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Showing posts from 2024

Dodging the Dust Devils and other Near Wrecks

Normally dust devils are mere curiosities.  On this warm spring day east of Reno NV,    I can see four dust devils at the same time.  The largest one is 50 feet in diameter.  One blew past my trailer a few minutes ago.  It was actually a little scary. Recently I have come close to getting smacked in more ways than one.  Have you ever thought about what would happen to you and other people if you were driving at high speeds in multi-lane traffic in some gawd-awful city, and your engine suddenly died electrically? I was in a safe place recently, when my van suddenly went electrically dead, but a few minutes earlier I had been on multi-lane Interstate 80 on the east side of Reno.  With no electricity in the van,  I would have started slowing down in a middle lane, with just enough strength to steer.  But where would I have steered to?!  After all, without electrical power you cannot  run the brake lights, emergency hazard lights, or blinkers.  And I was pulling a trailer!  A bad acciden

Basin and Range

There is nothing in this old world of ours that beats chilly morning air, dry, sunny, and calm.   But wait!  There is something better: add basin-and-range scenery with snowy mountain tops and snow-free lowlands. That is what I am experiencing right now on this early spring trip through Nevada.  In the past I think I underestimated this state because the north-south mountain ranges are steep with poor road access.  That makes for poor camping and mountain biking, if you like biking on land where you get to use lots of gears. So just use the mountain ranges for eye-candy, and then camp and bike on the lowlands, which can be flattish.  Maybe this should have been obvious, but if you make the mistake of staying in the Southwest too long into spring, the lowlands (4500 feet altitude) of Nevada are too hot by the time you get to them. Prices are confiscatory away from the handful of Walmart towns.  So far, I haven't figured out how to beat the system in that regard.  Perhaps it is best

Hobo Shoestring, One of Civilization's Discontents

People on You Tube are raising the alarm about the unexplained disappearance of a unique traveler, named Hobo Shoestring.  He travels across North America by hopping freight trains.  Somebody else told me about him a year ago, and I became a fan of his. Let's hope his disappearance comes to a happy ending, and that all is well.  But even if the worst has happened, his travels can still be considered a success.  It helps to see it this way if you look at how other travel-styles have evolved over time. Hobo Shoestring tied into a piece of Americana.  There has long been a romance about trains.  The Coen brothers' movie, "O Brother, Where Are Thou?", featured a scene at the beginning of the movie about the main characters hopping a freight train.  They saw other hobos on the train.  What a collection of faces that was! In the 1960s, one of the episodes of the "Virginian" featured a humorous encounter between the Virginian and a young woman who was seeking adven

Hope About American Evangelicals

Caitlin Johnstone's writing on the slaughter of Palestinians by Israelis has been relentless and impressive.  If there were a Pulitzer Prize for alternative-media, she deserves it.  Anybody interested in accessing her work (at no charge) might want to go to  . It takes a bit of effort for me to praise her.  She is a Greenie socialist.  But there is something to be said -- actually, a lot to be said -- for dissolving pundits into their component parts.  If component X is too objectionable to read, then look at component Y or Z. This method keeps a reader from falling into their own echo chamber.  And it depolarizes public discourse.  The method might work for more than pundits. For instance, it is good to dissolve religions into component parts, and not 'throw out the baby with the bath water.'  This is Easter in Western Christianity.  You needn't be a Christian to admire the importance that Christians have attached to Hope. At the risk of turning Hope into

Horses Circumnavigate the Globe

This is the first time I have ever camped in the midst of small groups of "wild" horses, if that is what they are.  I haven't seen any of them mooch goodies from campers, as burros will.  But the horses let me and my dog get within 50 feet of them.  Perhaps there is a spring closer to the mountains where they "water up."   The other day a pretty horse was pawing insistently at the ground.  It reminded me of the book, "The Horse, The Wheel, and Language," by David Anthony.  I heard of the book from the "".  The book said that horses had a great advantage on the Eurasian steppes: they would pound through the snow with their hooves, and find grass in winter.  But cows and sheep won't use that trick. Much of the book takes place in the homeland of Indo-European languages, which is modern Ukraine.  (Of  course, we mustn't confuse our linguistic ancestors with out biological ancestors.) When the linguistics and hi

