Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!!!

Being a child of a Christian household, even if I don't believe, I'd like to wish each and every person in the world a Happy New Year.  It's the way we count solar rotations, so get over it!!!!!

Actually, this is my second favorite holiday of the year; Thanksgiving being the favorite.  Thinking about it; they should be co-favorites:  Thanksgiving is just about realizing how lucky we've been and the New Year is a combination of "we made it this year" and "gee, I hope we can make it next year".

Think about what the first people who celebrated Thanksgiving were faced with; and the first persons who celebrated a 'new year'.  Both celebrations are about  a successful result over whatever period.  The New Year is looking forward; new hopes, new dreams, new days.

Happy New Year to you all.  I hope 2010 turns into a wonderful year for the entire world!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Almost the new year...

It's late in the evening of 29 December 2009.  Not the greatest of years but certainly not the worst. 

Thankfully we now have a President who seems to cherish peace above war; now he just needs to figure out how to make that happen.  I'm not very realistic; I'd just tell everyone that we were leaving and about a week later it would be a fact.  Can't do that in the real world, I know, but I'd sure like to try it.  Blow up about $10B worth of shit so it would only be good for scrap metal and "see ya". 

Actually, I think that would be almost the best thing we could do.  Over on Lee's religious blog he talked about why he wasn't surprised about the guy who tried to blow up a plane on Xmas.  It really made sense to me - check it out:  http://theeggbox.blogspot.com/2009/12/why-am-i-not-surprised.html 

We, I mean the U.S., are treating this like a 'police action' but that's not what the Arabs think it is, they think it's a Christian invasion of their lands.  Isn't that obvious to anyone open to a thought?  Jesus A Fucking Christ, that asshole fundamentalist Christian G. W. Bush has gotten us into one war that has, to almost anyone, limited viability; one war that has none at all; and has us on the edge of invading yet another Arab country - this time for no reason whatsover except that they might actually use nuclear energy for... electricity!  When are we going to be rid of the legacy of GWB?  My guess is in about 150 years.  What an asshole.  I only hope that he goes out and digs a big hole in the Texas dirt and holding Dick Chaney in his arms, is struck by lightning and they fall into the hole, dead, becoming part of our nation physically!  After all, isn't "dirt to dirt" part of their belief system?  And if they are right and there is a God, I'm pretty sure they'll both be shoveling coal for a LONG TIME.

Yah, I'm gonna quit this joyous if unlikely line.  Have a wonderful New Year if I don't get back. 

I have seen war.... I hate war.  Sam Rayburn

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas and all that jazz.....

Haven't blogged in a while; not because nothing happened but because I was a lazy sod.  Yeah, I know, what's new about that!  We've been having weather in the valley.  It has rained a couple of days; we are probably well on our way to that 4 inches (10 cm) that we are supposed to get.  There were snow flurries one day as well but nothing else that stuck. 

Went to Vegas a couple of times doing the Xmas present thing.  I do like buying things for people; maybe I should just start doing it because I like it.  It would certainly make people wonder what I was up to!  The pass was clear both times but the sanding trucks were out so I need to get the car washed.  Don't you just love a white car?

My wife and I agreed that we've been spending money like drunken sailors so we'd take it easy on Xmas.  We went out together and bought each other a couple of things to put under the tree - useful stuff, like shirts that we actually like.  LOL  It worked pretty well I think so maybe we'll have to try it again next year.  I did sneak in a surprise present for her but that's just for fun. 

Our daughter will be here (from Vegas) but that's the Xmas party.  Son & his lady can't make it; maybe next year but I'm not holding my breath.  They seem to have a good relationship and enjoy being alone.  If that works for them, that's all that is important.  Daughter doesn't have a guy in her life right now so being with us works for her.  Therefore, it works for us all.  She is planning on staying two nights; we'll see if she can stand being with us that long! 

Xmas eve is Mexican night (in honor of my father-in-law) around here.  Enchiladas and margaritas will be the order of the day.  Xmas is ham.  Bought a nice pinot noir to go with it.  We looked around for a prime rib but finding prime is difficult.  The markets have choice grade but not prime so we decided to skip it.  We have a good recipe for the ham, it's easy to find and reliable.  Who needs more stress at this time of year. 

Next week it a time to do some rebalancing in the portfolio.  It's been quite a year for the markets.  I'm thinking of shifting a bit more into bonds if I can find a good fund.  Some of the fund managers seem to be even more inept than I am!  I'm keeping more money in stocks than most advisors would suggest but I think that I'm looking at a 30 year retirement (ok, I'm being optimistic about living that long but why not?) and going into fixed income is just a recipe for being really poor when I'm over 80.  Who wants that?

Gotta go.  Have a Merry Christmas and try to stay out of trouble!

"At Christmas play and make good cheer,
For Christmas comes but once a year."
Thomas Tusser

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

A picture is worth.....



Hooray for the self-shoveling sidewalk!

Monday, December 07, 2009

Found a list I like!

Seven things that are hard to do:
1)  Not to post really rude comment on the blogs of all these idiots who have an 'imaginary friend' in Jesus - or whoever! 
2) Not to point out that some idiot blogger is being ripped-off/taken-advantage-of/made-a-fool-of.
3) Remember the basic rules of English - it's not easy to write correctly - much less well(!) and I'm sure I make many mistakes.
4) I'm trying hard not to go nutso about all the assholes, media 'artists' and companies who think Spanish is a second language here.  I wish I was multi-lingual, honestly, but it's not about that.
5) The 2nd Amendment is important to me and I support it totally but it really isn't about full-automatic 50 cal. weapons.
6) The people writing the constitution were all mostly Christian but they intended this country to be open to all religions or to people of no religion at all.  So shut the F&*K up about "under God"!
7) The news media is so full of idiots!  I'd love to dump them all in the ocean except that the oceans would probably overflow the land masses to about the 2000 foot level!  Could I at least throw Rupert Murdock in?  Pretty please!

"Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose"  (As recorded by Janis Joplin)
KRIS KRISTOFFERSON & FRED FOSTER

An amazing place

A week ago or so I finished reading Bill Bryson's book 'In a Sunburned Country' about his love for and travels in Australia.  Bill is a cross between a travel writer and a humorist and if you haven't tried his books I can recommend them.   Here's his Random House site.  He spent a lot of time and money visiting down under and seems to have really enjoyed his stay.  Only in one city did he find people he didn't like!  (Refreshing  because the only person I know who's been there thought the people were awful but then again I think the guy who told me that is an idiot.)  Bryson is an interesting guy:  born in the US, spent most of his adult life in England.  I found him originally when he wrote a sort of travel-log of the US from his peculiarly US-English background.  The thing that he keeps repeating about Australia is what I keep noticing about Nevada - there's a lot of not much out here.  Only in Australia, there is more of less - if you know what I mean. 

People are getting ready for Christmas, Kwanzaa, Chanukah, and probably other holidays all over the world.  Leaves me a bit cold as an atheist but I do like a party.  We send Christmas cards to the older relatives and we have a special dinner and even a tree.  The tree, of course, predates Christianity and we skip all the angels but it certainly does have Christian connotations these days.  We exchange gifts; after one's childhood I expect most of us prefer to give than to receive.  Certainly I do.  Every year I give either money or food to the food bank; this year I think I'll have to find a few toys as well.  There are plenty of poor people in our valley.  So following on the Thanksgiving holiday, let's all be as generous as we can for this special time of year.

Come, yea thankful people, come
Raise the song of Harvest-home;
All is safely gathered in,
Ere the winter storms begin.  

Henry Alford

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Help for the confused.

Here's a roadmap just in case you don't know what church you should be attending.


Tuesday, December 01, 2009

It almost makes me believe.....

It's a glorious morning in the desert!  Woke about 06:30 and took the dog out.  The sun was not yet up; hidden by the mountains to the east.  In the west, above the rocky mountain, there was a layer of deep blue with a layer of pink above it.  Most unusual.  In the eastern sky light, whispy clouds formed a shape kind of like a human hand in an even lighter shade of pink.  Gradually, as the sun rose, the clouds became white.  The very top peaks of the rocky western mountains became pink; then, slowly, the color seeped down their slopes until they were totally pink.  Finally, the sun rose in the eastern sky turning the pink mountains into yellow ones.  In an hour, they will return to their brown, rocky state but in the morning they are magical.

"The sunshine is a glorious birth"  William Wordsworth

Thursday, November 26, 2009

My Ignorance

A couple days ago someone sent me a link to some photographs of an amazing place:  the caves of Ajanta in India.    Here is a link.  They aren't really caves as much as buildings carved out of rock.  The amount of work done to create these building and statues is just mind boggling.  Religion has been responsible for much pain and suffering but it has also been the catalyst for some magnificent art.

