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The Ultimate Triumph for a Consumer

Dare I hope? Or will that just jinx me? After years of pining and yearning, I may have finally found the ultimate flashlight for my camper. But why waste words:





Glorious isn't it?! For years the industry plagued me with those damn cylindrical flashlights that would roll around on the floor when you tried to use them for anything.

Even worse, they used those cursed little AA and AAA batteries. If that wasn't enough, the switches were always flimsy, or the battery holder door would pop off.

And so I dreamed the impossible dream, and found it. At Walmart of all places. It was a sensible price: that is, not as high as the 'jewelry/boutique' flashlights, but not as low as low end consumer junk.

The label calls it "Hyper Tough", made by Intertek. It is USB rechargeable. The battery is lithium.

I just love those little elastomeric bumpers at the four corners. So touuuuuuugh! This must be a Guy Thing. 

Perhaps this post seems facetious to the reader, but it is not meant th…

Liberating Yourself From Amazon

I have never been a big fan of shopping at Amazon. Can't people see what a trap they are falling into when they sign up for Amazon Prime? Paying $100 up-front is a real turn-off at Amazon, as it is at Costco.

Even though I am moochdocking on a friend's driveway, I still had problems with getting Amazon to accept the address, despite having a real street address and a real post office box. That did it! I went on the warpath against Amazon.


The good news is many other websites offer free shipping once you meet a $35 to $50 minimum order. And their websites work well. And I don't seem to have the problems with addresses, like at Amazon.

All I can say is, "It's about time!" You'd think that somebody big like Walmart, Google, or Oracle would make a good website available to any retailer, and then let them disguise the appearance of the website to make it look a little more home-grown. (Thus, there would be no need for each smallish retailer to have in-house softw…

Wow Dude, This Was, Like, So Cool!

There was a time not so many generations ago when Americans actually made things for a living. Today we just shop for a living, either online or driving around in heavy traffic to stores. As hard as it is to believe, some people actually enjoy shopping.

For my part, I haven't had a wonderful experience shopping more than a couple times in my lifetime. I had one today.

It seemed like a good idea to put a metal dog tag on my new camera, since it is the most expensive camera I have ever owned. The machines that make these metal dog tags keep getting better. I made mine at Petsmart.

Yes, it had a digital menu. Normally this would put me in an incendiary mood, but this menu was intelligently designed.

You just slide the tag into the machine in an unambiguous way, and watch the laser-scribing through a glass window. Fascinating and beautiful! It could even scribe on both sides of the tag, so there was enough room to say, "Text" and then my phone number. I asked the store employee …

Non-Binary Approach to Politics on Blogs

There seems to be an unwritten rule in the blogosphere that you shouldn't discuss politics. Sometimes the rule is made more explicit by someone who acts like they are being idealistic. Actually though, they are probably more worried about scaring off eyeballs -- monetization of their Yoob Toob channel or their blog is really their main concern.

But in a way I agree with them. There is no point in offending people-who-disagree-with-you while boring people-who-agree. 

So we keep our mouths shut, and the System grinds along, unimpeded. This isn't 'idealism.' It is subservience and defeatism.

What we need is a third choice. Consider the current trend of the moment: non-binary attitudes toward sex. What if we were to take a non-binary approach to politics?

One such approach in a travel blog is to see juxtapositions along the road that surprise you -- they might even be bizarre. But if the juxtaposition is thought-provoking, it is good for something, especially if the blogger of…

A Puny Consumer Rebels

What a quixotic mission it can be to not submit to consumer trends! I have written about the insanity in the automobile/pickup truck industry, and how ridiculous their products are. I "solved" that problem by accepting defeat, that is, by losing interest. 

Another example is the "combo" meal at a fast food restaurant. Again, they are oversized, and their price belies the 1.8% inflation that the government tells us we have. I solved that problem by deciding that french fries are not sacred, and therefore it is advantageous to buy from the Dollar Menu.

The final example is the BIG flat television. This is hardly the electrical appliance needed for a small camper -- of course I've seen people put ridiculously large TVs in RVs as small as vans!

In addition to physical compactness, a small television uses less electricity.


Of course you don't need a television at all if you don't watch broadcast signals. (I watch old television westerns in DVD disc form, as a sl…

A Moral Quandary at the McDonald's Kiosk

This wasn't the first kiosk at McDonald's that I had ever seen. But the first time, it had been optional to use it. Rest assured that I ordered and paid the old-fashioned way.

But today I wasn't even given the choice. The young punk was loud and aggressive about it. I dutifully walked over to the kiosk. But then something deep-within began to express itself.  I starting digging in my heels. Of course he thought that a stupid old man just couldn't figure the thing out, so, before my moral protest had time to get properly organized, he came over, asked the usual questions, and pushed the appropriate buttons.

So why couldn't he have done all that at the cash register -- the old-fashioned way? His final question was, "Pay with your card here, or with cash?" I actually paused and started to get curt. But he assured me that paying cash was still an option, although we had to walk to a special cash register to do it. Why couldn't we have done that right from t…

When Is It Time to Renounce Folly?

I've had thousands of chances to drive off, after a bicycle ride, and forget something -- like a front wheel. And yet I never did so until recently. Although I knew the spot where I left the front wheel, it wasn't lying there when I returned two days later. Infuriating!

Add this wheel to other casualties over the years, such as the $120 hiking poles I left behind, once.

After this incident I have started to put the front wheel in the van first, since forgetting the rest of bike is less likely. How much thinking was required to make this trivial improvement? And yet, it takes a surprising amount of persistence to form a new habit.

So why didn't I think of this 40 years ago? When my grandfather was in his seventies, he once told me, 'A young man just lets things happen to him. He doesn't think about the consequences of what he does.'

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I own several pricey cylindrical flashlights. They were purchased after a great deal of 'd…

The Purple Papoose, Part 2

Bounteous. It is a pretty word that doesn't get used much. It has an interesting etymology. It is the best word I can think of for a recent experience with a seamstress. That isn't where you would expect to have a memorable experience.

Consider how difficult it is for travelers, especially unmarried men, to get any garment repaired. Even if they are married, most gringas these days can barely sew; or they consider it beneath them because it is sexist and traditional, almost to the point of being neolithic.

First of all, you must find the seamstress. They tend not to have webpages or billboards. Sometimes there is a simple, hand-written card on the bulletin board in a laundromat. That is where my luck started. If the seamstress is more of a tailor, she will be busy with wedding dresses, and not have time for old-fashioned, low-cost repairs.

Woe unto you if you bring her an unclean garment for repair. That is the sort of blunder that a male neanderthal is prone to.

I drove up to he…

Retro-Grouch at the Laundromat

I thought it was a bad idea whose time had come...and passed. But there it was, staring at me, once again.



Quarters aren't accepted by an ultra-modern laundromat, like this one. Now you must waste money to buy a plastic card even before putting a balance on the card that lets you do laundry. Yea, like that is really advantageous for the traveler who is only going to be there once.

Of course there were complex instructions for paying for the card itself, then putting a balance on the card, then inserting it into the washing machine (once chance in four of getting it right), and then pulling it out at the right speed so it actually begins working. I have seen a poor attendant have to help every other customer with these damn things!

I actually groaned out-loud when I walked into thisbusiness and saw the bad news. I was traveling with a European friend for a week. Recognizing all the telltale signs of an incipient rant, they started looking for a fire extinguisher to spray me down.

This …