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A Two-Netbook "Minimalist"

Go ahead and laugh. I responded to the news about the $500 Windows RT tablet by going to Walmart to buy a second Acer Aspire One (model 722-0473) netbook. This is the first time in my life when I've owned two computers.I panicked into concluding that, over the next couple years, the computer industry will kill off the netbook and leave the chumps only the following sorry options:

1) $800-1000 WINTEL "ultrabooks" or,
2) $500-600 tablets based on ARM microprocessors, similar to those insmartphones, that only offer a "half-internet" experience or,
3) inexpensive 7" tablets that are basically just smartphones without the ability to make phone calls. Or call them vending machines for media consumables from Amazon or the iShackle store (Apple's iTunes). Last but not least,
4) the usual overpriced "walled garden" at the Apple store, built around its notorious iShackle media store, and incompatible connectors and operating system.

None of these is an attr…

The Internet Versus the Noble Savage

Baby Boomers should have something to say about consuming information as a way of life. When we came into this world, the great blight of television befell the world. Today, toward the end of our passage, the internet is taking over. These are two information revolutions just as big as, but far more sudden than, the invention of the alphabet or Gutenberg's movable-type printing press.

Baby Boomers, destined to eventually become America's Worst Generation, started off life as the first generation raised on television. TV-haters (like me) would love to believe that that proves cause and effect.

Whether you buy that or not, it is strange how uncritically many parents welcomed TV into their homes in the 1950s. Soon the living room furniture was all arranged around the TV set. Many children grew up with no restrictions on their TV habits.

How ironic that many a traditional father in the 1950s kept a gun in the house to 'protect his family', you know. And yet he allowed this n…

The Noble Savage Back in the City

Real travelers -- as opposed to mere sightseers -- might yearn for opportunities to learn of new manners and customs, languages and religions, and ways of life. But it's tough to do that without traveling to third world countries, with all the costs and risks. Even there you would need opportunities to live and work with the locals, rather than just gawk at them as quaint caricatures. 

Perhaps one of the biggest advantage of dispersed camping on public lands is that it makes you so separate from the normal American that you get to experience what could be seen as exotic foreign travel when you return to the mostordinary metropolitan areas in your own country. 

When the ol' desert rat or dispersed camper -- think of him as a Noble Savage -- returns to the city, what exactly happens to him as he becomes "normal" again? Adjusting to the obscene onslaught of noise, 7 and 24 and 365, is the most immediate and obvious change.

Do most people see this Noble Savage as being u…

A Train Whistle in the Middle of the Night

It has been some time since I was camped at the right distance (say, 4 miles) from a train. A busy track lies besideInterstate 40. The overall route has been popular over the decades for many forms of transportation, and for good reason. It reaches the Pacific without crossing any mountain passes.

Appreciating the quiet rumbleof the train and its whistle is more intense if you frankly acknowledge how obnoxious they are up close. When you hear that soothing sound from 4 miles off, you have to wonder how it could be the same machine.

In a stationary house you would be quite lucky to be at just the right distance for the train to have the optimum effect. In an RV park you would probably be squeezed between the interstate highway and the train track. But a dispersed camper can easily move a mile closer or further away. With that idea in mind Coffee Girl and I mountain biked downhill a ways yesterday until we could see over the last ridge. There it was, still a couple miles off. I decided to…

Escaping the Reservation

Or... Navigation on the Navajo Reservation

There is no denying that there has been much "progress" the last few years in GPS gadgets for the dashboard of motor vehicles. Just the same, I'm glad I've abstained, since it might have robbed me of a unique and memorable experience the other day.

I was taking a "shortcut" paved road, supposedly, from Cuba to Grants, NM. The trip began on a secondary dirt road on BLM land. The washboard was so bad that the sewer hose jiggled loose and fell off on the road. When I drove back to look for it, the old superstition about 'retreating being bad luck' came to mind.

As I headed west into the Navajo reservation I kept wondering why it was a dirt road road. The DeLorme and Benchmark atlases had never disappointed me before, except for a minor error here and there. Making a wrong turn isn't normally a big deal. In fact in the past I've accepted the outcome of wrong turns and just kept going, just to see where it …