Monthly Archives: August 2012

Sure I’ll Explain Ayn Rand for You!

But what’s in it for me?

A joke that made the rounds among sophomores of the mid-1960s.  Came to mind after I posted the book review on The Virtue of Selfishness.

Old Jules

Silky Rooster’s Been Raptured Out

I told you that silky rooster was intelligent, but I thought he’d outsmarted himself by getting loose and left behind here.  All those hens he came up with as a chick, the surviving rooster.  Kay’s hens and rooster.  All now joined with a free ranging flock somewhere else.

And he was sorely depressed being alone here.

But he must have known faith would see him through.  A lady down the road with 17 hens and no roosters emailed me after I listed him on Kerrville FreeCycle.  We arranged to meet yesterday at a pullover midway between her and me.

“What a beautiful rooster!”  He preened.

What’s his name?”

I’ve never given him a name.”  She scowled and stroked him.

I always name my chickens.”  Attractive pucker.

To which Mr. NoName Silky replied, “I’ve been to the wild wood, mither.  Mak my bed soon.”

All’s well that ends well.

Old Jules

The Virtue of Selfishness, by Ayn Rand

Good morning readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read this morning.

I’ve said a few things about Ayn Rand on this blog a number of readers found objectionable.  A goodly number found it offensive enough to cancel subscriptions, which I don’t find objectionable at all.

Fact is, I was once an avid reader of Ayn Rand.  Not being a reader of Ayn Rand was a way a person could declare himself a non-pseudo-intellectual, which of course, I certainly didn’t wish to be.  At the time, admitting to the shameful fact of not having read Atlas Shrugged, or Fountainhead, reduced the stature of the person admitting it to something akin to not having seen Gone With The Wind.

In all honesty I found Rand’s fiction tedious, with the exception of Anthem, which nobody’d ever heard of [few Rand admirers probably have to this day] and didn’t win any intellectual points in the 1960s.  So when I came across The Virtue of Selfishness, in 1965, I welcomed the read because I thought it could provide discussable insights into Rand’s viewpoints while sparing the reader all the muscle-flexing fictional heroes.

Which it did.  And having read it I quickly ceased being an admirer of Rand, to whatever extent I might have been previously. 

I suspect those who read, or claim to have read Ayn Rand today probably derive opinions about her, and her work, from the fiction works and admiration for the fictional characters.  The gut-level response to Horatio Algerism with a bit of Paul Bunyan thrown in. 

But the appeal of Rand at the time was located in fictional characters.  The Virtue of Selfishness quickly was to be found on the reduced price shelves at the book stores.  Because, the simple fact is that nobody loves an ego-maniac.  Nobody loves a selfish, grasping, gluttonous, greedy person when the fictional fantasies are stripped away.

And giving it a fancy name, objectivism, rationalizing the state-of-being that goes with it, just doesn’t add anything to the equation.  There might never have been a culture in the history of mankind where greed was openly, admittedly, frankly, an object of admiration.  In fact, the opposite is mostly true.

So today when Rand admirers are justifying their world-views by using her tepid arguments in favor of devil-take-the-hindmost, they rarely use the name of her tour d’force work, where she attempts to explain herself.  They know somewhere inside themselves it’s off-putting to the listener.

So the buzzwords are used, instead.  Short phrases bounced around back and forth that needn’t be defended.

Nobody needs Ayn Rand to justify selfishness and self-centeredness, but she provides an excuse, however lame.

Old Jules

Edit 8:12 am – There’s a mysterious, paradoxical side of the 21st Century fascination with Rand I neglected to mention.  Today admiration for Rand is the unlikely and somewhat ironic focal point where fundamentalist Christians join hands with atheists.  Both quote snippets of Rand, claim to have read her.

All of which makes a certain amount of sense for atheists of a particular sort.  But it’s not easy to reconcile with Christianity.  After all, lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, anger, envy and pride have been universally accepted as the Seven Deadly, or Venal, or Mortal Sins since a time long before Protestants.  And I don’t recall any Protestant sect ever declaring openly to repudiate them.

