Wednesday, August 30, 2006

A Melting Pot

On occasion I have made statements in this blog about politics. No matter who you are and no matter how vehemently you deny that politics interest you, the management of public affairs concerns us all.

I recently patted myself on the back for being more "green" than Al Gore. I believe government does some things better than private enterprise. Aha! Occam is a Democrat you might guess.

I also think that the lure of making money inspires people to start businesses and work hard to make a legacy they can pass on to their heirs. And government has no business in taxing the results of that hard work a second time. I watch people depend upon government to save them from Hurricane Katrina and it doesn't work. People need to take more responsibility for their own well being. Aha! Occam is a Republican you deduce.

Sadly for the observer, my ideology is unreliably liberal and unreliably conservative. I have principles, they are just more colorful than staid. Oscar Wilde said: "Consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative."

Monday, August 28, 2006

Addicted to Paper

The mailman brought me a most extraordinary jackpot today: a letter from New Mexico, and postcards from Ohio, Finland, Hungary, Brasil and Australia. The stamps on this mail were wonderful too. A koala from Australia for instance. Just pure joy to this philatelist.

I also won a couple eBay auctions of stamps. Inexpensive lots. I think I was the only bidder. I like auctions like that.

In the meantime I have discovered "embossing". This is done with a brass stencil and a pen-like tool with a knob on the end. You simply tap the outline out and voila, your paper is embossed. Looks classy. I am inspired to make a homemade card now instead of paying money to Hallmark. When you care enought to send the very best, make it homemade!

Can you see a theme coming into focus here? Paper. Whether it is a letter, a postcard, a stamp, embossed cardstock... I also do scrapbooking, and rubberstamping, and stencils, and, well, I collect books, magazines, photographs, etc. Paper. Paper is king.

The internet is paper in electronic form. And it is easily transferred to paper by hitting using the Print command. I use this non-paper tool to expand my appetite for paper.

In the end, it can all be burned to provide warmth or as a cooking fire, so all is not lost.

Friday, August 25, 2006


Oh my interest in Meteorology! I love to watch the weatherman and see the weak limb they will crawl out on to give us a long range forecast. Scientifically, there is no way to predict the weather beyond four days in the future. Even then the accuracy is not that great. It is not even perfect quite closer in time. How many times can you remember being told it would be a certain temperature that day, say 75 degrees F, and late that afternoon your thermometer read 87 degrees? How could that forecast have been so wrong? Actually the question we should be asking more often is how was that forecast so close to being right? The atmosphere is a classic chaotic system. Being accurate is like finding a needle in a haystack.

Recently there has been great disorder in the weather of Arizona. Tremendous amounts of rain have fallen. Some areas have received more rain than has ever been recorded for August. Where 6 weeks ago was a whithering drought, is now a lush landscape. And the long range forecast for August 6 weeks ago? Normal rainfall, no relief from the drought.

Thunderstorms swirl around me today. I managed to get laundry out and dry on the clothesline before any rain fell. It hasn't yet rained today. No clever scientist, no churning computer can tell me, for sure, if it will rain. It is all chaos.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Watching Aachen

I am an insignificant landholder with a few horses who lives far from the spotlight of world equestrian sports. But I can still follow it, and so I report that the World Equestrian Games (WEG) are underway in Aachen, Germany. Today was the endurance ride which covered 160 KM, or about 99 miles. The loops of the ride took each horse and rider through Germany, Belguim, the Netherlands, then finally to the stadium in Aachen where the victory went to a Spaniard who rode his 8 year old grey Arabian gelding, "Hungares" into history. The American team had a disappointing 10th place finish among the national teams. The USA used to dominate endurance riding. I think it is more that the rest of the world is getting better, rather than the Americans are slipping.

I had a dream of being an endurance rider. My first obstacle was that I owned a very heavy American Quarter Horse. I took him on a 25 mile distance ride but he went lame at the finish. Next I used an Arabian stallion, but he found the atmosphere of so many mares around so distracting, that he was held back by the Veterinary committee, the time spent standing around sniffing mares counting in his final time total. So that didn't pan out for me. And here I am today. Now my obstacle is a proper saddle.

My origins are thoroughly urban. There wasn't a horse for miles from my home. But that didn't stop my growing love for them. At age 26 I purchased my first horse, the previously mentioned Quarter Horse. He taught me a lot. Believe it was Teddy Roosevelt who said, "The outside of a horse is good for the inside of a man." This goes for women too, who today outnumber men as horse owners in the US.

The horses are galloping, jumping, and strutting their stuff in Aachen. And I'm watching.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Entomological Adventures

I am not really interested in Entomology. Except when bugs intersect my life. It is not true, despite the urban myth circulating on the internet, that there are roach eggs in the glue on your envelopes.