Caught in the Stream of Human Events

On a mountain bike ride the other day I had to stop and admire an unusual canyon.  It did have vertical walls about 100 feet high.   But what made it visually impressive was the unusual width of the canyon floor.  It was over 100 meters wide.   There was no water visible of course -- it is southern Nevada, after all.  But the flat canyon floor had such impressive graceful curves, left by rampaging water, that I found myself gawking!  And yet, I didn't take a photo of it, probably because cameras are obsessed with the vertical and the perpendicular.  This was fun in a different sort of way.  But it would have been a great place for an overhead drone photograph. I like to visualize alluvial fans of gravel, coming down from the mountains as a slow-moving glacier.  The analogy is not very close actually, but the image is irresistible.  This canyon was the "fast lane" on this giant ramp of gravel. The whole thing seems metaphorical, with every individual person being like a s

Playing the Hand You Are Dealt, in the Desert

The campsite was a bit too close to the road, but I put up with it because traffic was light and n obody was camped in this part of southern Nevada.  But, when two van/car nomads showed up in the area, I panicked and went to a new site. One of the ironies of desert camping is that there is so little privacy.  This seems to contradict the notion that you are in 'the middle of nowhere.'  You are so visible to others and visa versa.  Sometimes you can read the body language of a car approaching: they have noticed you.  They are actually sucked-in due to some weird psychology when they see somebody else (you!) camping there.  Soon the little paradise you have found will be degraded by neighbors.  So, like I said, I panicked when those two young nomads showed up.  Young people are told what to do and where to camp by the internet.  They might even be contributing to that problem, in person.  The campers in question chose their spots on small promontories, probably for the great vie

Getting Flushed Down the Drain Might Not be Permanent

Most people expect a Biden and Trump rematch this November.  One way to look at this is to back off from the partisan arguments and look at the big picture.  How could America have come to such a low state as to come up with candidates like this -- twice?! Is this the same America that settled a wilderness in the new hemisphere; fought off the claims of French, Spanish, and Russians in North America; formed a government on a written Constitution; survived a bloody Civil War; grew into the industrial powerhouse of planet Earth; and brought electrical and automotive inventions to within reach of the masses?  There have indeed been many accomplishments that Americans can be proud of. And now look at us!  It is tempting to say that the current situation is unbelievable, but actually, it is quite believable.  Let's make a short list out of spectacular "come downs" that have happened to other countries. 1.  Ancient Greece in 450 B.C. versus 150 B.C., that is, Greece after its o

Horizontal Gravity Ain't All Bad

It is easier to get interested in where you are camped if you can visualize motion.  High winds in Nevada certainly got that ball rolling, yesterday.  It was cold, too.  What little moisture there was in the air condensed into thick clouds that hugged and obscured the mountains.    At times, the clouds looked like thick fog that wanted to slowly creep down from the mountains, like an airborne glacier, or better yet, like the thousand-foot-thick ramp of gravel that had crept down from the mountains.  The geologists call them 'alluvial fans', and I was camped on one. Away from the mountains, the high winds were blowing the clouds into lenticular clouds.  They are fun to look at. (Lenticular, the bean lentil, and a glass lens are all cognate.) The gravel was small and rounded where I am camped.  You notice things like that when you identify as a mountain bike tire or dog paw.  Since I am camped closer to the bottom than the top of the alluvial ramp, it probably makes sense that th

Beating the System, Regarding Time Changes

  Perhaps my last post was less gracious than it could have been towards the state of Arizona.  Allow me to make amends. I woke up Sunday morning, still just barely in the state of Arizona, and therefore unbothered by Daily Savings Time.  The rest of the country debauches itself with Daily Savings Time, but Arizona stays with God's Time. from Soon I crossed over into a Pacific Time Zone state, but instead of subtracting one hour, the o'clock stayed the same since that state uses Daily Savings Time, beginning today.  Then I crossed into another such state.  And then back to the first one. As I go north for many hundreds of miles, it will stay the same. (until I hit southern Idaho or extreme southeastern Oregon.)  Actually I could choose locations that get me out of a time change the entire summer.  What bliss! I give Arizona credit for this, and I am grateful.

"Success" For a Winter Traveler

One of the great under-rated pleasures outdoors is a broken and stormy sky.  I experienced that yesterday as I fled Arizona.  Other things worked OK:  gasoline prices weren't so bad, and  I had only two encounters with rude and reckless drivers, who love being disrespectful of winter visitors.  The spring solstice isn't even here yet.  But I have already left AZ.  (Actually I'm still in the northwestern part of the state, 15 miles from the Colorado River.)  One way to gauge your success as a camper and traveler is to see how little time you spend in Arizona.   During mid-winter we are all climate refugees.  I truly love low temperatures in the 30s F and highs around 65 F.  But once mid-winter is over, you can find adequate temperatures around the edges of AZ, and perhaps escape over-crowding, generators, motorsport yahoos, target practice litter bugs, cholla, and un-earthly rubble.

