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Showing posts from February, 2023

The Lesser of Two Evils

Hellish wind is the central fact of a Southwestern existence, in spring.  The other night, predictions were for high wind, so I put my camper's stabilizer jacks down.  I'm glad I did. Here is what I found the next morning. The cholla in the lower half of the photo has been ripped out by the roots.  I've never seen that before.  You could think of the photo as a metaphor for "when evil meets evil."

Green Leaves in a Forsaken Wasteland

  Looking through some desert photographs the other day, it seemed strange that I had none of the ocotillos that are leafing out like crazy right now.  Soon, there should be red blooms. Maybe it isn't so surprising.  There is nothing visually spectacular about rather ordinary small green leaves. But it is very satisfying to "see" these leaves, not for mere scenery, but for what they represent.  How can you even discuss this without stepping into clich├ęs such as the 'circle of life?'  But that is what it is.   Nature is cyclical.   If you can't feel a profound satisfaction at watching new leaves after a desert rain, green shoots poking through crusty snow in the North, or a new litter of squirming puppies, then you might as well go home, because you have seen the best that Mother Nature has to offer.   Forgive me if this sounds preachy --  I am actually preaching to myself. This is how harsh ocotillos are, most of the time.

Don't Do Taxes on Presidents' Day

It was bad timing on my part to do taxes so close to the Presidents' Day holiday.  (Can you imagine a more ridiculous holiday?!)   What was it that President Carter called our tax system: "a disgrace to the human race?" There was a temptation to wallow in some sour and unprofitable thoughts about our political system.  But I resisted.   There are more pleasant things to think about: Washington DC's global militaristic empire seems to be falling apart right in front of our eyes.  "DC" might possibly get away with its destruction of the Nordstream gas pipeline, but only because the German Greens are also interested in committing economic suicide. But elsewhere it seems that most events are solidifying Eurasia as a rival power bloc.  How much prestige and influence will "DC" be left with after a humiliating defeat in the Ukraine War?  

Raising the Next Generation

 Don't think too hard about this photograph.  You might turn it into a visual metaphor.  It does sum up what is happening to the local desert in southwestern Arizona.

Inflation for the Long-Term

In the real world, how many people believe that the real inflation rate in the USA is the official 6--8%?  These numbers come from the fox that is in charge of the hen house.  Government salaries, social security payments, and income tax brackets are tied to the official inflation rate.  And of course the government wants to  pay back its 31 trillion dollars of debt with devalued dollars.  Therefore the government has good solid reasons for lying about the real inflation rate. I think most people will agree with the first paragraph, and in fact, consider it too obvious to belabor.  What isn't so obvious is why the government doesn't lie even more?  What's to stop them?  In a sense, this is cheerful news: your government could be totally corrupt and get away with it, but apparently, it is content to be only half-corrupt. Consider how easy it is to lie more completely.  It has become time-honored and respectable for the Federal Reserve to consider an inflation rate that omit

Weather That Is Good for the Soul

  One of the problems with the internet is that when you shoot your mouth off, there is a permanent record of it.  I am always praising cold and wet climates.  Well, be careful what you wish for! I didn't even want to leave my van and run a few steps into stores, today, in town.  The cold rain felt harsh -- I didn't even think that was possible! Later in the day the sun came out, and my solar panels fully charged the batteries.  We went for a cheerful walk.  Surely this reaction has happened before, but I can't really remember it.  Eating a little crow is good for the soul.

Noise and Stink While Drowning in Sunlight

From time to time I see an impressive example of how lively an old idea can become when you stumble onto some unplanned experience.    I was bicycling a mile from where I was camped.  It was dead calm.  The air was still somewhat cool, but the sun was impressively warm.  In fact you could say it was the first day of summer, as horrifying as that thought might be.  Anybody who was out and about must have felt like they were drowning in sunlight.  That was when I passed a camper whose generator could be heard for the last half mile.  It was so large that a noticeable stink laid across my road. As you know, I tend to be sympathetic to newbie campers who are holding back on going solar.  After all, they have been hit by a chain reaction of unplanned expenses after buying their rigs.  Also, they are still deciding on what their camping style is going to be, so they don't want to spent a lot on solar equipment and then not use it. But the camper in question did not appear to be hurting f

Playing Armchair General Again in Ukraine

 Why would somebody without a military background want to play armchair general?  Maybe because they have no military background! Foolish though it be, here it goes: how should the Russians finish off Ukraine?  Everybody expects them to feint at Kiev by coming south from Belarus.  Then they expect the main Russian offensive to be in the south and east, say, on the Zaporozhe front or upriver, nearer the Donbass proper. For that reason I think they should make Kiev the main target.  If they can threaten to topple the regime, Ukraine will have to pull its troops back from the south and eastern front.  Ukraine will not want to blow up the bridges across the Dnieper until it has pulled its troops back towards Kiev.  Perhaps the Russians can get control of those bridges during this transition. But can Russia decapitate or topple the Kiev regime without massive civilian casualties in Kiev, which is a huge city of a few million people? You will tell me that my suggestion is totally amateurish

The Sociable Camper

 Southwestern Arizona.  Right now I am camped where I actually visit other campers on just about every bike ride or walk.  I never do that the rest of the year, so it feels wonderful.  Naturally I wonder why it doesn't occur elsewhere. Before trying to answer that, let's start with an anecdote.  Somebody was walking by my new campsite yesterday and began talking to me.  (I was outdoors, messing around with setup, so I was approachable.)  It turned into a nice conversation about climate in different locales.  It did not get sidetracked into politics.  Perhaps he was willing to talk to me because he was alone and wasn't subservient to a wife.  He didn't seem concerned about our conversation messing up his Strava times. Soon he had me in the palm of his hand.  Then we talked about the heavenly rain and wondered when the green leaves of the ocotillos will burst out.  And when the wildflower season will erupt.  He mentioned that there were apps that tell a person where and w