Gypsy Road Trip

“We like it here and we ain’t goin’ back.”  Residents of Slab City in Southern California enjoy their life of freedom where the air is clean and rent is free.

Sandwiched between the Salton Sea and the Chocolate Mountains, Slab City is home to many campers.  Here they don’t care what you look like or where you came from. Everyone is welcome! Campers come on dirt bikes, in RVs and even greyhound buses to park on this hidden desert city.

At the entrance to Slab City, you will find Salvation Mountain where the sides are painted with religious pictures and verses to inspire the freedom that is advocated here. Leonard Knight has been painting and repainting this mountain since 1985.  If you like his work and want to donate to the cause, a bucket of paint is his favorite contribution…acrylic is preferred.

As you travel back into Slab City,  you…

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Slab City, California – An Impromptu Community

Good morning readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read this morning.

I’ve been getting some fascinating emails for the past couple of days, maybe from one of the readers here, maybe from one of the Toyota RV forums I’ve been visiting to learn about problems and solutions encountered by others who have more experience with this particular method of escaping reality.

I retired in 02. A friend happened to see a little clip about the slabs on TV one night and told me he had just heard about a place that he thought I’d like. I googled it and agreed. A couple weeks later I loaded up my old 1971 Volvo 144 and left Tennessee for the slabs. I spent a magic 10 days out there living under a bush on a hammock. Meeting people who were, like me, searching for adventure and fun. In that short time, I found everything that a man could want. And for the next 10 years I have returned again and again. I have spent winters out there in motorhomes and tents. It dosen’t matter. Every visit has been good.

 
There are several clubs on the slabs. I belong to the Oasis club. There is also the Traveling Pals Club and LOWS, Loners on Wheels Club. Everybody fits in somewhere. There is no mayor, There is no law. (The imperial county sheriffs and CHP do come onto the slabs if there is a problem.) There is an anarchy that functions, a collective justice system that operates that seems to do the job. If someone is behaving in a manner that is unacceptable, a group pressure will build and build until that person decides to change or to go elsewhere.

There is the Range, a magic spot on Saturday night where musicians come and people come and best of all it is free.A big party under the stars. It is hard to describe. When you are there and the music is playing and people are dancing and you just know that you are in the best place that you could be even if you could be anywhere else. Magic.

The 1 mile square abandoned military base that is the slabs has been settled in different areas. East Jesus, an art colony, is situated in the NE corner. The LOWS in on the opposite SW corner. There is a Canadian area on the south central side. After a while you will know it like a monopoly board. And wait until the first time you find yourself lost at night walking across the slabs in an endless maze of campers and cresote bushes. You will soon learn to recognize the local landmarks, the blinking lights on the towers in nearby Niland, or the lights of the prison located about 6 miles south of the slabs..

Many people hear of the slabs and drive into it for a look see. You can spot them a mile away. Eyes wide, windows up, they’ll circle a few “blocks” and then drive out, never stopping and speaking to a “local”. They can’t get by the the ultra casual dress “code” of the slabs, but appearances are misleading. There is no average person at the slabs. Everybody there is special with a story that is usually bigger than life. At night, by the campfires, the stories gradually materialize until you begin to know these individuals. And then you are hooked.

 
Just from the litle we’ve talked, I feel that you would find that you fit in there just fine. Its not perfect. There are some bad people there. Outlaws, fugatives. But you can be sure they are keeping a low profile. Amazingly, there are plenty of women there, too. Its really hard to describe, it would take a book, and it changes every year. We will be going out there again this winter (my new wife and I). This time we are going to rent a motor home that is parked out there and just drive our car out-which should save enough gas money to pay for the rental.