An Unusual Spring Migration

It is easy to get nervous as we near the spring solstice.  But this is the time of year when a camper has the greatest opportunity to improve their life.  Extend.  Extend the bug-free season, extend good sleeping, extend sweat-free outdoor exercise.   That is what I was thinking the other morning when I had a freshly-laundered poodle under the sleeping bag with me.  My little dog smelled like lavender-rosemary doggie shampoo.  There is a primal satisfaction to burrowing deeper and deeper underneath the sleeping bag, and seeing how few square inches of skin need to be exposed. Spring migrations are easier than autumn migrations because the sun is at your back most of the way.  I really look forward to that.  For the first time in years I will migrate through Nevada.  Let's hope I can find a grocery store or two. I have never done my spring migration by going northwest immediately and staying close to the Colorado River.  It is counter-intuitive to return that way, since I migrated d

Better Food Preservation

Recently I have gotten interested in food preservation.  The higher costs of food and transportation have to be fought, somehow.  This is especially true for somebody who has to drive over miles of bumpy dirt roads to a not-so-great, high-priced, small town grocery store.  Perhaps it was the better containers available at Walmart that made me get interested in this topic.  They are rectangular boxes with O-rings in the lid, and snaps to hold the lid down tight. You Tube has a lot of videos on this topic.  Have you seen those vacuum sealers for storing food in Mason jars?  But the videos don't explain the principles of food preservation very well.  After all, it is all about water vapor, oxygen, and ethylene. You can't look into this topic very long before you get pulled off into the world of off-grid homes, preppers, Greenies, etc.  I used to have a negative stereotype of these people.  But they are a customer base for useful products. I sometimes wonder if, during my 'nex

He Was Probably an Anti-Semite

  If your news-intake is limited to the legacy media, you might not yet have heard of a young Air Force guy named Aaron Bushnell burning himself in protest in front of the Israeli embassy.  He died. Perhaps the legacy media will accuse Mr. Bushnell of being anti-semitic.  Or they might claim that setting yourself on fire in front of the Israeli embassy is an example of hate-speech. At least a hero of the Deep State was there to hold a gun on the burning and nearly dead body of Mr. Bushnell.  Gosh, wouldn't you love to have a chance to personally 'thank the cop for his service.' I am being satiric of course.  It is better than lashing out with anger.  Anger burns itself out.  Mockery is a better long-term approach.  There is no way to "over-mock" American foreign policy, the Biden administration, the War industries, or the Israel Lobby. From

The Un-Arizona Part of Arizona

Every year at this time of year I feel relief at having escaped the cholla of southwestern Arizona and moved into southeastern Arizona, a land of dry grass, mesquite trees, and oaks.  A local person told me how, in a good monsoonal summer, the grass grows green and reaches up to the belly of a cow.  It would be fun to see that  --  you would only have to tolerate a lot of 95 F heat.  Even that is too much for me.   This part of Arizona is not all that popular with standard snowbirds, looking for iconic Arizona desert scenery.  It won't be all that colorful here like it will be in southwestern Arizona when the cacti bloom.  It is surprising that I have learned to appreciate the austere tawny beauty of a spring morning in southeastern Arizona. Of course a person can also learn to appreciate the opening of Brahms Piano Concerto #2. Today I will drive with my friend to the semi-metropolis of the area.  It is only a month from the solstice, so I suppose the sun already has enough stren

A Protest Vote 'At the Movies'

I had a second surprising piece of luck in my first foray into buying DVD disks at a thrift store.  Roman Polanski's "The Pianist" was available in perfect condition.  I remember watching it years ago.  It was excellent.  I especially liked the Chopin music.   But I didn't use the disk.  It will be given back to the thrift store. I simply don't have an appetite for any book or movie about the crimes commited against European Jews in World War II.  It's not that those crimes have become any less criminal.  But I have gotten sick and tired of the crimes against Jews 80 years ago -- mostly by German Nazis -- being used as a blank check for covering the slaughter of Gazans being commited today. So there you have it: my puny little protest vote.  This is the best example I can think of of the old saying 'It is better to light one candle than curse the darkness.'  My own insignificance is astonishing.