It is not true that scorpions can swim up drains and that is why they appear in your sink or bathtub. I am not fan of scorpions. Been stung a couple times and it is like fire. But they don't swim. They simply enter your house by walking in and migrate to whatever moist place is nearby. Poisons are not very effective on scorpions. But luckily they are not good at climbing out of bathtubs and sinks. They keep sliding back as they try to escape, just before I sever their disgusting segmented body into disjoined pieces. Ick.

Yesterday I had an unfortunate introduction to fire ants. These small critters are not native to my area but are becoming more common. Our recent mild winter may have encouraged them to locate here. They are endemic to the southeastern US and Texas. Well, anyway, there I was, ignorantly putting my left hand into a nest of them and suddenly I was being swarmed. They bite and then sting and the sting is, well, it is like fire! I brushed them off as fast as I could but still suffered the normal localized reaction: swelling, burning, intense itching. I had my hand & arm on ice for 3 hours trying to calm the reaction to their venom. Today I have a few small pustules and residule itchiness. I would like to invite these immigrants to return to Texas forthwith.

My years in the desert have been happily with few incidents of the entomological kind. Mosquitoes for instance are quite rare on the ranch. There are no blackflies, no gnats. My dogs have never had a tick. My horses do attract flies however; but they prefer equine blood to human.

That brings me to my last entomology story. Names are omitted to protect the innocent. Recently I was invited to a picnic. I arrived late as I'd been out of town. Everyone had eaten and the leftover food was being attacked by flies. As it was getting on to be evening the decision was made to move indoors. A comment was made that this was a good plan because then the flies would head for the ceiling and could be vacuumed up. This was news to me. Now I'm not a snob. I understand that some folks have trouble keeping flies out of their house. But they go up to roost on the ceilings at night? In fact I witnessed this phenomenom after we moved indoors. But as this was being discussed a young lady asked me what the flies did in my house. I said I didn't have flies in my house. Why not? she inquired. I said I have screens on my windows and I close the door to my house. Finally a guy clarified it for her when he stated for all assembled to hear: she doesn't know about the flies because she's not a REDNECK.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Tourism Equestre

A pen pal in Germany sent me a newspaper article about the horse rendevous in France that took place last month. Called "Equirando 2006 -Alsace-Saverne" it attracted 882 horses, donkeys and mules from all over Europe. People actually rode to the event, or drove in carts or carriages. And for 3 days the host region wined and dined and educated and promoted horse activities. The most interesting event I think must have been the Grand Procession of all the horses through the town. An event such as this could only happen in Europe. What fun this must be! Now this has become one of the 43 things I must do before I die. Of course I will have to borrow a horse or just be a spectator. I am such a romantic about horses; sentimental about the noble steed. Even while mucking horse manure.

Saturday, August 12, 2006


Al Gore has a new movie called "An Inconvenient Truth" where he is rallying the planet to personal sacrifice to save us from ecological disaster. Some of the ways one can live "green" is to *switch to compact fluorescent light bulbs, *use a clothesline, and *use renewable energy. I have been doing all these things for years. I have solar panels on my roof that provide electricity to half of my house. I do not own a clothes dryer, I use a clothesline. And I only buy fluorescent light bulbs. Also I have a 960 square foot house, very compact. Good enough for two people. Meanwhile, the champion of "Green", Mr. Gore, lives in a 10,000 square foot home with 20 rooms, and 8 bathrooms in Nashville, Tennessee. Do you think his wife Tipper hangs his clothes on a clothesline in his exclusive neighborhood? Do you think has solar panels on his very nice roof? Is it green to have 20 rooms for two people? Also, he owns a 4,000 square foot house in Arlington, Virginia. I don't think they allow clotheslines in Arlington. It is a rather ritzy town.

Practice what you preach Mr. Gore. Because the way you live is an inconvenient truth.

Friday, August 04, 2006


You might start to suspect that this blog is going to the birds, now that I am going to review the movie "March of the Penguins". And my last post was about bears. I can't help it. I am a sucker for animals.

Penguins are not something that I've thought about much in my life. After all, they live far, far away from Arizona, that is for sure. When you watch this movie though, you can develop a kinship based on shared strivings. A keyword in the movie was "resist". The penguins must resist the cold, the storms, predators. Hereabouts the Double Barrel Ranch, the animals must resist the heat, the drought, predators.

Penguin chicks are very cute and it is worth seeing the movie just to see and hear them cheep. Most of us will never get to see Antarctica except through film. But somehow these Frenchmen have made us see the Antarctic through the eyes of an Emperor Penguin. And we are glad to be their subjects.