The whole web site, http://www.shunya.net/ is amazing.  I know so little of this part of the world.  The internet can be instructive as well as magical.  Have a good one!

"Every man takes the limits of his own field of vision for the limits of the world."  Arthur Schopenhauer

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Thanksgiving

The American holiday of Thanksgiving is Thursday.  It's always been my wife's favorite holiday so we are preparing; perhaps it is my favorite as well.  Agnostics don't really have a lot of holidays!  Religion seems to bring with it excuses for parties, we just don't have that.  I love my country but the 4th of July just brings memories of idiots with fireworks.  The 1st of the year is ok, I like the 'summing up' aspect of that day;  the year is gone, what can we do with the new year. 

Anyway, I'm in the mood for being thankful.  And I have a lot to be thankful about.  What's the old saying about being "healthy, wealthy and wise"?  I'm 61 and need take no medications to keep me going; we have enough money to live comfortably, and, though I babble at times, I can actually carry on a conversation with people.  So I guess I'm making it.  My wife takes a couple of pills a day but not for anything really life threatening.  Our relationship is great; hopefully better than ever.  Our son & daughter are both employed; making their ways in life.  They have trials and tribulations but isn't that what life is about?  So life is not simply good, it's GREAT!

There is a primal part of me that is almost afraid to say how wonderful life is.  I'm simply afraid that it will end if I mention it.  I know it's BS but... it's there.  I think a lot of people feel it but don't want to admit it; certainly I don't like admitting it!  I think about years gone by; when I was laid off from work or one of us was acting badly or we were worried about something one of the kids was doing.  There were still many things to be thankful about; and I knew it.  Actually, getting laid off was one of the best things that ever happened to me; it got me started in a whole new field.  Hell, I might still be working at Sears if things had gone differently.


The photo is of a sunset last May; the wonders of nature never fail to amaze.

So, I wish you all a happy Thanksgiving even if you don't celebrate it.  Take a moment to find a few things to be thankful about and I assure you, your time will be well spent.  Take care!

"Beggar that I am, I am even poor in thanks"  William Shakespeare

Saturday, November 21, 2009

ETFs - maybe

Back to ETFs, that is Exchange-Traded Funds in English.  Yahoo Finance has a nice write up about them here.

I won't repeat the points made in the Yahoo article but I would like to point out that traditional mutual funds and individual stocks also have some advantages.  Good management in either a mutual fund or in a single company can cause their fund or company to do better than an ETF.  I've heard that some ETFs may be coming out that are managed ETFs (rather than the index type that we mostly see now).  Whether that is a good thing or a bad thing must depend on the expertise of the manager. 

One of the things that I personally like about ETFs is that there are many with a very narrow focus.  I don't care for something like Standard & Poor's 500 Index Depository Receipts (SPY:AMEX) which tracks the S&P 500; going along with the crowd just isn't much fun.  I much prefer somthing like SPDR Gold Shares (GLD) which attempts to track the price of gold or iShares MSCI Japan Index (EWJ) that tracks the MSCI Japan stock market index.  That sort of focus is very difficult to find outside the ETF market.

One type of ETF that especially don't like (for me!) is the type that trys to double or even triple what the market does.  One such ETF is UltraShort S&P500 ProShares (SDS).  "The investment seeks daily investment results, before fees and expenses, which correspond to twice the inverse of the daily performance of the S&P 500 index." is a quote from the writeup for SDS in Yahoo.  That means that if the market goes down 10%; SDS trys to go up 20%.  Unfortunately it also means that if the market goes up 10%; SDS will try to go down 20%.  This sort of investment may work for investing professionals but for those of us who don't watch the markets minute-by-minute I think it is downright dangerous. 

Do I own ETFs?  Yes.  I've got a couple that focus on certain parts of the market.  Will I ever go 100% ETF; of course not but I may get up to 25%.  I always follow what I wanted to attribute to Ben Franklin but apparently I was wrong.

"Moderation in all things."  Terence c190-159BC in Andria(The Lady of Andros)

Friday, November 20, 2009

ETF madness

We've had money in traditional mutual funds for a long time.  For example, when I started working for a new company in 1988, one of the funds available in their 401k was Fidelity's Contra (FCNTX) and I still own those shares.  It's not like I intentionally invest for the long term but 20 years certainly isn't short term!

My basic philosophy is to save as much as you can then invest in something that you expect to be more valuable in the future.  I figured that whatever I bought at forty would be more valuable when I was sixty.  (Of course I'm not talking about a six-pack of  beer that didn't make it past my fortith birthday!)  It isn't really a difficult thought!  So I bought some stocks and some mutual funds and we did ok.  Let's face it, folks, this isn't rocket science. 

The folk who are objecting at this point are the ones who just started investing about two years ago.  You can hear the howls "I bought XXX  in 07; look how I'm doing!"  Well, I feel for you.  I bought Armstrong Flooring not long before the company went under due to asbestos claims.  I bought Thornburg Mortgage before the mortgage debacle. Back in 1974 I bought IBM just before the market crashed.  Trust me; worse things will happen to you.

Invest in the market; invest broadly; read about the companies; then read the papers & pay attention:  you will be fine.  If I'd read about the asbestos claims; I could have gotten out of Armstrong.  I drank the coolaid about Thornburg being a 'different' company.  More fool me!

So now we have ETF's.  You can buy small sectors of the market or large ones via these products.  Some are managed; some are indexes.  There are a lot of new ways to invest here.  We can talk about them later.

"The trouble with most people is that they think with their hopes or fears or wishes rather than with their minds."  - Walter Duranty


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Getting chilly in the desert

All of a sudden it seems it's cold - a few degrees of frost every night and we had fairly heavy snow on the mountain a couple days ago.  It's mostly melted by now but it'll be back.

About this time we all start thinking about the holidays.  For us in the U.S. Thanksgiving is coming up.  It's my wife's favorite holiday; nothing religious but simply family and realizing how lucky we have been.  Today was a minor addition to that luck; our daughter had a colonoscopy and was declared ok.  Even a minor test brings some fear of failure.  I have the results from the MRI on my neck; nothing unusual wrong but it's not like I'm twenty-five any more!

From Thanksgiving to Xmas seems like only a moment.  Not true for children, of course, but it sure goes fast for me!  We don't do much to celebrate (being athiests!); I can only imagine all the pressure that is on the truly Christian among us.  We are continuing our support of the local economy by ordering a cover for our rv.  That sun in the summer is just amazing; leaving the rv out just isn't an option.  Next year we may even leave Pahrump for a while during the worst of the summer but this will protect the rv during the other ten or eleven months. 

I've been thinking about changing the tenor of my blog.  What I do every day is think about our investments and how they are working in the current environment.  I'm thinking about talking a lot more about that process.  Anyone have any comments? 

"Money may be the husk of many things, but not the kernel.  It brings you food, but not appetite; medicine, but not health; acquaintances, but not friends; servants, but not faithfulness; days of joy, but not peace or happiness."  Henrik Ibsen

Friday, November 13, 2009

Not going hungry anyway....

Opened the fridge this a.m. and realized that I've been on a cooking spree.  The oldest thing is the tail end of a charcroute garni - sour kraut with potatoes, pork chops and sausage.  Then there is beef barley soup and finally, yesterday, I did carnitas.  Lots of leftovers!

Don't know how Mexican's do carnitas but mine is from a comment left on Epicurious.  The writer was chastising the writer of a recipe and I liked what he said so tried it.  I take a big piece of pork shoulder, cut it up roughly and brown it a bit.  Then add a can of Rotel, a can of chicken broth, a diced onion, several cloves of garlic and seasonings:  ground cumin, chili powder, oregano and curry powder.  I let it cook for a couple hours then remove the meat and shred it, then put it back in the pot.  About this time I tasted it and added a teaspoon of salt and one of red pepper flakes.  Another 10 minutes or so and we had dinner.  You are supposed to dry it out by frying it then eat it in a tortilla.  We just eat it with spoons from a bowl. 

The beef barley soup came about because the store had a special on a large package of sirloin.  We had steak on the barbie one night then had about a pound that we hadn't cooked.  Hmmmm.   Diced it, browned it and cooked it in some beef broth and red wine.  Added some barley and a big bunch of diced vegies.  Yum! 

Hmmm, think I'll go have some soup for breakfast!  Have a good one.

"Our country is the world - our countrymen are all mankind."  William Lloyd Garrison (1805-1879)

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Travel!

Finally got to go somewhere - only San Diego, CA but it's not bad.  It was a week long trip and will end tomorrow; tonight I'm writing from an rv resort in 29 Palms, CA.

The first two nights of our trip we spent in the Jojoba Hills SKP park not far outside of San Diego.  We love the organization and thought it would be nice to visit the park.  It was ok; much larger than some of the other parks and more elaborate; for example, they have a woodshop for the residents.  It is also out in the middle of nowhere; at least they have a jojoba bush there!

