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Showing posts from December, 2023

Learning About REAL Nomads

It has become a cliché about geopolitical 'tectonic plates' shifting in today's world.  It is true, though.  Still, it is possible to burn out on following these 'tectonic plates,' such as Ukraine, Gaza, and BRICS+. One good thing that comes from thinking about the shift of power to Eurasia is that you start to learn about the geography of central Asia and the lifestyles of traditional nomads or steppe people.  We need to remind ourselves that most of the languages of Europe came from the steppe people of 2000 BC.  Fortunately some interesting media about Central Asia exists.  If helps to do a search of books with the phrase 'Silk Road.'  Here is an interesting You Tube channel: When you see the word, nomad, in modern America, it is usually about somebody who lives in a van, and solves every problem by buying another lithium battery or electronic module.  Their main message is BUY, BUY, BUY. That is why it is so refreshing to learn about real nomads, their

Wallowing in the Rainy Glory of the Desert

Like most single people I don't pay much attention to holidays.  But this year I want to make a project of organizing my photographs on the computer.  Maybe this seems like an obvious idea.  But look at this photograph.  It explains why I have trouble getting motivated with photography: If you zoom in, you can see the crazed look on her face, as dogs usually have when they are running fast off-leash.  And I was as enthusiastic as she was. She doesn't come back well, especially with her strong prey drive, so she usually has to stay on-leash.  But arroyos tend to confine the dog, even if they don't have high, vertical walls.  The photograph doesn't really show it, but the arroyo-gravel is rounded, making for happy dog paws.  So she voluntarily stayed in her joy-trough.  This was the day of our big rain in west-central Arizona.   Everything was enjoyable: clouds, humidity, a fresh smell, the lack of motorsport-yahoos, and cool air.  Another rain like this one, and spring

The Fear Racket

My password-manager company has hit me with ads for a premium service.  For an eternal subscription they will protect me from new threats.  These threats are less concrete and less understood by me than a grandmother's stories of the Bogeyman are, by a small child. Why haven't I read a history book about the Bogeyman, something with Toynbee-like scope and imagination?  Actually Wikipedia has a pretty good article about the Bogeyman.  But it completely ignores the implications for religions and political systems. Recall the quote from Mencken, " The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary." Today some people are fretting over the Orange Bad Man coming back to the White House.  Fears over Global Warming are probably the best reincarnation of the Bogeyman.  It makes perfect sense for governmental elites to try to scare citizens with

Success and Failure at Ignoring Annoyances

What happened to my tough talk about camping in cooler locations this winter?  I was supposed to avoid the hackneyed, overused locations in Arizona.   One excuse was the higher propane prices.  But the real reason is that I love cool, insect-free weather, from 35F to 65F.  And as for the nuisance of camping neighbors, well, maybe I can do a better job of avoiding them.  Here it is, almost Christmas, and I have avoided the generator-ghettos of the Southwest.  Yesterday I found myself in a music ghetto.  But actually it could have been much worse.  Still, I moved.  My new location lacks neighbors. A perfect human being would set their expectations so low that the most moronic neighbors would seem "OK."  But I have reluctantly put off moral perfection to my 'next life.'  Besides, I did have some control over the situation:  I could move. Seriously, I am not pleased with letting some petty annoyances bother me.  And then I show remarkable patience and forbearance with ot

Getting Sucked-In to a Canyon's Music

  What is the fastest way to the canyon floor?  The rocks are so sharp on top that the poor little dog needs to get to the round gravel quickly!  How could a place be so un-earthly and so hostile to life? There was a narrow and eroded ridge close to my campsite that got us down to the canyon floor quickly.  One step off the centerline of the ridge and we would have fallen to a serious injury.  And normally the cellphone signal disappears in the bottom. Worse yet, there were eroded cavities a foot or two off the ridgeline.  It was impossible to tell how collapsible they were.  It was horrifying to think of these holes as a sentient Malevolence that swallowed and destroyed my little dog.  Ahh but she was so happy on the canyon floor when I unsnapped her.  Free to blast around!  And yet confined by the near verticality of the canyon walls.  There were no coyotes or biological life of any kind to hurt her. We walked "downstream."  There is always something metaphorical and satisf

The Charm of a Micro-climate

The freakish calmness of the Southwest has ended, and "horizontal gravity" has returned.  (That means the wind.)    I am not complaining.  The calmness was great while it lasted. The wind was from the north.  It actually took effort on my part to face my trailer door to the south -- it is so against the habit formed in summer.  But it was wonderful to have that little island of warmth and calmness just outside the trailer door.  Despite the chill I kept the door open to allow the sun to warm up the solar screen.  The wind sped up my backcountry "babushka" (laundry) duties! How many ways can I say 'wonderful?'  It is almost funny how this little trick of facing the door towards the sun and away from the wind seems to escape me.  It would be beneficial to think of other examples of playing the same game. Going through my photos of "weather and sky", it is remarkable how few photographs there are of the wind.  It is difficult to photograph wind, odor

A Camper Turns Pagan at the Solstice

It's not for nothing that the word 'pagan' meant rustic or country-living person in Latin.  Over the years, the idea has insinuated itself into my mind that a camper (gardener, backwoods home dweller, etc.) is more pagan than a normal person who lives in a sticks-and-bricks house.  The sticks-and-bricks liver is so insulated from the forces of nature that nature is relegated to nothing more than pretty scenery or sentimentalism about cyootsie-wootsie animals. The paganism of a camper comes out more strongly as we near the winter solstice.  Half of the year the sun is oppressive.  Escaping its cruelty is the primary fact of our existence.  And yet, all of the year our battery is charged by solar energy!    Hours of daylight, angles, and shadows are very real to the camper.  Campers are essentially farmers of solar energy. And then mid-winter happens.  That horrid monster up there in the sky becomes so wan and sickly.  It's like moving to a different planet.  Or, conside

Annual Sermon Against Rock Arrangements

  I usually look for a change in my walking route down through the canyon system.  I couldn't remember if it was possible to get into the last side-canyon from the south.  So I took my best stab at it and was immediately rewarded with rounded gravel, rather than the sharp rocks that are hard on doggie paws. And indeed I made it down to the bottom and felt pretty cocky about it.  Soon there was a rock cairn.  I dismantled it. Please don't think that I am unable to look at things from other people's point of view.  The person who built the cairn probably thought it was harmless or even helpful to other people or themselves.  They thought they were improving the situation, and that is a positive thing, isn't it? But it destroys the mood that other walkers are trying to slip into.  Some people love getting confused and trying to make a route work.  That is why they use the term "adventure."  They (and I) can get annoyed by other people's "improvements&qu