only a little higher than body temperature.  I couldn't believe how pleasurable that was!  It felt like I was honoring the occasion. Was it reminding me of the pleasure a child gets in the summer from a lawn's water sprinklers, a lake, or swimming pool?  That was

The Trouble With Being Civilized

A European fellow, I, and a couple other people were hanging around a coffee lounge.  He offered this opinion, "Canada is a more civilized country than the USA."  "Perhaps," I said, "but they are nice people anyway. "  The European fellow thought I was being slightly witty, but actually, I was serious. This memory came to mind while thinking about the needless partial-suicide of Europe.  I have never lived in or even visited Europe, so this is just speculation, of course.  It has always seemed to me that Europeans have too much trust in their bureaucratic elites -- their experts.  Europeans just need to be told that there is some new rule, and they instinctively and reflexively follow it. The bureaucratic elites of the modern age are just the replacements of the Catholic clerisy that kept the peasants under their thumbs for over a millennium. Perhaps they think that the bureaucratic elites are well-educated and smart.  They probably are , in a bookish and

Doting Is Such Sweet Pleasure

I spoke to an older gentleman in the laundromat the other day and formed an approximate opinion of him.  Later, it surprised me to see him dandling a small puppy in the back seat of his pickup.  Somehow it just didn't fit the image: It was a 3 month old Havanese. Quite the little charmer: It was his third Havanese.  They are probably fairly rare, thereby requiring you to get them from a breeder.  Too bad.  They seem like a small, shedless, and personable dog. Not to be outdone, my Q.t. π went into 'dashboard dog' mode: Ah well, I am in my dotage now, so why shouldn't I dote over small cute dogs?  

Better Training For Federal Reserve Members

It might be useful to give some warnings to people who pull trailers on forest roads.  I used to think that all that was necessary was to look at Benchmark Atlas, and find roads marked by heavy dashed red lines.  This worked well on the Colorado Plateau or on BLM land in the desert Southwest. But in the inland Northwest, this method isn't working so well. I don't know whether it is because Benchmark's state atlases are inferior in this part of the country, or that the landscapes (non-mesa and thickly forested) are to blame. Whatever the explanation, I had to back my trailer down a road for 0.6 miles the other day.  I have never done more than a hundred yards in the past. The trick was to move at 1-2 miles per hour, get out of the driver's seat frequently, and pull forward occasionally to straighten things out. Even more important was learning how to anticipate corrections at the steering wheel.  Looking in the mirrors of the van I made small corrections to the tiniest

Idaho Finds a Use for Burned Trees

  A couple posts ago I fantasized about cutting all the burned trees on public lands, chopping them down to size, and sending the firewood to Europe this winter.  Be careful what you wish for! As it turned out, they are cutting a burned forest on some Idaho state land nearby.  Fortunately the workers commute to work at 530 in the morning -- it is no fun to share a narrow forest road with them.  Don't blame them -- blame the exterior wheel wells on my trailer. By sheer dumb luck I arrived in the area on the day they weren't working.  It would be just a little bit difficult to drive by this monster: I had a nice chat with the operator.  Most of the trees were too small for lumber, so they would get turned into firewood. (He didn't say anything about sending it to Europe, though!)  Where would the agricultural, forestry, mining, or military world be if the caterpillar tread had not been invented?  These machines make a wheeled vehicle look useless. Following the operator&#

A Photographic Success

Although photography is a pretty big part of camping and travel, have you ever actually had a conversation about photography with another traveler?  I have, but only once.  We were at Shiprock, the picturesque volcanic throat in northwestern New Mexico. He was a landscape photographer. What I really have in mind is a different type of photographer: one who sees photos as visual representations, metaphors, for important issues that might otherwise drown in excess verbiage and messy details. It is easy to see this as a good idea, but it is not so easy to put it into practice.  A habit needs to be formed.  One must break the habit of looking at something mindless and snapping a photo 'jes cuz it looks sorta perdy.' But on the other extreme, one must not get too hung up in thinking or analyzing at the moment of opportunity, lest it disappear.  It is enough for a visual situation to suggest -- to smell like -- a visual metaphor.  You can finish the thinking later. This is exactly w

Time For Going On a Media "Diet"?