Went on to San Diego.  Visited our son, his significant other (wife in all but name), and the zoo.  Guess that's what we like about San Diego.  Not really, there is a lot more to see but that's all we saw this trip.  We are just getting used to the fact that we can get there in a day; even towing the trailer.  We did enjoy the zoo.  So much so that we are talking about getting season tickets.  They are $129 for a couple not living in San Diego and a daily ticket is $35 for a single person so, why not.  Two visits a year would pay for it; especially since we'd rather be there for two hours a day two days running than four hours on a single day.  That's what we did this time and it was pretty tiring.

We did a certain amount of driving in the California hills.  It was pretty but not always pleasant.  Saturday there were a lot of motorcycles out.  One heading up a pack of perhaps twenty wasn't completely on his side of the road.  If I can keep my truck in one lane I'd like to think that dipshit could keep his bike in the other!  Today we were towing the trailer on a similar road.  I pulled over six or eight times to let people pass.  There is a law saying you must but it's only common sense to let people go; they just get crazy if you don't and that's when the accidents happen.

Also today we visited the Joshua Tree National Park.  Pretty cool!  There are lots of joshua trees (of course) and larger ones than I have seen elsewhere.  There are also just amazing rock formations.  We are ready to come back some time.  It isn't the easiest place to find but it's certainly worth it for us!

Gotta go.  Tomorrow we should make it home.  It's always good to get home.  Take care, y'all!

CYNIC n. A blackguard whose faulty vision causes him to see things as they are, not as they ought to be.  Ambrose Bierce

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Just me....

We are the product of our bodies, our life and our times so must all be unique.  I ran across this slightly self-centered little idea at Be A Survivor and thought it might be fun to copy.

Here is what I can definitively say I AM:

I am a 61 year old married white male.

I am a conservative on some issues; liberal on others; not usually rabid about anything.  I remember thinking Kennedy would destroy our nation; then, later, that Reagan would.  Now I am simply glad that I was wrong both times.

I am more in the Libertarian camp than with major parties on most issues and that simply stems from my belief that the government will screw most things up if given the opportunity and are therefore better to not be involved in the first place.  Here's a favorite political writer, now retired, who at least makes me think!

I vote in EVERY election whether it is Federal, State or Local in nature (religiously).

I do not believe that the U.S. is the only country in the world worth living in however it is where I was born and most likely it is where I will die.  I might move if things get too totally stupid here.

I am an athiest.

I am a retired business person (IT), I worked in the business world for several big corporations, who believe it or not treated me quite well.

I had a 401k and a couple of IRAs, yes and I put as much money in it as I could. There is are two phenomenon called dollar cost averaging and the time value of money.  I believe in them both.  I still have
faith in Capitalism but not the purest variety - see Standard Oil and the Rockefellers.  BTW, I retired at 50.

I would like to be a HAM radio operator. It's one of those 'find the time' things.

I am a card carrying member of the National Rifle Assn.  I would like to spend more time at the range but I'm not a hunter.

I am a college graduate; two degrees in fact.

I can balance my checkbook but still can't juggle worth shit!

I drive a pickup truck but I don't have a rifle rack in the back window. I do have a survival rifle (.22 cal) stowed in the cab.  I have a CB too but have only used it to listen to NOAA weather forecasts.

I have had Concealed Weapons Permits from Florida and Washington; I intend to get one for Nevada but....

I procrastinate!

I drink alcohol daily, probably too much, but it has never been an issue for me. My preferred poison is either red wine or scotch on the rocks.

I have never had a flu shot; don't intend to this year... received ALL of my childhood vaccinations of course. I was also in the Army and they certainly believe in vaccines!

I enjoy long walks on the beach and candle lit dinners; but only with certain people.

I love to read and watch movies (nothing too violent, bloody or just plain stupid).

The only sport I follow is Formula 1 Motor Racing.

I have always been a bit of a loner and I really like it that way. I don't have a "best friend" other than my wife.
To be honest she is the only other person whose company that I TRULY enjoy and even she gets on my nerves sometimes!

So, there I am; at least some of me.

"Reading maketh a full man, conference a ready man, and writing and exact man."  Sir Francis Bacon

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Free plug: I love The Economist

We've been receiving The Economist on and off for a few years.  It describes itself as a newspaper; here in the U.S. it would be called a news magazine because of it's format.  Regardless, I love reading it.  It's only drawback for me is that I have difficulty finding the time to read it all.  Yep, even old retired guys have time constraints. 

Today I discovered a great part of their website:  the style section.  Not only do they do a great job of suggesting ways of improving one's writing, they do it with, ... wait for it..., style.  Sorry, couldn't help myself!  Spicing things up are some of the quotes from great writers:  "In general, be concise. Try to be economical in your account or argument (“The best way to be boring is to leave nothing out”—Voltaire)."  My God, how I wish some people I know would read and take to heart that quote from Voltaire!  The only section that troubles me is the part insisting on British spellings:  labour, etc.  But that is a quibble.  It is, of course, a British publication. 

What I like most about it is that it covers the entire world.  American news magazines are too U.S. centric for my taste.  I like hearing what is happening in Uganda or Ecuador; I like reading about Renault's business even though they don't sell cars in this country.  The world is getting smaller by the minute and I want to know as much about it as my limited intelligence will let me grasp.

One last quote from the style section:  "Keep complicated constructions and gimmicks to a minimum, if necessary by remembering the New Yorker's comment: “Backward ran sentences until reeled the mind.”"

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Is it me or you?

I'm back after playing host to visitors since last Wednesday.  My wife's brother & his wife stayed with us for a few days on their way back to the NW.  We had a really good time.  They are different; more widely traveled, more educated than the rest of the family.  He was a career naval officer; she is a published poet.  Nice people.  We didn't do much on Wednesday afternoon; spent most of Thursday visiting Death Valley; and checked out Pahrump on Friday.  Our daughter came over from Vegas Friday to see them and spent the night.

This morning, our daughter left by 06:00; I was just up and she tried to get out without even seeing her mom.  Didn't make it but she was anxious to leave.  The BIL & SIL were up soon after and packed and ran out of here certainly before 07:30.  So, my question is this:  does everyone haul ass out of here because they want to or because they sense we want them gone?   Hmmmm.

This brings up a raft of motivations on both sides; I doubt we'll ever resolve all this and really I doubt if I would have the guts to bring it up.  Some of our feelings are:
- we feel guilt about wanting them gone
- we feel selfish about wanting to be alone.
Their feelings may include:
- they have a long journey and may wish to get started
- they may want to be alone themselves
- they may sense our desire for them to leave.

How do you feel when people leave?  Relieved or sad; or both? 

"It was a delightful visit - perfect, in being much too short."  Jane Austen (in Emma)

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The view out my window.....

It's not everyone who has two people walking their burro past their window! Distance maybe 1000 yards; gotta love that Canon S2 IS!

I've been quiet again....

No particular reason but I just haven't been here. I'm reasonably certain that the pinched nerve in my neck has something to do with the amount of time I spend on the computer so I've been trying to cut that down to something 'normal'. Ha! Like I can ever be normal!

The only thing that's got my attention lately is Mr. Obama being given the Nobel Peace Prize. I'm not really against it; certainly he brought a whole new face to the way the U.S. is interacting with the rest of the world, but I'm not certain I like him being recognized at that level for what he has done. As many others have pointed out; it's an award based on his potential. At any rate, here's hoping he can earn the darned thing.

We took the trailer back to the dealer with a couple of warranty problems and I must say it was a great experience. They did the work promptly and without a bit of hassle. Of course, we are using the dealer who sold the unit. If it had been sold by someone in Florida, there might have been some paperwork foolishness. Still, full marks to Johnnie Walker RV in Las Vegas.

One of my favorite bloggers, lawyermom, points out that I might get into trouble for saying something nice about the rv dealer. Well, all I can say is that I didn't get any compensation for that plug. Thanks for the heads-up, lawyermom, if they ever offer me a cup of coffee while I'm waiting I'll know to just say 'no'.

Another favorite blogger, RandomRoger, who is supposed to be a financial guy, came up with a reference to a great article on Cesar Millan, the Dog Whisperer. We do watch his show all the time and pretty much drink his coolaid in regard to treatment of our dog. We are nowhere near consistent enough but we try. Turns out that Cesar is one of those illegal immigrants that we don't hear a lot about - a successful one! Go Cesar! And don't forget to pay your taxes, buddy!

Take it easy, it's dangerous out there!

Friday, October 02, 2009

Whew, made it!

It's official, today I'm sixty-one years of age. Yeah, I know, ancient. Got a birthday card that pointed out it's kind of weird celebrating being closer to death. Never thought of it that way before but I guess it's true enough. Actually you could celebrate that every day. Maybe I should!