An Authentic Natural Experience

I was hoping to see more DVD and Blu-Ray disks showing up at thrift stores, and that it would be an interesting hobby to look for them.  After all, a traveler has a chance to visit many thrift stores, strewn across several states. The other day I actually put that idea into practice.  After ripping my box of scratched DVD disks to my computer, it made a real impression on me to find a disk in the thrift store in perfect condition.   The thrift store charged only one dollar for it. And what a lucky choice:  "Tosca" by Puccini, performed by top-rated people.  I felt like a prospector in the Old West who got lucky. Let's hope this serves as a real inspiration.  Previously I had disliked the loosely organized clutter of thrift stores.  Here is a chance to see practical life on the broad canvas of human history: the frugal habits of our Depression-era parents, free range grazing in the American West, and the craze that followed chance discoveries of gold. Even more broadly, s

No More Remote Controls

  People have quite a bit of consumer electronics lying around in their house.  How many remote controls do they have?  I'll bet it isn't their favorite gadget.  For one thing you can never find the damn thing when you need it. I used to think that the remote control was just to save the couch potato from having to walk three steps.  But actually remote controls eliminated the need to build all those buttons into the side of the TV or other electrical appliance.   And then, when the button failed, you would have had to throw the TV out. Now that I have eliminated my Blu-Ray player and monitor screen by ripping my DVDs onto the computer,  I looked over at the remote control of the Blu-Ray player and felt delighted that I could get rid of it! I fantasized a slow and solemn ritual of execution for my last remaining remote control -- something like the public hangings in old movie westerns.  But that would just have been litter.   Free at last, free at last!

Pity the People Who Make an Honest Living

  I am entitled to a rant: I did my taxes as 5:00 am.  Afterwards I celebrated by driving to town and getting an especially good breakfast burrito at a gas station.  These days eating at the gas station is as close as many of us get to 'fine dining.' How hard those women work to make the best and most affordable food in town.  They must be Mexican  seƱoras .  Perhaps their children will be assimilated into the American mainstream instead of doing hard work in a tire shop.  They will go to college and aspire to a white collar career as some kind of cubicle rat, say, at Intuit (TurboTax) in San Diego.  Imagine what a step-up that will be!  What an easy busy model tax-software-companies have.  Their customers are afraid of the IRS so they lock onto a tax software product as an insurance product.  Every year they can take advantage of the customers' fear to upsell them to the 'Premium' package, or whatever word gets used.  I didn't owe any taxes this year.  But in r

A New Media Era Has Snuck Up on Me

The art of living outside the rat race is mostly about getting up in the morning and finding something to be interested in, without the 'System' keeping you endlessly and uselessly busy.  And that is the focus of this blog.  I don't like to get down 'into the weeds' of microscopic 'how to' details. Nevertheless I should have used the word 'rip' to describe the process of transcribing data from a DVD disk to the computer's hard drive (or extended memory such as cloud, flash drives, or SSD.)   In doing so, a camper/traveler eliminates a box of disks, inevitable scratches, and cheapie plastic DVD player parts.  The resulting media data on your computer can be played on the computer itself or transferred to your phone for easier playback in bed on those long winter nights. This experience was interesting to me because it was a chance to reflect how many times this type of transition has happened.  No, Reader, I can't quite remember the original c

The End of the Physical Media Era?

Well, I've finally finished a big project: digitizing a box-full of Blu-Ray disks.  A couple weeks ago my picture and sound-maker died. (aka, monitor, TV screen)  It took the signal from a Blu Ray player.   Typically I used these less for entertainment than for a sleeping pill at night, or for the last hour of the evening when my eyes don't feel like reading.  It was quite a shock to learn how badly I had gotten out-of-date.  The kid at Best Buy told me, "Nobody sells DVD players anymore!"  Just imagine what the kid was thinking!  His Yuma customers were so old and, like , out-of-it.  He would be so stoked if he had, like, younger customers, bro. Well, nobody seems to sell small monitors (with speakers) that are compatible with Dolby Digital sound coming from most Blu Ray players, either.   Everything is supposed to be "streamed" these days, and paid for with a monthly fee, tied to your credit card.  That makes it easy for the bastards to renew your subscr

Another Group of Heroes to Admire

I am a broken man.  The world has become so hopeless that I desperately reach out in any direction to find somebody or something to admire.  Lately I have been admiring the farmer-protests in Europe.  Do you think these even get reported in the state-affiliated news programs in Europe? It is not impossible that the protests could lead to a slight decrease in environmental regulations.  Then, once the furor has died down, and Jean-Jacques Rosseaus's General Will has supposedly been heeded by the great democracy of Europe, the European Union desk jockeys will go back to creating more and more regulations.  

