Skip to main content


Finally, a Success at Reading a Russian Novel

It is always a bit of a triumph when I survive a Russian novel, in this case a historical novel by Alexander Solzhenitsyn, "August 1914". A worthy book. I'd like to do something I haven't done before on this blog: show what I've been doing most of my adult life when I read a b ook. What good is a book if the words go i nto one eyeball and out the other? In order for the book to have any effect on your life, you must re tain the best parts of it -- its j uicy but condensed nuggets of goodness. And then you can digest and assimilate these nuggets into your own organism. To mix metaphors, let's look for the book's classic quotes, its pemmican of wisdo m, and turn them into building blocks for our own mental s kys crapers in the future.  Just a few years ago now, baby kaBLOOnie and his siblings being programmed and brainwashed by their schoolteacher father. p. 107/622:  He had not expected to find much to hearten him at Second Army Headquarters...

The Yukkie Reality Under the World of Appearances

The other day I went to "Poop Central" in Quartzsite, th at famous modern equivalent of Cloa ca Maxima of an cient Rome .  I expected to pay 80% as much to dump a 5 gallon porta-pottie as you would pay to dump a 75 gallon tank in a Class A motorhome. That's how things work in this country. Much to my relief (bad pun), the cost was entirely reasonable. I brought a flexible sheet of plastic along, to make a funnel out of, in order to dump the porta-pottie into the 4" hole without spillage. It was strange the way they brushed me off, just as a busy auto mechanic dismisses the emotional anecdotes of a female motorist who is describing her car problems. The worker at Poop Central pulled up a manhole cover, and told me to just hurl it in. What? Hurl it in? What was going on down there, anyway? After a couple seconds my eyes adjusted to the shadowy netherworld under the superficial world of appearances, and I saw a milk crate a couple feet below. Why would a milk crat

Conversational Extremes at the Quartzsite Gab-fest

The trick is to avoid eye contact. When walking on the sidewalk of a large city, people learn that you must avert your eyes from winos, junkies, and panhandlers. Quartzsite is not a big city, but the same principle holds. If you slip up -- even momentarily -- at the laundromat, the old boy will notice what license plates your vehicle has, and start in with whar-ya-frum, and then move on to story after story about what happened to him, there, 38 years ago. At another time, in a crowded bakery, a line of annoyed people were held up by an old boy cracking "jokes" with the bakery worker. When he wasn't succeeding well enough at holding her up, he would look around and try to spot some new victim who made eye contact or seemed slightly amused at his bullshit. That person would soon regret it. I tell ya... there are worse things than death; like out-living your usefulness, and becoming one of these old men in Quartzsite. _________________________________________ It is e

What If You ALMOST Need a Generator?

Long-suffering readers know that I like to poke fun -- gently I hope -- at campers who are Gandhi or Thoreau wannabees. They also know that I am not a solar purist. A rational and professional camper uses technology up to the point of diminishing returns. (Or more correctly, the point of diminishing marginal utility.) And yet there are solar purists who make it work for them. People who have vans or motorhomes probably don't count, since they can always charge their house batteries from their engine battery on a cloudy day. So let's only discuss trailers. A trailer-puller can connect their tow vehicle to the trailer, and run the engine. But that charges too slowly, perhaps 7 or 8 Amps. So what do you do when you finally admit that even Arizona is not sunny every day, and that you occasionally park under trees, or near the perpetually cloudy Coast? Buy a windmill? Never heard anything good about them. Besides, you need to supplement a solar system with a secondary system t