Oh ya, forgot to mention the nearby town, Niland. It has a lot of support for the winter campers. There are 2 stores in town, May’s that has about everything you might need. food, meat counter, beer and liquor, drinks, bread, toilet paper and even some hardware, and Mike’s Store, he has less but also has shorter lines. I go to them both. There are 3 restaurants in town. Balestero’s that serves great mexican food, and pretty good hamburgers. They also have a bar and a pool table. Across the street there is Uncle D’s Pizza Shop that also serves breakfast. And there is a new restaurant further North on rt. 111, Buckshot I think, that serves pretty good stuff. . There is a laundromat. And a flea market at the “fair grounds” that operates on the weekends. Vendors are moving through every so often so its good to run by there once in a while. There is also a public health building there that treats less serious medical problems. And a gas station that fills propane tanks, too.

8 miles south of Niland is a town names Calpatria. It has a library with internet, a donut shop, and a great hardware store. Also auto parts, and more. You will have to drive another 10 miles south to get to Brawley and the nearest walmart. You can get just about anything in Brawley, but if all else fails, another 10 miles south to El Cantro where I think you could find anything.
 

Being California, there are a million nearby things to do. trails to hike, roads to drive, hot springs to bask in. It just occurred to me that you might be more interested in this than my earlier description.

If the distance weren’t so great, the money so dedicated to various other priorities I’d be sorely tempted to spend some time there.  But Slab City’s 1250 miles from Kerrville, Texas.    At current gas prices I could spend half a months pension check getting there.  And there’s no telling what manner of bowling balls the Coincidence Coordinators would throw into the route to distract me along the way, have me taking all manner of routes elsewhere.

Old Jules

Slab City links:

http://www.dogpile.com/search/web?fcoid=417&fcop=topnav&fpid=27&q=slab+city%2C+ca&ql=

The Slab City Library entrance

Inside the Library

Internut Access

The Doooooowey Decimal System

Reading area

Toyota leaf spring enigma

Good morning readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read this morning.

I spent an unanticipated lot of time yesterday learning about leaf springs on 1983 Toyota Motor Homes.  I knew I’d have to do something about those sagging springs and began the day knowing pretty much what it would be.  Namely buying some helper springs or spring supports from JC Whitney, installing them, then going on about my business.

Except JC Whitney doesn’t have them.

So I visited the Toyota RV Discussion group with the intention of finding out what others who don’t know as much as I do have handled these problems I’ve never handled.  Got a lot of knowledgeable, helpful suggestions gradually indicating the problem isn’t so inexpensively solved, the solution so patently obvious as I’d originally believed.

But before any solution a person’s got to know what’s under there now.  Airbag spring supports?  Retrofitted helper springs?

None of the above, turns out.

But new springs, helper springs, or airbags are clearly the way to resolve the issue.  On the forum there’s disagreement as to which.  As time allows, today I’ll spend more time at non-JC Whitney sources for the options, learn as much as I can with a head full of already knowing so much at dawn yesterday I thought it unlikely I’d be learning much else between now and dying.

But sometime soon I’m going to have to lift that house up and get under there with a tape measure and find out how long, how thick, how something else I can’t recall at the moment, those springs are.  Then spend some time on long distance phone calls with [probably] people in China or India who answer technical questions for suppliers in the US.

Meanwhile, it’s quiet outside these batwing doors.  Too quiet.

Poor old silky rooster outsmarted himself yesterday, missed an adventure a lot of chickens would pay the poultry equivalent of good money to experience.

Old Jules

Trip West Photos from Jeanne

Crater Lake was a new discovery for me this trip. I took hundreds of pictures there. Heck, have one more:
That’s Wizard Island, the secondary cone. Crater Lake is about six miles across and 2,000 feet deep.
Aw, shucks, here’s one more, ’cause you’ve got to see the Phantom Ship:

Now to the Willamette National Forest. Here’s the view coming in towards the resort town of Detroit:

Below is where I like to hike around Devil’s Creek:

Forest floor.


My family has been going to Mt. Rainier since the 1920’s.

Mt. Rainier the first evening at sunset.

Clear weather is not always a given at the mountain, which makes its own weather!

I love bracket fungus and the dew drops caught my attention.

