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Showing posts from June, 2024

Flunking Out of Stair Climbing

It is that time of year when a person can find a spot on a ridge with good visibility and look out onto a valley,   and feel wonderfully detached from the 'normal world.'  It might bring to your mind that famous scene with Orson Welles and Joseph Cotten  in "The Third Man," at the top of the Ferris Wheel.   I saw a strange effect the other day: puffy cumulus clouds were blocking the late afternoon sun.  They projected large shadows down onto the green valley.  Somehow this made the valley seem close and connected to me.  A good photographer might be able to present this in a convincing way. On another note, after showing a video of my little dog's superb cattle-gate-crossing skills, I decided to take her up a fire watchtower.  These things are usually pretty dilapidated since they aren't used anymore.  I forgot how steep the stairs are: they are halfway between normal stairs and a ladder. I guess she said, "I draw the line at vertical cattle gates!"

Historically Important Debate

Isn't it bizarre that there actually is going to be a presidential debate tonight?  Surely, Biden will be shot up with stimulants or some other drug that makes him seem more functional.  Maybe he will wear his aviator sunglasses through the entire debate. This brings up a strange Constitutional question.  Does the Constitution actually require a presidential candidate to be alive?   I probably don't remember the Constitution well enough from school Civics class to answer the question.  An online version of it might be available, but Google would probably censor parts of it. It is the last remaining prejudice -- this belief that the Living have that they are superior to the Dead.  The Living also think they should have superior rights.  Housing discrimination is illegal supposedly, but notice the extreme segregation that the Dead are subjected to: cemeteries or mausoleums.  Look at the negative stereotypes in the movies about Death.   It wouldn't be an exaggeration to say

An Attitude Toward Risk

It is that time of year when I am in bear country and wrestling with a bit of "ursa-phobia." I have knocked it down by 50%.  Black bears don't bother me anymore.  It's only the grizzlies, so I avoid the Yellowstone to Glacier corridor. There might be something that is more dangerous: leaning ponderosas. Imagine what a falling ponderosa would do to your flimsy little camper or tent!  And they do fall.  Currently I am camping on a stony ridge where, presumably, tree roots are underdeveloped.  So this kind of thing happens during windy days: But something else is happening around here.  Some of these trees were weakened by fire.  At a height of 3 feet above the ground, the tree shreds (!) and falls. So obviously I try to camp away from sick or leaning trees!  But you have to look at risk in perspective.  It is so dependent on what you are used to.  People live close to smoking volcanoes, on top of earthquake faults, or in tornado alley.  When you drive down a two-lane h

Crossing Cattle Gates

Is it fair that some dogs end up with all the girlish charm, beauty, poise, and talent?  Well, no, it ain't fair.  But that is the way it is. I am on the ragged edge of internet coverage -- worse than usual.  So I am not sure this video plays.  At least I learned how to compress the videos first with the Video Compressor app on my Android phone. Two years ago I taught my little honey to cross gates for the first time.  I should have taken a video of that.  I think I had to practically drag her across.  But she turned out to be the best crosser of all the three dogs I've had and the first two were quite good at it.  

A River Runs Through It -- and Under It

  I'll bet the reader has their favorite examples of important things that are best pursued indirectly.  For me, scenery is one of those.  The Cascade Mountains are off to my west.  I let them play peek-a-boo with me.  They pop out when I don't expect them to. Perhaps it will take a long time for me to lose a sense of wonder at seeing water actually flowing in a river!  Spending too long in the American Southwest will do that to a person. The water level on the Crooked River near Prineville OR was up to the thighs or waists of the fly fishermen, so it was not a good river for my little dog. Small streams of water can be interesting, too.  We did short dog walks away from one campsite when I finally noticed a small spring and trickle of water alongside the road.   How could I have ignored it, three or four times! There is an underground world of water that a person seldom thinks about.  It is vitally important in dry states.  We ignore it because we can't see it.  How did th

A New Visit from an Old Companion

 A traveler sees a lot of mountains and forests, canyons and cliffs.  They are enjoyable at the time, and yet, they usually don't make for a distinct long-term memory.  They blend into an anonymous pool.   Conversely, other little things make for vivid memories that last for years.  These little things might not mean much to other people.   Think of all the times I have gone a bicycle ride on dirt/gravel roads on scenic land with great weather, with one of my dogs.  I almost always enjoy myself.  But afterwards, little memory of it lives.  One of the things that does stand out is the curious behavior of butterflies, "La Mariposa", alongside the bike.  I have distinct and clear memories of La Mariposa deliberately following the bike, just a few feet away.  And not for just a couple random seconds.  It's as if this mere insect has suddenly become a sentient being, like my dog.  Does she want to join the bike club?    It happened again.  Since I am curious about editing

"...a tool-making animal."

A recent campsite featured a lot of something that I have never seen so much of, in one place.  Obsidian rock.  Every two steps on the ground, there was another piece of it, usually fist-sized.  It is quite pretty.  Fresh surfaces of it are shiny black. And speaking of fresh surfaces, isn't that how Stone Age men supposedly made tools?  But how do you strike two rocks together so that a useful tool would fracture off?  Most rocks have crystallographic axes, making them weaker in some directions than others.  But obsidian is a glass so it has no weak and strong axes.   What was the point of over-thinking this?  I grabbed two baseball-sized pieces of obsidian and gave them a glancing blow towards each other, like a musician might give to a pair of cymbals.  And I'll be damned if a large flake didn't come off.  It was quite sharp on the edge.  You could call it a stone blade since it could cut things in the kitchen.   But there is a long way to go in turning this stone blade i

Don't Be Fooled About the Scary Stories of War

 It has surprised me to hear all the worrying about escalation of the war with Russia.  Even the alt-media is joining in this hysteria.  It is easier to explain why the regime-media is talking about the scary story of nuclear confrontation with Russian. Americans are shocked at prices in the grocery store and at the gas pump.  The Biden administration doesn't want those issues on the "front page" of the news.  Nor does it want people talking about how Washington DC is losing an unnecessary war with Russia brought on by the stupid foreign policy of Obama and Biden.  If the Ukrainian military collapses this summer, that won't be 'good optics' for Biden.  Or what if Zelensky -- the new "Winston Churchill," the defender of Freedom and Democracy, according to the regime media of two years ago -- falls in a coup d'├ętat? Scary stories about bigger war with Russia steal the oxygen from these stories.  But nothing lasts for long in political show busines

Entertaining Fantasies of "Never Summer"

Here it is, June, and I really haven't seen more than a couple warm days so far.  So, it has been a success to come north to eastern OR and western ID early in spring.  And yet, this just encourages me to get greedy and to entertain travel-fantasies about avoiding summer altogether. Fantasy #1: South America in June, July, and August.  I combine this 'never-summer' fantasy with the ocean adventures I like to read about or listen to audio books on.   Wouldn't it be great to head to the Magellan Strait during the northern summer months? It didn't take long for the weather websites to disabuse me of this notion.  I don't really want cold or winter weather.  Who wants to walk around in full-finger gloves or rainsuits?  Saying that you pine for 'never-summer' does not mean you want always-winter.  What I really want is always-September/October. But Argentina must have plenty of ranch country at a latitude of 30 degrees south that would be agreeable to me. Who