We have a quiet day planned. I'm probably going to burn a steak on the barbie tonight, I must be getting old; I'd rather eat at home than go out. Nothing against the local eateries, I just don't get that much of a thrill out of going out any more. We went into Vegas yesterday to do some shopping and had lunch at the Chipotle Grill. That's about as exciting as we get these days.

I was reading an rv'ers blog and he talked about a couple where the man would really love to rv full time and his wife is adamant that they have a regular house. It made me thankful all over again that I'm not in a relationship like that. Our relationship, like most, is a lot about compromise; also a lot about reality. For example, we'd like to travel more than we do but we also really like being home. Until I figure out how to be in two places at once I'm never going to be happy! Tough life, huh.

Here's hoping you all have such a tough life. Be careful, it's dangerous out there.

The smallest actual good is better than the most magnificent promise of impossibilities. Macaulay

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Fall has arrived

If the folks on the tv weather reports know what they are talking about triple digit temperatures (> 37C) are over for this year. We are happy to hear that! Right now it's about 65F (18C); nice for a change. I may even have to wear long pants one of these days.

We were planning on going to the town celebration over the weekend but didn't go in the end; it was just too warm. Instead we went to Home Depot and spent a couple hundred dollars in air conditioned comfort. Mostly it was for a new ceiling fan for the bedroom. Now I have another task; install the thing. It's much larger then the existing fan so we are expecting the air circulation will improve - just in time for the cooler weather.

My pinched nerve is still bothering me even with all the drugs the doc prescribes. I'm looking forward to some physical therapy to try to speed things along. It's got to be better than filling my body with addictive drugs (almost as bad as scotch). Hmmm, if this didn't hurt it could be fun. (Just kidding!)

As you can tell, not much is going on around here. I'm ignoring all the talk about the health plan. The government 'of the people, by the people, for the people' certainly isn't going to listen to anyone who hasn't offered them something in return. Yes, I think the congress is for sale. Is there anyone who thinks differently? Has there ever been a more self-serving organization? Sure, but the days of Kings and Queens and their oligarchy is mostly long gone.

Hopefully I'll be in a better mood next time. Be careful, it's dangerous out there!

CYNIC n. A blackguard whose faulty vision causes him to see things as they are, not as they ought to be. Ambrose Bierce

Thursday, September 24, 2009

I've been right here!

Haven't posted, of course, but what else is new. We had friends visiting from last Friday until yesterday. These are really great people and we love them but we are used to being alone; having visitors in your house for five days is disconcerting.

We didn't do much: talking and eating would be the big things. Went into Vegas one day; they did sight-seeing and we visited a doctor that my wife will be seeing for her colonoscopy. Yep, we have to go over the hump for most specialists. But that's ok with us; we like the country ways of our little town.

I went to the doctor myself recently and again today to discuss the results of my tests. Turns out that I am alive; my blood seems to be circulating normally and I should live until I die. Actually, things are pretty good; there isn't anything wrong with me except this pinched nerve in my neck. Drugs will keep me semi-pain free for a while; we are hoping that some physical therapy will complete the trick. Cholesterol is a little high so I'm going to work on that - less red meat, more fiber, all that stuff. The bad news was that I have "extensive" degenerative changes in the bones in my neck apparently caused by osteoarthritis. Nothing life threatening; just something that's tough to repair. Then the doc says "Have you had your prostate exam lately?" - hmmm, next thing I know I'm bent over the table with my pants on the floor. Jeez, I sure wish she hadn't opted for those squared-off fake fingernails! (Actually she was very gentle but, yes, I could feel them!)

In better news: our town is having a big event next weekend. We haven't been here for it before but it sounds like a combination rodeo, county fair and craft show. It should be fun and I hope to have photos. Until then, be careful, it's dangerous out there!

Liberty is the only thing you cannot have unless you are willing to give it to others. William Allen White

Monday, September 14, 2009

A Stolen Post! But my rant....

I was over checking out one my favorite Aussies and found his post about Lizzy Miller (http://thecurateafterdark.blogspot.com/2009/09/ba-woman.html). She's a model but not of the stick variety. Glamour apparently ran a small picture of this gal without modifying the photo in any way. This seems to be very unusual for such magazines. It's a shame that our society makes bodily perfection a fetish. Here's another article about her: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1210814/Lizzie-Millers-Glamour-magazine-shoot-How-models-picture-shook-world-flabby-tummy-all.html

I'm sure everyone notices that tv actors are terribly thin. I know the camera is supposed to add 10 pounds; if that is so some of those folks must be afraid of blowing away in the breeze. The magazines show dresses in size zero; what does that mean? That the thing isn't there? And why does every third woman in the western world have to have breast implants? The ones put there by nature are so much nicer. I can see tv stars wanting them and strippers but why does the housewife down the street need them? If it's to make her man happy; I guess he's just a fool and she's a dope for going along with him. There's no way I'm ever going to change this direction the world is taking but it is one of my favorite rants.

I was scheduled to go to the doctor last Friday but the doctor got sick! Going this morning instead. It's just a pinched nerve but I'm using it as an excuse to meet the doctor. I want a preview of the person who might be giving me a physical. When you are over 50 they start looking at more than your heartbeat. LOL

Have a good day but be careful, it's dangerous out there!

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

I'm an old crock

Just lately I did something, slept wrong or lifted something, I don't know what it was but it has caused me to be in pain most of the time. It feels like a pinched nerve in my neck and causes pain in my right shoulder and arm. This kind of thing happens and usually goes away but this one has been around for a couple of weeks now so I'm off to see the doctor on Friday. I've never seen this doctor before but my wife has been to see her and the report was favorable so I'm her newest patient.

I'm a crappy patient. I don't like visiting the doctor and don't communicate very well with them. I know it's important to talk to them but I'm seldom ill and just haven't learned the technique. Later in life most of us get to spend more time with our doctors; I'm not looking forward to it!

Today being 09/09/09 has gotten a certain about of play. Las Vegas has always been known for people getting married (or divorced) here. Today the tv had a big piece on people getting married on what they consider an especially lucky day. They even had a couple from Sweden who came to town to get married. They were hoping for the nine o'clock time slot as well! Good luck to them! This being married can be tough even though the marriage I'm in now has been pretty great.

Tomorrow WE are going into Las Vegas. It's always fun to drive over the pass; on this side you go up quite steadily over about twenty miles but on the other you go down a 7% grade and then you are there. It's a good road now; some of the folks who have lived here a while remember when it was all two lane road and quite dangerous when some idiot passed you in a bad spot.

This is one of those miscellaneous trips. We'll be going all over looking for various bits and pieces. One thing that has come to the top of the list is a living room lamp. We are using a $14 special from walmart and it's kind of ugly and my wife is very tired of it. We have friends coming to visit in about a week and she wants a new lamp. Hmmm, I wonder if I could just stay in the truck? LOL Not in a hundred years!

So you see, it's quiet here in the desert. (And hot, still over 100F (38C) most days.) Have a good one and be careful, it's dangerous out there.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Gone but not forgotten

Now Ted Kennedy's autobiography is leaking out. He talks about the Chappaquiddick accident. "Ted Kennedy went to his grave a haunted man for the death of Mary Jo Kopechne in the 1969 Chappaquiddick car crash that many believe shattered Kennedy's presidential dreams."

"That night on Chappaquiddick Island ended in a horrible tragedy that haunts me every day of my life," Kennedy wrote in "True Compass," his much anticipated memoir, published by Twelve.

Gee, leaving someone to die may have shattered his dream. Wonder what it did for her dreams?

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/2009/09/02/2009-09-02_sen_ted_kennedy_wrote_chappaquiddick_haunts_me_every_day_of_my_life_in_true_comp.html#ixzz0QAIPh0Kw"

Even G. W. Bush our late Prez and, in his youth, a well know substance abuser didn't even have something like that to remember. And yet the people of Massachusetts kept returning Mr. Kennedy to office. It sure makes one wonder about our method of selecting our representatives. I don't see how there was simply never a better candidate. But having bags of money and heaven know how many people beholden to him (remember that thing about money?) might have had something to do with it. I will say that I find the thought of him being in the Senate much more comforting than him being President!

Oh, and as a good Catholic, one wonders where Mr. Kennedy thinks he is going to end up. It was always my opinion that Our Lord God had particular feeling about killing other people (You shall not murder.) but he didn't really say anything about leaving someone to die in a car under water so maybe Ted's ok. And did I mention that having someone who just walked away from an accident to let someone die bothers me? Hmmm, maybe I forgot that part. I imagine the priests will be praying for his soul as fervently as they would for a poor man. Yeah, right! Here's a much more literate idea about his situation.



