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Showing posts from March, 2023

Big Tree, Small Dog

 What a place southeastern Arizona is!  Your life really improves when you escape the desert of southwestern Arizona and head east.  You appreciate planet Earth more, because you left it for a few months.

The Automatic Renewal Gimmick on the Internet

The internet world does everything possible to get your credit card number and then rope you into some monthly subscription.  I ran into that problem yesterday.  I wanted to stop my subscription at a Kindle-competitor for one new audiobook per month.  It was difficult to cancel.  My reaction was panic and anger. Fortunately it all worked out.  The customer does not lose access to their library of previously bought audiobooks just because they have cancelled their subscription.   But this is something that must be investigated fully before ever signing up with a new subscription service. What a perverse model the subscription model is, to the customer!  I have had problems with anti-virus software making you pay more if you check the box to block automatic renewal.  The "box" is usually hidden so that you won't find it.   Likewise, I have had problems with Patreon trying the same trick on me.  So I cancelled my support for the writer or vlogger in question. Be clear, I am

The Federal Reserve: Up the Creek Without a Paddle

Can you believe all the fuss made over the Federal Reserve's quarter point increase in the interest rate?  Would competitive canoeists quibble over whether they were paddling at a rate of 4.7 or 5.0 mph, when the current they are paddling against was -- what? -- 10 or 15 mph? I guess it is proof of how large and important the bond market is, since the value of existing bonds is affected by these tiny increases in the nominal interest rate. The Federal Reserve is so gutless.  I won't believe interest rates are too high until you stop seeing young men driving expensive pickup trucks, and until the side-by-side motorsports industry collapses.  Wouldn't it be wonderful to see interest rates squash the RV industry? Inflation today, inflation tomorrow...inflation forever.  Bill Bonner is right: America is becoming Argentina.

Good Communication Coaches Needed for You Tube

I had to push the pause button on a You Tube channel this morning, despite liking the content.   I just couldn't stand the style.   It was supposed to be a roundtable conversation between three people.  But one guy got control over the microphone and just wouldn't shut up.  Why did the moderator not shut him down?   Time after time, on You Tube, you see people who need to hire a communications coach. It doesn't end with podium-hogs. There are too many people speaking heavily accented English.  It requires too much effort and concentration on my part to listen to them.  If I wanted to put out that much work, I would read something, rather than watch a video. You Tubers need to ask themselves whether they are even using the right medium.  Or if they have chosen video as their medium, how they should adjust their style to fit the medium. Another thing that will cause me to turn the video off is people who speak written-English instead of speaking spoken-English.  Lawyers an

Hard to Believe This Is Arizona

On yesterday's ride I was amused, at first, by all the stream crossings.  I've never seen so much water on this road, in all the years of visiting it.  And the streams were making the Little Cute One muddy, just a week after I gave her a shower with lavender/rosemary doggie shampoo! But haven't I praised rain and cursed sunlight in Arizona quite enough, over the years?  'Be careful what you wish for' is the moral of the story, I guess.   Eventually the stream-crossings ended, and the road became a stream.  Enough was enough.  I turned around.  On the first stream-crossing coming back, I went down a steep embankment.  When the front wheel of the bike bottomed out in the stream, it sank into soft muck.  So I flew over the handlebar, and did a faceplant in the embankment on the other side. Nothing was damaged.  I just couldn't believe this was Arizona! from

Drowning in Tawny

'Spring' means rebirth.  But it has another layer of meaning to a traveler, since they can leave the desert wasteland of southwestern Arizona, and migrate to southeastern Arizona.  Goodbye to cholla and rubble.  Hello to soil (!), grasslands, mesquite trees, and: Canyon Live Oak.  The classic tree that appears in Hollywood westerns. The first couple years I went to 4000' elevations in southeastern Arizona in spring, it didn't seem like spring at all.  Everything was brown and dormant.  And harshly so. I am glad I didn't give up on it.  Over the years, it has grown on me.  Appreciation that isn't instant and easy can end up much more satisfying than the tourist stuff. Naturally it would have to have little spikes on the edge, but hey, a green leaf in winter!

Grocery Stores Could Eliminate Four Aisles

Whenever I go to a grocery store these days, I am surprised that entire aisles haven't disappeared.  People are still buying over-priced chips, frozen gourmet foods, imported cheeses in the deli sections, convenient junk foods of all kinds, etc.?     Personally I am stepping towards the diet of a third-world peasant or one of our not-so-distant ancestors: rice and beans, bread, and root vegetables.  (But eggs are still unaffordable.)  Actually this isn't such a bad thing.  I wouldn't want to be in the shoes of consumers who have rigid habits! Now that bank failures are in the news, and memories of 2008 are back, are the "helicopters" starting to warm up at the Federal Reserve?  (For the purpose of dropping money.) All the usual suspects on Wall Street and in Congress want the Federal Reserve to back off of "high" interest rates.  "High" means half to a third of the real inflation rate.  And yet, the American banking system is throwing a tantrum

A New Visual Art

Despite having little interest in purdy scenery, I am interested in the visual arts.  There really are 'pictures that are worth a thousand words' and there are photographs 'that tell a story.'  Cartoons can sometimes be the best of the visual arts. Some people can think out a good cartoon, but they still can't freehand-draw it.  That is what makes photo editing an interesting visual art. The other day there was news from the usual rogues/state actors about the Nordstream pipeline destruction being carried out by a sailboat in the Baltic Sea.  Then I saw this: I saw this on a Telegram channel, and don't know who gets the credit for it.  But I laughed my head off.  Maybe mockery is the best attitude towards the current regime in the West.