This lake can be seen by the road if you travel towards Sunrise (east) at Mt. Rainier. I’ll put pictures up of the view at Sunrise some other time.

This great view of Myrtle Falls is only a 7 minute walk from the parking lot at Paradise.

Narada Falls is too big to fit into any camera view, so I just put it in the background for this shot.


Evening sun on the mountain.

I hope you enjoy these, it’s hard to choose favorites from 2600 photos! I’ll put more up some other time if you like.

Jeanne

Taking it all too seriously– from Jeanne

“Artists shouldn’t enter the arena of competitions until they are tough enough to realize it is only opinion and not a reflection on their worth.”  (Mary Moquin)

So… I got a rejection letter.  None of the pieces I submitted were accepted, although I’ve been in that particular exhibit twice in years past ( most recently about three years ago).
The above is one I submitted. Problem is with form letters, you never know what it was that made them reject it. I’ll only be able to speculate when I go to the exhibit.

I’ve noted before that they seem partial to some 3-D element for the prize winners, but I haven’t tried that yet.  There are a lot of ways that could be done with my work, but without my work by nature being 3-D,  I suspect it would look contrived. I also get frustrated when I get too far away from the actual drawing (like those pendants, where the glass cutting and soldering is time-consuming).  Cutting paper, layering paper, rotating layers of paper, mirror-edges around the design–all of them  sound cool but don’t really sound fun to put together.  I’m really not a paper-crafter.
I have a couple of other ideas about how I can give them more depth, so I suppose I’ll concentrate on that first.

I have a couple of little peeves about these exhibits. The first is the application fee (in this case, $25, which isn’t too unreasonable). The second is that photography and other kinds of art work are usually grouped together, and I think photography exhibits/competitions should be held separately from other media.  I think photography is an entirely different beast, especially now that good cameras are affordable and it’s so easy to use the computer in conjunction with that.  I love it, but just because it hangs on the wall doesn’t make it the same thing.

Evaluating my work is a constant process, always there in the background, but it’s good to put it up front sometimes.   Right now the difficulty of getting exposure to promote sales makes it a challenge in ways that don’t have anything to do with the  difficulty of doing the work.  I hope I’ll be able to draw some  honest conclusions later on.  Maybe that will include submitting some photographs next time.

There’s one nice little conclusion to this form-letter rejection, though. I was shelf-reading at work last night (shelf-reading is checking the shelves to make sure that every book is placed in exact order). I always keep an eye out for bookmarks since I have quite a collection. Usually I find check-out receipts and boarding passes. This time, in a book called “The Lord is my Shepherd”, I found $26.00. Just enough to cover the application fee and postage to send the cd. Is that cool, or what?

Jeanne

Teetering on the Brink of a New Era – May My Flock Decrease

A friend of Linda’s [the lady who runs the Habitat for Humanity Thrift Store in Kerrville] has agreed to take my flock of free-ranging chickens.  As well as Kay’s smaller flock.  He’s been taking care of Linda’s free-rangers when she isn’t home, lives adjacent to her, and Linda vouches for him being a responsible person.

So it’s one more bug on the windshield of this old life, thinks I.

Sometime today he should be coming out to pick them up.   I’ve kept them caged so I’ll be able to catch them.

One small step for a man, one giant step for mankind, I figures. 

I’ll miss them, but you can’t take them with you, as the saying goes.  Once the Great Speckled Bird joined the Great Rooster Fight In The Sky things haven’t been the same around here anyway.  A lot of the joy that came with having the flock around went away, and the hens quit behaving themselves without him to keep them in line.

Old Jules

11:00 am addendum:  The birds are history, except for the silky rooster commie pictured above.  He got loose and I’ll never catch him today.  But a silky of his stature oughtn’t be too difficult to find a home for.  Everyone wants a chicken with his kind of class, thinks I.

Philosophy by Limerick – The Intestinal Parasite

Two political parties, or thrice,
Patricians are fatter than lice.
When bones are scraped narrow
They’ll suck out the marrow,
Turn knuckle-bones into dice.

Old Jules