In other news, 10 weeks after his death, Michael Jackson is laid to rest. I don't follow these things but I can't help but wonder what took so long. I thought that the autopsy's have been over for time. Was there a disagreement about where to put him? Wouldn't the cemetery accept him? Did they have something against child molesters? Hmmm, curious people don't really give a damn. I'm just glad they are both dead.

Be careful, those two assholes are gone but it's still dangerous out there!

Blog Advertisement

Ok, I'm addicted to reading blogs. I won't bore you with a list of ALL of them but here are my special ones.

I like this woman even though I don't always agree with her. This entry though is special. She's the Lawyer and a mom.

I love reading about Nick and Miss Terry traveling the US. They write and publish a newsletter that I keep thinking I'll order but... you know me, procrastination personified!

One of the most interesting people I've come across is Lee from Australia. Not only is he a smart guy, he comes across the darnedest oddities to share with us all. He recently started a new job so isn't blogging as much as he used to do but it's still a great read.

A long time blogger named Wombat is also on my must read list. He is another Aussie but lives on Florida's West Coast and drives a limo.

I manage our investment portfolio so look at a few sites for advice. The only blog I read consistently is Random Roger out of Arizona. He seems like a pretty smart guy and I like his approach: it starts with spend less than you make and then invest it prudently. It's defining 'prudently' that's the tough part!

I read Charmaine about Middle Aged Dating; it's kind of like a soap opera. Trashy but I can't stop reading! Sorry Charmaine, it's not YOU that are trashy, it's the guys you date.

Lost and Found in India is different. People seem crazy about this woman; I understand about 10% of what she talks about but you can't say it's boring.

Life at Willow Manor is kind of different. She kind of reminds me of my ex-wife; the better parts of my ex! She would have had tea in a specially made cup.

To move on to RV blogs - I keep track of Ron and Terry at HitchItch. They have a fantastic site listing all sorts of RV blogs and reading about their personal travels is fun.

Then there is my buddy Croft. This poor Canadian seems to wish he was born on the other side of the country, i.e. Mexico. Spends as much time the as he can in his Class C being a part-time Mexican. Whatever works for him!.

Then there is Brian the boondocker. He thought he was taking off to be a full timer- boondocker kind of guy and the whole economy kind of fell down around his ears. He's still struggling with it though and I'm thinking he'll be off with Heidi on the back of his bike one of these days.

Hate to admit it but we are getting near the end. Mac and Chris are a couple of crazy people who enjoy traveling this great country and gambling every inch of the way. What the hell, it works for them. And I love reading about their adventures.

Here's a couple who I found because they were back-packing around Europe. Ok, I did it too when I was twenty but... I want to rv around there now. But these folks seemed to have a great time and, like them, we love the history of an area. They seem to have given up their blog since they returned home; too bad, it was a great read.

I love reading the adventures of this young woman who is adventuring around Canada. Sometimes she work-camps (which is working part of your week in exchange for your camping space) and sometimes she is just wandering. It's interesting either way.

There are many, many other blogs I visit occasionally but I'll end this list with an RV campground owner. Kathy has the most amazing adventures. Sometimes she is funny; sometimes it's scary but it always makes me want to come back and visit her again.

Ok - there's my list. There are lots more blogs that I visit but these are the ones who keep me going. Some I comment on; some I don't. That's reading blogs; sometimes there just isn't anything to add.

Hope you are having fun. But be careful, it's dangerous out there!

Friday, September 04, 2009

RANT Alert! Read at your peril.

I'm a quiet kind of guy. I don't talk a lot; most conversations with me are about 20% me and 80% you. Often I have trouble choosing the exact word I want. I was taught not to interrupt others; not many people were taught that or if they were they don't remember the lesson. They also were not taught how to listen; they are thinking about their next speech instead of listening to whoever is speaking.

I don't really care to speak in public though I can and have. Once of my ex-bosses suggested I should become a member of Toastmaster's and I enjoyed that. It was a great experience; you think out what you are going to say and the audience actually listens. One of the things I like about blogging it that it is written. I have the opportunity to say something, something I've thought out, without the interruptions of others. Of course, not many people READ this blog but that's ok. LOL, I'm an acquired taste!

There are problems in this country that aren't being addressed and I'm getting tired of it. Here, in no particular order are some of the problems I'd like to see addressed. Let me know if I've missed your favorite; maybe I forgot it or maybe I don't care but if you don't yell, we won't know.

1. Institute term limits for members of Congress. Like 2 terms max.
2. Get rid of the special Congressional retirement program.
3. Pay our members of Congress more; nothing over the top but well. They have a hell of a responsibility and deserve compensation; particularly if they are only going to be there for a short time.
4. Overhaul our legal system removing about 90% of the laws. Right now if you kill a cop, it's one law; if you kill a kid, it's a different law; if you kill a pregnant woman, it's another law. This isn't rocket science; kill someone and you get punished. Judges get paid to differentiate between levels of awfulness.
5. Get rid of the civil crime vs criminal crime. I personally think O. J. Simpson had something to do with his wife's death but at the criminal trial he was found innocent. I think it's a travesty that he was then chased through the civil courts and ordered to pay restitution to anyone. (Glad to see that the jerk managed to find his way into jail anyway!)
6. Stop the automatic granting of citizenship to children who are born here of parents who are not from this country. If you want to move here, fine, do so. But if you are going to be here; be here. Become citizens; pay taxes; learn English; become Americans as so many immigrents have done before you. You, too, will make this a better and stronger country. Don't pretend you are still in your home country; you aren't. If you don't like the rules here, leave.
7. The whole issue of health care is fouled up. I expect it to get worse before it gets better. Small businesses cannot afford to insure their workers; large businesses cannot afford to insure their many retirees; states cannot afford to foot the bill; the federal government cannot at this level of taxation. One problem that no one talks about is that none of us gets out of this thing called life alive. We have created an environment where extreme measures are taken to keep someone alive who is going to die anyway. I have personal experience with a woman who was in extreme pain whose doctor wanted to give her iron injections to keep her alive a while longer. Why!
8. Make most drug use legal. If you are high on something that costs $5 at Walmart you probably won't have to become a criminal to support your habit. Not to mention the fact that the country wouldn't have to support the thousands or even millions of people who are living in jail because of this foolishness. And if someone overdoses, let them die.
9. Change the way lawyers are paid. Make it an hourly wage that's reasonable. And make documents shorter; like a will that's over 5 pages is way too detailed. We have a Trust document that is somewhere around 100 pages and it's not like we are the Rockefeller's! This isn't rocket science either; when I die I would like various things to happen. How tough is that?
10. Executive pay in this country is totally stupid. The asshole at the top basically does nothing special so he/she should get maybe 20 times someone working in the factory/office/field. No more. The closed club of "Board Members" is doing nothing for the ordinary stock holder or the company. Nine out of ten companies could dump their CEO and promote someone from about 5 management layers lower and would do better the next year. Oh, and the head of every company doesn't have to be a CEO - our local electric utility just renamed the General Manager to CEO - what a joke! He's the same dumbass managing the same nitwits but NOW he's a CHIEF EXECUTIVE!

Please note that this post is basically a rant. I'm sorry about the rant. I'm not suggesting many fixes for these problems. I'm just tired of all the politically correct crap that we call 'discussing the problems' in this country that actually ignores the problems.

Have a good day and be careful, it is VERY dangerous out there!

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Just another day in ......

Pahrump! Got up and walked early before the sun warmed the world. Showered then went to the casino for breakfast. It's as good as anywhere and is cheaper. Then each of us got our $5 and started playing video poker. It took about 10 minutes for my wife to lose her stake; I still had $2.75 but the deal is that we quit when one has lost (or if one gains!).

Got the title for the truck from Ford Credit the other day. We only took out the loan because they gave us an extra $1000 off; paid them three monthly payments and paid it off. Went up the the DMV and got the lien taken off the title so now it's all ours and we have proof. (Or will when the DMV gets around to sending it to us.) It took at least 45 minutes for those lazy clowns to get to us. They have four people working but only two seem to do anything at the same time. Then there are three others who wander around between the offices but don't actually help people. What a cluster f*&k.

We go back and forth between getting smoke from the fires down by Los Angeles and getting clear air. Mornings are clearer; evenings are smoky. The moon last night was an amazing orange even when it was quite high in the sky. Sure hope the fires are brought under control soon; two firefighters have been killed already.

Gotta go bbq a salmon. It's not like up in the NW because this is an Atlantic salmon probably raised in Chile but it's not all that bad!

Take it easy. It's dangerous out there!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Quiet Day

Having a quiet day in the neighborhood today. The air is filled with smoke from the fires burning down by LA. It's 250 miles away (400 km) but we haven't been able to see the mountains most of the day. Now it's breezy, even windy. When you see the bushes rustling here you know something's up!