Pain, Mercy, and Beauty in the Desert

My little dog came running back to me with a big cholla segment on her cheek, next to her mouth.  A friend held her head and neck while I flicked the cholla off, with a comb.  It was not in deep.  But a hemostat (resembling a pliers) finished the job on a couple needles that were in the skin.  She squealed of course.  It wounds me to hear my little darlin' squeal.  So please consider that a certain amount of righteous anger is justified.  Anger at what?: at how the beauty of the desert is portrayed by tourists and snowbirds! This morning there was 1.25" of rain in the pan I put out last night before the rain started.  Glorious!  This is the true beauty of the desert.  It is important to yell out about that, because the usual portrayal of the 'beauty of the desert' by snowbirds is -- not wrong -- but distorted by them being climate refugees from the north.   "Beauty" is a word that should be reserved for things that make life and survival possible, and wate

Balancing Serious News With Some Needed Relief

I insist on staying interested in geopolitical events in the world.  Even if I am right about that, some allowance must be made to human nature.  A human can only look at ultra-serious, grim news so much before they need some psychological relief. I got some relief by reading a book about the Battle of Midway, when America was on the way up in the world.  (The Battle of Midway, by Craig Symonds.)   The Battle of Midway occurred early in the Pacific war of World War II, and turned the tide of war in America's favor.  It offered me some relief to think that most Americans believed the newspapers, in that era.  They thought their institutions were basically sound and non-corrupt most of the time.  Americans had a bright future! a It is especially fun for a baby boomer to think back to what America was in 1945. More recent histories of World War II do a better job, I think, at emphasizing the decoding of messages.  Americans  had a great advantage in knowing what Japan was up to, prior

TRUE Paradise in the Desert

If you want to get out of bed in morning and feel that all is right with the world, a nice rain shower at night is the way to do it.  There is supposed to be a secondary rainy season in the Sonoran Desert in mid-winter.  Some years it is a dud.  But this year the rains are glorious. But don't say that out loud to your camping neighbors if they are northern snowbirds.  They think, "I didn't drive all the way here just to look at clouds and to feel cold.  I demand that it be warm and sunny everyday.  I dream of playing golf in shorts in January." Well, that is their problem.  They probably think that the following photo shows the "beauty of the desert."   Ghastly!  Teddy Bear chollas are the apotheosis of Evil.  The northern snowbirds probably think the non-blue sky is. But let's wallow in paradise while it lasts!

Visiting the Neighbor Campers

Oh why didn't I react quicker with the phone and camera!  Four of us were riding around the neighborhood in a camping area in southwestern Arizona.  It was fun to stop in and visit the neighbors when they are outside their rigs.   I was amazed at how my little dog glowed and gushed when she got attention from people who were completely new to her.  Small dogs can get some love off of people who aren't even 'dog people.' What a look on her face!  It is too bad I can't get enthused so quickly with my 'fellow camper.'  It is hard to shake the notion that they are 'here today, gone tomorrow,' so why put a lot of effort into charming their socks off?  That is why I have always liked the idea of traveling with other people in loose caravans.  And yet it hardly ever happens, probably because everybody has different preferences and calendars. Anyway, if I had to relive my RV career, I might be tempted to buy a rural property, and breed miniature poodles.

'Fool Me Once...'

  I have never understood why Trump is so popular.  Did any of the people who voted for him in Iowa really think he is going to "drain the swamp?"  If reelected he isn't going to do anything in office other than shoot his mouth off in bombastic speeches, act like an octogenarian kindergartener, and visibly age in front of the camera. He will nominate a soft-money Federal Reserve.  Inflation will remain persistently high during a second Trump regime. He won't stop Israel from slaughtering Gazans.  He sucks up to Israel as bad as anybody. On the other hand, he might end the slaughter of Ukrainians in that war. Does Trump really have any serious political principles?  Does he have a lot of knowledge or interest in the world?  Or does he just see the presidency as a branch of the entertainment industry? Conversely, I have never understood the Trump Derangement Syndrome.  Many of the people who suffer from this disease are the same sort of people who would put a "No

Those Bothersome Burros!