How can the world not know whether Ukraine or Russia are shelling the nuclear power plant in Zaporozhye, Ukraine?  What is all the vaunted technology good for: AWACS planes, satellites, drones, radar?  What are the various international organizations good for?  Can't they just put some observers on the ground in Zaporozhye? If I had any sense, I would just bleat out the old cliche that 'in war, the first casualty is the Truth,' and ignore the media completely.  None of us goes out and looks for garbage or poison to eat, so why should we allow the media to put their lies and garbage into our minds?

Natural Selection Isn't So Simple

For somebody who lives outside the rat-race, a big part of their job is becoming interested in various things, on a daily basis.  On a recent bike ride, I almost laughed at a couple wild turkeys that we frightened.  They sounded like broken helicopters trying to take off.  But they were able to get to a branch in a nearby tree. Still, you have to wonder: how does such a big slow heavy bird find enough food in a monoculture of bark and needles?  Can they sit on that tree branch, evading coyotes, for hours or mere minutes?  They can't migrate south in the winter, so how do they survive? Maybe someday I will learn more biology.  But it is so easy to say that.  Every now and then I will attempt to brush up on a subject by running to Wikipedia, and then seldom last more than one paragraph.   That's the trouble with "book larnin'."  The interesting stuff is diluted with an ocean of jargon or dry technicalities.  It never seems to pertain to the observation or question

Making a Boring Forest Interesting

  Something tawny crossed the road about 200 yards ahead of me and my dog, while on our morning walk.  I didn't really get a good look at it, but what struck me was how graceful and fluid the motion was. Uh-oh. Can anything move like that except a cat? In cases like this, it is best not to let one's imagination run away with itself.  But laugh it off all you want, it still stays in your head on the rest of the walk, especially if the forest is thick and dark. Early in the morning, spots of sunlight penetrate the forest better than in the afternoon.  I looked out to these bright spots and imagined a frighteningly clear image of a mountain lion growling at me. Therefore I benefitted from this unconfirmed sighting of a mountain lion.  There is nothing interesting about thick spruce/fir forests, visually.  But a little imagination made it interesting. I should feel good about that, and yet, am reluctant to write about such things or to wallow in them, even when they please. Dogs d

The Perfect Peach π

I really wanted to drive to town today for the Saturday Farmer's Market.  Two years ago I went to the market despite having low expectations regarding food.  Food isn't the first thing a person thinks about when they think 'Idaho.' One of the booths had peaches for sale.  When I bit into the peach I almost fell over -- it was the perfect peach.  They grew it halfway down into the Salmon River trench.  The river is practically at sea level down there, that is, 1000 feet of altitude.  The deep canyon topography is quite impressive around here. I wanted that to happen again, today.  But I have gotten more disciplined about driving to town just for one errand.  So I didn't go.    That damn Putin.  He ruined my peach-life. Instead, Q.t. π and I went on the perfect bicycle ride in this area.  It was actually a loop ride, which is rare for me.  The terrain was interesting and the road knew how to take advantage of it -- and that is precious!  It brought us so close to the

How Can China Retaliate?

Well, the Chinese leadership showed that it was sane and adult by not reacting immediately to the provocation of Pelosi visiting Taiwan.  Does that mean that nothing has changed?  Or does it mean that the Chinese are wise enough to choose the right way to retaliate and the right time?  Why should they let their enemy set the agenda and goad them into a possible trap? Time is on the side of  the Chinese, because they will become stronger every year, as the USA sinks.   What do you think their best kind of retaliation is?  They have already cancelled a big lithium battery factory that they were planning on building in the USA.  Lithium batteries might be the best pinch point for them to hurt the political (or regulator) class in the USA, because that class is almost wholly invested in the electric car. If China sabotages the development of the electric car, it will increase its cost at the very least, and create a game of chicken between Green regulators and their timetable and diktats

Let's Send Europe Firewood!

A camper might have a funny reaction to the news coming out of Europe these days.  The commissars are telling people to take fewer or shorter showers.  My reaction: what is so bad about that?  Similarly with other diktats, such as lowering their thermostats next winter. But it does make you wonder whether people in Europe will completely lose interest in camping.  After all, their normal living in a 'flat' or house will already be too much like camping. I expect to be indifferent to the discomfort that Europeans suffer this winter.  People get the government they deserve. Greens are clever politicians.   If they imposed their Great Reset on the peasants of Europe as the Green agenda, there could be a severe pushback that might injure the Green religion. By disguising the Great Reset as wartime austerity necessary in pursuing a Noble Cause, an escape valve is created.  When the pushback starts getting severe, European leaders will be able to back off on the sanctions and the U