Had fun watching Kimi Raikkonen win the 2009 F1 race at Spa. We visited Spa when we lived in the Netherlands. It's an interesting corner of the world. What we loved about Kimi's win is that it was unexpected. Ferrari hasn't been doing all that well this year and we like the unpredictability of F1 racing. What was even more amazing was the 2nd place of team Force India's Giancarlo Fisichella. Force India has usually been in last place but today they were hot.

Walked again this a.m. - a couple of miles but as we discovered when we visited Washington, walking here in the desert doesn't prepare you for hills! Found a neat website yesterday; this guy has visited all the Historical Markers in Nevada. It's quite an accomplishment. He is a photographer whose speciality is Nevada and the Great Basin. Go to the bottom of that page and check out the sign. (That's 240km!) His photography is found on his other page. Nice stuff and a bit different. BTW, we live in southern Nye county.

Take care. It's dangerous out there!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Lest we forget...

Ted Kennedy died last night at 77. He was awarded the Medal of Freedom a couple weeks ago by President Obama. We will be hearing what a wonderful man he was; what a leader; a true hero. Lest we forget, he was also the coward responsible for the death of a young woman, Mary Jo Kopechne back in 1969. To me it's a classic story of a rich, no-longer young asshole (he was married with three kids) who just couldn't believe that something this bad could happen to him. And, in fact, it was pretty well covered up. To the point that Mr. Obama disgraced the Medal of Freedom by giving it to him. Anyone else would have been at least arrested and tried for manslaughter; Kennedy lost his driving privileges for a few months. Of course he did have his chauffeur; the same guy who gave him the keys to the car the night Mary Jo died.

The White House blog says "Sen. Edward Kennedy is one of the longest-serving and greatest Senators of all time. He has worked tirelessly for health care reform over the last five decades." Yeah, sure. That's why our health care system is in such wonderful shape now.

I should be thankful; at least he didn't get to be President!

Take care; it's dangerous out there (unless you are very wealthy).

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Gotta post, gotta post, gotta post

Unfortunately I've almost nothing to post about! Life, post trip, has been exceedingly dull; which is what we were looking forward to experiencing.

Not a lot changed during our three weeks away. They are starting work on a lot on our main street (Nevada state highway 160). No signs are posted so no one knows what is planned but it isn't all that large a space. My crystal ball is cloudy so I'm just waiting for the surprise.

We got actual RAIN last week. It was a heavy shower by any standard but only lasted ten or fifteen minutes. The rain showers around here are quite small and so since we don't have a rain gauge I've no idea how much rain we received. The paper didn't say anything about it so I'm guessing that officially, we received no rain in Pahrump.

While we were gone something happened that is typical of the town; one of the things that endears it to us. Some guy got stopped for speeding and was ticketed for doing 41 mph in a 35 mph zone(72/56kph). He got pissed off and wrote to the paper talking about how he took his niece out to dinner and getting the ticket really spoiled the evening. The next two issues of the paper had letters, long ones, explaining to this guy how he is really an asshole. One letter was from the sheriff pointing out that the deputy actually clocked him at 51 mph(82kph) but knocked it down to 41 so he wouldn't get in so much trouble with his insurance. The others all pointed out that 1)speeding is against the law, 2)he is teaching his niece it's ok to break the law, 3)exceeding the limit is dangerous and several other points I've forgotten. It was really great to see people pointing out to this guy that he was totally in the wrong and ought to go soak his head somewhere. Cool. It's been a long time since I've seen that kind of response; of course it's been a while since I've heard anyone complain about getting a speeding ticket in public! Too bad the deputy didn't get him for DUI (Driving Under the Influence of drugs or alcohol) while he was at it.

Gotta go make some calls. We need a cover for the new trailer and we aren't going to get it if I just sit here! Be careful, it's dangerous out there!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Home at last

Made it home on Thursday afternoon. Backed the trailer into it's spot and parked the truck in the garage. It's good to be home though we did have a great trip.

I've decided to call the latter portion of this trip the Volcano Tour; we visited Mt. St. Helens; Crater Lake and Lava Beds National Monument. It was not without it's drama.

Mt. St. Helens was clouded over so there wasn't much to see. We had a good time checking out the visitor's center and such. Things have sure grown over in the almost 30 years since the eruption.

We visited Crater Lake coming in from the North; the road was on the side of the mountain and there was no guardrail; NOT a fun trip. I can't imagine how that situation has come to be but it's nasty! The lake itself is amazing but there were tons-o-tourists too. Couldn't find a parking space at the main lodge so went to a place on the edge of the park for lunch - $9 hamburgers and $2.50 cokes. We were hungry enough that it sounded ok to us!



We were parked in the Escapee park in Sumerlin, OR and made Crater Lake a day trip. That worked ok but it was quite a long day. The park was nice but we really didn't meet anyone. There were tons of deer around and I got this photo from out the back window of our rig.



Lava Beds NM was kind of an impulse thing. It is northern CA. The local mountain blew up long ago and left lava deposits that are really quite impressive. I didn't get any photos because it just didn't seem to lend itself to photos. They have some lava tubes that you can explore as you might a natural cave. We checked out the one that is lit and left the other to people who like that kind of thing. Neither of us cares for crawling around in the dark!

We were staying at the fairgrounds in Tulelake, CA. It was kind of a weird place with several sites available but no one around except another group campers (3 guys) who had an rv, tents and several bbq's. Have no idea what they were about! The grounds keepers were watering the grass like crazy; the county fair is in early September and I guess they wanted the green grass award. Seemed like a terrible waste to me; at the fair when I was a kid I remember the grass being worn to nothing in about a day.

From Lava Beds we were only two days from home. So we hit the road. Stopped overnight in Fallon, NV; just outside Reno. Another town that is there because of irrigation; add enough water and the desert will bloom. Aside from having FOUR separate people try to pass us when they didn't have enough room, causing us to have to slow violently, driving home was pretty uneventful.

For me it had all the earmarks of a great trip: I was looking forward to it; I am happy to be home; had fun; nothing awful happened. What more can you ask! Next week we'll be conferring with the dealer about the little things we found in the trailer. That should be illuminating. ;)

Take care; it's still dangerous out there!

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Internet Free Zone

We've been in an internet free zone for a few days. First in a state park; later at the last relative's house. Now I'm catching up. No photos right now because I'm trying to do laundry and type at the same time. Our trip started out hot but now we are down to normal temps - 70 for a high, say 20C. It's a nice change from the hot; we'll get plenty of that when we get back to Nevada.

Things have good well. The trailer is ok but I have trouble because the turning radius is different from our old truck-trailer setup. Twice I've had to stop half way around a curve and back up a bit to get a better angle at it. I'm probably just being careless. Scraped something once on a turn that went violently up in the middle of the turn. We shouldn't have been on that road actually!

We are headed up to see Mt. St. Helens tomorrow; haven't been since the 80's. Next year is 30 years since the big blow. We were living in Seattle at the time but it didn't really affect us directly. The wind blew all the ash eastward and Seattle was spared any trouble. After St. Helens we are headed for Oregon and Crater Lake.

Take care, it's dangerous out there!

Saturday, August 01, 2009

The Real Washington State

Here it is:



Fog and trees and water - what's not to like? Today it is a relief because it's been unusually warm. When it's been like this for a month, you yearn for the sun! The woman at the camp office is complaining about the 16 hour days 7 days a week but that only lasts for a couple of months; then they are alone for ten months. That seems to be the way of life; way too much then scarcity.

Gonna move on today away from the Elwha river area. Off to the coast where we hope it will be cool. It has been pretty warm in the inland areas. A few days away from family won't hurt either.

Take it easy, it's dangerous out there.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Still fooling around

Still visiting family in Washington state. Eating and drinking more than enough seems to be our primary recreation. Driving around getting to see the forest takes second place!



Saw this guy while driving along next to the ocean and had to stop take his photo. He was having lunch and I guess we interupted it. Sorry guy! A few seconds later and he took off taking the remainder of his lunch with him.

We've been out of wifi for the past few days and it looks like we will be out again for the next few days. We'll just have to live though it is a great deprivation. Cell phone service isn't too impressive either but then again, the eagle doesn't carry one.

Gotta go do some more sight-seeing and eating. Take care; it's dangerous out there!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Elwha



This is one of the dams on the Elwha River. An agreement has been made to remove it and another dam on the same river. This will allow salmon to migrate up the river as they did in the early 1900's. I'm not sure what I feel about removing the dams. It will be a huge project; supposedly begun in 2008, I've no idea of what work has been done. It's something to learn about while we are here.

The weather is wonderful! High 70's(24C) in the afternoon; mid 50's(13C) at night; and the sun is shining! Our family thing is to be this afternoon. Have to go into town and find a couple of bottles of wine to take but otherwise we've nothing to do. Not a bad situation at all. Hope you are all as lucky.