  Occasionally you can see videos made from Go-Pro cameras attached to the heads of animals.  A coyote would be a good animal to choose for this kind of reality TV show.  What a life those animals barely manage to live! Here in the Yuma area, not to0 many coyotes are heard or seen.  That is not a great endorsement of a geographical area.  But this year I see several wild burros per day.  They would also be a great choice for mounting a Go-Pro camera on their heads.  How do they make a living around here?  Water is not a problem, with the Colorado River and irrigation canals nearby.  But there is no vegetation around here -- not even cholla.  Those burros must be sneaking off in the middle of the night to raid lettuce fields! Cute animals, these burros.  But I worry about how my little dog would behave around them if she were off-leash.  They can kick pretty good and their hooves are sharp. There is an gravel pit next to my campsite that appears somewhat contained, so I let my little

Becoming a Statistic

Gonzalo Lira died recently in a Ukrainian prison, due to health problems.  He was a You Tuber who lived in Ukraine, where he had a couple children.  He had been reckless enough to criticize the Zelensky and Biden regimes.     I used to watch his channel on You Tube.  When the sad news came out yesterday, it really affected me.  Of all the deaths in the Ukraine, this was the one that really hit me.   Strange isn't it?  Recall Stalin's words:  One death is a tragedy; one million is a statistic. From Helsinki Times

Learning to Laugh at Being a Sub-Yuman

  Every year, during the depths of a Arizona winter, I put in some time in Yuma.  It is the only time of year that I can stand the place.  But I have learned to laugh at my own maladjustment here.  And there are things that help, such as shopping first thing in the morning, when traffic is tolerable.  Afternoon traffic is awful. I was in the Walmart getting some new tires, the first day.  It seemed like I was the only adult male who wore long pants.  But I was on my best behavior: not once did I roll my eyes at those goofy Canadian snowbirds, walking around in their shorts, and displaying their ugly legs in public.   The mere act of shopping is semi-comical.  I blast through the store, pushing my cart at reckless speeds, and nearly having a couple crashes.  The sooner the shopping is ended, the better!  For one thing, I need to escape the music. Then I stopped and stared quizzically at big blocks of cheese: why do they have 'mild cheddar' and 'medium cheddar?'  People

Politics Realigns

Sometimes it is hard to keep up to date.  In a small Arizona town recently I saw a political message in somebody's yard/fence.  It was an Israeli flag, with the message "Support Israel."  I have seen such political billboards before in the rural West, and usually just roll my eyes at them.  Presumably they are put up by a Rapture-crazed, Evangelical Christian who is under the influence of some frothing-at-the-mouth radio preacher. But this flag surprised me: it also included a Rainbow flag.  In other words, this was a statement made by a mainstream Democrat.  And I still think of Democrats as the party of George McGovern and anti-Vietnam War protestors.  My goodness, am I out-of-date!

Desperate, Stubborn Hope Despite the World

The American political system has become so dysfunctional that ignoring it makes sense to any individual person.  Why become angry or worried about things you can't do anything about?  But there are grounds for hope.  Both Biden and Trump are old men.  They are not immortal. It might seem self-indulgent to enjoy the speeches of a couple Irish firebrands, such as Clare Daly or Mick Wallace.   If I did my homework on them I might find things to dislike.  But at some point you have to allow yourself a little relief from the discouragement of daily news.  Humans are not infinitely strong -- we can take only so much.   Relentless discouragement will just cause a person to tune out everything that is happening in the world.  That would hardly be a symptom of a healthy democracy.   With the same excuse-making, I allow myself to admire the Houthis' closing of the Red Sea to Israeli ships.  They are the only Muslim neighbor of Israel that is doing anything to stop the slaughter in Gaza

A Tenuous Hold onto Winter Balminess

What a remarkable streak of luck the Arizona desert has had up till now!   Let's hope the calm days continue, as well as high temperatures in the 60s Fahrenheit. Since nights are so long, naps should be avoided  on these days.  (Read pseudo-naps, with ten minutes of unbelievably deep relaxation, but no real unconsciousness.)   But after one mountain bike ride I debauched myself with a pseudo-nap, while watching a DVD of William Wyler's "The Big Country," with Gregory Peck, Jean Simmons, and some other fine actors.  There is something about the dry, open grasslands in that movie that suckers me in.  The movie's emphasis on fast horse-riding is redolent of mountain biking. And then there is the classic tagline that really should be more famous, especially to the lovers of wide, open spaces in the western states: Gregory Peck: "How about showing me your ranch?  Do we ride or do we walk?"   Jean Simmons dismissed him with:  "Any ranch you can see on fo