Don't Fear Not Being Number 1

Is officialdom in Washington DC afraid of losing their control over planet Earth?  Is it really so terrifying not being the Big Cheese?   Let's say the European Age is 550 years old, starting with sailing out far into the Atlantic Ocean.  Look at all the countries that had their decades or even century of ascendancy, before they threw it away with fiscal mismanagement or excess warmongering. What happened when they stepped down?  Was life really so bad?  And none of them came back to the comfort of having the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the Pacific Ocean on the other.  The USA will get by just fine when it no longer rules planet Earth. Of course officialdom in Washington DC might feel differently.  A lot of good-paying careers in government must be downsized, with a smaller empire.

Selling Out to the Tourist Establishment?

 In the Southwest, an explosive bloom has been expected because of wonderful winter rain. What better way is there to honor the rain than to relent, to put my snobbishness aside, and to play wildflower-tourist?   Since it wasn't quite the weekend, the crowds were actually tolerable.  They haven't quite gone to a reservation-system yet, just for admission.   It is strange how close you have to get in order to see the flowers.  OK I admit it: they are somewhat impressive. What I like about this photo is the way it invokes the feeling of drowning in the flowers.   Right after taking this photo, I got busted for stepping off the official footpath.  I hate state parks.   Actually there was very little variety in the colors there.  What is the big deal about the sheer quantity of one thing?  There is philosophical similarity between the sheer quantity of flowers and the sheer quantity of mass-tourists, all programmed to like the same thing.  I prefer an interesting assortment of co

When to Do-It-Yourself, and When Not To

Does it make sense to get interested in repairing your own car, especially if you aren't in a position to work on it, or because you are a traveler, lack a garage or machine shop, or are old and stiff?   A You Tube channel warned me that repair shops usually talk you into replacing your brake pads before their time, because of concern for the shop's liability, or because they assume customers won't check the pads themselves.  Thus inspired, I removed the wheel and went to work.  Besides, I needed practice removing the wheel in case of a flat tire or to enable closer inspection of things. It was fun to learn that my brakes pads had a lot of material left on them.  By chance I looked up and found this: Dead center in the photo, an electrical cable is resting on top of a bolt head.  "Resting?"  Like hell.  I could see the cable being deformed by the sharp 90 degree angle of the bolt head. On my first van, 15 years ago, I suffered my most expensive and frustrating r

A Different Type of Beauty

The other day, while getting my van fixed, I had what you could call an especially pleasant travel experience.  The Little Cute One and I sat on a bench on the south side of the service building.  The air was chilly, but the sun had plenty of force, especially because it bounced off the brick wall at our backs. To the south, the Huachuca Mountains were snow-capped and crisp-looking.  I enjoyed looking at them.  But even more, I enjoyed the sound of productive human beings in the repair shop.  There is a beauty to productive human beings that should be glorified more. __________________________________ It is so easy to start the day with the same ol' internet routine.  But recently I 'discovered' videos about "car flipping."  It is becoming more popular for people to buy dead or dying cars at low prices, do a weekend or two of work on them, get them working again, pretty them up some, and sell them off at a profit. Work like that must be very satisfying and benefic

It Looks So Cool to Drive Vehicles Across Rivers!

Have you ever seen off-road pickup trucks being driven across a river?  I used to see it a dozen times a day at a campground in a state (I have since coloradicated).  It was quite surprising to see most modern vehicles keep working after crossing the river, despite all the electronics and connectors under the hood. One expensive German car wasn't so lucky: the alternator was at the bottom of the engine compartment.  The vehicle became electrically dead.  They couldn't even shift it into neutral to make it easy for the tow truck driver. Still, is driving all that electrical and electronics through water such a great idea?  It isn't just the short circuits -- what about long term corrosion in electrical connectors and modules?  But it looks cool on the internet. My GM van is rather new.  Splashing through a puddle the other day, the Check Engine Light came on, instantly.  Hmmm?   Even though the van was still covered by the Powertrain Warranty, the warranty does not cover se

Desert Deja Vu

  The other day I asked some other mountain bikers whether they too noticed the saguaro cactus getting stout, and they said "yes".   Good to hear --  I was afraid I was just imagining it.  Saguaros are supposed to 'accordion out' after rains. Why not just measure the circumference of a specific saguaro (or two) with a tape measure?  It looks impossible to wrap a tape around the saguaro with all those spines on the outer diameter. So I was left with the subjective and uncertain experience of sensing the expanding girth of the saguaros as I rode by them on the bike.  It was probably more fun than knowing for sure. That wasn't the only experience of that type.  Ocotillos seemed to be budding out.  But was I getting ahead of Mother Nature on that one? These experiences were similar to something I wrote about years ago: that a favorite outdoor experience was to start a hike or bike ride on a trail that was easy to see, and then watch it slowly evanesce into something