Take care, it's dangerous out there!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Washington State 1

We made it to Washington. We are outside Port Angeles, WA on the Olympic Peninsula. It's actually a fairly busy place in the summer. The camp grounds are full and every third vehicle you meet on the road is an rv of some sort. Very pretty, of course, to our green tree starved eyes! We lived over near Seattle for 15-20 years so it is pretty familiar. It's nice to have the windows open; at home in Pahrump it is already nearly 90F (32C).

1253 miles door to door (2016km) - probably half on regular roads and half on the Interstate. The Interstate gets you to popular places quickly but, as I've said before, it's pretty dull stuff. Given that the trailer is brand new, it's working out ok. We've found a couple of things to talk to the dealer about but nothing major. Still can't find anything on the first try but.... Hell, I can't do that at home! Old age IS wonderful. And I'm only 60!

Going in to town this a.m. to buy stuff. We haven't been in a store since we left Nevada; didn't even unhook the truck two nights; so we are running low on things. I've been having cheese sandwiches for breakfast for two mornings. Now that's desperation though I do like cheese sandwiches!

The place we are staying is nice; pretty casual but nice. Our space is beautiful to be in but awful to get into. Took us a good 20 minutes of fooling around to get situated so we could open the slide. We still can't open the awning because it would be out in the road. Here are a couple of photos from the window of the rig; mother and child.




Take it easy, it's dangerous out there!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Where am I???




Jeez, I don't know! Well, Mt. Shasta, CA - the city not on top of the mountain. Photo was taken from our campground about five minutes AFTER the optimal time for a mountain sunset. (Bah humbug!) We are on the second day of our trip to the Northwest and still haven't escaped the heat. Tonight, at least, we got to open up the windows by about 20:30. Last night we were in Fernley, NV - a little place outside of Reno - had the a/c on almost all night. Today we got to Northern California and the Interstate highway system. Interstates let you move around rather quickly but they are dull and always the same. Much of our trip so far has been on two lane roads; now we are on divided highway until we get well into Washington.

Things have gone well. A reasonable about of construction delay since this is the time to fix roads but otherwise things are cool. It is fun to be driving through all the trees in Northern CA. The new trailer tows nicely; isn't knocked about by passing trucks but it is susceptible to sidewinds. We can't find anything but that's because we threw things in here where ever it would fit. We'll get organized in another lifetime.

Take it easy; it's dangerous out there!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Where have I been?

Croft asked me where I've been. Well, here kind of. It's been a busy/anxious time. Let me start with last Thursday; that was the day we decided to buy the new trailer and agreed to close the deal on Tuesday.

Friday we made about twenty calls to our brokerage to transfer some money to our bank; get the bank to loan us the rest of the money for the RV; change the insurance and all the rest that goes on with a purchase like this. (It complicated things to borrow but the interest is tax deductible so we went for it.) The bank electronically transferred our down-payment money to the dealer and promised to overnight us a check for the loan amount(wouldn't use electronic transfer for some unknown reason). Of course Pahrump doesn't have overnight service on the weekend so that actually meant Monday afternoon. My wife is the worrier so she was having a fit all weekend; I supplied her with an unusually large quantity of alcohol to calm her.

All the time she was also worrying that the dealer would not accept our old rig in trade. I have no idea how many times I explained that the dealer was making a nice profit on both sides of this transaction and it would be ok. She was still worried when the dealer parked our old rig next to the new one so we could transfer our stuff. I think she was afraid they would let us move all the stuff THEN ask for more money. But no, there was no hitch at all.

The dealer encourages you to stay overnight in their lot just to try everything out so we took advantage of that and stayed Tuesday night. Actually, it was something like 110F (43C) in Vegas so by the time I'd gone back and forth between the two rigs I was pretty much a wreck. RV air conditioner units aren't all that great either so even though ours was running, it was still pretty warm in the rig. We went out looking for something to eat and then came back to the rig and drank two bottles of champagne to celebrate our purchase.

Got up Wednesday a.m. and slowly got ready to go. When we went to attach the trailer to the truck we discovered that the trailer hitch could not be raised high enough to get above the ball on the truck. It took a few more blocks of wood under the hitch to get us attached. Anyway we finally made it home about noon. Backed the new trailer into it's spot and came in to collapse!

This a.m. we hit the DMV to register the rig. It cost more than the truck! Over $300!

Now we are trying to get all our stuff organized so we can leave Monday a.m. for our first trip. As I said, we are headed for Washington state to visit family and see a few sights. Don't know when we'll be back; maybe three or four weeks. It will be nice to get out of the heat for a while. Heard on tv that this is traditionally the warmest week in Las Vegas. Next year I'm thinking we'll have to plan a trip for a little earlier! I don't know what the internet access will be while we are traveling but I'll do the best I can. Take it easy, it's dangerous out there!

Friday, July 10, 2009

A New RV!

Went into Vegas yesterday and decided that we do want one of the rv's we've been circling around. Here's the winner. It's a bit larger than our ideal size and the bedroom doesn't have flow through ventilation BUT in all our search we haven't found anything better. Plus, the price is acceptable so we went for it. My wife is on the phone with the bank arranging for a loan as I type.

It's odd how couples work out their finances. When we first got together we had separate accounts and took some care that if I signed up for the water bill, she would sign up for the newspaper and so on. Then after a few years, everything got merged together and, while we still have separate bank accounts, no one cares who pays for what or where the money comes from. Somewhere in there, I started doing all the bookwork and taking care of our investments. NOW she does all the everyday bills and the Quicken work and all I do is manage our investments. It works for us; might not for anyone else. I imagine everyone's situation is different.

One advantage for us is that we are both conversant with what's going on financially. We are getting to the age where we acknowledge that we might die unexpectedly and in that situation whoever survives needs to be able to manage things. Knowing your finances is critical. It's like being out in a boat; having just one captain is good but having only one person who can operate the boat is just plain dumb.

Take care, it's dangerous out there!

"You can never have a greater or a less dominion that over yourself." L. da Vinci

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

In Search of Dignity

Here's a link to an op-ed article in the New York Times that I think is fantastic! In Search of Dignity It really speaks to the conservative part of me. If you knew me; came to my house and looked at my books and pictures; you would know I'm somewhat of a sensualist. I have an embarrassing number of books on nude photography; there are reproductions of famous nude paintings on the wall of my den(that I inherited from my folks!). But every time I see a photo of some star's crotch, I'm offended. This guy writes beautifully about the difference and what we are missing. I'm impressed.

He also made me want to read Washington's biography; and I doubt if I've read ten biography's in my life. Hmmm, a good start to the day! Have a good one!

"Remember, every time you open your mouth to talk, your mind walks out and parades up and down the words." Edwin H. Stuart

Monday, July 06, 2009

Dreaming of travel

We are finally planning a trip! There is a family get-together up on the Olympic Peninsula in Northwestern Washington state on the 25th of this month. I always like the planning process. We have lots of maps and guidebooks to look at and, of course, now there is the web. Lots of resources.

One of the reasons we moved out west was so that we could travel more out here. The trek from Florida to the west coast would eat up at least half of our travel time. Now this trip is still 1200 miles (1900 km) but that's do-able. When towing the trailer we tend to do perhaps 300 miles a day (just under 500 km). Thus, Washington is still four days away but that's better than the 3200 miles (5200 km) from our old home in Florida.

Right now we are planning on leaving on the 20th and driving directly to the party then fooling around seeing things on the way back. There are lots of things to see! Over on the Washington coast is the famous Ho River rainforest. There are also lots of wild beaches. It isn't until you get down towards Oregon that the beaches are sandy and walkable. Of course there is Seattle. We might have to stop off there for old time's sake. Nearby is Mt. Rainier. Mt. St. Helens is an amazing place. I've only visited there once since the 1980 eruption but would like to see it again.

Lots of things to do, places to see, people to meet. I'm excited!

Take it easy, it's dangerous out there!

Friday, July 03, 2009

RSS - well, maybe!

OK, I've given it another shot at creating an RSS feed. Does it work; well, I guess I'll wait and see! As soon as I go find a feed reader, etc. Bah humbug! I read a LOT of blogs and just go visit them individually; I can see where going to one place would make life easier so it sounds like a good idea. What does Red Green say? "I'm a man, I can change, if I have to, I guess!"

Spent the day in Las Vegas looking at new trailers. Found a couple that might be interesting if they weren't quite so expensive. The dealers are letting their stock get down to nothing; who knows if the builder will be here in six months and you wouldn't want to be sitting on a bunch of orphans. Of course that means it's harder for the poor salesman who has nothing to show people but who cares about the salesperson? Guess we'll put a few more miles on our old rig.

Haven't given you a weather update lately - it's been hot! Over 100F (37C) is warm but it's been overcast as well with 20% humidity (a lot for here!). Everyone is complaining; especially the people who have evaporative coolers since they don't work will with this much humidity. It is also warmer in the night so we haven't been able to open up the house for the first time since we moved in. Outside the sun feels hot; hotter than in Florida but the lesser humidity means if feels more comfortable (at least to me!).

Well, gotta go. Be careful, it's dangerous out there!

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Quiet times

Haven't blogged lately because I'm just plain dull. A very nice young woman named Rae has offered me advice about adding an RSS feed so I'm going to blow away the Atom feed and restart the whole process. I'm not entirely sure I need to do that but what I have now is clearly screwed up!

Went to Las Vegas last Saturday to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary with our kids (her kids - my step-children: a young woman of 39; a young man of 37 and his SO - youth is in the eye of the beholder). A good time was had by all. We dined at the Paris casino restaurant (steakhouse). We had a table upstairs on the balcony but traded it for one in a private room that was not being used. The view wasn't as good but we could be loud and not bother anyone or be bothered by them. Worked out great!

After dinner, my wife and I strolled the strip back to our hotel; just people watching. The kids took off and had their own fun. I'm certain all of us were in bed before midnight though the elder portion made it before 22:30! Watching the people on the street and in the casino it's hard to believe that the casinos are having a tough time. However I must say that when we left the restaurant at perhaps 20:30 the place was practically empty. THAT isn't normal I'm sure. There were a lot of people on the streets and they all seemed to be having a good time; maybe they just aren't throwing money at the casinos like in the old days.

Prostitution is legal in Pahrump but not in Las Vegas. (Rural county vs urban; don't ask how that came about!) Lately one of the bordello owners started a group urging the control illegal prostitution in Vegas. I thought it was just self-serving crap, NOW I'm in favor of his idea. On every corner there were six or eight guys handing out business cards for hookers! Not only does this add an awful lot of litter to the city but it doesn't do much for the town's image and they were annoying. Here I was walking hand-in-hand with my wife (I'm sixty; she's fifty-eight) and I was being offered hooker phone numbers. Bah, that's just beyond tacky.

Tomorrow is another trip over the hump; going to look at new trailers again. There are some we haven't seen so we have to check them out. We are planning a trip to the Pacific Northwest in late July and it would be fun to have a new rig. But if we can't find something we want; so be it. Even I can take a hint!

Be careful; it's dangerous out there!

Friday, June 26, 2009

A Question for you all

My wife and I were talking over dinner the other day and said "Bon app├ętit!". Then we got started talking about how we know several European version of that phrase but none in English. Does anyone know of such a phrase? For that matter, what about other languages? Is there something one should say in China or Japan or Serbia or???

Obviously things have been quiet around here. LOL We went to Las Vegas to return our pickup shell to the dealer for repair and to check out some trailers. The shell had a manufacturing defect that means it will have to go back to the California factory for repair. Our trailer is nine years old and has seen better days however, we didn't see anything we wanted to bring home with us.

This weekend we are going back to Las Vegas to celebrate our 25th anniversary with the kids being present. We carefully planned things way back in '84 so that they could both be with us when we got married so it's going to be fun having them around for this minor milestone. (Took them on the Honeymoon with us too but that's another story!) The actual anniversary was last Monday but this weekend is the time they could make it so that is the important thing. It won't be a big deal, just dinner then we wander off in our separate directions leaving a few bucks at the various casinos.

No one has offered to help me put a feed on the blog so I guess I'll have another shot at it next week. These 'Help' pages shouldn't be that tough to understand but I'm sure having trouble. At any rate, be careful, it's dangerous out there!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Help!

Someone suggested that I provide an RSS feed. I'd love to but I keep going around in circles trying to manage it. Can anyone tell me in REALLY SIMPLE WORDS what I need to do? Whatever Blogger is telling me just isn't working for me.

Thinking about the pioneers

Whenever I go for a drive around here I think of the folks who were here when walking or horseback riding was the mode of travel. I jump into the truck and head for Las Vegas thinking nothing of it. This was four or five days travel in olden times. I came across this historical marker on my last trip. The distance from Las Vegas to Blue Diamond was one day; Blue Diamond to the top of the pass at Mountain Springs was another day. You traveled from place to place out here based on the availability of water. I can hardly imagine the hardships faced by those early travelers.



There is another marker that I saw (but managed NOT to photograph) that indicated the next part of the trail after leaving the mountain pass was to a place where if you dug down a bit you would gradually get some water accumulation. That was twenty-five miles (forty km) from the pass. Then twenty miles (thirty-two km) further on you came to another 'real' spring. What a harsh, demanding life! Ten hours of walking through rough country with lots of dry stream beds to get to a place where you might get water by digging for it.

Here's another marker that shows the trail from Colorado to the coast.



You couldn't leave Colorado in the winter so it would be HOT by the time you got to the desert. At least that would mean it was dry. Here if there is heavy rain in the mountains, there are flash floods that still kill people. Not to mention that the clay soil becomes mud with any tiny amount of moisture. You would really need a good reason to travel this land; but, of course, once you started it would be just as tough to return to where you started!

Take it easy, it's still dangerous out there!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

What were they thinking!

Went to Vegas on Monday to get the shell for the truck. $1500 later we have a nice fiberglass cover over the bed of the truck. We got one for our first truck back in 1982 and have had one on every truck since. You just get used to having all that protected space. It's doesn't do anything about someone who would like to rob you but then again I don't know that anything does.

I did do something I've wanted to do since we got here; I took a photo!



Now honestly, do you think it is a tree? Out in the middle of the desert like this; the stupid straight branches look real don't they. Jeez! I mean a cell tower is a cell tower; what were they thinking? I'd love to see the justification for spending the extra money for those 'branches'.

Gotta go. Be careful, it's dangerous out there!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Flag Day

Here in the U.S. it is Flag Day. A fairly odd holiday but why not? Our flag moved with us from humid Florida to the desert and mountains of Nevada.



Be careful, it's dangerous out there!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Death and whatever

I was over at Croft's site where he talked a bit about his brother's burial. It sound like the whole family was there for the occasion and were comforted by the ceremony. I'm happy for them.

It made me want to talk about the deaths of my mother and my mother-in-law. Mom died in September of 2005. She had been a victim of dementia for nine years. One day she just stopped eating or drinking; the home informed us immediately but there was nothing anyone could do. Mom died a couple of days later.

Nine years ago she had told me she wanted to be buried in her special dress but it was certainly nothing special and we wanted to get her something that fit better so we did. It was a simple deep red dress that complimented her nicely. She died in St. Petersburg, FL and was flown to Iowa for her internment. There was room next to my dad for her; he died in 1982. We had a quiet ceremony at the grave site for perhaps fifteen relatives and a couple of friends. The Presbyterian pastor, who had never met my mom, asked for people to talk about mom and I started things off by saying how I was sure she would have liked the gathering; just wished the occasion was different! Other people added their thoughts and the body was lowered into the earth. Then we went off to the local crappy diner and had coffee and cake. It was a nice gathering, as such things are like to be, and we dispersed going our own ways.

Just after we got home from the funeral in Iowa, my wife took her mother to the doctor with a complaint about her breathing. The doctor prescribed full time oxygen and suggested to my wife that she could enroll her mom in Hospice. (In this country the hospice organizations care for the terminally ill . Normally people in Hospice are expected to die within six months.) At any rate, she moved into a nursing home on November 31 and died on January 6. She was a Catholic but had not asked for any service. She wanted to be cremated in an old pair of short and a shirt. My wife couldn't let her go in those old clothes so substituted a nicer shirt and shorts outfit. Her remains were kept in our closet (with those of her beloved Doberman dog) until Easter of 2007 when we spread them in the desert outside of Bullhead City, AZ. Well, we put them both there; according to her wishes.

It is odd the difference, even for us atheists, between the formal leave-taking that marked my mother's internment and the less formal but no less meaningful distribution of my mother-in-law's ashes. The internment was a lot like "drawing a line in the sand". It is a place we could return expecting to have a rock with my mother's name and the years she was on earth. There is no such place or thing for my mother-in-law. My wife and I, alone, could possibly identify the place we left her. Her remains are now certainly blown all over the area.

We are comfortable that we treated each of our mother's in the way they wanted to be treated and with total respect. Is one way better than the other? Not for me and I don't believe for my wife. We did what our mother's wanted and both experiences honored their lives and their end. I must admit that her mother was a sort of drag on us until we had taken her to Arizona as we had promised. As the saying goes, funerals are for the living; in our experience, it doesn't have to be a funeral, simply a good bye is enough.

Take it easy, it's dangerous out there!